Bradley Manning ‘aiding the enemy’ charge is a threat to journalism

From The Guardian UK:

Without an informed and free press, there cannot be an enlightened people. That’s what this trial is really about, Friday 19 July 2013

Thursday, Colonel Denise Lind, the judge in the Bradley Manning court martial, refused to dismiss the “aiding the enemy” charge. The decision is preliminary, and the judge could still moderate its effect if she finds Manning not guilty. But even if she ultimately acquits Manning, the decision will cast a long shadow on national security journalists and their sources.

First, this case is about national security journalism, not WikiLeaks. At Monday’s argument in preparation for Thursday’s ruling, the judge asked the prosecution to confirm: does it make any difference if it’s WikiLeaks or any other news organization: New York Times, Washington Post, or Wall Street Journal? The prosecution answered: “No, it would not. It would not potentially make a difference.”

Second, the decision establishes a chilling precedent: leaking classified documents to the these newspapers can by itself be legally sufficient to constitute the offense of “aiding the enemy”, if the leaker was sophisticated enough about intelligence and how the enemy uses the internet.

Thursday’s decision was preliminary and made under a standard that favors the prosecution’s interpretation of the facts. The judge must still make that ultimate decision on guilt based on all the evidence, including the defense, under the strict “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard.

Although the decision is preliminary, it is critical as a matter of law because it accepts the prosecution’s extreme theory as legally sufficient. The prosecution’s case is that by leaking materials to the press, the source of classified materials is “communicating with the enemy” indirectly. The source gives materials to the journalist; the journalist publishes; the enemy reads the publication and, presto, the source is guilty of the offense of “aiding the enemy”. Manning is facing life imprisonment without parole for this offense.

The judge earlier held that “aiding the enemy” required that the leaker have “actual knowledge” that by handing materials over to a newspaper, he or she is giving it to “the enemy”; it is not enough that the source “should have known” that the enemy would access the materials. The critical question for Thursday’s holding was what evidence is enough, as a matter of law, to prove “actual knowledge”.

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Hysteric Ultra Right Wing Republican Ted Cruz: Gay Rights Lead to Hate Speech Laws, US on Brink of Collapse

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Governor Rick Perry’s Sister Positioned To Make A Fortune Off The New Texas Abortion Law

From The New Civil Rights Movement:

by Jean Ann Esselink
on July 22, 2013

Despite State Senator Wendy Davis’ impressive 12-hour filibuster, the Texas legislature was able to push through new stringent abortion restrictions in special session. Under the provisions of SB5, doctors performing abortions must have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, and clinics must be licensed as ambulatory surgical centers. Since only five of the forty-two clinics offering abortion services in Texas can meet those standards, without relief from a federal court, thirty-seven clinics will have to close their doors, or no longer offer abortions.

Governor Rick Perry has signed SB5, and it is now the law in Texas. But the stroke of Governor Perry’s pen did more than take away the freedom of many Texas women to plan their own families. It put the doctor-entrepreneur clients of his older sister, Milla Perry Jones, in a position to make millions.

Milla Perry Jones is Vice President of Government Relations of United Surgical Partners International, which runs surgery centers co-owned by doctors. She lobbies for doctor-owned clinics in Washington and Austin, and she teaches trade groups how to do the same. She is described in “Who’s Who in the Ambulatory Surgery Industry” as “a true advocate for the physician-owned healthcare model.” In fact, when Obamacare was first passed, the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons, one of the trade groups Milla Perry Jones worked with, sued Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius over a provision that barred new doctor-owned medical facilities. The restriction was seen as a way to rein in healthcare costs, because services at doctor-owned clinics cost an average of 20% more than traditional clinics, since doctor-owners have a financial incentive to order more tests.

The suit was unsuccessful.

But now, her little brother the governor has put Milla in a position to capitalize on the abortion demand that is inevitable when 37 Texas clinics can no longer offer abortion services. The women who want to terminate and unwelcome pregnancy aren’t going to disappear. They are going to look elsewhere. Business-wise there will be quite an opportunity for the existing 420 Texas licensed ambulatory surgical clinics to consider adding abortion to their list of services. There will also be an opportunity for doctors to buy out the clinics that have to close at bargain basement rates, and update them to ambulatory surgical centers. Doctor-owners would also satisfy the admitting privileges problem. Abortions would still be available, just at new higher prices.

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Goodwill exploits workers with penny wages

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Bill Moyers: Weapons of Mass Distraction—Why the Media Most Americans Consume Is Harmful to the Public Health

From Alternet:

Marty Kaplan unravels distractions that prevent national outcry over unemployment, hunger, crumbling infrastructure and out of whack systems.

By Bill Moyers, Marty Kaplan
July 16, 2013

The following content originally appeared on

Across the world — Greece, Spain, Brazil, Egypt — citizens are turning angrily to their governments to demand economic fair play and equality. But here in America, with few exceptions, the streets and airwaves remain relatively silent. In a country as rich and powerful as America, why is there so little outcry about the ever-increasing, deliberate divide between the very wealthy and everyone else?

Media scholar Marty Kaplan points to a number of forces keeping these issues and affected citizens in the dark — especially our well-fed appetite for media distraction.

“We have unemployment and hunger and crumbling infrastructure and a tax system out of whack and a corrupt political system — why are we not taking to the streets?” Kaplan asks Bill. “I suspect among your viewers, there are people who are outraged and want to be at the barricades. The problem is that we have been taught to be helpless and jaded rather than to feel that we are empowered and can make a difference.”

An award-winning columnist and head of the Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California, Kaplan also talks about the appropriate role of journalists as advocates for truth.

The following is a transcript of the interview, which originally appeared on

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Mitch Daniels: I Just Wanted To Keep Kids From Reading Howard Zinn

From Huffington Post:


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University President Mitch Daniels on Friday stood by his efforts to keep liberal historian Howard Zinn’s work from being taught in Indiana schools, saying the actions he took while governor were meant to keep the book out of the hands of K-12 students.

Meanwhile, the university’s board of trustees threw their support behind the former politician, approving a $58,000 bonus to reward him for his first six months on the job.

Daniels told reporters after a meeting of the board that a statement he made as governor that Indiana should “disqualify the propaganda” he saw being used in Indiana’s teacher preparation courses was meant only to keep Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” from being taught in the state’s K-12 classrooms.

“The question is, would this lead to this material being taught to innocent school children? I promise that if the parents of Indiana understood what was in the book in question, 99 if not 100 out of 100 would want some other book used,” Daniels said after the trustees’ meeting on the West Lafayette campus.

Daniels has come under fire in academic circles for the 2010 emails, which were obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request.

After learning that Zinn’s book was being used in a summer teacher training course at Indiana University, Daniels signed off on education adviser David Shane’s proposal to review university courses across the state to determine what should count as credit.

“Go for it. Disqualify propaganda and highlight (if there is any) the more useful offerings. Don’t the ed schools have at least some substantive PD (professional development) courseware to upgrade knowledge of math, science, etc.,” Daniels wrote.

After being told Zinn’s work was being used at Indiana University in a course for teachers on the Civil Rights, feminist and labor movements, Daniels wrote:

“This crap should not be accepted for any credit by the state. No student will be better taught because someone sat through this session. Which board has jurisdiction over what counts and what doesn’t?”

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The Myth of the Hardhat Hawk

From In These Times:

Was the working class really the biggest proponent of the Vietnam War?

BY Bhaskar Sunkara
July 18, 2013

In 1969, Richard Nixon commended “the great silent majority” of Americans who supported the Vietnam War while Vice President Spiro Agnew denounced the “effete corps of impudent snobs” who opposed it. This story has become ingrained in our national mythos: Blue-collar workers driven by patriotism supported the war, while resistance came from liberal intellectuals and degenerate hippies. But City University of New York sociologist Penny Lewis argues in Hardhats, Hippies and Hawks: The Vietnam Anti-War Movement as Myth and Memory that this dichotomy is a crafted fiction.

Iconic events of that period did fuel notions of a pro-war working class. In 1965, AFL-CIO President George Meany said that “for America to surrender, to withdraw, to abandon its solemn commitment to South Vietnam would be the first step toward a world holocaust.” And in 1970, construction workers in Manhattan physically assaulted demonstrators at an anti-war rally. Then there was the invented history, apocryphal stories of veterans thanklessly defending liberty abroad only to be spat on when they returned home.

Lewis’ own experience helped her re- cover the lost “countermemory” of this period. The daughter of two service members, she grew up with veterans, many of whom were suffering from economic hardship and deeply opposed the war. The poll data she summons suggests her experiences were the rule, not the exception: Elites were more likely to support the war, workers more likely to oppose it. By 1971, 60 percent of those with college degrees supported withdrawal, but even more—80 percent—with only a grade- school education did as well.

Close to a quarter of those who served in Vietnam participated in the military anti-war movement. Black youth from disadvantaged back- grounds numbered disproportionately in the ranks of non-registrants and deserters. They knew they had little at stake in the Vietnam War.

Lewis’ argument is not that the working class was uniformly radical, but rather that it was split along a left-right divide. Not everyone was against the war, but significant numbers were. Similarly, many workers were shop-floor militants. In 1970, 5,600 work stoppages led to 6.2 million lost worker-days. In 1971, 2.5 million workers were involved in major strikes. The era didn’t begin, or end, with flower power.

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The Violence of Organized Forgetting

From Truth Out:

By Henry A. Giroux
Monday, 22 July 2013

“People who remember court madness through pain, the pain of the perpetually recurring death of their innocence; people who forget court another kind of madness, the madness of the denial of pain and the hatred of innocence.” – James Baldwin

Learning to Forget


America has become amnesiac – a country in which forms of historical, political, and moral forgetting are not only willfully practiced but celebrated. The United States has degenerated into a social order that is awash in public stupidity and views critical thought as both a liability and a threat. Not only is this obvious in the presence of a celebrity culture that embraces the banal and idiotic, but also in the prevailing discourses and policies of a range of politicians and anti-public intellectuals who believe that the legacy of the Enlightenment needs to be reversed.  Politicians such as Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich along with talking heads such as Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck and Anne Coulter are not the problem, they are symptomatic of a much more disturbing assault on critical thought, if not rationale thinking itself.  Under a neoliberal regime, the language of authority, power and command is divorced from ethics, social responsibility, critical analysis and social costs.


These anti-public intellectuals are part of a disimagination machine that solidifies the power of the rich and the structures of the military-industrial-surveillance-academic complex by presenting the ideologies, institutions and relations of the powerful as commonsense.[1] For instance, the historical legacies of resistance to racism, militarism, privatization and panoptical surveillance have long been forgotten and made invisible in the current assumption that Americans now live in a democratic, post-racial society. The cheerleaders for neoliberalism work hard to  normalize dominant institutions and relations of power through a vocabulary and public pedagogy that create market-driven subjects, modes of consciousness, and ways of understanding the world that promote accommodation, quietism and passivity.  Social solidarities are torn apart, furthering the retreat into orbits of the private that undermine those spaces that nurture non-commodified knowledge, values, critical exchange and civic literacy. The pedagogy of authoritarianism is alive and well in the United States, and its repression of public memory takes place not only through the screen culture and institutional apparatuses of conformity, but is also reproduced through a culture of fear and a carceral state that imprisons more people than any other country in the world.[2] What many commentators have missed in the ongoing attack on Edward Snowden is not that he uncovered information that made clear how corrupt and intrusive the American government has become – how willing it is to engage in vast crimes against the American public. His real “crime” is that he demonstrated how knowledge can be used to empower people, to get them to think as critically engaged citizens rather than assume that knowledge and education are merely about the learning of skills – a reductive concept that substitutes training for education and reinforces the flight from reason and the goose-stepping reflexes of an authoritarian mindset.[3] 

Since the late1970s, there has been an intensification in the United States, Canada and Europe of neoliberal modes of governance, ideology and policies – a historical period in which the foundations for democratic public spheres have been dismantled. Schools, public radio, the media and other critical cultural apparatuses have been under siege, viewed as dangerous to a market-driven society that considers critical thought, dialogue, and civic engagement a threat to its basic values, ideologies, and structures of power. This was the beginning of an historical era in which the discourse of democracy, public values, and the common good came crashing to the ground. Margaret Thatcher in Britain and soon after Ronald Reagan in the United States – both hard-line advocates of market fundamentalism – announced that there was no such thing as society and that government was the problem not the solution. Democracy and the political process were all but sacrificed to the power of corporations and the emerging financial service industries, just as hope was appropriated as an advertisement for a whitewashed world in which the capacity of culture to critique oppressive social practices was greatly diminished. Large social movements fragmented into isolated pockets of resistance mostly organized around a form of identity politics that largely ignored a much-needed conversation about the attack on the social and the broader issues affecting society such as the growing inequality in wealth, power and income.

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Hobby Lobby Wins The Right To Deny Its Workers Birth Control Coverage

From Think Progress:

By Tara Culp-Ressler
on Jul 19, 2013

The Oklahoma-based crafts store Hobby Lobby has won a temporary injunction against Obamacare’s birth control requirement, allowing the for-profit company to withhold contraceptive coverage from its 13,000 employees. Hobby Lobby will be exempted from that rule under the health law until October 1, when the federal government must decide whether to appeal the decision.

Obamacare requires employer-based insurance to cover a range of gender-specific preventative services at no additional cost to workers, including several forms of birth control, to help address the fact that women typically have higher out-of-pocket health costs than men do. But Hobby Lobby has been fighting for the right to drop birth control coverage for the past year. The store’s conservative Christian owners say that providing some types of birth control — specifically, emergency contraception — violates their religious beliefs. The craft store chain employs people of all faiths at 556 different stores in 45 states.

Hobby Lobby would have faced significant fines if it had violated Obamacare’s contraception rule. At first, the company decided to pay the fine in exchange for withholding birth control coverage. Then, it began manipulating employees’ health plans in the hopes of avoiding the fines altogether.

But now, with U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton’s decision to issue an injunction, the craft chain will have a temporary reprieve from the issue. Heaton’s ruling comes just a few weeks after the conservative panel of judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit also sided with Hobby Lobby, agreeing that employers may put their own religious beliefs above their employees’ rights.

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Sunglass Hut Policy: ‘Hire White Beauty People,’ Lawsuit Says

From Alternet:

“Black and Hispanic employees are not a good look for the store.”

By Janet Allon
July 18, 2013

Pavolo Venezia worked for Sunglass Hut for 18 mostly happy years, most recently at its store on tony Spring Street in New York City’s SoHo. It was there that he got a new boss, Debbie Gidiull, who made his life miserable, Venezia claims in a lawsuit against Sunglass Hut LLC and parent company Luxottica Retail North America reported in today’s Courthouse News. Under the new boss, the company “revamped the face of its most popular store by getting rid of older employees, and black and Hispanic employees,” the lawsuit states. The directive, Venezia alleges, was “to hire white beauty people,” because “Black and Hispanic employees are not a good look for the store.”

Venezia disagreed with those policies, and so inevitably friction arose between him and and Gidiull.

According to Courthouse News:

The complaint continues: “At some point during the year of 2010, Mr. Venezia was approached by high level members of the defendant who verbally reprimanded plaintiff for plaintiff’s failure to conform to previously given directive to lessen the amount of black and Hispanic employees. Plaintiff was reminded that black and Hispanic employees did not properly represent the customers who shopped at the SoHo stores and thus said employees were not a good look for the store.

“Additionally, plaintiff was instructed to hire white beauty people for the store.”

Venezia claims he continued to hire black and Hispanic employees anyway, so the bosses took away his power to hire people, wrote him up for it, and eventually fired him for it.
Along the way, he says, his regional manager rejected all six candidates he suggested for the assistant manager’s job, “based solely on said candidates being minority.”

Venezia is suing for wrongful termination and human rights violations, and says he was fired while on a leave he was forced to take due to the stress of the having to work under such wrongful (and illegal) policies. He is seeking punitive damages.


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Who’s Your Daddy?

From The New York Times:

July 20, 2013

Gus Wenner runs; his father gave him the job. But Jann Wenner, the magazine’s co-founder and publisher, was quick to assure critics of the appointment process that his son is terribly talented and had to prove himself before being given the reins. Apparently Gus worked his way up from more junior positions with the company, and demonstrated, according to his father, the “drive and discipline and charm, and all the things that show leadership.” Gus Wenner is 22 years old.

He is certainly not the only kid just out of college, or even out of high school, working at daddy’s firm. Family contacts are a common way of finding both temporary internships and longtime careers. But whether because of blatant nepotism, or a privileged head start in life that nurtures talent and ambition, opportunities for the children of the top 1 percent are not the same as they are for the 99 percent.

This is hardly a shock, but it is precisely the type of inequality that reveals the elusive promise of the “Just Do It” version of the American dream and deepens our cynicism about how people get ahead. As a consequence, it dilutes support for public policies that could address the lack of upward mobility among children born at the bottom, who ought to be given priority.

A strong tie between adult outcomes and family background rubs Americans the wrong way. When the Pew Charitable Trusts conducted a nationally representative poll asking about the meaning of “the American dream,” some typical answers included: “Being free to say or do what you want” and “Being free to accomplish almost anything you want with hard work;” but also “Being able to succeed regardless of the economic circumstances in which you were born.”

This is exactly the reason that “the American dream” is not only a defining metaphor for the country, but also why Americans have long been willing to tolerate a good deal more economic inequality than citizens of many other rich countries. A belief in the possibility of upward mobility not only morally justifies inequality as the expression of talents and energies, but also extends a promise to those with lower incomes. After all, why would you be a strong advocate for reducing inequality if you believe that you, or eventually your children, were likely to climb the income ladder?

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It’s Time to Acknowledge White Privilege

From Huffington Post:


I was introduced to the concept of white privilege in 1984, when I was 19, in college. I was having lunch with my first love, a black man, in a diner in central Ohio. Some friends were with us, and we were waiting for them afterwards outside the diner on the sidewalk, and we were joking around about something. I went to hug him and he took a step back and said, “Not here,” his mood instantly altered from humorous to one too serious for outward expression. He explained later that he had rejected my attempt at affection because he was keenly aware of the history of the Klan in the area.

I wasn’t. Because I didn’t have to be.

I was shocked, not just by the disparity between his experience of the world and mine, but also by the depths of my own ignorance that such a disparity existed. And also that his always-present awareness of the possibility of racist violence was so deeply ingrained in his life that his body had recoiled from potential public contact with my white-girl skin as automatically as if it had been fire.

This sweet soul — a man who had taught me the meaning of the word “cacophony” by reciting, laughing, a poem he had once written about birds — had responded to public contact with me as if it could get him killed.

This fear was so outside my experience that I had nowhere to put it in my imagination. Oh, like everyone else, I had read To Kill a Mockingbird and cried, but that story had presented itself to my mind as ancient history. Or, if not ancient, then having to do with my grandparents’ generation, not mine. But ever since Trayvon Martin was killed, and particularly since the verdict that somehow let his killer go free, I have been asking myself what it means to be white in a society still so embroiled in racism.

My boyfriend and I didn’t talk about race much; we were poetry nerds and liked to talk about words and books. Once we were lying on my bed chatting and he looked over and said, “Look at that.” I looked — at what? “That,” he said, pointing to our arms. He had his arm around me and it lay against my arm on that side. His dark arm and my pale one. He said, “It doesn’t matter at all, does it?” I said, “Nope,” and grinned at him. We were so stupidly young, we thought we had, at least momentarily, fixed something long broken.

Or, at least, that’s what I thought. When my father came to collect me at the end of the year, my boyfriend helped me pack up my trunk. We were tired, having stayed up too late smooching, and we weren’t being very efficient. My father sat at my desk, typing something on my typewriter while he waited. At some point, my boyfriend and I had collapsed, tired, on the bed behind my father’s back. When my father turned around to check on progress and saw us sprawled as if about to take a nice long nap together, he laughed. “Uh-oh, progress has stalled,” he teased us, and we laughed too and got up to finish packing. I didn’t think anything of it, but my boyfriend told me later that he had clenched up as my father turned around. It’s one thing, he explained to me, to know that your daughter has a black boyfriend. It’s another to see them sprawled together on a bed. He relaxed when my father just laughed at us.

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UN Climate Report Will ‘Scare Wits Out of Everybody’

From Common Dreams

A leaked portion is downplayed as not representative of complete IPCC findings due out in September

Common Dreams staff

Though scientists involved with an upcoming report by the UN’s scientific panel on climate change warn that a recently leaked portion of the report is not a good measure of the group’s ultimate findings, former UN climate chief Yvo de Boer has said the conclusions of the final report will “scare the wits out of everybody.”

In September, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will release its much-anticipated report on the latest global scientific consensus on man-made global warming, but last week The Economist magazine released a portion of the report that claimed to show a dip in the IPCC’s worst-case predictions.

Responding to magazine’s treatment of the leaked portion of the study, however, scientists involved in the project called the story “misleading,” “contrived,” and “irresponsible” and warned the public not to jump to conclusions until the complete findings of the IPCC are revealed.

Responding to the news reporting—based on a leaked draft from a working group within the larger framework of the review—the IPCC released a statement which read, in part:

The text is likely to change in response to comments from government and expert reviewers. It is therefore premature and can be misleading to attempt to draw conclusions. Draft reports are intermediate products and do not represent the scientific view that the IPCC provides on the state of knowledge of climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts at the conclusion of the process.

And as Ed King at the Responding to Climate Change website reports:

Fellow US climate expert Michael Mann emailed the the ThinkProgress website, arguing that: “the author hopelessly confuses transient warming (the warming observed at any particularly time) with committed warming (the total warming that you’ve committed to, which includes warming in the pipeline due to historical carbon emissions).”

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