Curated Links

Privatization: Profits Over People

Posted in Curated Links on March 25th, 2015 by Noebie – Be the first to comment

Paul Buchheit at Common Dreams takes a look at The Project on Government Oversight’s latest report on privatization. They found that in 33 of 35 cases the federal government spent more on private contractors than on public employees for the same services. The authors of the report said “Our findings were shocking.”

For the U.S. Postal Service, for instance, it costs less than 50 cents to send a letter to any remote location in the United States. For an envelope with a two-day guarantee, FedEx and UPS charge about four to five times as much.

USPS is so inexpensive, in fact, that Fedex actually uses the U.S. Post Office for about 30 percent of its ground shipments. As Ralph Nader notes, the USPS has not taken any taxpayer money since 1971, and if it weren’t required by an inexplicable requirement to pre-fund employee benefits for 75 years, it would be making a profit. Instead, this national institution has been forced to cut jobs and routes and mailing centers.

In other words, privatization places profits over people.

Read the entire article: How Privatization Degrades Our Daily Lives | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.

Capital Punishment and the Brutality of U.S. Class Rule

Posted in Curated Links on March 20th, 2015 by Noebie – Be the first to comment

The latest abomination in a US death chamber took place on Tuesday night in Missouri when Cecil Clayton, 74, was injected and killed with a single dose of pentobarbital. The condemned inmate was executed despite overwhelming evidence of his intellectual disability.

Read More: Capital punishment and the brutality of class rule in America – World Socialist Web Site.

The Amazing Mister Boots

Posted in Curated Links on March 12th, 2015 by Noebie – Be the first to comment

Joseph Bien-Kahn interviews Boots Riley.

When I say, “We have hella people, they have helicopters,” I’m trying to point out that they can have this technology, but we’re the ones that have to operate it. They’ve got our eyes on the details of technology, but the truth is, this whole world is run through the power of the working class. We’re who creates the profit and we can reorganize it. Helicopters won’t matter.

Read the full interview: Boots Riley on the State of Oakland, the Power of the Working Class, and His New Screenplay | VICE | United States.

Rolling Firebombs

Posted in Curated Links on March 12th, 2015 by Noebie – Be the first to comment

Environmentalists around the country have been protesting the “bomb trains” for several years now, but the 100 car unit trains are continuing to roll through hill and dale, towns and cities. This, despite the fact that we now know that fracked Bakken crude is more explosive than gasoline. The fireballs that have erupted lately dramatically illustrate this point.

Read More: Exploding Trains and Crude Oil » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names.

U.S. Backed Warlords Terrorize Afghanistan

Posted in Curated Links on March 4th, 2015 by Noebie – Be the first to comment

Afghan government troops and civilian paramilitary units, trained and sanctioned by the United States, are routinely terrorizing the Afghan people, according to a Human Rights Watch report. The report indicated that the government in Kabul rules over a network of criminals on a spree of plunder, not subject to legal accountability.

…forces under the command of Hakim Shujoyi have killed dozens of civilians in Uruzgan province, yet despite a warrant for his arrest he remains at large and evidence suggests he has enjoyed the support of US forces. In Paktika province, Afghan Local Police forces under the command of Azizullah,an ethnic Tajik who, as of June 2014, was a commander of the local ALP in Urgun district, have committed multiple kidnappings and killings. Azizullah has worked closely with US Special Forces despite their awareness of his reputation for unlawful brutality.

Read the press release: Afghanistan: Abusive Strongmen Escape Justice | Human Rights Watch.

Download the report in PDF.

Pentagon Research: Scarcity and Unrest

Posted in Curated Links on February 19th, 2015 by Noebie – Be the first to comment

Nafeez Ahmed writes on Motherboard about the current research priorities of the U.S. Department of Defense.

A major factor for study is how “resource scarcity or imbalance, including food and water insecurity” can lead to state instability. This could cover availability of resources, who owns them, and who can access them; the way in which energy consumption is rising worldwide and how it relates to health and wealth in different countries.

The Pentagon also wants to see modeling of the interplay between demographic trends and population growth, as well as wider economic issues like “wealth distribution.” This raises questions about whether the US military anticipates a risk of civil unrest at home or in other Western countries allied to the US, where some economists are predicting another economic crash.

Read more: The Bleak Science Bankrolled by the Pentagon | Motherboard.

Peak Everything

Posted in Curated Links on February 17th, 2015 by Noebie – Be the first to comment

As if peak oil theory isn’t scary enough, Gwynne Dyer posts the following.

During the latter part of the 20th century, food production grew at around 3.5 percent per year, comfortably ahead of population growth, but the dramatic rise in crop yields was due to new inputs of fertilisers and pesticides, much more irrigation, and new “green revolution” crop varieties. Now those one-time improvements have largely run their course, and global food production is rising at only 1.5 percent a year.

Population growth has slowed too, so we’re still more or less keeping up with demand, but there are signs that food production in many areas is running up against what researchers at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln in a report last year called “a biophysical yield ceiling for the crop in question.” Production of the food in question stops rising, then may even fall – and extra investment often doesn’t help.

The “peak” in this context is an early warning that there will eventually be a complete cessation of growth, possibly followed by an absolute decline. Peak maize happened in 1985, peak rice and wild fish in 1988, peak dairy in 1989, peak eggs in 1993, and peak meat in 1996.

Read More: Peak Everything | Gwynne Dyer.

Christianity and America

Posted in Curated Links on February 17th, 2015 by Noebie – Be the first to comment

Benjamin L. Corey writes about the early Christians, and how they might be viewed by American Fundies today.

“If those entrenched in American Christianity could transport back in time to experience Christianity as it originally was, they’d be uncomfortable at best, and at worst, would probably have declined the invitation to join Christianity at all.”

Read the full essay: 5 Reasons Why Many American Christians Wouldn’t Like The First Ones.

Constitutional Scholar Tramples Press Freedom

Posted in Curated Links on February 13th, 2015 by Noebie – Be the first to comment

Glenn Greenwald reports: “Each year, Reporters Without Borders issues a worldwide ranking of nations based on the extent to which they protect or abridge press freedom. The group’s 2015 ranking was released this morning, and the United States is ranked 49th. That is the lowest ranking ever during the Obama presidency, and the second-lowest ranking for the U.S. since the rankings began in 2002 (in 2006, under Bush, the U.S. was ranked 53rd). The countries immediately ahead of the U.S. are Malta, Niger, Burkino Faso, El Salvador, Tonga, Chile and Botswana.”

Greenwald quotes former Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie, Jr.

“The administration’s war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration, when I was one of the editors involved in The Washington Post’s investigation of Watergate. The 30 experienced Washington journalists at a variety of news organizations whom I interviewed for this report could not remember any precedent.”

Read More: U.S. Drops to 49th in World Press Freedom Rankings, Worst Since Obama Became President – The Intercept.

We Have A Nice Cell Waiting For You

Posted in Curated Links on February 13th, 2015 by Noebie – Be the first to comment

If you are poor, ill or addicted, don’t worry. We can warehouse you almost indefinitely and you’ll never have to worry.

From a new report by the Vera Institute of Justice:

“Local jails, which exist in nearly every town and city in America, are built to hold people deemed too dangerous to release pending trial or at high risk of flight. This, however, is no longer primarily what jails do or whom they hold, as people too poor to post bail languish there and racial disparities disproportionately impact communities of color. This report reviews existing research and data to take a deeper look at our nation’s misuse of local jails and to determine how we arrived at this point.”

Read More: Incarceration’s Front Door: The Misuse of Jails in America | Vera Institute of Justice.