* NATO SUMMIT: $55 MILLION TO TURN CHICAGO INTO ARMED CAMP
By Rick Rozoff, StopNATO
Submitted to Chicagoist
Regarding your recent feature “NATO Summit Security Spending Tops $1 Million,” the million dollars spent to date on security for the May summit of the North Atlantic military alliance is only the first installment of an estimated $55 million to be spent on hosting at least 50 heads of government and state and their secret service and military entourages.
The federal government is to provide an estimated $19.1 million and corporate donors $36.5 million.
Your article mentions the first of an eventual 9,000 face shields for Chicago police. In January Crain’s Chicago Business reported that “elite marksmen” and [f]ederal and state SWAT teams” will be deployed to the city as well. […]
* THE REAL NUCLEAR OUTLAWS
How the US and Israel are Shredding the NPT
By Carl Boggs, CounterPunch
While United States and Israeli leaders, duly assisted by a warmongering media, ramp up war talk against Iran, two troublesome pieces of information are ritually ignored. First, even American intelligence reports conclude that Iran is not close to building a nuclear-weapons program. Second, it is the U.S. and Israel – not Iran – that stand in flagrant violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The real nuclear outlaws are located in Washington and Tel Aviv rather than in Tehran.
The consensus of 17 U.S. agencies, as reported by National Intelligence Estimates of 2007 and 2011, finds that Iran has not enriched uranium above 20 percent purity, far short of the nearly 90 percent essential to weapons development. Further, no viable nuclear delivery system or command structure has been uncovered. High-powered U.S. surveillance and espionage operations, many inside Iran, have revealed nothing beyond (an entirely legal) civilian energy program. Recent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) investigations, the latest in November 2011 and February 2012, cite “continuing enrichment processes” but nothing beyond the 20 percent level. The IAEA merely states what should be obvious – that some Iranian sites “could be” used for a weapons program at some point in the future.
Some Western “experts” of the neocon variety say Iran is just 18 months away from producing a Bomb, but they have echoed the same refrain for many years with no weapons in sight. In fact there is nothing yet to suggest that Iranian leaders have made the crucial decision to even embark on such a program.. […]
* THE INTELLIGENCE BUREAUCRACY THAT ATE OUR WORLD – DATA MINING YOU
How the Intelligence Community Is Creating a New American World
By Tom Engelhardt, Tomdispatch
I was out of the country only nine days, hardly a blink in time, but time enough, as it happened, for another small, airless room to be added to the American national security labyrinth. On March 22nd, Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Jr. signed off on new guidelines allowing the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), a post-9/11 creation, to hold on to information about Americans in no way known to be connected to terrorism — about you and me, that is — for up to five years. (Its previous outer limit was 180 days.) This, Clapper claimed, “will enable NCTC to accomplish its mission more practically and effectively.”
Joseph K., that icon of single-lettered anonymity from Franz Kafka’s novel The Trial, would undoubtedly have felt right at home in Clapper’s Washington. George Orwell would surely have had a few pungent words to say about those anodyne words “practically and effectively,” not to speak of “mission.”
For most Americans, though, it was just life as we’ve known it since September 11, 2001, since we scared ourselves to death and accepted that just about anything goes, as long as it supposedly involves protecting us from terrorists. Basic information or misinformation, possibly about you, is to be stored away for five years — or until some other attorney general and director of national intelligence think it’s even more practical and effective to keep you on file for 10 years, 20 years, or until death do us part — and it hardly made a ripple. […]
* THE OBAMA DOJ AND STRIP SEARCHES
By Glenn Greenwald, Salon
Numerous progressive commentators are lambasting the Supreme Court for its 5-4 ruling yesterday in Florence v. Bd. of Chosen Freeholders, and rightfully so. The 5-judge conservative faction held that prison officials may strip-search anyone arrested even for the most minor offenses before admitting them to the general population of a jail or prison, even in the absence of a shred of suspicion that they are carrying weapons or contraband. The plaintiff in this case had been erroneously arrested for outstanding bench warrants for an unpaid fine that he had actually paid, and was twice subjected to forced strip searches; he sued, claiming a violation of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. In essence, the Florence ruling grants prison officials license to subject every single arrested individual entering the general prison population to humiliating and highly invasive strip searches (that’s 13 million people every year, with hugely disproportionately minority representation), based on the definitive police state mentality — one that has been applied over and over — that isolated risks justify the most sweeping security measures. This policy has been applied to those arrested for offenses such as dog leash laws, peaceful protests, and driving with an expired license. […]
* MIKE BLOOMBERG’S NEW YORK COPS IN YOUR HALLWAYS
By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
An amazing lawsuit was filed in New York last week. It seems Mike Bloomberg’s notorious “stop-and-frisk” policy – known colloquially in these parts by silently-cheering white voters as the “Let’s have cops feel up any nonwhite person caught walking in the wrong neighborhood” policy – isn’t even the most repressive search policy in the NYPD arsenal.
Bloomberg, that great crossover Republican, has long been celebrated by the Upper West Side bourgeoisie for his enlightened views on gay rights and the environment, but also targeted for criticism by civil rights activists because of stop-and-frisk, a program that led to a record 684,330 street searches just last year.
Now he’s under fire for a program he inherited, which goes by the darkly Bushian name of the “Clean Halls program.” In effect since 1991, it allows police to execute so-called “vertical patrols” by going up into private buildings and conducting stop-and-frisk searches in hallways – with the landlord’s permission.
According to the NYCLU, which filed the suit, “virtually every private apartment building [in the Bronx] is enrolled in the program,” and “in Manhattan alone, there are at least 3,895 Clean Halls Buildings.” Referring to the NYPD’s own data, the complaint says police conducted 240,000 “vertical patrols” in the year 2003 alone.
If you live in a Clean Halls building, you can’t even go out to take out the trash without carrying an ID – and even that might not be enough. If you go out for any reason, there may be police in the hallways, demanding that you explain yourself, and insisting, in brazenly illegal and unconstitutional fashion, on searches of your person. […]
* SANTA MONICA COLLEGE INVESTIGATES WHY A 4-YEAR-OLD GIRL WAS PEPPER-SPRAYED
By Andrew Jones, The Raw Story
A California college announced Wednesday that it will launch an investigation into a pepper spray incident that left two people hospitalized, several people injured and a 4-year-old girl sprayed, according to a statement obtained by The Santa Monica Dispatch.
Approximately 100 students protested outside the Santa Monica College’s Board of Trustees meeting against a plan of higher priced summer classes for the school, chanting “Let us in” and “No cuts, no fees.”
Campus police tried to prevent protesters from disturbing a public comment period when pepper spray was released into the crowd. Police are investigating into who released the pepper spray and when.
“Santa Monica College regrets that a group of people chose to disrupt a public meeting in an unlawful manner,” college president Chi Tsang said in a statement. “The college has launched a full investigation into the matter.” […]
POLICE PEPPER SPRAY STUDENT PROTESTERS AT SANTA MONICA COLLEGE
SANTA MONICA COLLEGE STUDENT PEPPER SPRAYED
* MONSANTO THREATENS TO SUE VERMONT IF LEGISLATORS PASS A BILL REQUIRING GMO FOOD TO BE LABELED
By Will Allen and Ronnie Cummins, AlterNet
The world’s most hated corporation is at it again, this time in Vermont.
Despite overwhelming public support and support from a clear majority of Vermont’s Agriculture Committee, Vermont legislators are dragging their feet on a proposed GMO labeling bill. Why? Because Monsanto has threatened to sue the state if the bill passes.
The popular legislative bill requiring mandatory labels on genetically engineered food (H-722) is languishing in the Vermont House Agriculture Committee, with only four weeks left until the legislature adjourns for the year. Despite thousands of emails and calls from constituents who overwhelmingly support mandatory labeling, despite the fact that a majority (6 to 5) of Agriculture Committee members support passage of the measure, Vermont legislators are holding up the labeling bill and refusing to take a vote. […]
* AUSTERITY USA DECIMATING HEALTH, SAFETY AND EDUCATION
By CommonDreams Staff
Last year, 19 percent of US cities cut spending for public safety, according to a survey by the National League of Cities. That statistic, cited by McClatchy in a new report, does little to tell the very real and dangerous impact that reduced public spending has had on state and local communities since the collapse of the economy in 2008 and the misguided push to enact public austerity since conservatives won big in state and local elections in 2010.
In Camden, New Jersey, firefighters says it only a matter of time before the strain on their department results in the lost lives of city residents. Across the nation, teacher morale has shrunk with frozen wages and ever-increasing class size. In Georgia, with class sizes as large 35, teachers say they feel more ‘like lion tamers’ than educators. In Louisiana, budget shortfalls are decimating the public health system. And in a school district outside Philadelphia, budget cuts recently forced layoffs of 187 of the district’s 320 teachers.
Austerity in the United States is neither abstract nor hypothetical. It is happening now, and it is having deep and devastating impacts on public health, safety, education, and the fabric of communities. […]
* “THE NEED IS SO GREAT.” – STAN BROCK, FOUNDER OF REMOTE AREA MEDICAL
” The need is so great.” – Stan Brock, founder of Remote Area Medical
When Stan Brock started Remote Area Medical (RAM) in 1985, never in his wildest dreams did he think his services would be needed in the United States, the wealthiest country in the world.
” We are seeing medical poverty in the U.S.” – Doris, Remote Area Medical
” I can see.” – Gee McNeil
Gee McNeil, 19, and her mom Tyra Manks, stood in line at midnight in the cold on Friday, March 23, to get free vision and dental care from Remote Area Medical (RAM). “I haven’t had my eyes checked since elementary school. I used to sit in the front row at school because I couldn’t see the chalk board. My teachers used to say, ‘Tell your parents to buy your glasses.’ But we couldn’t afford glasses. My vision is always blurry. I can’t drive at night. I’m so excited. I can’t wait to put my glasses on.”
When Stan Brock started RAM in 1985, never in his wildest dreams did he think his services would be needed in the United States, the wealthiest country in the world.
RAM began as an all-volunteer mobile medical clinic that provided free and immediate health care to people living in remote areas of the Amazon rainforest. In 1992, he was asked to bring the clinic to Knoxville, Tennessee. He was shocked by what he saw.
RAM has conducted 663 clinics in the United States. Brock says the need is the same in every city he’s visited. Find RAM’s schedule here: http://www.ramusa.org/expeditions/schedule.htm
What does this say about the US government’s priorities?