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Showing posts from March, 2014

Former Border Patrol Agent Recalls Meeting Cesar Chavez

Michael Harpold @ - Keeping an eye out for harvest crews on a late-summer morning in 1965, my partner, Bill Gibson, and I drove in our green and white U.S. Border Patrol van along a highway lined with vineyards east of Delano, Calif. A small, black car pulled up close behind us and the driver waved [to] us to stop. A stocky, pleasant-faced Mexican-American man with straight black hair that fell down over his forehead got out and introduced himself as César Chavez, president of the National Farm Workers Association. Coming right to the point, Chavez said his members were complaining that the growers were hiring illegal aliens.   Read more .

The Uncounted Costs of Privatizing Government Services

Ellen Dannin @ Truthout - The privatization of public services isn't a new trend. In the period in which the Clinton-Gore administration was promoting privatizing the military's physical infrastructure, such as housing for the troops, it also was actively pursuing the privatization of jobs associated with the military. Its "theme song" seems to have been a parody of "My Fair Lady's" "Why Can't a Woman Be More like a Man?" Yes, indeed, "Why Can't the Public Sector Be More like the Capitalist, Profit-Maximizing Private Sector?"   Read more .

For Soldiers With Gulf War Illness, a Clue to the Mystery in Their Cells

Newsweek - As a kid, Adam Such knew he wanted to join the military when he grew up. And after graduating from West Point in 1989, he went on to have a career that included 17 years in special operations, which he discovered he “had a passion” for, he says. Such served in the first Gulf War, the 2003 Iraq War, and other places, too. In Fallujah, Iraq, in 2004, his helicopter was shot down, resulting in a broken back.   Read more .

4.8 earthquake rocks US Yellowstone National Park - A 4.8 magnitude quake rocked Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming near the border with Montana, the US Geological Survey said. There were several aftershocks with a magnitude over 3. The earthquake occurred 37 kilometers northeast of West Yellowstone, Montana at 6:34 am local time (1234 GMT) Sunday.   Read more .

Suffragettes No More - The Long Struggle for Women's Equality

Ellen Dannin @ Truthout - If it's March, then it's Women's History Month, that time of the year when we hear the word "suffragette." But irony of ironies, "suffragette" was the label used by those who were the enemies of women's rights. They used the word "suffragette" to belittle those who worked for civil rights and equality. There is a word for people who worked for American women's rights to vote. These activists called themselves "suffragists."   Read more .

How a 12-Year-Old Homeless Girl Helped More Than 400 Children Find Safer Shelter

Crystal Shepeard @ Care2 - The idea of having to navigate cockroaches, mice, no heat and sexual predators before you even leave for school is not something any child should go through. Yet, this is the daily life for hundreds of children living in two shelters in New York City and Brooklyn. They are part of the more than 22,000 children that make up New York City's homeless population. Now, after more than a decade of repeated citations for deplorable conditions, more than 400 children and their families are being moved from the city-owned facilities – all because of a determined 12-year-old girl.   Read more .

California anti-gun senator charged with corruption and trafficking firearms - A California state senator known for his outspoken views in support of gun control was arrested on Wednesday and charged with illegally trafficking in firearms alongside multiple counts of public corruption. In a federal corruption investigation that nabbed 26 people on charges ranging from drug smuggling to murder-for-hire, Democratic state Sen. Leland Yee was indicted on conspiracy to traffic in firearms without a license and to illegally import firearm... read more .

Cesar Chavez: Then, Now, and the Power of the Organized

Sonali Kolhatkar @ Truthdig - When Ronald Reagan famously ate grapes on television as governor of California in 1969, he was thumbing his nose at a growing movement for the rights of farmworkers. The grape boycott that Reagan proudly defied put him on the wrong side of history. Today, the leader of that boycott, Cesar Chavez, who died more than 20 years ago at the age of 66, not only has his March 31 birthday commemorated each year, but he now has a feature film dramatizing his life.   Read more .

Ukraine’s IMF Deal Means Greece-Like Depression

Jack Rasmus @ Common Dreams - On Thursday, the IMF released the broad outlines of its terms and conditions for loans and other measures for the Ukrainian economy. What those terms and conditions mean is less a rescue of the Ukrainian economy than the onset of a Greece-like economic depression for the Ukrainian populace. Ukraine’s economy had clearly entered a recession, its third since 2008, sometime in the latter half of 2013.  Some recent estimates of the likely contraction of the economy in 2014-15 have ranged from 5%-15% in GDP decline.   Read more .

Surgeons perform 'world’s first' implant of entire 3D-printed plastic skull dome (VIDEO) - Dutch surgeons have successfully placed an entire 3D-printed skull dome over the brain of a 22-year-old woman suffering from a rare bone disorder. Doctors say this surgery is unprecedented. As a result of her undisclosed condition, the patient’s skull had thickened to 5 centimeters, instead of the usual 1.5 centimeters – meaning the bone was pressing down on the brain tissue causing vision loss, agonizing headaches and cognitive impairment.   Read more .

New scrutiny for Albuquerque Police Department after another deadly shooting

CBS News - The Albuquerque Police Department came under new scrutiny Wednesday after officers shot and killed a man outside a public housing complex in the second deadly encounter between police and citizens in the last 10 days. Police said the man was shot Tuesday night after he opened fire on officers responding to a frantic call from a woman who said the suspect had pointed a gun at two girls. The family of the man, identified as Alfred Redwine, however, insisted he was not armed and only had a cellphone in his hand.   Read more .

Elizabeth Warren Steps Up for Populist Politics

John Nichols @ The Nation - Democratic insiders have been slow to embrace the populist campaign of South Dakota Senate candidate Rick Weiland. As we noted this week on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, has dismissed the Democratic candidate for South Dakota's open US Senate seat as "not my choice." Washington observers point out that "the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee routinely leaves off its competitive list, the seat of retiring Sen. Tim Johnson, D-SD." And there will not be a lot of corporate cash flowing to Weiland, who says his first act as a senator will be to propose a constitutional amendment declaring “that the votes of all, rather than the wealth of a few, shall direct the course of the Republic, Congress shall have the power to limit the raising and spending of money with respect to federal elections.”   Read more .

Fukushima cleanup suspended after worker’s death - The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, TEPCO, suspended the cleanup at the facility after one of the workers died while digging a ditch Friday. A man in his fifties was buried under gravel as he was digging near the nuclear plant’s storage area, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.  The worker was dug out and rushed to hospital, but failed to regain consciousness and was pronounced dead three hours after the incident.   Read more .

NYC's DeBlasio's Charter School Capitulation

Diane Ravitch @ NY Review of Books - In his speech at Riverside Church last Sunday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio tried to end weeks of attacks on his schools policies by striking a conciliatory tone toward the city’s privately managed charter schools. He used the charter sector’s own rhetoric of “crisis” and “failure” to describe the school system that he inherited from Mayor Bloomberg. He spoke of parents eager to escape failing schools and condemned the “status quo” without noting that it was Bloomberg’s status quo. He opposed the idea that public schools and charter schools are competing and called for a new era “in which our charter schools help to uplift our traditional schools.” According to The New York Times, he called some of the financial leaders on Wall Street, the billionaires who have paid millions of dollars for the ads attacking him, to plead for a truce.   Read more .

Barack Obama: The Least Transparent President in History

Amy Goodman @ Truthdig - “My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government.” So wrote President Barack Obama, back on Jan. 29, 2009, just days into his presidency. “Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.” Now, six years into the Obama administration, his promise of “a new era of open Government” seems just another grand promise, cynically broken.   Read more .

Turkey bans YouTube after Syria security talk leaked

Daily Times - Turkey banned YouTube on Thursday after the video-sharing website was used to spread damaging leaked audio files from a state security meeting debating possible military action in Syria. The recording purports to be of senior Turkish government, military and spy officials discussing plans to stage an armed clash in Syria or a missile attack that would serve as a pretext for a military response.   Read more.

Iraq: War's legacy of cancer

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

The Work of Sex Work

Laura Flanders @ Truthout - In conversations about sex work, we hear quite a bit about sex but very little about work. We all know that while there's an awful lot of money in the sex industry, most of it is not in the hands of the workers. Likewise, while there is no shortage of moral diatribes on the implications of exchanging sex for money, there's very little air time given to sex workers themselves to talk about the work they do.   Read more .

U.S. Military Averaging More Than a Mission a Day in Africa

Nick Turse @ TomDispatch - For years, the U.S. military has publicly insisted that its efforts in Africa are small scale. Its public affairs personnel and commanders have repeatedly claimed no more than a “light footprint” on that continent, including a remarkably modest presence when it comes to military personnel.  They have, however, balked at specifying just what that light footprint actually consists of.  During an interview, for instance, a U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) spokesman once expressed worry that tabulating the command’s deployments would offer a “skewed image” of U.S. efforts there.   Read more .

Walmart Creates Poverty

Lauren McCauley @ Common Dreams - Although a notorious recipient of "corporate welfare," Walmart has now admitted that their massive profits also depend on the funding of food stamps and other public assistance programs.   Read more .

How One Small School Is Resisting 'Corporate War on Public Education'

Common Dreams - When University of Southern Maine administrators announced mass faculty firings and departmental cuts, students, faculty, and staff protested by taking over part of a university building last Friday. A few days—and sit-ins and walk-outs—later, their continued mobilization against the "national corporate war on public education" appears to be resonating with students and university workers across the country.  Read more .

How ‘Education Reform’ Perpetuates Racial Disparity

Education Opportunity Network - America was shocked, shocked, by new data from the U.S. Department of Education last week showing that a child’s education destiny in the nation’s public schools is strongly determined by race. As a report in The New York Times put it, the new data revealed that “racial minorities are more likely than white students to be suspended from school, to have less access to rigorous math and science classes, and to be taught by lower-paid teachers with less experience.”   Read more .

Anger, Disbelief as Obama Defends US Invasion of Iraq

John Queally @ Common Dreams - President Obama is on the receiving end of scorn for remarks made during a high-profile speech in Brussels on Wednesday in which he defended the U.S. invasion of Iraq in an attempt to chastise Russia for recent developments in Crimea and Ukraine. Speaking to the international community about the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and fending off repeated accusations that the U.S. has lost its moral authority given the invasion of Iraq and other breaches of international law in recent years, Obama said:   read more .

Social Painting Grows Popular at Bars, Art Studios

ABC News - The Fox and Hound pub in downtown Philadelphia boasts all the fixings of a standard sports bar: huge TVs, numerous beers on draft and a menu filled with burgers, wings and nachos. So what are all the easels and canvases for? Welcome to Paint Nite, an opportunity to tap your inner Van Gogh. Just order a drink, put on a smock and lighten up a bit as a friendly instructor takes you step-by-step through the brush strokes of a landscape, still life or skyline.  Read more .

The New Billionaire Political Bosses

Robert Reich - Charles and David Koch should not be blamed for having more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans put together. Nor should they be condemned for their petrochemical empire. As far as I know, they’ve played by the rules and obeyed the laws. They’re also entitled to their own right-wing political views. It’s a free country.   But in using their vast wealth to change those rules and laws in order to fit their political views, the Koch brothers are undermining our democracy.   Read more .

The Symbolism of One Adjunct Professor's Death

Jim Hightower @ - If one obscure college professor dies, does it make any difference? If you're Margaret Mary Vojtko, yes. Margaret Mary died last summer at age 83 — and her death has turned her name into an emotional rallying cry for adjunct college teachers who're seeking justice from their schools.   Read more .

US leaders reject democracy, once again

Caleb Maupin @ - In Crimea, some may be surprised by the US’s blatant rejection of a clear democratic mandate for independence, as leaders in Washington constantly boast of being “defenders of democracy.” Back in 2003, George W. Bush justified his invasion of Iraq by saying he was “bringing freedom” to Iraq and “removing a dictator.” In 2011, Barack Obama justified sending cruise missiles to Libya by calling Gaddafi a “tyrant.” The US currently gives material support to insurgent groups in Syria, allegedly because Assad is a "dictator." Children in the United States, from a very young age, are indoctrinated to believe that the US fights for “freedom” around the world, and enemies of the US are simply those who reject it. The nauseating rhetoric of the US being “the greatest country in the world” is accompanied by a historical mythology that in each military conflict, from the conquest of the Philippines in 1899 to the Cold War, the US government was motivated

The House's NSA Bill Could Allow More Spying Than Ever. You Call This Reform?

Trevor Timm @ Guardian UK - The White House and the House Intelligence Committee leaked dueling proposals last night that are supposedly aimed at ending the mass collection of all Americans’ phone records. But the devil is in the details, and when it comes to the National Security Agency’s unique ability to twist and distort the English language, the devil tends to wrap his horns around every word. The House proposal, to be unveiled this morning by Reps Mike Rogers and Dutch Ruppersberger, is the more worrying of the two.   Read more .

Critics Slam NSA Reform Proposals by Obama And Congress

Common Dreams - Both the Obama administration and the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday revealed dueling reform proposals both supposedly intended to reign in the National Security Agency's mass surveillance through limiting the bulk collection of Americans' phone records. However, following the much-heralded announcements, reform advocates slammed the proposals saying "the devil is in the details."   Read more.

Australia Is Again Stealing Its Indigenous Children

John Pilger @ Truthout - The tape is searing. There is the voice of an infant screaming as he is wrenched from his mother, who pleads, "There is nothing wrong with my baby. Why are you doing this to us? I would've been hung years ago, wouldn't I? Because (as an Australian Aborigine) you're guilty before you're found innocent." The child's grandmother demands to know why "the stealing of our kids is happening all over again." A welfare official says, "I'm gunna take him, mate." This happened to an Aboriginal family in outback New South Wales. It is happening across Australia in a scandalous and largely unrecognized abuse of human rights that evokes the infamous Stolen Generation of the last century.   Read more .

Invasion of the Data Snatchers: On the Surveillance of Everything

TomDispatch - Estimates vary, but by 2020 there could be over 30 billion devices connected to the Internet. Once dumb, they will have smartened up thanks to sensors and other technologies embedded in them and, thanks to your machines, your life will quite literally have gone online.  The implications are revolutionary. Your smart refrigerator will keep an inventory of food items, noting when they go bad. Your smart thermostat will learn your habits and adjust the temperature to your liking. Smart lights will illuminate dangerous parking garages, even as they keep an “eye” out for suspicious activity.   Read more.

Migratory Birds Face Danger From Oil Spill Long After Shipping Channel Will Open

DeSmogBlog - Heavy fuel oil that spilled from a Kirby Inland Marine oil barge after it collided with a cargo ship on March 22, began washing up on Galveston Bay's shoreline on Sunday. The Coast Guard received its first reports of impacted birds by Sunday afternoon and the Houston Chronicle published a photo of a duck on the beach covered in oil. There are shorebird habitats on both sides of the shipping channel, including the Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary.   Read more .

Spy Agencies, Not Politicians, Hold the Cards in Washington

William Greider @ The Nation - I am addicted to House of Cards, the British and American versions, but I suggest that both TV series have been looking at the wrong game. On television, the story line is about a wicked political schemer, accompanied by his wicked wife, who climbs to the ultimate perch of power—prime minister or president—through fiendishly malevolent manipulations, including homicide. In the real world of Washington, however, politicians look more like impotent innocents compared to their true masters. It is the spooks and the spies who shuffle the deck and deal the cards. They hide their cut-throat intrigues behind bland initials—the CIA and the NSA. In recent weeks, a lurid real-life melodrama has been playing out in the nation's capital... read more .

Obama Wrong to Isolate Venezuela

The Boston Globe - The Bush administration had a stated policy of trying to isolate Venezuela from its neighbors, and the strategy ended up isolating Washington instead. President Obama, in his first meeting with hemispheric leaders in Trinidad in 2009, promised to turn a new page. But today, his administration finds itself even more isolated that that of his predecessor, and for much the same reasons.   Read more .

What's the Difference Between Force Feeding and Waterboarding?

ACLU Blog of Rights - The Department of Defense this month publicly released its newest rationalization for the abusive force-feeding program at Guantánamo Bay. In this latest memo on hunger strike policies, the abusive force-feeding program is referred to as "medical intervention." Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, judging from the heavily redacted memo, it is clear that DoD's aggressive response to ongoing hunger strikes at Guantánamo causes significant pain for the detainees and can be quite dangerous.   Read more .

Autopsy determines Texas cop fatally shot student in back - A Texas college student killed after reportedly making a sarcastic remark to a police officer likely died from a close range gunshot wound to the back, according to an autopsy report that sheds new light on a tragedy that made headlines late last year. Cameron Redus, a 23-year-old student at the University of the Incarnate Word in Texas, was shot five times by Christopher Carter, a campus police officer, after a traffic stop on December 6.   Read more .

The West Must Take Responsibility For The Disaster We Helped Create In Libya

Owen Jones @ Guardian UK - It's called the pottery store rule: "you break it, you own it". But it doesn't just apply to pots and mugs, but to nations. In the build-up to the catastrophic invasion of Iraq, it was invoked by Colin Powell, then US secretary of state. "You are going to be the proud owner of 25 million people," he reportedly told George W Bush. "You will own all their hopes, aspirations and problems." But while many of these military interventions have left nations shattered, western governments have resembled the customer who walks away whistling, hoping no one has noticed the mess left behind. Our media have been all too complicit in allowing them to leave the scene. Libya is a striking example.   Read more .

8 confirmed dead in huge Washington mudslide; others still missing

LA Times - At least eight people were confirmed dead in a mudslide Sunday night after rescuers had reported "no signs of life" amid the square mile of destruction. About 18 others remained unaccounted for, with officials warning that the number was fluid. A slurry of mud and debris smashed across a highway and into rural homes just east of the town of Oso on Saturday, officials said. Voices could be heard in the debris field late Saturday, but rescuers had to back off because their own lives were in peril.   Read more .

Israel closes embassies all over the world as diplomats go on indefinite strike - Employees of Israel's Foreign Ministry went on an all-out strike Sunday for the first time in the country’s history over a dispute surrounding workers' salaries and conditions. The dispute has been going on for nearly two years. Seven months of negotiations ended on March 4, when workers rejected a proposal by the Finance Ministry.   Read more .

Questions Remain About US Border Patrol's Killing of Teen

Tim Johnson @ Truthout  - Sixteen-year-old Jose Antonio Elena got the kind of punishment that those who toss rocks at Border Patrol agents receive with startling frequency: He was shot with a .40-caliber round from an agent’s service weapon. The bullet hit Elena in the back of the head. He slumped mortally wounded to a sidewalk on the Mexican side, a few paces from the border fence. At least two agents, perched on the U.S. side about 20 feet above the street and shielded by the fence’s closely spaced iron bars, continued to fire, witnesses said. In all, 10 bullets struck Elena, spattering a wall behind him with blood.   Read more .

Guantánamo: ‘Flouting the Rules of Law and Morality’

Miami Herald - Before this onetime coaling station for the U.S. Navy ships in the Caribbean was transformed into a site holding captives in the war on terror that U.S. officials had called the worst of the worst, most Americans were unaware of its existence. With a few exceptions, such as the 1992 movie A Few Good Men, a film about military duty and honor, and what happens when soldiers step over the line, the rule seemed to be, out of sight, out of mind.   Read more .

NSA targeted Chinese telecoms giant Huawei

Guardian UK - The National Security Agency created “back doors” into networks maintained by the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, according to a report released on Saturday. The report comes from a document provided by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and disclosed by the New York Times and Der Spiegel. It will add to embarrassment in US government circles, in light of an October 2012 US House of Representatives intelligence committee report which said US firms should avoid doing business with Huawei and another Chinese telecoms company, ZTE, because they posed a national security threat.   Read more .

South Africa to Monsanto: GMO Crops Aren’t Producing More Sustainable Food

Eat Drink Better - South Africa’s Advertising Standards Authority has ordered biotech giant Monsanto to immediately withdraw an advertisement it’s been running on the country’s Radio 702 channel. The decision comes after the African Centre for Biosafety submitted a complaint to the ASA after the ad was aired and found to be inappropriate.   Read more .

Nile River Dam Threatens War Between Egypt and Ethiopia

Inter Press Service - Relations between Egypt and Ethiopia have soured since Ethiopia began construction on the 4.2 billion dollar Grand Renaissance Dam in 2011. Egypt fears the new dam, slated to begin operation in 2017, will reduce the downstream flow of the Nile, which 85 million Egyptians rely on for almost all of their water needs. Officials in the Ministry of Irrigation claim Egypt will lose 20 to 30 percent of its share of Nile water and nearly a third of the electricity generated by its Aswan High Dam. Ethiopia insists the Grand Renaissance Dam and its 74 billion cubic meter reservoir at the headwaters of the Blue Nile will have no adverse effect on Egypt’s water share. It hopes the 6,000 megawatt hydroelectric project will lead to energy self-sufficiency and catapult the country out of grinding poverty.   Read more .

Iraq War Veteran Scott Olsen Reaches $4.5M Settlement in Occupy Oakland Bean Bag Case

NBC - An Iraq war veteran whose skull was fractured by a police bean bag during the Occupy Oakland protest has settled with the city for $4.5 million, his attorneys announced Friday, as part of a federal civil lawsuit. After he was struck with a lead-filled bean bag fire by a police officer from 20 feet away on Oct. 25, 2011, Scott Olsen, who was 24 at the time, suffered a skull fracture and permanent brain damage.   Read more .

Alliance of Ranchers and Indigenous Communities Challenges the Keystone XL

The Ecosocialist Coalition - Earlier this month nearly 400 students were arrested in front of the White House protesting the Keystone XL Pipeline. The next group of people to head to Washington, D.C. will be the Cowboy Indian Alliance, farmers and ranchers and American Indian communities living along the proposed northern part of the Keystone XL pipeline, mostly based in Nebraska and South Dakota. They will camp out near the White House for a week beginning April 22 (Earth Day), ending with a mass demonstration on April 27th.  Read more .

Massachusetts Senate Votes for Childbirth Without Chains

Victoria Law @ Truthout - On Thursday, March 20, the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed S2012, a bill that limits the shackling of pregnant prisoners during labor and delivery. The bill also requires minimum standards of medical care for pregnant women in jail and prison. "There is absolutely no reason to shackle pregnant women," Senator Karen Spilka, the bill's sponsor, told Truthout hours before the Senate vote. "It's unsafe, inhumane and barbaric."   Read more .

Illinois State Supreme Court strikes down eavesdropping law

Chicago Tribune - Hours after the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the state’s eavesdropping statute on Thursday, Annabel Melongo reflected on the 20 months she spent locked up in the Cook County Jail under the now-unconstitutional law. Melongo said she had been ordered held on a six-figure bond typically given repeat or violent offenders for recording three telephone conversations she had with a court reporter supervisor at the Leighton Criminal Court Building about the policy for correcting a hearing transcript.   Read more .

Nicolas Maduro: Ukrainian crisis is response to US and EU anti-Russian policy - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has accused both the US and the EU of “double standards” over Crimea and recalled the Kosovo and Falkland Islands referendums as evidence. Maduro says the West is seeking to “eventually destroy” Russia. “There is a certain transnational elite that has been cherishing this dream for 300 years,” Nicolas Maduro said.   Read more .

Fred Phelps, Founder of Anti-Gay Westboro Church Dead at 84

ABC News - Fred Phelps did not care what you thought of his Westboro Baptist Church, nor did he care if you heard its message that society's tolerance for gay people is the root of all earthly evil. By the time you saw one of his outrageous and hate-filled signs — "You're Going to Hell" was among the more benign — you were already doomed.   Read more .

US tech giants knew of NSA data collection, agency's top lawyer insists

Guardian UK - The senior lawyer for the National Security Agency stated unequivocally on Wednesday that US technology companies were fully aware of the surveillance agency’s widespread collection of data, contradicting months of angry denials from the firms.  Rajesh De, the NSA general counsel, said all communications content and associated metadata harvested by the NSA under a 2008 surveillance law occurred with the knowledge of the companies – both for the internet collection program known as Prism and for the so-called “upstream” collection of communications moving across the internet.   Read more

Waves of Liberal Protest Ripple Across South

Lauren McCauley @ Common Dreams - Waves of liberal protest are rippling across the South as a newly energized base—fueled by the momentum of the Moral Monday protests in North Carolina—are declaring to the largely Republican establishment that they will no longer be ignored. Thirty-nine protesters were arrested at the capitol building in Atlanta, Georgia on Tuesday during a raucous protest against the GOP-led effort to prohibit Medicaid expansion in the state.   Read more .

When the US Health Care System Keeps Killing, Who Still Cares Enough to Fight?

Donna Smith @ Common Dreams - We can tally the deaths that we know are caused by denials of care or medical errors in the U.S. health care system, and those numbers are horrifying.  Yet most of the American public doesn't pay much attention to the issue, and many only gripe about the health care system when their costs for maintaining health coverage or getting care exceed what is available in their personal budgets.  We live in a highly individualistic and selfish society when it comes to many of life's most essential needs.  And unless we can figure out a way to reward most Americans for having a sense of empathy toward those who are sick or weak, I am afraid it will be difficult to protect our current social safety net programs (including Medicare) or to reinvent our health care system without profit and business success as its primary motivations.   Read more .

Roger Waters: Why I must speak out on Israel

Roger Waters @ Salon - Seventy years ago, my father – 2nd Lt. Eric Fletcher Waters – died in Italy fighting the Nazis. He was a committed pacifist, and a conscientious objector at the start of the war, but as Hitler’s crimes spread across Europe, he swapped the ambulance he had driven through the London blitz for a tin hat and a commission in the Royal Fusiliers and he joined the fight against fascism.   Read more .

Congress, It’s Time To Clean Up Your Iraq War Mess

Phil Donahue @ - Eleven years have passed since the United States invaded Iraq in an unprovoked, unnecessary, unconstitutional action that violated international law. Not long after the March 2003 military blunder began, journalist Tim Russert asked then-Sen. John Kerry, “Are you sorry you voted for the war?” He answered in a word, “Profoundly.”   Read more .

Henry Giroux | Beyond Neoliberal Miseducation

Henry Giroux @ Truthout - As universities turn toward corporate management models, they increasingly use and exploit cheap faculty labor while expanding the ranks of their managerial class. Modeled after a savage neoliberal value system in which wealth and power are redistributed upward, a market-oriented class of managers largely has taken over the governing structures of most institutions of higher education in the United States. As Debra Leigh Scott points out, "administrators now outnumber faculty on every campus across the country."   Read more .

Incarcerating mothers punishes their children

Samantha Saara @ Truthout - The health of future generations is linked to our stories of incarceration. Children of incarcerated mothers are more likely to encounter extreme poverty, trauma and grief, and to be victims of violence. Those facts demand a reconsideration of the policy of incarcerating mothers. With 2.5 million children in the United States who have a parent in prison... Read more .

NSA recording ‘100 percent’ of another country’s phone calls - A secret spy program developed by the National Security Agency and reported publically for the first time on Tuesday has given the United States the ability to digitally record the contents of each and every phone call occurring across entire nations. Citing previously unpublished documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and statements from individuals with direct knowledge of the effort, the Washington Post’s Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani wrote that the US-administered surveillance system is capable of recording “100 percent” of a foreign country’s telephone calls.   Read more .

Obama's Opaque Presidency

Associated Press - The Obama administration more often than ever censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, according to a new analysis of federal data by The Associated Press. The administration cited more legal exceptions it said justified withholding materials and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy. Most agencies also took longer to answer records requests, the analysis found.   Read more .

The Speculators, Hustlers, and Freeloaders of Wall Street

Paul Bucheit @ Common Dreams - Purchases of American products generally come with a sales tax, and often an excise tax, and possibly state and local add-on taxes. A consumer can avoid all this by limiting purchases to food and prescription drugs, or by shopping online. There's one more way—by visiting a nearby financial exchange and buying a million dollars worth of derivatives. There is currently no U.S. tax on the purchase of stocks, derivatives, and other financial instruments. The rest of us pay up to a 10 percent sales tax on the necessities of daily life. A tiny financial transaction tax of perhaps a tenth of a percent on the trading of financial securities would begin to correct this inequity, while generating billions of dollars of revenue.   Read more .

Mainstream US Media Is Lost in Ukraine

Robert Parry @ Consortium News - The U.S. mainstream news media is reaching a new professional low point as it covers the Ukraine crisis by brazenly touting Official Washington’s propaganda themes, blatantly ignoring contrary facts and leading the American public into another geopolitical blind alley... read more.

President Obama says 'US Is Mobilizing to Isolate Russia'

Voice of America - Announcing that the U.S. and its allies are mobilizing to isolate Russia, President Barack Obama has imposed sanctions on key individuals Washington deems responsible for the current crisis in Ukraine following a Moscow-backed referendum in Crimea on the peninsula's secession from the country.  Speaking at the White House, Obama announced that he ordered sanctions against 11 Russian and Ukrainian officials, including two top advisers to Russia's President Vladimir Putin, in addition to ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. All will be subject to asset freezes.   Read more .

The Rigged Housing Market

Otherwords - An upscale housing development in Wilton, Connecticut (all of Wilton is upscale) is having no trouble selling its 20 units for $800,000 each. On average, homes in that town now fetch more than $1 million a piece. And real estate experts only rank the region that  includes Wilton at No. 33 on their list of the nation’s hottest markets. Clearly, the recession is over. Well, at least for the top 1 percent. Generally, housing prices are on their way back up. Or at least they were last year before a bit of a reversal.   Read more .

The Caribbean People Have a Legitimate Claim for Slavery Reparations

Cecily Jones - Caribbean heads of government gathered in St Vincent last week to discuss reparations from Europe for the enduring legacy of slavery. Professor Hilary Beckles, a Barbadian historian who chairs a reparations taskforce for these governments, wants to open talks with former slave-trading nations including the UK, France, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands. The Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave has opened up new conversations across the region, and what was once considered an unrealistic and unachievable demand now seems imaginable.   Read more .

On Democracy and Orchestrated Overthrows in Venezuela and Ukraine

Howard Friel @ Common Dreams - On April 11, 2002, the democratically elected president of Venezuela was overthrown by a group of military officers who installed a prominent Venezuelan businessman as president. The Bush administration announced that day that it supported the coup.  Two days later, on April 13, the lead editorial in the New York Times announced that it also supported the coup, claiming that it was a victory for “Venezuelan democracy”:   Read more .

Israel’s War on American Universities

Chris Hedges @ Truthdig - The banning of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at Northeastern University in Boston on March 7, along with a university threat of disciplinary measures against some of its members, replicates sanctions being imposed against numerous student Palestinian rights groups across the country. The attacks, and the disturbingly similar forms of punishment, appear to be part of a coordinated effort by the Israeli government and the Israel lobby to blacklist all student groups that challenge the official Israeli narrative.   Read more .

White Man March Coming To NYC To Fight "Anti-White Agenda"

gothamist (NYC) - No matter what your background or interests might be, there are lots of fun events happening around the city in the coming days, and one will surely appeal to you: there's the official St. Patrick's Day Parade on Monday (and several smaller related events over the weekend), the festive Jewish holiday of Purim starts on Saturday, and for the horrible racists among us, white power aficionados are organizing a White Man March as well for Saturday. Read more .

Traffic Stops Used To Seize Millions From Drivers Never Charged With A Crime

F orbes Magazine - A deputy for the Humboldt County’s Sheriff Office in rural Nevada has been accused of confiscating over $60,000 from drivers who were never charged with a crime.  These cash seizures are now the subject of two federal lawsuits and are the latest to spotlight a little-known police practice called civil forfeiture.   Read more .

About 95% of Crimeans in referendum voted to join Russia - Around 95 percent of voters in the Crimean referendum have answered ‘yes’ to the autonomous republic joining Russia and less than 5 percent of the vote participants want the region to remain part of Ukraine, according to preliminary results. With around 50 percent of the votes already counted, preliminary result show that 95.5 percent of voters said 'yes' to the reunion of the republic with Russia as a constituent unit of the Russian Federation.   Read more.

Wall Street Owes Young Americans

Ralph Nader @ Common Dreams - Wall Street’s big banks and their financial networks that collapsed the U.S. economy in 2008-2009, were saved with huge bailouts by the taxpayers, but these Wall Street Gamblers are still paid huge money and are again creeping toward reckless misbehavior. Their corporate crime wave strip-mined the economy for young workers, threw them on the unemployment rolls and helped make possible a low-wage economy that is draining away their ability to afford basic housing, goods, and services.  Read more .

‘They are fascists!’ German Left leader blasts Merkel’s support of illegitimate Ukraine govt - The recognition of Kosovo independence set a precedent that gives Crimeans, as well as Basques and Catalans, a right for self-determination, German opposition leader said, lashing out against Angela Merkel’s support of sanctions against Russia. Gregor Gysi, a parliamentary head of the largest lower-house opposition party in Germany – the Left Party – has spoken out on Thursday against German Chancellor’s unquestioning support of the coup-appointed Ukrainian government.   Read more .

Russia Vetos UN Measure on Crimea Referendum, China Abstains

Voice of America - The U.N. Security Council has failed to adopt a resolution that would have urged countries not to recognize the results of a Sunday referendum in Ukraine's Crimea region. Russia, as expected, voted against the measure while China abstained. The 13 other Security Council members voted in favor of the resolution.   Read more .

Tennessee must recognize marriages of 3 same-sex couples -judge

Reuters - Tennessee must recognize the legal same-sex marriages of three couples who wed in other states, a federal judge in Nashville ruled on Friday in a limited decision that echoed a similar case in neighboring Kentucky. Judge Aleta Trauger granted the couples a preliminary injunction that requires Tennessee to recognize their marriages pending a final decision on the constitutionality of Tennessee's ban on same-sex nuptials.   Read more .

Remote Control Flying Taser: CUPID Drone Delivers 80,000 Volts To Severely Stun Victims

FileHippo - Chaotic Moon, the company behind SharkPunch and the Pizza Hut touch table has modified a Tarot Hexacopter so that it can shoot an unsuspecting victim with an 80,000 volt taser. This drone was developed as a tech demo but the Chaotic Unmanned Personal Intercept Drone (CUPID) could soon be snapped up by a personal security or law enforcement firm. The Tarot Hexacopter was originally developed to carry a digital SLR on board for capturing aerial photos and videos... read more .

To combat air pollution Paris makes public transport free amid smog crisis -Public transport will be free from Friday until Sunday evening in Paris as the authorities try to encourage drivers to leave their cars at home, as much of France suffers severe air pollution caused by unusually warm weather. The French capital and 30 other regions of France have been on maximum pollution alert for several days, with conditions set to continue until the end of the weekend.   Read more .

The CIA Is Out of Control

Eugene Robinson @ Buzzflash - We now have even more proof that our burgeoning intelligence agencies, which were given unprecedented latitude to wage war against terrorists, are dangerously out of control.   Read more .