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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,621

Journal Archives

Trying to eliminate protest and civil disobedience from the history books?

DENVER (AP) — A fight in Colorado over how United States history is taught is coming to a head in suburban Denver on Thursday, with students and teachers expected to pack a school board meeting where the controversial changes could face a vote.

Turnout is expected to be so high that the teachers union plans to stream video from the meeting room — which holds a couple hundred people — on a big screen in the parking lot outside. Students are making plans to start their protests early in the day.

Students across a majority of the 17 high schools in Colorado's second-largest school district have walked out of classes in droves over the past few weeks, waving signs and flags in protests organized by word of mouth and social media.

The protests started Sept. 19, when the Jefferson County school board proposed creating a committee to review texts and course plans, starting with Advanced Placement history, to make sure materials "promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights" and don't "encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law." ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/02/jefferson-county-school-board-fight_n_5920574.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000013

Airlines face Ebola fallout

Health experts say travelers face little risk of contracting Ebola on airplanes, but the disease’s arrival in the United States is bringing new worries about its ability to hop between countries and continents.

Those concerns escalated with Wednesday’s statement from United Airlines that the Ebola patient now being treated in Texas probably connected through Washington Dulles International Airport on Sept. 20 while en route from Brussels. Federal health authorities have said the patient’s trek originated in Liberia — one of several African countries suffering from the fast-spreading Ebola outbreak — but posed no danger to fellow passengers because he had yet to become contagious.

Customs and Border Protection officers are watching for signs of the disease in U.S.-bound travelers, with help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meanwhile, airline crews are getting reminders about standard procedures for dealing with infected passengers — including tools like gloves, goggles and antimicrobial wipes. ..................(more)

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/10/ebola-airports-airlines-111538.html#ixzz3F06oqcTv

Repairing Sandy Damaged Rail Tunnels Could Snarl Commute for Years

Repairing Sandy Damaged Rail Tunnels Could Snarl Commute for Years

Thursday, October 02, 2014 - 12:01 AM
By Kate Hinds

Almost two years ago, Sandy flooded four of Amtrak's six tunnels in and out of Manhattan with 13 million gallons of sea water. While the agency flushed the tunnels out in the days following the storm, chemical deposits containing chlorides and sulfates remained, slowly attacking the rails, cracking concrete, and damaging electrical systems.

Now, a new engineering report commissioned by Amtrak says while the tunnels are structurally sound, they should be taken out of service, one at a time, for extensive repairs to fix the "significant damage" caused by the storm. That work, if conducted around the clock, could take up to a year to complete in each tunnel.

The MTA performed similar work on one its tunnels recently, when it shut down the R train tunnel to make Sandy repairs.

Two of the four Amtrak tunnels under the East River, which also serve Long Island Rail Road, the nation's busiest commuter rail line, were also flooded. And both Amtrak tunnels under the Hudson River, which also serve New Jersey Transit, were flooded by Sandy. To shut down either of the Hudson tunnels, "you’re talking about debilitating losses in service," says Richard Barone of the Regional Plan Association. Because of the way the tunnels are configured, trans-Hudson rail service would need to be reduced by 75 — not 50 — percent. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.wnyc.org/story/amtrak-tunnels/

Police Departments Retaliate Against Organized "Cop Watch" Groups Across the US

(Truthout) When communities attempt to police the police, they often get, well... policed.

In several states, organized groups that use police scanners and knowledge of checkpoints to collectively monitor police activities by legally and peacefully filming cops on duty have said they've experienced retaliation, including unjustified detainment and arrests as well as police intimidation.

The groups operate under many decentralized organizations, most notably CopWatch and Cop Block, and have proliferated across the United States in the last decade - and especially in the aftermath of the events that continue to unfold in Ferguson, Missouri, after officer Darren Wilson fatally shot unarmed, black teenager Michael Brown.

Many such groups have begun proactively patrolling their communities with cameras at various times during the week, rather than reactively turning on their cameras when police enter into their neighborhoods or when they happen to be around police activity.

Across the nation, local police departments are responding to organized cop watching patrols by targeting perceived leaders, making arrests, threatening arrests, yanking cameras out of hands and even labeling particular groups "domestic extremist" organizations and part of the sovereign citizens movement - the activities of which the FBI classifies as domestic terrorism. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/26527-police-departments-retaliate-against-organized-cop-watch-groups-across-the-us

Amy Goodman: A Force More Powerful in Jefferson County, Colo.

from truthdig:

A Force More Powerful in Jefferson County, Colo.

Posted on Oct 1, 2014
By Amy Goodman

“Don’t make history a mystery” read one of the signs at a rally in Jefferson County, Colo. High-school students in this suburban district, referred to locally as “JeffCo,” have been walking out of class en masse this past week, protesting the planned censorship of the district’s Advanced Placement (AP) United States history curriculum by the local school board. The board proposed a committee that would review the course, and others, adding material to “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights,” as well as eliminating anything the board thought could “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.” The student walkout coincided with several days of “sick-outs” by teachers. Ironically, the school board’s attempts to stifle teaching about the history of protest in the United States has provoked a growing protest movement.

School boards have long been an electoral target of the right wing in the U.S. In JeffCo, the current conservative majority won a narrow victory in November 2013, an off-year election with low voter turnout. “About 33 percent of the total population that could vote voted. Elections matter, and especially school-board elections,” John Ford said on the “Democracy Now!” news hour. He’s a social-studies teacher at Moore Middle School and the president of the Jefferson County Education Association, representing more than 5,000 teachers, librarians, counselors and other employees of the district.

The power of school boards is often underestimated. “I’ve been paying attention to the school board for the past year, and I have been increasingly concerned about what’s been going on,” Ashlyn Maher told me. She is a senior at Chatfield High School who helped organize the student walkouts. Civil disobedience has a long and storied role in U.S. history. The Declaration of Independence itself, so cherished by conservatives and progressives alike, instructs “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed ... That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.” Maher says that disobedience is “the foundation of our country. I took AP U.S. history myself, and all I was presented with were the facts. And then I made the opinions based on those facts. I was never told what to think.”

The teachers also have been battling the board majority since it took power. “We’ve had a long history of collaboration with the school board and the superintendent. And that’s all coming to an end,” Ford said. ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/a_force_more_powerful_in_jefferson_county_colo_20141001

Open Letter on Censorship and Google

from truthdig:

Open Letter on Censorship and Google

Posted on Oct 1, 2014
By Zuade Kaufman

George Orwell was right: “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

Such power isn’t limited to rewriting history. It extends to defining what we hear, what we read, what we say—and ultimately what we think. It affects all of us, especially those who believe in the potential of words to shine a light on hidden agendas, hold the powerful to answer, and express ideas that shape our values.

The threat is both from governments, which feel a need to control their people, and from companies that have an unceasing urge to increase their power and their wealth.


Earlier this year Google threatened to block an award-winning UK-based music webzine, Drowned in Sound, for displaying covers of albums by Sigur Rós, a post-rock band from Reykjavik, and Lambchop, an alternative/country band from Nashville. DiS fixed the matter by laying colored squares over the disputed areas. But DiS founder Sean Adams worried out loud that Google was only a small step away from seriously compromising freedom of expression.

For the past 18 months, Truthdig has been engaged in on-and-off battles with Google—and it’s been baffling for us. At best, the rules being imposed are poorly defined. At worst, they are arbitrarily imposed. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/open_letter_on_censorship_and_google_20141002

Tracy Morgan May Never Perform Again, Doctors Reportedly Say

Tracy Morgan's professional fate is in limbo, with new reports indicating that he suffered a crippling brain injury following the crash he survived this summer.

Benedict Morelli, Morgan's lawyer, told Page Six that the "jury is out" on whether the comedian will be able to perform again. He is currently in rehab for speech, cognitive, vocational and physical functionalities. Morelli said doctors don't yet know whether the wheelchair-bound Morgan, 45, will return to his previous self.

“These people are despicable,” Morelli said of Walmart executives, who on Monday said Morgan and the three friends with him were partly to blame in the crash for not wearing seat belts. “They knew that they changed these people’s lives forever and killed somebody. They’re good blame shifters. I guess that’s how they make $783 billion a year, shifting the blame.” ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/01/tracy-morgan-may-never-perform-again_n_5912942.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000024

Confronting Barbarism: ISIS, the United States and the Consequences of Torture

Confronting Barbarism: ISIS, the United States and the Consequences of Torture

Wednesday, 01 October 2014 10:42
By Michael Meurer, Truthout | Op-Ed

In a televised address on August 7, President Obama announced that he had ordered "targeted" US airstrikes in northern Iraq against the self-described Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on the pretext of a humanitarian intervention to help stranded Kurds and US diplomatic staff in Erbil. In his address, Obama said, "I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq." Just 47 days later, on September 23, a new phase in the war on terror had been declared, and US bombing was expanded into Syria.

There is ample reason to believe that Obama's August "humanitarian bombing" of ISIS targets in northern Iraq was equally about the protection of ExxonMobil and Chevron oil and gas production facilities in Erbil. It was a costly action. On August 19, US journalist James Foley was beheaded by ISIS in retaliation. On September 2, Steve Sotoloff, another US journalist, was beheaded by ISIS in a further act of retaliation. Both murders were accompanied by highly publicized beheading videos, with Foley and Sotoloff forced by ISIS to wear symbolic orange jumpsuits. A beheading video of British aid worker David Haines followed on September 13, with Haines also mockingly clad by his ISIS captors in an orange jumpsuit. President Obama's new war in Syria began 10 days later with full Congressional backing. British Prime Minister David Cameron quickly endorsed US bombing and received parliamentary approval for Britain to join the US campaign in Iraq.

The New Yorker's John Cassidy has labeled this Obama's "YouTube war." The carefully choreographed ISIS beheading videos, with their mocking use of orange jumpsuits, were a major factor driving both public opinion and Obama's decision-making. The actions of ISIS jihadists are barbaric, but they represent something worse than publicized incidents of terrorist inhumanity. Yasser Munif, co-founder of the Global Campaign of Solidarity with the Syrian Revolution, believes the moral taunting on the beheading videos was designed to lure the United States into wider war in the Islamic world, thereby elevating ISIS as the primary anti-American force in the region. It is as if the moral compass of the universe has gone tilt as the world descends into barbarism. The vertiginous sense of suspended morality is heightened by tens of millions of TV viewers and YouTube site visitors worldwide witnessing ISIS's open and brutal mockery of the United States and United Kingdom on supposedly moral grounds as they commit murder for the camera.

During September, with the ISIS beheadings and United States drive to war as background, the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Obama administration have also been forced into a debate over how to respond to an August 27, District Court decision in New York ordering the release of 2,000 previously unpublished photos of US torture, brutality and death at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison and five other US detention facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been seeking release of the photos since 2004 in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. Obama and the DOD were opposed to the release of these photos, years before ISIS emerged, on the grounds that the images are so grisly, they would inflame anti-US sentiment in the Islamic world. However, with the ACLU's litigation on the verge of success, the photos and the war against ISIS have clearly become interrelated.

There is already a huge element of the absurd in the Obama administration's new war scenario that should provoke further debate about overall US policy in Central Asia. There are questions about the role that US and European actions played in incubating and arming ISIS in Syria, as well as clear evidence that Sunni distrust of the US-backed Shiite government in Baghdad has driven Iraqi Sunnis reluctantly into the hands of ISIS jihadists. There are open divisions and disagreements among national security experts in both parties and within Obama's military team about threat assessment, tactics, timing and the need for ground troops. Many activists on the ground in Syria question the motivation and potential efficacy of US bombing in their country. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/26540-confronting-barbarism-isis-the-united-states-and-the-consequences-of-torture

Can Civilization Survive "Really Existing Capitalism"? An Interview With Noam Chomsky

from truthout:


Since the late 1970s, most advanced economies have returned to predatory capitalism. As a result, income and wealth inequality have reached spectacular heights, poverty is becoming entrenched, unemployment is skyrocketing and standards of living are declining. In addition, "really existing capitalism" is causing mass environmental damage and destruction which, along with the population explosion, is leading us to an unmitigated global disaster. Can civilization survive really existing capitalism?

First, let me say that what I have in mind by the term "really existing capitalism" is what really exists and what is called "capitalism." The United States is the most important case, for obvious reasons. The term "capitalism" is vague enough to cover many possibilities. It is commonly used to refer to the US economic system, which receives substantial state intervention, ranging from creative innovation to the "too-big-to-fail" government insurance policy for banks, and which is highly monopolized, further limiting market reliance.

It's worth bearing in mind the scale of the departures of "really existing capitalism" from official "free-market capitalism." To mention only a few examples, in the past 20 years, the share of profits of the 200 largest enterprises has risen sharply, carrying forward the oligopolistic character of the US economy. This directly undermines markets, avoiding price wars through efforts at often-meaningless product differentiation through massive advertising, which is itself dedicated to undermining markets in the official sense, based on informed consumers making rational choices. Computers and the internet, along with other basic components of the IT revolution, were largely in the state sector (R&D, subsidy, procurement, and other devices) for decades before they were handed over to private enterprise for adaptation to commercial markets and profit. The government insurance policy, which provides big banks with enormous advantages, has been roughly estimated by economists and the business press to be perhaps on the order of as much as $80 billion a year. However, a recent study by the International Monetary Fund indicates - to quote the business press - that perhaps "the largest US banks aren't really profitable at all," adding that "the billions of dollars they allegedly earn for their shareholders were almost entirely a gift from US taxpayers." This is more evidence to support the judgment of Martin Wolf of the London Financial Times, that "an out-of-control financial sector is eating out the modern market economy from inside, just as the larva of the spider wasp eats out the host in which it has been laid."

In a way, all of this explains the economic devastation produced by contemporary capitalism that you underscore in your question above. Really existing capitalism - RECD for short (pronounced "wrecked" - is radically incompatible with democracy. It seems to me unlikely that civilization can survive really existing capitalism and the sharply attenuated democracy that goes along with it. Could functioning democracy make a difference? Consideration of nonexistent systems can only be speculative, but I think there's some reason to think so. Really existing capitalism is a human creation, and can be changed or replaced. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/26538-can-civilization-survive-really-existing-capitalism-an-interview-with-noam-chomsky

Chris Hedges Explains Why Bombing and Shooting Everyone Isn’t Working (audio link)

from truthdig:

Listen: http://www.truthdig.com/avbooth/item/chris_hedges_explains_why_bombing_and_shooting_everyone_isnt_working_201409

This week on Truthdig Radio in association with KPFK: The columnist says, “People don’t want to be occupied and they’re not going to stop until we leave.” Also: The best banned books, The Intercept’s digital bodyguard and why the war in Syria is probably not legal.

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