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Showing posts from December, 2015

Philanthropy ain't all good

In America today, big time philanthropists are often lauded for helping to even the playing field for those less fortunate. Every week, millionaires flock from TED conferences to "idea festivals" sharing viral new presentations on how to solve the world's biggest problems (give village children computers, think positive thoughts etc.). But this acceptance of the philanthropic order was not always the case. In the era of Carnegie and Rockefeller, for instance, many distrusted these philanthropic barons, arguing they had no right to horde would-be tax dollars for their own pet causes, especially since these "donations" came from the toil of the workers beneath them.   Read more.

"Groundbreaking" Exposé Shows Pentagon Thwarting Obama's Bid to Transfer Guantánamo Prisoners

In the nearly seven years since President Obama ordered Guantánamo’s closure, Republicans have blocked him at every turn. Now a new report sheds light on another obstacle in Obama’s way: his own Pentagon. According to Reuters, military brass have imposed bureaucratic hurdles to keep prisoners locked up and prevent foreign governments from taking them in.   Read more.

Five Big Banks Plead Guilty to Rigging Currency Markets and No One Goes to Jail

From Drone Technician to Whistleblower

More Than 100,000 Flee Devastating Floods in South America

More than 100,000 people have had to evacuate from their homes in the bordering areas of Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina due to severe flooding in the wake of heavy summer rains brought on by El Niño, authorities said Saturday. In the worst-affected country, Paraguay, around 90,000 people in the area around the capital city of... read more.

The Year That Black Lives Mattered

Michael Brown. Eric Garner. Laquan McDonald. Sandra Bland. Walter Scott. Rekia Boyd. Tamir Rice. Most Americans have at least heard their names, and the stories of how they died. We have seen videos and images of their deaths, or of the aftermaths. They are African-Americans who have been killed by police, or died in police custody, in just over a year. There are many more.   Read more.

Sanders Blasts US Mass Incarceration as 'International Embarrassment'

In a speech that included an overt jab at embattled Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday, Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders decried the U.S. incarceration rate as an "international embarrassment" and said he considers "reforming our broken criminal justice system one of the most important things that a president of the United States can do."   Read more.

Exposing BlackRock: Who's Afraid of Laurence Fink?

It's not a bank, nor an insurance company, central bank, finance ministry or sovereign wealth fund. But it advises or owns such institutions. It operates virtually unregulated, often in the background, yet there is scarcely a company, country or region of the planet that this, the world's largest asset management firm, does not touch or influence.   Read more.

As Public Funding of Universities Dwindles, Faculty Are Unionizing

When newly installed University of Washington (UW) President Ana Mari Cauce and Interim Provost Jerry Baldasty got wind that the UW faculty was collecting signatures on union cards, they quickly sent a series of memos and emails to the 6,000 people eligible to vote. Their missives trumpeted their opposition to collective bargaining and denounced the Service Employees International Union's (SEIU) effort to organize on campus.   Read more.

Becoming Instantly Disposable in the United States

As I saw a clip the other day of CNN promoting a presidential debate - yet again - as some sort of gladiator event, I was disgusted by how the mainstream corporate media thrives on promoting conflict to attract viewers. It's not just politics that becomes a caricature of a series of World Wrestling Federation bouts - it's also the corporate media coverage of struggles for a just, equal and enlightened democracy.   Read more.

New Orleans City Council Votes to Remove Confederate Monuments

New Orleans' leaders on Thursday made a sweeping move to break with the city's Confederate past when the City Council voted to remove prominent Confederate monuments along some of its busiest streets. The council's 6-1 vote allows the city to remove four monuments, including a towering statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that has stood at the center of a traffic circle for 131 years.   Read more.

San Francisco Becomes a City for the Rich

In San Francisco's November election - in which Mayor Ed Lee was re-elected - housing was the number one issue. Two major progressive ballot measures related to housing were defeated: One would have regulated Airbnb by limiting the number of short-term vacation rentals, while the other would have put a moratorium on development in the city's Mission District.   Read more.

Police Killing People of Color Is Not New; The Revealing Videos Are

In his bestselling book, Between The World And Me, an extended essay told as a letter to his 15-year-old son, Samori, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes: "I am writing you because this is the year you saw Eric Garner choked to death for selling cigarettes; ... that John Crawford was shot down for browsing in a department store. And you have seen men in uniform drive by and murder Tamir Rice, a twelve-year-old whom they were oath-bound to protect.   Read more.

All Los Angeles schools closed over terror threat

The Los Angeles Unified School District closed all schools after a bomb threat was called in to a school board member, the LA Police Department has confirmed. The LAUSD is the nation’s second largest, with 640,000 students in over 1,000 schools. The threat was made to “students at school,” LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines said at a press conference Tuesday morning.   Read more.

After Paris: The Climate Talks End and the Movement Continues

Four years ago last August, a group of us sat down in front of the White House holding placards with climate promises that President Obama had made during his campaign and waited to get arrested. We were there to protest the Keystone XL pipeline, which our nation's top climate scientist had said would be a fuse to the largest carbon bomb on the planet, but which the President was by all accounts looking to approve.   Read more.

50,000 Hit Streets of Poland to Rally Against 'Creeping Coup d’Etat'

With chants of “we’ll save democracy” and “nobody’s above the law,” thousands of people marched in an anti-government protest in Warsaw. Less than a month after forming government, the Law & Justice party’s zeal in consolidating power brought people onto the streets Saturday, uniting much of the opposition against what demonstrators see as constitutional breaches by the new administration and its ally, President Andrzej Duda.   Read more.

Muhammad Ali takes swing at Trump, calls ISIS ‘misguided murderers’

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali chided presidential candidate Donald Trump for wanting to ban Muslim immigration into the US, but saved his hardest punches for Islamic State militants, calling their killing of innocents a perversion of Islam. Trump, who leads in the polls among contenders for the Republican presidential nomination, proposed on Monday to... read more.

Israel Plays Major Role in Exporting ISIS Oil

Twenty Billionaires Own More Than the Bottom Half of Americans

The new Institute for Policy Studies report "Billionaire Bonanza: The Forbes 400 and the Rest of Us" is out. I printed a copy, started reading and promptly threw it against the wall in fury and disgust. How can the wealthy be so cruel? How can there be 400 billionaires so self-absorbed in their fortunes and greed that they ... read more.

Rupert Murdoch's Corporate Dismemberment​ of Media and Journalism

On Monday, Nov. 2, every National Geographic staffer was told to report to the magazine's Washington, D.C., headquarters the next day to await a phone call or e-mail from Human Resources. Ever since Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox corporation bought the magazine in September, there were rumors the new owner would maximize profits by terminating employees.   Read more.

Trump and the GOP: This Is Who They Are

House Speaker Paul Ryan condemned Donald Trump’s plan to ban Muslim immigration to the U.S. by saying, “this is not who we are as a party or a country.” Ryan is mistaken: Trump represents exactly what the GOP is, and what progressives must not let America become.   Read more.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel apologizes for Laquan McDonald police shooting, demands changes

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday apologized to aldermen for the police shooting of Laquan McDonald "that happened on my watch." "If we're going to fix it, I want you to understand it's my responsibility with you," Emanuel said in a rare speech to the full Chicago City Council. "But if we're also going to begin the healing process, the first step in that journey is my step, and I'm sorry."   Read more.

Warhol Superstar Holly Woodlawn Died at 69

The 69-year-old Puerto Rican actress—known for her roles in such queer films as Trash, Women in Revolt, and Scarecrow in a Garden of Cucumbers—died after a battle with brain and liver cancer at West Hollywood’s City View Villa Assisted Living. An important figure of Warhol’s factory scene, her visibility was... read more.

Fracking Expantion Threatening to Contaminate World's Third-Largest Aquifer

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking - a method whereby hydrocarbons trapped within rocks are extracted - is expanding rapidly in Latin America. Fracking emits benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene, which are considered by the World Health Organization to be carcinogenic and responsible for blood disorders and other immunological effects. Despite these adverse health effects, however ... read more.

Does the Israeli Legal System Provide Justice for Palestinians?

This is the third installment in a five-part series written in response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's assertion that three International Criminal Court provisions could preclude Israeli nationals from being investigated or prosecuted by the ICC. This five-article series, "Israel Attacks the International Criminal Court but Its Arguments Fall Flat," presents the facts and the law regarding each of those provisions. It shows that Israelis, including Israeli political and military leaders who allegedly committed war crimes in occupied Palestinian territories, have little reason to have confidence that... read more.

Marine Le Pen’s National Front leads in first round of French regional elections

Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front is leading in six out of 12 regions in the first round of regional elections, Reuters reports citing exit polls. Le Pen and her niece, Marion Marechal-Le Pen, are both set to take more than 40 percent of the vote in the north and southeast of the country, TV exit polls showed on Sunday.   Read more.

Why Coal Mining Outlaw Don Blankenship's Conviction Matters

The landmark conviction of former Massey Energy CEO and coal baron Don Blankenship today on a misdemeanor conspiracy charge to violate mine safety laws is a small, but historic first step in holding mining outlaws accountable for their reckless operations. For the first time in memory for those of us with friends, family, miners and loved ones living amid the toxic fallout of the coal industry, this conviction may only serve as a tiny reckoning of our nation's complacency with a continual state of violations, but it could begin a new... read more.

In Spite of Peackeeping Efforts, UK Begins Bombing of Syria

Amid warnings that "new war will not increase the prospects of peace," the UK carried out its first airstrikes in Syria on Thursday, just hours after members of Parliament voted to expand the use of military force in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS). Four Royal Air Force (RAF) fighter jets were seen taking off from a base in Cyprus and returning without their weapons early Thursday morning.   Read more.

Gulf oil spill: Manslaughter charges dropped against BP Deepwater Horizon supervisors

Two BP supervisors onboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 will not serve any jail time after manslaughter charges against them have been dropped against. The disaster killed 11 employees. The move, agreed upon by federal prosecutors and a New Orleans judge on Wednesday, relieves rig supervisors... read more.

Russia says Turkey’s Erdogan & family involved in illegal ISIS oil trade

Turkey is the main consumer of oil smuggled by Islamic State from Syria and Iraq, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his family are involved in the criminal business, Russia’s Defense Ministry has сlaimed. “We are absolutely convinced… that the final destination of the stolen oil is Turkey,” said Russia’s... read more.

San Bernardino Gunmen Kill at Least 14, Wound 17

Hours after as many as three gunmen stormed a service center for people with disabilities here on Wednesday, killing at least 14 people and wounding at least 17 others, the police engaged in a shootout in a nearby suburban neighborhood that officials said left one suspect dead, one most likely wounded and a third suspect on the run.  Read more.

America's 20 Richest Own More Than Bottom Half

The divide between the "haves" and the "have-nots" in the United States has never been so vast, with a new report out Tuesday revealing that the nation's 20 richest individuals own more wealth than the entire bottom half of the population. What's more, with a combined worth of $2.34 trillion, the richest 400 Americans... read more.

George W. Bush Created a "Sea of Blood"