Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Ferguson Cops Joked About
Black Abortion

The Department of Justice has found police officers in Ferguson,
Missouri, routinely violated black residents’ constitutional rights,
using excessive force and unjustified traffic stops for years. In addition,
investigators said police officials made racist jokes about blacks via
their official email accounts. One officer said Obama wouldn't be
president for long because "what black man holds a steady job for four
years?" Another said a black woman got a check from "Crime Stoppers"
for having an abortion. Investigators reviewed 35,000 pages of police
records and analyzed data on every police stop. African Americans made
up 93 percent of arrests, 88 percent of cases where force was used, 90
percent of citations, and 85 percent of traffic stops. By contrast, they are
about 66 percent of the city’s population. The full report will be released
on Wednesday.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership

By Robert Reich* and Richard Trumka*

This spring, President Obama and Republican leaders in Congress want to use an outdated process used to pass the North American Free Trade Agreement more than 20 years ago—a rule called “fast track”—to force through trade deals without a real debate or any amendments.

And fast track would be used to speed passage of the giant Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, trade deal.

If you haven't heard much about the TPP, that's part of the problem.

It would be the largest trade deal in history—involving countries stretching from Chile to Japan, representing 792 million people and about 40% of the world economy.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership won't deliver jobs or curb China's power

Yet it's been devised in secret, with a disproportionate amount of advice coming from corporations and Wall Street.

This secrecy is the norm since NAFTA.

Most of the details that are known to the public have come through WikiLeaks.

Instead, we'd like to see the negotiating texts made public, so there can be an honest and open debate.

A fast-tracked TPP would lock in a rigged set of economic rules, lasting potentially forever, before most Americans—let alone some members of Congress—have had a chance to understand it thoroughly.

If the administration gets fast-track authority, it could hand a completed deal to Congress, which must then vote yes or no, without amendments and little debate, within 90 days.

It would be a grave mistake for Congress to authorize fast-tracking this giant trade deal.

We were both involved in the NAFTA debate—one of us as the leader of a major union, the other as secretary of Labor.

No one knew how the agreement would turn out or the full ramifications of approving a trade deal without a full debate.

We now know that NAFTA has cost the U.S. economy hundreds of thousands of jobs and is one reason why America's workers haven't gotten a real raise in decades.

It and agreements like it have also contributed to the huge U.S. trade deficits.

We now import about $500 billion more in goods and services each year than we export.

Following NAFTA with the Trans-Pacific Partnership is like turning a bad television show into a terrible movie.

It will be on a bigger screen and cost a lot more money.

A few might walk away happy and rich, but it won't be the audience.

This isn't a contest between free trade and protectionism.

The United States chose free trade, and it worked.

Living standards rose here and abroad.

Jobs were created to take the place of jobs that were lost.

Worldwide demand for products made by American workers grew and helped push up U.S. wages.

But American corporations have gone global, and in recent decades the payoffs from trade agreements have mainly gone to those at the top.

Now they make many of their products overseas and ship them back to the United States.

Recent trade agreements have protected their intellectual property abroad—patents, trademarks and copyrights—along with their overseas factories, equipment and financial assets.

That argument exists for keeping a treaty, that will in effect become US law if approved, from the American people and an open debate in Congress? 

As for the problems with the TPP?

What's been leaked about its proposals reveals, for example, that the pharmaceutical industry would get stronger patent protections, delaying cheaper generic versions of drugs.

The deal also gives global corporations an international tribunal of private attorneys, outside any nation's legal system, that can order compensation for lost expected profits resulting from a nation's regulations, including our own.

These extraordinary rights for corporations put governments on the defensive over legitimate public health or environmental rules.
As Wisconsin goes, so goes the nation? Let's hope not

The deal would encourage and reward American corporations for outsourcing even more jobs abroad.

And it does nothing to prevent other nations from manipulating their currencies to boost their exports and undermine the competitiveness of U.S.-made products.

The administration calls the TPP a key part of its strategy to make U.S. engagement in the Asia-Pacific region a priority.

It thinks the TPP will help contain China's power and influence.

But the trade pact is likely to make giant U.S. global corporations even more powerful and influential.

White House strategists believe such corporations are accountable to the U.S. government.


At most, they're answerable to their worldwide shareholders.

At a time when corporate profits are at record highs and the real median wage is lower than it's been in four decades, most Americans need protection—not from international trade but from the political power of giant global corporations and Wall Street.

We need trade agreements that address unfair trade practices such as currency manipulation, foreign subsidies to exports, corporate power grabs and systematic and egregious violation of internationally recognized labor rights.

Congress should debate whether the Trans-Pacific Partnership promotes the shared values of democracy and prosperity that the United States stands for, as well as sets high standards for countries such as China to follow.

Or whether it merely speeds the global race to the bottom.

If it's the latter, Congress should be able to change it, not act as a rubber stamp on agreements negotiated in secret.

It can start by not fast-tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Robert Reich was secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration; Richard Trumka is president of the AFL-CIO

Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser.
Vince Lombardi

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Petraeus Reaches Plea Deal Over Giving Classified Data to His Lover

 “The U.S. and its closest allies are on the brink of a historic deal that will both prevent an Iranian bomb and war with Iran, and Congressional hawks are orchestrating political stunts with foreign leaders to try to kill it,” said NIAC President Trita Parsi.

“The American people do not want another senseless military adventure and certainly don’t consider Benjamin Netanyahu to be their commander-in-chief.”

The statement also reminds us of this episode: one of the most critical national security debates of our time–the decision of whether to invade Iraq–Netanyahu was brought to testify before Congress.

In his remarks he advocated strongly for the war, telling lawmakers ‘if you take out Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region.’

Is it time to quit listening to this war monger? All we need is to be pushed into another war. Netanyahu doesn't give a flying shit how it effects us. God forbid we wind up with another Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb for President and Vice President. Thank gawd President Obama is too smart to fall for that crap. 

According to Jewish Voice for Peace, as of today, 29 members of Congress will skip Netanyahu's speech.

Here is The Hill's list of those who have stated publicly they will skip the speech:

House (22)

    Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.)—Wrote a Jan. 29 column in The Huffington Post explaining his decision, saying the Constitution “vests the responsibility for foreign affairs in the president.”

    Rep. G.K. Butterfield (N.C.)—The head of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) focused on Boehner undermining Obama in a statement and emphasized he's not urging a boycott.

    Rep. Andre Carson (Ind.)

    Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.)—Clyburn is the highest-ranking Democratic leader to say he’ll skip the speech.

    Rep. Diana DeGette (Colo.)

    Rep. Donna Edwards (Md.)

    Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.)—He is head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), a member of the CBC and the first Muslim in Congress.

    Rep. Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.)—Grijalva is a co-chairman of the CPC.

    Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (Ill.)—A spokesman told the Chicago Sun-Times that Gutierrez has a "strong" record on Israel but called the speech "a stunt."

    Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.)

    Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas)—"The Congresswoman has no plans to attend the speech at this time," a spokeswoman said.

    Rep. Barbara Lee (Calif.)—A member of the CBC and former head of the CPC.

    Rep. John Lewis (Ga.)—His office confirmed he’s not going but emphasized he's not organizing a formal boycott

    Rep. Betty McCollum (Minn.): "In my view Mr. Netanyahu’s speech before Congress is nothing more than a campaign event hosted by Speaker Boehner and paid for by the American people," McCollum said in a statement."

    Rep. Jim McDermott (Wash.)—“I do not intend to attend the speech of Bibi,” he said in an email to a Seattle newspaper.

    Rep. Gregory Meeks (N.Y.)—A CBC member.

    Rep. Beto O'Rourke (Texas)

    Rep. Chellie Pingree (Maine)

    Rep. Charles Rangel (N.Y.)—"I'm offended as an American," he said on MSNBC.

    Rep. Cedric Richmond (La.)

    Rep. Bennie Thompson (Miss.)

    Rep. John Yarmuth (Ky.)—"We know what he is going to say," the Jewish lawmaker said in a statement.

Senate (3)
    Sen. Patrick Leahy (Vt.)—Leahy called it a "tawdry and high-handed stunt," according to a  Vermont newspaper.

    Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)—Sanders, who caucuses with Democrats, said it’s “wrong” that Obama wasn’t consulted about the speech.

    Sen. Brian Schatz (Hawaii)—“The U.S.-Israel relationship is too important to be overshadowed by partisan politics," said Schatz in a statement. "I am disappointed in the Republican leadership’s invitation of Prime Minister Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress with the apparent purpose of undermining President Obama’s foreign policy prerogatives.”

Could we just imagine how it would have gone down if a Democrat had pulled this shit when Cheney was running the show?

Sometimes the truth presents itself in a way that is difficult to refute.

Like a simple Google search?

For all the debate over whether Fox News host Bill O'Reilly has been, like NBC News host Brian Williams, guilty of embellishing stories about his experiences as a reporter, it seemed as though the cable news ratings sensation had been able to infuse enough doubt against those who claimed to have caught him in a lie so as to quell each successive story.

Not anymore, buddy!
Stop making up shit, even if you can see Russia from your kitchen window!

But on Sunday, CNN broadcast a recording that clearly refuted claims O'Reilly made in his 2012 book, Killing Kennedy, and again on air, that he had stood on the doorstep of the home where Lee Harvey Oswald friend George de Mohrenschildt committed suicide in 1977, and had actually heard the fatal shot being fired.

And he was swept away on a magic carpet?

The audio tape of the phone call between O'Reilly and Florida investigator Gaeton Fonzi shows that O'Reilly was not in Florida on the day of de Mohrenschildt's suicide, and only learned of it when Fonzi called him.


During the call, O'Reilly asks Fonzi what time the suicide took place, and whether a gun had been used.

Good questions, O'Reilly, the sign of an ace reporter. By the way, where did you get your degree?

He also adds that he is planning on traveling to Florida the following day.

Hopefully to work on your tan and not to throw anymore of your stink bombs!

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Why the Rise of Fascism Is Again   

the Issue

Sunday, 01 March 2015--By John Pilger, Truthout

Since 1945, more than a third of the membership of the UN--69 countries--have suffered at the hands of the United States' modern fascism.

*This long and detailed report by John Pilger is very much worth the read.

Do you realize if it weren't for Edison we'd be 
watching TV by candlelight?
Al Boliska

Y'know something, Americans, you are starting to piss me off! 

Quit the poor me attitude and put on your thinking caps! 

Seems to me there is a shitload of plastic out here and we just can't figure out what to do with it; like directions aren't included.

It's plastic, for kwist sake! 

Make raincoats! 
Or board games! 
Or toys! 
Or lawn furniture! 

Or all of the above and more!

Oh, granted it isn't oil, but plastic can be repurposed by a creative, futuristic panel.

And there are profits to be made, too! 
Dot Calm  

Think Your Plastic is Being Recycled?

By Jen Hayden

Bales of crushed blue PET bottles and bales of various other plastics.
Sept.18, 2013--Think those plastic items you carefully separate from the rest of your trash are being responsibly recycled?

Think again.

U.S. recycling companies have largely stayed away from recycling plastic and most of it has been shipped to China where it can be processed cheaper.

Not anymore.

This year China announced a Green Fence Policy, prohibiting much of the plastic recycling they once imported.
For many environmentally conscious Americans, there’s a deep satisfaction to chucking anything and everything plasticky into the recycling bin—from shampoo bottles to butter tubs—the types of plastics in the plastic categories #3 through #7.
Little do they know that, even if their local trash collector says it recycles that waste, they might as well be chucking those plastics in the trash bin.
“Plastics are absolutely going to a landfill—China's is not taking plastics any more… because of Green Fence,” David Kaplan, CEO of Maine Plastics, a post-industrial recycler, tells Quartz. “This will continue until we can do it in the United States economically.”
U.S. recyclers are scrambling to come up with a solution now that China is drastically cutting back on their top import from the U.S.
China's demand for low-cost recycled raw materials has meant waste shipments from Europe, the US, Japan and Hong Kong have arrived thick and fast, with scrap becoming the top US export to China by value ($11.3bn) in 2011.
China controls a large portion of the recycling market, importing about 70% of the world's 500m tonnes of electronic waste and 12m tonnes of plastic waste each year.
Sudden Chinese policy changes therefore have a significant impact on the global recycling trade, which puts pressure on western countries to reconsider their reliance on the cost-effective practice of exporting waste, a habit that's reinforced by a lack of domestic recycling infrastructure and a lower demand for secondary raw materials.
China's Green Fence policy just might spur the U.S. government and recyclers into much-needed U.S. government and recyclers into much-needed innovation.
Historically, higher labor costs and environmental safety standards made processing scrap into raw materials much more expensive in the US than in China. So the US never developed much capacity or technology to sort and process harder-to-break down plastics like #3 through #7.
Green Fence might be a chance to change that, says Mike Biddle, CEO of California-based recycling company MBA Polymers.
“China’s Green Fence offers a real opportunity to the US government and recycling industry to step up its efforts on recycling and catalyze a strong domestic recycling market in the US,” Biddle said at a recent webinar on Green Fence.
Some U.S. recycling companies are applauding the news.
The policy also has leveled the playing field by allowing large-scale companies that have invested additional money in pollution control and recycling services to operate at a more equal and fair-cost level, according to Kathy Xuan, CEO of full-service recycler Parc Corp. of Romeoville, Ill.
With China taking a harder look at the plastic waste it imports, U.S.-based recyclers are looking for opportunities in the changing global market.
Parc has doubled production in the last six months, Xuan said in a July 2 webinar hosted by the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. of Washington.
The opportunity for big change (and big profits) is there.

Let's hope the U.S. government and recycling companies don't throw away the opportunity to lead the way.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

James Meredith.jpg
James Meredith in 1962

James Howard Meredith (born June 25, 1933) is an American civil rights movement figure, writer, and political adviser.

In 1962, he was an Air Force veteran and the first African-American student admitted to the segregated University of Mississippi, an event that was a flashpoint in the African American civil African American civil rights movement.

Inspired by President John F. Kennedy's inaugural address, Meredith decided to exercise his constitutional rights and apply to the University of Mississippi.

His goal was to put pressure on the Kennedy administration to enforce civil rights for African Americans.

In 1966 Meredith planned a solo 220-mile March Against Fear from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi; he wanted to highlight continuing racism in the South and encourage voter registration.

He did not want major civil rights organizations involved. 

The second day, he was shot by a white gunman and suffered numerous wounds.

Leaders of major organizations vowed to complete the march in his name after he was taken to the hospital. 

While he was recovering, more people became involved as marchers. 

When Meredith and other leaders entered Jackson on June 26, marchers were an estimated 15,000 strong, in what was the largest civil rights march in Mississippi. 

During the course of it, more than 4,000 African Americans had registered to vote, and the march was a catalyst to continued community organizing and additional registration.

In 2002 and again in 2012, the University of Mississippi led year-long series of events to celebrate the 40th and 50th anniversaries of Meredith's integration of the institution. 

He was among numerous speakers invited to the campus, where a statue of him commemorates his role. 

The Lyceum-The Circle Historic District at the center of the campus has been designated as a National Historic Landmark for these events.
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Foreign correspondent and intellectual provocateur Chris Hedges explains why New Atheists like Christopher Hitchens are as dangerous as Christian fundamentalists.

I don't believe in atheists.

Many charges have been leveled at foreign correspondent Chris Hedges over the years, but shrinking from conflict isn’t one of them.

Hedges spent nearly seven years as Middle East bureau chief for the New York Times, covered the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo, and was part of the New York Times team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of global terrorism.

He took on the American military-industrial complex with his books “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” and “What Every Person Should Know About War,” and provoked the rage of the Christian right by likening them to Nazis in last year’s “American Fascists.”

Hedges now cements his reputation as an intellectual provocateur with the charmingly titled “I Don’t Believe in Atheists.”

While speaking out against the Christian fundamentalist movement and its political agenda, Hedges noticed another group—this one on the left—conspicuously allied with the neocons on the subject of America’s role in world politics.

The New Atheists, as they have been called, include Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and bestselling author and journalist Christopher Hitchens—outspoken secularists who depict religious structures and the belief in God as backward and anti-democratic.

Though Hedges, a Harvard seminary graduate and the son of a Presbyterian minister, considers himself a religious man, his quarrel with the New Atheists goes beyond theological concerns.

In “I Don’t Believe in Atheists,” he accuses Hitchens and the others of preaching a fundamentalism as dangerous as the religious fundamentalist belief systems they attack.

Strange bedfellows indeed—according to Hedges, the New Atheists and the Christian right pose the greatest threat facing American democratic society today.

Hedges spoke to Salon by phone from his home in New Jersey.

You say that “I Don’t Believe in Atheists” is a product of confrontations you had with Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris.

How did those debates inspire the book?

In May of 2007 I went to L.A. to debate Sam Harris, and then two days later I went to San Francisco to debate Christopher Hitchens.

Up until that point, I hadn’t paid much attention to the work of the New Atheists.

After reading what they had written and walking away from these debates, I was appalled at how what they had done for the secular left was to embrace the same kind of bigotry and chauvinism and intolerance that marks the radical Christian right.

I found that in many ways they were little more than secular fundamentalists.

Although I come out of a religious tradition—I grew up in the church, my father was a Presbyterian minister, I graduated from seminary—I’ve spent my life as a foreign correspondent, mostly for the New York Times, and I have a pretty hardheaded view of the world.

I certainly understand that there is nothing intrinsically moral about being a believer or a nonbeliever, that many people of great moral probity and courage define themselves outside of religious structures, do not engage in religious ritual or use religious language, in the same way that many people who advocate intolerance, bigotry and even violence cloak themselves in the garb of religion and oftentimes have prominent positions within religious institutions.

Unlike the religious fundamentalists or the New Atheists, I’m not willing to draw these kinds of clean, institutional lines.

A lot of people would find it counterintuitive that you would go from your last book, “American Fascists,” which was a scathing critique of Christian fundamentalism in the U.S., to writing against atheism.

Do you see these as connected projects?

I do.

I didn’t start out that way, because these guys were not on my radar screen.

I think a lot of their popularity stems from a legitimate anger on the part of a lot of Americans toward the intolerance and chauvinism of the radical religious right in this country.

Unfortunately, what they’ve done is offer a Utopian belief system that is as self-delusional as that offered by Christian fundamentalists.

They adopt many of the foundational belief systems of fundamentalists.

For example, they believe that the human species is marching forward, that there is an advancement toward some

kind of collective moral progress—that we are moving towards, if not a Utopian, certainly a better, more perfected human society.

That’s fundamental to the Christian right, and it’s also fundamental to the New Atheists.

You know, there is nothing in human nature or in human history that points to the idea that we are moving anywhere.

Technology and science, though they are cumulative and have improved, in many ways, the lives of people within the industrialized nations, have also unleashed the most horrific forms of violence and death, and let’s not forget, environmental degradation, in human history.

So, there’s nothing intrinsically moral about science.

Science is morally neutral.

It serves the good and the bad.

I mean, industrial killing is a product of technological advance, just as is penicillin and modern medicine.

So I think that I find the faith that these people place in science and reason as a route toward human salvation to be as delusional as the faith the Christian right places in miracles and angels.

Don’t you think that a belief in perfectibility or progress may be necessary for people who devote their lives to big endeavors, like, say, developing vaccines?

Americans especially are known for big dreams.

It seems like to lose the idea of progress would be a kind of defeatism.

Well in science, one does have progress, because science is based on what can be proved and disproved.

But you say in the book that the Holocaust, because it was framed as a modern project and an outgrowth of technological advance, was that kind of scientific progress, as well.

Well, I wouldn’t quite say it that way.

I would say that the fascist agenda was Utopian, and that it adopted the cult of science.

That’s what leads Hitler to try and breed humans and apes to try to create an oversized warrior or to send expeditions to Tibet to find a pure, Aryan race.

I mean, that’s not science.

It’s the cult of science, and I think the New Atheists also make that leap from science into the cult of science, and that’s a problem.

The Enlightenment was both a curse and a blessing, because it was really a reaction to the kind of superstition, intolerance, bigotry, anti-intellectualism of the clerics, of the church.

But it also ended up with the Jacobins, [who said] well, if we can’t make certain segments of the society “civilized,” as we define civilization, then they must be eradicated, in the same way that you eradicate a virus.

I write in the book that not believing in God is not dangerous.

Not believing in sin is very dangerous.

I think both the Christian right and the New Atheists in essence don’t believe in their own sin, because they externalize evil.

Evil is always something out there that can be eradicated.

For the New Atheists, it’s the irrational religious hordes.

I mean, Sam Harris, at the end of his first book, asks us to consider a nuclear first strike on the Arab world.

Both Hitchens and Harris defend the use of torture.

Of course, they’re great supporters of preemptive war, and I don’t think this is accidental that their political agendas coalesce completely with the Christian right.

So you think that Hitchens, Dawkins and Harris are just shills for a neocon agenda?

Well, Dawkins is a little different, because he’s British.

But looking at our own homegrown version of new atheism, yes. Hitchens and Harris do for the neocon agenda in a secular way what the religious right does in a so-called religious way.

You say at one point in the book that the New Atheists, “like Christian fundamentalists, are stunted products of a self-satisfied, materialistic middle class.”

But I wonder what you would say to someone like Ayaan Hi rsi-Ali, a victim of genital cutting who fled her faith-based homeland for the secular West, when she says that the secularism of Western society is better than the religiosity of her native Somalia?

It was better, for her.

She doesn’t qualify that. She says it’s better.

Well, she’s speaking out of her personal experience, and it was better for her.

I mean, look, I covered conflicts in Africa, in the Middle East, and in Central America, where Western society rained nothing but death and destruction on tens of thousands of people, which is of course what we’re doing in Iraq.

So, is Western society—American society— better for Iraqis?

And I think part of the problem is people who create a morality based on their own experience, which is what of course the New Atheists and the Christian fundamentalists have done.

You believe new atheism has emerged in reaction to religious fundamentalism, but I wonder if you also see it as a reaction to a kind of cultural relativism and multicultural mind-set that a lot of people perceive as weak and self-destructive, in its tendency to sympathize with enemies.

Well, “enemies” is a pretty loaded word.

Let’s say al-Qaida—those whom we can with few qualifications say are in an antagonistic relationship with the West.

Well, I’ve spent a lot of time in Gaza with Hamas, with people who have an antagonistic relationship with the West.

Circumstance, fate, nationality, geography create different reactions, and if I had been born in Gaza, especially given the horrific Israeli assault at the moment in Gaza, and had stood by for 60 years while the outside world ignored the injustices committed against the Palestinian people, who knows how I’d react?

I think people who start dividing the world into us and them fail to have empathy.

Are you saying you might be a jihadist, if you had that upbringing?

I spent so long in war zones that I think we don’t know what we would do under repression and abuse—you know, if somebody killed my father.

That’s the brilliance of the great writers on the Holocaust, like Primo Levi and [Bruno] Bettelheim.

They understood the humanity of their own killers.

That line between the victim and the victimizer is razor-thin.

We all carry within us the capacity for abuse, and I think that’s the most disturbing lesson you walk away with when you cover wars.

We’re all capable of evil, under the right circumstances, and very few of us are immune.

If we’re afraid to privilege Enlightenment values, don’t we run the risk of sanctioning religious rituals that discriminate against women and minorities?

But I would never argue that!

I mean, I think genital mutilation is disgusting.

I’m not a cultural relativist.

I don’t think that if you live in Somalia, it’s fine to mutilate little girls.

There is nothing wrong with taking a moral stand, but when we take a moral stand and then use it to elevate ourselves to another moral plane above other human beings, then it becomes, in biblical terms, a form of self-worship.

That’s what the New Atheists have, and that’s what the Christian fundamentalists have.

A lot of the book is devoted to making this comparison between Christian and what some call secular fundamentalists, but you are pretty hands off when it comes to fundamentalist Islam.

The only reason I go after Christian fundamentalists and New Atheists is because they’re here and I’m an American.

Fundamentalism—whether it’s Hindu fundamentalism or Jewish fundamentalism or Christian fundamentalism or Islamic fundamentalism—is the same disease.

Karen Armstrong has explained that brilliantly.

Fundamentalists, no matter what their religious coloring—bear far more in common with each other than they do with more enlightened members of their own religious communities.

I’m an enemy of fundamentalism, period.

And if I’m not going after Islamic fundamentalism in this book, it’s because what I’ve tried to do is talk about these two very dangerous ideological strains within American society, although the New Atheists are peddling this under the guise of enlightenment and reason and science in the same way that the Christian right tries to peddle it as a form of Christianity.

I want to go back to what you see as the ultimate threat of the New Atheists and the Christian right.

You voice concern in the book that these two groups of fundamentalists are going to gang up, “to call for a horrific bloodletting and apocalyptic acts of terror…”

It’s a possibility.

I mean, I covered al-Qaida for the New York Times.

There wasn’t an intelligence chief who I interviewed who didn’t talk about another catastrophic attack on American soil as inevitable.

They never used the word “if.”

They just used the word “when,” and if this kind of rhetoric, which is racist, is allowed to infect the civil discourse—whether it comes from the Christian right or the New Atheists—toward Muslims, who are one-fifth of the world population, most of whom are not Arabs, then what I worry about is that in a moment of collective humiliation and fear, these two strands come together and call for an assault on Muslims, both outside our gates and on the 6 million Muslims who live within our borders.

And that frightens me, that demonization of a people—turning human beings into abstractions, so that they’re not human anymore.hey don’t have hopes, dreams, aspirations, pains, sufferings.

They represent an unmitigated evil that must be vanquished at’s very scary, and that is at the bedrock of the ideology of the New Atheists as it is with the Christian fundamentalists.

I wonder if by calling people racist and imperialistic and illiterate, you run the risk of not being taken seriously by those you most want to reach.

I’m not really interested in the impact.

I’m interested in explaining as honestly as I can, regardless of the consequences, what I see.

Do you think the new atheists are similarly uninterested in their impact?

It seems that what the New Atheists write and say is somewhat a performance.

Well, not Harris.

Harris is just intellectually shallow.

Harris doesn’t know anything about religion or the Middle East.

For Hitchens, it’s about a performance, and that was true when he was on the left.

He hasn’t changed.

It’s all about him.

It’s all about being a contrarian.

He reminds me of Ann Coulter, he’s that kind of a figure.

He’s witty, and he’s funny and insulting.

You know I debated him, and in the middle of the debate he starts shouting, “Shame on you for defending suicide bombers!”

Of course, unlike him, I’ve actually stood at the edge of a suicide bombing attack.

That kind of stuff is just…it’s the epistemology of television.

They make a lot of money off it, but it’s gross and disgusting and anti-intellectual and not at all about real discussion.

Do you think Hitchens really believes what he writes?

I think he’s completely amoral.

I think he doesn’t have a moral core.

I think he doesn’t believe anything.

What’s good for Christopher Hitchens is about as moral as he gets.

Do you worry that Hitchens and some of the other so-called liberal hawks have the advantage of charisma, that they are better able to seduce an audience?

We had over 1,500 people at the debate at UCLA, and I think that the people who came liking Sam Harris left liking Sam Harris.

I don’t think that they heard a word I said, and it’s just insulting…I’ve debated Christian fundamentalists, and it’s the same.

I can get up and say, look, I grew up in the church, I went to seminary.

No, I’m part of the forces of godless secular humanism that are trying to destroy Christians, and they just repeat it like a mantra—half of their audience which came to hear them hears it, and the same is true of the New Atheists.

So why ever engage in these debates?

You make it seem pretty futile.

Well, I’ve only done two of them.

Is it futile?

I don’t know.

I think if one is given a public platform or a voice, he should use it.

Friday, February 27, 2015


Why is ISIS destroying ancient artifacts in Iraq?

The Islamic State–aka ISIS–continues its campaign of violence, this time attacking history itself.

A video that surfaced recently purportedly shows members of the radical group taking sledgehammers, pickaxes, and even jackhammers to the ancient artifacts housed within the Mosul Museum in northern Iraq.

“The Prophet Muhammad commanded us to shatter and destroy statues,” a bearded man in a white shirt and black kufi* says in Arabic.

*kufi--A kufi or kufi cap is a brimless, short, and rounded cap worn by men in many populations in North Africa, East Africa, Western Africa and Asia.

“This is what his companions did later on, when they conquered lands.”

“Since Allah commanded us to shatter and destroy these statues, idols and remains, it is easy for us to obey… even if this costs billions of dollars,” the man says.

A camera captures a series of scenes showing statues–some reportedly more than 3,000 years old–being reduced to rubble.

Militants can be seen knocking down icons and destroying idols that date back to the Assyrian Empire, which ruled a large chunk of what is now the Middle East from 2500 BC to about 600 BC.

The destruction at the Mosul Museum is only the latest of the Islamic State’s efforts to eradicate any hint of Iraq’s non-Muslim culture, as the militant group strives to reform the region into a single, homogenous caliphate* under its control.

*A caliphate is a form of Islamic government led by a caliph—a person considered a political and religious successor to the prophet Muhammad and a leader of the entire Muslim community.

Part of that effort requires a rewriting of history: Earlier this week, news outlets reported that ISIS ransacked and burned the Mosul Public Library, destroying more than 8,000 ancient and rare books and manuscripts.

Remember when Iraqis destroyed irreplaceable artifacts and the moron Rumsfield commented, it's a free country, they can do as they please. Wonder how they're enjoying their "freedom" since being "liberated."

“This destruction marks a new phase in the cultural cleansing perpetrated in regions controlled by armed extremists in Iraq,” Irina Bokova, director-general of the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, said in a statement Tuesday.

“It adds to the systematic destruction of heritage and the persecution of minorities that seeks to wipe out the cultural diversity that is the soul of the Iraqi people.”

The tactic is unofficially called “cultural genocide,” a term that David Nersessian, assistant dean of global programs at Boston University School of Management, has used to describe attacks on an ethnic or religious group's wider institutions--including its languages, traditional practices and ways, religious institutions and objects, and clergy members, academics, and intellectuals.

The UN’s “Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples" validates the rights of any group to maintain, observe, and protect its culture and traditions.

But any human rights treaty depends on the goodwill of participating states. Those most likely to commit cultural genocide are least likely to participate in any voluntary human rights program.

Regrettably, the destruction and looting of art during times of war goes back to Greek and Roman times.

More recently, during World War II, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin each envisioned a “super museum” that would showcase all of Europe’s great works of art, Matthew Steen wrote in an article titled, "Collateral Damage: The Destruction and Looting of Cultural Property in Armed Conflict."

The result, Mr. Steen wrote, was that the two sides spent the war “looting, plundering, and destroying each others cultural property from private and public collections.”

The same could be said of the warring sides of the brutal conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s, according to a Harvard University expert on the region’s cultural heritage.

He wrote that while three years of war in Bosnia resulted in more than 4 million refugees and 200,000 dead, "the cultural casualties were no less staggering."

More than one thousand of Bosnia’s mosques, hundreds of Catholic churches and scores of Orthodox churches, monasteries, private and public libraries, archives, and museums were shelled, burned, and dynamited, and in many cases even the ruins were removed by nationalist extremists in order to complete the cultural and religious “cleansing” of the land they had seized.

It happened again in Afghanistan in 2001, when the Taliban set about destroying thousands of ancient Buddist statues across the country; Al-Qaeda militants also torched a library full of historic manuscripts as they fled Timbuktu, Mali, in 2013.

Attacking a people’s cultural works can be tantamount to attacking its very identity.

As The Christian Science Monitor reported after the destruction of the Mosul library, the pain felt by Iraqis at the destruction of a national treasure is palpable.

"What a pity!" said one who left Mosul to exile years ago. "We used to go to the library in the 1970s.

It was one of the greatest landmarks of Mosul."

Added an activist and a blogger from Mosul, “Nine hundred years ago, the books of the Arab philosopher Averroes were collected before his eyes...and burned.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

3 Years since Trayvon Martin was murdered.
Requiscat in Pace.

Dear Dot,

Big news: the FCC just voted to protect the open Internet by creating strong net neutrality protections! 

This is a major civil rights victory, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the voices of ColorOfChange members.

Please take a moment to share the news and celebrate our victory:

The open Internet is fueling a new civil rights movement.

Without it, we might not have been able to spread the word about what happened to Mike Brown or Eric Garner.

Our ability to be heard, counted, and visible in our democracy depends on net neutrality, because it allows voices and ideas to spread based on their quality—not the amount of money behind them.

Because millions of people stood up to fight for net neutrality, the FCC is now putting in place strong rules to protect net neutrality.

It’s hard to overstate how big this victory is.

Net neutrality has always defined how the Internet works.

Internet users and content providers pay to send and receive data at certain speeds—but in between, no one can interfere with how that information travels.

It’s what makes the Internet so diverse, and so powerful. wouldn’t have gotten off the ground without an open Internet.

We began almost ten years ago with an email to a couple thousand friends and colleagues.

Our membership grew as people signed our petitions and passed them on.

Our message spread to the degree that it resonated.

Now, we have more than a million members, and we’ve spearheaded or contributed to many important civil rights victories.

For years, big Internet service providers like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast have tried to destroy net neutrality, so they can make a killing by creating fast and slow lanes online.

If they succeed, corporations would dominate the Internet by paying to prioritize their content online, and the voices of everyday people would be drowned out or blocked entirely.

Just a year ago, very few people thought a victory this big was possible.

The telecom industry was spending millions to influence the debate, and it looked like they were winning.

Sadly, they succeeded in buying the support of civil rights organizations like the NAACP, Rainbow PUSH, and National Action Network, who echoed talking points from the telecom industry rooted in trickle down economics.

Some Black members of Congress joined the ISPs, after taking big campaign contributions from the telecom industry.

As we raised our voices to make it clear that net neutrality is essential for civil rights, some of those who were being paid to carry water for the telecoms told us that this wasn’t our issue, and that we couldn’t win. 

They said we didn't know how Washington worked; that it was a done deal; that the big telecom companies and the legacy civil rights groups with telecom money were too strong for us and our allies to face down.

What they underestimated was the power of everyday people using our voices strategically, empowered by the open Internet.

ColorOfChange members worked together with members of organizations like the Center for Media Justice, the National Hispanic Media Coalition,, Free Press, Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, CREDO Action, and 

Together, we stood up to big money and refused to back down, and we defied the conventional wisdom in Washington that says that money always beats people power.

With the grassroots at their back, Black members of Congress like Rep. John Lewis, Rep. Keith Ellison and Rep. Maxine Waters rallied their colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus to support net neutrality in greater numbers than ever before. 

President Obama spoke out forcefully—which would have been much harder for him to do if it looked like he was acting against the wishes of the civil rights community.

The president’s action changed the political calculus in Washington, giving the FCC cover to push for stronger net neutrality rules.

Now, the FCC is finally doing what supporters of net neutrality have been demanding for years.

We’ll have to remain vigilant to make sure that the FCC enforces its rules aggressively, and that Congress doesn’t undermine net neutrality.

But this is a massive victory, and it belongs to all of us.

It means that future generations will have the ability to continue and expand our movements for justice and equality.

Celebrate our victory by telling the story of how the voices of everyday people won against the big money of the telecom industry:

Thanks and Peace,

--Rashad, Arisha, Matt, Brandi, Dallas and the rest of the ColorOfChange team.
February 26, 2015

Hell hath no fury like a bureaucrat scorned.
Milton Friedman

Why do evangelicals cite science to legitimize
creationism while calling science a religion
to delegitimize science?

Chicago police run secret warehouse 'black site' where Americans are detained illegally, abused

By Rachelle Blidner

NY Daily News--February 25, 2015--Homan Square, a warehouse facility on Chicago’s west side, operates as a black site where police violate people’s constitutional rights, according to a report.

NYPD commissioner: 'Many of the worst parts of black history would have been impossible without police' Judge won't block protesters from Boston Marathon bombing trial Chicago's police

homan square
Chicago police cars are parked outside Homan Square, 
where anti-drug and anti-vice teams work.

Homan Square, a warehouse facility on Chicago’s west side, operates as a black site where police violate people’s constitutional rights, according to a report.

The Chicago Police Department operates the equivalent of a domestic CIA black site, a secret warehouse where cops detain people illegally, beat them and deny them access to lawyers, according to a report.

The facility is known as Homan Square and is on the city's west side, The Guardian reported Tuesday.

Chicago police said the "sensitive" location is not a secret--it houses undercover units and a section where the public can claim property collected as evidence.

But lawyers and a previous detainee allege Homan Square is a place where police violate the basic constitutional rights of detainees while investigating terrorism and drug and gang crimes, the British paper reported.

Police interrogate people at Homan's Square for extended periods without presenting charges to a judge, violating constitutional protections, lawyers said.

Once inside, people are often shackled, beaten and held without legal counsel for up to a day, they said.

Because there is no record of their whereabouts, it seems as though they have disappeared.

Chicago police disputed The Guardian's "offensive" allegations of wrongdoing in a statement, claiming the report "is not supported by any facts whatsoever."

"CPD abides by all laws, rules and guidelines pertaining to any interviews of suspects or witnesses, at Homan Square or any other CPD facility," department spokesman Martin Maloney said.

"If lawyers have a client detained at Homan Square, just like any other facility, they are allowed to speak to and visit them.

Maloney said that clients are not held in secret because "there are always records of anyone who is arrested by CPD, and this is not any different at Homan Square."

He also said that the allegation "that physical violence is a part of interviews with suspects is unequivocally false."

Brian Jacob Church, one of the trio known as the "NATO Three," said he was held at Homan Square in 2012 after undercover officers said he and two friends built Molotov cocktails to attack the city during a NATO meeting.

"When you go in, nobody knows what happened to you,” he said.

“It's almost like they throw a black bag over your head and make you disappear for a day or two."

Church said he was handcuffed to a bench for about 17 hours as police interrogated him without reading him his Miranda rights or booking him.

He said he was not permitted to call a lawyer for hours.

When he was finally able to reach his attorney, it took lawyer Sarah Gelsomino hours to figure out where he was because there was no booking record, she said.

When Gelsomino finally found Homan Square, she spoke to Church through a floor-to-ceiling chain-link metal cage, she said.

 "I had essentially figured, 'All right, well, they disappeared us and so we're probably never going to see the light of day again,'" Church said.

Church and his co-defendants were taken to a police station hours later, he said.

He was later found guilty of possessing an incendiary device and "mob action."

He is on parole after spending two and a half years in prison.

Church's experience was not unique, lawyers said.

Attorneys are often denied access to enter the facility after their clients are finally allowed to call them, they said.

Some compared practices there to those at Guantanamo Bay or Abu Ghraib prisons, American-run abroad detention centers that have been criticized for human rights violations.

Eliza Solowiej, of Chicago's First Defense Legal Aid, said a former client was taken to Homan Square off-the-books and beaten in January 2013.

"He said that the officers caused his head injuries in an interrogation room at Homan Square.

I had been looking for him for six to eight hours, and every department member I talked to said they had never heard of him," Solowiej said.

"He sent me a phone pic of his head injuries because I had seen him in a police station right before he was transferred to Homan Square without any."

Julia Bartmes said she was denied access to Homan Square to visit a client—a 15-year-old boy who was held for 12 to 13 hours without ever being charged in September 2013.

Earlier that year, John Hubbard, 44, died inside an interview room because of heroin intoxication, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner.

Alleged violations at Homan Square would go against Chicago police guidelines, which stipulate that arrestees are booked without delay, can call their attorneys and be visited by legal counsel.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Stephen Hawking

The physicist who has helped us understand many of the mysteries of the universe, turns 70 today.

To celebrate his birthday, we bring you seven of his best quotes:

On knowledge:
“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”

On curiosity:
“It surprises me how disinterested we are today about things like physics, space, the universe and
philosophy of our existence, our purpose, our final destination. It’s a crazy world out there.
Be curious.”

On his life:
“I have always tried to overcome the limitations I have traveled the world, from the Antarctic to
zero gravity… Perhaps one day I will go into space.”

On death:
“I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”

On fear of death:
“I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.”

On the biggest mystery he would like solved:
“I want to know why the universe exists, why there is something greater than nothing.”

It's a rare sight: Rupert Murdoch, the indomitable head of the News Corp. empire, called before a judicial inquiry to explain how his influence has shaped Britain's media and political landscape.

The British inquiry has shone the spotlight on Murdoch's dealings with a succession of British prime ministers going back decades.

It also has raised questions about whether cozy relationships have worked to Murdoch's personal advantage, questions that have been posed elsewhere, too.

The inquiry brings into sharp focus the scope of a vast media empire with a presence in Britain, Australia and the United States, where Murdoch's News Corp. controls The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, Fox News and Harper Collins publishers, among other interests.

"He has more power than any other private citizen in the United States," said media commentator Michael Wolff, founder of and author of "The Man Who Owns the News: Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdoch."

For Murdoch, who became a U.S. citizen in 1985, the United States is where the stakes are highest--because that's where the real money is.

His News Corp. faces an FBI inquiry there into alleged phone hacking and is the subject of increased scrutiny in Australia following an inquiry into media standards.

In Great Britain, Murdoch's appearance at the independent judicial probe known as the Leveson Inquiry is the culmination of months of turmoil that have cost his company dearly in terms of money and reputation.

More still is at stake if criminal prosecutions arise from a phone hacking scandal at one of his tabloid newspapers.

The 81-year-old News Corp. chairman admitted Thursday to a cover-up of abuses at the News of the World and apologized for not paying more attention to the scandal.

Murdoch denies political influence.

On the stand in London, Murdoch's political influence was under the microscope.

He insisted that his newspapers did not lobby for his commercial interests and he had "never asked a prime minister for anything."

"You would wish to point out that no express favors were offered to you by Mrs. Thatcher; is that right?" he was asked by Leveson Inquiry lawyer Robert Jay, referring to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

"And none asked," responded Murdoch.

The question of influence is key because of the concerns raised over the impartiality of Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt in considering a takeover bid by News Corp. for British satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

Hunt's aide resigned over communications with News Corp. that suggested the global media giant was getting inside information, although Hunt denied any improper dealings on his own part.

And it's significant in part because of the sheer scale of News Corp.'s operations around the globe.

With some 48,000 employees worldwide, the company "had total assets of approximately U.S. $60 billion, total annual revenues of approximately U.S. $34 billion and in excess of 260,000 shareholders" as of the end of last year, Murdoch said in written testimony.

"This is a man who has held power far greater and far longer than anyone else in our time," said Wolff of the octogenarian.

For 60 years, Murdoch has been both a powerful private citizen in the United Kingdom, United States and Australia, and a businessman wielding huge influence, Wolff said.

"He is so powerful that he doesn't have to ask for just comes to him," he said.

News Corp., through its British arm News International, commands some 37% of national newspaper circulation in Britain.

It publishes the Times, Sunday Times, Sun and Sun on Sunday newspapers.

Given that about 60% of the UK population reads a national newspaper, Murdoch's influence is hard to overstate, said Steven Barnett, professor of communications at the University of Westminster in London.

His attitudes on issues including the Europe Union, opposition to a single currency, taxation and immigration have percolated down to the UK population through his titles, as they shape the news agenda, Barnett said.

The Sun readership matters more than most in political terms because it has 6 to 7 million readers, Barnett said, and polling shows many of these are floating voters.

Murdoch critic: Publisher's claims are 'pretty ludicrous'.

Against this backdrop, Murdoch's claims that he never sought to capitalize on that reach for his own benefit are disingenuous at best, Barnett said.

"Time after time, Murdoch insisted on denying that he ever used his newspapers either for commercial advantage or for political advantage, which is quite extraordinary--and frankly as a claim is pretty ludicrous," said Barnett, who attended the hearing in London.

"When you look at the history of the way in which he increased his empire and the legislative and regulatory decisions that have been made in his favor, it just doesn't stand up to scrutiny."

In his role as chief executive of a multinational media giant, it would have been remiss of Murdoch not to seek the ear of power if it would benefit his shareholders, Barnett said, and his claim that he never did so is "frankly beyond belief."

At the same time as Murdoch was testifying, Prime Minister David Cameron told the House of Commons: "I think we all, on both sides of this house, did a bit too much cozying up to Mr. Murdoch."

Going back to the Thatcher era, Barnett points to the government's decision not to refer Murdoch's acquisition of the Times and Sunday Times to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, despite his ownership of other titles, as a prime example of things working in the press baron's favor.

The Leveson Inquiry heard how Murdoch had a secret lunch with Thatcher--revealed in March this year--before his successful bid for the Times newspapers.

Questioned over his relations with other British leaders, Murdoch recounted falling out with former Prime Minister Gordon Brown after he told Brown his papers would not support the Labor Party in the 2010 election.

But he insisted strongly that there had been no quid pro quo with Tony Blair as Murdoch's papers switched support from the Conservative Party to Blair's Labor Party in 1997--not long before Blair swept into power as prime minister.

"I, in 10 years in his power there, never asked Tony Blair for any favors and never received any," Murdoch said.

Nonetheless, the relationship with News Corp. has been key to Britain's politicians, Barnett said.

"It was incredibly important for Tony Blair when they decided to support Labor, Blair in 1997, and also when they supported David Cameron and the Conservatives."

While News Corp.'s dominance in the UK media market is indisputable, it accounts for only 8% of the company's overall revenue.

Murdoch owns 70% of the newspapers in his native Australia, Wolff said, where his News Ltd. division owns the only national daily paper and daily titles in several big cities.

"He has an overwhelming share of power there.

It became such an easy game there that he left, it was a boring game," Wolff said.

United States--political leverage on the right Murdoch launched his expansion into the United States in 1973 and has seen News Corp.'s influence grow exponentially since, particularly through its Fox News network.

News Corp.'s outlets in America are a kind of throwback to the 19th century, when nearly every newspaper had an overt political affiliation, Harvard University sociologist Theda Skocpol said.

When the tea party movement began to coalesce in opposition to President Barack Obama in 2009, Murdoch's Fox News in particular helped boost it to national prominence, she said.

"Fox was overtly orchestrating enthusiasm for big events and passing along information along with bloggers and radio hosts," said Skocpol, co-author of a 2011 book on the movement.

"They didn't create the tea party--the people who were upset about Obama and Democrats and not happy with the Republican Party, either, were out there.

But you can have people out there who don't necessarily get that much help that quickly."

The network drew fire from the Obama administration in 2009, when then-communications director Anita Dunn called it "the communications arm of the Republican Party."

Fox shot back that it keeps its conservative-leaning opinion programming separate from its "fair and balanced" news coverage.

While News Corp.'s American organs have a more consistently conservative cast than in Britain, Skocpol said, "They're a commercial entity, and they're trying to do things that sell."

"We're in an era now where flamboyant commentators, particularly on the right, have a great deal of leverage in American politics, and sometimes you wonder whether they're in politics or they're just selling themselves," Skocpol said.

Andrew Neil, a former editor of the Sunday Times under Murdoch, said the media baron had been heavily coached byhis New York lawyers on how not to jeopardize those vital American interests through intemperate outbursts in London.

"He mustn't do anything in the United States, where his real money is and where he is under investigation by the FBI, Department of Justice and SEC," Neil said.

As a result, little new came out of the Leveson Inquiry hearing on Wednesday, Neil said, only a kind of "false modesty" as Murdoch sought to downplay his influence.

'I don't think they laid a glove on him.'

For Wolff, the only surprise Mfrom the independent probe was that "at 81 years old, (Murdoch) can still be as indominable as ever" under questioning.

"I don't think they laid a glove on him.

At the end of the day, they looked like schoolchildren, and he looked like the master."

That said, the fact that Murdoch was before the Leveson Inquiry at all reveals a significant lessening of his power in Britain, Wolff said.

"His UK enterprise is imploding.

It is over for Rupert Murdoch in the United Kingdom.

I think he knows that he can salvage nothing, but he would like his son not to go to jail."

His son, James Murdoch, a senior News Corp. executive who was chairman of News International as the hacking scandal broke but has since resigned from that role, testified before the inquiry Tuesday.

He denies knowing about the extent of wrongdoing at the News of the World, which shut down last summer.

The financial costs to Rupert Murdoch of the scandal in Britain already run into tens of million of dollars.

His News of the World title, once Britain's biggest Sunday paper, was closed amid public outrage over the scandal.

News Corp.'s attempt fully to take over British satellite broadcaster BSkyB was another casualty, the multi-billion dollar bid dropped in the furor.

News Corp.'s British subsidiaries have paid out huge sums in legal fees and settlement of lawsuits brought by hacking victims.

The company's 4th quarter earnings report for 2011 details "an $87 million charge related to the costs of the ongoing investigations initiated upon the closure of The News of the World."

Legal fees could spiral if journalists and senior executives at News International are charged in connection with allegations of phone and e-mail hacking and of illegal payments to police.

A number have been arrested and bailed but no criminal charges have been filed so far.

In the United States, the FBI is looking into claims that relatives of 9/11 victims may have had their phones hacked.

A British lawyer is also exploring options for a U.S. case against News Corp. on behalf of clients who believe their voicemail was hacked on U.S. soil.

The risk of prosecution under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars bribery of foreign officials, also looms in the shadows.

And back in London, Murdoch, a man known for his pride, sharp manner and prickly temperament, has suffered a personal cost--the indignity of being put on the stand and asked to account for his actions.

Biography of Rupert Murdoch

Keith Rupert Murdoch is an Australian American business magnate. 

Murdoch became managing director of Australia's News Limited, inherited from his father Sir Keith Arthur Murdoch in 1952.

He is the founder, Chairman and CEO of global media holding company News Corporation, the world's second-largest media conglomerate, and its successors News Corp and 21st Century Fox after the conglomerate split in June 2013.

In the 1950s and '60s, he acquired various newspapers in Australia and New Zealand, before expanding into the United Kingdom in 1969, taking over the News of the World followed closely by The Sun.

He moved to New York in 1974 to expand into the US market, but retained interests in Australia and Britain.

In 1981, he bought The Times, his first British broadsheet, and became a naturalized US citizen in 1985.

In 1986, keen to adopt newer electronic publishing technologies, he consolidated his UK printing operations in Wapping, causing bitter industrial disputes.

His News Corporation acquired Twentieth Century Fox (1985), HarperCollins (1989), and The Wall Street Journal (2007).

He formed BSkyB in 1990 and during the 1990s expanded into Asian networks and South American television.

By 2000, Murdoch's News Corporation owned over 800 companies in more than 50 countries with a net worth of over $5 billion.

In July 2011, Murdoch faced allegations that his companies, including the News of the World, owned by News Corporation, had been regularly hacking the phones celebrities, royalty and public citizens. 

He faces police and government investigations into bribery and corruption by the British government and FBI investigations in the US.

On 21 July 2012, Murdoch resigned as a director of News International.
Wikipedia--The Free enclopedia

Good People of Chicago, READ THIS!

By Kari Ledersen

In Mayor 1%, veteran journalist Kari Lydersen takes a close look at Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel and his true agenda.

With deep Wall Street ties from his investment banking years and a combative political style honed in Congress and the Clinton and Obama administrations, Emanuel is among a rising class of rock-star mayors promising to remake American cities.

But his private-sector approach has sidelined and alienated many who feel they are not part of Emanuel’s vision for a new Chicago—and it has inspired a powerful group of activists and community members to unite in defense of their beloved city.

About the author
Kari Lydersen is a Chicago-based journalist who has worked in the Midwest bureau of the Washington Post and is the author of four books.

She has been a journalism instructor at several Chicago colleges and currently serves as community fellowship director of the Social Justice News Nexus at Northwestern University.
"I urge everyone to read Lydersen's book.

Over the last few months, many Chicagoans have told me they didn't realize who they were voting for when they cast a ballot for Emanuel.

Thanks to Lydersen, they'll have no excuse in 2015."
—Ben Joravsky, Chicago Reader

"A meticulous dossier of the mayor’s privatization deals and other achievements at the head of the rightmost flank of the Democratic Party."
—Micah Uetricht, Salon

"Lydersen has shown herself to be a keen observer of the Chicago scene."
Chicago Magazine

"This book provides deep insight into the political career of Rahm Emanuel.

Painstakingly researched, Mayor 1% provides the reader with the ability to understand the hard line, neoliberal mindset that blinds the man to the harsh realities of entrenched poverty and disenfranchisement.

The relentless attacks on Chicago's working class, from the janitors at O'Hare to the librarians, mental health workers and members of the Chicago Teachers Union have shown the true nature of a man who will have plenty of money from the billionaires to run his re-election campaign, but none of the love of the people who will not pull the lever for him.

Kari Lydersen ends on a hopeful note.

That Mayor 1%'s brutal reign can actually lead to a better Chicago as people get up, stand up and fight the 'power.'"
—Karen Lewis, President, Chicago Teachers Union

"While banks and corporations continue to enjoy record-breaking profits, working families across Chicago continue to face school closings, foreclosures, and devastating privatization.

Lydersen's book lifts up the extraordinary power of everyday people to stand up, fight back, dream big, and join together to make transformative change.

Rarely does a journalist do such justice to the in the trenches organizing work that is vital to undermining oppressive city policies and abusive corporate influences."
—Amisha Patel, Executive Director, Grassroots Collaborative

“Lydersen’s book demonstrates the type of thorough investigative journalism we need in Chicago to keep all politicians and public servants accountable.

It exposes the public policy that the City of Chicago and its constituents didn’t expect from a Democratic Mayor of the City that Works.

Lydersen’s book shows the real Rahm Emanuel, leading the race to the bottom by killing off good middle class jobs instead of upholding job standards that help build a strong workforce and the robust economy our city desperately needs.”
—Tom Balanoff, President, SEIU Local 1 and SEIU Illinois State Council

“In Mayor 1% Kari Lydersen surveys the expansive and deeply contested first term record of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Her work touches every flashpoint of Emanuel’s kinetic drive to govern the city as he sees fit.

Along the way, Lydersen admirably and poignantly gives voice to the activist community that has become the mayor’s fiercest critic, while calling out his staunchest business allies.”

—Robert Bruno, University of Illinois at Chicago

"If you want to understand how a Democrat became so reviled among the middle and working class citizens in modern day Chicago, please read this book.

 This is the story of organized money vs. organized people in the Second City, and the impact of what happens here ripples across the nation in our public schools, in our healthcare centers, and in our streets.

It might be that Obama brought the Windy City to the Potomac, but Emanuel attempts the reverse in Chicago, and as Lydersen notes in great detail, "Rahm" might be a master at fundraising and manipulating the image of his public office, but confrontations are unavoidable when a city manager doesn't respect his electorate."
—Adam P. Heenan, Chicago Public Schools Civics Teacher
Praise for Revolt On Goose Island:

"There is much talk about ‘audacity’ these days, but true chutzpah is when the workers take over the factory and take on the bank.

Kari Lydersen’s invaluable account of the Republic sit-down strike is an instruction manual for worker dignity.”
—Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz

“Lydersen demonstrates that journalism still has the power to sway both hearts and minds.”
—Brian Awehali, LiP Magazine