Al-Jazeera journalists on trial

April 23, 2014

Inaudi­ble audio record­ings were pre­sented as evi­dence against the al-Jazeera jour­nal­ists on trial in Egypt.

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Food insecurity rate



The fam­i­lies of 1/5 of the chil­dren in the US had trou­ble get­ting food in 2012.

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400 activists killed in Brazil



400 envi­ron­men­tal activists have been killed in Brazil, pre­sum­ably by peo­ple involved in ille­gal deforestation.

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Reducing coal dust exposure



White House Approves Coal Dust Rules Aimed At Drop­ping Rates Of Black Lung Disease.

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Costs of global heating



No one can reli­ably esti­mate the costs of global heat­ing, but it is likely to be a lot more expen­sive than pre­vent­ing global heating.

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Panhandle may shrink



Florida Is ’Ground Zero’ for Sea Level Rise. And there’s no use putting dikes around Miami, since the rock under­neath the city is porous.

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The chemical attack on Syria



Argu­ments against Sey­mour Hersh’s claim that Syr­ian rebels launched a chem­i­cal weapons attack with Turk­ish back­ing. I linked to that arti­cle previously.

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Homeland panopticon



The US Bor­der patrol is con­vert­ing whole regions miles away from US bor­ders into total sur­veil­lance and oppres­sion zones. All the roads out of the Tohono O odham reser­va­tions have per­ma­nent checkpoints.

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UK right-wing cruelty



The UK’s right-wing gov­ern­ment excuses cru­elty to dis­abled peo­ple by claim­ing they are fak­ing dis­abil­ity. Plu­to­cratist gov­ern­ments know bet­ter than to claim “all” poor peo­ple are to blame for their own poverty or that “all” dis­abled peo­ple are fakes. Such a sim­plis­tic claim would be rec­og­nized as false. So they arrange com­plex sys­tems of rules, […]

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No love for the Trans-Pacific Partnership



Protests against the TPP are fol­low­ing Obama through Asia.

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Militias in Eastern Ukraine



In East­ern Ukraine, a chaotic scram­ble of mili­tias that don’t really aim to be more than an excuse for a Russ­ian takeover.

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Violence Prevention Research Program must find its own money



Repub­li­cans have blocked fed­eral fund­ing for research into pat­terns of gun vio­lence, but Pro­fes­sor Win­te­mute con­tin­ues it with pri­vate fund­ing. Some of his con­clu­sions are sur­pris­ing. Repub­li­cans are froth­ing at the mouth at the idea that we might learn which forms of gun con­trol are effec­tive for reduc­ing murders.

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US attacking Yemeni Islamists



The US is attack­ing Yemeni Islamists very intensely. Killing mem­bers of a guer­rilla group, even fairly many of them, does not defeat it if they can recruit more.

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Robert Reich promotes SB 1372



Cal­i­for­nia is con­sid­er­ing a bill to increase taxes on CEOs whose pay far exceeds that of the low­est paid work­ers in the com­pany. It is a step in the right direc­tion, but I have a feel­ing that a 5% increase in taxes won’t cre­ate much pres­sure for CEOs to reduce their incomes dras­ti­cally. As for […]

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Afghan government needs aid



The Afghan gov­ern­ment has a 20% bud­get gap and will have trou­ble pay­ing salaries if it doesn’t get aid. The amount at stake is tiny com­pared with what the US spent on the war. This seems to be penny wise and pound foolish.

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Urgent: Tell Safeway to label GMOs



In the US: tell Safe­way to label GMOs in their products.

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Torture of Iranian political prisoners



Iran­ian polit­i­cal pris­oner Emad Bahavar says that he was forced to run past lines of thugs that hit him with sticks, orga­nized tor­ture rather than spon­ta­neous vent­ing of sadism.

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Strike hits Chinese factories



A large strike has hit Chi­nese fac­to­ries; work­ers are con­cerned their wages will be stolen.

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Urgent: Universal single-payer health care



US cit­i­zens: sup­port uni­ver­sal single-payer health care in the US.

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Massacre at Bentiu



The inter-ethnic con­flict in South Sudan is extend­ing into geno­ci­dal killings.

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Poverty in South Korea



Although life in North Korea is very hard, some defec­tors in South Korea want to return there. This one was appar­ently in a priv­i­leged posi­tion in North Korea. He has expe­ri­enced poverty in South Korea despite the country’s over­all wealth, but he may not have a clear pic­ture of the poverty of most North Koreans.

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Squandering helium



After wast­ing most of our helium on party bal­loons, we don’t have enough for sci­en­tific experiments.

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Dismembering the NHS



The UK’s National Health Ser­vice has been ordered to use sub­con­trac­tors, and nat­u­rally it causes things to go wrong. The pri­va­ti­za­tion ide­ol­ogy says that hav­ing a pri­vate com­pany do some­thing will auto­mat­i­cally make it bet­ter than if the state does it. It’s only true in special cases.

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Valuing natural systems



To value nat­ural sys­tems in mon­e­tary fig­ures adopts a fram­ing designed to jus­tify get­ting rid of them. It also opens the door for gov­ern­ments to use dis­hon­est fig­ures to jus­tify get­ting rid of them.

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Too good for the job



Obama told Eliz­a­beth War­ren she shouldn’t head the Con­sumer Finan­cial Pro­tec­tion Bureau because she made banksters “very ner­vous”. In other words, they feared she would lead the agency to do a vig­or­ous job of pro­tect­ing the pub­lic from them, and Obama was uncom­fort­able with that.

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Assassination

April 22, 2014

A US appeals court ordered Obama to release the sup­posed legal jus­ti­fi­ca­tions for assas­si­nat­ing Anwar al-Awlaki.

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Damaged wildlife around Chernobyl



Wildlife in the unin­hab­ited area around Cher­nobyl shows seri­ous harm from radi­a­tion. Omi­nously, some ani­mals show more dam­age than their par­ents had; the effect seems to be cumulative.

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Crimes by spy agency officials



The only crime for which US national secu­rity offi­cials get pros­e­cuted is leak­ing. Tor­ture, assas­si­na­tion and per­jury are con­sid­ered ok. Crack­ing down even more, the per­jurer Clap­per has just banned all spy agency staff from talk­ing to the press with­out advance permission.

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Forbidden from emigrating



10 years after Mordechai Vanunu’s release from prison, Israel still for­bids him from emi­grat­ing to join his family.

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Stopping corporate surveillance



A com­pany meant to col­lect data on stu­dents in the US has shut down because states banned schools from send­ing stu­dent data to it. This demon­strates that we can stop cor­po­rate sur­veil­lance on the Inter­net if we are will­ing to go to the nec­es­sary lengths.

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Manus island prison riot



Australia’s immi­gra­tion min­is­ter seems to have lied com­pletely about a riot in the immi­gra­tion prison on Manus island, to put the blame on the impris­oned boat people.

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Urgent: Stop deforestation



Every­one: tell Pep­sico to stop buy­ing palm oil made from deforestation.

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The Meritocracy Myth



The Mer­i­toc­racy Myth: How the Super-Rich Really Make Their Money.

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Austerity and suicides



Aus­ter­ity in Greece caused 500 extra sui­cides in 2009/10. Poverty has got deeper since then; I would expect that another 500 or 1000 have com­mit­ted sui­cide since then.

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The right to a speedy trial



Jerry Hart­field has spent 33 years in prison for a con­vic­tion that was over­turned on appeal.

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Kerry’s peace negotiations

April 21, 2014

Kerry’s peace nego­ti­a­tions went “poof” all of a sud­den when it was revealed that they were a bal­loon full of hot air all along.

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US and UK surveillance



The US and UK, by dis­tort­ing the pic­ture of their sur­veil­lance and claim­ing it is com­pat­i­ble with democ­racy and human rights, pro­vide a prece­dent for gov­ern­ments even less demo­c­ra­tic to make sim­i­lar false claims.

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UK’s “emergency funds”



The UK gov­ern­ment said its cuts won’t starve the poor because “emer­gency funds” are avail­able, but they are fil­tered through a sys­tem that makes it hard for poor peo­ple to get those funds, if they even think of ask­ing. They seem to be part of the UK right-wing government’s pol­icy of shaft­ing the poor, pretending […]

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Israeli gag order on NY Times



The New York Times avoided cov­er­age of a Pales­tin­ian journalist’s arrest, com­ply­ing with an Israeli gag order.

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Preservation of bird species



Malta may hold a ref­er­en­dum to end the licensed hunt­ing of birds migrat­ing north to breed. When a bird species is being wiped out, typ­i­cally many causes are at work. As in the case of global heat­ing, if we want to pre­serve what is threat­ened, we must reject argu­ments of the form, “Let us keep […]

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Charging UK patients for crutches



Charg­ing UK patients for crutches is the wedge being used to abol­ish gratis med­ical care in the UK. The UK gov­ern­ment has been striv­ing for years to destroy the National Health ser­vice by under­fund­ing it, deny­ing all the while that that is its goal. The result would be a lousy US-style med­ical sys­tem in which the […]

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Fires and drought in the US west



Over 30 years, each decade has seen an increase in wild­fires and drought in the US west. The extreme drought this past win­ter was made pos­si­ble by human green­house gas emis­sions; it could not have hap­pened in the cli­mate of 50 years ago.

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The callous rich of Palo Alto



The cal­lous rich of Palo Alto want to ban home­less peo­ple from sleep­ing in cars. Is there any­one read­ing this from Palo Alto who would like to launch a street cam­paign to shame those rich peo­ple? If there is a busi­ness that sup­ports this law, it would be inter­est­ing to make signs con­demn­ing them and […]

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NSA not the only threat to privacy in US



The NSA is not the only threat to pri­vacy in the US. Local thug depart­ments are installing tech­nol­ogy that can track all cars around the city.

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Harassment of women by men



The myth that rapists are mon­sters that could hardly pass for nor­mal men para­dox­i­cally helps per­pet­u­ate the social tol­er­a­tion of var­i­ous lev­els of harass­ment of women by men that don’t appear subhuman.

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Fired for stating religious view



A worker in the UK was fired for stat­ing reli­gious dis­ap­proval of homo­sex­u­al­ity. I think peo­ple should be free to state their dis­ap­proval of any­thing at all, and other peo­ple should be free to ignore those views.

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Landlord companies going to vicious lengths to make tenants move out



Land­lord com­pa­nies that bought hous­ing in New York City are going to vicious lengths, even sab­o­tage, to make ten­ants move out so they can raise rents. Other ten­ants are shafted because the land­lords are being fore­closed on.

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Sports events and surveillance



Big sports events nowa­days leave a per­ma­nent legacy of sur­veil­lance. Boston has installed cam­eras across the city that are mon­i­tored con­stantly by an AI sys­tem, set up to report any­thing “unusual” to human thugs. We can have fun with this. How many unusual things can you do on the street each day? Why not back up […]

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Spanish banks cheated



Enric Duran cheated Span­ish banks to fund ant­i­cap­i­tal­ist activ­i­ties. In the past I would have said that cheat­ing a bank was wrong. Then I learned how much banks cheat every­one else.

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Streaming services and corporate remote storage



The con­ve­nience and cheap­ness of stream­ing ser­vices and cor­po­rate remote stor­age may be impos­si­ble to resist, if you are spine­less and don’t mind being anti­so­cial. The spine­less author made him­self sus­cep­ti­ble to bad judg­ment by adopt­ing shal­low eco­nomic val­ues that show up in the con­cept of “con­sum­ing services”.

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Patents in American aviation



How patents sti­fled Amer­i­can avi­a­tion for a decade or more. There is no good rea­son to have a patent sys­tem; it exists due to pres­sure from the busi­nesses that hold patents.

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Urgent: Stop deportation of homosexuals



Every­one: call on the UK to sus­pend depor­ta­tion of homo­sex­u­als so as to avoid send­ing peo­ple back to coun­tries which threaten to imprison or exe­cute them.

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FBI’s new database of face photos



The FBI’s new data­base of face pho­tos is not just a new way to keep track of pho­tos of crim­i­nals. It is a plan to col­lect pho­tos of mil­lions of peo­ple, some who were arrested and not tried, and some who were not accused of any­thing. And to share them with state thugs, and try […]

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Urgent: Ban on neonicotinoid pesticides



Every­one: call on Bayer and Syn­genta to drop their law­suits against the com­ing ban on neon­i­coti­noid pes­ti­cides in Europe.

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Urgent: Collect what Cliven Bundy owes



US cit­i­zens: call on the US gov­ern­ment to col­lect what Cliven Bundy owes.

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Punishment for errors



The cap­tain of the Korean ferry that sank faces sev­eral crim­i­nal charges. I don’t know enough about ferry oper­a­tions to judge how seri­ous his alleged wrongs were. But it would be unjust to pun­ish him more for these actions than they would pun­ish another cap­tain who did the same things with­out caus­ing any loss of life. […]

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Cowboy Indian Alliance opposes Keystone XL pipeline



The Cow­boy Indian Alliance opposes the Key­stone XL pipeline on the ground.

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Urgent: Community network access points



Every­one: pres­sure AT&T to stop lob­by­ing to ban community-owned net­work access points.

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Firefight with possibly imaginary Ukrainian right-wing fanatics



Sup­port­ers of Rus­sia in East­ern Ukraine have reported a fire­fight with pos­si­bly imag­i­nary Ukrain­ian right-wing fanat­ics. They stopped reporters from vis­it­ing the loca­tion of the sup­posed fight. It appears to be as phony as the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

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Russian surveillance methods



On Russ­ian meth­ods for sur­veil­lance of communications.

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Christians blocked from Jerusalem



Pales­tin­ian Chris­tians find that Israel blocks them from Jerusalem.

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Malaysia’s gov’t has driven opposition leader into exile



Malaysia’s gov­ern­ment has dri­ven the main oppo­si­tion leader into exile through politically-motivated charges of homosexuality.

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Work less, reduce global heating



Advice: peo­ple in the advanced coun­tries could reduce global heat­ing sub­stan­tially and be hap­pier by work­ing less. In terms of sheer pro­duc­tion, we would still have plenty of the things we want if the decrease in pro­duc­tion is taken out of the income of the rich. How­ever, most peo­ple can’t sim­ply decide to work less. They […]

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Nuclear waste dumped near shore



The UK dumped a mil­lion cubic meters of low-level nuclear waste in a site near the shore which is going to be washed away due to global heating.

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Ban on online anonymity



Arme­nia faces chill­ing cen­sor­ship through a ban on online anonymity.

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Regulation of undersea drilling



After the Big Spill, it was clear that the US needs stricter reg­u­la­tion of under­sea oil drilling. Oil com­pany lob­by­ing blocked the nec­es­sary changes in laws. As a result, we must expect it to hap­pen again.

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Egyptian election



Gen­eral el-Sisi is run­ning for pres­i­dent of Egypt, but TV sta­tions are tak­ing his crit­ics off the air.

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UK’s internet censorship



A bureaucrat’s slip reveals that the UK’s inter­net cen­sor­ship agenda respects no lim­its. The arti­cle dis­tin­guishes between cen­sor­ship of ille­gal mate­r­ial and cen­sor­ship of mate­r­ial that is not ille­gal, but that is a mere legal tech­ni­cal­ity. Mere laws can­not jus­tify cen­sor­ship; if they try, laws that try to do this only inval­i­date themselves.

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Patented hepatitis C medicine

April 20, 2014

A new med­i­cine that report­edly cures hepati­tis C costs $84,000, which means most of the peo­ple who need it can’t afford it. If you can hold out 20 years or so, till the patent expires, the price may come down.

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Haiti’s US-imposed government



Haiti’s US-imposed gov­ern­ment has made a vague threat to pun­ish radio sta­tions that make state­ments that the gov­ern­ment does not like. The pres­i­dent was “elected” in a process which was rigged by the US and excluded the only party that has real pop­u­lar sup­port (Aristide’s party).

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Obama’s economic advisors



Obama’s eco­nomic advi­sors had pre­vi­ously advised and pres­sured Bill Clin­ton to dereg­u­late banks. Look at the idi­otic rea­sons that were given. “Other kind of com­pa­nies are offer­ing sim­i­lar finan­cial ser­vices.” Per­haps we had bet­ter extend bank­ing reg­u­la­tions to them. “Other coun­tries have dereg­u­lated their banks, and US banks won’t be able to com­pete unless dereg­u­lated too.” Per­haps we […]

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Rules for safe use of Twitter



Twit­ter is mov­ing aggres­sively to extract per­sonal infor­ma­tion from its users, for pro­fil­ing pur­poses. It may be nec­es­sary to develop rules for safe use of Twit­ter. I am no expert, but I sug­gest these rules. Use only tweets (no pri­vate mes­sages). Con­ceal your geolo­ca­tion. Don’t men­tion what you per­son­ally are doing. Tweet only your views and […]

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Draft computer crimes law



Pak­istan: Draft com­puter crimes law vio­lates human rights.

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Childhood stress



Child­hood stress seems to affect growth of the hip­pocam­pus and to make peo­ple more prone to depres­sion when older.

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Removal of “malicious content”



Turk­ish Offi­cial Says Twit­ter Will Help Remove “Mali­cious Con­tent”. This means record­ings pur­port­ing to reveal cor­rup­tion of officials.

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FBI massive surveillance



It’s not just the NSA that’s doing mas­sive sur­veil­lance; the FBI does it too. The NSA cir­cum­vents and neu­tral­izes rules against spy­ing on S cit­i­zens and peo­ple in the US, but the FBI has no such restrictions.

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Venetian region has its own separatist movement



The Venet­ian region has its own sep­a­ratist move­ment. It is the usual sad story: when a coun­try hits an eco­nomic cri­sis, peo­ple in wealth­ier regions of the coun­try start demand­ing inde­pen­dence so that they won’t have to help the poorer regions. What fool­ish self­ish­ness, for the not-quite-so-poor to fight against the poor, rather than joining […]

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Putin plans to ban anonymity



Putin is plan­ning to require reg­is­tra­tion and strict cen­sor­ship on blog­gers and dis­cus­sion sites. Anonymity will be for­bid­den, naturally.

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Massive capture of migrating birds in Egypt



The mas­sive cap­ture of migrat­ing birds in Egypt has reached a level where it endan­gers some species.

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Legal fees of those acquitted



A British MP who was tried and acquit­ted now believes he was wrong to vote to cut the reim­burse­ment of the legal fees of those who are tried and acquitted.

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High pay for company executives



High pay for com­pany exec­u­tives has become a sta­tus sym­bol. I don’t want to abol­ish busi­ness as such, but I believe we must put an end to busi­ness as we know it (the plu­to­cratic sys­tem). We must not be scared to say this.

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Urgent: Land and Water Conservation Fund



US cit­i­zens: call on Con­gress to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

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Excuses to keep prisoners in Guantanamo



Obama will scram­ble for excuses to keep pris­on­ers in Guan­tanamo once the US ceases to be at war in Afghanistan.

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Keystone XL put off until November



Obama has put off the deci­sion on the Key­stone XL planet-roaster pipeline until after the elec­tions in Novem­ber. I think Obama intends to approve the pipeline and has intended this all along. He knows what harm it will do, and if he cared greatly about those prob­lems, he would have can­celled it long ago. I […]

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Assad’s forces have besieged 18,000



Assad’s forces have besieged 18,000 in a part of Dam­as­cus, and they are run­ning out of food. If the US wants to do some­thing in Syria, how about air-dropping food to them? Mean­while, Assad’s planes are bomb­ing Aleppo into rubble.

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Urgent: Transparency about Keystone XL



US cit­i­zens: demand trans­parency in the deci­sion about the Key­stone XL pipeline.

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Bill to punish women that use drugs while pregnant



Ten­nessee is con­sid­er­ing a bill to pun­ish women that use some ille­gal drugs while preg­nant. This law is not just nasty, it is also likely to lead preg­nant addicts to avoid pre­na­tal care, which will back­fire against the babies. The law is there­fore likely to harm rather than help those babies. It is wrong to […]

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UK taxpayers’ tax return data



The UK is con­sid­er­ing sell­ing tax­pay­ers’ tax return data, “anonymized” (though that may not do much good).

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Armed right-wing tax rebels in Nevada



Armed right-wing tax rebels in Nevada stood off US forces to pre­serve the right to graze cat­tle in a wildlife pre­serve and not pay fees. Their readi­ness to resist the state power would be admirable if they were doing it in a good cause, but they are doing it for the sake of their own exploitation.

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Orange



Orange, a mobile phone net­work in France, gives all its cus­tomers’ call data to France’s NSA.

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Keeping BP suspended from new US gov’t contracts



A broad grass-roots cam­paign calls for keep­ing BP sus­pended from new US gov­ern­ment contracts.

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BP oil drilling explosions



The US and UK over­threw the elected gov­ern­ment of Azer­bai­jan in 1993 and installed a dic­ta­tor, in order to help BP get a good deal over export­ing oil from Azer­bai­jan. This enabled BP to drill oil wells in the Caspian sea, and one of them exploded. BP’s men lied to Con­gress, say­ing said their operations […]

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Conversations in jail



Irish thugs appear to have made a habit of record­ing pris­on­ers’ con­ver­sa­tions in jail with their lawyers.

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Investigation into Guantanamo torture



A Span­ish judge defies the right-wing government’s attempts to shut down his inves­ti­ga­tion into Guan­tanamo torture.

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US right-wing terrorists



The US gov­ern­ment focuses on the threat of ter­ror­ism by Islamist fanat­ics, while mostly dis­re­gard­ing right-wing ter­ror­ists who in fact do more harm. I am not say­ing that the US should treat right-wing extrem­ists as it has treated Mus­lims, deny­ing them free­dom of expres­sion and asso­ci­a­tion on strained pre­texts and fish­ing for crimes to accuse them […]

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Misrepresentation of science



Here’s an exam­ple of Pielke’s mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion of science.

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The natural tendency in capitalism



Thomas Piketty’s research demon­strates that the nat­ural ten­dency in cap­i­tal­ism is to make the rich richer and increase inequal­ity; the period from 1940 to 1975 was an unusual excep­tion. Thus, we need laws and taxes to spread the wealth around. I don’t think we should argue about whether this should be done through higher taxes […]

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Pipeline through wildlife reserve



Chris Christie is mak­ing a sec­ond try to drive a nat­ural gas pipeline through a pro­tected wildlife reserve.

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Leaked recording



A leaked record­ing pur­ports to be a con­ver­sa­tion between min­is­ters in Turkey plan­ning a false-flag attack as an excuse to attack Syria. I would not put this past the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment, but at the same time I think that if it wanted to inter­vene in Syria it would just do so, with no need for […]

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Working conditions for people that make our clothing



Orga­niz­ing col­lec­tively in wealthy coun­tries to demand bet­ter work­ing con­di­tions for the peo­ple that make our cloth­ing. I sup­port these efforts, but they are aim­ing at treat­ing per­sis­tent symp­toms of a known under­ly­ing prob­lem: the “free trade” treaties. They destroyed union­iza­tion and labor rights around the world by enabling com­pa­nies to shift their pro­duc­tion anywhere. […]

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Spread of mercury through air



In remote US national parks, fish have high lev­els of mer­cury. That’s because it spreads through the air. I won­der if some of the mer­cury in Alaskan parks came from Chi­nese coal-fired elec­tric plants.

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Legalization would do a better job



Offi­cials beg­ging for more ships to cap­ture drug smug­glers cite a list of rea­sons that demon­strate that legal­iza­tion would do a better job.

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Iran has offered to redesign its nuclear reactor



Iran has offered to redesign its nuclear reac­tor in Arak so that it can’t pro­duce much plu­to­nium. Per­haps they will redesign it to make arak with heavy alcohol.

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Iraq veterans in US commit a substantial number of killings

April 19, 2014

Iraq vet­er­ans in the US com­mit a sub­stan­tial num­ber of killings, most of the time not noticed by the press. This is the most extreme aspect of broader psy­cho­log­i­cal dam­age caused by send­ing peo­ple to fight a war that only lies can justify.

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Every stage of fracking spreads toxic substances



A study finds that every stage of frack­ing spreads toxic substances.

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US systematically violates human rights to imprison Muslims



The US sys­tem­at­i­cally vio­lates human rights to imprison Mus­lims thought to be lean­ing towards ter­ror­ism. We’re not talk­ing, here, about peo­ple who have com­mit­ted real acts of vio­lence. These peo­ple have not done that, and most of them have not even planned to do that.

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Crowdfunded genetic engineering project



A crowd­funded genetic engi­neer­ing project aims to pro­duce a glow-in-the-dark vari­ety of ara­bidop­sis, just for hack value. I don’t see any dan­ger in glow­ing ara­bidop­sis. What scares me is the pos­si­bil­ity of mak­ing viruses this way. How­ever, that can’t be pre­vented by the sort of reg­u­la­tion that peo­ple are think­ing of; a totally secret project could […]

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US plans to spend billions on new nuclear bombs



The US plans to spend bil­lions on new nuclear bombs.

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The effects of marijuana



Dis­cussing the effects of mar­i­juana can rot your brain, if you’re not careful.

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Antitrust in the New Gilded Age



Antitrust in the New Gilded Age.

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AI revenge on humans



It may be quite dif­fi­cult to design AIs with desires such that we can be sure they won’t take hor­ri­ble revenge on humans. How­ever, the prob­lem may not arise if we stick to AIs that don’t have desires.

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The bombing in Boston and the bombings in Baghdad



Com­par­ing the bomb­ing in Boston and the bomb­ings in Bagh­dad. Dubya is respon­si­ble, though indi­rectly, for all of these bomb­ings even though the ones he directly ordered were back in 2003.

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Illegal logging is rife in the Peruvian Amazon



Ille­gal log­ging is rife in the Peru­vian Ama­zon. Many log­ging con­ces­sions are being canceled.

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Fossil fuel subsidies



Bloomberg New Energy Finance finds that fos­sil fuel sub­si­dies are ten times the sub­si­dies for renew­able energy. It is uncon­scionable to sub­si­dize an indus­try as prof­itable as fos­sil fuels, even if it were not caus­ing world-wide disaster.

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Urgent: Help the EFF develop free software



Pro­gram­mers: help the EFF develop free soft­ware to send emails to Congress.

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Fight against fracking continues



Car­o­line Lucas: The fight against frack­ing con­tin­ues — and I’m proud to rejoin it. Rus­sia has started extract­ing oil from the Arc­tic and ship­ping it to Europe. Greenpeace’s efforts did not suc­ceed in blocking this.

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The Original Patriots



Tea Party, Taxes and Why the Orig­i­nal Patri­ots Would’ve Revolted Against the Surveillance State.

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Anything but carbon” prejudice



The media has an “any­thing but car­bon” prej­u­dice: any sci­en­tific paper claim­ing that global heat­ing is caused by some­thing other than car­bon emis­sions gets tremen­dous media attention.

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Snowden’s question to Putin



Snowden’s ques­tion to Putin about mas­sive sur­veil­lance in Rus­sia was designed to give him a chance to make claims that could sub­se­quently be stud­ied and chal­lenged. Given Snowden’s pre­car­i­ous posi­tion, I think it took courage to do this and courage to talk about it after.

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Thugs rampaged through Evin prison



Thugs ram­paged through Evin prison, where some of Iran’s polit­i­cal pris­on­ers are held, break­ing prisoners’ bones.

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Farmland in China polluted



1/5 of the farm­land in China is pol­luted with toxic metals.

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Children near dangerous chemical facility



Over 4 mil­lion US chil­dren go to school within a mile of a dan­ger­ous chem­i­cal facility.

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Botswana banned Bushmen from living in the desert and hunting



Botswana has banned Bush­men from liv­ing in the desert and hunt­ing, sup­pos­edly for the sake of wildlife pro­tec­tion, but per­haps really to enhance the income of the president’s fam­ily. Recruit­ing them as a soci­ety to fight poach­ing seems likely to be more effective.

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Hillary Clinton would be another Obama



Hillary Clin­ton would be another Obama, giv­ing lip ser­vice to the pro­gres­sive causes that most Amer­i­cans sup­port, but only until she gets their vote.

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8 million Americans signed up for health care

April 18, 2014

8 mil­lion Amer­i­cans have signed up under Obama’s health care pro­gram. It is good, as far as it goes; it just doesn’t go far enough.

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Rhino farms



South Africa plans to farm rhi­nos to sell their horns. I don’t see any­thing wrong in prin­ci­ple with farm­ing rhi­nos for their horns. If the farmed horn is cheap enough, no one will bother poach­ing. How­ever, this arti­cle claims it will be expen­sive and the gangs will not slow down their poach­ing. The fact that […]

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Some companies wield power that compares with states



Com­pa­nies that amass per­sonal data, such as Face­book, wield power that com­pares with states. Since they are not demo­c­ra­t­i­cally con­trolled by the peo­ple whose data they con­trol, their power is illegitimate.

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Egypt imprisoning gay men



Egypt’s gov­ern­ment is impris­on­ing lots of gay men.

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Who Are the Koch Brothers and What Do They Want



Who Are the Koch Broth­ers and What Do They Want? Their money has spread accep­tance of their pro-exploitation ideas, which used to be con­sid­ered shock­ingly extrem­ist in the US.

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Microplastics in waterways



Illi­nois is try­ing to get the microplas­tics out of its refuse, and thus out of its water­ways, but it’s going slow about it.

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Companies indirectly bypass nondiscrimination laws



Tech­nol­ogy and data min­ing enable com­pa­nies to indi­rectly bypass nondiscrimination laws.

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UK anti-fracking protesters



UK anti-fracking pro­test­ers includ­ing a Green mem­ber of Par­lia­ment were cleared of crim­i­nal charges over an anti-fracking protest. Now who is going to make the thugs stop arrest­ing anti-fracking protesters.

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The fighting in Mariupol



More infor­ma­tion about the fight­ing in Mariupol.

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Big business lobbying in Seattle



Big busi­ness in Seat­tle, try­ing to under­mine imple­men­ta­tion of a liv­ing wage law, have made a plan to dis­guise their lob­by­ing as com­ing from mom-and-pop stores.

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Oil extraction from Yasuní



Ecuado­ri­ans have col­lected enough sig­na­tures for a ref­er­en­dum on whether to extract oil from Yasuní.

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Urgent: Cancel contracts with privatized prison company



Every­one: sign this peti­tion ask­ing the gov­er­nor of Ten­nessee to can­cel con­tracts with pri­va­tized prison company CCA.

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Control of federal land



ALEC is push­ing state laws to pres­sure the US gov­ern­ment to give states con­trol of fed­eral land, the idea being that the states will be pushovers for min­ing com­pa­nies. They refer to this with the romantic-sounding name of “sage­brush rebel­lion” to make it look like some­thing other than exploita­tion. The Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment is giv­ing states […]

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Lamb” dishes proved to have other kinds of meat



In the UK, in a pri­vate test, 40% of pre­pared “lamb” dishes tested proved to have other kinds of meat. To address this prob­lem, the UK will cut the bud­get for testing food.

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Genetically modified plant



A genet­i­cally mod­i­fied plant is being tested which pro­duces oils that fish nor­mally get from marine algae. Since they are not used with a spe­cial pes­ti­cide regime, and would either be fed to fish or used as a dietary addi­tive, I don’t think these plants are likely to harm health of humans or wildlife. However, […]

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Hear no evil

April 17, 2014

Penn­syl­va­nia Teen Con­victed Of A Crime For Record­ing Bul­lies At School. I think that schools should have a pol­icy of autho­riz­ing stu­dents who are being bul­lied to make record­ings of the bul­lies, so as to show the school what the bul­lies are doing, but these should not be dis­trib­uted out­side the school. (In par­tic­u­lar, they […]

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How millionaires pay lower income tax than middle-class



How US mil­lion­aires pay lower income tax rates than middle-class Americans.

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Armed and Above the Law



US cit­i­zens: call on the US gov­ern­ment to pur­sue the thug that fol­lowed an unarmed Black teenager home then killed him there.

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Global warming in California



Bomb­shell: Study Ties Epic Cal­i­for­nia Drought, Frigid East To Man­made Cli­mate Change.

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In War, Truth Is the First Casualty



In War, Truth Is the First Casualty

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GMO labeling



US cit­i­zens: tell Con­gress, don’t pro­hibit states from requir­ing label­ing of GMOs.

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Corporate welfare in action



The Tax Breaks (for oil) That Are Killing the Planet

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Leader in the Greek Golden Dawn party praised Hitler



A leader in the Greek Golden Dawn party praised Hitler. Now there is no doubt that it is a neo-Nazi party. One of the “great” things that Hitler did was con­quer Greece. I won­der how Greeks feel about that.

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No Fracking in National Parks



US cit­i­zens: call for a ban on frack­ing in US national parks.

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Top ten carbon emitters



The IPCC has laid out clearly what the world needs to do to avoid global heat­ing dis­as­ter. Since most of the emis­sions come from ten coun­tries (includ­ing China and the US), these coun­tries above all must reduce emissions.

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High-pressure education in the UK



High-pressure edu­ca­tion in the UK can keep chil­dren in school up to 10 hours a day, deny­ing them any time for personal life.

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