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Barack Obama may as well have delivered his 5th State of the Union address to and for the Superstate Oceania, the fictional empire mired in perpetual war from George Orwell’s 1984.
No, Obama did not come directly out and tell us that war is peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength so much as he embodied those ideas in a nuanced, measured performance that inspired the political pundits like Chris Matthews to wax poetic like a Theatre critic praising an aging stage actor who was able to find the old magic one last time.
Today, CCR announced with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio that we have reached an agreement for the City to drop the appeal in our landmark stop-and-frisk class action,Floyd v. the City of New York.
In August 2013, a federal judge found that the New York Police Department (NYPD) had engaged in a widespread practice of unconstitutional and racially discriminatory stops and frisks. The court ordered the appointment of an independent monitor to oversee a collaborative, joint remedial process.
Today the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee passed bipartisan sentencing reform legislation that would reduce the federal prison population, decrease racial disparities, save taxpayer money, and reunite nonviolent drug law offenders with their families sooner. The reforms are supported by a strange bedfellows group of senators, including Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Carl Levin (D-MI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
Maybe it was the Polar vortex that gripped large parts of the US, but El Salvador's elections on Sunday February 2nd have pretty much flown under the radar of the United States media. And yet, there is good reason to pay attention. The FMLN is the party generally projected to win the election and is the guerilla organization that morphed into a political party after the signing of the peace accords in 1992. The FMLN candidate Salvador Sánchez Cerén is running against Norman Quijano, the candidate for the conservative right wing ARENA, a party backed by the country's waning oligarchy with nefarious ties to the US backed death squads during the war in the 1980s.
The Republicans are right when they they point to America’s 25+ million jobless and ask whether the President is serious in proposing job training as his primary remedy. The Democrats are right when they respond that the Republicans have proposed no real jobs alternatives of their own.
Five years after Obama’s historic mandate, the conditions of the great mass of Americans remains intolerable. And yet to hear his fifth State of Union address, an uninformed listener might think America’s problems are limited and manageable.
Adding momentum to a national trend of reigning in reckless outsourcing of publicservices to for-profit corporations and other private entities, legislators in Nebraska, Vermont and West Virginia recently introduced transparency and accountability legislation aimed at protecting taxpayersand putting them back in charge of their public services.
The key reason that communities are struggling is the huge burden of interest payments that are flowing to the big banks. Think about this, if you buy a home for say $100,000 dollars, typically you will have paid $250,000 once the loan is paid off. This means the typical loan will incur $150,000 in interest charges.
The same concept applies when a community builds an infrastructure project such as school, road, bridge, sewer or other project. That $1 million dollar school could end up costing taxpayers in the community $2.5 million after interest charges.
This week, Grassroots Leadership sent an open letter to prisoners in West Virginia to raise awareness of their constitutional rights that are at risk. State lawmakers continue to debate sending prisoners toprivate facilities run by the Corrections Corporation of America in Kentucky or choosing other options to the state’s overcrowded prisons issues that would keep with the spirit of the state constitution.
Mile after mile of voluptuous, gritty black gold is wrought, scooped, sucked, scraped and squeezed from thegreasy desert carcass of stolen boreal forests. Whether or not you think this resembles the charred aftermath of a nuclear blast, there's no denying that the tar sands outside infamous "Fort Mac" mark the ugliest 30,000-square kilometers in Canadian history. No traditional open-pit mine, toxic asbestos dig, outfall refuse site, sewage dump or landfill could compete with this vast wasteland of lifeless, chewed-up grime, broken up only by leeching ponds of poisonous tailings. The whole scene seems to belong more in an ominous Lord of the Rings scene fronting evidence of the evil Sauron's devastating wrath than wrapped between the beautiful Northern ranch-land and crisp wildlife of Alberta Canada, except that it may be too ugly even for Peter Jackson's overblown cinematic sensibilities. No wonder, like this place's most dangerous combatant – thecharismatic country-folk superstar Neil Young and his provocative, articulate mumbles – the tarsands always seem to steal the show.
SPECIAL INVITE TO OBAMA & HOLDER RE OPERATION STREAMLINE: Please sign and share this far and wide... 24 human rights activists put their lives and liberty on the line to end this for-profit scheme called Operation Streamline.