Goodbye, Sunshine!

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Tea Party-Controlled Legislature Pushes ‘Industry-Driven’ Great Lakes Water Withdrawal Bill

By Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch – The Ohio legislature, dominated by a Tea Party-controlled Republican supermajority, often seems to be creating more problems than it solves. And it could be creating a problem with international ramifications. In its lame duck session, the chamber passed HB 490 last week, a water-quality bill which alters standards for withdrawing water from Lake Erie and its tributaries, and sent it to the state Senate, where it’s expected to pass. The omnibus bill contains some good things, such as new restrictions on use of fertilizers on farmland, one of the causes of last summer’s algae bloom in Lake Erie that shut off the water supply to nearly 400,000 people in the Toledo area. But there’s a lot of dissent about its new rules for the withdrawal of Lake Erie water by industrial and other heavy users. And when there’s disagreement about the impact of something this...

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Blu-ray Discs Could Help Make Better Solar Cells

By Colin Jeffrey, Gizmag – Blu-ray discs have proven themselves superior to DVDs as storage media in light of their high capacity, high definition, and higher transfer rate. Now researchers claim that Blu-ray discs have one more advantage over DVDs: they also have the ability to help markedly improve the efficiency of solar cells, when their etched information patterns are repurposed for use as light concentrators. According to new research from a team at Northwestern University, Illinois, it has been discovered that the scattering effect on light shone through the arrangement of data etched on a Blu-ray disc improves energy absorption across the spectrum of light used by solar cells. “We had a hunch that Blu-ray discs might work for improving solar cells, and, to our delight, we found the existing patterns are already very good,” said Associate Professor Jiaxing Huang, of the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied...

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Schumer: Labor’s Share of Profit Should be Core of 2016 Democratic Agenda

By Dante Atkins, Daily Kos – In a speech that sounded more like that of a liberal economist and less like that of a United States senator from New York, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) this week outlined a path forward for a Democratic victory in 2016 that will focus on increasing middle-class incomes and using government as a shield for workers against the forces of globalization, automation, and job loss through technological efficiency. The question? Whether that agenda, specifically designed to win over white working-class voters, will come at the expense of programs and proposals that help key Democratic constituencies? Schumer noted that for the first time in American history, median wages have been in decline for a decade, even as outsourcing, technology, and efficiency have increased profits at the very top. In his view, Democrats — starting in 2009 with their ascension to the presidency and large majorities in...

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The Sunday Funnies & Factoids – The ‘Too Much Scotch Makes Keith a Sad Boy’ Edition

by Keith Lennox, All-len-All – 11/30/14 Hello, gang.  Hope all is going better than good.  Just a quick intro today as I slept late after over-indulging last evening….. that Glen Fiddich character can be your best friend and worst enemy at the same time. 1) The Grammy Awards were introduced to counter the threat of rock music. In the late 1950s, a group of record executives were alarmed by the explosive success of rock ‘n roll, considering it a threat to “quality” music. 2) The final resting-place for Dr. Eugene Shoemaker – the Moon. The famed U.S. Geological Survey astronomer, trained the Apollo astronauts about craters, but never made it into space. Mr. Shoemaker had wanted to be an astronaut but was rejected because of a medical problem. His ashes were placed on board the Lunar Prospector spacecraft before it was launched on January 6, 1998. NASA crashed the...

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At Home and Abroad, UN Report Details Abysmal US Record of Abuse

Torture, indefinite detention, excessive force, and systematic discrimination and mistreatment have become part of the nation’s modern legacy by Jon Queally – An official report by the United Nations Committee Against Torture released Friday found that the United States has a long way to go if it wants to actually earn its claimed position as a leader in the world on human rights. Following a lengthy review of recent and current practices regarding torture, imprisonment, policing, immigration policies, and the overall legacy of the Bush and Obama administration’s execution of the so-called ‘War on Terror,’ the committee report(pdf) found the U.S. government in gross violation when it comes to protecting basic principles of the Convention Against Torture, which the U.S. ratified in 1994, as well as other international treaties. This was the first full review of the U.S. human rights record by the UN body since 2006 and the release of...

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Bubonic Plague Outbreak Spreads in Madagascar

By Dragos Mitrica, ZMEScience – If you thought the bubonic plague is a thing of the past… then think again! The dreadful disease is making a resurgence in the island of Madagascar, off the eastern coast of Africa. There have already been 138 suspected cases of the disease, with a total of 47 victims. You may know the black plague as a medieval disease, responsible for wiping out a third of Europe’s population in the 14th century. But while it’s been many years since the disease has actually been active on the large scale, it never really went away. The bacteria Yersinia pestis, responsible for the plague, is still here. The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified patient zero: a male living in the Soamahatamana village in the Tsiroanomandidy district in Madagascar. Since, the disease seems to have spread to other cities, including the capital Antananarivo. While the disease is easily treatable...

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Calorie Counts Are Coming To Movie Theaters, Vending Machines, And Pizza Joints Near You

by TARA CULP-RESSLER – The Food and Drug Administration is releasing long-awaited rules on calorie labeling this week that will give Americans more information about the food they’re purchasing. Public health advocates are praising the regulations for going even further than they expected — requiring public calorie counts for movie theaters and vending machines in addition to chain restaurants. “This is one of the most important public health nutrition policies ever to be passed nationally,” Margo Wootan, the director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a group that has been pressuring the agency to reform its food labeling practices for years, told the New York Times. “Right now, you are totally guessing at what you are getting. This rule will change that.” National calorie labeling is one of the lesser known provisions in the Affordable Care Act, which required the FDA to come up...

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OPEC Decision Likely to Crash U.S. Fracking Industry

By Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch – At its meeting this week in Vienna, Austria, the 12 member countries of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) voted to keep their output target unchanged despite a 30 percent slump in the oil price since June, due primarily to the explosive growth in fracking in the U.S. as well as decreasing global demand. While Venezuela made a case for an output reduction, Saudi Arabia, the world’s leading oil producer and exporter, pressured to keep it the same. The price immediately declined in response, dropping below $72 a barrel, a price last seen in August 2010. “There’s a price decline. That does not mean that we should really rush and do something,” OPEC secretary general Abdallah Salem el-Badri told the BBC. “We don’t want to panic. We want to see the market, how the market behaves, because the decline of the price does not reflect a fundamental change.” Russian...

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Federal Judge Finds Goodell’s Story Was A Lie, Immediately Reinstates Ray Rice To NFL

by JUDD LEGUM – An arbitrator has reinstated former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, who had been suspended indefinitely for a brutal domestic violent incident, to the NFL, effective immediately. Rice is accused of assaulting his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, at an Atlantic City hotel last February. Initially, a video was released showing Rice dragging Palmer on conscious out of the casino elevator immediately following the alleged assault. In June, the NFL heard from Rice during a disciplinary hearing and suspended him for two games. In September, TMZ acquired video from inside the elevator showing the assault itself. Following the release of the video, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell claimed that Rice misled the league about what had transpired in the elevator. Goodell told CBS News that “when we met with Ray Rice and his representatives, it was ambiguous about what actually happened.” He said in a league letter that the...

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Darren Wilson, Officer who Killed Michael Brown, Resigns from Ferguson PD

The white police officer who killed Michael Brown has resigned from the Ferguson Police Department, his attorney said Saturday, nearly four months after he shot dead a black 18-year-old, fueling protests that have rocked the St. Louis suburb and the nation. Darren Wilson, 28, has been on administrative leave since the shooting on Aug. 9. His resignation was announced Saturday by one of his attorneys, Neil Bruntrager. The resignation is effective immediately, Bruntrager said. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Wilson cited security concerns as a reason behind his resignation. A grand jury spent more than three months reviewing evidence in the case before declining in November to issue any charges against Wilson. He told jurors that he feared for his life when Brown hit him and reached for a gun. The U.S. Justice Department is still conducting a civil rights investigation into the shooting and a separate probe of...

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‘This Is Only the Beginning’: Oregon GMO Labeling Measure Heads to Recount

By Andrea Germanos,, Common Dreams – Advocates of labeling genetically modified foods are cheering that an Oregon measure that would require such labeling is headed to an automatic recount. Measure 92, as Common Dreams reported earlier this month, would mandate that beginning January 2016, certain food items that were produced with or contain GMOs, also referred to as genetically engineered (GE) food, would be labeled as such. Despite the Yes on 92 campaign being greatly outspent, the final tally showed Monday that the effort was defeated by only 0.06 percentage point, less than the threshold needed to trigger a recount. The Oregonian reports that the recount will take place by December 12. “Thanks to the tireless efforts of on the ground organizers, and despite an aggressive and expensive opposition campaign, GE food labeling is still alive in Oregon,” stated Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of Center for Food Safety, an organization that...

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Amid Shrinking Abortion Rights Nationwide, an Effort to Fund Access from the Grassroots

New York Times spotlights campaign to “fund abortion travel for low-income people in Texas” by Sarah Lazare – Despite strong U.S. support for the right to choose, the past three years have seen dramatic cuts to reproductive health care access, with states passing over 231 laws restricting abortion, according to the Guttmacher institute. In the face of these cuts, impacted communities have found creative ways to help each other get needed reproductive health care, while at the same time organizing to defend abortion rights on a broad scale. An article published Thursday in the New York Times describes one such creative grassroots action. Journalist Jackie Calmes tells the story of Lenzi Sheible, who at the age of 20 is the co-founder of Fund Texas Choice, which describes itself as a “non-profit organization funding abortion travel for low-income people in Texas.” The article explains: Although longtime groups like Planned Parenthood remain active, and...

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Final Blow to Arab Spring? All Charges Dropped Against Egypt’s Mubarak

Ousted president may not walk free immediately, but court’s ruling seems to complete counter-revolution in nation that helped spark wave of uprisings by Jon Queally – In yet another blow to the Egyptian revolutionaries whose hopes have been repeatedly dashed since the protests they initiated in 2011 swept former autocratic ruler Hosni Mubarak from power, a court on Saturday dropped all the remaining criminal charges, including allegations of murder, that had been levied against the nation’s former president. Al-Jazeera America reports: An Egyptian court has thrown out charges against former President Hosni Mubarak, his interior minister, and six aides over the killing of protesters during the 2011 Egyptian uprising. Chief Judge Mahmoud Kamel al-Rashidi also cleared Mubarak and his sons, Alaa and Gamal, of corruption charges related to gas exports. The judge said too much time had elapsed since the alleged crime took place for the court to rule on the matter....

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Americans Rushed To Purchase Guns This Black Friday

by IGOR VOLSKY – The FBI processed three background checks for gun purchases every secondon Friday, as more than 144,000 shoppers were expected to buy firearms on one of the busiest shopping days of the year. As of 2 p.m. Friday, an FBI spokesperson told CNN that the agency had already processed “more than 94,000 transactions, on pace to surpass last year’s 144,758.” Approximately 3,000 checks or 2 percent will not be completed as a result of insufficient information, 71 receive instant approvals, and approximately 1.1 percent of purchasers fail the check. If the government cannot complete the background check in three business days, the buyer is allowed to purchase the gun anyway. “The challenge is to have staff keep up with this volume. We do that by limiting personal leave, asking employees to work extra shifts and reutilizing former … employees to serve in NICS during this busy period,”...

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Government Data Sharpens Focus on Crude-Oil Train Routes

Local governments often unaware of potential dangers By Isaiah Thompson, special to ProPublica – The oil boom underway in North Dakota has delivered jobs to local economies and helped bring the United States to the brink of being a net energy exporter for the first time in generations. But moving that oil to the few refineries with the capacity to process it is presenting a new danger to towns and cities nationwide — a danger many appear only dimly aware of and are ill-equipped to handle. Much of North Dakota’s oil is being transported by rail, rather than through pipelines, which are the safest way to move crude. Tank carloads of crude are up 50 percent this year from last. Using rail networks has saved the oil and gas industry the time and capital it takes to build new pipelines, but the trade-off is greater risk: Researchers estimates that...

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U.S. School Meal Rules Might Work Against Good Nutrition, Study Says

HealthDay News – New federal mandates controlling the types of meals served at U.S. schools may actually promote eating habits tied to obesity and diabetes, a new study suggests. Although it’s now required that school meals contain less fat and more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, there are no rules on added sugar or extra carbohydrates, researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health explained. The researchers found schools are mainly serving processed whole grains, which are easily converted into sugar during digestion. Meanwhile, many schools are serving canned fruit, fruit juice and flavored milk, items that contain added sugar, the study found. The study’s authors said that expanding federal school meal rules to include an increase in the amount of whole grain and whole food products served, as well as limits on added sugar and processed foods, could help ensure kids are eating the right carbohydrates. They...

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UN Experts to Obama: Don’t Bend to CIA Wishes on Torture Report

Open letter reminds Obama the world is watching, urges him to release transparent torture report by Andrea Germanos – A group of United Nations human rights investigators has written to President Obama to urge him not to yield to the CIA but to release in the most transparent way possible the still-classified Senate torture report on post-9/11 abuses. The Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), has been innegotiations with the administration over redactions to the report, thus continuing to delay its release. As David Firestone wrote at the New York Times last week, Deferring to the C.I.A., the White House has blocked Democrats from informing the public as to how much torture went on in the previous administration, and how poorly it worked. The administration is refusing to allow the report to be released if it includes pseudonyms for the C.I.A. officers who participated in the torture program, claiming...

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Prosecutor Who Let Darren Wilson Slide Is Charging A Black Cop For Hitting A Suspect’s Hand

by JAMESON PARKER – A lot has been said about the shoddy way St. Louis prosecutor Bob McCullough handled his obligations to see justice done in the case of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shooting unarmed teenager Michael Brown. Many reporters and law experts have noted how McCulloch had, from the very beginning, seemed almost eager to let Darren Wilson off the hook. That intuition seemed confirmed during McCulloch’s announcement that the grand jury – typically just a formality before going to trial – had found no reason to charge Darren Wilson of any crime. During his statement, McCulloch spent a great deal of time attacking Michael Brown (the victim), attacking the media for covering the case in a way that didn’t presume Wilson’s innocence, and discrediting any witness who had made a statement contrary to Wilson’s own account of what happened. It was a dog and pony show, and...

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The Economic and Fiscal Benefits of Deferred Action

By Patrick Oakford and Philip E. Wolgin – After 17 months of inaction by House Republicans on any form of immigration reform legislation, President Barack Obama took the first step toward fixing our nation’s broken immigration system through a smart and sensible set of executive actions. Only Congress can provide a permanent and durable solution, but the president took actions that are within his authority to protect close to 5 million unauthorized immigrants from deportation, and, critically, to grant them temporary legal status and a three-year, renewable work permit. The president also announced a slew of other reforms, including increased border security; new enforcement priorities that will focus our resources on serious criminals, not their family members; and changes for entrepreneurial immigrants, foreign students, and high-skilled workers. Taken together, these actions will strengthen our economy, raise new tax revenue, and create jobs. Deferred action means higher wages and more tax...

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Why Michael Brown’s Killer Would Have Been Acquitted

Conflicting witness accounts and ambiguous physical evidence provide plenty of room for reasonable doubt by Jacob Sullum – Given the contested circumstances of Michael Brown’s death, it is understandable that many people were dismayed by a grand jury’s rejection of criminal charges against the police officer who shot and killed the unarmed black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri, last summer. But if Darren Wilson had been indicted, he almost certainly would have been acquitted, precisely because important details of his deadly encounter with Brown are hard to pin down. This much is undisputed: A little after noon on August 9, Wilson saw Brown walking with a 22-year-old friend, Dorian Johnson, in the street and told them to use the sidewalk instead. Johnson said they had almost reached their destination, and Wilson passed them but moments later backed up his police SUV, stopping right next to Brown. There followed a struggle in which,...

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How Western Intervention Fuels ‘Terrorism’

by Gwynne Dyer – “We will not be cowed by these sick terrorists,” said British Prime Minister David Cameron after ISIS produced a grisly video of the mass beheading of Syrian captives by foreign jihadis who allegedly included British fighters. “We will not be intimidated,” said Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper after the recent attacks in Montreal and Ottawa. As if the purpose of terrorist attacks in Western countries was to cow and intimidate them. You hear this sort of rhetoric from Western leaders all the time, but Harper went further, and demonstrated exactly how they get it wrong. “ will lead us to… redouble our efforts to work with our allies around the world and fight against the terrorist organizations who brutalize those in other countries with the hope of bringing their savagery to our shores. They will have no safe haven.” Sound familiar? Sure enough, there are now half...

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Industry Groups Are Freaking Out About Obama’s New Smog Pollution Rule

by EMILY ATKIN – The Environmental Protection Agency issued a new draft proposed rule on Tuesday to tighten already-existing restrictions on ground-level ozone pollution, the main ingredient of urban smog. Under the draft proposal, states would be required to lower the level of ozone pollution allowed to be in the air. Right now, the current standard is 75 parts per billion, and the new rule would change that to somewhere between 65 to 70 parts per billion. The rule would require some states with bad pollution to expand their ozone pollution monitoring, and require improvements to systems that notify the public when their air quality is at an unhealthy level. The EPA predicts this will do wonders for public health and, by extension, the economy. Scientists say that ground-level, or “bad” ozone is a pollutant with significant health risk, with the potential to reduce lung function and aggravate asthma, especially in...

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Denver Police Busted Trying To Destroy Video Evidence Of Beating Pregnant Woman (VIDEO)

by NATHANIEL DOWNES – Levi Frasier was driving along in Denver not too long ago when he came across two police officers attacking David Nelson Flores on the ground. Being a concerned citizen, he began to videotape the officers on his tablet computer as they pummeled the prone man, demanding drugs from him. When Flores’ 7-month pregnant wife, Mayra Lazos-Guerrero, came up asking them to stop, an officer swept out her feet, dropping her to the ground, enabling them to pummel her as well as her husband. The police claimed that Flores had swallowed a white sweatsock – clearly denoting that he was a drug kingpin and therefore deserved summary punished without need for a court of law to them. When they finally stopped beating on the couple, they charged Flores with resisting arrest and two drug charges, despite no drugs being found on him. Guerrero was charged with obstruction,...

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Pat Robertson On Ferguson: Police Abuse Of Blacks Is ‘Thing Of The Past’ (VIDEO)

by FRANK MINERO – Televangelist Pat Robertson, host of “The 700 Club,” isn’t one of America’s great thinkers. During Wednesday’s broadcast, he once again demonstrated a lack of capacity for rational thought. While offering his opinion on recent protests in Ferguson, Robertson affirmed that African Americans have indeed been discriminated against for decades. He acknowledged that “there’s no question” black Americans have experienced police brutality. However, according to Robertson, “the abuses of the past are pretty much a thing of the past.” According to RightWingWatch.org, Robertson was commenting about nationwide protests in response to a grand jury refusal to indict white Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. Wilson shot and killed an unarmed black teen, Michael Brown, on August 9 of this year. The televangelist didn’t stop there. He blasted “the Al Sharptons of the world and other racial agitators” for ‘falsely’ portraying events in Ferguson as a call for social...

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The First Trailer for the New Star Wars Trilogy Is Here and It’s Great

by Peter Suderman – The first film in the new Star Wars trilogy, The Force Awakens, won’t be about for another year, but you can see the trailer today. It’s got rolling droids, Storm Troopers, X-Wings, and a nifty new lightsaber. It’s great. Really, really great. Watch it below: Low-flying X-Wings on a misty river. Yes. I’ve been somewhat skeptical about this project. Another trilogy? By J.J. Abrams? The same guy whose last film was an awful Star Trek reboot sequel? But I’m slowly being won over. NWF Daily NewsI suspect part of the reason is that, in contrast to the last Star Wars trilogy, the filmmakers and producers are actually paying attention to the audience this time around. They’re aware that the prequels were poorly received, and that fans are skeptical. Part of that is the transition in creative leadership. The prequels were made by George Lucas, the creator of...

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‘Fabulous’: Court Throws Out 100+ Arrests at Tar Sands Protest on Burnaby Mountain

Injunction boundaries around construction site are re-established with proper GPS coordinates, but court win comes as boon to campaigners committed to fighting pipeline by Jon Queally – More than one hundred people who have been arrested over the last week during dramatic protests against a tar sands pipeline on Burnaby Mountain in British Columbia had their civil contempt charges thrown out by a Canadian court on Thursday, giving a legal boost to the movement that says it will continue to fight the dirty energy project by the Kinder Morgan corporation. As the Vancouver Observer reports: SFU molecular biology chair Lynne Quarmby beamed widely as Justice Austin Cullen announced at the B.C. Supreme Court that Kinder Morgan’s request to extend the injunction date would be rejected, and said all charges of civil contempt for protesters arrested so far on Burnaby Mountain would be thrown out. “It’s fantastic!” Quarmby said, moments after the judge announced his decision....

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Abortion: A Quick Example to Show How Easy it is to Win Even Emotionally Charged Conversations

by akadjian – Here in Cincinnati we’ve been engaged in a fight to not become the largest metropolitan region (2.1 million people) in the country without an abortion clinic. When someone posted an update about the fight to one of our local politics forums, it attracted comments like the following painting right-to-lifers as “pro baby”: With language like this, the issue is politically charged to say the least. Most people are afraid to even respond because they know they’re going to be accused of “baby killing”. What I want to demonstrate is that it’s not that difficult to win conversations on abortion (and other highly charged conversations) if you understand what the opposition is trying to do and if you’re willing to try a slightly different approach. Here’s another conservative commenter: Here, the conservative commenter goes further and names the baby killers as “cultish progressives” in an attempt to provoke. He...

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Is Walmart the World’s Worst Corporation?

by John Logan, Truthout | Op-Ed – That was the question posed last week by Public Eye, a counter-event to the World Economic Forum, as it sought a worthy winner for its “lifetime achievement award.” For sure, Walmart – which has already won a Public Eye award in 2005 for labor rights violations in its global supply chain – faces stiff competition in the online poll. Among the other outstanding nominees for the world’s worst corporation are Goldman Sachs, Chevron, Dow Chemical and Union Carbide. Walmart’s impeccable credentials for the world’s worst corporation were covered last week by Truthout. The company denies a living wage, full-time work, predictable scheduling and employment security to its global workforce of 2.2 million people. It drives down wages and labor standards in its enormous global supply chain, most notably in the Bangladesh textile industry and the Thai shrimp industry. Walmart’s contempt for the...

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Incorrect Instructions, Witness Intimidation, And More Found In Ferguson Grand Jury Documentation

by NATHANIEL DOWNES – The case of the Ferguson grand jury continues unravelling around prosecutor Bob McCulloch. According to one of the deputy prosecutors working under McCulloch, Kathi Alizadeh, they had several issues in getting witnesses against Wilson to appear in court. Some of them have frankly said there is no way I’m coming in, no way I’m going to testify. But if you knock on the door and nobody answers, we have no right, you know, to kick in the door. This is an odd statement, for the prosecution actually does have the right to do so under the power of subpoena. Many states prohibit violent entry for it, but aggressive serving methods are often employed in issuing subpoenas, up to and including the use of deputized officers of the court who have wide latitude in delivering them. Something is horribly amiss. And once you give into the witness statements,...

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Pressured by Big Utilities, ‘Sunshine State’ Ends Solar Incentive

By Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch – Florida‘s official state nickname is “The Sunshine State.” But the state is doing its best to make that title seem ironic. With its legendary sunny climate, it’s perfectly positioned to generate much of its power from solar energy and help address climate change — something it’s particularly vulnerable to, given its exposure to rising sea levels and hurricanes. But yesterday its regulatory Public Service Commission (PSC) voted 3-2 to give in to utility industry pressure to eliminate its solar installation incentives and to weaken its clean energy standards by slashing its energy efficiency programs. “State regulators on Tuesday approved proposals to gut Florida’s energy-efficiency goals by more than 90 percent and to terminate solar rebate programs by the end of 2015, giving the investor-owned utilities virtually everything they wanted,” wrote Tampa Bay Times reporter Ivan Penn. “It’s not the direction I want to go in,” said commissioner Lisa Edgar,...

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Putting ‘Health Above Polluters,’ EPA Proposes New Ozone Limits

By Deirdre Fulton, Common Dreams – In a bid to protect public health and reduce the smog pollution that’s been linked to respiratory problems, asthma attacks, and cardiovascular damage, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday unveiled new air quality standards for ozone—though some suggested they might not go far enough. Ground-level ozone forms when emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds “cook” in the sun from sources like vehicles, factories, power plants, and certain fumes from fuels, solvents and paints. People most at risk from breathing air containing ozone include people with asthma, children, older adults, and those who are active or work outside. The EPA’s proposal would strengthen air quality standards to within a range of 65 to 70 parts per billion (ppb); the EPA said it will take comment on a level as low as 60 ppb. The agency last updated these standards in 2008, setting them...

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Why Don’t Americans Save Their Money?

We must kill Social Security in order to save retirement by Veronique de Rugy – One-third of Americans have nothing saved for retirement, according to a study published in August by the financial data aggregator Bankrate. That grim factoid joined a growing chorus of reports highlighting Americans’ dismal savings habits. In 2013, the National Institute of Retirement Security (NIRS) determined that 84 percent of Americans are falling short of “reasonable” retirement savings targets. Data from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College reflect a similar trend, and a recent PBS poll found that 92 percent of Americans believe we face a retirement crisis and that government should act now. The reality is not quite as grim as these reports suggest. The American Enterprise Institute’s Andrew Biggs took a hard look at the NIRS numbers and concluded that “the substance of the NIRS study should give pause to anyone considering drastic...

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Torture Report: Mark Udall’s Historic Moment to Rescue CIA Oversight

by Robert Naiman, Truthout | Op-Ed – “Time Is Running Out on the CIA Torture Report,” National Journal reports: Backroom negotiations over the release of a long-delayed Senate report on the George W. Bush administration’s use of so-called “enhanced interrogation” practices are again hitting a wall. The Senate is set to adjourn in mid-December, but Feinstein can still hold off on submitting the report until the start of next year by obtaining a consent agreement that would allow her to file when Congress is not in session. But the extension would only give Feinstein a few weeks of extra daylight. The current Senate will formally expire at noon on Jan. 3. The continued fraying of negotiations has some suggesting that the White House might be intentionally stalling, in hopes that it can run out the clock on the report’s release, especially with...

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Uproar as Tony Blair Given ‘Global Legacy’ Award From Renowned Charity

‘We consider this award inappropriate and a betrayal to Save the Children’s founding principles and values,’ charge Save the Children staff by Sarah Lazare – International charity Save the Children is facing uproar, including from internal staff, for granting the “global legacy award” to former UK Prime Minister and Iraq War architect Tony Blair. The award was given to Blair by the U.S. arm of the organization at a gala in New York City last week. Save the Children, which claims “protecting children from harm” as a key mission, lauded Blair for his alleged role heading anti-poverty initiatives at the 2005 Group of Eight summit in Scotland and for his “continued commitment to Africa.” The move unleashed a torrent of criticism, including a petition, with over 90,000 signatures so far, calling on Save the Children to revoke the award on the basis that Blair is seen by many as “the cause...

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Walmart Still Dodging $7K Fine For 2008 Black Friday Trampling Death (VIDEO)

by FRANK MINERO – On Black Friday in 2008, an employee named Jdimytai Damour was trampled to death at the Long Island Walmart. A mob of deal-crazed shoppers tore the doors from their hinges, rushed inside, and trampled him to death in the process. Damour had only worked for the big box retailer for one week prior to his death. Kimberly Cribbs of Queens witnessed the chaos and The New York Times reported her experience, “When they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling, ‘I’ve been on line since yesterday morning,’ ” Ms. Cribbs said. “They kept shopping.” Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined Walmart a paltry $7,000 for Damour’s death. As we approach the six year anniversary of this completely unnecessary tragedy, Walmart has still not paid the fine. According to The Huffington Post, their avoidance is clearly not about money....

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All Aboard: Japan’s Maglev Train Hits 500 km/h

By Nick Lavars, Gizmag – The Central Japan Railway Company has whisked passengers along a section of track at up to 500 km/h (311 mph) during testing of the Shinkansen maglev train. The BBC reports that one hundred wide-eyed train enthusiasts were onboard the train’s first manned voyage, with trials to continue over eight days. Japan’s famed bullet trains travel at speeds of around 320 kmh 200 (mph). But these may soon be left in the wake of the record-breaking levitating Shinkansen, which uses the force of electromagnets for propulsion and to hover above the track. The benefits of these super fast, friction-free train systems have been explored for several years. China’s state-owned press agency reported in 2012 that the China South Locomotive & Rolling Stock Corporation Limited, the country’s largest rail vehicle maker, built a train inspired by an ancient Chinese sword capable of hitting 500 km/h (311...

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Being Black, the Real Indictment in Ferguson and the USA

Now that the grand jury has returned with their decision on the extrajudicial killing of Michael Brown, we should be reminded that even though Darren Wilson was not indicted, Blackness was certainly indicted by the grand jury. by William C. Anderson, Truthout | News Analysis – Darren Wilson is free and the police continue to be empowered to kill with impunity. Blackness was found guilty yet again, as witnessed by the many Black slain and their stories. The color some of us carry around can exact a death sentence at a moment’s notice. Ever since the formation of the world’s greatest empire, Black people have been the eternal scapegoat for all that’s been wrong. Our blood waters the roots of war. There is nothing that can be expressed but grief, anger and frustration at the depraved patterns of this consistently immoral farce that calls itself the “criminal justice system.”...

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Bible Class Created By The President Of Hobby Lobby Gets Rejected By School District

by JOE FLETCHER – The Mustang public school system in Oklahoma has decided to cancel its plans to conduct a bible course created by Hobby Lobby President, Steve Green. The class was approved last April by the school board as an elective class. The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Staff Attorney, Andre Seidel, wrote a letter to the Oklahoma school district urging them to not approve the class due to a lack of objectivity in the curriculum. “I am amazed that any school district would think this is appropriate for public schools,” Seidel said in a press statement. “This just confirms the suspicions we had about the class last year. Clearly, Hobby Lobby and the Greens are trying to convert children to their particular brand of Christianity. There is nothing scholarly, fair or balanced about the curriculum.” “In summary, the topic of a Bible course in the Mustang School District is...

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In Praise of Russell Brand’s Sharing Revolution

For all of Brand’s joking and braggadocio, a sagacious theme runs through his new book: that a peaceful revolution must bring about a fairer sharing of the world’s resources, which depends upon a revelation about our true spiritual nature. by Adam Parsons – The political conversation on sharing is growing by the day, sometimes from the unlikeliest of quarters. And at the present time, there is perhaps no-one calling louder for a new society to be based on sharing than Russell Brand, the comedian-cum-activist and revolutionary. It is easy to dismiss much of Brand’s polysyllabic and self-referential meanderings, as do most of the establishment media in the USA and Britain, but this only serves to disregard his flashes of wisdom and the justified reasons for his popularity. His latest book is clearly not meant to be taken entirely seriously as a roadmap to “systemic change on a global scale”, hence the...

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Seven Years After: Why This Recovery Is Still a Turkey

by Dean Baker, Truthout | Op-Ed – December will mark the seventh anniversary of the beginning of the recession brought on by the collapse of the housing bubble. Usually an economy would be fully recovered from the impact of a recession seven years after its onset. Unfortunately, this is not close to being the case now. It would still take another 7-8 million jobs to bring the percentage of the population employed back to its pre-recession level. The 5.8 percent unemployment rate (compared to 4.5 percent before the recession) doesn’t reflect the true weakness of the labor force since so many people have dropped out of the labor force. Furthermore, more than 7 million people are working part-time who would like full-time jobs. This is an increase of almost 3 million from the pre-recession level. It’s not just the labor market that shows the economy’s slack. According to the...

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New CNN Poll: Americans Overwhelmingly Support Obama’s Action on Immigration

by David Nir – If there’s one thing we’ve seen over and over from all sorts of pollsters, it’s that Americans are very positive on the idea of immigration reform. So it’s no surprise that a new poll from CNN/ORC of adult Americans confirms exactly that, finding strong support for the plan Barack Obama announced last week to halt deportations of undocumented immigrants (full poll here): Q: A major part of Obama’s new policy changes will allow some immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally to stay here temporarily and apply for a work permit if they have children who are U.S. citizens. Other immigrants in the U.S. illegally will not be eligible for this program and can still be deported. Do you think that plan goes too far, does not go far enough, or is about right?Too far: 26 Not far enough: 22 About right: 50 Undecided: 1 That’s a...

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Rep. Peter King Says A White House Invitation For Darren Wilson Would Be ‘Very Helpful’ (VIDEO)

by SHANNON BARBER – Republicans are never happy with anything President Obama does, and his response to the situation in Ferguson is no different. Therefore, it is unsurprising that a GOP lawmaker, Rep. Peter King (R-NY), went on Fox News to express his displeasure with the Presidents words and actions, and to suggest what he should do instead. However, King’s demands are, in this case, so over the top, that they are pretty jaw-dropping, even by the standards of GOP extremists. What does King want, you might ask? Well, he wants President Obama to invite Darren Wilson, the officer who killed unarmed teen Michael Brown, to the White House. King said: “I think it would be very helpful if President Obama went and met with the police officer, or invited him to the White House and said, ‘You’ve gone through four months of smear and slander, and the least we can do...

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Fracking Approved in Largest National Forest in Eastern U.S.

By Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch – Despite strong opposition from both elected officials in the affected areas and environmental groups, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has approved fracking in George Washington Forest. Objections to the plan came from members of Congress from Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and Washington D.C. City Council, which passed a resolution opposing it in March. McAuliffe reiterated his opposition before a meeting of the state’s Climate Change and Resilience Commission in September. The forest, located in Virginia and West Virginia, is the largest national forest on the east coast. It contains the headwaters of the Potomac River, which feed into the Chesapeake Bay and provide drinking water for millions of people in the Washington, DC/Chesapeake region. The USFS had initially proposed  to ban fracking in the 1.1 million acre forest, the first outright ban of the practice in a national forest. But when the...

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Hagel’s Departure Should Open Debate on Obama’s Wars

by Medea Benjamin – Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was supposed to steer the Pentagon away from a decade of war, including bringing US troops home from Afghanistan and paving the way for a reduction in the Pentagon budget. Instead, the Obama administration has opted for remaining in Afghanistan, continuing the disastrous drone wars in Pakistan and Yemen, and dragging our nation into another round of military involvement in Iraq, as well as Syria. The ISIL crises has also been used as a justification for not cutting the Pentagon budget, as required by sequestration. The issue facing this nation is not who replaces Hagel, but what policy decisions we want to Pentagon to implement. Troops out of Afghanistan: The public has long soured on US military involvement in Afghanistan. President Obama’s recent executive decision to keep the troops thereto confront the Taliban is taking us down the wrong path. After 13...

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The Fix Was in All Along in Ferguson

By Mike Caccioppoli This is my first reaction to what just happened in Ferguson. My stomach is in knots. Buildings are burning. There are people who have criticized the title of my blog “America The Not So Beautiful.” They wanted something more optimistic, softer. Can you argue with the title now? I mean can you really? We are retreating in this country. As other nations forge ahead, we are back in the 1950’s and 60’s. It’s Selma all over again and Watts and even further back, into the Dark Ages. This is where we are now. No justice and certainly no peace. We all sat together, watched, listened together. Listened as the corrupt St. Louis County prosecutor named Bob McCulloch, told the nation, told all of us, from San Francisco to Chicago to New York to Miami and to the heart of the tragedy, Ferguson, Missouri, that Darren Wilson,...

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‘Turning Point’? Hong Kong Police Descend on Protest Sites, Targeting Leaders

Newest crackdown comes as seven officers arrested in brutality case by Nadia Prupis – A mass of Hong Kong police in riot gear swept a major Occupy Central protest site on Wednesday, breaking down barricades and tents and arresting over a hundred people, including some of the more prominent activists in the pro-democracy movement that emerged over the summer. Among those taken into custody was Joshua Wong, the student leader hailed by TIME in October as “the voice of a generation.” Hundreds of officers descended on a key protest zone in the busy commercial and residential district of Mong Kok, where organizers with Occupy Central have held operations for months. According to Reuters, the crackdown “could be a turning point in the fight to wrest greater political freedom from Beijing’s control.” Reuters continues: Mong Kok has been a flashpoint for clashes between students and mobs intent on breaking up the protests, which...

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A Jaw-dropping Fall

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Salmon for Supper?

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Paul Krugman Slams Republican Plans For More Spending Cuts

by LEFT WING NATION – What does it take to convince a Republican that trying to “improve” the economy by cutting government spending doesn’t work? According to Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman? Nothing. They can’t be convinced. Ever. In an op-ed for the Sunday Times, Krugman highlights the reality that faces our economy. It’s been 6 years since the Federal Reserve lowered interest rates to between 0 and .25%. They literally cannot get any lower. Since then, the GOP and other Very Serious People have been demanding austerity (cutting deficits and reducing government spending) or else inflation and a collapsed economy will destroy us all. This is the exact opposite of what textbook economics say we should do, and what previous presidents (including Republican presidents) have actually done, to get out an economic slump. And here we are, six years later: The economy is still limping along and inflation...

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Biotech Bully: Monsanto Sues State over Newly Victorious GMO Ban

A legal battle to strip away our collective voice by Mike Barrett – On November 4th, citizens of the Hawaiian island Maui successfully voted to prohibit any growth and testing or cultivation of genetically modified crops until scientific studies prove their safety. The measure is also meant to halt any genetic modification and engineering operations in the county until said study was conducted. But now, biotech giants Monsanto and Dow have fearfully threatened to sue Maui, subsequently leading a federal judge to put a halt on the measure. The people have spoken, with 51.19% supporting the measure, but apparently votes aren’t enough. Now, a legal battle will, at worst, nullify the law, and at best, delay it from taking effect for an undetermined amount of time. The lawsuit filed by Monsanto and Dow asks a judge to immediately prevent the law from taking effect while invalidating the new law. With the passing of the new law, Monsanto...

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Abbott: Immigration Lawsuit Could Come in Two Weeks

by Terri Langford, The Texas Tribune – A state lawsuit challenging President Obama’s executive order shielding as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation could come from Texas in the next two weeks, Gov.-elect Greg Abbott said during a Monday press conference. “Most everyone agrees that the immigration system in America is broken,” Abbott said. “Similarly, most agree that executive fiat is not the right way to fix it.” Added Abbott: “The president must follow the law just like everyone else.” Obama’s order means that undocumented parents of children in the country legally are eligible for a reprieve from deportation proceedings if they pass background checks, pay taxes and have been in the country for more than five years. That could affect as many as 533,000 undocumented immigrants in Texas, about 40 percent of the state’s population. Another 92,000 reside with children who are not citizens but could be in...

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Four Ways Officer Darren Wilson And The Ferguson Police Could Still Be Held Accountable In Court

by IAN MILLHISER – Monday night, St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced that a grand jury decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson, the cop who shot and killed 18 year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. McCulloch, whose involvement in this case was opposed by civil rights groups including the NAACP, is the son of a police officer who was killed in the line of duty. Moreover, as Nicole Flatow explained for ThinkProgress, as an elected prosecutor he faced powerful institutional pressure encouraging him not to aggressively pursue charges against Officer Wilson. Fears that McCulloch would be a less-than-zealous advocate for an indictment of Wilson appear to be vindicated by the analysis of two legal experts — a criminal law professor and a former prosecutor, who argue that McCulloch followed highly unusual practices in presenting the Wilson case to the grand jury. Among other things, according to attorney Jerryl T. Christmas,...

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The National Bar Association Is Calling ‘BS’ On Ferguson Grand Jury – Calling For Federal Charges

by WENDY GITTLESON – The conventional wisdom about grand juries is that a prosecutor could indict a ham sandwich and normally, getting past the grand jury is a breeze. It’s the trial where a defense attorney has to prove his or her chops. That’s not what happened in Ferguson, MO, though, when Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson was not even given a trial in the shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown, and the largest association of African-American lawyers and judges in the country are saying that something went very, very wrong in Ferguson. They are calling for federal charges to be brought up. In a press release issued Monday night, they said: The National Bar Association is questioning how the Grand Jury, considering the evidence before them, could reach the conclusion that Darren Wilson should not be indicted and tried for the shooting death of Michael Brown. National Bar Association President...

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Republican Senator: GOP Needs To Develop Real Position On Climate Policy

by EMILY ATKIN – A leading Republican in the U.S. Senate is calling out his colleagues on the right for not having a concrete position on climate and the environment, and warning them of the consequences if they don’t develop one before the 2016 Presidential election. “I think there will be a political problem for the Republican Party going into 2016 if we don’t define what we are for on the environment,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R-SC), according to a Roll Call report. “I don’t know what the environmental policy of the Republican Party is.” As it is now, the vast majority of Senate Republicans oppose policies to protect the environment and the climate. The League of Conservation Voters (LCV), a pro-environment non-profit that tracks how politicians vote on environmental legislation, notes that in their career lifetimes, only two of the 46 Republican senators currently in office voted to protect...

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Congress Poised To Eliminate Key Tax Breaks For Middle Class, Provide Permanent Tax Breaks For Corporations

by IGOR VOLSKY – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has reached a compromise with House Republicans on a package of tax breaks that would permanently extend relief for big multinational corporations without providing breaks for middle or lower-income families, individuals with knowledge of the deal tell ThinkProgress. Under the terms of the $444 billion agreement, lawmakers would phase out all tax breaks for clean energy and wind energy but would maintain fossil fuel subsidies. Expanded eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit would also end in 2017, even though the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that allowing the provisions to expire would push “16 million people in low-income working families, including 8 million children into — or deeper into — poverty.” The proposal would help students pay for college by making permanent the American Permanent Opportunity Tax Credit, a Democratic priority. Meanwhile,...

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Ben Carson: ‘I Feel Fingers Of God Pushing Me To Run In 2016′ (VIDEO)

by RYAN DENSON – Here we go again. Another Republican claiming that God is choosing them to be the next President of the United States. I’ll make a bet with you. When Ben Carson, in about a year and a half, says that God told him it wasn’t his time, I’ll buy you all a drink. The same thing every Republican says when they run for President and end up falling short of “what God wanted.” In an interview with Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, hosted by David Brody, Ben Carson said he is feeling the hand of the Lord nudging on him toward a presidential race right up to the White House. BRODY: And how is that conversation going with God about a potential presidential run? Has He grabbed you by the collar yet, I read an article about that? CARSON: I feel fingers. But, um, you know… It’s mostly me. I...

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7 Candidates for Corporate Rip-Off of the Year

by Paul Buchheit – There are so many to choose from. Every one of these selections is an act of corporate treachery that takes billions of dollars from the American people. 1. Selling Medication For Up To 100 Times More Than It’s Worth Pharmaceutical companies reap billions of dollars in subsidies for research and development, but they’ve successfully lobbied Congress to keep Medicare from bargaining for lower drug prices. An extreme example is Gilead Sciences, the manufacturer of the drug Sovaldi, which charges about $10 a pill to its customers in Egypt, then comes home to charge $1,000 a pill to its American customers. Other outrageous examples are noted by Ralph Nader. As a further insult, Americans are cheated when corporations pay off generic drug manufacturers to delay entry of their products into the market, thereby forcing consumers to pay the highest prices for medicine. 2. Paying Their Employees With Our Tax Money  Walmart made $19 billion in U.S. profits last year, and the...

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How Many Homeless People Will Freeze To Death This Winter?

by SCOTT KEYES – Levi Cummings didn’t die of old age. He didn’t die in an accident, and he wasn’t murdered. Cummings died because he was homeless. He likely froze to death — the state medical examiner must still officially release the cause of death — last Thursday, a victim of the polar vortex and of his inability to afford a place to stay. Cummings left behind his main companion, a dog named Baby Girl, and a bevy of goodwill in the community. “He was the kindest, sweetest man you ever met,” Glenn Blankenship, director of the Shawnee Rescue Mission, told the Shawnee News-Star. Cummings’ death, like those of all homeless people who die from the cold, was preventable. However, he had the unfortunate luck of living in Shawnee, Oklahoma, a city ThinkProgress previously profiled as the worst city in America to be homeless. There should have been another shelter...

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Senate Torture Investigation Fails to Interview Key Torture Victims

Attorneys for detainees say that the U.S. government has ‘no desire to credibly investigate or in any other way hold accountable’ those who approved or conducted torture by Lauren McCauley – The soon-to-be-released Senate inquiry into CIA torture has failed to investigate the experience of those who felt that treatment first hand: Guantanamo’s highest level detainees, according to Monday reporting by the Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman, who spoke with attorneys for the imprisoned men. “If you’re conducting a genuine inquiry of a program that tortured people, don’t you begin by talking to the people who were tortured?” David Nevin, who represents accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, told Ackerman. According to Nevin, his client along with accused al-Qaeda members Walid bin Attash, Abu Zubaydah, and suspected USS Cole bomber Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri were never approached by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), led by committee chairwoman Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), which...

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Legal Experts Explain Why The Ferguson Grand Jury Was Set Up For Failure (VIDEO)

by JUDD LEGUM – In this video, two experienced attorneys explain what, in their view, are serious flaws with the grand jury process in the Darren Wilson case. The lawyers, St. Louis University law professor Susan McGraugh and Jerryl T. Christmas, a defense attorney and former prosecutor in St. Louis, are unsparing in their criticism of county prosecutor Bob McCulloch. (Christmas has participated in protests following Brown’s death.) Specifically, McGraugh and Christmas question McCulloch’s unusual decision to present “all evidence” to the grand jury. Typically, prosecutors present to the grand jury only the evidence necessary to establish probable cause. (A grand jury does not determine guilt or innocence but only if a reasonable jury could find the defendant guilty.) McGraugh and Christmas are especially critical of McCulloch’s decision to allow Wilson to testify for hours in front of the grand jury. McGraugh and Christmas emphasized that, when a prosecutor truly...

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Wacko GOP Chair To American Muslims: ‘Except Jesus Chist Or Leave The Country’

by T. STEELMAN – Yes, I’m aware of the misspellings in the headline but that’s the way Big Stone County Republican Chairman Jack Whitley wrote it on his Facebook page (which has now been taken down or scrubbed).  It was part of a crazy rant he wrote last week, explaining that all Muslims are terrorists and referring to them as “parasites.” His Facebook page is now “currently unavailable” but, luckily, Bluestem Prairie copied the post and shared it on their blog. “I am opposed to waterboarding muslim terrorists because it is a waste of resources. They are muslims, they are terrorist, we know where they are from, we know where their buddies are, we know where thier mosque’s are, we know millions of these parasites travel to Mecca every year and when…FRAG ‘EM! Simplicity. I love when it all comes together!” Is he suggesting that we kill all Muslims, here in the...

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Tortured and Raped by Israel, Persecuted and Imprisoned by the United States

by Dahr Jamail, Truthout | News Report – On November 10, leading Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh, 67, was jailed after being found “guilty” of immigration fraud. The US government claims Odeh lied on an immigration application when she said she had never been arrested, convicted or imprisoned. Odeh is accused of concealing that she was charged by the Israeli military with bombing a supermarket when she was 22. The charge is based on a “confession” obtained by rape and torture at the hands of members of the Israeli military (IDF) more than 40 years ago. Odeh, who moved to the United States in 1995 and serves as the associate director of the Chicago Arab American Action Network (AAAN), was alleged to have “confessed” to the bombing charges imposed by the Israeli military court. “It was clearly not a fair trial,” Odeh’s lawyer Michael Deutsch, with the People’s Law Office,...

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Right-Wing America’s Sick Twitter Celebrations Over Ferguson Decision

by KERRY-ANNE – The decision not to indict Darren Wilson with the murder of unarmed African-American teen Michael Brown sent ripples of horror across the country, and across the world. The grim realization: In the US, it is now effectively legal to kill African Americans. The American Right however are merrily outdoing each other with truly sickening twitter celebrations. The sight of the conservative Twitterati firing their barbs at an African-American community reeling from a string of unanswered assassinations of unarmed citizens by cops is stomach-churning. How do you gloat over the murder of an unarmed teenager while he has his hands in the air? Simple, rewrite history.  Make the armed cop vulnerable, and the unarmed kid the aggressor. And while you’re at it, why pin the whole thing on the “liberals?” And of course, no Right-Wing hate-fest would be complete without invoking “White Fright” – because obviously it’s the...

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Israeli Cabinet Approves Law Restricting National Rights To Jews Only

The Israeli cabinet has approved, with a majority of 14-7, a bill which formalizes the racial Apartheid of the state by reserving national rights to Jewish citizens alone. There is a phrase common among non-Jewish inhabitants of Israel that goes: “Israel is a Jewish Democracy.  For Jews it’s a democracy, for everyone else it’s Jewish…” The Jewish Nation State Bill sets out to resolve this tension Israel has wrestled with from the get-go, that its efforts to remain a Jewish state are at odds with its stated ambitions to be a democracy.  The Bill makes maintaining the Jewish character of the state the priority in all matters of law and justice.  Key elements of the bill include: The bill defines the State of Israel’s identity as “the nation-state of the Jewish people.” The country’s national holidays are Jewish religious holidays The flag is the Magen David Jewish law will...

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Jeb Bush’s Four Mysterious Companies Share The Same Address And Have Never Done Any Known Business

by JOSH ISRAEL – Jeb Bush and his capital investment company have set up several companies that, despite being registered to his office and being approved for “any and all lawful business,” have seemingly not yet done anything. A ThinkProgress review of corporate registration records with the Florida Department of State revealed several companies registered in Bush’s name but little additional information. In addition to his lengthy and troubled history as a business consultant and corporate board member, in recent years former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) has ventured into a new territory: capital investment. Since 2008, he and his partners have registered a lengthy array of secretive companies with the state of Florida. CREDIT: FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE Bush has registered Altara Investments LLC (November 2011), Columbus Equity Holdings LLC (May 2013), De Soto Partners LLC (May 2012, with his son Jeb Bush Jr.), and Granada Investment Holdings, LLC (January...

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Fires Burn As Community Feels Pain of Injustice: Dispatches from Ferguson

by Jon Queally – Following Monday night’s announcement by St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch that a grand jury would not indict police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, the city of Ferguson, Missouri erupted in unrest fueled by an outpouring of emotion by those both outraged and saddened by the decision. Dozens of fires burned buildings and cars throughout the night in Ferguson and National Guard units were ultimately deployed in the early hours of Tuesday. And the New York Times reports that Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is ready to send additional soldiers to Ferguson if he deems it necessary. While the national response to the grand jury decision included spontaneous marches in dozens of cities—including Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Oakland and others—on the streets of Ferguson, in areas near the police department headquarters and in the neighborhood where Brown was killed on...

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Christian Fundamentalist Goes To Science Museum To ‘Audit’ Its Liberal Bias, Makes Ass Of Self (VIDEO)

A Christian fundamentalist who specializes in “exposing” liberals and scientists (she equates the two) as frauds and doesn’t mind looking really stupid doing it when she went deep behind enemy lines: She took a field trip to a science museum. Convinced that Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History was engaged in a left-wing conspiracy to get kids to stop believing in Adam and Eve, Megan Fox (no relation to the “Transformers” actress) grabbed her camera and went there to see if she could ferret out science’s well-known liberal bias. On her YouTube channel, where she frequently post videos about liberal bias, Fox explained her mission: “In November 2014, Megan Fox toured the Field Museum’s ‘Evolving Earth’ exhibit to audit it for bias. She found many examples of inconsistencies and the Field Museum’s insistence that people support opinion as fact without proof. The Field Museum pushes certain theories as if they...

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Grand Jury: No Indictment for Officer in Michael Brown Shooting

A grand jury has decided that there is no cause to indict white police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in August, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch said at a news conference Monday night after weeks of tension and occasionally violent protests. The decision comes more than three months after Wilson killed Brown, 18, during a confrontation in the St. Louis suburb, setting off weeks of demonstrations and a national conversation about policing and race relations. Since the Aug. 9 shooting, the St. Louis region has been bracing for renewed unrest. McCulloch said his “sworn duty and that of the grand jury is to seek justice and not simply to attain an indictment or conviction.” He suggested that many of the witness accounts given to law enforcement and the grand jury contradicted one another, or differed from earlier statements made by...

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Big Pharma—Crony Capitalism Out of Control

by Ralph Nader – Two recent news items about the voracious drug industry should call for a supine Congress to arouse itself and initiate investigations about the pay-or-die drug prices that are far too common. The first item—a page one story in the New York Times—was about the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Foundation, which fifteen years ago invested $150 million in the biotechnology company Big Pharma—Crony Capitalism Out of Control Vertex Pharmaceuticals  to develop a drug for this serious lung disease. On November 19, the Foundation reported a return of $3.3 billion from that investment. Kalydeco, the drug developed with that investment, is taken daily by CF patients (who can afford it) and is priced at $300,000 a year per patient. Who can pay that price? The second news release came from the drug industry funded Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development. The Center’s Joseph DiMasi asserts that the cost of...

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Solar Energy Could Power America 100 Times Over

By Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch – “America could meet its energy needs by capturing just a sliver of the virtually limitless and pollution-free energy that strikes the nation every day in the form of sunlight.” That’s the assertion of a new report Star Power: The Growing Role of Solar Energy in America, released today by Environment America. Enough sunlight strikes the U.S. every year to power the country 100 times over, say the report’s authors, and 35 million homes and businesses could potentially host solar panels. And with solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in the U.S. tripling just in the last two years, more than half of all new electricity generating capacity in the first half of 2014 coming from solar installations and enough installed capacity now in existence to power 3.2 million homes, the report authors suggest that the U.S. should set a goal of generating 10 percent of its electricity from...

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These Two Men Spent 39 Years In Jail And Were Sentenced To Death For A Crime They Did Not Commit

by IAN MILLHISER – On May 19, 1975, Ricky Jackson was a 20-year-old ex-Marine who had recently received an honorable discharge for health reasons. His 17-year-old friend Ronnie Bridgeman worked at a restaurant while he trained to be a welder at a nearby trade school. The two spent that day playing pick-up basketball at a local playground and then a game of chess at the Bridgeman home while Ronnie’s brother Wiley was washing his car outside. Meanwhile, in another part of their home town, a white businessman was killed by unknown assailants. Less than a week later, all three were under arrest for a murder that they did not commit. Ronnie was finally paroled in 2003. Ricky Jackson and Wiley Bridgeman, by contrast, were just released from prison on Friday. It took 39 years for the state of Ohio to discover that it had locked up three men for a...

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Dispatch from Syria: US Bombing Campaign Driving Wave of ISIS Support

‘Fighters from the Free Syrian Army and several Islamic military groups say Isis is gaining allies or truces due to US bombings,’ reporting reveals by Jon Queally – Months after the U.S. initiated military airstrikes in Syria with the stated goal of uprooting Islamic State (or ISIS) militants, new in-depth reporting from the ground in that country reveals that numerous forces once opposed to the group are now citing the U.S.-led bombing campaign as a reason to change their alliances and join the very fighters they once opposed. According to a series of interviews with the Guardian‘s Mona Mahmood, members of the Free Syrian Army and other Islamic military groups that were previously engaged in a two-front battle against the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad on one side and ISIS on the other, are shifting their thinking, and their military alliances, based on the behavior of the U.S. military. As...

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Lava and the Stars

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What Light Through Yonder Canyon Breaks?

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