The lies, propaganda and rank hypocrisy emanating from Washington, and echoed by the US corporate media regarding events in Ukraine are stunning and would be laughable, but for the fact that they appear to be aimed at conditioning the US public for increasing confrontation with Russia – confrontation which could easily tip over the edge into direct military conflict, with consequences that are too dreadful to contemplate. It would be beyond ironic if, a quarter of a century after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of nearly half a century of Cold War and Mutual Assured Destruction, during all of which time US and Russian soldiers never fought against each other, we now ended up with soldiers from our two countries actually doing battle with each other, instead of just fighting proxy wars.
Hundreds of students and community members protested a speech by Condoleezza Rice at the University of Minnesota. Coleen Rowley explains why: “Not even a year after 9-11, Rice began giving fear-mongering speeches that falsely alluded to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s alleged possession of and intent to use nuclear bombs. Rice knew there was no evidence for her “mushroom cloud” speeches but numerous firsthand accounts and memoirs, along with the “Downing Street Memo,” provide evidence that she, along with other key Administration figures, signed onto “fixing the intelligence around the policy” of their previously agreed-upon goal: Launching war on Iraq.”
We earlier reported that Bill Gates and his sake in GEO coming under pressure from Latino activists. Today there is more news on the front regarding for profit prisons. In a groundbreaking move, three major corporations have announced the divestment of a combined total of nearly $60,000,000 from Corrections Corp Of America (NYSE:CXW) and The Geo Group, Inc. (NYSE:GEO), confirmed after ColorOfChange.org urged company executives to reconsider the financial, moral, and political implications of private prisons and divest. In the past few months, ColorOfChange has reached out to more than 150 companies urging divestment, and remain in conversations with dozens of company executives about ending support for the industry. Investments in private prison companies are unacceptable “The leadership of these companies sets a much needed, powerful new industry standard: investments in private prison companies are unacceptable. What we see here is not just a fluctuating of stock, but a conscience decision on behalf of major companies to cut ties with private prisons. That’s huge.” explained Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorofChange.org.
In an emerging public relations nightmare for Washington University officials, the sit-in against Peabody Energy ties entered a historic third week, as students continued to press demands after a faltering statement released yesterday by Chancellor Mark Wrighton. “We want to make it clear that we are not satisfied with this statement,” the Wash U Students Against Peabody countered. “We plan to continue to pressure Chancellor Wrighton and Provost Thorp until they end Washington University’s relationship with Peabody.” Let’s face it: With growing national media attention, growing outrage over Peabody violations, and growing plans for nationwide rallies against Peabody on its shareholders meeting on May 8, the moment of truth for the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees about Peabody’s toxic relationship with Washington University has arrived. And this Peabody moment of truth has been years—even decades—in the making.
As long as anyone can remember, critics have been saying that the schools are in decline. They used to be the best in the world, they say, but no longer. They used to have real standards, but no longer. They used to have discipline, but no longer. What the critics seldom acknowledge is that our schools have changed as our society has changed. Some who look longingly to a golden age in the past remember a time when the schools educated only a small fraction of the population. But the students in the college-bound track of fifty years ago did not get the high quality of education that is now typical in public schools with Advanced Placement courses or International Baccalaureate programs or even in the regular courses offered in our top city and suburban schools. There are more remedial classes today, but there are also more public school students with special needs, more students who don’t read English, more students from troubled families, and fewer students dropping out. As for discipline, it bears remembering a 1955 film called “Blackboard Jungle,” about an unruly, violent inner-city school where students bullied other students. The students in this school were all white. Today, public schools are often the safest places for children in tough neighborhoods.
The Cowboy Indian Alliance may seem like an unprecedented type of environmental movement–multiracial, rooted in struggling rural communities, and often more effective in its grassroots organizing than traditional urban-based white upper/middle class environmental groups–but it is also part of a long, proud tradition that has been conveniently covered up in American history. It’s not everyday you see cowboys helping to set up a tipi encampment, but that’s what is happening this week on the National Mall. An unlikely alliance of white ranchers and Native American activists, known as the Cowboy Indian Alliance, has erected the tipi encampment in the nation’s capital to protest plans for the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The Alliance (with the ironic acronym ‘CIA’) brings together Native Americans with white ranchers and farmers–the archetypal enemies of the American West–to protect their common land and water. The Cowboy Indian Alliance may seem like an unprecedented type of environmental movement–multiracial, rooted in struggling rural communities, and often more effective in its grassroots organizing than traditional urban-based white upper/middle class environmental groups–but it is also part of a long, proud tradition that has been conveniently covered up in American history.
The Fifth Season Cooperative: Building Community Wealth and a Regional Food System We first learned about the innovative, multistakeholder Fifth Season Cooperative in Wisconson’s 7 Rivers region from the community wealth builders at Gundersen Lutheran Health Systems, whom we interviewed for one of the case studies in our report Hospitals Building Healthier Communities: Embracing the Anchor Mission. The more we learned, the more excited we became…the cooperative has a uniquely innovative six-member class structure, and is transforming the shuttered NCR factory in Viroqua, WI into an engine of regional food security and local economic stability. Here’s our infographic outlining how the cooperative works:
None of the tank cars currently in service carrying Bakken crude oil is adequate for carrying that product, a rail industry representative testified Tuesday, but until new federal regulations are completed, the use of inadequate cars will continue. That includes tank cars built to higher standards adopted by the industry since 2011. Such cars have failed in at least two recent derailments. Yet in the absence of the new rules, crude oil shippers and refiners continue to rely on them to meet the demands of North America’s energy resurgence. In testimony opening a two-day hearing at the National Transportation Safety Board, rail companies and rail car makers agreed that crude-by-rail shipments would continue to grow. “We don’t see crude oil transportation slowing down or stopping anytime soon,” testified Robert Fronczak, assistant vice president for environment and hazardous materials at the Association of American Railroads, an industry group.
Exclusive: After starting a propaganda stampede – with a lead story about photos of Russian troops purportedly in Ukraine – the New York Times admits the pictures really don’t prove much, and one photo was labeled as snapped in Russia when it was really taken in Ukraine, writes Robert Parry. Two days after the New York Times led its editions with a one-sided article about photos supposedly proving that Russian special forces were behind the popular uprisings in eastern Ukraine, the Times published what you might call a modified, limited retraction. Buried deep inside the Wednesday editions (page 9 in my paper), the article by Michael R. Gordon and Andrew E. Kramer – two of the three authors from the earlier story – has this curious beginning: “A collection of photographs that Ukraine says shows the presence of Russian forces in the eastern part of the country, and which the United States cited as evidence of Russian involvement, has come under scrutiny.”
A Texas family claiming they were sickened because of pollution from hydraulic fracturing operations near their home should be awarded $2.95 million for their troubles, a jury ruled on Tuesday. The Parr family had sued Aruba Petroleum Inc. in 2011, alleging the oil and gas producer exposed them to hazardous gases, chemicals and industrial waste that seeped into the air from 22 wells drilled near the family’s 40-acre plot of land, which sits atop the Barnett Shale. The jury returned a 5-1 verdict saying Aruba “intentionally created a private nuisance,” awarding $275,000 for losses on property value, $2 million for past physical pain and suffering, $250,000 for future physical pain and suffering, and $400,000 for mental anguish. “They’re vindicated,” David Matthews, one of the Parr’s attorneys, wrote on his firm’s blog Tuesday. “I’m really proud of the family that went through what they went through … It’s not easy to go through a lawsuit and have your personal life uncovered and exposed to the extent this family went through.”
Looking back to the defeat of the labor movement since the early 1980s, three lessons seem especially important. First, any gains made under capitalism are temporary; they can be reversed. Second, the kind of unionism we developed in that earlier period of gains was inherently limited; it left us in a poor position to respond to the subsequent attacks. Third, absent new forms of working class organization and practices, fatalism takes over and worker expectations fall. “Raising Expectations (And Raising Hell),” newly out in paperback from Verso, is part memoir, part organizing manual, and part rejoinder to that fatalism. Jane McAlevey is a long-time organizer in the student, environmental and, over the past two decades, labor movements. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at City University of New York, which she has integrated into her continuing life as a labor organizer. Her message, based on her experiences and achievements, is that as much as capitalism has diminished workers and undermined their confidence in affecting their lives, workers can overcome — but only if they themselves become organizers inside both the workplace and community. While any such organizing begins with workers’ needs, it is workers’ expectations of their own ability to intervene — and of the support from their unions in doing so — that must especially be raised.
U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, State of Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, State of California Governor Jerry Brown, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, Klamath Tribes elected officials and Klamath Basin irrigators held a “celebratory” signing of the Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement last Friday at Collier Park, 4 miles north of Chiloquin. With strong support from Senator Wyden, he stated “I am going to introduce in the first few days of May, legislation in partnership with Senator Merkley to make this agreement law.” But the “celebration” was not held without opposition. Members and descendants of the Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin tribes came together to object to the UKBCA stating that tribal membership had less than a month to review the 93 page document. Tribal Council only allowed 19 days from the mailing of the ballots by the election company to the deadline for return. Although their addresses are current and updated, a large portion of membership either did not receive a ballot or did not did receive a ballot in time to cast a vote before the deadline. Therefore, membership feels proper voting procedure was not implemented and they did not have adequate time to make an informed decision in the referendum vote, which had a deadline of April 9th 2014 postmarked by 9 am.
A landmark law that guarantees equal access to the nation’s internet and protects the privacy of users was signed by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Wednesday, in a move that is being hailed as a historic step for online freedom worldwide. The “Civil Law Marco Internet”—dubbed the Internet Bill of Rights by its supporters—was passed unanimously by Brazil’s Senate on Tuesday. Rousseff signed the bill at the launch of the two-day NETmundial conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil. “Internet and freedom are wired together forever,” said Michael Freitas Mohallem, Campaign Director at Avaaz, an international organization that collected more than 350,00 signatures in Brazil calling for net neutrality legislation. “Marco Civil is a bill created, championed, and today delivered into law by the people,” Freitas Mohallem continued. “This is a truly historical day for people power, with Brazil now leading the world in keeping the net neutral.” Sir Tim Berners-Lee, considered the ‘Father of the Internet,’ hailed the law as “a gift to the web on its 25th birthday.”
The Democratic Party has responded to the resistance against ramming through new trade agreements by giving the process a new name. “Fast-track” has been rebranded as “smart-track” and, voilà, new packaging is supposed to make us forget the rotten hulk underneath the thin veneer. Don’t be fooled. The Obama administration and its Senate enablers are nowhere near giving up on its two gigantic trade deals, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Because the stealthy “fast track” route — special rules speeding trade legislation through Congress with little opportunity for debate and no possibility of amendments — is the only way these corporate wish lists can be enacted, a “rebranding” is in order. The new chair of the U.S. Senate’s Finance Committee, Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, earlier this month, in a speech given to apparel-industry corporate executives, announced his intention to replace the “fast track” process with a “smart track” process. That is noteworthy because the Finance Committee has responsibility in the Senate for trade legislation. It also noteworthy because Senator Wyden has voted to approve the last five U.S. “free trade” agreements, going back to 2005.
In what the New York Times describes as “a net neutrality turnaround” the Obama administration’s new FCC chairman is proposing rules that will create an Internet for the wealthy. The new plan to create a pay to play Internet came to light Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal. Under the plan wealthy corporations will be able to purchase faster service, while those that cannot do so will have slower service. Rather than an open Internet for all the US will be moving to a class-based Internet. Of course, this will mean that when Netflix and other corporations purchase faster Internet, the consumers who use their service will be paying more to watch movies and download information. As a result, more money will be funneled from working Americans to wealthy telecom giants.