Coalition for Grassroots Progress : A new kind of change. From the grassroots.
 
Share |

Sign up for updates from the Coalition for Grassroots Progress

Click here to receive occasional email updates from the Coalition for Grassroots Progress.

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.

read more >>

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.

read more >>

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.

read more >>

Freedom of the Press

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

Sign petition in support of James Risen here.

read more >>

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.

read more >>

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.

read more >>

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

read more >>

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.

read more >>

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.

read more >>

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.”

read more >>

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.

read more >>

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.

read more >>

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.

read more >>

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."

read more >>

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.

read more >>

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.

read more >>

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.

read more >>

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.

read more >>

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.

read more >>

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.

read more >>

‘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.

read more >>

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.

read more >>

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."

read more >>

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."

read more >>

We can help solve the housing crisis

Coalition for Grassroots Progress
June 25, 2014                                                                     
 

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

People lost their jobs and then lost their homes.

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

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

read more >>

Tell President Obama: Do Not Use Military Force in Iraq

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

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

read more >>

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

To the Point
June 19, 2014                                                                      
 

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

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

Click Here to listen.

read more >>

Best Case Against Attacking Iraq? The Last Attack on Iraq

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

 

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

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

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

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

read more >>

Are We Beating The Drums Of War Again?

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

read more >>

Do Not Bomb, Arm, or Send Troops to Iraq

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

                                                                                                           

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

Why is this important?

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

Click Here to sign

read more >>

As Iraq Boils, Obama Orders Aircraft Carrier to Persian Gulf

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

 

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

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

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

The Guardian reports:

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

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

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

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

read more >>

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

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

 

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

read more >>

The Website That Wants the Next Snowden to Leak

By Jeff Stein
Newsweek. June 9, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

read more >>

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

by Robert Shetterly
Common Dreams. June 9, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

read more >>

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

by Norman Solomon
Common Dreams. June 6, 2014

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

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

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

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

read more >>

Semi-Official Election Results: June 3 California Statewide Primary

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

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

New Whistleblower Organization Launched on Anniversary of Snowden Revelations

The Real News
June 5, 2014
 

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

 

read more >>

New Organization Hangs Sign: ‘Whistleblowers Welcome’

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

read more >>

Supreme Court Sides with DOJ in Attack on Press Freedom

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

 

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

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

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

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

read more >>

An Assault from Obama’s Escalating War on Journalism

by Norman Solomon
Common Dreams. May 29, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

read more >>

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

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

read more >>

NSA records every cellphone call in the Bahamas

read more >>

Why I Don’t Want to See the Drone Memo

by David Swanson
Common Dreams. May 21, 2014

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

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

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

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

Seriously, what the filibuster?

read more >>

Grassroots Power Puts Fracking Ban Within Reach

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

 

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

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

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

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

read more >>

Don’t let corporations buy the Internet or politicians

Coalition for Grassroots Progress
May 17, 2014                                                                      
 

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

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

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

read more >>

Money and Politics

Letter to the Editor
Bohemian. May 14, 2014                                               
 

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

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

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

read more >>

The Year of Edward Snowden

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

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

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

read more >>

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

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

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

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

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

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

read more >>

$ Marc’s the spot

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

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

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

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

read more >>

Obama Threatens Pulitzer Prize-Winner

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

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

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

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

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

read more >>

The NYT’s Unintentional “Epitaph” for Nuclear Power

by Harvey Wasserman
Common Dreams. May 5, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

read more >>

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

read more >>

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

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

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

So he kept on organizing.

To the last.

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

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

read more >>

Tim Carpenter, Founder of Progressive Democrats, Dies

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

read more >>

2014 Goldman Prizes Bestowed on ‘Fearless’ Eco-Activists

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

 

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

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

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

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

read more >>

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

Roots Action • Action Alert

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

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

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

read more >>

The Money Race

Published in the Press Democrat
Saturday, April 26, 2014                       
 

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

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

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

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

ALICE CHAN

Coalition for Grassroots Progress

Link to original

read more >>

Jerry Brown’s service to the gilded state

California governor’s return to Sacramento has disappointed

 

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

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

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

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

read more >>

Outrage: FCC Set to Kill Net Neutrality

Roots Action • Action Alert
April 24, 2014                             
 

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

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

read more >>

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

read more >>

Lovin’ Us Some NYPD

by Abby Zimet
Common Dreams. April 23, 2014
 
 

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

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

read more >>

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

read more >>

Say NO to Corporate Democrats

Coalition for Grassroots Progress
April 17, 2014                                                      
 

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

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

read more >>

In Plain Sight: The Rise of Corporate Democrats in California

By Gary Cohn
April 15, 2014 in California Expose
    

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

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

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

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

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

read more >>

The Tax Breaks That Are Killing the Planet

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

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

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

read more >>

Video of News Conference on Edward Snowden’s Passport

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

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

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

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

read more >>

Why We Need Media Critics Who Are Fiercely Independent

by Norman Solomon
Common Dreams. April 13, 2014    
 

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

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

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

read more >>

Pass SB 1132 California Fracking Moratorium

To: California State Senate, California State Assembly  

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

Click here to read more and sign the petition.

read more >>

Leaked Report: CIA Lied, Lied, Lied to Conceal ‘Brutal’ Torture

by Sarah Lazare, staff writer
Common Dreams. April 11, 2014

 

Key findings of classified Senate report, obtained by McClatchy, shed light on CIA concealment of atrocities

 

Sign At The International Day To Shut Down Guantanamo Bay, Supreme Court in Washington, DC, January 2007.
(Photo: takomabibelot / flickr creative commons)
 

Key findings of a still-classified Senate Intelligence Committee investigative report reveal that the CIA lied to lawmakers, the media, and the U.S. public about widespread torture as it concealed the brutality of its interrogation methods and the number of people subjected to them.

This is according to a Thursday report from McClatchy News Service, which obtained 20 main conclusions (PDF) of the 6,300-page Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA's detention and interrogation program. These conclusions are entirely new to the public record.

As stated in the document listing the Senate report's key conclusions, obtained by McClatchy, these findings include:

read more >>

Fighting Our Fossil-Nuke Extinction

Published on Thursday, April 10, 2014 by Truthdig
by Harvey Wasserman
Common Dreams. April 10, 2014

Shutterstock

The 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez disaster has brought critical new evidence that petro-pollution is destroying our global ecosystem.

The third anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown in Japan confirms that radioactive reactor fallout is doing the same.

How the two mega-poisons interact remains largely unstudied, but the answers can’t be good. And it’s clearer than ever that we won’t survive without ridding our planet of both.

To oppose atomic power with fossil fuels is to treat cancer by burning down the house.
To oppose petro-pollution with nukes is to stoke that fire with radiation.

In September, the first round of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report confirmed yet again that global warming is accelerating and that human activity is the cause.

read more >>

‘Act of Conscience’ as Teachers Vow Permanent Boycott of Common Core

by Jesse Hagopian
Common Dreams. April 9, 2014

Last year, a parent of student at the Earth School in Manhattan wore a button protesting new standardized testing. Now, teachers at the school have vowed to boycott the Common Core tests later this year. (Photo: Michael Appleton/NYT)
 

Last spring I was invited to the Earth School in the East Village of New York City to speak at a forum about the lessons of the MAP test boycott that I helped to organize in Seattle. Earth School 4th and 5th grade teacher Jia Lee, along with insurgent teacher union activists in MORE and parents in Change The Stakes, helped organize the event and a powerful conversation about organizing test resistance ensued.

Now, a year later, you can imagine my elation when I received an email from Jia announcing that three teachers at the Earth School declared to their administration and public schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña that they will not proctor Common Core state standardized tests this year — or ever — saying in a letter that they “can no longer implement policies that seek to transform the broad promises of public education into a narrow obsession with the ranking and sorting of children.”

read more >>

Say No to Plastics Poisoning Us

Roots Action • Action Alert                    

A new report in Mother Jones finds that even if plastic bottles and food containers were rid of a notoriously dangerous additive called BPA, they would in many cases remain unsafe -- putting people at risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart disease and numerous other serious ailments.

Estrogenic chemicals -- as dangerous as BPA and worse -- are used in plastics found in water bottles, baby bottles, and all kinds of food containers. The Environmental Protection Agency does not test or regulate these chemicals. Consumers have no way of knowing what's in a product by looking at it or by checking what type of plastic it is.

Sign the petition:

We demand that the federal government serve its primary function of keeping us safe by ending the use of untested chemicals in our food and drink containers.

read more >>

Beyond McCutcheon: Deeper Questions Demand Answers

by Danny Schechter
Common Dreams. April 5, 2014
                           

Everyone’s taking about the Supreme Court’s perfectly predictable “Citizens United 2” McCutcheon decision. It’s what we are NOT talking about that worries me.

Ironically, the far right that many on the left see as the only beneficiary of a decision that treats money and free speech as if they are the same thing, is also not happy with it. They wanted, and may still get, the end of all campaign finance reform.

This decision keeps individual giving caps in place and, in the Right’s view, doesn’t go far enough, although in their war of many slashes and cuts, they clearly see laws and policies trending in their direction.

read more >>

CIA Whistleblower and the Torture Report

by Medea Benjamin and Cayman Kai
Common Dreams. April 4, 2014                                
 
On April 3, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to declassify the executive summary and conclusions of a report detailing the CIA’s use of torture. When the Torture Report is finally released, after going through the CIA for redaction, it will undoubtedly confirm the 2007 revelations about CIA torture released by John Kiriakou, former CIA analyst and case officer. But Kiriakou himself is still languishing in prison, with at least another year left in his sentence. When Americans get a chance to contemplate the abuses committed in their name,  they should also call for justice and freedom for the whistleblower who warned us about these abuses years ago.

read more >>

Petitions with 100,000+ Signatures Call for Snowden’s Passport to be Reinstated

read more >>

Petitions for Snowden Encounter Officialdom in Washington

Institute for Public Accuracy
News Release. March 26, 2014
 
Norman Solomon, talking with Justice Department official, with Coleen Rowley and Ray McGovern. Photo:IPA
 
  •     Former NSA Director Hayden Responds to News Conference
  •     State Department Rebuffs Effort to Deliver Petition
  •     Justice Department Accepts Documents With 100,000 Signers

The Department of Justice accepted a pair of petitions with more than 100,000 signers on Wednesday ­­– several thousand pages urging restoration of Edward Snowden’s passport and an ironclad U.S. government commitment not to interfere with political asylum for the National Security Agency whistleblower.

Acceptance of the petitions by the Justice Department at its Washington headquarters followed an attempt earlier in the day to deliver the passport-­related petition to the State Department, which declined to accept that 2,670-page petition.

read more >>

CGP Endorsements for June Primary Races

Click here to view our endorsements for the upcoming June election.

Should Edward Snowden Get His Passport Back?

By Charles S. Clark
Government Executive
March 25, 2014

 

On Wednesday, an alliance of pro-whistleblower activists is set to deliver petitions containing more than 100,000 signatures to the State and Justice Departments demanding that former National Security Agency contractor-turned-leaker Edward Snowden have his passport reinstated so that he can end his current exile in Russia.

read more >>

Snowden’s Passport and Political Asylum – Whistleblowers News Conference

News Release. RootsAction
Common Dreams. March 24, 2014                             

 

WASHINGTON - March 24 - Nine months after revocation of his passport by the Obama administration, a news conference in Washington will call for a change in the U.S. government stance toward NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

When:  Tuesday, March 25 at 1 p.m.

Where:  National Press Club (Zenger Room), National Press Building

The news conference will feature three speakers:

read more >>

Some Facts About How NSA Stories are Reported

Published on Sunday, March 23, 2014 by The Intercept
by Glenn Greenwald
Common Dreams. March 23, 2014

NSA Spied on Chinese Government and Networking Firm: Former Chinese President Hu Jintao (left) and his successor, Xi Jinping (right): Politicians in Beijing were targets of NSA espionage.

Several members of the august “US Journalists Against Transparency” club are outraged by revelations in yesterday’s New York Times (jointly published by der Spiegel) that the NSA has been hacking the products of the Chinese tech company Huawei as well as Huawei itself at exactly the same time (and in exactly the same way) as the US Government has been claiming the Chinese government hacks. Echoing the script of national security state officials, these journalists argue that these revelations are unjustified, even treasonous, because this is the type of spying the NSA should be doing, and disclosure serves no public interest while harming American national security, etc. etc.

read more >>

Announcing endorsements in Assembly—and other—races

Coalition for Grassroots Progress
March 21, 2014                                                     
 

You don’t need us to tell you why elections are important. You know that our environment, our privacy, our healthcare, and our Constitution are under relentless assault from corporate “business as usual” legislators -- and the time is now to elect candidates who will defend us in those crucial realms.

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.

After careful assessments, the Coalition for Grassroots Progress has endorsed the following candidates in northern California races. We urge you to visit their websites and to consider providing support.

read more >>

CGP Announces Endorsements for June Primary Races

Coalition for Grassroots Progress
March 19, 2014                                                                     
 

The Coalition for Grassroots Progress, an independent community-based political action committee rooted in several coastal counties north of the Golden Gate Bridge, has announced endorsements in some key 2014 political races.

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.

CGP has endorsed these candidates:

read more >>

When Hope Turns Rancid: From LBJ to Obama

by Norman Solomon
Common Dreams. March 17, 2014.
 

Hope makes history. So does betrayal of hope.                                

Early in his presidency, Lyndon Johnson inspired enormous hope. But the promise for a Great Society imploded — and disappointment jolted many former supporters, with trust and optimism turning into alienation and bitterness. The negative ripple effects lasted for decades.

Fifty years after Johnson entered the White House, the corrosive aspects of his legacy are easy to discern. A political base for progressive social change eroded as he escalated the Vietnam War and bought time with shameless deceit. For many people, distrust of leaders became the essence of realism.

read more >>

Thousands Confront Governor Jerry Brown: ‘Don’t Frack with California!’

Diverse coalition rallies in Sacramento to demand statewide moratorium on dangerous gas drilling

 

Lauren McCauley, staff writer
Common Dreams. March 17, 2014

Anti-fracking protesters unfurled a banner outside the California capitol building Saturday calling on Governor Jerry Brown to put a halt to fracking in the state. (Photo: Rae Breaux, Don't Frack CA/ Flickr)

Thousands of families, farm workers, students, Native Americans and environmentalists from across California descended on the capitol building in Sacramento on Saturday united under a single message to Governor Jerry Brown: "Don't frack with our state!"

In what is being called the largest anti-fracking action in California, organizers estimate that 5,000 protesters from across the state took part in the rally and march, which was organized by the coalition Californians Against Fracking along with over 80 individual environmental and public health organizations. Many traveled hours—from San Diego in the south and from Humboldt County  in the north—by bus and rideshares to take part in the action.

read more >>

Obama, The CIA, And The Limits Of Conciliation

By Charles P. Pierce
Esquire. The Politics Blog
March 14, 2014

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

It is not too much of an exaggeration to say that, in one very important way, the president has lost control of his own government. The current constitutional crisis between the CIA and the Senate committee tasked with investigating its policies regarding torture during the previous administration has only one real solution that is consonant with the rule of law. Either CIA director John Brennan gets to the bottom of what his people were doing and publicly fires everyone involved, or John Brennan becomes the ex-director of the CIA. By the Constitution, this isn't even a hard call. The Senate has every legal right to investigate what was done in the name of the American people during the previous decade. It has every legal right to every scrap of information relating to its investigation, and the CIA has an affirmative legal obligation to cooperate. Period. The only way this is not true is if we come to accept the intelligence apparatus as an extra-legal, formal fourth branch of the government.

read more >>

The Feinstein Syndrome: “The Fourth Amendment for Me, But Not for Thee”

by Norman Solomon
Common Dreams. March 12, 2014

 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein speaking on the Senate floor on Tuesday. (Photo: CSPAN)

Who knows, soon we might see headlines and cable TV shows asking: "Is Dianne Feinstein a whistleblower or a traitor?"

A truthful answer to that question could not possibly be “whistleblower.” It may already be a historic fact that Senator Feinstein’s speech on March 11, 2014 blew a whistle on CIA surveillance of the Senate intelligence committee, which she chairs. But if that makes her a whistleblower, then Colonel Sanders is a vegetarian evangelist.

In her blockbuster Tuesday speech on the Senate floor, Feinstein charged that the CIA’s intrusions on her committee’s computers quite possibly “violated the Fourth Amendment.” You know, that’s the precious amendment that Feinstein—more than any other senator—has powerfully treated like dirt, worthy only of sweeping under the congressional rug.

read more >>

Are Progressives Ready for ‘Political Revolution’ with Bernie?

The Vermont senator says he wants to hear from progressives about a possible run for president. Here's a start.

 

by Jon Queally, staff writer
Common Dreams. March 10, 2014
 
With lots of agreement, some divergence, and plenty of questions still to consider, progressives weigh in on a 'Bernie Sanders for President' campaign. (Photo: DonkeyHotey / cc / Text added)
 

Vermont's Independent Senator Bernie Sanders has now said he is 'prepared to run for President of the United States' in 2016, but that he wants to hear from progressives across the country about what such a run should look like if and when he makes it official.

In interviews with both The Nation and Time magazines published last week, Sanders spoke in the most specific terms yet about why a serious progress candidate is necessary, what the goals of such a campaign should be, and the inherent challenges involved. And even though the self-described democratic socialist admits he's not 'the only person out there who can fight this fight'—Sanders says the moment demands what he repeatedly calls a "political revolution."

read more >>

Hillary Clinton on Putin: Playing a Dog-Eared “Hitler” Card

by Norman Solomon
Common Dreams. March 7, 2014

Hillary Clinton rally at Nashua High School North in Nashua New Hampshire in 2008. (Photo: Aaron Webb / Flickr / cc)

The frontrunner to become the next president of the United States is playing an old and dangerous political game -- comparing a foreign leader to Adolf Hitler.

At a private charity event on Tuesday, in comments preserved on audio, Hillary Clinton talked about actions by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in the Crimea. “Now if this sounds familiar, it’s what Hitler did back in the ’30s,” she said.

The next day, Clinton gave the inflammatory story more oxygen when speaking at UCLA. She “largely stood by the remarks,” the Washington Post reported. Clinton “said she was merely noting parallels between Putin’s claim that he was protecting Russian-speaking minorities in Crimea and Hitler’s moves into Poland, Czechoslovakia and other parts of Europe to protect German minorities.”

read more >>

Obama Administration Told to Stop Expanding ‘Corporate Rghts’ in Trade Agreements

Published on March 6, 2014 by Think Forward Blog                   
by Karen Hansen-Kuhn
Common Dreams. March 6, 2014
 

One of the most controversial provisions in free trade agreements is the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism, which gives corporations the right to sue governments over public measures that undermine their expected profits. It’s a pretty outrageous assault on democratic structures. In fact, when I tell people new to the trade debate about it, at first they often don’t believe me.

read more >>

The Hunger Artifice

Jared Huffman votes to cut food stamps       

 

BY ALICE CHAN                                                     
Bohemian.com • March 5, 2014
 

Congressman Jared Huffman made the wrong call when he helped to cut food stamps recently by voting yes on the Agricultural Act of 2014, aka the Farm Bill.

Huffman should have known better. Last June, he participated in the "SNAP Food Stamp Challenge" for five days, to find out what it's like to have just $4.50 a day to spend on food. On the first day of the effort, Huffman said, "I can already tell that [quality] protein and just about anything fresh are going to be casualties of a food-stamp diet."

Huffman endured the ordeal for a week. Imagine coping with it for 52 weeks a year.

read more >>

Heard the One About Obama Denouncing a Breach of International Law?

by Norman Solomon
Common Dreams. March 3, 2014

Breaches of international law are a serious matter... when some country other than the United States is accused. (Photo: Reuters)

International law is suddenly very popular in Washington. President Obama responded to Russian military intervention in the Crimea by accusing Russia of a “breach of international law.” Secretary of State John Kerry followed up by declaring that Russia is “in direct, overt violation of international law.”

Unfortunately, during the last five years, no world leader has done more to undermine international law than Barack Obama. He treats it with rhetorical adulation and behavioral contempt, helping to further normalize a might-makes-right approach to global affairs that is the antithesis of international law.

read more >>

#XLDissent: Students Overtake DC to Demand Climate Action

Smith University student: "We cannot sit idly by, or we will not have a future to fight for."

Lauren McCauley, staff writer
Common Dreams, March 2, 2014

Day of student-led action kicks off with a rally in Georgetown before over a thousand demonstrators march to the White House. (Photo: @350/ Twitter)

Over 500 students are risking arrest Sunday as they handcuff themselves to the White House fence, placing their bodies on the line in what many say may be a "watershed" moment for a generation. Under the banner XL Dissent, over one thousand college students are descending on the White House to force President Obama to face the individuals whose future is imperiled by current U.S. climate policy.

"Our generation is going to be stuck with the reality of decisions made now about whether to invest in destruction or the future," Smith College student Aly Johnson-Kurts told Common Dreams ahead of the demonstration. "We are realizing we cannot sit idly by, or we will not have a future to fight for."

read more >>

Cut NSA and CIA, raise Social Security

Action Alert • Roots Action

                                                                                                                                      

As the president prepares a budget proposal and Congress prepares to reprise familiar debates, we have a proposal of our own.

TAKE ACTION: Urge the president and Congress to increase Social Security and cut the Shadow Budget

read more >>

From Keystone to Ecuador: The End of “Easy Oil”

Institute for Public Accuracy
Press Releas
Common Dreams. February 28, 2014                                          
 
 
The environmental group 350.org states: “As the fight over the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline seems to be accelerating towards a final decision, protestors are turning up the heat on President Obama to reject the project.” Langholz is a senior at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota and is one of “more than 1,000 students and youth from across the country [who] have signed up to take part in a march to the White House from Georgetown University, where President Obama laid out his ‘climate test’ for the pipeline this summer. Once there, more than 300 youth are expected to risk arrest in a sit-in, the largest youth act of civil disobedience at the White House in a generation.”

read more >>

Saving Our Blue Future: The Human Race Needs a New Water Ethic

Published on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 by OtherWords
by Maude Barlow
Common Dreams. February 26, 2014

(Photo credit: Flickr / cc / Tim Cronin / Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Have you heard? The world is running out of accessible clean water.

Humanity is polluting, mismanaging, and displacing our finite freshwater sources at an alarming rate. Since 1990, half the rivers in China have disappeared. The Ogallala Aquifer that supplies the U.S. breadbasket will be gone “in our lifetime,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture says.

By 2030, global demand for water will outstrip supply by 40 percent, a surefire recipe for great suffering. Five hundred scientists recently told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that our collective abuse of water has caused the planet to enter “a new geologic age” and that the majority of the planet’s population lives within 31 miles of an endangered water source.

read more >>

Amazon.spy

The online retailer just made it easier for the CIA to spy on Americans

 

by Norman Solomon
Bohemian.com • February 26, 2014                                          
 

The world's biggest online retailer, Amazon, keeps expanding. A few months ago, the company signed a $600 million contract with the Central Intelligence Agency to provide "cloud computing" services. An official statement from Amazon headquarters declared, "We look forward to a successful relationship with the CIA."

Amazon maintains a humongous trove of detailed information about hundreds of millions of people. Are we to believe that the CIA and other intelligence agencies have no interest in Amazon's data?

read more >>

The Mayor Who Brought an Economic Democracy Vision to Mississippi

by John Nichols
Common Dreams. February 26, 2014                                          
 
Chokwe Lumumba maintained a civil rights commitment that was rooted in the moment when his mother showed her eight-year-old son the Jet magazine photograph of a beaten Emmett Till in his open casket. The commitment was nurtured on the streets of Detroit, where Lumumba and his mother collected money to support the Southern Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the civil rights struggles of the early 1960s.
 
Half a century later, he would be the transformational mayor of a major southern city, Jackson, Mississippi. But just as his tenure was taking shape, Lumumba died unexpectedly Tuesday at age 66.

read more >>

“Most Revolutionary Mayor” Dies — Will the “Jackson Plan” Proliferate?

Institute for Public Accuracy. News Release
February 26, 2014
 
 
AP reports from Jackson, Miss.: “Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, a prominent lawyer and human rights activist who persuaded voters here to accept a sales tax to fix crumbling roads and dated water and sewer systems, died Tuesday, the authorities said. He was 66.”

AJAMU BARAKA, ajamubaraka2 at gmail.com

Baraka is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and a columnist for Black Agenda Report. He said today: “Chokwe Lumumba’s passing is a significant blow for progressive politics in the U.S. and especially for the aspirations of African Americans. His election represented the hope that a progressive African American can take power and really do something for working class and poor people in an urban area. With his passing, we’re deprived of his work for a localized struggle for power, but hopefully the coalition he helped build and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement can continue on the progressive trajectory they were on.”

read more >>

Why Amazon’s Collaboration With the CIA Is So Ominous - and Vulnerable

Truthout.org. 23 February, 2014
By Norman Solomon, Norman Solomon's Blog | Op-Ed                                   
 

As the world's biggest online retailer, Amazon wants a benevolent image to encourage trust from customers. Obtaining vast quantities of their personal information has been central to the firm's business model. But Amazon is diversifying -- and a few months ago the company signed a $600 million contract with the Central Intelligence Agency to provide "cloud computing" services.

Amazon now has the means, motive and opportunity to provide huge amounts of customer information to its new business partner. An official statement from Amazon headquarters last fall declared: "We look forward to a successful relationship with the CIA."

read more >>

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