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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