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Showing posts from September, 2015

Black Activists Host Venezuelan President Maduro in Harlem

Noam Chomsky on the Potential for Ordinary People to Make Radical Change

Throughout his illustrious career, one of Noam Chomsky's chief preoccupations has been questioning - and urging us to question - the assumptions and norms that govern our society. Following a talk on power, ideology, and US foreign policy last weekend at the New School in New York City, freelance Italian journalist... read more.

New Data Reveals Stark Gaps in Graduation Rates Between Poor and Wealthy Students

New Data Reveals Stark Gaps iA new report released last week provides a detailed look at the graduation rates of low-income college students. At many colleges, low-income students graduate at much lower rates than their high-income peers. At the University of Missouri-Kansas City, only 35 percent of Pell Grant recipients graduate college, a rate that is more than 20 percentage points lower than that of their wealthier peers.n Graduation Rates Between Poor and Wealthy Students.   Read more.

Ahead of Airstrikes, Russia Warned US To Stay Out Of Syrian Airspace

At an afternoon press conference, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter claimed evidence may show that Russia airstrikes were hitting areas where there were not Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) forces and charged that Moscow's bolstering of President Bashar al-Assad could backfire if that meant the targeting of what the U.S. considers "legitimate" opposition forces aligned against the Syrian government.   Read more.

Obama’s Self-Deceit, Bold-Face Lies and Coercion

There was stunned silence in the General Assembly Hall on Monday as U.S. President Barack Obama warned leaders against falling back to pre-United Nations days, in which strong nations imposed their will by force against the weak. There was apparent disbelief as he said it was Russia and China that wanted a “return to the rules that applied for most of human history and that pre-date this institution.”   Read more.

The Superpower as Victim: Three Exceptional Facts About America

Given the cluttered landscape of the last 14 years, can you even faintly remember the moment when the Berlin Wall came down, the Cold War ended in a stunned silence of shock and triumph in Washington, Eastern Europe was freed, Germany unified, and the Soviet Union vanished from the face of the Earth? At that epochal moment, six centuries of imperial rivalries ended. Only one mighty power was left.   Read more.

The Refugee Crisis Is Rooted in the West's Policies

In recent months, the Western world has been pulled into a state of shock and panic as the repercussions of its actions have come starkly into view, due to an intensifying refugee crisis from Eritrea to Libya to Syria and around the globe. The mainstream media would have you think that this crisis materialized overnight. However, it has roots in the terrible atrocities the West has engaged in over the last several years - atrocities that cause people to have to flee their homes in the first place.   Read more.

Jamaica demands slavery reparations from Britain

Prime Minister David Cameron has been reminded of his family’s links to slavery as he faces calls for Britain to pay Jamaica millions of pounds in reparations ahead of his first official visit to Kingston on Tuesday. Academics and politicians in Jamaica have demanded the PM issue an apology for the hundreds of years during which Britain enslaved and “extracted wealth” from the island’s people.   Read more.

Elizabeth Warren: 'Black Lives, Black Citizens, Black Families Matter'

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Sunday gave a candid endorsement of the Black Lives Matter movement and called for widespread anti-racist activism and institutional reform, stating in a speech at the Edward Kennedy Institute in Massachusetts, "This is the reality all of us must confront, as uncomfortable and ugly as that reality may be. It comes to us to once again affirm that black lives matter, that black citizens matter, that black families matter."   Read more.

Sex, drugs & lies: DEA agents stay on job despite serious misconduct, internal records show

It's next to possible to get fired from the US Drug Enforcement Administration, official records show. Since 2010 agents have escaped with warnings or brief suspensions after distributing drugs, attending sex parties, associating with criminals and falsifying records. Of the 50 employees the DEA's Board of Professional Conduct recommended be fired following misconduct investigations opened since 2010, only 13 were... read more.

Shell Calls It Quits in the Arctic

In what environmental campaigners are calling "a huge break" for the Arctic region and by extension the world's climate, the Royal Dutch Shell oil company announced on Monday it would end exploratory drilling in the Chukchi Sea after disappointing results from its controversial operations in the Alaskan waters that took place this summer.   Read more.

Parents Stage Hunger Strike to Demand Answers One Year After Disappearance of 43 Mexican Students

Pro-independence parties in Spain projected to win absolute majority in Catalan elections

An exit poll from Sunday’s elections in Catalonia indicates that the pro-independence parties are likely to win an absolute majority in the regional parliament, making a collision with Madrid over independence inevitable. According to the poll released by local broadcaster TV3, the “Junts pel Si” and CUP parties, should win 72 of the 135 parliamentary seats. It was estimated that together they received 47.8 percent of the vote.   Read more.

Top Pope Advisor Says Vatican Will Not Divest From Fossil Fuels

Pope Calls UN to Focus on Climate Solution Not Just Commitments

Cities Are Finally Treating Water as a Resource, Not a Nuisance

Memorial Day barbecues and parades were thwarted this year in Houston when a massive storm dumped more than 10 inches of rain in two days, creating a Waterworld of flooded freeways, cars, houses and businesses, leaving several people dead and hundreds in need of rescue. But it was a predictable disaster. That's because, thanks to a pro-development bent, the magnitude of stormwater runoff has increased dramatically as Houston has sprawled across 600 or so square miles of mud plain veined with rivers... read more.

Austerity is Smokescreen for Class War Against Poor, Says Yanis Varoufakis

Austerity and deficit reduction are smokescreens for class war against the poor, economics professor, former Greek finance minister, and fiery commentator Yanis Varoufakis declared Thursday on BBC's Question Time. Varoufakis made the statements during a panel debate with United Kingdom politicians and pundits and... read more.

Volkswagen Blames Emissions-Cheating Scandal on Low-Level Technicians

Top-ranking Volkswagen officials on Friday cast blame for the company's large-scale diesel emissions-fixing scandal on a small number of unidentified and relatively low-level engineers and technicians. In public statements issued at the company's headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, new CEO Matthias Müller condemned the... read more.

A Secret War in 135 Countries

You can find them in dusty, sunbaked badlands, moist tropical forests, and the salty spray of third-world littorals. Standing in judgement, buffeted by the rotor wash of a helicopter or sweltering beneath the relentless desert sun, they instruct, yell, and cajole as skinnier men playact under their watchful eyes. In many places, more than their particular brand of camouflage, better boots, and designer gear sets them apart. Their days are scented by stale sweat and gunpowder; their nights are spent in rustic locales or third-world bars.   Read more.

Anatomy of Volkswagen’s deception: The recall that never fixed any cars

Volkswagen's decision to equip 11 million vehicles with devices to cheat emissions tests worldwide has sent the company into an acute corporate crisis in recent days. But on Dec. 2, 2014, the company assured U.S. and California regulators that their engineers had a straightforward solution. Volkswagen told officials then that a software change would remedy the overflow of pollution emitted by their diesel cars, according to state and federal letters to the company.   Read more.

Hundreds of federal workers request audience with Pope

Hundreds of striking low-wage workers in Washington, D.C. want Pope Francis to join their cause. Members of Good Jobs Nation, the labor-backed campaign to win higher pay and union recognition for service employees at federal sites in the capital, halted work on Tuesday morning as part of a protest timed to coincide with the pope’s U.S. visit. Roughly 1,000 workers from privately managed, federally owned workplaces, such as the Smithsonian museum food courts, joined religious leaders for a march to Capitol Hill.   Read more.

Cornel West says Bernie Sanders an Insurgent on Par with Jesse Jackson

Bernie Sanders is as much an insurgent as Jesse Jackson was, according to Cornel West, who worked for both Jackson campaigns and is now the socialist Democratic presidential candidate’s most high-profile black backer. “Absolutely, no doubt about it,” the academic and campaigner told the Guardian. “There are some similarities and elective affinities.”   Read more.

The Case of a Clock: America's School to Prison Pipeline Personified

Syriza Retains Rule But Troika's "Financial Terrorism" Holds Power in Greece

The tumultuous political saga of the Syriza party, led by Alexis Tsipras, continued Sunday night in Greece as the left-wing coalition party claimed victory in snap elections against their conservative rivals despite acceptance earlier this year of a new round of austerity measures imposed by the nation's foreign creditors in exchange for new loan packages. Read more.

The Fight For Dyett: What It Teaches Us and Why It Matters

On Saturday, a group of parents, grandparents, teachers, and community members ended a historic 34-day hunger strike. Their cause? To save what is the last open enrollment public high school in the historic Bronzeville community in Chicago, Walter H. Dyett High School.  Several strikers had been hospitalized; one collapsed at a recent Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Board Meeting. The chief medical officer for the Cook County Department of Public Health, Dr. Linda Rae Murray urged Mayor Rahm Emanuel to negotiate with the strikers. Other prominent physicians echoed her calls. Yet for 34 days, the twelve hunger strikers remained resolved, and were joined by three more.  The attending nurse for the strikers, Erin Raether for Nurses for Justice, has pronounced that it was “a life threatening situation.”   Read more.

California Moves to Regulate Medical Marijuana Industry

After nearly 20 years of wrangling over what is and is not legal under California's 1996 Proposition 215 medical marijuana law, the state legislature has passed a set of bills designed to bring order to the chaos. Fresh from working with the office of Gov. Jerry Brown (D) on acceptable language, the Assembly and the Senate Friday passed Assembly Bill 243, Assembly Bill 266, and Senate Bill 643 just hours before the session ended.   Read more.

Bernie Sanders Introduces Bill to Ban Private Prisons

Yesterday, Independent presidential candidate and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders introduced the Justice Is Not for Sale Act, which would ban government contracts with private prisons. Prisons operated by private companies—as opposed to those controlled directly by the government—housed 8.4 percent of federal and state inmates in 2013.   Read more.

Syria's Assad blames West for refugee crisis

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has blamed Europe's refugee crisis on Western support for "terrorists", as people fleeing his country's civil war stream towards the European Union. In his first public comments on the mass migration, broadcast on Wednesday, Assad said Europe could expect more refugees.   Read more.

Bianca Jagger: Shell's Arctic Oil Drilling is Obama's Mortal Sin

President Obama is the first incumbent US President to cross the Arctic Circle. The purpose of his expedition was to "witness first-hand the impact of climate change on the region" and to announce new measures to address it. Speaking at the Glacier climate summit in Anchorage Obama recognised the role of the US "in creating this problem." He also stated "we embrace our responsibility to help solve it" because failure to do so will "condemn our children to a planet beyond their capacity to repair." Yet less than one month ago his administration gave the green light to Shell to drill for oil in the Arctic.   Read more.

Al Gore criticizes Obama on climate change and 'insane' Arctic drilling

The former US vice-president and climate champion Al Gore has made a rare criticism of Barack Obama as Royal Dutch Shell prepares to drill an exploratory well in the Arctic Ocean, denouncing the venture as “insane” and calling for a ban on all oil and gas activity in the polar region. With Shell planning to begin drilling in the oil-rich Chukchi Sea within days, Gore said in an interview with the Guardian that Obama was wrong to ever allow drilling in the Arctic.   Read more.

US Navy Finally Agrees to Back Off Sonar Testing in Key Areas

Animal welfare groups and conservationists are declaring victory on behalf of marine mammals off the coast of both Hawaii and California after a federal judge on Monday signed a settlement in which the U.S. Navy agreed to limit its use of underwater sonar and explosives in particularly sensitive areas for scores of vulnerable species.   Read more.

Creating a Solution to Stress in the Classroom

In his 22 years of teaching high school English to East Oakland's teenagers, Jeff Duncan-Andrade has witnessed kids and their families struggle through all kinds of trauma. He has seen how the constant, unrelenting stress - what researchers are now calling toxic stress - that comes from housing, employment and food insecurity, as well as continued violence in the neighborhood, visits a punishing impact on students and how they learn. These experiences led Duncan-Andrade, some years ago, to begin looking for ways to better support students and their families - to show students they were valuable members of a community and worthy beyond their test scores.   Read more.

Colleges Flush With Cash Saddle Poorest Students With Debt

New York University is among the country’s wealthiest schools. Backed by its $3.5 billion endowment, the school has built campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai, invested billions in SoHo real estate, and given its star faculty loans to buy summer homes. But the university does less than many other schools when it comes to one thing: helping its poor students.  Read more.

Challenging War and Austerity, Corbyn Sails to Victory in UK

In what has been called a resounding "victory for the people," anti-war, anti-austerity socialist Jeremy Corbyn on Friday was elected leader of the British Labour party. Taking 59.5 percent of first-preference votes, the long-shot win is seen as a clear renunciation of the policies currently dominating UK and European politics. According to reports... read more.

The Republicans Are Now Officially the Party of White Paranoia

ABC News published an intriguing poll the other day, one that spelled out a growing racial divide: "Nonwhites see Trump negatively by a vast 17-79 percent… That said, whites are the majority group – 64 percent of the adult population – and they now divide evenly on Trump, 48-49 percent, favorable-unfavorable. Clinton, by contrast, is far more unpopular than Trump among whites, 34-65 percent. So while racial and ethnic polarization is on the rise in views of Trump, it remains even higher for Clinton."   Read more.

Seattle Teachers Go on Historic Strike

For the first time in 30 years, Seattle teachers are hitting the picket lines on Wednesday after the teachers union and the school board failed to negotiate a tentative agreement. The Tuesday decision to strike—made with what the union describes as "an unprecedented, thunderous unanimous vote," closes schools on what would have been the first day of school for roughly 50,000 students.   Read more.

Bernie Sanders overtakes Hillary Clinton in Iowa

Hillary Clinton's Iowa edge is gone. Bernie Sanders leads the former secretary of state for the first time among Iowa Democrats likely to caucus in February, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll unveiled Thursday morning — the latest in a string of surveys that show a tightening race in the Hawkeye State.   Read more.

California Passes Sweeping Climate Change Bill

Big Oil has succeeded in dismantling a key component of California's sweeping climate change bill, with legislative leaders announcing Wednesday afternoon that in the wake of an intense lobbying campaign, they would drop a measure calling for a 50 percent cut in petroleum use by 2030. The fossil fuel industry had poured money into advertising and lobbying campaigns against Senate Bill 350 (SB350), calling the legislation the "California Gas Restriction Act of 2015" and warning that it could lead to gas-rationing, bans on SUVs, and the demise of oil companies.   Read more.

California lawmakers approve right-to-die bill

A bill allowing terminally ill people to legally end their lives has been passed by the California State Assembly. The measure now goes to the State Senate, which is expected to give the act its endorsement. However, California Governor Jerry Brown, a lifelong Catholic, has not said whether he will sign it into law.   Read more.

IT will take McDonald's in U.S., Canada ten years to switch to cage-free eggs, by 2025

McDonald's Corp's 16,000 U.S. and Canadian restaurants will serve only eggs laid by cage-free chickens within 10 years, the company said on Wednesday. McDonald's USA has been buying more than 13 million cage-free eggs annually since 2011. The long-awaited switch is happening as North American egg suppliers are slowly starting to rebuild flocks after the worst bird flu outbreak in U.S. history.   Read more.

How the Billionaire Kingpins of School Privatization Got Stopped in Their Own Backyard

The debate over public schools in Arkansas has been, for decades, ongoing and often fraught. In 1957, the Arkansas school year began with white mobs viciously attacking nine black teenagers as they attempted to desegregate Little Rock's Central High following Brown vs. Board of Education, shining a national spotlight on the state and forcing President Eisenhower to send in the 101st Airborne Division. This past January, nearly 60 years after Arkansas' first desegregation efforts, the state board of education dissolved Little Rock's democratically elected local school board, the most racially inclusive and representative of its majority-black constituency in nearly a decade. In making the decision, the state overruled widespread public outcry to take control of the largest school district in the state.   Read more.

How the US Set Sail on a Sea of Red Ink

A majority of Americans struggle daily to stay afloat on a sea of red ink, perpetually threatened by wave after wave of debt. This hasn't always been the case. The phenomenon can be traced back to 1978, when the US economy was sailing into dire straits. The cumulative impact of the Vietnam War (which coincided with a large tax cut), the persistent misallocation of capital and the Arab oil embargo of 1973 created a lasting economic malaise that, by the middle of President Jimmy Carter's tenure, generated severe stagflation.   Read more.

Prison Gets Rich Locking Up Preschoolers

Corrections Corporation of America is getting rich from jailing children and pregnant women—and no one seems to care. If you’re looking to make some money, try locking up toddlers. One for-profit prison company has found that incarcerating infants, toddlers, children, and mothers... read more.

The Silent Crisis of Aging

Our society is plagued by a crisis of aging that is weakening, infecting and killing hundreds of millions of us every year. We rarely think of it this way - aging is seen as a natural part of life rather than a crisis - but many serious researchers and philosophers argue that our typical views on the naturalness and acceptability of death are mistaken.   Read more.

Revisiting Hurricane Katrina: Racist Violence and the Politics of Disposability

Hurricane Katrina did not begin with a natural disaster. It began with the hatred that flared among white people in response to a civil rights movement that challenged white supremacy in US society. It began with a racist backlash that erupted with the killing of Emmett Till and continues to this day. Moreover, it made visible the predatory nature of disaster capitalism and its willingness to turn a disastrous event into a petri dish for the forces of neoliberalism. Katrina launched a new era in the politics of disposability.   Read more.

When Big Data Becomes Bad Data

A recent ProPublica analysis of The Princeton Review's prices for online SAT tutoring shows that customers in areas with a high density of Asian residents are often charged more. When presented with this finding, The Princeton Review called it an "incidental" result of its geographic pricing scheme. The case illustrates how even a seemingly neutral price model could potentially lead to inadvertent bias - bias that's hard for consumers to detect and even harder to challenge or prove.  Read more .

Oil Slurry Spill on Mississippi River Illustrates Need to Move Beyond Fossil Fuel Economy

The U.S. Coast Guard said Thursday that up to 250,000 gallons of oil slurry could have been spilled into the Mississippi River following a towboat collision near Columbus, Kentucky. The Coast Guard says the spill occurred at roughly 8 PM Wednesday when a boat crash caused a cargo tank on a barge to rupture and spill some of the refinery byproduct it was carrying into the river.   Read more.

As Major Culprit in Creating Crisis, US Rebuked for Failing Refugees

As refugees are stranded at train stations, attacked by riot police, and killed during the perilous journey across the Mediterranean, Europe's failure to address the rising humanitarian crisis is being met with global outrage and sorrow. Now, many are also looking across the Atlantic to the United States, where observers say key responsibility for the ... read more .

'Victory for the People' as Guatemalan President Resigns in Disgrace

School of the Americas-trained Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina, who oversaw acts of torture and genocide during the country's decades-long civil war, stepped down just before midnight Wednesday disgraced by unprecedented corruption charges—and by a popular movement against impunity for the ruling elite.   Read more.

The Rebellion Against Standardized Tests Is Exploding

Opting out is in. Over the past two years, the movement to boycott standardized tests across New York State has mushroomed from a fringe rebellion to a mass mobilization against what many see as an anxiety-provoking, creativity-stifling, and hypercommercialized testing regime. With record numbers of opt-outs last year, however, activists are now testing the patience of education officials. State education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia has signaled stiff disapproval and dropped hints last month that the movement may suffer consequences for bucking the system.   Read more.

U.S. police slayings raise pressure on officers at time of tension

The officers' deaths came within a span of less than a week, but more than 1,000 miles apart: One was fatally shot while filling his police cruiser's gas tank outside Houston, Texas, the other was killed in pursuit of three suspects in rural Illinois. Their deaths marked the 23rd and 24th fatal shootings of officers in the United States this year, and come at a time when relations between... read more .

A dead baby becomes the most tragic symbol yet of the Mediterranean refugee crisis

Twelve migrants thought to be Syrian refugees were feared to have drowned off the coast of the Greek island of Kos on Wednesday after the boats carrying them sank. A number of bodies washed ashore on a beach in the Turkish resort town of Bodrum, probably connected to the disaster. The images of the dead, captured by Dogan News Agency, soon circulated on social media. They included, most hideously, photographs of children.   Read more.

Protests in Baltimore as Freddie Gray death hearing begins

Baltimore police have broken up a protest that blocked a busy city street, as the first pre-trial hearing of six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray got underway. Kwame Rose, a community activist, was reportedly hit by a car during the protesters' blockade of Pratt Street. Police have forced the protesters off the road, and Rose has been arrested, handcuffed and moved to a police van.   Read more.