Jan 172012



By Stephen D. Foster, Addicting Information

Martin Luther King was a social justice crusader whose life was cut short. Had he lived, our country would have been a much better place to live for everyone. King didn’t just fight for social justice for African-Americans. He fought on behalf of all Americans who were struggling to get by in an economy that favors the wealthy and powerful. He also fought for civil rights, which led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Two landmark pieces of legislation that stand as a monument to his legacy. However, it is his words that stand brighter and are longer lasting than any sculpture or legislation. Here are 13 of my favorite Martin Luther King quotes.

1. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

2. “Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

3. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.


READ @ http://www.addictinginfo.org/2012/01/16/13-quotes-from-social-justice-crusader-martin-luther-king/



By Aurel Braun and David Matas, OpEdNews

Those who defend human rights victims in repressive states run the risk of becoming victims themselves.   One reason we should stand up in Canada for human rights abroad is that we are safe in doing this.   Human rights defenders in repressive states are not.

In spite of those risks, there are people of extraordinary courage and unrelenting commitment even in the most repressive states who at great personal risk to themselves and their families, respect human rights, call for others to do so and decry violations.   These human rights defenders give us yet another reason to raise our voices.   If they can risk so much, we who have nothing to lose should do our part.

Nelson Mandela in the days of apartheid South Africa, Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma and Gao Zhisheng in China are shining examples to all of us.   So was Vaclav Havel.

Havel, who passed away on December 18 th , was one of the world’s most inspiring and effective dissidents. He never gave up, even in the bleakest and most dangerous moments; through his courage and insight, he came to symbolize the nobility of the struggle for human rights. […]

READ @ http://www.opednews.com/populum/printer_friendly.php?content=a&id=144181



By David Atkins, Hullabaloo


“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?'”

Ayn Rand:

If any civilization is to survive, it is the morality of altruism that men have to reject.


READ @ http://www.digbysblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/ayn-rand-or-mlk-pick-one-by.html



By Glenn Greenwald, Salon

In The Washington Post yesterday, Law Professor Jonathan Turley has an Op-Ed in which he identifies ten major, ongoing assaults on core civil liberties in the U.S. Many of these abuses were accelerated during the Bush administration in the wake of 9/11, but all have been vigorously continued and/or expanded by President Obama.  Turley points out that these powers have long been deemed (by the U.S.) as the hallmark of tyranny, and argues that their seizure by the U.S. Government has seriously called into question America’s status as a free nation: “They form a mosaic of powers under which our country could be considered, at least in part, authoritarian.” All ten of these powers are ones very familiar to readers here: Assassination of U.S. citizens; Indefinite detention; Arbitrary justice; Warrantless searches; Secret evidence; War crimes; Secret court; Immunity from judicial review; Continual monitoring of citizens; and Extraordinary renditions.

I’ve written volumes on all of those powers over the last several years, but — especially today — I want to focus on one narrow but vital question: who are generally the victims of these civil liberties assaults? The answer is the same as the one for this related question: who are the prime victims of America’s posture of Endless War? Overwhelmingly, the victims are racial, ethnic and religious minorities: specifically, Muslims (both American Muslims and foreign nationals). And that is a major factor in why these abuses flourish: because those who dominate American political debates perceive, more or less accurately, that they are not directly endangered (at least for now) by this assault on core freedoms and Endless War (all civil liberties abuses in fact endanger all citizens, as they inevitably spread beyond their original targets, but they generally become institutionalized precisely because those outside the originally targeted minority groups react with indifference).

To see how central a role this sort of selfish provincialism plays in shaping political priorities, just compare (a) the general indifference to Endless War and the massive civil liberties assaults described by Turley (ones largely confined to Muslims)  to (b) the intense outrage and media orgy generated when a much milder form of invasiveness — TSA searches — affected Americans of all backgrounds. The success of Endless War and civil liberties attacks depends on ensuring that the prime victims, at least in the first instance, are marginalized and easily demonizable minorities. […]

READ @ http://www.salon.com/2012/01/16/who_are_the_victims_of_civil_liberties_assaults_and_endless_war/singleton/



By Jim Hightower, Truthout

Being at the bottom of the heap in terms of social justice confirms the reality of both economic and political inequality that the Occupy movement is protesting.

“USA: We’re No. 1!”

Oh, wait — Iceland is No. 1. But we did beat out Poland and Slovakia, right? Uh…no. But go on down the rankings and there we are! No. 27, fifth from the bottom. So our new national chant is, “USA: At Least We’re Not Last!”

A foundation in Germany has analyzed the social justice records of all 31 members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), ranking each nation in such categories as health care, income inequality, pre-school education, and child poverty. The overall performance by the United States — which boasts of being an egalitarian society — outranks only Greece, Chile, Mexico, and Turkey. Actually, three of those countries performed better than ours in the education of pre-schoolers, and Greece did better than the United States on the prevention of poverty. […]

READ @ http://www.truth-out.org/us-ranks-27th-social-justice/1326737822#.TxVmw2QVWId.facebook



By Michael S. Schmidt and Eric Schmitt, NYTimes

BAGHDAD — Iraqi authorities have detained a few hundred foreign contractors in recent weeks, industry officials say, including many Americans who work for the United States Embassy, in one of the first major signs of the Iraqi government’s asserting its sovereignty after the American troop withdrawal last month.

The detentions have occurred largely at the airport in Baghdad and at checkpoints around the capital after the Iraqi authorities raised questions about the contractors’ documents, including visas, weapons permits and authorizations to drive certain routes. Although no formal charges have been filed, the detentions have lasted from a few hours to nearly three weeks.

The crackdown comes amid other moves by the Iraqi government to take over functions that had been performed by the United States military and to claim areas of the country it had controlled. In the final weeks of the military withdrawal, the son of Iraq’s prime minister began evicting Western companies and contractors from the heavily fortified Green Zone, which had been the heart of the United States military operation for much of the war. […]

READ @ http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/16/world/middleeast/asserting-its-sovereignty-iraq-detains-american-contractors.html



By Marie Colvin and Uzi Mahnaimi, Sunday Times

EARLY in Tehran’s grey wintry morning last Wednesday, Mustafa Ahmadi Roshan, a young scientist in Iran’s controversial nuclear program, got dressed at his home in the northern suburbs. The events of this last hour of his life could have come out of a spy film.
Small groups of Israeli agents were watching key points in the Iranian capital. Their target was Roshan. They would be dead themselves if they were caught.

For Israel it was a classic assassination mission. “What is seen in espionage films as a simple operation is a result of hard work, many months of intelligence gathering and a well trained team,” said a source who released details, impossible to verify, to The Sunday Times.

“There is zero tolerance for mistakes. By nature, every failure not only risks the neck of the agents but also risks turning into an international scandal.”

Since its foundation in 1948, Israel has used assassination as a national weapon, striking targets abroad ranging from Palestinians who killed Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, to enemies on the streets of Amman and a Hamas leader in a Dubai hotel room in 2010. […]

READ @ http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30254.htm



As America escalates tension with Iran, the world should stand by Tehran and the UN must cease to behave like the handmaiden of the West.

By Sandhya Jain, The Pioneer

The Government of India has moved with commendable alacrity to clarify that it has not asked oil firms to reduce crude imports from Tehran. Iran remains this country’s second largest crude oil supplier despite India twice voting that the International Atomic Energy Commission refer Iran’s nuclear issue to the US Security Council in February 2006 and November 2009. Both times India could have abstained; the mindless quest for a strategic partnership with America nearly compromised our national interest.

The need for caution has doubled. As Washington, DC escalates tension with Tehran, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta admitted on CBS’s Face the Nation programme on January 8 that despite the rhetoric, America is aware that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons but is only pursuing “a nuclear capability”.

Yet the Obama Administration last December enacted a law under which the US can impose sanctions on any financial institution dealing with Iran’s central bank, its main clearing house for oil payments. This could jeopardise India’s oil payment system which is currently routed through Turkey’s Halkbank; a delegation to Tehran is expected to take up the matter.

The Washington-Tehran face-off is causing unease in world capitals as the Iranian resistance is likely to be superior to what America and its allies faced in Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan. In all these theatres, the Western allies bludgeoned the states with brute military force, but had no strategy to hold the ground thereafter. Hence America ran from Iraq and is trying to quit Afghanistan; the Libya story has yet to unfold. […]

READ @ http://mail.dailypioneer.com/columnists/item/50881-us-not-iran-is-to-blame.html



By Finian Cunningham and Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research

The year 2012 may become known as a watershed for humanity – the year when mankind was precipitated into a global conflagration involving nuclear weapons. The signs are indeed grimly ominous as formidable military forces converge on the Persian Gulf in the long-running stand-off between the United States and Iran.

On side with the US are its European allies in NATO, primarily Britain, Washington’s Middle East client states: Israel and the Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf – all bristling with weapons of mass destruction. Recent naval exercises by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz have also displayed a fierce arsenal of missiles and military capability, and Iran has strategic alliances with Russia and China, both of whom will not stand idly by if their Persian partner is attacked.

As we have consistently analysed on Global Research, the conflict between the US-led powers and Iran has wider ramifications. It is part and parcel of Washington’s bid to engineer the social and political upheavals across the Arab World in order to redraw the region in its strategic interests. It is no coincidence that fresh from NATO’s conquest of and regime change in Libya, the focus has quickly shifted to Syria – a key regional ally of Iran. As Michel Chossudovsky has pointed out “the road to Tehran goes through to Damascus”. Regime change in Syria would serve to isolate Iran. Subjugating Iran and returning it to Western tutelage is the prize that Washington and its allies have been seeking for the past 33 years ever since their client the Shah, Mohammad Rezā Pahlavi, was deposed by the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

Iran is an energy-rich colossus, with oil and, more importantly, natural gas reserves that put it, with approximately 10% of global reserves, in the world’s top three oil economies alongside Washington’s client states of Saudi Arabia and Iraq.  In sharp contrast, the US has less than  2% of global oil reserves.

The conquest of Iran’s oil riches is the driving force behind America’s military agenda. […]

READ @ http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=28675



By Michael Payne, OpEdNews

U.S. Corporations, supposedly the bedrock of America’s system of capitalism, have decided that their best bet for the future is to closely ally themselves with China, its manufacturing industry and cheap labor to maximize their profits. In doing so, they have sold out America, its manufacturing sector and its workers. These economic predators have sold themselves to the highest bidder and have now proven, without any doubt, that they have no loyalty to the nation they call their home.

Their policies and actions have been a major contributing cause of this country’s ongoing economic problems over this past decade. Since the beginning of this new century more than 42,000 U.S. plants have been closed and 15 million American workers have lost their jobs. This has greatly reduced the purchasing power of consumers and has dealt a huge blow to this nation’s faltering economy.

What a terrific partnership this has been for these corporations and China; it’s like a marriage made in heaven. Those very clever Chinese, with the help of their U.S. corporate facilitators, have been given the ability to directly tap into the massive American consumer economy. These two partners have been able to pull off an economic coup and now the largest portions of the U.S. retail sector, as well as the American people, are hooked on imported Chinese products.

Yes, this is a perfect partnership. China provides the cheap slave labor to manufacture the products that are then exported to the world’s largest market, one that Corporate America controls. What a great arrangement! U.S. corporations’ profits soar, CEO incomes and bonuses skyrocket, Chinese corporations, their workers and the Chinese economy all benefit greatly. Of course, when we speak of this transfer of economic wealth, while China is the primary beneficiary, Japan, India, Taiwan, South Korea, and others are also major recipients. […]

READ @ http://www.opednews.com/articles/U-S-Corporations-Closely-by-michael-payne-120116-375.html



By Paul Tassi, Forbes

[…] So is it dead? Did we win? No, and here’s why:

– In that same statement, the White House also said “While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response…” followed later by ““That is why the Administration calls on all sides to work together to pass sound legislation this year that provides prosecutors and rights holders new legal tools to combat online piracy originating beyond U.S. borders.” They still want to pass anti-piracy legislation this year.

– SOPA is not dead, it’s been “shelved” and won’t return “until a consensus is reached.”

– Protect IP (PIPA), the Senate version of the House bill, is still very much alive, and has not even been shelved, much less killed. It is equally as bad of an idea as SOPA, even if most protests are being directed at SOPA recently.

So what does this mean? Though the battle is won, the war is not. SOPA could easily make a resurgence if it sculpts itself to whatever the White House’s unspecified specifications are, and PIPA could also pass, as even with recent changes to it (courts can’t force ISPs to block websites), it’s still harmful. […]

READ @ http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2012/01/16/so-is-sopa-dead-not-exactly/



Here are a few of the FCC’s efforts to deal with the digital divide—the good and the bad of each.

By Jamilah King, AlterNet

The Federal Communications Commission doesn’t always communicate very well. This much became obvious earlier this week when Chair Julius Genachowski announced important changes to the country’s Lifeline program, a service that’s historically offered low-cost phone service to poor and working class households.

The underlying principle of the Lifeline program is that phone service is a necessity, and that the government should ensure that everyone has access to it. Genachowski said on Monday that the same principle should apply to broadband Internet, since about 40 percent of the country remains without it, mostly because it’s too expensive. That doesn’t change the fact that important parts of broadband Internet are still not classified as essential communication services—which makes it hard for the FCC to fully regulate it. Still, the FCC is launching a new pilot programs to offer low-cost service, help teach people about the Internet and connect them to it. That’s big.

Funny thing is, though, this new pilot program isn’t the first time the FCC has tried to offer low-cost alternatives to help bridge the digital divide. A handful of programs already exist and have had varying amounts of success. And it’s very likely that you’ve never heard of them. […]

READ @ http://www.alternet.org/story/153785/internet_access_for_all%3A_3_ways_the_fcc_is_trying_to_close_the_digital_divide/



By Eric Kleefeld, TPM

It’s the big day in Wisconsin: After two months of collecting petitions, state Democrats will officially turn in a vast number of signatures collected in order to trigger a recall election against Gov. Scott Walker.

In December, the Democrats announced that they had collected over 507,000 signatures in 30 days, getting very close to the legal threshold of just over 540,000 signatures in 60 days. (The party also told TPM at the time that this 507,000 figure takes into account also own efforts to weed out bad signatures.) They also said that they were working towards an even greater goal of 720,000 total, in order to have an absolute buffer against disqualifications.

State Democratic party spokesman Graeme Zielinski told TPM on Monday: “We’re confident that we will hit that mark.” […]

READ @ http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/01/wisconsin-democrats-turning-in-recall-walker-petitions.php?ref=fpnewsfeed



Source: Progress Illinois

It’s not just Occupy protesters against Rahm Emanuel’s proposed ordinance that imposes harsher fines and rules for protests and demonstrations. This week’s edition of Crain’s Chicago Business editorializes against the ordinance as it, “reinforces the very stereotypes that Chicago is trying to shed.” Crain’s argues that increased fines for resisting arrest are “driven by fear of reliving” the violent 1968 Democratic National Convention.

Crain’s critical focus is actually on a less reported part of Emanuel’s plan: The mayor has the power to hand out no-bid contracts for summit-related matters … like the $16 million no-bid deal already provided to Motorola,allowing the company can provide emergency radios for the May summits.

Emanuel said last week that the city will rely on private companies to provide both security and services – and for private donors to raise up to $60 million to supplement security costs. Henry Bayer, head of AFSCME-Local 31, is upset by this request: Bayer wonders why these same private donors couldn’t also give to other causes, such as money to keep Chicago’s libraries open on Mondays. […]

READ @ http://progressillinois.com/news/content/2012/01/16/business-pub-opposes-emanuel-protest-ordinance



By Brett, Redmayne-Titley, OpEdNews

New tents are popping up in the nation’s capital and there is talk of expanding to a new park.

The two Washington, D.C. Occupation camps – at McPherson Park and Freedom Plaza – are calling to action all Occupy camps and persons interested in making their opinions heard by Congress, to gather on Tuesday, January 17, 2012.

This call has gone out nationally and is being answered.

More than a dozen occupiers have just arrived from San Diego, and another 8 or 9 from Chattanooga.

Occupiers representing camps from Los Angeles, Dallas, Winston-Salem N.C., Greenville S.C., Wall Street, and Pittsburgh have already arrived. Other camps have already announced their planned arrivals. Throughout the past week many people passing through the camps have said that they will be at the protest as well. Expectations are high. […]

READ @ http://www.opednews.com/populum/printer_friendly.php?content=a&id=144189



By Ambreen Ali, Roll Call

For many in the Occupy movement, Wall Street was so last year.

Congress is the new target as Occupy activists try to channel the populist energy of “the 99 percent” into tangible results.

More than 30 Occupy groups and 10,000 Facebook users are backing Tuesday’s Occupy Congress rally outside the Capitol, and they represent a growing faction within the liberal movement that says the path to reining in Wall Street runs through Capitol Hill.

“Congress is the place that we should focus,” said Natalia Abrams, a California-based activist. “I don’t think we’re ever going to get Wall Street to control its greed, but maybe we can get Congress to control their greed for them.” […]

READ @ http://www.rollcall.com/news/occupy_movement_turns_attention_to_congress-211484-1.html?pos=hbtxt

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