Showing posts from December 25, 2014

Ex-Bush Official: U.S. Tortured Prisoners to Produce False Intel that Built Case for Iraq War

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[Major shocker. We knew that the CIA torture program was ineffective in uncovering useful intelligence; now the claim is that torture was employed in order to produce false intelligence to support the invasion of Iraq. *RON*]

By Amy Goodman & Aaron Mate, Democracy Now!, 23 December 2014

Since the release of Senate findings earlier this month, the assumption that the CIA’s torture program’s sole motive was post-9/11 self-defense has gone virtually unchallenged. There has been almost no recognition that the George W. Bush administration also tortured prisoners for a very different goal: to extract information that could tie al-Qaeda to Saddam Hussein and justify the invasion of Iraq. While the Senate report and other critics say torture produced false information, that could have been one of the program’s goals. We are joined by retired Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell from 2002 to 2005. …

How Ayn Rand Was Used to Vet "It's a Wonderful Life" for Commie Propaganda

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[Just intriguingly weird: "There was concern about the Hollywood portrayal of bankers as villains." *RON*]

By Michael / AlterNet, 24 December 2014

A number of years ago, I was telling a longtime city dweller friend of mine yet another story about the small, upstate New York town in which I grew up.

Simultaneously baffled and captivated, he said, “I think you were born and raised in Bedford Falls,” the fictional burg at the center of Frank Capra’s classic Christmas movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Well, I wasn’t. Actually, I grew up about 27 miles west of there. Its real name is Seneca Falls, NY – yes, the same place that’s also the birthplace of the women’s suffrage movement. While not absolutely certain, there’s a compelling body of circumstantial evidence that Capra had the town in mind when he created his cinematic version of Bedford Falls. The steel bridge over the canal, for example, like the one from which the …

What Does It Mean to Be Anti-Police?

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[On police and democracy. "Apparently, to criticize the police is to be anti-police. But if I call and point out that the swings in the playground are broken, am I anti-parks?" Public police forces have only existed for a couple of centuries, and they have always had an odd and ambiguous relationship to the general public and even to government. Who really controls them? *RON*]
Alex S. Vitale, The Nation, 23 December 2014

In the wake of the horrific killing of two NYPD officers, police union officials and their political allies have worked to isolate and vilify police accountability and racial justice activists. By claiming that the shooter was motivated by the protests they argue both that the protests should be suppressed and that there is no space for public criticism of the police. Both of these are profoundly troubling claims.

So far the policing of the protests in New York and many parts of the country have been tolerant and flex…

Why We Can't Get the Government We Want and Deserve

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[Agreed 110%: "unless or until we can reverse the vicious cycle of big money getting political favors that makes big money even bigger, we can’t get the government we want and deserve." *RON*]
By Robert Reich, AlterNet, 24 December 2014

Some believe the central political issue of our era is the size of the government. They’re wrong. The central issue is who the government works for.

Consider the new spending bill Congress and the President agreed to a few weeks ago. It’s not especially large by historic standards. Under the $1.1 trillion measure, government spending doesn’t rise as a percent of the total economy. In fact, if the economy grows as expected, government spending will actually shrink over the next year.

The problem with the legislation is who gets the goodies and who’s stuck with the tab.

For example, it repeals part of the Dodd-Frank Act designed to stop Wall Street from using other peoples’ money to support its gambling addi…

New Yorkers Strongly Approve Of State’s New Ban On Fracking

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[They don't like it! New Yorker's support the State's ban on fracking by more than two to one. *RON*]

By Emily Atkin, Think Progress, 24 December 2014

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent decision to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the state is receiving widespread support from the people who live there, according to a new poll.

The Quinnipiac University poll released Monday found that 55 percent of New Yorkers across the state support Cuomo’s decision on fracking, while 25 percent oppose it and the remainder are undecided. In upstate New York, where fracking likely would have likely taken place, 56 percent of respondents approved of the ban while 30 percent opposed it. Republicans approved of the ban 42 to 40 percent, Democrats approved 67 to 11 percent, and people who live in New York City supported the ban 56 to 19 percent.

Overall, no political party, gender, age, or regional group disapproved of Cuomo’s decision.

Constant oil spills devastate Russia

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[Stephen Harper's vision of heaven, after he gets rid of all those pesky environmental regulations: "1 percent of Russia's annual oil production, or 5 million tons, is spilled every year. That is equivalent to one Deepwater Horizon-scale leak about every two months." Notice that, for Canada, they report "media reports of leaks" which, thanks to the sycophantic mainstream media, are only a tiny fraction of total leaks. *RON*]

By Nataliua Vasilyeva, AP / Seattle Times, 24 December 2014

USINSK, Russia — On the bright-yellow tundra outside this oil town near the Arctic Circle, a pitch-black pool of crude stretches toward the horizon. The source: a decommissioned well whose rusty screws ooze with oil, viscous like jam.

This is the face of Russia's oil country, a sprawling, inhospitable zone that experts say represents the world's worst ecological oil catastrophe.

Environmentalists estimate at least 1 percent of Russia…