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What You Should Know About Walmart’s Raise

by Michelle Chen
Common Dreams. February 27, 2015

Walmart workers on strike in Pico Rivera, California, October 4, 2012. (Photo: Courtesy of Matt Hamilton, CC by 2.0)

Remember when Walmart got panned for running a Thanksgiving food drive for its own employees—overlooking the irony of demonstrating noblesse oblige by asking customers to subsidize the workers the company itself impoverished? The retail giant took a more strategic approach last week when rolling out its latest do-gooder scheme: raising its base wage incrementally to $10 an hour. The move was widely praised even by labor groups—for lifting wages slightly closer to… well, what it should have been paying workers all along.

Still, the announced raise, to a $9 minimum, then rising to $10 an hour by early next year, isn’t chump change: for many, it means earning perhaps $1 or $2 more per hour, which, spread across an estimated half million workers, may generate a not-insignificant economic stimulus. Moreover, Walmart promises to offer more stable scheduling and boost some managers’ starting pay, as well—all measures that respond partially to the longstanding demands workers nationwide have aired in protests, petitions and lawsuits.

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When Politics Is Local, Who Decides?

by David Morris
Common Dreams. February 27, 2015

In state after state a clear pattern has emerged: Cities legislatively address a local problem.  Big business complains. State legislatures clamp down. (Image: gaebler.com)

Who decides? Conservative Republicans in Texas are split on the issue. Darren Hodges, a Tea Party councilman in the West Texas city of Fort Stockton, fiercely defends his town’s recent decision to ban plastic bags.  City officials have a “God-given right” to make that decision he tells the New York Times

James Quintero of the conservative think tank Texas Public Policy Foundation disagrees, “What we’re arguing is that liberty, not local control, is the overriding principle that state and local policy makers should be using.”  He apparently would strip communities of the right of local control, at least to regulate commercial behavior. Quintero is Director of TPPF’s Center for Local Governance.  Perhaps they should change the “for” to “against.”

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CIA Evidence from Whistleblower Trial Could Tilt Iran Nuclear Talks

by Norman Solomon
Common Dreams. February 26, 2015

International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano addresses a news conference after a board of governors meeting at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna June 2, 2014. If the CIA has been conducting "sting" operations in order to sabotage Iran's nuclear program, wonder some at the IAEA, what more are they capable of doing when it comes to undermining the global nuclear regulatory regime? (Photo: Reuters/Heinz-Peter Bader)

A month after former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling was convicted on nine felony counts with circumstantial metadata, the zealous prosecution is now having potentially major consequences—casting doubt on the credibility of claims by the U.S. government that Iran has developed a nuclear weapons program.

With negotiations between Iran and the United States at a pivotal stage, fallout from the trial’s revelations about the CIA’s Operation Merlin is likely to cause the International Atomic Energy Agency to re-examine U.S. assertions that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons.

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‘Going up Against a Beast’: Wisconsin Workers Rise to Fend Off GOP Attack

'Right-to-work legislation is part of a national anti-worker agenda that won't bring one job to our state or help a single family put food on the table.'

 

by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer
Common Dreams. February 24, 2015

In front of the Wisconsin State Capitol on Tuesday. (Photo: Overpass Light Brigade/Facebook)

State and national labor leaders rallied in the Wisconsin State Capitol on Tuesday, ahead of a day-long committee hearing on a so-called 'right-to-work' bill, which undermines collective bargaining by allowing workers to opt-out of paying the costs of union representation.

Wisconsin Republicans, who have expanded their majority in the state legislature since the last labor showdown in 2011, called a surprise "extraordinary session" late last week in an attempt to fast-track the bill. Anti-union Gov. Scott Walker, a potential Republican presidential candidate, said he would sign the legislation if it reached his desk.

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Your Comment in Lights – in front of the FCC

Coalition for Grassroots Progress
February 20, 2015                                           
                                                 

Are you ready for your Internet speed to slow down? On February 26, the Federal Communications Commission is set to vote on new rules for the Internet, and the big phone and cable companies continue to lobby hard for a loophole that will allow exceptions to net neutrality. They’d love to get a last minute change to the proposed “bright line” rules against blocking, throttling, or paid authorization, that would allow them to charge Web giants (like Netflix and Amazon) for access to fast lanes and preferential treatment on the Internet.

Preferential treatment for the big companies that can pay more would mean individual users like us would be stuck with slower Internet speeds.

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In Richmond, We Would Not Let Democracy Be Bought

Published February 18, 2015 by Moyers & Company
By Gayle McLaughlin.Common Dreams. February 18, 2015

Protest against Chevron in Richmond, California in April 2012. (Photo: Daniel Arauz/flickr CC 2.0)

In November 2014, my city of Richmond, California, provided us with a beautiful and successful David vs. Goliath story in which ordinary people (the people of Richmond) triumphed over the Chevron Corporation and its $3 million attempt to stop Richmond’s progressive direction. We experienced a clean sweep in the elections with all the progressives winning and all of Chevron’s candidates losing.

Until recent years in Richmond, Chevron was not accustomed to having progressives inside and outside elected office working side by side for the interests of the people (rather than rolling over to corporate interests). A decade of hard-won successes, including initiatives for fair taxation; legal action requiring greater transparency; and public health, safety and environmental protections, as well as enormous local mobilizations for environmental justice and climate justice, made the corporate giant furious. Despite its rage, we persevered.

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Uber Wants to Reorganize the Economy? Workers, Too, Can Play at that Game

Published February 17, 2015 by Grit TV
By Laura Flanders
Common Dreams. February 17, 2015

Chicago taxi drivers outside City Hall and circling the neighboring streets protest the granting of a city license to ride-sharing company Uber. Cab drivers say the company has an unfair advantage because they aren't subject to the same stringent regulations. (Photo: Scott L/flickr/cc)

The global newswire Associated Press announced this January that it will no longer refer to the app-based cab-hail service Uber as “ride-sharing.”

The move follows criticism that services like Uber and Lyft are very far from sharing; to the contrary, they are taking more than they’re giving.       That’s certainly the view of Bhairavi Desai co-founder and director of the National Taxi Worker’s Alliance. Desai told GRITtv this week that while it characterizes itself as an innovative disruption, Uber’s more like Walmart on wheels. They’re not democratizing the workplace, she said, they’re de-regulating it or rather, re-regulating it, to the benefit of app-owning bosses and the detriment of drivers.       Minimum guaranteed wages, health and safety insurance, and the chance to negotiate collectively: taxi drivers fought decades for those minimal protections, said Desai. Now in comes Uber and behind the sharing spin, what’s it really want? She says, “It’s nothing less than the reorganization of the economy.”

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Obama’s ISIS War Request Is an “Extraordinary Opportunity” for Congress

Published February 16, 2015 by Moyers & Company
by Andrew Bacevich
February 16, 2015
 

US President Richard Nixon poses in the White House after his announcement to the nation April 30, 1970 that American ground troops have attacked, at his order, a Communist complex in Cambodia. Nixon points to area of Vietnam and Cambodia in which the action is taking place. (AP Photo)

 

Try this thought experiment. Pretend that it’s the spring of 1970. President Richard Nixon has just sent US troops into Cambodia. He thereby expands the Vietnam War, a costly undertaking already ongoing for years with no sign of victory in sight.

Now imagine further that Nixon sends a message to Congress asking that it authorize him to do what he has already done (while simultaneously insisting that even without legislative approval he already has the necessary authority).

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From Warrior Cops to Community Police

A Former Chief on How We Can Turn Back the Tide of Militarization.

 

Police in America belong to the people—not the other way around. Former Seattle police Chief Norm Stamper on how we can turn war zone occupiers back into friendly neighborhood officers.

 

Published February 13, 2015 by YES! Magazine
By Norm Stamper
Common Dreams. February 13, 2015

The routinization of police militarism ought to concern us all. (Photo: JPL Designs / Shutterstock)

You’re in the kitchen. It’s a Saturday morning, still dark outside. Your partner, three-year-old son, and the family dog are all sound asleep at the back of the house. You’ve put the coffee pot on, are making sandwiches—a trip to the lake is planned, your son’s first fishing trip.

Without warning, the pre-dawn quiet is shattered as your front door flies off its hinges, followed by back-to-back explosions and blinding light. Your local police department calling, decked out in cammies, ballistic helmets, and full-body armor, brandishing M4 and M16 rifles.

“Knife!” shouts a cop. “Drop the knife! Drop the knife!” roar his nine fellow officers, each pointing a rifle or a pistol at your chest. The knife in question? A standard, dullbladed utensil you’d been using to slather mustard and mayo on the sandwiches.

You drop the knife.

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Endless War? Obama Sends Congress Expansive Anti-ISIS Measure 6 Months After Bombing Began

Democracy Now
February 12, 2015
 

President Obama has sent Congress a formal request to authorize military force against the Islamic State six months after the U.S. began bombing Iraq and Syria. The resolution imposes a three-year limit on U.S. operations, but does not put any geographic constraints.

It also opens the door for ground combat operations in limited circumstances. The resolution’s broad language covers military action against the Islamic State as well as "individuals and organizations fighting for, on behalf of, or alongside [ISIS] or any closely-related successor entity in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners."

The resolution also leaves in place the open-ended Authorization for Use of Military Force Congress enacted one week after the Sept. 11, 2001, which has been used to justify U.S. action in Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen and beyond, and which Obama had previously called for repealing.

We speak with Norman Solomon, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and author of many books, including "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death."

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Brian Williams Suspended for False Iraq Tale, But Media’s Real Scandal is the War Lies Spun Daily

Democracy Now
February 12, 2015
 

NBC News has suspended anchor Brian Williams for six months without pay for making false statements about a 2003 incident in Iraq. Williams apologized last week after it emerged he had wrongly claimed he was on board a U.S. helicopter downed by rocket fire. American soldiers publicly challenged Williams’ account, saying he was nowhere near the aircraft that came under attack. Williams has blamed the "fog of memory" for his mistake. But in a statement, NBC said Williams’ claims were "wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian’s position."

We are joined by Norman Solomon, author of "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death."

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Was Jeffrey Sterling Trial a Gov’t Effort to Divide Investigative Journalists & Whistleblowers?

Democracy Now
February 12, 2015
 

In January, a federal jury in Virginia convicted former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling on nine felony counts, including espionage. Prosecutors accused Sterling of leaking classified information about a secret operation to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program to journalist James Risen of The New York Times. Risen later revealed how the risky operation could have inadvertently aided the Iranian nuclear program.

Supporters of Sterling described him as a whistleblower, but prosecutors claimed he leaked the information to settle a score with the agency. Sterling is scheduled to be sentenced in April. He faces a maximum possible sentence of decades in prison.

We speak with Norman Solomon, who reported from the Sterling trial. "We’ve got to support investigative journalists and whistleblowers. We can’t allow the government to drive a wedge between the two," Solomon says, co-founder of RootsAction.org, which has launched public campaigns to support both Sterling and Risen.

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California’s 2014 Voter Turnout Was Even Worse Than You Thought

 
By John Myers
KQED News. Feb 11, 2015
 

For a state whose political leaders pride themselves on being focused on the future, California’s 2014 elections seem to have decidedly been driven by its past — as in, its older voters.

Or put another way: It was the Year of the Grandparents.

“Not only was the average voter older than the average Californian,” says political data expert Paul Mitchell. “The average voter was older than the average Californian’s parents.”

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13-Year-Old Boy Who Lived In Fear of US Drones, Killed by CIA Strike in Yemen

'In their eyes, we don’t deserve to live like people in the rest of the world,' said the victim ahead of his ultimate death, 'and we don’t have feelings or emotions or cry or feel pain like all the other humans around the world.'

 

by Jon Queally, staff writer
Common Dreams. February 10, 2015

Mohammed Saleh Tauiman was 13 when the Guardian newspaper gave him a camera to record his family life. (Photograph: via the Guardian)
 

Just weeks after speaking with western journalists about his pervasive fear of the U.S. drones flying overhead in his home country of Yemen, 13-year-old Mohammed Tuaiman was reportedly killed in a CIA-directed bombing on January 26.

His family vows that it will demand justice for Mohammed and insists, "He wasn’t a member of al-Qaida. He was a kid."

As Common Dreams reported on January 27, the suspected CIA drone strike which killed Mohammed was the first such attack reported in Yemen this year and came just two days after U.S. military officials announced that the drone campaign would not by deterred by ongoing unrest in the region.

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In Deadly Industry, US Oil Workers’ Historic Strike for Safety Spreads to More Plants

Staging the largest U.S. oil workers' walkout in 36 years, thousands are demanding protections from some of world's most powerful oil giants

 

by Sarah Lazare, staff writer
Common Dreams. February 08, 2015

The biggest U.S. oil workers' strike in more than three decades just grew even larger, with two mid-western BP plants joining in the work stoppage to demand basic health and safety protections from some of the world's most powerful fossil fuel corporations.

The United Steelworkers announced Saturday that over 1,400 employees at two BP refineries—in Whiting, Indiana and Toledo, Ohio—have joined the 3,800 oil workers on strike at nine refineries in California, Kentucky, Texas and Washington.

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Why is Bulk Collection of Telephone Records Still Happening?

Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to NSA: Why is Bulk Collection of Telephone Records Still Happening?

 

Published February 05, 2015 by Deeplinks Blog
by Nadia Kayyali
Common Dreams. February 5, 2015
 
(Photo: EFF/flickr/cc)
 
The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) exists to ensure that national security does not trump privacy and civil liberties, and it has been especially busy since the publication of the first Snowden leak. Congress and the President asked the Board to review the use of Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act and Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, as well as the operations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. In 2014, PCLOB published two reports addressing these issues. And last week, the Board published a “Recommendations Assessment Report [pdf].”
 

Section 215 Recommendations

The most striking piece of the report is also the first:

    Recommendation 1: End the NSA’s Bulk Telephone Records Program

    Status: 
Not implemented (implementing legislation proposed)

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CIA Mission: Destroy the Whistleblower and Perfume the Stench of ‘Operation Merlin’

Published February 04, 2015 by ExposeFacts.org
By Norman Solomon
Common Dreams. February 4, 2015

'From the government’s standpoint in the courtroom, the worse it could make Sterling look, the better the CIA and Operation Merlin would look, and vice versa.' (Photo: file)

The leak trial of CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling never got near a smoking gun, but the entire circumstantial case was a smokescreen. Prosecutors were hell-bent on torching the defendant to vindicate Operation Merlin, nine years after a book by James Risen reported that it “may have been one of the most reckless operations in the modern history of the CIA.”

That bestselling book, State of War, seemed to leave an indelible stain on Operation Merlin while soiling the CIA’s image as a reasonably competent outfit. The prosecution of Sterling was a cleansing service for the Central Intelligence Agency, which joined with the Justice Department to depict the author and the whistleblower as scurrilous mud-throwers.

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As California Water Resources Dwindle, New Fears Over Drilling Waste Contamination

Situation described as 'unfolding catastrophe' as investigation finds oil drilling companies injected untold amounts of waste into protected groundwater reserves

 

by Lauren McCauley, staff writer
Common Dreams. February 2, 2015

While the Friant-Kern canal (pictured here in July 2014) is no longer being used to irrigate orange groves due to low water levels, the groves are likely being watered by underground aquifers. (Photo: Don Barrett/cc/flickr)

With the blessing of California state regulators, drilling companies have injected an untold amount of toxic wastewater left over from fracking and other drilling operations into potable groundwater, according to an investigation by the San Francisco Chronicle published on Sunday.

In October, it was confirmed that nearly 3 billion gallons of oil industry wastewater had been illegally dumped in aquifers through at least nine disposal wells. According to data reviewed by The Chronicle, it is now evident that more than 170 such wells injected a mix of "briny water, hydrocarbons and trace chemicals," including acid, into aquifers suitable for drinking and irrigation.

This information about the extent of the aquifer contamination comes as the state's historic drought continues to push many desperate municipalities to tap groundwater reserves for drinking water and agricultural irrigation.

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‘Accountability, Not Surveillance’: Group Raises Flags Over Police Body Cameras

NYCLU among the stakeholders called to testify before Presidential Task Force on policing reform

 

by Lauren McCauley, staff writer
Common Dreams. February 2, 2015

(Photo: West Midlands Police/cc/flickr)

Police body cameras must be used as a tool for more police accountability, not a means of more surveillance, civil liberties advocates warned speaking before a President-appointed board on Saturday during a series of briefings to address policing reform.

Community leaders, activists and rights groups were among the witness stakeholders called to the University of Cincinnati this week to testify before the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing on a broad swath of topics, from the 'use of force policy' to police body cameras to social media.

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Sanders’ Focus Not Clinton, But Whether 2016 Run Could Mobilize the Masses

As he ponders presidential run, Bernie Sanders doubts Hillary Clinton "bold enough." But the bigger questions, he says: "Can you bring people out on the streets? Can you mobilize people? Can you tap the anger that's out there?"

 

by Jon Queally, staff writer
Common Dreams. January 30, 2015

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., joins House Democrats in stating their disagreement and disappointment with President Barack Obama's State of the Union request for fast track trade authority on Capitol Hill last week. Sanders says he continues to weigh presidential run, but only if he can do it well. (Photo: AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

Ahead of upcoming trips to both New Hampshire and Iowa, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) is talking again this week about his possible plans to run for president in 2016 and made it clear that although his platform would center around propping up the nation's working class while undoing the damage being wrought by the nation's oligarchy, he will not shy away from putting pressure on Hillary Clinton, currently and widely seen as the presumptive Democratic nominee.

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If Elections Matter for Greece, Why Not America?

Published January 29, 2015 by The Nation
By John Nichols
Common Dreams. January 29, 2015

A supporter of Alexis Tsipras leader of Syriza left-wing party holds the Greek flag during a rally outside Athens University Headquarters, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. A triumphant Alexis Tsipras told Greeks that his radical left Syriza party's win in Sunday's early general election meant an end to austerity and humiliation and that the country's regular and often fraught debt inspections were a thing of the past. "Today the Greek people have made history. Hope has made history," Tsipras said in his victory speech at a conference hall in central Athens. (Photo: AP/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Elections are supposed to have consequences. When countries establish electoral processes that are sufficiently free and functional to ascertain the clear will of the people—and when those votes are cast and counted in an election that draws a solid majority of eligible voters to the polls—that will should be expressed as something more than a New York Times headline or a Fox News alert. It should be expressed in leadership, law and governance.

That governance should be sufficient to address poverty, tame inequality and conquer injustice. And if outside forces thwart those initiatives, that government should challenge them on behalf of the common good. After all, if meaningful economic and social change cannot by achieved (or at the very least demanded) with a stroke of the ballot pen, then what is the point of an election?

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You made a difference. Now about fracking…

Coalition for Grassroots Progress
January 28, 2015                                  
 

On January 10 this year, many progressives went to San Rafael to vote for the Progressive Slate of candidates running to represent Assembly District 10 in the California Democratic Central Committee.

Thanks to a high turnout of progressives, the Progressive Slate won every available seat in that election. Look here to see the names of the delegates representing AD 10 at the state Democratic Party level for the next two years.

Assembly District 2 is likewise well-represented by progressives. Here is the list of the AD 2 delegates.

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The Invisible Man: Jeffrey Sterling, CIA Whistleblower

Published January 27, 2015 by ExposeFacts.org
By Norman Solomon
Common Dreams. January 27, 2015
Courtroom sketch of Jeffrey Sterling by Debra Van Poolen. (Credit: www.debvanpoolen.com/)
 

The mass media have suddenly discovered Jeffrey Sterling — after his conviction Monday afternoon as a CIA whistleblower.

Sterling’s indictment four years ago received fleeting news coverage that recited the government’s charges. From the outset, the Justice Department portrayed him as bitter and vengeful — with the classic trash-the-whistleblower word “disgruntled” thrown in — all of which the mainline media dutifully recounted without any other perspective.

Year after year, Sterling’s case dragged through appellate courts, tangled up with the honorable refusal of journalist James Risen to in any way identify sources for his 2006 book State of War. While news stories or pundits occasionally turned their lens on Risen, they scarcely mentioned Sterling, whose life had been turned upside down — fired by the CIA early in the Bush administration after filing a racial discrimination lawsuit, and much later by the 10-count indictment that included seven counts under the Espionage Act.

 

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CIA Leak Trial: “This Case Is Not About Politics” [sic]

Published January 26, 2015 by ExposeFacts.org
By Norman Solomon
Common Dreams. January 26, 2015

Courtroom sketch by Debra Van Poolen. (Credit: debvanpoolen.com/)

Continuing to deliberate as this week gets underway, the jurors in the CIA leak trial might ponder a notable claim from the government: “This case is not about politics.”

The prosecution made that claim a few days ago in closing arguments — begun with a somber quotation from Condoleezza Rice about the crucial need to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. Of course prosecutor Eric Olshan was not foolish enough to quote Rice’s most famous line: “We don’t want the smoking gun to become a mushroom cloud.”

During the seven days of the trial, which received scant media coverage, Rice attracted the most attention. But little of her testimony actually got out of the courtroom, and little of what did get out illuminated the political context of the government’s case against former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling.

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Leak Trial Shows CIA Zeal to Hide Incompetence

Published January 22, 2015 by ExposeFacts.org
By Norman Solomon
Common Dreams. January 22, 2015

Courtroom sketch by Debra Van Poolen. (Credit: debvanpoolen.com/)

Six days of testimony at the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling have proven the agency’s obsession with proclaiming its competence. Many of the two-dozen witnesses from the Central Intelligence Agency conveyed smoldering resentment that a whistleblower or journalist might depict the institution as a bungling outfit unworthy of its middle name.

Some witnesses seemed to put Sterling and journalist James Risen roughly in the same nefarious category — Sterling for allegedly leaking classified information that put the CIA in a bad light, and Risen for reporting it. Muffled CIA anger was audible, coming from the witness stand, a seat filled by people claiming to view any aspersions on the CIA to be baseless calumnies.

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Why the CIA Is So Eager to Demolish Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling

Published January 20, 2015 by ExposeFacts.org
By Norman Solomon
Common Dreams. January 20, 2015

Midway through the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, one comment stands out. “A criminal case,” defense attorney Edward MacMahon told the jury at the outset, “is not a place where the CIA goes to get its reputation back.” But that’s where the CIA went with this trial in its first week — sending to the witness stand a procession of officials who attested to the agency’s virtues and fervently decried anyone who might provide a journalist with classified information.

The CIA’s reputation certainly needs a lift. It has rolled downhill at an accelerating pace in the dozen years since telling President George W. Bush what he wanted the nation to hear about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. That huge bloody blot on the agency’s record has not healed since then, inflamed by such matters as drone strikes, rendition of prisoners to torture-happy regimes and resolute protection of its own torturers.

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Martin Luther King and the Struggle for Economic Justice

by Martin J. Bennett
Beyond Chron. January 19, 2015

Commemorations on the Martin Luther King holiday tend to portray a moderate civil rights leader who aimed to end segregation and racial discrimination by nonviolent direct action.

Often forgotten is his lifelong belief that a “radical restructuring of the architecture of American society” was needed, and that the fight for racial equality and the struggle for economic justice are intertwined.

As University of Washington historian Michael Honey demonstrates in his book, “All Labor Has Dignity, for King, race and class were inseparable and only a mass interracial movement of poor and working people could achieve inclusion and full citizenship for all.

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Race, Leaks and Prosecution at the CIA

Published on Friday, January 16, 2015 by ExposeFacts.org
by Norman Solomon
Common Dreams. January 16, 2015
 
CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling. (Photo: AP)
 

Condoleezza Rice made headlines when she testified Thursday at the leak trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling — underscoring that powerful people in the Bush administration went to great lengths a dozen years ago to prevent disclosure of a classified operation. But as The Associated Press noted, “While Rice’s testimony helped establish the importance of the classified program in question, her testimony did not implicate Sterling in any way as the leaker.”

Few pixels and little ink went to the witness just before Rice — former CIA spokesman William Harlow — whose testimony stumbled into indicating why he thought of Sterling early on in connection with the leak, which ultimately resulted in a ten-count indictment.

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News Conference on Prosecution of CIA Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling

Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015

Former CIA Analyst Joins with Petition Signers Urging DOJ to Drop Charges

A news conference addressing key issues in the ongoing trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling took place at 9 a.m, Jan. 14, 2015 in front of the U.S. District Court Building in Alexandria, Va.

Speakers included former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, who chaired the National Intelligence Estimates in the 1980s. McGovern prepared the daily briefs for presidents from John F. Kennedy to George H.W. Bush. For his CIA service he received the Intelligence Commendation Medal. Also speaking were Norman Solomon, co-founder of RootsAction.org, and David Swanson, the organization's campaign coordinator.

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The Revenge of the CIA: Scapegoating Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling

By Norman Solomon
Expose Facts • January 15, 2015     

This week, in a federal courtroom, I’ve heard a series of government witnesses testify behind a screen while expounding on a central precept of the national security state: The CIA can do no wrong.

Those CIA employees and consultants are more than mere loyalists for an agency that soaks up $15 billion a year and continues to loosen the bonds of accountability. The docket says “United States of America v. Jeffrey Alexander Sterling,” but a more discerning title would be “National Security State v. The Public’s Right to Know.”

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Sterling Trial Opens in Security-State Matrix

By Norman Solomon
ExposeFacts • January 14, 2015     

When the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling got underway Tuesday in Northern Virginia, prospective jurors made routine references to “three-letter agencies” and alphabet-soup categories of security clearances. In an area where vast partnerships between intelligence agencies and private contractors saturate everyday life, the jury pool was bound to please the prosecution.

In a U.S. District Court that boasts a “rocket docket,” the selection of 14 jurors was swift, with the process lasting under three hours. Along the way, Judge Leonie M. Brinkema asked more than a dozen possible jurors whether their personal connections to the CIA or other intel agencies would interfere with her announced quest for an “absolutely open mind.”

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The selective prosecution of leaks threatens democracy

Charging Jeffrey Sterling but not David Petraeus captures the hypocrisy of government leaks

 

by Norman Solomon                                                    
ALJAZEERA America. January 13, 2015
 

One of the grossest hypocrisies of Washington officialdom is the willingness to denounce leaks of some classified information and to countenance leaks of other classified information. But the gap between indignant pretense and standard practice has widened into a chasm in recent years, with Barack Obama’s administration prosecuting leakers in record numbers while protecting its own. Selective prosecution of leaks in the name of national security has never been more extreme.

This duplicity is on full display as the long-delayed trial of former Central Intelligence Agency officer Jeffrey Sterling, charged with seven counts under the Espionage Act and three related charges, began today in a U.S. District Court not far from the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Prosecutors say Sterling was the source for a chapter in the 2006 book “State of War” by New York Times reporter James Risen, revealing a CIA operation that gave flawed nuclear weapon blueprints to Iran in 2000.

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‘Something Momentous is Happening’:

Hundreds of Stanford Professors Call For Full Fossil Fuel Divestment

'The urgency and magnitude of climate change call not for partial solutions,' argue more than 300 faculty members in open letter to university president and board

 
by Lauren McCauley, staff writer
Common Dreams. January 12, 2015
 
Students with the group Fossil Free Stanford calling for the university to "divest the rest" and pull their holdings from all fossil fuel companies. (Photo: Fossil Free Stanford)
 

Hundreds of Stanford University professors published an open letter on Sunday demanding that the university divest the entirety of its holdings from all fossil fuel companies.

"If a university seeks to educate extraordinary youth so they may achieve the brightest possible future, what does it mean for that university simultaneously to invest in the destruction of that future?" asks the letter addressed to university president John Hennessy and the school Board of Trustees.

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THE LATEST. Special coverage of the Jeffrey Sterling trial

ExposeFacts.org
Janurary 12, 2015

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Going Underground: Press freedom after Charlie Hebdo massacre

RT. January 10, 2015

Afshin Rattansi interviews Norman Solomon:

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What Happened in Vermont: Implications of the Pullback from Single Payer

by Steffie Woolhandler, David Himmelstein
Common Dreams. January 10, 2015

Vermont Statehouse Rally for Healthcare, May 2011

Gov. Peter Shumlin’s Dec. 17, 2014, announcement that he would not press forward with Vermont’s Green Mountain Care (GMC) reform arose from political calculus rather than fiscal necessity. GMC had veered away from a true single payer design over the past three years, forfeiting some potential cost savings. Yet even the diluted plan on the table before Shumlin’s announcement would probably have lowered total health spending in Vermont, while covering all of the state’s uninsured.

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CIA Whistleblower Faces Decades in Prison for Exposing Botched CIA Plan

Norman Solomon, co-founder of RootsAction.org, says Jeffrey Sterling and other whistleblowers have leaked classified information against the interests of the ruling elite, but in the interest of democracy

The REALNews.com • January 7, 2015

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You can make a difference in state-wide politics

January 5, 2015
Coalition for Grassroots Progress                                    
 

Electing delegates to the California Democratic Party Central Committee is one way that progressives can have a voice in Democratic Party politics. The California Democratic Party holds delegate elections every two years, and this Saturday, January 10, is the date for its Central Committee delegate  and Executive Board representative elections in the North Bay. 

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Why Jeffrey Sterling Deserves Support as a CIA Whistleblower

by Norman Solomon
Common Dreams. January 5, 2015

No one disputes that Jeffrey Sterling told Senate Intelligence Committee staffers about  a CIA operation that had provided flawed nuclear weapon blueprints to Iran in 2000, dubbed Operation Merlin, which Risen’s book later exposed and brought to light as dumb and dangerous. (Photo: UCB J-School/flick)

The trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, set to begin in mid-January, is shaping up as a major battle in the U.S. government’s siege against whistleblowing. With its use of the Espionage Act to intimidate and prosecute people for leaks in “national security” realms, the Obama administration is determined to keep hiding important facts that the public has a vital right to know.

After fleeting coverage of Sterling’s indictment four years ago, news media have done little to illuminate his case—while occasionally reporting on the refusal of New York Times reporter James Risen to testify about whether Sterling was a source for his 2006 book “State of War.”

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10 Good Things About the Year 2014

by Medea Benjamin
Common Dreams. December 30, 2014

(Photo: Daniel Arauz/flickr/cc)

It’s been a year of fervent activism on police accountability, living wages, climate change, personal freedoms, immigrant rights, an open internet and diplomacy over war. The electoral beating the Democrats received has prompted both the Administration and some spineless congresspeople to realize that support for progressive issues could reinvigorate their base —a realization that has already led to Obama’s executive action on immigration and the opening to Cuba.

So here are some of the 2014 highlights.

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Governor Brown: Ban Fracking in California Now

To: Governor Jerry Brown, California

                                                                                      

Tell Governor Jerry Brown that it is time to ban fracking in California

Why is this important?

Governor Cuomo of New York just declared a ban on fracking. Howard Zucker, the acting New York State Health Commissioner, said a recently released scientific study found that there were "significant public health risks" associated with fracking, including water contamination and air pollution. In California we have the added problem of drought conditions. The millions of gallons of water used in fracking is an incredible waste of this precious resource.

It is time for Governor Jerry Brown to take action and ban fracking in California now.

CLICK HERE to sign this petition.

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Vermonters Ready Celebration as Nuclear Plant Shuts Down for Good

Owners of Vermont Yankee lost their battle with local residents to keep accident-prone plant running for decades more

 

by Jon Queally, staff writer
Common Dreams. December 29, 2014

(Photo: Basil Tsimoyianis/Greenpeace)

Residents throughout New England have reason to celebrate on Monday as Vermont Yankee, the sole nuclear power plant in the state of Vermont, powers down for the final time after years of grassroots organizing and political opposition.

The owners of Vermont Yankee, the Entergy corporation, had fought hard to extend the license of the plant, but a series of accidents in recent years and a pronounced campaign against the extension took place in the streets and within the state legislature ultimately overwhelmed those efforts. Earlier this year, citing economic reasons, Entergy announced it would shutter the plant by the end of the year.

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After 13 Years, US-Led Afghanistan War is Officially Over but Nightmare Goes On

The war in Afghanistan claimed the lives of about 3,500 foreign troops—at least 2,224 of them American soldiers—and tens of thousands of Afghan civilians

 

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

Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Gen. John Campbell, right, and ISAF Gen. Hans-Lothar Domrose attend a ceremony at the ISAF headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)

With little fanfare, the United States and NATO formally ended the longest war in U.S. history with a ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan on Sunday, leaving observers to wonder what—if anything—was achieved.

Over 13 years, U.S.-led war in Afghanistan claimed the lives of about 3,500 foreign troops (at least 2,224 of them American soldiers) and tens of thousands of Afghan civilians; most experts agree that the country is as violent as ever and that the death toll will continue to rise. Many say the war is over in name only.

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ACLU Calls Out NSA’s Christmas Eve Document Dump

Reports on compliance violations were published 'when basically no one would be paying attention to the internet or in the mood to think about unchecked government snooping for at least the next 30 hours.'

 

by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer
Common Dreams. December 27, 2014


A screenshot of the NSA materials released December 24, 2014.

The American Civil Liberties Union on Friday accused the National Security Agency of using the holiday as cover to "minimize the impact" of its Christmas Eve document dump, which showed—amidst heavy redaction—that the agency's mass surveillance program targeting U.S. citizens went on for more than 10 years and was rife with both human error and technical mistakes.

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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.

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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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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