The World Can’t Wait… Debra Sweet: Why I Will Be There

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Friday Night Fun and Culture DIY Musical Instruments

A prime aim of the growing Surveillance State

Remember though Surveillance is the prerogative of the Police State and Corporations, who hate the idea of a free press and investigative photography that might reveal among other things: Animal Abuse, Unsafe handling of foods (pesticide contamination etc), Police Abuse of citizens, Corporate Maleficence,  industrial pollution, the senseless slaughter of fish and sea mammals etc.

Citizens who photograph such things can be prosecuted on a variety of charges.

From Salon:

By Glenn Greenwald
Friday, Aug 19, 2011

Several weeks ago, a New York Times article by Noam Cohen examined the case of Aaron Swartz, the 24-year-old copyright reform advocate who was arrested in July, after allegedly downloading academic articles that had been placed behind a paywall, thus making them available for free online.  Swartz is now being prosecuted by the DOJ with obscene over-zealousness.  Despite not profiting (or trying to profit) in any way — the motive was making academic discourse available to the world for free — he’s charged with “felony counts including wire fraud, computer fraud, unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer and recklessly damaging a protected computer” and “could face up to 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines.”

The NYT article explored similarities between Swartz and Bradley Manning, another young activist being severely punished for alleged acts of freeing information without any profit to himself; the article quoted me as follows:

For Glenn Greenwald . . . it also makes sense that a young generation would view the Internet in political terms.

“How information is able to be distributed over the Internet, it is the free speech battle of our times,” he said in interview. “It can seem a technical, legalistic movement if you don’t think about it that way.”

He said that point was illustrated by his experience with WikiLeaks — and by how the Internet became a battleground as the site was attacked by hackers and as large companies tried to isolate WikiLeaks. Looking at that experience and the Swartz case, he said, “clearly the government knows that this is the prime battle, the front line for political control.

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From The Long Beach Post:

Police Chief Confirms Detaining Photographers Within Departmental Policy

by Greggory Moore | No Destination

9:45am | Police Chief Jim McDonnell has confirmed that detaining photographers for taking pictures “with no apparent esthetic value” is within Long Beach Police Department  policy.

McDonnell spoke for a follow-up story on a June 30 incidentin which Sander Roscoe Wolff, a Long Beach resident and regular contributor to Long Beach Post, was detained by Officer Asif Kahn for taking pictures of  a North Long Beach refinery.1

“If an officer sees someone taking pictures of something like a refinery,” says McDonnell, “it is incumbent upon the officer to make contact with the individual.” McDonnell went on to say that whether said contact becomes detainment depends on the circumstances the officer encounters.

McDonnell says that while there is no police training specific to determining whether a photographer’s subject has “apparent esthetic value,” officers make such judgments “based on their overall training and experience” and will generally approach photographers not engaging in “regular tourist behavior.”

This policy apparently falls under the rubric of compiling Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR) as outlined in the Los Angeles Police Department’s Special Order No. 11, a March 2008 statement of the LAPD’s “policy …  to make every effort to accurately and appropriately gather, record and analyze information, of a criminal or non-criminal nature, that could indicate activity or intentions related to either foreign or domestic terrorism.”

Among the non-criminal behaviors “which shall be reported on a SAR” are the usage of binoculars and cameras (presumably when observing a building, although this is not specified), asking about an establishment’s hours of operation, taking pictures or video footage “with no apparent esthetic value,” and taking notes.

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Robert Reich Explains the Credit Downgrade

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This Is Getting Exciting

From Yes Magazine:

The climate movement’s biggest civil disobedience action ever is about to take Washington by storm.

by Bill McKibben
posted Aug 18, 2011

This is starting to get exciting.

Five or six of us are hunched around a table in a small Washington office, shouting into phones and pecking away at keyboards as we count down toward the Saturday beginning of what looks like it will be the largest civil disobedience protest in the history of the American environmental movement.

We’ve got 2,000 people signed up to come to Washington and get arrested outside the White House between August 20 and September 3, all in an effort to persuade President Obama not to grant a permit for a new pipeline from the tar sands of Canada.

As momentum builds, we’re hearing from the famous and powerful: the wonderful Bernie Sanders just offered up a blogpost pointing out how many more jobs we’d create if we concentrated on clean energy; and the dynamic actor Mark Ruffalo chipped in a heartfelt video imploring people to head to Washington for the protest.

But it’s just as exciting to see the stream of inspiring commitments coming in from four Montana grandmothers (one of whom just happens to be Margot Kidder, otherwise known as Lois Lane), or a New York City college student who felt the hope of Obama’s 2008 victory, and also a little of the frustration many of us have shared since, pointing out the many times the president has “backed down from what could have been transformative confrontations with the defenders of the status quo.”  Which is exactly why so many of us will be wearing our Obama ’08 buttons when we get arrested: we want desperately to conjure up the surge of joy that came with that campaign.

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In wake of British riots, New York police prepare for unrest

From World Socialist Web Site:

By Bill Van Auken
19 August 2011

New York police anti-riot units assembled last week at a training facility on Randall’s Island to prepare for an outbreak of civil unrest similar to those that have occurred recently in Britain.

The August 12 “mobilization exercises” brought together police from all five of the city’s boroughs, including specialized units such as mounted police and aviation.

The riot training was held just days after the New York City Police Department (NYPD) announced the formation of a new “juvenile justice unit,” which is to include detachments of cops assigned to troll Internet social media sites like Facebook and Twitter in search of any indication of impending disturbances.

During and after the British riots, police and politicians have launched a hysterical witch-hunt against social media, blaming its use for the spread of unrest across the country. Police have admitted that they contemplated shutting down Twitter and other sites and are still considering the use of such measures against any future disturbances.

A British court this week sentenced two young men to four years in prison for material they posted on Facebook dealing with the riots, although there is no evidence that their online activities had any connection to or resulted in any criminal actions.

The British riots were triggered by a police attack on a peaceful protest against the August 4 police shooting death of Mark Duggan, 29.

The British government and media have incessantly argued that the riots cannot be attributed to social conditions, but rather are the product of the moral failings—lack of responsibility, greed, etc.—of those involved.

The training mobilization of the NYPD, however, makes it more than clear that the ruling elite on the other side of the Atlantic is quite conscious that the conditions of social inequality, poverty, police abuse and attacks on social services and conditions that exist in both Britain and America can trigger an explosion in New York City.

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Parents misled by advocates of single-sex education

From The Medical Xpress:

August 18, 2011

There is no scientific basis for teaching boys and girls separately, according to Lise Eliot from The Chicago Medical School. Her review reveals fundamental flaws in the arguments put forward by proponents of single-sex schools to justify the need of teaching teach boys and girls separately. Eliot shows that neuroscience has identified few reliable differences between boys’ and girls’ brains relevant to learning or education. Her work is published online in Springer’s journal Sex Roles.

The first issue Eliot highlights is that single-sex school advocates often claim differences between boys’ and girls’ brains based on studies carried out in and women. But such effects have rarely been found in children. It is also wrong to assume that children’s brains operate like adults’. In reality, they are works-in-progress, and much of what influences adult neural processing is due to individuals’ social and educational experience over their lifespan. Therefore the assumption that because in the brain are biological, they are necessarily fixed or ‘hardwired’ is incorrect.

Eliot then reviews seven specific claims often used to justify the need for sex-segregated learning: gender differences in the corpus collosum* and language lateralization**; differences in brain maturation rate and sequence between and ; gender differences in hearing, in vision and in the ; and learning; and finally preferred learning styles of boys and girls. For each one, she shows how the science has been misrepresented and its findings exaggerated to build a rationale for sex-segregated education, which misleads parents into believing there is a scientific basis for teaching boys and girls in separate classrooms.

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Ron Paul: I don’t believe in evolution

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Washington’s Anti-Regulatory Crusade, and Why Your Job Hasn’t Killed You Yet

From In These Times:

By Michelle Chen
Wednesday Aug 17, 2011

On the campaign trail, Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry is spreading the gospel of Perrynomics—a magical job-creation formula based on minimal government regulation of industry, combined with tiny tax rates and tight controls on lawsuits. In a state that seems inclined to cannibalize its own government, this agenda plays well. But a closer look reveals the high price of low regulation.

In recent months, politicians in both parties, including the White House, have claimed that scaling back regulations would unleash economic growth, suggesting that businesses should be liberated from rules that protect the environment, occupational health and other public interests. But a new analysis by Public Citizen presents a few unsung gems of federal bureaucracy that help keep us happy, healthy and sane. Several of these regulatory chart-toppers, not surprisingly, were enacted in defiance of heavy political pushback:

Clearing the Air. Since the days of the Lowell mills, so-called “brown lung” has been a hallmark of the miserable toil of poorly ventilated, dust-clogged textile factories. The disease, also known as Byssinosis, has historically hit women especially hard, spreading its signature coughing and lung scarring to thousands of workers around the world. The epidemic was virtually ignored until the 1960s and 1970s. Then came OSHA’s 1978 rule requiring more lung-friendly machinery, and within a few years the prevalence of brown lung in the industry fell by an estimated 97 percent. And employers’ grumbling about the “costs” of the rule faded when it became clear that the reforms improved the industry’s efficiency as well.

Rule of (Keeping Your) Thumb. You’d think a rule that helps keep workers from getting accidentally hacked to pieces would be somewhat popular. But in the late 1980s, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) didn’t mind sacrificing a few extremities here and there to resist the evils of regulatory “burdens.” Industry moguls sued to block the Lockout/Tagout rule, which would force employers to mark potentially hazardous equipment with colored tags and provide safety training for workers. But the rule passed, and according to Public Citizen, made the shop floor a much less terrifying place:

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A Sad End to the Winslow Street Fund?

Press Release:  Dallas Denny:
16 August, 2011

For Immediate Release

Dallas Denny

A copy of this release can be seen at


A Sad End to the Winslow Street Fund?

I am grievously, and with good reason, concerned for the well-being of  the Winslow Street Fund. I fear it is being plundered by what remains of the International Foundation for Gender Education.

Last fall at Fantasia Fair two trustees of the Winslow Street Fund came to me—separately—and told me they were concerned about the fund’s well-being. They had no idea how much money—if any—was left in the fund’s bank account. Worse, they had heard rumors IFGE was drawing down the fund.

Two months ago one of the trustees told me she had been retroactively fired by Ms. Leclair. You know, like Dean Wurmer’s double-secret probation in the film Animal House: fired in secret and told about it nearly two years later. I confirmed this with the second trustee. Sure enough, the IFGE Board of Directors held a special meeting in August 2009 and dismissed the entire board of trustees—without telling the trustees about it. That was so outrageous it spurred me to write this press release. When guardians get fired, it’s time to watch the piggy bank.

For those who might not know, the Winslow Street Fund was founded in the mid-1980s as an untouchable resource for the transgender community. Designed to last in perpetuity, it was administered by IFGE and controlled by the Fund’s own board of trustees, which made conservative investments to grow capital and award small sums (less than $5000 or so) to community organizations for projects deemed worthy by the board.

The amount in the fund varied with the financial climate and the number of awards, but was generally within shouting distance of $100,000.

This was the state of affairs for some twenty-five years.

But it is no longer the case.

At this time the retroactively fired Winslow Street trustees, members of the previous Board of Directors, and the community at large have no idea if IFGE has been using the Winslow Street Fund as a resource to fund its internal operations and how much money, if any, is in the Fund.

I fear the Winslow Street Fund is in danger of coming to a sad end. And so:

I hereby call upon IFGE, and specifically upon Executive Director Denise Leclair and Board Chair Bree Hartlage to inform the transgender community of the state of the Winslow Street Fund, and specifically to answer these questions via a press release:

  •  What is the balance in the Winslow Street Fund?
  • When was the last Winslow grant to another organization?
  •  Has IFGE borrowed against the fund in this century?
  •  If so, was the money paid back? Was interest collected?
  •  What safeguards are in place to protect the fund?

I moreover call upon the IFGE Board of Directors, and especially Ms. Leclair and Ms. Hartlage to take immediate and decisive steps to fiscally and administratively separate the Winslow Street Fund from IFGE, making certain the Fund has a board comprised of trusted and honest community members who will safeguard the Fund’s monies in perpetuity.

If IFGE has withdrawn money from the Winslow Street Fund, I urge Ms. Leclair and Ms. Hartlage to do whatever is necessary to return all funds.

I ask others in the community to contact IFGE and ask these same questions.

Dallas Denny

IFGE’s Contact Information:
781-899-2212 or 781-899-5703 Voice
781-899-5703 FAX

Why the Mainstream Media Are Clueless About the Religious Right

From Alternet:

Though it has shaped American politics for the last 40 years, the religious right still baffles reporters.

By Adele M. Stan
August 16, 2011

Every four years, just as a presidential campaign kicks up, legions of media types who make their living outside the right-wing echo chamber emerge as a militia of Margaret Meads, descending on flyover country, trying to make sense of that exotic phenomenon, the religious right. In the end, those who actually get it are few.

From the attitudes shown by media toward the religious right, you’d never know that more than one-quarter of the U.S. population identify as evangelicals, according to a 2007 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, and among white self-identified evangelicals, 62 percent told Pew in 2006 that they believe the Bible to be the literal word of God.

These, by and large, are the people who determine the outcome of the Republican presidential primary, thanks to the early stacking of states heavily populated by evangelicals, and the propensity of most evangelicals to align with the Republican Party. And yet, we who cover these races often know very little about the voters whose person-on-the-street interviews they’re recording, except to know that these people are very different from us in their view of the world. So as everyday doctrines come to light in one or another campaign incident, the media either find themselves aghast at the implications, or simply choose to ignore them.


Take, for instance, Rep. Michele Bachmann’s profession of the doctrine of “wifely submission.” When a 2006 video of Bachmann surfaced showing her at a church gathering professing her submission to her husband, media types grew quite excited. At the Fox News debate in Ames, Iowa, last week, Washington Examiner columnist Byron York asked Bachmann, “As president, would you be submissive to your husband?” Before Bachmann could speak, York’s question was met with a round of boos and hisses from the audience, whose members likely heard in his question a challenge to one of their fundamental doctrines. (Bachmann, aware that she was playing to a national television audience, dodged the question, saying that she and her husband respected each other.)

The doctrine of wifely submission is common to a number of evangelical faiths, espoused by faithful who range from dour fundamentalists who forbid dancing to writhing, tongues-speaking Pentecostals. The largest among these denominations is the Southern Baptist Convention, the second largest religious body in the United States. York was certainly entitled to his question, and the people of the United States were entitled to a better reply than that which Bachmann gave them. But what we in the media are not entitled to is any sense of shock that a conservative Christian such as Bachmann believes such things. Such surprise simply means we haven’t been paying attention.

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Historic heat wave and drought in southwestern US

From World Socialist Web Site:
By Charles Abelard and Tom Carter
18 August 2011
A record-breaking heat wave and drought is relentlessly blasting the southwestern US, and in particular the state of Texas, which is experiencing the driest 10-month period in recorded history.

As always, the burden of these environmental calamities falls disproportionately on the working class. Twelve deaths have been attributed to the heat in the city of Dallas alone so far this year.

According to reports from the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), as of August 8 Texas had received only 6 inches of rain so far this year, less than half the expected rainfall over the same period, which is 13 inches. This is the lowest rainfall on records dating back to 1895. In addition, the June and July temperatures were far above historical levels.

As much as 94 percent of Texas has a drought level of “D3-extreme” or “D4-exceptional,” the two most severe stages of drought defined by the US Department of Agriculture, respectively. A staggering 75 percent of the state is at level D4, the highest level.

Energy usage in response to the record heat has strained the electrical grid to the near-breaking point. Private companies have increased prices to as much as 60 times their normal levels in response, gouging consumers and small businesses. The Texas electrical grid, largely cut off from other states, is entirely dependent on the profit interests of a few giant corporations.

The effects of this drought, both agricultural and hydrological, will leave their mark for years to come. More than half of Texas’s streams and rivers are flowing at half their normal rate. Many water reservoirs are practically empty.

The 12 heat-related deaths in Dallas reported so far are more than all of last year. Nationwide, 100 people have died from the heat in the US this summer. Temperatures are above 110 degrees Fahrenheit in many places. A brief respite over the weekend broke a nearly 40-day streak of consecutive days in Dallas where temperatures exceeded 100 degrees.

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Verizon Accuses Strikers Of Sabotage 45,000 Employees On Strike Since Sunday Over Cuts

From Infoshop:

Emmanuel Tambakakis/CNN
By David Goldman
August 18, 2011

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The rift between Verizon and its 45,000 striking employees grew wider on Friday, after the telecommunications giant called in the FBI to investigate allegations of sabotage.

Verizon spokesman Rich Young said more than 90 acts of sabotage have taken place since the strike began on Sunday. Saboteurs have cut phone lines, affecting the service of several thousand customers primarily in New York and New Jersey but also in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

Acts of sabotage are hardly uncommon in contentious labor strife’s, but Young said that these acts “cross the line.” A police station and a hospital were among those that lost service as a result of the sabotage, he said.

Federal Bureau of Investigation spokesman Jim Margolin confirmed that an inquiry is under way and is being handled out of the FBI’s Newark, N.J., field office.

The strikers’ union, the Communications Workers of America, condemned the acts.

“CWA does not condone illegal action of any kind, and instructs its members to conduct all strike activities in accordance with labor law,” the union said in a prepared statement.

The merry-go-round of accusations didn’t end there.

CWA spokeswoman Candice Johnson accused Verizon replacement workers and managers of driving vehicles into picketing crowds, striking more than a dozen pickets.

Verizon’s Young accused the strikers of throwing themselves in front of vehicles, which Johnson called “ridiculous.”

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Berlin nights ablaze with car fires

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Ron Paul Supporter’s Ad Asks, ‘Have You Ever Had Sex With Rick Perry?’

From Huffington Post:

August 18, 2011

A full-page ad paid for by a supporter of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul in the Austin Chronicle asks, “Have you ever had sex with Rick Perry?”

The eyebrow-raising message comes less than one week after the Texas governor announced his candidacy for president of the United States. Justin Elliot at Salon calls attention to the ad in the newsweekly and notes that there is no evidence that Perry has engaged in an extramarital affair.

Text in the ad reads, “Are you a stripper, an escort, or just a ‘young hottie’ impressed by an arrogant, entitled governor of Texas? Contact CASH [Committee Against Sexual Hypocrisy], and we will help you publicize your direct dealings with a Christian-buzzwords-spouting, ‘family values’ hypocrite and fraud.”

(Click here to view an image of the ad via Salon.)

The Lone Star State Republican’s wife Anita has been spotted by his side on the campaign trail this week.

Earlier this summer before Perry jumped into the GOP primary mix, Politico reported that the Texas governor’s camp was prepared to combat unfounded rumors dating back to as early as 2004 that Perry is gay should he run.

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Christine(I am not a witch and I do not masturbate) O’Donnell Walks Out During Piers Morgan Interview

Is Tom Coburn too Insane to Serve in the Senate?

If there isn’t a law that  requires some one who seems to be certifiably insane be removed from political office by his or her colleagues perhaps there should be.

From Raw Story:

Tom Coburn: ‘Good thing I can’t pack a gun on the Senate floor’

By David Edwards
Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) said Thursday that he was only joking when he suggested that he might shoot lawmakers over U.S. financial problems.

At a town hall event in Langley, Oklahoma Wednesday, Coburn pushed back on criticism of President Barack Obama and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, placing the blame for tough economic times on “a class of career elitists” and “cowards.”

“It’s just a good thing I can’t pack a gun on the Senate floor,” he said, according to The Tulsa World.

Coburn’s remarks came less than a month after Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), who had suffered a gunshot wound to the head in January, briefly returned to Congress.

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From Think Progress:

Coburn Suggests Taking Care of The ‘Frail Elderly’ Is Unconstitutional Because ‘That’s A Family Responsibility’

By Ian Millhiser
Aug 18, 2011
Last week, ThinkProgress reported that Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) believes that Medicare and Social Security are unconstitutional. Turns out, he’s not he only one. At a town hall in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) appeared to embrace Perry’s claim that providing for America’s seniors is unconstitutional:

QUESTION: With more and more cuts in Medicare and Medicaid on the horizon, I’m really worried about protecting our frail elderly in the Medicare and Medicaid facilities. So I would like to know how Congress proposes to balance the budget and still make sure our frail elderly in these facilities are protected and have trained care staff.

COBURN: That’s a great question. The first question I have for you is if you look in the Constitution, where is it the federal government’s role to do that? That’s number one. Number two is the way I was brought up that’s a family responsibility, not a government responsibility.

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