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Each political note has its own anchor in case you want to link to it.
My intention is to make links only to publicly accessible, stable URLs. If you find a link to a page that requires subscription, please report that as you would report any other broken link.
When Obama visits India, he should honor Dr. Ambedkar as well as Gandhi.
In London, some train stations have WiFi. Paid WiFi that can't be used anonymously.
If you are in London, complain that this is the wrong direction.
If you find both Republicans and Democrats disgustingly right-wing, vote Green!
US freedom-haters complain of "too much government intervention" when the government regulates business, but are happy to see the government intervene to restrict pregnant women (not to mention gays).
A worker in a Venezuelan state-owned petrochemical company was told, "We are going to deduct one day's salary to give to the socialist party." He objected to this and was fired. His article (in Spanish) condemns this arbitrary practice as typical of right-wing regimes and incompatible with the professed ideals of Chavez and his party.
The US government says that the Wikileaks documents would lead to reprisals, but they cannot identify any such that followed from the Afghanistan leaks.
Berlusconi seems to have lied to the Italian police to protect a 17-year-old Moroccan dancer, whose relationship with him is not clear.
Greg Palast: PBS, funded by Chevron, put the blame for the big spill solely on BP, so people won't worry that any other company might be dangerous too.
In the US: The US Chamber of Commerce is pushing for the delayed bill to make the US censor the Internet via domain names. Sign this petition to your local Chamber of Commerce to break off with the US Chamber.
The Nagoya biodiversity summit ended by adopting a set of targets for progress by 2020. Without any mandatory implementation plan, this may not succeed in altering any country's policy.
There is also a treaty which will involve paying something to poor countries for the use of genes from organisms found there. From the description here, the treaty resembles Obama's health care reform, in that it endorses and reinforces the system which needed to be changed.
Depending on details I don't know, this treaty might be a marginal improvement or it might be totally absurd.
Morocco has banned Al Jazeera because it broadcast stories that criticized Morocco.
I am not sure whether the ban applies to broadcasting Al Jazeera in Morocco, or reporting from Morocco, or both.
Millionaire Insiders Hide Behind Group Attacking Feingold.
The health insurance companies tried to further sabotage health care reform but were thwarted by citizen activism, plus news of their high profits.
Tariq Ali: Obama's hope was all hype, as he caved over and over to established interests.
Perhaps it was impossible to pass good laws through the Republican and Depublican hold on the senate. But if Obama had tried, they not he would be to blame for the failure, and we could use that as the base to campaign against them.
Instead Obama didn't try, and that's his fault. Appointments such as Geither, and executive decisions such as to appeal the decision against Don't Ask, Don't tell, are his fault. The US position in ACTA is his fault.
Obama is a moderate Republican, not a Liberal, and that's his fault.
The causes of the cholera outbreak in Haiti.
Brash Poisoner's dispersants are making people sick.
Everyone: sign this petition to pressure Dunkin Donuts and Pizza Hut to stop buying from agribusiness giant Sinar Mas.
Privatized prison companies helped design Arizona's "show your papers" law as a way to fill more prisons.
UK residents: sign this petition against the government's new massive email and phone intercept plan.
Access to the data is supposedly to be limited to suspected "terrorists", but we already know that the UK police will call protesters "terrorists" so as to sabotage them.
Americans: tell Attorney General Holder not to get distracted by Republicans imaginary claims of voter fraud, and go all out to fight their voter-suppression efforts.
The US Military wants to develop technology to screen all emails looking for possible "terrorists" (and protesters, etc).
When people ask "Why didn't we pay attention to those advance warning signs before he committed the crime?", often there is a good reason: they were not a very clear warning, not much different from hundreds or thousands of other people who did not go on to commit a crime. These are the "false positives" referred to in the article.
The UK police have authority to stop people and search them for no particular reason, in case they might be terrorists.
Out of 100,000 people searched in this way, none has been charged with terrorism. In effect, they were all false positives.
Corporate-funded US attack ads pretend that the US deficit is a disastrous problem, and that cutting it requires screwing workers and the poor. Those companies did not attack Bush for creating the deficit. Remember that Clinton arranged a budget surplus and without crushing poor Americans.
Support Kucinich for Congress.
BP and Halliburton disregarded tests showing that the cement was inadequate.
Cambodia systematically imprisons and tortures homeless people and other undesirables — sometimes killing them.
It makes me think of the Khmer Rouge.
Tracking political contributions about California's proposition 23 which aims to eliminate its global heating limitation law.
The ACLU gained a preliminary injunction against the Massachusetts Internet censorship law.
Omar Salem Shehab says the US-established Iraqi Wolf Brigade tortured his brother (and other prisoners) to death.
The Tea Party is full of global heating deniers. In general, the Tea Party is a machine for inculcating beliefs that have no connection with reality.
The UN plan to protect forests by selling their carbon credits has already started to spread corruption.
The world needs to pay to protect forests, one way or another; to stop people from cutting them down costs money. But, in order to avoid corruption, it needs to look less like a "market".
Another vertebrate species is added to the endangered species list each week.
Loss of biodiversity is a bigger economic risk than terrorism.
It also threatens more people's lives than terrorism does.
Arundhati Roy faces the threat of sedition charges, and life imprisonment, for criticizing India's treatment of Kashmir.
India promised Kashmir a referendum on independence and it should carry out that promise.
The US has collected fingerprints and iris scans for almost a million people in Afghanistan, and checks people regularly.
Perhaps this is excusable in a war zone, where it is normal for soldiers to check people's papers. But if someday Afghanistan has peace, will it get rid of these biometric records? Or will this give the US government an excuse to treat the US as a war zone all the time?
The UK's National Health Service funds homeopathic "medicine", and this misleads people into thinking it is valid.
The head of British Airways says some airport security procedures are useless and should be eliminated.
New Zealand's partial sanity terminated with a big capitulation to Warner Bros: the country will slash labor standards to please that company.
Americans: tell candidate Rand Paul that his goons can't attack protesters.
Why, I wonder, have charges not been pressed against them?
Google's extreme success in avoiding taxes shows the scandal of US tax laws that make it absurdly easy for companies (but not you and me) to do this.
India has made substantial advances in protecting the environment and local inhabitants from mining operations.
Two right wing "think tanks" launder big business money to deny the harm that is done by cutting down tropical forests.
Shame on YouTube for deleting a video showing how Indonesian troops tortured Papuan prisoners.
Should torture be covered up because it is painful to watch?
The authenticity of the video was subsequently confirmed by the Indonesian government.
An Argentine judge challenges Spain to investigate Franco's crimes or else she will do so.
Argentina owes Spain a debt of gratitude for Spain's prosecution of the Argentine government killer Scilingo; now Argentina has the opportunity to help Spain by prosecuting Franco and his henchmen, which Spain has not dared to do. Judge Garzon tried, but was removed from office in response. People in Spain told me that this is because of Franco's supporters who have remained in positions of power or influence. Outside pressure could make a difference, especially since they are dying of old age or retiring.
May all dictators and their torturers and killers be prosecuted and imprisoned!
Part of the Amazon rainforest is suffering from a record drought.
It is not clear how much this is due to global heating, but climate models say that the Amazon rainforest will dry up as heating proceeds. Then the the trees will burn up, releasing a lot more CO2 into the air. It's positive feedback systems like this that can destroy civilization.
When a journalist tried to ask questions of an Alaska Republican candidate, in a public event, the security guards handcuffed him.
The UK government's totally unnecessary budget cuts will force thousands or maybe millions of people to move to towns where no work is available, whereupon they will end up on the street.
The supposed justification for these unnecessary budget cuts is the spurious goal of deficit reduction.
Daniel Ellsberg praises Wikileaks: it has taken away the US regime's hiding place so it cannot pretend it "doesn't know" or "is investigating".
The Nagoya meeting, which was supposed to produce a treaty to protect biodiversity, is heading towards the sort of failure that people expected after the failure at Copenhagen.
Canada is right to block measures to forbid "biopiracy". The idea of "biopiracy" is absurd, based on mistaken premises. Scientific collection is not likely to wipe out species, and there is no reason to restrict who can do research on them. The real motive for these misguided proposals is that big companies get patents on resulting medical discoveries, which exclude the population of poor countries from the benefit.
This exclusion is not limited to the poor country where relevant biological samples were collected. It affects all of them. So the real remedy is not a limit on "biopiracy". It is to exempt poor countries completely from the requirement to allow patents on medicine.
I expect Canada's representatives would oppose that, too. If so, Canada's underlying position is not a good one.
In an unusual display of partial sanity, New Zealand's government refuses to enter a bidding war for the filming of The Hobbit.
Most national and provincial governments have come to act as if such bidding wars were their duty — a practice that benefits global businesses and hurts the citizens of all countries.
This sanity is only partial because New Zealand still plans to subsidize the filming. This is not one of the things that a government should do with public money.
How the billionaire Koch brothers tricked millions of Americans into campaigning for business's "freedom" to trample them into the dirt.
It is a mistake to call that "freedom" at all. Control over your own life is freedom; control over others' life is power. I stand for freedom and against power.
Millions of farmers in Pakistan are prisoners of debt and work only for some food and to pay the debt.
Sign this petition for strong worldwide biodiversity measures.
The US has an obligation to investigate its involvement with torture, and that includes handing over prisoners for Iraqis to torture.
Anonymous sources say that peace talks with the Taliban have not made much progress. If so, the most natural reason would be that the Taliban expect to win and see no need to negotiate.
Nonetheless, it was important news that the US and Karzai are not refusing to talk with them.
A Burmese refugee says, don't accept Burma's sham elections as implying any progress towards respect for human rights.
Also, don't call that country "Myanmar" (which is the dictators' name for it).
The UK coalition promised to restore civil liberties, but it is wavering from this promise.
Wikileaks: Bush forces watched as a handcuffed prisoner was kicked on the back of the neck.
Uri Avnery: Israel's democracy is threatened by racist fascism.
The Israeli right wing needs a permanent war, so it regards negotiation as defeat.
The US right wing also wants the US to engage in a perpetual war with "terrorists" (excluding them, of course).
Israel proposes to exclude Arabs from parliament by requiring them to swear loyalty to Israel "as a Jewish state".
The Canadian government has restricted its scientists from talking with the press, so their union has set up a web site for them to communicate to the public directly.
A history class in the US has forbidden its students to discuss the material with anyone, or learn about the subject from anywhere else.
It implies, in effect, that they can't learn anything but the official line. How long before the copyright industry gets schools to forbid their students to learn about the ethical issue of sharing from anything but approved class materials?
Iran publicly amputated a prisoner's hand, suggesting it plans to do this sort of thing regularly.
In order for Islam not to suffer the bad reflection of this barbarity, Muslims need to start a reformed branch of Islam which explicitly rejects shari'a law.
The UK government plans to privatize important protected forests. This raises the threat that they will be damaged.
US Senators that deny global heating get lots of funds from oil companies including BP.
The name "tea party" is false; it should be called the "oil party".
Merging the leaked Bush forces record of Iraqi casualties with the records of Iraq Body Count yields a list of 150,000 identified, named Iraqis that were killed.
The real number of casualties is surely much larger, since many killings were not recorded, and statistical methods estimated a million dead as of several years ago.
Hamas is imposing a strict Islamic lifestyle on Gaza, even through arson.
However, that is no excuse for what Hamas is doing.
It appears the Bush forces set up a special Iraqi brigade to torture prisoners, the Wolf Brigade, and then threatened its own prisoners with being handed over to them.
The Anti-Defamation League, which was founded to fight anti-semitism, undermines its mission by calling opponents of Israel's occupation policy "anti-semitic", including Jewish Voices for Peace.
I support Jewish Voices for Peace, and I urge others to do so.
Measuring Israel's drift from democracy towards tyranny.
The Wikileaks files show that Bush forces mercenaries killed civilians and the government helped covered it up.
Robert Fisk: They're Trying To Sell the Brooklyn Bridge Again, as the Pentagon warns us about imaginary threats.
The members of an "illegal" Israeli settlement ("illegal" means even the Israeli government says it's unauthorized) poisoned Palestinians' olive trees and fenced off some of their land. The owners didn't know this was happening because the Israeli troops let them onto their land only twice a year.
Other settlers burned Palestinian cars.
Another "illegal" settlement is being expanded.
Will the Israeli government stop this activity which it calls "illegal"?
Sometimes the army helps settlers seize Palestinian land and occupy it. Meanwhile, Palestinians who build houses in their own villages face demolition orders because they didn't obtain construction permits (which Israel won't give them).
Trade with China is not leading China towards freedom; rather, China is leading the rest of the world towards tyranny.
An official of the World Zionist Organization condemns Israel's proposed biased loyalty oath.
Looking at the question of David Kelly's death from all sides.
New Wikileaks postings show that the Bush forces have seen the Iraqi insecurity forces torture and kill prisoners and have an official policy not to investigate.
Further revelations: the Bush forces do have an (incomplete) count of civilian casualties, though they said they did not.
"You can't surrender to an aircraft" might be a valid position. Soldiers in war can surrender and become prisoners of war, but they can't just hold up their hands at any time meaning "For the moment, you can't shoot me." In a situation where taking them prisoner is impossible, they have no way to surrender.
Geithner says the sky will fall if the US adopts a moratorium on foreclosures.
The article ably explains why Geithner's argument is fallacious and how it demonstrates that Geithner supports the banksters against the people. I would like to point out a premise that the argument is based on: that we don't dare ever interfere with whatever the banks might do.
Most great ideas come from outside the world of business, in places where profit was not a motive, and result from communication and networking with never a "eureka" moment.
The author errs however in concluding that state intervention is useless for helping to produce great ideas. State support for academic research, without directing it at short-term applications, is exactly what's needed.
Obama plans to cut off sales and training to specific Pakistani military units and personnel connected with torture.
This is either a way to target the pressure very accurately, or a pretense of action that won't change anything. I can't tell which.
BP has made managers' pay depend on safety, and has waived the limit on damages it has to pay. I think this is enough reason not to single out BP for condemnation in the future, beyond insisting it pay the damages it owes. But that's not the principal issue anyway.
The main issue here is to establish adequate safety regulations to make sure that all oil companies operate safely, and how we can stop them from lobbying to water them down.
Washington DC tried to set up an Internet voting system for absentee ballots, but had to retire it because it was cracked.
Nonetheless, fools keep trying to foist this on us. And even if outsiders can't alter the votes in the system, the election authority might do so.
It is unfortunate that the article uses the word "hacking" to refer to security breaking. In this case, it might have been hacking, i.e. playfully clever exploration, but that's a different issue.
It is also unfortunate that free software is referred to as "open source". See "Open source misses the point".
Indonesia's US-trained Detachment 88 has repeatedly arrested and tortured people for peaceful separatist protests, even murdered a prisoner by keeping doctors away while he bled to death. The Indonesian government denies the torture and therefore can't be expected to correct it.
Indonesia's torture practices have been highlighted by a leaked video.
Indonesia seized West Papua Indonesia shortly after the latter was given independence by the Dutch, and has since colonized it with large numbers of Javanese.
The UK's conservative government has picked up Clown's plan to record information about every phone call, every web site access, and every email. This would add to the existing Orwellian system that records all car travel. Limiting use of the records to "terror" investigations should not reduce the terror Britons feel towards this, because the UK and other countries have a history of accusing any sort of protesters of "terrorism".
Bahrain is disappearing opposition supporters and accusing dissidents of "damaging the state's reputation."
An NPR commentator was fired for suggesting that he fears Arabs are terrorists; now Republicans want to use this excuse to eliminate support for public broadcasting.
I stopped supporting NPR myself because of the commercials on it, and in the 90s it started to persistently nag Clinton over insignificant points. (I condemned Clinton for negotiating "free trade" treaties to promote sweatshops, and for unjust copyright laws.) In general, I find it too right-wing to want to listen to it very much.
However, the fact that the Republicans want to get rid of it shows that we shouldn't let them do it without resistance. So I signed.
Tibetan students are protesting plans to teach them mostly in Chinese.
Canadians: tell the CBC to accept music under suitable Creative Commons licenses.
Israeli Arabs feel increasingly unwelcome in Israel, but worry about ceasing to be so.
There are two ways that Israeli Arabs might be moved into a future Palestinian state. One is by expelling them from their homes. The other is by transferring their homes to the Palestinian state. Nobody wants to be expelled from his home. If Israeli Arabs worry that their homes would be transferred to a Palestinian state, that is a further paradox. It means they worry that a Palestinian state would treat them worse than Israel does.
The UK police hit an anti-fascist protester then lied about him and tried to get him prosecuted. The police were attacking many of these protesters at the time. A video recording showed what really happened.
Will the police be prosecuted? Past instances suggest they will not.
Perhaps the problem is at a deeper level. If "insulting words" are a crime, that is censorship. If "insulting words" are a crime only if said to a policeman, that gives these thugs a dangerous privilege which they evidently abuse.
In the US: help Jack Conway beat Rand Paul.
The libel reform campaign in the UK needs your support.
With recent practices of forum-shopping, it is not just UK residents that need to fear UK libel laws.
Among the rich people funding dishonest right-wing ads to condemn government spending that helps ordinary people, meet Robert Steel, who benefited from bank bailout payments.
These right-wingers think that only the rich deserve handouts.
Right-wingers are running ads urging Latinos not to vote.
Important ancient and historic sites are on the verge of disappearing unless protected.
Americans: if you have a mortgage, challenge your bank: can you show the document proving you own my mortgage?
Egypt may ban use of Facebook because it serves as a platform for a little shred of democracy.
Facebook is not your friend, and in general people should reject it. However, I'll make an exception for countries where Facebook is the only medium of communication not censored yet.
China has disappeared human rights activist Gao Zhisheng.
He is not the only one. After a young Tibetan boy was chosen as the new Panchen Lama, China disappeared him and his family and made another choice.
Dutch police cracked down on a company helping to build Israel's annexation wall.
In the US: join in pressuring organizations not to show Faux News in public places.
The almost complete absence of cancer in Egyptian mummies suggests that it is caused by environmental factors created in recent centuries.
Thailand and the Philippines are crushing freedom of speech on the Internet through various pretexts.
Karzai wants to close the hated mercenary security companies. Aid organizations say they need these mercenary companies or will have to shut down.
However, the aid workers can't be safe without the Taliban's approval anyway. With that approval, can they find another security solution?
Humanity could achieve almost 30% of the necessary carbon emissions reduction through slowing population growth.
Reducing population growth in the US is especially important because of its wasteful use of resources.
Everyone: Call on Clarence Thomas to apologize to Anita Hill.
His wife, a Tea Party fanatic, recently demanded that Anita Hill apologize to Clarence Thomas — for testifying about his sexual harassment of her.
The ACLU is suing in Massachusetts to overturn a law censoring the Internet.
Similar Federal laws were ruled to violate the First Amendment, but a state law is a different question. The ACLU is defending all of us.
Under the oppressive rule of Hamas, girls can still practice surfing, if they are clothed from head to toe. But only until age 17.
Islamic rule oppresses women (and men) in much worse ways; this illustrates how much it twists people's lives.
Drug companies spearhead the invention of psychological "disorders" so that they can sell "treatments" for them. They even design tests to identify these "disorders" to convince people they need the "treatments". For instance, there is Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder.
If people want to take drugs that increase libido, why not? And why not sell drugs for that purpose, after they have passed tests for safety. However, defining low libido as a "disorder" is dishonest.
This is one of many reasons why the large pharmaceutical companies need to be broken up. And other large companies likewise.
"Foreclosure mills" in the US have routinely falsified documents to carry out foreclosure. Some now face criminal investigations.
Mitt Romney, possible Republican presidential candidate, made his book a best-seller by demanding his speaking hosts buy lots of copies.
The ACLU went to court and forced the US government to recognize it is lawful to take photos on the street near Federal buildings, and to promise to educate its police about this.
I am an ACLU member. If you're not one, how about joining now?
The Shabaab militia in Somalia is amputating hands and feet of accused thieves without even a pretense of a trial.
This should be a lesson in the cruelty and evil of radical Islam. But there is no use trying to fight it in Somalia by supporting a "government" that few support. That only perpetuates the war.
A few Blacks are so angry at Obama that they plan to vote for Rand Paul — despite his attempt to oppose civil rights laws, and his past signs of racism.
Obama's failures are no reason to reject Liberalism. They are a reason to support real Liberals.
White supremacist groups recruit in Tea Party meetings.
The explicit position of the Tea Party may not be racist (I don't know), but its appeal is to an attitude that is very likely to be connected with racism.
Under pressure from working people, the Greek government has started to crack down on comfortable tax-evaders.
It should have done this first, rather than going after working people first.
Global heating is making Mali arid, effectively extending the Sahara desert.
Support Avaaz' petition against the plan for ACTA to interfere with generic medicines.
The strikers in France are fighting for all of Europe against gratuitous right-wing harshness.
The US military has begun accepting openly gay recruits, following the court decision against "don't ask, don't tell".
Obama says he wants to eliminate the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, but he rejects the reliable method of doing this — by not appealing the decision — and insists on using only a method he is not in a position to succeed with. In effect, he pretends to oppose the policy but in fact is now its chief defender.
France's censorship of racist statements is so strict that a TV channel was threatened with closure without trial for very mild remarks that didn't express prejudice. What Guerlain said translates as "I was working like a negro, if negros really worked that way." I would discourage saying that sort of thing, because it models an unrelated area of life gratuitously in racial terms. However, censoring this is much worse than racism.
I disapprove of the sentiment that M. Guerlain expressed, and I think people should rebuke him. Censorship can't be justified.
A US airline pilot refused to undergo body scanning or bodily frisking, so he was not allowed to fly — and the airport police chief told him that Americans' rights and freedoms had already been taken away.
Big Brother wants to employ you to watch others, and plans to fleece you in the bargain.
The UK government says any new nuclear reactors will get no subsidy, but there's a hidden possible subsidy in a cap on what they will have to pay for waste disposal.
A suspect in planning the Mumbai terror attack says that Pakistan's "security" agency was closely involved.
Right-wing fanatics in the US are spouting hatred of homosexuals, which is stirring up hate crimes.
The biodiversity summit in Nagoya is programmed for failure, since the draft text being discussed doesn't specify any required actions to protect biodiversity.
However, China has announced a unilateral plan to take real action.
I wonder which countries are opposing required actions in the draft.
Around $270 was enough to pay a drug addict in the UK to have a vasectomy.
Paying people to get sterilized should not be limited to drug addicts and wealthy countries. Population growth is a threat to the world's future and this method of slowing it should be broadly used.
US citizens: call on the Attorney General to investigate the US Chamber of Commerce.
The EU has become a motor for weakening standards for protection from toxic waste.
Athens ignored warnings of Aristophanes; will the US do any better?
Strictly speaking, Cleon was a demagogues, not a tyrant. A tyrant gained power by supplanting constitutional government; a demagogue exercised personal power by building up a mob to control constitutional institutions and use them to eliminate opposition. That latter is also the form of recent threats to freedom in the US, such as Bush and the banksters, so the author may have considered the distinction insignificant.
However, he errs in describing Obama as a "Liberal". The right-wing pseudo-Liberals of today don't have the guts, or perhaps the desire, to champion real Liberal policies, and that is why they can't inspire Americans who want to resist corporate power, except temporarily as Obama did by being a blank slate and letting Americans see in him what they wished for.
The strikes in France are so effective that fuel is running out across the country.
US crazies are blaming illegal immigration from Mexico on Obama.
This is absurd, since illegal immigration did not start in 2009. But what are its real causes?
Mexicans would mostly not want to leave their country if they were not desperate. US pressure on Mexico for prohibition of drugs may be indirectly responsible for driving some to flee the drug violence there.
However, poverty is a bigger factor. These "patriot" groups ought to turn their ire on NAFTA, which increased poverty in Mexico as well as in the US. That's because it transferred power from the people to business, which uses its power to drive people's standard of living down. Republicans are even worse than Democrats in their support for such treaties.
The US should also subsidize birth control, sterilization and abortion, in Mexico as in the US, so as to reduce future poverty. Republicans are against this, so they tend in the long term to exacerbate the problem of illegal immigration.
When land inhabited by millions of people sinks under the rising sea, driven by global heating, illegal immigration is likely to increase again, though perhaps by then the US will be too poor to attract anyone. Republicans will be largely responsible for perpetuating global warming, and for driving the US into poverty, though many Democrats are helping.
These are the issues American patriots ought to be concerned with.
13 countries with wild tiger populations are meeting to look for a way to prevent tigers from becoming extinct.
Berlusconi (il Ducino) keeps trying to end the career of Italy's most popular TV journalist, who keeps digging up dirt on him.
Attributing the Tea Party success more to a failure to explain administration policy than to "rage".
I think that Obama's failure to explain his policies results partially from the fact that they kowtow so much to business that no explanation would have satisfied his base.
The Pakistani Taliban kidnapped hundreds of boys to turn them into suicide bombers. The Pakistani army rescued some of them and set up a school to deprogram them.
Iran has brokered a deal to put the sectarian Shi'ites in control of Iraq.
Bush may feel personally annoyed by this, and it is a defeat for the US. But as long as the multinational oil companies get the profit from Iraq's oil, his buddies will tell him his war was a success.
Jesse Jackson is helping a campaign against racial profiling by the police in the UK.
If the police searched everyone without probable cause as often as they search Blacks, they would create so much resistance that they would be stopped.
In Manila, large families live in one room -- on any scrap of land, even in cemeteries. That's overpopulation.
Political leaders around the world make continued economic growth their priority, disregarding the fact that the economy exists in the natural world.
The real economic policy of the US and Europe is to cut spending, which prevents economic growth. Could that be a quiet move to end the increase in use of resources? If so, I fear that it won't do the job; but it will spread poverty. To reduce poverty without consuming our world, we need more equitable distribution of wealth, and today's corporate-subservient political leaders don't talk about that either.
Library of Congress: Copyright is destroying historic audio recordings.
I wonder why archiving would not be allowed as "fair use". I would expect it to be — but the Library of Congress must have considered that question.
Edward Hasbrouck is suing the US government demanding details of how it collects information about his travels.
Death squads are systematically targeting Iraqi police and officials.
Destitute people are jailed for long periods in the US because they cannot pay fines, court fees, even fees for having been in jail.
Some people remain chained to the interest on these debts for decades, providing a bonanza to companies that have effectively purchased control over them.
The US Treasury ordered some internet domains shut down without a trial.
The anatomy of the corporate-funded grass-roots tea party.
The world's food market remains prone to disastrous speculation.
Chile's mine disaster resulted from a lack of safety standards.
The Sunni minority in Bahrain has clamped down on Shi'ites demanding equal rights.
An Afghanistan NGO's report says that the Taliban are gaining strength and preparing for victory.
US citizens: support the campaign for a moratorium on foreclosures.
US citizens: phone the White House at 202-456-1414 and call on Obama to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge completely from oil drilling.
Germany is pushing for the removal of US tactical nukes from Europe as a step towards disarmament.
American anti-Liberals are so irrational that they will condemn and fight anything that they think of as "Liberal", regardless of the effects.
US banks face possible lawsuits for thousands of invalid foreclosures.
I hope people kick these banks in the pants, but protecting Americans from invalid foreclosures is not enough. We need to protect everyone from foreclosures, at least for now.
Nokia supplied surveillance technology which the Iranian tyrants used to hunt down a prominent dissident.
US citizens: tell Obama not to allow undersea drilling to resume.
Here's the message I gave:
President Obama, undersea oil drilling is not safe. Regulations can't make it safe unless we can make the drilling companies obey the regulations, which we know they don't. What we need is a massive investment in renewable energy, not oil drilling. You should block the drilling so as to exercise political pressure for the investment in renewable energy.
Sign Amnesty International's appeal on behalf of political prisoner Liu Xiaobo.
I wrote this message:
For the sake of China's future, I call on you to free Liu Xiaobo promptly. People who stand up for principle are the people that will make China a great country.
US citizens: sign this petition to Obama not to appeal the court decision that ordered the US military to stop expelling homosexuals.
Pfizer knew that its antidepressant reboxetine was ineffective, but kept it secret for years to get lucrative business.
The Irish ISP UPC has prevailed in court against music factories that demanded a cutoff of service to clients accused of sharing.
Irish internet users should boycott Eircomm and deal with UPC. In addition, they need to organize now against the predictable effort of the music factories to pass a law requiring punishment of sharers.
New Orwellian copying machines can detect specific words and refuse to copy.
The human world is consuming resources at 150% of the rate that the natural world regenerates them.
Former Communist party leaders and officials in China have called for freedom of speech, while the authorities are trying hard to censor them.
Obama has ended the undersea oil drilling moratorium, but environmental groups doubt the new regulations will prevent another big spill.
US voters: call your candidates to support a constitutional amendment to limit corporations' participation in electioneering.
The Pentagon wants to prepare for a cold war, or even fighting, over oil in the Arctic.
To burn all that oil would cause catastrophic global heating, so the race for Arctic oil is a race to disaster. We should be looking for how to prevent as much as possible from being burnt.
RepubliCorp is moving towards acquiring the US government in a megamerger.
Basra in Southern Iraq has become peaceful. Multinational oil companies export the oil, and leave a little of the wealth in Iraqi hands to make the city content.
I speculate that the cause of the current peace is that all the Sunnis have been expelled from the region, and the rival Shi'ite gangs are happy since they are all getting paid off.
This is a step up from the sectarian violence of a few years ago, but it still represents defeat for Iraq.
Women in the US who did stripping or sex work face prejudice for life. A teacher was hounded from her jobs in the name of this prejudice.
Freedom of the press is threatened in Bolivia as the government proposes a law to close newspapers for publishing racist statements.
Bad as racism is, censorship is even worse.
Harsh right-wing policies create a society that promotes selfishness and hierarchy, and drives down empathy and solidarity. This explains, psychologically, why angry American workers support right-wing policies designed to hurt them. Progressives who try to adapt to this change defeat themselves.
Progressives must promote values of empathy and justice, not try to base their appeals on selfishness.
Israeli soldiers regularly shoot unarmed Palestinians that come within 1000 feet of the Gaza border, or even further away. In 3 months, 10 teenagers were shot. Many were scavenging for rubble to build houses.
Prudes in Italy want to cut down 70 acres of forest to prevent prostitutes from finding clients in them.
President Berlusconi ought to intervene to legalize prostitution in Italy. If his cronies and lobbyists couldn't hire prostitutes to send him, he'd be rather lonely.
The EU proposes strict new regulations on underwater drilling.
The US ought to do the same, but Obama has no guts to challenge the rule of business.
Millions of union members and students held strikes and protests in France.
Raising the retirement age is ridiculous when people already can't find work.
A California student found an FBI tracking device in his car and posted a picture on the net. FBI agents came to get it and threatened him.
Morocco has imprisoned independence activists from Western Sahara for "treason".
That's like accusing the Dalai Lama of treason against China. Morocco conquered Western Sahara just after Spain gave independence to it.
Bank bonuses will increase this year even more than profits.
China has put Nobel winner Liu Xiaobo's wife under house arrest.
French unions and students are launching a new and stronger wave of strikes against President Sarcome.
Australians: protest the practice of bugging taxicabs. Many taxicabs say, on the door, "conversations may be recorded." If you use such a taxicab, communicate with the driver only in writing (and don't talk with each other!)
I like to write on paper, "Don't talk! Cab is bugged. To <address>" and show it to the driver while putting my finger to my lips. You might have other ideas. The crucial point is, don't take this lying down!
Sea Shepherd and former captain Bethune trade accusations of dishonesty.
I don't know how to tell what the truth is.
Insurance companies are gaming the new health insurance law so as to avoid paying for children's medical care.
The captain of the Jewish Gaza aid ship describes the violence of the military against their passive resistance.
The world financial system that the US imposed in 1944, which punishes debtor nations and supports creditors, has now caught the US and is pushing it towards trade protectionism.
Protectionism is bad in itself, but the protectionist impulse offers the world the opportunity to eliminate the mistake of "free trade".
Increased foreign trade is good for everyone as long as it does not undermine democracy, workers' rights, and the distribution of wealth. "Free trade" offers society the benefit of increased foreign trade, while ensuring that it undermines democracy, workers' rights, and the distribution of wealth. Whenever politicians argue that "globalization means we can't do X", that shows "free trade" has done this harm and that the current system of globalization of business power must be eliminated. It produces more wealth, and gives the rich so much clout they can grab all that wealth, and push wages, working conditions and the social safety net down.
A new crisis would give the world an opportunity to tear up the "free trade" treaties and restore democracy and workers' rights. But business will try to channel the impulse for protectionism down an irrelevant line which fails to address the problem.
If the new crisis weakens the US empire as the one in 1944 weakened the British empire, I won't be sad to see it go. However, if the new dominant power is China, a thoroughgoing dictatorship, that will be even worse.
The head of the UK police wants to make it harder for people injured by police violence to sue.
Given how little justice has been given to the victims of UK police killings, I think they deserve more, not less. Perhaps if the police force punished such activities more itself, and above all punished the practice of lying to protect police accused of crimes, there would be fewer victims and fewer lawsuits.
But these proposals are in no way motivated by a loyalty to police officers, as we can see from the second proposal, to obstruct them from suing the police force for bias. The goal here is to benefit the police force at the expense of everyone in society.
Corporations are spending millions on ads to influence the US election.
Kyrgyzstan has held a free and fair election, making it an oasis of democracy in a region of rulers that are effectively dictators.
Israel's cabinet adopted a requirement for non-Jewish immigrants to recognize Israel as a "Jewish" state.
Avigdor Lieberman called this the first step towards his plan to strip Israeli Arabs of their citizenship if they don't formally accept second-class citizenship.
Morocco has forced a magazine to close, after a long series of persecutions, for opening the door to forbidden lines of thinking.
The victims of the attack on the Mavi Marmara have moved to take Israel to the International Criminal Court.
After Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo received the Nobel Peace Prize, the Chinese government responded with threats.
A campaign to end torture in Pakistani prisons, which is common for prisoners there.
Norwegian musicians' income has increased 66% in the past ten years. Music-sharing seems to hurt only the record companies.
Low-flying helicopters looking on everyone's land for marijuana plants are disturbing everyone in Cuarteles, New Mexico.
Danger: Geithner may be planning to open a big loophole in the recent financial stability law.
Putting and keeping people like Geithner in office is one of the reasons I criticize Obama specifically. If Republicans block his legislative proposals, that is not directly Obama's fault, and if he had tried to pass good laws, I would give him credit for that.
However, that Geithner is in office is directly Obama's fault and he cannot shift the blame to anyone else.
An internet site for absentee voting in Washington DC was easily cracked and taken over, and the testers say that it would be effectively impossible to make such a site secure enough for election use.
On the battlefield, Afghanistan is going the way of Vietnam.
In Vietnam, a major cause was the corrupt government of South Vietnam. It couldn't inspire anyone to really want to fight for it, and Vietnamese who defended principles of democracy and freedom found it disgusting. It's the same with Karzai's government.
There is a difference, though. Instead of a neighboring Communist government with total control over its forces and supporters and the firm goal of conquest, in Afghanistan there are several Taliban groups with different goals and varying amounts of control over their supporters. This could mean more flexibility for a political settlement in Afghanistan.
A "security contractor" in Afghanistan seems to be paying protection to Taliban supporters.
It shouldn't be a surprise that Afghanistan has warlords and that some of these will work with the Taliban when it suits them. Part of the reason why the US was able to defeat the Taliban so fast in 2001 is that the warlords who had supported the Taliban switched to the (then) winning side. Now that the Taliban seem to be winning, they will switch back.
Genetically engineered BT corn that kills insect pests indirectly protects non-engineered corn growing nearby.
However, the patented genes also contaminate the non-engineered corn growing nearby, exposing the farmers to lawsuits, so it is not clear whether they get more benefit or more harm.
The UK has imprisoned Oliver Drage for refusing to give information to the police that might incriminate him.
The Palestinian Authority and the Arab League say that there will be no peace talks without a freeze on Israeli construction in the West Bank.
These peace talks have no chance of getting anywhere, so their main effect is to enable Obama to pretend to be doing something for peace while not pressuring Israel in the way that peace really requires.
The Love Commandos in India protect couples from being murdered by their relatives.
09 October 2010 (Urgent: Call for investigation of the Chamber of Commerce)
US citizens: sign this petition calling on the Attorney General to investigate the US Chamber of Commerce's use of foreign funds to influence US elections.
A Sea Shepherd boat captain says the leader told him to scuttle the boat for PR purposes.
I have admired Sea Shepherd, but I don't admire dishonesty.
Turkish reporter Ismail Saymaz faces 79 years in prison for his writings.
A Pakistani official says the vague US "terror alert" was Bush-style political manipulation.
Poor countries say that the promised aid for coping with climate change is not coming, and may be taken from other aid programs.
The European Commission is trying to cut off Indian generic drugs through a proposed trade treaty.
All trade treaties with the US or the EU will be designed for evil purposes. And all "free trade" treaties undermine democracy, by enabling companies to play one country against another by threatening to move production. We must oppose all these treaties until they are torn up.
Two Parisians wearing miniskirts and Islamic face veils show the hypocrisy of the ban on these veils.
The law banning face veils — and all covering the face in public — is an affront to all citizens, since in a few years that may be the only way to walk in public without being tracked everywhere by face recognition cameras and iris scanning cameras.
An in-depth look at iris scanning is here.
An investigation found that the White House blocked NOAA scientists from publishing information about the big spill.
The US has begun talking with the Haqqani insurgents in Afghanistan.
The Mexican senate unanimously passed a resolution against ACTA.
The Senate does not control the negotiators, but ratification would require the approval of the senate.
The Supreme Court of Israel has granted validity to the pre-1948 land claims of people who were dispossessed in that war. But only if they are Jews.
The left in Latin America has made great strides in reducing poverty, partly by keeping more of the income from mining within the country and using it to help the poor. But mining activities cause other problems and conflicts aside from "who gets the money?"
Don't ever let anyone take an iris scan of you — they can be used to track you anywhere on the street!
The article starts out with a long citation from supporters of the iris-scanning technology. Please keep reading past that to find out about the danger.
The article's conclusion is defeatist. If we fail to fight against plans to impose iris tracking on society, that will not help at all in preventing bad uses of the technology.
Does anyone know about the feasibility of iris disguise? Iris disguise may be a normal part of street apparel in 20 years.
80 police in Puerto Rico were arrested for protecting drug trafficking. 80 people is too many to be described validly as "a few". The fact that the accused had got involved separately in this kind of corruption shows that this is a systematic bad tendency of the system, rather than an anomalous event. The War on Drugs systematically tends to corrupt the police.
This is just one of many ways that prohibition corrupts and harms society.
Edith Lutz reports her conversation with one out of the hordes of Israeli military sailors who violently captured the crew of the Jewish Gaza aid ship.
A leading Israeli poet declared his intention to join another Gaza aid ship, which inspired politicians to call for removing his poems from the curriculum. Israel's government has rejected the idea that citizens can criticize policy without being traitors.
10% of the Chaco forest in Paraguay has been cut down in a few years. This is causing soil erosion and desertification.
Israeli settlers are hard at work bulldozing to expand settlements and burning Palestinian farmers' crops.
Israel has placed a 13-year-old Palestinian boy under house arrest, banning him from going to school.
Israel's supreme court deported Nobel peace laureate Mairead Maguire. Its reason was the catch-22 argument that she should have petitioned in advance to cancel the ban that she didn't know about.
The main witness in a terrorist suspect's trial can't testify because the government found him through torturing the suspect.
Confessions obtained through torture don't prove anything because innocent people will confess under torture. That's why the prosecution has had to accept the exclusion from the trial of everything Ghailani said. But the witness (Abebe) is not reported to have been tortured, so that is not a reason to exclude his testimony.
The issue here is that, if the police believe they can get convictions by torturing suspects, they will have an incentive to torture, regardless of any rules or laws that prohibit it.
Tyrannical government is a bigger threat than any non-governmental terrorists, so Judge Kaplan's decision is exactly right. There is nothing that calls for more strictness than protecting the public from torture.
I fear, though, that our Republican-chosen Supreme Court will reverse the decision.
Goldman Sachs says the US economy will be "fairly bad" or "very bad".
This article talks about trying to improve prospects by having the Federal Reserve lower interest rates. As explained previously, this can't do much. Only deficit spending has the power to boost the economy. Republicans have blocked that, and this is the result.
People in Gaza keep getting shot just for approaching the border.
Facebook has tricked people into uploading all the phone numbers they have in their phones.
China is paying an army to post pro-China articles and comments, and not just in Chinese sites.
Are some big businesses now lobbying against the oil companies to reduce CO2 emissions?
To be saved from climate disaster by business interests is better than being destroyed by business interests. But we must not let this reconcile us to corporatocracy as a replacement for democracy. That business has the power to control these decisions will continue creating injustice until we take it away from them.
The Green Party got 19% of the presidential vote in Brazil.
As a Green supporter in general, I am delighted by this. Now I hope that Dilma Rousseff will be the next president — she, like Lula, is a supporter of free software as well as many policies that will help the poor. I think that is likely to occur, because I expect most Green voters will prefer her to the right-wing candidate. This Green triumph might convince her to adopt policies more oriented towards conservation.
The Israeli army systematically fails to properly investigate when it kills Palestinians. When it does investigate, it delays months or years so evidence can be lost.
In the US: tweet to tell telephone directory companies to finish removing the right-wing phony "abortion providers" from their listings of abortion providers. This campaign has already succeeded in removing many of them; continued pressure will get the rest.
US citizens: call your candidates asking them to support the Pledge For Democracy.
How ACS:law planned to pull in riches, using copyright as an excuse for threatening thousands of people and giving a small fraction to the copyright holders.
The Taliban are repeatedly attacking NATO supply convoys traveling through Pakistan for Afghanistan.
Attacking a supply convoy for enemy troops is not terrorism. It is simply war. I find the Taliban loathsome for imposing unjust Islamic law on the populace, but that doesn't make them terrorists.
Do you think that releasing mice and rats from a lab is "terrorism"?
I think it was wrong, since scientific experimentation is useful, but stretching the word "terrorism" to include activities that can't possibly directly injure anyone is just a damned lie.
Israel plans to build over a thousand more housing units in East Jerusalem.
A pilot plant generates natural gas from urban waste, avoiding the addition of extra CO2 to the atmosphere (since the waste would would have generated it anyway). Twice the cost of fossil natural gas is a cheap price for saving the biosphere.
Refuting the anti-abortion argument that preventing the birth of a handicapped baby means contempt for people living with handicaps.
Some people with grave handicaps have chosen to kill themselves; others prefer to keep living. I think they should be free to do either one, and it isn't for me to judge which is better for them, but the issue here is about creating a new person. It is wrong to do so in conditions that will tend to impose unusual suffering or deprivation on that person.
A broad range of citizens of Stuttgart protested against a plan to build a very expensive new train station by cutting down old trees in a park, and police attacked them with water cannon, causing permanent injury to some. I don't know enough about the planned new train line to have an opinion about how much it will be useful for society. It might help reduce CO2 emissions by replacing air travel. But surely there is a way to modify the plan to achieve the same benefits with less expense and preserving the park.
A new form of housing discrimination in Israel: "no foreigners".
Transplanted species, introduced by humans, are devastating both natural ecosystems and agriculture around the world.
Theodore Bikel explains why he supports the cultural boycott of the Israeli "settlements" in the West Bank.
Palestinians say Israeli troops repeatedly arrest Palestinian youths before final exams so that they fall behind in school by a year.
Dutch politician Geert Wilders faces charges of "inciting hatred" and "discrimination" for condemning Islam and the Qur'an.
I don't endorse what Wilders is reported to have said. I don't know of any particular similarity between the Qur'an and Mein Kampf, though since I have not read either one and I don't know what similarity Wilders claims to have found, I am not in a position to positively say there is none. Islamic countries all practice injustice, for instance denying religious freedom for everyone, but I don't think the word "fascism" quite fits. There are plenty of non-Muslim terrorists (Tamil tigers, for instance, and arguably governments such as the US.) To ban the Qur'an, as Wilders advocates, would be censorship, just as wrong as censoring Wilders would be.
However, all that is secondary. Whether we agree with Wilders or not, we must defend his freedom of speech.
Imprisoned Syrian blogger Tal al-Mallouhi has been accused of spying because of publication activity.
The last thing any real spy would do is attract attention by pubic dissent.
US warnings of danger of terrorism in Europe were not based on any new information, according to UK intelligence.
The California association of beer-delivery companies is campaigning against legalization of marijuana. They apparently don't want competition from a less addictive drug.
That this organization did not consult its members should not surprise us. The American Association of Retired Persons lobbies for political positions that don't fit the interests of most retired Americans, and which many might disapprove of, and it doesn't try to call its members' attention to the matter.
You can support this referendum at yeson19.org.
Corporatization of global food business is producing a new kind of unofficial slavery, in food production as in factory work, using disposable, replaceable slaves. The megacorporations don't run sweatshops directly; instead they use subcontracting to hide it from view and move it around. Perhaps restrictions on subcontracting could be a way to tackle the problem.
Bush's intervention in Haiti was designed to make it available for such enslavement.
Right-wing politicians since Clinton have claimed that "free trade" treaties would benefit Americans by increasing exports. But it doesn't work: US exports have grown less to countries that the US has special free trade treaties with.
This factual failure is in addition to the fundamental failure: that the benefits of increased US exports go mainly to business owners and little trickles down to most Americans. And this little bit has to be compared with the cost of these treaties, which appears in reduced democracy.
The last traditional Inuit hunters will have to stop because global warming has eliminated the sea ice, so they can't travel by dog sled and can't hunt.
Disney produced gear for sale in the US in a sweatshop in Bangladesh. When the workers demanded decent working conditions and an end to beatings and abuse, Disney found (fabricated) an excuse to stop dealing with that factory. I have not found any news about this since 2005.
France has prohibited covering one's face in public.
This law is an attack on everyone's privacy rights and political rights, using bigotry an excuse.
Martin Luther King's photographer was an FBI spy.
Peru's president Garcia was embarrassed into retracting a decree that gave a disguised amnesty to murderous government officials.
Jill Stein compares her positions with Massachusetts Governor Patrick.
Israeli soldiers were convicted of using a Palestinian child as a human shield.
It was common practice for Israeli troops to use Palestinians as human shields, and very rare that they are punished for it.
Police searching commuters on Philadelphia's trains, with no grounds for suspicion except that they were traveling to the city, were supposedly "looking for" weapons — but in fact they were searching for anything they could arrest someone for.
Iraqi prisoners transferred from the Bush forces to Iraqi jailers have reason to fear them.
The famous buildings of Venice are now covered by large advertisements. Those responsible say this is necessary to raise funds for preservation; in effect, "We had to destroy the city to save it."
Making Venice ugly is not very important compared with other issues mentioned in these notes. The reason I mention this is for the sake of the response from Venice in Peril. It demonstrates clearly that the reason for this policy is not that it has become more necessary, but rather that governments are now predisposed to kowtow to business.
The phony election in Burma has given Thailand an excuse to send Burmese exiles back to face persecution.
When "advanced" countries deport refugees to violence in Iraq and persecution in Fiji, they set the tone for this action by Thailand.
Atheists and Agnostics in the US have better knowledge about Christianity than Christians.
Burma holds 2000 political prisoners, but even those who escape from the regime are not allowed asylum in Thailand.
I am inclined to trust Aung San Suu Kyi's advice and conclude that Burma should boycott this election. It may not affect the outcome, or even the reported vote counts, but treating the election as if it meant something grants legitimacy to the Burmese dictators.
Explaining the different histories of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, resulting from different forms of US control.
El Sistema teaches poor children to play classical music; as a byproduct, they become good students in other fields.
Several Iraqi TV presenters and journalists been attacked recently, sometimes by police. Violence against journalists has been high in Iraqi ever since Bush launched his conquest of that country. The Bush forces shelled a hotel room, killing journalists, when there was no fighting in the vicinity.
The Israeli sailors on the last Gaza aid boat describe how Israeli troops attacked them with tazers as they sat, chanting.
Mairead Maguire, Nobel peace prize winner was blocked from entering Israel for a meeting of Nobel laureates.
Courts tend to give smaller punishments to criminals that do harm to many people, compared with criminals that do similar harm to each of a smaller group.
Leftover US cluster bomblets cause 300 casualties each year in Laos.
The uprising in Ecuador started from a few hundred police whom someone had misled to think their pay would be cut. Out of that sprang an apparently well-organized coup attempt.
Some US churches are defying the tax exemption rules by openly endorsing candidates for office.
India is pressuring Blackberry to give up the key to decrypt all Blackberry messages.
The excuse for this is stopping terrorism. As usual, it is a bad excuse. Terrorism is a real threat in India, but tyrannical government power is a much bigger threat. Terrorists killed a few hundred people in Mumbai, but the government has killed thousands.
The only ethical response for Blackberry is to stop doing business in India and tell the public it is because India allows only insecure messaging.
Anwar al-Awlaki's father and the ACLU have gone to court demanding the US government justify its intention to kill him. Obama's response is to try to quash the suit on grounds of state secrecy.
The state bases its monopoly of force on the argument, "It is better if people pursue justice through the legal system rather than by violence." In general, that is better, but the argument presumes the legal system is on offer. When the state says, "Our decision to kill your relative is excluded, a priori, from the legal system," it invalidates the argument, and takes justice down to the level of blood feud.
5 billion people, plus lots of wildlife, face threats from human degradation of rivers.
For biodiversity, the question is not "What is that species worth?" but "Do you want to avoid starvation and illness?"
A business funded group, "Americans for Job Security", is placing deceptive ads on TV to attack many candidates who won't bow down to business.
The election results in Venezuela could mean a return to normal democratic politics.
Chavez has done some things wrong, and democracy needs to give people a way to express their disapproval and choose other leaders. However, if democracy in Venezuela becomes too normal, it would mean that business has taken control, as in the US.
The formal TARP bailout money is scheduled to be repaid soon, but banks still owe far more bailout money that they got from the Federal Reserve.
After NAFTA spread poverty in Mexico and the US, the result is more illegal immigration. The US response is to patrol the border with war drones.
Iraqi Shi'ite parties are trying to make al Maliki prime minister again, but the other parties may yet prevent him from taking that office.
The US government is encouraging a big move to highly polluting oil from shale and tar sands, instead of renewable energy. This is clearing obstructions off the road that leads over the cliff.
The FCC has failed to take action against fake news stories on TV which are really advertisements dressed up as news.
To oppose ACTA, send your face to http://faces-against-acta.net/en
"Roundup ready" genetically modified crops are failing against roundup-resistant pigweed.
The engineered genetic resistance of the crops can transfer into other plant species.
Striking police in Ecuador besieged President Correa in a hospital room.
The grounds given by the prosecutor were computer files which, if authentic, supposedly report that communications between her (if it was her) and the FARC over release of FARC hostages went "too far".
It is an evident injustice for a functionary to remove an elected legislator by dictat. If these documents imply that Ms Córdoba committed a crime, she deserves to stand trial. The trial would consider questions such as whether the documents are authentic, whether they really refer to her, whether they are admissable, and if so, whether they were legitimate or not.
One escaped genetically modified salmon in a wild population could cause eventual extinction of that population.
This is because the genetically modified salmon would be more attractive to potential mates, and also less healthy.
In California: support the referendum to legalize marijuana.
The NIH has licensed its patents for AIDS drugs to a patent pool for poor countries. The challenge now is to make the drug companies do likewise.
The illegal fishing ships that destroy African fish stocks operate on forced labor, working in horrible conditions.
A victory for the right to record the actions of police in Maryland.
The FBI raided the homes of many antiwar activists in the US.
Coleen Rowley, former FBI agent, explains how the FBI has been given a free hand, trashing Americans' human rights.
Testimony to the Chilcot inquiry says that B'liar's government used a twisted argument to claim the UN resolution authorized invading Iraq.
The Supreme Court will rule on whether corporations have privacy rights, and Justice Kagan won't be allowed to vote.
CA Governor Schwarzenegger is fighting the oil companies which are trying to cancel California's carbon-trading plan.
Carbon trading is not a real solution to the problem of reducing CO2 emissions; it has too little effect. It ought to be replaced with a tax on greenhouse gas emissions. However, eliminating it would be a step in the wrong direction. California should reject the oil companies attempt to buy their way out of regulation.
Obama begged Natanyahu for just two months more extension of the settlement "freeze", offering all sorts of promises.
One of the promises Obama offered was not to ask for a further extension. This means that Obama was not aiming for a real chance of a peace agreement, only to give a false appearance of a chance of success that would last through the coming US elections.
The Gates Foundation is supporting a project with agribusiness giant Cargill that could involve pushing genetically modified crops in Africa.
ACS:law made thousands of people hate by running a "legal blackmail" business. The company may face huge fines for publishing (probably accidentally) personal information about hundreds of its victims. With luck, this may dissuade other companies from following in its path. But as long as publishers control governments enough to procure more laws to punish P2P users, no one will be safe.
Governments want citizens to put passwords on their wireless nets so as to act as enforcers in the War on Sharing. One way to resist the war is to leave your wifi net without a password.
The world's governments promised in 2002 to curb the loss of biodiversity, and achieved nothing. Now they are about to have another chance.
Participate in the day of action to stop climate change, Oct 10.
Prostitutes in Ottawa sued to overturn laws forcing them to work on the street in dangerous conditions, and won.
Ireland plans to spend 1/5 of its GDP to rescue a failed bank.
This shows how far the banks have become masters of the state. If it is going to bail out this bank, it should make subdivision into at least 10 pieces part of the plan.
Israel has banned the use of a high school textbook that presents the Palestinian viewpoint alongside the Israeli viewpoint.
This gives a glimpse into the Israeli government's plans to ensure that future generations will provide an excuse for future governments to tell future US presidents, "We can't make any concessions for peace, so the Palestinians will have to make all the concessions."
US citizens: sign this petition against US censorship of the Internet.
1/5 of all plant species are at risk of extinction.
Ecuador challenges the rest of the world: pay us to leave oil in the ground half of what you would pay us to extract it.
Israel moved closer to evicting many Arab families in East Jerusalem.
The UN HCR report found that Israel essentially murdered passengers on the Mavi Marmara, including Turkish-American Furkan Dogan, who was making a video. The autopsy results show some were shot in the head from very close range.
Furkan's video would have shown the facts about what he was doing when he was first shot. If Israelis deleted the video, that is obstruction of justice.
Israel is funding upgrades for Jewish tourist attractions in the West Bank.
Israeli troops shot bullets at Palestinian protesters in Bil'in and other towns.
Obama wants to put back doors in our encryption.
B'liar was warned in 2002 that the US was torturing captives, including British citizens and UK residents.
US banks are foreclosing so many houses that they don't have time to do it lawfully.
ACS:Law, which made a business of bullying internet users accused of sharing, leaked credit card information about its victims. A major ISP says it will refuse to cooperate with that company's persecution of its customers.
The UK issued a broad injunction ordering Greenpeace to stop nonviolent protests that block undersea oil drilling. Greenpeace may need to move all its assets out of the UK in order to continue protests against UK-based oil drillers. Or else some other organization not based there may need to take over.
Ideas for encouraging some of the Israeli settlers to move out of the West Bank.
Obama wants to track all international money transfers in the US, even small ones.
Citigroup is embarrassed that it once said Obama's bank regulations were "relatively bank-friendly", since now it wants to portray them as incompatible with the dominion that banks deserve. So it used the DMCA to censor publication of its previous report.
Karzai has started talking with the Taliban.
Fijian democracy activist Josefa Rauluni committed suicide rather than let Australia deport him to Fiji, where he faced persecution from the coup-installed government.
To refuse asylum in such a clear and obvious case shows that Australia is in total contempt of its humanitarian obligations.
Another Christian leader who condemned homosexuality stands accused of practicing it.
If he had sex with someone unconscious, that was rape. As for the other complainants, I think it is wrong to treat them as a legal issue. They are issues of personal honesty; if Long had sex with men, he is a hypocrite.
It is curious that so many religious leaders who preach that sex is evil turn out to be hypocrites. The way to put an end to this pattern is to reject its cause, by proudly celebrating sex. Sex is good (but take proper precautions against unwanted effects), and celibacy is a harmless eccentricity.
Tell the US government what needs to be done to prevent a repeat of the Big Pollution, via http://www.citizen.org/bp-commission-comments.
Here's what I posted.
BP made an artificial island near Alaska so that they can drill into undersea oil and call it "onshore drilling".
This might be playing word games with danger, or it might be a real solution. If the artificial island means that any oil spill would occur on the island itself, perhaps that very fact will make it much easier to collect the oil that spills. Or perhaps not — I don't know.
But the Department of the Interior ought to make sure it knows, and tell us.
Marine mucilages up to 200 kilometers long, harboring bacteria and viruses that can be dangerous, now form in winter and last for months.
A US ISP, Suddenlink, has unilaterally decided to disconnect its customers for a long time if they are accused 3 times of forbidden sharing.
Perhaps it should change its name to Suddenunlink.
I wonder whether its conduct is illegal under consumer protection law. If so, customers could sue. However, any Suddenunlink customers that don't want to sue should disconnect themselves from that company ASAP.
A crackdown on advertising might make it possible to avoid unnecessary consumption and avoid destroying the biosphere.
Al Jazeera's reporters in Afghanistan were arrested and accused of being "Taliban facilitators".
In the US: Join Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity, on Saturday, October 30, in Washington, D.C.
Funding for an AIDS vaccine has been cut just when research shows promise in creating one.
What's the sense in prospecting for oil under the ocean? If we are to avoid a climate disaster, we must not burn all the oil already known.
The opposition in Venezuela got around half the votes for congress, although due to voting districts they won only 36% of the seats.
The US government wants the power to forcibly delete domains from DNS.
Once there is a system in place to order sites deregistered for one kind of reason, the temptation to extend it to other kinds of reasons will be hard for the US government to resist.
Many non-US Internet businesses and activists criticized, several years ago, the unilateral US control over Internet domain names. At the time, I thought their concern was misplaced because the US did nothing to exert control. However, if this law is passed, their concern will be validated, and I would expect some countries to require their DNS servers to disregard US orders.
In the UK, you can get information about the consequences of proposed bills for liberty from this site.
Cambodian garment workers paid $60 per month went on strike, and the government responded by threatening to arrest the union leaders.
Canadians: call on your government to support Hossein Derakhshan, who faces execution in Iran for his political statements.
Granting that genetically modified crops are not magically dangerous, they still have the potential to be harmful — for technical reasons and due to the power that they give to a few corporations.
The angry rich say they can't bear a few percent more income tax. Why are many Americans so foolish as to sympathize with them?
When they say these things, it is not because they are fools. Rather, they think they can fool most Americans with the help of right-wing media. They may be right about that, if we don't succeed in reestablishing a sense of proportion.
Today's Republicans, and today's supposed Democrats, make me wish we had Eisenhower back again.
I suggest we raise taxes for the rich by more than 3%. Let's raise their taxes so much that the government could pay for the research, and public events, that corporations now fund (and twist to their ends).
The big spill seems to have made phytoplancton secret lots of mucus, dragging them down with oil to the bottom. This would have poisoned life at the bottom while starving young fish above.
California has awarded funds to agribusiness for PR to convince people not to worry about pesticides in produce.
Supporting unbiased scientific study and reporting of the facts would be a proper activity for government to support.
The ACLU made a school compensate a student for taking and searching the photos in her phone computer.
I am especially moved by the views of Rami Elhanan.
Meanwhile, since Israel talks about jokes that isn't funny, look at the idea of a "compromise" to replace Israel's temporary construction freeze. That includes four levels of compromise in Israel's favor already: freezing the settlements rather than closing them, doing so temporarily, excluding Jerusalem, and implementing it half-heartedly so that much construction carried on. So now Israel says "Meet us half way" again. It's really a scheme to make the Palestinians concede everything before negotiation start, and all the parties know this.
A "heroic" cop who said he was shot by drug smugglers may have wounded himself and fabricated the story .
In their euphoria over the defeat of the Tamil Tigers, Sri Lanka's people have not noticed the danger from their president who is making himself effectively a king.
Kashmiri separatists have called a general strike to continue their nonviolent protests.
The UN official formerly concerned with extrajudicial killings calls for investigations of the killings that Wikileaks informed us about.
Retreating glaciers expose ancient artifacts — but glaciers are retreating so fast nowadays that archaeologists can hardly collect the artifacts before they rot.
Uganda's US-supported government is crushing political activities using terrorism as an excuse.
The UN Human Rights Commission investigation into Israel's attack on the Mavi Marmara concluded that it was unjustified violence.
Cheap home drug tests will help parents introduce their children to the meaning of tyranny and suspicion.
Greenpeace faces possible disaster from a court order if it continues its protest on an oil drilling ship.
The quote at the end from Greenpeace is devastating; simply contrasting the oil company's arguments for the court order with its arguments for being allowed to drill in the Arctic, it shows the company is playing a two-faced game with public safety.
Bush was planning "regime change" in Iraq in July 2001, and began pushing to invade Iraq on September 12, 2001. Bush seemed irritated when he was informed that Iraq had no connection with al Qa'ida, and the next day he asked the CIA to find some connection.
A software developer is suing the CIA for using "illegal" software to guide drones that drop bombs.
My interpretation of this issue is very different from that of the article.
The idea that this software is "illegal" and that that makes it unethical is predicated on an endorsement of proprietary software. I reject that. It is not wrong to copy software; it is wrong to stop someone from copying software. It is not wrong to decompile a program, it is wrong to withhold source code from others. The CIA was foolish to use nonfree software at all.
I am not convinced that 13 meters of positioning error is ethically significant. If the target is so close to civilian bystanders that a mere 13-meter error would endanger them, then they are endangered anyway. Bombs don't always hit their target perfectly, and the shrapnel can cover a wide area. So it would be wrong to bomb there even with perfect software. Thus, if the US does bomb there, and hurts civilians, the fault is not with the software — it is with the decision to use the weapon there.
The problem for which this software inaccuracy might be the principal cause would be sometimes missing the target.
Repower America is working to preserve the US Clean Air Act from an attack by business.
Louisiana doesn't want to know whether thousands of dead fish had something to do with the big spill.
Speculation in food as a commodity has combined with major disasters (caused partly by global heating) to send food prices up — a disaster for the world's poor.
The argument is that there are rich people who want to make a bubble somewhere or other, and now that the housing bubble has been popped, food is the only place they can go.
Of course, population increase puts more pressure on the world's food production capacity. All these factors are multiplied together.
The predatory Lord's Resistance Army has spread into several countries in Africa.
If the US were sincere about promoting freedom and democracy in other countries, crushing the LRA would be a good use of its military power.
Sign this petition calling on businesses to turn off Faux News.
In the US: host a MoveOn party for progressive candidates.
Here is the text of what Ahmadinejad said in the UN.
I disagree with his views about religion, and I don't believe what he says about Iranian uranium enrichment, but his views on the September 2001 attacks are basically sensible. He did not assert that the US government carried out the attacks; he mentioned it as a possibility. He criticized the evidence behind the US government position, and called for an independent investigation.
Obama has misrepresented Ahmadinejad: Obama accused him of callousness towards the victims of the attacks, but in fact Ahmadinejad expressed compassion for them. Many of their relatives have demanded the new investigation that Ahmadinejad supports and Obama opposes.
Of course, none of this excuses the Iranian government's cruel and unjust treatment of dissidents, women, and human rights lawyers.
BP and the US government are cooperating to demand scientists sign nondisclosure agreements and to exclude independent scientists from studying the remaining oil pollution in the Gulf of Mexico.
US citizens: support Kucinich for Congress.
Wendell Potter says that Obama's health care bill is starting to do real good for many Americans.
Potter has demonstrated his integrity and he knows the facts, so I believe him about these effects. However, we cannot yet tell the extent of the harm that the bill will do to other Americans, so we can't yet conclude whether the bill does more harm or more good.
In any case, it failed to do what we really need: set up a national heath system that covers everyone, and get insurance companies out of the field of medicine.
Apparently it isn't illegal to burn Qur'ans in the UK, only illegal to talk about it.
The UK law is a direct offense against human rights. Of course, it means well — it means to reduce "racial hatred". But that is no excuse.
I disapprove of racial hatred. I also disapprove of hatred against a religious group (which is not, as a matter of fact, a matter of race). However, our agreement or disagreement with people's views is irrelevant when it comes to defending their freedom of speech.
Toxic levels of oil were found on a beach at Sarasota, Florida.
Everyone: support Amnesty International's World Day Against The Death Penalty.
Iran's President Ahmadinejad made some reasonable statements about the possibility that Bush was involved in arranging the September 2001 attacks, and comparing the number killed by them with the number killed in Afghanistan.
Elsewhere I saw reported he said that "most Americans agree with these statements". I don't know if most Americans do, but many do. He also asserted that Bush did this to benefit Israel. I am skeptical of that.
I will not assert that Bush was involved in those attacks, because only a real investigation can establish who was responsible. Bush resisted an investigation, then weakened its powers and corrupted the investigators, so that its findings mean nothing. Obama has not even spoken about having a real investigation. This is why I signed the ae911truth.org petition in favor of one.
This Afghan election was more violent than the previous one.
Israel is about to end the settlement "construction freeze" that was never fully implemented.
The UK is blocking a European plan for more safety controls on undersea oil drilling.
Insurance companies are demonstrating the flaws in Obama's health insurance changes. Since they can no longer reject a specific child based on a preexisting condition, some refuse to insure any children.
What the US needs is a national health care system like the one that works in Canada.
US citizens: call your senators to support the Byrd Mine Safety and Health Act (S.3671) to protect against predictable injuries due to bad working conditions.
And sign this petition but a phone call carries more weight.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
iBad users tend to be wealthy selfish jerks.
In major sporting events, such as the Commonwealth Games and in the Olympics, nations compete to see which can waste the most money for a two-week distraction. The UK plans to spend around 13 billion dollars on the coming Olympics; meanwhile, the UN has just 25 billion to reduce poverty. These events also drive large numbers of poor people from their homes; sometimes over a million.
People were arrested in the UK for burning a Qur'an. Making it a crime to express criticism in this way is an infringement of freedom of speech. Burning the British flag seems like an appropriate expression of disgust.
Gulf coast oystermen implore the state not to open the oyster season. They want to leave the oysters alone to increase their numbers. It is refreshing to see fishermen show a concern for the long-term protection of the resources they use.
Pakistan's ban on "indecent" messages is supposedly aimed at terrorists, but it is also being used to stifle dissent.
In the US: join the March on Washington for good jobs, equal justice, and public education for all.
Agribusiness companies have paralyzed the UN Food and Agriculture Organization through the use of a few subservient governments.
Indian troops in Kashmir have a license to kill civilians at will. In recent months they have injured over a thousands protesters, and killed over a hundred, including an 8-year-old boy that was beaten to death.
The result is to drive the protesters towards armed rebellion.
The MPAA wants censorship firewalls in every country, and to sell the idea, it suggests these firewalls can block Wikileaks too.
A judge in the UK says an Iranian woman lied when claiming she had been involved in publishing The Satanic Verses, and that she won't be in danger if she is deported to Iran.
Having no personal knowledge about this, I can't tell what the truth is. But I wonder whether the Iranian regime will punish her merely for speaking favorably abroad about the distribution of The Satanic Verses.
Ecuador has encouraged indigenous people to lead their own conservation efforts.
The Gates Foundation has funded many news organizations to cover its work, which is not very different from paying them to give it good press.
US citizens: sign this petition to protect the Western Arctic Reserve.
I saw my father once after he developed Alzheimer's disease. I concluded that my father was dead, and what existed was merely a walking corpse with a superficial resemblance to him. I decided there was no point in ever seeing him again, since he would forget it just after.
There is no point keeping such zombies alive. If, or perhaps I should say when, the same happens to me, I hope to be put down rather than burdening others uselessly. Once I can no longer remember from day to day, the question of whether I would be alive tomorrow would not matter.
In California: volunteer for the campaign to protect California's climate protection law.
Hamas says it has informed the US it was prepared to accept the existence of Israel.
I presume it means this could be part of a larger deal. This is not peace, but it indicates a willingness to make peace. If Israel is willing to make peace, it ought to enter negotiations with Hamas. The fact that Hamas, like Israel, commits war crimes should not prevent peace negotiations. However, if Israel wants an excuse for not considering peace, it can point at them.
Debunking Israeli spin on the siege of Gaza.
India is stopping journalism from functioning in Kashmir; some newspapers and TV stations have found it impossible to operate, and others report being pressured to stop covering the protests.
Obama is trying to convince disappointed progressive Democrats to start vigorously supporting him.
These cited criticisms of Obama did not pin him down at the crucial point. Because they focused on achievements rather than attempts, they enabled him to put the blame on Congress.
We understand that only Congress can pass a law, and that if Obama advocates a change and Congress won't pass it, that is not his fault. However, it is his fault when he proposes a bad change, such as to increase government surveillance powers instead of reducing them. It is his fault when he decides not to carry out a responsibility, such as the responsibility to prosecute those responsible for war crimes. It is his fault when he accepts a health care modification law which, despite possible good intentions at the outset, has mutated into Obama's gift to business. It is his fault when federal agents stop reporters from investigating the oil spill.
Even on issues where he has tried and failed, such as closing the Guantanamo prison and ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell, he did not seem to fight very hard.
Obama should have thought about support from the base that elected him when he made those decisions. However, I don't think he was really committed to progressive values or goals.
There were large protests in Egypt against President Mubarak's expect plan to pass his throne to his son. Some protesters showed how they had been beaten by the police.
Greenpeace activists tied themselves to the anchor chain of an oil drilling ship to stop it from leaving harbor.
Vietnam's elephants could be extinct in 10 years due to rampant poaching.
The motive seems to be conspicuous consumption, a vice that is also pushing other species to extinction.
US citizens: call your senators and say, "Vote for equality for gays in the military."
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
US citizens: phone your senators to support the DISCLOSE Act (S.3295). This bill would require corporations to identify themselves in the political advertisements they fund.
See here for more advice.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
Iraq holds 30,000 prisoners without trial.
Ron Paul exposes the hypocrisy of the tea party when it wants to cut the budget for the poor but not for the bloated US military.
I agree that helping the poor based on loans is a mistake. Welfare state programs are important, and in general we should pay for them using taxes, not borrowing.
However, the present time is an exception: deficit spending is necessary now to end a recession.
How the US banks and Bernanke lied so as to get a bailout that the country did not need.
If the US continue policies designed to boost the stock market without a recovery of the economy that affects most people, we may well end up with a half-great-depression that lasts ten years or more.
The migration of gnus is in danger from a planned new truck road through the Serengeti.
Global heating is drying Peru, pitting one community against another for the shrinking water supplies.
Intel has threatened to sue anyone that makes decoders to break the handcuffs of HDCP. This means Intel is egregiously hostile to our freedom, worse than the other companies that cooperate passively with HDCP.
Federal agents stop journalists from looking for oil buried in Florida beaches.
The FBI sent an agent to an anti-war rally to look for "terrorist suspects", then falsified documents to cover it up.
People who are planning terrorism do not participate in public demonstrations. They don't want to call attention to themselves.
George Monbiot has despaired of humanity's response to the clear but still distant impending doom of global heating. Existing efforts are comparable to sticking hands into the ocean to slow the Titanic as it heads for the iceberg.
There were protests in several parts of the US in support of Bradley Manning, accused of leaking the Collateral Murder video to Wikileaks.
A detailed study in Norway reports that musicians' incomes have risen greatly in ten years.
I find it especially interesting that more musicians get substantial income from record sales. I suspect that involves bypassing the record companies and selling directly to the public.
Iran points to the US death penalty to try to excuse its own.
The argument is fallacious as regards brutal practices such as stoning. They would be unconstitutional in the US, as "cruel and unusual punishment". It is also fallacious as regards the dishonest alterations of the verdict and the charges, and as regards allowing a judge to declare someone guilty on "personal knowledge" not presented in court.
I wish the argument were fallacious as regards torturing people into confessions. Sad to say, the US has done that plenty, and Obama continues most of Bush's torture practices.
The argument is also valid about the death penalty itself. The death penalty in the US is often applied based on insufficient evidence; many prisoners have been released from death row in recent decades because their innocence was proved.
The US must abolish its death penalty. Then it will not serve for Iran and China to justify theirs.
The US employment of mercenaries in Iraq and Afghanistan has become a systematic opportunity to evade all controls. Why did the drunken Blackwater mercenaries murder civilians? Because they were not trained for combat and were armed illegally.
It seems the US government did as bad a job of regulating Blackwater as it did regulating BP.
China is starting to change its one-child policy.
This change threatens to increase world population growth, when the world's population is already unsustainable. China's population has never stopped growing, and its pollution per capita is growing fast.
If China would like more young people, it could invite them to migrate from other parts of the world. The same applies to Europe, of course.
Almost a billion people have insufficient food at present, and that might increase in the future due to population growth while resources such as fresh water and fish decrease due to global heating.
The OECD says the US will have an economic recovery for the wealthy but not for workers.
The campaign to save the Pavlovsk biodiversity bank is growing but the battle is not over.
Terrorism hysteria has real victims when it leads to a zero-tolerance policy in which the state cannot back down from persecution.
Biofuel can now be made by bacteria from plant waste.
Israel needs to make peace with Palestine so that Israel and Arab countries can convince Iran to forgo nuclear weapons.
It is a rational argument, but these days the right wing has learned to bury rational arguments under piles of BS.
The euro has turned into a motor for pushing down wages, since it forces each country in the euro zone to compete with the rest in doing so.
Even if the danger of depression that the article discusses is averted, this will harm most of the people in the euro zone, and indirectly most of the workers in the rest of the world too.
Empathy may be a central part of humanity's evolution and biological success.
The article's conclusion reaffirms the ideas which inspired (among other things) the free software movement.
The IMF will station permanent agents in Greece to monitor that country's submission to its austerity regime.
Toxic coal ash in China is poisoning villages and farmland.
The would-be Times Square bomber believed that setting a bomb to kill civilians in New York would retaliate for the US killing of civilians in Pakistan.
An Iranian human rights activist faces possible execution for "war against god". Apparently the god they worship is at war with humanity.
Human Rights Watch accused the Iraqi government of blocking protest demonstrations.
Exercise does little for losing weight (though it does have other health benefits).
A cartoonist has changed her name and stopped publishing cartoons for fear of murderous Muslim fanatics.
I am not in a position to judge whether she needs to go into hiding. I do wonder why, once living under another name, she can't go on publishing under the old one.
What is clear is that these threats, not proposals to burn Qur'ans, deserve the focus of our condemnation. Prominent people who take issue more with the possibility of provoking those fanatics than with the fanatics and their threats have their priorities backwards.
The Pennsylvania Homeland Terror agency is collecting intelligence reports about opposition to natural gas drilling, as well as anti-war groups.
Even worse, the cops say that the possibility of a protest without a permit is enough reason for the police to investigate a political group.
Speaking of intelligence and preventing terrorism, it would be more intelligent to collect intelligence on anyone that threatens to commit the US to another war. Such a war would be a much bigger boost for terrorism that anything these suspects could possibly do.
Alyssa Peterson, an interrogator in the Bush forces, committed suicide shortly after refusing to participate in torture and talking with another soldier about it.
The embarrassed Bush forces tried to hide the fact that it was suicide.
Sierra Leone has advanced over the US in providing free health care to young children and their mothers, and to pregnant women.
This is the right thing to do; however, excluding women who are not pregnant has the potential to encourage more procreation. Whether this is a significant effect, I do not know.
Drug company Wyeth paid to plant over 500 clinical papers whose "authors" just put their names on them, in order to give the impression that hormone replacement therapy was safe and effective.
The Afghan election suffered from a small amount of violence, but lots of fraud and intimidation.
A deep sea BP well near Libya threatens to destroy Roman relics.
10,000 people protested the Pope in London.
Nigeria's campaign against tribalism: bring the best students from all tribes to multiethnic schools.
Global heating is creating difficulties for potato farmers in Peru.
In a big defeat for digital handcuffs, the master key for the HDMI video interface has been published.
HDMI is an example of Digital Restrictions Management (DRM). The enemy has lost one battle but the war will continue. Please join our protest campaign against DRM.
Bailed-out banks are financing predatory "payday loan" companies that try to sucker victims into renewing ever-larger loans which they will never pay off.
Only countries are supposed to do that ;-).
The UK has adopted standard limiting the amount of packaging of food.
Independent scientists accuse the US government of systematically minimizing the damage from the Big Pollution in the Gulf of Mexico.
A two-inch layer of dense oil has been found on the floor of Gulf of Mexico, where it will probably be very slow to degrade.
It was President Reagan who began the attack on Americans who are not rich.
Loss of biodiversity now threatens disaster for human societies, but the US has not ratified the UN Convention on Biodiversity.
US citizens: Call your congresscritter to support the Fair Elections Now Act, which provides public funding for congressional elections. Or use this web page to send a message.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
Donate to Jill Stein for Governor of Massachusetts.
The TSA's latest terror-spreading poster invites people to report anyone photographing airplanes as suspicious.
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani was filmed saying that she wasn't tortured into confession.
Given that she previously showed signs of torture, I think this proves she was tortured further.
Egypt is a dictatorship which maintains the form of democracy: there are elections but the opposition is not allowed to win.
The World Bank is putting billions into new coal power plants.
Almost all the Republicans in the Senate, or running for Senate seats, deny global heating and oppose doing anything to stop it.
This reflects the influence of the rich interests that fund and manipulate the "tea party" movement.
India's tremendous economic growth has done nothing for the poor, half of the population, who are getting poorer.
Cuba is taking a precipitous move towards capitalism — but, as with China, not yet towards freedom.
Wells in the Ica valley in Peru are drying up, because production of asparagus for export is using up all the water.
US citizens: sign this petition in favor of stricter safety standards for US chemical plants.
New oil came ashore last weekend on beaches in Louisiana.
30 years after the Ixtoc oil spill of 1979, the tar mats are much smaller, but not yet gone. What remains is enough to stop coral and sea grass from regrowing.
One US citizen reports on exercising his right not to answer US border agents' questions about what he did while traveling outside the US.
Although economic growth can give people employment, the economic system overall is designed for a level of waste that is unsustainable.
Making the economy grow would address the short-term issue; for the long term, we need to restructure the economic system to aim for a different kind of efficiency.
A week ago, Hamas agents shot some Israeli settlers in the West Bank. The US condemned this. A much larger extent of Israeli violence against Palestinians continues all the time, but the US did not mention that.
Israel is going full speed ahead with construction to extend its colonies in West Bank Palestinian territory.
Russia is using the excuse of unauthorized copies of Windows (sometimes falsely) to seize the computers of political opposition groups and environmental monitoring groups, and Microsoft's lawyers help.
I suspect some Russian officials told Microsoft executives that things would go better for them if they went along with the lies, and the latter saw no reason to insist on the truth.
The idea that sharing is "piracy" is in itself perverse.
Mandating a high level of recycling is a good way to create jobs.
In the past, this job was effectively outsourced to poor countries and done in very dangerous working conditions and with low pay. If the work is done in a wealthier country, it might be made safer and pay more.
People who were bitten by sharks have launched a campaign to save sharks from extinction, which threatens them because people kill them just to use the fin.
Chinese banquets customarily include shark's fin soup as a form of conspicuous consumption. With a simple cultural change, they could buy something else expensive instead.
The European Arrest Warrant kept Andrew Symeou in jail for 11 months for charges that will probably be dismissed immediately, the evidence is so weak.
Over a million people are killed each year in road accidents, and nearly all in poor countries which lack basic safety measures.
The US has offered a giant arms sale to Saudi Arabia, with apparently no conditions about respect for freedom of religious belief or non belief.
The UK military evade the issue when asked whether any of its prisoners in Afghanistan have died.
The IMF, famous for imposing austerity programs on poor countries and most lately on Greece, says that the budget-cutting of many wealthy countries is harmful.
The banks have blocked governments from imposing the regulations needed to ensure they can't cause another bubble and another crash.
A challenge for religious believers: why have "God"'s miracles declined to a level which is hardly miraculous?
Tens of thousands of walrus have migrated to the land, apparently because of a dearth of Arctic sea ice.
There were big protests in Thessaloniki against the Greek austerity regime.
The UK plans to deport a woman to Iran who faces execution for involvement in publishing The Satanic Verses.
American demagogues are stirring up hatred against Muslims.
There are many valid grounds to criticize Islam, but stirring up hatred is a bad thing to do, and threatening people is simply wrong.
Many countries restrict the monitoring of the environment and government activity, which adds up to increasing possibility of corruption and environmental destruction.
British Bush forces troops killed many Iraqi prisoners and the army did not bother to investigate. One prisoner died when a soldier pushed him into a large river, but even then there was no prosecution.
Afghanistan's voting system has problems that would take years to fix.
The arrest of a Kashmiri separatist leader sparked violent protests.
India risks pushing Kashmir into another underground terrorist movement.
The former leaders of Colombia's paramilitaries, right-wing thugs and thieves, have formed new drug gangs which are now the biggest cause of violence in that country.
This is what Plan Colombia calls "success".
Sri Lanka's government denies the civilian casualties of its war against the Tamil Tiger rebels, and has denied access to UN investigators.
This follows the example of Israel, which has blocked UN investigation into the well-known war crimes in Gaza.
Since right-wingers in the Senate blocked efforts to slow global heating, the next idea is to require big improvements in fuel efficiency for cars.
To make this effective, it needs to require milestones much sooner than 2025.
The EPA is investigating the secret chemicals that oil companies inject into natural gas wells. They may poison ground water.
Notwithstanding what opponents of Chavez say, Venezuela's economy is recovering from the effects of the worldwide downturn, and the poor have benefited from his reforms.
Donna Marsh O'Connor explains why she welcomes a Muslim center near where her daughter was killed.
Since she mentions using Skype, I have to remind the reader that Skype is proprietary software, so you shouldn't tolerate it on your computer and you certainly shouldn't talk about it as acceptable to use.
Obama's officials persuaded a US appeals court to dismiss a lawsuit against Jeppesen for commercially facilitating (and profiting from) CIA rendition flights. Obama has generally protected US torturers, and US courts have failed in their responsibility to police torture.
Seculars make better neighbors than religious believers: on the whole, seculars are less violent, less criminal, more tolerant, and more willing to give to charity.
Wikileaks is planning to publish a long list of Bush forces event reports, some of which might deal with torture by the Iraqi insecurity forces.
9/11 was great for arms companies and religion, as it spreads war and murder around the world.
US citizens: Obama wants to increase government search powers for your electronic data. Sign this ACLU petition to reduce them instead.
In the wake of Nixon's September 11 attacks in Chile, harsh political changes were introduced that have not yet been reversed.
Obama has continued Bush's approach toward terrorism and torture, quietly making it worse.
The feminist concept of "patriarchy" is an approximation to, or aspect of, a broader system of domination. Women are often on the losing side, but it's unjust no matter who is up or who is down.
Arrogant Muslims in Afghanistan protested at a German base against an American's intention to burn copies of the Qur'an. Troops shot and killed one of the protesters.
There are several aspects of these events that call for comment.
That American may be a demagogue or a racist, but he has the right to burn a copy of the Qur'an as an expression of his views. If Muslims feel offended, they have a right to protest back. I don't sympathize with them much, because they apply a double standard: they fail to condemn the much worse things (up to and including execution) that Islamic states threaten to do to those who express views that they criticize. Nonetheless, biased as their views may be, they have a right to express them.
People in Afghan did protest back, as was their right, and NATO troops shot some of them.
It is very bad when troops kill civilian protesters. If things have come to this, it means that NATO has lost the support of a large fraction of Afghanistanis, and NATO troops should not be there.
Many have recently argued that people should not exercise their freedom of speech in ways that would antagonize a powerful group that might incline to violence. By that reasoning, Salman Rushdie should not have written The Satanic Verses. To demand others self-censor is the surrender of freedom.
However, there are deeds that the US could have avoided so as not to provoke the anger of Muslims around the world — cruel and violent acts that went far beyond giving offense. These include the conquest and occupation of Iraq, the continuation of the futile war in Afghanistan, and the "war on terror" whose principal effects are to ruin countries, steal everyone's human rights, and inspire terrorists.
Fidel Castro says he was misinterpreted, and still advocates Communism in Cuba.
Also see this pol-note.
The pope's stance on condoms is causing millions of deaths from AIDS.
Oil companies are working hard to retard and weaken the move to electric cars, so society will mostly stick with cars that burn fuel.
Biofuels made from food crops such as sugar beets are a really stupid idea, as explained before.
The monarchy of Swaziland threatened to torture those now protesting for democracy.
Holding the Vatican accountable for child sexual abuse by priests.
Meanwhile, the Pope's idea of a remedy is to present as a role model a tyrannical priest who violently abused himself.
Uri Avnery: If Obama's Israel-Palestine negotiations produce a declaration of principles (as in Oslo) instead of a peace treaty, that will change nothing.
All indications are that there is no hope these talks can reach a real agreement, so perhaps the intention is to publish another declaration of principles and call it progress.
The Koch billionaires' astroturf campaign is going to stage a "public" protest against the Northeast states' carbon-trading scheme, calling it a "tax" and pretending it will substantially raise the price of emitting CO2.
I wish he were right, because a tax like that is what we need. The EU's carbon-trading scheme looks to make very little difference in emissions.
The US military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy towards homosexuals has been ruled unconstitutional. The government can appeal the decision, but since Obama opposes the policy, maybe he will decide not to.
I support equal rights for homosexuals; ending discrimination against them in the US military will be a step forward. However, I could not bring myself to support most statements in favor of repeal, because they asserted that the people in the military are "serving their country". They might do that if the US were threatened with military attack and conquest, but it isn't. In practice, what they do is make a mess elsewhere in the world. That serves those who have power in the US, but I don't think it serves the US as a country, any more than it serves Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, or Honduras.
Dishonest ads blaming Senator Feingold for the deficit Bush created are apparently funded by rich business owners.
With their dominion over the media, right-wing extremists can make any lie pass for truth.
More American children are raised mainly by their grandparents.
This is partly because grandparents are living longer and enjoy taking care of children. But also partly because the parents can't do it, and that's often because they can't make ends meet.
In the US: join a Jobs with Justice action.
Now a French childcare facility plans to use RFIDs to keep track of children's movements with chips in their clothing.
Children who have been taught to accept monitoring of their movements by radio tracking will grow up to accept monitoring of their movements as adults.
The Supreme Court's "Citizens United" decision, which took all the limits off corporations' political advertising, also threatens the Civil Rights Act.
The UK is deporting Iraqis to Iraq, despite mounting violence there, and to get them off the plane, Iraqi police beat them till they are bleeding.
All around the Gulf Coast, most blue crab larvae contain abnormal orange droplets that seem to be derived from spilled petroleum.
5 US soldiers face murder charges for killing Afghan civilians for sport.
One boasted of having done the same in Iraq. Surely many of the Bush forces have wantonly killed Iraqis and successfully concealed it. When troops occupy a country and face resistance, they tend to dehumanize the inhabitants, and this is the result.
BP's report on its disaster, even if it underestimates BP's own responsibility, shows that the industry motto is not "safety first" but "cost cutting first".
Sarah Palin exposed.
Fidel Castro says that Cuba's Communism "does not work any more".
The War on Drugs fuels anarchy, profiteering and misery.
Bahrain has arrested a human rights activist blogger and accused others of plotting terrorism.
The ACLU, with journalist's and lawyers' organizations, has sued against the practice of searching people's laptops for no reason when they enter the US.
US parents are very worried about unlikely dangers to their children, including school snipers, terrorists, malicious strangers, drugs, and kidnappers, while they ignore the big dangers such as car accidents.
Note four of the dangers that parents exaggerate provide excuses for various kinds of repressive measures.
Corexit dispersant got into a Florida family's swimming pool and made them sick, apparently blowing in from aerial spraying.
The page has links to other reports of finding dangerous concentrations of Corexit in Florida.
Dahr Jamail reports on Gulf coast beaches covered by tarballs and Louisiana islands squishy with oil even in the middle.
These islands may disappear because the oil can kill the marsh grass that holds them in place.
It is just as well that the shrimpers have caught no shrimp, because it could be toxic. In a few months, migrating birds will stop on these islands. Those birds could be wiped out.
Danah Boyd: Censoring Craigslist hurts, rather than helping, those who have been forced into prostitution.
Most of the electric generating capacity built recently in Europe is renewable (mostly wind power). This supports a lot of employment as well as helping to protect the climate.
Clinton wants to impose another Plan Colombia on Mexico.
Plan Colombia increased US dominion over Colombia, whose effects are seen in the subservient government there.
Blameless Polluter published the report of an investigation into the cause of the Big Spill, putting nearly all the blame on other companies and on the employees who were killed in the explosion.
Fidel Castro criticized Ahmadinejad for denying the holocaust and being callous about antisemitism.
I have been bothered by Chavez' praise for Ahmadinejad. It is one thing to seek whatever allies one can find against US threats, and another to praise a tyrant.
Reportedly the Israeli Arab man's conviction for not telling his sex partner he was an Arab was a plea bargain and he had originally been accused of real rape.
If this report is true, it could mean that this particular accused was really guilty. (I say "could mean" rather than "means", because the reported record of rape accusations made by that woman creates room for doubt about what he really did.)
However, the main issue is not him personally, it is the very idea that a man commits a crime by having sex and not saying he is an Arab. Whether one man really did this or not, either way the court is still guilty of saying it is a crime.
Global heating can prevent pollination of certain plants because they flower earlier in the spring, while bees are still hibernating.
Selection of judges for international courts has been politicized, and that leads to appointment of unqualified judges.
Sri Lanka's tyrannical president has amended the constitution to give him control over the police and the judiciary.
Eliminating the term limit is not, in itself, an attack on human rights, but it increases the evidence that Rajapaksa intends to eliminate democracy.
A Christian church in Florida plans to burn copies of the Koran as an expression of hatred for Islam. Anyone has a right to burn the Koran, or the Bible, or the US flag, or even the GNU Coding Standards. Such an act is disrespectful towards the idea which is the target — intentionally so — and that is why people have a right to do it. Freedom of speech includes the right to express disrespect for any idea whatsoever; to put any idea out of bounds for criticism is intolerable for liberty.
Respect for other people's freedom includes recognizing their right to hold and advocate their ideas. That doesn't mean we have to respect the ideas themselves.
There is much to be condemned in Islam, including mistreatment of women, contempt for dissent, and imposition of absurd moral rules totally unrelated to being good to other people. (The same applies to many forms of Christianity.) However, burning a Koran is not an articulate criticism of these defects in Islam; it fails even to identify the defects. Writing about them is much clearer.
I can understand the hurt feelings of Muslims who dislike this rather crude expression of criticism. I too feel bad when people criticize my ideas. But before Muslims get angry, they should recognize that Islam, with its intolerance of dissent and criticism, is hardly in a position to complain. Islamic states, in their repression of dissent from Islam, do much worse than burning books: they threaten authors with death.
Craigslist has been bullied into censoring its sex ads, in a victory for prude bullies and intolerant Christians.
Greenpeace is taking legal action in the UK for a moratorium and safety review on deep sea oil drilling.
Is genetically engineered salmon dangerous?
The disgust about mixing genes from different species is irrational, but there are some real issues here.
Salmon spawn in places that are far upstream — nowhere near fish farms. Does this make it impossible for the modified gene to get into wild salmon? I am not sure. If it can't leak from the farms, it might get into a wild population through a unexpected route. Living organisms occasionally do things that surprise us.
Wild salmon must have evolved the gene that turns off growth hormone for part of the year, so the artificial gene might be selected against. If so, it would disappear from the wild population even if it were introduced there. However, it is hard to be sure of this based on theoretical arguments, because they lead to probabilities rather than certainties.
The issue about exposing humans to extra IGF-1 might be a real one. The crucial question is, if you eat a lot of this salmon, how much IGF-1 would you get, and is that enough to have a significant effect? The amount of effect from eating salmon might be either more or less than the effect of drinking cow's milk — I don't know. The point is one cannot assume the two cases are parallel.
What we do know is that children tend to drink a lot of milk, but they don't tend to eat a lot of salmon.
The dwarf seahorse may become extinct as a result of the damage to seagrass caused by the big spill. The dispersant might contribute too.
Two Japanese activists who informed prosecutors about illegally appropriated whale meat were convicted of theft for doing so.
There were massive protests in France against President Sarcome's plan to raise the retirement age.
I am glad that French people are ready to mount large protests. But what about the issue itself?
60 is rather low as a retirement age; in advanced countries, most people live many years beyond that, and most people of 60 are still capable of working. If there are not enough people working to do the jobs that society needs done, then raising the retirement age seems proper to me, especially as the number of old people increases and the number of young people decreases.
However, that argument disappears in a society with a lot of unemployment. If there are already more people ready to work than there are jobs, raising the retirement age will only increase the number of people that need work and can't find any. I think that is the situation in France.
An unusual group of chimpanzees in the Congo are being hunted intensively for food and pets, which puts them in great danger of being wiped out.
US citizens: phone your congresscritter to cosponsor the Capuano Shareholder Protection Act, which would give a corporation's shareholders direct control over any political advertising it does.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
You can also send a message through this page but a phone call carries more weight.
Meat production can contribute to the world's food supply, if done right; today's farming is wasteful because we feed the animals farmed grain.
Amnesty International is campaigning to reverse some of B'liar's tyrannical "anti-terrorism" measures.
We need this in the US too, but there is little hope of progress for freedom here.
Louisiana fishermen say oil is still appearing on beaches and in areas where shrimp live. Meanwhile, Bastard Polluter offers to compensate people for their losses, but drives them broke with the cost of assembling proof.
When the government tests fish and shrimp for oil, does it test for dispersant too?
Bullying Polluter hardly needed to bully the Minerals Management Service, which falls over itself to grant the oil companies' every wish. To correct this fatal laxity in regulation, Obama has changed the organization's name.
Whether he will do anything substantial is yet to be seen.
Iran has arrested prominent human rights lawyers on vague charges whose penalties extend through execution.
I think the Islamic center should go ahead, and the US should use this to pointedly challenge the countries that call themselves "Muslim" to show the same tolerance for other points of view regarding religion.
Technology of surveillance, by the state and by individuals, makes it necessary to rethink the boundary between private and public.
25% of student loans in the US lead to default, and the usual protections for borrowers do not apply to them.
Newspapers are working with Congress to deny journalistic protection to Wikileaks.
Decriminalization of drugs has been successful all around in Portugal: good for addicts, good for the public, bad for black marketeers.
I think it is cruel to think of pressuring addicts to quit through dirty clothes or bad nutrition, as Mr. Chaves does. It also doesn't seem to be very effective.
Since marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco, and does not cause withdrawal sickness, I think it should be entirely legal. However, the Portuguese system seems like a good idea for heroin and cocaine.
Protestors move B'liar's autobiography into the Crime section or the Horror section.
While this protest is a useful project, facebook itself is not your friend.
This protest depends on physical books in a physical store. It would be impossible to do this on Amazon or with ebooks. That's the smallest of the things that ebooks would take from us, if we let them.
Police and zero-tolerance policies in US schools are teaching young people a civics lesson fit for an authoritarian society.
40% of victims of domestic abuse are male, but police often don't believe them.
Victims of both sexes feel pressure to conceal what happened, even though the reasons may be different.
Many Free Exploitation Treaties give foreign investors special privilege over national governments. A Canadian gold mining company is now using this privilege to force El Salvador to accept dangerous gold mines and bypass environmental protection.
Obama wants to give Korean companies similar privileges in the US.
Rachel Corrie's parents are suing the Israeli state for the wrongful killing of their daughter. Rachel was crushed by a bulldozer while participating in nonviolent and passive resistance to the demolition of a Palestinian home.
The US demands airline passenger information from Canada and the EU, but faces legislative resistance to the surrender that those governments wish to make.
Parts of Antarctica's ice seem to date only from the start of the last ice age. That means we are closer to melting it than we thought.
The new German RFID-equipped national ID cards were easily cracked to extract personal information.
National ID cards are in themselves an assault on human rights.
A school in the US makes children wear RFIDs for tracking.
The UK foreign office in 2002 took pains to twist intelligence reports about Saddam Hussein's fictitious nuclear weapons program, so as not to expose B'liar's falsehoods.
President Karzai's brother, a big stockholder in the Kabul Bank, says that instead of cleaning up its corruption, the US should guarantee it.
Even musicians judge female musicians' musical abilities by what they are wearing.
In Iraq, the Bush forces have deployed a surge of mercenaries.
The ACLU is going to court against the US government practice of "targeted killing", which is carried out far from war zones.
Interviews with a spectrum of Iraqis about the occupation and how their lives compare with 2003 and before.
The article repeats the statement that the Bush forces combat troops have left Iraq, which is not entirely true, as explained before.
Obama's speech about withdrawing some of the Bush forces from Iraq (and labeling the rest as noncombat forces) cozied up to Bush, and to Bush's lies about the war.
The next round of climate treaty negotiations seems to be deadlocked in advance. There evidently isn't the political will to arrest our drift to disaster, because politicians are listening to business that want economic growth above all.
If Dr Pachauri is driven out of the IPCC chairmanship on the grounds of smears that have been disproved, nobody capable will accept the job in the future.
Bad weather prematurely terminated Greenpeace's protest at a drilling platform near Greenland.
Reportedly the police refused to let the protesters abandon their protest in the safest manner.
Rising food prices have started to cause riots in Africa.
The fires in Russia and floods in Pakistan, both symptoms of global heating, have contributed to the price rise.
So has the diversion of much agricultural land to growing animal feed and biofuel.
In the US: Amnesty International asks you to send a postcard for lifting the blockade of Gaza.
Another oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico has exploded, just after the oil companies staged a rally of employees for more drilling.
The company lied about the situation — Bald-faced Polluter is not unique.
Global heating is turning the Tibetan plateau into a desert, and that in turn causes more heating.
Obama has pressured Israel and Palestine into starting negotiations. Israel's nonnegotiable demands will ensure that these talks go nowhere. These include the demand to recognize Israel as a "Jewish state", something the US has not done.
Israel is refusing to cooperate with the UN Human Rights Council's investigation into the attack on the Gaza aid ships, but Arab Knesset member Hanin Zoabi who was on one of the ships will go to testify for it.
US citizens: tell the US government you oppose drilling for oil in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
In November the deficit reduction commission will make recommendations that Congress will have to vote on without amendments. It is full of right-wingers that are likely to recommend cutting social security.
Reducing the deficit now is a stupid thing to do anyway, since it would lead to a depression. The time to keep the deficit down was in 2001, when times were good and Clinton left the US with a budget surplus.
The Afghan government replaced top executives of a large bank after news of corruption led to a run on the bank.
I suspect that they knew about the corruption before, but didn't consider it important until the public started to act.
LSD and MDMA show promise for treating various mental illnesses.
The charges against Assange might yet be a Pentagon dirty trick. Or perhaps a right-wing newspaper's dirty trick. Or they could be in it together.
The Alvin Greene manifesto for a fairer America.
He's better than the bums that fill most of the senate now. At least his heart's in the right place.
Drilling for oil in arctic waters while fighting off the relentless advancing Ice Invaders is far more dangerous than in the Gulf of Mexico. And Arctic shores are especially slow to recover from being oiled.
The business case for drilling near Greenland is based on the projection that the world will get 6 degrees C of warming, but if that happens, disaster will make the plans meaningless.
Greenpeace is showing the public how dangerous this is.
The US mainstream media are supporting the fiction that the Bush forces are being withdrawn from Iraq.
The US views the Middle East simplistically as divided between "moderates" and "militants", but that doesn't fit the reality of the Middle East.
It is valid to divide Muslim countries into moderate and Islamic, but that is a matter of their domestic policies and is not in general relevant to their external relations. For instance, Iran and Saudi Arabia are both Islamic extremist in their treatment of their populace, with the consequent cruelty and injustice, yet one opposes the US and the other is an ally of the US.
Estimate: 75 months to go before positive feedback cycles are likely to kick global heating into high gear.
Prison in the US is designed to crush the spirit, and Sheriff Arpaio's jail is a prime example.
Bush's war has spent most of a trillion dollars to make Iraq and the rest of the world a more dangerous place.
Despite the the article's strong condemnation of Bush's war of conquest, it nonetheless whitewashes certain aspects.
Peru's free exploitation treaty with the US has incited many foreign companies to buy parts of Peru, but has brought the people little benefit.
The flooding of New Orleans was caused by a canal dug by the US Army straight from the gulf to the city. This let the storm surge reach the levies. A judge ruled the US government should pay to rebuild the houses that were destroyed, but Obama has appealed the decision.
I guess Bush made Obama into a supporter of surges.
If I were in charge, I would offer extra funds to anyone choosing to rebuild somewhere else, on high ground. New Orleans will be impossible to protect, a few decades from now, due to sea level rise.
New Orleans cops are being investigated for shooting poor people who were trying to escape from the city, and then lying about it.
Five cops have pled guilty.
Paul Allan, patent troll, has sued large companies for using some very broad, simple ideas that his company figured out it could patent.
All of these patents are software patents, and they illustrate how software patents are dangerous to the computing field.
The simplicity of ideas ought to make the patents invalid, but the patent system works in twisted ways, so we cannot assume they are invalid.
The article uses the misleading term "intellectual property" which leads people to equate patents and copyrights and a dozen other laws which really have next to nothing in common. Whenever that term is used, it conveys only confusion.
The Czech government is considering a law that would restrict the use of public licenses, while hurting authors in other ways.
A salmonella outbreak that made 1500 people sick has been traced to farms that show total contempt for hygiene regulations.
We cannot trust corporations to regulate themselves. Only frequent inspection, backed by fines, can do the job.
Many Chinese (perhaps 500 or more) have been put in mental hospitals for criticizing local government.
Nadine Gordimer talks about South African writers' campaign against the threat of censorship.
The Republicans are taking steps to force a bigger economic downturn in the US, by blocking a bill that would facilitate loans to small businesses.
Republicans figure that they will harness the pain this causes and put it into their captive astroturf opposition movement, the "tea party".
Patel, the pathologist who reported Ian Tomlinson had died of natural causes and not from being attacked by police, has been ruled incompetent based on other unrelated cases.
If Patel is barred from practice for misconduct, will it be possible to prosecute the policeman who killed Tomlinson? Sure, Patel's report could be cited in his defense, but the jury would have good reason to disbelieve it.
Americans: Valero Energy has spent millions for an initiative to repeal California's clean energy law, AB 32. Tell that company you will boycott its gas stations, which operate under these names:
US voters: vote for candidates that will defend abortion rights.
Large amounts of cropland in Africa is being planted with biofuel crops to meet the EU's target. This is likely to cause high food prices and great suffering.
Some of the growers say they are using land that can't be used for crops. Surely some are, and surely some are not. It ads up to a real problem.
US citizens: sign the Pledge for Democracy and then call on your congressional candidates to sign it.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
New Orleans police say they were told to shoot looters, which would have been illegal.
Meanwhile, people were running out of food, and with stores closed, the only way they could get any food was by "looting".
The Climate Camp protests are repeatedly smeared with false accusations of nonexistent crimes.
The US is using drones to launch cluster bombs against suspected al Qa'ida supporters in Yemen. Naturally they sometimes kill lots of civilians.
The bomblets that don't explode immediately effectively become land mines.
Digital technology is reducing even skilled professionals to I/O devices who work under the direct control of a computer.
This is a massive loss of quality of life for millions of people.
Iraqis lack water, electricity, and security, and it has got worse since the election in March since there is no government.
It seems there was also record heat this summer. I suspect that is a sign of global warming.
Russians protest just about every other month for freedom of assembly. Putin, dictatorial as always, threatened the protestors with attacks by police unless they get permits.
It's as hard for a protestor to get a protest permit in Russia as for a Palestinian to get a building permit in Jerusalem.
The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party... and the failure to fight back.
BlackBerry surrendered to Indian pressure and will allow the state to monitor messages.
In a world with suffering and cruelty, "liberal guilt" is another name for not being a callous jerk.
Fazel Ahmed Faqiryar was forced to retire as deputy attorney general of Afghanistan because he tried to investigate corruption among the highest officials.
It is clear that Karzai does not intend that corruption be suppressed.
Russians are getting less willing to tolerate Putin's authoritarianism as poverty settles on the country.
US citizens: tell the Department of Education to protect students and taxpayers from ripoff for-profit schools.
Uri Avnery: To achieve peace requires separating the settlers that colonize the West Bank from the majority of Israel. A boycott of the settlements can forward this; a boycott of Israel as a whole backfires.
The Gates Foundation has large investments in Monsanto, which is hardly good news for poor farmers around the world.
Handing out bags of GMO corn is effectively sabotage of farmers. Corn pollen travels a long distance in the wind, so genes tend to spread and contaminate everyone's corn. Monsanto only has to wait a few years for this to occur, and then it can sue all corn farmers in the area for patent infringement.
So if the genetically modified corn died instead, the farmers are lucky.
The Bush forces now remaining in Iraq are not labeled "combat troops", but the chaos in that country would make it hard for Obama to resist pressure to send more.
Wyclef Jean's wish to run for president of Haiti distracts attention from real issues — such as, there is no reconstruction, not even cleanup.
60 Israeli actors said they would boycott theater performances in one of the illegal Israeli colonies in the West Bank.
Obama should challenge Saudi Arabia to show tolerance for other religions.
Afghan women running for office face violence, and so do their supporters. And not only from the Taliban.
"Carbon upset" payments would reward any group that manages to lawfully shut down a large activity that releases much greenhouse gas emissions.
US citizens: support the campaign to turn off Faux News in stores, restaurants, airports, etc.
Coffee production is threatened worldwide by insects that thrive due to global heating.
The US Intelligence Science Board concluded that torture is not useful as a means of interrogation.
It's great for extracting confessions if they don't need to be true. Torturing Sakineh Ashtiani made her confess.
Bernanke quietly admits that the Federal Reserve can't prevent a further downturn in the US. That will require Congress to start spending.
With the Republican Party playing the part of Hoover, and the Democratic Party not daring to oppose this, it seems to me that Congress and Obama have already accepted the coming of a depression. Perhaps they even want one.
Al Shabab says it has launched a final offensive to defeat the "transitional government" of Somalia.
Calling it the "transitional government" is like calling a presidential candidate "the next president of the US": it reflects wishes, not certainties, let alone facts. This government was constituted by a faction of the Islamic Courts Movement. That movement broke up due to the US-backed Ethiopian intervention, and when the US realized that intervention was a failure, it tried to give power to one of the more moderate factions.
Maybe this was worth trying, but it did not work. Perhaps the foreign backing of that "transitional government" made it easy for those opposing it to recruit. In any case, there's no use pretending this government amounts to anything.
There is a way to end the fighting in Somalia: end foreign backing for the "government". It never had much support and now has effectively none.
If I could choose for Somalia to have and support a more moderate government, I would. But I am not in a position to choose that; and, it seems, neither is the US.
Julian Assange is still under investigation for "molestation", which is a Swedish legal term that does not have a sexual implication. "Assault" might be a closer English translation of that legal term.
I've read elsewhere that the two women who accused him got angry when they found he was sleeping with both of them. I do not sympathize with such possessiveness. However, if that's true, it doesn't prove whether Assange acted wrongly.
US citizens: call on the EPA to protect Americans from toxic coal ash.
Kyrgyzstan is breaking apart due to a rebellion in the south.
The rebels have carried out pogroms against the Uzbeks who live in the south.
The rebels may be financed by corrupt former president Bakiyev.
It is absurd, however, to speak of pressuring the Kyrgyzstan government, since it is surely doing whatever it can.
Police are using full-body scanners to scan cars.
It seems to me that this should require as search warrant.
The Aberdeen Airport protestors state why shutting down the airport was necessary and justified.
The pathologist who examined David Kelly's body says he looked hard for evidence of murder, but found none.
A UNEP report exonerating Shell from blame for most of the oil spilled in Nigeria was funded by Shell and was based on controversial data given by Shell.
Many girls in a school in Afghanistan fainted, and some remained unconscious for hours, possibly due to a poison attack by the Taliban.
Iraq Body Count criticized the UK's Chilcot inquiry for disregarding the killing of Iraqi civilians.
Iraq Body Count counts documented civilian deaths that can be specifically attributed to fighting. This number is useful, but only if we avoid the mistake of presenting or treating it as an estimate of the total. Since many civilian casualties were not suitably documented, the real number of civilians killed is far more than 100,000.
When you read about Iran's development of nuclear weapons, don't forget that millions of fanatical Christians in the US believe that destroying the environment and starting a war with all Muslims is the way to trigger resurrection.
Compared to these nuts, the Taliban are rational and gentle. So which is more dangerous: the possibility of nuclear weapons in Iranian hands, or the reality of nuclear weapons in US hands?
Bill O'Reilly and Faux News pressured Comcast to fire show host Barry Nolan.
This was because Nolan protested an award given to O'Reilly, by handing out a leaflet with O'Reilly's own embarrassing words.
US citizens: tell the deficit commission to cut military spending and end tax cuts for the rich, instead of cutting social security.
Millions of Haitians won't be allowed to vote because they lost their identification. But those are mostly the poor, and their party (Lavalas) has been excluded anyway, so the people in power don't care.
Activists in France destroyed an experiment with genetically modified grape vines.
This might be a safe and beneficial use of genetic engineering, especially if it is used only for making wine, not for grapes for eating, the change is unlikely to alter the wine. The fact that grape vines are perennials, and thus the quantities of seeds people plant are far fewer and each one can be carefully chosen, should reduce the issue of unintended contamination.
However, one relevant fact I don't know is whether pollen from grapes spreads long distances. Can GMO grapes be cultivated without widely spreading the modified genes? Will all grape growers be at risk from contamination of their crops by patented genes?
India's environmental ministry vetoed Vedanta's plan to build a mine on the Dongria Kondhs' land, though the decision could be appealed.
This shows that, when foreign attention is focused, the Indian government will uphold the legal rights of the tribals. (The rights of the poor are often totally ignored in India.) But this project is but one of many that have driven thousands of them to rebel.
Iran has sentenced the leaders of the Baha'i community to prison on absurd charges of spying.
Conservatives have a very effective strategy in blocking Obama (and Carter before him) from appointing judges. It allows them to influence how courts decide all legal issues.
The UK has greatly increased the percentage of young people that get college degrees. The consequence is that many jobs now require college degrees and the attendant debt.
This might all be worth it if the increase in college education has some other beneficial effect for society — for instance, if it makes the students cosmopolitan, tolerant, and sophisticated in their approach to political issues. However, I suspect that a lot of these students attend programs that are so specialized that they have no such effect.
As global heating melts the Arctic ice, it opens opportunities for more deepwater oil drilling. That means more oil spills and more global heating. If we humans are really stupid, we will seize on this opportunity to dig our graves deeper and faster.
More information on the accusations against Julian Assange.
Iran has ordered newspapers not to mention the names of opposition leaders, including the former presidential candidates.
Iranian journalist Isa Saharkhiz is suing Nokia/Siemens for giving the Iranian government equipment to track him down and imprison him.
A US court shut down all federally funded research with embryonic stem cells.
Hari Prasad proved that India's voting machines were vulnerable to tampering, so the embarrassed government had him arrested on absurd charges.
The UK has cancelled its annual review of human rights around the world, part of a plan to put trade (i.e., business profit) above human rights.
Germany will force all citizens to carry an ID card with an RFID.
The injustice is having national ID cards in the first place. Putting RFIDs in them only makes them dangerous.
The Green Party in Australia, which opposes Internet filtering, has made major gains.
Like samurai in feudal Japan, the police in the US can murder with impunity.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was falsely accused of rape, and then the charges were dropped.
He says this might be one the Pentagon's threatened dirty tricks.
The UK government is now well aware of peak oil, but still tries to keep its concern a secret.
Millions of girls are killed, enslaved or mutilated every year for being female.
In regard to the practice of letting female infants die, I presume those mothers would rather abort female fetuses, but they probably have no access to abortion or gender testing. If we cannot convince them to value daughters, we could at least provide them those facilities.
A book documents a Bush forces atrocity in which soldiers raped and killed a teenage girl for the hell of it.
I disagree with one point in the article: these acts were not just the consequence of a stream of bad luck. They were the natural result of a system which considered it "normal" that a soldier reported his only wish was to kill Iraqis. These acts were encouraged by the training that breaks soldiers' humanity, and the pressure to dehumanize the occupied populace. That same system led Bush forces soldiers to wantonly kill Iraqis on thousands of occasions. What's unusual about this occasion is that they were punished.
An interview with Emily Henochowicz, who was blinded in one eye when an Israeli soldier fired a tear gas cannister directly at her head.
Naturally, Israel's government lied about what had happened. That's the usual government response, in Israel as in the US, when soldiers commit violence against civilians.
Emily says that it is unfair that Palestinian protestors who are maimed or killed get less attention than she. It is partly true, in that they too deserve attention. However, she deserves all the honor she receives. There is something especially heroic about a person who protests to end the mistreatment of another people.
Police in the Philadelphia airport went through a woman's wallet and confiscated checks, supposing that she was stealing the money. All in the name of security for the flight.
The official US policy fails to address the problem it was supposed to correct. The TSA agent cannot search for evidence of possible crimes unrelated to flight security, but if she encounters any, she can invite the nearby cop to look at it and search further. If she sees some pot, for instance, the cop can arrest you.
Under these circumstances, the search is automatically a fishing expedition.
The only way blanket searches at airports can be excusable is if they are strictly limited to flight security, which means agents must not report anything they see unless it threatens the safety of the flight.
In the UK: Liberty says that plans for new "anti-terror" laws could result in condoning torture and banning many political and religious groups.
Global heating is probably responsible for a long-term increase in tornadoes in Minnesota, even if this year's record is a fluke.
Republicans dead set on impoverishing most Americans say budget cuts are needed so the US can continue borrowing. This problem is provably fictitious.
If the Democrats in Congress were really strongly opposed to this, why aren't they campaigning on it? Either they are foolish cowards, or they are working for the same business forces that the Republicans serve. The latter seems more likely to me.
In 2009, almost 120 homeless people were attacked in the US. Does that justify censorship?
Violent attacks against the homeless are striking examples of gratuitous cruelty. Indeed, cruelty must have been the main motive, since the victims couldn't harm anyone and had nothing valuable to steal. In revulsion against this cruelty, and lacking any practical way to find the perpetrators so as to punish them, one might feel the need to lash out against anything related, such as videos and a game.
That would be a grave wrong, because banning publication is censorship.
The US already has censorship based on sex, and this censorship ruins plenty of lives. Censorship of violence would be the obvious next step in limiting freedom of expression. Venezuela has already paved the way.
Next the government could censor crime news. It is well known that reporting of a crime can inspire copycats. It also makes people feel anxious, perhaps more than the real crime rate (which is decreasing, aside from crimes by corporations such as BP) could justify. They would feel so much safer if the news were censored.
In the end, 120 assaults in a year amount to a tiny fraction of the violence in the US, even if they are particularly gratuitous. Even if preventing violence could justify censorship, it would be absurd to abolish human rights for such a small reduction. Besides, this danger is a very small part of the problems homeless people face every day.
If our government wants to show compassion for them, how about giving them places to live? How about helping people not lose their homes? That wouldn't satisfy the urge to lash out. Do we want to lash out, or help people?
Global heating has reduced total plant growth on Earth, and thus has reduced the consumption of CO2 by plants.
It's true that more CO2 in the atmosphere, in and of itself, helps plants grow, but only if extracting carbon from the air was the limiting factor to their growth. And plants that are killed — by drought, or by floods, or by heat waves, or by pests that migrated towards the poles as the temperatures rose — don't consume any CO2.
Newspapers in Venezuela have been banned from publishing photos of murdered corpses and other victims of violent crime.
These newspapers seek to discredit Chavez by hook or by crook, and I am sure one of their motives for publishing these photos is the hope it will discredit him.
And it is their right to try that, by publishing true facts. If Chavez' supporters think he is being unfairly blamed, they have a right to say so — but not a right to censor.
The aim of "protecting children" is what censors usually say to justify their attacks on freedom. It is no excuse at all.
There is a big fuss that convicted airplane bomber al-Megrahi was released from prison with cancer and has not yet died. But the real scandal is that the UK government is suppressing a report that suggests he might have been innocent.
Mohamed Attaoui was summarily declared guilty of extortion, in the teeth of the evidence, because he exposed Moroccan government officials who winked at illegal logging.
Climate change protestors are targeting a large UK bank for making loans recently to the companies involved in the heavily polluting use of tar sand from Alberta.
The responses of RBS are paradigmatic examples of the usual fallacious excuses companies give for participation in harmful activities. "We didn't lend the money specifically for exploiting the tar sands." (When investigating the company that asked for a loan, they should have found out it was engaged in that business.) "The world isn't ready to entirely stop using fossil fuels." (But they could speed up the change instead of slowing it down.) "We provide support for businesses working across many industries." (If they are not selective in where to put their money, maybe they ought to be.)
We need to make these excuses derisive so that companies will stop thinking they will serve.
South Korea blocked access to North Korea's Twitter channel.
By blocking this and other North Korean sites, South Korea lowers itself to North Korea's level.
An undersea cloud of oil droplets extends around 20 square miles in the Gulf of Mexico, and is full of toxic chemicals.
David Stockman, official under Reagan, accuses the Republican Party of pervasive financial mismanagement.
US citizens: phone your senators and call on them to support the DISCLOSE act, which would make corporations identify themselves in political ads they pay for. The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
Also sign this petition.
The judge who wanted a higher fine on Barclays Bank was convinced to change his mind.
The UK law that punishes anyone who is the customer of someone who was forced into prostitution has been applied very little.
It is interesting that the state admits it has trouble establishing whether a prostitute was trafficked. If the state can't tell, how is the customer to know?
The answer is, he's not supposed to know. This law was intentionally designed so that people cannot tell whether they are violating it. That strikes at the basic idea of justice.
The problem of forcing people into prostitution needs another answer, and I have a suggestion. A country should give every foreign visitor who seems to be a plausible victim of trafficking some effective and usable advice on how to ask for help if they find themselves being forced into prostitution. And give asylum to any of them who testify against the culprits, so that going for help does not imply the punishment of deportation.
Meanwhile, visitors (in the UK at least) are also forced into domestic servitude, and it is just as bad. The same policies should apply there. Visitors authorized to enter a country for any sort of job should be checked on occasionally to see if their employers have taken their passports away, or kept them prisoner. If so, whoever sponsored their entry should have a case to answer.
Several groups of scientists report that spilled oil persists and remains dangerous in the Gulf of Mexico.
Israeli expansionists are planning courses on how to slip their views into Wikipedia without triggering resistance.
A prosecutor in the Hague is being investigated after witnesses say they were tortured and bribed.
Australia is considering censoring applications for the iGroan.
Apple's power over the iGroan makes its users more vulnerable to such censorship.
A judge rejected the plea bargain with Barclays Bank, saying the punishment was too small to fit the crime.
This plea bargain was a typical example of how the US government is weak in confronting business.
A Taliban leader condemned the killing of Western doctors in Afghanistan as murder.
This is not a position statement from the Taliban, but it is a positive step.
August 21 is Earth Overshoot Day — the day on which humanity has used (since January 1) a whole year's worth of nature's capacity.
Igor Sutyagin, exchanged against his will for Russian spies, was convicted of "spying" for telling British employers information that was already public knowledge.
This happens in the US too. Earlier this year, some journalists were banned from covering the Guantanamo kangaroo courts because their articles identified a witness. That witness had already publicly identified himself. These journalists were punished for repeating what was already public knowledge.
The US defense secretary has invited the government of Iraq to ask the Bush forces to remain past 2011.
Of course, the government of Iraq will ask — if it can figure out who is in charge there and can ask.
An Indian ministry committee said that Vedanta's mining plans display "total contempt for the law".
This reminds me of the contempt that Breakneck Polluter showed for US environmental protection and safety law. In the US case, the government connived at it; I expect that is just as true in India.
Yu Jie was threatened with imprisonment if he published a book abut China's Prime Minister, Wen Jiabao. Yu Jie published it anyway, saying the prime minister acts the "good cop" to the president's "bad cop".
Countries that don't protect their biodiversity now will face cultural and economic disaster in a few decades.
Stopping global heating is a necessary step for this; if temperatures keep rising, many species will no longer be able to live in the small reserves that they remain in.
The Taliban have proposed a joint inquiry into killing of civilians in Afghanistan.
Paul Craig Roberts: Deaf Dumb and Blind — US Treasury is Running on Fumes.
The US, with its real and potential wars, is driving itself to collapse.
The oil has stopped spilling, but the oil and dispersant already in the Gulf of Mexico are still causing waves of biological damage.
Various species of turtles, manatees, and birds face the possibility of extinction. Wetlands could physically disappear as oil kills the grass that holds them together; this could wipe out many migratory species.
US citizens: phone your congresscritter to oppose warrantless searches of people's Internet activity records. The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
The Bill of Rights has been greatly undermined, and that is the biggest current threat to our freedom. We need to repeal parts of the U SAP AT RIOT act, not extend it.
The Prime Minister of India offered Kashmiris negotiations for everything except what they want (independence), and invited the Naxalite guerrillas to help speed up the "development" in which corporations kick them off their land in order to pollute it.
There is more pressure for an inquest into the death of Dr. Kelly, who supposedly committed suicide after expressing doubts about B'liar's phony intelligence that was used to justify the conquest of Iraq.
I think Kelly was murdered, and I hope his murderers can be found and punished.
Update (28 August 2010): It looks possible that David Kelly was not murdered, see this pol-note.
But it will be difficult to find them; the few officials who know about the arrangements won't talk. Meanwhile, what is really important is to try Tony B'liar for the crime of aggressive war. For that, it is not necessary to identify who killed Dr. Kelly. It would be sufficient to publish the secret documents that have been withheld from the Iraq war inquiry.
The US government accepts almost 10% unemployment as normal, citing powerful economic interests supposedly too powerful to be defied.
When politicians offer such excuses, it is because they have other reasons they'd rather not admit. For instance, their campaigns have been supported by large corporations which they must obey. These corporations don't care whether Americans have work, and don't mind much if many Americans can't afford to buy from them. As long as they rule our country, we will suffer.
Mexico provides a rough idea of where this is headed.
An interview with Will Rockwell, editor of $pread, a magazine by sex workers for sex workers.
An international group has called on France to repay the ransom Haiti paid for its independence.
I am in favor of repayment; but it needs to be done in such a way that Haiti's corrupt ruling elite can't swipe it. If Aristide were president, I think he could do it.
US citizens: phone your senators to demand legislation to hold Big Polluter (and other oil companies) accountable for their pollution.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
The next step in impoverishing most of America is to turn most American workers against the public sector workers who still have decent pensions.
Everyone: sign this petition to preserve the Pavlovsk botanical reserve from destruction. It preserves thousands of food plant varieties not found anywhere else.
US Citizens: support the Just Say Now campaign to legalize and regulate marijuana.
One good thing that the US has done is to take the lead in stopping the trade in minerals that fuel massacres in the Congo.
Nepal is starting to turn back Tibetan refugees fleeing Chinese control.
The UN wants to send more troops to Somalia to prop up the "government". This "government" rules part of Mogadishu, and has no popular support. Its only strength is the foreign troops that keep it in "power".
If Al Shabab controls 80% of Somalia, that means it has almost reached the point of ending the civil war. The right thing to do is stop blocking it from doing so. Thus, the foreign troops now in Somalia, and the additional ones that might be sent, are not in fact peacekeepers; their effect is rather to perpetuate the war.
In 2006, the Islamic Courts Movement succeeded in unifying Somalia, overcoming the foreign-backed "interim government" that had little popular support and never controlled much of Somalia. This could have meant peace and some stability.
However, Bush convinced Ethiopia to intervene to reimpose that "government". That didn't work, but did manage to reignite civil war.
Then the US got a little smarter and recognized one of the fragments that split out of the Islamic Courts Movement as the "government". However, the US backing did not make up for its comparative lack of support, and now it is little different from the former "interim government".
Al Shabab will not respect human rights. It will practice cruel and misogynist Islamic law, which nobody deserves. But nobody deserves constant civil war, either, and that is the most intervention in Somalia can achieve. There is no other faction in Somalia that would govern with human rights and has any chance of governing.
I am in favor in principle of military intervention to overthrow cruel regimes, but that can only give good results in very special circumstances. One of the necessary circumstances is that the people of the country wish for such intervention.
South Africa's government wants to censor the press, prohibiting publication of anything the government says is secret. Judging by what Zuma says, that will include anything scandalous about government officials.
US Senate Candidate Alvin Greene faces imprisonment for showing pornographic pictures to a college student, and asking her to go to bed with him.
To criminalize showing pictures is an act of mad tyranny. The matter should have ended once she told him no, but fanatical prudes (probably Christians) are trying to impose their twisted morality on everyone else.
Sri Lankan general Fonseka retired from the army to run against president Rajapaksa, and was tried for (or so it sounds) thinking about those steps before beginning to carry them out. In other words, for thought crime.
Then he was convicted without legal representation by failing to inform his lawyer when the trial would be. It also wasn't a real trial, because it was a military commission.
For several years, there have been massive protests in Kashmir for independence from India. These have been met with repression; 55 protestors have been killed in the past few months.
60 years ago, India promised the people of Kashmir a plebiscite about being part of India, but never carried out the promise. India ought to hold that plebiscite now.
I read recently that most Kashmiris prefer independence to being part of Pakistan. An independent Kashmir would not boost Pakistan vis-a-vis India, but would foster peace between those two powers by removing the principal cause of tension between them. Most inhabitants of Kashmir would be Muslims, but the country could be founded with a charter of respect for religious freedom for all positions (including Atheism), and this would set an inspirational example.
Iran is reportedly going to hang the people who were scheduled for stoning.
This is a positive step, in that it is a small reduction in the cruelty of the execution. However, the death penalty is always an injustice, and punishing people for adultery is an injustice.
Torturing people into confessing any crime is an injustice, whether the torturers are Iranian or American.
Floods in Pakistan have destroyed a billion dollars worth of crops. Put this together with the heat wave in Russia, which destroyed a large fraction of the crops there, and the result will be a world-wide rise in food prices, which will be exacerbated by speculation.
There is always a chance of disaster, but global heating tends to increase the frequency of them. A double hit like this one is still unusual, but 30 years from now, we may see several large disasters each year (though where they occur will still be random).
Drug companies distort science (and threaten people's health) by selectively publishing only the studies that give favorable results.
Other research shows that studies funded by drug companies are less likely to produce a negative result, suggesting that the funding undermines the scientists' objectivity. The solution is simple: tax these companies and use the money to fund the studies.
Calderon's war on drugs provided the excuse for a war on grass-roots opposition and a war on civil liberties in Mexico.
Russia arrested 35 would-be protestors to block a protest against the state-appointed mayor of Moscow.
Big Polluter was fined $87 million for failing to fix safety flaws that caused an explosion in 2005. It got the fine reduced to $50 million just by refusing to pay it.
This should not be possible.
An Iraqi army general asks the Bush forces to remain after 2011 when they were supposed to leave.
I would not be surprised if this schedule was meant to appease the US peace movement, not meant to be carried out.
Ludicrously, General Odierno says the Bush forces troops are in Iraq to "prevent foreign interference."
Intolerance towards Muslims is raging in the US.
Intolerance is wrong; burning copies of the Qur'an is nasty, and saying Islam is the devil is just irrational. But Terry Jones is entirely right in saying that (many) Muslim countries openly deny religious freedom. Muslims, as they think about this intolerance, ought to reflect on their own intolerance too, and consider that if they practice intolerance they will inspire intolerance.
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani confessed on TV to murder, and appeared to have been tortured into the confession.
If you have a recent model car, you need to deactivate the wireless system that senses tire pressure, both in the wheels (so they don't track you) and in the car (so it can't be used to kill you).
Four UK police will face criminal charges because of attacking Babar Ahmad — 7 years after the attack.
This is a separate issue from the accusations against Ahmad. I don't know enough to have any opinion about them. But it is true that the US practice of keeping people in solitary confinement for long periods is too cruel for any prisoners. Many people become insane after that.
17 countries experienced record high temperatures this year.
If next year is not quite as hot as this year, that will not mean that global warming has ceased. It will be a random fluctuation.
Google and Verizon made a proposal about network neutrality which has some very bad points as well as some good points.
We've wiped out the tuna in the Mediterranean, so jellyfish that give painful stings are increasing in numbers.
Don't trust for-profit schools. Of 15 that were investigated, each and every one tried to deceive its customers.
Israel returned to Turkey one of the Gaza aid ships — repainted to hide the bullet holes.
It's the beginning of the end for antibiotics, as resistance spreads globally.
Although resistance has so far been found in just one species of bacteria, bacteria frequently transfer genes between species.
We can only guess whether this would have been averted by using antibiotics more carefully — for instance, not prescribing them out for colds, making sure ill-educated people took the whole dose, and not feeding them to cattle for increased profits.
Will peak oil save us from melting Greenland?
Not if high oil prices push the world towards more burning of coal and of oil from shale.
Why don't governments seem to be doing anything to reduce the economic shock of peak oil? It could just be folly. But since the US pressured the IEA to lie, that suggests it is malice. Perhaps some of the businesses that dominate the US government are planning to cause a crisis that will drive the public further into poverty.
India's repression of Kashmir led to massive protests, which India blames on Pakistan.
An Iranian reformer says that US pressure helps Ahmadinejad.
I'm sure Ahmadinejad gets some advantage from attacking the US, but I don't think it is crucial. His bloody crackdown on the opposition, while it was in the streets, did not crush it by associating it with the US, but by brute force.
Isolating North Korea has not brought democracy there. Trading with China almost without restrictions has not brought democracy there. There is no clear recipe to bring democracy to a country in the iron grip of tyranny.
Meanwhile, the Iranian government reaction to the latest sanctions suggests that it finds them quite painful. This might succeed in convincing the regime not to develop nuclear weapons. If so, the sanctions will have been worth while. But if Iran develops nuclear weapons anyway, it would be futile to maintain the sanctions.
A spokesman for Obama attacked progressive Americans who are dissatisfied with Obama, saying they must be on drugs.
I won't claim that progressives who are satisfied with Obama must be on drugs, but they are definitely out of touch if they think Obama is working for progressive goals.
Tomasky's article supposes that Obama wants to achieve progressive goals but can't get them through Congress. Why doesn't he try to pass them, then attack the Republicans for blocking them? Because he doesn't really advocate them.
Obama will inevitably disappoint progressives, because he doesn't share our goals — he just wants us to support him as if he did. Obama, like most Democrats today, has views that in 1970 would have been advocated by Liberal Republicans. He has not tried to implement most of the policies a progressive would support.
McCain might have been a little worse, but not much. I am proud to say I voted for Nader. If I couldn't elect a progressive, I could at least vote for one.
Al Qa'ida is bidding against the Bush forces for the support of Sunni militiamen in Iraq.
There is an evident discrepancy between this sort of purchase of support and the reports by Todenhofer in the book Why Do You Kill? I am not sure how to reconcile the discrepancy, but it's possible that some militiamen are ready to work for the highest bidder while others have principles. It is also possible that one or both reports is exaggerated. But I expect neither is outright false.
Part of the cause of the fatal Russian bog fires is a government that has sold out to business.
However, that doesn't let global warming off the hook. It's the two of them together.
10 more years of global warming could make the total melting of Greenland's ice inevitable.
That would imply flooding of cities around the world — not just New Orleans.
Austerity measures in the UK have knocked the economy into a further recession.
This is what the Republicans aim for in the US. If they can cause a further recession, they will channel the resulting anger at the incumbent democrats.
What I don't understand is why the democrats are playing into their hands. Of course, most of them are corporate sellouts too, but they still want to get reelected.
Civilian casualties in Afghanistan are rising, and 3/4 of them are killed by the Taliban.
In 1984, the US broke up the Bell System monopoly. Then, after the US government became totally dominated by business, it allowed all the pieces to merge, resulting in less competition than there was in 1983.
Allowing mergers between large companies is a clear sign of a government that has sold out to corporations.
Now the US government is about to sell us out again.
The Taliban murdered a group of eye surgeons in Afghanistan. They said it was because the surgeons were proselytizing for Christianity.
People are falling into a trap if they argue about whether these surgeons really were proselytizing, in addition to operating to cure blindness. People are falling into a trap if they argue that proselytizers ought to be just deported rather than killed. The trap is that these responses grant legitimacy to Muslim states which deny religious freedom to their citizens.
Instead, we should challenge Islamists to imagine if the same policy were applied in reverse. Would they like Western countries to execute anyone who preaches Islam, or merely deport him? If they don't like either one, then they should not practice either one.
A flood in Pakistan, a heat wave in Russia — while each single event isn't directly tied to global warming, the increasing frequency of such events appears to be due to global warming.
The heat wave is killing over 300 people a day in Moscow alone. Since the problem is not limited to the Moscow, I would estimate it is causing at least a thousand deaths a day, far more by now than the September 2001 terrorist attacks.
Meanwhile, negotiations on averting disaster are stuck because Obama acts like Bush III.
Raja Petra, Malaysian blogger, now has to operate from exile for fear of being imprisoned without trial.
Malaysia is democratic in form but it does not permit criticism of the government. It also tramples basic religious freedom, since it forbids people of Malay ancestry to adopt any religious position other than Muslim.
The Merchants of Doubt documents how rich right-wing foundations and stink tanks spread lies to discredit the truth about environmental protection (including protecting civilization from global warming and flooding).
Declaring violent war on drug dealers repeatedly leads to lots of killing. By contrast, legalizing the possession drugs often leads to reduction in drug use.
Louise Perrett reports that her colleagues, responsible for judging applications for asylum in the UK, frequently expressed contempt for all applicants and intended never to grant asylum to anyone.
Drawing lessons about talking with the Taliban from other insurgencies that used terror tactics.
In the US: participate in or host a rally against corruption of democracy by business.
The UK made friends with Pakistan's president by advocating a "Marshall Plan for Afghanistan and Pakistan."
In the Marshall Plan, the US provided enormous reconstruction aid to Western Europe after World War II. This was possible because there was peace then in Europe.
A similar plan of aid to Afghanistan might be a good thing, but peace is a precondition for it. So it doesn't offer a way to help achieve peace.
Meanwhile, tremendous sums have already been spent on "reconstructing Afghanistan", without a lot of benefit for the people, as humanitarian aid has been partially militarized.
I can imagine Afghans becoming cynical and looking at aid projects as a clumsy attempt to gain their support.
Colombia is spraying herbicides on illegal coca plantations, and in the process poisoning the rain forest, food crops, and people.
The government of Colombia doesn't care much about poisoning Colombians.
Obama has failed to address the injustice of Bush's US-Korea free exploitation agreement, which threatens to put foreign investors legally above the law.
The demonization of "child" pornography has endangered US national security by creating an opportunity to blackmail officials that look at it.
I put "child" in quotation marks because that word is part of the dishonesty. It is meant to suggest that only a pervert would find them attractive. Many of these "children" are old enough that they could legally get married in some states — and most normal adults will find them attractive.
The article says that downloading "child" pornography converted these people into security risks. In the past, when people could be blackmailed for being gay, the same was said against homosexuals: that their conduct made them security risks. We now understand that it was the prejudice against homosexuality which had that effect.
Note how the article calls it a "problem" that certain people could not be prosecuted because "it could not be established that the children had been abused." This shows the dishonesty of the claim that this is about protecting children. If that were their real goal, they would say, "We were pleased to discover in some cases that no children had been abused."
If people are seriously concerned not to let children have sex in making porn films, they could use the approach that has successfully eliminated cruelty to animals in films. You have seen the statements certifying that "no animals were harmed in making this film." There could be a similar certification that "no minors had sex or were nude with adults in making this film."
The company that makes the Blackberry has surrendered to Saudi Arabia and will allow it to monitor users' messages.
Unconventional economics suggests that great disparities of wealth helped cause the fiscal crisis — and could cause another.
Anthony Graber faces 16 years in prison for making a videotape of a policeman waving a gun at a motorist.
CIA doctors wrote guidelines for torture, according to the Journal of the AMA.
China and India are now rivals in propping up the dictators of Burma.
The governments of China and India are both callous and unjust, even towards their own people. So neither is likely to unilaterally give up the competition for influence in Burma. I wonder if they might agree to a truce in Burma until it achieves democracy. Then they could resume their rivalry for influence there, and without being culpable for its dictatorship.
The kangaroo court in Guantanamo imposes a host of contradictory, unpredictable and almost intolerable rules on the press.
Perhaps they want to avoid press coverage but don't dare admit it.
These "military commissions" are total nonsense, and if anyone is convicted by them, we should presume him innocent as not having had a fair trial that could prove anything.
A US court ruled police must get a warrant before they can attach a GPS device to a person's car.
Everyone: sign this petition calling on Google not to make a deal to trash network neutrality.
Google says it has no such plans. The New York Times, which reported the plans, insists they are real. I don't know which one is true — and I don't need to know. I signed the petition in case this is real. Please join me.
Malta has criminalized criticism of the Catholic Church, as well as a wide range of fiction.
In Australia, the Liberal Party has rejected the internet filtering scheme (which was originally its proposal). To reject filtering is essential for freedom of speech in Australia, but Australia already has an Internet censorship system that applies to links. For the sake of freedom on the Internet, this must be abolished.
("Liberal" in Australia means supporting less regulation of business, not like Liberal in US terms.)
A right-wing group has secretly and dishonestly operated on Digg to downgrade the visibility of progressive articles.
The next Gaza aid ship will have a crew of all women.
Analysis: coal producers have sabotaged any attempt to limit global warming, condemning the world to disaster.
Global warming deniers systemically spread lies, for instance through the iGroan. Some of the liars have been funded by oil companies. I suppose coal companies fund them too.
Negotiations to follow on from the inconclusive Copenhagen meeting seem to be headed for failure. However, even if they succeeded, they would be ineffective because of all the loopholes already inserted at that meeting.
The disastrous decline of honeybees has been linked to certain pesticides.
Organic foods are no different in nutrition, but if they avoid the harm done by pesticides, that would be plenty of reason to switch to organic farming.
Wildfires caused by the heatwave have blanketed Moscow.
These fires are releasing lots of CO2 into the air. So this is an example of positive feedback, where global warming causes more greenhouse gas emission.
Some scientists say the US government is exaggerating when it says that the oil in the Gulf is no threat.
US citizens: sign this petition to repeal the "Defense of Marriage" Act which discriminates against same-sex marriages.
Part of this law was ruled unconstitutional a few weeks ago but that might be reversed on appeal. Repealing it is the right thing to do.
Bush forces troops say that Collateral Murder was nothing unusual. For instance, soldiers were punished by beatings if they expressed hesitation about killing civilian bystanders.
And they were ordered, when an IED went off, to shoot whoever was around.
Mere beatings of prisoners and civilians were standard practice too.
US citizens: phone your senators to urge them to support Elizabeth Warren for head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Wall Street wants someone pliant who won't do very much to protect consumers.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
Elena Kagan's studies of Islamic finance show some interesting aspects of it. For instance, Islamic banks are forbidden to engage in the disastrous and corrupt practices that caused the financial crisis.
No wonder right-wingers hate them, and her. They want banks to be able to cheat and destroy the economy.
Ecuador asks to be paid to leave oil in the ground and preserve the Amazon forests over it.
Some US insect-eating bats face extinction from an alien fungus from Europe.
Obama is relabeling and privatizing the occupation of Iraq, and foreign oil companies are getting the prize, as patriotic Iraqis continue to fight back. In announcing this, he praised the conquest and occupation of that country.
The Bush regime's torture practices amounted to an illegal experiment on human subjects who did not consent. Physicians for Human Rights presented evidence and says this can be prosecuted.
California's ban on same-sex marriage was overturned in court.
Tom Ridge admitted in his book that he played with US "terror alert colors" for political reasons.
Greenhouse gases that trap heat cause increased temperature on the surface while cooling the upper atmosphere. This adds to the danger caused by garbage in space.
The NOAA says that the oil remaining from the Big Pollution is no longer an environmental threat, and that everything is now ok.
I hope that is true, but I am skeptical — skeptical of the claim that there are no underwater clouds of "dispersed" oil, skeptical of the claim that the dispersant is not dangerous, and skeptical of the claim that the beaches and marches have been cleaned, or can be cleaned.
The oil from the Ixtoc spill in Mexico over 30 years ago remains just slightly out of sight.
The US Chamber of Commerce now has a competitor that wants action to control US carbon emissions. Some local chambers of commerce may switch to the new organization. The US Chamber of Commerce's response, a private misleading smear campaign, is typical of that organization.
Iranian lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei has fled to Turkey for asylum.
The government of Iran has persecuted him for representing Sakineh Ashtiani.
The climate protection treaty proposed at Copenhagen has so many loopholes that the rich countries would be able to keep on increasing their emissions, while pretending to have agreed to decrease them.
US citizens: phone FCC chairman Genachowski and insist on network neutrality.
Mexico is considering legalization of drugs, because the war on drugs has caused 28,000 casualties since 2006.
Big Polluter says it has plugged the leaking underwater well.
I am glad it is plugged, but let us not let this lull us into thinking that these wells are safe.
Senators bought by the oil companies blocked an increase in liability for oil spills.
Fossil fuel consumption receives tremendous subsidies, dwarfing those for renewable energy.
In Iraq, anyone suspected or rumored to be gay is in danger of being tortured or disappeared by the police.
Prostitutes in China protested publicly for legalization.
The EPA disregarded its own scientists and others who warned about toxic dispersants.
The fallout contamination around Chernobyl has reduced biodiversity — apparently many animal species cannot tolerate even the low level radiation.
Microsoft deliberately undermined users' privacy in Internet Explorer 8 to help web ad companies track the users.
The fact that it was up to Microsoft to decide this is due to the proprietary nature of Internet Explorer. With free software, the users have control, and they can do what they wish.
Israel has agreed to an international inquiry into the attack on the Gaza aid ships.
In the US:
Boycott Target stores for paying a lot of money to support a right-wing candidate. Inform Target of your participation in the boycott with this petition.
Rwanda's President Kagame might be able to win a free election, but he can't tolerate opposition, so he has banned, imprisoned and killed his political opponents and the press.
Wikileaks revealed that UK troops systematically killed Afghan civilians, and these killings will probably now be investigated as possible war crimes.
Secretary of Defense Gates, a holdover from the Bush regime, accused Julian Assange of endangering some Afghans who cooperated with the US. Here is Assange's rebuttal.
I think his argument that it was the US' fault if any informants were identified is fallacious. The US could have prepared better for the possibility that these documents might be leaked, but it had no reason to expect such a leak. So that is not a valid criticism.
The right rebuttal to Gates' accusation is that, while concealing these documents would have protected a few Afghans, it would have endangered a lot more of them by failing to help end the war. Gates cites the smaller danger as an excuse to disregard the larger one. Assange presented this argument in connection with Kenya; it applies to Afghanistan too.
Wikileaks could have done it better: it could have obfuscated names and identifying features. That would have preserved the good effect while reducing the smaller harmful one. But that would have been a lot of work, and maybe it was not a feasible option.
Three cheers for Wikileaks!
The UAE and Saudi Arabia say they will ban the Blackberry because they cannot spy on users' communications.
Record heat, predicted by climate scientists, is killing people in the US and Russia.
But there are exceptions. Peru has been struck by record cold in the middle of the hottest year on record.
Global warming's effects are not uniform. Weather constantly creates local and temporary exceptions to the general trend which is the climate. For instance, 2009 was not quite as hot as a few recent years. We must not mistake these exceptions for proof there is no global warming.
Sgt. Zubaty's war: driving into Baghdad, the tanks destroyed every vehicle they met, all of them full of civilians.
How would you feel if someone "liberated" your country this way? Unless you are a dyed-in-the-wool pacifist, you would want to kill them. This sort of treatment, repeated for years, made many Iraqis feel that way.
In the book "Why Do You Kill", a German journalist (and former MP) reports on his interviews with members of the Iraqi resistance, from a visit to Ramadi in 2007. They were Sunnis, Shi'ites and Christians, fighting to liberate their country. They made it a point of honor not to kill civilians, and condemned terrorists such as al Qa'ida and the Shi'ite militias which targeted civilians, saying each was a form of foreign intervention.
Even if we assume they put their best side forward, it is clear they are better than the occupiers and the Bush-imposed Iraqi government.
If you buy the book, please don't buy it from Amazon.
A UK court ruled that products to jailbreak game consoles are illegal, because it can be used to run unauthorized copies of games. And never mind that it can also be used to do other things.
This is the opposite of the argument that the US court accepted when it ruled that jailbreaking as such is not illegal.
Of course, an unauthorized copy of a nonfree game is unethical. It is almost as unethical as an authorized copy.
What will happen if US troops leave Afghanistan?
Sinar Mas continues to cut down extensive rain forest areas for palm oil plantations.
Adam Keller: Is Israel singled out - and why?
The UK is systematically attacking Gypsies for camping on land that they own.
Some Hungarian Gypsies were awarded damages for school segregation against them.
The prejudice against Gypsies in Eastern Europe reaches amazing heights of irrationality. On my first visit to Romania, in the 1990s, my host was a teacher, educated enough to know that the Gypsies originated from India. And since she hated Gypsies, by extension she hated all things Indian. She refused to listen to a recording of Indian classical music, which I had brought along, saying it was because the Gypsies came from there.
In this case, her prejudice hurt only herself. However, often the targets of the prejudice are the ones who suffer.
When Jacob Appelbaum, who helps Tor and Wikileaks, returned to the US for a conference, he was "randomly" selected to have his computer searched.
Which is more unlikely — that he was chosen randomly by coincidence, or that the "authorities" lied?
Many governments across Europe are attacking Gypsies and expelling them.
The Wikileaks files disclose the working of a US death squad in Afghanistan, TF 373. It often operates by bombing houses or cars. Not surprisingly this tends to kill civilians. Sometimes the only casualties are civilians. The US government lies about the actions so as to evade responsibility.
Other US troops massacred civilians, and the investigation tried to cover it up by threatening journalists.
It looks like cover-up is still the response. If NATO were serious about avoiding this sort of thing, it would hold an investigation into what went wrong and publish the results, and discipline whoever was responsible at that time and place for preventing it. The failure to do this shows that what NATO really wants to avoid is the blame, not the killing.
A US court blocked parts of Arizona's "show your papers" law pending an appeal.
I do not object to limiting immigration into the US, but I do object to measures that have the effect of harming the rights of citizens.
A cry from Louisiana about the effects of the oil spill.
The disappearance of the floating oil slick is a good sign, but it does not mean that no more oil will arrive on threatened beaches and marshes.
Il Ducino's latest project is to make bloggers register, and require them to publish corrections within 48 hours on complaints.
Some sort of requirement about posting complaints might be just, but when applied to activities that are not professional, it must not demand response so fast that amateurs will be unable to comply.
Andrew Breitbart, exposed as culpable of dishonest smear attacks, is being lionized by Republican leaders.
By doing so, they admit that their party is the party of lies.
Armies have a positive duty to prevent civilian casualties — just saying they "were unintended" is not enough.
72 former prisoners in Abu Ghraib are suing a company which helped run the prison, saying its employees tortured them.
The US government says Wikileaks has "blood on its hands" for publishing what the US is really doing in Afghanistan.
The US government is an expert on bloody hands. US embassy staff just killed a few Afghans in Kabul with a car, and set off bloody riots.
The useless and unwinnable war will kill more Afghans the longer it continues. Since the Wikileaks revelations have a good chance of ending the war sooner, they will tend to prevent more Afghan casualties than they might cause.
The war continues to go badly. The NATO forces attacked a Taliban group which melted away, as intelligent guerrillas do before superior force.
NATO is trying to present this as a success, but its only consequence is likely to be that some NATO troops get killed by mines.
The US economy is heading for another downturn.
Republicans blocked all efforts to stimulate the economy so that they can blame Democrats for the resulting pain.
The big spill has broken up on the surface, but thanks to the dispersants, it is likely to linger underground.
Oil from the Ixtoc oil spill 40 years ago, likewise in the Gulf of Mexico, can still be found on beaches it polluted then.
China has imprisoned a webmaster. He tried to censor criticism of the Chinese government, but didn't quite get it all.
That should teach anyone who thinks that faithfully obeying the tyrant's orders will be rewarded.
Bangladeshi garment workers continued their protests, because the increase in minimum wage they were given doesn't compensate for increases in cost of living.
Please sign this petition in favor of Elizabeth Warren to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Gasoline truck drivers in Greece went on strike, and the government reacted with a conscription order.
It is interesting to note that the government's attack on this union was not directly a matter of reducing the deficit. In other words, it is using the deficit and IMF-imposed austerity as an excuse to attack working people in other ways.
The large deficit is a real problem, but the government should make the rich rather than the working class pay the costs of correcting it.
Tens of thousands of children in Africa are imprisoned or driven onto the streets after being accused of witchcraft.
South Africa is considering a law that threatens freedom of the press.
Andrew Breitbart, who smeared Shirley Sherrod, has a long history of dishonest smears.
Oil spills and other disasters have occurred repeatedly in the US in the last decade, despite repeated oil company claims that "it won't happen again".
Air pollution kills millions of people every year, and a large fraction of it comes from burning fossil fuels.
Obama wants to extend government surveillance without warrants, attacking civil liberties of Americans.
Protests in Bangladesh have brought about a big increase in the minimum wage.
Tariq Ali: Pakistan's contacts with the Taliban are part of maintaining a complex relationsip that could be needed to negotiate peace.
Almost half of Gaza's farmland has been put off limits or ruined by Israel.
A gang of Israelis seized by force a Palestinian home in East Jerusalem.
The successor of the KGB will now have the power to imprison anyone for 15 days for "obstructing an officer's duties", which in effect means "whenever they wish".
Australians: If you don't want Chinese-style Internet censorship, support the open internet campaign against censorship.
Also support the Green Party.
The UK may eliminate ASBOs, which enabled the state to jail people for a wide range of activities that were not crimes.
The evidence for global warming, from many different kinds of measurements, has been assembled in one place.
Warming of the oceans is probably responsible for the decrease in phytoplankton, which is the base of the ocean food chain. This has reduced the amount of fish.
Many fish species depend on coral reefs, especially when young. Acidification by CO2 may kill the coral, and that will give another big blow to fish available in the sea.
Legal Sea Foods is using an ad campaign that says, "There are plenty of fish in the sea." This is a false.
Catalonia has voted to ban bullfighting as cruelty to animals.
Everyone: support the long-term diplomatic campaign for the elimination of nuclear weapons.
Health insurance companies have set aside millions to convince state governments not to enforce some of the new health insurance legislation.
The Iraqi electricity ministry has attacked the unions, in some cases seizing their offices and files.
Unions sponsored by the employer (the state in this case) are not usually zealous in defending workers' rights. Iraqi workers deserve independent unions. However, this manner of disconnecting the unions from the employer, seizing the unions' private files, is intended as intimidation and obstruction with the formation of independent unions.
The enormous military forces of the US have ceased to be a route to victory in war.
I would make the statement a little more specific. US military force can win victories over other armies, as it did in Iraq in 2003. What it cannot effectively do is defeat another people inclined to resist.
Israeli tanks attacked the al Said family home in Gaza using flechette shells, an indiscriminate weapon. Israeli troops had already stopped the al Said family from cultivating much of their land.
The Australian government has concealed nearly all of its plans for spying on the Internet, to avoid "premature unnecessary debate".
Australians, vote Green.
Anthony Graber is threatened with 16 years imprisonment for making a videotape of a policeman on a street.
Iraq's government is crushing unions and attacking union organizers, like Saddam, and prosecuting them for protests.
The Bush-created Iraqi government is becoming ever more tyrannical. It shoots peaceful protestors.
Which country will invade Iraq now to liberate Iraqis from this dictatorship?
The Bush forces are trying to find what happened to 8 billion dollars that were supposed to be spent on reconstructing Iraq's oil industry.
1500 Israeli police demolished a Bedouin village in order to plant a forest. The inhabitants were left homeless.
Israel is also demolishing a few houses built by fanatical Israeli "settlers" in violation of the construction freeze. (Other reports say there is a lot of construction; I think there are many exceptions to the freeze.) The fanatics protest this by harassing Palestinians.
While Netanyahu says the Bedouin pose a threat of rebellion, it is actually the "settlers" that do.
The strongest accusations against Pakistan's ISI may be unverified, but even if they are false, there are reasons to believe it supports the Taliban in some ways.
Wikileaks has revealed the war in Afghanistan as folly, doing nothing but harm to the states that know they cannot win it and are only doing harm.
If individuals were doing this, we would call it neurosis.
Survivors say a NATO rocket attack killed 52 civilians, and they say they think the NATO troops intentionally attacked civilians.
I am not sure that argument is valid. Malicious attacks on civilians were common in Iraq and maybe in Afghanistan, but error is common too. They may have jumped to a conclusion, ascribing to malice what might be explained by error.
If so, why did they do this? I expect, because they were already more sympathetic to the Taliban. That might be because the Taliban warn them to leave before there is fighting. Or because Karzai is corrupt and stole an election. Or both together.
In other places, the Taliban slaughter civilians intentionally. So why do they warn civilians in that village? Perhaps different tactics seem advantageous in different places. Or perhaps they are different groups of Taliban.
Philip Morris has used a toxic trade treaty to bully the government of Uruguay to back off some of its award-winning smoking reduction laws.
Swiss people should demand that their government adopt a policy that it will not enforce any trade treaties at the expense of measures to reduce smoking.
And countries such as Uruguay should terminate their free exploitation treaties.
Israeli police violently arrested protestors in Hebron, kicking them, stamping on them, even biting them.
Then the police arbitrarily banned some of them from participating in further protests.
French president Sarkozy, fresh from attacking Internet users, now plans to pick on Gypsies so as to look tough.
Participate in the "America's Got Net" competition.
Uniformed thugs in Egypt who attacked and killed anticorruption campaigner Khaled Said now face charges, but not murder charges.
Guards in a Mexican prison lend their rifles to prisoners who go out to murder.
The Afghanistan wikileaks show US military awareness that the ostensible plan to win in Afghanistan is not possible.
Interview with Jacob Appelbaum of Wikileaks about the Afghan intelligence logs.
Hackers replaced the EU's carbon-emissions trading site with a parody that explained the flaws of cap-and-trade.
This was an act of cracking because it involved breaking computer security. It was a hack because it was playfully clever (and pushing limits contributes too).
However, to "maximize the virtual damage" sounds bad to me.
USA-WMD: America's Covert Hiroshima in Iraq.
An Indian conglomerate is suing Greenpeace for copyright and trademark infringement over a game that criticizes one of its projects.
Sanctions on Iran seem to have made the regime more willing to negotiate.
With some more time we will see whether this is indicates a willingness to abandon the attempt to make nuclear weapons or just playing for time.
Leaked US intelligence logs quote informants' claims of Pakistani support for the Taliban, but those claims are unverified and could have been lies.
The logs show that the US often knowingly covers up killing of civilians. And most of these killings were not investigated.
Meanwhile, the Taliban are practicing terror against the whole population of Afghanistan.
Four al Qa'ida prisoners escaped from prison in Iraq with the help of the warden, who absconded.
India is cozying up to the dictators of Burma.
Since this is a competition between India and China, maybe they could be convinced to agree to jointly impose sanctions, postponing their competition until the dictators allow democracy.
China has imprisoned a Uighur journalist who warned that riots were coming.
CNN hypocritically attacks the social threat of anonymous statements. (That is sarcastic.)
Sakineh Ashtiani's lawyer was arrested and questioned. Then the Iranian dictatorship wanted to arrest him again, and took his wife hostage.
Iran's government is democratic in form, and for a time appeared to respect some kinds of democracy and legal rights, though tainted with the misogyny and injustice of Islamic law. But now it is tearing up those rights, and becoming an outright dictatorship like that of the Shah.
US citizens: tell your senators to support the DISCLOSE act, which would require corporations to identify the political ads they fund.
And phone them too — a phone call carries more weight.
From now on, please put these numbers at the end of every urgent note that involves calling US congresscritters or senators. The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
US citizens: phone your congresscritter and say, vote against the supplemental appropriation for the war in Afghanistan.
From now on, please put these numbers at the end of every urgent note that involves calling US congresscritters or senators. The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
The Taliban have already offered to promise not to support attacks on other countries.
The Taliban offered in October 2001 to kick out Osama bin Laden if given evidence tying him to the 9/11 attacks.
In 1998 the Taliban isolated Osama bin Laden to stop him from participating from Afghanistan in attacks on the US, and even considered extraditing him to the US for the first World Trade Center bombing, but did not find the evidence of his involvement convincing.
A Federal court ruled part of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.
Panama's government has launched repression against union leaders, after protests against right-wing give-back laws.
In Africa, paying people for not getting sexually transmitted diseases reduces the rate of infection. Even just giving small amounts of money to girls helps them avoid it.
Iraq is considering establishing a special court to try journalists, which would extend its attacks on freedom of the press.
The banks that caused the financial crisis also ripped off US states and municipalities for billions.
US citizens: call your senators to support renewable energy and protection against climate change.
From now on, please put these numbers at the end of every urgent note that involves calling US congresscritters or senators. The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
Carne Ross says the UK foreign ministry is keeping secrets from the Iraq inquiry in order to protect the lies of witnesses, and that he was personally threatened and ordered to conceal some of these secrets from the inquiry.
The Yes Men are distributing their video through Bittorrent, because the US Chamber of Commerce is trying to prevent its distribution.
Saber Kushour has been convicted of "rape" for having sex with an Israeli woman while passing for a Jew.
The judge is not on the same planet as that woman. He said she lost the "sanctity of her body and her soul" because the man she quickly jumped into bed with was an Arab. People who have sex on such short acquaintance clearly don't regard the issue in such terms. People who have sex before getting to know their lovers should not complain afterwards that there was something they didn't know.
It does seem clear that Jews won't be arrested in Israel for failing to mention they aren't Arabs.
The US is moving towards witch hunts against illegal immigrants, fueled by false accusations against them.
All Americans are victims, since we all lose our freedom. I will not go to Arizona under these conditions, because I resent the requirement to carry papers to prove I am a US citizen.
Since this hysteria helps the right wing, I wonder if some of them looked forward to the economic crisis and intentionally blocked attempts to reduce it, just in order to build the crazy spirit they can use.
The problem for NATO is how to present withdrawal from Afghanistan as a success.
In the US, the lunatic right wing always condemns what moderates do. It will surely accuse Obama of having let the US "be defeated", and never mind whether that represents the reality. The only way to overcome them is to hit them hard; but Obama has no guts in confronting them. Like many Democrats who were not elected, he takes punch after punch and does not hit back.
The real lesson of the smear attack against Shirley Sherrod is that Obama has no guts to stand up to attacks from opposition.
We have seen more or less the same thing in legislation.
The US Senate passed a bill to defend Americans from UK libel law.
Israel has announced a reform of army practices to avoid atrocities.
This has the potential to make a big difference in future fighting, but it won't change anything unless there is political will for real change.
As the US removes most of the official US troops from Iraq, it is replacing some with mercenary troops. Thus it can pretend to have withdrawn more than it really has.
Stung by protests on behalf of Sakineh Ashtiani, Iran's government has acted like a shameless dictatorship, totally censoring the press and threatening her children.
It might be useful for opponents of the regime to start distributing tape cassettes, just as Khomeini did against the repressive Shah.
The head of the EPA has no idea what around 2 million gallons of dispersants will do to marine life in the Gulf of Mexico, or to people who will eat seafood caught there.
US citizens: sign this petition calling on the US to stop heeding the dishonest accusations from of right-wing smear campaigners.
The US Senate has given up on passing cap-and-trade for CO2 emissions.
Cap-and-trade has proved not very effective in reducing CO2 emissions, because the polluters can game the system rather than reducing pollution. Its weakness is that the bought senators' accusation is false — it isn't a true greenhouse gas tax. That tax is what we need.
Massachusetts citizens: phone your state representative to support the "right to repair" law.
I suggest saying it is not strong enough; that software sold in cars should be free software.
When the oil well exploded, alarms systems were shut off so workers could sleep. They had got lots of false alarms...
Managers careful about safety would have had the cause of the false alarms fixed. But that would have cost money, and they probably gave cost savings higher priority than safety.
The lesson is, high tech backup systems intended to provide safety in an activity that is intrinsically dangerous are less reliable in practice than in theory.
Brazil has made great strides in stopping illegal logging.
A giant oil-skimming ship was unable to collect oil from the Big Spill, because of Brainless Polluter's dispersants.
A proper spirit of precaution would have required such a giant skimmer to be made available in the Gulf in case any accident happened.
Fish caught in the Gulf are being tested for oil, but not for toxic dispersant.
US women: Obama is not your friend.
The policeman who attacked and killed protest bystander Ian Tomlinson will not be prosecuted. Not even for hitting a man with a stick for no reason.
Nobody will be prosecuted, because the police have protected their own.
After they lied to protect the killer, should we be surprised that they lost evidence to protect the killer, or that they confused the issue by arranging an autopsy by someone not trustworthy?
The policeman who killed Tomlinson probably did not plan for him to die. But those who are now granting police impunity for their killings are ensuring future deaths at the hands of these thugs.
Workers saw big safety problems on Bastard Polluter's drilling platform and were afraid they would be punished if they reported the problems.
Over and over one finds this sort of business conduct at the root of disasters.
Human Rights Watch concludes Chinese police shot Tibetan protestors and tortured prisoners.
As the rich rush to take control of the world's water supplies, a proposed UN treaty saying that people have the right to water to live is being blocked by the US and a few other countries.
Bullying Polluter is trying to buy scientists by funding their research but forbidding them to publish.
Tropical forests are being destroyed to grow soybeans to feed to cattle.
Other ways of feeding cattle may be better, but we shouldn't forget that we also need to grow less cattle and eat less meat.
Eliza Manningham-Buller, former head of MI5 (Security service), affirmed that the invasion of Iraq increased support for Islamic terrorism and allowed al Qa'ida to enter Iraq. And UK intelligence reports before the invasion warned the government this would be the result.
Cindy Sheehan has proposed automatic conscription of government officials, CEOs and war advocates into the armed forces.
Obama's proposed national oceans policy can potentially prevent oil spill disasters, but it's not inevitable. Existing regulations might have prevented the big spill, if only the government regulators had demanded strict compliance. Why didn't they? Did powerful bought politicians urge them to go easy? Or was it their own initiative?
Theoretically superior future policies could equally well be nullified if they are not properly enforced. And this is why a total ban on drilling is attractive. It would be much harder for officials to find a excuse not to enforce that.
NATO is starting to realize it has to negotiate peace with the Taliban.
If Americans want to talk with the Taliban from a position of partial strength, they had better start soon. The Taliban are getting more powerful every year.
Hundreds of starved dead penguins are washing up on Brazil's beaches. This raises concern that a collapse in small fish are the cause.
Two Christians in Pakistan who faced charges of "blasphemy" for distributing Christian pamphlets were murdered outside the courtroom.
I find those pamphlets annoying, so I can't blame Pakistanis for feeling annoyed too. But the annoyance of these pamphlets is no excuse for killing their distributors, or charging them with a crime. It is a simple part of freedom of speech — something Pakistan does not respect.
Most Islamic countries do not respect religious freedom or freedom of speech. They deserve to be rebuked persistently for this.
US citizens: call your congresscritter to support the Mine Safety Act. Or send email through this page (which also provides more information), but a phone call will carry more weight.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
Reportedly blogetry.com was not shut down as part of the War on Sharing, but rather because some (one?) among the 70,000 contained copies of some al Qa'ida information (or maybe just a link to it) which made death threats against specific people.
The offending material remains available in al Qa'ida's own site from which it was obtained. Copying the threat could be wrong, but would have little effect on the danger to anyone who was threatened, so there was no need to rush and take drastic measures to remove the copy. Shutting off the whole site is equivalent to arresting the whole population of a small city because of an accusation against a few inhabitants. And why tell the site owner he could not have the data from the site?
If BurstNET did this on its own initiative, then should restore the rest of the site promptly or else be penalized.
The Israeli government is destroying the authority of its judiciary by repeatedly disregarding Supreme Court decisions that recognize legal rights of Arabs and Palestinians.
In another move towards fascism, fanatics in the government (as well as fanatical gangs they support) threaten to punish, even kill, teachers that criticize Israeli government policies.
When slightly loosening the siege of Gaza, Israel said it would allow in construction materials for UN projects. But it is not doing so.
A Libyan aid ship heading for Gaza landed in Egypt after Egypt agreed to forward its cargo and passengers (including construction supplies) into Gaza.
Egypt could solve the problem of construction supplies in Gaza by allowing them into Gaza all the time.
However, Egypt would not be able to help overcome another aspect of the siege: stopping Palestinians from travelling between Gaza and the West Bank.
Noise pollution from ships makes it hard for whales to talk with each other, and that can harm them.
Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordecai Vanunu is being kept in total isolation, says Mairead Maguire, pleading for Israel to let him leave.
Unapproved genetic modifications in rice are spreading in China and getting into the food supply.
Tens of thousands of Bengali Dalit refugees were imprisoned, killed by police, and/or dispersed in poverty around India.
Speculation by hedge funds is driving up food prices and causing ruin for the poor.
The US government shut down a site with 73,000 blogs as part of its war on Internet users.
The site was shut down without a trial, which shows total disrespect for the rights of Internet users. Whatever complaint anyone had about this site, even if it were valid, summary punishment for secret reasons is tyranny.
Tony Nicklinson is paralyzed from the neck down, and hates living that way; his lawyers have gone to court to insist on his right to die.
Everyone: tell Costco to stop selling unsustainably caught fish.
The Home Affordability Modification Program is supposed to help US home-owners keep their homes. It occasionally does so, but mostly it just helps banks make money.
US citizens: support the pledge to fight corruption in Washington.
Bullying Polluters has a consistent attitude towards safety measures: disregard them whenever possible, to save money, and make contractors ignore them too.
Professor Kletz says it takes ten years for a company to alter a bad safety culture. That's because the sanctions used are not strong enough. I think government inspectors enforcing a zero-tolerance policy could make changes occur much faster. But that would require political will in the government to defy the pressure of large corporations — something today's US elected officials fail to have.
The secondary conclusion is that we should not allow an oil company to be as large as BP is. If a contractor takes safety seriously, BP will stop doing business with it, and they are afraid of that. If BP were chopped up into 10 competing companies, none of them would have so much power.
Growing animals for meat puts a tremendous strain on the environment.
Thus, people generally need to reduce their intake of meat.
Omar Deghayes says the British government is still covering up how its agents connived at torturing him.
US citizens: sign the petition for a real investigation of the Sep 2001 terrorist attacks.
They especially seek architects and engineers, but others are welcome to sign.
Singapore arrested Alan Shadrake for writing a book criticizing the death penalty in Singapore.
US citizens: sign this petition to appoint Elizabeth Warren to police Wall Street.
You can add a message calling for Geithner should be fired; I did.
A poll shows that Afghan men in Helmand and Kandahar expect and want the Taliban in power, and want NATO to go away.
There is nothing that the US can do to change this. Women might disagree, but they are not organized to fight or defend their rights, and we have no way to enable them to do so.
NATO's strategy in Afghanistan is failing, and could be making the Taliban stronger.
Both NATO and the Taliban kill civilians, but in different ways. NATO kills them by not valuing their lives enough to avoid it (some effort is being made now to change this), but the Taliban kill them deliberately, for intimidation.
If Karzai's government were capable of inspiring loyalty and support, the Taliban's actions would make people hate the Taliban and want to defeat them. But it isn't, so Afghans can learn about many Taliban atrocities without hating the Taliban enough to want to fight them.
US citizens: tell Obama not to ban abortion coverage for transitional health insurance pools.
EU commissioner Chris Patten condemns the siege of Gaza. He also says that Israel's supposed "settlement freeze" is bogus; construction is proceeding rapidly.
People are using kites and balloons to photograph the big spill, since the US government is helping Blood-handed Polluter keep journalists away.
The Afghan soldier who killed three British soldiers told the media that he was angry at killing of civilians — but forgives the Taliban for doing likewise.
Every army in war always kills civilians. Some armies do this gleefully, some try to avoid it, and others (such as the US in Afghanistan for a long time) give low priority to the issue. But even with strenuous efforts it still happens. The civilians accept these casualties as necessary if they regard the army as fighting for them or their country/tribe/group. This soldier's answers reflect his view that the Taliban, not NATO, is fighting for his country.
When people think that, there is no way NATO can win their support.
US citizens: tell your senators to support the Refugee Protection Act.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
A comic treatment of the danger of the surveillance state.
If you want to be sure a cell phone is not tracking you, or eavesdropping on you, you need to take out all the batteries.
China's industry is producing a crushing burden of pollution of every kind.
In 2002-2008, the US gave large subsidies to fossil fuels which were over twice the subsidies to renewable energy generation. But that underestimates how bad things are, because over half the subsidy for "renewable" energy generation was for corn-derived ethanol, which drives up food prices and uses lots of nonrenewable fertilizer. So the real ratio was over 7 to 1 in favor of nonrenewable energy.
Nothing is more threatening to Israel's occupation of Palestine than the Palestinian nonviolent resistance movement. So Israel tries to deny and cover up the movement's existence.
Goldman Sachs got off easy: its .5 billion fine is just one week's revenue, and the financial reform bill will do nothing to restrain it from committing similar fraud again — or from causing another bubble and another financial crisis when it bursts.
The fascist Israeli right wing is attacking Israeli Arab members of Parliament, both by voting special laws against them and physically attacking them as they speak. The attacks threaten to spread to Jews as well.
The direct effect of the occupation/siege of Palestine is to cause suffering and death of Palestinians. Israelis are safe from this direct effect, but defending the indefensible occupation/siege leads to destruction of human rights for everyone in Israel.
The Big Pollution tentatively appears to have been capped.
So why didn't BP have this containment cap ready before drilling the well, just in case? Why wasn't it required to have this cap ready? As well as the equipment for every other method that was tried and might have worked? The failure to require these things was an instance of taking extra risk in order to cut costs.
Many countries have pledged aid for Haiti but most of them have paid nothing.
Adam Dillon says Bullying Polluter is keeping reporters away from cleanup workers and threatening to fire anyone that talks to the press.
This June was the warmest June ever recorded, capping the hottest first half year ever recorded. Greenland's glaciers are melting fast.
A record heatwave in Germany has destroyed a large fraction of the crops. Heatwaves come randomly, and Germany might not have one next year. But these random peaks start from a base that keeps rising.
The new Droid-X phone is designed to sabotage itself if users try to modify it. This should be illegal if it isn't already.
I cite this article for the facts about the phone, but I disagree with the author's general willingness to accept other, not quite so nasty practices to restrict users and stop them from changing their software. Nonfree software is always an injustice.
The article falls into deep confusion by talking about "intellectual property in software", a conceptual construct which does not correspond to reality.
"Intellectual property laws" is a misguided generalization that refers to a dozen or so laws that have, in their requirements and effects, nothing in common. It is a useless and distracting concept but at least it corresponds to a number of laws that are real. However, to postulate a single something, and say these unrelated laws are about it, is to take leave of reality.
The negotiation of ACTA continue in the most secretive and hypocritical manner conceivable.
If the "three-strikes" punishment-on-accusation proposal appears to be gone, it may just be disguised inside requirements about liability for ISPs.
The Taliban are carrying out a nasty intimidation campaign against women in Afghanistan.
The Taliban's oppression of Afghan women, together with somewhat looser but nonetheless oppressive restrictions on Afghan men, is why I supported the invasion of Afghanistan. The reason I no longer support it is that the government of Karzai also oppresses women, although less, and is too corrupt to inspire the loyalty to win a civil war.
Ultimately there is no force in Afghanistan that can defeat the Taliban now that the window of opportunity that started in 2001 has been squandered.
B'liar personally pushed to deport suspects to Egypt, disregarding warnings they might be tortured or executed there. Later he personally ordered the foreign office not to provide legal assistance to UK citizens imprisoned in Guantanamo.
Jack Straw, as minister, encouraged sending a UK citizen to Guantanamo; later he lied about it.
A Yes Men-style hoax web site announced that France would return to Haiti the enormous ransom that France extracted for allowing Haiti's independence.
Look at it soon, because it seems France is going to try to shut the site down.
France is more interested in avoiding attention for how it drove Haiti into poverty than in doing anything to correct the problem.
China has shut many blogs and is attacking blogging sites too.
Massachusetts citizens: call Senator Brown and insist that he support the DISCLOSE act, to make corporations identify the political advertisements they pay for.
You can find some advice here.
The world is ignoring genocide in progress in Darfur.
The next cause to fight for in Argentina is abortion rights.
The senate passed a financial reform bill which makes some improvement, but fails to do address the biggest problem: banks that are to big to fail. Apparently these banks are stronger than our democracy. We have to regard them as an enemy, and aim to defeat them.
The B'liar regime's ministers actively planned to send British citizens arrested in Afghanistan to Guantanamo.
UK agents explicitly threated Omar Deghayes with imprisonment in the US, where he was subsequently mutilated.
Now we understand why the UK was so mysteriously unwilling to campaign to protect the rights of those UK citizens.
Big Polluter pours dispersants into the Gulf of Mexico; nobody knows what effects they have. The EPA's tests to determine whether they kill fish were inadequate.
Russia is trying to blame the murder of Natalya Estemirova on a Chechen rebel fighter who is dead, apparently to protect the officials whose wrongdoing she exposed.
North Korea is experiencing starvation.
This is the result of North Korean government policies, and the real solution is regime change. Every empire falls eventually unless it is propped up. So I hope that humanitarian intervention won't be designed to prop this one up.
The US and Britain broke an agreement with the Iroquois to recognize their passports.
US citizens: sign this petition telling the EPA to strictly regulate toxic coal ash.
Toxic chemicals are ubiquitous and their cancer danger has been underestimated.
New Orleans police face criminal charges for shooting unarmed people for no reason at all, then covering it up.
I wonder if there is any investigation of how the police kept a large group of refugees without cars from fleeing to safety from New Orleans.
The world is running out of phosphate rock to use for fertilizer, and will need to get it by recycling waste.
This will need energy, and unless that energy is renewable, it will increase global warming.
Indonesia Declares Partial Halt to Deforestation; Will Obama Help?
Decreasing violence in Kashmir has opened the path towards deforestation.
Palestinian legislator Abu Teir remains in Israeli prison, refusing to accept arbitrary expulsion from Jerusalem where he lived.
US citizens: sign this petition to the USDA against approving genetically modified alfalfa.
Breaking the Silence's criticism has pressured the Israeli Army to investigate a few Gaza war crimes, but it still tries to deny and cover up the general orders which systematically led to killing of civilians in Gaza.
Syrian president Assad asked for peace with trade and normal relations with Israel, if it returns the Golan heights.
15 months after an Israeli soldier killed a nonviolent protestor in Bil'in, the army has agreed to investigate the killing.
Meanwhile, Adeeb Abu Rahma, a nonviolent protest leader from Bil'in, remains in prison indefinitely after a trial that was ridiculous.
Other nonviolent protest leaders have been imprisoned without trial. Child protestors (under ten years old) have been arrested and interrogated in cruel ways.
Gush Shalom's court case against Israel's inquiry into the attack on the Gaza aid ships achieved one gain: the inquiry will be allowed to question soldiers.
I doubt however that this will affect its conclusions, since the government has set up the inquiry to be inadequate in several ways and this only corrects one of them.
Documents prove the UK conspired to send its citizens to Guantanamo.
A new method of measuring poverty shows that poverty is much more widespread in India than previously believed.
The ACLU has sued to overturn a draconian Internet censorship law enacted in Massachusetts.
Afghan troops that serve Karzai are mainly motivated by money. It regularly happens that they run off to join the Taliban, sometimes killing NATO troops as they leave.
This reflects Karzai's lack of ability to inspire loyalty. It is hard for an army of people without loyalty to win a war.
Al Shabaab, one of the factions fighting to control Somalia, has carried out a deadly bombing in Uganda, which has troops in Mogadishu.
The US brought this about when it sent Ethipian troops to Somalia in 2006, overthrowing the Islamic Courts Movement which had finally united Somalia and brought peace.
That government was hardly a good one, since it applied Islamic law. Islamic law is fundamentally unjust, and is especially cruel to women. But there was no way a better government could exist in Somalia, and it was much better for the inhabitants than constant war. It also did not try to attack anyone outside Somalia.
Thanks to the US-backed intervention, Somalia has returned to constant war and now al Shabaab exports terrorism too.
However, since the attacks were targeted at an intervention in Somalia, it might stop when the intervention stops.
Genetically modified crops designed to produce pharmaceuticals risk disastrous contamination of food.
As shown by Bare-faced Polluter's repeated disasters, caused by cutting corners on safety and preparedness, we cannot trust companies to maintain safely. The only way these genetically modify plants can be safe is if a physical system ensures they do not contaminate our food.
Separation between farms is not enough to prevent contamination. Maybe these plants should be allowed only for indoor growing. However, it is also crucial to choose plants whose pollen does not spread very far. Maize is the worst possible choice.
Israel has demolished more Arab homes in East Jerusalem.
Send a letter to the Wall Street Journal saying it should stop promoting global warming denial, and stop covering up the news that the leaked emails did not show any flaw in the science that demonstrated global warming.
Massachusetts residents: phone your state assemblyperson and senator saying you condemn censorship of the Internet, and that they should not vote for any law that tries to censor Internet publication or access. Protecting our freedom is more important than "protecting" anyone from material that someone doesn't like.
Shahram Amiri, Iranian nuclear physicist, says he was kidnaped and taken to the US and interrogated.
It is plausible that Amiri was kidnaped, and also plausible he defected and later changed his mind. I don't believe that the US government would be stopped by principle from kidnaping an Iranian scientist, but I am a little surprised it would risk the scandal that this could produce.
Population growth still endangers civilization and the biosphere even though the birth rate has decreased.
Sudan's president Bashir has been charged with genocide in the ICC.
The ICC needs more support from the US in order to act effectively against genocide. Dubya made many countries promise not to subject US agents to ICC jurisdiction.
UK protestors who were attacked by police for no reason won a lawsuit against the police.
However, they will not really get justice until the thug who attacked them is put behind bars.
There is new pressure for attacking Iran.
Unpleasant as the idea of Iran's having nuclear weapons is, there is no way to prevent Iran from making them. Located underground, they can't simply be bombed. It would be necessary to occupy various parts of Iran, and that would be a much bigger war than Iraq.
Tunisia has made it a crime to give information to foreign human rights groups.
The US has weakened its position to criticize this Tunisian law by making it a crime to teach groups labeled "terrorist" how to respect human rights.
Carne Ross testified in the UK's Iraq war inquiry that previous witnesses had lied or concealed crucial information.
Will they be pursued to obtain the truth?
Next time you hear people speak admiringly of Mother Teresa, show them this article.
Some large African animals have lost 60% of their population, and are thinning even in protected parks.
Sri Lanka's government is arresting and killing journalists as well as dissidents.
A journalist blows the whistle on Seed Magazine, which censored a column about Bhopal in order to get advertising from Dow Chemical.
We often suppose this sort of thing happens often behind the scenes, but it is very interesting to have eyewitness testimony.
Over and over, US police shoot innocent Black people, and say "Oops!"
Israel's annexation wall has cut off the village of Al Walaja from most of its land. Next, instead of cutting off the rest, it will build a wall all around the village, making it hard for anyone to leave.
We can expect Israel will decide that some inhabitants are forbidden to leave.
Per capita annual income in Afghanistan, around $500. Per capita bribes paid, around $150.
There are ways a government can reduce corruption, but they require firm political will — something Karzai can hardly provide.
Australia has postponed its mandatory web filtering, but this is just a reprieve, not a victory.
The NSA is making sleazy deals to increase spying on the US internet.
The US government is protecting Big Polluter by threatening reporters with felony charges if they come near cleanup sites. Which is nearly the entire Gulf shore.
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has been granted a reprieve from execution by stoning, but she might still be executed in some other way.
Shaming Iran for stoning people to death is effective, so don't let up the pressure.
The US also practices the barbarity of capital punishment. Just as in Iran, a substantial fraction of the people executed had ridiculous trials, just not quite so evidently ridiculous.
Afghanistan is a catastrophic failure, which our leaders refuse to admit, because admitting defeat is unthinkable. They have to promise victory around the corner.
Similar denial occurred in Vietnam too.
One additional factor not mentioned here is the way most foolish Americans bowed to the pressure to "support our troops" in Iraq. To resist this distorted idea of patriotism is why I decided to call them "the Bush forces". They started out as the armies of the US and whichever other countries Bush was able to bully, but when handed over to him, they became the Bush forces. Manifestly what Americans owed them was simply to reclaim them.
Sri Lanka is moving further into total tyranny, as government-organized "protests" shut down the UN office to prevent investigation into government war crimes.
The rulers of Sri Lanka, while totally unscrupulous and willing to kill those who criticize them, might be sensitive to trade sanctions.
The UK has abolished the special powers that let police search anyone for no reason in certain rather large territorial areas.
Those laws were mostly applied against protestors and photographers, but proved inadequate to protect the UK from democracy or from photography.
The IMF called on most wealthy countries to maintain deficit spending.
This means the IMF agrees with Paul Krugman. This is an amazing reversal from the IMF, which is famous for imposing fiscal austerity even to the expense of making children pay to go to school.
Europe could eliminate 95% of its carbon emissions and pay for it by savings petroleum.
Increased income typically makes people judge their lives more favorably, but has much less effect on how happy they are.
Medic Andrew Duffy says that the Bush forces ordered medics in Abu Ghraib to give badly ill prisoners no medical care, to cover up torture, and even to participate.
And this was in 2006, long after torture was supposedly stopped there.
Abid Naseer, considered a terrorist suspect in the UK but with no valid evidence to prosecute him, has now been accused by the US of conspiring to plant bombs.
Although he remained at large in Britain, Abid Naseer as a suspect was watched sufficiently that he was caught before he could really do anything. With all the ways the police can monitor a person's actions today, which are legitimate given a court order which they had plenty of grounds to obtain in this case, a person in such a situation has little chance of doing significant harm even if he tries.
These events appear to vindicate the principle of not punishing people on mere suspicion and not deporting people to where they face torture.
Is there any discussion of abrogating the unjust and one-sided US-UK extradition treaty? Since the US never ratified it, the UK should simply say it never took effect.
Naseer may deserve to be extradited; if so, the previous, just extradition treaty will serve. It requires an extradition hearing, but if the US has real evidence linking him to this plot, it will have no trouble prevailing in that hearing.
Everyone: Wish the Dalai Lama a happy 75th birthday.
US citizens: thank Attorney General Holder for suing to overturn Arizona's "show your papers" law.
The UK will grant asylum to refugees who show they face danger because they are gay.
I applaud this decision. As for the economic burden of absorbing future refugees, that will not be a problem if other countries adopt a similar policy.
Israel expels thousands of Palestinian residents from Jerusalem every year on various pretexts. Now it has begun doing so explicitly for political reasons.
Iraqi Sunnis continue attacking religious processions of Shi'ites. This violence is surely fueled by resentment over the expulsion by Shi'ites of Sunnis from most parts of Iraq, including most of Baghdad.
To end the violence would require reconciliation between Shi'ites and Sunnis, which won't be easy, and a government dominated by Shi'ites is likely not to try.
Fahem Boukaddous faces four years in prison in Tunisia for covering protests.
The idea that this coverage was a threat to public order reminds me of some of the logic provided by neocons to excuse their attacks on human rights in the US and elsewhere.
Several investigations show that the Climate Research Unit's science was valid, but the scientists acted too defensively towards criticism and requests for data.
Dogmatic capitalists think that giving is just stupid, even giving what you got for free.
Israeli colonies have taken control of 42% of the land in the West Bank.
The UK government plans to put legal controls on access to its records of all car travel in the country.
This is an important step forward, but not enough to make the tracking and snooping acceptable. The system should not recognize any car unless there is a court order against it.
The UK has a long history of supporting Islamic militants for various reasons, and often this has backfired.
The same is true of the US, and even Israel, which promoted Hamas in the 1980s to undermine the PLO.
I think a few points in the article are invalid, or else based on 20-20 hindsight. Some of these groups were the only choice available for a crucial job. For instance, defeating the Soviet Union (a horrible empire) was very important; Afghanistan was the place this could be done. Everyone there is a Muslim of some kind, and anyone fighting the Soviet occupying forces was likely to be rather fanatical after if he didn't start that way. So there was little alternative to what the UK and US did.
If someone grisly is going to be in the next government in a country, then unless the UK plans to try to overthrow it (which is only occasionally wise, even if it is justified), making diplomatic contact with that next government is necessary.
But these don't invalidate the overall point of the article.
Prominent Israelis accused the police of dishonestly attacking Palestinian protestors in Jerusalem.
Copyright as censorship: Nevada Republican candidate Sharron Angle threatened to sue Democrats for posting her old web pages to show the views she published a couple of months ago.
The Israeli government set up a phony inquiry into its attack on the Gaza aid ships, and Gush Shalom has sued demanding a real inquiry. The government has made a small concession hoping to relieve the pressure, but Gush Shalom will not drop the suit.
What accessing the Internet will be like in 2025.
The major US newspapers called waterboarding "torture" until they found out that Bush had ordered people to do it. Then they stopped.
Here's the study which established these facts.
Arizona plans to cope with the boycott over its "show your papers" law using the "change the subject" PR technique pioneered by the tobacco companies.
Tax-exempt charities in the US support Israeli seizure of Palestinian land in the West bank.
Some of Colombia's paramilitary thugs are helping find the corpses of the people they killed, in exchange for reduced sentences.
Among the crimes these paramilitaries committed were murders of union organizers in the Coca Cola plant. I think these murders continued past 2005. They were the motive for the worldwide boycott of Coca Cola Company.
US companies are heavily involved in China's censored search engine, Baidu.
Rangzieb Ahmed has won the chance to appeal his conviction for planning terrorism, on the grounds that he was tortured.
If crucial evidence was extracted from him through torture, it is clearly worthless. If that evidence was not needed to convict him, maybe his conviction should stand. But those guilty of conniving at his torture must be prosecuted.
Palin compared Obama to Hitler, for making BP pay for the damage of its pollution.
This is backwards, because Hitler was as kind to business as he was nasty to Jews and Gypsies.
Corporate executives who take risks with other people's lives and livelihoods should be punished like drunk drivers.
A witness who resigned from the UK foreign office testified that reports on Iraq were made by a series of distortions that added up to a lie.
George Monbiot: Conservative plans to deregulate the UK will cause billions of dollars, plus many lives, until eventually the government reregulates. But the Labour party has squandered the moral authority required to fight this through its own surrenders to business.
The Icelandic Modern Media Initiative faces threats from unjust treaties.
When I reported on the passage of the IMMI resolution, I was under the impression that it was a law, that the program was in effect. It appears that was only a decision to proceed to write and adopt laws that would actually protect freedom of the press.
The Lugano agreement seems to have made the unstated assumption that no signatory country would apply its jurisdiction to acts under the jurisdiction of another signatory country — an assumption that is false today. If the article is accurate, this treaty threatens freedom of the press all around Europe. It won't be the first disaster to human rights caused by European intergovernmental organizations.
The right fix to the Lugano treaty is to limit its scope, so that if country A issues a judgment over an act that took place in country B, to enforce that judgment in country B requires a hearing in country B to determine whether its laws would support the same judgment. This is comparable to the principle of "double criminality" that most extradition treaties uphold: country A won't extradite you to country B for an act which wouldn't be a crime in country A. (Did the unjust UK-US extradition treaty abandon this principle? Please tell me if you know.)
In the mean time, every government in Europe that values freedom — if there are any — must give freedom of the press clear priority, by declaring its refusal to recognize foreign judgments over domestic publication. In other words, "If you take issue with any publication done in this country, you must sue here under our law."
The UK is now considering libel law reform, which is overdue; but even if the UK eliminates this problem, any treaty allowing one country's laws to restrict publication in other countries is a disaster in waiting. The oil companies and MacDonalds only need to pay one government to adopt new laws under which companies could easily sue anyone that criticizes them, and they could impose censorship on all Europe.
A news photographer taking photos of a Big Polluter refinery was stopped by police and forced to show his photos to a Big Polluter agent.
Any real terrorist who wanted to photograph the refinery could easily disguise the activity, so these measures can only cause trouble for the press.
You can buy t-shirts that criticize security theater.
Talking with groups labeled as "terrorist" is necessary for figuring out which ones it is possible to make peace with.
Thus, the prohibition on "giving support" to these groups, which the insane US supreme court interpreted to include even explaining human rights law to them, tends to perpetuate rather than solve international problems. Whether intentional or not, this serves the purpose of those who can take advantage of continued conflict, even continued terrorism, by assuring them the "long war" they want.
Babar Ahmad has spent 6 years in prison in the UK, threatened with extradition to the US on bogus charges. Before Al Hamza can be extradited to the US, it has to promise to treat him humanely.
Ideally the US constitutional prohibition on "cruel and unusual punishment" ought to be enough to assure this, but it has been interpreted in a weak and inadequate way. What the UK really needs to do is discard its extradition treaty with the US, which the US never ratified anyway, and go back to the old treaty.
Lloyds of London warns it is time to prepare for peak oil.
Will the response be conservation and renewables? Or will it be oil shale to hasten the following disaster of global warming?
Libya has sent a ship of aid to Gaza.
I don't trust the government of Libya to keep arms off a ship to Gaza. Also, Libya was (and may still be) in favor of destroying Israel; therefore its attempt to aid Gaza lends itself to the interpretation that it is aimed at that goal. Gaza aid ships should come from countries which are not enemies of Israel and can be trusted to ensure that the ships carry only civilian goods.
Cuba has freed 1/3 of its political prisoners.
It is a step in the right direction. Meanwhile, Russia has placed artists on trial for art that the state does not like.
Everyone: sign this petition demanding Bullying Poisoner allow cleanup workers to wear protective gear.
Brazil proposes a law against DRM that interferes with fair use.
There are 27,000 abandoned wells in the Gulf of Mexico, and any of them may start to leak. The US government has given oil companies a pass on safety standards.
For the short term, this doesn't matter much — an additional small leak in the Gulf today would hardly be noticed. However, in the longer term, we must take the risk of future leaks into account as one more argument against further undersea drilling.
The wealthy world helped Haitians survive after the earthquake, but is doing very little for rebuilding. The people who were made homeless still live in camps.
Some economists argue that using the euro as their currency will force many years of bad times on some European countries.
A single currency for a region effectively means just one fiscal policy for the whole region. Whatever policy that is, it will be better for some parts of the region and worse for others. If the parts that gain make up the other parts' loss, they can all benefit. But the EU is failing to do that.
It looks like Israeli agents killed Ashraf Marwan in London in order to steal his unpublished memoirs.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement really stings in Israel, and a proposed law would penalize anyone advocating a boycott. Not only statements of support would be penalized, but even publication of relevant information. Companies that manufacture products in the colonies in the West Bank have been known to lie and say these products were made in Israel. Would this law empower them to sue anyone that publishes the truth? This fascist proposal illustrates what Israeli peace activists have said for decades: that the occupation of Palestinian territory is corrupting their country at every level. Neve Gordon, one of those threatened by this bill, explains the aims of the BDS movement: not against Israel, but against Israel's occupation. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jul/11/israeli-academic-boycott-commentary
There are two versions of the consumer boycott: one that boycotts all Israeli products, and the other that boycotts only products made in the West Bank colonies. I've decided to support the latter one. My support is limited to words, however, since I never come across any Israeli products that I might have considered buying.
UK citizens: tell Ofcom how you think it should enforce the Dinosaur Economy Act.
Ofcom has asked a large number of rather narrow questions: it seeks suggestions about details of an activity that is fundamentally wrong. But you need not limit yourself to answers that Ofcom will consider helpful, and you need not base your answers on the supposition that the Dinosaur Economy Act's malicious intentions ought to be carried out. I suggest responding to each question in a sincere way based on your ideas of how to achieve the results that would be good for society.
You could also talk about this perverted advice on "internet safety" for children.
That page is full of lies; for instance, it says that copyright infringement is legally the same as theft. It then tries to blame] file sharing for various unrelated risks of internet use — like saying masturbation will make you go blind. Reputable free software for file sharing does not pose any risk of these problems.
But the dishonesty at the heart of that page is that it pretends to help you to protect your family, when its real purport is to threaten your family. It "protects" your family the way the mafia "protects" your business.
It is an outrage for a government to ask people to send Microsoft Word files. In effect, this means the UK government promotes Microsoft. So send your response in email, using plain ASCII (they won't have any difficulty reading that), and explain why you disregarded a very bad suggestion.
If you email your response to email@example.com it will be visible in https://stallman.org/dinosaur-economy.
Tiny floating pieces of plastic kill a million seabirds every year, and 100,000 marine mammals. And the ocean, compared with 60 years ago, is almost empty of fish.
I wonder if we could develop a solar-powered automated ship to recover these plastic pieces.
Uri Avnery: Three Palestinian residents of Jerusalem have taken refuge in the International Red Cross so that they cannot be arbitrarily expelled.
If Israel gets away with expelling Palestinians from Jerusalem for their politics, it will expel them all. It will spread the expulsions over a period of a decade or two, hoping that the world won't notice.
Everyone: sign this petition calling on Iran not to execute Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and to end the practice of stoning.
Turks have gone to court to challenge Internet censorship.
Bradley Manning faces criminal charges for passing the Collateral Murder raw footage to Wikileaks.
I think there should be a campaign to give him the Nobel Peace Prize. He deserves it more than last year's winner.
Obama greeted Netanhayu as if begging for his approval.
Apparently the doubt in Washington about blindly supporting the Israeli hawks is still something Obama doesn't dare support.
The UK government will hold an inquiry into collaboration with torture carried out by the US, Pakistan, etc.
However, it will not prosecute anyone.
The government also plans a new law to block from the courts the evidence that revealed this torture, and thus created the need for the inquiry.
This law would grant UK agents impunity in practice, so they could safely conspire for future torture with no fear of another such inquiry. All to protect the reputation of the US.
Instead of pressuring the UK to help protect US torturers, Obama should make the US come clean about its torture activities, and end the practice once and for all.
1/4 of all species of flowering plants are threatened with extinction due to human activity. And that is without considering what global warming will do.
ATM vendors forced a security researcher to cancel a talk about security bugs ATMs which those companies have refused to fix.
100 Iraqis are campaigning for legal redress in the UK because they were tortured by British soldiers in the Bush forces.
Meanwhile, Obama has followed Bush in preventing US torture victims from getting heard by courts.
A former police chief says that the B'liar/Clown regime's attacks on human rights, carried out in the name of preventing terrorism, actually had the opposite effect.
Obama will sue to overturn Arizona's "show us your papers" law. I applaud the move, but the justification given fails to state what is really bad about this law: forcing people to carry papers and show them.
The law may well be racist in intent and in effect, but that is a side issue since it attacks the rights of everyone regardless of race.
A Sea Shepherd activist received a suspended sentence in Japan.
Nearly all Americans want a constitutional amendment to limit corporations' influence on elections.
Global warming cools the ionosphere, which slows down the orbital decay of space junk, making it more dangerous.
Pakistan proposes to imprison journalists for "defaming" state agencies — essentially, for criticizing the government.
This would add to laws that impose the death penalty for criticizing Islam, producing a thoroughgoing tyranny.
Madagascar's government has eliminated restrictions on cutting down the forest, putting the island's future at risk as well as its lemurs.
The previous government was overthrown because it planned to accept foreign-directed oppression.
The ACLU published extensive documentation how police in the US systematically infiltrate and attack democratic activity.
The House of Representatives voted to cut aid to Afghanistan because Karzai has not allowed his cronies to be investigated for stealing a lot of the past aid.
Garment workers in Bangladesh have launched big protests against employers who don't pay them the meager salary they are supposed to get.
A preliminary EPA study concluded that dispersants didn't harm some mature animals. This was misreported as meaning they are safe.
If the dispersants are less toxic than oil, that would be directly pertinent if we had a choice between one and the other. However, the choice we have is between one and both. Moreover, it seems the dispersant helped the oil get under booms and into wildlife sanctuaries. Thus, in addition to its own toxicity, it extended the reach of the oil's toxicity.
Turkey has imposed filtering on the Internet for censorship purposes.
Smokers are suing a tobacco company to pay for regular scans to check for early stages of lung cancer.
The tobacco companies knew, from their secret research, that smoking caused various diseases, and concealed the results from the public while pretending this was not true.
US citizens: call on the US government to end ideological exclusion: refusing scholars and artists entry to the US because of their political views.
The US and its puppets (Peru and Colombia) are the only defenders of the coup-installed regime in Honduras.
A prominent Cuban historian criticized official corruption, and has been punished and silenced in various ways.
People who die in England may be buried in an artificial undersea reef that will provide shelter for young fish and crustacians.
This could be very important in the future. When coral reefs die due to excess acidity in the ocean, and lots of people die because there are few fish left in the sea, burying them in artificial reefs could enable fish to come back.
Climate models suggest most of the Amazon rainforest may disappear within a century, and large parts may become desert.
These models are not certain. The only way to be certain is to try the experiment and see. Who wants to risk disaster? (Megacorporations, don't all raise your hand at once.)
These senators, from states with over 10% unemployment, have repeatedly filibustered to block extension of unemployment coverage.
Undersea explorer Sylvia Earle says Blythe Polluter is still withholding crucial data from scientists, and the US government is not helping the scientists get it.
The UK government is investigating how its soldiers in the Bush forces tortured Baha Mousa to death, but refuses to answer questions about other specific prisoners also tortured to death. And there may have been hundreds victims.
The Peruvian colonial government has expelled Paul McAuley, who has helped indigenous peoples to organize to resist the destruction of their land to extract petroleum.
These peoples will be hit twice: whatever part of their forest is not destroyed by the drilling will dry up and burn due to global warming produced by the petroleum.
The US government, in ordering Peru to destroy its land this way, is keeping the world fixed on the path to destruction. A simple decision not to extract petroleum from those areas in Peru for 40 years would ensure higher oil prices and thus conservation, and then maybe the Amazon rain forest would not turn into desert.
Women in Iran are frequently sentenced to death for having sex.
This illustrates the thorough injustice of Islamic law. It is evil and nothing can excuse it.
The Supreme Court says that the fairness of company-imposed arbitration requirements can be decided by the company-imposed arbitrators.
Blind Polluter intends to draw only small lessons from the disaster it has caused. It says it will continue undersea oil drilling, and continue mining tar sands from Alberta.
The problem with tar sands is not the risk of a spill; it is the certainty of poisoning lots of water and contributing heavily to global warming. Improvements in safety precautions won't do anything about that.
US citizens: send a message to Obama against letting ACTA restrict the Internet.
There is a sentence in the page that makes me gag: "It's not because we're crypto-pirates looking to steal digital content." That sentence endorses the enemy's propaganda, referring to copying as "stealing" and people who share as "pirates". (Even referring to published works as "content" is foolish.) The second half of that sentence seems to grant legitimacy to putting shackles on the wrists of the "pirates". That's what happens when you use the enemy's propaganda terms: you start making foolish concessions.
However, this sentence is not in the message that people are invited to send to Obama, so I can still support the campaign.
When I sent a message, I changed the text. I replaced
I am discouraged by the news that around the world, different governments have been requiring ISPs to cut users off from the Internet if they are accused of infringing copyrights. Mistaken accusations have been made and innocent users have been cut off from a vital communication tool, without due process.
It is an outrage that some countries punish people accused of forbidden sharing by disconnecting them from the Internet. The fact that this happens without due process illustrates how the War on Sharing has contempt for the basic idea of justice.
This avoids suggesting that punishment by disconnection might be legitimate if only they held a proper trial to verify the user's "guilt".
I am discouraged by the news that around the world, different governments have been requiring ISPs to cut users off from the Internet if they are accused of infringing copyrights. Mistaken accusations have been made and innocent users have been cut off from a vital communication tool, without due process.
Police in London arrested a teenager for taking pictures of a parade.
Putting the issue of Internet pornography in context.
Despite the fuss made about porn with "extreme sexual violence", the porn I come across doesn't have it. I believe it exists, but it is just a subgenre.
If I saw it, I would probably find it as disgusting as the extreme nonsexual violence in Pulp Fiction. But disgust does not justify censorship.
Workers in China are starting to organize and strike.
So far, the opposition of the "workers'" state and party has prevented this from affecting a broad range of companies. A Chinese Communist leader famously said "some people have to get rich first", and some have done so. How hard will the party fight now, to prevent the rest of China from following them?
Forget the incompetent Russian spies in the US — the real spy threat comes from the US puppet government of Colombia.
Corporate-controlled senators have blocked any chance of legislation to try to stop global warming.
Senators who aim to prevent climate disaster should not make the mistake of dropping the issue. They should write a good bill and put the corporate flunkies in the position of blocking it, so that they can be made to pay for that in the election.
Redd is supposed to pay poor countries to reduce logging, but they have found ways to cheat and get paid while continuing or increasing the amount of logging.
The corruption of African politicians such as Kabila can't be blamed entirely on the evils of the former colonial regime.
However, the evils of foreign powers didn't stop when the Congo's independence. Since the US and Belgium supported Mobutu, their culpability continued till around 1997. It may not even have ended then. Does the US government support the companies that buy the minerals that fuel the civil war?
The US "Trusted Internet Identity" proposal is a
threat to privacy and anonymity on the Internet.
Labour in the UK is trying to move on from its invasion of Iraq,
without acknowledging or understanding the disastrous wrong it
Some of the history behind the US Declaration of Independence
that isn't usually mentioned.
It is anachronistic to condemn anyone in 1700 for slavery or trying to
dispossess another people; we have only later learned that these are
wrong. The Declaration of Independence represented an advance in thinking
about government even if it did not raise these ethical issues.
By contrast, judging the conduct of George II based on how we
once condemned George III is entirely appropriate. He can't
present the excuse that such lessons were unknown in the past.
The ACLU has
sued to challenge the US No Fly list.
Why Patents Might Threaten Free Online Video.
To me, the no-cost license through 2015 smacks of a trap.
Iran is the
world leader in imprisonment of journalists. 3000
journalists in Iran cannot work because editors are afraid to hire
Washington is seriously
doubting its decades of unquestioning
support for Israeli expansionism.
A couple in the UK face a threat from the state for letting their
children bike to school for a few minutes unmonitored.
I am still not ready to ride a bicycle on a street with significant
car or pedestrian traffic, but when I was 6 years old I walked several
blocks to school in Manhattan, and didn't need anyone to hold my hand.
Unless Dulwich is a much more dangerous place than Manhattan, I think
this is a fine example of stultifying overprotectiveness.
The US Republican Party leader Steele faces flack from other Republicans for
it is foolish to try to win a war in Afghanistan.
When Steele calls it a "war of Obama's choosing", he's not entirely
wrong. Dubya started the war (which, I am obliged to acknowledge, I
supported because of the tyranny of the Taliban), then Dubya ignored
Afghanistan to invade Iraq, thus giving the Taliban a chance to come
back. Obama has no responsibility for all of that. But Obama decided
in 2009 to continue and escalate the war; now, a year and a half
later, it continues by his choice.
An official restudy of the IPCC report found several minor errors
but nothing to cast doubt on the conclusion that greenhouse gas emissions
are driving the world to disaster.
A study of world-wide climate policies says they are on track
for 4 degrees C of warming in this century, which would mean the
eventual collapse of the Greenland ice sheet.
The resulting rise in sea level would flood cities including New York
and Boston, as well as a large part of Bangladesh, Florida, etc.
Meanwhile, climate scientists in the US are
getting death threats for trying to prevent that disaster.
ethical for doctors to prescribe placebos? Although they have
no value as medicine, they do help some patients recover from real
Perhaps prescribing a placebo is acceptable when there is nothing
better to offer provided the doctor avoids claiming it is medically
eased the Gaza blockade somewhat. Most everyday use items will
be allowed in, but no exports are allowed, so what comes in will only be
deliveries of aid.
Israel still excludes building materials, with which people could
rebuild the homes destroyed by Israel's bombing and shelling in 2008.
The EU wants to
take notes on everyone's search engine use.
Privacy International's statement about this attack
on everyone's privacy.
break diplomatic relations with Israel unless Israel
accepts an international inquiry into its attack on the Gaza aid ships.
Labour in the UK is trying to move on from its invasion of Iraq, without acknowledging or understanding the disastrous wrong it committed there.
Some of the history behind the US Declaration of Independence that isn't usually mentioned.
It is anachronistic to condemn anyone in 1700 for slavery or trying to dispossess another people; we have only later learned that these are wrong. The Declaration of Independence represented an advance in thinking about government even if it did not raise these ethical issues.
By contrast, judging the conduct of George II based on how we once condemned George III is entirely appropriate. He can't present the excuse that such lessons were unknown in the past.
The ACLU has sued to challenge the US No Fly list.
Video Prison: Why Patents Might Threaten Free Online Video.
To me, the no-cost license through 2015 smacks of a trap.
Iran is the world leader in imprisonment of journalists. 3000 journalists in Iran cannot work because editors are afraid to hire them.
Washington is seriously doubting its decades of unquestioning support for Israeli expansionism.
A couple in the UK face a threat from the state for letting their children bike to school for a few minutes unmonitored.
I am still not ready to ride a bicycle on a street with significant car or pedestrian traffic, but when I was 6 years old I walked several blocks to school in Manhattan, and didn't need anyone to hold my hand. Unless Dulwich is a much more dangerous place than Manhattan, I think this is a fine example of stultifying overprotectiveness.
The US Republican Party leader Steele faces flack from other Republicans for acknowledging it is foolish to try to win a war in Afghanistan.
When Steele calls it a "war of Obama's choosing", he's not entirely wrong. Dubya started the war (which, I am obliged to acknowledge, I supported because of the tyranny of the Taliban), then Dubya ignored Afghanistan to invade Iraq, thus giving the Taliban a chance to come back. Obama has no responsibility for all of that. But Obama decided in 2009 to continue and escalate the war; now, a year and a half later, it continues by his choice.
An official restudy of the IPCC report found several minor errors but nothing to cast doubt on the conclusion that greenhouse gas emissions are driving the world to disaster.
A study of world-wide climate policies says they are on track for 4 degrees C of warming in this century, which would mean the eventual collapse of the Greenland ice sheet.
The resulting rise in sea level would flood cities including New York and Boston, as well as a large part of Bangladesh, Florida, etc.
Meanwhile, climate scientists in the US are getting death threats for trying to prevent that disaster.
Is it ethical for doctors to prescribe placebos? Although they have no value as medicine, they do help some patients recover from real problems.
Perhaps prescribing a placebo is acceptable when there is nothing better to offer provided the doctor avoids claiming it is medically active.
Israel has eased the Gaza blockade somewhat. Most everyday use items will be allowed in, but no exports are allowed, so what comes in will only be deliveries of aid.
Israel still excludes building materials, with which people could rebuild the homes destroyed by Israel's bombing and shelling in 2008.
The EU wants to take notes on everyone's search engine use.
Here is Privacy International's statement about this attack on everyone's privacy.
Turkey will break diplomatic relations with Israel unless Israel accepts an international inquiry into its attack on the Gaza aid ships.
US citizens: phone your senators saying they should extend unemployment benefits.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
US citizens: call on the US government to end ideological exclusion: refusing scholars and artists entry to the US because of their political views.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
US citizens: phone your congresscritter to support H.R. 5652, which would crack down on phony abortion clinics that trick women. Or send an email through this page.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
UK citizens: use Clegg's "Your Freedom" project to call for repeal of the Dinosaur Economy Act.
The company OCTEL bribed foreign governments so it could go on selling toxic tetraethyl lead for use in gasoline. The plea bargain let it off with hardly any penalty.
Gazan lawyer Fatima Sharif, forbidden by Israel to travel to Ramallah for a course on human rights law, has gone to Israeli court to demand permission.
Israel had better change its policy, before people conclude that it is absurd to mention Israel and human rights in the same breath.
Fiji threatens to imprison journalists.
Documents show B'liar was informed that invading Iraq would be illegal, one day before he promised Bush to support the invasion.
B'liar should be put on trial, and so should Bush.
Methane coming from the leaking well is causing a dead area, with too little oxygen for a fish to live.
Protestors who sabotaged an arms factory in the UK were found innocent, on grounds they were preventing war crimes that Israel would commit using the arms it was buying.
US citizens: sign this petition for strong antitrust enforcement against concentration among milk distributors that is driving dairy farms bankrupt.
The Republican platform in Texas involves censorship, attacks on homosexuals, and punishment of anything but vanilla sex.
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