In Return to Vietnam, Vets Tackle Mess They Left Behind
By Jeff Stein / December 02 2013 6:54 PM
A handful of former U.S. servicemen have moved to Vietnam permanently to clean up devastation left by American bombs and Agent Orange. AP Photo
It’s not easy to find a turkey dinner in Hanoi, but a handful of Americans and their Vietnamese friends gathered last Thursday over an imported bird cooked for them at a fancy restaurant in the capital’s old quarter, and they gave thanks.
One of them was Chuck Searcy, who was a U.S. Army intelligence analyst in Saigon 45 years ago. Another was Manus Campbell, who survived some of the war’s bloodiest fighting as a Marine draftee in Quang Tri Province. Both are nearly 70 now.
ALEC Is Not Where Visa Wants to Be
Posted by Brendan Fischer on December 04, 2013
Financial services company Visa has dropped its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), providing further evidence of ALEC’s dwindling membership in the wake of a major expose by The Guardian. Visa (whose slogan is “everywhere you want to be”) made the announcement to Boston Common Asset Management, which had been engaging with Visa over the past year on lobbying disclosure.
VISA logoCMD counted 50 corporations that had publicly dropped their ALEC membership, but according to internal ALEC documents published by The Guardian, ALEC estimates they’ve lost around 60 corporate members in the past two years, in the fallout over ALEC’s role in promoting Stand Your Ground legislation, voter ID, and an array of other controversial bills. As a result of that shrinking roster of corporate members, “in the first six months of this year [ALEC] suffered a hole in its budget of more than a third of its projected income,”The Guardian reports.
Visa’s departure won’t help close up those budgetary gaps. In addition to supporting ALEC through its membership dues and participation in the Commerce, Insurance, and Economic Development Task Force, Visa was a “Chairman” level sponsor of 2011 ALEC Annual Conference, which cost $50,000 the previous year. It also sponsored a Plenary Session at the 2011 meeting featuring FreedomWorks founder Dick Armey.
Celebs use star power in bid to halt NYU expansion
By Tara Palmeri
December 4, 2013 | 5:56am
Not in my neighborhood!
Greenwich Village celebs are so desperate to stop the NYU expansion that they’re putting their talents on the block at a silent auction next week to raise money for the legal battle.
What started as a local online holiday auction has expanded into a star-studded affair, with more than 140 items — including a two-hour acting lesson with Phillip Seymour Hoffman, starting at $2,500, and a shopping spree “to curate your pantry and spice collection” with “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi.
ALEC facing funding crisis from donor exodus in wake of Trayvon Martin row
• Rightwing lobby group appealing to major donors to return
• Internal documents reveal so-called ‘Prodigal Son Project’
• Network lost almost 400 state legislators over past two years
Ed Pilkington in New York and Suzanne Goldenberg
theguardian.com, Tuesday 3 December 2013 13.06 EST
An influential US lobbying network of Republican politicians and big businesses is seeking to avert a looming funding crisis by appealing to major donors that have abandoned it over the past two years following criticism of its policy on gun laws.
The Guardian has learned that the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec), which shapes and promotes legislation at state level across the US, has identified more than 40 lapsed corporate members it wants to attract back into the fold under a scheme referred to in its documents as the “Prodigal Son Project”.
The target firms include commercial giants such as Amazon, Coca-Cola, General Electric, Kraft, McDonald’s and Walmart, all of which cut ties with the group following the furore over the killing of the unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida in February 2012.
Welcome to the Memory Hole
Peter Van Buren
Posted: 12/03/2013 10:56 am
What if Edward Snowden was made to disappear? No, I’m not suggesting some future CIA rendition effort or a who-killed-Snowden conspiracy theory of a disappearance, but a more ominous kind.
What if everything a whistleblower had ever exposed could simply be made to go away? What if every National Security Agency (NSA) document Snowden released, every interview he gave, every documented trace of a national security state careening out of control could be made to disappear in real-time? What if the very posting of such revelations could be turned into a fruitless, record-less endeavor?
Am I suggesting the plot for a novel by some twenty-first century George Orwell? Hardly. As we edge toward a fully digital world, such things may soon be possible, not in science fiction but in our world — and at the push of a button. In fact, the earliest prototypes of a new kind of “disappearance” are already being tested. We are closer to a shocking, dystopian reality that might once have been the stuff of futuristic novels than we imagine. Welcome to the memory hole.
Guardian editor defends publication of Snowden files
By Anthony Faiola, Published: December 3
LONDON — Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger on Tuesday vigorously defended his decision to publish a series of articles based on the secret files leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, telling a parliamentary committee that the right to continue pursuing the story goes to the heart of press freedoms and democracy in Britain.
Rusbridger also told lawmakers that the Guardian had published only 1 percent of the 58,000 files it had received from Snowden.
“I would not expect us to be publishing a huge amount more,” he said.
The hearing on the Guardian’s handling of intelligence data leaked by Snowden, who is living in self-imposed exile in Moscow, drew the attention of free-speech advocates on both sides of the Atlantic. Rusbridger faced more than an hour of questioning during the Home Affairs Select Committee’s counterterrorism hearing, testifying in an occasionally combative public grilling of both the Guardian and its editor.
Contra-Cocaine Was a Real Conspiracy
December 2, 2013
Exclusive: The 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination saw a mainstream media blackout of nearly all evidence of conspiracy in that case. But New York Magazine went even further, mocking the proven Contra-cocaine scandal as a “conspiracy theory,” Robert Parry writes.
By Robert Parry
In the insular world of Manhattan media, there’s much handwringing over the latest blow to print publications as New York Magazine scales back from a weekly to a biweekly. But the real lesson might be the commercial failure of snarky writing, the kind that New York demonstrated in its recent hit piece on “conspiracy theories.”
What was most stunning to me about the article, pegged to the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, was that it began by ridiculing what is actually one of the best-documented real conspiracies of recent decades, the CIA’s tolerance and even protection of cocaine trafficking by the Nicaraguan Contra rebels in the 1980s.
Journalist Gary Webb.
Alabama Kangaroo Court Parades Liberal Commentator in Chains, Continues Indefinite Jailing
Written by Andrew Kreig
Published on November 15, 2013
Alabama authorities paraded a shackled liberal pundit into court, where he was denounced Nov. 14 for recent news coverage about his jailing and forced to argue his case while bound.
The defendant was Roger Shuler, a 56-year-old commentator jailed on contempt of court charges Oct. 23 for publishing columns about a politically powerful GOP attorney.
Shuler reports on Deep South legal affairs via his own Legal Schnauzer blog site and several others that are nationally prominent. OpEd News, Salon, and FireDogLake frequently republish his columns, which are widely disseminated in progressive circles.
Shuler specializes in political muckraking about scandals in the Deep South legal community. The reports often focus on claims that ordinary litigants are being unfairly treated in the courts. Also, he writes about financial corruption involving taxpayer dollars, illicit sex among conspirators and their minions, and cover-up to uphold family values image necessary for election success. Most focus on reports of wrongdoing by Republicans. But former Alabama Congressman Artur Davis and Douglas Jones, a former U.S. attorney and powerful force within the state Democratic Party, have been frequent targets of Shuler’s also.
From Jake at OpEd News:
UPDATE: From a friend, “I sent money through https://www.wfp.org/donate/typhoon. They seem to be coordinating contributions. Rachel had a lengthy interview with a representative from WFP on her show.”
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Bill McKibben – 350.org
Date: Mon, Nov 11, 2013 at 3:48 PM
Subject: The situation in the Philippines.
Last week, Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines — and left a path of destruction and tragedy in its wake. More than 10,000 people are feared dead.
Lines of communication are in still in chaos, but we managed to get in touch with Zeph, our amazing 350 Southeast Asia Coordinator in the Philippines. Here’s what she just emailed to our team:
“This lends urgency to our work. I think we need to be twice as strong as Typhoon Haiyan.”
If we need to be twice as strong, let’s do two things immediately:
These are our brothers and sisters in this movement. Below this email are some pictures from 350 actions across the islands over the years. This storm is a blow to a place already reeling from the effects of climate change. Metro Manila has seen repeated flooding from milder storms; there’s been a severe outbreak of dengue fever this year in the Philippines.
Among the pictures below you’ll see a group of volunteer 350 activists from Tacloban, one of the cities most ravaged by Haiyan. We don’t know the fate of all of our friends there, but we do know they need serious help now — so please do send what you can through direct relief organizations by clicking here.
Governments are meeting in Warsaw the next two weeks for the annual UN climate negotiations. This ritual has dragged on for years without conclusion, largely because the great powers have done so little. On days like these, their inaction amounts to mockery. So we’ve setup a page where you can add your name to a petition that our staff will hand-deliver to negotiators at the UN climate summit. In short, we need to let world leaders know that their inaction is wrecking the world, and the time is long past for mere talk — we need action, and we need it now.
Today at the UN climate summit, Mr. Yeb Sano, the lead negotiator of the Philippines, urged his fellow negotiators to take a bold stance. During the opening session of the summit, he committed to fast throughout the two weeks of the talks until countries make real commitments around climate finance and reducing emissions.
Sano said, “let Poland, let Warsaw, be remembered as the place where we truly cared to stop this madness. Can humanity rise to this occasion? I still believe we can.”
Bill McKibben for 350.org
More Info and Links
- “Typhoon Haiyan influenced by climate change, scientists say” – Sydney Morning Herald
- “Talks seek modest U.N. climate deal for 2015, to raise aid” - Reuters
- “Vast Challenges for Philippines After Typhoon” – The New York Times
- Typhoon Haiyan: Philippines urges action to resolve climate talks deadlock – The Guardian
Pictures of 350 Actions in The Philippines
(If you can’t see the images below, make sure to click “Turn on Images” in your email program. Here are some instructions if you’re not sure how. Or, just click here to view the images in your web browser.)
CONSPIRACY THEORY IN AMERICA
“While We Were Sleeping”
Orwell Rolls In His Grave, featuring MCM – Buy the DVD
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