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marmar

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,639

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Life at Louisiana's Toxic Sinkhole: An Eco-Disaster Continues With No End in Sight


Life at Louisiana's Toxic Sinkhole: An Eco-Disaster Continues With No End in Sight

Thursday, 08 August 2013 09:43
By Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report


The view from Mike Schaff's small airplane is startling. Bayous snake through pastures and swamp forest of Assumption Parish in rural Louisiana. Small residential neighborhoods and gangly networks of petrochemical pipelines, storage tanks and wastewater impounds dot the landscape. In the middle of it all is what looks like a small lake that has spilled into the swamp forest and left patches of cypress trees dead and gray. But the body of dark liquid is not a lake, and it's not supposed to be there.

We're flying over Bayou Corne on the one-year anniversary of an unprecedented environmental disaster. The trouble started last May, when small earthquakes rumbled through the area, and fisherman observed the bayous boiling like crawfish pots in certain spots. Then, on August 3, 2012, an underground salt brine cavern collapsed beneath Bayou Corne, and a massive sinkhole opened up on the surface, replacing swamp forest with an expanding slurry pit of oil and salty water from deep underground. Since Truthout first reported on the disaster in December, the sinkhole has grown from eight acres to 24 acres across.

Observers point out that there is at least some good news. While the sinkhole continues to expand, it appears to be growing away from the neighborhood of 150 homes that has been under a continuous evacuation order for the past year.

Back on solid ground, Schaff cracks a beer and sits down in his kitchen. His house is nestled in the neighborhood less than half a mile from the sinkhole. Like a portion of his 350 neighbors, Schaff has chosen to continue living in his house despite the evacuation order that local officials say is justified by continued threats posed by the sinkhole. Others - especially those raising children, Schaff noted - have left the neighborhood they once called home. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/18051-life-at-louisianas-toxic-sinkhole-an-eco-disaster-continues-with-no-end-in-sight




Monsanto (cartoon)





http://www.truthdig.com/cartoon/item/monsanto_20130807/


I Only Regret That I Have But One Life to Give for My Country: Yours


from TomDispatch:


I Only Regret That I Have But One Life to Give for My Country: Yours
The Crime of the Century

By Tom Engelhardt


Hey, let’s talk spying! In Surveillance America, this land of spookery we all now inhabit, what else is there to talk about?

Was there anyone growing up like me in the 1950s who didn’t know Revolutionary War hero and spy Nathan Hale’s last words before the British hanged him: “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country”? I doubt it. Even today that line, whether historically accurate or not, gives me a chill. Of course, it’s harder these days to imagine a use for such a heroically solitary statement -- not in an America in which spying and surveillance are boom businesses, and our latest potential Nathan Hales are tens of thousands of corporately hired and trained private intelligence contractors, who often don’t get closer to the enemy than a computer terminal.

What would Nathan Hale think if you could tell him that the CIA, the preeminent spy agency in the country, has an estimated 20,000 employees (it won’t reveal the exact number, of course); or that the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which monitors the nation’s spy satellites, has a cast of 16,000 housed in a post-9/11, almost $2 billion headquarters in Washington’s suburbs; or that our modern Nathan Hales, multiplying like so many jackrabbits, lack the equivalent of a Britain to spy on. In the old-fashioned sense, there really is no longer an enemy on the planet. The modern analog to the British of 1776 would assumedly be… al-Qaeda?

It’s true that powers friendly and less friendly still spy on the U.S. Who doesn't remember that ring of suburban-couples-cum-spies the Russians planted here? It was a sophisticated operation that only lacked access to state secrets of any sort and that the FBI rolled up in 2010. But generally speaking, in a single-superpower world, the U.S., with no obvious enemy, has been building its own system of global spying and surveillance on a scale never before seen in an effort to keep track of just about everyone on the planet (as recently released NSA documents show). In other words, Washington is now spy central. It surveils not just potential future enemies, but also its closest allies as if they were enemies. Increasingly, the structure built to do a significant part of that spying is aimed at Americans, too, and on a scale that is no less breathtaking. ...............................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175733/tomgram%3A_engelhardt%2C_spying_for_us/#more



I Only Regret That I Have But One Life to Give for My Country: Yours


from TomDispatch:


I Only Regret That I Have But One Life to Give for My Country: Yours
The Crime of the Century

By Tom Engelhardt


Hey, let’s talk spying! In Surveillance America, this land of spookery we all now inhabit, what else is there to talk about?

Was there anyone growing up like me in the 1950s who didn’t know Revolutionary War hero and spy Nathan Hale’s last words before the British hanged him: “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country”? I doubt it. Even today that line, whether historically accurate or not, gives me a chill. Of course, it’s harder these days to imagine a use for such a heroically solitary statement -- not in an America in which spying and surveillance are boom businesses, and our latest potential Nathan Hales are tens of thousands of corporately hired and trained private intelligence contractors, who often don’t get closer to the enemy than a computer terminal.

What would Nathan Hale think if you could tell him that the CIA, the preeminent spy agency in the country, has an estimated 20,000 employees (it won’t reveal the exact number, of course); or that the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which monitors the nation’s spy satellites, has a cast of 16,000 housed in a post-9/11, almost $2 billion headquarters in Washington’s suburbs; or that our modern Nathan Hales, multiplying like so many jackrabbits, lack the equivalent of a Britain to spy on. In the old-fashioned sense, there really is no longer an enemy on the planet. The modern analog to the British of 1776 would assumedly be… al-Qaeda?

It’s true that powers friendly and less friendly still spy on the U.S. Who doesn't remember that ring of suburban-couples-cum-spies the Russians planted here? It was a sophisticated operation that only lacked access to state secrets of any sort and that the FBI rolled up in 2010. But generally speaking, in a single-superpower world, the U.S., with no obvious enemy, has been building its own system of global spying and surveillance on a scale never before seen in an effort to keep track of just about everyone on the planet (as recently released NSA documents show). In other words, Washington is now spy central. It surveils not just potential future enemies, but also its closest allies as if they were enemies. Increasingly, the structure built to do a significant part of that spying is aimed at Americans, too, and on a scale that is no less breathtaking. ...............................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175733/tomgram%3A_engelhardt%2C_spying_for_us/#more



Cornel West Speaks Out For Bradley Manning: 'Us At Our Best'


WASHINGTON -- Cornel West joined a panel discussion organized by the Bradley Manning Support Network on Sunday to defend the Army leaker and connect him to the larger struggle for justice.

"We have to be willing to tell the truth across the board," said West, a noted scholar, activist and professor at Union Theological Seminary. "That's what Bradley Manning is all about."

Manning's prosecution for pulling back the curtain on U.S. military and diplomatic operations, West suggested, is indicative of an even broader assault on civil liberties. "In many ways, (Manning) is an extension of us at our best. And not just us, an extension of the brothers and sisters of black America," he said.

Manning, who was convicted on six counts of espionage and 13 additional charges last week, is currently awaiting what could potentially be a 90-year sentence for disclosing thousands of documents to WikiLeaks -- including airstrike videos, diplomatic cables and Army reports. .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/07/cornel-west-bradley-manning_n_3719861.html?ncid=txtlnkushpmg00000037



The New MOOC Strategy: Rise of the Higher Ed Empires


from Dissent magazine:


The New MOOC Strategy: Rise of the Higher Ed Empires
By Geoff Shullenberger - August 7, 2013

In the New Yorker’s May “innovation issue,” we were treated to a mostly celebratory take on the dissemination of video-based, auto-graded college courses known as MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses). Following in the footsteps of David Brooks (Chicago ’83), Nathan Harden (Yale ’09), and a legion of other educational one-percenters, Nathan Heller (Harvard ’06) marvels over the innovations underway at his alma mater and their alleged benefit to the educational ninety-nine-percenters previously excluded from the Ivy League experience. Heller’s article reveals how administrators, professors, and some students within the “top-tier” university bubble are currently thinking about the MOOC trend. In particular, it sheds light on the plans by universities like Harvard to develop MOOCs and market them to less prestigious institutions.

Legislators in my own state, California, spent a good part of the spring considering a bill requiring all state universities and colleges to give credit for approved MOOCs. After passing the state senate unanimously, the bill was ultimately shelved at the end of July. Its sponsor in the senate, Darrell Steinberg, says it will be taken up again after the California state system has had time to develop its own new repository of online courses. This is a temporary setback for the MOOC lobby, but MOOC skeptics should not celebrate yet: the effort will surely continue in California and elsewhere, given the widespread enthusiasm for for-profit online education among the policy and corporate elites.

A major beneficiary of any legislation that mandates credit in state systems for MOOCs would be the powerful “top-tier” universities whose course offerings would be set to replace the courses offered by professors at regional, non-élite colleges. If all goes according to plan, according to some MOOC enthusiasts themselves (see Thomas Friedman on community colleges), automated MOOCs will replace much of the course content currently offered by human instructors at underfunded colleges. Presumably, whatever instructors remained after the austerity-mandated pink slips go out would perform the deskilled, low-wage task of being long-distance TAs for well-paid “star professors.” Perhaps within the Harvard or Stanford orbit, allowing the educationally underprivileged to watch videos of people like you seems like a great gift. But outside of that orbit, there is growing fear that monetized, creditized MOOCs will convert state and community colleges into a homogenized, intellectually impoverished simulacrum of the élite university world, in which courses consist of streaming online videos of celebrity professors combined with an a robotic regime of instantly-graded multiple choice tests and software-evaluated essays (essay-grading software has been developed by edX, the MOOC wing of Harvard and MIT). .............................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/the-new-mooc-strategy-rise-of-the-higher-ed-empires



Homeland Security Taps Generals to Run Domestic Drone Program: The Rise of Predators at Home


Homeland Security Taps Generals to Run Domestic Drone Program: The Rise of Predators at Home

Wednesday, 07 August 2013 00:00
By Tom Barry, Truthout | News Analysis


The continuing rise of Predator drones at home has been fueled by the bizarre merger of military influence in domestic affairs and the key role of border hawks in the politics of immigration reform. DHS's early decision to tap generals involved in the military's own controversial overseas drone program to shape and direct the domestic drone program points to the increasing merger of the post-9/11 homeland security/border security complex with the military-industrial complex.

Drone proliferation at home will likely increase from a multibillion-dollar spending surge to boost "border security" as a result of congressional proposals to reform immigration policy.

At home and abroad, drone proliferation has benefited from a broad bipartisan consensus about the purported success of the US military's foreign deployment of Predator drones in counterterrorism operations by the Pentagon and intelligence apparatus. Drone proliferation at home is closely linked to military and CIA enthusiasm for what are formally called unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or simply unmanned systems.

DHS decided - with virtually no reviews or evaluations - to purchase unarmed versions of the Predator drones used abroad for "signature strikes" (targeted drone killing). The department, whose mission includes "border security," has also relied on military bases along the land border and coastal waters to host its own drone fleet. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/17995-homeland-security-taps-generals-to-run-domestic-drone-program-the-rise-of-predators-at-home



Spreading Santorum: Slick Rick says Liberals are making YMCA showers uncomfortable





Next time you feel uncomfortable showering at the gym, blame it on liberals and their abortion rights agenda. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R) does.

Speaking to anti-abortion group Students for Life after receiving an award last month, Santorum attempted to explain what he saw as an enthusiasm gap between liberal and conservative activists. During his speech, a clip of which can be seen above, via Right Wing Watch, Santorum argued that the pro-choice movement infuses passion about abortion rights into "every aspect of their life." He said that because of this, showering at a gym had become an "uncomfortable" prospect for students.

"They make it uncomfortable for students who come to Austin to shower at a Young Men's Christian Association, YMCA, gym, because they live it," he said. "Because they live it. They're passionate, they're willing to do and say uncomfortable things in mixed company. They're willing to make the sacrifice at their business because they care enough."

It's unclear if Santorum was literally suggesting that abortion rights activists talk about the issue in showers at gyms, but he quickly shifted to a different metaphor to highlight his belief that anti-abortion forces simply needed to be more resilient. .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/07/rick-santorum-showers_n_3718618.html?ncid=txtlnkushpmg00000037



Maryland Seeks Private Operator for Purple Line


Bethesda, Md. –

Maryland will pursue a private firm to design, construct, finance, operate, and maintain the $2.2 billion Purple Line light rail system planned for D.C.’s northern suburbs, says Governor Martin O’Malley.

The decision to seek a public-private partnership to build the 16-mile, east-west light rail line was paired with the announcement that the state will pump an additional $400 million into the project, bringing Maryland’s total contribution to nearly $700 million, including $280 million for design and right-of-way acquisition.

On Tuesday, Maryland Secretary of Transportation James Smith is scheduled to meet federal transportation officials to discuss the state’s bid for $900 million in matching funds under the New Starts program. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.wnyc.org/blogs/transportation-nation/2013/aug/06/maryland-seeks-p3-purple-line-light-rail/



The world water shortage looks unsolvable


The world water shortage looks unsolvable
Many nations are experiencing unprecedented strain on water supplies, but few are coming up with solutions

By Dina Fine Maron


This article was originally published by Scientific American.



Scientific American As we have been hearing, global water shortages are poised to exacerbate regional conflict and hobble economic growth. Yet the problem is growing worse, and is threatening to deal devastating blows to health, according to top water officials from the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) who spoke before a House panel hearing today.

Ever-rising water demand, and climate change, are expected to boost water problems worldwide, especially in countries that are already experiencing shortages. Globally, the world is on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of people unable to reach or afford safe drinking water by 2015, but it still must make strides to improve global sanitation, says Aaron Salzberg, the State Department’s Special Coordinator for Water Resources. In addition to supply problems, unclean water causes more than four billion cases of diarrhea a year which lead to roughly 2.2 million deaths, and most are in children under the age of five.

“The magnitude of it is extraordinary.” says Christian Holmes, global water coordinator for USAID.

The hearing comes on the heels of stark reminders of the current water shortages that are apparent across the globe. Pakistan, one of the most water-stressed countries in the world, is on the brink of crisis. A recent report from the Asian Development Bank, highlighted by The Atlantic, states that the country’s emergency water reserve only has enough supply for 30 days – more than 30 times below the 1,000-day recommendation for similar countries. Pakistan, the report states, is “not far from being classified as ‘water scarce,’ with less than 1,000 cubic meters per person per year.” Among other factors, climate change is affecting snowmelt and reducing flows into the Indus River, the area’s main water source. .........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.salon.com/2013/08/04/global_water_shortage_is_getting_worse_partner/



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