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Heads of state, financial ministers, celebrities and representatives from many of the worlds most powerful corporations are meeting in Davos, Switzerland for the 2014 World Economic Forum. This year's theme of the forum is "The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business." The Forum has focused on income inequality, the impacts of low economic growth and climate change. In advance of this year's forum Oxfam International released a report that noted that the world's 85 richest individuals have as much wealth as 3.5 billion people or half the world's population.

Washington, DC – An independent bipartisan agency within the Executive Branch has issued a landmark 238-page report that concludes the bulk metadata telephony program conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA) has provided only "minimal" benefits in counterterrorism efforts, is illegal, and should be closed down.

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) report further confirms the whistleblower status of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who made significant revelations to the media in June 2013 of NSA surveillance programs he reasonably believed to be unconstitutional.

Jan 24

The Thugs of Halftime

By David Swanson, War Is a Crime | Op-Ed

Three remarkable items in Thursday's Charlottesville Daily Progress.  First, a football player explaining that when he proclaimed his superiority to his opponent after a game he was caught up in the game's passion, and that the overblown reaction to his obnoxious comments seems racist. Indeed it does, but it seems to reflect another type of willful ignorance as well.

Washington, D.C. – When President Obama delivers the 2014 State of the Union on January 28, it is expected that he focus a substantial portion of his agenda on America’s growing economic inequality and steps to address this critical issue.
The President may call on Congress to pass fast track trade promotion authority so negotiators can finalize, after more than four years, the massive and controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact which involves 12 countries that comprise nearly 40% of all global economic activity.

There have been similar stories before but the one that came from India in December of 2012 of a 23 year old medical student who, after getting on a bus with her male friend, was attacked, raped and tortured by a gang of men on the bus. After their initial crimes the men threw her and her male companion, who had been beaten by the thugs, out of the
bus and onto the road. The young woman died two weeks later from her injuries. The rapist murderers were arrested, four received harsh sentences but one was given only three years in a juvenile prison, he is in his late teens. Despite the obvious evil nature of this kind of conduct it appears to have had little impact in reducing the numbers or nature of attacks against women and girls. While the above mentioned attack outraged millions in India and around the world less than a month ago another took place with equally despicable, if not worse characteristics.

Jan 22

The Endless Arms Race

By Lawrence S Wittner, History News Network | Op-Ed

It’s heartening to see that an agreement has been reached to ensure that Iran honors its commitment, made when it signed the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to forgo developing nuclear weapons.

But what about the other key part of the NPT, Article VI, which commits nuclear-armed nations to “cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament,” as well as to “a treaty on general and complete disarmament”? Here we find that, 44 years after the NPT went into force, the United States and other nuclear powers continue to pursue their nuclear weapons buildups, with no end in sight.

Jan 22

The Harder They Fall

By Ernest Partridge, The Crisis Papers | Op-Ed

Christie is renowned as a “control freak.” Even so, as Richard Nixon learned to his sorrow, events often have a way of eventually taking control. With “Bridgegate,” events have forced the initiative from the Governor’s office into the hands of the investigating committees of the New Jersey Legislature and the United State Congress. Perhaps for the first time in his incumbency, Chris Christie is on the defensive. Not an enviable position for a controlling bully.

On Friday January 17, Khmer-American artist/activist Kat Eng set up a sewing machine in front of H&M’s Times Square flagship location in NYC. The eight hour performance was a response to the brutal military crackdown of striking garment workers in Cambodia earlier this month. The project's title, "Less Than Three", refers to the earnings of the average Cambodian garment worker, whose $80 monthly salary breaks down to 2.66 dollars a day. In solidarity with the oppressed workers, the artist elaborately stitched together 2 and 2/3 actual dollar bills over the course of a workday. The performance aimed to condemn Cambodia's unacceptable act of state violence and to confront consumers with their role in the narrative.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Campaign Legal Center and Public Citizen today announced plans to file suit against the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for its dismissal of a complaint against Crossroads GPS. The complaint stemmed from the group’s failure to register as a political committee and disclose its donors despite huge expenditures on political advertising in the 2010 election cycle.

Public Citizen, and others filed a complaint with the FEC in October 2010 alleging that the group’s campaign expenditures and organizational objectives made it a political committee that must disclose its donors under federal campaign laws. Despite the strong case made by the FEC’s General Counsel that the 501(c)(4) group violated federal law, the Commission deadlocked along party lines over whether to investigate further, preventing any action. While the Democratic commissioners agreed there was enough evidence to proceed, the three Republican commissioners voted against looking into the case further.

This year I attended both the American Studies Association and the Modern Language Association Convention with a keen interest in supporting resolutions initiated to support Palestinian human rights. The ASA resolution, which was unanimously adopted by the National Council and ratified by 66 percent of the record-high number of voting ASA members, supported the call by Palestinian civil society to boycott Israeli academic institutions (not individuals). The MLA resolution, supported by the Organizing Committee and passed by the Delegate Assembly, calls for the US State Department "to contest Israel's denials of entry to the West Bank by US academics who have been invited to teach, confer, or do research at Palestinian universities."