Christo-Fascist Bigot Tony Perkins Wages War On ENDA: Gay People ‘Want To Put Their Bedroom In The Workplace

From The New Civil Rights Movement:  http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/tony-perkins-wages-war-on-enda-gay-people-want-to-put-their-bedroom-in-the-workplace/politics/2013/06/17/68887

by David Badash
on June 17, 2013

Tony Perkins is waging war on ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced he will co-sponsor. ENDA, ore similar legislation, has been introduced in every Congress except one in some form or another since 1974 — that’s almost four decades. It would finally make firing someone for being LGBT against the law. And Perkins, head of the anti-gay hate group Family Research Council, just cannot stand the thought that gay people couldn’t be fired for being gay. While it’s illegal to fire, say, Tony Perkins for being a Christian or a person over 40, and it’s illegal to fire anyone for the color of their skin or their heritage, sadly, today, in the vast majority of states across our nation, LGBT people can be fired merely for being LGBT.

Calling ENDA “a sweeping proposal that could destroy personal freedom in the American workplace,” Perkins tells his followers “the bill itself discriminates against men and women who oppose cross-dressing or blatant homosexuality on the job.”

While not explaining exactly what “cross-dressing or blatant homosexuality” are, Perkins wrongly states “ENDA creates special employment protections solely on the basis of a person’s sexual preferences.”

Those “special protections” Perkins is claiming?

In reality, being LGBT is a fact of birth — people are born LGBT — while being a Christian, or Catholic, or Muslim, or any faith at all is a choice. The First Amendment provides “special protections” for the choice people make to believe a certain way, so why shouldn’t we have a law to protect people from discrimination based on a fact of birth, as we do for most minority statuses?

Perkins quotes his own Peter Sprigg — the man who single-handedly contributed most to the Family Research Council landing on the Southern Poverty Law Center‘s anti-gay hate list — who claims that “the most fundamental standard of all” in the workplace is “that people be dressed in a way appropriate for their biological sex!”

Continue reading at:  http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/tony-perkins-wages-war-on-enda-gay-people-want-to-put-their-bedroom-in-the-workplace/politics/2013/06/17/68887

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NOW Deplores Passage by U.S. House of Nationwide 20 Week Abortion Ban UPDATE: Statement of NOW President Terry O’Neill

NOW Press Release:  http://now.org/press/06-13/06-18.html

June 18, 2013

After voting to move forward on the vote, the House of Representatives has approved — in a nearly party-line vote of 228-196 — Rep. Trent Franks’ appalling nationwide 20-week abortion ban. This bill represents the most restrictive abortion legislation to come to a vote in either chamber over the past decade and is a clear violation of Roe v. Wade. Anyone who thinks the Republican leadership’s war on women is moderating, let alone over, is mistaken.

This bill places the health and well-being of women in the hands of ideologues more interested in politics than women’s lives. By banning abortion after 20 weeks and cutting funding to necessary social safety nets, among other policy decisions, the Republican members of the House continue to show their true colors.

No amount of softening rhetoric or moderate posturing will change the harsh reality that today’s GOP is out of step and out of touch when it comes to women. We at NOW are not fooled, and neither are women voters.

NOW will continue to fight for a comprehensive approach to achieving reproductive justice for all women – from expanding reproductive health services in every community to ending the discrimination and inequality that keep women from controlling their own reproductive lives.

 

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A socialist take on gun violence, state violence, and workers’ right to self-defense

From Freedom Socialist:  http://www.socialism.com/drupal-6.8/?q=node/2195

Monica Hill
June 2013

Reposted with Permission

 

The mad killing of 20 first-graders and six of their teachers in Newtown, Conn., followed by the mayhem of the Boston Marathon bombs, has ignited passionate discussion about gun violence in the U.S.

Misery and death inflicted on the innocent, and especially children, are devastating. But the furor over these mass assaults by individuals — terrible, but rare — obscures the routine violence of a country spreading poverty at home and war abroad. And the mainstream debate doesn’t even touch upon the need and right of working and oppressed people to effectively defend themselves against an inhumane social order that is utterly dependent on armed force to survive.

For anyone concerned about reducing violence, these are very real issues.

Poverty kills. Of all the U.S. deaths in 2000, 36 percent were caused by social diseases such as racist segregation, income inequality, inadequate social services, minimal education, and poverty. So concluded an impressive Columbia University study reported in the American Journal of Public Health in 2011.

By comparison, just over 1 percent of U.S. deaths in 2010 were gun deaths. And three out of five of these were suicides, not homicides.

It’s clear that, first, these statistics hardly support tightening gun laws and, second, poverty and inequality are far more fatal than guns.

Joblessness, dangerous jobs, stingy or nonexistent healthcare, environmental ills, and systemic sexism and racism are taking a profound toll. Their cause is the capitalist economy, owned and run by a very few individuals of obscene wealth and power.

Integral to this economy is the weapons industry, with its arms lobbyists including the NRA. Now this industry’s profits are bolstered by the permanent “war on terror,” which has intensified the U.S. culture of militarism and provides justification for foreign wars and for repression, spying, and torture abroad and at home. They call it “national security,” but the intent is to keep rebellion at bay.

When armed self-defense is needed. The Freedom Socialist Party, like socialists historically, supports the right of the oppressed class to physical self-defense.

In the U.S., armed self-defense has been essential for colonial, working-class and civil rights fighters — from the U.S. revolution against King George’s military in the 18th century to the anti-slavery revolution of the Civil War 80 years later.

In his book Negroes with Guns, Robert Williams describes how Blacks in North Carolina who were organizing to integrate public swimming pools in the early 1960s had to fortify their homes with sandbags and train with rifles to stop night raids by the Ku Klux Klan. During the civil rights movement, guards for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were armed as well as Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee members and Black Panthers. Being prepared for self-defense prevented blood from being shed.

In a long, hard 1973 strike in Harlan County, Ky., coal miners and their wives refused to back down from gun-toting company goons and took up weapons. That same year, American Indian Movement warriors held off FBI and tribal cops at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge reservation. Native Americans continue to take seriously their sovereign right to bear arms.

U.S. gun control has generally had as its targets the poor and oppressed, as with the disarming of former slaves in the South after the Civil War. Today, Florida is a case study in the double standard, with a “stand your ground” law protecting paranoid racists, but Black mother Marissa Alexander sentenced to 20 years for firing into the ceiling to stop her abusive husband.

Collective resistance is still necessary to protect against government and right-wing violence. For instance, Radical Women has called for armed self-defense training to protect volunteer guards against harassers of abortion clinics, who have a record of bombings and murders.

Striking workers who face armed cops and company mercenaries also deserve protection. So do activists who stand up to neo-Nazis or campaign against police brutality. So do those who are often prey to street violence: women, targets of racist and anti-gay thugs, people with mental and physical disabilities, the homeless. So do immigrants at the mercy of Border Patrol agents and vigilantes.

Communities could organize gun training with union members and neighborhood associations to defend all these groups, and many military vets would be willing to help.

The right to overthrow the system. Though guns are a small contributor to death and injury statistically, it’s still true that many communities live under a shadow of gun violence from within.

More gun control laws are not the answer. What would help, and help in a big way, is legalizing drugs, funding effective drug rehab programs, and involving gang members and trusted community leaders in supporting gang truces.

But what will make the most difference in people’s lives is attacking the violence of the system — which is at the root of most individual acts of harm to start with. Putting armed guards in schools has turned out to increase student expulsions, especially of kids of color. Instead, let’s fight for reopening and fully funding closed public schools while reducing class sizes, preserving and expanding ethnic studies, bringing back art and music, and hiring more teachers, counselors, and librarians — and paying them better. Let’s fight for generous funding to create productive jobs, restore social services, and provide quality physical and mental healthcare, including suicide prevention programs.

And let’s fight for the money to pay for all of this by shutting down the Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon. That would take care of oceans of gun violence!

Capitalism is proving in its time of trouble that it is willing to let people starve in isolation rather than pay for collective human welfare. And that it will protect itself “by any means necessary,” in Malcolm X’s famous phrase. The U.S. ruling class will bomb foreign countries, strip away civil liberties at home, throw the poor to the wolves, and put more people behind bars than anywhere else in the world.

For socialists, the popular right to self-defense is not a legalistic thing, it’s a right of the working-class majority. It extends all the way from Mace in a woman’s purse or pocket right on up to revolution to overthrow tyranny.

And isn’t that exactly what we’re facing?

Kathleen Merrigan contributed research for this story. Send feedback to Monica Hill at fsnews@mindspring.com.

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Russell Brand on MSNBC Mocking Media

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Financial Totalitarianism: The Economic, Political, Social and Cultural Rule of Speculative Capital

From Truth Out:  http://truth-out.org/news/item/16911-financial-totalitarianism-the-economic-political-social-and-cultural-rule-of-speculative-capital

By Max Haiven
Wednesday, 12 June 2013

At the end of May, it was revealed that a new bill for the regulation of the banking and financial sector was, for all intents and purposes, drafted by Citigroup. This is only the latest in a long list of what can only be called legalized corruption at the highest levels of American power, which has ultimately led to no meaningful policy or legal change in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Avid readers of intrepid Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi and others cannot help but be sickened and struck by the impunity and hubris of America’s financial elites, even as astute students of history will point out the previous moments when the power and influence of financiers has overshadowed economics and politics.

Totalitarianism is not an inappropriate term, not simply because the financial realm holds such a great deal of wealth and power. The term was coined by the Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini to praise the system he created where the ruling ideology dominated every aspect of citizens’ lives. Not only did the fascist state ruthlessly and autocratically dominate the economy and politics, it also sought to transform social life and the culture of the nation to become a total way of life. While there is no pompous fascist figurehead, we can see the tremendous power of the financial sector as a form of disorganized or ad-hoc totalitarianism where financial power and modes of thinking increasingly stain the social fabric. And like the totalitarianisms of old, the “financialization” of life is ultimately directed by and benefits a tiny minority, at the expense of everyone else.
Financialization” generally refers to two overlapping economic processes. First, it speaks to the way an increasing portion of a nation’s wealth is bound up with or represented by the financial sector (generally referred to as the FIRE sector for Finance, Insurance and Real Estate), and, consequently, the tremendous influence of the financial sector over corporations, governments and individuals. American financial earnings represent around 8.4% of the national income, rendering the financial sector one of America’s largest “industries.” The wealthiest 10% of the population owns 88% of financial assets, which has helped contribute to the present situation where roughly 40% of the nation’s wealth is controlled by the top 1%, and where the average net worth of the poorest 40% of Americans is almost negative $10,000 (roughly negative $15,000 if home equity is factored out). Financialization means the increased power of banks, hedge funds, private equity firms and other financial actors, and the increasing wealth and power of the top percentile of Americans.
But financialization also refers to the way financial goals, ideas and practices start to shape and influence economic actors outside and beyond the financial sector. So, for instance, increasingly corporations don’t see themselves as producers of goods and services (let alone as employers or community members) but rather as vehicles for financial speculation. Thanks to the so-called “revolution in shareholder value” that saw “activist” financiers take control of corporate governance in the ’90s and early 2000s, most publicly traded companies have oriented their operations not toward steady and reliable profit but toward quarter-to-quarter improvements in stock prices. This has basically meant that non-financial corporations (from major food producers to technology firms) have become obsessed with “performing” innovation and efficiency by firing workers, off-shoring and contracting-out aspects of their businesses, and engaging in risky accounting and financial practices. As corporate America becomes increasingly financialized, it becomes more and more obsessed with squeezing as much money as possible out of consumers and workers, and increasingly callous about things like ecological destruction, the consequences for community, and even the long-term welfare of the corporation itself.
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America’s private prison system is a national disgrace

From The Guardian UK:    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/13/aclu-lawsuit-east-mississippi-correctional-facility

An ACLU lawsuit against a prison in Mississippi is the latest to detail flagrant abuses at a private correctional facility


guardian.co.uk, Thursday 13 June 2013

The privatization of traditional government functions – and big government payments to private contractors – isn’t limited to international intelligence operations like the National Security Agency. It’s happening with little oversight in dozens of areas once the province of government, from schools to airports to the military. The shifting of government responsibilities to private actors isn’t without consequence, as privatization often comes with a lack of oversight and a series of abuses. One particularly stunning example is the American prison system, the realities of which should be a national disgrace.

Some of those realities are highlighted in a recent lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of prisoners at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility (EMCF). EMCF houses severely mentally ill prisoners, with the supposed intent of providing both incarceration and treatment. Instead, the ACLU contends, the facility, which is operated by private contractors, is rife with horrific abuses. As the ACLU states, it is

“an extremely dangerous facility operating in a perpetual state of crisis, where prisoners live in barbaric and horrific conditions and their basic human rights are violated daily.”

The complaint lists a litany of such horrors, but here are a few highlights: rampant rapes. Placing prisoners in solitary confinement for weeks, months or even years at a time, where the only way to get a guard’s attention in an emergency is to set a fire. Rat infestations so bad that vermin crawl over prisoners; sometimes, the rats are captured, put on leashes and sold as pets to the most severely mentally ill inmates. Many suicide attempts, some successful. The untreated mentally ill throw feces, scream, start fires, electrocute themselves and self-mutilate. Denying or delaying treatment for infections and even cancer. Stabbings, beatings and other acts of violence. Juveniles being housed with adults, including one 16-year-old who was sexually assaulted by his adult cell mate. Malnourishment and chronic hunger. Officers who deal with prisoners by using physical violence.

One prisoner allegedly attempted to hang himself. He was cut down by guards, given oxygen and put on supervision, but wasn’t taken to an emergency room, let alone given psychiatric care during the suicide watch. Without seeing a psychiatrist, his medication dosage was increased.

A severely ill 16-year-old with “a long history of being physically and sexually abused in addition to suffering from a traumatic brain injury, limited intellectual functioning, self-harm, and psychosis” was moved to EMCF from a juvenile detention center. His cell allegedly had a broken lock, and so other prisoners were able to enter. Five or six of them beat him. He was moved to a solitary confinement unit and, when he voiced his suicidal ideations and asked to see a psychiatrist, was deemed “manipulating to be moved”.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/13/aclu-lawsuit-east-mississippi-correctional-facility

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Everything Americans Think They Know About Drugs Is Wrong: A Scientist Explodes the Myths

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/drugs-addiction

Columbia University scientist Carl Hart combines research and anecdotes from his life to explain how false assumptions have created a disastrous drug policy.

By Kristen GwynneJune 13, 2013

What many Americans, including many scientists, think they know about drugs is turning out to be totally wrong. For decades, drug war propaganda has brainwashed Americans into blaming drugs for problems ranging from crime to economic deprivation. In his new book High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society, Carl Hart blows apart the most common myths about drugs and their impact on society, drawing in part on his personal experience growing up in an impoverished Miami neighborhood. Hart has used marijuana and cocaine, carried guns, sold drugs, and participated in other petty crime, like shoplifting. A combination of what he calls choice and chance brought him to the Air Force and college, and finally made him the first black, tenured professor of sciences at Columbia University.

Intertwined with his story about the struggles of families and communities stressed by lack of capital and power over their surroundings is striking new research on substance use. Hart uses his life and work to reveal that drugs are not nearly as harmful as many think. For example, most people who use the most “addicting” drugs do not develop a problem. Rather, Hart says, drugs are scapegoated for problems related to poverty. The policies that result from this misconception are catastrophically misguided. AlterNet spoke with Hart about his life and research.

Kristen Gynne: What are some of the false conclusions about drugs you are challenging?

Carl Hart: There are multiple false conclusions. There is a belief, for example, that crack cocaine is so addictive it only took one hit to get hooked, and that it is impossible to use heroin without becoming addicted. There was another belief that methamphetamine users are cognitively impaired. All of these are myths that have have been perpetuated primarily by law enforcement, and law enforcement deals with a limited, select group of people—people who are, in many cases, behaving badly. But to generalize that to all drug users is not only shortsighted and naive, it’s also irresponsible. The impact of that irresponsible behavior has been borne primarily by black communities. Nobody really cares about black communities, and that’s why this irresponsible behavior has been allowed to continue.

It’s also true that we’ve missed critical opportunities to challenge our basic assumptions about drugs. If drugs really were as damaging as we are led to believe, a respectable society should do something to address that problem. But the thing is, the very assumptions driving our drug policy are wrong, and must be questioned.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/drugs-addiction

See Also:

Raw Story: Scientists decry ‘the worst case of scientific censorship since the church banned Copernicus’

Raw Story: Why the ‘War on Drugs’ has been made redundant

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Fighting the Secrecy/Surveillance State

From Consortium News:  http://consortiumnews.com/2013/06/13/fighting-the-secrecysurveillance-state/

Dennis J Bernstein
June 13, 2013

The emergence of Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and now Edward Snowden represents just the tip of the iceberg of a popular resistance that is challenging the U.S. government’s excesses in secrecy and surveillance, a movement that Iceland MP Birgitta Jonsdottir discusses with Dennis J Bernstein.

The U.S. government’s “war on terror” and its companion “surveillance state” have become troubling issues not only for the civil liberties of Americans but even more so for the rest of the world where popular movements are arising to challenge the electronic penetration of people’s information and violation of their privacy.

Iceland Member of Parliament Birgitta Jonsdottir of the Pirate Party was in Berkeley, California, recently to speak at a forum with Daniel Ellsberg on “Disappearing Civil Liberties in The United States.” Jonsdottir is also Director of the International Modern Media Institute and co-producer of WikiLeaks’ “Collateral Murder” video, which revealed the slaughter of Iraqis in 2007 by a U.S. aerial weapons team.

Jonsdottir, who has worked closely with WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange, discussed the status of this emerging international struggle against government secrecy and surveillance in an interview with Dennis J Bernstein.

DB: How did you get involved in “Collateral Murder”?

BJ: I was working with spokespersons for WikiLeaks in 2009. They came to Iceland and spoke at a Freedom Society event where I was speaking as well. They were talking about an idea that originated in this area of the world, from John Perry Barlow, who a year earlier, in the wake of our financial collapse, said that Iceland could become a safe haven for freedom of information, expression and speech. Julian [Assange] and Daniel [Ellsberg] talked about the same concept, and it was ripe.

I was elected to Parliament, the only geek in Parliament at the time. I approached them after the conference and we began to work on this project, which is to look at the best functioning laws in the Twenty-first Century that protect freedom of information, expression and speech. The reason I chose to work with WikiLeaks was they had hands-on experience in keeping things up no matter what. They had released some documents from the Church of Scientology, and anybody who knows anything about the Church of Scientology knows that it’s very difficult to keep things up because they have very good lawyers. They managed to keep their bible up and you can still access their bible through the Internet because they have archive versions of the WikiLeaks website before the big leak, which came a few months later.

Continue reading at:  http://consortiumnews.com/2013/06/13/fighting-the-secrecysurveillance-state/

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Obama and His Allies Say the Govt Doesn’t Listen to Your Phone Calls — But the FBI Begs to Differ

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/obama-and-his-allies-say-govt-doesnt-listen-your-phone-calls-fbi-begs-differ

Given FBI acknowledgment that it monitors phone calls on a massive scale, with help from the NSA, gov’t denials are hard to understand.

By Max Blumenthal
June 16, 2013

Today, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) insisted the NSA has not been recording Americans’ phone calls under any surveillance program, and that any claim to the contrary was “misinformation.” Rogers’ comments countered remarks from Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), who said he was told in a House Judiciary Committee briefing by FBI Director Robert Mueller that private firms contracted by the NSA could listen to phone calls made by American citizens.

Since Nadler’s comments were reported by CNET, he has issued a subsequent statement backtracking on his original remarks: “I am pleased that the administration has reiterated that, as I have always believed, the NSA cannot listen to the content of Americans’ phone calls without a specific warrant.”

The full transcript of Nadler’s exchange with Mueller shows the FBI director claiming that “a particularized order from the FISA court directed at that particular phone and that particular individual” is required for the FBI to retrieve the content of any American’s call.

However, in a May 1 interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett– well before the scandal over NSA spying sent the White House and its allies into damage control mode – a former FBI agent named Tim Clemente made a startling revelation. According to Clemente, an April 18 phone call between Boston bombing perpetrator Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his wife was retrieved by the FBI as part of its surveillance of bulk US telecom data.

Here is the relevant section of Burnett and Clemente’s exchange:

BURNETT: Tim, is there any way, obviously, there is a voice mail they can try to get the phone companies to give that up at this point. It’s not a voice mail. It’s just a conversation. There’s no way they actually can find out what happened, right, unless she tells them?

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/obama-and-his-allies-say-govt-doesnt-listen-your-phone-calls-fbi-begs-differ

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Al Gore: NSA’s secret surveillance program ‘not really the American way’

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/14/al-gore-nsa-surveillance-unamerican

Former vice-president – not persuaded by argument that program was legal – urges Congress and Obama to amend the laws

, US environment correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Friday 14 June 2013

The National Security Agency’s blanket collection of US citizens’ phone records was “not really the American way”, Al Gore said on Friday, declaring that he believed the practice to be unlawful.

In his most expansive comments to date on the NSA revelations, the former vice-president was unsparing in his criticism of the surveillance apparatus, telling the Guardian security considerations should never overwhelm the basic rights of American citizens.

He also urged Barack Obama and Congress to review and amend the laws under which the NSA operated.

“I quite understand the viewpoint that many have expressed that they are fine with it and they just want to be safe but that is not really the American way,” Gore said in a telephone interview. “Benjamin Franklin famously wrote that those who would give up essential liberty to try to gain some temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Since the 2000 elections, when Gore won the popular vote but lost the presidency to George W Bush, the former vice-president has tacked to the left of the Democratic party, especially on his signature issue of climate change.

Gore spoke on Friday from Istanbul where he was about to lead one of his climate change training workshops for 600 global activists. Such three-day training sessions on behalf of the Climate Reality Project are now one of his main concerns.

Unlike other leading Democrats and his former allies, Gore said he was not persuaded by the argument that the NSA surveillance had operated within the boundaries of the law.

“This in my view violates the constitution. The fourth amendment and the first amendment – and the fourth amendment language is crystal clear,” he said. “It is not acceptable to have a secret interpretation of a law that goes far beyond any reasonable reading of either the law or the constitution and then classify as top secret what the actual law is.”

Gore added: “This is not right.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/14/al-gore-nsa-surveillance-unamerican

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The NSA’s Spying Program: What’s at Stake for the Climate Movement?

From Yes Magazine:  http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/NSA-spying-program-what-s-at-stake-for-climate-movement

Programs such as Prism could be used to hamper the social movements we need to tackle the biggest problems of our time.

by
Jun 17, 2013

The revelation that the National Security Agency gathers information about our phone and Internet use has been frightening, if not exactly surprising. What’s even scarier are the implications the program has for positive social change in the future.

We live in a time when issues like climate change, runaway income inequality, and spiraling health care costs threaten our chance at a decent future. While individuals can help in important ways through local projects, only a national—or even global—social movement can generate change at the scale needed to address these issues.

It’s in this context that the deeper problem with the N.S.A.’s data dragnet appears. According to stories in the Washington Post and The Guardian, the agency’s Prism program automatically gathers and stores data about many types of Internet use. The PowerPoint slides leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden mentions “email,” “videos,” “photos,” and “logins” under the heading “What You Will Receive in Collection.” Another slide mentions “collection directly from the servers” of companies like Google, Facebook, and Skype. (If you’re wondering what that phrase really means, see this ongoing debate between The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald and The Nation’s Rick Perlstein.)

And then there’s the matter of phone records. While California Senator Dianne Feinstein brushed off the program’s critics by assuring us that Prism doesn’t store the content of phone calls but only “metadata”—things like which numbers you dialed and how long the call lasted—articles at The Guardian and Washington Post show how clever spies can easily use metadata to figure out details such as your sexual orientation, illnesses you suffer from, and employment status.

In other words, if Uncle Sam doesn’t know what color underwear you’re wearing, he can probably figure it out by looking at your metadata. And, the history of social movements in the United States suggests that—no matter how well-intentioned and nonviolent the next big movement might be—the government is likely to use programs like Prism to stand in its way.

Consider some of the ways the government has used surveillance to disrupt social movements in recent history:

The Civil Rights Movement. Between 1956 and 1971, the FBI operated the Counterintelligence Program, or COINTELPRO, intended to address J. Edgar Hoover’s suspicion of Communist influence in a wide range of groups—the program interfered with organizations ranging from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to the American Indian Movement to the Black Panthers.

Continue reading at:  http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/NSA-spying-program-what-s-at-stake-for-climate-movement

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Fracking Puts Squeeze on Drought-Striken Farmers

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/06/17-4

Colorado farmer: “There is a new player for water, which is oil and gas. And certainly they are in a position to pay a whole lot more than we are.”

Lauren McCauley

The fracking industry is putting the squeeze on water-strapped farmers in the central United States according to a new analysis released Monday by the Associated Press.

Through an examination of industry-compiled fracking data and the US Department of Agriculture’s official drought designations, AP reveals that by driving up the price of water and burdening already depleted aquifers and rivers, the high-polluting and water-intensive shale oil and gas removal process is placing an increasing threat on states currently suffering from ongoing drought.

“There is a new player for water, which is oil and gas. And certainly they are in a position to pay a whole lot more than we are,” said fourth-generation farmer Kent Pepper of Mead, Colo., who has been forced to leave a number of his corn fields fallow this year because he cannot afford irrigation.

This news follows a recent study which found that nearly half of the country’s fracking wells are located in water-stressed regions and 92 percent of wells located in extremely high-water-stress regions, leading to the inevitable escalation of what Grist refers to as “the West’s water wars.”

The states highlighted in the study—including Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wyoming—fall within regions labeled by the most recent US Drought Monitor as suffering from “extreme” and “exceptional” drought conditions.

“The oil industry is doing the big fracks and pumping a substantial amount of water around here,” said Ed Walker, general manager of the Wintergarden Groundwater Conservation District, which manages an aquifer that serves as the main water source for farmers and about 29,000 people in three counties.

“When you have a big problem like the drought and you add other […] problems to it like all the fracking, then it only makes things worse,” he continued.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/06/17-4

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