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November 2017

Protesters Call For Charges Against Officer Who Killed Teen

By Staff of Associated Press - HARTFORD, Conn. — Protesters on Monday called for criminal charges against a police officer who killed an unarmed 15-year-old boy and for the release of surveillance and other video that shows the May shooting. Demonstrators sought to bring attention to the fatal shooting of Jayson Negron by Bridgeport rookie officer James Boulay after a traffic stop. A 21-year-old passenger, Julian Fyffe, also was wounded. Activists chanted "no justice, no peace" and other slogans outside the state Supreme Court in Hartford before blocking a street between the court and the state Capitol. Seven people were arrested. There also were 20 minutes of silence to mark what demonstrators said was the time it took for police to call for emergency medical help as Negron and Fyffe lay in the street. "Officer Boulay acted as judge, jury and executioner for what should have been a routine traffic stop," said Kerry Ellington, an organizer with New Haven-based People Against Police Brutality. Negron's sister, Jazmarie Melendez, accused authorities of covering up what really happened to him. "We know that they're doing everything in their power to make Jayson look like he was in the wrong when we know that he wasn't," she said.

NYPD Has 30 Days To Turn Over Surveillance Of BLM Protesters To Court

By Stephen Rex Brown for The Daily News - The NYPD has 30 days to turn over surveillance videos of Black Lives Matter protesters after a Manhattan judge ruled Wednesday that the department flouted his previous order to disclose the records. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Manuel Mendez, who issued the contempt of court ruling, stopped short of immediately imposing sanctions on the police. Instead, he said the NYPD could "purge" the contempt ruling by turning over more material related to the monitoring of protesters at Grand Central Terminal in November 2014 and January 2015 within a month. Mendez first ordered the NYPD to turn over records in February — but thus far the department has only turned over one blurry cell phone video and other limited information. The NYPD's interpretation of the term "multimedia records" was "disingenuous," Mendez wrote. The NYPD chose "to use their interpretation over what this court actually stated," Mendez wrote, adding that the department "failed to substantially comply" with his order. The city’s Law Department immediately cried foul, saying it is reviewing its legal options and is “deeply concerned with this ruling and the dilemma in which it places the city.” “On the one hand, we are constrained by genuine security concerns from explaining publicly how disclosure could endanger the lives and safety of undercover officers,” a Law Department spokesman said. “On the other hand, we were not afforded an opportunity to explain those concerns to the court in a non-public setting.” The case, brought by protester James Logue, challenged the NYPD's denial of a Freedom of Information Law request for information on its monitoring of rallies after the police killings of Eric Garner in Staten Island and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

Why The Internet Should Be A Public Utility

By Umair Haque for Eudaimonia - Now. Where does this approach — lower prices leading to the greater good — leave America? Well, it leaves it unable to provide utilities well, or genuinely, really, at all. Lower prices are always thought to be provided by competition, hence, instead of utilities being things are provided by a working social contract to everyone, they are deregulated. The invisible hand, it is hoped, will provide them. The problem is that utilities are all natural monopolies: it’s always cheaper for there to be one energy or water or news provider than for a dozen, because laying those lines and pipes costs money. And precisely the same is true for the net: market competition cannot lead to lower prices, because the internet is a natural monopoly, hence, you have at most two choices of providers in most markets, if that. The invisible hand becomes a fist. The result is that Americans don’t really enjoy utilities in the same way as the rest of the world at all: they are fleeced for the basics, by natural monopolies, who never lower prices, only raise them — and eviscerate the quality of what they are supposed to provide. Flint has no clean water. Puerto Rico has no power. California was sent into crisis by manipulated energy “markets”, which weren’t markets at all. America has no BBC or National Health Service, again because “competition will lower prices” — only there is no competition, and prices only rise, while quality falls.

Police Clear Anti-Fracking Protest Camp From Train Tracks

By Abby Spegman for The Olympian - Anti-fracking protesters faced off with dozens of police in tactical gear during a predawn raid Wednesday at an encampment blocking railroad tracks in downtown Olympia. Police blocked streets in the area of Seventh Avenue and Jefferson Street where protesters had set up a blockade on Nov. 17 to oppose the Port of Olympia’s shipping of ceramic proppants, or fracking sand, which is used in the oil and natural gas extraction process. The raid began shortly after 5 a.m. Police issued verbal warnings before entering the camp, which Olympia police Lt. Sam Costello said was empty when officers moved in. Later, police dogs were brought in to search for explosives in the area near the railroad tracks. About 20 to 30 protesters, many covering their faces, sang songs and mocked police as public works crews began clearing the camp. When protesters tried to approach the camp, police pushed them back. Olympia police Lt. Sam Costello said there were no arrests made and no injuries reported.

Huge Human Inequality Study Hints Revolution Is In Store For U.S.

By Yasmin Tayag for Inverse Science - There’s a common thread tying together the most disruptive revolutions of human history, and it has some scientists worried about the United States. In those revolutions, conflict largely boiled down to pervasive economic inequality. On Wednesday, a study in Nature, showing how and when those first divisions between rich and poor began, suggests not only that history has always repeated itself but also that it’s bound to do so again — and perhaps sooner than we think. In the largest study of its kind, a team of scientists from Washington State University and 13 other institutions examined the factors leading to economic inequality throughout all of human history and noticed some worrying trends. Using a well-established score of inequality called the Gini coefficient, which gives perfect, egalitarian societies a score of 0 and high-inequality societies a 1, they showed that civilization tends to move toward inequality as some people gain the means to make others relatively poor — and employ it. Coupled with what researchers already know about inequality leading to social instability, the study does not bode well for the state of the world today. “We could be concerned in the United States, that if Ginis get too high, we could be inviting revolution, or we could be inviting state collapse. There’s only a few things that are going to decrease our Ginis dramatically,” said Tim Kohler, Ph.D., the study’s lead author and a professor of archaeology and evolutionary anthropology in a statement.

5,500 U.S. Schools Use Solar Power; Growing As Costs Fall

By Lyndsey Gilpin for Inside Climate News - In a field behind an elementary school in rural Middlesex County, Virginia, near the Chesapeake Bay, an ambitious plan has been taking shape: Schools Superintendent Peter Gretz and other local administrators are preparing to power their school district with solar energy. By next August, Virginia-based solar developer Sun Tribe Solar expects to have an array of solar panels in place in that field that can generate enough electricity to power the county's elementary school and middle school—at a price well below their current electricity costs—while offering students, teachers and the community a way to learn about clean energy. "We felt it was important work for our kids, and we wanted them to see the community leading in a way that was responsible and sustainable, as well as fiscally responsible and efficient," Gretz said. The number of schools powered by solar is growing quickly. About 5 percent of all K-12 U.S. schools are now powered by the sun, and their solar capacity has almost doubled in the last three years, according to a new study by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), The Solar Foundation, and Generation 180, a clean energy nonprofit. The nearly 5,500 schools using solar power today have a total of 910 megawatts of solar capacity, enough to power 190,000 homes, according to the study. The biggest reason for the surge is the economic benefits of solar energy. Drastic declines in price have made it financially viable for schools. Both public and private schools are reducing their electricity bills with solar, leaving them more money to spend on educational programs, according to the research.

The Tax-Cut Weapon In Their One-Sided Class War

By Nicole Colson for Socialist Worker - AFTER FAILING so far to get a single major legislative accomplishment, the Trump administration is pressing hard for the tax plan to make it onto the president's desk--and the bulk of the Republicans in Congress, despite their largely mutual fear and loathing of Trump, are on board. Readers of will likely be familiar with many of the low--and even lower--points of the House bill. In short, it's a massive giveaway to corporations and the rich and an unmitigated disaster for working and poor people. According to an analysis by the Tax Policy Institute, those making less than $55,000 a year would see almost no change in their taxes, while those in the top 1 percent would receive nearly 50 percent of the total benefits. Among other things, there are cuts to the estate tax starting in 2018--and its total repeal by 2024. That alone amounts to a $265 billion tax break for the top 0.2 percent--a handful of the wealthiest families in this country, like the Walton family, the Koch brothers...and, oh yes, Trump and his Village of the Damned brood. In early November, Trump told reporters, "My accountant called me and said 'You're going to get killed in this bill.'" Either his accountant is an idiot or Trump is a liar. In fact, under the House plan, the Trump family personally stands to save more than $1 billion in taxes--mainly through the repeal of the estate and alternative minimum taxes. The plan also includes the largest one-time cut in taxes for large corporations ever--with the top tax rate dropping from 35 percent to 20 percent.

War Criminal Kills Himself In Court As Found Guilty

By Stephanie van den Berg and Bart H. Meijer for Reuters - THE HAGUE (Reuters) - A former Bosnian Croat military commander swallowed what he said was poison in a U.N. war crimes courtroom on Wednesday and died shortly after losing an appeal against his 20-year prison term. Slobodan Praljak’s apparent courtroom suicide, which was broadcast on a video feed, came in the final minutes of the last judgment at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, which closes next month after 24 years. The white-bearded Praljak, 72, was taken to hospital after drinking from a flask or glass as an ICTY judge read out appeals rulings against him and five other convicted Bosnian Croat war criminals, tribunal spokesman Nenad Golcevski said. “I just drank poison,” the ex-general told the stunned court. “I am not a war criminal. I oppose this conviction.” After gulping down the drink, he sat back down and slumped in his chair, said a lawyer who was in the courtroom at the time. “Praljak drank a liquid in court and quickly fell ill,” Golcevski said. He was treated by tribunal medical staff, but “passed away today at the HMC hospital in The Hague”, he said. Presiding Judge Carmel Agius hastily suspended the hearings and the courtroom was declared a crime scene by Dutch authorities. As a forensic investigation got under way, the chamber was sealed off and the public told to leave. “Don’t take away the glass!” Agius said, instructing the guards to lower blinds and block a glass-partition separating the court from the public. In the chaotic moments that followed, guards and paramedics raced in and out of the courtroom, and ambulances sped away. Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, whose country was the patron of separatist Croat forces in Bosnia’s 1992-95 war, said he regretted Praljak’s death and offered condolences to his family. “His act tells the most about deep ethical injustice toward the six Bosnian Croats and the Croatian people.”

Thank CNN For The Slave Auctions In Libya

By Danny Haiphong for Black Agenda Report - On November 14th, CNN produced an "exclusive" report about the slave trafficking of migrants in Libya. The report detailed the devastating conditions of migrants fleeing from crisis in nations across North and East Africa. Smugglers, as CNN calls them, capture and terrorize migrants before selling them into day labor. Libyan authorities then detain the migrant laborers and repatriate them back to their nation of origin. CNN emphasizes the horror of the slave auctions with the caption "I was sold" underneath a picture of one of the migrants, Victory, whose story is told in the report. CNN's coverage of the matter is typical of the corporate media. Zero context is given as to why the slave auctions exist in the first place. It is as if the horrors in Libya had just been discovered because of CNN’s investigative journalism. The underlying assumption of the report is that slave markets are a fetter of the past completely foreign to the enlightened audiences in the US and Western countries. Yet we have CNN to thank for the emergence of slave relations in Libya. It was CNN that took part in the most slanderous of lies in cooperation with the US-NATO war on Libya in 2011. Libya was bombed for over seven months while CNN provided media cover all along the way. CNN produced opinion pieces explaining why the invasion of Libya was a just war . Reports from CNN described Libya as a nation ruled over by crazed dictator Muammar Gaddafi who suddenly found the appetite to murder "his own people."

US Provides Military Aid To +70 Percent Of World’s Dictatorships

By Whitney Webb for Information Clearing House - November 27, 2017 "Information Clearing House" - About three-quarters of the world’s dictatorships currently receive military assistance from the United States. This is a strange record for a nation that consistently justifies its sweeping foreign interventions as aimed at “promoting democracy” and “thwarting evil dictatorships.” In the Cold War it was “He may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.” Current analysis shows the U.S. militarily assisting dictators the world over, calling it “promoting democracy,” and disingenuously wondering why it’s all going so badly. For much of its history, the United States government has explained or defended its intervention in the affairs of other nations by framing such behavior as necessary to “promote democracy” abroad and to thwart the advance of “evil dictators.” While the use of those phrases has hardly dwindled over the years, establishment figures have been forced to admit in recent years that the U.S.’ democracy promotion efforts haven’t gone quite as planned. For instance, last year, Foreign Policy published an article headlined “Why is America So Bad at Promoting Democracy in Other Countries?” There, Harvard professor Stephen M. Walt noted that most of the U.S.’ democracy promotion efforts abroad end in failure, with nearly a quarter of the world’s democracies having been degraded in the past 30 years.

Chronic Deceit By The US Undermines Foreign Policy

By Ted Galen Carpenter for The American Conservative - For any country, the foundation of successful diplomacy is a reputation for credibility and reliability. Governments are wary of concluding agreements with a negotiating partner that violates existing commitments and has a record of duplicity. Recent U.S. administrations have ignored that principle, and their actions have backfired majorly, damaging American foreign policy in the process. The consequences of previous deceit are most evident in the ongoing effort to achieve a diplomatic solution to the North Korean nuclear crisis. During his recent trip to East Asia, President Trump urged Kim Jong-un’s regime to “come to the negotiating table” and “do the right thing”—relinquish the country’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. Presumably, that concession would lead to a lifting (or at least an easing) of international economic sanctions and a more normal relationship between Pyongyang and the international community. Unfortunately, North Korean leaders have abundant reasons to be wary of such U.S. enticements. Trump’s transparent attempt to renege on Washington’s commitment to the deal with Iran known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—which the United States and other major powers signed in 2015 to curb Tehran’s nuclear program—certainly does not increase Pyongyang’s incentive to sign a similar agreement.

FCC To Kill Net Neutrality Unless We #StopTheVote

By Protect Our Internet. On December 14, Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai, who is currently serving as chair of the Federal Communications Commission, FCC, will bring his proposal to dismantle net neutrality for a vote. There are two other commissioners who support Pai's plan, and two who oppose it, so it will pass unless we take action to save net neutrality now. We faced long odds before and prevailed. In 2014, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed rules that would create a tiered Internet. In a short time, the actions of many pushed Wheeler to include reclassifying the Internet as a common carrier (like a public utility) so that net neutrality would be protected. Then, a sustained campaign for the next nine months swayed three commissioners to vote for reclassification. We won, beating the millions of dollars that telecoms used to try to stop us. Now, we must act again.

This City Hall, Brought To You By Amazon

By Danny Westneat for The Seattle Times - There’s rising worry that corporations are taking over America. But after reviewing a slew of the bids by cities and states wooing Amazon’s massive second headquarters, I don’t think “takeover” quite captures what’s going on. More like “surrender.” Last month Amazon announced it got 238 offers for its new, proposed 50,000-employee HQ2. I set out to see what’s in them, but only about 30 have been released so far under public-record acts. Those 30, though, amply demonstrate our capitulation to corporate influence in politics. There’s a new wave, in which some City Halls seem willing to go beyond just throwing money at Amazon. They’re turning over the keys to the democracy. Coming from the home of the largest corporate tax-break package in U.S. history, which our state gave to Boeing, I figured I was well acquainted with the dark arts of economic-incentive deals. But still I was surprised to see the lengths to which some cities and states will go to get a piece of that high-tech glory. Example: Chicago has offered to let Amazon pocket $1.32 billion in income taxes paid by its own workers. This is truly perverse. Called a personal income-tax diversion, the workers must still pay the full taxes, but instead of the state getting the money to use for schools, roads or whatever, Amazon would get to keep it all instead. “The result is that workers are, in effect, paying taxes to their boss,” says a report on the practice from Good Jobs First, a think tank critical of many corporate subsidies. Most of the HQ2 bids had more traditional sweeteners. Such as Chula Vista, California, which offered to give Amazon 85 acres of land for free (value: $100 million) and to excuse any property taxes on HQ2 for 30 years ($300 million). New Jersey remains the dollar king of the subsidy sweepstakes, having offered Amazon $7 billion to build in Newark.

Fascism Came To America Wrapped In Rainbow Flag & Wearing A Pussyhat

By Caitlin Johnstone for Information Clearing House - It’s a good quote, whoever said it. It warns that if manipulative oppressors are going to seize control of a nation’s government, they will obviously need to do so by appealing to the spirit of the times, the current values system of the masses. They’re not going to make their entrance screaming “Freedom is slavery!” while a band plays the Darth Vader theme. This is obvious to anyone who possesses any insight into how people think and behave. But it’s a quote from a bygone age. Christianity and flag-waving patriotism still hold value in red states, but they’ve become largely invisible to the major culture factories of New York and Los Angeles, and thus to the dominant culture of the greater United States. If fascism came to America wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross today, it wouldn’t have enough broad public support to implement its agendas, because crosses and flags don’t hold that much sway over America’s dominant value system. In order to rope in those who don’t value the old cultural value symbols, something more is needed. So when fascism came to America, it came wrapped in a rainbow flag, and wearing a pussyhat. Do you know why Democrats fixate so much on the completely unsubstantiated narrative that Donald Trump colluded with the Russian government to steal the 2016 election?

Businesses As Well As People Support Net Neutrality

By Staff of Reuters - In a letter dated on Monday, the companies urged FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to reverse course and vote against changing the rules. Pai, a Republican appointed by President Donald Trump in January, unveiled plans last week to scrap landmark 2015 rules intended to ensure a free and open internet, moving to give broadband service providers sweeping power over what content consumers can access. The FCC is set to vote on Dec. 14. The move was seen as a victory for big internet service providers such as AT&T Inc (T.N), Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) and Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N), which favored a repeal. The companies, which sent the letter on Cyber Monday to coincide with the biggest online shopping day of the year, argued that slowing access to content, called “throttling,” or blocking it altogether, would hurt the U.S. economy. “This would put small and medium-sized businesses at a disadvantage and prevent innovative new ones from even getting off the ground,” the companies said in the letter. Pai defended the change as a way to remove heavy-handed internet regulations.
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