Roberto Abraham Scaruffi

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

 Daily Headlines

There ought to be a way to identify truly independent, constituent-loyal legislators-- of all parties, who protect we-the-people and the commons. When it comes to progressive credentials-- we need to do what Club For Growth does and develop a list of issues and positions progressives should take-- create a "Club For the Commons."

A bitter addendum to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's candid admission that she goofed on 12/12/2000.
Pharma isn't going to deliver dappointing earnings to Wall Street just because it has few new drugs coming online and has failed at its very purpose. It is recycling old for brand new uses.

The top-secret government, for which the Sept 11 attacks were the excuse, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work. This article estimates the budget conservatively at $75 (this is the "white budget" only, and by definition no one knows what's in the "black budget). Of course, WaPo steers entirely clear of abundant evidence that the "terrorist threat" is manufactured, but even so manages to convey how useless and dysfunctional is the American version of the Gestapo.
A good starting point to consider launching a primary challenge in your area would be to look at those 44 progressive caucus members of Congress who continue to refuse to make such a promise, leaving themselves wiggle room to vote for cuts in three crucial programs of the social compact.
we talk about public banking, derivatives, bail-ins, Cyprus, student loans, globalization--
The crossing of the Rubicon into the confiscation of depositor funds was not a one-off emergency measure limited to Cyprus. Similar "bail-in" policies are now appearing in multiple countries. What triggered the new rules may have been a series of game-changing events including the refusal of Iceland to bail out its banks and their depositors
This bill is not only doing an injustice to the Pennsylvania Parole Board, primarily the field agents, but it also appears to be doing an injustice to the offender population as well.
One of the most vocal proponents of US intervention, Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican, nearly gave the game away in a Sunday television interview when he declared that if the US did not intervene militarily in Syria, "we're going to start a war with Iran because Iran's going to take our inaction in Syria as meaning we're not serious about their nuclear weapons program."
So far, I'm about $30,000 in debt. I estimate that, by the time I graduate, there will be another $20,000. This is after the maximum financial aid I am receiving from grants and scholarships. I become instantly stressed when I think about how much debt I am in and how much more I will be in but the chances of getting a job are extremely slim without a college degree.
Maria Shriver, the journalist and former first lady of California, said on Tuesday that she is returning to NBC News as a special correspondent on women's issues. Shriver announced the career change on Tuesday's Today Show, where she told anchors Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie that she was returning to the network to report on "women's evolving experiences in the United States."

Technological invasions of our privacy serve to undermine the bold assertion of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that the protection of personal, private space is essential to the freedom of the individual. Google has turned once private data into a commodity routinely exploited for profit.
can you even imagine what U.S. policy would be like at the United Nations if the will of the people were carried out without the interference of the pro-Israel Lobby? I have met many courageous Palestinians and Israelis who want to live peacefully with each other and who put their lives and their livelihoods on the line every day for peace and the rule of law.

Ours is a public that prefers not to see the evil that is inherent in conquering other nations, preferring, instead, to grasp any excuse to divide the world between Us and Others, with Us as the good guys and Others as the bad guys.
Republicans have sought to frame the Keystone XL pipeline as a job-creating project being thwarted by "radical environmentalists." Is it? A new Cornell University study claims that the pipeline could actually have a negative impact on the economies of the states it would pass through.
By Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich
Why We Must Change The Narrative On Syria
The reason behind the Syria uprisings and US support of rebels.
Ex-Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who normally ducks questions about overturning Al Gore's election in 2000 and putting George W. Bush in the White House, admits that "maybe" a mistake was made. But she still won't accept the magnitude of her judicial crime.

By Adnan Al-Daini
Climate Change: Carbon Capture and Storage Is No Solution
Those of us who believe global warming/climate change is real and human-induced can be split into two camps. The first could be described as the "having their cake and eating it" camp; they argue that the technology of carbon capture and storage (CCS) will allow us to carry on burning fossil fuel but capturing CO2 to prevent it from damaging our habitat.
The government is cracking down hard on the protests because they are working. The public is beginning to learn about these killing drones and minds are changing. The protests at Hancock must be stopped.

The Syrian civil war lurches on, adding new casualties every day. The campaign to push the U.S. into the Syrian civil war also marches on, threatening to add American casualties to the human toll. Possible use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government is another reason to stay out, not to get in. Washington's foreign policy should be one of peace. There are tragic times when war becomes necessary, but thankfully not often. Especially for America, which enjoys a privileged international position.
The hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay continues to grow. The U.S. recently forced many prisoners into solitary confinement. The military now admits that 100 prisoners at the camp are refusing to eat. But lawyers for Guantanamo detainees say that more than 130 detainees are on hunger strike. While the claims and counter-claims bounce back and forth, the situation continues to deteriorate.
By Kathy Malloy
Into The Woods
Doesn't Sanford's disappearing act in itself question his fitness for office? Kinda like Sarah "Mama Grizzly" Palin sniffing around the possibility of running for President when she couldn't even commit to a full term as governor. Or the audacity of Rick Perry to advocate the secession of Texas from the United States, then run for President of the United States.
Too weird to make up: TCBH! journalist Dave Lindorff reports that the Tarnaev brothers' Uncle Ruslan was married to the daughter of a top CIA official and ran a 'business' out of that man's house.
By Tom Engelhardt
Eduardo Galeano: Not So Elementary, My Dear Watson
As a teenager, you dreamed of being a writer and I imagine you dream of it still. When young, you were a cartoonist and, ever since, you've noted the exaggeration in our world. You were the editor-in-chief of a newspaper and, with the skills you honed, you've never stopped editing our history -- from our first myths to late last night.

 Latest Articles

Is Facebook here to stay? If it's going to stay, who is going to be its Facebook base? This article tries to answer those questions.

Happy Spring!!!
Making work pay is only part of the problem for the majority of us. The harder we work, the harder the they'll just rip it all back off us again.
The game of Pac Man is over. The world is a womens' and mens' place now, with changing landscapes and decidedly feminine principles.
The case ushers the financial crisis into the State of Israel, and provides perfect documentation of the tight links between corruption of the courts and corruption of banking regulation. It can further be seen as the parting gift of Stanley Fischer (Governor of Bank of Israel, and Bernanke's teacher) before packing his bags and leaving for good...
How exactly do we graduate from college debt-free you might ask? Legalizing child sweat shops in the United States of course! A satirical look at the college loan scam and its effect on graduates trying to repay them.
I stand by my support for the flu vaccine. Reasonable people might disagree -- and when they do, I will listen to them and encourage others to do likewise. Not so those who renounce reason altogether, and in its place offer only vitriol.
The Coming Out of Jason Collins is the story of the day, not so much because he had the courage to do it, but because the response has been so positive and what the Right (esp. the Christian Right) did NOT want to see. The backlash should be interesting.
The grace of atheists saved me, followers of Republican Jesus turned their back on me
Who are the ones with morals and who are the ones who lack them? My experience is the atheists are the ones who cared about me, the progressive Christians are the ones who serve their fellow man and community. I don't know what moral coda the social conservatives follow, but it bears little resemblance to anything Jesus taught, it bears little resemblance to the basic human decency amply demonstrated by my godless amoral peers
Family Chooses Prayer Over Medicine, Kills Their Second Child in Four Years
Two members of the First Century Gospel Church, which believes that seeking medical care is a sin and a sign of a lack of faith in God, lost their two-year-old son to pneumonia after they chose to pray for his healing rather than seek medical attention.
This article is based on an interview on "Envision This" of Timothy Scott Bennett and Sally Erickson. Timothy is author of "All the Above" and with Sally produced the documentary, "What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire."

By the end of World War II, the national debt was 120 percent of the entire economy. But by the mid-1950s, it was half that. Why did it shrink? Not because the nation stopped spending. "FDR's debt" shrank in proportion to the national economy because the national economy grew so fast.
But the USA does not torture people. Or does it? The April 16, 2013 bi-partisan report on torture in the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations by The Constitution Project [full report] says yes. Memo in Support of Finding #1 gives a detailed report of torture and CID [cruel, inhuman or degrading] techniques. Memo in Support of Finding #2 has more details.Here is a list of "enhanced" techniques that the Bush administration
On the heels of so-called "broccoli-rights bills" are their pendants in the food-animal industry. If you try to report cruelty or wrongdoing, you might be sued.
A financially-secure middle class pays its bills, educates its children, and buys the goods and services that bring prosperity to other working people like themselves. Adequate health insurance, both during their working years and after retirement, is a critical element of their financial security. The battle for better benefits isn't over, it's just beginning.
End mass incarceration; the time is now
This is an article about recent developments in the debate over mass incarceration.
A Cold Case: Spiritual Norms and Universal Human Rights
The Doctrine of Discovery, DOD, 1452, was followed by European colonization of the Americas in 1492 and international colonization of most of the rest of the world. That set back the spiritual intent of universal human rights. DOD was secularized and a violence-based military-industrial complex set up to sustain earth rights denied most of the human population. Given the internet, this COLD CASE needs non-violent resolution.
An insider account of a cesspool of illegal activity, drugs, dead bodies, and obscene amounts of money -- all flowing like black sewage in the bowels of North America... How could our government even consider the Keystone Pipeline?

The president and the Washington in-crowd got together at the annual correspondents dinner and had lots of laughs. Do they now what's going on in the country? What's so funny?
Marx Reloaded, A Film by Jason Barker: Review and Commentary
A film review of Marx Reloaded showing that the film would have been better named Marx Unloaded.
Syria: Chuck Hagel's Flip-Flop
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel seem to have learned that just when things seem to be moving slowly, the train can suddenly jerk ahead...
Pushing Al Qaeda to Take on Hezbollah
The Times adopts the views of Islamophobe, Daniel Pipes, who recommends that the US try to keep the two sides in Syria fighting as long as possible until they destroy each other.
Terrorism, Islam and What The Christian Right Needs to Know About Judaism
The Boston bombing has brought back a familiar RW argument: that "those Muslims" and "us Christians" are very different. That argument is deconstructed here.
Oil Entanglement in the New Iraq's Politics
The political crisis, the insurgency and the poor condition of oil installations in Iraq have all formed obstacles to the country's oil sector development.
Georgia Justice
I'm going out on a limb and charging that the two affirming judges simply do not want this murderer to live. So they are finding whatever technicalities they can find to see that he's executed -- mental retardation or not.
This is yet another case where the government is working for a tiny elite against the interests of the bulk of the population. And it is doing it in a way that would be difficult to caricature: making powerful corporate interests direct negotiating partners, while excluding democratically elected representatives from the process. It is tempting to say that Washington could not get more corrupt, but it probably will.

Beyond Boston to Bangladesh
The Bangladeshi factory collapse must be top of mind so we can transform the apparel industry. Boycott retailers, give money, eschew fast fashion, and focus on the tough stories.
The uproar over the Delhi rape crisis should have had led to an honest re-examination of modern Indian society, which combines a sophisticated exterior with rank perversion at the core. We live in a society in which a female child wishes she had been born "Ayoni"--without a "yoni," or vagina, the source of women's suffering. India will not solve its rape problem by considering it as no more than an issue of law and order.

We're not doing too well at making democracy work here, why do we think we can make it work in Afghanistan? But to keep dumping money and losing lives is hard to understand given our results so far.
There is no legal or ethical justification for refusing the request for someone in custody to have a lawyer present. If this report is true, what's most amazing is not that his core rights were so brazenly violated, but that so few people in Washington will care. They're too busy demanding that his rights should have been violated even further.
Quotes from the Book of Memes
We live by memes. We die by memes. We kill and maim by memes. This is an attempt to show how absurd life can be when we simply accept/inherit/assume some slogan or concept we haven't thought through, felt through, for ourselves. I take a well-known quotation and turn it around simply by substituting the word "meme" for a word in the original. I hope it lights up some minds. (Linh Dinh's was perfect as is.)
Is America Retreating From the World?
In his latest book, Dr. Vali Nasr blames President Obama for his unwillingness to pay due attention to diplomacy and his failure to uphold the goodwill assets of the U.S. as he promised to do when he was a presidential candidate. U.S. foreign policy is mainly based on the advice of military generals and intelligence reports rather than on the expert advice of the diplomats.
Black flags of Islamic extremism are flying over "liberated" zones in Syria as hard-line fundamentalists take control of the uprising. Yet, Official Washington continues to demand the overthrow of the secular Assad regime, rather than consider a power-sharing compromise.

The Boston Marathon bombing and recent large-scale industrial disasters caused by corporate greed are both newsworthy topics, but coverage from corporate news media is obviously not proportionate to the scale of the events in terms of lives directly affected, public safety, and systemic problems they're indicative of.
Believe it or not, the Obama administration is planning yet more new and refurbished nuclear weapons. Among the most dangerous is the B61, a bomb designed decades ago to stop Soviet tank divisions from rampaging across Europe. Since the end of the Cold War, the two hundred B61 bombs stationed on US airbases in NATO Europe have had NO military mission. It's past time to dismantle them.
This article suggests that we need to get beyond just saying no to the chained CPI benefit cut to Social Security. It's time to raise the fairness issue about the income cap, and the threat to senior, veteran, and disabled rights that it and the proposed chained CPI cut pose.
Debating Global Media-in Kazakhstan
News Dissector Danny Schechter goes halfway around the world to debate media and its future.
There is a deep-rooted public opposition to resumed operations at reactors perched in a tsunami zone near earthquake faults that threaten all of southern California & much of the Southwest.

On July 28, 2012, Michael R. Walli (63), Megan Rice (82), and Greg Boertje-Obed (57) entered the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge undetected.
Daniel Patrick Welch fears that cognitive dissonance among the US' sub-elite means more war and death for everyone else.
This FAA Sequester Vote Doesn't Smell Right
Washington politicians always manage to take care of themselves & their funders while their efforts to serve the rest of us are a mixed blessing.
People who have achieved substantial political freedom can still be sorely lacking in psychological freedom. We're likely to feel like prisoners of fate when emotional conflicts limit our creativity and potential.

You are not safe. Not at work. Not at home in your bed. The biggest threat is not terrorism. It's corporate negligence leading to a blast or collapse or release of toxic chemicals.

 Best News Links from the Web

Yes, there will be another Taliban spring offensive in Afghanistan. What is the war about? Not losing the war. Isn't this how all of these massive misadventures end. Brian Downing lays out the ugly truth.

John Kirby in a Providence Register op-ed, says that the corporate media is afraid to dig into a story like Boston, but praises the reporting work of ThisCantBeHappening's Dave Lindorff (also run by OpEd news!) for asking the questions other reporters were afraid to ask, and for putting the answers in print.
A Pakistani court has imposed a lifetime ban on former president Pervez Musharraf from contesting elections, the latest blow since he returned from exile to make a political comeback. The Peshawar High Court handed down the lifetime ban Tuesday after hearing an appeal by Musharraf's lawyer to allow him to run in the upcoming election. Musharraf seized power in a coup in 1999 when he was serving as army chief and ruled for nearly a decade. He stepped down in 2008 because of growing discontent with his rule.
It's a sprawling, messy story. It involves the Virginia governor's mansion, a wedding, undisclosed vacations, a "naturally-occurring alkaloid" called anatabine, a struggling company, a corporate jet, and, just to top things off, a chef facing embezzlement charges. But most importantly it involves Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), along with Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. FBI agents are conducting interviews about the relationships between McDonnell, his wife Maureen, and Jonnie Williams Sr., a major McDonnell campaign donor and the chief executive officer of a company called Star Scientific.
President Obama said he would take another stab in his second term at closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, a first-term campaign promise that a Democratic-led Congress rejected. With reports that about 100 of Guantanamo's 166 detainees are on hunger strike, Obama said at a news conference at the White House that the existence of the facility is harmful to U.S. interests and he will reach out to lawmakers to try to shut it down.
No Rich Child Left Behind - By SEAN F. REARDON Here's a fact that may not surprise you: the children of the
"In the United States over the last few decades these differences in educational success between high- and lower-income students have grown substantially....using information from a dozen large national studies conducted between 1960 and 2010, the rich-poor gap in test scores is about 40 percent larger now than it was 30 years ago....These widening disparities are not confined to academic outcomes: New research shows that the rich-poor gaps in student participation in sports, extracurricular activities, volunteer work and church attendance have grown sharply as well....The income gap in academic achievement is not growing because the test scores of poor students are dropping or because our schools are in decline! What's going on?It boils down to this: The academic gap is widening because rich students are increasingly entering kindergarten much better prepared to succeed in school...
With the strike now entering its 12th week, President Barack Obama has faced fresh calls to honor his promise to close the prison at the US base in Cuba, which holds 166 individuals captured as part of the "War on Terror." The rapidly growing protest movement began on February 6, when inmates claimed prison officials searched Korans in a way they considered blasphemous. But the strike has now turned into a larger protest by prisoners against their indefinite incarceration without charge or trial over the past 11 years.

Radioactive Water Imperils Fukushima Plant - By MARTIN
TOKYO -- "Two years after a triple meltdown that grew into the world's second worst nuclear disaster, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is faced with a new crisis: a flood of highly radioactive wastewater that workers are struggling to contain.Groundwater is pouring into the plant's ravaged reactor buildings at a rate of almost 75 gallons a minute. It becomes highly contaminated there, before being pumped out to keep from swamping a critical cooling system..."The water keeps increasing every minute, no matter whether we eat, sleep or work," said Masayuki Ono, a general manager with Tepco.While the company has managed to stay ahead, the constant threat of running out of storage space has turned into what Tepco itself called an emergency, with the sheer volume of water raising fears of future leaks at the seaside plant that could reach the Pacific Ocean."
Thousands of unmanned aircraft systems -- commonly known as drones -- could be buzzing around in U.S. airspace by 2015 because of a law passed last year, aiding in police investigations, scientific research and border control, but also raising safety and privacy concerns among some lawmakers and advocacy groups. Already, drones are in use to count sea lions in Alaska, to conduct weather and environmental research and to monitor drug trafficking across our borders. In fact, 327 drones already have been licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly over U.S. soil.

A civilian cargo plane has crashed near a US-run airbase north of the capital, Kabul, killing all seven on board. Monday's crash occurred shortly after takeoff at the Bagram air base, a key transport hub for US-led military operations in Afghanistan. "All seven of the crew on board died in the accident," a spokesman for the NATO military coalition told the AFP news agency. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the crash, but the coalition said in a statement to the Associated Press news agency: "Taliban's claims are false."
In celebration of Earth Week: an overview of changes to the U.S. government's use of chimpanzees for medical research, an update on the use of apes as animal performers in entertainment, and a review of 5 movies that present chimps and evolution in a positive light: Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Project Nim, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Chimpanzee, and Creation.
Monsanto's lobbyists are out in force in Vermont, lobbying politicians in the hope of scuttling H.122, Vermont's labeling law, which would require mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). They're repeating ad nauseum their propaganda claims that GE foods and crops are perfectly safe and therefore need no labeling, that transgenics are environment- and climate-friendly, and that genetically modified crops are necessary to feed the world. But as consumers become wiser, Monsanto has had to resort to attacking democracy instead of merely trying to defend its indefensible products.
With war, "minority opinion" becomes "a case for outlawry," and at times "the minorities are either intimidated into silence, or brought around slowly by a subtle process of persuasion . . . " That again is the job of the squawking chickenhawks. They are in reality a part of "the whole terrific force of the state" which is "brought to bear against heretics," a.k.a., the proponents of peace and prosperity as opposed to war and impoverishment of the masses.
Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor expressed doubt Friday about the decision to take the 2000 Bush v. Gore case that resulted in the election of President George W. Bush. "Obviously the court did reach a decision and thought it had to reach a decision," she said. "It turned out the election authorities in Florida hadn't done a real good job there and kind of messed it up. And probably the Supreme Court added to the problem at the end of the day."
Holding prisoners even after their innocence is known, as President Obama and the present Congress are doing even today, is a moral abomination, and completely contrary to the philosophy of the American framers, who believed that humans were endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If there is something more unAmerican than indefinitely detaining people you know to be innocent I don't know what it is. Doing so for political reasons may make it even worse.
The obscene greed-and-arrogance stories emanating from Wall Street are piling up so fast, it's getting hard to keep up. The government ordered banks to hire "independent" consultants to examine their loan files to see just exactly how corrupt they were. Not only did they very likely skew the numbers seriously in favor of the banks, and not only were these few consultants paid over $2 billion (over 20 percent of the entire settlement amount) while the average homeowner only received $300 in the deal -- in addition to all of that, it appears that federal regulators will not turn over the evidence of impropriety they discovered during these reviews to homeowners who may want to sue the banks.
The policy mystery of our time is why politicians in the United States and across much of the democratic world are so obsessed with deficits, when their primary mission ought to be bringing down high and debilitating rates of unemployment. Here is a clue that helps unravel this whodunit: Many of the same conservatives who now say we have to cut Social Security to deal with the deficit supported Bush's plan to privatize Social Security -- even though the transition would have added $1 trillion to the deficit. The one thing the two positions have in common is that Bush's proposal also would have reduced guaranteed Social Security benefits.