DNA Dragnet: In Some Cities, Police Go From Stop-and-Frisk to Stop-and-Spit

ProPublica, By Lauren Kirchner, September 12

Police in Florida and other states are building up private DNA databases, in part by collecting voluntary samples from people not charged with — or even suspected of — any particular crime.

The five teenage boys were sitting in a parked car in a gated community in Melbourne, Florida, when a police officer pulled up behind them.

Officer Justin Valutsky closed one of the rear doors, which had been ajar, and told them to stay in the car. He peered into the drivers’ side window of the white Hyundai SUV and asked what the teens were doing there. It was a Saturday night in March 2015 and they told Valutsky they were visiting a friend for a sleepover.

Valutsky told them there had been a string of car break-ins recently in the area. Then, after questioning them some more, he made an unexpected demand: He asked which one of them wanted to give him a DNA sample.
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Reflections on Frank Biggio’s “Thank me for my military service by voting for Hillary Clinton”

Decorated Marine Corps veteran Frank Biggio joins the ranks of service members unable to accept Trump as a valid candidate for Commander in Chief.

“This is a mercurial man who will have almost unchecked authority to put uniformed men and women in harm’s way, but whose understanding of foreign affairs and military strategy is based almost solely on his instincts rather than analysis,” he writes.

When I enlisted my grasp of politics was pretty weak. Presidents were boring white guys. I’ve grown a lot since then. I’m very glad I didn’t serve under Dubya. I would have only found out after the fact I’d participated in Shock & Awe. I’m terrified at the thought of our troops under Trump. We’ve seen how he treats his employees, who he has to occasionally bump into. I can’t imagine the pointless violence he’d inflict in lands he’ll never set foot.

He says he’ll toss out the generals and install his own. That’s fascism, folks, no exaggeration. He wants to use the US military to further his own political and corporate goals.

Trump wants to prove himself on the job. We’re supposed to trust a temperament we’ve never seen, to execute plans that haven’t been made, based on a grasp of global power balances that frankly gets outclassed by any regular NY Times reader.

It’s no joke that economists advising international firms rank Trump as a top 10 threat to humanity.

There’s a certain personal irony that part of my time was spent shooting down SCUDs meant for the Jews of Tel Aviv, and now we’re faced with a candidate who “surely doesn’t mean all those racist things he says.”

The Biggest Strike in World History? No Thanks, We’re Focusing on the New iPhone

Trade unions in India representing some 180 million workers staged a one-day strike—and there was virtually no coverage by mainstream American media.

FAIR / Alternet, By Jim Naureckas, September 9, 2016

When tens of millions of workers go out on strike in the second-largest country in the world—and the third-largest economy in the world—resulting in what may be the biggest labor action in world history (AlterNet, 9/7/16), you’d think that would merit some kind of news coverage, right?

Not if you’re a decision-maker at a U.S. corporate media outlet, apparently.

A coalition of trade unions in India representing some 180 million workers staged a one-day general strike on Friday, September 2, in protest of what they called the “anti-worker and anti-people” policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, an advocate of neoliberal policies and increased foreign investment (Democracy Now!, 9/2/16). Assocham, India’s chamber of commerce, estimated that the economic impact of the strike was $2.4 billion–$2.7 billion (Hindustan Today, 9/3/16).
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Why prisoners nationwide are striking

CBS News, By Aimee Picchi, September 9

Prisons can’t run without inmates, in more ways than one. Prisoners wash floors, work in the laundries and kitchens, and provide a large amount of the labor that keeps their facilities running. In return, they earn pennies per hour or even no pay at all.

That’s sparking what may be the largest prison strike yet as inmates across the country plan to stop working on Friday. The strikers are calling for an end to forced labor and what they call “prison slavery.”

It’s no coincidence that they picked Sept. 9 as the strike date: It’s the 45th anniversary of the Attica riot, when prisoners at the Attica Correctional Facility in New York rioted for better conditions.
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Hillary Clinton’s National Security Advisers Are a “Who’s Who” of the Warfare State

The Intercept, By Zaid Jilani, Alex Emmons, & Naomi LaChance, September 8

Hillary Clinton is meeting on Friday with a new national security “working group” that is filled with an elite “who’s who” of the military-industrial complex and the security deep state.

The list of key advisers — which includes the general who executed the troop surge in Iraq and a former Bush homeland security chief turned terror profiteer — is a strong indicator that Clinton’s national security policy will not threaten the post-9/11 national-security status quo that includes active use of military power abroad and heightened security measures at home.

It’s a story we’ve seen before in President Obama’s early appointments. In retrospect, analysts have pointed to the continuity in national security and intelligence advisers as an early sign that despite his campaign rhetoric Obama would end up building on — rather than tearing down — the often-extralegal, Bush-Cheney counterterror regime. For instance, while Obama promised in 2008 to reform the NSA, its director was kept on and its reach continued to grow.

Obama’s most fateful decision may have been choosing former National Counterterrorism Center Director John Brennan to be national security adviser, despite Brennan’s support of Bush’s torture program. Brennan would go on to run the president’s drone program, lead the CIA, fight the Senate’s torture investigation, and then lie about searching Senate computers.
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Inside The Global “Club” That Helps Executives Escape Their Crimes

Buzzfeed, By Chris Hamby, August 28

A parallel legal universe, open only to corporations and largely invisible to everyone else, helps executives convicted of crimes escape punishment. Part one of a BuzzFeed News investigation — read the whole series here.

Imagine a private, global super court that empowers corporations to bend countries to their will.

Say a nation tries to prosecute a corrupt CEO or ban dangerous pollution. Imagine that a company could turn to this super court and sue the whole country for daring to interfere with its profits, demanding hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars as retribution.

Imagine that this court is so powerful that nations often must heed its rulings as if they came from their own supreme courts, with no meaningful way to appeal. That it operates unconstrained by precedent or any significant public oversight, often keeping its proceedings and sometimes even its decisions secret. That the people who decide its cases are largely elite Western corporate attorneys who have a vested interest in expanding the court’s authority because they profit from it directly, arguing cases one day and then sitting in judgment another. That some of them half-jokingly refer to themselves as “The Club” or “The Mafia.”
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The Broken Chessboard: Brzezinski Gives Up on Empire

Counterpunch, By Mike Whitney, August 25

The main architect of Washington’s plan to rule the world has abandoned the scheme and called for the forging of ties with Russia and China. While Zbigniew Brzezinski’s article in The American Interest titled “Towards a Global Realignment” has largely been ignored by the media, it shows that powerful members of the policymaking establishment no longer believe that Washington will prevail in its quest to extent US hegemony across the Middle East and Asia. Brzezinski, who was the main proponent of this idea and who drew up the blueprint for imperial expansion in his 1997 book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, has done an about-face and called for a dramatic revising of the strategy. Here’s an excerpt from the article in the AI:

“As its era of global dominance ends, the United States needs to take the lead in realigning the global power architecture.

Five basic verities regarding the emerging redistribution of global political power and the violent political awakening in the Middle East are signaling the coming of a new global realignment.

The first of these verities is that the United States is still the world’s politically, economically, and militarily most powerful entity but, given complex geopolitical shifts in regional balances, it is no longer the globally imperial power.” (Toward a Global Realignment, Zbigniew Brzezinski, The American Interest)

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Goddess Name Inscribed in Lost Language on Ancient Tablet

Live Science, By Stephanie Pappas, August 26

An ancient tablet recently unearthed in Tuscany has revealed its first secret: the engraved name of a goddess linked to fertility.

The 500-pound (227 kilograms) stone slab, or stele, was unearthed earlier this year at Poggio Colla, a sixth century B.C. site built by the Etruscans. The stele bears a long inscription in a language that has not been used for 2,500 years, project archaeologist Gregory Warden, a professor emeritus at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, told Live Science in April.

Now, translation is underway and archaeologists have discovered that the tablet references the goddess Uni. [Photos: The Tomb of an Etruscan Prince]

“We can at this point affirm that this discovery is one of the most important Etruscan discoveries of the last few decades,” Warden said in a statement. “It’s a discovery that will provide not only valuable information about the nature of sacred practices at Poggio Colla, but also fundamental data for understanding the concepts and rituals of the Etruscans, as well as their writing and perhaps their language.”

Via IFLScience: Archaeologists Have Discovered A Brand New Ancient God

More To Life Than Bacon – Crockpot

Sweet & Sour Chicken
Recipe serves 2 – Adjust accordingly

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast.
Or boneless thigh meat if you prefer.
1 package Campbell’s Skillet Sauce (Sweet & Sour).
12-15 baby carrots (or carrots cut small).
1/2 green Bell Pepper, diced.
1/2 cup white onion, diced.
1 cup honey.
1/2 cup light brown sugar.
2 tblsp Kikkoman soy sauce.

Cook on high for 4 hours.
Shred chicken with forks.
Serve over your favorite rice. Continue reading

CIA Confirms Role in 1953 Iran Coup

The National Security Archive, Edited by Malcolm Byrne, August 19

Washington – Marking the sixtieth anniversary of the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, the National Security Archive is today posting recently declassified CIA documents on the United States’ role in the controversial operation. American and British involvement in Mosaddeq’s ouster has long been public knowledge, but today’s posting includes what is believed to be the CIA’s first formal acknowledgement that the agency helped to plan and execute the coup.

The explicit reference to the CIA’s role appears in a copy of an internal history, The Battle for Iran, dating from the mid-1970s. The agency released a heavily excised version of the account in 1981 in response to an ACLU lawsuit, but it blacked out all references to TPAJAX, the code name for the U.S.-led operation. Those references appear in the latest release. Additional CIA materials posted today include working files from Kermit Roosevelt, the senior CIA officer on the ground in Iran during the coup. They provide new specifics as well as insights into the intelligence agency’s actions before and after the operation.

Suing a Debt Collector? Now They Can Buy Your Lawsuit

A federal judge opens the door for bare-knuckled agencies to avoid accountability. If upheld, a law protecting consumers may be defanged.

Bloomberg, By Paul Barrett, August 16

Can a debt collector accused of crossing the line avoid liability by buying a consumer’s legal claim out from under her?

A federal judge in Las Vegas said yes. The case deserves attention because if the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco affirms the judge’s ruling, you can be sure that more debt collectors will attempt this counter-intuitive maneuver to shield themselves from federal liability.
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How We Killed the Tea Party

Greedy super PACs drained the movement with endless pleas for money to support “conservative” candidates—while instead using the money to enrich themselves. I should know. I worked for one of them.

Politico, By Paul H. Jossey, August 14

As we watch the Republican Party tear itself to shreds over Donald Trump, perhaps it’s time to take note of another conservative political phenomenon that the GOP nominee has utterly eclipsed: the Tea Party. The Tea Party movement is pretty much dead now, but it didn’t die a natural death. It was murdered—and it was an inside job. In a half decade, the spontaneous uprising that shook official Washington degenerated into a form of pyramid scheme that transferred tens of millions of dollars from rural, poorer Southerners and Midwesterners to bicoastal political operatives.

What began as an organic, policy-driven grass-roots movement was drained of its vitality and resources by national political action committees that dunned the movement’s true believers endlessly for money to support its candidates and causes. The PACs used that money first to enrich themselves and their vendors and then deployed most of the rest to search for more “prospects.” In Tea Party world, that meant mostly older, technologically unsavvy people willing to divulge personal information through “petitions”—which only made them prey to further attempts to lighten their wallets for what they believed was a good cause. While the solicitations continue, the audience has greatly diminished because of a lack of policy results and changing political winds.
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Who owns the wind? We do, Wyoming says, and it’s taxing those who use it

Los Angeles Times, By William Yardley, August 14

Not long after it became clear that the robust winds that blow down from the Rocky Mountains and across the sea of sagebrush here could produce plenty of profit in a world that wants more renewable energy, some of the more expansive minds in the Wyoming Legislature began entertaining a lofty question:

Who owns all of that wind?

They concluded, quickly and conveniently, that Wyoming did.

Then, with great efficiency for a conservative state not traditionally tilted toward burdening the energy industry, they did something no other state has done, before or since: They taxed it.
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Incredible discovery reveals the truth behind an ancient Chinese legend

A deluge on the Yellow River 4,000 years ago led to a feat of Bronze Age hydro-engineering.

Ars Technica, By Annalee Newitz, August 5

Ancient Chinese legends tell of a catastrophic flood along the Yellow River that led to the founding of the Xia dynasty, roughly 4,000 years ago. A legendary hero named Yu is said to have established the Xia dynasty after figuring out how to stop the flood waters by dredging, thus marking the dawn of Chinese civilization with a feat of landscape engineering. Now, a group of geoscientists and archaeologists in China has discovered that this flood actually happened.

The group’s recently published findings in Science magazine explain how they found traces of this historic deluge. For more than a century, archaeologists have looked for evidence that could shed light on historical accounts of early Chinese civilization, such as those in first century BCE book Shiji (史記, traditionally translated as Records of the Grand Historian). Many accounts in the Shiji have turned out to be fairly accurate, especially when it came to the Shang dynasty that followed the Xia. Because the Shang dynasty civilization had writing, scientists have been able to verify the Shiji’s accuracy from written records as well as material remains.

American Narrative

  The bullshit American Narrative to the contrary, America is and has always been a ‘class society’. There are basically three classes: Rulers, Mandarins and Peasants.

  The Rulers care only about acquiring and increasing their own personal wealth and power. To that end they will enslave, oppress, plunder, exploit and murder, from individuals to entire countries and populations. One thing that has traditionally held them in check has been competition from rulers in other countries, but with economic globalization, national distinctions are vanishing and we can speak of a trans-national elite, a ruling class no longer limted to one country.

  The job of running the world for their benefit is too large and complicated for them to accomplish directly. They have therefore established a class of Mandarins – the professionals who actually do the day-to-day work of making the Rich & Powerful richer and more powerful and otherwise supporting the status quo. They do this for the sake of crumbs from the Rulers’ table and the few benefits that place them above the class of Peasants. Joe Bageant nailed it: “The truth is that when we are looking at the political elite [and Mandarins in general], we are looking at the dancing monkey, not the organ grinder who calls the tune”.

  If the Rulers constitute the top .1% financially, the Mandarins constitute perhaps the next 20% or thereabouts. They are the visible aspect of the Ruling Class; the pundits, politicians, opinion-shapers, and technicians. As long as they are kept well fed and housed and given the [false} hope of rising to the status of Ruler, they will labor mightily to keep the wheels on the wagon and the Rulers in power, It has been the Rulers who have called the shots politically, economically and culturally for centuries and it has been the Mandarins who have enabled them. They are as guilty as the Rulers, since they facilitate the Class System.

  The Peasants? Well, they have provided the actual labor to create the true wealth and have provided the cannon fodder for the Rulers’ wars of conquest and plunder. Both the Rulers and the Mandarins keep the Peasants distracted and provided with the minimum necessary to keep them alive and useful (to the Rulers), but only the minimum, since giving Joe Redneck more than a living wage would reduce the Rulers’ profit margins.

  There have been isolated periods of time and place when the Peasants have rebelled, sometimes with temporary victory and sometimes suffering horrendous defeat. However, never having exercised the wheels of power, they are inexperieced in wielding it and the resulting regimes soon fall prey to the machinations of Ruler Class survivors or Mandarins (trained to administer) newly elevated to Ruler Class. Note that educating the Peasants in how to run the world is taboo – can’t have the rabble thinking thoughts above their station. Which partly explains the state of the educational system in America today (along with the desire of the Rulers to reduce taxes and privatize for profit).

BTW: The widely-touted success of the American Revolution was not a matter of Peasants throwing off Rulers. It was about replacing Rulers three thousand miles away with local Rulers. George III & his ministers vs New England mercantile interests and Southern Plantation owners.

  Fortunately or unfortunately, some things are self-limiting. The obsession with cheap energy. for example, (to net them every penny in manufacturing and distribution) has triggered Global Warming. The only thing that will limit climate change is the collapse of the mechanisms that drive it. But in the process, billions of people will die and billions more have their lives reduced to precarious day-to-day survival. The Rulers don’t care. They. Do. Not. Care. They themselves will survive in style, in well-protected enclaves (on high ground), served by (fewer) Mandarins and protected from the Peasants by other Peasants.
“I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.” – Jay Gould

  Ultimately, greed is self-limiting, a la the Goose That Laid The Golden Egg. The social, political, economic and human equivalent of Golden Eggs is playing out in slow motion today. We are witnessing the gradual (but accelerating) collapse of economies, politics, societies and nations. This is not new. It has happened repeatedly over the centuries. What is depressing is that it will likely continue to happen as long as the species lasts. And if anyone believes that one leader, one politician, one party can somehow reverse, avoid or prevent historical processes from running their course, I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell them.