Quote of the day from author John Perkins:
“Several years ago I was blessed to sit beside the Dalai Lama on a flight over the Himalayas. He and I talked about compassion and shapeshifting. I asked him, “What will it take, your Holiness, for us to have peace?”
“Well,” he responded, “you know, we cannot have peace until we have taken action that reflects our compassion, and our willingness to take responsibility.” He then added, “Peace can only come from taking responsibility for all forms of life…all sentient beings, including the insects.”
One of the most compassionate and important things we can do is create societies that deeply honor the earth and all sentient beings everywhere – cultures that by their nature will create a peaceful place for the trees, the rabbits, the spiders, the whales, and the tadpoles.”
Back in The Bean
I thought It Was Spring: Snow Expected Here on Saturday. At the same time today’s Boston Globe reports: “Low rivers and lack of rain raise summer drought fears”
Boston MA: Quick in and out. Interviewed for a film on WBCN, the rock station I worked for in Boston in the days of its greatest political impact. Great fun. See the impressive website for the film, an emerging chronicle of a popular institution that had a global impact. The station has a new online life on the air. Check out WBCN Free Form Rock.
True to form, The Boston Phoenix was preparing us for the centennial of the Boston Red Sox with an excerpt from a new book on the “Grand Opening Day” Of the Fenway Park. A great read on a great Boston institution.
And then I did a mini-lecture via Skype for a class at Ithaca College examining how jour
I am in Boston today, Friday, and had to leave real early. I Hope to blog tomorrow.
Here’s One essay from The Nation of special Interest: Tom Hayden on the Port Huron Statement and Occupy
From Thursday’s Blog:
Dissecting the New York Times: My take On Yesterday’s “Newspaper of Record” in NYTeXaminer.com
RT: I am interviewed In Story On Media Self-Censorship
Propaganda as News
I had a call yesterday from Press TV from Iran. They wanted a comment on a bizarre story being carried by Reuters reporting that Iran is training female martial artists as “Ninja Assasins.”
Here is the story:
“In Iran, a group of female martial artists have taken legal action against a British news agency that has described them as assassins. Reuters said last month that Iran trains female ninjas to kill any possible foreign invaders. The news agency later tried to ammend the report. The Iranian girls accused by Reuters of being assassins say the damage has already been done. (Note Reuters is actually owned by Thomson, a Canadian media company.)
Reuters claimed last month Iran has trained more than 3-thousand female ninjas as assassins. It showed a number of Iranian girls training martial arts in a city near Tehran. The Reuters claim was repeated by some other British media.”
Now the women are threatening to sue for defamation, fearing that this fabrication will make it impossible for them to compete in international competitions.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? One more story that appeal to fantasy and fear: more demonization in the service of a PysOps operation.
Just in Time:
Stony Brook University School of Journalism announces that the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has awarded a $285,000 grant to the Center for News Literacy to fund the creation and delivery of digital materials demanded by the rapid spread of News Literacy courses.
“This is the rocket fuel we need to launch Stony Brook’s web-based News Literacy education system in 2013,” said Howard Schneider, Dean of the Stony Brook School of Journalism, “so that students can learn to separate legitimate news and information from propaganda, spin and uninformed assertion masquerading as fact.”
Quote of the Day: Lisa Graves writes, “Winston Churchill reportedly said, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to put its pants on.” That was before corporations had perfected the art of public relations, investing millions of dollars in PR campaigns to advance their commercial and political interests.
The fact is, there are a number of things most people know are true—except they’re not. That’s the result of well-planned, well-funded, long-term propaganda campaigns designed to make people believe things that are against their own best interests.”
Supremes Divided on Healthcare Bill, Day 3
The Hill: Supreme Court divided over striking down entire healthcare law
The nine Supreme Court justices were divided Wednesday over whether to strike down all of President Obama’s healthcare law if they find that its individual mandate is unconstitutional.
The court’s conservative members, including possible swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy, leaned toward invalidating the whole law, while the liberal justices said the court should leave it to Congress to determine how much of the law depends on the mandate.
Chief Justice John Roberts, another possible swing vote, pressed the attorneys on both sides of the issue about equally.
Arguments about the issue of “severability” come a day after the court engaged in two hours of intense debate Tuesday over whether the insurance mandate violates the constitution. Five justices appeared skeptical that the mandate met constitutional muster on Tuesday, meaning the debate over whether the rest of the law must also be tossed could come into play.
New York Times: The political side of the president may need to draw upon his judicial patience as he awaits a ruling that will help shape the final stages of the presidential race.
For all of the fretting by liberals and the tea-leaf reading by legal analysts about the pointed questioning from the justices about the health law, there is but one certainty: There will be substantial political fallout no matter how the court rules.
AP: Legal Shmegal: It’s All Political Ideology
WASHINGTON (AP) – Concluding three days of fervent, public disagreement, a Supreme Court seemingly split over ideology will now wrestle in private about whether to strike down key parts or even all of President Barack Obama’s historic health care law. The justices’ decision, due this June, will affect the way virtually every American receives and pays for care.
National Journal: The Supreme Court went into overtime as it finished up three days of oral arguments on the 2010 health reform law today. Justices repeatedly interrupted attorneys trying to make the case for and against the 26 states challenging the validity of President Obama’s signature domestic initiative…
The Obama White House, beset by a barrage of liberal criticism over an allegedly inept defense of its signature domestic policy achievement, today defended the health care law’s constitutionality not on legal grounds but on purely partisan ones. (Note: A recent poll put Obama’s approval rating at over 50%. “Obamacare” may be going down but so fare he is not!)
New Yorker: “Forgive me if a wry tone eludes me when it comes to today’s proceedings in the Supreme Court. As far as I am concerned the whole thing is absurd – yet another example of how America’s antiquated system of government, and its determined refusal to accept the economic realities of the modern world, is undermining its future.”
Daily Beast: With the fate of health-care reform looking more imperiled than ever, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli is getting panned for his performance defending the law in front of the Supreme Court—what CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin called “a train wreck” and a “plane wreck” for Obama. But Harvard Law Professor Einer Elhauge writes that it’s not all Verrilli’s fault. Had the White House gotten its act together and delivered a cohesive message about its legislation, his job would have been much easier.
James Kwak, BaselineScenario.com on the Mandate issue:
Mark Thoma makes an important point about the “individual mandate” that applies equally well to health care and to Social Security:
“I don’t see anything wrong with asking people to pay the expected value of their health care — a mandate to get insurance to cover the catastrophic things that society would cover in any case — to avoid this type of gaming of the system. Yes, it’s true that many healthy people will pay, remain healthy, and seem to get nothing. But that’s the wrong way to look at it. They have insurance whether they pay for it or not. Society will not let them die of a standard, treatable illness so insurance services are present. In fact, it’s the knowledge that society is providing these services that motivates many people to take a chance and go without.”
This is the relatively common argument that, since people already have guaranteed access to a basic level of emergency care, they should have to pay for it.
NYT: THe Man Behind The Mandate
Karen Higgins, National Nurses United: With nearly half the Supreme Court justices who will pass judgment on the 2010 healthcare law beyond the age where they have to worry about their access to basic care, a leading voice for nurses said today that “all Americans should have the same level of security about their health.”
Higgins is a registered nurse and co-president of National Nurses United. Today she said: “For these judges, that means no concerns about being bankrupted by medical bills, denied needed treatment because some insurance agent deemed it ‘experimental’ or ‘not medically necessary,’ barred from choosing the provider of their choice because they were ‘out of network’ or forced to keep an unwanted job to maintain their present employer-paid coverage.”
“That guarantee could be achieved by extending Medicare, for which four of the nine judges already qualify, to everyone, without raising constitutional questions posed by the individual mandate that forces everyone without coverage to buy private, commercial health insurance” said the 170,000-member National Nurses United in a statement today.
Higgins added: “The Obama administration and Congress could have pre-empted the legal fight over their law by instead just expanding Medicare, a more humane, cost effective system which has no constitutional questions, to everyone under 65.
“Even now, Congress and the President could pre-empt an adverse court ruling by passing Medicare-for-all legislation currently in Congress, S 915 and HR 1200, and end our healthcare nightmare once and for all.
Mclatchey: The Trayvon Case Not The Only one With “Stand Your Ground” Laws
Progressive Alternatives Buried by GOP and Media
Progressive Caucus: Washington, D.C. – Reps. Raul M. Grijalva and Keith Ellison, co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), are decrying House Republican leaders’ decision to move debate on the CPC’s Budget for All to late Wednesday night to avoid public attention.
The co-chairs are calling the move “an admission that our budget creates too many jobs and saves too many popular government programs to be discussed when the public is watching.”
The CPC alternative Budget for All proposal was supposed to be debated as an amendment on Thursday. However, GOP leaders decided a few hours ago to move debate on the CPC budget until approximately 10:00 p.m. tonight. The Budget for All preserves Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, a stark contrast to the House majority budget that eliminates the Medicare guarantee and shreds the middle-class safety net.
Grijalva and Ellison call the decision “cheap political posturing and an attempt to sweep the competition under the rug.”
“Decisions like the nation’s budget affect each and every American.”
BOA: More Moolah Flows to the Top, Reports eWallstreeter
Bonus Watch ’12: Third Year Bank Of America CEO’s
After a year of layoffs, topless hecklers, people who won’t stop yelling at him, jokes that sting, and continuing to “reap the benefits of what Countrywide sowed,” things are looking up for Brian Moynihan.Bank of America Corp., the second- biggest U.S. lender, more than quadrupled Chief Executive Officer Brian T. Moynihan’s 2011 compensation to $8.09 million. Salary was unchanged at $950,000 while his stock awards surged to $6.1 million from zero the previous year, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based lender said today in a regulatory filing.
BBC: Three Explosions Heard In Iraq as Arab Summit Opens
Credit Writedowns: How Greece Spends Its Money (Is this a quid pro-quo for European bailouts?)
Greece is a huge importer of French and German weaponry
Greece argues that its needs to strong defense spending for two threats. The first is from Turkey. Yet relations have improved and a military confrontation between these two NATO members seem quite remote. The other threat Greece is thought to face is refugees from Northern Africa and Middle East. Yet the kind of weapons Greece buys, like submarines and fighter jets, do not seem like suitable for border protection. Consider that Greece is the world’s third largest arms importer after the behemoths of China and India. Greece was Germany’s number one customer for munitions, accounting for 15% of Germany’s arms sales. Greece is also France’s third largest customer, though the largest in Europe
Pope in Cuba: HAVANA (AP) – Pope Benedict XVI demanded more freedom for the Catholic Church in communist-run Cuba and preached against “fanaticism” in an unusually political sermon Wednesday before hundreds of thousands at Revolution Plaza, with President Raul Castro in the front row. Before the pope’s departure, he met with the president’s brother, revolutionary leader Fidel Castro. Castro grilled the pontiff about “freedom” in the Catholic Church.
Occupy In The News
AM New York and from the playbook of Abbie Hoffman: Political Prank Encourages Feee Use of Subways.
OWS: “Start Training for May Day and Join the Spring Resistance! Marches Every Friday, 2pm in Liberty Square! Trainings, skill shares, games, and theatrics from 2:00-3:30pm followed by a march to disrupt the 4:00pm NYSE closing bell with The Peoples’ Gong. Participants are encouraged to wear athletic gear, march with their affinity group, and use the street tactics discussed prior to the march.”
Marwan Barghouti declares peace process dead and appeals for non-violent resistance
FBI Revises Internal Training Materials After This Report Went Public
FBI Taught Agents They Could ‘Bend or Suspend the Law’
The FBI taught its agents that they could sometimes “bend or suspend the law” in their hunt for terrorists and criminals. Other FBI instructional material, discovered during a months-long review of FBI counterterrorism training, warned agents against shaking hands with “Asians” and said Arabs were prone to “Jekyll & Hyde temper tantrums.”
Khalifah al-Akili emailed the Guardian shortly before his arrest to say he thought he was the target of an ‘entrapment’ sting
We Are Family
I spent part of the day and night with The Global Teen Leaders selected to take part in the “Three Dot Dash” (Morse Code For Peace) Just Peace Summit. The We Are Family Foundation brought 30 kids from 18 countries to New York for training and to help them launch social change and problem solving initiatives. I helped in a small way with media training.
These kids and this program is SO impressive, inspired by the poetry and peace activism of the late Matti Stepanek who crusaded for peace before his young life was claimed by a fatal disease. (You may remember him from the Larry King Show.) Last night, they partied at the Bitter End and heard socially relevant improvisational theater and performances by Kid Lucky and Mariela, The Full Circle Dance Group and the amazing IMPACT youth theater whose rousing songs rocked the house whole promoting youth activism and social engagement. You must see these artist. Special thanks to Robert Galinsky for MC’ing the incredible charged evening, and for musician Nile Rogers and Foundation Presidente Nancy Hunt –and their many supporters–for making it all possible.
See Wearefamilyfoundation.org and Threedotdash.org for more.
New York: Park Slope Food Co-Op Votes Against Boycott of Israel.
Back to Beattown
I am off to Boston Friday to do some work on a new film project and be interviewed for Bill Lichtenstein’s promising American Revolution film on the life and times of WBCN, the great rock station I was privileged to serve as News Dissector for a decade.
So I probably wont have much time to blog.
Honoring Our Artists
Poet Adrienne Rich (NYT) Adrienne Rich, a poet of towering reputation and towering rage, whose work — distinguished by an unswerving progressive vision and a dazzling, empathic ferocity — brought the oppression of women and lesbians to the forefront of poetic discourse and kept it there for nearly a half-century, died on Tuesday at her home in Santa Cruz, Calif. She was 82.
More Media Death Toll: Two journalists killed in Brazil, and two freelance British journalists of Syrian descent in Syria.
Your comments always welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out the new Mediachannel1.org for the latest media related news and views.
Read: NYTeXaminer.com– My recent “pitch” to, and rejection by, The New York Times
Watch: I am part of a debate on the impact of Occupy Wall Street on RT’s Cross-Talk program.
Healthcare Bill Said To Be In High Court Trouble
(•Wasn’t it predictable that a Court Packed with right-wingers would want to kill the bill?)
WASHINGTON (AP) – The fate of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul was cast into deeper jeopardy Tuesday as the Supreme Court’s conservative justices sharply and repeatedly questioned its core requirement that virtually every American carry insurance.
Boston Globe: One of the classic closing arguments in any presidential campaign – which candidates ALWAYS cast as “the most important of our lifetime” – is that the outcome could dictate the balance of power on the US Supreme Court.
As arbiter of the nation’s most contentious legal disputes, and as interpreters of that living document known as the Constitution, the court plays a critical role in US governance.
Citizens are getting a reminder right now.
For perhaps the first time since the Bush v. Gore case in 2000, the populace is paying real time attention to the court as it hears oral arguments in the legal challenge to President Obama’s health care overhaul. A decision is expected about June.
NYT: Few Contingencies if Court Strikes Down Law
DS: This impacts l out 6 Americans without Health Insurance, Nearly 50 Million people! Who on the Court is concerned about them? Who among those with health care is worrying about those without?
The Hill: GOP up, Dems down after Supreme Court arguments on health law mandate
Republican lawmakers leaving oral arguments before the Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed that the government will have a tough time finding a fifth justice to uphold the health law’s individual mandate.
Democrats for their part found solace in pointed questioning of lawyers on both sides of the argument by Justices Anthony Kennedy and Chief Justice John Roberts. Their outlook coming out of the court, however, was visibly less sunny than the Republicans’.
Day Two of the Supreme Court Hearings on the Health Care “reform”
NYT: David Leonhardt: On Health Care Law, a Familiar Divide
Many legal scholars, including some conservatives, have been predicting that the Supreme Court will uphold the 2010 health care overhaul. But after Tuesday’s arguments, when several justices asked skeptical questions about the heart of the law, a political lens seemed relevant, too.
When Congress passed the law, 9 out of 10 Democrats voted for it, while not a single Republican, in either the House or the Senate, did so. In the lower courts, judges appointed by Democratic presidents voted mostly — but not entirely — to uphold the law. And judges appointed by Republican presidents voted mostly — but not entirely — to overturn at least part of it.
It is obviously too early to know what the Supreme Court will do, despite the rush of commentary after Tuesday’s much-watched hearing. But skeptical questions from the bench are often an indicator of how justices will ultimately vote — and many court experts expressed surprise at the apparent agreement among the conservatives, including Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the likeliest swing vote.
Bloomberg Newsview: So, Tuesday was the high-drama moment for Obamacare at the Supreme Court, and the defense came up a bit short in the vegetable department. “What’s the difference between broccoli and health insurance?” asks View columnist Noah Feldman. “The fate of President Barack Obama’s health-care plan rests on this question, which Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia pressed on Solicitor General Don Verrilli. There is a good answer. Unfortunately, in oral arguments before the court Tuesday, Verrilli faltered in giving it.” Uh-oh, guess who didn’t clear his plate … “Verrilli’s failure to offer a sharp distinction could be disastrous for the government’s case,” insists Feldman. “Scalia’s vote was probably lost already. But Justice Anthony Kennedy was listening intently, and a similar question was bothering him.”
National Journal Justice Anthony Kennedy is generally seen as a swing vote in the Supreme Court’s consideration of challenges to the health care law, and he offered some tough questions for the Obama administration, which is defending the need to make people get health insurance or pay a penalty.
Tea Party Patriots jostled with supporters of the Obama administration’s health care reforms in front of the Supreme Court today, the crowds swelling until they spilled over onto the Capitol grounds on the second day of oral arguments about the law.”
Columbia Journalism Review: When former governor Mitt Romney signed Massachusetts’ health care reforms into law in 2006, he praised the effort as “a Republican way of reforming the market.” With the national Affordable Care Act before the Supreme Court and Romney pledging to end “Obamacare,” Trudy Lieberman traces the candidate’s path from his former opinion to his current one—and notes that campaign coverage might have done the same.
Washington Post: Gingrich shakes up campaign, cuts staff
Newt Gingrich is cutting one-third of his full-time campaign staff and replacing his manager as part of an effort to sustain his presidential campaign, a Gingrich spokesman said Tuesday.
In These Times: Finally, OWS Gets Police to Arrest the People in Suits
The Atlantic: Occupy Goes To School
Check out the New White House is Burning website by James Kwak and Simon Johnson.
“I created a new “Debt for Beginners” page on the White House Burning website. It’s a collection of previous articles, mainly written for a general audience, on deficits, the national debt, government spending, taxes, and the politics thereof. It’s intended as a starting point for people who want to get up to speed on these issues.
CLG: Nuclear Alert in Japan
Japan nuclear reactor has fatally high radiation, no water –
Tuesday’s examination with an industrial endoscope detected radiation levels up to 10 times the fatal dose inside the chamber.///One of Japan’s crippled nuclear reactors still has fatally high radiation levels and hardly any water to cool the No. 2 reactor, according to an internal examination Tuesday that renews doubts about the plant’s stability. Plant officials previously said more than half of melted fuel has breached the core and dropped to the floor of the primary containment vessel, some of it splashing against the wall or the floor. Particles from melted fuel have probably sent radiation levels up to dangerously high 70 sieverts per hour inside the container, said Junichi Matsumoto, spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power Co.
Guardian: General Strike Planned in Spain
Spain’s general strike is also a day of action for the 99%
Polls say only 30% of the employed will take part on Friday, but it will also be what the Occupy movement calls an ‘invisible’ strike.’
Spain is about to experience huge austerity cuts that may
prove explosive. On Friday Mariano Rajoy, the prime minister,
is set to announce what even he describes as a “very, very
austere budget” to reduce the deficit. According to El Pas,
the EU is demanding cuts larger than those of Greece, Ireland
or Portugal: “There is no comparable adjustment in [our]
economic history,” says the paper.
Portside/Alternet: “Fired For Short Skirt: Anti Labor Laws in Ohio and Wisconsin
Al Jazeera Nixes Video: Here’s How The Channel Reports Its Decision
NYT: AlJazeera decides against showing video made by gunman in Toulouse
Recorded by a gunman in southwestern France as he killed seven people at close range, and later sent to the satellite broadcaster Al Jazeera by mail, the video captured a ruthlessness that shocked even hardened journalists accustomed to such disturbing images. “Not like this — this is different,” said Salah Negm, a chief news director at Al Jazeera and among the ultimate arbiters for the news operation on broadcasting such footage. As the police surrounded him during a nearly 31-hour standoff, the killer, Mohammed Merah, boasted to the authorities that his grisly recordings would soon be seen by the public. But on Tuesday the Qatar-based network decided that it would not be showing the videotaped murders, a ruling that some saw as a big shift for a station that had once been viewed in the West as a conduit for propaganda from Al Qaeda. The decision, made at the very top of the sprawling international network, provided an opportunity for Al Jazeera to display its journalistic restraint at a time of management upheaval and accusations of a double standard in its coverage of uprisings in the Middle East.
Huffington Post: Geraldo Rivera Apologizes for Trayvon Comments—sort of.
Fluent News: ”Red terror’: Bo Xilai’s crime crackdown deepens China scandal’
Truth-Out: FBI Targeting Anonymous
FBI’s Activities Raise Constitutional Concerns and Violate Federal Privacy Law, ACLU Says
NEW YORK – For several years, the FBI’s San Francisco office conducted a “Mosque Outreach” program through which it collected and illegally stored intelligence about American Muslims’ First Amendment-protected beliefs and religious practices, according to government documents released today by the American Civil Liberties Union from a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the ACLU of Northern California, Asian Law Caucus and the San Francisco Bay Guardian.
The San Francisco FBI’s own documents show that it recorded Muslim religious leaders’ and congregants’ identities, personal information and religious views and practices. The documents also show that the FBI labeled this information as “positive intelligence” and disseminated it to other government agencies, placing the people and organizations involved at risk of greater law enforcement scrutiny as potential national security threats. None of the documents indicate that the FBI told individuals interviewed that their information and views were being collected as intelligence and would be recorded and disseminated.
Defense News: Israel Wants More Military Aid
Discussing AIPAC versus J Street
Scroll Down For Letter
The traditional center of Palestinian social, religious and economic life is increasingly being isolated by Israeli policies
Jane Fonda To Play Nancy Reagan in New Film
LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) – The right wing is going to love this: Jane Fonda, whose outspoken opposition to the Vietnam War continues to enrage conservatives, will play former first lady Nancy Reagan in Lee Daniels’ “The Butler.”
“The Butler” is a sprawling historical drama that centers on Eugene Allen, a black man who worked as butler in the White House under eight presidents.
Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker (“The Last King of Scotland”) is slated to play Allen. Oprah Winfrey, Hugh Jackman and Liam Neeson are among the other big names who are circling roles in the project.
Daniels earned an Oscar nomination for directing “Precious” and is currently directing “The Paperboy” with Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron.
Fonda’s performance would be a supporting one, because the film spans decades, chronicling Allen’s years in the White House from 1952 all the way up to 1986, when the Reagans inhabited the White House.
After winning Oscars for films “Klute” and “Coming Home,” Fonda
Naked Capitalism: Obama’s World Bank Nominee Challenged
The US nominee to lead the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, has come under attack for editing a book called “Dying for Growth.” It apparently performs the cardinal sins of questioning whether a relentless pursuit of growth produces necessarily produces good outcomes and taking issue with neoliberalism. From the Financial Times:
Some economists are arguing that Dying for Growth, jointly edited by Dr Kim and published in 2000, puts too great a focus on health policy over broader economic growth.
“Dr Kim would be the first World Bank president ever who seems to be anti-growth,” said William Easterly, professor of economics at New York University. “Even the severest of World Bank critics like me think that economic growth is what we want.”
Dr Kim, who is president of Dartmouth College and a former head of the HIV/Aids program at the World Health Organization, was a surprise pick for the top job at the World Bank, which traditionally goes to a US citizen.
Little is known about his views on economic policy because his background is in health. But if he cannot set out a strong vision for how the World Bank will fuel growth, it may boost the campaigns of heavyweight rivals such as Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Nigerian finance minister and former World Bank managing director.
Congress Passes JOBS Act With White House Support: Bill Black Calls it “Insane”
“…the JOBS Act’s primary theme is dramatically reducing transparency in securities law. If there is any nearly universal principle that writers about the ongoing global crisis emphasized that we needed to learn it was the exceptional virtue of transparency. Greater transparency makes private market discipline possible, it greatly enhances regulatory effectiveness, it discourages fraud, and it aids investors in making decisions. The JOBS Act repeatedly embraces opaqueness. We have known for millennia that this increases fraud.
NYT: March Madness in the Air
HOUSTON — The captain of a JetBlue flight from New York to Las Vegas suffered a bizarre midair breakdown on Tuesday morning, forcing passengers to restrain him as the plane made an emergency landing in Amarillo, Tex., where he was removed from the aircraft and hospitalized.
Passengers said the captain of Flight 191 was seen acting erratically outside the cockpit and could be heard shouting about Al Qaeda and bombs being aboard the plane.
Gabriel Schonzeit, a passenger seated in the third row, told The Amarillo Globe-News that about two hours outside Las Vegas, the captain left the cockpit.
“It seemed that something was off with him,” Mr. Schonzeit said in a video clip posted on the newspaper’s Web site, adding, “Within a short period of time, he started screaming about Al Qaeda and possibly a bomb on the plane and Iraq and Iran and how we’re all going down.””
News From Common Dreams.org:
Rainforest Action Network: Over 1000 to Protest Bank of America at Shareholder Meeting
ACLU: ACLU To Testify at Congressional Forum on Trayvon Martin Case
Madiba in The News
Salon: How Mandela United A Nation
Mail & Guardian: Mandela Digital Archive Now Online
DXM tweets: Were you taking (to) the streets in the 1960s? Ben Marks looks at some of the parallels.
Letter: Sandra Nasser writes about an interview I gave to RT on AIPAC v J Street
I just heard Mr. Schechter on television speaking about the influence of AIPAC in congress.
I want to thank him for his honesty and mostly for his courage for not many people out there dare speak about Israel and there true intentions.
To hear Schechter mention a one state solution as a possible solution to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict was revolutionary. Clearly that is the only solution for how can a state call itself a democracy yet insist on being a Jewish State.
Thank you for your good work. Please continue to dissect the news and help to get the truth to the people.”
And Thanks to all who write. Getting feedback is very meaningful to me. Share yours at email@example.com. Also visit Mediachannel1.org
WATCH: Today, I will be on a Current Affairs Debate on RT at 10 AM
Does The Fight Against Heath Care Care About The People Who Need It or Just “Getting” Obama?
I’m reading about ‘US Supreme Court hears challenge to Obama healthcare law’ on Fluent News.
•National Journal: The Scene at the Supremes
A brass band, tea party advocates, and a band of determined line-sitters set the stage as the Supreme Court began its first day of oral arguments on the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Dueling protesters faced off, with heated debates occasionally erupting between the two sides… Rick Santorum came to the steps of the Supreme Court today to lambaste President Obama’s Affordable Care Act and rival Mitt Romney for signing the Massachusetts blueprint for the national law….
It’s way too soon to say whether any of the new health care experiments will fail, or succeed and spread and change the health sector on a large scale. But that doesn’t mean that President Obama’s GOP critics aren’t eager to pass judgment.
•Robert Parry, Consortium News: “The ‘Obamacare’ debate will test whether the US Supreme Court’s five Republican justices are political hacks. After all, a right-wing think tank devised the individual mandate, which was embraced by GOP front-runner Mitt Romney, but it’s now anathema because it was passed by a Democratic president.”
•View on Bloomberg News: The Supreme Court has two more days of Obamacarepalooza ahead of it, but Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is already planning the next step. Says View columnist Ramesh Ponnuru: “McConnell doesn’t worry that a court decision to uphold the mandate will make the law more popular or help the Democrats,” writes Ponnuru. “Most of the arguments Republicans made before the vote on the law concerned its unwisdom rather than its unconstitutionality, and no court decision can undermine those arguments, he says. If the court keeps the law and McConnell becomes Senate majority leader, he vows that ‘the first item up would be to try to repeal Obamacare.’ ”
DISSECTOR ESSAY: The Final Four Or More?
March seems to be leaving us like a lamb, although “March Madness” is still in effect, as college basketball marched into “The Final Four”
It is safe to predict that more Americans are paying attention to the action on the courts than the tired rhetoric and electoral mash-up where another final four bid for our attention, over-hyped in confrontational terms by political commentators who, like their sports counterparts, are just there to keep score:
They are in the endless update business focused on who is up, who’s down, and who is out– in the cold.
The sports analysts tend to be better dressed and more adept at “color” coverage while the pundits become more and more knee jerk and predictable which is why networks like CNN seem to invent new gadgets and graphic displays by the day. Have you seen their “cube?”
Let’s see: in the elephant camp, we have Mitt on first, Rick on second and Newt a distant third. Ron Paul has already been sent to the showers by the media who long ago downrezed his campaign, probably, because, from time to time, he was making sense in his criticisms of the Fed and the wars,
Over in Donkey land, the final member of the boresome, Barack Obama, is racing around the country and the world to position himself as the only adult in the room.
Last week, he was in South Ohio taking energy; this week, he’s in South Korea talking nukes, adding his fingerprinting to the global chorus of condemnation of the nasty North, insisting that “we” can’t “reward their bad behavior.”
I am not sure how many votes our Soul Brother #1 expects from the people of Seoul.
I would hope he would rather be dunking baskets in the Final Four than signing new laws and executive orders dunking the Constitution. He has clearly calculated that his hopes for re-election depend in the public perceiving him as a hard-line commander in chief steering us smoothly through a dangerous world.
While his opponents babble, he seeks to be, ready for battle.
That’s why the President has been playing footsie with Netanyahu, pledging that Israel has his “back” while, at the same time, trying to stop the lunatics of Likud from doing anything stupid and unilateral that he and his national security apparatchiks can’t control.
As they say, timing is everything.
The Pentagon’s Panetta, a pol to his core, is making his own contingency plans for a military conflict that will likely do more good for the POTUS politically in October than in the Spring or Summer.
Anyone remember that phrase, “October Surprise? ” Don’t rule one out this year.
Notice, how in recent months, the White House has been escalating the hostility and sanctions against Tehran, Bear in mind that Tehran and Tel Aviv have elections of their own underway that relish the presence of an external enemy.
Our craven media is quite willing to play the fear card too because it will drive up ratings and revenues. Remember their mantra; “when it bleeds, it leads.”
Obama is clearly trying to keep the Afghan War going as he expands the drone wars in places like Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
At the same time, the public is increasingly unimpressed .A New York Times/CBS News poll finding that 69 percent of Americans surveyed think that the United States should not be at war in Afghanistan. 69 is a number that people remember!
Our jihad against the Taliban has blown back against us, with Afghans protesting our outrages and some shooting NATO soldiers. The peace talks went nowhere and the only question is: can the Pentagon hold on past the election.
Obama can’t really run on an economy not in real recovery. Even as he ‘tsk, tsks’ the growth in economic inequality, his onetime “Car Czar,” Steven Ratner, a financier and journalist, is writing in the New York Times about how the rich got richer under his watch:
“New statistics show an ever-more-startling divergence between the fortunes of the wealthy and everybody else — and the desperate need to address this wrenching problem. Even in a country that sometimes seems inured to income inequality, these takeaways are truly stunning.
In 2010, as the nation continued to recover from the recession, a dizzying 93 percent of the additional income created in the country that year, compared to 2009 — $288 billion — went to the top 1 percent of taxpayers, those with at least $352,000 in income. That delivered an average single-year pay increase of 11.6 percent to each of these households.”
It wasn’t surprising when Occupy Wall Street plastered his article on their own website. It is a point they have been making repeatedly.
And speaking of money, the Obama campaign was forced to backtrack on its opposition to SuperPACs as the grassroots support that it mesmerized in 2008 dried up because of disenchantment, if not fury, at the President’s centrist neo-liberalism that long ago morphed into neo-conservatism.
The Democrats are now trying to compete with a GOP juggernaut of almost unlimited resources thanks to brigades of billionaires that see Obama as the anti-Christ and worse.
They are literally shoveling cash into their crusade as the election gets crasser and more about money than any sense of political mission.
With his base dispirited, Obama’s only real assets for now, in the absence of global state of emergency, are the cartoon-like Republicans who shrilly denounce him and each other. They all have their “Etch A Sketch” toys at the ready.
The Supreme Court, best known for its infamous Citizens United decision is likely to can Obama’s troubled health care reform.
The Daily Beast fears it is “setting up a high-stakes ruling that could set the agenda for fall’s election.” They ask, “ Was it a political misstep for Obama to spend so much political capital.”
•Should we anticipate another step backward even if many real health care advocates believe this law was never a real step forward?
•Can those of us disgusted with this whole process of rapid devolution build a meaningful alternative that goes beyond protest?
•Will the soldiers of Occupy unite on a program (or somethin’), or mic-check their way to marginality?
Jeff Smith writes on Daily Beast, “It comes down to something more than a standoff with the local police, a sense that larger issues of economic fairness and citizen enfranchisement are at play, that we can reclaim our government and our commons from the moneyed interests that have co-opted both, and that what had seemed like pipe dreams are moving into reach as the movement’s message spreads and its numbers grow.
Those moments alternate with deflating ones, when Occupy feels like a depressing reminder of the world we’re stuck with now: tepid protests where unions and the street team of the Democratic Party try to assume the mantle of the occupation..”
At a minimum, can we ask the powers that be to craft a release form for the rest of us—a document like the one iTunes keeps asking us to read and approve in a country dominated by an unresponsive and increasingly brutal oligarchy in which power and privilege is concentrated at the very top of the pyramid?
Are we ready to just read about the demise of democracy and click “Agree? Or can we decide its time to resist while we still have some time?
There’s more to do than cheer the final four!
LBN: “Let’s Talk After My Election”
Oops! In a comment picked up by live microphones Monday at a meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, President Obama said hed be better able to talk with the newly elected Vladimir Putin after my election. The remark was made in Seoul, where Obama is attending a nuclear-security summit. Obama told Medvedev that it is important that the Russians give him space on missile defense issues, a message Medvedev agreed to relay to Putin. This is my last election
Guardian: Another Hate Crime: Savage Killing of Iraqi Mother of Five in California
Killer beat Shaima Alawadi to death in family home and
left note that said: ‘Go back to your own country.
You’re a terrorist.’
California police say an Iraqi-born woman who was
beaten to death may have been the victim of a hate
crime. The killer of Shaima Alawadi, 32, left a note
reportedly reading: “Go back to your own country.
You’re a terrorist.”
Alawadi, an immigrant, died on Saturday after the
attack last Wednesday. Police said her 17-year-old
daughter, Fatima, found her unconscious in the dining
room of the family’s home in El Cajon, California at
about 11:15am. Alawadi, a mother of five, died soon
after being taken off a hospital life support machine,
Fatima told a local television station that her mother
had been beaten on the head repeatedly with a tyre
lever, and that the note said “go back to your country,
you terrorist”. The police confirmed a note had been
found but did not release the details.
John F. Timoney: Top Cop Speaks Out Against “Stand Your Ground”
Florida’s Disastrous Self-Defense Law
The very public controversy surrounding the killing on
Feb. 26 of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, by a
crime watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, was
In fact, I, along with other Florida chiefs of police,
said so in a letter to the Legislature in 2005 when we
opposed the passage of a law that not only enshrined
the doctrine of “your home is your castle” but took
this doctrine into the public square and added a new
concept called “stand your ground.”
Use-of-force issues arose often during my 41-year
policing career. In fact, officer-involved shootings
were the No. 1 problem when I became Miami’s police
chief in January 2003. But after we put in place new
policies and training, officers went 20 months without
discharging a single bullet at a person, while arrests
increased over 30 percent.
Trying to control shootings by members of a
well-trained and disciplined police department is a
daunting enough task. Laws like “stand your ground”
give citizens unfettered power and discretion with no
accountability. It is a recipe for disaster.
•Mark Karlin, Buzzflash: Geraldo Rivera: Gun’s Don’t Kill People; Hoodies Do
PRWATCH: ALEC Link To Florida Killing
The tragic and needless shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida has drawn national attention to Florida’s draconian “Stand Your Ground Law.” Last week, CMD’s Brendan Fischer traced the trajectory of the Florida law, from the NRA to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to dozens of states across the nation. See Brendan’s article here.
CMD Director Lisa Graves then went on MSNBC to discuss ALEC’s role in propagating these measures and the corporations like Wal-Mart that stand to profit from increased gun sales. See Lisa’s interview here. In a related matter, CMD filed a complaint with the Wisconsin ethics board last week asking them to review the manner in which ALEC “scholarships,” provided to legislators to attend meetings with corporate lobbyists, are funded by ALEC corporations and the propriety of other ALEC gifts, such as major league baseball tickets.
Today, Nobel Prize Winner and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman weighed in on the controversy with a shout-out to CMD. We thought you would like to see it. This week we will unveil a new ALEC archive of open records requests that reveal even more of these connections. We will continue our focus on the corporations bankrolling ALEC.
Global Post: Open Season On Occupy
Guardian: You Can’t Criticize Us: Israel cuts ties with UN human rights
Charles Glass, The National: Toulouse attacks harm Palestinians in their own name
It started in France in 1894, when a Viennese journalist covered the Paris treason trial of Captain Alfred Dreyfus. “In Paris, as I have said, I achieved a freer attitude toward anti-Semitism,” Theodor Herzl wrote in his diary. “Above all, I recognised the emptiness and futility of trying to ‘combat’ anti-Semitism.” That futility led him to propose an escape from anti-Semitism to a nation-state in Palestine.
Marvin Kitman: The Curious Case of Not Guilty Scammers
Washington’s Blog: Big Banks Continue to Suck at the Government Teat With Never-Ending Stealth Bailouts
We’ve previously documented the fact that bailouts of the big banks are continued in stealth mode up to the present day.
True, the banks claim they’ve repaid the Tarp bailout funds but nearly half of the banks repaid such bailout funds by borrowing from other government bailout funds (and the rest could only repay money by fudging their accounting and using stealth bailouts which are are a little harder to detect).
Indeed, the government has decided on perpetual bailouts for the too big to fail banks.
Some of the ongoing stealth bailouts include:
Obamas erroneously-labelled jobs act (and see this, this and this)
The mortgage settlement (and see this and this; indeed, settling prosecutions for pennies on the dollar is always a backdoor bailout)
Interest rate swaps
The Transaction Account Guarantee program, an extension of FDIC insurance coverage to all transaction balances
And the fed is going easy on the big banks in many other ways as wells
But the biggest ongoing bailouts include interest rate spreads, interest on excess reserves and other constant streams of bailout revenue:
There are so many rivers and streams of bailout money going to the big banks…
The TARP bailout is peanuts compared to the numerous other bailouts the government has given to the giant banks [and even the numerous rounds of quantitative easing are a drop in the bucket compared to stealth bailout programs].
And I’m not referring to the $23 trillion in bailouts, loans, guarantees and other publicy-disclosed programs that the special inspector general for the TARP program mentions.
•William Black, Credit Writedowns: The JOBS Act will create an extraordinarily criminogenic environment
The JOBS Act is insane on many levels. It creates an extraordinarily criminogenic environment in which securities fraud will become even more out of control. One of the forms of insanity is the belief that one can “win” a regulatory “race to the bottom.” The only winning move is not to play in a regulatory race to the bottom. The primary rationale for the JOBS Act is the claim that we must win a regulatory race to the bottom with the City of London by adopting even weaker protections for investors from securities fraud than does the United Kingdom (UK)
Kevin Zeese: The National Occupation of Washington, DC Seeks to Lift Occupy to New Levels With Powerful Educational Programs
The National Occupation of Washington, DC which begins on March 30th and ends on April 30th will include protests, music and art but its anchor is education of the movement.
The major educational activities begin on April 2nd with the “Control the Corporation” conference at the Carnegie Institute of Washington. The conference organized by the Center for the Study of Responsive Law was designed for the Occupy and will include how people can work toward controlling corporations impact on elections, slow privatization, create better paying jobs and mobilize for the future. The full schedule is below or at http://nowdc.org/content/control-corporation. Please register in advance at http://csrl.org to help planning for food and space.
Over two weeks the NOW DC Social Forum will hold more than 70 sessions where members of the Occupy and their allies will examine the first six months of the movement and discuss what worked, and what did not work. Also discussed will be how labor and Occupy can work together more effectively, what strategy and tactics are most effective, how the Occupy can work with the media, as well as create its own media. A range of economic issues including job creation, co-operatives, sustainable and local economies, health care, energy, biodiversity and food production will be examined as will issues of war and empire. Goals, strategies and tactics of the Occupy will be examined in multiple sessions. The full schedule can be seen below or at http://nowdc.org/content/social-forum-schedule.
“We want occupiers to share information, network and learn so they can bring new information and skills back to their Occupation. This is an opportunity to lift the Occupy to a new level of strategy, activity and cohesion,” said Margaret Flowers, MD, one of the organizers of NOW DC and one of the original organizers of the Occupation at Freedom Plaza, www.OccupyWashingtonDC.org.
Is the Times Going To The Dogs?
Thanks for being here. Comments to Dissector@mediachannel.org
The “News” I Think You Need To Know As This New Week Begins
Cheney Lives: Is Dick Cheney Too Old for a Heart Transplant?’
Washington Times: The Justice Department could bring a hate crime charge against George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin if there is sufficient evidence the slaying was motivated by racial bias.
Hoodies Go To Church: Honoring Trayvon Martin
Washington Times: President Obama has given himself the powers to declare martial law — especially in the event of a war with Iran.
War At Home
Fareed Zakaria, Time: The United States Of Incarceration: Consider the Numbers, Consider the Meaning
“Over all, there are now more people under ‘correctional supervision’ in America – more than 6 million – than were in the Gulag Archipelago under Stalin at its height.”
Mass incarceration on a scale almost unexampled in human history is a fundamental fact of our country today,” writes the New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik. “Over all, there are now more people under ‘correctional supervision’ in America – more than 6 million – than were in the Gulag Archipelago under Stalin at its height.”
Is this hyperbole? Here are the facts. The U.S. has 760 prisoners per 100,000 citizens. That’s not just many more than in most other developed countries but seven to 10 times as many. Japan has 63 per 100,000, Germany has 90, France has 96, South Korea has 97, and Britain – with a rate among the highest – has 153.
This wide gap between the U.S. and the rest of the world is relatively recent. In 1980 the U.S.’s prison population was about 150 per 100,000 adults. It has more than quadrupled since then. So something has happened in the past 30 years to push millions of Americans into prison.
From The ACLU’s National Prison Project On Corrections for Profit!
“The imprisonment of human beings at record levels is both a moral failure and an economic one — especially at a time when state governments confront enormous fiscal crises caused largely by bloated and unnecessary prison spending. But mass incarceration provides a gigantic windfall for one special interest group: the private prison industry. As current incarceration levels harm the nation as a whole, for-profit prisons obtain taxpayer dollars in ever greater amounts. Private prison executives, meanwhile, bring in multi-million dollar compensation packages.”
Why So Many In Prison: Here’s One Small Story
20-year-old Duluth murder case may get new trial amid revelations that FBI overstated evidence
Revelations that the FBI overstated evidence in a Duluth murder case nearly 20 years ago could result in that case being appealed and tried again, legal experts say.
Revelations that the FBI overstated evidence in a Duluth murder case nearly 20 years ago could result in that case being appealed and tried again, legal experts say.
The FBI has notified the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office that one of the bureau’s forensic experts overstated the significance of bullet fragment testing during the 1993 murder trial. Marvin Freeman of Duluth was found guilty of shooting his ex-wife to death at her Duluth workplace and is serving a life sentence in the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Oak Park Heights.
The Trayvon Issue Builds
I was on the radio with Reverend Jesse Jackson yesterday. He believes its not enough to push for the prosecution of George Zimmerman. He argues we need to push for a new ban on assault weapons, and the repeal of the so-called “Stand Your Ground” lawss.
•Washington Post: !500 Rally for Justice for Trayvon Martin in Freedom Plaza in DC (Caution: I have never seen a crowd estimate in the Post that didn’t understate the size of a protest!)
•ABC: After fatally shooting Trayvon Martin, Florida community watch captain George Zimmerman “couldn’t stop crying,” according to a family friend who spoke with him Saturday.
“After this started – the reports I got – [Zimmerman] “couldn’t stop crying,” Joe Oliver told “Good Morning America” on Sunday.
The Supreme Court is Under Pressure to Kill “Obamacare” But Some om the Left Agree
Dave Lindorff writes: Here’s Hoping the Supreme Court Tosses Out ‘Obamacare’
The US Supreme Court has a chance to do the people of America a big favor, perhaps atoning at last for its shameful betrayal of the electoral system in 2000 when a conservative majority stole the Florida, and national election, for George W. Bush, and for the liberal-led and equally shameful betrayal of fundamental property rights in the Kelo v New London case that, in 2005, upheld the public theft of private homes in Connecticut on behalf of a government-backed resort development. The court can atone for these betrayals by declaring the ramshackle, corrupt, hugely expensive and cynically misnamed Affordable Care Act to be unconstitutional.
The act, pushed through a Democratic Congress by President Obama in 2010, is a disaster, a cobbled-together set of measures that was fatally corrupted by the insurance lobby and other parts of the nation’s medical-industrial complex, which leaves millions uninsured, continues to tether workers to their employers like indentured servants, and undermines the Medicare program, which should be the cornerstone of a real health reform.
By killing this monstrosity of political expedience and lobbyist strong-arming, the Supreme Court’s conservative wing could give us a good chance to finally move the country to a real national health reform which would reduce costs substantially, provide quality health care to all, and finally drive a stake through the heart of the health insurance industry, the real “vampire squid” of American capitalism which has been sucking money out of American’s wallets and driving many into bankruptcy for decades (family health crises are the major single cause of bankruptcies and homes foreclosures in the country).
•NYT: In Health Care Case, Lawyers Train for 3-Day Marathon
WASHINGTON — The three days of Supreme Court arguments that start Monday on the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care law will be a legal marathon, and the lawyers involved have been training.
Last week, there were so many of the mock arguments that lawyers call moot courts that they threatened to exhaust something that had never been thought in short supply: Washington lawyers willing to pretend to be Supreme Court justices.
The problem, said Paul D. Clement, who represents the 26 states challenging the law, was not just the length of the arguments the court will hear, but the variety of topics to be addressed.
The law itself is a sprawling revision of the health care system meant to provide coverage to tens of millions of previously uninsured Americans by imposing new requirements on states, employers and insurance companies and, through what has been called the individual mandate, by requiring most Americans to obtain insurance or pay a penalty.
The decision in the case will have enormous practical consequences for how health care is delivered in the United States. It is likely to land in June, with large repercussions for both Mr. Obama and his Republican challenger just before the two parties hold their nominating conventions.
Legal Fun And Games
NYT: WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday starts three days of hearings on the constitutionality of the 2010 health care overhaul law, an epic clash that could recast the very structure of American government. But it begins with a 90-minute argument on what a lawyer in the case has called “the most boring jurisdictional stuff one can imagine.”
Indeed, the lawyer, Paul D. Clement, who represents the 26 states challenging the law, said this month in remarks at the Georgetown University Law Center that the first day’s arguments are “a kind of practical joke that the court is playing on the public.”
•Linda Greenhouse, NY Times, “Never Before”
“The constitutional challenge to the law’s requirement for people to buy health insurance – specifically, the argument that the mandate exceeds Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause – is rhetorically powerful but analytically so weak that it dissolves on close inspection. There’s just no there there.”
Military Resistance: New Veterans Medical Scandal
NEW HAVEN — The Department of Defense has illegally discharged veterans in the past decade by not following their own protocols when making a diagnosis of personality disorder, which denies them certain medical benefits and carries a stigma that hurts re-entry to civilian life.
That conclusion is based on data collected from the Department of Defense as the result of two Freedom of Information suits filed by the Veterans Services Clinic at Yale Law School on behalf of its clients, Vietnam Veterans of America.
The VVA and the Yale clinic Thursday released their report: “Casting Troops Aside: The United States Military’s Illegal Personality Disorder Discharge Problem.”
Greanville Post: Amazed By CBS Report on Obama The Socialist
Eric Margolis, ICH: The Dangerous Mess in Syria Grows Murkier
US, British and some European media keep depicting Syria’s civil war as a simple passion play pitting the evil Asad regime in Damascus against mostly unarmed democratic protestors.
Justin Raimondo Robert Bales – Lone Nut or Scapegoat? What are the Americans hiding?
The murder of 17 Afghan civilians – most of them children – by staff sergeant Robert Bales may be far worse than we think at present.
David Swanson, ICH: Robots Kill, But the Blood Is on Our Hands
Torturing someone to death is not what former CIA General Counsel John Rizzo calls “clean.” Blowing them and anyone near them into little bits is “clean.”
T/h BL: Murder Mystery In Malaysia
Naked Capitalism: Daniel Alpert: Consumer Credit Growing at Highest Rate in Past Decade – Unhealthy and Unsustainable?
By Daniel Alpert, the founding Managing Partner of Westwood Capital. Cross posted from EconoMonitor
Alright, got your attention. But the headline above is not offered merely by way of titillation, as a former partner of mine would say—it has the added advantage of being true.
As many of you who frequent this space already know, I have been tracking the rates of change in the 3 month moving averages of U.S. consumer credit outstanding and retail sales since a piece we did on the subject in November of 2010. We look at aggregate consumer credit (and not merely the revolving portion more commonly associated with retail activity) because we believe that term loan borrowing—where available (chiefly student loans and autos)—frees up cash for consumption. Another way of viewing this is that transportation and education are not truly elective purchases and not leveraging those purchases would otherwise reduce overall consumption.
What the numbers tell us today is that, as of January 2012, the growth rate in all forms of consumer credit on a 3 month average basis grew at a rate greater than at any time during the credit bubble. Moreover, at $2.495 trillion, outstanding consumer credit stands a 97% of its peak of $2.576 trillion in August of 2008.
WSJ: MF Global’s Corzine Ordered Funds Transferred, Memo Says
Jon S. Corzine, MF Global Holding Ltd. (MFGLQ)’s chief executive officer, gave “direct instructions” to transfer $200 million from a customer fund account to meet an overdraft in a brokerage account with JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), according to a memo written by congressional investigators.
•Mediachannel1.org: The Dallas Fed is Calling for The Break-up Of Big Banks
One alternative: Public Banks. Ellen Brown Speaks to Mandelman
Celine Kayser, Mediachannel1.org: Advance Preparations for War With Iran
In Memorium: Sociologist Irving Louis Horowitz (Written for the Manhattan Institute)
My neighbor Lionel Tiger, The Darwin Professor of Anthropology Emeritus at Rutgers, has written this tribute to one of America’s most prolific sociologists ,Irving Louis Horowitz who has died. The Manhattan Institute will run the full text:
Irving Louis Horowitz was indescribable in life and now that he has passed, description is yet more difficult. How to explain how this bumpy relentless American captured the very core of European academic publishing and did so with an elan, capaciousness, and certainty which put to shame the coyly careful deliberations of the other publishers with whom he was formally in competition. But not really – he was on his own and was beholden to no suits and may not even have owned a suit himself except perhaps one he rented from himself for the state occasions even civilians must endure. How he managed the finances of his operation was a question which provoked many who threw up their ink-stained hands and finally simply decided: this was how ILH did things and the luckier we were for it.
What animated him was an unending commitment to the word and the book and the journal in the service of social science which told people something important about themselves. And he adored the ancestors who did it before think tanks and tenure reviews and were for heaven’s sake concerned with ideas. If there was a secret to his success, it was his infectious sense that publishing what he published was IMPORTANT and that anyone who was true to the highest ethic of their formative education HAD to come to the aid of ILH whenever he asked whatever that might turn out to be…
Irving had the sense that the old stuff was important to the new because it was the boundary and the ambiance. He felt the longevity of ideas and their curiously durable spinal chords. He was a man of his time and of 300 years ago. As we know from his writing he was fierce about ideas and was as sage and cool in publishing material he detested as what he loved for its beauty and rectitude. He knew dangerous environments. When his parents moved to New York C ity, I’m told his father who was a locksmith decided to locate in a-while-ago Harlem because that’s where he could be useful. Irving’s model too, surely. And Horowitz saw the modern campus as a danger zone, increasingly, and he engaged an astonishing international array of people in the effort to protect it. …
•Boxing Writer Bert Sugar Dies of Heart Attack
R-E-S-P-E-C-T: ‘Aretha Franklin Celebrates 70th, Talks New Music’
EJC: Facebook and lawmakers have warned employers against requesting Facebook passwords while screening job applicants, a controversial practice that underscores the blurring distinction between personal and professional lives the era of social media. The practice has reportedly grown more commonplace as companies increasingly regard profiles – or embarrassing photos from wild nights out – as windows into a prospective employee’s character. On Friday, Facebook Inc’s Chief Privacy Officer, Erin Egan, posted a note warning that the social networking company could “initiate legal action” against employers that demand Facebook passwords.
Thanks for reading the NewsDissector.net blog. Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org Still looking for a blog intern.
Breaking: We Knew He Had No Heart. Now this:
Former Vice President Dick Cheney had a heart transplant on Saturday and was recovering in a Virginia hospital, his office said in a statement.
Mr. Cheney, 71, who has suffered five heart attacks and was in end-stage heart failure, had been on the waiting list for a new heart for 20 months, the statement said. Mr. Cheney was recovering in the intensive care unit of Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va.
(Comment from The Borowitz Report, Falls Church, VA: (The Borowitz Report) – Former Vice President Dick Cheney received a heart transplant today, but former President George W. Bush remained on a waiting list for a brain, hospital officials confirmed.
As part of a government contract signed while he was still Vice President, Halliburton performed the reconstruction work on Mr. Cheney’s circulatory system at a cost to taxpayers of $14.2 billion.
The doctor who performed the surgery called the procedure “extremely invasive – just the way the Vice President wanted it.”
“In all, groups involved in the debate have spent tens of millions of dollars in the last two years to steer the political and legal debate. And a record number of organizations — 136 so far — have filed amicus curiae or “friend of the court” briefs, densely packed with historical citations and legal arguments, to urge the court to either strike down or uphold the law.
Spring Comes To Union Square
FYI: It was named after the Union Army, not trade unions.
I dropped by Union Square Saturday to check out the Occupy Presence and the police convention that tags along with it. I gave up counting the number of police vans, SUVs, cars, trucks, motorcycles and members of New York’s Finest who were posted there there to observe, shadow and, when possible, harass. I saw some white shirts standing on the grass, some detectives sucking up to them, and I am sure no small number of infiltrators and provocateurs in situ.
Apparently. some of the occupiers disrupted traffic on Canal Street on the march up from Zuccotti Park. My colleague Cat told me that the exhaust from the motor scooters and motor cycles was so toxic that she could only escape by getting on the train. There were more arrests of course to assure that the always congested traffic there can return to their normal state of congestion. The New York Times City Blog had this report.
In the Park meanwhile, folks who lied down were removed by park police in green followed by a woman who a broom to sweep up after them.
I engaged two women in uniform driving those three wheeler traffic cycles They assured me that they were there to defend people’s rights to protest except where it interfered with pedestrians etc. They were in no mood to debate the issue, convinced of the righteousness of their service to the public and humanity.
Occupiers will be in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene Park tomorrow to do some rallying and play some music.
Your Invite: The Musicians Solidarity Council
invites you to join together this Sunday, March 25th, starting at 12:00, at
our Music Stand in the next Occupy Town Square (a moveable occupation) as we
join with Occupy Wall Street in Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn. At 2:00 we will
take part in the
May Day Arts Assembly
to discuss the involvement of all components of New York City’s culture
industries in this year’s May Day actions. (We are artists, dancers,
musicians, curators, art handlers, lighting designers…)
My Latest on AlJazeera English: Occupy’s six month anniversary promises a revival
As Spring begins, Occupiers are re-emerging, but, six months since the movement started, what does the future hold?
New York, NY – Spring is here, and as the weather turns warmer, and the bluebirds start flying, the streets fill up with more people as some of the mental darkness associated with the cold of winter passes. It’s the season of renewal the poets have always sung about.
This year, it is also the activists who are cheering here in New York as Occupy Wall Street marks an anniversary, the sixth month since the movement burst onto the scene and changed the global conversation about the economy, by intjecting the reality of deepening economic inequality into the political debate.
The movement’s activists see spring as a season for the rebirth of their struggle. And how would you expect “occupiers” to commemorate an occasion such as this?
By doing some occupying, of course, especially in the midst of a time that many in the US call “March Madness”, a phrase used to describe a cultural mania triggered by highly competitive college basketball finals.
Mash this all together and you get what happened last Saturday night, when hundreds of determined activists converged on Zuccotti Park – aka Liberty Square, the park near Wall Street – from which they had been forcibly evicted months earlier.
For more, visit AlJazeera.com
CLG: U.S.: Bales went on 2 shooting sprees 24 Mar 2012 American officials say U.S. investigators now believe the U.S. soldier accused of killing 17 Afghan civilians split the slaughter into two episodes – returning to his base after the first attack and later slipping away to kill again. This scenario seems to support the U.S. government’s assertion lie — contested by some Afghans [and anyone with an IQ above that of a desk lamp] — that the killings were done by one person, since they would have been perpetrated over a longer period of time than assumed when Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was detained March 11. But it also raises questions about how Bales could have carried out the slaughter without drawing attention from others on the American base in Kandahar province.
Global Post: Kandahar Shootings: What Really Happened?
Did other US soldiers help Staff Sgt. Robert Bales? GlobalPost investigates the evolving narrative of the Kandahar shootings.
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – Conflicting reports from
eyewitnesses, US officials and local leaders show, if
anything, how little is known for certain about what
happened in the early morning hours of March 11, when
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales allegedly massacred 16 Afghan
civilians, including nine women and children.
About the only facts the US military and local Afghans
agree on is the number of people killed during the
shooting – which took place in two remote villages in
Kandahar Province, a half-mile from a US military
outpost – and that the killings occurred sometime in
the early morning hours.
Western countries scramble for Afghan exits
As international forces prepare for withdrawal from Afghanistan, Western countries are already in talks with Afghanistan’s Central Asian neighbors to bring their troops and military equipment back home. The Pakistani route and the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) running through Central Asian countries are the two viable routes for international forces to withdraw from Afghanistan. The United States and Afghanistan are in the process of negotiating an accord for a long-term US presence in Afghanistan after 2014, when most foreign combat forces are due to withdraw. The US wants some advisers mercenaries and special forces to stay.
Italian soldier killed in mortar attack in west Afghanistan 24 Mar 2012 An Italian soldier with the NATO’s In
DXM: ’CNN Crew Linked With Homs Bombing’ – Is It A PsyOp?
Economy: The 1% Plan for The Rest Of US
The Nation: Who Will Be Hurt If Paul Ryan’s Budget Passes?
OpEd News: AFL-CIO Blasts JOBS Act for Deregulation of Wall Street
America needs jobs. Yet Congress cannot enact such basic legislation as the reauthorization of the Surface Transportation Bill that would create hundreds of thousands of jobs. Instead, this week Congress once again is looking to deregulate Wall Street–this time in the form of the cynically named JOBS Act, which would weaken the ability of the Securities and Exchange Commission to regulate our capital markets and allow companies to sell stock to the public without providing three years of audited financial statements, without having adequate internal controls and without complying with key corporate governance reforms in the recently passed Dodd-Frank Act. We still have millions of unemployed workers as a direct result of decades of financial deregulation. Workers’ pension funds have yet to recover from the effects of the last time we created a bubble in IPOs during the late 1990s…
MIT Economist: Income Inequality In The U.S. Is Crushing The Middle Class’ Political Power
Today, TP spoke with MIT economist Daron Acemoglu, whose new book, “Why Nations Fail:” I think there’s a lot of debate about the economic impact of income inequality. There’s literature on how greater inequality might slow economic growth because it creates a less conducive environment for consumer demand or credit. But at the end, my view, and that of our book with James Robinson, is that the more pernicious effect of economic inequality comes indirectly through its impact on political inequality. it’s a general pattern throughout history, and we see around today, that when economic inequality increases, the people who have become economically more powerful will often attempt to use that power in order to gain even more political power. And once they are able to monopolize political power, they will start using that for changing the rules in their favor.
Link TV: Can We Afford Capitalism? (Richard Wolff)
Read of the DAY: Henry Giroux: Gated Intellectuals and Ignorance in Political Life: Toward a Borderless Pedagogy in the Occupy Movement
Fluent News: ‘Guatemala’s president urges debate on drug legalization’
Daily Beast: Sarkozy’s New Laws Overstep
The French president is overreacting to what is being called his country’s 9/11 with proposals for laws that criminalize consulting jihadist websites and traveling abroad for terrorist indoctrination. Both would be disastrous for France, says Barry Lando.
Mail & Guardian: Clooney Has Satellites Monitoring Sudan’s Army
Nathaniel Raymond is the first to admit that he has an unusual job description. “I count tanks from space for George Clooney,” he says.
T/h BL: In the first significant antiwar- with-Iran protest held in Israel, around 1,000 people marched through central Tel Aviv on Saturday evening to voice opposition to those calling for a military strike to stop the Islamic Republic’s quest for nuclear weapons.
“We will not agree to an irresponsible Israeli attack on Iran, leading to a war with an unknown end-date and casualty count,” organizers said on the protest’s Facebook page, under the title “Israelis Against the War.”
Frank Aquila writes:
I read your recent piece on al Jazeera, “Occupy’s Six Month Anniversary Promises a Revival”, and I was interested by your discussion on the debate about the role of violence within the movement. I saw that you framed the debate as largely concerning a rift between the Black Bloc, looking to use more extreme methods like retaliation against the police etc, versus the majority of the movement’s wishes to keep the protests non-violent. However, I was wondering if, within that majority, there was a debate going on between whether or not violence can be used and still have the movement be non-violent. What I am trying to say is that there is a difference between protesting with the goal being not to start violence but using it in defense, and complete “turn the other cheek” non-violence in the style of MLK and Ghandi. Using the Tahrir Square protests as an example, I think everyone can agree that that movement had the goal of toppling the Mubarak regime without using violence. However, when attacked by Mubarak supporters, most notably during the “Battle of the Camel”, the protesters were not afraid to defend their positions by retaliating with violence in kind. I think it is safe to say that most people around the world, including the US government, saw this use of violence on the part of the protesters as legitimate and even cheered it on.
I guess my question is: has there been a debate within Occupy about whether or not this type of violence can and should be used, say, when police charge into an occupied space with the intent of making random arrests and cracking skulls? If so, do you know what the prevailing attitude is as far as you can tell? I followed the movement closely and participated in many of the protests early on but I left to join the Marine Corps in mid-October and have been largely out of the loop since then with the exception of things I read on the news and reports from family and friends back home. Before I left the prevailing attitude seemed to be in favor of “turn the other cheek” based largely on the belief, probably correct at least at the time, that every abuse perpetrated by the police (like the infamous “Tony Bologna” incident) gained supporters and sympathy for Occupy. However, I was wondering if the eviction from Zuccotti Park, the brutal violence used by the police at Occupy Oakland and other cities around the country, etc, had caused a shift within the the movement.Thank you for reading my e-mail and I hope to hear back from you. I very much enjoyed your article.
Bradley Laing writes:
You have to hand it to Pro Publica for coming up with a creative work-around to one of the weirdest disputes at the FCC — the debate over whether to make local TV station data about political advertising available online. The public interest journalism group has begun to enlist people to visit local TV stations and copy the info about political ads that they’re already required to make public on paper. Reporters will put the files online for everyone to see. “These paper files contain detailed data on all political ads that run on the channel, such as when they aired, who bought the time and how much they paid,” Pro Publica says. ”It’s a transparency gold mine, allowing the public to see how campaigns and outside groups are influencing elections.” The FCC seems to share that desire to make the info easy for people to find. It’s weighing a proposal that would require stations to put their reports online. Public interest groups love the idea. The deans or directors of 12 major college journalism programs also told the FCC that the files include “vital information about the American political system.”
Scott Schneider writes:
Gloria Steineim’s new found anti-war position on Iran is cetainly welcome, but about 10 years too late. Where was she 8, 9, 10 years ago when the US began a bloodthirsty campaign of unbridled aggression – War Crimes by any other name, under any other law except John Yoo’s?
CodePink et al should be wary of associating with her; she’s an opportunist – unlike Medea Benjamin and others who never compromised their position and always publicly vocalized their deep opposition to America’s deadly militarism, risking considerable personal discomfort in the process.
It’s not just true for Steinem. It’s true for most of the identity politicians and Democrats who have fronted for 20 years of Clintonism and Obamarama. [In 2008, Steinem supported Hillary Clinton, a devoted warmonger who since she began her Senatorial voting in 2001 enthusiastically pursued War Crimes (including the supreme crimes of Aggression and War against Peace) destruction of at least 2 nations, and well over a million lives. Had Steinem, Pollitt and the rest of these clowns shown any heart and resistance to the slow-motion Fascism which captured America over the last 30 years, the situation would be far less desperate than it is now. Their credibility is virtually non-existent.”
Undernews: Facebook thinks it owns the word “book”
Ars Technica – Facebook is trying to expand its trademark rights over the word “book” by adding the claim to a newly revised version of its “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities,” the agreement all users implicitly consent to by using or accessing Facebook.
You may recall that Facebook has launched multiple lawsuits against websites incorporating the word “book” into their names. Facebook, as far as we can tell, doesn’t have a registered trademark on “book.” But trademark rights can be asserted based on use of a term, even if the trademark isn’t registered, and adding the claim to Facebook’s user agreement could boost the company’s standing in future lawsuits filed against sites that use the word.
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LISTEN: Podcast of This Week’s News Dissector Radio Show--Hot discussion of Future of Occupy With Leading Activists
After White House Declines to Comment, President Does
BBC: US President Barack Obama has said the “tragedy” of an unarmed black teenager shot dead in Florida should prompt some national soul-searching.
The death of Trayvon Martin, 17, gunned down by a neighborhood watchman, who was not charged as he claimed self-defence, has sparked outrage.
“If I had a son he would look like Trayvon,” President Obama told reporters at the White House.
These remarks are rare and deliberate, and some will find them controversial. America’s first black president rarely gets embroiled in issues of race beyond anodyne comments about civil rights. Just talking about race in the US is potentially politically explosive.
What is often accepted as obvious and common sense among African-Americans can be treated as astonishing and provocative by some whites. The president was roundly criticised in 2009 when he described police as “stupid” for arresting a black Harvard professor outside his own home. Then, as more subtly, now, he was voicing what many black Americans feel: their color alone makes some whites view them as criminals.
The president’s powerful identification with the family of Trayvon Martin will be warmly welcomed by many. But it would be surprising if his opponents don’t complain that he is sympathising with people on the grounds of race alone.
“I can only imagine what these parents are going through and when I think about this boy I think about my own kids,” Mr Obama said on Friday.
“I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans take this with the seriousness that it deserves and we’re going to get to the bottom of what happened.
“Every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this and everybody pulls together, federal state and local, to figure out exactly how this tragedy happened,” he added.
Reaction: Fox News Led By Geraldo Rivera and the Ditto Head Team have been challenging the Obama statement, ridiculing claims of racism
Heard On WBAI: Some tension –difference of style–on Twitter between Responses by Occupy activists and Occupy The Hood Militants. Some of the latter felt that the Occupiers were trying to takeover the Trayvon Justice Rally.
Washington Times/ Daily Mail: The White House responded with shock to Rick Santorum’s recent criticism that President Obama was an irresponsible parent for sending his daughter to Mexico.
Seattle Times on Zimmerman: Florida shooter George Zimmerman not easily pigeonholed
A closer look at George Zimmerman, son of a Peruvian mother and a white father who is at the center of the nation’s latest controversy over race.
•Related? NY Times: NYPD Officer in Bell Killing Is Fired; 3 Others to Be Forced Out
The Detective Who Fired the first shots in the 50-bullet barrage that killed Sean Bell in 2006 has been fired, and three others involved in the shooting are being forced to resign, law enforcement officials said on Friday.
The decision came after a Police Department administrative trial in the fall found that the detective, Gescard F. Isnora, had acted improperly in the shooting that killed Mr. Bell on what was supposed to have been his wedding day and that he should be fired.
“There was nothing in the record to warrant overturning the decision of the department’s trial judge,” Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne said on Friday night.
Law enforcement officials said word of Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly’s decision came late Friday. Detective Isnora, an 11-year veteran, will not collect a pension, one official said. “He loses everything,” the official said.
Three other officers — Detectives Marc Cooper and Michael Oliver, who fired shots at Mr. Bell; and Lt. Gary Napoli, a supervisor who was at the scene but did not fire any shots — are being forced to resign.
NEW YORK – Undercover NYPD officers attended meetings of liberal political organizations and kept intelligence
files on activists who planned protests around the country, according to interviews and documents that show
how police have used counterterrorism tactics to monitor even lawful activities.
• NYCLU: Is The NYPD Watching You?
Just today, the Associated Press reported that undercover NYPD officers have infiltrated progressive political groups nationwide and compiled files on people engaged in political advocacy. The NYPD conducted similar spying in the run-up to the 2004 Republican National Convention in Manhattan. We challenged that spying in federal court. The lawsuit has helped uncover the scope of the NYPD’s intelligence program, but the Department has continued spying on political activists.
Find out if the NYPD is watching you. File a Freedom of Information request today.
New York has a long, proud history of robust political dissent. The NYCLU has often used Freedom of Information requests to shed light on government abuse of surveillance. Since the days of the Red Squads, when police intelligence units infiltrated political groups solely for being critical of the government, the NYCLU has defended the right to dissent by exposing police surveillance practices and police dossiers on political activists. Today, these requests should once again force the NYPD and other law-enforcement agencies to turn over their records on New Yorkers.
Visit http://www.nyclu.org/SpyFiles and learn how to file a Freedom of Information request today.
Mail & Guardian: Obama Off To South Korea To Discuss Nuclear Threat
President Barack Obama is returning to the threat to American security that he calls the gravest of all: terrorists getting material for a nuclear bomb.
In South Korea, where Obama is headed, the president will join a massive gathering of world leaders whose united goal is to secure nuclear material and prevent it from being smuggled to states or groups intent on mass destruction.
Right across the border but not participating: nuclear North Korea, labeled by the White House as “the odd man out.” It is brinksmanship with North Korea and Iran, another nation not invited to the summit, that has dominated much of the nuclear debate and that will cast an unquestionable shadow over talks in Seoul.
•North Korea said on Saturday it will hold an annual parliamentary session next month during which Kim Jong-un, is expected to be appointed officially.
Surprise Obama Did Not Nominate Larry Summers to Head The World Bank: Obama Taps New World Bank Chief
President Obama is set to nominate Dartmouth College president Jim Yong Kim to lead the World Bank, senior administration officials have confirmed to the Associated Press. Officials are hopeful that the nomination of Kim, a doctor and former director of the HIV/Aids department at the World Health Organization, will quell criticism from developing countries who are wary of the U.S. “monopoly” on the World Bank presidency. Former World Bank president Robert Zoellick announced in February that he was stepping down. The World Bank is dedicated to promoting development and lending money to impoverished countries for infrastructure projects.
Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. on the nomination’
The Obama administration’s announcement that it will nominate health expert and Dartmouth College president Jim Yong Kim for World Bank president represents a historic milestone in the institution’s history, with the U.S. nominating, for the first time, a qualified candidate. This is a huge step forward. If Kim becomes World Bank President, he’ll be the first qualified president in 68 years. Kim’s nomination is a victory for all the people, organizations, and governments that stood up to the Obama administration and demanded an open, merit-based process.
“Much of Kim’s career was with Partners in Health, which Kim co-founded. Partners in Health is a uniquely dynamic and enormously capable organization that has implemented important changes in approaches to preventing and treating diseases and other health problems, and Kim deserves much credit for that.
“However, the Bank’s process is still deeply flawed because the majority of the world’s countries are not really involved and I hope that for the next presidency, they will come together long in advance to agree on a candidate.”
Weisbrot noted the importance of Jeffrey Sachs’ candidacy as having busted open the process and “raised the bar for whom could be nominated. Sachs’ campaigning for the Bank’s presidency was unprecedented in its openness, in Sachs’ platform of reform for the Bank, and in terms of Sachs’ qualifications as an economist with extensive experience in economic development and as a health expert, who, like Kim, has worked to fight diseases such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.
“Once Sachs was nominated, it was clear it would be very difficult for the Obama administration to follow past practice and simply choose, again, a political insider or a banker,” Weisbrot said. Weisbrot noted that Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s nomination by several African countries today also “represents an unprecedented challenge to the U.S. government’s traditional domination in choosing the next World Bank president.”
Dateline The South: Leading Blogger for Conservative NC Think Tank Resigns Over Offensive Obama Image
A leading writer for the Art Pope-backed John Locke Foundation resigned after posting an image showing President Obama in chains and drag next to a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.
*On Facebook via Kevin Sessums
I just posted about Santorum campaigning in Louisiana and, while taking target practice at a shooting range, one of his supporters telling him, “Pretend it’s Obama.”
WP: Independent panel says federal regulators partly to blame for fatal Massey mine blast
A scathing report by an independent panel has blamed federal regulators for failing to take steps that might have prevented the disaster that killed 29 workers at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine two years ago.
Both Vietnam and Afghanistan were lost wars from the very beginning, as futile as they were immoral, begun by men abysmally ignorant of history, culture and geography.
ICH: Big Brother On Campus
By Michael Gould-Wartofsky
From breaking up Occupy protests to spying on Muslim students, homeland security is targeting college kids.
PBS: As Bad As Fox In Its Own Devious Way
It Takes GUTS for Bill Moyers To Challenge PBS: To PBS, with (Tough) Love ByBill Moyers and Michael Winship
Neither of us is old enough to have been fooled by the Trojan Horse (see Wikipedia). But we each have been working in public television decades enough to remember the days when distribution was handled by physically transporting bulky 2-inch videotapes from station to station — “bicycled” was the word — and much of the broadcast day and night was devoted to blackboard lectures, string quartets and lessons in Japanese brush painting: The old educational television versions of reality TV.
Yet it also was a time of innovation and creativity. As the system evolved we saw bold experiments like PBL — the Public Broadcasting Laboratory and Al Perlmutter’s The Great American Dream Machine, each a predecessor to the commercial TV magazine shows 60 Minutes and 20/20. The TV Lab, jointly run by David Loxton at WNET in New York and Fred Barzyk at WGBH in Boston, nurtured and encouraged the first generation of video artists — Nam June Paik, Bill Viola and William Wegman among others — and the early documentary work of such video pioneers as Jon Alpert and Keiko Tsuno of the Downtown Community Television Center, Alan and Susan Raymond, and the wild and woolly, guerrilla camera crews of TVTV.
The descendants of those pathfinders are the independent filmmakers whose works have not only re-energized the motion picture industry but also have vastly expanded the realm of the documentary — in both the scope of its storytelling and the size and diversity of its audience. Public television has faithfully provided an enormous national stage where nonfiction films can be seen by far more people than could ever buy tickets at the handful of movie houses willing to put documentaries up on their theater screens.
As Gordon Quinn of the independent documentary company Kartemquin Films (Hoop Dreams) told Anthony Kaufman of the website IndieWire, “In terms of having an audience in a democratic society, in terms of getting people talking about things, there’s nothing like a PBS broadcast. PBS is free, and it’s huge in getting into rural areas. That reach, all over the country, it’s a critically important audience that’s vastly underserved.”
Two PBS series have provided outstanding showcases for the work of new and established documentarians and between them have 13 Oscar nominations and 54 Emmys to prove it. For years, Independent Lens and POV held a nationwide time slot as part of the PBS core schedule on Tuesday nights, with public TV stalwart Frontline as a worthy lead-in, funneling to the independent films just the kind of audience that enjoys and appreciates documentaries.
But this season, PBS chose to move Independent Lens and POV to a new time slot — 10 PM ET, on Thursday nights. This may not seem like such a big deal at first, until you know that on Thursday nights stations can broadcast any program they like in prime time, whether it’s part of the PBS schedule or not. Many take the opportunity to offers viewers locally produced programs, British sitcoms or reruns of Antiques Roadshow. As a result, episodes of the independent documentary series can now be run anywhere local stations choose to fit them in (here in New York, WNET airs the films at 11 pm on Sundays) or maybe not at all.
POV does not begin the new season — its 25th — until June, but as Dru Sefton first reported in the public broadcasting trade publication Current, in the first few months since Independent Lens was shuffled into its new Thursday time slot last October, ratings plummeted 42 percent from the same period last season. With programs scattered throughout the schedule in different cities, not only is it now more difficult for viewers to find them but coordinated national advertising and promotion campaigns are, at best, extremely difficult.
The team at PBS consists of dedicated people; all are our colleagues and many are our friends. They are constantly looking for ways to increase the audience that watches public television. But there is always a danger, in any organization, of only seeing the world from the top down, and then counting heads to measure whether something is good or not. An open letter to PBS from Kartemquin Films says it well:
“Public television is not just a popularity contest, or a ratings game. Taxpayers support public broadcasting because democracy needs more than commercial media’s business models can provide. PBS’ programming decision makes a statement about PBS’ commitment to the mission of public broadcasting.”
It goes on to note the mandate cited in the recently revised and reissued Code of Editorial Integrity for Local Public Media Organizations: “Our purposes are to support a strong civil society, increase cultural access and knowledge, extend public education, and strengthen community life through electronic media and related community activities.”
Most of both our careers have been in public television. Our affection and gratitude for it abideth, but we are not blind to the problems. Public broadcasting’s ever-tenuous funding places it in a perpetual dilemma and forces it into a delicate balancing act. PBS provides programming like Independent Lens and POV that may not garner the most viewers but helps fulfill its essential mission of public service — and, candidly, attracts grants from kindred spirits who believe in a robust mix of ideas and visions. But to lure a wider audience, it also airs what our neighborhood diner calls “lighter fare” — whether entertaining, upscale imports like Downton Abbey, home-grown, how-to programs like This Old House or (during pledge drives) nostalgic reruns of folk musicians, pop crooners, and financial and spiritual gurus – aimed at older viewers with, presumably, more disposable income.
Add to this the constant political pressures, especially from conservative politicians ever eager to cut off its funding (Mitt Romney says he wants to see commercials on “Sesame Street”), plus the self-censorship that all too often results, and you get a tendency toward orthodoxy and an aversion to controversy.
A PBS spokesperson told The New York Times that the service “is fully committed to independent films and the diversity of content they provide.” That can quickly be demonstrated by reversing a bad decision and returning to a national core time slot the independent documentaries created — often at real financial sacrifice — by the producers and filmmakers whose own passion is to reveal life honestly and to make plain, for all to see, the realities of inequality and injustice in America.
Along with its open letter to PBS, Kartemquin Films published a petition and asked for signatures from independent filmmakers and their supporters. We two are among the more than 300 who have signed it as of this writing. If you think the creativity and unique visions of life captured by independent producers, journalists and filmmakers deserve the best possible platform on public television, you can read and sign it yourself.
The effort has made a difference. Talks are ongoing and the Times reports that PBS now has “agreed to find a new home next season” for the two series. An announcement is expected to be made at the PBS annual meeting in May. That’s good news, but until the decision is made, it’s important to keep letting them know how you feel — write PBS or sign that petition.
US To Grant Special Status To Syrian Refugees
WASHINGTON- The Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF), along with the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), Arab American Institute (AAI), United for Free Syria (UFS), and Syrian Expatriates, welcome the decision made by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano to approve the submitted Request for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Syrian nationals. According to a release from Sec. Napolitano’s office “DHS will be designating Syria for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Syrians currently present in the United States. Conditions in Syria have worsened to the point where Syrian nationals already in the United States would face serious threats to their personal safety if they were to return to their home country. Early next week, the Department will publish a notice in the Federal Register that will provide further guidance about TPS eligibility requirements and registration procedures. All applicants must undergo full background checks and while Syrians in the United States are encouraged to apply, they should not submit their applications before the notice is published.”
Watch: Art Festival in Small Town
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Appeal from Occupy: “We need your help! Our best defense is a strong offense, and mass turnout at this time will protect our movement as the action-packed ‘American Spring’ bursts into the streets.
Join us this Saturday at 12pm in Liberty Square and call for NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly’s resignation.
Daily News; Cops Oust Occupy From Union Square
Fluent: Obama Heckled During Speech In Ohio, Calls Heckler Rude, Gets Cheered
CLG: U.S. Resurrects Shuttered Bush Administration ‘Total Information Awareness’ Data Mining Program –U.S. Relaxes Limits on Use of Data in Terror Analysis
The Obama administration is moving to relax restrictions on how counterterrorism analysts may retrieve, store and search information about Americans gathered by government agencies for purposes other than national security threats. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Thursday signed new guidelines for the National Counterterrorism Center, which was created in 2004 to foster intelligence sharing and serve as a terrorism threat clearinghouse. The guidelines will lengthen to five years – from 180 days – the amount of time the center can retain private information about Americans when there is no suspicion that they are tied to terrorism, intelligence officials said. The guidelines are also expected to result in the center making more copies of entire databases and “data mining them” using complex algorithms to search for patterns that could indicate a threat.
•Related: Truth-Out– October 24, 2011, a domestic terrorism analyst with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Homeland Counterterrorism Division emailed colleagues an article he or she had come upon in Grey Coast Anarchist News entitled, “Eugene: SUV covered in anti-oil, pro-occupation graffiti and set on fire.” The analyst said he or she was, “interested in a possible write up of the event for the state and locals.”
Fluent:‘Mali coup: World condemns mutineers’
Views on Trayvon Martin
The White House: No Comment because it is a local issue.
Marion Wright Edelman, Childen’s Defense Fund, Walking While White
Every parent raising Black sons knows the dilemma: deciding
how soon to have the talk. Choosing the words to explain to
your beautiful child that there are some people who will
never like or trust him just because of who he is -
including some who should be there to protect him, but will
instead have the power to hurt him. Training him how to
walk, what to say, and how to act so he won’t seem like a
threat. Teaching him that the burden of deflating
stereotypes and reassuring other people’s ignorance will
always fall on him, and while that isn’t fair, in some cases
it may be the only way to keep him safe and alive.
But sometimes it isn’t enough. It wasn’t enough to protect
Trayvon Martin. Seventeen-year-old Trayvon’s English teacher
said he was “an A and B student who majored in
cheerfulness.” Trayvon loved building models and taking
things apart, his favorite subject was math, and he dreamed
of becoming a pilot and an engineer. Instead, he was gunned
down by a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain
vigilante who profiled him, followed him, and shot him in
the chest. His killer, George Zimmerman, saw the teenager on
the street and called the police to report he looked “like
he’s up to no good.” At the time Trayvon was walking home
from the nearby 7-11 carrying a bottle of Arizona iced tea
and a bag of Skittles for his younger stepbrother, leaving
many people to guess that the main thing he was doing that
made him look “no good” was wearing a hooded sweatshirt in
the rain and walking while Black. George Zimmerman’s
decisions made that suspicious enough to be a death
Dissector Essay–Oldie But Goody: 2004: WARRING WITH THE WORDS OF WAR
The Terror Era has not only radicalized our domestic politics and foreign policies, but it has infected our language. Our vocabulary has undergone a paradigm shift along with government policies. Academics call it “social construction.”
Conversations are now peppered with terms we rarely heard or thought much about before 9/11. (Before 9/11, no one even marked dates that way. Sure there was 24/7 but that’s not the same.) Few of our “new” words are new-but the frequency of usage certainly is.
Words are weapons or their extensions and often used as such. Many are the lethal offspring of an alphabet of anguish, a lexicon of slanted war speak. Orwell would have been right at home, but for the rest of us, it is often uncomfortable finding these terms bubbling up almost involuntarily from within. “News language” has a way of fusing with our own language in the same way that babies absorb the lingo, accents and phrasing of their parents. What we hear again and again in the media embeds itself in the inner voice. We recycle what is repeated,. Pavlov understood this more than Orwell, but never mind.
So here is an armchair linguist and news dissector’s A-Z in progress. Help me fill in the blanks.
A Allah, Axis, Assets, Alert; ABC-Atomic Biological Chemical, Anthrax, Aluminum Tubes, Al Samud Missiles; Al-Jazeera, AAR (after action report), amphetamines, (supplied to exhausted pilots who bomb Canadian allies in friendly fire incidents in Afghanistan).
B Breaking News, Bio-Terror, Baghdad, Basra, „Black Hawk Down,‰ Box Cutter, Botchilinum, Burka, Ba‚ath Party, Bush “Doctrine (“We have our marching orders ∑ My fellow Americans, let’s roll ∑We have also seen the true nature of these terrorists ∑”Put a dollar in an envelope. Mark it, ‘America’s Fund for Afghan Children‚ and send it here to the White House ∑I’m pleased to unveil a new line of attack on our war against terrorism — The ŒMost Wanted Terrorist List‚∑ Freedom and fear are at war,” etc.). More to come
C Caves, Condoleeza, cells (of the sleeper and awake varieties), CC (Central Command); Centriguges, Clash of Civilizations, Crusade, CNN-effect, Collateral Language (or damage, collateral.), Combatants, illegal, Chicken Hawk, C2 – command and control, Civil Liberties (Huh?).
D Duct Tape, Desert Spring; Delta Force, Detainees, Dirty Bomb, Democracy (in Iraq, not the U.S.), Drones, Daisy Cutters, (not be confused with the country called Cutter but spelled Qatar), Dead or Alive (lose ŒAlive‚), Disarmament (them, not us).
E Embed, Embedded, Evil, Evildoer, Evil, Axis of, E-bomb.
F Fundamentalism, Foreign Fighters, Friendlies, (the soldiers we like), Fights Back (as in America), Franks (Tommy), Food for Oil Freedom Fries (in lieu of French fries)
G Ground Zero, Gitmo, Guantanamo Bay, Geneva Conventions ( now irrelevant), Geraldo (see force of nature).
H Homeland, Homicide Bombers, Hamas, Hizbollah, Holy War, House to House, HinduKush, Hazmats, Haj, Haliburton (rarely mentioned), Human Rights (no longer relevant).
I Infidel, Inspections, IAEA, IO (Information Operations as in “Information is the Currency of Victory”), IDF, Imam, Interrogate, Interrogation, Islamabad. ISI ( Pakistan Intelligence), Intifada (again), Infant Mortality, Imperialism (word not used on television).
J Jihad, Jihad Junkie, Journalists (endangered species), “Just War” (no longer in quotes).
K Kurds, Kurdistan, Kabul, Kunduz, Kandahar, Kashmir, KC-10A Extender jets.
L Likud, Laconic, Liberation (of Iraq, not U.S.), Love (forget it).
M Muslim World, Madrassa, Mullah, one-eyed, Mastermind, Material Breach, Mobile Labs, Mustard Gas, Mazer I-Sharif, Mujahadeen, Mecca, Mistake (not used).
N Northern Alliance, No Blood for Oil, Not in My Name, Nonpermanent members.
O OBL, Omar, Operation Mountain Lion, Operation Anaconda, Operation Infinite Justice, Operation Enduring Freedom, Old Europe (as opposed to New).
P Perception Management; Profiling, P5 or Perm 5 (once the Big Five on the Security Council), Patriot Act, Patriotically Correct, Pens (Demonstration Areas), Preemptive War, Preemptive Strike, Proxies, Poodle (see Blair, Tony), Prisoners of War (quaint term, seldom used), Peace (term no longer used), “Power of the Blood” (Hymn often cited).
Q Qaeda, Al; Quran, Queasy.
R Regime Change, Rummy, Radiological Weapon, “Real” Journalism (Fox News slogan), Republican Guards (Special), Racin, Ro-Ro (Roll-on and Roll-off transport ship), The Raven (Bush’s favorite book about fellow Texan Sam Houston).
S Sarin, Sheikh, Saddam (as in Showdown with Saddam), Soft Targets, State Sponsored, Suicide Bombers, Satellite channels, Security Alerts (High, Elevated, Highest, Yellow, Orange, Red), Settlements, Smart Bombs, Smallpox, Smoke ‘em out, Stealth (B2 bombers, fighters, technology), Spin Cycles, Sunni, Shiite, Shock and Awe, Subs, SecDef (Secretary of Defense), Sanctions, impact of (rarely mentioned in media).
T Tape, Duct (again), Terror, Terrorist, Terrorism, Taliban, Terminators (anti-Taliban), Tora Bora, (as opposed to Japanese War cry „Tora‰ and not to be confused with the Israeli Hora), TIA (Total Information Awareness), Twin Towers, Tribunal, Traitors (Whoever Fox News Disagrees With), Torture (word never used on television), This Just In (now used interchangeably by CNN with Breaking News), Truth (first casualty of war).
U UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), UNMOVIC, UNSCOM, U-2, (sans Bono), Urban Warfare, USCINCCENT (Commander-in-Chief, United States Central Command).
V Veto, VX, Vigilance, Virgins, as in 70 or 99 or the magical number of maidens waiting in Paradise to reward martyrs, Virtual March.
W Warlords (ours and theirs), Weaponize, WTC, WMD, WUF (Weapons Unaccounted For), War on Terror, War on Iraq, Willing (our friends in coalition).
X Exterminate, X filtrate, X journalist.
Y You Decide(They Distort).
Z Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. envoy to Kurdish opposition, was U.S. envoy to Afghan opposition, was U.S. oil company envoy to Taliban; Zerbisias, Antonia, media columnist, Toronto Star, who dissects all of these terms.
These are words we hear nightly on TV. Soon to become the mainstay of crossword puzzles, scrabble games and William Safire columns. Is this a joke? No way, argue the authors of the book „Collateral Language‰ who explain that “language matters in the most concrete, immediate way possible; its use by political and military leaders leads directly to violence.‰
They call on all of us, “to make words mean something different ∑instead of allowing these words to blind us into consent, we can demand their legitimate us.
Now, can I hear that oldest of words — Amen?
Freedom of Information, Anyone?
Lawyers Guild Expects More Documents: Homeland Security Coordinated Occupy Crackdown
Dave Lindorff:If you want to know where the real government of the United States is located, just check out one of the documents received by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund in response to their Freedom of Information Act request to the Dept. of Homeland Security relating to surveillance of the Occupy Movement. That document, from the Secret Service, dated September 17, 2011, the day the Occupy movement began on Wall Street, from the US Secret Service Intelligence Division, titled Prism Demonstrations Abstract, lists the location as “Wall Street Bull” — a reference to the bronze statue of a bull on Wall Street in front of the New York Stock Exchange, and the “protectee” as “The United States Government.”
As the National Lawyers Guild comments dryly, “American taxpayers might find it odd to learn that the Secret Service was on duty to protect the Wall Street Bull in the name of protecting the U.S. Government. But there it is.”
The trove of 398 documents (many of them heavily censored) received on behalf of the PCJF, the NLG and filmmaker Michael Moore, consists primarily of materials from top Homeland Security Officials, which PCJF Executive Director Mara Verhayden Hilliard says is a deliberate effort by Homeland Security officials to deflect attention from the workings of the mid-level intelligence staff of the various agencies within DHS who do the spying, and the so-called Fusion Centers around the country — all wholly funded by DHS–which link federal agencies like the FBI with local and state police agencies.
“It’s all a game of hide-the-ball” says Verhayden Hilliard, who adds that the National Lawyers Guild is challenging the effort by insisting on getting the records from all levels, including the Fusion centers.
WSJ: Dubious Milestone: Student Loan Debt Tops $1 Trillion
Hopefully you knew student loan debt was a burgeoning crisis in this country. But did you know it was a $1 trillion (with a T) crisis? According to the CFPB, previous estimates of the student loan debt in America were far too low. The Wall Street Journal reports:
Total student debt outstanding appears to have surpassed $1 trillion late last year, said officials at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal agency created in the wake of the financial crisis. That would be roughly 16% higher than an estimate earlier this year by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The new figure—released Wednesday at a banking conference in Austin, Texas—is a preliminary finding from a study of student debt that the bureau plans to release this summer. Bureau officials said the estimate is based on a survey of private lenders, as opposed to other estimates that rely on a sampling of consumer credit reports.
CFPB officials say student debt is rising for several reasons, including a surge in Americans going to college in recent years to escape the weak labor market. Also, tuition increases—which many colleges say are needed to offset big cuts in state funding—have many students taking out bigger loans.
In addition, the interest costs on older loans are climbing as borrowers fall behind on payments, reflecting mounting financial strains, bureau officials said. New York Fed data show that as many as one in four student borrowers who have begun repaying their education debts are behind on payments.
The Hill: Pelosi Says Healthcare Reform Is Ironclad
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said Democrats are confident their healthcare law will survive its day before the Supreme Court.
The California Democrat said the law is legally “ironclad” and supporters are “in pretty good shape” just days ahead of the high court’s three-day examination of the law.
Please join me at PRN.fm today at 1 PM Eastern. Your comments are welcome. Write Dissector@mediachannel.org
Mitt Romney reassured Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and other lawmakers of his conservative credentials during a meeting near the Capitol campus on Thursday.
It was part of the former Massachusetts governor’s attempt to unify conservatives behind his candidacy. Some of the far right have expressed doubts about Romney’s stance…
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Watch–On RT: Happy Birthday Twitter
NY Daily News: Rally For Trayvon Martin
The parents of the unarmed black Florida teenager slain three weeks ago by an overzealous neighborhood watchman joined a “million hoodie” march in Union Square Wednesday demanding the shooter’s arrest.
“Our son is your son,” Trayvon Martin’s mom Sybrina Fulton told a big crowd.
“This is not a black and white thing. This is a right and wrong thing.”
The demonstrators burst into a chant of “Justice for Trayvon!”
“My heart is in pain. But seeing the support from all of you, really makes a difference,” she said.
Demonstrators wearing hoodies took turns calling out “Am I suspicious?”
Jumaane Williams, the city councilman arrested during last year’s West Indian Parade, said, “I know I’m black. I reek of Brooklyn. But I’m not a criminal. I’m a city councilman. Some of us are doctors. Some of us are
President of the United States of America. Our blood is not cheap.”
I am probably the only writer here in the US of A to remind one and all that yesterday was the anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre that. in its ugliness and violence, triggered the emergence of am armed resistance movement that decades later toppled the apartheid system and led to democratic elections in South Africa. It was the brutality of the state that became its own undoing.
BDS South Africa reminds us: “50 years ago, 69 people were not killed in Sharpeville because of a reconciliation tea-party or dialogue session. They were shot-dead during a defiance campaign that would later form the basis of the “ungovernability” strategy of the United Democratic Front (UDF). Defiance and “ungovernability” sought to disrupt the normalization of apartheid and the status quo.”… The Mail & Guardian reports from Johannesburg: “‘Kill 30 blacks for every white murdered: At a meeting in Bloemfontein, a right wing group has called for vengeance attacks on black people, “because we are 30 times fewer than they are”.
And what about here in the USA? Violence and police conduct remains a major issue.
I was among those who responded to the call of the Million Hoodie March—That never reached a million but it didn’t matter—to gather in Union Square in New York to protest the murder of an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin killed by George Zimmerman, a 28 year old member of a lock Neighborhood Watch. The Sanford police department did not arrest Zimmerman the shooter who claimed to be acting in self defense under a Florida law pushed heavily, according to the NY Times, by the National Rifle Association. “The law called “Stand Your Ground” is one of 21 such laws around the country, The newspaper reports,
The stupid law, the lack of action by the local Police. and the tragic death of a young man, has triggered a ripple wave of protest across the country. Thousands of all races attended the rally in New York. its drew heavily from the “hood”–the black community. “We are Trayvon Martin” was one chant while others called for justice and the prosecution of Zimmerman.
There were moments when I was thinking about another Zimmerman, Bobby Zimmerman, a.k.a Bob Dylan who wrote a powerful song about the death of Hattie Carroll at the hands of a southern racist. I am sure that songs will honor the memory of this latest victim of racial paranoia.
Most moving at the rally were appeals and statements by members of Travon Martin’s family who talked about the young man in loving terms, and seemed to be still in shock. “This not a black and white thing,” said his mom. “its about right and wrong” I was standing with close friends who recently lost a child and told me about a friend with grandchild that had been killed by police.
When it ended, the crowd marched up 14th Street to the chagrin of the police who hadn’t time to impose their infamous crowd control logistics. Led by the insidious “white shirts” they tried to drive the crowd back on to the sidewalks. Some marchers complied, but most didn’t. On the sixth Avenue, I watched a group of cops gang up on, physically assault and arrest one young man who was not moving quickly enough for them.
Tonight’s police abuse followed earlier incidents in Union Square park the night before where occupiers were pushed out of the park, and some brutalized. Here is another report. Despite the police action, Occupy activists were urged to reoccupy the park last night.
As I was leaving the march and heading home, i saw about twenty police cars, lights blazing and sirens sirening as so-call called Terrorist unit racing downtown. I assume the cops were frustrated because they did such a lousy job of controlling the march, and traffic. OWS sent out a text:”RIDICULOUS police force at Union Square, 100 vehicles, 14 buses, 1000 officers.” I don’t have an arrest total.
The Wall Street Journal reports: “The plans to take over the park hadn’t been formally discussed at the general assembly meetings that form Occupy Wall Street’s governing body in the city, said 32-year-old protester Sean McKeown.
Still, he believed it was a good tactic. The protest movement gains support “when the police do ridiculous things that are grossly out of proportion to any sane notion of the offense these protests cause,” McKeown, 32, said. “Occupy would be best served by highlighting this fact in a very public manner by continuing to occupy this space.”
Occupy Arrestees Forced To Have Their Retinas Scanned
The first of the more than 70 Occupy Wall Street protesters arrested Saturday afternoon and evening were arraigned yesterday in Manhattan Criminal Court.
Exhausted by a night and day in jail and shaken by the violence of the police response to Occupy Wall Street’s six-month anniversary celebration, many burst into tears of relief when they were finally released to the friendly welcome of the movement’s Jail Support team.
Unlike many of the other defendants with whom they shared cells, the protesters could feel confident that they would soon be released — Occupy posts bail for those arrested during movement actions.
But protesters and their legal advisers were surprised yesterday to learn that the size of their bail was being affected by whether defendants were willing to have the distinctive patterns of their irises photographed and logged into a database.
Police and courts have been photographing irises since 2010, once at booking and once on arraignment. The practice is a response to a couple of instances in which mistaken identity allowed someone facing serious charges to go free by impersonating another defendant up on minor charges.
The idea of the state collecting distinctive biometric information from people who haven’t even been charged with a crime yet, much less convicted of one, makes civil libertarians nervous, though, and over the last two years they’ve pushed back. Unlike fingerprints, they argue, no law was ever passed to require iris photographs — it’s just a policy. And while police regularly tell arrestees that the photographs are mandatory, and that failing to be photographed will prolong their stay in jail, defendants have often refused to comply without serious consequence.
Supreme Court Imposes New Rules On Criminal Defendants
WASHINGTON — Criminal defendants have a constitutional right to effective lawyers during plea negotiations, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday in a pair of 5-to-4 decisions that vastly expanded judges’ supervision of the criminal justice system.
“Criminal justice today is for the most part a system of pleas, not a system of trials,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority. “The right to adequate assistance of counsel cannot be defined or enforced without taking account of the central role plea bargaining takes in securing convictions and determining sentences.”
DETROIT — Attorneys for seven members of a Michigan-based militia charged with plotting to overthrow the government asked a judge to declare a mistrial Wednesday, claiming they should have been told earlier about a previous case handled by the FBI agent who infiltrated the group.
The defense attorneys found out only this week that agent Steve Haug was the FBI handler for a New Jersey man who was paid to collect information on white supremacists and hate groups, starting in 2003. The informant, Hal Turner, was a right-wing radio host and blogger who made threats against critics and public officials while on the FBI payroll.
Simon Johnson.Baseline Scenario.com: Today: “JOBS” Disaster Looms
The House “JOBS” bill is a thinly disguised repeal of investor protection in the United States. This legislation would help unscrupulous people in the securities industry but it would be bad for nonfinancial businesses – by raising the risks to investors, it would push up the cost of capital for honest entrepreneurs. Investment professionals belonging to the CFA Institute have expressed their serious concerns and strong opposition. Attempts to amend this legislation – and to make it more sensible – failed in the Senate yesterday.
The Senate will vote today on whether to adopt the main provisions of the House bill. Passing this bill would be a major public policy mistake – akin to the disastrous (and bipartisan) deregulation of the financial sector in the 1990s. This kind of excessive deregulation leads to disaster – and to fiscal crisis.
President Obama claims he wants strong investor protection. Where is he on the specifics of the JOBS bill? Why is the White House staying so much on the sidelines during this critical Senate process? The president should rally Democratic Senators against the House bill and press again for an amended and more responsible piece of legislation.
If the Republicans refuse to agree to sensible investor protections – flying in the face of American tradition and established best practice (and lessons learned the hard way in the Great Depression) – that is a great issue for the general election in November.
ICH: Terry Michael: Obama’s Afghanistan Massacre Deniers
Why do liberals ignore millions of non-American war deaths?
Victims in the village of Kandahar are just the latest among six million who have perished in America’s wars-of-choice in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and now the Central Asian graveyard of empires, Afghanistan.
AlJazeera Update This Morning: Suspect DEAD, killed by French Police.
LBN: French Police Besiege Suspect
Two days after a shooter on a motorbike killed four people at a Jewish school in Toulouse, French police launched a predawn raid on a house in the city where the only suspect was hiding. Three cops have been injured in the hours-long standoff, during which they exchanged fire with the suspect and arrested two of his brothers. The 24-year-old is a French national born in Algeria, who has spent time in Afghanistan and Pakistan and invoked al Qaeda during attempted negotiations. Frances interior minister said the man, Mohamed Merah, is presumed guilty. They brought his mother, who lives nearby, to the besieged home to help negotiate, but she refused, saying she wouldnt be of any help.
•Lindsey German ICH: Toulouse Cannot be Explained as an Isolated Hate Crime
The shootings in south west France are the terrible and disastrous outcome of the West’s war policies and anti-Muslim racism.
EU reports say farmers are bearing the brunt of intimidation in systematic and expanding campaign of violence
•••Arundhati Roy, ICH: “Capitalism: A Ghost Story”
Capitalism’s real “grave-diggers” may end up being its own delusional Cardinals, who have turned ideology into faith. Despite their strategic brilliance, they seem to have trouble grasping a simple fact: Capitalism is destroying the planet.
Think Progress, 500 Days of Summer: The Climate Change That Is Here
Marvin Kitman: End Gingrich Care Now
USA Today: In vitro babies denied U.S. citizenship
Paul O’ Hanlon, Protest Now In Its 11th Year in Parliament Square, London: Spring in Parliament Square
As we reach the Vernal equinox it’s Spring in London’s Parliament Square where the peace campaign initiated by Brian Haw is now in its 11th year. Today (March 21st) is day 3,945.
Here is an a href=” http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2012/03/493933.html”>Indymedia report with 20 photos. Barbara Tucker is still in the Square but is without a tent which the police `confiscated`. She was given a new tent by a supporter which she hopes to use as sleeping in a chair is so uncomfortable.
Kevin Young, NYT Examiner: Contempt for International Law: A Survey of New York Times and Washington Post Editorials on Iran
One crucial measure of press coverage of global affairs is the extent
to which media outlets consider the international legal framework embodied in agreements
like the United Nations Charter, the Geneva Conventions, and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation
of Nuclear Weapons (“Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty,” or NPT). This article tests
the attention to international law in recent editorials about Iran in two of the
United States’ leading liberal newspapers, the New York Times and Washington Post.
Although the papers’ editors routinely accuse the Iranian government of “contempt
for international law”, their own record reveals a systematic disdain for the international
legal principles and treaty obligations of which the US and Israeli governments
are in violation. Read the Article.
Freedom of the Internet: FBI launches spying effort on ‘prepper’ movement
On Monday, the ‘prepper’ website Survivalblog.com posted the following message on the site:
“It has come to my attention that from August of 2011 to November of 2011, the FBI secretly redirected the web traffic of more than 10% of SurvivalBlog’s US visitors through CJIS, their sprawling data center situated on 900 acres, 10 miles from Clarksburg, West Virginia. There, the Feebees surreptitiously collected the IP addresses of my site visitors. In all, 4,906 of 35,494 selected connections ended up going to or through the FBI servers.”
The website states that a forensic analysis revealed that the FBI was assigning cookies to not only SurvivalBlog.com visitors, but to others who visited other websites.
“So if they had kept this practice up long enough and if you visited us enough times then the FBI’s computers would have given you a cookie. This has been verified with sniffer software,” the post states.
EJC: ‘Memoires d’Algerie’: cross-border collaboration between El Watan and OWNI
The French online-only newsite OWNI and the Algerian daily El Watan have created Memoires d’Algerie (Memories of Algeria), an application that aims to be a “developing digital museum” on the Algerian war. “The application hopes to act as a bridge between Algiers and Paris”, an introduction on OWNI explains, collecting thousands of archive documents from the war. It is a result of “daily close cooperation” between the two newsrooms, involving fifteen people. The goal is to give a voice to the protagonists of what has been seen as a civil war, a war of liberation or a straightforward war – OWNI explains – making witnesses the narrators through private documents such as photos to letters, together with still-classified documents from the former Secretary of State for Algerian Affairs and the French Ministry of Defense. Memoires d’Algerie stores memories in the attempt to provide a better knowledge of the past, overtaking misunderstandings, in order to build a better future. Documents are organized on both a chart view and a timeline where documents are classified by themes, cities, dates or names cited in it and sources.The project will be progressively updated with new documents until 5 July, Algeria’s independence day.(Editors Weblog)
Guardian: Facebook’s ‘dark side’: study finds link to socially aggressive narcissism
Another Right-Wing Money Man: Worse Than the Koch Brothers?
Wall Street Journal editor and reporter Monica Langley has an exclusive and rare interview with reclusive Texas billionaire Harold Simmons. Mr. Simmons, who wears $3,000 Brioni sport coats and Wal-Mart underwear, has already given more than $18 million to conservative super PACs, making him the 2012 election’s single largest contributor.
Ms. Langley sat down with Mr. Simmons over two days at his Dallas home and office, where, in this wide-ranging interview – his first in decades – he is open and direct regarding his distaste for President Obama – and his plan to spend whatever it takes to oust him.
NEW YORK EVENT: World Premiere
Introduction by ED SCHULTZ
Q&A with filmmaker Robert Greenwald
and NAACP President Ben Jealous following the film
Watch the Koch Brothers Exposed Trailer
$50 Guest Seating
includes a complimentary DVD
Join us on Thursday March 29th
Crosby Street Hotel Theater
79 Crosby St.
New York, NY 10012
Occupy Event: Thursday, March 22 5:00pm
Educators Stand Up to the NY Post
Meet at 30 Rockefeller Center
Join Occupy the Department of Education for a protest at News Corporation headquarters, and a tour of the NY Post and other publications that betrayed our teachers and students through the publication of teacher data reports. Wear black to mourn the “death of teaching” and your “scarlet number” to show we won’t be shamed! Facebook
Their Top News: Romney Carries Illinois
Mitt Romney scored a decisive win in the Illinois Republican presidential primary Tuesday, helping cement his status as the likely nominee against top challenger Rick Santorum.
Illinois was a coveted prize with 69 delegates, 54 being chosen in Tuesdays primary. The candidates arrived in the state at a pivotal moment, with Mr. Romney extending his lead in the delegate count and Mr. Santorum trying to build off last weeks wins in the South.
DS: There are rumors of voting manipulations by Romney advisor Karl Rove.
CLG: Printed Ballots Were Too Wide for Scanners in Some Illinois Precincts
Some of the printed ballots in 25 of 110 Illinois jurisdictions were slightly too wide to fit into the optical scanners and will have to be trimmed or hand counted, officials said Tuesday afternoon. The ballot problem threatened to slow the results from some parts of the state Tuesday night. Officials quickly began noticing on Tuesday that some of the ballots filled out by voters did not fit into the scanner – they were too wide, according to Ken Menzel, the deputy general counsel for the Illinois elections board. Mr. Menzel said it was unclear how many ballots were affected.
Boston Globe: Things Get Tougher For Rick Santorum
DISSECTOR ESSAY: “Go Left:” The Season Has Changed — Is It Time for an OWS “Spring Offensive?”
For years, in the last century, when I was in School and learning about the early days of journalism, we were taught that author Horace Greeley who founded the New York Herald Tribune, was famous for saying, “Go West Young Man And Grow Up With The Country.”
One problem, as we learned recently, he didn’t coin the phrase but only popularized it. (Another media mistake involving a top dog in the media!) Indiana newspaper writer John Soule actually gave the advice in 1851 and, it would serve as the mantra for 19th century “action” in the form of Westward migration.
These days, those good and the great men and women who won their struggle stripes in the civil rights and anti-Vietnam war movements have a new mantra for action.
Some, who recently appeared at New York’s annual Left Forum, were sharing it with younger people, “Go Left.”
They would probably agree with Mitt Romney who said recently he can’t think of any reason for any young person to support a Democrat — but for different reasons.
Those who are going left have left the Democrats behind.
Even Bruce Springsteen who campaigned for President Obama, played at his inauguration is singing a different tune these days
He recently told a Music festival in Texas, ‘ about the first songs he loved. “They were a revelation…the first records of full-blown class consciousness I ever heard,” he explained, playing a bit of “We Gotta Get Out of This Place.” After reaching the line “there’s a better life for me and you” he added, “That’s every song I’ve ever written. That’s all of them. I’m not kidding, either. ‘Born to Run.’ “Born in the USA,’ Everything I’ve done for the past 40 years, including all the new ones…That was the first time I felt I heard something cross the radio that mirrored my home life, my childhood.”
Many of today’s more conscious young people seem to be gravitating not into traditional radical class consciousness but into the ranks of the Occupy Movement, even as the movement’s main tactic seems stuck on liberating public space, not organizing youth or other communities.
Their philosophy of “horizontalism” has been effective in inspiring young activists because of its small d –democratic and participatory ethic.
Yet, this process to many seems more important than the product or result. Propelling an “action faction” or camping as a community is not the same thing as challenging power or remaking it.
Clashes with the police play right into their hands when the story becomes one of confrontation, not pursuing a clear political agenda. The media’s love of ‘when it bleeds, it leads” is well known.
The Occupy Wall Street website reports:
“After the brutal attack on the attempted re-occupation of Liberty Square by NYPD on the 6-month anniversary of #OWS, a number of Occupiers have relocated their base of occupation to Union Square in midtown Manhattan, a point of convergence for several #OWS protests over the past 6 months.
According to reports on the ground, several dozen people slept in the park after the illegal and violent raid on Liberty Square. Over 70 people remain, now on Day 3. Although tents and tables are still banned, Occupiers have brought blankets and sleeping gear. Many are calling it ¨The New Occupation.¨
In addition to holding General Assemblies, Union Square Occupiers are providing vital jail support for those arrested on #M17 as they are released from NYPD custody. So far, the NYPD has made no attempt to remove Occupiers or prevent them from sleeping in the park.
Our ability to occupy the commons in order to voice dissent is a vital political right. We do not need a permit to exist in public space. We call on all those who would stand for equality, justice, and liberation – and against the banks, corporations, wealthy elites, and corrupt politicians who have stolen our democracy and ruined our economy – to join us now.”
Yes, but why the continuing focus on a return to the parks? The problem seems obvious. When a movement becomes focused on itself, when it seems to have only one tactic, it loses contact with the people it is fighting with and for.
Building community is critical but so is building alliances and encouraging organization as a means for fighting back.
Saying “We Are The 99%,” doesn’t make it so unless there is a way for new people to get engaged. Not everyone has the time or the disposition to stand through hours of General Assembly meetings that can be unproductive.
Some of the movement’s sympathizers are working or have family responsibilities. The OWS work groups are important but there needs to be more coordination with other direct action and community groups, not just more inward facilitation.
Not everyone believes in leaderlessness. Cultural styles and generational choices can be divisive as well as unifying.
Not everyone is on Facebook or tweets. We can’t be fetishistic about one way being the only way!
•How about a broader campaign to place stories in community papers, even “shoppers,” write letters to the editors and challenge media outlets that distort the movement’s outlook?
•How about speaker’s committees to book an OWS presence at churches, union meetings and conventions?
•Can’t we find ways to broaden/diversify the tent and also make it bigger so others are more comfortable being involved.
•Can’t we more effectively occupy the mainstream so that 99% we say we speak for can speak for themselves?
•And why can’t Occupy also borrow a page from digital activists like the people behind the Kony 2012 campaign.
Whatever you think of its politics, it reached tens of millions of people. We can do the same and come up with our own media for better outreach.
• The Occupy Newspaper and related journals offer one direction. The new OWS radio show is another way to make media, not just respond to questions from mainstream press. Why aren’t we holding screenings of the many documentaries made about OWS and the issues it is rasing.
Spring is here but we don’t have to fall back to what was done in the Fall. It’s a time to move forward, experiment with more configurations of action and make the OWS presence felt in more arenas of public life.
Other views: The Yes Men say: the Union Square occupation is completely fantastic!
In other news, this Thursday, March 22, Jonathan Matthew Smucker, director of Beyond the Choir, will discuss and workshop the “political identity paradox” (how social movements like OWS require a strong sense of group identity in order to foster commitment among participants, but this same cohesion can also inhibit a movement’s ability to connect with a broader public) and other organizing issues. (This workshop, like most talks in this series, is at 7pm at the Hemispheric Institute, 20 Cooper Square, 5th floor.) After the talk, we’ll head to Union Square.
Another Hidden Bailout by Matt Taibbi, taibblog, Rolling Stone: Another Hidden Bailout: Helping Wall Street Collect Your Rent
Here’s yet another form of hidden bailout the federal government doles out to our big banks, without the public
having much of a clue.
This is from the WSJ this morning:
Some of the biggest names on Wall Street are lining up to become landlords to cash-strapped Americans by bidding on pools of foreclosed properties being sold by Fannie Mae…
National Journal” With the House set to engage in another vicious fight over today’s new 2013 budget proposal by Rep. Paul Ryan, Michael Hirsh says we are witnessing once again a phenomenon that’s been apparent since the 2010 election: the tea party movement still holds the commanding heights of American politics. It wants what it wants. And it doesn’t much care what anyone in either the GOP or Democratic Party thinks about it.
With Rep. Paul Ryan releasing his version of the federal budget, stakeholders are getting a jump on spinning the plan. Ryan’s office unveiled a slick YouTube video featuring Americans tracking debt, spending and growth levels on tablets and smartphones. Americans United for Change released its own video, dubbing Ryan the “safety net shredder” and the “Badger State benefit bandit.”
*Comment on the Ryan Plan by William Hartung: a senior research fellow in the New America Foundation’s American Strategy Program and author of the book “Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex,” which is just being released in paperback.
“While pretending to make the ‘tough choices,’ Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget cutting plan gives a free ride to the largest single item in the discretionary budget: Pentagon spending. In fact, Ryan would spend $400 billion MORE over the next decade than current Pentagon plans. That will result in harsh cuts to virtually every other domestic program. By contrast, the budget developed by the Sustainable Defense Task Force (see http://www.comw.org/pda/1006SDTF.html online), a plan endorsed by Representatives Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Ron Paul (R-Texas), would reduce military expenditures by $1 trillion over the next ten years. This can be done without undermining our security, by taking measures such as eliminating outmoded and unnecessary conventional weapons, cutting the Army and Marines back to pre-2001 levels, and eliminating plans for new nuclear bombers, submarines and weapons factories.
“Even as Ryan goes easy on the Pentagon, Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney offers the arms industry an unprecedented bonanza. His plan, which would keep Pentagon spending at 4 percent of Gross Domestic Product, would result in $8 trillion more in Pentagon spending over the next decade, roughly 25 percent more than even Ryan’s generous plan. If Romney endorses the Ryan plan, it is fair to ask whether he is going to eliminate his prior commitment to massive Pentagon budgets or simply pretend the differences between the two approaches don’t exist. That would be a huge deception, if he’s allowed to get away with it.”
Lars Schall, ICH: Who Benefited? Insider Trading 9/11 … The Facts Laid Bare
Is there any truth in the allegations that informed circles made substantial profits in the financial markets in connection to the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, on the United States?
BBC: Private Security Firms Put on Notice In Afghaistan
Afghanistan’s interior ministry has set a fresh deadline – this Wednesday – for private security firms to end operations in the country. The government has extended this deadline several times in the past. But as the BBC’s Bilal Sarwary reports from Kabul, international aid workers and diplomatic missions view the ministry’s announcement with scepticism and concern.
Gareth Porter, IPS: What Happened In Iran’s Nuclear Negotiations
VIENNA, Mar 20, 2012 (IPS) – The first detailed account of negotiations between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran last month belies earlier statements by unnamed Western officials portraying Iran as refusing to cooperate with the IAEA in allaying concerns about alleged nuclear weaponisation work.
The detailed account given by Iran’s permanent representative to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, shows that the talks in February came close to a final agreement, but were hung up primarily over the IAEA insistence on being able to reopen issues even after Iran had answered questions about them to the organisation’s satisfaction.
It also indicates that the IAEA demand to visit Parchin military base during that trip to Tehran reversed a previous agreement that the visit would come later in the process, and that IAEA Director General Yukia Amano ordered his negotiators to break off the talks and return to Vienna rather than accept Iran’s invitation to stay for a third day.
Soltanieh took the unprecedented step of revealing the details of the incomplete negotiations with the IAEA in an interview with IPS in Vienna last week and in a presentation to a closed session of the IAEA’s Board of Governors Mar. 8, which the Iranian mission has now made public.
Meet Norman Solomon, Running for Congress in the Second District of California
“ver the weekend, The Washington Post published a long, inside report that should scare the wits out of every progressive in this country. And it has further energized our campaign for Congress.
The Post revealed that President Obama — in hopes of making a “grand bargain” on the budget with Republicans last summer — had offered billions of dollars of cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
And there’s something even scarier in the new Post account: “White House officials said this week that the offer is still on the table.”
Still on the table!
It’s bad enough when Congressman Paul Ryan and the Republicans try to gut Social Security and Medicare — they don’t need any help from so-called “moderate Democrats.”
I want to go to Congress to stop the right-wing agenda. Even if that sometimes means pushing back against the Democratic Party establishment.
CJR: On This American life
Who bears the weight of This American Life’s recent, episode-length retraction, filed after Mike Daisey’s Foxconn story was declared a journalistic failure? Today, CJR offers two takes on the matter. Christopher Solomon says Daisey blunts the sharp edges of facts—an act that “trains us all to hold less in our minds.” And Lawrence Pintak, founding dean of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, writes that TAL host Ira Glass and his staff could have easily checked Daisey’s story, if not the performer himself. He isn’t buying Ira Glass’s “Casablanca moment.
E WallStreeter:Soviet Leader: Chernobyl Nuclear Accident Caused the Collapse of the USSR
Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s policy of open politics – called perestroika – is largely blamed for the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, according to Gorbachev’s 1996 memoirs, it was the Chernobyl nuclear accident, rather than perestroika (or Ronald Reagan’s increased arms spending), which destroyed the Soviet Union. As Gorbachev wrote in 2006: The nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl 20 years ago this month, even more than my launch of perestroika, was perhaps the real cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union five years later. Indeed, the Chernobyl catastrophe was an historic turning point: there was the era before the disaster, and there is the very different era that has followed.
Top Newspaper Freaking Out, Cuts Access to Content
The New York Times announced on its website Tuesday evening that it has decided to cut the number of free stories nonsubscribers are allowed to read in half. People without a subscription can read 20 free stories per month on their website, but beginning in April, that number drops to 10. Nonsubscribers will also continue to get free access to the home page. Links from Facebook, Twitter and search engines will not count toward the total.
Why Is Pinterest So Addictive? [INFOGRAPHIC]
Steve Hunt writes: My friend liberal state senator Wendy Davis’ office was just firebombed….she had a good write up in the nyt recently
Rick Bueter writes: Hello Danny,
Read your article on the Financial Crisis and the effects on people. I have been thinking the same thing. In fact I just posted my thoughts about this on my book Facebook page. The level of fear created by government is on par or exceeds 9/11. So many people today are just talking about these things. Occupiers have no action. The conservatives have no action plan.
I can only do my part. I am leading a movement to empower Americans with privatized banking. At least their money won’t be in the hands of Wall Street, banks, or taxes used for government waste.
I follow you on Twitter.
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