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Friday, August 31

31.Aug.2012 - Rachel Corrie Verdict, Archaeological Findings, Money in Politics, Rush Limbaugh, Paul Ryan, U.S. Arms Sales, Free Will, Police State America, Wars, Living Wages, Dept. of Justice Investigation, Warrantless Wiretapping, more.

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Everything is Political.

U.S. is the Worst Police State in the World – By the Numbers
Considering the sheer size and social penetration of its police and imprisonment apparatus, the United States is not only a police state, but the biggest police state in the world, by far: the police state against whose dimensions all other police systems on Earth must be measured.

Israel, Obama and the curse of John Wayne
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu thinks he has found an ingenious way of dealing with Iran’s programme for nuclear weapons: if Israel launches an air attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities before the election, President Obama will have no choice but to support him for fear of losing the Jewish vote in various key areas.

Why Americans Must End America’s Self-Generating Wars
To define this prevention of war as an achievable goal may sound pretentious. But the necessary steps to be taken are above all achievable here at home in America. And what is needed is not some radical and untested new policy, but a much-needed realistic reassessment and progressive scaling back of two discredited policies that are themselves new, and demonstrably counterproductive.

Money in Politics: Where Is the Outrage?

We might wish the uproar from the convention halls of both parties these busy weeks were the wholesome clamor of delegates deliberating serious visions of how we should be governed for the next four years. It rises instead from scripted TV spectacles — grown-ups doing somersaults of make-believe — that will once again distract the public’s attention from the death rattle of American democracy brought on by an overdose of campaign cash.

Workers Feel the Pain of Bain

Four hardy souls from rural Illinois joined tens of thousands of people undeterred by threats of Hurricane Isaac during this week’s Republican National Convention. They weren’t among the almost 2,400 delegates to the convention, though, nor were they from the press corps, said to number 15,000. They weren’t part of the massive police force assembled here, more than 3,000 strong, all paid for with $50 million of U.S. taxpayer money. These four were about to join a much larger group: the more than 2.4 million people in the past decade whose U.S. jobs have been shipped to China. In their case, the company laying them off and sending their jobs overseas is Bain Capital, co-founded by the Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney.

Challenging Big Labor to Fight for a Living Wage

In truth, to outsiders, Trumka’s labor federation appears a defeated giant in its great white headquarters on Washington, D.C.’s 16th Street, across from the White House. To be sure, it confronts formidable external trends which include a declining union membership, right wing Governors attacking its pensions, faster automation, corporate globalization, huge corporate slush funds to buy or rent politicians and anti-worker laws such as the notorious union-blocking Taft-Hartley Law of 1947 now in its 65th year of damage.

If you have been Facebooking on behalf of your pampered pooch via his own Facebook profile, or have been playing it safe with a separate Facebook profile for coworkers only, then you may want to get as much use out of it as possible before it is deleted. It appears that Facebook is going to disable the over 83 million fake Facebook profiles that are currently inflating their numbers.

How Secure Are You Online: The Checklist

Not all computer security is about tin foil hats and anonymous browsing. Everyone who uses a computer has a horse in the security race. For the purpose of this post, we're breaking down online security into four essential parts: passwords, browsers, at-home Wi-Fi and networking, and browsing on public Wi-Fi. Within those categories we'll give you a checklist of everything you should do, from the bare minimum to the tin-foil-hat best.

Mitt Romney Looted a Dying Company For Executive Bonuses While It Owed the Government Millions

In 1992, Bain & Co. was in deep debt with few prospects. Revenues were down, and it was increasingly unlikely that the company would be able to meet its considerable debt obligations. Romney, who had been brought into rescue the company a few years before—and had met with some initial success—was busy trying to negotiate with the firm's creditors for room to breathe. One of those creditors, to the tune of $30.6 million, was the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which had recently taken control of a failed bank that Bain owed money to.

CIA officials and members of the Bush Administration consistently claimed that the techniques they performed were both legal and effective, citing multiple pieces of evidence that stopped terrorist plots. Much of this evidence was found to be bogus or unclear, and the consensus of the intelligence community is that torture does not work. 

EFF Lawsuit Seeks Details of NSA Email, Phone Surveillance

The EFF Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleges that the NSA has circumvented the legal protections for U.S. citizens in the FISA Amendments Act, a 2008 law that allowed the NSA to expand its surveillance efforts targeting foreign terrorism suspects. The law prohibits the NSA from intentionally targeting U.S. citizens, but the EFF pointed to aJuly letter in which a U.S. intelligence official told a senator the NSA has sometimes overstepped its limits.

Warrantless Wiretap Victims Ask Court to Reconsider Letting Feds Spy Illegally

A federal appeals court is being asked to reconsider its earlier ruling that the government may spy on Americans’ communications without warrants and without fear of being sued.

The Male Circumcision Question

att Williams, an expectant father, stirred up strong debate this week in his Guardian essay on why he won't let his newborn son be circumcised. Referring to a new edict from the American Academy of Pediatrics insisting that "the health benefits of circumcision" outweigh the negatives, Williams spoke for many parents in demurring with this conventional wisdom, expressing the many reasons for his unease.

Is There a Way Beyond Israeli Madness?

The problem Americans have with Israel is that the region it exists in is in the midst of a major political sea change, while Israel is frozen in time and holding on to its militarist, right-wing policies of extending settlements in the West Bank. It's a policy that harks back to the ideas of the British-trained militarist Ze'ev Jabotinsky's Iron Wall, which is based on the idea a live-and-let-live policy between Jews and Arabs is impossible and, thus, Jews must militarily control and repress Palestinians.

Putin Is Demonized While Democracy Fails In Amerika

The latest "rights group" to jump on Russia's President Putin about p*ssy Riot is RootsAction. Following the propaganda line that Washington has established, RootsAction's appeal for money and petition signers states that the three Russian women were sentenced to two years in prison 'for the "crime' of performing a song against Russia's president Vladimir Putin in a Moscow church."  

Correspondence and collusion between the New York Times and the CIA

The rightwing transparency group, Judicial Watch, released Tuesday a new batch of documents showing how eagerly the Obama administration shoveled information to Hollywood film-makers about the Bin Laden raid. Obama officials did so to enable the production of a politically beneficial pre-election film about that "heroic" killing, even as administration lawyers insisted to federal courts and media outlets that no disclosure was permissible because the raid was classified.

Republican Lies About Welfare and Obama

When the administration agreed to consider waivers, it made clear it would grant a waiver to the law's work requirements only on the condition that more welfare recipients find jobs than under current rules.   To date, the Obama administration has granted no waivers.   And the two Republican governors who joined in the original request, Brian Sandoval of Nevada and Gary Herbert of Utah, are backing away from their initial position.  

Poverty: The New Growth Industry in America

Recent trends in poverty rates should have the country furious at its leaders. When we get the data for 2011 next month, we are likely to see yet another uptick in poverty rates, reversing almost 50 years of economic progress. The percentage of people in extreme poverty, with incomes less than half of the poverty level, is likely to again hit an all-time high since the data has been collected.

Prison Is a Beast: The U.S. Imprisons More People Than Any Other Country in the World

A new video created by the Brave New Foundation and endorsed by a wide range of groups, from the ACLU and the NAACP to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the United Methodist Church, examines the ways in which prison is like a beast.

Obama Calls For Constitutional Amendment To Overturn Citizens United In Online Chat

Obama's brief endorsement seen as encouraging grassroots reformers.

Father Benedict Groesche Claims Some Sexually Abused Children Seduce Priests

Groeschel said: "People have this picture in their minds of a person planning to [be] a psychopath. But that’s not the case. Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him. A lot of the cases, the youngster, 14, 16, 18, is the seducer."

Video: Code Pink Activists Tell Condi Rice "Blood of Iraqi Children is on Your Hands"

Retired Colonel Ann Wright yelled: “You cannot be compassionate and kill people in the war of choice, the war on Iraq. I’m an Army Colonel, I am a former US diplomat, and these wars of choice that both the Republicans and the Democrats have had are terrible for our national security.”

Bioengineers at Harvard University have created “cyborg” flesh by growing tissue around nanowires and transistors. Half living cells and half electronics, the human tissue is able monitor and transmit data like a heart rate. Working off a scaffolding of collagen interwoven with nanowires and transistors, the researchers grew neurons, heart cells, muscle, and even blood vessels with a built-in sensor network. The goal is to eventually “wire up tissue and communicate with it in the same way a biological system does.”

The tripling of US arms sales

The tripling of US arms sales abroad to a record $66.3 billion is an accurate barometer of the accelerating drive to war in the Persian Gulf and on a world scale. This one violently surging sector of American exports reflects a diseased capitalist economy and society, whose financial-corporate elite resorts to militarism as a means of offsetting the overall economic decline of the United States.

Republicans, What About Children Outside the Womb?

he Republican Party platform includes support for the "Human Life Amendment," also known as HR 212. It gives a fertilized egg inside the womb the same rights as a person outside the womb. It's designed to ban all abortions.

World’s richest woman to ‘jealous’ poor: ‘Drink less, work more’

The world’s richest woman, Australian mining tycoon Gina Rinehart, urged those “jealous” of the wealthy to “spend less time drinking” in a piece the government described as “insulting” on Thursday.

Ray Bradbury was investigated by FBI for ‘communist sympathies’

The 40-page cache of the late science fiction author’s FBI files was obtained by the Daily Beast following a Freedom of Information request, and shows the extent to which the FBI had Bradbury in its sights in 1959. “Raymond Douglas Bradbury, a freelance science fiction, television and motion picture scenario writer … has been described as being critical of the United States Government,” the FBI wrote on 8 June 1959, before laying out its issue with Bradbury’s classic collection of short stories, The Martian Chronicles. The stories “were connected by the repeated theme that earthmen are despoilers and not developers”, according to the FBI.

Calling All Pessimistic Optimists (Activist FAQ)
Throughout my time with Occupy Wall Street, I’ve encountered the FAQ (e.g. What are your demands? Who are your leaders? Why don’t you get a job?). However, enduring a predictable litany of questions is nothing new to anyone involved with radical activism. To follow are some of my favorites from over the years -- along with my answers.

The Injustice Meted Out To Rachel Corrie
It is hard to believe that we lost Rachel Corrie in March 2003. Our pain makes it feel like only yesterday especially when this week a consistently biased lying Israeli judge justified his unjust verdict exonerating her killers by vilifying the International Solidarity Movement. As a Palestinian who happens to also hold a US passport and most importantly as a human being, I found the silence of the Obama administration on the murder of a US citizen particularly revealing. Such occasions make us cry but also because we start to remember others: the first three that came to my mind were Vittorio Arrigoni, Bassem and Jawaher Aburahma, then to be followed by a flood of faces and names. When will this injustice end and the murders stop?

Global Peace And Security: President Obama And Mankind At Crossroads
The Obama’s presidency was seen a fantasy to the centuries old white legacy of the White House. The power and its glorification associated with the White House have not resulted in any ground breaking discoveries even after Obama’s entry to the Washington landscape. The crucial challenge Obama faces is how to cope with change and adaptability to a New Beginning that he envisaged but betrayed by conscientious compromise to ensure his own political survival. Paul Craig Roberts called him “The World’s Least Powerful Man – the Obama Puppet.”

Our alternative to the madness of the market

Eric Ruder makes the case for the socialist vision of a planned economy.

An urgent call for Palestine

In this letter written in preparation for the final hearing, set for New York City on October 6-7,Alice Walker, Angela Davis, Dennis Banks, Russell Means and Stephane Hessel explain the importance of the work of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, and why it deserves the support of activists and everyone interested in justice.

Against Republicans only?

Several hundred activists turned out for a demonstration in St. Petersburg, Fla., to protest the gathering of the 1 percent--otherwise known as the Republican National Convention--in neighboring Tampa. In this article written for AlternetArun Gupta, founding editor of theIndypendent newspaper, reports from Florida on the actions against the Republicans--and comments on the questions arising about the relationship of different Occupy forces to Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.

Paul Ryan Is a Climate Change Denialist

Since entering Congress, he has been striving to perfect his anti-environmental record.

Obama vs. Romney: Social Issues


Report and be damned: an American whistleblower’s story

In late July, America’s newest whistleblower protection programme celebrated its first anniversary. The Obama administration promised the post-financial crisis legislation, introduced under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, would ‘promote the financial stability of the United States by improving accountability and transparency in the financial system.’

Rachel Corrie verdict exposes Israeli military mindset

Reporters covering Israel are routinely confronted with the question: why not call Hamas a terrorist organisation? It’s a fair point. How else to describe blowing up families on buses but terrorism?

Let us allow the archaeological findings to speak for themselves.

There are some archaeologists, academicians, and of course apologists, really believe that the Old and New Testament contained a kernel of truth. These people are trying to cherry-pick some unearthed artifacts or historical sites the archaeologists have found that are mentioned in the bible and link them to its biblical characters as evidence to the claims.

The Role of Money in Politics: Extreme Energy Edition

The last few weeks have not brought good news for those of us wanting a future powered by clean energy. The southern portion of the TransCanada pipeline is under construction. On top of that, New York State will lift its moratorium and allow fracking to occur in the state. If things continue along this path, not only will we miss out on the economic opportunity of renewables, we will also be forced to bear the substantial economic and environmental costs of extreme energy.

Conventions: The Best Democracy Money Can Buy

Look behind the pomp and circumstance of the conventions and you'll quickly discover the naked auctioning of our democracy. A marathon of invitation-only, lavish events sponsored by the one percent. Politicians and super-lobbyists grinning and gripping each other along with bottomless booze, jumbo shrimp, and billions of dollars in campaign, Super PAC and secret contributions. Unthinkable largess bestowed upon Republicans and Democrats alike in exchange for policies that are screwing just about everyone who doesn't happen to have a well-heeled lobbyist or Super PAC.

Washington churches told not to collect funds for gay marriage fight

The state's Public Disclosure Commission recently learned that Roman Catholic Bishop Joseph Tyson of Yakima sent a letter to pastors in 41 parishes asking them to take up a special collection for Preserve Marriage Washington, the group that is trying to overturn the state’s same-sex marriage law.

Rush Limbaugh’s Latest Idiocy – Democrats Should Die? (AUDIO)

In his latest breach of decency, Rush Limbaugh says that Democrats in Louisiana should drown and calls the universally calls the poor thieves. Audio and transcript below.

Newt Gingrich Says Rich People Are More Noble – Study Says They’re Unethical

Newt Gingrich might not be the next president, but he is very rich and in his mind, that makes him simply better than you and me. To prove it, Newt is going to get even richer (off of government guaranteed loans) by starting Newt U, a university dedicated to teaching students about the evils of public service and the “nobility” of greed.

U.S. Arms Sales Make Up Most of Global Market
Overseas weapons sales by the United States totaled $66.3 billion last year, or more than three-quarters of the global arms market, valued at $85.3 billion in 2011. Russia was a distant second, with $4.8 billion in deals.

Paul Ryan Obscures His Koch-Backed Agenda With a Pack of Lies in Convention Speech

Koch mouthpiece Paul Ryan accepts the nomination for VP and speaks to GOP party faithful at the convention.

Crazy Country: 6 Reasons America Spends More on Prisons Than On Higher Education

Dollars doing to prisons will soon outpace dollars going to higher education in every state of the union.

“The Dumbest Idea in the World”: Corporate America's False - and Dangerous - Ideology of Shareholder Value

Part of a critical new movement, Lynn Stout's must-read new book exposes the lie behind the destructive trend of running public companies for the sole purpose of raising the stock price.

The Bizarre Christian "Quiverfull" Movement Pushing Women to Procreate for "God's Army"

Leaders of the Quiverfull movement encourage women to have as many as 20 children, regardless of the effects on their health.

There Are Now More Slaves Than at Any Point in Human History

Most of the time, the stories we hear about trafficking are of women and girls. But 20% of trafficking victims are men and boys.

4 Easy Ways We Can Tax the Rich to Fill Government Coffers

With a little smart arithmetic, here's how we can pay off the deficit--two times over.

Daniel Dennett on Free Will Worth Wanting

Daniel C. Dennett discusses free will, moral responsibility, and the intentional stance in this wide-ranging Philosophy Bites interview with Nigel Warburton

US Chamber Of Commerce Launches Ad Campaign For Son Of SOPA

Next to the MPAA, the main lobbying organization that pushed SOPA was the US Chamber of Commerce. The organization and its laughably inept "Global Intellectual Property Center" are infamous for the fact that they have absolutely no shame in using completely bogus numbersto argue for bad laws that their highest spending backers support. Not surprisingly, the USCoC did not take the loss over SOPA lightly, and it appears that they're gearing up for the next version of SOPA in 2013. As pointed out by Gautham Nagesh, the USCoC has kicked off a new ad campaign priming the pump for new legislation to "protect intellectual property." 

Matt Taibbi: The Secret to Mitt Romney’s Fortune? Greed, Debt and Forcing Others to Foot the Bill

Steve Dustcircle can be found at:
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