10 Good Things About the Year 2014

by Medea Benjamin – It’s been a year of fervent activism on police accountability, living wages, climate change, personal freedoms, immigrant rights, an open internet and diplomacy over war. The electoral beating the Democrats received has prompted both the Administration and some spineless congresspeople to realize that support for progressive issues could reinvigorate their base —a realization that has already led to Obama’s executive action on immigration and the opening to Cuba. So here are some of the 2014 highlights. 1. Uprising for police accountability. The movement for police accountability has swept the nation, spawning brilliant new leaders from communities most affected, giving a voice to the families who have lost loved ones and opening people’s eyes to the militarization of our police forces. It is an organic, grassroots movement destined to have a transformative impact on the struggle for racial equality. Keep an eye out in 2015 for CODEPINK’s campaign...

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Limbaugh’s Greatest Hits 2014

by hrhprissy – Here is a small sample of the racism, misogyny, homophobia, bigotry, misinformation and lies which Rush Limbaugh spewed through the golden microphone this year.  Limbaugh is also a first rate climate denier so your desert menu includes a few tasty dishes that are heating up as we speak.  The hits just keep on coming and knowing Rush, next year will be just as bountiful.  As we like to say around the old StopRush hashtag, this isn’t really work, El Rushbo writes our tweets for us.“It wasn’t that long ago that I was the titular head of the Republican Party.” December 17, 2014 “It is very simple what that mandate is. It is to stop Barack Obama. It is to stop the Democrat Party. There is no other reason why Republicans were elected yesterday.” November 5, 2014 “The Pope is demanding that the United Nations somehow use it’s influence...

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The Rich Get Richer: World’s 400 Richest Get $92 Billion Richer in 2014 (VIDEO)

by FRANK MINERO – The most grotesquely wealthy 400 individuals on the planet have hoarded another $92 billion dollars in 2014. They now sit on assets worth $4.1 trillion dollars. That’s $4,100,000,000,000 dollars. Earlier this year, Oxfam released a report revealing the 85 richest people in the world held as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population. Oxfam’s results were released in January of 2014. It appears these figures are in need of an update. According to RT.com, those who plundered most effectively this past year include: Jack Ma, co-founder of China’s largest e-commerce company, the Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Ma stuffed $25.1 billion into his coffers. Warren Buffett gained $13.7 billion as dozens of businesses he purchased over the last 50 years scored record profits. Chinese media and retail mogul Wang Jianlin profited $12.8 billion. The fourth largest wealth builder, Mark Zuckerberg, tossed another $10.6 billion...

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Keystone XL Pipeline at Top of GOP Agenda in 2015

With hearing set for next week, Republicans eye possibility of bypassing need for presidential approval by Nadia Prupis – The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is set to hold a hearing next week to discuss the Keystone XL pipeline. The hearing will take place on January 7, once Republicans retake control of the Senate. The committee will consider legislation that, if approved, would push the controversial $7 billion project forward after years of resistance from environmental organizations and some Democrats in Congress. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) vowed to make Keystone a top issue, saying before the end of this year’s session that it would be the first item brought to the floor by the GOP in 2015. In November, the Senate—then still majority Democrat—rejected a bill to approve the Canada-to-Texas pipeline by a single vote. Republicans promised to move the bill forward once they took control of the Senate...

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Climate Change 2014: What Do We Do Now?

by Bruce Melton, Truthout | News Analysis – As we move into 2015, the latest climate science continues to diverge from policy. New science tells us that, because of short-lived climate pollutants, current policies dealing with carbon dioxide pollution alone will likely produce more warming than doing nothing at all. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has now also said that we must begin to effect a large removal of the accumulated climate pollution already in our atmosphere – that emissions reductions alone are no longer sufficient. But all is not discouraging, when it comes to new climate discoveries. Atmospheric removal of carbon dioxide now appears to be no more expensive than many things our civilization does every day. This is a paradigm change from current policy. All policy to date basically relies only on reducing carbon dioxide emissions that we put in the sky every year. Nowhere...

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10 Ways Human Rights and Democracy Won in 2014 (Yeah, You Heard That Right)

Let’s be honest: It was a brutal year for human rights. But we still have victories worth celebrating by Sarah van Gelder – In 2014, we saw a lot of brutality. Unarmed black men and women were killed by police, women were raped on college campuses and in military barracks, foreign nationals were tortured, and young and mentally ill Americans were confined for extended periods in solitary confinement in U.S. prisons. It was a violent year, but no worse than other years. What was different was the emergence of new movements of resistance—and with them new possibilities for change. 1. Black Lives Matter It was no secret to black Americans that they were disproportionately targeted for police violence, arrests, and incarceration. Black men are 21 times as likely to be shot by police as white men, according to a report by ProPublica. And the Pew Center reports that black men are...

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Greed Kings of 2014: How They Stole from Us

by Paul Buchheit – The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘steal’ is to take the property of another wrongfully and especially as a habitual or regular practice. Much of our country’s new wealth has been regularly taken by individuals or corporations in a wrongful manner, either through nonpayment of taxes or failure to compensate other contributors to their successes. 1. The Corporations  As schools and local governments are going broke around the country, companies who built their businesses with American research and education and technology and infrastructure are paying less in taxes than ever before. Incredibly, over half of U.S. corporate foreign profits are now being held in tax havens, double the share of just twenty years ago. Corporations are stealing from the nation that made them rich. There are many examples of greed among individual firms. Based largely on 2014 SEC documents submitted by the companies themselves: Exxon has almost 80% of its productive oil and gas wells in the U.S. but declared only...

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GOP Leaders Back Lawmaker Who Spoke At White Supremacist Event

by IAN MILLHISER – House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), the #3 Republican in the U.S. House, has Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) “full confidence as our Whip,” according to a statement put out by Boehner’s office. That’s despite the fact that Scalisespoke at a white supremacist event in 2002. This sentiment is echoed by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who claims that he’s known Scalise “as a friend for many years and I know that he does not share the beliefs” of the organization that hosted the event. The event in question was hosted by an organization called the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, or EURO, which was founded by David Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Although Scalise spoke at the event more than a decade ago, his appearance at the event did not become widely known until a local blogger uncovered several posts...

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High School Basketball Team Banned From Tournament Over ‘I Can’t Breathe’ Shirts

by TRAVIS WALDRON – School officials in California briefly banned two high school basketball teams from participating in a holiday tournament this weekend amid fears that players on both teams planned to wear “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts during warm-ups, the Associated Press reported. The boys and girls teams from Mendocino (CA) High School had worn the shirts, which bear a slogan that has become a rallying cry in nationwide protests against police killings of unarmed black men, before previous games. But the principal and athletic director at Fort Bragg High School, the tournament host, decided that the teams could not play in the tournament unless they agreed not to wear the shirts during it. “To protect the safety and well-being of all tournament participants it is necessary to ensure that all political statements and or protests are kept away from this tournament,” Rebecca Walker, the Fort Bragg principal, wrote in...

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U.S. Senate Gives Black Eye to House Fundamentalist Christians

By Mikey Weinstein, Daily Kos – The U.S. Senate has courageously just stood up to the Christian-supremacist bullies in the House of Representatives. Oh yes, the Senate has just completely ripped away from their religiously bigoted, House counterparts a would-be treasured bible-thumping bonanza of immeasurable, unconstitutional proselytization.  This erstwhile prize of legislative plunder had been specifically designed by these Congressmen and Congresswomen from the House, in nefarious collaboration with their legions of fundamentalist Christian parachurch allies, to be embedded deep within the confines of the 2015 Pentagon authorization/funding act. Fortunately, the plan by these Christian crusader Members of the House failed. Please let me briefly explain, my friends. For nearly a decade we at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) have fought night and day against the noxious trespasses of the Religious Right upon the rights of the brave men and women in our United States armed services. It’s been a bruising...

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Iraq’s Sunnis May Seek Iran’s Help Against ISIL

Desperate for arms and military training to fight ISIL, Sunni tribes were considering Iranian assistance as an option Baghdad – Iraqi Sunni tribal sheikhs threatened to resort to the United States’ rival in the region, the Islamic Republic of Iran, to get the needed military support in their fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), if the US did not respond to their demands, warned Iraqi lawmakers and tribal sheikhs. The warning came during a meeting with US Senator, John McCain, who embarked on a short visit to Baghdad on Friday. McCain met with several Iraqi lawmakers and tribal sheikhs representing the Sunni-dominated provinces of Anbar, Saladin, Diyala as well as the towns constituting the belt of Baghdad, to discuss proposed plans to confront ISIL. Three Iraqi Sunni figures who attended the meeting told Al Jazeera that a list of demands was submitted to McCain asking for...

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One Of America’s Most Conservative Courts Just Might Rule For Marriage Equality

by IAN MILLHISER – The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is home to some of the most conservative federal appeals judges in the country. Five of the court’s judges once wrote that a man could be executed despite the fact that his lawyer slept through much of his trial. In 2011, a Fifth Circuit panel strongly suggested that undocumented immigrants have no Fourth Amendment right to be free from unlawful searches or seizures. The court’s former chief judge once cut off one of her few liberal colleagues during an oral argument, telling him “I want you to shut up.” Last summer, ThinkProgress predicted that marriage equality was less likely to prevail in the Fifth Circuit than in any other federal appeals court where a marriage case was pending. On Monday, however, the Fifth Circuit revealed the panel of three judges who will hear challenges to marriage...

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Vermonters Ready Celebration as Nuclear Plant Shuts Down for Good

Owners of Vermont Yankee lost their battle with local residents to keep accident-prone plant running for decades By Jon Queally, Common Dreams – Residents throughout New England have reason to celebrate on Monday as Vermont Yankee, the sole nuclear power plant in the state of Vermont, powers down for the final time after years of grassroots organizing and political opposition. The owners of Vermont Yankee, the Entergy corporation, had fought hard to extend the license of the plant, but a series of accidents in recent years and a pronounced campaign against the extension took place in the streets and within the state legislature ultimately overwhelmed those efforts. Earlier this year, citing economic reasons, Entergy announced it would shutter the plant by the end of the year. As an editorial published by the local SentinelSource, in neighboring Keene, New Hampshire, explained on Sunday: Sometime Monday, workers at Vermont Yankee will begin the...

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The New York Times Skewers Childish NYPD For Turning Backs On Mayor Bill de Blasio

by STEPHEN D FOSTER JR – In an article written by the New York Times’ Editorial Board, the paper blasted the NYPD for being disrespectful of Mayor Bill de Blasio and for embarrassing themselves through childish acts that trash the department’s reputation. In an opinion piece published on Monday, The New York Times roundly criticized the childish actions of NYPD officers who shamefully turned their backs on the mayor during the funeral of one of their fallen colleagues, Rafael Ramos. The disrespect continued only days later when de Blasio was booed and heckled as he spoke at a police graduation ceremony. The Times declared that these acts only make things worse and cause people to lose even more respect for the boys in blue. Mr. de Blasio isn’t going to say it, but somebody has to: With these acts of passive-aggressive contempt and self-pity, many New York police officers, led by...

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President Obama To GOP: ‘Responsibly Govern Or Be Prepared For Me To Use My Veto Pen’ (VIDEO)

by DEBI JOHNSON-CHAMP – With two years remaining in his presidency, President Obama has already staked out his position in dealing with the incoming Republican controlled Congress. During an interview with NPR, the President acknowledged his “frustration” with the results of the mid-term elections which resulted in the loss of control of the Senate. After more than six years of obstruction, President Obama said: “On the other hand, now you’ve got Republicans in a position where it’s not enough for them simply to grind the wheels of Congress to a halt and then blame me. They are going to be in a position in which they have to show that they can responsibly govern, given that they have significant majorities in both chambers.” While the President reaffirmed his willingness to work with Republican leaders, he made it no secret that he was fully prepared to exercise his veto power over...

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Fight for Our Progressive Vision

by Bernie Sanders – As I look ahead to this coming year, a number of thoughts come to mind. First and foremost, against an enormous amount of corporate media noise and distraction, it is imperative that we not lose sight of what is most important and the vision that we stand for. We have got to stay focused on those issues that impact the lives of tens of millions of Americans who struggle every day to keep their heads above water economically, and who worry deeply about the kind of future their kids will have. Yes. We make no apologies in stating that the great moral, economic and political issue of our time is the growing level of income and wealth inequality in our nation.It is a disgrace to everything this country is supposed to stand for when the top one-tenth of 1 percent owns almost as much wealth as the...

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Why “The Interview” Is Not Worth Your Time

by Jimmy Johnson, Truthout | Film Review – The Interview dir. Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen 112 min | 2014 Columbia Pictures, L Star Capital, Point Grey Pictures Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen’s latest filmThe Interview was bound to get some attention even before its distributor, Sony, was hacked and the debacle with alleged threats from North Korea (DPRK) ensued. A film this racist would get attention regardless. Unfortunately, due to the publicity around the Sony hack, many more people will likely be subjected to The Interview and the attention won’t be as negative as it deserves. What follows includes spoilers if you believe something already rotten can be spoiled. The Interview opens with an othering scene of a young North Korean girl singing about destroying the United States before an audience of dignitaries prior to a missile launch. The othering completes with a series of short news clips about...

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Darren Wilson Wasn’t the First: A Short History of Killer Cops Let Off the Hook

by Flint Taylor – The Ferguson grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the killing of African-American teenager Michael Brown is heartless but unsurprising. But it is important to place the case in context with the history of police violence investigations and prosecutions in high profile cases—and the systemic and racist police brutality that continues to plague the nation. In doing so, there are lessons for the movement for justice in the Michael Brown case, as well as for those who are engaged in the broader struggle against law enforcement violence. What follows, then, is a brief history of similar high profile cases where public outrage compelled the justice system to confront acts of racially motivated police violence—with, to say the least, less than satisfactory results. Chicago Over the past 45 years, Chicago has been a prime example of official indifference and cover-up when it...

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The One Big Problem With Police In St. Louis — And America — In A Single Image (VIDEO)

by ELISABETH PARKER – St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson angered civil rights activists once again by turning up at this year’s Veiled Prophet Ball. The secretive 135-year-old Veiled Prophet’s members hail from the city’s business, societal, and political elites, and they claim to be a civic and philanthropic organization. And of course, they didn’t allow Jews or blacks to be members or attend events (though — despite all the white people shown in photo albums of the event — that is technically no longer true). Needless to say, invitations to Veiled Prophet’s yearly ball are hard to come by. Veiled Prophet also hosts a Mardi-Gras-like parade each year for the public, yet the group has darker origins and many link it to the Ku Klux Klan. It’s hard not to link the Veiled Prophets to the Ku Klux Klan, given the design of their original symbol from 1878 (shown below). The illustration depicts a masked man in a...

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Pulling Back The Curtain On Bill Cosby’s Dirty PR Game

by EMILY ATKIN – Bill Cosby has reportedly hired a battalion of private detectives to dig up negative information about the 23 women who have publicly accused him of sexual assault, according to a New York Post story published Sunday. Citing various unnamed sources, The Post reported that the legendary comedian is “paying six-figure fees to private investigators for information that might discredit his alleged victims,” deploying a “scorched-earth strategy in which anything negative in his accusers’ pasts is fair game.” It’s a strategy that has been successful thus far, one source who “has worked with Cosby for at least a decade” said, noting they had already found negative information about two accusers, including supermodel Beverly Johnson. “We found out that Beverly never told her live-in lover of several years what she’s now telling the media and we found that to be strange,” the source is quoted as saying. The...

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World’s Biggest Car Company Says No to Gasoline, Yes to Hydrogen

  By Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch – Just as the widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) has begun to seem like a real possibility, the head of Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, is already projecting moving beyond that technology. Toyota president Akio Toyoda said in a lengthy profile in Business Week that the next step is cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells, and he believes Toyota could produce such a mass-market vehicle in the not-unforeseeable future. The company began work on fuel cell development in the early ’90s, but the cost of producing the vehicle was prohibitive at the time — close to  $1 million each. It’s since re-engineered the cells and the manufacturing process to make it more economical. While other companies are jumping into the EV market, expanding their offerings, improving their batteries and looking at ways to extent these vehicles’ range, Toyota will be offering its new hydrogen-fueled...

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3.1 Million Workers Get A Well Deserved Raise As Minimum Wage Increases On Jan. 1st (VIDEO)

What better way to tackle income inequality than to increase the minimum wage. So, according to The Washington Post, 21 states are doing exactly that on Jan. 1st. The raise will increase the paychecks of 3.1 million hard working Americans. Different states have raised the minimum wage for different reasons. Voters approved ballot measures increasing the minimum wage in Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota. Legislators approved minimum wage hikes in Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia. The minimum wage in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon and Washington is going up due to yearly adjustments built into state law. One more state has approved a minimum wage increase. New York will see a boost in their minimum wage on Dec 31st. Here’s a state by state breakdown: Alaska: $1.00 increase to $8.75 Arizona: $0.15 increase to $8.05 Arkansas: $0.25 increase to...

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New Snowden Documents Reveal That The NSA Can’t Hack Everyone

by LAUREN C. WILLIAMS – A new wave of U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) document leaks show the agency wasn’t able to spy on everyone thanks to some encryption tools several programs use that successfully thwart digital espionage. German magazine Der Spiegel reported the NSA couldn’t decipher communications such as emails and online chat messages from a handful of services that use encryption beyond the NSA’s code-cracking abilities, based on documents obtained from former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013. Der Spiegel recently analyzed NSA documents Snowden previously released to news outlets in 2013. “biquitous encryption on the Internet is a major threat to NSA’s ability to prosecute digital-network intelligence (DNI) traffic or defeat adversary malware,” an NSA employee said in an internal training document from 2012. Programs that used OTR or off-the-record or end-to-end encryption such as the anonymous network Tor and professional software company Zoho’s email...

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The Horrific Stories of CIA-sponsored Torture That Aren’t in the Senate Report

by Steven M. Watt, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU Human Rights Program – As bad as the stories in the Senate torture report are, there is a whole class of victims who aren’t even mentioned. The executive summary released last week makes only passing reference to an integral component of the CIA program: the “extraordinary rendition” of prisoners to foreign custody for “interrogation” by those countries’ intelligence services—with the full knowledge that the men would be tortured. Because rendition was beyond the report’s scope, there’s still no official account of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other victims of torture that the CIA is responsible for. As the Washington Post revealed in 2005, the CIA identified two categories of prisoners for detention and interrogation: “high value” detainees that the agency held onto and “second tier” ones who were farmed out for detention and interrogation to other governments. As former CIA officer Bob...

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The Republican’s Magical Mystery Tour (Coming Soon)

by Robert Reich – According to reports, one of the first acts of the Republican congress will be to fire Doug Elmendorf, current director of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, because he won’t use “dynamic scoring” for his economic projections. Dynamic scoring is the magical-mystery math Republicans have been pushing since they came up with supply-side “trickle-down” economics. It’s based on the belief that cutting taxes unleashes economic growth and thereby produces additional government revenue. Supposedly the added revenue more than makes up for what’s lost when Congress hands out the tax cuts. Dynamic scoring would make it easier to enact tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, because the tax cuts wouldn’t look as if they increased the budget deficit. Incoming House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) calls it “reality-based scoring,” but it’s actually magical scoring – which is why Elmendorf, as well as all previous CBO directors have...

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How Florida Officials Plan To Undermine A Federal Marriage Equality Order

by ZACK FORD – At the end of the day on Monday, January 5, marriage equality will arrive in Florida, but most of the state’s county clerks are still planning to deny same-sex couples marriage licenses. They believe that they are still bound to follow the law banning those licenses, even though it was struck down. Despite the cavalcade of marriage equality in states across the country over the past year, Florida’s case still presents a unique set of circumstances. It will be the first time that a federal district judge’s decision will take indefinite effect despite opposition from the state. Neither the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals nor the Supreme Court felt it necessary to extend a stay on an August ruling by Clinton-appointee Judge Robert L. Hinkle overturning the state’s ban. That decision takes effect next week. But most of the state’s clerks don’t believe that ruling applies...

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UN-Recommended Prosecution of Lawyers Who Cleared US Torture Program Good First Step

by Sharon Adams, Truthout | Op-Ed – The United Nations Committee Against Torture (UN-CAT) just completed its review of the United States and found much of concern. In its “Concluding Observations,”the panel called for the investigation and prosecution of “persons in positions of command and those who provided legal cover to torture.” The UN-CAT periodically reviews states that have ratified the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT-CID). The United States is one of these states – Ronald Reagan signed the CAT-CID in 1988, and the Senate ratified it in 1994. The CAT-CID, like all ratified treaties, is thesupreme law of the land according to the US Constitution. Prosecution Is Needed to Regain Moral Compass Beginning with TV shows like “24” and continuing more recently with films like Zero Dark Thirty, the powers that be have brought torture into mainstream conversation, apparently attempting...

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Fox News Blonde Wonders If Metric System Makes International Flights Unsafe For Americans

By Stephen D Foster Jr, Addicting Info – During a segment concerning lost AirAsia Flight QZ8501, a Fox News host moronically wondered if the metric system is to blame and asked if international flights are unsafe for Americans because of it. The flight disappeared while en-route to Singapore and CNN reports that a pilot asked to fly at a higher altitude due to storm activity prior to communication being lost. But that didn’t stop Anna Kooiman from trying to blame the metric system for the disappearance of yet another international flight over international waters. She also seemed to think that Americans should be scared of international travel just because international pilots are trained to use the metric system. Fox’s own guest expert, FAA spokesperson Scott Brenner, however, explained that while there are differences between American pilots and international pilots, the differences in how we measure things does not make international flights less safe....

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Colorado Town to Vote on Shooting Down Drones

Voters in Deer Trail, Colo., will soon decide whether their town will issue drone-hunting licenses in a special election this fall. The special election in the 550-resident community comes after the town board deadlocked on the proposal that, if approved, would grant $25 hunting permits to shoot drones. The town would also encourage drone hunting by awarding $100 to anyone who presents a valid hunting license and identifiable pieces of a drone that has been shot down. With no majority vote on the measure, Deer Trail must now scrape together the funds necessary to run a special election over a proposal even supporters concede is a bit whimsical, as it’s highly unlikely drones are flying over the town. “Yes, it is tongue-in-cheek, but I’m going to vote for it,” said Dorothy Pisel, one of the town’s trustees. “It could benefit the town with all the publicity.” The measure was...

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After 13 Years, US-Led Afghanistan War is Officially Over but Nightmare Goes On

The war in Afghanistan claimed the lives of tens of thousands of Afghan civilians and about 3,500 foreign troops by Deirdre Fulton – With little fanfare, the United States and NATO formally ended the longest war in U.S. history with a ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan on Sunday, leaving observers to wonder what—if anything—was achieved. Over 13 years, U.S.-led war in Afghanistan claimed the lives of about 3,500 foreign troops (at least 2,224 of them American soldiers) and an estimated 21,000 Afghan civilians; most experts agree that the country is as violent as ever and that the death toll will continue to rise. Many say the war is over in name only. “Afghanistan’s war is as hot as it has been since the U.S.-led invasion following the 9/11 attacks overthrew the Taliban,” Lynne O’Donnell writes for the Associated Press. Some 5,000 members of Afghanistan’s security forces—army, police and armed rural defense units—have died...

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GOP’s New House Majority Whip Was ‘Honored Guest’ At 2002 White Supremacist Convention

by JAMESON PARKER– After Eric Cantor’s career-ending defeat in his primary race, the Republican Party scrambled to pick a new Majority Whip. They settled on Steve Scalise (R-LA) a relatively young congressman who had little experience, but was carried through by overwhelming support from fellow Southerners who wanted one of “their guys” in the role. Today, two things become clear: Scalise is a friend of the white supremacist movement and Republican leaders are probably really wishing they vetted the guy a bit more. The United States House Majority Whip is a role that is perhaps one of the most powerful in Washington. Despite a relatively brief tenure in Congress, Scalise has poised himself as a bit of a rising star in the Republican Party. However, he also seems to have quite a few fans in the white power movement. The Louisiana political website CenLamar stumbled across some pretty damning evidence....

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Allen West Tells Fox That Racism Only Exists Today Because President Obama Wants To Create Division (VIDEO)

by STEPHEN D FOSTER JR – In an appearance on Fox News on Sunday, Allen West declared that racism was dead in America until President Obama came along and said that it still existed so that he could divide the nation. Host Charles Payne, who openly whined about the lower unemployment rate and claimed it hurts the economy back in July, asked the disgraced former colonel about racism in America and whether President Obama is to blame for the rising racial tensions across the nation. Of course, West went on the attack, referring to President Obama as a socialist who believes in collectivism and that he is purposefully using racism to divide the country to achieve his social agenda. “For President Obama, when you look at it from his perspective as a progressive socialist community organizer, he believes race relations are fine because of the impact they are having on...

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Rocket Mobility Targets Disabled Outdoors Lovers with All-terrain Wheelchairs

By Richard Moss, Gizmag – Whoever said that losing your mobility also meant giving up your independence? We’ve already seen that the adventurous wheelchair user or walking-impaired person can head off road with a six-wheeled electric all-terrain vehicle or a caterpillar-tracked micro EV drive train. Now there’s another option: Rocket Mobility’s Tomahawk all-terrain personal utility vehicle, which allows the wheelchair-bound to traverse up to 12 miles (19 km) cross country at a maximum speed of 6 mph (10 km/h). The Tomahawk is the brainchild of company owner Brice Crawford, who saw first-hand how difficult it is to get around outdoors with a disability. His grandfather had a prosthetic leg after stepping on a land mine in World War II and his mother had difficulty walking thanks to nerve damage suffered during an operation that punctured an artery in her leg. With the goal of letting such people “get off...

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4 Ideas That Could Begin to Reform the Criminal Justice System and Improve Police-Community Relations

by Michele L. Jawando & Chelsea Parsons – From the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, to the heavily militarized police response, to the protests in the wake of Brown’s death, to the failure of the grand jury to indict Officer Darren Wilson for his role in the shooting, the events in Ferguson, Missouri, have turned up the heat on a long simmering debate over the persistent inequalities in our criminal justice system. Other recent events have made the urgent need to act even more clear: In Staten Island, New York, a grand jury decided not to indict New York Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo for causing the death of another unarmed black man, Eric Garner, even though the officer’s actions were caught on tape. Days earlier, a police officer shot and killed Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old in Cleveland, Ohio, while he played with a toy gun. At the center...

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Michigan Governor Signs Bill Requiring Drug Testing Of Welfare Recipients

by KATIE VALENTINE – Welfare recipients in some Michigan counties will soon be tested if they’re suspected of using drugs, under a set of bills signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder this week. The Senate and House bills, which were signed into law Friday, will create a yearlong pilot program in three counties that will screen welfare recipients and applicants to determine whether or not they’re suspected of using drugs. If they are, the applicants or recipients must submit to a drug test. If the test comes back positive, they will be referred to a treatment program, and if they choose not to enter the program, they will lose their welfare benefits. Applicants and recipients will also lose their eligibility for welfare benefits for six months if they refuse to take a drug test, but according to a statement from the governor’s office, the benefits can be restored once...

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Giuliani: Mayor De Blasio Deserves To Be Disrespected By NYPD For Discussing Biracial Son (VIDEO)

by VERA – On Sunday, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani appeared on Fox News to address the Saturday incident in which hundreds of NYPD officers turned their backs on current NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio while he delivered a eulogy at slain NYPD Officer Rafael Ramos’ funeral in Queens. However, instead of sympathizing and supporting the current mayor, Giuliani instead said that de Blasio deserved it and had brought it on himself. Watch the Fox & Friends segment below: Giuliani, who has previously blamed the murder of the two NYPD cops on “Obama Propaganda,” said that de Blasio had created the NYPD’s resentful feelings by not apologizing and continuing to say that minorities are mistreated by the police, making people feel that “police officers are in the main racist.” Giuliani said: “When I reflect on all the police officers turning their back, I don’t know, I guess as an ex-mayor, I feel uncomfortable about...

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Seattle Police Hold Hacking Contest So They Can Learn How To Censor Body-Cam Footage

By John Vibes, The Free Thought Project – Seattle, Washington – Last week, police in Seattle held their first ever “hackathon,” where they invited hackers and computer specialists to help them figure out how they can censor footage that comes in through officer-worn body cameras. According to the announcement made by the police department, they apparently have no intention of removing vital aspects of the footage, but are only seeking to protect the identities of innocent people who may get caught on camera. However, it is only a small change in coding that is necessary to alter how the entire footage is edited, so this cover story may be nothing more than an excuse to censor the footage. Also, even if they are telling the truth about their motives, this new development still shows that the footage is only as transparent as the police will allow it to be....

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Cuba! (in 21 pictures)

By Land of Enchantment, Daily Kos– I’m no expert on Cuba, so I’ll skip adding commentary. Please enjoy Cuba through Lucile’s eyes. And yeah, it’s long past time for the embargo to go. Lucile asked for the link to this diary, and will likely see your comments. Her English is not especially good, so if you’d care to say anything to her, Spanish or French will be easier for her to understand. attribution: Lucile Chriqui attribution: Lucile Chriqui attribution: Lucile Chriqui attribution: Lucile Chriqui attribution: Lucile Chriqui attribution: Lucile Chriqui attribution: Lucile Chriqui attribution: Lucile Chriqui attribution: Lucile Chriqui attribution: Lucile Chriqui Reprinted with permission from The Daily Kos  

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US to Spike Private Mercenaries in Iraq Amid Expanding War, Says Senior Official

By Sarah Lazare, Common Dreams – The U.S. government is preparing to hike the number of private mercenary forces in Iraq, as part of the expanding war in that country and neighboring Syria, an anonymous senior U.S. official told Reuters. There are currently at least 1,800 private contractors in Iraq, and the official said it is not immediately clear how many additional mercenaries will be sent, according to Reuters. Nonetheless, journalists Warren Strobel and Phil Stewart note, the plan to boost numbers “underscores Obama’s growing commitment in Iraq. When U.S. troops and diplomats venture into war zones, contractors tend to follow, doing jobs once handled by the military itself.” The mercenary forces will add to the approximately 1,750 U.S. troops currently in Iraq, a number that is slated to climb past 3,000 after U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered more deployments last week. The push to increase U.S. military service members...

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JFK Explained Why Ending the Cuban Embargo is Long Overdue

By Jon Perr, Daily Kos – After President Obama’s decision to resume diplomatic relations with Cuba, the response from the usual suspects on the right has been (pun intended) fast and furious. At the forefront is Florida GOP Senator and 2016 presidential wannabe Marco Rubio. Rubio, who previously fabricated a story of his family’s heroic exile from the Castro regime, called Obama’s move “a victory for oppression.” As he put it Sunday, “My interest is singular. Freedom and democracy in Cuba.” Sadly for Senator Rubio, John F. Kennedy could not have disagreed more. No shrinking violet when it came to Cuba, JFK made clear that it was the Soviet threat to the United States and the western hemisphere — and not the Castro dictatorship per se — that required the embargo. And when the danger from the USSR was lifted, so too could the embargo. One year after the Cuban Missile Crisis...

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Renewables Outpace Nuclear All Over the World

By David Elliott, EcoWatch – As flagship nuclear projects run into long delays and huge cost overruns, solar and wind power are falling in price. Renewables already supply twice as much power as nuclear. It’s just too bad the nuclear-fixated UK government hasn’t noticed. Renewables are winning out just about everywhere. They now supply over 19 percent of global primary energy and 22 percent of global electricity. Nuclear is at 11 percent and falling. With many of the UK’s old nuclear power plants off-line due to faults and prospects for their ultimate replacement looking decidedly shaky, it is good that the renewable energy alternatives are moving ahead rapidly. In 2013, nuclear supplied around 18 percent of UK’s electricity, but in the third quarter of 2014, nuclear output fell 16.2 percent due to outages, while renewable output, which had reached 16.8 percent of electricity in the second quarter of 2014, was up 26 percent over the previous...

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The Sunday Funnies and Factoids – The ‘Sloppy New Years’ Edition

by Keith Lennox, All-len-All, 12/28/14 – Happy Sunday to all.  Hoping you are all having a wonderful holiday season thus far and getting primed up for what might be the most over-rated of all holiday party days…. New Year’s Eve.  If you do indeed make it to midnight, you get to kiss a roomful full of acquaintances (hoping like hell a case of herpes simplex 2 isn’t just around the corner) after an always anti-climactic countdown, followed by a weak and horribly off-key rendition of Auld Lang Syne….. good times… WOW !!!! Anyhoo, enough of my whining and on with this week’s  SF&FS….. enjoy.   1) Russia uses 9 different contiguous time zones, the most of any country in the world, while France has the most total time zones with 12. 2) There’s a Christian church in San Francisco that worships John Coltrane as a Saint and uses his lyrics...

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Amid Heightened Tensions With the West, Russia Declares NATO is Top Military Threat

New doctrine also says Russia could use nuclear weapons as retaliation or ‘deterrent measures’ by Nadia Prupis – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed a new military doctrine that names NATO’s military presence near the country’s border and expansion in Eastern Europe as Russia’s top external threat, according to a Kremlin statement. The doctrine, which Putin signed as Russia’s economic power and international relations continue to deteriorate, maintains many of the provisions put into place in its previous edition, signed in 2010. Among those is the possibility of Russia using nuclear weapons in retaliation to other nations targeting Russia or its allies with weapons of mass destruction—though the doctrine concedes that those scenarios are unlikely. A new provision, however, adds that Russia could use precision weapons “as part of strategic deterrent measures,” without elaborating on how and when those weapons would be used. “Despite a decreased likelihood of a large-scale...

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A Vote for “Draft Warren” Is a Vote for a Democratic Primary

by Robert Naiman, Truthout | Op-Ed – If you object to the proposition that Hillary Clinton should become the Democratic nominee for President in 2016 without having to substantially engage with Democratic primary voters and caucus-goers about what she would do as President, speak now or forever hold your peace. Whether this proposition succeeds or fails is likely to be largely determined in the next few months. In 2016, if Hillary Clinton becomes the nominee without having to defend her positions in front of rank-and-file Democrats, it is certain that some people will loudly complain. Here’s what I will then say: “Take away from me the noise of your songs, to the melody of your harps I will not listen.” The time to act to forestall this outcome is now. MoveOn and Democracy for America have a plan to forestall this outcome: draft Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to run for...

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The New Face of US Health Care: $1,000 per Pill

by Peter S. Arno and Michael H. Davis, Truthout | Op-Ed – For all of the outrage about the $1,000 a day cost for Sovaldi, the new hepatitis C pill marketed by Gilead Sciences, why hasn’t anyone been arguing that federal law mandates that it be made available to the public at a reasonable price? If it is not, according to the 1980 revision of US patent law known as the Bayh-Dole Act, the government can use its “march-in” rights and insist that the drug be licensed to other manufacturers that will make the drug more widely available. More than 3.2 million people in the United States and as many as 150 million worldwide are infected with hepatitis C. The staggering cost of providing new treatments to even a fraction of this population raises well-justified concerns in public and private insurance markets. But, because these drugs were most likely...

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CIA Torture and the Imperialist Toolbox

by Gary Olson – Last August, our Nobel Peace Laureate, President Barack Obama, admitted that “we tortured some folks,” but then added, this is “not who we are.” At best, his statement was a half-truth. First, it’s not “some” folks but massive numbers over a long and sordid history. State-sponsored torture has been an implement in the imperialist toolbox at least since the early twentieth century when U.S. troops employed the “water cure” during the U.S. conquest of the Philippines. Alfred McCoy’s Torture and Impunity (2012) is only one book in a voluminous scholarly literature confirming that from the early 1950s to the present, the U.S. government has been the principal purveyor of direct and indirect torture around the globe. This background of torture in service to empire is the critical missing piece in the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee’s revelations of Oval Office-sanctioned CIA depravity. A few examples include the U.S....

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Racist Attention Whore Ann Coulter Ends Year Trashing Blacks And Kwanzaa

Regurgitating her 2008 hate-filled racist rant on Kwanzaa, Coulter has reprinted her ignorance today in an attempt to snatch a headline or two during this black-white civil unrest that is sweeping our country in light of recent shootings of unarmed black men by white cops. She intentionally inadvertently fails to tell her readers that this is just a re-run of her attack of President Obama after he was elected to office.  In her earlier version, she ends her tirade with: “Next year this time, we’ll find out if our new ‘Halfrican’ president is really black or just another white liberal. If he’s black enough to say the ‘brothers should pull up their pants,’ surely Obama can just say no to Kwanzaa.” Vying daily with the likes of Palin, Limbaugh, Hannity and such for a sound bite, this vile attention whore strings together a few outrageous statements hoping to get...

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As Income Inequality Rises, America’s Middle Class Shrinks

By Keith Miller and David Madland, Center for American Progress – America’s middle class is struggling. As recent economic data show, middle-class household incomes remain stagnant at a near-25-year low, and the share of the nation’s economic gains going to the middle class has fallen to near-record lows. Meanwhile, the costs of middle-class essentials — such as child care, higher education, health care, and housing — have rapidly increased. Beyond these well-documented facts, however, another long-term trend affecting the middle class has received somewhat less attention: As income inequality has steadily grown in the United States, the actual size of America’s middle class has shrunk. A commonly used method to assess the strength of the middle class is to look at the nation’s overall income distribution and evaluate how a predetermined portion — for example, the middle 20 percent or middle 60 percent — is doing on a variety of indicators, such...

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Teen Marijuana Use Declines As More States Legalize Marijuana

The federal government’s National Institute on Drug Abuse released its annual Monitoring the Future survey this week. Monitoring the Future is now in its 40th year and is considered the ‘gold standard’ of teen drug use surveys. It surveys 40,000 to 50,000 students in 8th, 10th and 12th grade in schools nationwide about their use of alcohol, legal and illegal drugs and cigarettes. Marijuana use in the past year by students in all three grades declined slightly, from 26% in 2013 to 24% in 2014. The survey also found that students in 8th and 10th grades reported that marijuana is less available than it once was. Also, daily marijuana use among 12th graders is down, from 6.5% in 2013 to 5.8% in 2014. These declines in marijuana use among teens follow the implementation of the nation’s first marijuana legalization laws in Colorado and Washington. Those laws were adopted in...

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Bernie Sanders Announces Deadline on Presidential Decision

‘I don’t want to do it unless we can win this thing,’ Sanders told Associated Press by Nadia Prupis – Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) announced Friday that he will decide by March if he will enter the 2016 presidential race—and whether he’ll run on a Democrat or Independent platform. In an interview with the Associated Press, Sanders said his nomination would be more than a political game. “I don’t want to do it unless I can do it well,” he said. “I don’t want to do it unless we can win this thing.” Sanders said he would make a “gut decision” about running and acknowledged that Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton would be his primary opponent. Although Sanders is a socialist, his views on many issues regularly align with Senate Democrats. Still, he has criticized his colleagues in the past for their weaker approach to issues he sees as particularly dire, such...

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Michele Bachmann Goes On Epic Christmas Eve Rant, Says Obama Supports Islamic Jihad (AUDIO)

by SHANNON BARBER – Well, Christmas has come and gone for yet another year, but outgoing Congresswoman Michele Bachmann sure did bring the holiday in with a bang. Buzzfeed reports that Bachmann went on the perfect show to air her insane views, Washington Watch, which is hosted by the notoriously hateful leader of the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins. On the show, she accused the President of supporting Islamic Jihad “at every turn,” saying: “And I have been very surprised, to answer your question, to see the president of the United States, at every turn, cut the legs off of our ally, Israel, and in fact embrace and lift up the agenda of Islamic jihad.” Now, no matter where you stand on the Israel/Palestine issue, you likely know that the religious right has tirelessly accused President Obama of being a Muslim who wants to bring jihad and Sharia Law to...

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Chuck Schumer and the Democrats’ Identity Crisis: Economic Policy vs. Rhetoric

By Richard Kirsch, Next New Deal– A populist message won’t be enough to save the Democratic Party if its leaders continue to serve Wall Street. Two weeks before New York Senator Charles Schumer once again delivered for Wall Street with the omnibus budget deal, he gave a major speech in which he sounded like a progressive champion. Schumer offered a stirring defense of government as the only force that can stand up to the private sector’s attack on the middle class, and argued that for Democrats to “roll to victory in 2016… First, we must convince Americans that government can be on their side and is not just a tool of special interests.” Schumer is not just any Democrat. He led the successful election efforts for Democratic senators in 2006 and 2008, is number three in the Democratic Senate leadership, where he is responsible for policy and communications, and he...

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Pat Robertson’s Biggest Prophecy Flops (VIDEO)

by RANDA MORRIS – Now that 2014 is coming to an end, it’s time to take a quick look back to see how many predictions made by the right wing’s most infamous false prophet, Pat Robertson, actually came true. Every year about this time, right wing nut job Pat Robertson (host of the 700 Club) goes up into the mountains alone, supposedly to communicate with God. And every year, after he comes down from the mountain, Robertson goes on live television to tell his viewers what God supposedly told him is going to happen in the year to come. And every year, rain or shine or sleet or snow, Robertson’s ‘prophetic visions’ fail to come true. Here’s a video of Robertson, making his predictions for 2014, courtesy of Right Wing Watch Blog: Watching Robertson make his 2014 predictions was a lot like watching a ‘psychic mind-reader’ hard at work scamming...

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Despite Box Office Patriotism, Experts Question North Korea Hacker Claims

“In the post-Watergate/post-Snowden world the U.S. government can no longer simply say ‘trust us.'” by Lauren McCauley – Security experts are claiming that, despite official rhetoric, North Korea was likely not behind the Sony hack that spurred patriotic zeal and widespread rallying around the Christmas Day release of the comedy film The Interview. The Sony Pictures film, which on Thursday opened in 331 theaters and was made available for online viewing, boasted sold out crowds, $1 million in sales, and was the number one downloaded movie on all the digital platforms on which it was released: Google Play, YouTube Movies, Microsoft’s Xbox Video, as well as on a Sony website. Moviegoers cited “patriotism” and defense of the First Amendment as reasons for watching the film, which was reportedly the motive behind the recent security breach. The film is a satire about a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. However,...

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After Jail, Pussy Riot Focuses on Prisons

By Mansur Mirovalev, Al Jazeera – Moscow, Russia – After spending almost two years in jail for performing their “punk prayer” against Russian President Vladimir Putin at Moscow’s main Orthodox cathedral in 2012, two young women from the feminist protest band Pussy Riot chose not to go on a world tour or settle somewhere in the West to escape further persecution. It was a surprising move, considering the international outcry and support from Western leaders and pop icons such as Paul McCartney and Madonna that followed the band members’ arrest and conviction. Their trial and a hysterical media campaign in government-controlled media that branded them “blasphemers” were widely seen as orchestrated by the Kremlin and Russia’s powerful Orthodox Church. But jail changes people – especially in Russia, where figures such as communist dictator Joseph Stalin and novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn found their true vocation only after doing hard time behind bars. Russia’s...

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Death, Taxes, and American Aid to Israel

Three things you can count on: death, taxes, and American support for military contractors channeled through the tiny but prosperous democracy by Anthony L. Fisher – According to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), considered by many to be the most influential lobbying group in the country, “Israel spends 75 percent of U.S. aid in the United States, purchasing military equipment.” Supporters of Israel characterize this as necessary assistance to a stalwart ally, the only democracy in the Middle East, eternally besieged by enemies on all sides. Critics take the view that direct military support for Israel makes the U.S. culpable for the nearly half century-long military occupation of the stateless Palestinians, and sows mistrust for America’s role in the peace process. Many of those who lack a passion for either side in the conflict are simply cynical about the consequences of foreign aid, seeing the billions of dollars spent on Israel’s...

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Kurdish Offensive Against ISIL Gains Momentum (VIDEO)

Peshmerga forces have regained ground in northwestern Iraq, while Kurdish fighters also battle ISIL in Syria An offensive by Kurdish Peshmerga forces to retake territory from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group in northwestern Iraq is gaining momentum. Troops have retaken a series of villages from ISIL this week and opened a corridor for thousands of minority Yazidis to escape Mount Sinjar. Peshmerga commander Hashim Sitaie told Al Jazeera that strategic territory has been retaken. “We have also seized major roads, particularly one that runs along the Iraqi-Syrian border. Whoever controls these areas has the upper hand,” he said. He said US-led air strikes had helped the offensive. “We’ve been guiding the coalition jets on where to target and that really helped in increasing their accuracy,” he said. The international coalition battling ISIL has continued air strikes in the vincinity of the Sinjar Mountains in...

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Good News! Public Support For Obamacare Surges To Overwhelming Numbers

by RYAN DENSON – Oh boy, watch out Republicans! It turns out people like having affordable, accessible, healthcare. While Republicans are hoping and praying the Supreme Court strikes down the Obamacare provisions that establish federal subsidies, they should know that cheering on such a disastrous decision might cost them. According to a new Kaiser Foundation poll, 78 percent of Americans approve of the insurance exchanges, 76 percent support the federal subsidies, 75 percent support the Medicaid expansion, and 60 percent support the employer mandate. However, support for the individual mandate lags with just 35 percent supporting it, although Kaiser expects this trend to change for the better as the new year sees it take effect. With many of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) major provisions taking effect this past year, such as the individual mandate and coverage expansions through Medicaid and the health insurance marketplaces, the December Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds...

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NSA Spied on Americans for Over a Decade: Report

Files released in response to an ACLU lawsuit shows long-term, unauthorized NSA operations against U.S. citizens by Nadia Prupis – The National Security Agency quietly released a heavily redacted report late Wednesday night showing that its mass surveillance program targeting U.S. citizens went on for more than 10 years. The documents, which are made up of annual and quarterly reports filed since 2001, were published to the President’s Intelligence Oversight Board in response to a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by the ACLU. They note numerous instances in which U.S. citizens were erroneously targeted for spying and information was passed among servers that were “not authorized” to hold it. Many of these cases were shown to be “marked for purging,” but it is unclear whether they were actually deleted. The NSA’s executive summary of the reports states, “The vast majority of compliance incidents involve unintentional technical or human error… Data incorrectly...

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An Open Letter to Hillary Clinton

by wjl45 – This post first appeared on Weird Wally’s Worldview on 12/17/14 FYI:  Wally is still insisting that he is ready for Hillary, but the real question: Is Hillary ready for him and those like him? Dear Hillary, I’m a lifelong Democrat, but of late, have been feeling betrayed by my leaders.   The hope and change I was looking for recently got snuffed out with the passage of a budget (CRominbus) through both houses of congress.  And it looks like the high testosterone folks on Wall Street and the financial services sector won again.  Granted, it cost them a lot of money but this upfront investment is what will make their long con work, and the fact that, unless we get a congress or administration both willing and able to stop to it, this is the kind of con that can go on until the end of time.  ...

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Sheriff Joe Loses Immigration Challenge Suit Against Obama Executive Order

by nicoleweddington – Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio lost his bid to block the implementation of President Obama’s immigration policy after the judge ruled that the suit didn’t show how it would harm the country. Arpaio’s suit, the first to challenge the November executive order that temporarily removes the threat of deportation for as many as 5 million illegal immigrants, was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell. “Judge Howell’s decision today confirms what the Department of Justice and scholars throughout the country have been saying all along: the president’s executive actions on immigration are lawful,” said White House Spokesman Eric Schultz in a statement. “The Supreme Court and Congress have made clear that federal officials can set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws, and the actions announced by the president are consistent with those taken by administrations of both parties for the last half century.” Larry Klayman, attorney for Arpaio, said...

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CIA Sitting On ‘Smoking Gun’ Panetta Review, Which Could Put A Complete End To Torture (VIDEO)

by RYAN DENSON – There are a lot of Americans who have no idea that the Panetta Review, a document which meticulously confirms the incriminating charges that the Senate Intelligence Committee made in its earlier torture report, exists. The Senate, who has been investigating the torture program the CIA ran between 2002 and 2006, claims that the Panetta Review concretely puts to rest the assertion the claims made by the CIA: torture was right, and it worked, and it saved lives. To put it plainly, the Panetta Report is the smoking gun that would end all of this mess. According to Huffington Post: “Some senators say the Panetta Review concedes that the use of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” — the spy agency’s often-used euphemism for what is widely considered to be torture — did not make detainees any more willing to talk, despite the CIA’s public insistence that the program was successful.” The report also...

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Two States Will Resume Executions, Using The Same Drug From Botched Lethal Injection

by NICOLE FLATOW – After death row inmates in Oklahoma and Arizona gasped for 43 minutes and 2 hours, respectively, both states put the use of those injection drugs on hold. But over the past week, and after outcry that these executions could have been cruel and unusual, both states committed to use the same drugs and protocols in the future. In Oklahoma, a federal judge approved that decision late Monday, ruling that it would not stop Oklahoma from moving forward with at least four other executions using the same fast-acting sedative, midozolam, albeit with a new protocol that includes larger doses. U.S. District Judge Stephen P. Friot rejected arguments that the state’s executions amounted to human experimentation because of the little-known effects of midozolam in lethal doses. Midozolam is typically used after, not during surgery, and is not considered a true general anesthetic, because it allows awareness to exist...

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Rudi Guiliani and Pat Lynch Remain on the Wrong Side of History

By Mike Caccioppoli How predictable that right wingers would use the tragedy of the assassination of two police officers to go after police brutality protesters and those who use their First Amendment rights to free speech. This is not a surprise ladies and gentlemen, because right wingers hate the First Amendment, hate freedom of the press, always have, always will. So they use any opportunity to attack those rights. The worst of the offenders so far are Rudy (Nosferatu) Giuliani and Pat (slicked back goombah hair) Lynch, the President of the PBA. Giuliani blames Obama (and those who spoke out about the murders committed by police in Missouri and New York) and Lynch blames NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. There are other right wingers who throw in Al Sharpton as well. History has taught us that fascists will always blame the populace and those that speak out against atrocities....

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A Christmas Wishlist From America’s Children to Policymakers

by Elaine Weiss – As children across the country send their wish lists to Santa, we put forth our own. Looking back on a year marked both by record-high levels of income inequality, and by increasing recognition of the damage that inequity brings, we wish for all of our children the life basics that better-off children can take for granted: 1.) Parents who earn a living wage: Nearly half of American children spend their early years at or below twice the federal poverty level, which poses major obstacles to their school, life and success. And the federal minimum wage of $7.25 is far too low to lift a family out of poverty, even if a parent works full time. Recognizing this reality, four states – Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota – recently established state minimum wages higher than the federal one, as have cities from California to Maryland. Research affirms...

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Heralded by Human Rights Groups, Global Arms Trade Treaty Goes Into Force

With the new law in place, ‘it will no longer be acceptable to turn a blind eye when arms are being transferred into the hands of regimes that will use them to devastate people’s lives.’ by Deirdre Fulton – Inspiring hope among human rights activists around the world, the international Arms Trade Treaty went into effect on Wednesday, December 24, aimed at transforming the way the global arms trade operates and in turn helping to reduce armed violence and conflict. Under the terms of the treaty, each state must assess if there is an overriding risk that a proposed arms export to another country will be used for or contribute to serious human rights abuses or organized crime; if so the deal cannot be authorized by the seller. The treaty has widespread support; only three countries—North Korea, Syria, and Iran—voted against it at the United Nations. As of Wednesday, 130 countries...

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Conservative ‘Christian’ Woman Vandalizes Satanic Temple Holiday Display In Florida

by STEPHEN D FOSTER JR – A female Grinch in Florida has been arrested for trying to destroy the Satanic Temple Christmas display that they fought so hard to place on Capitol grounds. On Tuesday morning, a woman wearing a “Catholic Warrior” t-shirt strolled up to a pair of Florida Department of Law Enforcement Capitol Police officers and said “sorry, but I have to take this down.” And then, Susan Hemeryck proceeded to try and do just that. The Satanic Temple display, which features an angel being thrown from heaven into hell as a depiction of Satan’s fall from grace, now has no angel because Hemeryck ripped it from the line holding it in place. She was then arrested for vandalism. When asked why she committed the crime, Hemeryck explained “it’s just wrong, when you remove baby Jesus two days before Christmas and put Satan in his place? I was...

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New FEC Chief on ‘Dark Money’ Mission

Ann Ravel says she’ll fight to out people behind secretive political cash, regardless of party By Dave Levinthal, Center for Public Integrity – Democrats made sport of decrying, vilifying and crucifying the billionaire Koch brothers for injecting hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Republican-boosting “dark money” into the 2014 elections but newly minted Federal Election Commission Chairwoman Ann Ravel — a left-leaning Democrat and campaign finance reformer, by most any political measure — has no appetite for such theater. Even if, as chairwoman of the California Fair Political Practices Commission last year, she helped levy massive penalties on Koch-backed groups caught circumventing state political disclosure laws. A pox on both parties’ houses, as far as she’s concerned, for using secretive cash to influence elections. “The Kochs, they are not a problem to me, nor are their activities specifically anything I want to address,” Ravel said. “Dark money is a...

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How Fear Of Occupy Wall Street Undermined the Red Cross’ Sandy Relief Effort

Red Cross responders say there was a ban on working with the widely praised Occupy Sandy relief group because it was seen as politically unpalatable by Justin Elliott and Jesse Eisinger – In the days after Superstorm Sandy, relief organizations were overwhelmed by the chaos and enormous need. One group quickly emerged as a bright spot. While victims in New York’s hardest hit neighborhoods were stuck in the cold and dark, volunteers from the spontaneously formed Occupy Sandy became a widely praised lifeline. Occupy Sandy was “one of the leading humanitarian groups providing relief to survivors across New York City and New Jersey,” as a government-commissioned study put it. Yet the Red Cross, which was bungling its own aid efforts after the storm, made a decision that further hampered relief: Senior officials told staffers not to work with Occupy Sandy. Red Cross officials had no concerns about Occupy Sandy’s effectiveness....

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When Soldiers Say No to War

by Camillo Mac Bica, Truthout | Op-Ed – At this 100th anniversary of the Christmas Truce, Camillo Mac Bica remembers the Hootch program, which brought together Soviet and US Cold Warriors and concludes it is not the truce or the occurrence at the Hootch, but war that is the aberration, a violation of human nature. Christmas in the trenches: The Western Front, 1914 This year we mark the 100th anniversary of the Christmas Truce. A unique event in the annals of war, when soldiers of World War I, the “war to end all wars,” enduring the horrors of trench warfare along the infamous 600-mile Western Front, made a conscious decision to stop the insanity, put down their weapons and said no to war. Amazingly, some say miraculously, despite the knowledge that fraternization with the enemy was regarded by military leaders as treason, a crime punishable by summary execution, many...

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2014’s Most Skewed, Misleading, And Wrong Pieces Of Climate And Environment Coverage

by EMILY ATKIN – This year was a big one for environment and climate news. America moved to limit greenhouse gas emissions from coal plants for the first time. China entered into a historic climate deal with the U.S., and 100 governments signed off on the most comprehensive report on climate science yet. Politicians bickered over the Keystone XL pipeline, the “war on coal,” and whether climate change even exists. There was drought, wildfires, and devastating pollution. With so much news, it’s inevitable that some of the coverage would be skewed, misleading, or flat-out wrong. Indeed, some news networks ignored some of the year’s most important climate and environment news entirely, while others gave disproportionate air time to talking heads who reject the basic scientific consensus on climate change. Here are ten times the media messed up covering the environment and the climate this year, in no particular order. Network News Largely Ignores...

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How Many Days Did the Tea Party ‘Cease Protest Activities’ After Their Supporters Killed Cops?

By Frank Vyan Walton, Daily Kos – So Rudolph Guiliani claims that Obama’s Propaganda to “Hate Police” is what caused the recent shooting of two officers in New York does he? “We’ve had four months of propaganda starting with the president that everybody should hate the police,” Giuliani said. “The protests are being embraced, the protests are being encouraged. The protests, even the ones that don’t lead to violence, a lot of them lead to violence, all lead to a conclusion. The police are bad, the police are racist. That is completely wrong.” Yeah, ok, besides the fact that somebody somewhere once called this type of thing a “Blood Libel”, while Fox News is blatantly lying about Protestors chanting “Go Kill a Cop”, I have a question for you Rudy.I want to know – because I’m just curious – how long was it that the Tea Party was asked to stop...

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Two Maps Show The Enormous Progress For Marriage Equality In 2014

by librarisingnsf – The rapid progress of marriage equality (in the US) for the year has been quite remarkable. We started the year with about nineteen marriage equality states, and we will end the year with at least thirty-five. Perhaps a picture tells the story better. It is possible that we could add another state before the end of the year if the Arkansas Supreme Court rules favorably for marriage equality before the end of the year. Regardless of what happens in Arkansas, 2014 has been an amazing year for marriage equality.   Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos    

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(Our Only ‘Must Watch of the Year’) He Gave a Homeless Man $100 Then Secretly Followed Him (VIDEO)

by JOE FLETCHER – It can be hard not to be cynical when a person who happens to be homeless asks you for money on the street. If you do give the person some spare change or a few bucks, you hope that money goes towards food or other necessities. Often times though, you think that person is just going to spend the money on drugs or alcohol. YouTuber, Josh PalerLin, decided to do an experiment. He gave a guy who is homeless $100 dollars then secretly followed the guy to see what he would spend the money on. Standing back from a distance, PalerLin filmed the man as he walked into a liquor store. Luckily, I was wrong. PalerLin followed the man to a nearby park where the man was handing out food to people. PalerLin was so inspired by the man’s actions he handed him a wad of...

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Holiday Bright Spots For Progressives

by Dave Johnson – The midterm elections were a wake-up call. Voters had given up on the Democratic party as irrelevant – not really on their side, so they didn’t bother to show up at the polls. But there are end-of-year holiday season bright spots for progressives as we think about the coming year’s fights. People are becoming more active with protests over issues like low pay and police treatment. Locally people are putting core progressive policies like fighting pollution, raising the minimum wage and giving people sick days off into effect. And there are signs that the national Democrats are starting to “get it” that they have to demonstrate they are on the side of regular, working people. People Becoming More Active Madison, Wisc. and the Occupy movement were flare-ups of popular protest that focused the national discussion on inequality. There are signs that people are starting to become even...

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