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Sun, 02 Apr 2023
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Che Guevara

Aaron Swartz, America's Mohamed Bouazizi: We're in the midst of a revolution, which side are you on?

The United States is ripe for a revolution. People are pissed, and rightfully so. The only question that remains is if the restructuring will be peaceful, like what we saw happen in Iceland, or will it be violent, like what we see happening in Greece and Spain.

As Chris Hedges has implied on multiple occasions, the revolution is well on its way:
"I have seen my share of revolts, insurgencies and revolutions, from the guerrilla conflicts in the 1980s in Central America to the civil wars in Algeria, the Sudan and Yemen, to the Palestinian uprising to the revolutions in East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Romania as well as the wars in the former Yugoslavia. George Orwell wrote that all tyrannies rule through fraud and force, but that once the fraud is exposed they must rely exclusively on force. We have now entered the era of naked force. The vast million-person bureaucracy of the internal security and surveillance state will not be used to stop terrorism but to try and stop us."

"All of that has been used to essentially, in this reconfiguration of American society... into an oligarchic state, a neofeudalistic state - you criminalize dissent, because they know very well what's coming, as they reduce roughly two-thirds of this country to subsistence level."

Bad Guys

Obama EPA Shut Down Weatherford, TX Shale Gas Water Contamination Study

fracking water
© ShutterStock | Aaron Amat
The Associated Press has a breaking investigative story out today revealing that the Obama Administration's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) censored a smoking gun scientific report in March 2012 that it had contracted out to a scientist who conducted field data on 32 water samples in Weatherford, TX.

That report, according to the AP, would have explicitly linked methane migration to hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") in Weatherford, a city with 25,000+ citizens located in the heart of the Barnett Shale geologic formation 30 minutes from Dallas.

It was authored by Geoffrey Thyne, a geologist formerly on the faculty of the Colorado School of Mines and University of Wyoming before departing from the latter for a job in the private sector working for Interralogic Inc. in Ft Collins, CO.

This isn't the first time Thyne's scientific research has been shoved aside, either. Thyne wrote two landmark studies on groundwater contamination in Garfield County, CO, the first showing that it existed, the second confirming that the contamination was directly linked to fracking in the area.

It's the second study that got him in trouble.

"Thyne says he was told to cease his research by higher-ups. He didn't," The Checks and Balances Project explained. "And when it came to renew his contract, Thyne was cut loose."


Maher to Handler: Romney was a 'cold, robotic tax cheat from a polygamy cult'

Tuesday night on E!, the Entertainment Network's Chelsea Lately, host Chelsea Handler talked to Bill Maher of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher about his $1 million dollar donation to to the pro-Obama super PAC known as Priorities USA Action and why he supported the president against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R).

Handler began by welcoming Maher to the show and asking him why he was giggling before the interview even began.

"That's because I'm always worried I'm going to be too dirty or inappropriate for this show," he replied, "and you can't be too dirty or inappropriate."

"You can't," Handler replied. "It's really sad. It's very base."

The discussion quickly moved to politics. Handler asked Maher if he'd been certain that Obama would prevail on Election Night.

Red Flag

U.S. citizens among hostages seized in Algeria as France battles Islamists in neighboring Mali

© Jerome Delay / AP
Islamist extremists grab more territory in Mali: French military forces step up their campaign, launching airstrikes for the first time in the central part of the country.
Islamist guerrillas seized a number of hostages, including Americans, in a brazen attack early Wednesday on a remote gas-production facility in Algeria, and the United States vowed to take all necessary steps to deal with what it called a "terrorist act."

Algeria's official news agency said two people were killed, including a British national, and six were wounded, two of them foreigners, in the attack by what authorities described as a homegrown Algerian terrorist group. There were conflicting accounts of the number of people taken hostage. The agency, Algerie Presse Service, said Algerian troops quickly surrounded the site.

In Rome, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said U.S. officials believe that Americans are among the hostages in Algeria but that they are still trying to determine how many.

"By all indications, this is a terrorist act," he told reporters after meeting with Italian leaders Wednesday as part of a week-long European trip. "It is a very serious matter when Americans are taken hostage along with others.... I want to assure the American people that the United States will take all necessary and proper steps that are required to deal with this situation."


Obama proposes more police officers in schools as part of gun control reforms

© Photograph: Larry Downing/REUTERS
Among the 23 executive orders proposed by President Obama on Wednesday: encouraging more policy officers in schools.
One of the 23 executive orders proposed by President Obama on Wednesday as part of his package of reforms to curb gun violence is generating controversy: the idea of encouraging more police officers in schools.

The White House is planning to provide incentives to schools to hire several hundred more "school resource officers". These are specially trained police officers that work in schools and are given the task of deterring crime and advancing "community policing objectives".

The White House accepts that not all schools would want to take on police officers, preferring perhaps to hire counsellors instead, but it has instructed the department of justice to give top priority this year to grant applications from police departments across the country for the school scheme. The federal government will also provide a pot of $150m to fund a new school safety programme that will pay for the police officers and reimburse schools who invest in "safety equipment".


Germany to send transport planes to Mali

Germany has said it is sending two transport planes to Mali to help shore up an initial battle against Islamist insurgents. French ground troops already in Mali were set to engage directly with the rebels Wednesday.

The German government on Wednesday pledged two Transall military transport planes to fly troops of the 15-nation west African grouping ECOWAS to the Malian capital Bamako.

Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the two C-160 planes would depart once technical details had been resolved.

"Germany will provide logistical support based on the situation on the ground," de Maiziere told reporters at a hastily-called press conference in Berlin.


Mali: Italy to offer France logistical support

© Photo: AFP
'From Mali the rebels can menace the Mediterranean,' according to Staffan De Mistura
Italy is prepared to offer French forces logistical support for air operations against Islamic extremists in Mali.

Giampaolo Di Paola, the defence minister, told the Italian Senate that the logistical support would be confined to air operations, not ground operations.
Giulio Terzi, the foreign minister, confirmed Italy's willingness to offer logistical support.

"It is important to find a rapid solution to this crisis and to avoid terrorist forces becoming firmly established in this part of the world," he told the Senate.
An undersecretary for foreign affairs warned that there was a danger of Mali turning into an "Alqaedistan" of Islamist extremism.

Staffan De Mistura, who has long experience of conflicts in Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, told Corriere della Sera: "This is the first time that a territory the size of France has fallen into the hands of al-Qaeda.


Turkish jets pound over 50 Kurd rebel targets in Iraq

Turkish jets struck more than 50 Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq in Ankara's largest-scale aerial campaign in recent years, military sources said Wednesday.

Northern Iraq is a base for the outlawed separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

"Sixteen F-16 fighter jets took off from their base in Diyarbakir in the southeast at around 2000 GMT Tuesday and bombed the (rebel) targets in Qandil mountain in northern Iraq, 90 kilometres from the border," a military source said.

"More than 50 targets were hit in the three-hour operation."

War Whore

King: I have a dream; Obama: I have a drone

A simple twist of fate has set President Obama's second inaugural address for January 21, the same day as the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday.

Obama made no mention of King during the inauguration four years ago -- but since then, in word and deed, the president has done much to distinguish himself from the man who said "I have a dream."

After his speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August 1963, King went on to take great risks as a passionate advocate for peace.

After his inaugural speech in January 2009, Obama has pursued policies that epitomize King's grim warning in 1967: "When scientific power outruns moral power, we end up with guided missiles and misguided men."

But Obama has not ignored King's anti-war legacy. On the contrary, the president has gone out of his way to distort and belittle it.

In his eleventh month as president -- while escalating the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan, a process that tripled the American troop levels there -- Obama traveled to Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize. In his speech, he cast aspersions on the peace advocacy of another Nobel Peace laureate: Martin Luther King Jr.


Carmen Ortiz and Stephen Heymann: accountability for prosecutorial abuse

© Photograph: US Department of Justice
US Attorney Carmen Ortiz is under fire for her office's conduct in the prosecution of Aaron Swartz.
Imposing real consequences on these federal prosecutors in the Aaron Swartz case is vital for both justice and reform.

Whenever an avoidable tragedy occurs, it's common for there to be an intense spate of anger in its immediate aftermath which quickly dissipates as people move on to the next outrage. That's a key dynamic that enables people in positions of authority to evade consequences for their bad acts. But as more facts emerge regarding the conduct of the federal prosecutors in the case of Aaron Swartz - Massachusetts' US attorney Carmen Ortiz and assistant US attorney Stephen Heymann - the opposite seems to be taking place: there is greater and greater momentum for real investigations, accountability and reform. It is urgent that this opportunity not be squandered, that this interest be sustained.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that - two days before the 26-year-old activist killed himself on Friday - federal prosecutors again rejected a plea bargain offer from Swartz's lawyers that would have kept him out of prison. They instead demanded that he "would need to plead guilty to every count" and made clear that "the government would insist on prison time". That made a trial on all 15 felony counts - with the threat of a lengthy prison sentence if convicted - a virtual inevitability.

Just three months ago, Ortiz's office, as TechDirt reported, severely escalated the already-excessive four-felony-count indictment by adding nine new felony counts, each of which "carrie[d] the possibility of a fine and imprisonment of up to 10-20 years per felony", meaning "the sentence could conceivably total 50+ years and [a] fine in the area of $4 million." That meant, as Think Progress documented, that Swartz faced "a more severe prison term than killers, slave dealers and bank robbers".