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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.”
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 International: Did Slaves Catch Your Seafood?

The News
Men who live in cages may have caught the shrimp at your supermarket.

By Elizabeth O’Connell

A few years ago, a friend promised Asorasak Thama a job in the Thai fishing industry. The job offered good pay for a few weeks of work.

Instead, he wound up trapped at sea for a year, working in terrible conditions for no pay at all. Thama had become a slave.

Authorities rescued Thama and his crewmembers when they stopped the boat he was trapped on for fishing illegally in Indonesian waters. A few years later, however — after a stranger drugged him at a bar in southern Thailand — Thama found himself enslaved again.

When his boat came into shore to get a fishing license from Malaysia, he waited until the captain had had a few drinks, then punched him and fled.

Despite these terrible ordeals, Thama is one of the lucky ones — he escaped. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, April 23 @ 21:27:29 EDT (679 reads)
(Read More... | 5124 bytes more | Comments? | International | Score: 0)

 Politics: If We’re Going to Defend Social Security We Need to Understand It

The News
Republicans and Many Democrats are on the attack

by: Dave Lindorff

The Republican-dominated Congress, with the help of a cadre of sell-out conservative Democrats in both chambers, are gearing up to attack Social Security again, under the guise of “saving” the program.

The attack will be brutal, because the program’s assassins understand that this is probably their last chance to undermine Social Security. With the Baby Boom generation born after 1946 now seriously starting to file for retirement benefits, it will soon become such a mainstay for so many people that it will be impregnable, unless already undermined.

A person born in 1946 could have retired at age 62 as early as 2008, and next year could retire at 70 and receive maximum benefits. There are already seven years’ worth of Baby Boomers who are at least eligible to start collecting benefits. By the time the last Baby Boomer born in 1964 is eligible to retire in 2026, the “senior lobby” of Social Security-eligible voters will be more double what it is today, and more importantly, will represent a bloc 50% larger as a proportion of the voting population than it is in today’s elderly population. Social Security’s enemies in Congress and in the business world know that as powerful as the elderly vote is today it will be 50% more powerful in years to come. And don’t forget, it’s not just retirees who ardently support Social Security. It’s people in their 50s and early 60s, who are looking ahead at the program as their salvation in retirement.

Polls show that even among the young, there is strong and abiding support for this flawed but critical program founded in 1936, which today provides 100% of income for one-seventh of all America’s elderly, and 90% or more of income for one-third of the elderly. Another one-third depend upon those benefits for more than half their income. Most of the rest too depend on their Social Security benefits for basic expenses like food and rent. It’s the rare American who just uses their benefit checks for vacations, luxury purchases or investment purposes.

But for all that Americans remain incredibly ignorant about the program, and are losing out on many of its benefits because of that ignorance. If this information were more readily available and understandable, it would be far harder for the program’s enemies to successfully attack it. I will attempt to do that here. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, March 09 @ 20:43:42 EDT (1326 reads)
(Read More... | 21955 bytes more | Comments? | Politics | Score: 5)

 Politics: President Gollum’s ‘Precious’ Secrets

The NewsBy Robert Parry

President Barack Obama promised a “transparent” administration, reviving democracy by letting Americans see into the inner workings of their government as much as possible, an implicit criticism of the excessive secrecy of his predecessor, George W. Bush. But instead Obama’s presidency has been one of the most opaque and deceptive in modern history.

Not only has Obama continued to wrap the carry-over anti-terrorism wars in maximum secrecy but he has taken unprecedented steps to shut down leaks by prosecuting whistleblowers who talk to the press. And, he has left standing his administration’s misleading rushes to judgment on key issues after U.S. intelligence analysts have refined or reversed the first impressions.

Whether on the Syrian sarin attack in 2013 or pivotal incidents in the Ukraine crisis – who was behind the sniper attacks in Kiev last Feb. 20 and who shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 last July 17 – Obama has withheld evidence developed by U.S. government analysts rather than undercut the propaganda value of the initial accusations. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Tuesday, February 17 @ 22:39:53 EST (1571 reads)
(Read More... | 9467 bytes more | Comments? | Politics | Score: 0)

 Truth To Power: Enhanced Misinformation Techniques

The News
Torture supporters outnumbered opponents 2-to-1 on major news shows.

By Aldo Guerrero

When the Senate released its shocking report on CIA torture late last year, it renewed a debate from the Bush years about the merits of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

Polls released afterward suggested that most Americans thought that torture was effective and, in some cases, justified. Yet the report was very clear: Torture produced virtually no valuable intelligence.

So why did so many people get the wrong idea? One possible explanation is that they heard it over and over again on TV.

In a new study, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting found that major news programs interviewed twice as many torture defenders as torture critics in their coverage of the Senate’s report. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, January 28 @ 15:49:59 EST (1951 reads)
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 Opinion: Four Ways 2014 Was a Pivotal Year for the Internet

The NewsAt stake is whether the Internet remains a democratic, user-powered network.

By Timothy Karr

The death of the Internet is at hand.

Sound familiar? That’s what Internet pioneer Robert Metcalfe predicted in 1995 when he wrote that spiraling demands on the fledgling network would cause the Internet to “catastrophically collapse” by 1996.

Metcalfe, of course, was dead wrong: The Internet is still chugging along, with a predicted 3 billion users by year’s end.

Still, the Internet’s fate feels distinctly uncertain as 2014 draws to a close. At stake is whether the Internet remains a democratic, user-powered network — or falls under the control of a few powerful entities.

Here are the four Internet issues that played leading roles this year:

1. Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality is hard-wired into the Internet as we know it. In a neutral network, users control their experience without their Internet service providers interfering, filtering, or censoring. This revolutionary principle is under attack from the phone and cable companies that control access in the United States. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, December 29 @ 19:03:47 EST (1889 reads)
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 Truth To Power: The Mystery of Ray McGovern’s Arrest

The NewsBy Ray McGovern

Why, I asked myself, would the New York City police arrest me and put me in The Tombs overnight, simply because a security officer at the 92nd Street Y told them I was “not welcome” and should be denied entry to a talk by retired General David Petraeus? In my hand was a ticket for which I had reluctantly shelled out $50.

I had hoped to hear the photogenic but inept Petraeus explain why the Iraqi troops, which he claimed to have trained so well, had fled northern Iraq leaving their weapons behind at the first whiff of Islamic State militants earlier this year. I even harbored some slight hope that the advertised Q & A might afford hoi polloi like me the chance to ask him a real question.

However rare the opportunity to ask real questions has become, it can happen. Witness my extended (four-minute) questioning of then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in Atlanta on May 4, 2006. The exchange wasn’t exactly the oh-so-polite give-and-take of the Sunday talk shows but it represented what Americans should expect of democracy, a chance to confront senior government officials when they engage in deception or demonstrate incompetence – especially on issues of war or peace.

It seems a safe guess that somebody wanted to protect Petraeus from even the possibility of such accountability on Oct. 30. Also, let me make clear that I had no intention of embarrassing the retired four-star general and ex-CIA director with a question about his extramarital affair with his admiring biographer Paula Broadwell, which precipitated his CIA resignation in November 2012.

Many an aging male ego has been massaged by the attentions of someone like Broadwell, and she seemed happy to do the massaging to expedite the research on All In, her biography of the fabled general. I had decided to resist the temptation to refer to the Biblical admonition against entrusting large matters to those who cannot be faithful in small things.

The affair may not have been a small thing to Mrs. Petraeus, but it pales in significance when compared to the death and destruction resulting from Petraeus’s self-aggrandizing disingenuousness and dissembling about prospects for eventual success in Iraq and Afghanistan. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, November 10 @ 21:29:54 EST (734 reads)
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 Screwed Again: The 0.01 Percent’s ‘I Reap All’ Accounts

The News
Multi-millionaires and billionaires are shielding vast fortunes from taxation with monstrously huge IRAs.

By Bob Lord

Do you remember when Mitt Romney’s IRA made headlines during his failed 2012 presidential campaign?

That outsized retirement stash estimated at between $20 and $102 million probably led President Barack Obama to propose limiting the buildup of IRA values. It turns out that Romney’s gigantic IRA was no fluke.

At least 9,000 wealthy Americans have amassed $5 million-plus sized IRAs. Indeed, the former Massachusetts governor’s use of a monster IRA to defer taxation is modest compared to others.

Meet Max Levchin. When he helped launch Yelp, Levchin had the foresight to place at least 7 million of his original shares of Yelp stock in a tax-sheltered Roth IRA when he acquired it.

The Ukrainian-born entrepreneur has sold off some of those shares since then, so estimating the size of that Roth mega-IRA requires some guesswork. Based on Yelp’s recent trading range, it easily could exceed $275 million. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, November 05 @ 20:43:59 EST (596 reads)
(Read More... | 5431 bytes more | Comments? | Screwed Again | Score: 0)

 Truth To Power: Boston Police Data Shows Widespread Racial Bias

The News
in Street Encounters with Civilians

ACLU study details stop-and-frisk problem in Boston, urges reforms to ensure fair and effective policing


From: aclu.org

BOSTON -- Boston Police Department (BPD) officers have engaged in widespread racially biased street encounters with civilians, according to a study of four years of BPD police-civilian encounter records summarized in a report released today by the American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU) and ACLU of Massachusetts.

"This data from the Boston Police Department is clear and compelling: Boston needs to adopt reforms to ensure fair and effective policing," said Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts.

The findings confirm what many people have long suspected: Boston police officers targeted both communities of color and people of color at far greater rates than white communities or white people.

Preliminary analysis by a BPD-selected researcher of more than 204,000 department reports of police-civilian encounters from 2007 to 2010 found that blacks were subjected to 63 percent of these encounters, even though they made up just 24 percent of Boston's population. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Friday, October 10 @ 17:36:01 EDT (588 reads)
(Read More... | 5379 bytes more | Comments? | Truth To Power | Score: 0)

 Truth To Power: PA City Agrees to Repeal Law that Jeopardizes Safety

The News of Domestic Violence Survivors

Norristown Will Pay $495,000 to Settle Case on Behalf of Woman Threatened with Eviction for Calling Police

From: aclu.org

NORRISTOWN, Pa. – The city of Norristown voted to repeal a municipal ordinance that punishes innocent tenants and their landlords for requesting police assistance as part of a settlement announced today. The American Civil LibertiesUnion, the ACLU of Pennsylvania, and the law firm of Pepper Hamilton LLP, filed a federal lawsuit challenging the ordinance last year on behalf of a domestic violence victim, Lakisha Briggs, who faced eviction from her home after requesting police protection from an abusive ex-boyfriend. Norristown will also pay $495,000 to Briggs and her lawyers.

The ordinance encouraged landlords to evict tenants when the police are called to a property three times in four months for "disorderly behavior," including for incidents of domestic violence. ...


Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, September 11 @ 09:23:17 EDT (935 reads)
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 Screwed Again: How NSA Can Secretly Aid Criminal Cases

The NewsBy Ray McGovern

Rarely do you get a chance to ask a just-retired FBI director whether he had “any legal qualms” about what, in football, is called “illegal procedure,” but at the Justice Department is called “parallel construction.”

Government wordsmiths have given us this pleasant euphemism to describe the use of the National Security Agency’s illegal eavesdropping on Americans as an investigative tool to pass on tips to law enforcement agencies which then hide the source of the original suspicion and “construct” a case using “parallel” evidence to prosecute the likes of you and me.

For those interested in “quaint” things like the protections that used to be afforded us by the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution, information about this “parallel construction” has been in the public domain, including the “mainstream media,” for at least a year or so.

So, I welcomed the chance to expose this artful practice to still more people with cameras rolling at a large conference on “Ethos & Profession of Intelligence” at Georgetown University on Wednesday, during the Q & A after former FBI Director Robert Mueller spoke.

Mueller ducked my question regarding whether he had any “legal qualms” about this “parallel construction” arrangement. He launched into a discursive reply in which he described the various ”authorities” enjoyed by the FBI (and the CIA), which left the clear impression not only that he was without qualms but that he considered the practice of concealing the provenance of illegally acquired tip-off information somehow within those professed “authorities.”

Bottom line? Beware, those of you who think you have “nothing to hide” when the NSA scoops up your personal information. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Saturday, June 14 @ 20:47:45 EDT (1718 reads)
(Read More... | 16134 bytes more | Comments? | Screwed Again | Score: 5)

 Opinion: Memo to Potential Whistleblowers: If You See Something, Say Something

The NewsBy Norman Solomon, Global Research

Blowing the whistle on wrongdoing creates a moral frequency that vast numbers of people are eager to hear. We don’t want our lives, communities, country and world continually damaged by the deadening silences of fear and conformity.

I’ve met many whistleblowers over the years, and they’ve been extraordinarily ordinary. None were applying for halos or sainthood. All experienced anguish before deciding that continuous inaction had a price that was too high. All suffered negative consequences as well as relief after they spoke up and took action. All made the world better with their courage.

Whistleblowers don’t sign up to be whistleblowers. Almost always, they begin their work as true believers in the system that conscience later compels them to challenge.

“It took years of involvement with a mendacious war policy, evidence of which was apparent to me as early as 2003, before I found the courage to follow my conscience,” Matthew Hoh recalled this week.“It is not an easy or light decision for anyone to make, but we need members of our military, development, diplomatic and intelligence community to speak out if we are ever to have a just and sound foreign policy.” ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Saturday, June 07 @ 17:36:45 EDT (1262 reads)
(Read More... | 7074 bytes more | Comments? | Opinion | Score: 0)

 Business/Economy: A New Front in the CEO Pay Wars

The News
State lawmakers are starting to say no to executive excess.

By Sam Pizzigati

Have you heard about Domino’s Pizza CEO J. Patrick Doyle? He pocketed $43 million over the last three years running an operation that stiffs low-wage workers and rakes in taxpayer subsidies.

That news prompted the New York Post to open its coverage with a rather brilliant quip: “Hey, J. Patrick Doyle, save some dough for the pizzas.”

Almost every day, the headlines remind us how outrageous CEO pay in America has become. Will these outrages ever end?

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers in Congress give us no particular cause for optimism. But at the state level we actually may be in for a pleasant political surprise. Two new imaginative state proposals are now seeking to leverage the power of the public purse against executive excess. In California, lawmakers are zeroing in on how government taxes. New legislation pending in Rhode Island targets how government spends. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, May 29 @ 21:23:51 EDT (1112 reads)
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 Truth To Power: ACLU Argues Against Warrantless Cell Phone Tracking

The News Before Federal Appeals Court

From: ACLU.org

Police used automatically-created cell phone location data to track individuals’ movements throughout Miami area without a warrant

Miami – Today [April 25, 2014], the American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU) argued before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in a case about whether police need a warrant to track an individual’s location using data created by their cell phone service provider.

A panel of judges heard arguments today in a case, United States v. Davis, which involves warrantless police requests for cell phone location records. For one of the individuals involved, Quartavious Davis, police received 11,606 location records over the course of 67 days. The ACLU, along with the ACLU of Florida, Center for Democracy & Technology, Electronic Frontier Foundation and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, filed an amicus brief in the case arguing that the government violated the Fourth Amendment when it obtained these location requests from wireless carriers without first obtaining a warrant. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Saturday, April 26 @ 22:17:22 EDT (1189 reads)
(Read More... | 3000 bytes more | Comments? | Truth To Power | Score: 0)

 Screwed Again: “Freedom of the Press” and “The Shield Law”:

The News
“Protecting the Public” from Independent Alternatives to the Mainstream Media

By Devon DB

Currently being debated by the Senate, but rarely discussed on mainstream television, is the Shield Law. While on the surface it may seem to be rather innocuous, some of the language in it and its implications are quite problematic for journalists.

A Shield Law is a law which “provides statutory protection for the ‘reporters’ privilege’— legal rules which protect journalists against the government requiring them to reveal confidential sources or other information.”[1] Generally, this is a positive occurrence as journalists are much more able to conduct their work and bring information to public light if they do not need to worry about having to reveal their sources. While Shield Laws have occurred in the past, they have only been on the state level. This currently proposed Shield Law is the first one to reach the federal level and the main goal is to protect journalists from having to reveal confidential sources in federal cases.[2]

However, there are certain instances in which journalists will have to reveal sources, such as “(1) The party seeking disclosure has exhausted all reasonable alternative sources of the information; (2) The requested information is essential to resolving the matter; (3) Disclosure of the requested information would not be contrary to the public interest; and (4) In criminal cases, if the requesting party is the federal government, the government must show that there are reasonable grounds to believe that a crime has occurred.”[3]

While overall it may seem like a good bill, there are a number of problems with this Shield Law, officially known as the Free Flow of Information Act of 2013. For starters, this law would “allow the government to seize reporters’ records without notifying them for 45 days – a period of time that could be renewed by a judge 45 additional days – if investigators convince a judge pre-notification ‘would pose a clear and substantial threat to the integrity of a criminal investigation.’”[4] This power of seizing records without notifying reporters was used most recently in regards to the Associated Press, when the federal government seized their phone records in May of last year, with the government only saying that “they were needed for investigation of an unspecified criminal matter.”[5] Oh yes! What transparency and accountability! Infringing upon the First Amendment rights of reporters and then only giving what is essentially a BS, purposefully vague explanation.

In addition to this, the government can force journalists to give up information in the name of national security.[6] This is quite worrying as the US government has time and time again been involved in operations of entrapment.[7,8] ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, April 16 @ 18:40:53 EDT (1654 reads)
(Read More... | 16867 bytes more | Comments? | Screwed Again | Score: 5)

 History/Culture: A Tortured Twist on Ethics

The News
Why isn't the American Psychological Association pursuing ethics charges against psychologist John Leso for abuses he helped carry out at the Guantánamo prison?

By Yosef Brody

George Orwell wisely observed that our understanding of the past, and the meaning associated with it, directly influences the future. And as the unprecedented public feud between the CIA and Congress makes clear, there are still significant aspects of our recent history of state-sponsored torture that need examination before we put this national disgrace behind us.

Important questions remain unresolved about the U.S. torture program in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. And the four-year, $40 million Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture is unlikely to provide sufficient answers, even if it’s ever declassified and released.

For example, what will be done about doctors who helped create U.S. torture programs and participated in their implementation? And is there any evidence that cruel, inhuman, and degrading practices continue under official policy, even to this day?

The question of whether American health professionals previously involved in military torture programs should be allowed to quietly and freely continue their careers came to a head recently when it was revealed that the American Psychological Association (APA) refused to pursue ethics charges against psychologist John Leso. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Friday, March 28 @ 23:00:06 EDT (1104 reads)
(Read More... | 6303 bytes more | Comments? | History/Culture | Score: 5)


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Monday, February 24
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Tuesday, January 14
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