Friday, May 18, 2012

Church Lawyer Testifies Everyone Lied to Him About Secret List of Priest Abuse Suspects

Posted May 15, 2012 9:16 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

The former chief counsel for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia testified on Monday that church officials lied to him about a secret list of 35 priests suspected of abusing children.

The list is at issue in the trial of Msgr. William Lynn, accused of allowing priests suspected of abuse to continue in their ministries, report the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Associated Press, the Allentown Morning Call and CNN. Lawyer Timothy Coyne was suspended from his job as chief counsel a few weeks after the list surfaced.

"Everyone I spoke to said they didn't know where it was, and they didn't have a copy of it," Coyne testified. "Somebody lied to me—or a lot of people lied to me."

A memo discovered in 2006 asserted that Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua had ordered the shredding of the list shortly after it was drafted in 1994. According to Coyne, no one told him about the shredding order.
  READ MORE

Toshiba Builds 100x Smaller Micro Nuclear Reactor

Toshiba’s Home Nuclear Reactor

 If we lived in a world where everyone was (a) smart and (b) trustworthy, Toshiba’s micro-sized nuclear reactor, small enough to fit in the basement or a large shed, would be a slam-dunk solution to the energy/climate crisis.

Twenty foot long by six foot wide, the reactors produce 200kW of energy and run themselves: the entire thing is manufactured with the fuel within, and when it runs out, they can just send a truck to pick it up.
"Unlike traditional nuclear reactors the new micro reactor uses no control rods to initiate the reaction. The new revolutionary technology uses reservoirs of liquid lithium-6, an isotope that is effective at absorbing neutrons. The Lithium-6 reservoirs are connected to a vertical tube that fits into the reactor core. The whole whole process is self sustaining and can last for up to 40 years, producing electricity for only 5 cents per kilowatt hour, about half the cost of grid energy."
Waste, you say? Throw it in a mile-deep pit in New Mexico, or something.
Unfortunately, with the way nukes have been run, it’s unlikely they’ll be replacing every neighborhood’s electricity substation with one of these any time soon. It’s claimed there are buyers in Japan and Europe. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, I recall, makes something similar, but bigger.
Toshiba Builds 100x Smaller Micro Nuclear Reactor [Nextenergynews via Gizmodo]


 

Jesus or Ayn Rand - can conservatives claim both?

By John Blake, CNN
(CNN)– Can a person follow Ayn Rand and Jesus?

That’s the question posed by a provocative media campaign that claims that some prominent conservative leaders cannot serve two masters: Jesus and the controversial author of  "Atlas Shrugged," Ayn Rand.

The American Values Network, a group of political activists and pastors, sparked a debate when it recently released a video challenging some conservative and Republican leaders’ professed admiration for Rand,  an atheist who saw selfishness as a virtue and celebrated unfettered capitalism.

Eric Sapp,  AVN’s executive director, said the Republican Party cannot portray itself as a defender of Christian values and then defend the worldview of "the patron saint of selfishness" who scorned religion and compassion.

Sapp singled out Republican leaders such as Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, and talk radio host Rush Limbaugh after all of them expressed admiration for Rand.
Ryan,  architect of the GOP’s propsed budget and Medicare plan, once said that Rand’s philosophy was “sorely needed right now,” and that she did a great job of explaining “the morality of capitalism.”

Sapp sees little morality in Rand's worldview:   READ MORE

Murdoch insider Rebekah Brooks charged over phone-hacking inquiry

May 15, 2012|By Richard Allen Greene, CNN
 
Former News International chief Rebekah Brooks blasted British prosecutors Tuesday for charging her with obstructing the investigation into phone hacking at media mogul Rupert Murdoch's British newspapers, calling the case "an expensive sideshow."

Brooks, whose husband, driver and personal assistant also face charges, said she is "baffled" and angered by the decision to charge "those closest to me."

"One day the details of this case will emerge, and people will see today as nothing more than an expensive sideshow -- a waste of public money as a result of an unjust and weak decision," she told reporters outside her lawyer's office.   READ MORE
 

Did Trayvon Martin make his own 911 call before his death?

ABC News7 Chicago reports Trayvon Martin, the Sanford, Florida teen who was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer, allegedly made his own call to 911 just moments before his death.

Mo'Kelly Radio reported on Mar. 24, also citing ABC New7 Chicago, that Trayvon made a 911 call shortly before his death and the FBI was attempting to determine if that recording captured Zimmerman’s voice in the background and, if so, could the audio be enhanced to more clearly hear what was said.

[Update 4/11/2012: A call was placed to the Sanford Police Department Wednesday, April 11, to follow up. The call was redirected to the Sanford Joint Information Center. The gentleman who answered the phone identified himself only as Lewis and said he is not aware that Trayvon made his own call to 911 the night of the shooting.]   READ MORE 

Document Dump: George Zimmerman Discovery File

Authorities in Florida have released hundred of pages of evidence, audio recordings and photos in connection with the prosecution of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Mr. Zimmerman, who has been charged with second-degree murder, has pleaded not guilty and is now living in an undisclosed location.    READ MORE 

18th Circuit Court Media Advisories  

It is the goal of the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit to ensure that the media and public are accommodated to the best of the Court's abilities during special interest/high profile proceedings. Below you will find media advisories and public record documents pertaining to State v. Zimmerman (2012-CF-001083-A). Please continue to check this website for updates. Documents will be posted as they are made available for public distribution.   READ MORE 

5th Inercostal space
Diagram from Autopsy Report

Zimmerman: "This Will All Work Out For Me"

Zimmerman leaves Jail

In letter from jail, accused killer pitched donation to his web site 

MAY 17--Days before bonding out of a Florida jail, George Zimmerman wrote that he believed “this will all work out for me in the future,” adding, “I have given my burden to the Lord and he has blessed me with tremendous patience!”

In response to a letter of support sent by an Ohio man who sought to deposit money in his jail account, the accused murderer of Trayvon Martin explained that he was only allowed to accept funds from individuals on his approved list of visitors.

“The best way to send your support is through prayer!” wrote Zimmerman, 28, who noted that, “if you insist on sending funds, the best way is through my website.”

He added that the site, therealgeorgezimmerman.com, “accepts checks and credit card payments via PayPal.”

Zimmerman wrote that, “My attorney seems cautiously optimistic about me receiving bond tomorrow and I will put funds received through my website towards my bond.” However, during Zimmerman’s April 20 bond hearing, no mention of the web site’s substantial revenues was made by the accused killer or his lawyer. Zimmerman, who was freed on $150,000 bond, had already raised about $200,000 by that time, his lawyer subsequently acknowledged.   READ MORE

 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Trayvon Martin Case Shadowed by Series of Police Missteps


Trayvon Martin was killed Feb. 26 at the Retreat at
Twin Lakes. The initial investigation into his death
was dogged by problems


An examination of the Sanford Police Department’s handling of the case shows a series of missteps — including sloppy work — and circumstances beyond its control that impeded the investigation and may make it harder to pursue a case that is already difficult enough.
The national furor has subsided for the moment. But as the second-degree murder case against the defendant, George Zimmerman, moves from the glare of a public spectacle to the grinding procedures of the court system and eventual trial, the department’s performance, roundly criticized by Mr. Martin’s family as bungling and biased, will be scrutinized once again, though in more meticulous detail. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Pacific 'Garbage Patch' Changing Insect Mating Habits

SEAPLEX researchers Matt Durham and Miriam
Goldstein encounter netting and plastic in the
Pacific Ocean. (photo:
Scripps Institution of Oceanography)
By Erin Hale, Guardian UK
13 May 12

Study on vast area of rubbish in north Pacific ocean finds it is beginning to impact on ecosystem.

arine insects in the Pacific Ocean are changing their reproduction habitats in response to environmental changes from the accumulating amount of rubbish in the north Pacific subtropical gyre, also known as the great Pacific garbage patch, according to researchers.
The patch has increased in size 100 times since the 1970s, including its swath of microplastic particles of less than 5mm diameter. The marine insect Halobates sericeus, a species of water skater, is now using the microplastic debris as a surface to lay its eggs, said a study by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California San Diego, published on Wednesday in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.
"This paper shows a dramatic increase in plastic over a relatively short time period and the effect it's having on a common North Pacific Gyre invertebrate," said graduate student and lead author Miriam Goldstein, in a statement released by Scripps. "We're seeing changes in this marine insect that can be directly attributed to the plastic."
Goldstein was part of a graduate student team, the Scripps Environmental Accumulation of Plastic Expedition (Seaplex), which travelled to the patch to study its environmental impact in 2009. The study compared the group's findings to data from the early 1970s.  READ MORE


 

Kansas Bans Islamic Law

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has not indicated
whether he will sign the new legislation.
(photo: Getty Images)
By Kevin Murphy, Reuters
13 May 12

ansas lawmakers have passed legislation intended to prevent the state courts or agencies from using Islamic or other non-U.S. laws in making decisions, a measure critics have blasted as an embarrassment to the state.


The legislation, which passed 33-3 in the state Senate on Friday and 120-0 previously in the House, is widely known in Kansas as the "Sharia bill," because the perceived goal of supporters is to keep Islamic code from being recognized in Kansas.


The bill was sent to Republican Governor Sam Brownback, who has not indicated whether he will sign it.


In interviews on Saturday, a supporter of the bill said it reassured foreigners in Kansas that state laws and the U.S. Constitution will protect them. But an opponent said the bill's real purpose is to hold Islam out for ridicule.


Kansas Representative Peggy Mast, a lead sponsor of the bill for the past two years, said the goal was to make sure there was no confusion that American laws prevailed on American soil.


Mast said research showed more than 50 cases around the United States where courts or government agencies took laws from Sharia or other legal systems into account in decision-making.


Commonly, they involved divorce, child custody, property division or other cases where the woman was treated unfairly, Mast said.   READ MORE

Death of the Post Office

By Charles Pierce, Esquire Magazine
13 May 12

ast Tuesday, for reasons we need not go into here, I happened to be in the U.S. Post Office in Geneva, New York. It is in an old, brick building downtown, just up from the lakefront. It was constructed between 1905 and 1906 in the Colonial Revival style, with four white columns out front arranged, so the architects say, in a Doric entablature. There are huge, arching windows arranged on either side. It is one of 13 post offices throughout New York state that were constructed by the Office of the Supervising Architect of the Treasury Department under the direction of James Knox Taylor, a man who was not beyond some political chicanery. (Taylor got into trouble when he picked his old partner to design the customs house in New York City.) In 1989, the Geneva Post Office was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Inside, it was cool and a little dark and it smelled sweetly of old varnish. The woodwork was polished and the brass finishings shone brightly. The marble countertops were cool and clean. There is a mural inside called "The Vineyard" that was painted in 1942 by a magical realist named Peter Blume. (Blume raised no little happy hell himself; in one of his paintings, he portrayed Mussolini as a jack-in-the-box.) This is a place, I thought, where you come to do business. This is a place, I thought, where you would feel confident in doing so.


There is a reason that post offices were once built this way. There is a reason why, during the New Deal period alone, the country built 1100 post offices, and why it commissioned murals like "The Vineyard" to be painted in them, and why there were marble countertops and brass fittings and glistening woodwork. Authors Marlene Park and Gerald Markovitz, who wrote about why post offices were built the way they were, explained that "The New Deal sought to make the national government's presence felt in even the smallest, most remote communities.... The post office was 'the one concrete link between every community of individuals and the Federal government' that functioned 'importantly in the human structure of the community.... [The post office] brought to the locality a symbol of government efficiency, permanence, service, and even culture."

Well, we certainly can't have that, can we?  READ MORE

GRAPHIC: How The U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Uses Its “Spooky PAC” To Funnel Corporate Cash Into Secret Attack Ads

By posted May 13th 2012 at 9:00AM

As Stephen Colbert rightfully pointed out earlier this week, a 501(c) organizations — which he termed “Spooky PACs” — operate like Super PACs, except that they are completely secret organizations that do no reveal any of their donors. Like Super PACs, 501(c) groups can raise unlimited corporate and union donations, and can spend that cash on independent expenditures, better known to voters as attack ads, automated telephone calls, and political mail.

The biggest Spooky PAC since the Citizens United decision has been the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber trades on its brand. People think the U.S. Chamber, based in D.C. across the street from the White House, is somehow related to their local chamber of commerce. Rather, the U.S. Chamber is a partisan lobbying force that raises large sums of money from multinational corporations to elect pro-big business candidates.

The Republic Report was the first to reveal all known contributors to the Chamber. But because the Chamber faces no disclosure requirements, we only have a small piece of the puzzle.

United Republic’s Jasper McChesney put together this infographic that shows how direct corporate cash, from firms like Prudential Financial and Coca-Cola Inc, flows into the Chamber secretly, and is then used for nasty attack ads:   READ MORE


ALEC Act Would Give Legislatures Power Over AGs

May 11, 2012
 
The conservative group that helped spread Florida's Stand Your Ground gun law across the country holds a closed-door issues conference in Charlotte on Friday. On its agenda is legislation that would prevent a state's attorney general from pursuing lawsuits except as authorized by the state legislature. Peter Overby is at the conference and talks with Audie Cornish.
  TRANSCRIPT

Dimon On Whether JP Morgan’s $2 Billion Loss Proves Banks Are Still Too Risky: ‘I Don’t Think So’

By Pat Garofalo on May 13, 2012 at 11:10 am

JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon this week announced that the bank he heads lost $2 billion making risky trade under the guise of “hedging” (which is meant to reduce risk). Dimon has been one of the biggest critics of the Volcker Rule, which is meant to prevent banks from making massive bets with federally insured dollars.


Dimon appeared today on NBC’s Meet the Press, where he was asked by host David Gregory if JP Morgan’s massive loss shows that the banking system — just a few years after a financial crisis that nearly brought the global economy to its knees — is still too risky. Dimon replied, “I don’t think so”:

GREGORY: Have you given regulators new ammunition against the banks?

DIMON: Absolutely, this is a very unfortunate and inopportune time to have had this.

GREGORY: But if the best of the best can’t manage a risk like this, does it not tell you that the banking system is still several years after the financial collapse, too risky?

DIMON: I don’t think so. It’s a question of size. This is not a risk that is life threatening to JP Morgan.
Watch it:


  READ MORE

Bad Advice from Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut
Sunday, 13 May 2012 12:18

By Cara Hoffman, Cara Hoffman's Blog | Op-Ed  

Readers of this blog (and friends) will know my mother as the person whose ideas about parenting included reading booze-drenched modernist classics to me when I was eleven. So, it will not come as a surprise to anyone that when I was a few years older than that, she dropped me off at a Kurt Vonnegut reading while she went to a lecture in another part of town. I was a big Vonnegut fan at the time and thrilled to be seeing him.

I’d spent an entire summer lying on the couch with the headphones on reading his books. Though I had not survived the bombing of Dresden, I felt that, like Billy Pilgrim, I’d become “unstuck in time.” When Jehovah’s Witnesses came to our door to discuss damnation I would tell them that I was a “Bokonist” the religion practiced by the characters in Cat’s Cradle. And it goes without saying that Kilgore Trout’s “career” as a washed up homeless science fiction writer was one to which I very seriously aspired.

But the biggest influence Vonnegut exacted over me was at this reading, where he told the students in the audience they didn’t need to go to school and could just as well drop out.   READ MORE


  

Political Ads: America Discovers Columbus

WBNS-TV Columbus OH
Sunday, 13 May 2012 00:00
By Michael Winship, Moyers & Co. | Report  

If you live in Columbus, Ohio, my sympathy.
Don’t get me wrong. Columbus is a wonderful town – the state capital, birthplace of the late great humorist James Thurber, location of Ohio State University and my brother Tim.
But if you’re a television viewer in Columbus you may be wishing about now that you could jump into your set and join the castaways on Survivor. According to the newspaper USA Today, “As the amount of money spent on political persuasion has risen, there are now some places where political ads are more like a steady rain. Here in Columbus, it is pouring.”
Columbus draws a lot of political advertising because it’s the largest city in a big swing state that this year also has a heated Senate contest and congressional races reconfigured by redistricting. What’s different here is that when the campaigns end, the advertising keeps on going. Political ads are on the air in Columbus all the time.
“That’s great news for the local TV stations battered by a recession that torpedoed their commercial advertisers. ‘We’re on the other end saying, “Thank you.” We’re running around with a bushel basket trying to catch it when it falls,’ said Tom Griesdorn, general manager of WBNS-TV, the Columbus CBS affiliate.”
He’ll get no thanks from the channel surfers of Columbus. Since March of last year, according to the public access files at WBNS, the station has aired 2,588 political spots that pulled in $2.16 million. And it’s only one of five commercial TV outlets in the area.  READ MORE

Forty Acres and a Rule: Draft Federal Fracking Regulations Cover Only a Sliver of Land

Bureau of Land Management Map
Sunday, 13 May 2012 12:11 
By Lena Groeger, ProPublica | News Analysis  

Last week’s media coverage of the Obama administration’s newly-proposed fracking rules focused so heavily on how drilling companies would have to disclose the chemicals they use that it largely overlooked the toughest provisions: Drillers would be required to test the physical integrity of their wells, and more water would be protected from drilling. Since many wells fail because the cement and casings crack, the new tests could prevent dangerous leakages.


One major limitation: Although widely understood as “national” guidelines, the draft rules would in fact only apply to a sliver of the nation’s natural gas supply. That’s because they would apply to mineral rights managed by the Bureau of Land Management, which means areas beneath most BLM and tribal land, but scarcely any U.S. Forest Service, private or state-owned lands – where most drilling occurs. Industry has criticized the proposed rules as too restrictive.   READ MORE

Tea Party Focus Turns to Senate and Shake-Up

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
looks on as Republican leadership speaks to
reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington,
May 8, 2012. (Photo: Luke Sharrett /
The New York Times)
Sunday, 13 May 2012 09:27  
By Jonathan Weisman and Jennifer Steinhauer, 
The New York Times News Service | Report 

Washington - The primary victory of a Tea Party-blessed candidate in Indiana illustrates how closely Republican hopes for a majority in the Senate are tied to candidates who pledge to infuse the chamber with the deep-seated conservatism that has been the hallmark of the House since the Republicans gained control in 2010.


Richard E. Mourdock, who last week defeated Senator Richard G. Lugar, a six-term incumbent, promises to bring an uncompromising ideology to Capitol Hill if he prevails in November. And he is not the only Senate candidate who contends that Senate Republicans are badly in need of new blood.
In Arizona, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas, Republican Senate candidates are vying for the mantle of Tea Party outsider. A number of them say that they would seek to press an agenda that is generally to the right of the minority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and that they would demand a deeper policy role for the Senate’s growing circle of staunch conservatives.


Some say they have not decided whether they would support Mr. McConnell, who could find himself contending with the type of fractious rank and file that has vexed the House speaker, John A. Boehner of Ohio.  READ MORE


Why Equality Matters

            (Photo: Scott*)
Sunday, 13 May 2012 00:00 By Michael A Peters, Truthout | News Analysis 

The history of equality from antiquity onward reveals that the notion of equality has been considered a constitutive feature of justice whether in its formal, proportional or moral sense. Until the 18th century, human beings were considered unequal by nature, an idea that collapsed with the introduction of the notion of natural right first developed by the Stoics and later in the New Testament Bible and both the Hebraic and Islamic traditions. The principle of natural equality only became recognized in the modern period beginning in the 17th century in the tradition of natural law as defined by Hobbes and Locke and in social contract theory first postulated by Rousseau. Kant's categorical imperative formulates the equality postulate of universal human worth and the idea is taken up formally in declarations and modern constitutions, notably the French "Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen" (1789) ("D├ęclaration des droits de l'Homme et du Citoyen")(1), the American "Declaration of Independence" (1776)(2), The US Constitution (1787)(3) and the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" (1948)(4). As Stefan Gosepath (2007) explained, "This fundamental idea of equal respect for all persons and of the equal worth or equal dignity of all human beings ... is accepted as a minimal standard by all leading schools of modern Western political and moral culture." It has not always been so.  READ MORE

Mass Anti-Austerity Protests Sweep Through Spain

Demonstrators hold signs outside the Bankia bank
center during a previous housing protest in Madrid,
April 18, 2012. (Photo: Carlos Lujan / International
Herald Tribune)
Sunday, 13 May 2012 09:36 By Staff, RT News | Report

At least 100,000 protesters angered by the country's grim economic prospects turned out for street demonstrations in 80 cities across Spain. This marked the one-year anniversary of a movement that inspired similar activist groups in other countries.

In the capital Madrid, thousands of protesters chanted and beat drums as they marched from different directions to converge on the central Puerta del Sol Square. The square was brimming with demonstrators during the evening, but visibly emptied as some of the protesters left after 10pm local time.

Authorities have vowed to block any attempts by protesters to camp out on the square, which is the popular movement's epicenter. Marches were also held in Barcelona, Bilbao, Malaga and Seville.

The four day-long demonstration marks the one-year anniversary of the "Indignants" protest movement, as Spain’s economic woes deepen by the day.

Joblessness has soared to almost 25 per cent – the highest level in the eurozone – with half of all Spaniards under the age of 25 are out of work. As the country already faces 30 billion euros in cuts so far this year, demonstrators say the cuts have left public services greatly underfunded.

The government is planning a fresh round of austerity measures as the country sinks further into recession, prompting fears that Spain may soon require a Greek-style bailout. These measures include hikes in property and income taxes, freezes on the minimum wage and cuts to health care and education spending, as well as further slashing of pensioners' benefits.

“We are here because we continue to be angry over the austerity policies which an economic elite is imposing on us," 21-year-old student Victor Valdes told AFP in Madrid. Another protester said it was important to let the government know “we are still here.” READ MORE

Maher: Joe Biden Needs to Make More "Gaffes"

Bill Maher said what we all thought this week when he begged Joe Biden, whose "gaffe" on marriage equality forced the President's hand in favor of equal rights, to keep opening his mouth when he shouldn't. I agree! I think Bidens hould come out for legalizing marijuana, slashing the defense budget, government-funding for low income women's abortions, and more. Watch below.

Amazing: Watch MSNBC Host School, Then Dismiss Conservative Commentator

Watch MSNBC host Tamron Hall get totally exasperated with conservative commentator Tim Carney when he tries to go "meta meta" on her by questioning (and thereby totally dodging) her line of questioning. She's not having it, at all.
Watch the moment below:
------------------------------------------------------------------

Workers Battle ExxonMobil Over Safety at Baton Rouge RefineryWorkers Battle ExxonMobil Over Safety at Baton Rouge Refinery

Photo Credit: AFP
May 13, 2012 

The following article first appeared at Working In These Times, the labor blog of In These Times magazine. For more news and analysis like this, sign up to receive In These Times' weekly updates.

 With almost $500 billion in annual revenues, ExxonMobil is one of the world's truly powerful corporations. With all its resources and riches, the mammoth energy firm—the largest on the Fortune 500 list—Texas-based ExxonMobil is not loyal to America. Former CEO Lee Raymond made clear that his company’s only loyalty was to maximizing returns for shareholders when he pronounced, “I’m not a U.S. company and I don’t make decisions based on what’s good for the U.S.” Or, Raymond might have added, based on what’s good for U.S. workers and communities."

The company has been resisting implementing a safety agreement at a Louisianan refinery that it already has agreed to around the country. “ExxonMobil has been trying to undercut rest of oil industry on health and safety standards,” says Patrick Young of the United Steelworkers (USW) special campaigns department.  READ MORE

Occupy Isn't About Electing Democrats--It's About Exposing a Broken System

Photo Credit: Sarah Jaffe
The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party didn't succeed by electing candidates--it succeeded showing the limitations of the electoral system. Occupy should do the same.
May 13, 2012

As long as there has been a thing called Occupy Wall Street, there have been people who've suggested it should become the left's version of the Tea Party. Josh Harkinson's piece is a notable contribution to the conversation because it comes after eight months of in-depth reporting on the movement. Harkinson, like Jennifer Granholm, suggests that Occupy should recruit and run candidates, so the left has champions in Congress and can credibly threaten less ideologically aligned Democrats. According to this logic, it doesn't matter if Occupy does this itself or essentially outsources the job to our progressive allies -- the point is to find ways to elect more good Democrats.

The idea of a progressive Tea Party was totally my jam before Occupy started. Like Harkinson, I didn't see how the left could create real change in America without taking control of the Democratic Party. Now I think it's important to recognize that the problems we face as a country can't be solved by electing more Democrats, or even by electing more good Democrats. A progressive Tea Party would be a welcome addition, but it wouldn't be nearly enough to create the kind of change we need.

If Occupy tried to start a left Tea Party, we would be following in the footsteps of several progressive movement efforts that came up short. Howard Dean's presidential campaign turned into Democracy for America to reclaim the "Democratic wing of the Democratic Party," the Progressive Change Campaign Committee explicitly references the DCCC, and Rebuild the Dream originally billed itself as the progressive Tea Party. I have worked for each of these organizations and have lots of respect for their work. But unfortunately, none of these projects, despite their many successes, have managed to mount a serious national effort to take out bad Democrats and replace them with good ones. They are constrained by the lack of a grassroots base in many congressional districts and big donors reluctance to fund challenges to Democrats. Even big, collaborative efforts to take out bad Democrats have a relatively poor record (See Sheyman, Ilya; Halter, Bill; or Lamont, Ned).

Tale of Two Cities: NYPD's Racist Arrests Create Class War in New York

Photo Credit: Sam Grace Lewis on Flickr
This Saturday, May 12, in New York City, an alliance of more than 100 community activists, mothers, city councilmembers and religious leaders marched from Foley Square to One Police Plaza, demanding an end to police tactics they say have resulted in two New Yorks -- or as the action was appropriately titled, “A Tale of Two Cities.”

VOCAL-New York, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), the Drug Policy Alliance, and other groups organized the event to demand an end to the racial segregation they say Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly actively enforce. The demonstration hinged tightly on the power of a united New York. Nine white New Yorkers attempted civil disobedience at the police headquarters, but were (ironically) not arrested.

Fearing for their children’s futures, many mothers in the crowd considered the action -- a day before Mother’s Day -- a timely mechanism to defend their children from injustice at the hands of the NYPD.
Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, said criminal justice is a mother’s issue. “Reproductive justice doesn’t just mean the right to decide to end a pregnancy or to continue to term,“ Paltrow said. ”It means the right to go to term, to have children, and not have to worry that when they are born, they will be arrested because of the color of their skin.”

For the NYPD's stats to add up, they'd have to have stopped every young, black man living in the city once--and then some. Both marijuana arrests and street stops are soaring under Bloomberg’s administration, but the data shows that rise in aggressive policing is only apparent in certain communities. Demonstrators stressed that pot arrests and stop-and-frisk have come to epitomize a city-wide problem requiring urgent redress.    READ MORE

Meet the Christian Right-Wing Multi-Billionaire Out to Frack Our World

Philip Anschutz is involved in a lawsuit trying to overturn a fracking ban.
May 13, 2012

He is a billionaire several times over, a supporter of conservative causes, candidates, and organizations, including campaigns of the anti-immigrant former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo and the Intelligent Design-peddling Discovery Institute, and he's been a backer of anti-gay rights initiatives. He owns The Weekly Standard, a highly partisan conservative magazine, recently sold the conservative Examiner newspapers, but rarely will speak to the press.

After devoting years of building a massive Disneyesque entertainment complex in Los Angeles called L.A. Live - which tapped into tens of millions of government dollars -- he now has his eyes on building a $1 billion stadium in L.A. and securing a National Football League team for the city. He's also been putting the finishing touches on a deal that would have his company running the Coliseum complex in Oakland, California.

He is a native Kansan, and although he's not related to the multi-billionaire Kansas Koch Brothers, he certainly shares many of their interests.

We're talking Philip Anschutz, who, in 1999, was labeled the nation's "greediest executive" by Fortune magazine.

The Anschutz fortune  READ MORE

Conservative Thinktanks Launch Campaign to Turn Americans Against Wind Energy

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/WDG Photo
Documents show for the first time that local anti-wind groups are co-ordinating and working with national fossil-fuel funded advocacy groups to wreck the wind industry.
May 9, 2012

A network of ultra-conservative groups is ramping up an offensive on multiple fronts to turn the American public against wind farms and Barack Obama's energy agenda.

A number of rightwing organisations, including Americans for Prosperity, which is funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, are attacking Obama for his support for solar and wind power. The American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec), which also has financial links to the Kochs, has drafted bills to overturn state laws promoting wind energy.

Now a confidential strategy memo seen by the Guardian advises using "subversion" to build a national movement of wind farm protesters.

The strategy proposal was prepared by a fellow of the American Tradition Institute (ATI) – although the thinktank has formally disavowed the project.

The proposal was discussed at a meeting of self-styled 'wind warriors' from across the country in Washington DC last February.

"These documents show for the first time that local Nimby anti-wind groups are co-ordinating and working with national fossil-fuel funded advocacy groups to wreck the wind industry," said Gabe Elsner, a co-director of the Checks and Balances, the accountability group which unearthed the proposal and other documents.  READ MORE

Hedges: How Our Demented Capitalist System Made America Insane

When civilizations start to die they go insane. Let the ice sheets in the Arctic melt. Let the temperatures rise. Let the air, soil and water be poisoned. Let the forests die.
April 30, 2012

Let the seas be emptied of life. Let one useless war after another be waged. Let the masses be thrust into extreme poverty and left without jobs while the elites, drunk on hedonism, accumulate vast fortunes through exploitation, speculation, fraud and theft. Reality, at the end, gets unplugged. We live in an age when news consists of Snooki’s pregnancy, Hulk Hogan’s sex tape and Kim Kardashian’s denial that she is the naked woman cooking eggs in a photo circulating on the Internet. Politicians, including presidents, appear on late night comedy shows to do gags and they campaign on issues such as creating a moon colony. “At times when the page is turning,” Louis-Ferdinand Celine wrote in “Castle to Castle,” “when History brings all the nuts together, opens its Epic Dance Halls! hats and heads in the whirlwind! Panties overboard!”

The quest by a bankrupt elite in the final days of empire to accumulate greater and greater wealth, as Karl Marx observed, is modern society’s version of primitive fetishism. This quest, as there is less and less to exploit, leads to mounting repression, increased human suffering, a collapse of infrastructure and, finally, collective death. It is the self-deluded, those on Wall Street or among the political elite, those who entertain and inform us, those who lack the capacity to question the lusts that will ensure our self-annihilation, who are held up as exemplars of intelligence, success and progress. The World Health Organization calculates that one in four people in the United States suffers from chronic anxiety, a mood disorder or depression—which seems to me to be a normal reaction to our march toward collective suicide. Welcome to the asylum.  READ MORE

How Corporations Like Monsanto Have Hijacked Higher Education

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/mostafa fawzy
Academic research is often dictated by corporations that endow professorships, give money to universities, and put their executives on education boards.
May 11, 2012

Here’s what happens when corporations begin to control education.

"When I approached professors to discuss research projects addressing organic agriculture in farmer's markets, the first one told me that 'no one cares about people selling food in parking lots on the other side of the train tracks,’” said a PhD student at a large land-grant university who did not wish to be identified. “My academic adviser told me my best bet was to write a grant for Monsanto or the Department of Homeland Security to fund my research on why farmer's markets were stocked with 'black market vegetables' that 'are a bioterrorism threat waiting to happen.' It was communicated to me on more than one occasion throughout my education that I should just study something Monsanto would fund rather than ideas to which I was deeply committed. I ended up studying what I wanted, but received no financial support, and paid for my education out of pocket."

Unfortunately, she's not alone. Conducting research requires funding, and today's research follows the golden rule: The one with the gold makes the rules.   READ MORE

America's "Throwaway People": What Kind of Country Imprisons an Abused 14-Year-Old Girl for Life?

Trina Garnett accidentally set a fatal fire when she was 14. That was in 1976. Could a Supreme Court ruling on juvenile life without parole finally bring her home?
May 10, 2012

On August 29, 1976, around 1:40 am, a fire erupted at 1138 Spruce Street in Chester, Pennsylvania. The building, in a row of two-family homes just south of the Delaware Expressway, burned for two hours, killing two boys: 13-year-old Brian Harvey and his 6-year-old brother, Derrick.

Neighbors spotted two local girls at the scene: 16-year-old Frances Newsome and 14-year-old Trina Garnett. But according to early reports in the Delaware County Daily Times, “the immediate focus” was Trina, a “mysterious girl” with a “grudge” against Sylvia Harvey, the boys’ mother. Investigators theorized that she had broken a kitchen window and climbed through, lighting matches throughout the first floor of the house and then escaping before it went up in flames. On September 3, Trina was arrested and charged with homicide, arson, conspiracy and burglary. She was held without bail; police told reporters she would be tried as an adult.

The youngest of twelve kids, Trina was known as a slow child. She had a very low IQ and couldn’t read or write. Kids made fun of her for sucking her fingers. Her mother died when Trina was 9, and her father was a violent alcoholic capable of unthinkable cruelty. (Sworn affidavits describe, in addition to horrific abuse against his wife and kids, how he once beat the family dog to death with a hammer as Trina watched, then made his children clean up its remains.)  READ MORE