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Showing posts from April, 2016

Pentagon Claim That War Crimes Must Be "Intentional" Called "Flatly Wrong"

The U.S. Department of Defense on Friday released its redacted report on the military's deadly October 2015 airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, which found that the bombing was a mistake—and thus, not a war crime—a conclusion which human rights groups called "an affront" to justice and accountability.   Read more.

Cousteau to SeaWorld: Captive Orcas ‘Need to Be Released’

At a press conference held Wednesday in San Diego, Jean-Michel Cousteau, oceanographic explorer and president of the Ocean Futures Society, urged SeaWorld to free its current population of captive orcas. “They need to be released and put back into a place where we can keep an eye on them and they can reconnect with nature,” Cousteau, who is the son of legendary underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau, said.   Read more.

New York University Graduate Workers Vote "Yes" on BDS Campaign Against Israeli Apartheid

It was 4:30 in the morning on April 22 before the final votes were counted in the presence of tearful and apprehensive onlookers and the result was announced: By a vote of 429 to 216, the graduate workers of New York University (NYU) voted overwhelmingly to join the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israeli apartheid. Nearly 650 union members voted on the referendum, a strong turnout indicating widespread support for justice in Palestine.   Read more.

Members of Congress Call for End to Mass Voter Suppression and Fraud

Congressional briefings are typically dull affairs, usually with only a few dozen participants, but it was standing room only in a House Judiciary Committee hearing room on April 21, when nine members of Congress, their staff and 200 activists gathered to address the present crisis in US democracy: voter suppression and the manipulation of US elections.   Read more.

How Capitalism and Racism Support Each Other

"Racism" is so often applied to US prison statistics and policing; to data on differences in employment, housing, wealth and income distributions, college enrollments, film awards, and so much more; and to hardening hostilities toward immigration. At the same time, racism is so often condemned -- at least in mainstream media, dominant political circles and most intellectual and academic institutions. Racism's persistence where the capitalist economic system prevails raises the question of the connection between capitalism and racism.   Read more.

Why Bernie Sanders' Critique of Israel Matters

Bernie Sanders' criticism of Israel at the Democratic debate in Brooklyn, New York, on April 15 was not especially harsh. The presidential candidate said "we are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity" and that Israel used "a disproportionate attack" during the 50-day war in Gaza in 2014. These comments, as Ali Abunimah said on the Real News Network, are "really the minimum we should hear from any honest person." Still, the fact that Sanders willingly said these things -- in a presidential debate in the state with the highest Jewish population in the country -- is both unprecedented and historic.   Read more.

Secret Court Takes Another Bite Out of the Fourth Amendment

Defenders of the NSA's mass spying have lost an important talking point: that the erosion of our privacy and associational rights is justified given the focus of surveillance efforts on combating terrorism and protecting the national security. That argument has always been dubious for a number of reasons. But after a November 2015 ruling by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) was unsealed last week, it's lost another chunk of its credibility. The ruling confirms that NSA's warrantless spying has been formally approved for use in general criminal investigations. The national security justification has been entirely blown.   Read more.

Cleveland ordered to pay $6mn to family of Tamir Rice, 12yo fatally shot by police

The city of Cleveland will pay $6 million to the family of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy fatally shot by police in 2014, based on a settlement agreement that allows the city to avoid a high-profile federal civil rights trial. Lawyers for Rice's family said Monday that "no amount of money can adequately compensate" for the boy's loss.   Read more.

Arrests, violence at Stone Mountain as counter-protesters clash

Protests surrounding a rally at Stone Mountain erupted in violence Saturday as demonstrators trying to confront a white power group set a barricade on fire and hurled rocks and fireworks at police attempting to block them. By midday, park officials worried about the safety of visitors, shut down attractions such as the cable car and amusement center and also canceled the popular laser show. The park remained open.   Read more.

How Much of the Electoral Process Is Illusory?

The parallel Democracy Spring and Democracy Awakening mobilizations wrapped their week of sit-ins protesting the corrosive influence of money in politics and voter suppression at the US Capitol on Monday, tallying more than 1,400 arrests. Launching with a 10-day march from Philadelphia to Washington, DC, the movement hosted rallies, speakers and teach-ins last week, along with lobbying members of Congress.   Read more.

Flint Is About How We Treat the Poor

As you no doubt know, the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, returned to the headlines last week with news that the state attorney general is charging three government officials for their alleged roles in the debacle. It makes this a convenient moment to deal with something that has irked me about the way this disaster is framed.   Read more.

With Obama En Route, 90,000 March Against TTIP in Germany

On the eve of a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Germany on Saturday to voice emphatic opposition to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement (TTIP), a deal they argue benefits global capitalism and corporate elites at the expense of the public good and local democracy.   Read more.

Anti-Racist Protesters Outnumbered White Supremacists 10 to 1 at a Racist Rally in Georgia

Protesters trying to break up a white supremacist rally played a cat-and-mouse game with police around Georgia's Stone Mountain on Saturday, with at least nine of them arrested in a scuffle near the state park's entrance. Authorities at the Atlanta-area landmark had tried to keep the groups at separate locations around the mountain, which is where the Ku Klux Klan was reborn in 1915.   Read more.

US suicide rate hits 30-year high, female rate spikes while males are majority

The suicide rate in the US went up by 24 percent from 1999 to 2014, according to a new federal report, with the top increases seen in females aged 10 to 14 and males aged 45 to 64. A new analysis by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has reported that the rate of suicide in the US steadily increased from 1999 to 2014 after... read more.

Mexican president proposes pot decriminalization

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Thursday proposed allowing marijuana users to possess larger amounts of the drug, and releasing those convicted of low-level drug offenses. Peña sent the bill to the Mexican senate, where the body's president, Roberto Gil Zuarth, praised the move toward liberalization of drug policy but criticized the measure.   Read more.

The revolutionary genius behind Prince's iconic aesthetic

Prince has died at age 57, and for those who've grown up in a pop music world so shaped and altered by him, it can be easy to overlook how revolutionary the artist, a.k.a. "the High Priest of Pop," was in his heyday. But that's only because he pioneered a performance style that's become mainstream — one that continues to influence artists today.   Read more.

Pop icon Prince dies aged 57

Pop icon Prince, widely acclaimed as one of the most inventive musicians of his era, was found dead at his home on Thursday in suburban Minneapolis, according to his publicist. He was 57. A local sheriff said that police deputies called to Prince's studio and found the superstar unresponsive in an elevator at his home.   Read more.

Harriet Tubman and the Monetization of Black History

There's a strange irony in printing the image of someone who spent her life on the run because she was worth money onto money itself, as a supposed honor. This hasn't stopped the US Treasury Department from announcing a change replacing Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the face of the $20 bill. While many people see the change as progressive and indicative of respect, others have taken issue with the contradictions therein.   Read more.

Coral Bleaching Has All But Destroyed Great Barrier Reef, Study Confirms

More than 90 percent of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is suffering some level of coral bleaching and will likely never return to its original state, a new study from the Australian Research Council Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies released Tuesday confirms. "We've never seen anything like this scale of bleaching before," said Terry Hughes, director of the research council. "In the northern Great Barrier Reef, it's like 10 cyclones have come ashore all at once."   Read more.

Three Face Criminal Charges in Flint Water Crisis

Criminal charges are expected to be announced on Wednesday against a number of people linked to the city of Flint’s two-year water contamination crisis. The expected charges stem from a criminal investigation launched in January by Michigan’s attorney general, Bill Schuette, who created a team of nine full-time investigators.   Read more.

Closed New York Primary Helps Democratic Party Maintain Status Quo

At least 126,000 voters in Brooklyn, New York, were purged from voter rolls. The purge seems to be a symptom of the state’s “closed primary” system, which forces voters to affiliate with a political party to vote. Yet, the disenfranchisement of so many voters in Brooklyn and in other parts of the state ahead of the primary on April 19 has most Democrats excusing what should be considered voter suppression.   Read more.

“A Very Dangerous Thing for Democracy”

When Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached by the lower house of Parliament on Sunday night over accusations of improper budgetary maneuvers, it only intensified the crisis that has engulfed the country over the past several months. Dilma—as she is known—was elected in 2010, and re-elected four years later on the Workers’ Party, or PT, ticket.* Her former boss and predecessor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva—known as Lula—had been a broadly popular figure known for his outreach to the poor, and for engendering the hatred of a good chunk of the country’s middle class. But he too now finds himself enmeshed in corruption investigations, which have overtaken much of the PT, involve the state oil company Petrobras, and threaten the administration’s survival. A vote in the upper house is forthcoming.   Read more.

Emergency Lawsuit Highlights Voter Frustration with New York Primary Process

As voters on Tuesday morning began casting ballots around New York in the state's Democratic and Republican primaries, a federal court in New York City was scheduled to hear an emergency class-action lawsuit that was filed against the state's Board of Elections alleging that thousands of New Yorkers will be heading to the polls only to discover they can't vote. Many New Yorkers—mostly registered Democrats—recently discovered their voting registrations changed without their knowledge or that their registration never went through in the first place, argued Election Justice USA (EJUSA), the group that filed the lawsuit alongside 200 voters.   Read more.

Ecuador quake toll rises to 350; rebuilding to cost billions

Ecuador's earthquake death toll rose to 350 on Monday as rescuers hunted for survivors, victims clamored for aid and looting broke out in the Andean nation's shattered coastal region. More than 2,000 were also injured in Saturday's 7.8 magnitude quake, which ripped apart buildings and roads and knocked out power along the Pacific coastline.   Read more.

The Unbearable Whiteness of Brunch: Fighting Gentrification in Chicago

On April 9, 2016, an organized group of Chicagoans locked themselves together, and to four buckets of concrete, to shut down a major thoroughfare in the increasingly gentrified community of Logan Square. The action occurred on Chicago's Milwaukee Avenue, just outside a construction site where two luxury towers are set to emerge, further driving up rental prices in the area and creating yet another space in which the area's longtime residents simply cannot afford to live.   Read more.

It’s Time for Coastal Cities to Wake Up

The climate science is uncompromising. We’ve already warmed the earth 1 degree Celsius. And we have enough carbon and methane and other greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere and enough heat in the oceans to warm the earth another half a degree Celsius already. So if we stop all greenhouse gas emissions right now, we’ve already reached the 1.5 degree threshold. The current 1 degree rise has already increased extreme weather, caused mammoth floods and unprecedented drought... read more.

How the EPA Allowed Oil and Gas Companies to Contaminate Our Drinking Water

Earthquake in Japan kills 2

An earthquake of magnitude 6 hit southwestern Japan on Thursday, bringing down some buildings, killing at least two people and injuring hundreds, local media said, but the nuclear regulator reported no problems at power plants.   Read more.

It's Time to Get Cops Out of Schools

I’m still shaking from watching the recently released video of a white, uniformed police officer violently body-slamming a 12-year-old Latina girl face-first into a brick walkway. You can hear a “crack” when her face slams into the brick.  Read more.

New report commissioned by Mayor Rahm Emanuel says Chicago police have no "no regard" for African-Americans

Police in Chicago have “no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color” and have alienated blacks and Hispanics for decades by using excessive force and honoring a code of silence, a task force declared Wednesday in a report that seeks sweeping changes to the nation’s third-largest police force.   Read more.

The Pentagon's Military Waste Machine Is Running Full Speed Ahead

From spending $150 million on private villas for a handful of personnel in Afghanistan to blowing $2.7 billion on an air surveillance balloon that doesn’t work, the latest revelations of waste at the Pentagon are just the most recent howlers in a long line of similar stories stretching back at least five decades.  Other hot-off-the-presses examples would include the Army’s purchase of helicopter gears worth $500 each for $8,000 each and the accumulation of billions of dollars' worth of weapons components that will never be used. And then there’s the one that would have to be everyone’s favorite Pentagon waste story: the spending of $50,000 to investigate the bomb-detecting capabilities of African elephants.   Read more.

Inside Erik Prince’s Treacherous Drive to Build a Private Air Force

In November 2014, a black Mercedes SUV pulled onto the tarmac of an Austrian specialty aviation company 30 miles south of Vienna. Employees of the firm, Airborne Technologies, which specialized in designing and equipping small aircraft with wireless surveillance platforms, had been ordered to work that weekend because one of the company’s investors was scheduled to inspect their latest project.   Read more.

Bernie and the Big Banks

The recent kerfluffle about Bernie Sanders purportedly not knowing how to bust up the big banks says far more about the threat Sanders poses to the Democratic establishment and its Wall Street wing than it does about the candidate himself. Of course Sanders knows how to bust up the big banks. He’s already introduced legislation to do just that. Read more.

Leaked report confirms United Nations responsible for cholera epidemic in Haiti

Panama Papers: Has the media censored the story?

Can the corporate-owned media really hold the corporate world to account? The papers - 11.5 million documents in all - have revealed how Mossack Fonseca, a Panama-based law firm, allegedly helped current and former world leaders, as well as businessmen, criminals, celebrities and sports stars evade or avoid tax via anonymously-owned shell companies and offshore accounts. In terms of the size of the leak and the scale of the journalistic collaboration, the story has garnered wall-to-wall coverage and dominated the front pages of newspapers across the world.   Read more.

Attempted Coup in Brazil Seeks to Reverse Election Results

If you are following the news of political turmoil in Brazil, it may be difficult to get a grasp of what is really going on. This often happens when there is an attempted coup in the Western Hemisphere, and especially when the US government has an interest in the outcome. Usually the information about that interest, and often Washington's role, is the first casualty of the conflict.   Read more.

Publisher McGraw-Hill Discontinues Textbook With Map of Palestine

In March 2016, executives at the McGraw-Hill textbook publishing company removed a title from its selection titled Global Politics: Engaging a Complex World. The company, in well- disciplined commissar fashion, destroyed the books held in inventory because they featured a map illustrating "Palestinian loss of land from 1946 to 2000." Apparently, the maps say too much about the US-supported Israeli occupation and expansion of settlements in Palestine and run the risk of corrupting young learners. On the market since 2012, Global Politics was designed to "offer students a number of lenses through which to view the world around them."   Read more.

Bernie Sanders Adds to His Momentum With a Big Wisconsin Win

There are two kinds of math in the Democratic presidential race: delegate math and momentum math. Backers of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton prefer the delegate math, for obvious reasons. She has a solid lead in pledged delegates and, when superdelegates are added in, her advantage becomes overwhelming. Backers of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders prefer the momentum math, for equally obvious reasons. Since March 22, Sanders has won six of seven state contests. He also dominated the “global primary” organized by Democrats Abroad.   Read more.

The Panama Papers Problem

The worst criminals on earth are not the poor who sit behind bars in jails and prisons. The biggest thieves are found among the rich. The 1% can buy legislation, politicians and the media to carry out and hide their dirty work. If they can’t change the laws to benefit themselves in their homelands they simply send their money elsewhere through shell holding companies. This transfer of wealth, much of it diverted from what ought to be tax payments, is an open secret.   Read more.

Six Year Anniversary of WikiLeaks Collateral Murder

On April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks published classified military footage of a July 2007 attack by a US Army helicopter gunship in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad. The video titled Collateral Murder depicted the killing of more than a dozen men, including two Reuters staffers. At the time of release, the WikiLeaks website temporarily crashed with a massive influx of visitors, while versions popped up on YouTube, reaching millions.   Read more.

Stop Voter Suppression

A crowning achievement of the historic March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King gave his “I have a dream” speech, was pushing through the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. Recognizing the history of racist attempts to prevent Black people from voting, that federal law forced a number of southern states and districts to adhere to federal guidelines allowing citizens access to the polls.   Read more.

How the US Chamber of Commerce misrepresents the buinesses it speaks for

Did you know that a high percentage of powerful business executives represented by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or its more local affiliates actually support an increased minimum wage, paid sick days for employees, extended maternity and paternity leave, and other progressive policies that benefit workers and families?   Read more.

Last Crow War Chief and Living Link to Battle of Little Bighorn, Dies at 102

Joseph Medicine Crow, the last living Plains Indian war chief and a passionate historian, died on Sunday at age 102.   Read more.

The Panama Papers: 'Biggest Leak in History' Exposes Global Web of Corruption

An anonymous source, an enormous cache of leaked documents, and a year-long investigative effort by around 400 journalists from more than 100 media organizations in over 80 countries have yielded the Panama Papers, an unprecedented look at how the world's rich and powerful, from political leaders to celebrities to criminals, use tax havens to hide their wealth.   Read more.

Why The Major Media Marginalize Bernie

“Bernie did well last weekend but he can’t possibly win the nomination,” a friend told me for what seemed like the thousandth time, attaching an article from the Washington Post that shows how far behind Bernie remains in delegates. Wait a minute. Last Tuesday, Sanders won 78 percent of the vote in Idaho and 79 percent in ... read more.