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Member since: Thu Oct 28, 2004, 11:18 PM
Number of posts: 70,252

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Some States Have a Sneaky Plan to Stop the NSA

Some States Have a Sneaky Plan to Stop the NSA

Thursday, 23 January 2014 09:56
By Kevin Mathews, Care2 | Report

What are outraged American citizens to do after the federal government has pretty much decided to do nothing to fix the unconstitutional NSA spy program? Get the states involved! A handful of states across the country have already begun devising plans to thwart the dubious agency with state laws, including stopping the NSA facilities’ water and electricity access.

So far, six states (Missouri, California, Oklahoma, Kansas, Washington, and Indiana) have introduced bills that target the NSA. Though they all differ somewhat, each state's bill would impede NSA operations within their boundaries.

In Washington, for example, the bill would attack the NSA on multiple fronts:

* State and local officials would be barred from providing information or “support” to the NSA.
* The NSA would be forbidden from researching and recruiting at state universities.
* Evidence collected by the NSA would be inadmissible in state courts.
* Businesses that have contracts with the state would not be allowed to conduct business with the NSA in any capacity; companies that disobeyed would lose their contracts and face criminal charges.
* Access to water and electricity provided by the state would be cut off altogether.

The last one is particularly a doozy since the buildings would be unable to operate without power and water. NSA’s facility in Utah, for example, requires 1.7 million gallons of water each day. (Forget the warrant-less surveillance for a moment – can we get some eco activists on their case?) Presumably, the NSA would seek these pulled resources from private companies instead, but it would certainly make things more complicated for the agency. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/21397-some-states-have-a-sneaky-plan-to-stop-the-nsa

The Workers' Scorecard on NAFTA

The Workers' Scorecard on NAFTA

Thursday, 23 January 2014 09:14
By David Bacon, Truthout | News Analysis

Sold by its promoters as a migration-preventing device that ultimately would produce more and better-paid jobs in all three countries, the North American Free Trade Agreement has displaced jobs and people, weakened unions and ravaged US cities and rural Mexico. But worker solidarity may prove to be its most important product.

In 1986, a provision of the Immigration Reform and Control Act created a commission to investigate the causes of Mexican migration to the United States. When it made its report to Congress in 1992, it found, unsurprisingly, that the biggest was poverty. It recommended the negotiation of a free trade agreement, modeled on the one that had been implemented a few years before between the United States and Canada. The commission argued that opening the border to the flow of goods and capital (but not people) would, in the long run, produce jobs and rising income in Mexico, even if, in the short run, it led to some job loss and displacement.

The negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement began within months. When completed, it was sold to the public by its promoters on both sides of the border as a migration-preventing device. During the debate, executives of companies belonging to USA-NAFTA, the agreement's corporate lobbyist, walked the halls of Congress wearing red, white and blue neckties. They made extravagant claims that US exports to Mexico would account for 100,000 jobs in the agreement's first year alone.

Some skeptics warned that the agreement would put downward pressure on wages and encourage attacks on unions, because its purpose was to create an environment encouraging investment and free markets. Their warnings were met with another promise - that a parallel labor side agreement would establish a mechanism for protecting workers' rights.

Twenty years later, workers have a scorecard. The promises of profits from increased investment and freer markets were kept. But the promises of jobs and benefits for working people were not. As the commission predicted, NAFTA did lead to increasing unemployment, displacement and poverty. Workers in all three countries are still living with these devastating consequences, while the predicted long-range benefits never materialized. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/21370-the-workers-scorecard-on-nafta

A New Gilded Age Threatens The State Of Our Union

Howard Fineman

A New Gilded Age Threatens The State Of Our Union
Posted: 01/23/2014 9:38 am EST

WASHINGTON -- The numbers are shocking -- assuming that we still have the capacity for shock -- and they will form the backdrop for President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday.

The president will declare himself a foe of “income inequality,” with good reason: As a nation, we have climbed out of the deep hole of the Great Recession, but we have not done so as a whole people.

For the first time since precise recordkeeping began a century ago, 10 percent of Americans take in more than half the country’s income.

In the last 40 years, the income of the top 1 percent of Americans has quadrupled, while incomes for everyone else have stagnated.

Billionaires such as the Koch brothers and Michael Bloomberg, empowered by the Supreme Court, spend fortunes to influence politics, just as J.P. Morgan and California railroad magnates once did. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/23/gilded-age-state-of-the-union_n_4647348.html?ncid=txtlnkushpmg00000037

Amy Goodman: Aaron Swartz: The Life We Lost and the Day We Fight Back

from truthdig:

Aaron Swartz: The Life We Lost and the Day We Fight Back

Posted on Jan 22, 2014
By Amy Goodman

PARK CITY, Utah—A year after Internet freedom activist Aaron Swartz’s suicide at the age of 26, a film about this remarkable young man has premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The film, titled “The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz,” directed by Brian Knappenberger, follows the sadly short arc of Aaron’s life. He committed suicide while under the crushing weight of unbending, zealous federal prosecutors, who had Aaron snatched off the street near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, accusing him of computer crimes.

At the age of 14, Aaron helped develop RSS, “Really Simple Syndication,” which changed how people get online content. He co-founded one of the Internet’s most popular websites, Reddit. In the year before his death, he helped defeat a notorious bill before Congress, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which would have granted corporations sweeping powers of censorship over the Internet. Now, another fight for the freedom of the Internet has begun. This one will have to be waged without Aaron.

A coalition of Internet activists, technologists and policy experts are joining together on Feb. 11 for “The Day We Fight Back.” As they say on their website, reflecting on the victory against SOPA, “Today we face a different threat, one that undermines the Internet, and the notion that any of us live in a genuinely free society: mass surveillance. If Aaron were alive, he’d be on the front lines, fighting against a world in which governments observe, collect, and analyze our every digital action.” Before Edward Snowden made “NSA” and “mass surveillance” household terms, Aaron was speaking out against the National Security Agency’s bulk collection programs. His brother, Noah Swartz, told me, “I think Aaron’s message that we can all take with us is that ... we can see the change we want to see in the world by participating, rather than feeling helpless and useless.”

The legal case that was overwhelming Aaron was brought by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen P. Heymann and U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz. When Aaron was a fellow at Harvard University, he went to nearby MIT, which allowed members of the public to use its computer network, and to access resources on it, including the database of digitized academic research articles maintained by the nonprofit company JSTOR. He wrote a computer program that allowed a laptop to automatically download articles, and proceeded to download millions of them. JSTOR noticed and contacted MIT, and MIT in turn contacted the police. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/aaron_swartz_the_life_we_lost_and_the_day_we_fight_back_20140122

WikiLeaks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Environment Chapter: "Toothless Public Relations Exercise

WikiLeaks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Environment Chapter: "Toothless Public Relations Exercise"

Wednesday, 22 January 2014 09:37
By Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism | News Analysis

WikiLeaks has thrown yet another wrench in the negotiations over the sellout-to-multinationals-masquerading-as-trade-deal otherwise called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Wednesday, on the eve of an expected-to-be-contentious Senate Finance Committee hearing on the Administration’s request for “fast track” authority for the TPP, WikiLeaks released another important draft chapter from the pact, this on environmental regulations. It’s relatively current, as of the last day of the Salt Lake City session in November, putting it only one negotiating round the behind the actual draft. And this, like the intellectual property chapter that WikiLeaks published last year, is one that shows the parties to the deal at loggerheads.

WikiLeaks also published an analysis by Professor Jane Kelsey of New Zealand. Given how difficult it is to parse the text (particularly since one also needs to understand how its provisions relate to other international agreements to appreciate the significance), her report provides a good, technical overview.

The main points of her analysis of the chapter proper are that despite aspirational language, the draft chapter has few definitions of key terms and has no mechanism for providing penalties. The one stab at defining terms is “environmental laws” and that is narrow, including only environmental protection and human health and safety. It excludes prudent resource management practices and also appears to impinge on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which all parties to the pact save the US have signed. Among other things, it protects the rights of indigenous people over traditional knowledge, specifically:

…genetic resources, seeds, medicines, knowledge of the properties of fauna and flora…and … the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property over such cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions.

Seeds? Monsanto is going to cede control over seeds to savages indigenous people? Similarly, Big Pharma has been scouring exotic locations to try to find new molecules and treatments to exploit. It would be a shame if pesky natives stood between them and their profits. You can see why the Administration keeping these notions out of the text. ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/21372-wikileaks-on-the-trans-pacific-partnership-environment-chapter-toothless-public-relations-exercise

A 'tsunami' of store closings expected to hit retail

Get ready for the next era in retail—one that will be characterized by far fewer shops and smaller stores.

On Tuesday, Sears said that it will shutter its flagship store in downtown Chicago in April. It's the latest of about 300 store closures in the U.S. that Sears has made since 2010. The news follows announcements earlier this month of multiple store closings from major department stores J.C. Penney and Macy's.

Experts said these headlines are only the tip of the iceberg for the industry, which is set to undergo a multiyear period of shuttering stores and trimming square footage.


"I believe we're going to hear a lot more announcements in the coming months," Burden said. It's "an indication that there is a shift in the retail environment and it's one that will continue." ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.cnbc.com/id/101353168?__source=xfinity|mod&par=xfinity

Man In Obama Ricin-Letter Case Pleads Guilty To Fondling


BRANDON, Miss. (AP) — The man who pleaded guilty last week to sending poison-laced letters to President Barack Obama and other officials has pleaded guilty to unrelated fondling charges.

James Everett Dutschke pleaded guilty Friday to federal charges of sending ricin-laced letters in what authorities described as an attempt to frame a longtime enemy and Elvis impersonator.


Prosecutors in Lee County, Miss., say Dutschke inappropriately touched former students at his martial arts studio in Tupelo.

Ownership of WaPo by CIA Contractor Puts US Journalism in Dangerous Terrain


NORMAN SOLOMON: Yeah. It's very dangerous to normalize the situation that we have today, where a man who has 25 billion (with a B) dollars in personal wealth, Jeff Bezos, and has been able to accumulate that wealth because he's the founder and CEO and main stakeholder in Amazon is now the only owner of The Washington Post. And Bezos's outside company, Amazon, has just entered into a $600 million contract with the Central Intelligence Agency. So, on the one hand, Amazon is in a business deal to keep the secrets of the CIA in its computing cloud, while the newspaper that Bezos is the sole owner of ostensibly is in the business of exposing the secrets of the CIA and other government agencies. Well, they're at cross purposes.

The mythology is that that doesn't matter, because who owns a newspaper doesn't affect the atmosphere or policies or reporting that come out of the newsroom. But in the real world, this is a new structural relationship that, unlike in the past, is not only built on personal relations or ideological connections or some stray business affinities; this is a direct conflict of interest, where the owner of what some believe is the most powerful political media outlet in the country is not only gaining more wealth from a big contract with the CIA, but is also eager to gain even more business from the CIA, because Amazon has said, hey, the $600 million from the agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, is just a start. We look forward to, Amazon says, in its words, "a successful relationship with the CIA."

So this is, I think, at the crossroads of a contradiction between an ostensibly free press and a corporate-digital-governmental tacit alliance that is about using digital power to keep some data secret and to extend the surveillance state, to gather data and to use it, among other things, in the service of ongoing warfare across much of the planet. ...........(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/21385-ownership-of-wapo-by-cia-contractor-puts-us-journalism-in-dangerous-terrain

Google bus backlash: S.F. to impose fees on tech shuttles

San Francisco's transportation agency on Tuesday imposed fees and restrictions on Google buses and other corporate commuter shuttles, but the move is unlikely to stop the protests or quell the animosity fueled by the sleek private buses.

The Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors voted 5-0 with one member absent to charge the corporate shuttles a fee of $1 per day per stop, prevent them from using some of the busiest Muni bus stops and require them to yield to public transit vehicles.

The vote came after a hearing that lasted more than three hours, with dozens of people lining up to speak. More than 100 people filled a City Hall meeting room and a spillover room where the hearing was broadcast.

The directors approved the 18-month test, which will begin in July, while acknowledging it won't satisfy many of those who blame the buses for boosting housing prices or changing the culture of San Francisco. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/S-F-to-impose-fees-restrictions-on-Google-buses-5163759.php

Los Angeles: Metro breaks ground on $2-billion Crenshaw light-rail line

from the LA Times:

Officials celebrated the groundbreaking Tuesday for the $2.06-billion north-south Crenshaw Line that will connect the Mid-City Expo Line with the South Bay's Green Line.

"This is a day that Angelenos deserve, a great day for L.A., a day to move America forward," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.

The Department of Transportation also announced Tuesday that the project would receive a $545.9-million loan. The project also is expected to receive about $130 million in other federal transportation funds, according to a statement.

"This is a partnership -- a local, state and federal partnership," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. ...........(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-crenshaw-line-groundbreaking-20140121,0,1889081.story#ixzz2r8vcS6m7

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