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“If a man has an apartment stacked to the ceiling with newspapers we call him crazy. If a woman has a trailer house full of cats we call her nuts. But when people pathologically hoard so much cash that they impoverish the entire nation, we put them on the cover of Fortune magazine and pretend that they are role models.”
-– B. Lester

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 Screwed Again: Government Continues To Deny Manning Access To Health Care

Politics
CHELSEA MANNING FACES NEW CHARGES, INDEFINITE SOLITARY CONFINEMENT RELATED TO SUICIDE ATTEMPT

Press Release: ACLU.org

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. — Imprisoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning received a document from Army officials today [July 28, 2016] informing her that she is being investigated for serious new charges related to her July 5th attempt to take her own life.

If convicted of these “administrative offenses,” she could be placed in indefinite solitary confinement for the remainder of her decades-long sentence.

“It is deeply troubling that Chelsea is now being subjected to an investigation and possible punishment for her attempt to take her life. The government has long been aware of Chelsea's distress associated with the denial of medical care related to her gender transition and yet delayed and denied the treatment recognized as necessary,” said ACLU Staff Attorney Chase Strangio. “Now, while Chelsea is suffering the darkest depression she has experienced since her arrest, the government is taking actions to punish her for that pain. It is unconscionable and we hope that the investigation is immediately ended and that she is given the health care that she needs to recover.” ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, August 04 @ 19:32:34 EDT (988 reads)
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 Screwed Again: These Billboards Have Eyes

The News
Computerized placards are literally watching you — and they may even follow you home.

By Jim Hightower

OK people, we need to discuss billboards. Yes, we really must.

At best, these giant corporate placards are problematic — they loom garishly over us, clutter our landscapes, and intrude into our communities with no respect for local aesthetics or preferences. Now, however, billboards are getting a high-tech reboot, allowing advertisers to invade not only our places, but also our privacy.

Having to see billboards everywhere is bad enough. Far worse, though, is that the modernized, digitalized, computerized structures can see you — and track you.

Clear Channel Outdoor Americas, having already splattered the country with tens of thousands of billboards, has revealed that it’s partnering with AT&T and other data snoops to erect “smart” billboards that will know and record when you drive or walk past one. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Saturday, April 23 @ 18:03:53 EDT (1347 reads)
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 Screwed Again: The Golden Years Gap

Business News
Just 100 CEOs have as much saved up for retirement as 50 million American families combined.

By Sarah Anderson

Flo, the Progressive insurance pitch woman in the white uniform and headband, is relentlessly perky. She won’t be when she learns about the double standard that lets her CEO sock away millions more for retirement than she can.

Whereas the Flos of the working world face strict limits on how much they can set aside tax-free for their golden years, many of their bosses don’t.

Flo’s boss, Progressive CEO Glenn Renwick, dropped $26,170,569 last year into his deferred compensation account — that’s $26,152,569 more than Flo would’ve been allowed to invest in a 401(k).

Ordinary workers under 50 (like Flo) can contribute no more than $18,000 per year to a 401(k). But most big companies offer special accounts that allow their top brass to set aside unlimited amounts of their pay tax-free until they retire.

Renwick’s stockpiled more than $150 million in such an account during his more than two decades at the company. That’s enough to generate an $850,000 check every month for the rest of his life. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, November 23 @ 18:38:46 EST (782 reads)
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 Screwed Again: DOJ Wants to Arrest You for Terrorism for Not Liking Them

PoliticsBy Larken Rose

Propagandists for the U.S. ruling class—I mean, “spokespersons for the United States government”—usually choose their words carefully, trying to use insinuation to demonize their opponents, euphemisms to deify themselves, and other spin and lies to make freedom sound bad and authoritarian power sound good. But they’re not usually stupid enough to come right out and say, “war is peace; freedom is slavery; ignorance is strength” (see George Orwell’s “1984”). In most cases, to see their true agenda, you need to read between the lines. Sometimes, however, their totalitarian mentality is put on display for all to see.

Consider, for example, this CNN article, talking about how the DOJ wants to shift its focus more to domestic “terror groups.”

Just so we’re clear, I’m a voluntaryist myself, who believes in the non-aggression principle. I abhor actual assault, murder and terrorism (which, as it happens, is committed by agents of “government” far more often than by anyone else). So if someone is actually harming or endangering innocents, I hope someone stops them, using whatever it takes. Whether or not the aggressor, or the protector, wears a badge is totally morally irrelevant. Ain’t I just an extreme, dangerous kook? Anyway, back to the story.

The CNN article starts by quoting “government” officials saying that “domestic terror groups” are a greater threat to America than ISIS or al Qaeda. Well, since those (sometimes fictional) groups are no threat at all to America, that isn’t saying much. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, October 29 @ 16:23:09 EDT (959 reads)
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 Screwed Again: Robin Hood in Reverse

Politics
The gap between the rich and the rest is growing partly because we keep electing politicians who promise nothing less.

By Donald Kaul

One of the biggest questions of the day is: Why do the rich keep getting richer and the middle class keep getting poorer?

This also ranks as the dumbest question of the day, week, month, or year. To anyone who’s been paying attention, it’s obvious why economic inequality in our land is growing:

That’s what we asked for.

For at least 35 years, since the reign of King Ronald the Reagan, our democratic society has waged relentless economic war on the middle class and the poor, giving their share of the pie to the rich and the well-to-do.

It didn’t happen in secret. The Republican Party is built on the reverse Robin Hood principle of taking from the less affluent so the rich can have what they think they need — a word that not coincidentally rhymes with “greed.”

Democrats follow the same principle too, but not as openly. Only they throw more scraps to the “disadvantaged” every once in a while than the GOP. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Saturday, June 20 @ 17:10:16 EDT (1642 reads)
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 Screwed Again: The 0.01 Percent’s ‘I Reap All’ Accounts

The News
Multi-millionaires and billionaires are shielding vast fortunes from taxation with monstrously huge IRAs.

By Bob Lord

Do you remember when Mitt Romney’s IRA made headlines during his failed 2012 presidential campaign?

That outsized retirement stash estimated at between $20 and $102 million probably led President Barack Obama to propose limiting the buildup of IRA values. It turns out that Romney’s gigantic IRA was no fluke.

At least 9,000 wealthy Americans have amassed $5 million-plus sized IRAs. Indeed, the former Massachusetts governor’s use of a monster IRA to defer taxation is modest compared to others.

Meet Max Levchin. When he helped launch Yelp, Levchin had the foresight to place at least 7 million of his original shares of Yelp stock in a tax-sheltered Roth IRA when he acquired it.

The Ukrainian-born entrepreneur has sold off some of those shares since then, so estimating the size of that Roth mega-IRA requires some guesswork. Based on Yelp’s recent trading range, it easily could exceed $275 million. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, November 05 @ 20:43:59 EST (1314 reads)
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 Screwed Again: Golden Weapons of Destruction Take Aim at El Salvador

Business News
Why do companies have the right to sue countries over environmental protection measures?

By John Cavanagh and Robin Broad

An obscure tribunal housed at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. will soon decide the fate of millions of people.

At issue is whether a government should be punished for refusing to let a foreign mining company operate because it wants to protect its main source of water.

The case pits El Salvador’s government against a Canadian gold-mining company that recently became part of a larger Australian-based corporation. When OceanaGold bought Pacific Rim last year, it identified the Salvadoran mining prospects as a key asset even though gold prices have sunk by more than a third from their 2011 high of more than $1,900 an ounce.

The case’s implications are chilling. If the company wins, this small country will have to either let the company mine or pay hundreds of millions of dollars. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Sunday, September 07 @ 16:33:47 EDT (1356 reads)
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 Screwed Again: Ferguson Exposes the Creeping Militarization of Police Forces

Action Alert
Your town and mine are being militarized, just like Ferguson.

By Jim Hightower

The tragedies unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri, are doubly infuriating.

First, there is the obvious outrage of yet another unarmed black teenager being stopped by one of the town’s white police officers as he was walking to his grandmother’s home.

A scuffle ensued, and officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Michael Brown (six times, including twice in the head, according to an autopsy report). The young man’s corpse was then left lying in the street for hours, during which time the police didn’t even bother to notify his family. Understandably, furious citizens have erupted in protest.

Outrage No. 2 is that Ferguson’s police, practically all of whom are white in a town that’s two-thirds black, responded to the public outcry like an occupying army. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Saturday, August 23 @ 17:42:46 EDT (1305 reads)
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 Screwed Again: What is this Country about Anymore?

Holidays
When Congress cut off long-term unemployment aid, it left more than 3 million people in the lurch.

By Katherine McFate

Meet Mark. He’s a 58 year old, college-educated veteran who lives in Oregon.

He was laid off last September and has been unable to find work since. Mark’s state unemployment benefits ran out in May. Since funding for the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program was cut last December, Mark and more than three million other Americans, including nearly 300,000 veterans, have been denied access to a second six months of support — a vital financial lifeline in this tough economy. Mark is way behind in his rent, is selling everything of value he owns, and fears he will be homeless soon.

“We spend trillions bailing out banks, and provide Wall Street bonuses for those that created this challenging economy, but for a highly skilled worker, a veteran with a family, this country has nothing,” writes Mark. “What is this country about anymore? Our military service personnel risk their lives to save and protect the freedoms of our country and this land, but when we need help there isn’t enough?” ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, July 03 @ 18:47:19 EDT (1700 reads)
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 Screwed Again: How NSA Can Secretly Aid Criminal Cases

The NewsBy Ray McGovern

Rarely do you get a chance to ask a just-retired FBI director whether he had “any legal qualms” about what, in football, is called “illegal procedure,” but at the Justice Department is called “parallel construction.”

Government wordsmiths have given us this pleasant euphemism to describe the use of the National Security Agency’s illegal eavesdropping on Americans as an investigative tool to pass on tips to law enforcement agencies which then hide the source of the original suspicion and “construct” a case using “parallel” evidence to prosecute the likes of you and me.

For those interested in “quaint” things like the protections that used to be afforded us by the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution, information about this “parallel construction” has been in the public domain, including the “mainstream media,” for at least a year or so.

So, I welcomed the chance to expose this artful practice to still more people with cameras rolling at a large conference on “Ethos & Profession of Intelligence” at Georgetown University on Wednesday, during the Q & A after former FBI Director Robert Mueller spoke.

Mueller ducked my question regarding whether he had any “legal qualms” about this “parallel construction” arrangement. He launched into a discursive reply in which he described the various ”authorities” enjoyed by the FBI (and the CIA), which left the clear impression not only that he was without qualms but that he considered the practice of concealing the provenance of illegally acquired tip-off information somehow within those professed “authorities.”

Bottom line? Beware, those of you who think you have “nothing to hide” when the NSA scoops up your personal information. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Saturday, June 14 @ 20:47:45 EDT (2116 reads)
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 Screwed Again: Buy a Box of Cereal, Waive Your Rights Goodbye

Business News
By forcing wronged consumers to resort to arbitration, our legal system is green-lighting corporate malfeasance.

By Paul Gordon

Buying a cell phone plan could make you powerless to sue your phone company if it defrauds you. Using a coupon to buy a box of cereal may mean you give up your right to sue if the food is tainted. Checking your grandmother into a nursing home could prevent you from holding the facility accountable for negligence. “Liking” something on Facebook could sign you on to a legally binding contract that you’ve never read.

American consumers are quietly being forced into contracts with giant corporations that they often don’t understand or even know about and are nearly always powerless to change.

These contracts are hidden in long, unwieldy terms-and-conditions documents. Even people who can decipher the legalese can’t change them. You either agree to sign your rights away to a cell phone service provider, or go without cell phone service at all.

The agreements prevent consumers from taking the corporations to court or joining with others in class actions. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, May 01 @ 21:29:14 EDT (1392 reads)
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 Screwed Again: “Freedom of the Press” and “The Shield Law”:

The News
“Protecting the Public” from Independent Alternatives to the Mainstream Media

By Devon DB

Currently being debated by the Senate, but rarely discussed on mainstream television, is the Shield Law. While on the surface it may seem to be rather innocuous, some of the language in it and its implications are quite problematic for journalists.

A Shield Law is a law which “provides statutory protection for the ‘reporters’ privilege’— legal rules which protect journalists against the government requiring them to reveal confidential sources or other information.”[1] Generally, this is a positive occurrence as journalists are much more able to conduct their work and bring information to public light if they do not need to worry about having to reveal their sources. While Shield Laws have occurred in the past, they have only been on the state level. This currently proposed Shield Law is the first one to reach the federal level and the main goal is to protect journalists from having to reveal confidential sources in federal cases.[2]

However, there are certain instances in which journalists will have to reveal sources, such as “(1) The party seeking disclosure has exhausted all reasonable alternative sources of the information; (2) The requested information is essential to resolving the matter; (3) Disclosure of the requested information would not be contrary to the public interest; and (4) In criminal cases, if the requesting party is the federal government, the government must show that there are reasonable grounds to believe that a crime has occurred.”[3]

While overall it may seem like a good bill, there are a number of problems with this Shield Law, officially known as the Free Flow of Information Act of 2013. For starters, this law would “allow the government to seize reporters’ records without notifying them for 45 days – a period of time that could be renewed by a judge 45 additional days – if investigators convince a judge pre-notification ‘would pose a clear and substantial threat to the integrity of a criminal investigation.’”[4] This power of seizing records without notifying reporters was used most recently in regards to the Associated Press, when the federal government seized their phone records in May of last year, with the government only saying that “they were needed for investigation of an unspecified criminal matter.”[5] Oh yes! What transparency and accountability! Infringing upon the First Amendment rights of reporters and then only giving what is essentially a BS, purposefully vague explanation.

In addition to this, the government can force journalists to give up information in the name of national security.[6] This is quite worrying as the US government has time and time again been involved in operations of entrapment.[7,8] ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, April 16 @ 18:40:53 EDT (2004 reads)
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 Screwed Again: The War on Veterans

Politics
Congress and the White House are much better at starting wars than cleaning up after them.

By Emily Schwartz Greco and William A. Collins

Do you remember Cory Remsburg? He’s the Army Ranger who received a standing ovation from Congress during President Barack Obama’s State of theUnion address a few weeks ago.

Applause is nice, especially from such influential people. It sure beats those cuts the Pentagon wants to make to veteran benefits.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is now trying to sell vets on his plan to scale back the number of U.S. troops, as well as what taxpayers are spending on active-duty and retired forces. After he announced his ideas, Hagel brought them straight to a town hall meeting with soldiers at Fort Eustis in Virginia. “There was no applause,” Military.com reported.

Whenever Washington winds down its wars and our troops become needy veterans, interest in their welfare always flags. Senate Republicans just blocked a comprehensive $21 billion bill that would have beefed up veteran education, health, and other benefits. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Sunday, March 09 @ 22:59:11 EDT (1550 reads)
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 Screwed Again: Suicides of Bank Executives, Fraud, Financial Manipulation:

Business NewsJPMorgan Chase Advisor Tony Blair is Not Involved

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

JPMorgan Chase is the unspoken architect of fraud, corruption, not to mention the establishment of the largest Ponzi scheme in World history.The agenda is to steal and appropriate wealth through market manipulation:

“Just last month, JPMorgan Chase acknowledged that it facilitated the largest Ponzi scheme in history, looking the other way as Bernie Madoff brazenly turned his business bank account at JPMorgan Chase into an unprecedented money laundering operation that would have set off bells, whistles and sirens at any other bank.

The U.S. Justice Department allowed JPMorgan to pay $1.7 billion and sign a deferred prosecution agreement, meaning no one goes to jail at JPMorgan — again. The largest question that no one can or will answer is how the compliance, legal and anti-money laundering personnel at JPMorgan ignored for years hundreds of transfers and billions of dollars in round trip maneuvers between Madoff and the account of Norman Levy. Even one such maneuver should set off an investigation. (Levy is now deceased and the Trustee for Madoff’s victims has settled with his estate.)” Pam Martens, Russ Martens, JPMorgan Vice President’s Death Shines Light on Bank’s Close Ties to the CIA,
WallStreetParade.com, February 12, 2014

To successfully implement its various financial operations, JP Morgan Chase not only controls politicians in high office, it also uses retired politicians to undertake advisory functions.

Upon his retirement from the position of Prime Minister, Tony Blair was appointed to a senior advisory position at JPMorgan Chase, His initial fee for this part-time consultancy was a modest retainer of £500,000 a year, ($750.000). It was subsequently increased to £2 million. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, February 17 @ 17:35:08 EST (1858 reads)
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 Screwed Again: Seeking Justice: At Least 40,323 People Convicted with Evidence in Question

The News
Because of Admitted Fraud

From: ACLU.org

ACLU of Massachusetts and the ACLU file petition for due process

BOSTON – Today [January 9, 2014] the American Civil LibertiesUnion of Massachusetts and the national ACLU, together with Foley Hoag LLP, have petitioned the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court—that state’s highest court—to bring justice to tens of thousands of people whose criminal convictions rested on the work of a chemist who has been convicted of egregious misconduct. According to a state report, this chemist worked on the cases of 40,323 people.

The misconduct occurred at the Hinton State Laboratory, where chemist Annie Dookhan deliberately invented test results, by tampering with evidence so that it would test positive for illegal drugs and by falsely claiming to have tested samples when, in fact, she did no such testing. Dookhan’s misconduct was first reported to lab managers in June 2011, yet it was not disclosed to the public until August 2012. As of today, lawyers have been assigned to only 8,700 of the tens of thousands of people who may have been convicted based on this misconduct, and only a tiny fraction of people with lawyers have had a day in court. The ACLU’s petition asks that the Supreme Judicial Court intervene and implement a comprehensive remedy for the 40,323 people who may have been improperly convicted as a result of the lab’s misconduct. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Tuesday, January 14 @ 19:41:00 EST (2478 reads)
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