Saturday, April 21, 2012

Warning Graphic Photo: Possible New Evidence Shows George Zimmerman's Bloodied Head

The damning old wound

A new photograph obtained exclusively by ABC News showing the bloodied back of George Zimmerman's head, which was taken three minutes after he shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, gives possible credence to his claim that Martin had bashed his head against the concrete as he fought for his life.

The revelation comes as his attorney and prosecutors prepare for Zimmerman's bail hearing today, which could result in his being released from jail. Zimmerman, 28, is being held on charges of second-degree murder for the Feb. 26 shooting of Martin, which could carry a life sentence if he is convicted.

The exclusive image shows blood trickling down the back of George Zimmerman's head from two small cuts. It also shows a possible contusion forming on the crown of his head. The original police report that night notes that the back of Zimmerman's head was wet, and that he was bleeding from the nose and head.

Zimmerman told police that night that he shot and killed the teenager in self-defense after Martin punched him and pounced on him. Zimmerman told police that Martin then bashed his head into the concrete sidewalk during the altercation that took place in the tidy middle-class development of the Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford, Fla.

Zimmerman was treated at the scene by paramedics, then cuffed and driven in a police cruiser to the Sanford police station. He was questioned for hours and later released. In police surveillance video obtained last month by ABC News Zimmerman's wounds are not apparent, and there were no bandages on his head.     READ MORE

Five Reasons Why the Very Rich Have NOT Earned Their Money

(cartoon: Joel Pett/USA Today)
By Paul Buchheit, Common Dreams
21 April 12

he wealthiest Americans believe they've earned their money through hard work and innovation, and that they're the most productive members of society. For the most part they're wrong. As the facts below will show, they're not nearly as productive as middle-class workers. Yet they've taken almost all the new income over the past 30 years. 

Any one of these five reasons should reinforce the belief that the rich should be paying a LOT more in taxes.

1. They've Taken All the Middle Class Wage Increases

The Unlearned Lessons of the BP Gulf Disaster

Fire boats battle a fire at the off shore oil rig Deepwater
Horizon April 21, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast
of Louisiana. (photo: US Coast Guard via Getty Images)
By Robert Weissman, Common Dreams
21 April 12

he BP disaster reminded the American people about some essential truths relating to corporate behavior, the need for regulatory controls over corporations, the need for effective sanctions.Eleven people died when BP's Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, causing the worst oil spill in US history.

The BP disaster taught us many things: Giant corporations cannot be trusted to behave responsibly, and have the ability to inflict massive damage on people and the environment. We need strong regulatory controls to curb corporate wrongdoing. We need tough penalties to punish corporate wrongdoers. There is no way to do deepwater oil drilling safely. And it is vital that citizens harmed by corporate wrongdoers maintain the right to sue to recover their losses.

Unfortunately, Congress and the Obama administration have refused to learn the lessons from the BP disaster:   READ MORE

Republican 'War on Women' Backfires

The current 'war on women' is just another way for
the Republicans to build their bridge to the
17th century. (photo: Getty Images)
By Mark Weisbrot, The Sacramento Bee
21 April 12

he Republicans' gamble that they could ride a backlash against the Obama administration's efforts to increase the availability of contraception has gone terribly bad. It turns out that most Americans, especially women, agree that insurance companies should have to cover contraception - for example, birth-control pills - in their health insurance plans.

One result of this battle has been a record gender gap in the presidential race, with President Obama leading likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney by a huge margin of 57 percent to 38 percent among women registered voters.

A recent Gallup poll of swing states has Obama leading by a 2-1 margin among women under 50.
Romney will try to narrow this gap in the general election, but it may not be so easy. He is on the record saying that he would like to "get rid of" Planned Parenthood, as well as eliminate federal funding under the Title X program. This is a federal program that provides grants that pay for reproductive health services, including birth control and cancer screening - but not abortion - for millions of Americans, mostly women.  READ MORE

The Real Scandals of Obama's Latin America Summit

A US-trained 'jungle commando' disembarks from a
Blackhawk helicopter, while a crop-spraying plane
flies past, during an anti-drug operation in an illegal
coca plantation, in 2000, under the US-backed,
billion-dollar Plan Colombia.
(photo: Reuters/Eliana Aponte
By Amy Goodman, Guardian UK
21 April 12

resident Barack Obama's re-election campaign launched its first Spanish-language ads this week, just after returning from the Summit of the Americas. He spent three days in Colombia, longer than any president in US history. The trip was marred, however, by a prostitution scandal involving the US military and secret service. General Martin Dempsey, chair of the US joint chiefs of staff, said:
"We let the boss down, because nobody's talking about what went on in Colombia other than this incident."
Dempsey is right. It also served as a metaphor for the US government's ongoing treatment of Latin America.
The scandal reportedly involves 11 members of the US secret service and five members of the US Army special forces, who allegedly met prostitutes at one or more bars in Cartagena and took up to 20 of the women back to their hotel, some of whom may have been minors. This all deserves thorough investigation, but so do the policy positions that Obama promoted while in Cartagena.
First, the war on drugs. Obama stated at the summit: READ MORE

Free $10 Million Loans for All!

Sheila Bair ex FDIC chief
By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
21 April 12

ave been on deadline this week, but wanted to post a few interesting links:
• I hope everyone saw ex-Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation chief Sheila Bair's editorial in the Washington Post, entitled, "Fix Income Inequality with $10 million Loans for Everyone!"

The piece might have set a world record for public bitter sarcasm by a former top regulatory official.
In it, Bair points out that since we've been giving zero-interest loans to all of the big banks, why don't we do the same thing for actual people, to solve the income inequality program? If the Fed handed out $10 million to every person, and then got each of those people to invest, say, in foreign debt, we could all be back on our feet in no time:
Under my plan, each American household could borrow $10 million from the Fed at zero interest. The more conservative among us can take that money and buy 10-year Treasury bonds. At the current 2 percent annual interest rate, we can pocket a nice $200,000 a year to live on. The more adventuresome can buy 10-year Greek debt at 21 percent, for an annual income of $2.1 million. Or if Greece is a little too risky for you, go with Portugal, at about 12 percent, or $1.2 million dollars a year. (No sense in getting greedy.)  READ MORE 

How Big a Deal is H.R. 347, That “Criminalizing Protest” Bill?

Posted by Gabe Rottman, Washington Legislative Office at 11:56am 
Recent days have seen significant concern about an unassuming bill with an unassuming name: the "Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011." The bill, H.R. 347, has been variously described as making the First Amendment illegal or criminalizing the Occupy protests.

The truth is more mundane, but the issues raised are still of major significance for the First Amendment.
It's important to note — contrary to some reports — that H.R. 347 doesn't create any new crimes, or directly apply to the Occupy protests. The bill slightly rewrites a short trespass law, originally passed in 1971 and amended a couple of times since, that covers areas subject to heightened Secret Service security measures.

These restricted areas include locations where individuals under Secret Service protection are temporarily located, and certain large special events like a presidential inauguration. They can also include large public events like the Super Bowl and the presidential nominating conventions (troublingly, the Department of Homeland Security has significant discretion in designating what qualifies as one of these special events).
The original statute, unchanged by H.R. 347,made certain conduct with respect to these restricted areas a crime, including simple trespass, actions in or near the restricted area that would "disrupt the orderly conduct of Government," and blocking the entrance or exit to the restricted area.   READ MORE

George Zimmerman Tells Trayvon Martin's Parents 'I Am Sorry'

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Trayvon Martin Shooting Animated Timeline pt. 2

Okay,  this video attempts to establish a time for George Zimmerman leaving on his trip to the store.
It places his start at 7:06:43 approx.  But,  as we know,  it's not without big artifacts in it's suppositions.
It assumes a front gate that is closed and locked at 7pm sharp.  Again it puts Trayvon entering through a cut through,  both of which are not in evidence.  Besides,  Trayvon has his cell phone with which he can easily defeat the gate closing by simply placing a few calls.  Then too,  someone has to close the gate,  right?  So,  who would that someone be?  Why wouldn't Zimmerman mention the gate closing as reason no one should be walking around the area?  And lastly,  the police on their arrival make no mention of being delayed by having to get the gate opened etc.,  they appear to come straight in unhampered.

Anyway here's the video:

See all 7 videos »

Thursday, April 19, 2012

J&J's penalty is $1.1 billion in Risperdal case

11:59 AM, Apr. 11, 2012
Johnson & Johnson was told to pay $1.1 billion by a state judge after an Arkansas jury found the company’s officials misled doctors and patients about the risks of the antipsychotic drug Risperdal.
Jurors in Little Rock yesterday said the company’s marketing campaign also violated consumer-protection laws. The panel deliberated about three hours before finding J&J and its Janssen unit engaged in "false or deceptive acts" by sending a 2003 letter touting Risperdal as safer than competing drugs to more than 6,000 doctors across the state.

The state was seeking more than $1.25 billion in penalties over the Risperdal marketing campaign. It’s the third jury verdict against J&J, the second-biggest maker of health products, in cases where states alleged it hid Risperdal’s risks and tricked Medicaid regulators into paying more than they should have for the medicine. Louisiana and South Carolina juries also found the company’s Risperdal marketing violated consumer-protection laws.  READ MORE

The Facts and Zimmerman’s Story

  [This is an excellent piece]

April 14, 2012

Posted by Mary W. Matthews in Politics, Random Observations.

 Like many people — I hope most of us — I have been shocked and horrified, both by the shooting of Trayvon Martin and by the hyper­politi­cized reaction to it. Conservatives have been dredging up all sorts of facts about Trayvon, such as his school record, which would be relevant only in a case of premeditated first-degree murder. I have read on both Twitter and Facebook that on Fox News and similar hate media, Trayvon is consistently portrayed as the criminal and George Zimmerman as Trayvon’s innocent victim.

I have been wishing and wishing that someone more expert than I am would make an animated video showing George Zimmerman’s version of events — how a 17-year-old boy jumped the 28-year-old Zimmerman, who outweighed the boy by a minimum of 30 pounds; how Trayvon beat Zimmerman up next to Zimmerman’s truck while Trayvon was talking to his girlfriend on his cell phone; how Trayvon then picked 190-pound Zimmerman up and carried him 400 feet to where he could pound Zimmerman’s head on the sidewalk; how, after pounding George Zimmerman’s head on the sidewalk, Trayvon picked him up a second time and carried Zimmerman another hundred feet toward Trayvon’s home; how, since Trayvon’s corpse bore no marks except the gunshot wound, Zimmerman must have done nothing to defend himself; and how somehow the two changed places approximately 500 feet from where the alleged beating of the much larger man allegedly began and the unarmed, 30-pounds-lighter aggressor was shot dead. According to phone company records, Trayvon was talking to his girlfriend from 7:12 until his phone went dead at 7:16, meaning that Trayvon beat up and terrorized George Zimmerman while simultaneously telling his girlfriend he was being frightened by a “strange dude.”   READ MORE


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Court Weighs Revisions in Cocaine-Case Sentences

“I’ve been a judge for nearly 20 years,” said Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the only member of the current court who has served as a trial judge, “and I don’t know that there’s one law that has created more controversy or more discussion about its racial impact than this one.”
Crack and powder cocaine are two forms of the same drug. But, until recently, a drug dealer selling crack cocaine was subject to the same sentence as one selling 100 times as much powder.
In 2010, Congress enacted the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced the disparity to 18 to 1, at least for people who committed their crimes after the law became effective that Aug. 3. That means many defendants caught with small amounts of crack are no longer subject to mandatory 5- or 10-year prison sentences.
The question on Tuesday was whether the new, lesser punishments also applied to people who committed crimes before the law became effective but were not sentenced until afterward.
The usual rule, set out in an 1871 law, is that new laws do not apply retroactively unless Congress expressly says so. Here Congress said nothing, or at least nothing in so many words. It did instruct the United States Sentencing Commission to act quickly to revise its discretionary sentencing guidelines to reflect the new ratios.  READ MORE

=====Obwon says:===========

Let's see if the Justices can get something right this time!

These laws that are passed do not exist in a vacuum,  there are more tests and rules that apply,  than the simple matter of retroactive or not.  Like,  for example,  "equal protection of law".  Where, as the courts own discussions show it accepts the unfair racial bias argument,  that prompted Congress to act.  They must also feel a pressing need to enforce "equal protection of law" for all who have suffered racial injustice under the "travesty" of the old law.  Such that,  if it is right and mete to correct some racial discrimination suffered under the old law by some.  Then is it not necessary to save others from that same racial discrimination?   

To be clear,  the issue at hand is not: "When was the crime committed",  because racial discriminatory suffering has been found.  The law is not modified merely because of some whimsical,  statistical,  statutory or other limit able needs,  but because it has been found to be "racially discriminatory",  something that other laws [civil rights laws] have demanded be changed.  Thus we arrive at a point whereby the court is all but forced to lift the limits on how this remedial action may be applied.

Or...  Are we to approve of racial inequity,  merely because of when it happened,  and not at all because of what it was about?  We shall see what these Justices think of the law and their own powers to enforce it.

Martin Death Spurs Group to Readjust Policy Focus

Could their other policies be any better?

The group, the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, had suffered an exodus of big-name corporate supporters like McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Kraft Foods after recent attacks by liberal organizations.

While the group had already been discussing a narrowing of its work, the controversy generated by the Martin shooting “may have sped up the process,” Chip Rogers, a Georgia state senator who is the group’s treasurer, said in a telephone interview.   READ MORE

2012: The Year of the Cooperative

February 1, 2012, Yes! Magazine

The United Nations has named 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives, and indeed, co-ops seem poised to become a dominant business model around the world. Today, nearly one billion people worldwide are cooperative member-owners. In Ethiopia, cooperation helps women and men rise above poverty. In Germany, half of renewable energy is owned by citizens.

In America, 93 million credit union member-owners control $920 billion in assets. And in Basque Country, a 50-year-old worker co-op has grown to become a multinational, cooperative corporation. Founded in 1956 ... Mondragón is the world’s largest cooperative, and Spain’s seventh largest business. Mondragón has operations in 19 countries and employs 83,000 worker-owners. Yet for every international job the company creates, it employs two people in Spain. The UN ... in 2012 will dedicate its efforts to raising awareness of co-ops, helping them grow and influencing governments to support them legislatively. Thirty percent of Americans belong to cooperatively-owned credit unions, the largest of which serves 3.4 million Department of Defense employees and has $45 billion in assets. “Cooperatives ... promote the fullest possible participation in the economic and social development of all people. [They] are becoming a major factor of economic and social development and contribute to the eradication of poverty.” - UN Resolution 64/136, 2010. The cooperative model is expected to be the world’s fastest-growing business model by 2025. UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon [says] “Cooperatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue both economic viability and social responsibility.”
Note: How sad that we've heard hardly a peep out of the major media about this inspiring trend towards cooperatives. For an abundance of other inspiring major media articles, click here.

Power shifts as off-grid options spread worldwide

April 13, 2012, San Francisco Chronicle/Bloomberg

An electricity revolution [is] sweeping through power markets and threatening traditional utilities' dominance of the world's supply. From the poorest parts of Africa and Asia to the most-developed regions in the United States and Europe, solar units ... and small-scale wind and biomass generators promise to extend access to power to more people than ever before. In the developing world, they're slashing costs in the process. Across India and Africa, startups and mobile phone companies are developing what are called called microgrids, in which stand-alone generators power clusters of homes and businesses in places where electric utilities have never operated. In Europe, cooperatives are building their own generators and selling power back to the national or regional grid. The revolution is just beginning, says Jeremy Rifkin, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and author of "The Third Industrial Revolution."

Disruptive to the economic status quo, the transformation opens up huge opportunities to consumers who may find themselves trading power in the future much as they swap information over the Internet today, he says. "This is power to the people." Within a decade, installing photovoltaic panels may be cheaper for many families than buying power from national grids in much of the world, including the United States, Japan, Brazil and the United Kingdom, according to data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Note: For a treasure trove of major media articles showing dozens of amazing new energy technologies which could replace our dependence on fossil fuels, click here.

VA offers spectrum of services to vets with PTSD

April 7, 2012, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)

About 10 to 15 percent of the more than 1.4 million Americans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan are [dealing] with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD results when a person experiences a traumatic event that involves exposure to personal threat or the death or extreme suffering of others; an event that creates strong feelings of fear, helplessness or horror. 

It's common for one to be greatly troubled by uncontrollable painful memories that cause emotional distress, ... sleep loss, irritability and inability to have positive emotions. The good news is that effective treatments for the disorder are available.  

To date, the [VA] has seen more than 223,600 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars with PTSD. 

 What stops vets from going for help? 

Going for treatment can feel like an admission of failure or personal weakness. And most people don't know much about what to expect of mental health treatment. In fact, treatment for stress disorder is a straightforward process. You learn about the effects of trauma ... and how recovery takes place. 

You form friendships with other vets. And you master some practical skills for dealing with painful memories, anger or physical tension. 

The earlier we treat combat veterans with readjustment problems, the better chance we have of stopping PTSD. 

Going for help is an act of courage that can cut short distress and restore a sense of personal power, hope and connection with others. If you are a veteran reading this ... seize the day and go for help. If you're a family member of a veteran with a problem, talk to him or her about treatment and offer to help with the process, or to go for counseling yourself to ... learn how you can help your loved one.

Note: For practical information on how to get help with PTSD, click here

Earthquake Outbreak in U.S. Tied to Fracking Wastewater

Thursday, April 12, 2012

April 12 (Bloomberg) -- A spate of earthquakes across the middle of the U.S. is "almost certainly" man-made, and may be caused by wastewater from oil or gas drilling injected into the ground, U.S. government scientists said in a study.

Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey said that for the three decades until 2000, seismic events in the nation's midsection averaged 21 a year. They jumped to 50 in 2009, 87 in 2010 and 134 in 2011.
Those statistics, included in the abstract of a research paper to be discussed at the Seismological Society of America conference next week in San Diego, will add pressure on an energy industry already confronting more regulation of the process of hydraulic fracturing.

"Our scientists cite a series of examples for which an uptick in seismic activity is observed in areas where the disposal of wastewater through deep-well injection increased significantly," David Hayes, the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior, said in a blog post yesterday, describing research by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey.    READ MORE

How the US uses sexual humiliation as a political tool to control the masses

April 5, 2012, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)

In a five-four ruling this week, the supreme court decided that anyone can be strip-searched upon arrest for any offense, however minor, at any time. [This joins] the NDAA, which lets anyone be arrested forever at any time, and HR 347, the "trespass bill", which gives you a 10-year sentence for protesting anywhere near someone with secret service protection. Is American strip-searching benign? The man who had brought the initial suit ... described having been told to "turn around. Squat and cough. Spread your cheeks." There's the sexual abuse of prisoners at Bagram, [where] in some cases, an interrogator would place his penis along the face of the detainee while he was being questioned. Other inmates were raped with sticks or threatened with anal sex. And there's the policy ... to grope US travelers genitally or else force them to go through a machine – made by a company, Rapiscan, owned by terror profiteer and former DHA czar Michael Chertoff – with images so vivid that it has been called the "pornoscanner". Believe me: you don't want the state having the power to strip your clothes off. History shows that the use of forced nudity by a state that is descending into fascism is powerfully effective in controlling and subduing populations. Where are we headed? These recent laws ... are being set up to work in concert with a see-all-all-the-time surveillance state. Remember, you don't need to have done anything wrong to be arrested in America any longer. The man who was forced to spread his buttocks was stopped for a driving infraction. As one internet advocate said: "There is a race against time: they realise the internet is a tool of empowerment that will work against their interests, and they need to race to turn it into a tool of control." 

Note: How sad that it takes a British newspaper to spell out the highly repressive and invasive new laws being passed in the US. For many revealing major media articles showing the dangers of big brother in our world, click here. For excellent articles revealing the severe erosion of civil liberties, click here.

‘Israel Loves Iran’ Campaign Gains Force March 23, 2012, ABC News

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As diplomats and journalists dissect every word spoken by top Israeli, Iranian and American officials for signs of a potential Israeli military strike on Iran’s nuclear program, an online campaign to prevent just that has gained steam in Israel.

 On a sunny Friday in Tel Aviv, a few dozen Israelis gathered on tree-lined Rothschild Boulevard to shoot a video to be posted on YouTube. It was the latest effort in the “Israel Loves Iran” campaign that Israeli graphic designer Ronny Edry and his wife, Michal Tamirm, launched last week

“For there to be a war between us, we must first be afraid of one another, we must hate,” Edry says in a fundraising video already on the site.  “I’m not afraid of you. I don’t hate you. I don’t even know you. No Iranian ever did me … harm. I never even met an Iranian, just one in a museum in Paris – nice dude.”
Sitting one by one in front of the camera, the mostly young Israelis took turns holding “Iranians, We Love You” placards and saying a few  words to the camera in the same vein.  READ MORE

Note: To see the inspiring website of this campaign, click here. For the facebook page, click here. For a highly inspiring two-minute video of the campaign, click here. For the beautiful response from Iranians, click here. This is how we transform our world! To understand how the politicians and military leaders manage to manipulate us into war after war, read what a highly decorated general had to say at this link.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Anders Behring Breivik, confessed Norwegian killer, goes on trial

LONDON -- Anders Behring Breivik, who has confessed to killing 77 people in a rampage last July, went on trial Monday in Oslo for Norway’s worst criminal episode since World War II.

The 33-year-old right-wing extremist has admitted to slaying 69 young people gathered for an annual Labor party political camp on the Norwegian island of Utoya on July 22 after killing eight other people by detonating a homemade bomb that destroyed a government building in the center of the Norwegian capital.
Breivik appeared calm and defiant as he entered the courtroom dressed in a dark suit and wearing handcuffs.  He surveyed the ranks of media and public packed inside the courtroom and smiled.   Family members and survivors of the attacks were in the public sector, separated from the defendant by thick glass partitions.

After his handcuffs were removed he gave a raised-fist fascist style salute before sitting down and giving a brief statement, saying: “I do not recognize the Norwegian courts. ... You have received your mandate from political parties which support multiculturalism.”  He went on to say he acknowledged the acts but claimed he carried them out “in self defense.”   READ MORE

Miami Herald, other media outlets sue to unseal George Zimmerman court documents

George Zimmerman, right, stands with a Seminole
County Deputy during a court hearing Thursday
April 12, 2012, in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman has
been charged with second-degree murder in the
shooting death of the 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
(AP Photo/Gary W. Green, Orlando Sentinel, Pool)
Gary W. Green / AP

Zimmerman’s lawyer also is asking the judge on the case to disqualify herself after she revealed her husband works with a lawyer who is providing on-air analysis on the case for CNN.

The Miami Herald and other media outlets are asking a judge to unseal court documents in the case of George Zimmerman, charged with the second-degree murder of Trayvon Martin in Sanford.

In a motion filed Monday, the press asked that a Seminole County circuit judge reconsider a decision made last week to seal the court file, which in Florida is normally a public record.

The request came the same day Zimmerman’s lawyer filed a motion asking Circuit Court Judge Jessica Recksiedler to recuse herself from the case. The judge last week revealed a potential conflict of interest: Her husband works with an Orlando-area lawyer, Mark NeJame, who was originally approached to represent Zimmerman on the case. NeJame, who is providing on-air legal analysis for CNN on the case, declined and referred the case the Zimmerman family to defense attorney Mark O’Mara.  READ MORE


Read more here:

World Bank Supports Harmful Water Corporations, Report Finds

Monday, 16 April 2012 09:36 By Johanna Treblin, Inter Press Service | Report 

Water privatisation has been proven not to help the poor, yet a quarter of all World Bank funding goes directly to corporations and the private sector, bypassing both governments and its own standards and transparency requirements in order to do so, says a new report released Monday.

People in many developing countries often lack access to clean water, but the approach to remedy this problem has shifted in recent years to rely more on the private sector. Yet, as this new report and several other watchdog groups have shown, the change has been more harmful than helpful.

Corporate Accountability International, the U.S.-based non-governmental organisation that published the report, has called on the World Bank to stop funding the private water sector and start redirecting its money to public and democratically accountable institutions.

The release of the report, entitled "Shutting the Spigot on Private Water: Case for the World Bank to Divest", coincides with the start of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund's 2012 Spring Meetings.

The World Bank's private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), has spent 1.4 billion dollars on private water corporations since 1993, according to the report.  READ MORE

Frackers Outbid Farmers for Water in Colorado Drought

Sections of drilling pipe and a drilling rig on a six-well
pad in the Piceance Basin of Colorado.
(Photo: Ecopolitologist)
Monday, 16 April 2012 09:48 By Rebecca Leber, ThinkProgress | Report 

Colorado is facing drought not seen since 2002, following the fourth-warmest and third-least-snowy winter in US history. Colorado State University scientists report that 98 percent of the state is facing these drought conditions.

The drought comes after a record-breaking warm winter that left very low "snowpack levels" in water basins. "Even though the reservoir levels are still strong and northeast Colorado soil moisture is still pretty good, we just don't usually start out quite this warm and dry at this time — so this is very concerning," CSU climatologist Nolan Doesken said. "In 2002, things didn't seem that bad at the end of March, as March had been quite cool, with some snow."

Colorado's hydrofracking boom — a technology that heavily relies on water — only adds additional strain as farmers and drillers bid for a scarce resource:  READ MORE

Pink Slime Controversy Recalls Long History of Mishandling Mad Cow Outbreaks

Monday, 16 April 2012 00:11 By Martha Rosenberg, Truthout | News Analysis 

There is an upside for the beef industry and industry-friendly federal food safety officials when people talk about pink slime. The burger extender, known as lean, finely textured beef and made from beef fat scraps treated with ammonia to kill germs, was recently found to be posing as "normal" ground beef in the National School Lunch Program, fast food outlets and grocery stores.

There's even an upside to the parade of medical journal articles linking red meat to coronary heart disease and cancer deaths. As long as people are taking about beef's ick factor and link to progressive diseases, they're not talking about the "third rail" of meat safety - mad cow disease.

It's has been almost ten years since the US's first mad cow was discovered. Ninety-eight percent of US beef exports evaporated within 24 hours when Mexico, Russia, Brazil, South Africa, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, South Korea and 90 other countries banned US beef. The only reason the European Union didn't ban US beef was because it had already banned it for excessive use of growth hormones!   READ MORE

First They Come for the Muslims

Monday, 16 April 2012 12:52 By Chris Hedges, Truthdig | News Analysis 

Tarek Mehanna, a U.S. citizen, was sentenced Thursday in Worcester, Mass., to 17½ years in prison. It was another of the tawdry show trials held against Muslim activists since 9/11 as a result of the government's criminalization of what people say and believe. These trials, where secrecy rules permit federal lawyers to prosecute people on "evidence" the defendants are not allowed to examine, are the harbinger of a corporate totalitarian state in which any form of dissent can be declared illegal. What the government did to Mehanna, and what it has done to hundreds of other innocent Muslims in this country over the last decade, it will eventually do to the rest of us.

Mehanna, a teacher at Alhuda Academy in Worcester, was convicted after an eight-week jury trial of conspiring to kill U.S. soldiers in Iraq and providing material support to al-Qaida, as well as making false statements to officials investigating terrorism. His real "crime," however, seems to be viewing and translating jihadi videos online, speaking out against U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and refusing to become a government informant.

Stephen F. Downs, a lawyer in Albany, N.Y., a founder of Project Salam and the author of "Victims of America's Dirty War," a booklet posted on the website, has defended Muslim activists since 2006. He has methodically documented the mendacious charges used to incarcerate many Muslim activists as terrorists. Because of "terrorism enhancement" provisions, any sentence can be quadrupled—even minor charges can leave prisoners incarcerated for years.  READ MORE

Arizona Is the "Petri Dish" for Corporate-Influenced Legislature

Arizona State Capitol Bldg
Monday, 16 April 2012 13:30 By Yana Kunichoff, Truthout | Report 

Arizona, with 49 out of 90 legislators with membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), is a darling of the bill drafting body and home to several bills modeled on the council's legislation targeting workers' compensation, unions and public education.

A report by People For the American Way Foundation, Common Cause, the Center for Media and Democracy and Progress Now details the bills drafted by ALEC's large concentration of affiliated legislators in Arizona's State senate, and compares it to model legislation identified as ALEC-drafted in the past in "ALEC in Arizona: The Voice of Corporate Special Interests in the Halls of Arizona's Legislature."
"ALEC-member legislators are unabashedly continuing to push legislation straight from corporate headquarters to Arizona's lawbooks," said Marge Baker, executive vice president at People For the American Way Foundation. "Well-heeled special interests are circumventing the democratic system and bypassing Arizona's citizens, who can't match the level of access that ALEC provides. As a result, Arizonans are facing an endless assault from laws that serve the interests of the rich and powerful instead of everyday people."

Two-thirds of Republican legislative leaders, and at least eight previous Senate presidents in Arizona have been ALEC members, said the report, noting that the lack of a definitive list of legislators involved in the council may be even higher.  READ MORE

The War on Public-Sector Workers

Firefighters protest outside City Hall Park after marching
across the Brooklyn Bridge in New York on June 3, 2011.
The firefighters, along with City Council members,
gathered to protest New York City Mayor Michael
Bloomberg's budget plan which includes closing
20 fire companies. (Photo: Hiroko Masuike /
The New York Times)
Monday, 16 April 2012 09:23 By Dean Baker, Truthout | News Analysis
Politicians across the country are using heaping doses of the politics of envy to try to arouse the anger of workers. However, their targets are not the corporate CEOs pulling down tens of millions of dollars a year in pay and bonuses. Nor is it the Wall Street crew that got incredibly rich inflating the housing bubble and then took government handouts to stay alive through the bust. The targets of these politicians' wrath are school teachers, firefighters, and other public-sector workers.

They are outraged that many of these workers still earn enough to support a middle-class family. Even more outrageous, many of these workers have traditional defined-benefit pensions that assure them a modicum of comfort in retirement. Having managed to ensure that most workers in the private sector did not benefit much from economic growth over the last three decades, the same upward redistributionist crew is turning their guns on public-sector workers.

There are two major deceptions in their story. First, after working to eliminate traditional pensions in the private sector, they now tell us that getting a pension in the form of a guaranteed benefit is hugely more valuable than having the same money placed in a 401(k)-type defined contribution account. Second, after shoving stock down everyone's throat in the bubble years, they now tell us we cannot expect a very good return from investing pension funds in the market.  READ MORE

Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming People Among First, Most Affected by War on Terror's Biometrics Craze

A Transportation Security Agency officer guides a
passenger through a body scanner at BWI
International Airport in Baltimore, on November
19, 2010. (Photo: Nicole Bengiveno /
The New York Times)
Monday, 16 April 2012 00:00 By Alissa Bohling, Truthout | Report 

When Zev Al-Walid walks through an airport security scanner, he more or less willingly parts with his belt, his shoes and his pocket change, just like any other traveler. But by the time Walid - a man who was designated female at birth and later transitioned - is ready to reclaim his personal items, there's often an extra hurdle blocking the path to his gate.

Walid, who travels frequently to the United States and countries around the world from his home in Western Europe, remembers a particularly bad trip through a US airport's backscatter scanner machine.
"I wasn't really privy to what the picture looked like or anything," said Walid. "I could just hear the guy, in front of me, talking on the radio, presumably to the person looking at the image. And he was like, 'Yeah. No. He's right here. I'm telling you, he's a man. I'm looking right at him.'"

"I felt physically ill after that," said Walid.

Man, Woman, Terrorist

Since when did travelers' gender become the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) business? Since at least September of 2003, when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued an advisory warning against "Al-Qaeda's continued efforts to plan multiple attacks against the US and US interests overseas." The advisory included a list of potential terrorism targets, a mention of recent arrests of unnamed terror suspects and this warning: "Male bombers may dress as females in order to discourage scrutiny."  READ MORE

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Trayvon Martin: Timeline of February 26

This is,  without a doubt,  the best timeline of that night,  I've yet to see.

Much has been writ­ten by now about the shoot­ing of Trayvon Mar­tin by George Zim­mer­man in the Twin Lakes dis­trict of San­ford, Florida. But it seems that there has yet to be any­where that some­one has cre­ated a time­line of that evening. Yet, a time­line is cru­cial to under­stand the rela­tion­ship among the known events, where the knowl­edge gaps are, and how the dif­fer­ing accounts fit together — or don’t.
So here I present the most up to date time­line I can piece together, for the night of Feb­ru­ary 26.

And Another good timeline:

Trayvon Martin George Zimmerman Crime Scene Map Analyzed

Mitt Romney's Plan to Woo Female Voters: Pretend Women Are Very Stupid

Photo Credit: C-SPAN
Romney seems to assume that women don't care about sexual rights. But reproductive issues impact almost all women.
April 12, 2012

Mitt Romney has finally accepted that he has lady problems. After blithely dismissing suggestions that he might lose female voters by embracing radical antichoice positions that extend beyond just merely opposing abortion rights into attacking contraception, Romney has finally had to face up to a rapidly widening gender gap in the polls. One poll has Obama besting Romney in a dozen critical states by 18 points with female voters. Female voters seem to be hearing the Democratic claim that Republicans are waging a war on women, most likely because there’s heavy evidence showing that’s exactly what’s going on.

In response, Romney’s strategy has been to argue, “Nuh-uh! It’s you guys who are waging a war on women!” To shore up this childish and farcical argument, Romney’s team is hiding behind Ann Romney, pretending she’s being victimized for her sainted motherhood. More disturbingly, the campaign has circulated the claim that women have suffered massive job losses under Obama, implying that Obama is pretty much out to separate the female worker from her job. The implication is that women are too busy worrying about economic concerns to pay much mind to the Republican assault on reproductive rights and that Romney somehow is a better sell to women on economics.  READ MORE

Heads of State Considering Alternatives to the Drug War

Obama's heading to Colombia for a summit with Latin American leaders--and for the first time, alternatives to drug prohibition are on the agenda.
April 12, 2012

In just a couple of days, President Obama will fly to Cartagena, Colombia, to attend this weekend's Organization of American States (OAS) Sixth Summit of the Americas. He and the US delegation are going to get an earful of criticism of US drug policies from Latin American leaders, and that makes it an historic occasion. For the first time, alternatives to drug prohibition are going to be on the agenda at a gathering of hemispheric heads of state.

It's been building for some time now. More than a decade ago, Uruguayan President Jorge Batlle became the first Latin American sitting head of state to call for a discussion of drug legalization. Former Mexican President Vicente Fox joined the call, albeit only briefly while still in office through some media quotes, much more frequently after leaving office in 2006. Honduran President Manuel Zelaya issued a similar call in 2008, but didn't move on it before being overthrown in a coup the following year.

Meanwhile, drug prohibition-related violence in Mexico exploded in the years since President Felipe Calderon called out the army after taking office in December 2006. As the savagery of the multi-sided Mexican drug wars intensified and the death toll accelerated, surpassing 50,000 by the end of last year, the call for another path grew ever louder and more insistent.  READ MORE

Cheerleading for Monsanto? The Shocking Lack of Difference Between Oxford University Press and Fox News

Photo Credit: Nrbelex
Why is an esteemed academic press publishing books that lack even a basic citation of sources?
April 9, 2012

Eighteen months ago I read a book that changed my life. Yeah, yeah, I know... sounds corny. But it's not what you think. This book changed my life not because of what it said but because of what it didn't say.

On a nothing-special summer afternoon in 2010, I sat in the Cambridge Public Library preparing a speech on something I'd been studying for decades. I plugged "world hunger" into the library's computer. Food Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know popped up.
Perfect, I thought. I knew I would have differences with the book because I'd just read a critique of the views of its author, Robert Paarlberg, by my daughter Anna Lappé on the Foreign Policy website. But I'm always eager to know how those with whom I disagree make their case. Noticing that Food Politics was published by Oxford University Press, I felt confident I could count on it being a credibly argued and sourced counterpoint.
So I began reading.
"I couldn't believe my eyes" doesn't do justice to the shock I experienced.
The book's subtitle suggests coverage of essential food issues and its back cover indicates Food Politics is not just another example of "conflicting claims and accusations from advocates," but rather "maps this contested terrain." Yet, I was finding only one piece of the "map" with key issues at the center of the global food debate omitted altogether. But what was jaw-dropping for me was that Food Politics lacked any citations for the book's many startling claims.   READ MORE

Tennessee Skewers Teaching of Evolution in Schools — Is Your State Next?

Thanks to ALEC, the Volunteer State has adopted a law intended to undermine the teaching of evolution in public schools. Just don't expect them to stop there.
April 14, 2012

Four score and seven years ago, a Tennessee high school biology teacher named John Scopes was charged with teaching evolution. At the time, Tennessee had a law called the Butler Act, in honor of John W. Butler, the leader of the World’s Christian Fundamentals Association, that turned Scopes’s efforts to educate his students into a criminal offense. The enemies of Darwin won in court but suffered a nearly catastrophic loss in the public sphere. The press portrayed them as anti-intellectual and un-American in their opposition to science and progress. They were the “sharpshooters of bigotry,” according to Scopes’ celebrated attorney, Clarence Darrow. “I knew that education was in danger from the source that has always hampered it — religious fanaticism,” he said. The fallout was so toxic that Christian fundamentalism retreated as a political force for decades.

We now have compelling evidence that evolution doesn’t happen — at least not in Tennessee. As of April 10, 2012, Tennessee has on its books a new law intended to undermine the teaching of evolution and promote the teaching of creationism in public schools.   READ MORE

Meet ALEC's Equally Despicable Anti-Choice Cousin -- AUL

A sign at NYC's 2011 rally for women's health.
Photo Credit: Sarah Seltzer
 Think the anti-choicers in statehouses around the country are coming up with abortion bans all by themselves? Think again.
April 10, 2012

When statehouses across the country started passing abortion bans at the seemingly arbitrary threshold of 20 weeks, was it a mere coincidence? When the "right to know" bills that required mandatory ultrasounds -- sometimes transvaginal ones -- before abortions were introduced or passed, in state after state, from Virginia to Texas to Pennsylvania, was that a matter of chance?

Of course not: none of these trends were the product of diabolical mind-sync on the part of anti-choice legislators. Instead, these bills arise from the tradition of blueprint legislation -- the practice of borrowing bill prototypes or model bills from a central national entity and then adapting them for introduction in statehouses. The practice is used on both sides of the aisle, but is particularly insidious in the case of anti-choice bills, part of the "war on women"-- the campaign to erode Roe until it's all but nonexistent.
Blueprint legislation has come to light recently thanks to the spotlight on the right-wing, corporate American Legislative Exchange Council, and in particular ALEC's hand in the proliferation of dangerous "stand your ground" laws, like Florida's, and discriminatory voter ID legislation.

ALEC has taken a hit in recent days as progressive activists, including ColorofChange and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, have convinced major companies -- among them Mars, McDonald's, Wendy's, Kraft, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Intuit, plus the Gates Foundation -- to drop their affiliations with ALEC in light of the Trayvon Martin case.   READ MORE

Former Execs: JPMorgan Chase Gambling Even More Heavily On High-Risk Derivatives ... At Jamie Dimon's Direction

Posted: 14 Apr 2012 12:00 PM PDT

What on earth could possibly go wrong with one of the world's largest banks betting heavily on high-risk derivatives? Originally, that was supposed to be banned under Dodd Frank with the Volcker Rule. But lobbyists made sure it was just a hollow joke.

I don't know about you, but I don't want to pay for another round of bailouts for these jerks:
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon has transformed the bank’s chief investment office in the past five years, increasing the size and risk of its speculative bets, according to five former executives with direct knowledge of the changes.

Achilles Macris, hired in 2006 as the CIO’s top executive in London, led an expansion into corporate and mortgage-debt investments with a mandate to generate profits for the New York-0based bank, three of the former employees said. Dimon, 56, closely supervised the shift from the CIO’s previous focus on protecting JPMorgan from risks inherent in its banking business, such as interest-rate and currency movements, they said.

Some of Macris’s bets are now so large that JPMorgan probably can’t unwind them without losing money or roiling financial markets, the former executives said, based on knowledge gleaned from people inside the bank and dealers at other firms.   READ MORE

Rachel Maddow and Bill Maher Discuss Her New Book, Ronald Reagan, Iran-Contra and Dick Cheney

By Heather 

Rachel Maddow highlighted part of an event that took place earlier this week where she sat down with Bill Maher at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, CA to promote her new book Drift. They discussed Ronald Reagan and the Iran-Contra scandal and the fact that the one person who bought Reagan's excuse that anything a president does when it comes to national security is legal, was Dick Cheney.
I hope the rest of the event is posted on line somewhere because I'd really love to get a chance to watch the whole thing. I'll add a link here if I find it.   Check here

The "Keating Five" Corruption Story Has Lessons for the Citizens United Era

Tough, smart, effective, and apolitical regulators are key to avoiding rampant fraud and future financial crises.
April 11, 2012

April 9, 2012 was the twenty-fifth anniversary of the most infamous savings and loan frauds -- Charles Keating’s successful use of five U.S. Senators to escape sanction for a massive violation of the law. The Senators were Alan Cranston (D. CA), Dennis DeConcini (D. AZ), John Glenn (D OH), John McCain (R. AZ), and Donald Riegle (D. MI). They became infamous as the “Keating Five.” I was one of four regulators who attended the April 9, 1987 meeting and took the notes of the meeting, in transcript format, that were so detailed and accurate that the Senators testified that they were sure I had tape recorded the meeting. (The reality is that I owe my note taking abilities to Bill Valentine, my high school debate coach, and experience debating for the University of Michigan.)

Reviewing my (near) transcript of the April 9 offers a large number of important lessons that would have allowed us to avoid future crises. We suffered the crises because we ignored all the lessons about which approaches are criminogenic and which are successful. The transcript shows four things that work.