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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
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Environmental Scientist

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Pussy Riot releases ‘I Can’t Breathe’ song and video in honor of Eric Garner

The haunting song and video, which shows Pussy Riot members Masha and Nadya being buried alive, is the first English song released by the political activists.

First they took on Putin - now police brutality.

Two members of political art protest group Pussy Riot, Masha and Nadya, released a song, their first in English, called “I Can’t Breathe” in honor of Eric Garner, whose death after being put in a police chokehold on Staten Island sparked weeks of protest around the world.

“This song is for Eric and for all those from Russia to America and around the globe who suffer from state terror - killed, choked, perished because of war and state sponsored violence of all kinds - for political prisoners and those on the streets fighting for change,” the group said in a statement accompanying the video, posted Wednesday online. “We stand in solidarity.”

The haunting video shows the two women, wearing blue camouflage Russian riot police uniforms, being buried alive as they sing over a sparse electronic beat.

“It’s getting dark in New York City/It’s getting tight in New York City/I need to catch my breath,” the song’s refrain goes.



Visiting My Friend in Putin's Prison Camp

A quiet geologist tried to blow the whistle on Olympic pollution and corruption. One year later, he's still paying the price.
—By Charles Digges

MY FIRST STOP at Sadovaya Prison Colony No. 2 in central Russia is the visitors' intake center. I've traveled for 14 hours on an overnight train that reeked of fetid socks to see my imprisoned friend, environmental activist Yevgeny Vitishko. By my noon arrival at the colony, I'm already running late, and reams of red tape await before I'll be able to see him.

I've come to these cold mud flats 440 miles south of Moscow for the first interview Vitishko has given in the seven months since February 12, 2014, the day he was sent away in the midst of the Sochi Winter Olympics.

In the years leading up to the event, Vitishko had emerged as one of the competition's fiercest critics. Along with his little-known organization, the Environmental Watch on North Caucasus (EWNC), Vitishko protested the ecological destruction and crony Kremlin corruption that fed the $51 billion games, the most expensive in history. Now, a year after the closing ceremonies, his dire predictions of environmental havoc have come true—and Vitishko sits in prison. He has been described as the only prisoner of conscience associated with the Sochi Olympics.

VITISHKO AND I immediately hit it off when we first met in January 2014, in his hometown of Tuapse, 75 miles northwest of Sochi on the Black Sea. A Krasnodar court had recently sentenced him to three years in the Sadovaya penal colony on charges that he'd painted an environmental message on a fence. He remained free on the condition he not leave Tuapse until a long-shot February 12 appeal was set to be heard at a regional court.



Fast Track to a Bad Deal

A beast of a trade pact is lumbering, claws outstretched, towards American small business owners, consumers and workers, and it’s not clear if anyone can stop it. The beast is called the “Trans Pacific Partnership” or TPP.

Behind the lofty language of partnership, and the stated goal of stimulating trade worldwide, it aims to strengthen multinationals at the expense of nearly everyone else. Most importantly, and most dangerously, the pact undermines the power of governments everywhere to encourage local entrepreneurship, protect consumer health and assets, and preserve clean air and water.

The Trans Pacific Partnership has been negotiated largely in secret by representatives from major multinational corporations. No drafts have been released. Involvement by the U.S. government has been closely-held, even though Congress must ultimately vote on the treaty. Only the Obama administration’s Office of the U.S. Trade Representative knows the details. Even your senator or representative has little insight and less input into the discussions.

The pact threatens our economic security in two ways. The first threat involves the particulars contained in it, which have not been officially disclosed (but portions have been leaked). It's a grab-bag of special interest provisions: Pharmaceutical companies want greater leverage to prevent third world countries from making affordable generic drugs. Content companies — the media giants — want to extend copyright provisions out to 120 years in some cases. Tobacco companies want to limit countries’ ability to run anti-smoking campaigns. (For more info on such issues, see my earlier posts on the pact here and here.)



Holder- 90 days until Banksters are in the Clear!

(Reuters) - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday he has given federal prosecutors a 90-day deadline to decide whether they can bring cases against individuals for their roles in the 2008 financial crisis.

U.S. attorneys who brought cases against institutions over misconduct in the pooling and sale of residential mortgage-backed securities have been asked "to try to develop cases against individuals and to report back in 90 days with regard to whether they think they can successfully bring criminal or civil cases against those individuals," Holder said in a public appearance at the National Press Club.

The Justice Department, in conjunction with other authorities, extracted record penalties from major banks in 2013 and 2014 for inappropriately marketing risky mortgage securities in the run-up to the financial crisis.

JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) agreed to a $13 billion deal in November 2013; Citigroup Inc (C.N) signed a $7 billion settlement in July 2014; and Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) reached a $16.65 billion agreement in August.

Still, the government has been criticized for not bringing cases against top executives for their roles in the misconduct.



Arkansas wants to attract businesses by allowing them to discriminate against gay people

The Republican campaign against gay rights continued last week, when Arkansas legislators passed a bill barring local governments from protecting gay people against discrimination.

It’s called the “Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act,” and it’s written in the key of dog-whistle. The bill contends that, in order for the state to attract businesses, each of its cities and counties must follow the same rules about who they permit discrimination against.

Practically speaking, the bill would prevent any city or county from extending civil rights protections to gay people—as the town of Fayetteville, Ark. tried to do last year. Residents there scrapped the law through a ballot initiative in December. But that same day, State Sen. Bart Hester (R ) tweeted out that regardless of how the vote turned out, “the AR legislature will pass legislation to repeal this type of ordinance. I suspect with a super majority.”

Hester’s bill, SB 202, has now been submitted to Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R). The governor issued a statement on Friday saying that he will let the bill pass, but he won’t sign it, on the principle that he is “concerned about the loss of local control.”


Jeb Bush's Foreign Policy Plan: More Military Spending Will 'Encourage Peace'

WASHINGTON -- Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will lay out a vision of American foreign policy on Wednesday aimed at pushing his nascent 2016 presidential campaign out of the shadow of his father and brother, two former presidents who waged overseas wars.

"I love my father and my brother … But I am my own man –- and my views are shaped by my own thinking and own experiences," Bush will say in a speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, according to excerpts provided to reporters late Tuesday night.

In his first major foreign policy address, the likely 2016 Republican front-runner will make the case for increased military spending so America can "project power and enforce peaceful stability in far-off areas of the globe." He will also criticize President Barack Obama's foreign policy, calling it "inconsistent and indecisive."

"Having a military that is equal to any threat ... makes it less likely that we will need to put our men and women in uniform in harm’s way," Bush plans to tell attendees, adding that he believes "fundamentally, that weakness invites war… and strength encourages peace."


Hazel Park, Michigan retiree dies of hypothermia after gas shutoff

Funeral services were held Monday for John Skelley Jr., age 69, a retired factory worker who died of hypothermia February 1, after his gas was shut off by regional power monopoly Consumers Energy at his home in Hazel Park, a working class suburb just outside of Detroit.

Skelley, a Vietnam War veteran, was living with a roommate at the time, who owed an outstanding balance of $760.28. According to published reports, Consumers disconnected service on January 19, in the midst of a bitterly cold Midwest winter. The Michigan Public Services Commission (MPSA) says the state has a policy prohibiting the shutoff of services in winter to those over age 65. The state of Michigan, has now ordered Consumers to issue a report over the incident.

Hazel Park police reported that they found Skelley unresponsive, huddled under blankets next to a space heater. The medical examiner ruled that hypothermia was a major factor in his death. The high temperature was 18 Fahrenheit (minus 8 Celsius) the day he died, with a low of 2 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 19 Celsius).

Skelley is survived by five children and seven grandchildren. According to family, Skelley worked for 30 years at Phoenix Wire Cloth, a stainless steel wire mesh manufacturer. He was suffering from throat cancer at the time of his death, which undoubtedly weakened his resistance to the cold. He had been recently estranged from family members, who were unsure of his whereabouts.


Freedom...to die freezing in the richest country on Earth, after serving your country.

Epic Fail


Wednesday Toon Roundup 3- The Rest




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Wednesday Toon Roundup 2- War

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