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Wednesday, August 22

22-Aug. Digest: Poverty, Homeland Security, Human Rights, NYPD, Muslim, Spying, Occupy, Civil Disobedience, Right to Property, Rape, Education, Wikileaks, Taxes, Facebook...

"Human beings are not condemned, because of their biological constitution, to annihilate each other or to be at the mercy of a cruel, self-inflicted fate." -Albert Einstein

Homeland Security Prepares for Civil War

Over the past 2 weeks, everyone from the mainstream media to bloggers and conspiracy theorists have questioned the government's mass purchasing of ammunition for federal agencies like the National Weather Service and even the Social Security Administration. Combined, both agencies ordered over 210,000 rounds. This ammunition is mostly made up of "hollow point" bullets, which are designed strictly for maximum damage to the human body and have been outlawed for use in warfare since 1969. 

Five Things Government Does Better Than You Do

Economics assumes people are rational actors in the market, but we know a lot less about how to manage money than we think.

Want to Be a Great Leader? Start Reading

Even though global literacy rates are high(84%), people are reading less and less deeply. This trend is especially detrimental to those in leadership roles. As John Coleman explains, deep, broad reading habits are often a defining characteristic of great leaders, and can catalyze insight, innovation, empathy, and personal effectiveness.

NYPD official: Muslim spying by secret Demographics Unit generated no leads, terrorism cases

The Demographics Unit is at the heart of a police spying program, built with help from the CIA, which assembled databases on where Muslims lived, shopped, worked and prayed. Police infiltrated Muslim student groups, put informants in mosques, monitored sermons and catalogued every Muslim in New York who adopted new, Americanized surnames.

Occupying For The Future
I was reading this study that said that if we don’t do anything to reduce our carbon emissions seriously and soon, at least one day of the year will be so hot that human beings physically can’t survive it. We’ll die of heat stroke. The likelihood of there being one day of the year like that if we don’t do anything about our emissions will be a very real threat by the end of my lifetime.

The Resilience Imperative And Civil Disobedience
If the oil and gas sector wants to explore the potential for broadening its social license, it would have to stand shoulder to shoulder with scientists, governments, businesses, and civil society and argue for a stiff tax on carbon. Only by taking such responsibility can Cenovus and its fellow corporations expand their social license. At the same time they would be helping to set the stage for the transition to a steady-state economy.

Human rights critics of Russia and Ecuador parade their own hypocrisy
The media's new converts to civic freedom over the Pussy Riot and Assange asylum affairs show a jingoism blind to US abuses

No Person Shall Be Deprived of Life, Liberty or Property… Unless the Oil and Gas Industry Says So

Eminent domain, the government’s right to condemn (or take) private land for “public use,” has at times been a highly contentious topic because it can displace people from their homes to make way for construction of different projects, like highways or roads, civic buildings and other types of public infrastructure. However, what some may not realize is that several states have granted eminent domain authority to certain private entities, including oil and gas companies. These companies are using it as a tool to seize private land, which increases profits and benefits their wallets.

Washington, Are You Listening?

The Bush tax cuts siphon off money that could fund education and other crucial programs.

A World of Hillbilly Heroin: The Hollowing Out of America, Up Close and Personal
During the two years Joe Sacco and I reported from the poorest pockets of the United States, areas that have been sacrificed before the altar of unfettered and unregulated capitalism, we found not only decayed and impoverished communities but shattered lives.  There comes a moment when the pain and despair of constantly running into a huge wall, of realizing that there is no way out of poverty, crush human beings.  Those who best managed to resist and bring some order to their lives almost always turned to religion and in that faith many found the power to resist and even rebel.

Almost immediately after the Dems and Reps cut last year's debt-limit budget deal(a.k.a The Budget Control Act of 2011), all the players started carping about the draconian effects of possible cuts on subsidies to sugar and corn producers, cowboy poetry readings, and prescription drug plans for wealthy seniors. But most of the bitching and moaning centered around defense spending, which was going to be cut to the bone, right (never mind that defense spending rose 71 percent in real terms between 2001 and 2010)? If sequestration was allowed to happen, the Department of Defense was going to see about $600 billion cut from its budgets over the next 10 years.

Farmers Fight Monsanto's Threats and Intimidation

 major lawsuit against Monsanto was denied in at the district court and has been appealed. On July 5, 2012, seventy-five family farmers, seed businesses, and agricultural organizations representing over 300,000 individuals and 4,500 farms filed a brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., asking the appellate court to reverse a lower court's decision from February dismissing their protective legal action against agricultural giant Monsanto's patents on genetically engineered seed.

Your Scientific Reasoning Is More Flawed Than You Think

New concepts don’t replace incorrect ones: they just learn to live together

WikiLeaks and Free Speech

e have spent our careers as filmmakers making the case that the news media in the United States often fail to inform Americans about the uglier actions of our own government. We therefore have been deeply grateful for the accomplishments of WikiLeaks, and applaud Ecuador's decision to grant diplomatic asylum to its founder, Julian Assange, who is now living in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

Here We Go Again: Warrantless GPS Tracking an Unreasonable Search?

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, concluded that physical trespass upon the vehicle in question — police attached a GPS tracker to the undercarriage of the car to track the suspect — triggered the unreasonable search.

Right now, according to Cheng's tests, it takes Facebook about two days to completely remove an image from its servers, rendering even direct links useless.  A Facebook spokesperson told Ars Technica that this is a result of recent changes. "As a result of work on our policies and infrastructure, we have instituted a 'max-age' of 30 days for our CDN links," he said. "However, in some cases the content will expire on the CDN much more quickly, based on a number of factors." 

Some Good News: New High Figures for Latino College Enrollment

In the midst of all the dismal economic news and crazy racism and sexism emanating from politicos, it's important to keep track of gains.

For-Profit Colleges Take The Money and Run

Imagine a business model where the government lends people money to pay you for a service that you may or may not deliver effectively, and no matter what goes wrong, someone else has to pay the government back and you get to keep almost $32 billion a year. 
Preposterous, you say!  No, in the real world it's called a for-profit college. 
"For-Profit College" -- isn't that on oxymoron?  Not really, according to the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) in Washington, DC: "We are supplying a marketplace that has a growing need for skilled and trained workers in order to achieve 21st Century global competitiveness." 

Social Contract Theory for Occupiers: What Law, Culture and History Tell Us

The social contract, like the contract we think of in ordinary legal parlance, is what the law dictionary terms 'commutative' -- "in which what is done, given, or promised by one party is considered as an equivalent to or in consideration of what is done, given, or promised by the other" (Black's Law, 6th, emphasis added). Of special interest to theory is the fact that this use of the word 'consideration' is recent, and reflects in this writer's estimation an oversight serious enough to be largely responsible for the recent world-wide financial crisis, and in consequence the on-going Occupy movement. 

From Jehovah's Witness to Atheist: How & Why Witnesses Fade from Congregations

Jehovah's Witnesses Avoid Disfellowshipping by Fading, Not Announcing Atheism

Muslim community ‘vindicated’ after NYPD spy program produced no leads

According to the Associated Press, testimony unsealed Monday evening revealed that NYPD Associate Chief Thomas Galati said no conversations monitored by the department’s“Demographics Unit” ever led to a case.

Court limits federal employee appeal rights

A court decision issued Friday could limit on national security grounds the rights of many federal employees to challenge personnel actions against them, even if the employees don’t have access to classified information.

A struggle put on hold?

A Verizon worker looks at the battle for a union contract at Verizon year after a two-week strike by workers.

An Open Letter to Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council: Let's Talk About Hate

Dear Mr. Perkins,
Let me again express my strong condemnation of the shooting at the Family Research Council offices, as well as my support and concern for all those affected. Security guard Leo Johnson, who took a bullet (and luckily did not lose his life, and is currently in stable condition), is a hero who saved others from being shot. I'm enormously grateful for that. 

5 Reasons Why the Ryan-Romney Economic Plan Would Be A Disaster for America

Mitt Romney hasn't provided details so we should be grateful he's selected as vice president a man with a detailed plan Romney says is "marvelous," "bold and exciting," "excellent," "much needed," and "consistent with" what he's put out.

Who is standing up to the Jewish New World Order?

The world should know that most Western hegemonic and colonial powers maintain a joint commitment to protect the entity of the Israeli regime, he added.

The Iranian chief executive stated that the Israeli regime is a tool to control the Middle East region and the entire world, stressing the regime’s existence is an insult to the mankind.

Israel kicks out migrants – by changing their nationality and sending them to another country

Sudanese asylum seekers in Israel are being issued with documents changing their nationality, allowing them to be removed from the country or imprisoned.

What do animals know of death?

Not having access to the consciousness of any creature except H. sapiens, we’re not sure.  Certainly some animals act as if they understanddeath: dying chimps are surrounded by what looks to be caregivers, elephants fondle the bones of other elephants, and mother primates can cling to dead infants for days.  I even  once saw a squirrel dragging the carcass of another squirrel across the quad of my university, but had no idea what that meant.  But none of these acts mean that these creatures conceive of death the way humans do.

‘Down’s syndrome girl’, 11, faces execution in Pakistan for desecrating Koran

An 11-year-old girl thought to suffer from  Down’s Syndrome is facing the death penalty in Pakistan for apparently burning  pages from the Koran.

Does megachurch ‘high’ explain their success?

University of Washington study posits that worship services at megachurches can trigger feelings of transcendence and changes in brain chemistry – a spiritual “high” that keeps congregants coming back for more.

How to survive floods, earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters

The reality seems so cruel that there is no home in anywhere in this world that is truly safe when it natural disasters strike such as freak floods or snow storms to earthquakes. CDC survey shows 48% of Americans lack emergency supplies for use in the event of a disaster. But the good news is proper precuations to a natural disaster can save loss of life or property.

So Many Similarities Between Copyright Law And Prohibition

A few months ago, we pointed to a video by ReasonTV, which noted that the over-enforcement of copyright law today had become this generation's Prohibition. While that might be slight (or significant) hyperbole, law professor Donald Harris has put together a fantastic paper thatcompares the two situations and finds an awful lot of similarities. 

Media Hacks: Why Our National Press Corps Is Failing the Public Abysmally

You want a serious debate about the issues? Good luck!

The 8 Worst Things Republicans Have Said About Rape, Sex and Women's Bodies

It's not just GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin. It's practically a party tradition.

8 Atheist and Agnostic Scientists Who Changed the World

Non-believers are among our most respected and beloved heroes.

How Nonprofits Spend Millions on Elections and Call it Public Welfare

Forget super PACs, their much-hyped cousins, which can take unlimited contributions but must name their donors.

The Global 1%: Exposing the Transnational Ruling Class

The Occupy Movement has developed a mantra that addresses the great inequality of wealth and power between the world's wealthiest 1 percent and the rest of us, the other 99 percent. While the 99 percent mantra undoubtedly serves as a motivational tool for open involvement, there is little understanding as to who comprises the 1 percent and how they maintain power in the world. Though a good deal of academic research has dealt with the power elite in the United States, only in the past decade and half has research on the transnational corporate class begun to emerge. 

Poverty pulls the trigger

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor reports on the spike in violent crime in Chicago--and why it reflects a political and economic failing, not a moral one.

Why Protecting Medicare Matters

Since Mitt Romney selected cowardly GOP Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, the 2012 Presidential election has turned into a battle over Medicare. On one side, President Obama and Democrats have vowed to defend Medicare as a program of universal coverage for seniors and have worked to strengthen Medicare by protecting benefits while cutting back on waste, fraud, and subsidies to insurance companies. On the other side is GOP Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s proposal to abolish Medicare and replace it with inadequate vouchers for seniors to try to buy coverage from private insurance companies.

The war against the weak:
Eugenics in America

Making sense of religion, science, and morality

Atheists On Religion, Science, And Morality (The Point)

LAPD filmed punching man for skateboarding on wrong side of street

In a scene that brought with it echoes of the Los Angeles Police Department’s most infamous moment, residents filmed four officers holding down and punching a young man picked up outside his home for allegedly skateboarding on the wrong side of the street.

The Invisible Wounds of War: Number of Soldiers Committing Suicide Reaches Record High

Kirk Cameron Defends Rep. ToddAkin In Wake Of 'Legitimate Rape'Furor

Kirk Cameron, who shot to fame playing the signature role on the 80s sitcom Growing Pains, is defending Congressman Todd Akinin the wake of his controversial comments about "legitimate rape."

Rebecca Walker: 'There Is No Reason to Wait for Revolution. It Is Here Already in Each of Us'

Author Rebecca Walker outlines a utopian vision of a world after capitalism underpinned by a moral and spiritual revolution.

Obama Administration Outsources Torture: Can U.S. Ever End Human Rights Abuses?

Steve Dustcircle can be found at:
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