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Meet the Police Chief Who’s Bravely Protesting Police Brutality

Richmond California Police Chief Chris Magnus held "Black Lives Matters" sign while wearing his uniform.

 

AlterNet / By Steven Rosenfeld
December 13, 2014                                
 

This past Tuesday, as the mayor and top city officials in Berkeley, California, were deciding to postpone that evening's City Council meeting to avoid a confrontation with protesters over clashes with police in demonstrations over police brutality, top officials in nearby Richmond did something unexpected.

Police Chief Chris Magnus, Deputy Chief Allwyn Brown, Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, and three City Council members all joined a similar protest on a major city thoroughfare to underscore that they understood the issues at stake and were listening to their community, which has one of region's most ethnically diverse populations.

They stood with protesters for four and a half hours, the length of time that Michael Brown's body lay on the pavement in Ferguson, Missouri, after the unarmed black man was shot and killed by a white officer.

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Ferguson Is Baghdad Is New York Is Kabul

Our wars abroad are mirror images of the war at home.

 

by Sonali Kolhatkar
Common Dreams. December 12, 2014

Police with wooden sticks stand guard next to a protester with a sign that reads “Justice for Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and justice for us all” Monday in downtown Seattle. (Photo: AP/Ted S. Warren)

There is a pattern emerging in my Facebook feed this week. One group of friends has been posting stories of police brutality and protests accompanied by personal statements of outrage. Another group has been remarking on the disgusting revelations from the Senate Intelligence Committee’s CIA torture report and the need for accountability. There is little overlap between the two groups, and yet the common threads between the U.S.’ foreign and domestic policies are disturbingly uncanny.

Whether on the streets of Baghdad or Ferguson, soldiers and militarized police forces have historically enforced control, not law. Behind the prison walls of Guantanamo and Texas, some authorities have tortured and brutalized rather than interrogated. They have not protected nor served; they have attacked and killed. They have not gathered intelligence; they have violated people’s humanity.

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Only CIA Agent Jailed for Torture Program Is Whistleblower Who Confirmed Its Existence

Former operative John Kiriakou, currently in prison, was charged with a crime after helping expose widespread abuses conducted by agency

 

by Sarah Lazare, staff writer
Common Dreams. December 10, 2014

CIA whisteblower John Kiriakou as depicted in portrait artist Robert Shetterly's "Americans Who Tell the Truth" series. (Credit: Robert Shetterly)

There is only one U.S. government employee who has gone to jail in connection with the widespread torture program by the CIA documented in the executive summary (pdf) of the Senate report that was released Tuesday: the man who helped expose it six years ago.

John Kiriakou, who worked for the CIA between 1990 and 2004, stepped forward in 2007 and confirmed to press outlets some of the first details about the agency's widespread use of torture.

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Senate CIA Torture Report Details ‘Ruthless’ Brutality of Bush Era

by Jon Queally, staff writer
Common Dreams. December 9, 2014

The Senate Intelligence Committee has released the 525-page executive summary of the six thousand page investigative report which looked at the CIA's "Detention and interrogation Program." (Image: Common Dreams)

The executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on CIA torture was released on Tuesday morning. As the document itself (pdf) was posted online, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Chairperson of the committee, took to the Senate floor and to lay out the case made within the 500+ page report. Watch video of Feinstein's  remarks here.

What the report shows, according to its introduction, is that the abuse performed by the CIA and documented by the investigation was found to be in direct "violation of U.S. law, treaty obligations, and our values."

According to Feinstein, the four key findings of the report include:

    1. The CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” were not effective.
    2. The CIA provided extensive inaccurate information about the operation of the  program and its effectiveness to policymakers and the public.
    3. The CIA’s management of the program was inadequate and deeply flawed.
    4. The CIA program was far more brutal than the CIA represented to policymakers and the American public.

Common Dreams posted updates following the release of the report, focusing on reactions and critical analysis from informed voices

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2014: The Year of the Hypocrites

by Paul Buchheit
Common Dreams. December 8, 2014

There are too many examples to possible count, but the Susan G. Komen foundation must take a special prize for accepting money from oil giant Baker Hughes and painting fracking drill bits pink in the name of fighting cancer.

There were countless candidates, from individuals to corporations to government officials, all of whom combine the capitalist sense of me-first entitlement with a disdain for the needs of others.

Individuals: The Public is Blocking My Freedom To Take from the Public

AIG's Hank Greenberg, who saved about $300 million when his high-risk insurance company was bailed out by our tax money, sued the federal government because he felt cheated by the bailout, even though without the bailout his stock would have dropped to zero.

Next is Cliven Bundy, who refused to pay grazing fees for the use of our public land, then turned around and blamed government for not maintaining the fences on the land when one of his cattle strayed onto the highway and caused an accident.

Finally we have Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, who criticized fracking regulations for "holding back the American economic recovery," and then protested when a fracking water tower was to be built near his home.

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The Government’s Single-Source Theory of Investigative Journalism

Published on December 05, 2014 by ExposeFacts.org
by Marcy Wheeler
Common Dreams. December 5, 2014


Journalist James Risen appearing on NBC's Meet The Press. (Credit: NBC News)

As reported by ExposeFacts last month, former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling wants to show that several of the key witnesses against him (including his superior at CIA) have themselves mishandled classified information. A government filing released last month provides more details about Sterling’s claims, revealing that four witnesses who were cleared into the Merlin Program revealed in James Risen’s book have mishandled classified information, taking documents home improperly.

The government’s argument explaining why that doesn’t hurt its case is rather revealing. It explains that, because the four other people who had access to Merlin did not share all of a series of traits ascribed to Sterling by the government, they “did not face the same sort of scrutiny” as Sterling.

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The Story Behind the Story of Those Huge Corporate Tax Cuts

by Joshua Holland
Published on December 03, 2014 by Moyers & Company
Common Dreams. December 3, 2014
 
 
Last week, Igor Volsky reported for Think Progress that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) had struck a deal with House Republicans to give corporate America a massive tax giveaway just weeks after the midterm elections. The agreement, wrote Volsky, “would permanently extend relief for big multinational corporations without providing breaks for middle or lower-income families.” Writing in The Washington Post, Jared Bernstein, a former economic advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, called the package ”a dog’s breakfast of permanent tax breaks mostly for businesses that would add over $400 billion to the 10-year budget deficit without doing anything for low-income, working families.”
 
 

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To Counter Rise of Oligarchy, Sanders Pitches Progressive Economic Vision

Amid speculation over 2016 presidential run, senator from Vermont lays out 12-step plan to combat 40-year decline of middle class and rampant inequality

 

by Jon Queally, staff writer
Common Dreams. December 2, 2014

Newly announced progressive economic agenda, says Sen. Bernie Sanders, is designed "to reverse a 40-year decline of the American middle class and the growing gap between the very rich and everyone else in the United States." (Background photo: Randen Pederson/flickr/cc)

In a speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday morning, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced his vision for a progressive economic agenda that he says could restore shared prosperity, reinvigorate the middle class, and mitigate a host of social crises that stem from the current system that has created great wealth for a select few while systematically eroding the quality of life for the many.

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Use of deadly force by police disappears on Richmond streets

By Robert Rogers and David DeBolt Contra Costa Times
September 6, 3014
 
Richmond police officer Michael Brown, right, and detective Mauricio Canelo participate in a car stop exercise where Brown and Canelo, as the civilian driver, shoot at each other with airsoft pistols at the Richmond Police Department headquarters in Richmond, Calif., on Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)
 

RICHMOND -- Two cops sprinted up the stairs of a ramshackle downtown apartment building, then set eyes on two men at the end of a narrow hall.

Officer Matt Stonebraker rushed in first, scuffling briefly with one man while the other raised his hands in surrender. Moments later, after a whirlwind of thrashing limbs, the suspect was cuffed and choked up a golf ball-sized plastic bag of rock cocaine.

In this 2011 episode, the police officers never unholstered their guns.

...

{CGP Ed. Note/Update: http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/Richmond-police-shoot-and-kill-suspect-5754726.php}

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“People yelled and carried on”: Howard Dean tells Salon how he remade DNC and Dems’ new path forward

The man who implemented a 50-state strategy as DNC chair dishes on how Democrats can take back the country again

 

by David Dayen
Salon. November 27, 2014

Howard Dean (Credit: Reuters/Phil Mccarten)

Howard Dean will forever be associated with one unguarded moment on a microphone in Iowa. But his real contribution to politics over the past decade was during his time at the Democratic National Committee from 2005 to 2008, when he implemented the 50-state strategy. This blueprint for Democrats to compete throughout the country combined local organizing and technical wizardry. And it bore fruit: Democrats gained by virtually every metric in deep-red states during this period, from presidential vote share to state legislatures.

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How the Democratic Party Lost Its Soul

The trouble started when the party abandoned its working-class base.

 

by William Greider
November 11, 2014
This article appeared in the December 1-8, 2014 edition of The Nation.
 
President Barack Obama and former treasury secretary Timothy Geithner at the White House, Thursday, January 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
 

The blowout election of 2014 demonstrates that the Democratic Party is utterly out of touch with ordinary people and their adverse circumstances. Working people have known this for some time now, but this year, the president made the disconnection more obvious. Barack Obama kept telling folks to brighten up: the economy is coming back, he said, and prosperity is just around the corner.

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Fires Burn As Community Feels Pain of Injustice: Dispatches from Ferguson

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon deploys National Guard troops following outpouring of community anger in response to grand jury decision not to indict police officer

 

by Jon Queally, staff writer
Common Dreams. November 25, 2014

 

Lesley McSpadden, mother of Michael Brown, is escorted away from in front of the Ferguson police department after a grand jury's decision was delivered on November 24, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. A St. Louis County grand jury has decided to not indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown that sparked riots in Ferguson, Missouri in August. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Following Monday night's announcement by St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch that a grand jury would not indict police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, the city of Ferguson, Missouri erupted in unrest fueled by an outpouring of emotion by those both outraged and saddened by the decision.

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Election Integrity: Greg Palast and Brad Friedman interviewed by Thom Hartmann

 

Includes discussion of:

1 - Republican voter suppression via many means including purging hundreds
of thousands of registered voters from registration lists and many other
Jim Crow tactics, and

2 - wholesale theft of votes via the secret code in electronic voting
machines, as evidenced by exit polls and pre- and post- election polling.

Scroll over to the 30 minute mark in the video to view this portion of the program.

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Obama Extends War in Afghanistan

The implications for U.S. democracy aren’t reassuring

 

by Kathy Kelly
Common Dreams. November 23, 2014

News agencies reported this morning that weeks ago President Obama signed an order, kept secret until now, to authorize continuation of the Afghan war for at least another year. The order authorizes U.S. airstrikes “to support Afghan military operations in the country” and U.S. ground troops to continue normal operations, which is to say, to “occasionally accompany Afghan troops” on operations against the Taliban.

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Senator: White House Simply Doesn’t “Want Public to Know” Scope of CIA Torture

Members of Intelligence Committee say White House is stalling release of torture report as high-level disagreement over what American people can know about abuses by CIA reaches boiling point; Transparency advocates tell lawmakers with access to report, 'Just read it into the record.'

 

by Jon Queally, staff writer
Common Dreams. November 21, 2014

Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee (from left) Sens. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., listen to testimony in a Senate hearing room in this file photo. (Photo: AP)

"The public has to know about it. They don’t want the public to know about it."

That's what Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) told the Huffington Post on Thursday night regarding continued White House stalling over release of a report that catalogs the internal investigation of CIA torture during the Bush years. The comments followed a close-door meeting between Senate Democrats and Obama administration officials that took place just hours before the president gave a much-anticipated speech on another subject, immigration reform.

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‘Drop in the Bucket’: Experts Say Obama Climate Fund Pledge Far Short of What Is Owed

'The U.S. has a historical, ecological, and climate debt, and a moral responsibility to pay for the mitigation and adaptation of the climate crisis.'

 

by Sarah Lazare, staff writer
Common Dreams. November 14, 2014

    Critics say Obama's pledge is miniscule compared to military spending. (Photo courtesy of ActionAid)

President Barack Obama's pledge of up to $3 billion to a fund to help developing countries cope with climate change was met on Friday with caution by analysts and campaigners, who said the commitment falls well short of meeting the nation's true obligation to pay reparations to those bearing the brunt of the crisis.

"The U.S. has a historical, ecological, and climate debt, and a moral responsibility to pay for the mitigation and adaptation of the climate crisis," Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of Indigenous Environmental Network and Coordinating Committee member of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, told Common Dreams. "The U.S. continues to throw peanuts towards poor countries of the Global South."

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Semi-official election results in the June 3 California Statewide Primary

To view the semi-official election results in the June 3 California Statewide Primary, Click Here

Many ballots are not counted on Election Day; county elections officials must report final official results to the Secretary of State by July 4.

Look here for California County election results. (Click on the name of county.)

The election is over. Now what?

Coalition for Grassroots Progress
November 5, 2014
 

The election is over, and we have work to do!

What if Daniel Ellsberg had remained silent during the Viet Nam war? What if James Risen had decided not to report on what he says “may have been one of the most reckless operations in the modern history of the CIA”? What if Edward Snowden had thought that keeping his job was more important than exposing the enormity of the NSA violations of privacy he saw? What if crucial news reporting independence disappeared in the United States?

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Bill Moyers: Grassroots Pro-Democracy Movement Must Rise to Challenge Corporate Control

Ahead of final sign-off, veteran journalist tells viewers that reaching out to their fellow citizens and neighbors is the essential task in creating the transformation so desperately needed

 

by Jon Queally, staff writer
Common Dreams. October 25, 2014

After more than four decades as a journalist working in the public interest, Bill Moyers might soon be "signing-off" but he still has wisdom to offer. (Image: Moyers & Company)

In late September, veteran journalist and public television host Bill Moyers, now eighty-years old, announced he was finally retiring (and yes, this time he means it) after more than forty years as one of the nation's most trusted voices in news, politics, and culture.

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Your values are on the line in Sonoma County this November

Coalition for Grassroots Progress
October 15, 2014                                                                   

Sonoma County stands at a crossroads this November. The outcome of elections in Santa Rosa, Petaluma, and in the 4th Supervisor District will very likely have a great impact on the county that will reverberate for years.

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The Government War Against Reporter James Risen

The vendetta against him and whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling reflects an antidemocratic goal: the uninformed consent of the governed.

 

by Norman Solomon and Marcy Wheeler
The Nation.com • October 9, 2014
 
 
The legal assault on Risen and the prosecution of Sterling are integral to the escalating siege that targets core values of investigative reporting and public-service whistleblowing—even as Obama continues to tout what he calls “the most transparent administration in history.” An atmosphere of fear inside government has intensified. Too little media attention has gone to scrutinizing the insidious program known as “Insider Threat,” which pressures federal workers to monitor and report fellow employees suspected of ideological or attitudinal deviance. More recently, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper ordered that government employees in a wide range of intelligence-related agencies must get permission before sharing any nonclassified information with journalists. Clapper called for clearance holders to be continually monitored, an order that Senators Charles Grassley and Ron Wyden worry carries particular hazards for whistleblowers.
 
 

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Announcing endorsements in northern California and statewide races

Coalition for Grassroots Progress
September 20, 2014                                                        
 

For all of us, 2014 is an important election year -- when some key races will be decided, ranging from members of Congress to state legislators and local officeholders.  Following the disappointing state-wide voter turn-out in the California June Primary election, it’s especially important that we get out the vote this November.

After careful assessments, the Coalition for Grassroots Progress has endorsed candidates in northern California races and recommended positions on several state-wide ballot initiatives.

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People’s Climate Has One Final Question: Are You In?

The international climate justice movement says the march in New York and mobilizations worldwide will be historic, but that these events are just the beginning

 

byJon Queally, staff writer
Common Dreams. September, 19, 2014

This weekend is not singular,' say organizers. 'By joining this People’s Climate Mobilization you will be standing alongside thousands, perhaps millions of others around the globe at a critical moment.' (Image: peoplesclimate.org)

Just days away from what's been billed as the "the largest climate mobilization in world history," organizers behind the People's Climate March & Mobilization are putting the final details in place while asking people across the planet the simple question: Are you in?

On Sunday, September 21, just two days before a United Nations Climate Summit, a mass march is being planned for New York City that is expected to attract tens of thousands (possibly hundreds of thousands) of people. On the same day, for people not in proximity to Manhattan, a global mobilization will see coordinated actions in thousands of locations across the globe where people and communities will voice their call for immediate and aggressive action to tackle the threat of a warming planet and the destruction stemming from humanity's fossil fuel addiction.

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CGP Announces endorsements in northern California and statewide races

The Coalition for Grassroots Progress has endorsed candidates in northern California races and recommended positions on several state-wide ballot initiatives. CGP’s endorsements are based on assessments of which candidates will defend the public interest in crucial matters such as the environment, privacy, healthcare and constitutional rights.

We urge you to visit these endorsed candidates’ websites and consider providing support:

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CGP Announces endorsements in U.S. House and Senate races, November 2014

After careful assessments, the Coalition for Grassroots Progress has endorsed the following candidates for the U.S. House and Senate. We urge you to visit their websites and to consider providing support.


California Congressional District 17:
Mike Honda, progressive incumbent
 

California Congressional District 10:
Michael Eggman
 

California Congressional District 33:
Ted Lieu
 

U.S. Senate, Maine
Shenna Bellows

 

CLICK HERE to see CGP endorsements in northern California and statewide races.

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Perpetual War Is Fine With the New York Times After All

by Norman Solomon
Huffington Post
September 11, 2014
 
Photo: Reuters
 

The editorial board of the New York Times has an Orwellian knack for war. Sixteen months ago, when President Obama gave oratorical lip service to ending "perpetual war," the newspaper quickly touted that end as a democratic necessity. But now -- in response to Obama's speech Wednesday night announcing escalation of war without plausible end -- the Times editorial voice is with the endless war program.

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Profits Soar As Pentagon Leans on Private Corporations for Special Ops

New research shows how US Special Operations Command is outsourcing many of its most sensitive information activities, including interrogation, drone and psychological operations

 

by Jon Queally, staff writer
Common Dreams. September 9, 2014

Research reveals that private, for-profit corporations are integrated into some of the most sensitive aspects of U.S. special operations activities worldwide. (Photo: remotcontrolproject.org)

Private military contractors are reaping billions of dollars in profitable rewards from the U.S. government's global network of clandestine counter-terrorism and other overseas operations, according to a new report that examines the high-levels of integration between for-profit corporations and the Pentagon's global military and surveillance apparatus.

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Freedom of the Press

August 14, 2014. James Risen and other journalism advocates spoke at a press conference on freedom of the press and Obama administration efforts to compel New York Times reporter James Risen to disclose a confidential source.

Sign petition in support of James Risen here.

read more >>

Petition in support of James Risen and Press Freedom delivered to DOJ 08-14-14

A broad coalition of press freedom organizations delivered a petition signed by more than 100,000 people to the US Justice Department supporting the right of New York Times reporter James Risen not to identify an anonymous source. August 14th, 2014 in Washington DC at 11am. Speakers at the DOJ entrance: Norman Solomon, Phil Donahue, and Courtney Radsch.

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Who decides when wetlands are expendable?

Coalition for Grassroots Progress
August 27, 2014                                                
 

In case you missed it, here’s a report by Will Parrish 
about the curious case of Congressman Jared Huffman, the Willits Bypass, and the wetlands that got in the way. 

Congressman Huffman intervened in the previously stalled Caltrans project in Willits that required “the largest filling in of wetlands in northern California in more than 50 years.”

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Police Response in Ferguson Rooted in Systemic Violence and Militarism

by Brian Trautman
Common Dreams. August 27, 2014

Marchers in Milkwaukee walk in solidarity with those protesting police violence in Ferguson, Missouri and demanded justice for slain teen Michael Brown. (Photo: Light Brigading)

The police response to public protests in Ferguson, Missouri in the wake of the deadly August 9 shooting of Michael Brown, Jr., an unarmed eighteen-year-old black man killed by a white police officer, was a prime illustration of the hyper-aggressive nature of policing in America today. The residents of Ferguson fed up with hostile and abusive police behavior continue to flood the streets to demand justice for Mike Brown and other victims of police brutality. They have been joined in solidarity by people of conscience in other cities (e.g., Oakland, NYC). Their anger and frustration was exacerbated by the heavy-handed tactics used against the mostly peaceful protestors in Ferguson during the first week or so of the demonstrations – tear gas, rubber bullets, smoke, deafening sirens as well as assault rifles fixed on protestors were some of the violent methods employed by law enforcement. In addition, a mandatory curfew imposed by the Missouri governor, verbal threats of physical harm from police, and arrests of journalists, among other ill-advised and counterproductive reactions, only escalated the tensions between protestors and police.

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Local Police with War Weapons: End This Now

Roots Action Action Alert                  
 

According to the U.S. General Services Administration, one of the programs that allows the Pentagon to give billions of dollars worth of free weapons of war to local U.S. police "offers Americans peace of mind.”

Have images of a war zone in Ferguson, Missouri, boosted your peace of mind?

Tell the Pentagon, Congress, and the President: No More Weapons of War for Local Police:

CLICK HERE to sign the following petition:

It’s time to halt the flow of war weaponry into our neighborhoods as well as into volatile areas abroad. As a first step we urge support for Congressman Hank Johnson's Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act, which would prohibit the transfer to police of high caliber automatic weapons, armored vehicles, armed drones, aircraft, stun grenades, and silencers.

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Defend Journalism That Speaks Truth to Power: From Ferguson to Washington

By John Nichols
The Nation. August 18, 2014
 
Police officers wearing gas masks place the lights of a television news crew on the ground, shortly after the journalists fled a smoking cannister in Ferguson, Missouri, August 13, 2014. (Reuters/Mario Anzuoni)
 

“A popular government, without popular information, or the mean of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or perhaps both,” declared James Madison, the author and champion of the Bill of Rights. “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”

This is still the essential truth of an American experiment that can only be advanced toward the equal and inclusive justice that did not exist in Madison’s time by a broadly informed and broadly engaged citizenry. When journalists are harassed, intimidated, threatened and detained, the basic premise of democracy—that the great mass of people, armed with information and perspective, and empowered to act upon it, will set right that which is made wrong by oligarchs—is assaulted.

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What You Need to Know About the FISA Court—and How it Needs to Change

Published on August 16, 2014 by Electronic Frontier Foundation
by Nadia Kayyali
Common Dreams. August 16, 2014
 
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court operates out of the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse near Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
 

Should interpretation of the laws and Constitution of the United States take place in one-sided secretive courts, away from the public eye?

For years, it has. But even Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) judges don’t agree on how exactly the FISC should work. Since the Snowden disclosures, hundreds of lawmakers have made it clear that they want to see more transparency in the court by supporting various NSA reforms. Most recently, 18 Senators co-sponsored the new USA FREEDOM Act, S. 2685, which offers a few important changes to the FISC.

So who’s right? A look at the history and procedures of the FISC make it clear: real reform is needed now.

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Activist: Ferguson press fight ‘front’

By SARAH SMITH
POLITICO. August 14, 2014

The tension with reporters documenting police brutality dates back decades, Cohen says. | AP Photo

The co-founder of left-leaning public interest group RootsAction.org said Thursday that the arrests of journalists in Ferguson is one of the major fronts on the fight for press freedom.

“It’s one of the fronts of the fights for the freedom of the press,” Jeff Cohen said at an event in front of the Department of Justice to present a petition on behalf of journalist James Risen, who is being subpoenaed to reveal the names of confidential sources.

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The Militarization of U.S. Police: Finally Dragged Into the Light by the Horrors of Ferguson

Published on Thursday, August 14, 2014 by The Intercept
by Glenn Greenwald
Common Dreams. August 14, 2014

(Photo: Elvert Barnes)

The intensive militarization of America’s police forces is a serious menace about which a small number of people have been loudly warning for years, with little attention or traction. In a 2007 paper on “the blurring distinctions between the police and military institutions and between war and law enforcement,” the criminal justice professor Peter Kraska defined “police militarization” as “the process whereby civilian police increasingly draw from, and pattern themselves around, the tenets of militarism and the military model.”

The harrowing events of the last week in Ferguson, Missouri – the fatal police shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager, Mike Brown, and the blatantly excessive and thuggish response to ensuing community protests from a police force that resembles an occupying army – have shocked the U.S. media class and millions of Americans. But none of this is aberrational.

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Ferguson Police Descend on Protesters with Arrests, Tear Gas, and Martial Law

Chaotic scenes as police arrest reporters, fire at protesters

 

by Nadia Prupis, staff writer
Common Dreams. August 14, 2014

Police descended on protesters in Ferguson, Missouri on Wednesday (Photo: AP)

Police in Ferguson, Missouri on Wednesday arrested reporters and activists, launched tear gas at protesters, and used armored tanks and helicopters to force media out as residents continued to demand answers about the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old who was shot to death by an officer last weekend.

St. Louis alderman Antonio French, who had helped organize demonstrations and provide live updates on Twitter, was arrested for "unlawful assembly" after police forced him out of his car and told him he "didn't listen," according to French's wife, Jasenka Benac French

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In Stand for Free Press, Pulitzer Journalists Declare Support for James Risen

"It has fallen to reporters like Risen to keep Americans informed and to question whether a gigantic government in the shadows is really even a good idea," writes Washington Post investigative reporter Dana Priest.

by Lauren McCauley, staff writer
Common Dreams. August 11, 2014

Pulitzer-winning journalists warn that Department of Justice's pursuit of James Risen's testimony will cause lasting damage to the state of journalism. (Photo: Alex Menendez/UCB Graduate School of Journalism)

Fourteen Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists on Monday issued statements declaring their support for New York Times reporter James Risen, who has vowed to go to jail rather than reveal a confidential source despite the U.S. Justice Department's dogged insistence on his testimony.

Risen has been ordered by the Justice Department (DOJ) to testify in the prosecution of a CIA officer accused of leaking classified information about U.S. efforts to undermine Iran's nuclear program, information that Risen revealed in his 2006 book State of War.

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Freedom of the Press

James Risen and other journalism advocates spoke at a press conference on freedom of the press and Obama administration efforts to compel New York Times reporter James Risen to disclose a confidential source. Mr. Risen was subpoenaed in 2008 to testify at the trial of a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer accused of leaking information on Iran’s nuclear program. Mr. Risen refused to name a source for information about a CIA operation in Iran that appeared in his book, State of War. Journalists and journalism advocacy groups have supported a petition to the Justice Department to cancel the subpoena. National Press Club president Myron Belkind also spoke about the arrest of journalists covering protests in response to the police shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

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Israel Bites Hand that Feeds, U.S. Feeds Hand that Bites

By Thalif Deen
Inter Press Service News Agency
August 7, 2014

Samantha Power (left), United States Permanent Representative to the U.N., speaks with Ron Prosor, Permanent Representative of Israel, in the Security Council Chamber after the Council held a midnight emergency session on the conflict in Gaza, Jul. 28. Credit: UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 7 2014 (IPS) - There is an age-old axiom in politics, says a cynical Asian diplomat, that you don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

But that longstanding adage never applied to Israel, which although sustained militarily by the United States, has had no compunction at lashing out at Washington if the U.S. is ever critical of illegal settlements or human rights violations in the occupied territories.

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Your member of Congress skipped moral courage on Gaza

Coalition for Grassroots Progress
August 6, 2014                                                           
                                                        
                                                                          

The Israeli assault on Gaza has been made possible by support from the U.S. government.

And the human toll has continued to be horrible. On Sunday, all too routine, a grim story appeared in the New York Times under the headline "Hospitals in Gaza Overwhelmed as Attacks Continue."

Jon Snow, a widely respected British journalist for Channel 4 News, recently returned from Gaza to report on what he saw there. "We have to know that in some way we actually share some responsibility for those deaths, because for us it is no priority whatever to stop it," he said. "Our United Nations, our government, our world is not that interested.”

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Journalism groups rally around a petition supporting James Risen

The Supreme Court ruled against the NYT reporter, who is refusing to reveal sources

 

by Norman Solomon                                                                        
Columbia Journalism Review. The Kicker
August 4, 2014                                                             
 

Ten months after the Committee to Protect Journalists issued its scathing report “The Obama Administration and the Press,” journalists and potential whistleblowers continue to face unprecedented surveillance and legal jeopardy. The report, authored by Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of The Washington Post, remains grimly up to date as it describes “the fearful atmosphere surrounding contacts between American journalists and government sources.”

The US Department of Justice seems determined to intensify that fearful atmosphere—in part by threatening to jail New York Times reporter James Risen, who refuses to name any source for the disclosure in his 2006 book State of War that the CIA bungled a dumb and dangerous operation with nuclear weapons blueprints in Iran.

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Violating International Law in Gaza

As Israel's assault claims the lives of hundreds of Palestinian children, there's no doubt that it's a form of collective punishment.

 

Published on July 30, 2014 byOtherWords
by Phyllis Bennis
Common Dreams. July 30, 2014

Numerous water systems and wells have been badly damaged in the airstrikes, limiting the water supply to the people of Gaza. (Photo: flickr / cc / Mohammed Al Baba/Oxfam)

As Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip rages on, ceasefires come and go. Most last just long enough for Palestinians to dig out the dead from beneath their collapsed houses, get the injured to overcrowded and under-resourced hospitals, and seek enough food and water to last through the next round of airstrikes.

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Study: ‘Shocking’ Water Loss in Western U.S.

Satellites show groundwater supply at greater risk than previously thought

 

by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer
Common Dreams. July 28, 2014

The rapid groundwater depletion rate will lead to further declines in streamflow in the Colorado River, study authors say. (Photo: Airwolfhound)
 

The  drought-stricken Colorado River Basin has experienced rapid and significant groundwater depletion since late 2004, posing a greater threat to the water supply of the western United States than previously thought, according to a new study by NASA and University of California, Irvine.

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Canadian Group Delivering Water to Detroit to Protest Shutoffs

by Nadia Prupis, staff writer
Common Dreams. July 25, 2014
 
 

As Detroit activists and human rights groups continue to protest against widespread water shutoffs, the Council of Canadians mobilized on Thursday to deliver a  convoy of water in a show of international support to beleaguered city residents.

The Windsor chapter of the council will bring hundreds of gallons of water into Detroit to help those faced with long-term service shutoffs.

“In a region that holds 20% of the world’s freshwater, the water cut-offs are a source of growing international outrage," said Maude Barlow, national chairperson for the Council of Canadians. "Water is a human right, and it is unacceptable in a country of plenty, surrounded by the Great Lakes, the largest source of fresh water in the world, that people should go without."

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Attack on Gaza

Letter to the Editor
by Norman Solomon
Bohemian.com. July 23, 2014                           
 

The North Bay is a long way from the carnage in Gaza, but the political support for the mass killing there comes from all over the United States—including our area, represented by Mike Thompson and Jared Huffman in Congress.

On July 11, the House of Representatives approved by unanimous voice vote—with no objections or dissent—a resolution expressing "United States support for the State of Israel as it defends itself against unprovoked rocket attacks."

At that point, the ratio of reported deaths among Palestinians and Israelis was running at more than 100 to 1.

This was in keeping with standard political operating procedure—rhetoric aside, a routine devaluation of Palestinian lives in sharp contrast to Israeli lives.

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Editorial Position of the New York Times: Thumbs Up for Gaza Slaughter

by Norman Solomon and Abba Solomon
Common Dreams. July 21, 2014

Over the weekend, the New York Times sent out a clear signal: the mass slaughter of civilians is acceptable when the Israeli military is doing the killing.

Under the headline “Israel’s War in Gaza,” the most powerful newspaper in the United States editorialized that such carnage is necessary. The lead editorial in the July 19 edition flashed a bright green light -- reassuring the U.S. and Israeli governments that the horrors being inflicted in Gaza were not too horrible.

From its first words, the editorial methodically set out to justify what Israel was doing.

“After 10 days of aerial bombardment,” the editorial began, “Israel sent tanks and ground troops into Gaza to keep Hamas from pummeling Israeli cities with rockets and carrying out terrorist attacks via underground tunnels.”

The choice of when to date the start of the crisis was part of the methodical detour around inconvenient facts.

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Winning Elections in Our Own Neighborhoods

Coalition for Grassroots Progress                                                      
July 20, 2014
 

Have you noticed that more and more often, crucial votes and important decisions made by our elected officials are in opposition to our values?

Progressive perspectives and votes are being drowned out by moneyed and corporate interests up and down the North Coast.

Join us as we gear up to help make a difference in the November elections and beyond.

RSVP today

Learn how we can tip the balance toward government transparency, policy decisions that support the common good and genuine democracy by electing progressive leaders to all levels of government.

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States with Higher Minimum Wage Boast Faster Job Growth

by Lauren McCauley, staff writer
Common Dreams. July 18, 2014

Workers in New York City rally to raise the minimum wage. (Photo: All-nite Images/ cc/ Flickr)

Adding fuel to the growing populist call for a higher minimum wage and throwing water on the conservative argument that fair pay will threaten employment, new data released Friday shows that states with higher wages are gaining more jobs.

According to an Associated Press analysis of the Labor Department's latest hiring statistics, in the 13 states that raised their minimum wage at the beginning of 2014, the number of jobs grew an average of 0.85 percent from January through June—compared with just 0.61 percent in the remaining states.

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Does Uncle Sam Have a God Complex?

'NSA surveillance proliferates in a context that goes well beyond spying.' (Image: Public domain)

by Norman Solomon
Common Dreams. July 15, 2014

As a matter of faith, some people believe that God can see and hear everything. But as a matter of fact, the U.S. government now has the kind of surveillance powers formerly attributed only to a supreme being.

Top “national security” officials in Washington now have the determination and tech prowess to keep tabs on billions of people. No one elected Uncle Sam to play God. But a dire shortage of democratic constraints has enabled the U.S. surveillance state to keep expanding with steely resolve.

By the time Edward Snowden used NSA documents to expose—beyond any doubt—a global surveillance dragnet, the situation had deteriorated so badly because the Bush and Obama administrations were able to dismiss earlier warnings to the public as little more than heresy.

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Detroit Must Do What Is Right—Turn the Water Back On

Published on Monday, July 14, 2014 by Detroit Free Press
by Maude Barlow, Lynna Kaucheck, Maureen Taylor & Melissa Damaschke
Common Dreams. July 14, 2014
 
(Photo via Detroit Water Brigade)
 

The brutal policy of shutting off access to drinking water has rightly drawn the world’s ire. Like the suspension of democratic rights via emergency management, mass water shutoffs are not a humane or viable response to Detroit’s crisis. United Nations experts have said this is a violation of the human right to water, and may violate some international treaties.

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department’s mass water shutoff policies have created emotional and physical upheaval for families — including children, seniors and people with disabilities — forced out of their homes to live with neighbors and family. The human and social cost of this uncivil process — in the face of overwhelming unemployment and abject poverty — creates the potential for disease and medical injury. It puts everyone — the whole community — at risk.

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‘Big Oil Playbook’ on Display in Small Town Tar Sands Fight

Industry-backed opponents show up en masse at local meeting, forcing tar sands vote to be rescheduled.

 

by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer
Common Dreams. July 8, 2014
 

Environmentalists in Maine worry that oil execs want to ship tar sands oil from Canada to the East Coast. (photo: cc / flickr / 350.org)

Exemplifying tactics outlined in a new report that dissects the oil industry's efforts to influence the tar sands debate, members of a Big Oil front group packed a city council meeting in South Portland, Maine, on Monday night, forcing the meeting to be rescheduled.

The council was slated to take its first vote on the Clear Skies Ordinance, which would prohibit loading crude oil in bulk onto marine tank vessels in Portland Harbor and building or expanding terminals and other facilities for that purpose. While its ultimate aim remains the same—to keep tar sands oil out of the city—the proposal has a much narrower scope than the Waterfront Protection Ordinance that city voters rejected by a small margin last November, and is therefore expected to be less vulnerable to public opposition and court challenges.

But half an hour before Monday's meeting was scheduled to start, the council chamber in the small coastal city was already overflowing; supporters (who wore sky-blue shirts) were surprised to encounter so many opponents wearing red shirts that read, "American Energy" on the front and "SoPo Jobs" on the back. At 7:30 pm, Mayor Gerry Jalbert announced that due to safety concerns the meeting would have to be postponed.

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Progressives in Sonoma County?

Coalition for Grassroots Progress
July 3, 2014                                                         
 

We need more elected representatives like Julie Combs and Gary Wysocky, members of the Santa Rosa City Council.

Whether the issue is basic transparency in how council decisions are made, preserving city parks, or balancing police and fire department budgets with funding needs for other city services, Gary and Julie ask the tough questions and vote in favor of practical, equitable solutions that benefit the common good.

But they are often thwarted every step of the way.  The current council majority votes too often in favor of the status quo and the interests of their own financial backers at the expense of the rest of us.

How do we elect more representatives like Julie Combs and Gary Wysocky to public office?  Join us as we gear up to help make a difference in the November elections and beyond.

RSVP now to CGP’s summer potluck and let’s get started!  Learn how we can tip the balance toward government transparency, policy decisions that support the common good and genuine democracy by electing progressive leaders to all levels of government.

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Stop Calling Him “Justice Roberts”

by Sam Husseini
Common Dreams. July 2, 2014

The Supreme Court, led by John Roberts (center), has continued to undermine democracy while backing the supremacy of corporate rule. (Image: DonkeyHotey / cc)

One of my favorite poems by Rumi is "Who says words with my mouth?" It can most obviously be read as a meditation on the self, the soul and free will.

But too often this question can be directly answered in our time: the major media, the political establishment they are intertwined with and all who thoughtlessly echo them -- that is who puts words in people's mouths that are endlessly parroted.

Case in point is how so many call John Roberts "Justice John Roberts." Even discounting one's views on Roberts, this is a particularly misguided use of title and convention since Roberts himself has said before and since getting on the court that "justice" is not the job of the "Chief Justice."

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Military Experts: Killer Drones Will Trigger ‘Slippery Slope’ into Endless War

The use of drones as a 'pillar' of military policy raises significant strategic, legal and ethical questions, warns a high-level panel of military and foreign policy experts.

 

by  Lauren McCauley, staff writer
Common Dreams. June 26, 2014
 
The M-Q 9 Reaper, an armed, multi-mission remotely piloted aircraft. (Photo: U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. John Bainter/cc)
 

The embrace of killer drones by the United States government is likely to increase anti-U.S. sentiment, erode national sovereignty and trigger a "slippery slope" into endless war, a prominent military and intelligence panel warned in a new report published Thursday.

Recommendations and Report of the Task Force on United States Drone Policy (pdf) is the result of a year-long study by a high-level task force of military, intelligence and foreign policy experts assembled by the nonpartisan Stimson Center.

In the report, the panel warns that the proliferation of killer drones as a "pillar of U.S. counterterrorism strategy" has enabled policies that "likely would not have been adopted in the absence of UAVs [Unmanned Aerial Vehicles]," particularly the "extraordinarily broad" interpretation of the Authorization for Use of Military Force, or AUMF.

Echoing the concerns of many anti-war groups, the panel notes that the increasing use of lethal drones "may create a slippery slope leading to continual or wider wars."

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We can help solve the housing crisis

Coalition for Grassroots Progress
June 25, 2014                                                                     
 

It’s been six years since the mortgage meltdown of 2008 began the slide into the Great Recession of 2009. We all remember how unemployment doubled and foreclosures skyrocketed.

People lost their jobs and then lost their homes.

Because of the large number of foreclosed properties on the market, property values fell, and many borrowers who were still able to remain in their homes found that their loan balance far exceeded the value of their home.

I saw the results where I live in California. Here in Sonoma County, many properties went into foreclosure. In some neighborhoods, “for sale” signs were on one out of every three lawns.

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Tell President Obama: Do Not Use Military Force in Iraq

An Iraqi mourner waves an old flag of Iraq during the funerals of victims killed in clashes with security forces in Falluja, January 26, 2013. (REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani)

As Iraq suffers again from a bloody sectarian conflict and potential civil war, many of the same pundits and politicians who supported the US invasion in 2003 are again advocating for military intervention. This is the wrong response. As Katrina vanden Heuvel wrote in her column for The Washington Post, "We learned in 2003 that when we move in with guns blazing, we tend to spark a lot more fires than we extinguish. In 2014, we cannot afford to learn this same lesson."

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Government Secrecy and the People’s Right to Know—To the Point—KCRW

To the Point
June 19, 2014                                                                      
 

Audio of national radio program "To the Point," hosted by Warren Olney, talking about government secrecy and whistleblowers with guests:

Norman Solomon of the Institute for Public Accuray and ExposeFacts.org, Gabriel Schoenfeld of the Hudson Institute; State Department whistleblower Peter Van Buren; and Andrew Beaujon of Poynter Online.

Click Here to listen.

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Best Case Against Attacking Iraq? The Last Attack on Iraq

As Obama continues to "weigh" airstrikes, anti-war critics demand honest accounting of previous fiasco

 

by Jon Queally, staff writer
Common Dreams. June 19, 2014

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has indicated he won't step down as a pre-condition for U.S. airstrikes. (Credit: flick / cc /United States Forces Iraq)

As the latest reporting from both Baghdad and Washington, D.C. reveal diplomatic machinations paving the way for possible U.S. airstrikes in Iraq, increasing numbers of people are asking President Obama—and the American people—to look at the repeated and failed policy of military intervention in the region as the best argument against making the same mistake yet again.

Following members of the Iraqi government on Wednesday making official requests for U.S. airstrikes to combat the military advances of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), rumblings in Washington suggest that one of the pre-conditions for such support would be the resignation of Iraq's current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

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Are We Beating The Drums Of War Again?

The US is considering air strikes in Iraq as a response to what Sec. John Kerry calls the "existential threat" of Islamic militants in the country. But at home, pundits and politicians are pointing fingers at what caused the chaos in the first place.

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Do Not Bomb, Arm, or Send Troops to Iraq

To: U.S. Congress, President, Department of "Defense"   

                                                                                                           

Stop arming Iraq. And do not bomb or send in troops. Remove U.S. drones immediately. Pursue a ceasefire and negotiations, working through the United Nations and the Arab League.

Why is this important?

Iraq needs actual aid, not "military aid." A policy of promoting, facilitating, and engaging in violence has produced nothing but disasters for decades.

Click Here to sign

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As Iraq Boils, Obama Orders Aircraft Carrier to Persian Gulf

As all out war takes shape inside Iraq's border, USS George HW Bush and battleships are en route

 

by Jon Queally, staff writer
Common Dreams. June 14, 2014

The US Navy's aircraft carrier battle group, led by the USS George H W Bush, is on its to the Persian Gulf. (Flickr: US Navy)

Update (2:13 PM EST): US sends aircraft carrier to Persian Gulf as Obama considers air strikes in Iraq

The Guardian reports:

The US is sending an aircraft carrier and two guided missile ships into the Persian Gulf, bolstering sea and airpower before a possible US strike on the jihadist army in Iraq in the coming days.

Defense secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the USS George HW Bush into the Gulf on Saturday, a day after President Barack Obama indicated he would soon decide on air strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis), whose seizure of Sunni Iraqi cities has violently upended the region.

The 103,000-tonne warship and its air wing, which had been patrolling the North Arabian Sea and earlier this year were used in the Mediterranean following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, gives Obama airstrike options in addition to air force assets on land in bases used by the US, like Qatar's al-Udeid.

Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said the Bush would be accompanied by the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea and the guided-missile destroyer USS Truxton. The ships are expected to arrive in the Gulf this evening.

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The US Government Doesn’t Want You to Know How the Cops Are Tracking You

Thought the NSA was bad? Local police and the Obama administration are hoovering cellphone location data from inside your house, and a crackdown could lead to surveillance reform

 

Published on Saturday, June 14, 2014 by The Guardian
Common Dreams. June 14, 2014
by Trevor Timm
 
Stingrays “emulate a cellphone tower” and “force” cell phones to register their location and identifying information with the stingray instead of with real cell towers in the area.
 
All across America, from Florida to Colorado and back again, the country's increasingly militarized local police forces are using a secretive technology to vacuum up cellphone data from entire neighborhoods – including from people inside their own homes – almost always without a warrant. This week, numerous investigations by major news agencies revealed the US government is now taking unbelievable measures to make sure you never find out about it. But a landmark court ruling for privacy could soon force the cops to stop, even as the Obama administration fights to keep its latest tool for mass surveillance a secret.

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The Website That Wants the Next Snowden to Leak

By Jeff Stein
Newsweek. June 9, 2014

Daniel Ellsberg speaks at a press conference concerning the Pentagon papers of the Vietnam War on July 1, 1971. Bettmann/Corbis

First there was the Age of Aquarius. Then came the Era of Watergate, which began with leaks: first, of the Nixon administration’s secret bombing of Cambodia and then the classified, dark history of the Vietnam War. Daniel Ellsberg was the Edward Snowden of his time, a largely unknown Defense Department analyst who gave a trove of documents—the Pentagon Papers—to The New York Times, and when a court order temporarily shut that channel down, other news organizations jumped in.

It was the worst of times, to invert a cliché, and the best. Worst, because the arrest of the Watergate Hotel burglars, who had been told to pursue Ellsberg at all costs, propelled the nation into a constitutional crisis that dragged on for two years. And it was the best, for many, because the crimes of Richard Nixon were exposed and punished, ushering in a new era of counterculture activism. Watergate-inspired activists and reporters flooded Washington.

The second coming of the ’60s featured celebrity-studded Washington press conferences starring former intelligence operatives with their own tales from the dark side. Thus was born a leak counterculture, which quickly faded away after a CIA officer named in a magazine called CounterSpy was assassinated by Greek terrorists. National security whistle-blowers largely scuttled back into the shadows, protected only by the anonymity offered by journalists.

Then came Snowden. Like Ellsberg a generation earlier, he has been excoriated as a traitor. But not since Watergate has the anti-war left—not to mention millions of Americans frustrated by more than a decade of unchecked wars, warrantless wiretaps, CIA torture chambers and drone strikes—had such a transformative, and articulate, figure to rally around.

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Why I Painted Bob Moses, A Civil Rights Hero You May Not Know

by Robert Shetterly
Common Dreams. June 9, 2014

Editor's note: The artist's essay that follows accompanies the 'online unveiling'—exclusive to Common Dreams—of Shetterly's latest painting in his "Americans Who Tell the Truth" portrait series, presenting citizens throughout U.S. history who have courageously engaged in the social, environmental, or economic issues of their time.This painting of civil rights activist Bob Moses is his latest portrait of those who dedicated their lives to equality, freedom and justice. Posters of this portrait and others are now available at the artist's website.

Portrait of Bob Moses by Robert Shetterly. (Credit: AmericansWhoTellTheTruth.org)

"No living American has risked more or done more to make America a full democracy." —Bruce Watson discussing Bob Moses in his book Freedom Summer

"We are not here to bring politics into our morality but to bring morality into our politics." —Bob Moses

In an interview, historian of the Civil Rights Movement and author of the book Parting the Waters Taylor Branch said, "To this day Bob Moses is a startling paradox. I think his influence is almost on par with Martin Luther King, and yet he's almost totally unknown." What Branch meant was that the community building and voter registration effort that Bob Moses set in motion in the early 1960s had a revolutionary effect on racism and civil rights in the US.

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

by Norman Solomon
Common Dreams. June 6, 2014

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.”

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Semi-Official Election Results: June 3 California Statewide Primary

To view the semi-official election results in the June 3 California Statewide Primary, Click Here

Many ballots are not counted on Election Day; county elections officials must report final official results to the Secretary of State by July 4.

New Whistleblower Organization Launched on Anniversary of Snowden Revelations

The Real News
June 5, 2014
 

Former whistleblowers Radack, Wiebe, Coleman-Adebayo and Ellsberg speak out at the launch of ExposeFacts.org, a US-based independent media organization that encourages whistleblowers to expose government and corporate malfeasance -

 

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New Organization Hangs Sign: ‘Whistleblowers Welcome’

ExposeFacts.org aims to shed light on both government and corporate malfeasance

 

by Jon Queally, staff writer
Common Dreams. June 4, 2014

Detail of new ad featuring famed Vietnam-era whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg urging those with secrets the public has a right to know to step forward. (Source: exposefacts.org

A new organization called ExposeFacts—backed by well-known source of The Pentagon Papers Daniel Ellsberg—is debuting itself in Washington, DC on Wednesday as a new place where government and corporate employees aware of wrongdoing can more safely and securely report their concerns.

In the post-Snowden age of NSA surveillance and what many see as the Obama administration's targeted attack on leakers and press freedoms, the group's straightforward message is no secret: “Whistleblowers Welcome at ExposeFacts.org.”

A project of the Institute for Public Accuracy, the new group's primary purpose will be to facilitate the leaking of corporate or government malfeasance by giving potential whistleblowers a place to submit sensitive documents and/or creating a secure line between such individuals and journalists working in the public interest.

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Supreme Court Sides with DOJ in Attack on Press Freedom

Rejection of federal appeal by New York Times reporter James Risen seen as crushing blow to investigative journalism

 

by Jon Queally, staff writer
Common Dreams. June 2, 2014

The US Supreme Court has ruled against NYT investigative journalist James Risen. (Photo: Alex Menendez/UCB Graduate School of Journalism/)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday "effectively sided with the government" against embattled New York Times journalist James Risen by rejected his appeal of a lower court ruling challenging the Justice Department's demand that he reveal a confidential source.

The ruling means that Risen has come to the end of the appeals process in his case and must now either testify in the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling or face possible jail time. The Department of Justice believes that Sterling is Risen's confidential source, but Risen has consistently refused to confirm that belief, citing press freedoms and his right as a journalist to protect confidential sources. If he refuses to testify—as he has repeatedly said he will—he could be placed in contempt of court and face jail time until he complies.

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An Assault from Obama’s Escalating War on Journalism

by Norman Solomon
Common Dreams. May 29, 2014

New York Times journalist James Risen continues to face prosecution by the Department of Justice for performing his job. (Photo: Alex Menendez/UCB Graduate School of Journalism/)

In a memoir published this year, the CIA’s former top legal officer John Rizzo says that on the last day of 2005 a panicky White House tried to figure out how to prevent the distribution of a book by New York Times reporter James Risen. Officials were upset because Risen’s book, State of War, exposed what -- in his words -- “may have been one of the most reckless operations in the modern history of the CIA.”

The book told of a bungled CIA attempt to set back Iran’s nuclear program in 2000 by supplying the Iranian government with flawed blueprints for nuclear-bomb design. The CIA’s tactic might have actually aided Iranian nuclear development.

When a bootlegged copy of State of War reached the National Security Council, a frantic meeting convened in the Situation Room, according to Rizzo. “As best anyone could tell, the books were printed in bulk and stacked somewhere in warehouses.” The aspiring censors hit a wall. “We arrived at a rueful consensus: game over as far as any realistic possibility to keep the book, and the classified information in it, from getting out.”

But more than eight years later, the Obama White House is seeking a different form of retribution. The people running the current administration don’t want to pulp the book -- they want to put its author in jail.

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On the ‘Criminalization of Journalism’: A Response to Michael Kinsley (and the NYT)

Published on Friday, May 23, 2014 by The Intercept
by Glenn Greenwald
Common Dreams. May 23, 2014              
 
In 2006, Charlie Savage won the Pulitzer Prize for his series of articles in The Boston Globe exposing the Bush administration’s use of “signing statements” as a means of ignoring the law.  In response to those revelations, Michael Kinsley–who has been kicking around Washington journalism for decades as the consummate establishment “liberal” insider–wrote a Washington Post op-ed defending the Bush practice (“nailing Bush simply for stating his views on a constitutional issue, without even asking whether those views are right or wrong, is wrong”) and mocking concerns over it as overblown (“Sneaky! . . . The Globe does not report what it thinks a president ought to do when called upon to enforce or obey a law he or she believes to be unconstitutional. It’s not an easy question”).
 
Far more notable was Kinsley’s suggestion that it was journalists themselves–not Bush–who might be the actual criminals, due both to their refusal to reveal their sources when ordered to do so and their willingness to publish information without the permission of the government:

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NSA records every cellphone call in the Bahamas

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Why I Don’t Want to See the Drone Memo

by David Swanson
Common Dreams. May 21, 2014

There is no possible legal justification of these extrajudicial killings. (Credit: Shutterstock)

And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us a secret memo that gets us out of the bit about Thou-shalt-not-kill.

And, lo, as I was driving home from the committee hearing I was pulled over for speeding, and I said unto the officer, "I've got a memo that lets me speed. Would you like to see it?" and he said, "No thank you, and not your grocery list or your diary either."

Transparency in drone murders has been a demand pushed by U.N. lawyers and pre-vetted Congressional witnesses, and not by the victims' families.  Nobody asks for transparency in child abuse or rape. "Oh, have you got a memo that explains how aliens commanded you to kill and eat those people? Oh, well that's all right then."

Seriously, what the filibuster?

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Grassroots Power Puts Fracking Ban Within Reach

"We must focus on sustainable practices that preserve our clean air and clean water."

 

by Andrea Germanos, staff writer
Common Dreams. May 19, 2014
 
 

A swelling grassroots coalition is hoping they can stop their county from becoming another landscape "scarred" by fracking.

The Santa Barbara County Water Guardians gathered roughly 16,000 signatures — 3,000 more than required — to put a measure to ban the controversial extraction technique on the November ballot.

Their proposal goes Tuesday before the Board of Supervisors, who can put the measure on the Nov. ballot, or can choose to vote the initiative directly into law.

read more >>

Don’t let corporations buy the Internet or politicians

Coalition for Grassroots Progress
May 17, 2014                                                                      
 

Seems like every time we open a newspaper or turn on TV news, we see further evidence that corporate money has more power over what happens in our democracy than we the people do. The FCC has just announced proposals that would betray the principle of equal access to the Internet and allow corporate customers to pay Internet service providers for access to a “fast lane” on the Internet. The FCC is also giving the public a chance to weigh in on the idea of saving Net Neutrality by reclassifying the Internet as a utility.

Here is an action we can take to increase the pressure in support of Net Neutrality.

Meanwhile, why is one Assembly race so important not only for people who live in Northern California but also for the state as a whole, and for that matter the country?

read more >>

Money and Politics

Letter to the Editor
Bohemian. May 14, 2014                                               
 

When the votes are counted in early June, the most closely watched results in the North Bay will be for the state Assembly in District 10, which includes all of Marin County and much of Sonoma County.

Right now, the incumbent, Marc Levine, hasn't outgrown the mega-business interests that boosted him into the Assembly.

Levine has never given a satisfactory answer to a question asked by the Sacramento Bee last year, when he abstained from a final vote on whether to give the California Coastal Commission more teeth: "Why did Assemblyman Marc Levine take a walk on coastal protection?"

read more >>

The Year of Edward Snowden

Published on Tuesday, May 13, 2014 by TomDispatch
by Tom Engelhardt
Common Dreams. May 13, 2014
                 

Snowden's actions have sparked a global conversation over surveillance. (Wikimedia commons)

Make no mistake: it’s been the year of Edward Snowden.  Not since Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War has a trove of documents revealing the inner workings and thinking of the U.S. government so changed the conversation.  In Ellsberg’s case, that conversation was transformed only in the United States.  Snowden has changed it worldwide.  From six-year-olds to Angela Merkel, who hasn’t been thinking about the staggering ambitions of the National Security Agency, about its urge to create the first global security state in history and so step beyond even the most fervid dreams of the totalitarian regimes of the last century?  And who hasn’t been struck by how close the agency has actually come to sweeping up the communications of the whole planet?  Technologically speaking, what Snowden revealed to the world -- thanks to journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras -- was a remarkable accomplishment, as well as a nightmare directly out of some dystopian novel.

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Snowden Saga Begins:“I Have Been to the Darkest Corners of Government, and What They Fear Is Light”

Published on Tuesday, May 13, 2014 by TomDispatch
by Glenn Greenwald
Common Dreams. May 13, 2014

[This essay is a shortened and adapted version of Chapter 1 of Glenn Greenwald’s new book, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Security State, and appears at TomDispatch.com with the kind permission of Metropolitan Books.]

On December 1, 2012, I received my first communication from Edward Snowden, although I had no idea at the time that it was from him.                        

The contact came in the form of an email from someone calling himself Cincinnatus, a reference to Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, the Roman farmer who, in the fifth century BC, was appointed dictator of Rome to defend the city against attack. He is most remembered for what he did after vanquishing Rome’s enemies: he immediately and voluntarily gave up political power and returned to farming life. Hailed as a “model of civic virtue,” Cincinnatus has become a symbol of the use of political power in the public interest and the worth of limiting or even relinquishing individual power for the greater good.

The email began: “The security of people’s communications is very important to me,” and its stated purpose was to urge me to begin using PGP encryption so that “Cincinnatus” could communicate things in which, he said, he was certain I would be interested. Invented in 1991, PGP stands for “pretty good privacy.” It has been developed into a sophisticated tool to shield email and other forms of online communications from surveillance and hacking.

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$ Marc’s the spot

Letter to the Editor
by Norman Solomon
Pacific Sun. May 8, 2014                                
 

It's rare for a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist to focus on a state legislator from Marin County, but that's what happened last month when reporter Gary Cohn published an investigative article about "corporate Democrats"—with our own Assemblyman Marc Levine at the top.

The report calls Levine "part of a new breed of Democrat, one exceedingly attentive to big business while tone deaf toward the Democratic Party's traditional base, which includes union workers, environmentalists and public school advocates."

As the piece notes, during his two Assembly campaigns Levine "has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from some of the state's largest business interests." Cohn's in-depth article, written for California Expose and republished by the Huffington Post, places that information in context.

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Obama Threatens Pulitzer Prize-Winner

Published May 8, 2014 by The Progressive
by Matthew Rothschild
Common Dreams. May 8, 2014

James Risen, a Pulitzer Prize-winner at the New York Times, may face jail time on a federal contempt of court charge if he doesn’t release the identity of one of his confidential sources.

The Bush Administration’s Justice Department tried to pry the information out of him, but ultimately relented. 

Now President Obama, who vowed to restore our civil liberties when he ran for the White House in 2000, is letting his Justice Department pursue Risen even more aggressively than Bush did.

The information concerns a source for a chapter in Risen’s terrific 2006 book, “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.” That chapter dealt with a scheme to give the Iranians faulty blueprints for a nuclear weapon.

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The NYT’s Unintentional “Epitaph” for Nuclear Power

by Harvey Wasserman
Common Dreams. May 5, 2014

The Enrico Fermi Nuclear Power plant, on Lake Erie. (Photo: Flickr / cc / James Marvin Phelps)

In support of the dying nuclear power industry, the New York Times Editorial Board has penned an inadvertent epitaph.

Appearing in the May 2 edition, The Right Lessons from Chernobyl twists and stumbles around the paper’s own reporting. Though unintended, it finally delivers a “prudent” message of essential abandonment.

The edit drew 288 entries into its comment section before it was capped. I’ve posted one of them at NukeFree.org. Overall they’re widely varied and worth reading.

Because the Times is still the journal of record, the edit is a definitive statement on an industry in dangerous decline.

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Seattle’s $15 Wage Plan Proves Power of Radical Pressure

City's watered-down version, embraced by political elites and business class, a 'testament to how working people can push back against the status quo of poverty, inequality, and injustice'

 

By Jon Queally, staff writer
Common Dreams. May 2, 2014

"The movement, starting with fast food workers nationwide, and pushed forward by SeaTac and 15 Now, is forcing business and the political establishment to accept raising our wages," says Seattle City Councilor Kshame Sawant. (Image: $15now.org)

'We made this progress possible... but it is neither strong enough nor fast enough.'

That's the summarized reaction by progressive activists in Seattle to a proposal by the   city's  mayor, Ed Murray, presented to the city council this week that calls for a phased-in minimum wage hike to $15 an hour over four years.

Though the $15 minimum wage would make Seattle's one of the highest in the country, Kshama Sawant, the outspoken member of the Socialist Alternative party on the City Council and the de facto leader of the city's $15Now coalition, said she could not support Murray's plan as written because of its numerous complexities, loopholes, and a slow implementation.

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Tim Carpenter’s Politics of Radical Inclusion: In the Streets and in the Polling Booth

Published on Wednesday, April 30, 2014 by The Nation
by John Nichols
Common Dreams. April 30, 2014

Tim Carpenter never lost faith in the very real prospect of a very radical change for the better. And he never lost his organizer’s certainty that the tipping point that would make the change was just a few more phone calls, a few more rallies, a few more campaigns away.

So he kept on organizing.

To the last.

Carpenter, the lifelong social and economic justice campaigner who for a decade was not just the national director but the heart and soul of Progressive Democrats of America, died Monday at age 55 after a long battle with cancer.

Not many hours before I learned that he had passed, Tim was on the phone with me, running through the latest numbers from a national petition drive he and PDA had organized to urge Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to seek the presidency. They were over 10,500. A few hours after the call, he emailed me, with more numbers. They were over 11,000. That was typical Tim. His enthusiasm for politics was immeasurable, and infectious.

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Tim Carpenter, Founder of Progressive Democrats, Dies

Common Dreams
April 29, 2014                        
 
Longtime activist and rabble-rouser Tim Carpenter, who founded the Progressive Democrats of America and worked with social advocacy movements for peace, nuclear disarmament, single-payer health care, campaign finance reform and other progressive causes, has died of cancer at 55. Often partnering with progressives in Congress, Carpenter was praised by Rep. James McGovern as "a passionate fighter for peace and justice and all causes that are good. He was a remarkable person with a spine of steel and heart of gold.”
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2014 Goldman Prizes Bestowed on ‘Fearless’ Eco-Activists

Celebrating its 25th year, one of highest honors given to environment defenders announces this year's honorees

 

by Jon Queally, staff writer
Common Dreams. April 28, 2014

The 2014 Goldman Environmental Award winners from (clock wise from top left): Desmond D'sa, South Africa; Ramesh Agrawal, India; Suren Gazaryan, Russia; Rudi Putra, Indonesia; Helen Holden Slottje, USA; and Ruth Buendia Mestoquiari, Peru. (Images: Goldman Environmental Foundation)

This year's recipients of the international Goldman Environmental Awards were announced on Monday, with six individuals from four continents being honored for their "fearless" efforts and working "against all odds to protect the environment and their communities."

“For the past 25 years, the Goldman Environmental Prize has honored heroic grassroots environmentalists for their achievements around the world and this year is no exception,” said David Gordon, executive director of the Goldman Environmental Foundation which bestows the awards. “From fracking to palm oil development, the 2014 Goldman Prize recipients are not only tackling some of the world’s most pressing environmental problems; they are also achieving impressive environmental victories and inspiring others to do the same.”

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Dear Spain: Please do what the U.S. won’t. Prosecute Torture.

Roots Action • Action Alert

A Spanish judge has just decided to proceed with a case against Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld. The Spanish legislature can be expected to try to block the case, unless perhaps they hear our voices loudly and clearly enough.

We began this effort in 2011, visiting Spanish embassies, generating media and placing advertisements in Spain, and communicating our appreciation for Spanish efforts to prosecute U.S. torturers. Now we need another big push.

Please sign this letter now, and we will deliver it to Spain:

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The Money Race

Published in the Press Democrat
Saturday, April 26, 2014                       
 

EDITOR: You recently reported on the money race for Assembly District 10, which includes all of Marin County and part of Sonoma County (“Money race heats up for Assembly seat,” March 26). An old political adage says politicians “dance with the one that brung them.” Looking at campaign finance reports is a good way to find out who's bringing a politician to the dance.

Assemblyman Marc Levine's dance card includes the California Chamber of Commerce, agriculture giants such as the Western Growers and California Citrus Mutual, Wal-Mart and big Pharma companies including Eli Lilly and Pfizer. It doesn't look like he'll be giving many dances to actual constituents in his district.

One of his opponents, Erin Carlstrom, appears to be no better. The Press Democrat quoted political analyst David McCuan saying that Carlstrom's fundraising makes her look “every bit the Chamber of Commerce Democrat that Marc Levine is.” Who is she dancing with?

We are feminist residents of Sonoma County who believe that there's only one viable candidate in this race who isn't beholden to big money interests: Diana Conti. She will serve with honesty, transparency and a strong belief in a clean money campaign and open government. We urge your support for Diana Conti for Assembly District 10.

ALICE CHAN

Coalition for Grassroots Progress

Link to original

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Jerry Brown’s service to the gilded state

California governor’s return to Sacramento has disappointed

 

by Norman Solomon
Al Jazeera America. Opinion
April 25, 2014                                        
 
 

Forty months after returning to the governor’s office that he left in 1983, Jerry Brown is a media favorite and a hero to much of the California establishment. The present-day governor wins accolades as a highly skilled politician who has put the Golden State’s fiscal house in order while reviving its can-do spirit.

Brown deserves the gratitude of powerful economic elites. But for others, especially the powerless and vulnerable, it’s a very different story.

The governor insists on frugality in spending for social programs, while many millions of Californians continue to live in economic distress worsened by cutbacks in social services. Now instead of boosting aid, Brown wants to sock money away. Years of rising tax revenues have turned the state’s huge budget deficit into a surplus, and this week the legislature is in special session to answer Brown’s call for expansion of the state’s rainy-day fund.

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Outrage: FCC Set to Kill Net Neutrality

Roots Action • Action Alert
April 24, 2014                             
 

The FCC is now moving to end net neutrality.  Three months ago, Demand Progress and RootsAction joined with allied groups to deliver a petition with a million signatures to the FCC in support of net neutrality -- to keep the whole Internet available to everyone. The news just broke that the FCC intends to blow us off and betray the principle of equal access to the Internet.

Tell Chairman Tom Wheeler and the rest of the FCC that we will not stand for this.

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Brazil’s ‘Internet Bill of Rights’ a Victory for Web Freedom

Tim Berners-Lee, Father of the Internet, says law will 'unleash a new era—in which the rights of citizens in all countries are protected by a Digital Rights Charter'

 

Lauren McCauley, staff writer
Common Dreams. April 23, 2014
 
Brazil President Dilma Rousseff signed into law the first 'Internet Bill of Rights' at the NETmundial conference in Sao Paulo on Wednesday. (Photo: Roberto Stuckert Filho/PR)
 

The "Civil Law Marco Internet"—dubbed the Internet Bill of Rights by its supporters—was passed unanimously by Brazil's Senate on Tuesday. Rousseff signed the bill at the launch of the two-day NETmundial conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

“Internet and freedom are wired together forever," said Michael Freitas Mohallem, Campaign Director at Avaaz, an international organization that collected more than 350,00 signatures in Brazil calling for net neutrality legislation.

"Marco Civil is a bill created, championed, and today delivered into law by the people," Freitas Mohallem continued. "This is a truly historical day for people power, with Brazil now leading the world in keeping the net neutral."

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Lovin’ Us Some NYPD

by Abby Zimet
Common Dreams. April 23, 2014
 
 

Epic fail by the NYPD, who ingenuously invited Twitter users to post presumably friendly photos of themselves interacting with police officers tagged #myNYPD, and instead got bombarded by over 10,000 tweets an hour showing New York's Finest punching, beating, smashing, strangling, bloodying and otherwise brutalizing them - a response that quickly sparked similar, even international hashtags. What we've got here is failure to communicate.

“The NYPD is creating new ways to communicate effectively with the community. Twitter provides an open forum for an uncensored exchange and this is an open dialogue good for our city.”

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The Change Within: The Obstacles We Face Are Not Just External

The climate crisis has such bad timing, confronting it not only requires a new economy but a new way of thinking.

 

Published on April 22, 2014 by The Nation
by Naomi Klein
Common Dreams. April 22, 2014

"If the ideas that rule our culture are stopping us from saving ourselves," says author and activist, "then it is within our power to change those ideas." (Image, via The Nation)
 

One of the most disturbing ways that climate change is already playing out is through what ecologists call “mismatch” or “mistiming.” This is the process whereby warming causes animals to fall out of step with a critical food source, particularly at breeding times, when a failure to find enough food can lead to rapid population losses.

The migration patterns of many songbird species, for instance, have evolved over millennia so that eggs hatch precisely when food sources such as caterpillars are at their most abundant, providing parents with ample nourishment for their hungry young. But because spring now often arrives early, the caterpillars are hatching earlier too, which means that in some areas they are less plentiful when the chicks hatch, threatening a number of health and fertility impacts. Similarly, in West Greenland, caribou are arriving at their calving grounds only to find themselves out of sync with the forage plants they have relied on for thousands of years, now growing earlier thanks to rising temperatures. That is leaving female caribou with less energy for lactation, reproduction and feeding their young, a mismatch that has been linked to sharp decreases in calf births and survival rates.

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Say NO to Corporate Democrats

Coalition for Grassroots Progress
April 17, 2014                                                      
 

Recently we announced that the Coalition for Grassroots Progress had endorsed Diana Conti in her challenge to the incumbent for the California Assembly District 10 seat, representing Marin and much of Sonoma. Since that announcement, information has come to light that reinforces our resolve to replace the incumbent, Marc Levine.

Levine was propelled into office in 2012 with the help of more than $250,000 spent by independent expenditure committees controlled by the agribusiness giants Western Growers and California Citrus Mutual. He has shown his gratitude for those campaign contributions by voting against farmworker rights. Last September, Levine also bucked our region’s trending opposition to fracking by voting for a bill that allowed fracking to continue in California under some revised regulations.

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In Plain Sight: The Rise of Corporate Democrats in California

By Gary Cohn
April 15, 2014 in California Expose
    

When Californians elected Democratic supermajorities in the state Assembly and Senate in 2012, many expected to see a new era marked by progressive policies on everything from the economy to the environment to education. While some change has come, it’s not the kind most voters envisioned when they left the polling booth two years ago.

A central reason, as Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Gary Cohn reveals in this first article of a new series, is the emergence of the Corporate Democrat, who is not a traditional moderate but an enabler of big developers, gambling concerns, insurance companies and other interests. With the continuing decline of the Republican Party in the nation’s largest state, the Corporate Democrat promises to shape California politics and policies for years to come.

.......................................................................

Marin County is one of California’s most liberal regions and, with its iconic redwoods and   stunning coastline, it is also a power center for environmental activism. And so, when a bill to give the state Coastal Commission authority to levy fines against shoreline despoilers   came for a vote in the state Assembly in 2013, it was taken for granted that Marin’s new Assemblyman, Marc Levine, would vote for passage. That didn’t happen. Instead, the San Rafael Democrat sat out the single most important vote for his constituents that year – which helped doom the measure.

But Levine was not finished. In Sacramento he would abstain or skip votes on bills helping farm workers and creating a bill of rights for domestic workers. He has also voted against legislation requiring economic impact reports for big box stores and requiring more rate-increase disclosure from Kaiser Permanente. That Levine keeps at arm’s length the progressive values of the 10th Assembly District, which includes much of equally liberal Sonoma County, should come as no surprise. During his two Assembly campaigns he has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from some of the state’s largest business interests.

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The Tax Breaks That Are Killing the Planet

Published on April 16, 2014 by The Nation
by Zoë Carpenter
Common Dreams. April 16, 2014                        
 

ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil company, hauled in a $32.6 billion profit last year. Chief executive Rex Tillerson got a 3 percent bump in his pay package, sending it above $28 million. And today the company gets its annual boost from the federal government: an estimated $600 million in tax breaks.

All told, the government gifts as much as $4.8 billion to the oil industry each year, more than any other country. Much of that comes not as direct handouts but instead via loopholes in the tax code; deductions for depleting oil reserves, for example, and write-offs for the expense of drilling a new well. These reflect a long-past era in which oil exploration was financially risky, and prices were low. Now oil prices and profits are high, and the government is losing revenue while promoting the continued exploitation of carbon-intensive fuels. In the face of a changing climate and a constrained domestic budget, the lunacy of such preferential treatment is hard to overstate.

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Video of News Conference on Edward Snowden’s Passport

March 25, 2014 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Ray McGovern, Coleen Rowley and Norman Solomon spoke at this news conference, sponsored by RootsAction.org and hosted by the Institute for Public Accuracy.

Norman Solomon is founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and co-founder of RootsAction.org, a U.S. organization sponsoring a pair of petitions about Snowden. The petitions, with a combined total of 100,000 signers, were scheduled for presentation at the State Department and the Justice Department the morning after the news conference.

Click on the link to "Read More" for more videos, including remarks by Ray McGovern and Colleen Rowley.

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Why We Need Media Critics Who Are Fiercely Independent

by Norman Solomon
Common Dreams. April 13, 2014    
 

The most renowned media critics are usually superficial and craven. That’s because -- as one of the greatest in the 20th century, George Seldes, put it -- “the most sacred cow of the press is the press itself.”

No institutions are more image-conscious than big media outlets. The people running them know the crucial importance of spin, and they’ll be damned if they’re going to promote media criticism that undermines their own pretenses.

To reach the broad public, critics of the media establishment need amplification from . . . the media establishment. And that rarely happens unless the critique is shallow.

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Pass SB 1132 California Fracking Moratorium

To: California State Senate, California State Assembly  

California Legislators: Support a moratorium on fracking now by voting yes on SB 1132.

Click here to read more and sign the petition.

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In His Own Words

  • It’s war and peace that to me circumscribe our realities here…. We’re being depleted of resources for state and local government services. We need to redefine what national security is. It’s not national security to have our schools crumbling. I would argue that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have made us less secure.

    Norman Solomon
    Pacific Sun, Jan. 14, 2011

  • I revere the New Deal legacy that gave our country Social Security and other key aspects of the social compact. President Franklin D. Roosevelt fought for economic fairness. Before the end of his first term, FDR denounced “the economic royalists.” He said: “They are unanimous in their hate for me -- and I welcome their hatred.”  He did not say, “They hate me -- and I want them to like me.”

    Norman Solomon
    Marin Independent Journal, Dec. 23, 2010

  • Washington’s failure to respond to climate change is an abysmal betrayal of hopes. The coal and oil industries, along with other corporate behemoths, have managed to trump the interests of life on Earth… It doesn’t do much good for officials to agree that the planetary house is on fire if they won’t really fight for turning on the fire extinguishers.

    Norman Solomon
    Solar Times, Autumn 2010

  • When I listened to children from Helmand province at a refugee camp on the outskirts of Kabul, it was clear that they didn't know or care whether the man in the Oval Office had a “D” or an “R” after his name. They, and their surviving parents, were trying to stay alive. For all the talk about winning hearts and minds, the refugee camp told a different story about priorities.

    Norman Solomon
    Marin Independent Journal, Oct. 7, 2010

  • The survival of all living beings on this planet, the entire ecosystem, depends on our civic engagement, on our working together to do the difficult tasks, to engage in the tedious activities, to be part of the political process, to insist that the ocean is not for sale, that the government is not for sale, that our earth is not for sale.

    Norman Solomon,
    speaking at rally against offshore oil drilling
    Marin Independent Journal, June 27, 2010

  • No amount of rhetoric about the dignity of work can make up for the deficit of determination from elected officials to roll back the scourge of unemployment…. Even when they decry high jobless levels, many in Congress seem to passively accept the myth that government can do little other than boost the private sector…

    Norman Solomon
    The Press Democrat, June 24, 2010

  • We can generate sustainable green jobs, protect small independent fishers and ecologically fragile coastlines, and rebuild local economies to serve communities rather than the big corporate model of take the money and run.

    Norman Solomon
    Eureka Times-Standard, August 10, 2011

  • In Washington, job one should be creating jobs. And that won't happen by continuing to give tax cuts to the wealthy while imposing benefit cuts on the rest of us.

    Norman Solomon
    Marin Independent Journal, August 15, 2011