reagan-was-a-horrible-president

The Atlanta Braves have been deluged with hate mail after baseball great Hank Aaron’s recent comments about racism in America and President Obama’s critics.

According to USA Today, the Braves organization has received hundreds of letters, emails and phone calls since Aaron made his comments a week ago.

"Hank Aaron is a scumbag piece of (expletive) (racial slur)” read an email from a man named Edward, according to USA Today.

Edward evidently used the racist epithet five times.

"My old man instilled in my mind from a young age, the only good (racial slur) is a dead (racial slur)," he wrote in closing.

One man called Aaron a “racist scumbag,” while another vowed to never attend another Braves game until Aaron is fired from the team’s front office. A man named David said he plans to burn Aaron’s autobiography.

The outrage stems from an interview Aaron gave to USA Today last week, 40 years after he broke Babe Ruth’s career home run record.

Aaron said he still has the racist, threatening letters he received as he closed in on Ruth’s milestone to serve as a “reminder” that things aren’t too different from when he pursued the record.

"If you think that, you are fooling yourself," Aaron said last week. "A lot of things have happened in this country, but we have so far to go. There’s not a whole lot that has changed."

When he shifted his attention to Obama, Aaron seemed to compare Republicans to the KKK.

"We can talk about baseball. Talk about politics. Sure, this country has a black president, but when you look at a black president, President Obama is left with his foot stuck in the mud from all of the Republicans with the way he’s treated," Aaron said.

He added, “We have moved in the right direction, and there have been improvements, but we still have a long ways to go in the country. The bigger difference is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts.”

disciplesofmalcolm

disciplesofmalcolm:

Glenn Greenwald & Laura Poitras Q&A on Snowden, Surveillance State & Press Freedom

I keep up with Glenn Greenwald, his team, and Edward Snowden. Despite the risk of coming back to the United States (Greenwald went to Brazil to report on the NSA documents Edward Snowden exposed), he returned recently and gave this press conference. I would strongly suggest everyone who follows me to follow with this man and what he is saying. He is an important figure in today’s age; we must support him, understand what he is saying, and spread it everywhere. I know that this country has labeled these people “enemies of the state” for speaking truth to power, so we must protect them.

thepeoplesrecord

thepeoplesrecord:

Report: Hundreds killed while defending environment, land rights
April 16, 2014

Hundreds of people have been killed while defending the environment and land rights around the world, international monitors said in a report released Tuesday, highlighting what they called a culture of impunity surrounding the deaths.

At least 908 people were killed in 35 countries from 2002 to 2013 during disputes over industrial logging, mining, and land rights – with Latin America and Asia-Pacific being particularly hard-hit – according to the study from Global Witness, a London-based nongovernmental organization that says it works to expose economic networks behind conflict, corruption and environmental destruction.

Only 10 people have ever been convicted over the hundreds of deaths, the report said.

The rate of such deaths has risen sharply – with an average of two activists killed each week – over the past four years as competition for the world’s natural resources has accelerated, Global Witness said in the report titled “Deadly Environment.”

“There can be few starker or more obvious symptoms of the global environmental crisis than a dramatic upturn in the killings of ordinary people defending rights to their land or environment,” said Oliver Courtney, a senior campaigner for Global Witness.

“This rapidly worsening problem is going largely unnoticed, and those responsible almost always get away with it,” Courtney said.

The report’s release followed a dire warning by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said global warming is driving humanity toward unprecedented risk due to factors such as food and water insecurity. Global Witness said this puts environmental activists in more danger than ever before.

Land rights are central to the violence, as “companies and governments routinely strike secretive deals for large chunks of land and forests to grow cash crops,” the report said. When residents refuse to give up their land rights to mining operations and the timber trade, they are often forced from their homes, or worse, it said.

The study ranked Brazil as the most dangerous place to be an environmentalist, with at least 448 killings recorded.

One case that especially shocked the country and the global environmental movement involved the 2011 killings of environmentalists Jose Claudio Ribeira da Silva and his wife, Maria do Espirito Santo da Silva.

“The couple had denounced the encroachment of illegal loggers in the reserve and had previously received threats against their lives,” the report said.

Masked men gunned down the couple near a sustainable reserve where they had worked for decades producing nuts and natural oils. The killers tore off one of Jose Claudio’s ears as proof of his execution.

Full article

thepeoplesrecord
thepeoplesrecord:

The 1% wants to ban sleeping in cars - it hurts their ‘quality of life’April 16, 2014
Across the United States, many local governments are responding to skyrocketing levels of inequality and the now decades-long crisis of homelessness among the very poor … by passing laws making it a crime to sleep in a parked car.
This happened most recently in Palo Alto, in California’s Silicon Valley, where new billionaires are seemingly minted every month – and where 92% of homeless people lack shelter of any kind. Dozens of cities have passed similar anti-homeless laws. The largest of them is Los Angeles, the longtime unofficial “homeless capital of America”, where lawyers are currently defending a similar vehicle-sleeping law before a skeptical federal appellate court. Laws against sleeping on sidewalks or in cars are called “quality of life” laws. But they certainly don’t protect the quality of life of the poor.
To be sure, people living in cars cannot be the best neighbors. Some people are able to acquire old and ugly – but still functioning – recreational vehicles with bathrooms; others do the best they can. These same cities have resisted efforts to provide more public toilet facilities, often on the grounds that this will make their city a “magnet” for homeless people from other cities. As a result, anti-homeless ordinances often spread to adjacent cities, leaving entire regions without public facilities of any kind.
Their hope, of course, is that homeless people will go elsewhere, despite the fact that the great majority of homeless people are trying to survive in the same communities in which they were last housed – and where they still maintain connections. Americans sleeping in their own cars literally have nowhere to go.
Indeed, nearly all homelessness in the US begins with a loss of income and an eviction for nonpayment of rent – a rent set entirely by market forces. The waiting lists are years long for the tiny fraction of housing with government subsidies. And rents have risen dramatically in the past two years, in part because long-time tenants must now compete with the millions of former homeowners who lost their homes in the Great Recession.
The paths from eviction to homelessness follow familiar patterns. For the completely destitute without family or friends able to help, that path leads more or less directly to the streets. For those slightly better off, unemployment and the exhaustion of meager savings – along with the good graces of family and friends – eventually leaves people with only two alternatives: a shelter cot or their old automobile.
However, in places like Los Angeles, the shelters are pretty much always full. Between 2011 and 2013, the number of unsheltered homeless people increased by 67%. In Palo Alto last year, there were 12 shelter beds for 157 homeless individuals. Homeless people in these cities do have choices: they can choose to sleep in a doorway, on a sidewalk, in a park, under a bridge or overpass, or – if they are relatively lucky – in a car. But these cities have ordinances that make all of those choices a criminal offense. The car is the best of bad options, now common enough that local bureaucrats have devised a new, if oxymoronic, term – the “vehicularly housed”.
People sleeping in cars try to find legal, nighttime parking places, where they will be less apparent and arouse the least hostility. But cities like Palo Alto and Los Angeles often forbid parking between 2am and 5am in commercial areas, where police write expensive tickets and arrest and impound the vehicles of repeat offenders. That leaves residential areas, where overnight street parking cannot, as a practical matter, be prohibited.
One finds the “vehicularly housed” in virtually every neighborhood, including my own. But the animus that drives anti-homeless laws seems to be greatest in the wealthiest cities, like Palo Alto, which has probably spawned more per-capita fortunes than any city on Earth, and in the more recently gentrified areas like Los Angeles’ Venice. These places are ruled by majorities of “liberals” who decry, with increasing fervor, the rapid rise in economic inequality. Nationally, 90% of Democrats (and 45% of Republicans) believe the government should act to reduce the rich-poor gap.
It is easy to be opposed to inequality in the abstract. So why are Los Angeles and Palo Alto spending virtually none of their budgets on efforts to provide housing for the very poor and homeless? When the most obvious evidence of inequality parks on their street, it appears, even liberals would rather just call the police. The word from the car: if you’re not going to do anything to help, please don’t make things worse.
Source

thepeoplesrecord:

The 1% wants to ban sleeping in cars - it hurts their ‘quality of life’
April 16, 2014

Across the United States, many local governments are responding to skyrocketing levels of inequality and the now decades-long crisis of homelessness among the very poor … by passing laws making it a crime to sleep in a parked car.

This happened most recently in Palo Alto, in California’s Silicon Valley, where new billionaires are seemingly minted every month – and where 92% of homeless people lack shelter of any kind. Dozens of cities have passed similar anti-homeless laws. The largest of them is Los Angeles, the longtime unofficial “homeless capital of America”, where lawyers are currently defending a similar vehicle-sleeping law before a skeptical federal appellate court. Laws against sleeping on sidewalks or in cars are called “quality of life” laws. But they certainly don’t protect the quality of life of the poor.

To be sure, people living in cars cannot be the best neighbors. Some people are able to acquire old and ugly – but still functioning – recreational vehicles with bathrooms; others do the best they can. These same cities have resisted efforts to provide more public toilet facilities, often on the grounds that this will make their city a “magnet” for homeless people from other cities. As a result, anti-homeless ordinances often spread to adjacent cities, leaving entire regions without public facilities of any kind.

Their hope, of course, is that homeless people will go elsewhere, despite the fact that the great majority of homeless people are trying to survive in the same communities in which they were last housed – and where they still maintain connections. Americans sleeping in their own cars literally have nowhere to go.

Indeed, nearly all homelessness in the US begins with a loss of income and an eviction for nonpayment of rent – a rent set entirely by market forces. The waiting lists are years long for the tiny fraction of housing with government subsidies. And rents have risen dramatically in the past two years, in part because long-time tenants must now compete with the millions of former homeowners who lost their homes in the Great Recession.

The paths from eviction to homelessness follow familiar patterns. For the completely destitute without family or friends able to help, that path leads more or less directly to the streets. For those slightly better off, unemployment and the exhaustion of meager savings – along with the good graces of family and friends – eventually leaves people with only two alternatives: a shelter cot or their old automobile.

However, in places like Los Angeles, the shelters are pretty much always full. Between 2011 and 2013, the number of unsheltered homeless people increased by 67%. In Palo Alto last year, there were 12 shelter beds for 157 homeless individuals. Homeless people in these cities do have choices: they can choose to sleep in a doorway, on a sidewalk, in a park, under a bridge or overpass, or – if they are relatively lucky – in a car. But these cities have ordinances that make all of those choices a criminal offense. The car is the best of bad options, now common enough that local bureaucrats have devised a new, if oxymoronic, term – the “vehicularly housed”.

People sleeping in cars try to find legal, nighttime parking places, where they will be less apparent and arouse the least hostility. But cities like Palo Alto and Los Angeles often forbid parking between 2am and 5am in commercial areas, where police write expensive tickets and arrest and impound the vehicles of repeat offenders. That leaves residential areas, where overnight street parking cannot, as a practical matter, be prohibited.

One finds the “vehicularly housed” in virtually every neighborhood, including my own. But the animus that drives anti-homeless laws seems to be greatest in the wealthiest cities, like Palo Alto, which has probably spawned more per-capita fortunes than any city on Earth, and in the more recently gentrified areas like Los Angeles’ Venice. These places are ruled by majorities of “liberals” who decry, with increasing fervor, the rapid rise in economic inequality. Nationally, 90% of Democrats (and 45% of Republicans) believe the government should act to reduce the rich-poor gap.

It is easy to be opposed to inequality in the abstract. So why are Los Angeles and Palo Alto spending virtually none of their budgets on efforts to provide housing for the very poor and homeless? When the most obvious evidence of inequality parks on their street, it appears, even liberals would rather just call the police. The word from the car: if you’re not going to do anything to help, please don’t make things worse.

Source

descentintotyranny

america-wakiewakie:

Police Are Testing a “Live Google Earth” To Watch Crime As It Happens | Gizmodo 

In Compton last year, police began quietly testing a system that allowed them to do something incredible: Watch every car and person in real time as they ebbed and flowed around the city. Every assault, every purse snatched, every car speeding away was on record—all thanks to an Ohio company that monitors cities from the air.

The Center for Investigative Reporting takes a look at a number of emerging surveillance technologies in a new video, but one in particular stands out: A wide-area surveillance system invented by Ross McNutt, a retired Air Force veteran who owns a company called Persistent Surveillance Systems.

McNutt describes his product as “a live version of Google Earth, only with TiVo capabilities,” which is intriguing but vague (and also sounds a lot like the plot of this terrible Denzel movie). More specifically, PSS outfits planes with an array of super high-resolution cameras that allow a pilot to record a 25-square-mile patch of Earth constantly—for up to six hours.

It’s sort of similar to what your average satellite can do—except, in this case, you can rewind the video, zoom in, and follow specific people and cars as they move around the grid. It’s not specific enough to ID people by face, but, when used in unison with stoplight cameras and other on-the-ground video sources, it can identify suspects as they leave the scene of a crime.

The PSS system has been tested in cities including Baltimore and Dayton, and, last year, police officers in Compton used it to track crimes, including a necklace snatching. In one case, they could track a criminal as he approached a woman, grabbed her jewelry, and then ran to a getaway car. They eventually drove out of frame, which meant they weren’t caught—but, as the Compton police explain in this video, the system told them that this particular car was involved, at the very least.

Plenty of critics argue the technology is an ominous invasion of privacy: Video surveillance free of any traditional technological barriers, tracking everyone and everything that moves in a city. But according to police and its creators, it’s not as invasive as other systems, because it can’t see into homes or identify faces. It “allows us to provide more security with less loss of privacy than any of the other options that are out there,” says one officer. That’s definitely one way to look at it. 

Glenn Greenwald & Laura Poitras Q&A on Snowden, Surveillance State & Press Freedom

I keep up with Glenn Greenwald, his team, and Edward Snowden. Despite the risk of coming back to the United States (Greenwald went to Brazil to report on the NSA documents Edward Snowden exposed), he returned recently and gave this press conference. I would strongly suggest everyone who follows me to follow with this man and what he is saying. He is an important figure in today’s age; we must support him, understand what he is saying, and spread it everywhere. I know that this country has labeled these people “enemies of the state” for speaking truth to power, so we must protect them.

disciplesofmalcolm

It was June, 1962 when I heard him speak for the first time, and I became an instant Malcolmite from that first speech on. I was mesmerized by him. Had never heard anybody speak like that in my life. And there were two things he said that stuck with me forever.

One was that we are not up against white individuals, we’re up against a system of white supremacy. That was eye-opening.

And the second thing he did that I had never heard before, was he did-He focused as much attention on the psychological attacks as he did on the physical attacks. He was saying that this society has a constant psychological attack on our minds. And though the physical attacks in 2012 have been significantly reduced-Not eliminated!-but significantly reduced, the psychological attacks are unrelenting, and they go on and on and on, and most of our people are not even aware of the strength of these psychological attacks.

Brother Malcolm spoke consistently about that. And until we recognize that, we are never going to get very far because we refuse to deal with that. The television programs, the movies, the books, the songs-all these things are used constantly to attack our minds and especially the minds of our children.

Peter Bailey on his first encounter with Malcolm X and on some of Malcolm’s teachings that are still relevant today. He worked with Malcolm X and was a member of the Organization of Afro-American Unity.

Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQbgjMdFvO4

(via disciplesofmalcolm)

descentintotyranny
descentintotyranny:

Meat inspector: “We are no longer in charge of safety”
"Chunks" of feces are making it through the USDA’s flawed meat inspection program
Sept. 9 2013
A pilot program meant to identify contamination at meat plants has been failing to do so for the past 15 years. The USDA plans to roll it out nationwide, anyway. From the Washington Post:

The program allows meat producers to increase the speed of processing lines by as much as 20 percent and cuts the number of USDA safety inspectors at each plant in half, replacing them with private inspectors employed by meat companies. The approach has been used for more than a decade by five American hog plants under a pilot program.
But three of these plants were among the 10 worst offenders in the country for health and safety violations, with serious lapses that included failing to remove fecal matter from meat, according to a report this spring by the USDA inspector general. The plant with the worst record by far was one of the five in the pilot program.

This specific fecal matter didn’t make it to the mouths of consumers, because government officials caught it at the last minute. But these and other international incidents documented by the Post, including some that weren’t caught in time, demonstrate that the program has serious flaws.
In New Zealand, a representative of the inspectors union describes how “tremendous amounts of fecal matter remain on the carcasses,” adding, “Not small bits, but chunks.” The Post points out, parenthetically, that “both fecal matter and partly digested food may contain concentrated and complex strains of bacterium such as E. coli and listeria, which can be deadly.”
The USDA wants to finalize and then expand the program by next spring, and is considering the same for a similar program that covers poultry plants. First initiated in the late 1990s, it’s meant to reduce government inspection costs and ultimately lower the price of meat. But the USDA doesn’t seem to have done enough to evaluate the program’s safety, and, according to the Post, may be engaged in something of a coverup:


In interviews, six USDA inspectors working in the pilot plants raised health concerns. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they believed their jobs would be in jeopardy otherwise.
Several said company and government workers are yelled at, threatened and shunned if they try to slow down or stop the accelerated processing lines or complain too aggressively about inadequate safety checks. They also warned that the reduction in the ranks of government inspectors in the plants has compromised the safety of the meat.
“We are no longer in charge of safety,” said an inspector with more than 15 years of experience. “That’s what the public needs to know.”

Maybe, just maybe, the focus on price and efficiency is a bit shortsighted.

descentintotyranny:

Meat inspector: “We are no longer in charge of safety”

"Chunks" of feces are making it through the USDA’s flawed meat inspection program

Sept. 9 2013

A pilot program meant to identify contamination at meat plants has been failing to do so for the past 15 years. The USDA plans to roll it out nationwide, anyway. From the Washington Post:

The program allows meat producers to increase the speed of processing lines by as much as 20 percent and cuts the number of USDA safety inspectors at each plant in half, replacing them with private inspectors employed by meat companies. The approach has been used for more than a decade by five American hog plants under a pilot program.

But three of these plants were among the 10 worst offenders in the country for health and safety violations, with serious lapses that included failing to remove fecal matter from meat, according to a report this spring by the USDA inspector general. The plant with the worst record by far was one of the five in the pilot program.

This specific fecal matter didn’t make it to the mouths of consumers, because government officials caught it at the last minute. But these and other international incidents documented by the Post, including some that weren’t caught in time, demonstrate that the program has serious flaws.

In New Zealand, a representative of the inspectors union describes how “tremendous amounts of fecal matter remain on the carcasses,” adding, “Not small bits, but chunks.” The Post points out, parenthetically, that “both fecal matter and partly digested food may contain concentrated and complex strains of bacterium such as E. coli and listeria, which can be deadly.”

The USDA wants to finalize and then expand the program by next spring, and is considering the same for a similar program that covers poultry plants. First initiated in the late 1990s, it’s meant to reduce government inspection costs and ultimately lower the price of meat. But the USDA doesn’t seem to have done enough to evaluate the program’s safety, and, according to the Post, may be engaged in something of a coverup:



In interviews, six USDA inspectors working in the pilot plants raised health concerns. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they believed their jobs would be in jeopardy otherwise.

Several said company and government workers are yelled at, threatened and shunned if they try to slow down or stop the accelerated processing lines or complain too aggressively about inadequate safety checks. They also warned that the reduction in the ranks of government inspectors in the plants has compromised the safety of the meat.

“We are no longer in charge of safety,” said an inspector with more than 15 years of experience. “That’s what the public needs to know.”

Maybe, just maybe, the focus on price and efficiency is a bit shortsighted.

descentintotyranny
descentintotyranny:

Google Explains Exactly How It Reads All Your Email
Apr. 15 2014
Google Inc updated its terms of service on Monday, informing users that their incoming and outgoing emails are automatically analyzed by software to create targeted ads.The revisions more explicitly spell out the manner in which Google software scans users’ emails, both when messages are stored on Google’s servers and when they are in transit, a controversial practice that has been at the heart of litigation.Last month, a U.S. judge decided not to combine several lawsuits that accused Google of violating the privacy rights of hundreds of millions of email users into a single class action.Users of Google’s Gmail email service have accused the company of violating federal and state privacy and wiretapping laws by scanning their messages so it could compile secret profiles and target advertising. Google has argued that users implicitly consented to its activity, recognizing it as part of the email delivery process.Google’s updated terms of service added a paragraph stating that “our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.”A Google representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

descentintotyranny:

Google Explains Exactly How It Reads All Your Email

Apr. 15 2014

Google Inc updated its terms of service on Monday, informing users that their incoming and outgoing emails are automatically analyzed by software to create targeted ads.

The revisions more explicitly spell out the manner in which Google software scans users’ emails, both when messages are stored on Google’s servers and when they are in transit, a controversial practice that has been at the heart of litigation.

Last month, a U.S. judge decided not to combine several lawsuits that accused Google of violating the privacy rights of hundreds of millions of email users into a single class action.

Users of Google’s Gmail email service have accused the company of violating federal and state privacy and wiretapping laws by scanning their messages so it could compile secret profiles and target advertising. Google has argued that users implicitly consented to its activity, recognizing it as part of the email delivery process.

Google’s updated terms of service added a paragraph stating that “our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.”

A Google representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.