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Friday, August 24

24-Aug.2012 - Romney Taxes, Drones, Howard Zinn, Affirmative Action, TSA, Tampa Convention, Iraq Children, Bill of Rights, America the Bully, Oil & Gas Companies, WikiLeaks, Poverty, Israel & US Politics, Misleading Advertising, Rape, Student Textbooks

Some of you may know that I started writing an pseudo-autobiography / philosophical-memoir based on my Conversion to Christianity, and then Deconversion from it. 
Every once in awhile, I'll be dropping several paragraphs from this upcoming book on the following Facebook page. Only fans of this FB page will receive a FREE copy of the eBook when its completed in 2013. Fan the page and stay updated -

In Order To Form a Less Perfect Union: The Politics Of Fear, Outrage and Distraction

Once again, the Republicans are managing to distract the country from their extremely unpopular economic positions – positions that help the uber rich and corporations at the expense of low and middle income wage earners.

Howard Zinn at 90 -- Lessons from the People's Historian

This Friday -- August 24 -- would have been the 90th birthday of the great historian and activist Howard Zinn, who died in 2010. Zinn did not merely record history, he made it: as a professor at Spelman College in the 1950s and early 1960s, where he was ultimately fired for his outspoken support of students in the Civil Rights Movement, and specifically the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC); as a critic of the U.S. war in Vietnam, and author of the first book calling for an immediate U.S. withdrawal; and as author of arguably the most influential U.S. history textbook in print, A People's History of the United States.

Gawker Publishes Romney Tax Haven Records

John Cook at published 950 pages of Presidential candidate Mitt Romney's financial documents for at least 21 funds in which Romney personally invested, including several overseas 'tax haven' accounts, on Wednesday. The funds revealed in the documents are also affiliated with Bain Capital, Romney's former firm.

How did the US President Become the Assassin-in-Chief?

Assassination has always been a tool of the American state, but before the "War on Terror" it was not something our leaders bragged about. As's Tom Engelhardt and Nick Turse explain in their new book, Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050, President Obama has gone beyond his predecessors, even beyond George W. Bush, and consolidated his power to the point of becoming the Assassin-in-Chief.

Was Delta Right to Kick ASU Student Off a Plane for His Shirt Mocking the TSA?

The shirt logo makes a play on the TSA's logo, with the eagle holding untied shoes and pouring out a bottle of liquid. Around the seal, it says, "Bombs ZOMG/ZOMG terrists," and "Gonna kill us all ZOMG ZOMG alert level bloodred run run take off your shoes moisture." ("ZOMG" means "Oh my God".)

In early October the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument in the case of Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. At issue is whether the university’s use of race in determining school admissions violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, which declares that no state shall “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Last week, the Constitutional Accountability Center, a left-leaning law firm and think tank, filed a friend of the court brief in the case urging the justices to allow the university’s admissions policy to stand.

Via infowars, but backed up by other sources, here's your government-creep image of the day. Check out these bored-looking Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents spotted at a Paul Ryan campaign event by a Florida political blog. That August 18 event, by the way, took place at an enormous retirement community. So we've arched from horror stories of Grandma getting groped or shamed at the airport, to the potential gropers coming straight to where Grandma lives; or at least where she considers her options for November 2012. 

An amazing video posted on The New York Times website today lays out in chilling detail how the National Security Agency is sucking up every piece of communication data in America – from phone calls to emails to cell phone location – and has the ability to tie together all of the information for a single person (watch it here).

Iraq: The Children Are Still Dying
I remember visiting a hospital that was attached to Al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad. The odor that filled its corridors was not the stench of medicine, but rather the aroma of death.

Iraq: Mission Accomplished For Big Oil?
In fact, any oil company victory in Iraq is likely to prove as temporary as George W. Bush’s triumph in 2003. The main reason is yet another of those stories the mainstream media didn’t quite find room for: the role of Iraqi civil society. But before telling that story, let’s look at what’s happening to Iraqi oil today, and how we got from the “no blood for oil” global protests of 2003 to the present moment.

When Gods Come Down To Be Sold- Analysing The Politics Of Tourism
Tourism expansion in its present form violates the human rights of a large section of people in India , predominantly fishing communities, adivasis and farmers. It threatens the right to livelihood and causes displacement of local communities. It strips the environment to make money and destroys local culture. It steals the very dignity of women and children.

American Militarism And Its Short- And Long-Term Implications
American duplicities, arm-twisting diplomacy and overpowering influence of the Military-Industrial Complex have already undermine American values leading us to decades of devastating warfare in almost every continent. Meanwhile, as an Iranian “insider” Hossein Mousavian believes, if attacked by Israel or the US, the already nervous and estranged Iran would definitely go for the nuclear option by withdrawing from the NPT. 

School Installs Amazing Technology; Christian Complains About the ‘Mark of the Beast’

At the beginning of school last year, our teachers’ cafeteria was closed… so if we wanted lunch, we had to get it from the same place the students did. That meant longer lines during an already-short lunch period… (not to mention 3289423 awkward interactions with students).

Karl Rove's Covert Domination of GOP

n a new book, author Craig Unger examines the return of Karl Rove, the man who masterminded the rise of George W. Bush from governor of Texas to a two-term presidency, who advised Bush during two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who was at the center of two of the biggest scandals of the Bush administration: the Valerie Plame Wilson affair and the U.S. attorneys scandal. While Rove was almost indicted for the Plame affair, he has reinvented himself to become the most powerful political operative in America. 

Convention cities try to balance security, right to protest

Tampa officials preparing to host next week's Republican National Convention think they've figured out how to make the massive police presence that will be on hand seem a little less intimidating: khaki uniforms.

The candidates vs. the Bill of Rights

Civil liberties have no champion in the presidential race

Giving In to the Surveillance State

The foundations of this surveillance apparatus were laid soon after 9/11, when President George W. Bush authorized the N.S.A. to monitor the communications records of Americans who analysts suspected had a “nexus to terrorism.” Acting on dubious legal authority, and without warrants, the N.S.A. began intercepting huge amounts of information.

Documents Raise Further Questions About Domestic Drone Use

In April of 2011, the EFF filed a Freedom of Information request on the use of the drones, but the Department of Transportation failed to release the information requested. The EFF then filed a lawsuit against the department in January “demanding data on certifications and authorizations the agency has issued for the operation of unmanned aircraft, also known as drones.” Certifications by the FAA are required for anyone who wishes to operate a drone in the United States over 400 feet.

Getting Rid of George W. Bush Wasn't Enough. The US Remains a Bully
Many will shudder remembering that dark era: the naked human pyramids accompanied by grinning US service personnel in Abu Ghraib; the orange-suited prisoners in Guantanamo, kneeling in submission at the feet of US soldiers; the murderous assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah. By the end of Bush's term in office, favourable opinion of the US had plummeted even in allied countries, and those desperate for a Republican rout in the presidential elections ranged from resolute socialists to committed Tories.

America Is A Bully. OK. There, I Said It!
To the world outside America's borders it appears that Bin Laden strides into the schoolyard, confronts the bully and slaps his face before his tormented schoolmates. Around the globe, good people who have watched the bully in his conceit, speak of justice and democracy as if he was their inventor and the only person worthy of their benefits, are appalled to find that their horror of the event is accompanied with an inward sense of satisfaction. At last, "the bully got what was coming to him".

The Pursuit of Julian Assange is an Assault on Freedom and a Mockery of Journalism
Threatening to abuse a law designed to expel murderers from foreign embassies, while defaming an innocent man as an "alleged criminal", Hague has made a laughing stock of Britain across the world, though this view is mostly suppressed in Britain. The same brave newspapers and broadcasters that have supported Britain's part in epic bloody crimes, from the genocide in Indonesia to the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, now attack the "human rights record" of Ecuador, whose real crime is to stand up to the bullies in London and Washington.

The Only Thing Republicans Would Be Willing to Raise Taxes For? Civil War

You know the drill. Republicans hate taxes with a Capital H. They won't raise taxes to develop and/or upgrade critical infrastructure. They won't raise taxes to fund two costly foreign wars. So under what circumstances would a Republican ever call for raising taxes (other than taxes on poor people, that is)?

U.S. to force companies to disclose if electronic materials come from war-torn countries

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted Wednesday to force corporations to disclose whether they use minerals like tantalum, tin, gold and tungsten purchased from African conflict zones in and around the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Oil and Gas Companies Can Take Your Land

minent 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.

Tampa Authorities Empty Jail in Anticipation of Mass Arrests at GOP Convention

To prepare, Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee has ordered the Orient Road Jail, a 1,700 bed prison in Tampa, emptied, relocating some inmates to another nearby prison and releasing others on bond. The entire facility has been transformed into a one-stop booking, detention, and bond-issuance center capable of handling large numbers of arrests, which begs the question: will Tampa police keep demonstrators on a short leash?

Tilling the Ground for the Seeds of Terrorism

Al Qaeda had relatively little if any presence in Iraq prior to the U.S. invasion. The U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the subsequent destruction and violence, enabled al Qaeda to flourish. Al Qaeda and its affiliates are now conducting an accelerated campaign of relentless attacks and suicide bombings in Iraq.

End the Debt Crisis with debt-free United States Notes!

Congress is empowered by Article 1, Section 8, of the United States Constitution to produce debt-free United States Notes at any time, for any reason, and actually DID create them under president Lincoln (the original "Greenbacks" - $450 million) to defeat the South during the Civil War, when New York City banks wanted 24-36% interest.

Let’s not confuse the activities of WikiLeaks with those of Assange

After two months hiding inside, the Wiki­Leaks founder emerged on to the first-floor balcony of the embassy, looking somewhat etiolated, to address a scrum of journalists and supporters. Officers from the Metropolitan Police were a tantalising few feet away. They were apparently under orders not to try to ­arrest him. And yet much of what Assange said was self-serving and ridiculous. 

Assange Dodges Elite Media Darts
Media reaction to Julian Assange and his successful request for asylum in Ecuador has certainly been mixed. It ranges from outright incredulity and disdain, to euphoria over what appears to be Assange’s artful dodge from a suspiciously aggressive Swedish extradition attempt, and very possibly, the iron tentacles of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Romney opening up a little about his religion

Mitt Romney is starting to open up a bit more about his lifelong commitment to Mormonism and his lay leadership in the church, following pleas from backers who say that talking about his faith could help him overcome his struggles to connect with voters.

Sheriff Candidate OK With Deadly Force To Stop Abortions

Frank Szabo wants the people of Hillsborough County, N.H., to know that if they elect him as sheriff this year, he will do whatever it takes to stop doctors from performing abortions — even if that means using deadly force.

Giving Poor People Money Is A Great Idea

Some new research from Hilary W. Hoynes, Douglas L. Miller, and David Simon finds evidence that beyond the obvious fact that people like money, giving money to low income families can do a great deal to help children:

Spanish media reported that an elderly woman, upset by the deterioration of the aging 19th century fresco in the Sanctuary of Mercy Church in the town of Borja, decided to fix it. [LINK]

Is compulsory regulation of the print media compatible with Article 10 ECHR?

The purpose of such a provision would be to  deal with the so-called “Desmond problem” – the anomaly of a system of regulation which does not cover all the large newspaper publishers. But an important freedom of expression question arises: is the compulsory regulation of the print media compatible with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights

Livni: Israel must not play role in US politics

In an opinion piece published by Newsweek’s Daily Beast, Livni touches on the role Israel plays in the US’s political discourse. “This past week as I visited the United States, it was impossible to miss the degree to which Israel has become an issue this election season. It has not always been this way,” she wrote.

Why the rise in self-employment is a Bad Thing

David Blanchflower’s chart, drawn from the HMRC’s Survey of Personal Incomes, compares self-employed and employed income levels over the past decade. During this period, whichever way you measure it, self-employed people have always earned less than those in employment.

Musicians vs. politicians

Even Twisted Sister's Dee Snider won't let the GOP use his music. He joins a long list of artists. Here's a history

Misleading advertising on the rise

Four ways the Federal Trade Commission can fight back and protect consumers

A Miscarriage of Justice: It's Time For the GOP to Radically Rethink Views on Rape and Abortion

Rape is not a citrus fruit. Thanks to novelist Anne Rice, I learned the story of Shauna Prewitt, an attorney who was raped at age 21 during her last year of college, became pregnant, and chose to keep the baby. Prewitt writes that her nightmare didn't end there. The rapist sued for custody and visitation rights to the baby. In 31 of 50 U.S. states, rapists have the right to do so.

'Designer' drugs are kids' latest craze

D.C. health officials say that about five months ago, District police representatives came to the department with stories of new, bizarre behavior they'd seen among schoolchildren.

As the verdict is announced on the controversial Pussy Riot case, Kate Fulton examines the global impact of the trial

Photography In Public Is Not A Crime

The New York Times is waking up to this fact that photography is not a crime. In an interview with Mickey H. Osterreicher, general counselor for the National Press Photographers Association, they get down to the nitty gritty of the legalities surrounding this age old tradition. They also talk a bit about just why such arrests are happening more frequently.

Screwing Students Through Pointless Textbook Bundles

While some schools and teachers are looking for ways to make education, and especially textbooks, cheaper for students, others seem bent on doing everything possible to keep pricesartificially high. Because colleges essentially have the textbook market cornered, they can require students to purchase just about anything in order to bring in more revenue. Unfortunately for the students, this can mean increased costs and and annoyance with the process itself.

Debunking The Myth That The Internet Generation Doesn't Buy Or Read Books

If you just listened to the popular press pushing stereotypes, you might think that kids these days can't think in complete sentences, let alone read anything longer than 140 characters (oops, this post is too long!).

Obama and Romney’s phony Medicare debate

As always, in the arena of US electoral politics, the class issues are blurred by the candidates themselves and their media parrots. The Democratic president and his Republican opponent each attempts to strike a pose as the defender of the “middle class”—in this case, Medicare recipients. While an examination of their policies shows differences in how they intend to go about assaulting Medicare—and the speed with which the attack is to be mounted—both candidates agree that the cutbacks are necessary in order to “save” the program.

Obama threatens to invade Syria

A delegation led by Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs Beth Jones discussed US military plans with Turkey. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that Defense Department and US intelligence officials met their Turkish counterparts “to share operational pictures, to talk about the effectiveness of what we’re doing now, and about what more we can do.”

How My Church Tried to Make Me Hate Gay People

They used a variety of tactics to make me fear and hate gays. "Hate the sin, love the sinner" is a lie.

Solitary Confinement Is Used as Torture Chambers for Black Dissidents

Sensory deprivation, lack of social contact and restricted access to all intellectual and emotional stimuli can destroy a person. It's torture.

Federal judge rules priests not Vatican employees in sex abuse case 
A judge for the US District Court for the District of Oregon [official website] ruled in favor of the Vatican on Monday by holding that priests are not employees of the Holy See[official website], the ecclesiastical, governmental and administrative capital of the Roman Catholic Church. 

Why Anti-Abortion ≠ Pro-Life

In recent years we’ve seen aggressive efforts by the GOP and christianist ultra-right to equate Planned Parenthood with abortion, despite the plain fact that Planned Parenthood receives NO federal funding for any abortion, and that abortion constitutes only a tiny fraction of the healthcare services Planned Parenthood provides.

Don’t Force Your Religious Anti-Abortion Views On Me

Freedom of religion and indeed freedom from religion is a basic right in America. Religious freedom is one of the really important things that I would like to remain intact because as the days go by, the separation between church and state seems to shrink as more Republicans try to keep the pressure up on their war against women, while denying that they are actually waging that war.

Federal judge refuses to dismiss challenge to Utah polygamy ban
A judge for the US District Court for the District of Utah [court website] on Friday refused to dismiss [opinion] a case challenging the state's prohibition on bigamy. The lawsuit was filed by the stars of the reality TV show "Sister Wives." Judge Clark Waddoups ruled that even though the Utah County Attorney has stated his office would not prosecute the family, the family is not barred from pursuing the suit based on the constitutional mootness doctrine.

Youth Activists Come Together to Build a Movement for Student Power

Student organizers from around the country (and the world) gathered in Columbus to help build a unified, strong student movement, learn from one another, and take action.

Uncle Sam Needs YOU for a Bailout: 6 Reasons Another Big Banking Crisis Is Coming Our Way

Rampant financial crime and poor regulation can only mean another blowup, and guess who will be holding the bag?

Top 10 Lies Told by Monsanto on GMO Labeling in California

he battle in California over Proposition 37, which would require labeling of foods containing GMOs, is really heating up. Millions of dollars are already being poured into the opposition campaign, with much of it going to former Big Tobacco shills.

More Evidence Wall Street Is Overpaid

e'll be getting to this more next week when we do our piece on Mitt Romney and the private equity business, but one of the most frequently-overlooked problems of the financialization age is that a lot of our brilliant financial engineers are actually pretty damned average, when it comes to playing the market.

The Bizarre Media Contempt for Julian Assange

arlier this week, British lawyer and legal correspondent for the New Statesman David Allen Green generated a fair amount of attention by announcing that he would use his objective legal expertise to bust what he called "legal myths about the Assange extradition." These myths, he said, are being irresponsibly spread by Assange defenders and "are like 'zombie facts' which stagger on even when shot down."

The Coming Atheist Demographic Tide

The WIN-Gallup International network of polling firms has released a new poll titled Global Index of Religion and Atheism 2012, and there's a lot of good news in it for us. Some of these results are so encouraging, I hesitate to believe them without additional confirmation - but if they bear out, they show that atheism is rising all around the world like the tide coming in!

Why Atheism is Consistent with Feminism and Pro-Choice Positions

Feminism and atheism are intertwined for me both on a philosophical and pragmatic level. Philosophically, I’ve always thought that making the question “are women people” a matter of theological debate is silly. One side quotes one Bible verse and another quotes one back, and really, the people who believe women are vessels aren’t wrong to think the Bible has their back. From the very first book of the Bible, women are cast as creatures that exist to serve men and not as full human beings in their own right. Various other religious traditions have the same problem of casting men as people and women as appendages. 

New Study Shows Significant Atheist Military Population

As a result of the study, Air Force officials have promised to reform their oversight of chaplain endorsing agencies. There has been no commitment to reaching out to atheists and humanists in the military. Top-level chaplains have declined to address formal outreach MAAF and grass roots development. Humanists have no opportunity to state their religious preference on their official records. Lay leader applications have been pushed aside for over a year. 

Thinking Style and Belief In God

What factors drive a belief in God?

Where Have All The Cults Gone?

Why have there been no new religious movements founded in the West for the past 20 years?

"Subversives": How the FBI Fought the 1960s Student Movement and Aided Reagan’s Rise to Power

A Green Full Employment Economy Requires Mass Mobilization

Bob Pollin Pt6: The first steps towards full employment is to create a green engine of jobs growth
Watch full multipart Is Full Employment Possible in Capitalism?

Steve Dustcircle can be found at:

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