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“If a man has an apartment stacked to the ceiling with newspapers we call him crazy. If a woman has a trailer house full of cats we call her nuts. But when people pathologically hoard so much cash that they impoverish the entire nation, we put them on the cover of Fortune magazine and pretend that they are role models.”
-– B. Lester

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 The News: Court Rules No Fly List Process Is Unconstitutional

Press Release and Must Be Reformed

Court Orders Government to Give Plaintiffs in ACLU Lawsuit a Chance to Clear Their Names


From: aclu.org

PORTLAND, Ore. – In a landmark ruling, a federal judge struck down as unconstitutional the government’s procedures for people on the No Fly List to challenge their inclusion. The decision came in an American Civil LibertiesUnion lawsuit brought on behalf of 13 Americans who found themselves on the list without any notice, reasons, or meaningful way to get off it.

The judge ordered the government to create a new process that remedies these shortcomings, calling the current process “wholly ineffective” and a violation of the Fifth Amendment's guarantee of due process. The ruling also granted a key request in the lawsuit, ordering the government to tell the ACLU’s clients why they are on the No Fly List and give them the opportunity to challenge their inclusion on the list before the judge.

“For years, in the name of national security the government has argued for blanket secrecy and judicial deference to its profoundly unfair No Fly List procedures, and those arguments have now been resoundingly rejected by the court,” said ACLU National Security Project Director Hina Shamsi, one of the attorneys who argued the case. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Tuesday, June 24 @ 17:45:49 EDT (496 reads)
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 The News: After Running from Anti-War Past Kerry Tells Snowden to ‘Man Up’ and Face Trial

Politicsby: Dave Lindorff, thiscantbehappening.net

Our prissy Secretary of State John Kerry, hair carefully coiffed for his interview, told NBC’s Brian Williams last week that fugitive National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden should “man up” and return to the US to “stand in our system of justice and make his case.”

The supposedly “manly” Kerry (whose claim to “courage” is having employed the high-calibre machine gun mounted on his Mekong River gunboat to blow away unarmed fishermen and lightly armed Viet Cong freedom fighters, or having called in air strikes on them) has been hiding his later youthful history of standing up against the Vietnam War, and of condemning American war crimes there. He surely knows from his carefully buried past as a critic of the Vietnam War plenty of fellow American veterans, as well as Vietnam-era deserters and also draft resisters, who did just that -- they “made their case” in “our system of justice.” And Kerry also surely knows what happened to them: most ended up getting shuffled off to jail by an American “justice” system that, particularly when it comes to national security and opposition to the state, operates on the Lewis Carroll principle of “verdict first, trial afterwards.”

Yet Kerry, in that same NBC interview with Williams, forged right on and, as the fourth man in line under the US Constitution to assume the Presidency if something were to happen to the president, vice president and speaker of the House, declared that Snowden is guilty as charged, saying, “This is a man who has betrayed his country.”

Um…What trial decided that, Mr. Secretary? The one you want him to come submit to?

And Kerry is not alone in convicting Snowden in absentia and without a trial. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Friday, May 30 @ 21:54:39 EDT (694 reads)
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 The News: An American Banking Revolution Awaits

Vermont
These tough economic times require creative alternatives to Wall Street, including more state banks.

By William A. Collins

Vermonters aren’t like the rest of us: They live in a small state with a flinty history and a legendary suspicion of outsiders.

That independent streak gained luster when 15 Vermont towns voted earlier this year to reinforce this independent tradition by approving a proposal to create a state bank.

The Vermont Economic Development Authority would get a license to do what private banks normally do — only with a mandate to serve the public interest no matter what.

This isn’t unprecedented. North Dakota has enjoyed a flourishing state banking system for nearly a century. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, May 22 @ 18:59:59 EDT (710 reads)
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 The News: A Silver Anniversary for the World Wide Web

Business News
Do we have to celebrate Internet billionaires, too?

By Sam Pizzigati

Exactly 25 years ago, the British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee conceptually “invented” the World Wide Web — and set in motion a process that would rapidly make the online world an essential part of our daily lives.

By 1995, 14 percent of Americans were surfing the Web. The level today: 87 percent. And among young adults, the Pew Research Center notes, the Internet has reached “near saturation.”

Some 97 percent of Americans 18 to 29 are now going online.

Tim Berners-Lee never saw this inequality coming. He didn’t invent the Web to get rich. He released the code to his new system for free.

But others certainly have become rich via the Web. Some 123 billionaires today, Forbes calculates, owe their fortunes to high-tech. The top 15 of these high-tech billionaires hold a collective $382 billion in personal net worth. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, March 20 @ 21:06:05 EDT (888 reads)
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 The News: Why You Should Fear Big Bad Cable

Action Alert
Comcast's plan to merge with Time Warner Cable could leave millions of Americans stranded on the digital equivalent of a winding dirt road.


 By Timothy Karr

Twenty-five years ago this month, Sir Tim Berners-Lee introduced an open protocol for sharing information that gave everyday Internet users the power over what they created and whom they connected with online.

His concept quickly evolved into the World Wide Web. One British research scientist’s idea for people-to-people communications became a global engine for empowerment, economic growth and free speech.

Berners-Lee’s idea was to create a web of limitless access and choice. And he was largely successful.

We can use YouTube to share and watch videos, or we can switch over to Vimeo, Instagram, or Blip. We can speak directly with friends using Skype, Hangout, FaceTime or other voice and video services. We can connect and communicate anything with anyone at any time.

But all of that could change. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, March 05 @ 21:09:09 EST (1244 reads)
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 The News: Wisconsin’s Cheesy Innovation

Unusual News
By spraying city streets with cheese brine,
Milwaukee aims to save money and reduce pollution.


By Jim Hightower

For generations, picture-takers have instructed their subjects to say “cheese.”

Well, no people say “cheese” better than Wisconsinites, who unabashedly wear cheesehead hats in public, celebrate dozens of cheese festivals, have a Monterey Jack bacterium as the states’ official microbe, and generally honor the milk curd as a deity.

Naturally, Wisconsin would be the state to come up with the idea of spraying its city streets with cheese brine.

This isn’t some sort of cheesy tourist promotion, but an actual attempt to blend two problems into one clever solution. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, February 03 @ 18:54:48 EST (1255 reads)
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 The News: Making Out Like Bandits

Business News
Why aren't any big bankers doing time?

By Janine Jackson and Peter Hart

It seems like almost every week brings news about Wall Street’s latest sins.

“JPMorgan Is Penalized $2 Billion Over Madoff,” blared one recent New York Times headline, when the paper explained that Bernie Madoff, the infamous Ponzi scheme con artist, wheeled and dealed via accounts at the bank.

Just a few days later came this news: “Steep Penalties Taken in Stride by JPMorgan Chase.” In that article, the Times described how the banking behemoth would pay out $20 billion to cover its many government fines — without so much as breaking a sweat.

The Wall Street giant can admit wrongdoing — or even lawbreaking — and get away with paying a pocket-change fine. How do they get away with it?

Regulators, many of whom either have worked at the big banks or aim to do so in the future, are certainly willing to go easy on their former or future bosses. And politicians backed by industry dollars are apt to counsel that it’s better to look ahead than obsess about “the past.” ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Friday, January 17 @ 19:57:32 EST (1696 reads)
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 The News: Let the Sun Shine In

Environment
Why would the ALEC network of state-level lobbyists want to make solar energy cost-prohibitive for homeowners and businesses?

By Isaiah J. Poole

Now the Koch brothers are coming after my solar panels.

I had solar panels installed on the roof of our Washington, D.C. home this year. My household took advantage of a generous tax incentive from the District government and a creative leasing deal offered by the solar panel seller.

Our electric bills fell by at least a third. When people make this choice, the regional electric company grows less pressured to spend money to expand generating capacity and the installation business creates good local jobs. Customers who use solar energy also reduce carbon emissions.

What’s not to love?

According to the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative network better known as ALEC, our solar panels make us “free riders.” What?...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, January 02 @ 22:14:57 EST (1959 reads)
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 The News: Israeli-Saudi Alliance Slips into View

InternationalBy Robert Parry

On Aug. 29, when I published an article entitled “The Saudi-Israeli Superpower” describing an emerging odd-couple alliance between those two traditional enemies, the story was met with skepticism in some quarters. But, increasingly, this secret alliance is going public.

On Oct. 2, Israel’s Channel 2 TV news reportedthat senior Israeli security officials met with a high-level Gulf state counterpart in Jerusalem, believed to be Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former Saudi ambassador to the United States and now head of Saudi intelligence.

And, a day before that TV report, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted at the new relationship in his United Nations General Assembly speech, which was largely devoted to excoriating Iran over its nuclear program and threatening a unilateral Israeli military strike.

Amid the bellicosity, Netanyahu dropped in a largely missed clue about the evolving power relationships in the Middle East, saying: “The dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and the emergence of other threats in our region have led many of our Arab neighbors to recognize, finally recognize, that Israel is not their enemy. And this affords us the opportunity to overcome the historic animosities and build new relationships, new friendships, new hopes.”

Besides the shared Saudi-Israeli animosity toward Iran, the growing behind-the-scenes collaboration also revolves around mutual interests in supporting the military coup in Egypt that removed the elected Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi and in seeking to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria.

In mid-September, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren even embraced the Saudi strategy in Syria when he announced that Israel would prefer to see the Saudi-backed jihadists prevail in Syria over the continuation of the Iran-backed government of President Bashar al-Assad....

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, October 14 @ 19:59:26 EDT (1506 reads)
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 The News: A Golden Rule that Might Chip Away at Inequality

Business News
By making it mandatory for corporations to disclose the gap between what they pay their chief executives and most typical workers, the government will empower investors and consumers to compare individual corporations by their level of CEO greed.

By Sam Pizzigati

Watching grown men fulminate in public can be unnerving. Michael Piwowar and Daniel Gallagher — two distinctly CEO-friendly members of the federal Securities and Exchange Commission — recently did plenty of fulminating.

Piwowar and Gallagher had little choice. They were trying to defend the indefensible — the skyrocketing pay of America’s top executives — against a common-sense reform that lawmakers wrote into federal law three years ago.

That law, the Dodd-Frank Act, mandates that corporations annually reveal the ratio between what they pay their CEO and median, or most typical, worker.

Mandates like this don’t just automatically go into effect when a bill becomes law. Federal regulatory agencies have to draw up rules that spell out how any new mandate will be enforced. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, September 25 @ 23:11:07 EDT (1941 reads)
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 The News: Operation Secret Loopholes

Politics
Senate efforts to revamp the tax code are off to a rocky start, including a plan to keep taxpayers in the dark about their lawmakers' actions until 2063.

By Jo Comerford

The federal budget expresses our nation’s values and priorities in numbers. It’s a blueprint for how our elected officials plan to make money and how they plan to spend it.

What happens in Washington, D.C. has a profound local impact. About 80 percent of all federal tax revenue comes from the paychecks of regular Americans, and every single person and every community in the nation is affected by federal spending priorities.

That means rewriting the tax code should be done in the open. A rewrite of the complex and arcane U.S. Tax Code — all 18 pounds of it in its paperback form — has begun in the Senate. More than $1 trillion per year in tax breaks, which are also called loopholes or tax expenditures, are on the table. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Friday, September 20 @ 23:08:22 EDT (1777 reads)
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 The News: How I Exposed an Undercover Cop

History / CultureSpying on protesters is the worst violation of our freedom.

By Lacy MacAuley

She was an undercover cop who called herself “Missy.” When I first met her four years ago, I couldn’t have known that the small-framed woman with spiky brown hair and intense eyes was anything but a fellow activist showing up for a protest in Washington, D.C.

I certainly didn’t know she was actually Nicole Rizzi, an undercover cop ordered to secretly spy on peaceful protesters, violate our freedom of speech and assembly, and disregard our right to privacy.

Sure, I thought something was odd about her. She stared just a little too long. Her irreverent sense of humor made the hair stand up on the backs of a lot of necks. Her favorite t-shirt read “OBEY” and it wasn’t clear that she wore it for the irony.

When I looked at her rippling arm muscles, I wondered whether they came from workouts at some spy academy or a downtown yoga studio.

So sure, I did suspect from the start that she could be an FBI agent, a police officer, or something else. But if you start being suspicious of newcomers, every honest newbie will look like an infiltrator. I kept my paranoia mostly to myself. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, August 19 @ 21:05:25 EDT (1681 reads)
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 The News: Manning, Snowden and Swarz: America’s Police State Marches On, Media in Tow

Internationalby: Dave Lindorff

BREAKING!: It could well be that the harsh pretrial treatment of Bradley Manning and the harsh verdict handed down against him Tuesday may have been what convinced Russian authorities of the validity of National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden’s appeal for asylum, which his Russian attorney and his father have both now announced has been granted this morning. (Snowden in his application asserted that he cannot hope to receive a fair trial in the US, where Washington leaders have been publicly calling him a traitor and have been clamoring for harsh punishment, and where even the president has condemned him as a “hacker,” instead of a whistleblower who exposed the nation’s ubiquitous spying on all electronic communications of all Americans in wholesale violation of the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution). Snowden has reportedly left the Moscow airport where he had been stranded by US revocation of his passport, and has entered Moscow as a political refugee from US state terror.

The New York Times, in an editorial published the day after a military judge found Pvt. Bradley Manning “not guilty” of “aiding the enemy” -- a charge that would have locked him up for life without possibility of parole and could have carried the death penalty -- but also found him guilty on multiple counts of “espionage,” called the verdict (not guilty of aiding the enemy, guilty of espionage) “Mixed.”

The Times editorial writers were as mixed up as the judge, though. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, August 01 @ 16:43:15 EDT (972 reads)
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 The News: Actually, It Is About You

Politics
When the media covers immigration, it leaves immigrants out of the conversation.

By Peter Hart

Unless you’re a politician or a star athlete, the news of the day is rarely about your life. But sometimes, the media is buzzing quite specifically about you. Are you part of that conversation? Nope.

That kind of treatment is reserved for people who lack political power, yet are the subjects of media coverage.

Like immigrants. Congress has been working for months to pass a law that would, among other things, provide a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants currently living in this country. That’s millions of lives directly impacted by this conversation. But the media hardly give immigrants a chance to speak.

Who are media talking to about immigration? When the media watch group FAIR, where I work, looked at a month of TV coverage around the president’s State of theUnion address, the voices of immigrants could hardly be heard. We counted 157 sources in total addressing immigration issues. The vast majority were U.S.-born white male politicians.

Only three sources were identified as current or former undocumented immigrants — the people the conversation was about. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, July 24 @ 21:19:32 EDT (818 reads)
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 The News: An Endangered Species Up in Arms

History / Culture
The number of students taking humanities courses is plummeting, and financing for liberal arts education is being tea-partied to death.

By Donald Kaul

As many of you already have intuited, I don’t know everything. Nobody does, I suppose. More importantly, I don’t know everything about anything.

I’m what used to be called “a generalist,” someone whose knowledge in any direction is a mile wide and a quarter-inch deep.

Sad to say, we generalists are an endangered species.

Everywhere, the pressure is on young people to specialize. They’re also being urged to concentrate on the so-called STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering, and math. Why? These are disciplines that can predictably get you a job upon graduating from college.

A Florida task force last year went so far as to suggest that college courses in the humanities — literature, history, the social sciences, the arts — be made more expensive than STEM courses just to steer students away from them. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, July 01 @ 20:40:00 EDT (443 reads)
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