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24 Sep 14:00

Stephen Colbert Makes The Connection: Kaepernick Is About Charlotte

by Frances Langum

Carolina native Stephen Colbert made connections those in the mainstream media seem unable to make.

Colbert mused on what kind of reaction would be appropriate to the police shooting and resulting protests in Charlotte.

I just wish there was some sort of respectful, silent, civil protest that people could engage in that wouldn't enrage the other side.

And then he showed a picture of Colin Kaepernick.

Is it so hard to see that Colin Kaepernick's taking the knee during the National Anthem is a direct protest of the kind of violence and injustice on display in Charlotte?

Not when a large chunk of the American electorate sees their spiritual, political and moral guidance from "Civil Rights leader the Reverend Dr. Donald Trump."

Seriously, when you heard that joke, did you laugh or cry?

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23 Sep 01:00

Duh. Most States Suing To Block EPA Goals Have Already Met Them

by Bill Scher
Duh. Most States Suing To Block EPA Goals Have Already Met Them

If you need any more evidence that knee-jerk obstructionism has ravaged the modern Republican Party, here’s one more data point. Twenty-one of the the 27 states suing the EPA to prevent implementation of its Clean Power Plan, requiring cuts in carbon emissions, are already on track to meet the plan’s requirements.

In other words, they have literally no reason to complain, let alone sue.

Yet sue they have. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the states’ trumped-up case next Tuesday. (If the appellate court decides the Clean Power Plan is constitutional, a probable 4-4 tie at the Supreme Court would allow the plan to survive.)

Reuters reports:

Already, Arkansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma and South Dakota appear to be meeting the CPP’s early targets. And changes in the power market, along with policies favoring clean generation, are propelling most of the rest toward timely compliance …

To be sure, some states fighting the mandate would have to drastically change course to meet it. West Virginia, which is leading the legal challenge with Texas, still relies largely on carbon-spewing, coal-fired power. And Wisconsin, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming have large gaps between their current emissions and the plan’s mandates.

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23 Sep 13:48

Your tax dollars subsidized $125m executive bonus for Wells Fargo exec who led massive fraud

by Cory Doctorow


Normally, companies that give "performance pay" to their execs can only write off the first $1M: but when Wells Fargo gave $125M to Carrie Tolstedt (shown above receiving American Banker's 2010 award for being "the most powerful woman in banking") as she "retired" after overseeing a 5-year period in which Wells Fargo's top brass were aware that their employees were opening 2 million fake accounts in their customers' names, Wells structured the payment as a "bonus," meaning that the company took a $78 million off its taxes, pocketing $27m in savings. (more…)

22 Sep 13:02

Wells Fargo fired the whistleblowers who reported massive fraud, and that's a crime

by Cory Doctorow


CNN Money has found multiple whistleblowers from Wells Fargo who were willing to go on the record and report that they were fired in retaliation for coming forward to report the massive fraud in which Wells Fargo employees opened up 2,000,000 fake accounts in their customers' names, raiding their real accounts to open them, then racking up fees and penalties, and trashing their customers' credit ratings. (more…)

21 Sep 21:00


21 Sep 01:15


21 Sep 13:22

Free trade lowers prices -- but not on things poor people need (and it pushes up housing prices)

by Cory Doctorow


Part of the economic argument for free trade deals is that they benefit workers by producing cheaper goods -- even if you lose your manufacturing job, you can buy stuff a lot cheaper with the next job you get. (more…)

21 Sep 14:00

LA water hog exposed as "Wet Prince of Bel-Air"

by Andrea James


Who is the top residential water hog of Los Angeles? The Center for Investigative Reporting has narrowed it down to 7 Bel-Air mansions, with billionaire Jerry Perenchio's estate the prime suspect for using almost 12 million gallons of water a year. (more…)

21 Sep 14:04

Help the homeless hero who reported a NJ bomb

by Andrea James


Lee Parker and Ivan White found and reported a bomb allegedly planted by Ahmad Khan Rahami in Elizabeth, New Jersey. You can thank them by supporting the local homeless program. (more…)

21 Sep 12:00

An Inmate Just Died Of Thirst In Sheriff David Clarke’s Jail

by News Hound Ellen
An Inmate Just Died Of Thirst In Sheriff David Clarke’s Jail

Fox News regular and Donald Trump supporter, Sheriff David Clarke, just had an inmate die of thirst in one of his jail cells. The death has been ruled a homicide.

Sadly, this latest death is one of many who have died under Clarke, who spends so much time on Fox News and jet-setting around the world for conservative causes that you have to wonder when he actually does the job he's paid by taxpayers to do.

From The Huffington Post:

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21 Sep 05:54

Last words of H.G. Wells (born on this day)

Last words of H.G. Wells (born on this day)

20 Sep 17:19

Elizabeth Warren Just Eviscerated the Wells Fargo CEO

by Hannah Levintova

The Senate Banking Committee conducted a hearing Tuesday about the massive scandal currently engulfing Wells Fargo. The word "fraud" was used repeatedly by senators on both sides of the aisle when describing the bank's creation of millions of unauthorized bank and credit card accounts for existing customers.

Fallout from the account scandal continues to pile up. The bank is also facing an investigation by the House Financial Services Committee, subpoenas from the Department of Justice, and at least one potential class-action lawsuit.

First up at Tuesday's Senate hearing was Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf, who was grilled by the committee for almost three hours.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren—a longtime advocate for more stringent regulation of Wall Street—tore into Stumpf, describing the unauthorized accounts as a "massive, yearslong scam." She asked Stumpf what he has done to take responsibility for his bank's actions. "You have said repeatedly, 'I am accountable,'" she said. "But what have you done to actually hold yourself accountable? Have you resigned?"

Stumpf avoided answering the question directly, prompting Warren to repeat her question, her voice rising, at least three times.

Warren proceeded to pummel Stumpf with more questions. "Have you returned one nickel of the money you earned while this scam was going on?" she asked. Stumpf evaded the question several times. (Stumpf said earlier in the hearing that he earned $19.3 million last year.) Finally, an exasperated Warren said, "I'll take that as a 'no.'"

She then asked if he'd fired any members of his senior management. Stumpf initially began by describing the firing of regional branch managers, but Warren stopped him, emphasizing that her question was not about low-level leadership but about the people at the top. Again, Stumpf's answer was no.

When Warren asked Stumpf if he knew how much the value of his bank's stock had gone up over the time that the unauthorized accounts were created and maintained, Stumpf replied the information was in the public record. "You're right, it is all in the public records," Warren said, "because I looked it up." She continued: "While this scam was going on, you personally held an average of 6.75 million shares of Wells stock." The share price went up by about $30 in that time frame, Warren pointed out, "which comes out to more than $200 million in gains, all for you personally."

Warren ended her speech by calling on Stumpf to resign and for both the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate the CEO. Here's an excerpt of her speech:

You know, here's what really gets me about this, Mr. Stumpf. If one of your tellers took a handful of $20 bills out of the cash drawer, they'd probably be looking at criminal charges for theft. They could end up in prison. But you squeezed your employees to the breaking point so they would cheat customers and you could drive up the value of your stock and put hundreds of millions of dollars in your own pocket. And when it all blew up, you kept your job, you kept your multimillion-dollar bonuses, and you went on television to blame thousands of $12-an-hour employees who were just trying to meet cross-sell quotas that made you rich. This is about accountability. You should resign. You should give back the money that you took while this scam was going on, and you should be criminally investigated.

You can watch Warren's full questioning above.

This post has been revised.

20 Sep 16:39

Police accidentally record themselves conspiring to fabricate criminal charges against protester

by Mark Frauenfelder

ACLU is suing Connecticut state police for making false charges against a man who was protesting a DUI checkpoint.

On September 11, 2015, Connecticut resident Michael Picard was filming a protest near a police DUI checkpoint in West Hartford. Unbeknownst to the troopers who confiscated his camera, it was rolling while they appeared to fabricate criminal charges against him.

“Let’s give him something,” one trooper declared. Another suggested, “we can hit him with creating a public disturbance.” “Gotta cover our ass,” remarked a third.

20 Sep 17:35

Nazi who originated Donald Trump Jr.’s Skittles metaphor was hanged at Nuremberg

by Mark Frauenfelder


The Intercept's Naomi LaChange presents the curious origins of Donald Trump Jr.'s tweet comparing Syrian refugees to poison Skittles. "The concept dates back at least to 1938 and a children’s book called Der Giftpilz, or The Toadstool, in which a mother explains to her son that it only takes one Jew to destroy an entire people."

20 Sep 16:29

Video: Tulsa Police Murder Unarmed Black Man Next To His Disabled Vehicle

by Karoli Kuns

Warning: This is graphic and disturbing video of a horrific police shooting in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Terence Crutcher was unarmed with his hands in the air walking away from police officers when they shot him.

He hadn't been pulled over, but his car had stalled on the highway when officers came upon him. What happened next is horrifying.


Police footage shows Mr Crutcher walking away from officers, his hands in the air, before he is shot.

An officer is heard on a recording from a police helicopter calling him "a big dude" who was "probably on something".

"The big bad dude was my twin brother," his twin sister, Tiffany, told reporters.

"That big bad dude was a father. That big bad dude was a son. That big bad dude was enrolled at Tulsa Community College, just wanting to make us proud.

Already, the right wing is spinning up garbage about him dropping his arms before he was shot, but look at the video if you can stand to. Clearly he had his back to the officers, and was walking away from them.

This must stop. Crutcher's twin sister Tiffany is calling for peaceful protests over his murder.

20 Sep 19:12

Trump Jr. Lifted His Skittles Photo From A Refugee

by Karoli Kuns
Trump Jr. Lifted His Skittles Photo From A Refugee

Junior Trump is really hitting the ball out of the park this week. After tweeting a ridiculous racist lie about poisoned Skittles, more of the story emerged about the image he used for it.

According to the BBC, the image came from David Kittos, who posted it on Flickr.

Kittos is himself a refugee.

"This was not done with my permission, I don't support his politics and I would never take his money to use it," Mr Kittos told the BBC.

"In 1974, when I was six-years old, I was a refugee from the Turkish occupation of Cyprus so I would never approve the use of this image against refugees."

Flickr gives people the right to share or reserve all of the rights to the images they upload to the site. Mr. Kittos had marked this image "All Rights Reserved," which means the Trumpkins had no right to use it.

Furthermore, just after he posted that ridiculous meme, Trump Jr. then tweeted out a Breitbart article repeating more racist, anti-refugee tropes.

read more

19 Sep 10:00

Why Prisoners Across the Country Have Gone on Strike

by Kanyakrit Vongkiatkajorn

Following a call for a nationwide prison strike that began September 9, inmates in at least three states have organized work stoppages or staged protests in support of improving their wages and working conditions. Here's the latest on the strike and the issues behind it:


How many prisoners are on strike?

The strike's organizers had originally expected prisoners in 21 states to participate. So far, they say that prisoners in at least 29 prisons in 12 states have launched strikes and more than 24,000 prisoners have missed work.

• In Florida, protests erupted in four facilities last week, and a small group of inmates refused to follow orders at one facility, according to a Florida Department of Corrections spokesperson. The prisons were placed on lockdown, but resumed normal operations on September 12.

• Prisoners at the Kinross Correctional Facility in Kincheloe, Michigan, refused to report for kitchen work, forcing correctional officers to provide bagged food for lunch and breakfast the next day, says Chris Gautz, a Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman. Four hundred prisoners marched peacefully in the yard for several hours, but after a common room area was damaged, the facility went on lockdown, says Gautz. Around 150 prisoners who are considered strike organizers are being transferred to other prisons in the state.

• In Atmore, Alabama, inmates at the William C. Holman Correctional Institute facility did not report to work on September 9, but returned to work on the next day, according to the Alabama Department of Corrections.

• In South Carolina, inmates released a list of demands that included a call for fair wages, restarting GED classes, and "more meaningful" rehabilitation programs.

• In Alabama, inmates who are part of the Free Alabama Movement, an organization that helped launch the strike, released a "freedom bill" that called for the abolishment of free labor from prisoners.

The strike's organizers and supporters on the outside say they are still working to confirm reports of protests as information trickles in. Prisoners on lockdown have no access to phone and visitation. So far, no prisons or correctional departments have announced changes as a result of the strike, but ongoing lockdowns "could potentially be the breaking point," says Cole Dorsey, an organizer with the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee. "They can't run the prison just with guards alone. That will be the important part."


How does prison labor work?

The strike, billed by activists as one of the first nationally coordinated strikes among prisoners, is intended to combat prison labor conditions, or what they call "modern-day slavery." The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery, but left an exception for people who have been convicted of crimes. This means that prisoners can legally be put to work for little to no pay.

Inmates in state and federal prisons do many different types of work. All inmates who are medically able must do mandatory jobs, such as maintenance, cleaning, and kitchen duties. Inmates may be paid for this work—usually between 12 to 40 cents an hour. But some states, including Texas, Arkansas, and Georgia, do not pay inmates at all. Eligible inmates may participate in work programs, such as the Federal Prison Industries programs (known as UNICOR) or the Prison Industry Enhancement (PIE) Certification program, which pay wages and generally teach work skills. In UNICOR programs, wages range from 23 cents to $1.15 an hour. However, only about 7 percent of eligible inmates are employed by federal prison industry programs.

Corrections officials say that prison work offers opportunities and job training. Research has shown that some work programs can be effective at reducing recidivism and helping inmates find jobs upon release. A study of inmates in four correctional facilities in Pennsylvania found that working can help inmates improve their sense of self, provide structure and routine, and give incentives to stay out of trouble. Some correctional departments, such as Florida's, allow inmates to work towards shortening their sentences.

"[Work] provides monetary value for [prisoners], but more importantly, a lot of prisoners come to us without ever having had a job," says Gautz. "They're learning not only the task of the job of what they have, and they're learning the soft skills of showing up on time, general interpersonal skills, how to take criticism, all those things they've never had any experience with… The goal is to find them jobs before they're paroled."


What are the main criticisms of prison labor?

Despite some of these benefits, inmates and their advocates say the current prison labor system has to be overhauled. Some of their criticisms include:

• All prisoners are required to work: As long as prisoners are medically able, they must work, notes the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Various welcome manuals for prisoners also similarly state that inmates must work. ("Work is a necessary part of your daily life while in prison," notes a handbook for prisoners in Georgia, which does not pay its inmates.) In Texas, inmates who refuse to work, lose their privileges and are confined to their cells for 24 hours a day.

• There's not really a legal way for prisoners to ask for better wages or work conditions: Though prisoners aren't necessarily excluded from laws such as the Fair Labor Standards Act, which establishes the country's minimum wage, they're not necessarily covered by it either. That's because courts generally do not consider prisoners to be employees. As a result, previous cases where prisoners have sued for minimum wage have failed. And as an investigation by the American Prospect notes, labor unions are reluctant to represent prison workers, because prison labor produces goods that competes with other industries.

• Prisoners' low wages are subject to taxes and deductions: In the PIE program, inmates are supposed to be paid prevailing wages. But up to 80 percent of inmates' wages may go to taxes and deductions, including deductions for victim's compensation funds, restitution to victims, and child support. Additionally, if an inmate wants to take part in a work-release program, some states deduct a percentage of his wages to cover the cost of the program and other incidentals. And while prison labor helps prisons and their states save money (prison workers reportedly helped Florida taxpayers save more than $59 million in 2014), prisoners may have to pay additional fines and fees. A 2010 study by the Brennan Center for Justice found that states and counties are increasingly imposing "per diem" fees on prisoners, resulting in some inmates going into debt by the time they are released.

• There are few workplace safety standards for prisoners: In 2010, the Government Accountability Office slammed the federal prison system for purposefully hiding dangerous practices at an electronic waste recycling plant staffed by inmates. "Most people don't think of prisoners as a vulnerable population, [with] high degrees of mental illness and social isolation," says Paul Wright, an editor at Prison Legal News. "It's an easy population to exploit physically, labor-wise and by every other means."

18 Sep 20:57

Entire Seattle HS Football Team Kneels During National Anthem

by Scarce
Entire Seattle HS Football Team Kneels During National Anthem

The entire Garfield High School football team, including the coaches, took a knee during the national anthem Friday night.

Source: Q13Fox

SEATTLE — The entire Garfield High School football team, including the coaches, took a knee during the national anthem Friday night before their game against West Seattle High on Friday night to protest “social injustices.”

After the game, which Garfield won, Garfield High School head football coach Joey Thomas said that "the players decided to do this" to bring attention to "social injustices," emphasizing that it was "a player-driven" move and that his players plan to continue the practice during the anthem before every game "until they tell us to stop."

16 Sep 17:07

Republican election officials block restrictions on foreign spending in US elections

by Cory Doctorow


Once I got my green card this year, I was allowed to make the same campaign contributions as any US citizen: $2700 per candidate. But thanks to the three Republican members of the Federal Election Commission, who refused to even allow an agenda item to begin discussions to commence planning for limits on wholly-foreign-owned corporations making unlimited donations to super PACs, offshore oligarchs living abroad can go on spending tens of millions to influence the outcome of US elections. (more…)

16 Sep 20:00

NYPD: We can't tell you how much cash we seize because it would break our computers

by Mark Frauenfelder

Image: Wikipedia

New York City councilmember Ritchie Torres wants to know how much cash NYPD seizes every from citizens every year using using civil asset forfeiture, so he introduced legislation requiring annual reports from NYPD. But NYPD said at a hearing that the bill shouldn't be allowed to pass because NYPD's computers will crash if they attempt to generate the reports. Sounds legit!

Via Village Voice

"Attempts to perform the types of searches envisioned in the bill will lead to system crashes and significant delays during the intake and release process," said Assistant Deputy Commissioner Robert Messner, while testifying in front of the council's Public Safety Committee. "The only way the department could possibly comply with the bill would be a manual count of over half a million invoices each year."

When asked by councilmember Dan Garodnick whether the NYPD had come to the hearing with any sort of accounting for how much money it has seized from New Yorkers this past year, the NYPD higher-ups testifying simply answered "no."


17 Sep 14:52

Broadcasters should time-delay presidential debates, allowing them to mute any outright lies

by Cory Doctorow


Dan Gillmor writes: "Time for journalists to declare a boycott on bullshit. Start with muting the sound when Trump lies during the debate." (more…)

18 Sep 16:12

International Criminal Court in the Hague will now try CEOs

by Cory Doctorow


CEOs whose businesses are complicit in human rights atrocities -- like the mass murder of people who object to land-grabs by mineral extraction companies -- can now be tried in the International Criminal Court in the Hague. (more…)

17 Sep 22:13

Reporter Arrested For Requesting Admission To Houston Trump Event

by Sarah P

This is a wrongful arrest

The Trump campaign continues to build a bigger wall between its events and the press, today with the arrest of a Vice reporter, Alex Thompson, who hadn't even gained access to the event.

Vice reports that Thompson had reached out to the campaign earlier this week to request access to the event. The Trump campaign told them the request was "pending" and provided no update afterwards. So, Thompson went to the event, being held at the Houston Omni Westside Hotel and merely asked the a campaign member from the communications staff whether he had been approved to attend and report on the event.

Mere moments later, a man who identified himself as the hotel manager directed Thompson to leave and threatened arrest. Not 2 minutes later, Houston police swarmed, handcuffed and arrested Thompson. Vice reports that "at roughly 1:30 PM EST [Thompson] has been charged with trespassing. He is currently being held at Houston Central Jail."

Vice tweeted this out:

17 Sep 15:57

Donald Trump Jr. still hasn’t removed anti-semitic, white supremacist meme from Instagram

by John Aravosis

Twenty-four hours after Donald Trump Jr. was informed that he posted an anti-semitic, white supremacist meme on Instagram, that post is still live on Trump’s account.

As I noted the other day, in a post intending to mock Hillary Clinton’s recent comments about half of Donald Trump’s supporters being “deplorable” racists, sexists and homophobes, Trump’s son posted a picture of himself, his father and others with the title ” The Deplorables.”

In that image is a picture of a green frog — the symbol of the “Alt-right,” the growing white supremacist movement that Trump’s campaign director, Stephen Bannon, panders to with his publication Breitbart.

But the bigger problem for Donald Trump Jr. is why, after having been informed yesterday that the frog is an anti-semitic, white supremacist meme, has Donald Trump Jr. refused to delete the Instagram post?

From Politico:

Calling the frog meme a “well-known symbol of the white supremacist movement,” Stephanopoulos referred to the company of others in the photo who have propagated various conspiracy theories.

“I’ve never even heard of Pepe the Frog. I mean, bet you 90 percent of your viewers have never heard of Pepe the Frog,” Trump Jr. told Stephanopoulos, adding, “I thought it was a frog in a wig. I thought it was funny. I had no idea there was any connotation there.”

And I just checked Instagram, and the photo of the anti-semitic white supremacist meme is still in Donald Trump Jr.’s account. Why?


Joy Reid mentioned this on her show today. And she mentioned that Donald Trump Jr. was informed of how bad the meme was, and he said he didn’t know. And sure, maybe it’s not anti-semitic and white supremacist of you to accidentally post a neo-Nazi meme to your Instagram account. But what does it say about Donald Trump Jr. when, after being informed of the true nature of his post, he still leaves it up?

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14 Sep 17:24

Cop fired and denied severance for not shooting suicidal man holding an unloaded gun

by Cory Doctorow

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Stephen Mader, a former police officer in Weirton, W.Va, was fired without severance because he decided not to shoot Ronald D. "R.J." Williams Jr, who had threatened to kill himself and was holding a gun that turned out to be unloaded. (more…)

15 Sep 16:40

Support the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's action against predatory payday lenders

by Cory Doctorow

The predatory payday lending industry -- "'legalized loan sharks collect 75 percent of their fees from people stuck in more than 10 loans a year by charging 300 percent APR" -- is lobbying hard to kill the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's proposed "debt trap" rule, "that would require lenders to determine whether borrowers can afford to pay back their loans and cut off repeated debit attempts that rack up fees and make it harder for consumers to get out of debt." (more…)

15 Sep 16:55

Elizabeth Warren to FBI director: now that investigations are fair game, what about banksters?

by Cory Doctorow

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When FBI Director James Comey released detailed notes on the Bureau's investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server, they broke with precedent, specifically, their refusal to release documents explaining why they totally failed to prosecute any of the bankers responsible for tanking the US economy in 2008 and destroying the lives of millions of Americans. (more…)

15 Sep 18:43

In a leaked "weaponized information" catalog, Indian cyberarms dealer offers blackest-ever SEO

by Cory Doctorow


In 2014, an Indian company called Aglaya brought a 20-page brochure to ISS World (AKA the Wiretappers' Ball -- the annual trade fair where governments shop for surveillance technology): the brochure laid out the company's offerings, which ranged from mobile malware for Ios and Android to a unique "Weaponized Information" selection that combined denial-of-service with disinformation to "discredit a target" online. (more…)

14 Sep 12:51

Trump supporter punches out old lady outside rally

by Rob Beschizza


A 69-year-old woman was cold-cocked outside a Trump event by one of the Republican millionaire's supporters, reports ABC News—an attack so deplorable that cops plan to charge one of his violent rallygoers with a crime. (more…)

14 Sep 14:36

A powerful attacker is systematically calibrating an internet-killing tool

by Cory Doctorow

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Someone -- possibly the government of China -- has launched a series of probing attacks on the internet's most critical infrastructure, using carefully titrated doses of denial-of-service to precisely calibrate a tool for shutting down the whole net. (more…)