Monday, December 30, 2013

Super Market Selling Food From It's Huge Organic Rooftop Garden Opening This Month


Whole Foods has announced that it will be opening its long-awaited Gowanus store on December 17th this year. In addition to putting the usual organic and artisan products on it shelves, the new location at 214 3rd Street will bring the local food trend to new heights with a 20,000 square foot rooftop farm right on top of the building. It doesn’t get more local than that!

The rooftop farm was made possible thanks to a partnership with Gotham Greens, a Greenpoint-based rooftop farm. The two organizations are calling the endeavor the first commercial-scale greenhouse farm and say that it will help reduce the carbon emissions spent on transporting food from far away sources. The elevated greenhouse will grow high-quality, pesticide-free produce all year round to be sold at the bustling supermarket below.

Other attractions at the grocery store will include a bar with 16 different types of beer on tap. The store will also have its own ramen shop headed up by ramen master Yuji Hariguchi for eat-in and take-out options. It opens a little too late for Thanksgiving, but people in the Gowanus area will have a tasty and green treat to look forward to just a month later.




Thursday, December 26, 2013

White Teacher to Black Student: We Don’t Need Another Black President


Teacher suspended for alleged comment

Several students report racial remark to an African-American


Gil Voigt, a science teacher in Ohio, has been suspended for allegedly making the comment to an African-American teen boy with presidential aspirations.

School teacher has been suspended without pay and faces the prospect of dismissal after allegedly making racially insensitive statements to a student earlier this month.
Monday, the Fairfield Board of Education suspended science teacher Gil Voigt. He has 10 days to request a hearing before the school board or a referee.
Voigt, who is white, is accused of telling an African-American male student, We do not need another black president after the student said he would like to become president.
The incident occurred on Dec. 3, with several other students present, according to a report from Assistant Superintendent Roger Martin, who conducted a disciplinary hearing on the matter.
It isn't the first time the 14-year Fairfield teacher has been disciplined. He received a verbal warning for making an inappropriate racial comment in 2008. That year he also received a verbal warning for improper use of school technology.
Last year he received a verbal warning after allegedly calling a student stupid and belittling him. He received a written warning last month for failure to use the adopted curriculum.
This is a rare occurrence. This is the first time I've faced it since being named assistant superintendent (in 2011) Martin said.
In his report, Martin said he believed four students were interviewed who corroborated the student Voigt was speaking to.
Following a complaint by the students parents, the teen was removed from Voigts class, Martin said.
We intend to uphold board policies and to hold teachers accountable for the essential functions of the teacher job description, Martin said.
Voigt is accused of violating board policies related to staff ethics, staff-student relations and harassment.
Voigt was not present at the meeting and could not be reached on Monday for comment.
According to the report, Voigt said his statement was misquoted by the student, who he said was not a very good student and was troublesome in class.
Voigt has been a Fairfield teacher since 2000. Before that he taught seven years in North Carolina, two years in Florida and six years in the Cincinnati Public Schools. ■

Link: No More Black Presidents

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Jewish businessman calls black people ”liquid money”: Because we give it all away

Someone I know works closely with a Jewish businessman. *One day, the two had an honest conversation, in which the Jewish man asked, “Do you know what my Jewish friends call the black community?”
120516125955_Cash Money
 My friend said, “No, what do they call us?” 

He replied, “We call you liquid money. The same way that water falls out of a man’s hands, money typically seeps out of a black person’s hands the same way. Your community gets money and immediately gives it all away to people who aren’t black. *We see that as a huge business opportunity.”

 He then used the example of many black people on payday or when we get our tax refunds. *He noted how we’ll go to an Indian business to cash the check, an Asian hair salon, a corner store owned by Arabs and a department store owned by whites. *He explained how, when it’s all said and done, these other business people are waiting like hungry animals to eat our bank accounts as if we are the prey.

 This is not an attack on Jewish people, but a lesson on how ignorant we look when we keep giving all of our money away. *Part of the New Paradigm Construct is to help all of us understand the importance of finding ways to keep money in our own communities, the same way you plant a seed from a piece of fruit in order to grow more fruit in your garden. If you’re always waiting for someone else to feed you, you are typically an inch or two away from starvation.

 It’s something to think about. Here’s the lesson: 
1) In America, you have no almost no power if you don’t own something. *There is no pride in a platform on which you sit if it can be taken away from you on a second’s notice. *You have been seduced into believing that you have real power, when the truth is that you do not.

 2) If we never learn the value of supporting of black-owned businesses, we are always going to be disappointed. *We are going to have the highest unemployment rates, the lowest wealth levels and the greatest degrees of frustration. *When I had a three hour personal conversation with Min. Louis Farrakhan (followed by a nine-hour closed economic summit a month later), one point that he made (which I agree with entirely) is that black people can learn a great deal from watching how the Jewish community handles it’s wealth. *In order for us to grow as a people, we must realize this important fact: *Our money is our power and we cannot give it all away.

Chinese Scientist Proves The First Inhabitants Of China Were Black!


Black Chinese Out Of Africa

For many years Black historians and Afrocentrists have said that the first inhabitants of China were black Africans.
"The Negroid races peopled at some time all the South of India, Indo-China and China. The South of Indo-China actually has now pure Negritos as the Semangs and mixed as the Malays and the Sakais."( H. Imbert, "Les Negritos de la Chine").
“Even the sacred Manchu dynasty shows this Negro strain. The lower part of the face of the Emperor Pu-yi of Manchukuo, direct descendant of the Manchu rulers of China, is most distinctly Negroid. Chinese chroniclers report that a Negro Empire existed in the South of China at the dawn of that country's history".( Professor Chang Hsing-Lang , "The importation of Negro Slaves to China under the Tang Dynasty A.D. 618-907)
“There is evidence of substantial populations of Blacks in early China. Archaeological studies have located a black substratum in the earliest periods of Chinese history, and reports of major kingdom ruled by Blacks are frequently in Chinese documents." (Kwang-Chih Chang, The Archaeology of Ancient China, (Yale University Press) and Irwin Graham, Africans Abroad (Columbia University Press).
But after hundreds of years of the worldwide spread of the doctrine of white superiority and the inferiority of black Africans and their descendants. This notion that blacks were the original inhabitants of China was poo, pooed by white scientists and others and even by some blacks.
But in 2005, a Chinese DNA specialist, Jin Li, leading a team of Chinese and other scientists, proved through DNA tests that indeed the first inhabitants of China were black Africans.

The DNA Evidence

Li said he was trying to prove that the Chinese evolved from homo erectus independently of all other humans. He collected DNA samples from 165 different ethnic groups and over 12000 samples in China and Asia to test his theory. Li said he was taught through China’s education system that there was something special about Chinese, and because he was Chinese, he was hoping to prove that the Chinese developed independently of all other humans.
But surprise, surprise, surprise, surprise that proved not to be true!
Li’s team focused on a single genetic marker that appeared about 80,000 years ago in Africa. Anyone carrying that marker would have recent African ancestors and could not be descended from the more ancient Homo Erectus. Li and his team found that early humans belonged to different species but modern humans descended from the East Africans species.
Li Hui, a scientist on Li’s team, said, that 100,000 years ago groups of humans started leaving Africa moving through South and Southeast Asia into China, and that 65 branches of the Chinese groups studied carry similar DNA mutations as the people of Southeast Asia.
Jin Li, another scientist on Li's team, said “we did not see even one single individual that could be considered as a descendant of the homo erectus in China, rather, everybody was a descendant of our ancestors from Africa."
Li was asked how he as a Chinese felt about what he found. He said “after I saw the evidence generated in my laboratory. I think we should all be happy with that. Because after all, modern humans from different parts of the world are not so different from each other and we are very close relatives.” (Amen Brother!) Li’s team was composed of an international group of scientist from China, Russia, India, Brazil and other nations. This was a 5 year project to study the geographic and genealogical routes tracing the spread and settlements of ancient and modern humans.
Now DNA tests prove, what the Afrocentric historians have been asserting for years is true, that all modern human originated on some part of the African continent. Believe It Or Not, (or for some of you, read em and weep)
I'll leave you with the wise words of Richard Leaky,

Richard Leaky

"If you get to the stage where you can persuade people on the evidence, that it's solid, that we are all African, that color is superficial, that stages of development of culture are all interactive, then I think we have a chance of a world that will respond better to global challenges." Richard Leaky, Paleoanthropologist

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Yemen Wedding Deaths Test Claims of New Drone Policy

A mural depicting an American drone in Sana, Yemen’s capital. A strike last week on a wedding convoy killed at least 12 people.

WASHINGTON — In some respects, the drone strike in Yemen last week resembled so many others from recent years: A hail of missiles slammed into a convoy of trucks on a remote desert road, killing at least 12 people.

But this time the trucks were part of a wedding procession, making the customary journey from the groom’s house to the house of the bride.
The Dec. 12 strike by the Pentagon, launched from an American base in Djibouti, killed at least a half-dozen innocent people, according to a number of tribal leaders and witnesses, and provoked a storm of outrage in the country. It also illuminated the reality behind the talk surrounding the Obama administration’s new drone policy, which was announced with fanfare seven months ago.
President Obama on Drones
Although American officials say they are being more careful before launching drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan and elsewhere — and more transparent about the clandestine wars that President Obama has embraced — the strike last week offers a window on the intelligence breakdowns and continuing liability of a targeted killing program that remains almost entirely secret.
Both the Pentagon and the C.I.A. continue to wage parallel drone wars in Yemen, but neither is discussed publicly. A Pentagon spokeswoman declined to comment about the Dec. 12 strike, referring a reporter to a vague news release issued last week by the government of Yemen, written in Arabic.
It remains unclear whom the Americans were trying to kill in the strike, which was carried out in a desolate area southeast of Yemen’s capital, Sana. Witnesses to the strike’s aftermath said that one white pickup truck was destroyed and that two or three other vehicles were seriously damaged. The Associated Press reported Friday that the target of the strike was Shawqi Ali Ahmad al-Badani, a militant who is accused of planning a terrorist plot in August that led to the closing of more than a dozen United States Embassies. American officials declined to comment about that report.
At first, the Yemeni government, a close partner with the Obama administration on counterterrorism matters, said that all the dead were militants. But Yemeni officials conceded soon afterward that some civilians had been killed, and they gave 101 Kalashnikov rifles and about 24 million Yemeni riyals (about $110,000) to relatives of the victims as part of a traditional compensation process, a local tribal leader said.
Yemeni government officials and several local tribal leaders said that the dead included several militants with ties to Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, but no one has been able to identify them. Some witnesses who have interviewed victims’ families say they believe no militants were killed at all.
The murky details surrounding the strike raise questions about how rigorously American officials are applying the standards for lethal strikes that Mr. Obama laid out in a speech on May 23 at the National Defense University — and whether such standards are even possible in such a remote and opaque environment.
In the speech, the president said that targeted killing operations were carried out only against militants who posed a “continuing and imminent threat to the American people.” Over the past week, no government official has made a case in public that the people targeted in the strike posed a threat to Americans.
Moreover, the president said in May, no strike can be authorized without “near certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured” — a bar he described as “the highest standard we can set.”
At the time, administration officials said that authority over the bulk of drone strikes would gradually shift to the Pentagon from the C.I.A., a move officials said was intended partly to lift the shroud of secrecy from the targeted killing program.
But nearly seven months later, the C.I.A. still carries out a majority of drone strikes in Yemen, with the remote-controlled aircraft taking off from a base in the southern desert of Saudi Arabia. The Pentagon strikes, usually launched from the Djibouti base, are cloaked in as much secrecy as those carried out by the C.I.A.
“The contradictory reports about what happened on Dec. 12 underscore the critical need for more transparency from the Obama administration and Yemeni authorities about these strikes,” said Letta Tayler of Human Rights Watch, who has done extensive research in Yemen about the drone strikes.
The very fact that the drone strike last week targeted an 11-vehicle convoy — a much larger group than Al Qaeda would typically use — suggests that the new American guidelines to rule out civilian casualties may not have been followed in this case.
And the confusion over the victims’ identities raises questions about how the United States government gathers intelligence in such a contested region and with partners whose interests may differ sharply from those of the Obama administration.
The area where the strike occurred, in the central province of Bayda, is almost completely beyond the control of the Yemeni government, and is populated by tribes whose recurring feuds can easily become tied up in the agendas of outsiders.
Over the past two years, the Saudi government — which for decades has used cash to maintain a network of influence in Yemen — has increased its payments to tribal figures in Bayda to recruit informers and deter militants, according to several tribal leaders in the area. This shadowy system appears to contribute to the secretive process of information-gathering that determines targets for drone strikes, a process in which Saudi and Yemeni officials cooperate with Americans.
But Saudi and American interests diverge in important ways in Yemen. Many of the militants there who fight in Al Qaeda’s name are expatriate Saudis whose sole goal is to bring down the Saudi government.
Because of the program’s secrecy, it is impossible to know whether the American dependence on Saudi and Yemeni intelligence results in the killing of militants who pose a danger only to Arab countries.
Some Yemeni officials have also hinted that the timing and target of the drone strike last week may have been influenced by a devastating attack two weeks ago on the Yemeni Defense Ministry in which 52 people were killed, including women, children and doctors at the ministry’s hospital.
That attack ignited a desire for revenge in Yemen’s security establishment and also damaged Al Qaeda’s reputation in Yemen, leaving the group hungry for opportunities to change the subject. Both parties, in other words, may have had reasons to manipulate the facts, both before and after the drone strike.
American officials will not say what they knew about the targets of the strike last week. But in the past, American officials have sometimes appeared to be misinformed about the accidental deaths of Yemeni civilians in drone strikes.
In one example from Aug. 1, a drone strike killed a 28-year-old man who happened to hitch a ride with three men suspected to have been Qaeda members. According to a number of witnesses, relatives and local police officials, the man, Saleh Yaslim Saeed bin Ishaq, was waiting by a gas station late at night when the three men stopped in a Land Cruiser and agreed to give him a ride.
Mr. Ishaq’s ID card and belongings were found in the burned wreckage of the vehicle, and the local police — who confirmed that the other three dead men were wanted militants — said he appeared to have been an innocent person whose presence in the car was accidental.
When contacted about the strike, American officials said they were aware only of the three militants killed. Yet the details of Mr. Ishaq’s death, and an image of his ID card, were published at the time in newspapers and on websites in Yemen.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Proponents of Iran Sanctions Bill Are Playing With Fire

Philosopher and essayist George Santayana famously said that those who cannot learn from history are condemned to repeat it.
How true this is right now for the United States, which after years of tragic and costly combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, now finds itself at a crossroads in its efforts to reach a peaceful, diplomatic solution to the crisis created by Iran's nuclear program.
Last month, the Obama administration, backed by five other major world powers, reached a preliminary agreement with Iran to freeze its nuclear program and roll back some of its most dangerous components for six months. During this time, the parties will try to reach a permanent solution that would place the Iranian program under strict and enforceable limitations and constant international supervision. Such an outcome would make Israel, the Middle East and the entire world infinitely safer.
This is not good enough for some in the US Senate, who have been backed by AIPAC, theAmerican Jewish Committee and several other organizations. Far from trusting President Obama and allowing the administration to pursue negotiations, they are actively trying to sabotage the process. The result may well put the United States, Israel and the international community back on a course with only two outcomes, both catastrophic. Either Iran will move forward to develop a nuclear weapon -- or military action will be taken, not to destroy but only to delay, the Iranian program.
Of course, nobody wants to see Iran develop a nuclear weapon. But it's been clear for years that the goal of sanctions is to bring the Iranians to the negotiating table. Now that we've succeeded in this, why would we be trying to drive them away?
If we have learned anything from our disastrous military entanglement in Iraq, it should be that it is easy to begin wars -- but very difficult to end them or to predict where they might lead. The American people were sold a bill of goods on Iraq. We were promised a simple, clean operation aimed at destroying weapons of mass destruction, which it turned out did not exist. We were told it would be easy to topple the Iraqi dictator and replace him with a democracy. Instead, we virtually destroyed a nation, setting off a sectarian conflict which has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and cost trillions of dollars and which still continues. We lost thousands of our finest men and women and condemned tens of thousands others to debilitating physical and mental trauma. And we created a political vacuum that allowed Iranian influence to expand -- and Iran's nuclear program to proceed.
Some of those who advocated most strongly for that war are behind this week's Senate billto "expand sanctions imposed with respect to Iran and to impose additional sanctions with respect to Iran, and for other purposes."
The bill was introduced despite clear warnings from the administration that it risks derailing the negotiations with Iran and isolating the United States from its allies. The bill's sponsors also ignored a letter from 10 Senate committee chairmen which stated that enacting new sanctions now simply plays into the hands of Iranian hardliners who want the negotiations to fail. Lastly, the bill's sponsors choose to disregard the assessment of the US Intelligence Community that new sanctions undermine the chance of a negotiated end to the Iranian nuclear crisis.
Not only the bill's timing is extremely suspect but its content is also designed to ensure the failure of the talks. The bill demands the total dismantlement of Iran's nuclear program - a demand Israel has made but one that is entirely unrealistic -- as President Obama himself has stated. The goal of the talks has to be to convert the program into a peaceful, non-military endeavor under strict international supervision. The bill seeks to tie the President's hands in many different ways. No wonder he has stated clearly that he will veto it if it ever reaches his desk.
Once again, J Street stands almost entirely alone among major American-Jewish organizations in opposing this bill. Our aim will be to persuade enough Senators to join the 10 senior committee chairs to stop the bill moving forward.
We simply must give these negotiations a chance to succeed. They are the only way to stop Iran developing a nuclear weapon while avoiding the threat of war. Those advocating for new sanctions, it seems, have learned nothing from history and are determined to repeat it. It's up to us to stop them.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Kanye West Goes In On Chicago For Forcing Michael Jordan To Play For The Wizards!

Apartheid-Era Doctor Who Made Germs To Kill Africans Found Guilty Of Unprofessional Conduct

   Apartheid Doctor Wouter Bosson e1387483028686 photo

Wouter Bosson also known as Dr. Death was head of the apartheid governments chemical and biological program

Family members of victims of Wouter Basson have expressed relief that the apartheid-era doctor has been found guilty after a six-year trial.
Wouter Basson was found guilty on Wednesday of unprofessional conduct for acting unethically as a medical doctor during his time as the leader of the apartheid-era chemical and biological programme Project Coast and later Delta G in the 1980s.
Basson was not present at the hearing as he had an emergency with one of his patients in Cape Town, said his legal team.
However, the family members of his victims attended the judgment hearing.
Lizzie Sofolo’s husband was abducted, drugged, tortured and killed in the late 1980s – with the use of drugs made by Basson.
“Today the truth has prevailed, it is clear that he used his knowledge as a doctor to kill innocent people,” she said.
Maria Ntuli’s son, Jeremiah, was one of 10 Mamelodi youths who left home to join the ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto weSizwe, in 1987.
In 1996 the Truth and Reconciliation Commission heard that the group was drugged and put into a Kombi that was crashed into a tree and exploded.
“We just want this case to be over with now. It has been dragging on for years now, why doesn’t it just end?” said Ntuli.

The Health Professions Council of South Africa‘s (HPCSA) inquiry into Basson’s conduct during apartheid has been on-going for six years now.
The judgment was made by the HPCSA’s professional conduct committee chairperson Jannie Hugo in Pretoria.
Basson, who is now a private cardiologist, was found guilty of coordinating the production of and stockpiling of mandrax, ecstasy and tear gas “on a major scale”.
During this time, Basson provided “disorientating substances used for over border kidnapping” and supplied cyanide capsules to operational officers to use to commit suicide in case they were caught.
“The committee rejects that ethics have to be interpreted in the context of the time, medical ethics are the same during peace and war,” said Hugo.
HPCSA registrar and chief executive Buyiswa Mjamba-Matshoba said she was unable to comment on what the appropriate sentence would be for Basson except that “the sentence will be in line with the charges”.
Mjamba-Matshoba said that she was “very happy that justice has been done and that ethics have been upheld in this profession”.
“Dr Basson kept on saying he acted as a soldier, but during this time he kept the registration of the HPCSA and that binds him to the council’s values,” she said.
His sentencing will take place in February 2014.
Basson’s arguments were:
1. The alleged unprofessional conduct happened within the context of a specific war and conflict situation.
2. He was under military instruction and supported by senior doctors.
3. He acted as a soldier and not a doctor.
4. He acted as a military doctor and ethics for military doctors are different.
5. The people who received the substances were not his patients, meaning that there was no doctor-patient relationship.
6. He was a young doctor and could not be held responsible for his actions.
7. He was not aware of the codes and conventions that forbade chemical weapons and the use of medicine for non-therapeutic purposes.
8. The medical ethics in 1980 were different from the ethics today.
9. The chemical substances (made for use in cross-border kidnappings) were specifically designed to be non-lethal and to protect life.
What the HPCSA tribunal found:
1. That medical ethics are very important in times of war and conflict. Medical doctors have a unique position in society which impels them to stay true to ethical values of the profession.
The committee rejected the contention that this factor should be considered in the context of whether the conduct of the respondent was unethical.
2. The committee accepted the fact that the respondent acted on instructions of not only military commanders, but senior doctors.
However, the committee’s view was that a medical doctor is responsible as an individual for his/her actions.
Medical ethics require independence of thinking by each medical doctor.
A doctor cannot simply rely on a military order to escape the consequences of his actions.
3. While the respondent was a soldier at the time of performing the act, under consideration his conduct had to be assessed in light of the fact that he was probably ordered to perform the acts alleged because he was a doctor and the skills and experience in being a qualified doctor played a major role in his activities.
The committee was of the opinion that if a doctor decided to use his medical knowledge and skills for actions contrary to medical ethics, then he should deregister from the council.
The respondent could not rely on the contention that he acted as a soldier to the charge of breach of medical ethics.
4. Medical ethics are similar inside and outside the military. Doctors in the military in South Africa are bound by the ethical rules generally applicable to doctors.
5. The duties and roles of a doctor include the promotion of health in the general public and not only individual patients.
The committee held that the respondent could not rely on the absence of doctor-patient relationship as an answer to the charge of unprofessional conduct.
6. Dr Basson was fully accountable for his actions as he was a registered specialist physician in 1980, and the committee further regarded him not as a young follower, but a mature leader of the chemical warfare programme.
7. It behoves a medical practitioner who ventures in the field of chemical weaponry to acquaint himself adequately on the terms and possible applicability of conventions and ethical rules created thereby.
High standards of professional behaviour are required at all times from medical practitioners.
8. Although the discipline of medical ethics was not prominent in the 1980s, the principles of putting the interests of the patient first were accepted and applied universally.
No doctor can claim ignorance of the expected professional behaviour of a medical doctor.
9. The committee rejected the contention that ethical principles do not apply to the manufacture and use of these substances.

Obama Commutes Sentences Of 8 Inmates Convicted Of Crack Offenses

The sun rises behind the U.S. Capitol Dome early in the morning before the ceremonial swearing-in of President Barack Obama during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

President Barack Obama on Thursday commuted the sentences of eight federal inmates who were convicted of crack cocaine offenses, greatly expanding his use of the presidential clemency power to help those incarcerated because of harsh drug laws.
In a statement, Obama said they’d been sentenced under an “unfair system.” In 2011, Congress passed a law that effectively reduced the federal government’s mandatory penalties for people convicted of crack offenses, but commuting the sentences represents the first time the reform has been applied to those convicted before it was adopted. “If they had been sentenced under the current law, many of them would have already served their time and paid their debt to society,” Obama explained in the statement.
Three of the inmates -- Reynolds Wintersmith Jr., Clarence Aaron and Stephanie George -- were featured in a recent report by the American Civil Liberties Union about the thousands of people serving life in prison for nonviolent offenses. The report, which received attention from a range of media outlets, including The Huffington Post, revealed that more than 3,000 inmates were serving life without parole for drug, property and other nonviolent crimes as of 2012, comprising about 6 percent of the total life-without-parole population.
Reynolds Wintersmith Jr., 39, has spent half of his life in prison, according to the report. He was arrested at 19 for dealing drugs and declined a plea offer of 10 years, choosing to go to trial. He was a street dealer, but opened himself up to the life-without-parole sentence because he was held accountable for the entire amount of cocaine sold as part of a conspiracy in which he had a small role.
Clarence Aaron, 43, was sentenced to three life-without-parole sentences as a college student for playing a minor role in two large, planned drug deals. He wouldn't testify against his co-conspirators, but they testified against him and received reduced sentences.
Stephanie Yvette George, 43, was sentenced to life in prison without parole at age 26 after the father of one of her children used her attic to store drugs and cash. The harshness of the sentence was due, in part, to prior convictions for selling small amounts of crack. Though George said she didn't know the drugs were hidden in her home, six cooperating witnesses testified that she was paid to store cocaine.
Until Thursday, Obama had commuted the sentences of only 11 people for drug crimes, and had used his powers of clemency to provide relief to just 40 people in all, fewer than any other modern president. In recent months, his administration has portrayed the country’s tough drug policies as unjust, but his decision to commute these sentences may be the most significant step to curtail the war on drugs. In addition to the eight people convicted of crack offenses, he also pardoned 13 others for various crimes.
Vanita Gupta, the deputy legal director of the ACLU, called the decision an "incredibly important development.”
“The president took the enormous step of giving hope and new life to people who were doomed to die behind bars for nonviolent offenses,” she said. “Of course, we know there are thousands who are in similar situations in prison, and so now we really need to do the work to change the laws around the country to prevent these sorts of extreme sentences from taking place on our soil.”

Data brokers sell rape victim names for 7.9 cents each, congressional hearing reveals

   World Privacy Forum Executive Director Pam Dixon (C-SPAN)

A privacy advocate on Wednesday told Congress that she had discovered that it was common practice for data brokers to sell the names of rape victims and HIV patients for about 7.9 cents each.
Speaking to members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, World Privacy Forum Executive Director Pam Dixon described herself as a “moderate” when it came to data brokers, but shocking research convinced her that the industry was in need of regulation.
“The data broker industry as it is today, does not have constraints and it does not have shame,” she explained. “It will sell any information about any person regardless of sensitivity for 7.9 cents a name, which is the price of a list of rape sufferers which was recently sold.”
“Lists of rape sufferers, victims of domestic violence, police officers’ home addresses, people who suffer from genetic illnesses,” Dixon continued. “Complete with names, home addresses, ethnicity, gender and many other factors. This is what’s being sold and circulated today.”
According to Dixon, the industry was now using “pseudo-scores” for credit decisions that were based on non-financial factors, allowing companies to circumvent the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) wondered if lists were being used to discriminated against entire classes of people.
“I was stunned in doing my research when I found lists of people who were rape sufferers, people who were genetic disease suffers, people who were victims of domestic violence,” Dixon admitted. “What is happening is through survey instruments that are operated online and through other methods that are typically consumer generated, people will volunteer this information to websites thinking they are getting help from a website.”
“And they have no idea this information is going to be attached to, not just a cookie, but their name, their home address, their phone number.”
Committee chairman John “Jay” Rockefeller (D-WV) closed the hearing by saying he was “revolted” by Dixon’s revelations.
“I think it’s our job as government to… bring into sunlight what is going on,” he said. “I think its serious, and I think it’s a dark underside of American life, in which people make a lot of money and cause people to suffer even more.”
Watch this video from C-SPAN, broadcast Dec. 18, 2013.


Demand Rape Charges Be Brought Against the Men Who Raped and Murdered 16-Year-Old African American


Yesterday we reported on the virtual sweeping-under-the-rug of the death of Dione Payne, 16, of Dayton, Ohio. The Dayton Daily News, one of the only local sources to report on the rape, and beating death of the youth seemed more interested in focusing on the “troubled past” of the victim, instead of the past of the murderers.
Michael A. Geldrich, 36, and Michael J. Watson, 39, are both being held in the Warren County Jail for the December 1 beating death of the young Payne. Miami Valley Hospital workers discovered that Payne had been sexually assaulted during the attack. Hospital personnel contacted Middletown police and stated the teen had been sexually assaulted, according to the police report. But thus far, no rape charges have been brought, and hate crime charges have been dismissed point blank by Franklin Police Chief Russ Whitman, who said there is “no evidence” that there was a racial motive to the rape and murder of this 16-year-old African American.
To add insult to injury, some local media reports have fixated on a checkered history of the juvenile: possessing narcotics, and even allegations that he had fired gun shots in the past. They talked about morbid comments made on his Facebook account before the day he was raped and beaten to death. They even called the 16-year-old out for getting arrested for littering. What they did not do was explain why the police have ruled out a racial motive to the attack, and why the Franklin City Prosecutor has neither pursued hate crime charges, nor even charged the attackers with rape.
These questions still remain unanswered. But there is more that we can do besides reading about this frustrating account and getting on with our day in silence. What can you do? Well for starters, contact the Franklin City Prosecutor:
Steven M. Runge
Franklin Municipal Court
1 Benjamin Franklin Way
Franklin Ohio, 45005
(937) 746-2858
Ask him why these criminals have not been charged for raping the 16-year-old boy who they murdered. Also ask why hate crime charges are being excluded, when this does not seem to have been a common practice for these drug buyers to rape and beat-to-death previous people who they have tried to procure narcotics from.
Are these charges being brushed off because there were drugs potentially involved, or for some other reason that neither the police, the City of Franklin nor the local media are reporting.
SPREAD THE WORD and get people involved. Tell everyone you know who thinks this 16-year-old rape and murder victim deserves justice, in spite of his “troubled past”.

Iran Sanctions Bill From Sens. Bob Menendez And Mark Kirk Could Endanger U.S. Negotiations

   iran sanctions bill

WASHINGTON -- Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) are threatening to push the United States toward war with Iran, circulating and planning to introduce a sanctions bill despite warnings that it could derail nuclear negotiationsat a delicate moment.
International observers and both parties to the negotiations have repeatedly pleaded with Congress to allow the talks to unfold -- warnings that Kirk and Menendez, the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, appear intent on ignoring. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is also part of the effort, though much of the final decision rests with Menendez.
"The White House doesn't want a bill, that's true. Menendez and Kirk are working on it and trying to build the list of cosponsors. Likely to be introduced soon," said a Senate Democratic aide involved in the effort.
The lawmakers are circulating a draft sanctions bill that would target the Iranian petroleum and mining industries, and set up unilateral guidelines for what would constitute compliance.
Defenders of the Menendez move say it is intended to strengthen the White House hand and that if Senate Democrats don't introduce a bill, Republican hard-liners willpush a much more extreme bill with an even greater likelihood of blowing up the talks. "The goal isn't to disrupt things, it's to make Iran even more willing to make serious concessions by making them aware of what will happen if they don't," said the aide.
But the argument that the move is aimed to benefit the White House is undermined by the White House's own vehement opposition to it. It is further undercut by the lead supporter of the Menendez bill, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which has pushed hard to derail the talks and encouraged Congress to undermine the president's effort. Schumer and Menendez are close allies of AIPAC.
“We have consistently and strongly opposed any new sanctions legislation during the negotiation. It is not necessary for Congress to pass this bill, because we are enforcing existing sanctions and can move to sanctions if negotiations don’t succeed or if Iran cheats," a senior administration official told HuffPost. "This bill does not provide the president with the flexibility necessary to negotiate an agreement. The fact is, passing new sanctions now would split the international community, embolden Iranian hard-liners, and likely derail any prospect of a diplomatic resolution. Members of Congress pressing for this bill are effectively choosing to close the door on diplomacy, making it far more likely that we’ll be left only with a military option."
A bill from Senate Republicans would carry less international weight, because it would be seen as an expression of domestic politics. But a bill from senators in the president's own party is more of a threat to the talks and to the international consensus. In November, negotiators from several Western nations reached a preliminary deal with Iran to temporarily halt all provocative activity -- for Iran, the development of its nuclear program and for the West, a reduction in its harsh economic sanctions -- while a permanent deal is worked out.
Both parties hailed the agreement as a significant gesture of faith, hoping dialogue in the coming months might prevent all-out nuclear war. The deal was to last six months.
A Foreign Relations Committee aide said that work is ongoing, and that the new bill shouldn't blow up the talks. "We're closing in, but it's not closed," he said. "The concept is for no new sanctions, nothing comes into effect now, all the sanctions relief Iran received in Geneva, they keep. All this does is focus on down the road, six-plus months with flexibility -- should a deal fall apart, should Iran violate, here is what a future sanctions effort looks like. Prospective sanctions so everyone knows what could appear at the end of the tunnel."
On the American side, much of the current sanctions relief can be accomplished by Obama alone, through executive order. But American congressional leaders have repeatedly threatened to overrule him and his diplomatic team, threatening to introduce new, tougher sanctions against Iran, despite the ongoing talks.

Numerous Iran experts have decried the Senate's attempts to impose new sanctions as a possible death blow to the first detente between the U.S. and Iran over its nuclear program.
"This would be a direct violation of the Geneva deal which would cause the collapse of the talks not due to Iranian sabotage, but American foul play," said Trita Parsi, the president of the National Iranian American Council, which advocates better relations between Iran and the West. "America would be at fault in the eyes of the world, which then would help Iran significantly weaken the international sanctions regime - without Iran giving any nuclear concessions."
On Wednesday, the NIAC released a new report examining the roots of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's recent outreach to the west -- and its fragility:
After eight years of a hardline narrative in Iran based on confrontation and resistance, Rouhani’s team is now leading Tehran with a different narrative that preaches constructive interaction with the world and backs it up with concrete actions like the interim nuclear deal it struck in Geneva. But the pendulum can easily shift again. Hardliners are waiting for Rouhani to fail so they can return to the forefront of Iranian politics. Choices that the West makes today will help define Iran’s internal and external outlook going forward.
Earlier this month, Iranian negotiators walked away from discussions after the U.S. announced it would be blacklisting new companies and individuals as a result of their business dealings with Iran. They later returned.
That brief interruption followed the enforcement of existing sanctions. Iranian leaders have pledged that a new round of rules would cause the Iranians to step back even further.
In an interview with Time magazine in early December, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that if the U.S. Congress passed a new round of sanctions, even if they came with delayed enforcement, "The entire deal is dead."
"We do not like to negotiate under duress," Zarif went on. "And if Congress adopts sanctions, it shows lack of seriousness and lack of a desire to achieve a resolution on the part of the United States. I know the domestic complications and various issues inside the United States, but for me that is no justification."