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Showing posts from May, 2014

How African Americans Beat One of the Most Racist Institutions: The Public Swimming Pool

Frank Ocean @ Grist - In 1930s New Orleans, when the city began draining swamps around Lake Pontchartrain to create the whites-only Pontchartrain Beach, African Americans naturally protested because there were few other places for them to legally and safely bathe and swim. The city considered giving blacks a beach in a tiny portion of the lakeshore called Seabrook, where the Industrial Canal spills into the lake — along with all of the pollution you would guess is carried in a canal built for industrial purposes. But white homeowners didn’t want to grant even this filthy area to black kids.  Read more .

Guantánamo Force-Feeding Constitutes Torture

L. Michael Hager @ Truthout - A recent federal court decision re-sanctions the force-feeding of hunger strikers at the Guantánamo prison. According to the UN and other international bodies, such practice inflicts pain, suffering and long-term injuries and constitutes torture. Forced cell extraction and the use of dangerous drugs to induce prisoner compliance add to the abuse. The military's refusal to disclose the number of hunger strikers violates President Obama's promise of government transparency and deprives the prisoners of their only means of communicating the deplorable conditions of their imprisonment.   Read more .

Illegal Wood and Murdered Activists in the Amazon

Jason Schwartz @ Greenpeace - Although a properly managed and inclusive process of timber extraction could be beneficial to both local communities, extractors, and consumers, the global demand for Amazonian wood has produced a culture of lawlessness, impunity, and dysfunction among the timber industry in Brazil. Indigenous and other local forest communities have seen their land seized, their lifestyles destroyed, and their livelihoods stolen. They have also faced constant violence. Since 1996, at least 1000 activists have been murdered in Brazil while facing down the the timber industry’s chainsaws.   Read more .

The Democrats’ New Fake Populism

Shamus Cooke @ Common Dreams - It would have been hilarious were it not so nauseating. One could only watch the recent “New Populism” conference with pity-induced discomfort, as stale Democratic politicians did their awkward best to adjust themselves to the fad of “populism.”   Read more .

Americans have First Amendment right to film police, US appeals court rules - A federal appeals court has ruled that Americans have the right to videotape police officers in public, thereby allowing a court case brought against New Hampshire police to progress. Carla Gericke was arrested in 2010 for videotaping members of the Weare Police Department who pulled over her friend during a traffic stop. Her video camera malfunctioned, however, and she failed to record evidence of the incident. Nevertheless, Gericke was arrested for disobeying a police officer, obstructing a government official, and... read more .

Newborn Dies After Mother Thrown In Solitary Confinement And Forced To Deliver Alone

The Inquisitr - Nicole Guerrero is suing a Texas county claiming that police threw her into solitary confinement while she was going into labor, forcing her to deliver her baby on her own and resulting in the infant’s death. Guerrero has filed suit this week against Wichita County, Sheriff David Duke, Correctional Healthcare Management, Inc. and Ladonna Anderson claiming that they refused to help while she was going into labor.   Read more .

Mass Hospitalizations As Hunger Strike Spreads in Israeli Prisons

Sarah Lazare @ Common Dreams - Nearly 70 Palestinian prisoners who have been on hunger strike for five weeks to protest Israel's detentions without charge or trial have been hospitalized, the Israel Prison Service announced Wednesday, according to the New York Times. It was not immediately clear where these hospitals are located.   Read more .

Pope Francis in Palestine

Phyllis Bennis @ Foreign Policy In Focus - Pope Francis' seemingly impromptu prayer at Israel's Apartheid Wall hinted at a radical critique of Israel in an otherwise carefully orchestrated trip.   Read more .

Armed With US Weapons, Iraqi Gov't Repeatedly Attacked Hospital

Sarah Lazare @ Common Dreams - The U.S.-backed Iraqi government has repeatedly struck Fallujah's main hospital with mortars and other munitions and has barrel-bombed densely populated residential areas in and around the city, according to a new report. Published Tuesday by Human Rights Watch, the findings exposed atrocities committed in the Iraqi government's escalated campaign against armed groups in Anbar province and immediately prompted condemnation from peace and justice campaigners.   Read more .

Obama Vision of "Ending" Afghan War Includes Longterm Large-scale US Military Presence

Lauren McCauley @ Common Dreams - In comments made Tuesday afternoon at the White House, President Obama laid out his plan to draw down the number of occupying forces in Afghanistan, indicating that his vision of succcess in terms of U.S. foreign policy is that in 2015, nearly ten thousand U.S. troops would remain "in harms way" overseas. According to President Obama, the number of troops will be cut from its current level of 32,000 to 9,800 by 2015.   Read more .

Solar Roadways passes $1.4 million in crowdfunding

ExtremeTech - Over the weekend, the Solar Roadways project on Indiegogo reached its target of $1 million. At the time of publishing, that figure is now north of $1.4 million, with five days left to go. The concept is verging on utopian: By replacing the USA’s concrete and asphalt roads with solar panels, we could produce three times more electricity than we consume, instantly solving just about every energy problem we have (geopolitical stuff, reliance on fossil fuels, CO2 production, etc.) It’s not hard to see why Solar Roadways has attracted so much attention and money: On paper, it really does sound like one of the greatest inventions ever. In reality, though, where, you know, real-world factors come into play, it will probably never make the jump from drawing board to large-scale deployment.   Read more .

Poet Maya Angelou dies at age 86

USA Today - Poet and essayist Maya Angelou died Wednesday at the age of 86, her publisher, Random House, has confirmed. Winston-Salem, N.C., Mayor Allen Joines told WFMY News 2 that Angelou's caregiver found her dead in her home Wednesday morning.   Read more .

French police in standoff with migrants at Calais camps

CNN - Police in northern France reportedly moved in Wednesday on makeshift migrant camps near the port of Calais, prompting a standoff with the defiant residents -- many of whom have fled conflicts in Syria, Sudan and Eritrea. Hundreds of migrants are gathered in the ramshackle camps, some seeking to claim asylum in France and others hoping to find a way to reach British soil.   Read more .

The Future of Food?

Dahr Jamail @ Truthout - Imagine a fish farm and vegetable garden that produces 500,000 pounds of fresh fish and 150,000 heads of lettuce annually. Now imagine that the farm uses aquaponics, aquaculture and greenhouses, and is actually a reclaimed, bio-remediated wastewater treatment plant. Lastly, imagine that, despite being located less than four miles from the downtown area of a city of more than six million people, it is completely self-sustaining and leaves no carbon footprint.   Read more .

Coronation of the Far-Right in Europe

Al Jazeera - On May 25, citizens across the European Union voted on who will lead the Bloc for the next five years. Results led to historical wins for far-right parties in Britain, France, Austria and Denmark. Now, Eurosceptics are poised to hold almost 30 percent of the 751 seats when the Parliament convenes in June. The most surprising results were reported from France. In what has been dubbed an "earthquake", the Front National won 25 percent of votes with an anti-European Union, anti-immigration and anti-globalisation platform. Marine Le Pen and her party will receive 24 of France's 74 seats in the European Parliament. This marks the first time that an extreme right-wing political party has won a French national election. While early opinion polls indicated the impending victory, political pundits balked at the likelihood of such an outcome.   Read more .

Caribbean Reparations Initiative Inspires a Revitalization of US Movement

Dan Rojas @ Truthout - Picture this scene. It was almost surreal, improbable just a few years ago: a room filled with presidents, prime ministers and foreign ministers from the 15-nation Caribbean Community (CARICOM), all listening with rapt attention, several nodding in agreement, as one of the region's most distinguished academics, and perhaps the Caribbean's most prominent public intellectual, gave a riveting report on the recent work of CARICOM's Reparations Commission.  Read more .

We Are the Soil

Vandana Shiva @ The Asian Age - We are made up of the same five elements — earth, water, fire, air and space — that constitute the Universe. We are the soil. We are the earth. What we do to the soil, we do to ourselves. And it is no accident that the words “humus” and “humans” have the same roots.  Read more .

China will destroy 5,000,000 cars this year to battle air pollution - China is going to make air cleaner by taking 5.33 million ageing cars off its roads, according to a government document. The move is part of a broader campaign for battling deep environmental crisis that’s gripped world’s second-biggest economy. The vehicles in question are so-called ‘yellow label’ cars that do not meet Chinese fuel standards and are thus meant to be ‘eliminated’ this year, the Chinese State Council document published on Monday... read more .

Anti-Austerity Left Wins in Greece, But Far-Right Rises across Europe

Jon Queally @ Common Dreams - As election results for European Parliament across the continent showed a popular disgust for elite parties and the economic status quo, in Greece it was the leftwing Syriza Party that best exhibited political victory for those pushing a progressive anti-austerity agenda in Europe. "This is a historic win," declared Syriza's youthful leader Alexis Tsipras to a crowd of enthusiastic supporters in Athens early on Monday. "Today, the whole of Europe is talking about Greece because it condemned austerity."   Read more .

Obama Did Not End Torture

Jeff Bachman and Jeannie Khouri @ Common Dreams - On January 9, 2009, then President-elect Barack Obama announced, in what was to be a departure from Bush administration era “war-on-terror” tactics: "I was clear throughout this campaign and was clear throughout this transition that under my administration the United States does not torture.” In April 2014, Senator Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called Bush administration era torture programs "a stain on our history that must never be allowed to happen again." Attorney General Eric Holder also weighed in, arguing that declassification of the Senate Intelligence Committee report would ensure that “no administration contemplates such a program in the future."   Read more .

China Tightens Grip on Africa

Inter Press Service - Janice Gacheri imports handbags and shoes from China which she sells on social media sites and by word of mouth to customers in Nairobi and neighbouring towns.  “For a part-time business, the returns are encouraging. I am considering pursuing it full time... read more .

Memorial Day: For Vets, Too Many Delays and Not Enough Parades

Michael Winship @ Common Dreams - I love a parade. And in the small upstate New York town in the Finger Lakes where I grew up there were not enough of them as far as I was concerned. There was the occasional special event: a parade to honor the Scottish racer Malcolm Campbell the summer he spent roaring up and down our lake unsuccessfully trying to break the world water speed record.   Read more .

Defying Israel, Pope Prays at 'Apartheid Wall'

Lauren McCauley @ Common Dreams - During his historic trip to Bethlehem on Sunday, Pope Francis made waves after taking a surprise detour to pray at the wall separating Palestine from the state of Israel. The stop at the barrier, also known as the "apartheid wall," was made on the second day of the pontiff's Middle East visit after touring Jordan on Saturday.   Read more .

Federal Judge Puts US Rep. John Conyers Back on Primary Ballot

Kathleen Gray @ Truthout  - U.S. Rep. John Conyers' on-again, off-again roller-coaster ride for the Aug. 5 ballot took a new twist Friday when U.S. District Judge Matthew Leitman put the 85-year-old congressman back on the ballot. Leitman's decision, released late Friday, contradicts the Secretary of State's review of Conyers' petitions, which found earlier in the day that Conyers had less than half the required signatures of valid registered voters on the petitions he turned in to qualify for the Aug. 5 primary ballot.   Read more .

Credit Suisse’s Sweetheart Deal

Ralph Nader @ Common Dreams - Attorney General Eric Holder’s sweetheart settlement with Switzerland’s second largest bank, corporate criminal Credit Suisse, sent the wrong message to other corporate barons. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) says it well: “Nor does the plea deal hold any officers, directors or key executives individually accountable for wrongdoing, raising the question of whether it will sufficiently deter similar misconduct in the future.”   Read more .

Guantánamo force-feeding causing 'agony', says US judge - The US government’s policy of abusive force-feeding at Guantánamo Bay is causing "agony" to prisoners, a federal judge said last night. Ruling on the case of Abu Wa'el Dhiab – a Syrian cleared for release in 2009, and one of several hunger-striking prisoners currently asking the DC District Court to order a halt to the practice – Judge Gladys Kessler urged the authorities to find a compromise that would spare him “the agony of having the feeding tubes inserted and removed for each feeding” and “the pain and discomfort of the restraint chair.”   Read more .

Iran hangs main convict in biggest banking fraud

Tehran Times - Iran has executed the number-one convict in the biggest embezzlement case in the country’s banking history. According to Tehran’s Public Prosecutor’s Office, Mahafarid Amir-Khosravi was hanged at Evin detention center Saturday dawn. Khosravi was convicted of disrupting the country’s economy through embezzlement, money laundering, and bribery. He had denied many of the charges.   Read more .

Seven dead in drive-by shooting near UC Santa Barbara

Chicago Tribune - A gunman sprayed bullets from a car, killing six people, in a drive-by shooting in a southern California college town before his car crashed and he was found dead inside, authorities said on Saturday. Seven people were also wounded in what the Santa Barbara County Sheriff described as a premeditated atrocity late on Friday in the town of Isla Vista near the University of California at SantaBarbara campus.   Read more .

Wikileaks Reveals Identity of 'Country X': Afghanistan

Sarah Lazare @ Common Dreams - Wikileaks stated Friday that, in addition to the Bahamas, the United States is tracking and recording all mobile phone calls within the country Afghanistan. In making the announcement, the publication claimed to be shedding light on information redacted by journalists at The Intercept who reported earlier this week on the existence of far-reaching NSA surveillance in a series of countries. Characterizing The Intercept's decision to withhold the identity of what came to be called 'country x' as a form of media "censorship," Wikileaks released a statement on Friday which argued:   Read more .

Art to the Rescue! - Visual language is the native tongue of painters and sculptors, and it is not uncommon for a visual artist to use creative communication to challenge the status quo or something seen as unjust. Generally speaking, we artists are more willing to give up what we have for something greater and long lasting that benefits the whole. And often it is the artist—visual, literary or otherwise—who sacrifices life and limb when others will not, or believe they cannot, all of which makes some artists the ideal activists. Case in point: after authorities representing the government of Chile announced that due to “financial Irregularities” the Universidad del Mar would be [permanently] shut down at the end of 2014—a move that would affect approximately 10,000 students—an artist/activist named Francisco Tapia, aka Papas Fritas, put on display $500,000,000 of “debt paper” that he took without permission from the university and burned to ashes. From the Santiago Times, a May 21s

Historic Site Ablaze: Charles Rennie Mackintosh's World-renowned Glasgow School of Art on fire

Daily Mail (UK) - A major fire is currently tearing through one of Britain's most celebrated art schools that has nurtured a host of household names.  The blaze inside Glasgow School of Art's historic Charles Rennie Mackintosh building is believed to have started when a projector exploded in its basement this afternoon.   Read more .

California's Fracking Boom Just Got Busted

Mike Ludwig @ Truthout - Energy Information Administration officials told reporters on Wednesday that they are cutting their estimate of how much oil can be drawn out of California's massive Monterey Shale formation by a whopping 96 percent.  The news deals a serious blow to the fracking industry and has environmentalists cheering as momentum builds behind a legislative effort to put a moratorium on fracking in California.   Read more .

The Case for Reparations

Ta-Nehisi Coates @ The Atlantic - In the 1920s, Jim Crow Mississippi was, in all facets of society, a kleptocracy. The majority of the people in the state were perpetually robbed of the vote—a hijacking engineered through the trickery of the poll tax and the muscle of the lynch mob. Between 1882 and 1968, more black people were lynched in Mississippi than in any other state. “You and I know what’s the best way to keep the nigger from voting,” blustered Theodore Bilbo, a Mississippi senator and a proud Klansman. “You do it the night before the election.”   Read more .

Yasiin Bey, aka Mos Def, cancels US tour amid 'legal' wrangles

Guardian UK - The rapper Mos Def, now known as Yasiin Bey, has cancelled an upcoming tour of the United States, with promoters citing "legal" issues. The Together music festival in Boston wrote on its website: "We regret to inform you that due to immigration/legal issues Yasiin Bey is unable to enter back into the United States and his upcoming US tour has been canceled."   Read more .

Radical Art Is an Act of Uncompromising Passionate Resistance

Mark Karlin @ Truthout - Marxian playwright Bertolt Brecht declared of revolutionary art: "Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it." Brecht's work - whose artistic career in Germany (except for his exile during the Nazi era, after which he returned to found the Berliner Ensemble Theater company in East Berlin) spanned from the Russian Revolution to his death in 1956 - illustrated, during his career, that revolutionary art must avoid the pitfalls of becoming co-opted by propaganda or commercialization.   Read more .

Oregon begins process of banning GMO crops

International Business Times - Voters in two Oregon counties approved ballot initiatives Tuesday banning the cultivation of genetically modified crops. The ballot measures add Jackson and Josephine, neighboring counties in southwestern Oregon, to the growing list of places around the world that have outlawed the highly controversial GMO crops from being grown within their borders.   Read more .

Video Reveals Israel Defense Force Shooting of Innocent Palestinian Teens

Lauren McCauley @ Common Dreams - International outcry and condemnation came swiftly on Tuesday following the release of video footage showing two innocent Palestinian teenagers being shot dead by Israeli forces. According to rights group Defense for Children International — Palestine, which obtained and circulated the security camera footage, Nadeem Siam Nawara, 17, and Mohammad Mahmoud Odeh, 16, sustained fatal gunshot wounds on May 15 by Israeli Defense Forces after participating in a demonstration near the Ofer military prison in the West Bank.   Read more .

New Report says Nationwide 'Epidemic' Of Pedestrian Deaths a Failure of Social Justice

Sarah Lazare @ Common Dreams - An "epidemic" of pedestrian fatalities and injuries is sweeping the United States, hitting people of color, children, and older adults the hardest. According to a new report (pdf), these are not inevitable "accidents," but rather, preventable tragedies that stem from poor social policies.   Read more .

Thailand goes on lockdown as marshal law declared

CNN - It's tense in Thailand, where violence has spilled into the streets, causing deaths, injuries and political instability that led to the Thai army declaring martial law Tuesday. The declaration was a surprise move that an aide to the embattled Prime Minister said the government didn't know about. "They took this action unilaterally," said the aide, who did not wish to be named. The person described the action as "half a coup d'etat."   Read more .

The Birth of a Eurasian Century: Russia and China Do Pipelineistan

Pepe Escobar @ TomDispatch - A specter is haunting Washington, an unnerving vision of a Sino-Russian alliance wedded to an expansive symbiosis of trade and commerce across much of the Eurasian land mass - at the expense of the United States. And no wonder Washington is anxious. That alliance is already a done deal in a variety of ways: through the BRICS group of emerging powers (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa); at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Asian counterweight to NATO; inside the G20; and via the 120-member-nation Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Trade and commerce are just part of the future bargain.  Synergies in the development of new military technologies beckon as well. After Russia’s Star Wars-style, ultra-sophisticated S-500 air defense anti-missile system comes online in 2018, Beijing is sure to want a version of it. Meanwhile, Russia is about to sell dozens of state-of-the-art Sukhoi Su-35 jet fighters to the Chinese as Beijing and Moscow move

Many wealthy Americans believe that dysfunctional behavior causes poverty

Paul Buchheit @ Common Dreams - Many wealthy Americans believe that dysfunctional behavior causes poverty. Their own success, they would insist, derives from good character and a strict work ethic. But they would be missing some of the facts. Ample evidence exists to show a correlation between wealth and unethical behavior, and between wealth and a lack of empathy for others, and between wealth and unproductiveness.   Read more

A Radical Seed Grows in Jackson, Miss.

Waging Nonviolence - When Iya’Falola Omobola first crossed the Mississippi state border 10 years ago, she felt uneasy. A friend told her that she was “feeling the energy from all those bodies hanging in the trees.” Yet, Omobola’s feeling soon changed. Born into a family of civil rights and labor organizers in Cleveland, Ohio, Omobola came to see Jackson as the Phoenix that rises from the ashes. She came to feel increasingly connected to the city’s rich civil rights history: Jackson was the place where NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers was murdered in 1963; where the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee did much of its organizing for Mississippi’s Freedom Summer; and where Stokely Carmichael delivered an important speech in 1966 about black power as a psychological response to fear. Now, 50 years later, Omobola’s has become one of the many residents who has helped launch Jackson to the forefront of today’s civil and economic rights movement.   Read more .

Cisco CEO Berates Obama for NSA Surveillance

Jon Queally @ Common Dreams - Following revelations contained in Glenn Greenwald's latest book that the NSA intercepted and installed surveillance spyware on Cisco computers while in transit, the CEO of the computer company has personally interceded, sending President Obama a letter calling for government restraint on its surveillance policies.   Read more .

Portland, Oregon Is First U.S. City to Divest Funds from Walmart

YES! Magazine - On Thursday, May 15, the city of Portland got rid of $9 million, or 25 percent, of its investments in Walmart. This marks the beginning of a divestment program that will purge Portland's investment portfolio of $36 million in Walmart bonds by 2016, according to a press release. The divestment plan is part of the city's responsible investment initiative, introduced by City Commissioner Steve Novick, and adopted in October 2013. The initiative also prohibits the city from purchasing Walmart bonds in the future.   Read more .

New York Times’ New Executive Editor Has History of Steering Clear of Controversial Reporting

Kevin Goszota @ The Dissenter - New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson has been fired and replaced by Dean Baquet, who was managing editor at the Times. But how will he defend the right to publish when confronted by opposition from government officials? What will Baquet do to encourage and promote investigative journalism? What responsibility may he show to sources?   Read more .

Military Suicides: 22 veterans a day take their own life

Stars and Stripes - The number of young veterans committing suicide jumped dramatically from 2009 to 2011, a worrying trend that Veterans Affairs officials hope can be reversed with more treatment and intervention. New suicide data released by the department on Thursday showed that the rate of veterans suicide remained largely unchanged over that three-year period, the latest for which statistics are available. About 22 veterans a day take their own life, according to department estimates.   Read more .

Break the Silence: A World War Is Beckoning

John Pliger @ Truthout - Why do we tolerate the threat of another world war in our name? Why do we allow lies that justify this risk? The scale of our indoctrination, wrote Harold Pinter, is a "brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis," as if the truth "never happened even while it was happening."   Read more .

Pakistani prisoners released from US custody

Al Jazeera - At least 10 prisoners being held by US forces at Afghanistan’s Bagram prison have been released into Pakistani custody, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has told the prisoners’ families. The prisoners have been repatriated to Pakistan, but their whereabouts remain unknown... read more .

Next Newark Mayor Elected on Anti-Charter School Platform

Mark Karlin @ Buzzflash - On Tuesday, May 13, Newark elected Ras Baraka (with 54% of the vote) as its new mayor, filling the vacancy left by Cory Booker. Booker had recently won a special election to fill the vacancy in the US Senate left by Frank Lautenberg, who died in June 2013. Ras Baraka, son of the late poet and activist Amiri Baraka, is a public high school principal. A key plank of his campaign was an attack on the privatization of K-12 education. The Star-Ledger (New Jersey’s main newspaper) ran a pre-election article in which Baraka scathingly criticized a state plan to convert public schools to charter schools in Newark:   read more .

Judge strikes down Idaho's same-sex marriage ban

USA Today - A federal judge has issued an injunction Tuesday blocking enforcement of Idaho's ban on same-sex marriage, saying it is unconstitutional. U.S. District Magistrate Candy Dale issued the ruling in the case of four same-sex couples who challenged the constitutionality of Idaho's marriage laws, which voters approved as an amendment to the state constitution in 2006. In her decision, Dale wrote that Idaho's laws barring same-sex marriage unconstitutionally deny gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry.   Read more .

Aaron Hernandez indicted for 2012 double homocide

USA Today - Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez was indicted Thursday in a July 16, 2012 double slaying of two Boston men as "the principal, the shooter, the person responsible for taking the two lives – the lives of the two victims,'' Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said at a morning news conference.  Read more.

'Lift the skirt’ campaign urges French schoolboys to skip trousers for a day - Nantes education authorities have launched a 'Lift the Skirt' campaign to support gender equality. Under the campaign, male students and teachers of 27 public schools are invited to wear skirts on May 16, sparking controversy in the western French city. The idea to swap trousers for skirts in a stand against sexism originated from pupils themselves, and was sanctioned by the city's school authorities and therefore by the Ministry of Education, the Local reported.  Read more.

FCC moves forward with new net neutrality rules amid protests - The Federal Communication Commission voted Thursday morning to move forward with proposed rules for net neutrality that may affect the concept of an open internet as it exists today. Led by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, the committee agreed by way of a three-two vote during a hearing in Washington, DC early Thursday to open up recently proposed rules concerning the future of net neutrality for comment, effectively allowing interested parties 120 days beginning immediately to weigh in on those recommendations ahead of a final decision expected later this year.   Read more .

Bankers killing bankers for the insurance money and another look at 9/11

Max Keiser @ - Two big, macabre stories came out of Wall Street recently: the rash of banker deaths by apparent murder and/or suicide, and speculation that bank CEOs themselves are behind the trend to cash in on the insurance. It turns out that banks take out life insurance policies on their employees, and those policies pay out death benefits to the banks – not the families. In other words, to add to the banks' other crimes, they appear to also be involved in the "suicides" and deaths of their own, as a way to fatten their bottom line and bonuses.  Read more . 

Death to the Death Penalty

Marjorie Cohn @ Truthout - The recent torturous execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma has propelled the death penalty into the national discourse. The secret three-drug cocktail that prison authorities administered to Lockett - the first to render him unconscious, the second to paralyze him, and the third to stop his heart and kill him - didn't work as planned. After writhing in pain for 43 minutes, he finally died of a heart attack. Madeline Cohen, a lawyer who witnessed the botched execution, said Lockett had been "tortured to death." Seasoned reporters, also witnesses, called it "horrific." President Obama found it "deeply disturbing" and promised a review of how the death penalty is administered.   Read more .

The Common Sense Tax

Robert Weissman @ Otherwords - It’s nothing new for Wall Street to work every possible angle so it can squeeze additional profits out of trades. It’s the job of lawmakers and regulators to make sure that Wall Street does not rip off investors or endanger the financial system’s stability.   Read more .

The Militarized Pacific: An Anniversary Without End

Jon Letman @ Truthout - March 1, the 60th anniversary of the Castle Bravo test - a nuclear detonation over a thousand times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima - has come and gone. Predictably, major decadal events, like a 15-megaton explosion over a Micronesian atoll, garner fleeting attention, but it's all the days between the anniversaries that tell the real story of those who live with the impacts.   Read more .

Glenn Greenwald's New Book: No Place to Hide

Jonathan Franklin @ Truthout - Glenn Greenwald has just released a new 350-page book recompiling the ongoing saga of the "tens of thousands" of secret NSA documents given to him by whistleblower Edward Snowden. Entitled No Place to Hide, the book describes what Greenwald calls "a surveillance system that has as its primary objective the elimination of privacy globally, by which I mean that everyone's communications electronically will be collected, stored, analyzed and monitored by the US government."  Read more .

Jill Abramson's Departure Comes as Shock in New York Times Newsroom

Bloomberg Business Week - Jill Abramson has a tattoo of a “T” on her back inspired by her years at the New York Times, where she rose to the very top of the newsroom hierarchy. In the coming days she might find herself thinking about getting it removed. The newspaper company on Wednesday afternoon announced the abrupt and unexpected departure of its executive editor.   Read mor e.

Magic Johnson: We need to pray for Donald Sterling, get him help

LA Times - Magic Johnson on Tuesday responded to Donald Sterling's attacks on him, calling the Clippers owner's  statements "very disturbing." Sterling lashed out at Johnson during a CNN interview broadcast Monday night, alluding to the NBA great’s HIV-positive diagnosis and saying he was not a good role model for the children of Los Angeles.   Read more .

A Japanese startup unveils a long-lasting and safer battery made from carbon

Gigaom  - A battery that lasts longer, is safer, charges faster and is less expensive than a standard lithium ion battery: That’s the powerful idea behind a new type of battery under development by a young Japanese startup called Power Japan Plus, or PJP, which came out of stealth on Tuesday. The year-old company uses carbon for both the anode and the cathode portion of the battery and hopes to start producing it later this year.   Read more .

Chris Hedges: The Power of Imagination

Chris Hedges @ Truthdig - Those in the premodern world who hoarded possessions and refused to redistribute supplies and food, who turned their backs on the weak and the sick, who lived exclusively for hedonism and their own power, were despised. Those in modern society who are shunned as odd, neurotic or eccentric, who are disconnected from the prosaic world of objective phenomena and fact, would have been valued in premodern cultures for their ability to see what others could not see. Dreams and visions—considered ways to connect with the wisdom of ancestors—were integral to existence in distant times. Property was communal then. Status was conferred by personal heroism and providing for the weak and the indigent. And economic exchanges carried the potential for malice, hatred and evil: When wampum was exchanged by Native Americans the transaction had to include “medicine” that protected each party against “spiritual infection.”   Read more .

Europe's top court supports 'right to be forgotten' in Google privacy case

CNN - People have the "right to be forgotten" and search engines like Google must remove certain unwanted links, Europe's top court decided in a surprise ruling Tuesday. The case, which spotlighted the clash between privacy and freedom of information advocates, centered on a Spanish man's efforts to remove historic links to his debt problems.   Read more.

"Devastating" Impacts of Climate Change Increasing

Dahr Jamail @ Truthout - A massive collapse of an ice sheet in Western Antarctica has begun and, according to scientists, is most likely an unstoppable event that will cause an inevitable rise in global sea levels of at least 10 feet. The rise will be relatively slow at first, but by 2100 will ramp up sharply. This could happen sooner, warn the scientists, as the impacts of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD/climate change) continue to intensify. "This is really happening," Thomas P. Wagner, who runs NASA's programs on polar ice and helped oversee some of the research, said. "There's nothing to stop it now."   Read more .

The Year of Edward Snowden

TomDispatch - Make no mistake: it’s been the year of Edward Snowden.  Not since Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War has a trove of documents revealing the inner workings and thinking of the U.S. government so changed the conversation.  In Ellsberg’s case, that conversation was transformed only in the United States.  Snowden has changed it worldwide.  From six-year-olds to Angela Merkel, who hasn’t been thinking about the staggering ambitions of the National Security Agency, about its urge to create the first global security state in history and so step beyond even the most fervid dreams of the totalitarian regimes of the last century?   Read more .

Catastrophic collapse of Antarctic ice sheet now underway, say scientists

Christian Science Monitor - The biggest glaciers in West Antarctica are hemorrhaging ice without any way to stem the loss, according to two independent studies. The unstoppable retreat is the likely start of a long-feared domino effect that could cause the entire ice sheet to melt, whether or not greenhouse gas emissions decline.  Read more .

Some Thoughts on Michael Sam, The NFL, And Manhood

Forbes - It is a new idea, for a lot of people, that a gay man can be good at football. It is a new idea, for a lot of people, that a gay man can be a member of a sports team without wrecking the chemistry. (Sam came out to his teammates before last season. Missouri went 12-2.) It is a new idea, for a lot of people, that an NFL player — somebody we tend to think of as a man among men — can also be a guy who has a boyfriend, and kisses him.   Read more .

Chicago Teachers Union Passes Resolution Opposing Common Core

Valerie Strauss @ Answer Sheet - The Chicago Teachers’ Union House of Delegates has passed a resolution opposing use of the Common Core State Standards in teaching and testing, and it plans to lobby the Illinois Board of Education to reverse approval of the Core and ask its parent union, the American Federation of Teachers, to consider it at its upcoming convention.   Read more .

The Forgotten Mothers - About 400 elite mercenaries from the notorious US private security firm Academi (formerly Blackwater) are taking part in the Ukrainian military operation against anti-government protesters in southeastern regions of the country, German media reports. The Bild am Sonntag newspaper, citing a source in intelligence circles, wrote Sunday that Academi employees are involved in the Kiev military crackdown on pro-autonomy activists in near the town of Slavyansk, in the Donetsk region.   Read more .

Norway’s Leaders Snub Dalai Lama in Deference to China

NY Times - The Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader in exile, began a visit to Norway on Wednesday to commemorate the Nobel Peace Prize he received there 25 years ago, but the trip was overshadowed by an uproar over the government’s refusal to meet with him in deference to an increasingly assertive China, which considers the Dalai Lama an unrepentant separatist. It was the first time that top officials in Norway, which has historically portrayed itself as a bastion of political tolerance, had snubbed the Dalai Lama.   Read more.

Solar Panels Finally Arrive Atop the White House

Lesley Clark @ McClatchy Newspapers - The White House is finally on the solar grid, in response to prodding by environmentalists and nearly four years after then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu pledged that solar panels and a solar water heater would be installed on the historic building's roof.   Read more .

Mothers Behind Bars

Samantha Sarra @ Truthout - For mothers behind bars, the prison walls are held up with patriarchy, racism and poverty. Injustice is the mortar that holds together the bricks of the prison industrial complex and the handcuffs worn by female inmates are still tightly linked to the shackles of slavery and oppression.  Read more .

Jonathan Fleming's Wrongful Conviction: Released after serving a 25 year prison sentence

Guardian UK - Jonathan Fleming never lost hope that he would be released from prison. “I never gave up. I had faith. I said to myself I don’t know how long it’s going to take, but I’m going to get out,” he told the Guardian, weeks after a judge dismissed his 1989 conviction for murder. A recently discovered phone receipt showed that Fleming was with his family at Disney World at the time Darryl Rush, his alleged victim... read more .

Cecily McMillan jurors tell judge Occupy activist should not go to jail

Guardian UK - A majority of the jurors who this week convicted an Occupy Wall Street activist of assaulting a New York police officer have asked the judge in her case to not send her to prison. Cecily McMillan was on Monday found guilty of deliberately elbowing officer Grantley Bovell in the face, as he led her out of a protest in March 2012. She was convicted of second-degree assault, a felony, and faces up to seven years in prison.  Read more .

Victory! Vermont Passes Landmark GMO Labeling Law

Andrea Germanos @ Common Dreams - Vermont made history on Thursday by becoming the first state to require the labeling of foods with genetically modified ingredients following passage of a no "trigger clause" bill. The measure passed both bodies of the state legislature last month, and officially became law Thursday afternoon with Governor Peter Shumlin's signature.  Read more .

93-year-old woman shot and killed by police officer

The Eagle (Texas) - Many Hearne residents Wednesday were struggling to understand why a 93-year-old known as a kind matriarch who greeted people as "honey pie" and "sweetie pie" was shot down by a police officer outside of her home. Even more concerning for the town was the fact that Hearne police officer Stephen Stem, 28, who officials said fired three to five rounds and killed Pearlie Golden Tuesday evening, is the same officer who fatally shot 28-year-old Tederalle Satchell in December 2012.   Read more .

Tech Giants Blast FCC Chairman's Attack on "Free and Open Internet"

Jon Queally @ Common Dreams - In a strongly-worded letter to the Federal Communications Commission delivered on Wednesday, over 100 internet companies and industry innovators—including Google, Twitter, Facebook, Netflix and Amazon—called on the FCC commissioners to reject recently proposed rules that threaten net neutrality as it urged them to protect the concept of "a free and open internet."   Read more .

Just What Is Net Neutrality, and Why All the Fuss?

Joshua Holland @ Moyers & Company - The battle over Net neutrality is once again heating up. But not everyone has followed this somewhat complicated issue. Here, then, is a primer for understanding what's at stake in the fight for an open Internet.   Read more .