Sunday, October 05, 2014

PNN 10-5-14 Money Mortgages and Medicine PART2 The Show

PNN - 10/5/14
Money Mortgages and Medicine

Lynn Petrovich - Student Debt
Jan Douma - Mortgages and Credit
Athene Ford - Florida Chain

0. ONLY to CORRECT - HISTORY'S NOTORIOUS LIBERAL BIAS too correct, and blame america first mentality

After a heated meeting on Thursday, and in a move billed as a compromise, the conservative school board in the suburban Denver district approved the formation of a panel to review all district curricula, instead of just the history course, and said it would include student perspectives.-

hmmm reviewing all curricula for it's suspected LIBERAL BIAS - (Especially Science) ooh and HISTORY…gosh!


Florida Circuit Court Judge Diana Lewis was in a hurry. She had 93 foreclosure cases before her in the next two hours and she made it clear that she wasn’t going to let anything slow them down.
“This is a 2009 case. You’ve had years to negotiate,” she told one lawyer trying to delay a foreclosure judgment because his client and the lender were working out a deal.
Later, she agreed to an extension on a foreclosure sale but admonished the defense lawyer. “I’ll give you 30 days. That’s it. Don’t come back. I don’t want to see your face back here.”
At least twice that morning at the Palm Beach County Courthouse she refused to delay foreclosure trials in cases where the banks and homeowners together requested extra time.
Lewis’ manner may be brusque, but her actions aren’t unusual among foreclosure judges in Florida, who in the last year have been working under explicit directions from the state Legislature and Supreme Court to get rid of old cases and clear the court dockets, largely by awarding tens of thousands of homes to banks.
“The state’s entire court system has been compromised,” says Matt Weidner, an outspoken foreclosure defense lawyer who practices in Tampa and St. Petersburg and blogs about the system. “They’re stripping away private property rights and transferring billions of dollars in assets from individuals to large entities.”
A year into its latest effort to clear the wreckage left from the housing crash and subsequent recession that left hundreds of thousands of Floridians facing foreclosure, the state’s so-called foreclosure initiative is laser-focused on clearing the court system of cases and cutting the time it takes a bank to foreclose.
What began as an effort by the Florida Legislature and judicial leaders to help the state’s economy by moving properties out of foreclosure and back into the market has turned into a Kafkaesque nightmare for people struggling to hang on to their homes.
State legislative and judicial leaders have largely ignored the ramifications of throwing thousands of families out of houses and turning the foreclosed properties over to banks and mortgage servicers to maintain and sell into an already swamped market.
“They dealt with it as a court system problem,” said Mike Fasano, a former Republican lawmaker from New Port Richey who opposed the two bills passed last year to clear the foreclosure backlog. “It was, ‘How can we speed up forcing people out of their homes?’ ”
Kathleen Passidomo, a Republican from Naples who sponsored a bill to streamline foreclosures that passed last year, said borrowers, banks and homeowner associations want to get the foreclosures behind them.

“Lots of people just want to get it over with and get on with their life,” she said.
To accomplish its goal of eliminating the backlog of foreclosures, the state has set up a parallel legal system in which judges hear only foreclosure cases — often more than a hundred motions a day — in courtrooms set up solely for that purpose, under rules that differ from those that guide civil law in other types of cases in Florida and across the country.
The state set an express goal of disposing of 256,000 cases in each of the three years of the effort.  
2. Facial Recognition 
Forget fingerprints, now your face is on file and captured every where you go. The FBI has announced that its facial recognition system – launched three years ago – is now “fully operational.” The facial recognition program is part of the Next Generation Identification (NGI) System which is set to replace the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). Though it is not really an either or with fingerprints and face recognition as the new system seeks to collect many forms of biometric data.
With the growing prevalence of surveillance cameras it will not be long before Americans walking down a street in any city or town may find their biometric information being run through the FBI’s database – automatically and without consent. The panopticon will be televised, for some.
If you are ever arrested, for anything, your biometric data will be included in the system and provide future employers with an opportunity to investigate your background thanks to some of the new features with NGI according to the FBI:
As part of NGI’s full operational capability, the NGI team is introducing two new services: Rap Back and the Interstate Photo System (IPS). Rap Back is a functionality that enables authorized entities the ability to receive ongoing status notifications of any criminal history reported on individuals holding positions of trust, such as school teachers. Law enforcement agencies, probation and parole offices, and other criminal justice entities will also greatly improve their effectiveness by being advised of subsequent criminal activity of persons under investigation or supervision.
The IPS facial recognition service will provide the nation’s law enforcement community with an investigative tool that provides an image-searching capability of photographs associated with criminal identities. This effort is a significant step forward for the criminal justice community in utilizing biometrics as an investigative enabler.
What could go wrong? Clearly the problem in America is too many people working who have criminal records that their employers don’t know about – wait, actually the problem is a massive prison-industrial complex that makes imprisoning people a business and ensures those that churn through that system are unable to integrate back into society without great difficulty.
It is also interesting to note that the FBI describes IPS as an “investigative enabler” which raises questions about how the system is applied to finding someone who is not in the database because they have yet to ever be arrested. How will IPS be used in that scenario? Might it be that photos from state license databases – such as the department of motor vehicles – will be integrated into IPS? If so, then this will really be a system for everyone won’t it? Where anyone who has a photo ID from a federal or state agency will be included and accessible.

3. Chuck vs Suck 
And maybe, to change all that, you get Charlie Crist, ex-Republican, who will run the state like a business, or maybe not bother to run it much at all, while nodding more telegenically at the Everglades, women, gay people and minorities. This is the kind of grand political spectrum Florida and the nation offers its citizens, and this is your future. You can have a Republican, or you can have someone who is basically a Republican with varying degrees of empathy. Or, in more brutal terms, the difference between Charlie Crist and Rick Scott is the difference between a Republican and a Republican who is overtly evil or insane. 
4. global frackdown 10/11/14
While the oil and gas industry is working hard to protect its profits and drown out the worldwide demand for clean, renewable fuels, there is a tremendous global movement afoot to protect our air, water, climate and communities from fracking.
Over 200 partner organizations around the world are coming together for an international day of protests on October 11, 2014, calling for an end to fracking. Enter your postal code to find an event near you or create your own!
In conjunction with the Global Frackdown, there is a major day of action against international trade agreements in Europe. A number of groups who work against fracking are participating in this event, which includes an anti-fracking platform. Find trade related actions.

5.  CLIMATE and You, you, you

On September 24th, The President  said  " We are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it"


6:45 PM
First UUPM Ministers Hall
635 Prosperity Farms Road  NPB

Join members of your community to learn how  climate change is already affecting Florida, and what YOU can do now to change the outlook. We will also discuss the Regional Climate Action Plan and Compact (RCAP) and the Federal Climate Action Plan and how they relate to our county and state.
“This is the moral issue of our time and we have a choice. Are we going to let the effects of climate change destroy our homes and way of life as we know it, or are we going to stand up together and stop it?” said Rev. CJ McGregor, Minister of First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Palm Beaches, co-sponsor of the presentation, with Organizing for Action Palm Beach County/Treasure Coast.  

Contact: Marika Stone, Environmental Justice Team
      , 561-625-8753

A community dinner is being offered at 6 pm for $10/person and reservations for the meal are required.  Contact the church office at 561-627-6105 to reserve.  Ample parking.

Thanks to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals down in New Orleans, we now know what percentage of an affected population can have its constitutionally protected rights curtailed before that percentage can be considered "significant" enough to have those rights protected from meddling by the government.
The percentage is one-in-six.
The three-judge panel agreed with the state's lawyers that there was insufficient evidence that a "large fraction" of women seeking abortions would face an unconstitutional burden because of the surgical-center requirements and clinic closings. They wrote that the data provided by one of the plaintiffs' experts, Dr. Daniel Grossman, suggested that about one out of six Texas women seeking an abortion would live more than 150 miles from the nearest clinic if the surgical-center rules went into effect. "This is nowhere near a ‘large fraction,' " the panel wrote.
All right, so if one-in-six gun owners have their firearms confiscated, that is not an "undue burden" on gun owners. If one-in-six private homes are entered without a warrant, that is not an "undue burden" on home owners. If one-in-six criminal defendants are forced to testify against themselves, or denied counsel, or a trial by jury, that is not an "undue burden" on defendants. If one-in-six families are required to quarter troops in their dens, that is not an "undue burden" on the family divan. I would like to thank the Fifth Circuit for clearing that up.
Of course, to defend this ruling, you have to pretend that a) the law in question was passed to "protect women's health" and not to curtail a constitutionally protected right that many people find icky, and b) that the judges care enough about women, particularly poor women, not to make themselves part of this ongoing charade. At the district court level, Judge Lee Yeakel declined to join the puppet show.
In an unusual move, the judge granted the abortion providers who sued the state broader relief than they had requested. Lawyers for abortion facilities had asked him to strike down the requirement as it applied to two clinics, in El Paso and McAllen. But Judge Yeakel ruled the admitting-privileges requirement and the surgical-center standards, operating together, put undue burdens on women statewide, and created "a brutally effective system of abortion regulation that reduces access to abortion clinics."
This is, of course, the obvious intent of the law, despite the remarkable efforts to defend it put forward by Governor Goodhair from behind the Spectacles Of Wisdom. (Goodhair argued that, if Joan Rivers had been treated under requirements Texas has placed on its women's health clinics, she'd be alive today. Joan Rivers remains dead. Goodhair remains a dunce.) The law has required like-minded judges to pretend that its obvious purpose is irrelevant to their decisions. It places the courts -- and the like-minded judges salted throughout them over the past three decades -- in the position of ruling in favor of pretense and fraud, of passing judgment on misdirection and legalistic sleight-of-hand. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals did precisely that. They accepted as precedent the legal status of Texas law as a long con, and the women that are its only subjects as marks who deserve what they get. Caveat emptor. Move to a different state.

Tim Dickinson's fantastic expose of the Koch brothers in the latest issue of Rolling Stone has gotten plenty of attention. For very good reason: it's a well-sourced, deep dive into the very toxic—literally toxic—business that earned the Kochs enough money to buy up an entire political party. That and the wrongful death judgement, six felony and numerous misdemeanor convictions, the tens of millions of dollars in fines, and the trading with Iran are all included in the story, well worth your time.
No one has given it more attention, it seems, than thenotoriously thin-skinned Kochs. In typical Koch fashion, they don't argue the facts of Dickinson's story. They attack Dickinson,who responds here. Here's the nut of his detailed response.
Koch, in particular, takes umbrage with my reporting practices.
For the record: In the weeks prior to publication, beginning September 4th, Rolling Stone attempted to engage Koch Industries in a robust discussion of the issues raised in our reporting. Rolling Stone requested to interview CEO Charles Koch about his company's philosophy of Market Based Management; Ilia Bouchouev, who heads Koch's derivatives trading operations, about the company's trading practices; and top Koch lawyer Mark Holden about the company's significant legal and regulatory history.
The requests to speak to Charles Koch and Bouchouev were simply ignored. Ultimately, only Holden responded on the record, only via e-mail and only after Holden baselessly insinuated that I had been given an "opposition research" document dump from the liberal activist David Brock. (This is false.) From my perspective as a reporter, Koch Industries is the most hostile and paranoid organization I've ever engaged with—and I've reported on Fox News. In a breach of ethics, Koch has also chosen to publish email correspondence characterizing the content of a telephone conversation that was, by Koch's own insistence, strictly off the record. […]
[I]n the main, the Koch responses attempt to re-litigate closed cases — incidents where judges, juries, and, in one case, a Senate Select Committee, have already had a final say. They only muddy waters that have been clarified by a considered legal process.
Dickinson then provides an exhaustive, 14-point taken down of each of the Kochs' complaints about his story, including every instance in which the Kochs do not actually dispute the facts that he has reported, but attempt to obfuscate them and whine about that fact that he reported them. They also don't acknowledge that Dickinson attempted to give them the opportunity to talk to him about his story while reporting, but they refused.
The Kochs clearly do not stand up well to close scrutiny, and clearly are not prepared for it. For some reason, probably because they're richer than god, they seem to assume that they should be able to swoop into our political system and attempt to buy it without being subject to close examination. That attitude, along with their long history of abusing people, the environment, and the political system, is doing them no favors. They've made themselves the subject of this election, and if Democrats hold the Senate, it will largely be because the Kochs have made themselves such good enemies.

8. Scalia and RELIGIOUS ZEAL
Speaking at Colorado Christian University, he said:
I think the main fight is to dissuade Americans from what the secularists are trying to persuade them to be true: that the separation of church and state means that the government cannot favor religion over nonreligion.
I mean, we all knew he believes this. (And so does Thomas.) But the fact that he admits it so baldly -- that he doesn't care that his minority opinion is out there for everyone to laugh at -- is still stunning. Not only does he believe that government should favor religion over non-religion, but his interpretation of the First Amendment gives no quarter to the irreligious at all.
And we're stuck with him until he gives up the ghost.
“What can they do to me? I have life tenure,” Justice Scalia said. “It’s even better than academic tenure.”
“It’s a long, uphill fight to get back to original orthodoxy. We have two ‘originalists’ on the Supreme Court,” Scalia said, referring to Thomas. “That’s something. But I feel like Frodo … We’ll get clobbered in the end, but it’s worth it.”

9. Depression Denial Syndrome
Last week, Bill Gross, the so-called bond king, abruptly left Pimco, the investment firm he had managed for decades. People who follow the financial industry were shocked but not exactly surprised; tales of internal troubles at Pimco had been all over the papers. But why should you care?
The answer is that Mr. Gross’s fall is a symptom of a malady that continues to afflict major decision-makers, public and private. Call it depression denial syndrome: the refusal to acknowledge that the rules are different in a persistently depressed economy.
Mr. Gross is, by all accounts, a man with a towering ego and very difficult to work with. That description, however, fits a lot of financial players, and even the most lurid personality conflicts wouldn’t have mattered if Pimco had continued to do well. But it didn’t, largely thanks to a spectacularly bad call Mr. Gross made in 2011, which continues to haunt the firm. And here’s the thing: Lots of other influential people made the same bad call — and are still making it, over and over again.
The story here really starts years earlier, when an immense housing bubble popped. Spending on new houses collapsed, and broader consumer spending also took a hit, as families that had borrowed heavily to buy houses saw the value of those homes plunge. Businesses cut back, too. Why add capacity in the face of weak consumer demand?
The result was an economy in which everyone wanted to save more and invest less. Since everyone can’t do that at the same time, something else had to give — and, in fact, two things gave. First, the economy went into a slump, from which it has not yet fully emerged. Second, the government began running a deficit, as the economic downturn caused a sharp fall in revenue and a surge in some kinds of spending, like food stamps and unemployment benefits.
Now, we normally think of deficits as a bad thing — government borrowing competes with private borrowing, driving up interest rates, hurting investment, and possibly setting the stage for higher inflation. But, since 2008, we have, to use the economics jargon, been stuck in a liquidity trap, which is basically a situation in which the economy is awash in desired saving with no place to go. In this situation, government borrowing doesn’t compete with private demand because the private sector doesn’t want to spend. And because they aren’t competing with the private sector, deficits needn’t cause interest rates to rise.
All this may sound strange and counterintuitive, but it’s what basic macroeconomic analysis tells you. And that’s not 20/20 hindsight either. In 2008-9, a number of economists — yes, myself included — tried to explain the special circumstances of a depressed economy, in which deficits wouldn’t cause soaring rates and the Federal Reserve’s policy of “printing money” (not really what it was doing, but never mind) wouldn’t cause inflation. It wasn’t just theory, either; we had the experience of the 1930s and Japan since the 1990s to draw on. But many, perhaps most, influential people in the alleged real world refused to believe us.

10. THE NSA and We
by James Bamford 
author of: puzzle palace / Body of Secrets /The Shadow Factory 

The tone of the answering machine message was routine, like a reminder for a dental appointment. But there was also an undercurrent of urgency. “Please call me back,” the voice said. “It’s important.”

What worried me was who was calling: a senior attorney with the Justice Department’s secretive Office of Intelligence Policy and Review. By the time I hung up the payphone at a little coffee shop in Cambridge, Mass., and wandered back to my table, strewn with yellow legal pads and dog-eared documents, I had guessed what he was after: my copy of the Justice Department’s top-secret criminal file on the National Security Agency. Only two copies of the original were ever made. Now I had to find a way to get it out of the country—fast.

It was July 8, 1981, a broiling Wednesday in Harvard Square, and I was in a quiet corner of the Algiers Coffee House on Brattle Street. A cool, souk-like basement room, with the piney aroma of frankincense, it made for a perfect hideout to sort through documents, jot down notes, and pore over stacks of newspapers while sipping bottomless cups of Arabic coffee and espresso the color of dark chocolate.

For several years I had been working on my first book, The Puzzle Palace, which provided the first in-depth look at the National Security Agency. The deeper I dug, the more troubled I became. Not only did the classified file from the Justice Department accuse the NSA of systematically breaking the law by eavesdropping on American citizens, it concluded that it was impossible to prosecute those running the agency because of the enormous secrecy that enveloped it. Worse, the file made clear that the NSA itself was effectively beyond the law—allowed to bypass statutes passed by Congress and follow its own super-classified charter, what the agency called a “top-secret birth certificate” drawn up by the White House decades earlier.

Knowing the potential for such an unregulated agency to go rogue, I went on to write two more books about the NSA, Body of Secrets, in 2001, and The Shadow Factory, in 2008. My goal was to draw attention to the dangers the agency posed if it is not closely watched and controlled—dangers that would be laid bare in stark detail by Edward Snowden years later.

“You Want to Hear Something Interesting?”

The idea of writing a book about the NSA had occurred to me several years earlier. During the war in Vietnam, I spent three years in the Navy at Pacific Fleet Headquarters in Hawaii. It was a nice venue a long way from the bloody battlefields, where the only dangers were rogue surfboards on Waikiki Beach and bar fights on Hotel Street. Assigned to an NSA unit, I experienced the war vicariously: One of my jobs every morning was reading a foot-high stack of overnight messages from the war zone, mostly NSA reports classified top secret and higher, and passing them on to whichever project officer had responsibility to simply read or take action.

Later, in law school and running low on cash, I decided to rejoin the Naval Reserve to help pay for living expenses. The Navy was very accommodating, allowing me to pick not only when I wanted to do my two weeks of active duty, but also where. So I decided to request two weeks in October 1974, which coincided with a school break. And for location I chose Puerto Rico—a nice warm island far from chilly Boston. Although I had NSA clearances, I had never worked at an actual NSA intercept site. Nevertheless, the Navy decided to send me down to Sabana Seca, one of the agency’s key listening posts, which focused on Cuba, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

Like most listening posts at the time, Sabana Seca consisted of a gigantic circular antenna about half a mile wide and a hundred or so feet high, an odd structure that closely resembled its nickname—the “elephant cage.” Known as a Wullenweber antenna, it was used not only to intercept communications, but also to assist in triangulating where the transmissions were coming from. At the center of the elephant cage was the operations building, a windowless, two-story, gray cement Rubik’s cube. Inside were tall racks of receivers with blinking lights, big black dials, oval-shaped gauges, and silver toggle switches facing rows of earphone-clad men and women in blue Navy-issue dungarees.

Unfamiliar with the technology and unable to speak more than rudimentary Spanish, I spent my two weeks pushing a few papers and staying out of the way, hoping to avoid work as much as possible. But one day an intercept operator with whom I had downed a few beers at the base club the night before spotted me and waved me over. “You want to hear something interesting?” he said as he took off his earphones. I thanked him but explained I didn’t speak Spanish. “No, no,” he said, “It’s English.” So I put on the earphones and listened in to what appeared to be several Americans carrying on a conversation. I only heard a few snippets, not enough to get a sense of the topic, but I was surprised. “Interesting,” I said. “You get many Americans speaking?” He said they did on certain channels they were assigned to target. I thanked him, said something about getting another beer later that night, and wandered off to watch some other intercept operators pulling in long reams of blue teletype paper covered in Spanish.

It was only when I was back in Boston, where I had a part-time job as a student prosecutor with the Suffolk County district attorney’s office, that the conversation came back to me. I was working on a case in which the topic of a wiretap came up, and there was a long discussion about procedures for a warrant. I suddenly wondered what legal authority the intercept operators at Sabana Seca had to target American conversations. I did a little research in the law library, but could find nothing that gave the military any powers for warrantless eavesdropping on Americans.

A few weeks later, just before Christmas, The New York Times broke a series of stories by Seymour Hersh outlining Operation Chaos, the program by which the FBI, CIA, and other intelligence agencies targeted U.S. citizens involved in anti-war protests. The articles caused widespread public outrage, followed by a high-profile congressional investigation led by Senator Frank Church. I felt certain that whatever it was I saw—and heard—in Sabana Seca would soon be discovered.

But during the summer of 1975, as reports began leaking out from the Church Committee, I was surprised to learn that the NSA was claiming that it had shut down all of its questionable operations a year and a half earlier. Surprised because I knew the eavesdropping on Americans had continued at least into the prior fall, and may have still been going on. After thinking for a day or so about the potential consequences of blowing the whistle on the NSA—I was still in the Naval Reserve, still attending drills one weekend a month, and still sworn to secrecy with an active NSA clearance—I nevertheless decided to call the Church Committee.

It was July 1, and at first the staffer with whom I spoke sounded skeptical—someone calling out of the blue and accusing the NSA of lying. But after I mentioned my work at Sabana Seca, he asked how soon I could come down to Washington to testify. At 8:40 the next morning, I boarded American Airlines Flight 605 and took seat 13A—an unlucky number, I thought. It would be the first of numerous trips. The committee agreed to keep my name confidential and allowed me to testify in executive session in Sen. Church’s private office. Soon after, committee staffers flew down to Sabana Seca for a surprise inspection. Surprise, indeed. They were shocked to discover the program had never been shut down, despite the NSA’s claims.

“Just Because the Information Has Been Published Doesn’t Mean it Should No Longer Be Classified”

The discovery that the NSA had been lying to the Church Committee shocked me. But it also gave me the idea to write the first book about the agency. As more and more revelations came out about the NSA’s widespread, illegal eavesdropping activities, I found myself filled with questions. Where did the agency come from? What did it do? How did it operate? Who was watching it? In the summer of 1979, after a year of research, I submitted a proposal to Houghton Mifflin for The Puzzle Palace, and within a few months was awarded a book contract. It was the start of wild ride, taking on an agency so secret that even New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley told me, at the time, that he had never heard of it.

I soon learned that there was one major advantage to being first: The NSA had grown so confident that no one would ever dare to write about it that it had let its guard down. I would occasionally drive up to the agency, park in the executive parking lot, walk in the front door to the lobby, get some coffee and have a seat. All around me were employees from the CIA and foreign intelligence agencies, all waiting to be processed for their NSA visitor’s badge. As I read my paper and sipped my coffee, I quietly listened to them chat away about signals intelligence operations, new listening posts, cooperative agreements, and a host of other topics. No one ever asked who I was or why I was there. In the parking lot, I copied the license plate numbers of the dozen cars parked closest to the front entrance, then ran the numbers at the registry of motor vehicles. The result was a Who’s Who of the NSA’s leadership, as well as the liaison officers from America’s so-called Five Eyes surveillance partners: England, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

By the summer of 1981, I had also won several significant legal battles with the agency. As a result of an out-of-court settlement, the NSA was forced to give me a tour of the agency, detail the entire structure of its internal organization to me, and provide me interviews with senior officials. Even though the agency was virtually immune from the Freedom of Information Act, I managed to find a loophole that allowed me access to more than 6,000 pages of internal documents. I even worked out an agreement whereby they would provide me with an office in the agency for a week to go through the 6,000 pages. But then the NSA got its revenge—when they handed me the 6,000 pages, they were all out of order, as if they had been shuffled like a new deck of cards. Nothing in the Freedom of Information Act, it turns out, requires collation. The hostility became so intense that the director, Adm. Bobby Ray Inman, accused me of using a “hostage approach” in my battle to force the agency to give me documents and interviews.

But the NSA knew nothing about one of my biggest finds, which took place on the campus of the Virginia Military Institute. Nicknamed “the West Point of the South,” VMI housed the papers of William F. Friedman, a founder of both the NSA and of American cryptology. The NSA’s own auditorium is named after him. Yet Friedman had soured on the agency by the time he retired, and deliberately left his papers to a research library at VMI to get them as far away from the NSA as possible.

After Friedman’s death, and without his permission, agency officials traveled to the library, pulled out hundreds of his personal letters, and ordered them locked away in a secure vault. When I discovered what the NSA had done, I persuaded the library’s archivist to give me access to the letters, all of which were unclassified. Many were embarrassingly critical of the agency, describing its enormous paranoia and obsession with secrecy. Others contained clues to a secret trips that Friedman had made to Switzerland, where he helped the agency gain backdoor access into encryption systems that a Swiss company was selling to foreign countries.

I also discovered that a former NSA director, Lt. Gen. Marshall Carter, had left his papers – including reams of unclassified documents from his NSA office – to the same research library at VMI. They included personal, handwritten correspondence from Carter’s British counterpart about listening posts, cooperative agreements, and other sensitive topics. Later, Carter gave me a long and detailed interview about the NSA. The agency knew nothing about either the documents or the interview.

Following the publication of my book, the NSA raided the research library, stamped many of the Friedman documents secret, and ordered them put back into the vault. “Just because information has been published,” NSA director Lincoln Faurer explained to The New York Times, “doesn’t mean it should no longer be classified.” Faurer also flew to Colorado, where Gen. Carter was living in retirement, met with him at the NSA listening post at Buckley Air Force Base, and threatened him with prosecution if he ever gave another interview or allowed anyone else access to his papers.

“Prima Facie Questions of Criminality”

But my biggest battle with the NSA came before my book was even published. Without the agency’s knowledge, I had obtained the criminal file that the Justice Department had opened on the NSA. Marked as Top Secret, the file was so sensitive that only two original copies existed. Never before or since has an entire agency been the subject of a criminal investigation. Senior officials at the NSA were even read their Miranda rights.

The secret investigation grew out of the final report by the Rockefeller Commission, a panel that had been set up by President Gerald Ford to parallel the Church Committee. Issued on June 6, 1975, the report noted that both the NSA and CIA had engaged in questionable and possibly illegal electronic surveillance. As a result, Attorney General Edward Levi established a secret internal task force to look into the potential for criminal prosecution. Focusing particularly on NSA, the task force probed more deeply into domestic eavesdropping than any part of the executive branch had ever done before.

I had heard rumors from several sources about such a probe, so I thought it would be worth requesting a copy of the file under FOIA. Nevertheless, I was surprised when the documents, with relatively few redactions, turned up at my door 10 months later. They included a lengthy, detailed “Report on Inquiry into CIA-Related Surveillance Activities” that laid out the investigation in stark detail, as well as a shorter draft “prosecutive summary” evaluating the potential for criminal prosecution. I was shocked that the Justice Department had released them to me without notifying the NSA. An official at Justice later told me that it was standard procedure not to notify the object of a criminal investigation (think John Gotti) once it is completed and requested under FOIA.

It turned out that just as with its investigations into organized crime, the Justice Department had received little cooperation from the potential criminal defendant – in this case, the NSA. Noting that the attitude of agency officials “ranged from circumspection to wariness,” the file made clear that the NSA had stonewalled investigators at every step. “One typically had to ask the right question to elicit the right answer or document,” an attorney for the Justice Department reported. “It is likely, therefore, that we had insufficient information on occasion to frame the ‘magic’ question.”

But the agency’s obstructionism didn’t prevent the Justice Department from finding evidence of serious wrongdoing. The draft prosecutive summary of the Justice Department’s investigative task force, dated March 4, 1977, and classified top secret detailed 23 categories of questionable eavesdropping operations. Five of the illegal activities were immune from prosecution because the statute of limitations had passed, and seven were found to “clearly possess no prosecutive potential.” The rest, however, were fair game for criminal prosecution. Discussing the agency’s Operation Minaret, for example, the full report concluded: “This electronic surveillance activity presents prima facie questions of criminality and is well within the limitations period.”

The prosecutive summary had been sent to Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti for further action. But any attempt to prosecute top officials of America’s most secret agency, the file warned, would almost certainly be met by finger-pointing and scapegoating. “There is likely to be much ‘buck-passing’ from subordinate to superior, agency to agency, agency to board or committee, board or committee to the President, and from the living to the dead,” the report cautioned.

In addition, calling the crimes “an international cause célèbre involving fundamental constitutional rights of United States citizens,” the task force pointed to the likelihood that the NSA would put political pressure on anyone who dared to testify against it. What’s more, the report added, defense attorneys for senior NSA officials would likely subpoena “every tenuously involved government official and former official” to establish that the illegal operations had been authorized from on high. “While the high office of prospective defense witnesses should not enter into the prosecutive decision,” the report noted, “the confusion, obfuscation, and surprise testimony which might result cannot be ignored.”

The report’s prosecutive summary also pointed to the NSA’s top-secret “charter” issued by the Executive Branch, which exempts the agency from legal restraints placed on the rest of the government. “Orders, directives, policies, or recommendations of any authority of the Executive branch relating to the collection . . . of intelligence,” the charter reads, “shall not be applicable to Communications Intelligence activities, unless specifically so stated.” This so-called “birth certificate,” the Justice Department report concluded, meant the NSA did not have to follow any restrictions placed on electronic surveillance “unless it was expressly directed to do so.” In short, the report asked, how can you prosecute an agency that is above the law?

“Put Down the Receiver, Leave the Room, and Keep Walking”

If the first shock to top officials at the NSA was the discovery that they were being investigated as potential criminals, the second shock was that I had a copy of the top secret file on the investigation. When the NSA discovered that the file was in my possession, director Bobby Inman wrote to the attorney general informing him that the documents contained classified information and should never have been handed over to me. But Civiletti, apparently believing that the file had been properly reviewed and declassified, ignored Inman’s protest.

Then, on January 20, 1981, Ronald Reagan was sworn into office. At the Justice Department, Civiletti was replaced by a new attorney general with a much more accommodating attitude when it came to the NSA: William French Smith.

A few months later, while I was working on a chapter of my book that dealt with the Five Eyes partnership, I sent a letter to George Gapp, the senior liaison officer from GCHQ, the NSA’s British counterpart. In the letter, I noted that documents released to me by the Justice Department implicated his agency in Operation Minaret, the illegal NSA program directed against American citizens. I asked whether he knew of GCHQ’s involvement in the operation and whether the agency was currently engaged in any similar activities in the United States.

The letter apparently set off a firestorm, both at the NSA and GCHQ. Lt. Gen. Faurer, who had replaced Inman as director, sent a letter to the new attorney general again pointing out that the documents in my possession contained top-secret material. Considering that they accused his agency of being a criminal enterprise, they were also embarrassing to the NSA, and potentially explosive. The decision was made to try to get them back from me before the publication of my book.

Thus the answering machine message I heard on that steamy day in Cambridge, while I was quietly working away at a back table in the Algiers Coffee House. The call was from Gerald Schroeder, a senior attorney with the Justice Department. When I called him back, he asked whether we could meet in Washington to discuss the file that had been released to me by his own department. The Reagan Justice Department, it seemed, now wanted to reverse the decision of the Carter Justice Department and get the documents back.

Long before the arrival of the internet, and the ability to transfer documents at the tap of a finger, I was very concerned about what the agency might do to retrieve the physical copy of the file in my possession. Years before, when David Kahn had written his monumental history of cryptology, the agency had considered placing him under surveillance and conducting a “surreptitious entry” into his Long Island home to steal the manuscript prior to publication. Decades earlier, after Herbert Yardley wrote about the Black Chamber, the predecessor to NSA, the Justice Department actually did steal the manuscript for his second book, preventing it from ever being published.

My first thought was to quickly make a duplicate of the file and get the copy out of the country. That would protect the documents not only from theft, but also from any court order prohibiting me from revealing their contents. With a copy beyond the jurisdiction of U.S. courts, a foreign newspaper could always publish the documents.

I called a close friend who worked for the Insight Team, the investigative unit of London’s Sunday Times. She agreed to help. It turned out that an American journalist she knew was flying from Boston to London that night, and she quickly arranged for him to take the documents with him and give them to her to hide.

That night I met the journalist on a dark Boston street corner and passed him a package, with the understanding that I was not to tell him what it contained. He wanted as little information as possible, in case he was questioned later. Early the next morning, my friend at the Sunday Times called from London with a code indicating that all was well and that the documents were in a secure place.

With the documents safely beyond the reach of the Justice Department, I next turned to my next problem – finding an attorney to represent me. With the advance on my book totaling $7,500, spread over three years, I was in no position to seek out a white-shoe law firm on Beacon Hill. Instead, I called the ACLU’s Center for National Security Studies and explained my problem. They immediately put me in touch with Mark Lynch, a staff attorney at the center who had considerable experience going up against intelligence agencies, including the NSA. Lynch agreed to represent me.

On July 23, two weeks after I had received the phone call at the coffee shop, Lynch and I met with Schroeder for an hour and a half in the conference room of the center, a cluster of rooms in the stately Stewart Mott house on Capitol Hill. Schroeder began by insisting that the two documents had been released to me “by mistake.” The NSA and the CIA had determined that they contained information that was still classified, he said, and the Justice Department would like me to return them.

I politely informed Schroeder that the documents had been in my possession for more than two years, that material from them was already incorporated into my manuscript, and that the Carter administration had spent 10 months reviewing them before releasing the documents to me. There had been no mistake. In addition, because the documents raised questions about criminal activities by the NSA and CIA, I felt it was important for the public to be informed. In the end, we agreed to another meeting – but this time I insisted that since I had traveled to Washington for the first meeting, they would come to Boston for the next one.

The second meeting took place on August 14, in the editorial conference room of my publisher, Houghton Mifflin, on Beacon Hill. This time, the government dispensed with any attempt at politeness. Accompanying Schroeder were the NSA’s general counsel, Daniel Schwartz, and the agency’s director of policy, Eugene Yeates. They immediately began by interrogating me. How many copies of the document I had made? Whom I had given them to? Where were the documents now located? I responded that none of those questions were on the agenda; since my attorney could not be present, we had agreed in advance that the meeting was simply to allow them to explain the government’s position. Any questions, I said, would have to go through Mark Lynch. I pointed to the phone.

After placing a call to Lynch, Schroeder brought up the possibility of using the espionage statute to force me to return the documents. Lynch immediately asked to speak with me privately.

Once the three officials left the room, Lynch expressed worry over the way the meeting was going. The officials could have a subpoena or a restraining order or a warrant for my arrest in their pocket, he said. He advised me to put down the receiver, call Schroeder to the phone, leave the room – and keep walking. To this day, I still have no idea how long the three officials waited for me to return before finding their way out of the publishing house and back to Washington.

The fight quickly escalated. On September 24, after we informed Schroeder that I was going to use the documents in my book and that all further discussions would be pointless, I received a registered letter. “You are currently in possession of classified information that requires protection against unauthorized disclosure,” Schroeder wrote. “Under the circumstances, I have no choice but to demand that you return the two documents . . . Of course, you will have a continuing obligation not to publish or communicate the information.” To emphasize the point, on November 27 the Justice Department sent my attorney a letter stating that “there should be no misunderstanding of the Government’s position that Mr. Bamford holds information that is currently and properly classified” and that failure to return the documents could force federal prosecutors to resort to an unnamed “post-publication judicial remedy.”

Despite the threats, I refused to alter my manuscript or return the documents. Instead, we argued that according to Executive Order 12065, “classification may not be restored to documents already declassified and released to the public” under the Freedom of Information Act. That prompted the drama to move all the way up to the White House. On April 2, 1982, President Reagan signed a new executive order on secrecy that overturned the earlier one and granted him the authority to “reclassify information previously declassified and disclosed.”

We responded by citing the legal principle of ex post facto, arguing that even if the new executive order was legal, Reagan could not retroactively enforce it against me. The Puzzle Palace was published on schedule, in September 1982, with no deletions or alterations to the text. And ever since then, the NSA’s criminal file – still officially top secret, according to the NSA – has remained on my bookshelf.

Wrongdoing Masquerading as Patriotism

More than three decades later, the NSA, like a mom-and-pop operation that has exploded into a global industry, now employs sweeping powers of surveillance that Frank Church could scarcely have imagined in the days of wired phones and clunky typewriters. At the same time, the Senate intelligence committee he once chaired has done an about face, protecting the agencies from the public rather than the public from the agencies.

It is a dangerous combination – one the Church Committee warned of long ago. “The potential for abuse is awesome,” the committee observed, especially when “checks and balances designed … to assure accountability have not been applied.” As the committee presciently noted in its report, “Intelligence collection programs naturally generate ever-increasing demands for new data.”

For proof, one need only look at the NSA’s ever-expanding array of surveillance techniques. The agency’s metadata collection program now targets everyone in the country old enough to hold a phone. The gargantuan data storage facility it has built in Utah may eventually hold zettabytes (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes) of information. And the massive supercomputer that the NSA is secretly building in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, will search through it all at exaflop (1,000,000,000,000,000,000 operations per second) speeds.

Without adequate oversight, or penalties for abuse, the only protection that citizens have comes not from Congress or the courts, but from whistleblowers. As one myself, albeit in the most minor capacity, I understand what motivates someone to expose wrongdoing masquerading as patriotism. There is no graduate school for whistleblowing and no handbook for whistleblowers. It’s an imperfect science, and whistleblowers learn from the mistakes of their predecessors. Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Tom Drake, Bill Binney and Kirk Wiebe all came from different backgrounds and worked in different fields. None joined the intelligence community to become a whistleblower, but each was driven by unchecked government abuse to tell the public what they knew to be true.

The solution is not to jail the whistleblowers, or to question the patriotism of those who tell their stories, but to do what Attorney General Edward Levi courageously attempted to do more than a third of a century ago – to have the criminal division of the Justice Department conduct a thorough investigation, and then to prosecute any member of the intelligence community who has broken the law, whether by illegally spying on Americans or by lying to Congress.

PNN 10-5-14 - Money Mortgages and Medicine - The Censorship Story

PART I - the Censorship and Misdirection of History
Researched by RW Spisak and the Team of Researchers at FMeLabs

School board members have proposed a new “board committee for curriculum review”  

whose mission would be to 
“promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights.”  

One proposal states that 

“Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law [but] should present positive aspects of the United States and its heritage.” 

Another proposes that committee identify materials that “may reasonably be deemed” to be “objectionable.” 

Students and teachers at the school have vigorously protested the planned changes to the curriculum.


Pam Mazanec (R)
4th Congressional District, Larkspur
Terms of Office: January 2013 – January 2019

- See more at:

Pam is passionate about school choice. She supports allowing parents to direct education funds to the school that best fits their child’s needs, whether public or private. She is also a supporter of ongoing innovations in charter schools, magnet schools, online schools, schools of innovation, and homeschooling. 

Pam understands that a well-educated citizenry is vital to Colorado’s economic future and America’s national security. She is dedicated to seeing all Colorado children succeed and understands the critical role that education plays in their success. 

She is also interested in improving civics education and the wise management of taxpayer dollars. - See more at:

The Jefferson County Board of Education became the focus of a national debate between conservatives and liberals over education standards when it proposed forming a committee to review the curriculum of an Advanced Placement history course that is a mainstay of U.S. students heading to elite colleges.

After a heated meeting on Thursday, and in a move billed as a compromise, the conservative school board in the suburban Denver district approved the formation of a panel to review all district curricula, instead of just the history course, and said it would include student perspectives.



After calling for a history curriculum that downplays "social strife" and emphasizes "respect for authority," a conservative Denver-area school board has attracted the same kind of civil disobedience it had hoped to gloss over in the classroom.

Hundreds of students marched Thursday in the fifth day of demonstrations against the Jefferson County school board, which oversees the second-largest school district in Colorado. Protests began last Friday after members of the board called for a review of the new Advanced Placement U.S. History (APUSH) curriculum to see whether it promotes "respect for authority" or encourages "civil disorder, social strife or disregard for the law."

By Thursday, the protests had grown to include nearly 1,000 students from Columbine, Lakewood, Bear Creek and Dakota Ridge high schools.

"There are substantial numbers of us who want honesty and integrity in all of our classrooms, not just AP U.S. History," Maggie Ramseur, a senior at Dakota Ridge High School, told The Huffington Post. "We fear that if the school board gets the power to change the APUSH curriculum, they will have the precedent to make even more dangerous and controlling changes to our education down the road. The policies they are suggesting are ridden with political agendas, something that belongs in our curriculum about as much as religious agendas do."

The proposal in question would create a school board committee tasked with ensuring that all U.S. history materials taught in Jefferson County would "promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights." The proposal also says that instructional materials "should present positive aspects of the United States and its heritage." It directs the committee to inform the board of any "objectionable materials" it might encounter.

Nathan Woodliff-Stanley, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, said his organization is keeping a close watch on what he called an attempt to implement an "ideologically motivated" review of the district's history curriculum.

"State-funded school [curricula] should promote academic integrity, not ideological agendas," Woodliff-Stanley said. "A committee that polices educational materials for insufficient devotion to patriotism or a lack of respect for authority runs the real danger of substituting propaganda for education."

In a statement posted to Facebook Tuesday, Julie Williams, one of the three conservative and controlling members of JeffCo's school board who helped design the proposal, wrote that she was "surprised" by the outrage it has provoked.

"To be accused of censorship? 'Seriously?' That is just ridiculous," Williams wrote. "I am advocating for just the opposite."

She goes on to argue that the existing APUSH curriculum "rejects the history that has been taught in the country for generations," and that it "has an emphasis on race, gender, class, ethnicity, grievance and American-bashing."

"Why is an emphasis on race, class, gender and ethnicity an issue?" said a teacher at Dakota Ridge High School, who asked not to be named for fear of professional reprisal. "Those are distinctly American topics. And the truth is, we have made some mistakes as a country in our history. Talking about those mistakes, or even disagreeing about our past, doesn't constitute 'bashing.' That's just pure ignorance and closed-mindedness. Williams and the rest of the conservative members of the board are political puppets."

Williams is not alone in her objections. Conservative groups around the country have claimed that the AP course framework contains an anti-American bias -- something the College Board, which created the framework, vehemently disputes.

"This, to me, is a tip of a big movement against government involvement in local educational jurisdictions on a lot of different levels," said Elaine Gantz Berman, a Democratic member of the Colorado State Board of Education. "It's powerful and it's scary."

Berman was critical of Williams and the other conservatives on the JeffCo school board, whom she said have taken "a piece of the Republican Party platform and are pushing it on our students."

"School boards are supposed to be nonpartisan," Berman told HuffPost. "This does not bode well for public education."

Last month, the Republican National Committee adopted a resolution condemning the APUSH framework for reflecting "a radically revisionist view of American history that emphasizes negative aspects of our nation's history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects."

In Texas, the State Board of Education may reject the College Board framework altogether, in which case students would learn from a history curriculum approved by the state.

Amid this week's demonstrations in Jefferson County, district Superintendent Dan McMinimee emailed parents on Tuesday to say he had taken steps to ensure student safety during the protests.

"I have personally met with a group of students from Evergreen and Lakewood high schools, listening to their legitimate concerns, answering their questions and providing them accurate information," McMinimee wrote, according to KMGH-TV, a Denver television station. "We want our students to know that we respect their viewpoints and have heard their anxiety over the issue. Our students deserve to be heard and need to know that they can have a role in shaping their education."

But Berman told HuffPost that some educators and parents are watching McMinimee closely at the moment to see if he is "really going to be a leader or just a puppet for the board."

McMinimee's tenure began earlier this year amid controversy when he was appointed by the JeffCo school board after being selected as the only finalist for the vacant position.

"He was appointed with very little public input," Berman said. "He came from Douglas County and wasn't even considered for the DougCo superintendent seat. And yet DougCo is smaller in size than JeffCo. So if he wasn't good enough for DougCo, then why was he selected for JeffCo?"

Meanwhile, the students in JeffCo are getting to partake in a real-world act of civil disobedience, carrying on their protest without a sense of just how long it may go on. The board is expected to take up the curriculum proposal in early October.

"The point of civil disobedience is to break an unjust law with the intention of bringing attention to it so that it may be rectified and made just," Maggie Ramseur told HuffPost. "Teaching students about that does not encourage them to become anarchists. It encourages them to speak up about policy and make the government serve the people, which is what our democratic republic was designed for."

"And that is something that I learned in Advanced Placement United States History," she added. "The uncensored version."

0. Students and Teachers OPPOSE CENSORSHIP

Several hundred students, community members, and educators packed a Jefferson County Board of Education meeting in suburban Denver on Thursday night, lambasting the conservative-majority board's proposal to censor the district’s history curriculum.

The proposal—to establish a committee that would review course materials to ensure they promote patriotism and avoid encouragement of "civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law"—was the catalyst for two weeks of student walk-outs and teacher 'sick-outs,' the latter of which closed several high schools on two days in September.

Since September 19, thousands of high-schoolers have taken to the streets with signs reading, "How will we learn from our mistakes if you don't teach us about them?" and "Keep your politics out of my education."

They were similarly vocal during a two-hour public comment period Thursday evening. The Denver Post reports:

Students were first to take to the microphone. Many decried board president Ken Witt's characterization of the students as "pawns" of teachers and their union after thousands walked out of class over the last couple of weeks to protest the proposed committee.

"We find it insulting that you say that we are pawns of anyone else," said Chatfield High senior Ashlyn Maher. "It is our education that is at stake."

Two students from Standley Lake High presented the board with boxes filled with 40,000 signatures gathered online from people opposed to the curriculum committee concept.

While board member Julie Williams, who has cited the Texas Board of Education as a model, refused to recall the proposal entirely, the protests appeared to have brought about a partial victory.

Early Thursday morning, in advance of the board meeting, superintendent Dan McMinimee sent a letter (pdf) to board members proposing a compromise: rather than establish a new committee, McMinimee suggested reorganizing existing curriculum review groups in the district to involve more student, teacher, and community voices.

That compromise proposal—stripped of the controversial section about patriotism and civil disorder—was successful Thursday night. But not everyone viewed it as a win.

According to the Associated Press:

As the board voted 3-2 Thursday night to expand the membership on two existing curriculum review committees to include students, parents and administrators, some in the audience yelled "resign" and "recall, recall."

The two women on the board who oppose the panel's conservative majority held their heads in their hands after losing a bid to delay the vote so they could have more time to study the plan.

Many students and parents remain dissatisfied with the board's actions. 

"Last night, Witt, Newkirk, and Williams bought some time," an anonymous blogger wrote at the highly critical JeffCo Board Watch site, referring to the three conservative school board members. "Time, they hope, for the furor to die down. Time, they hope, for the press to go away. Time, they hope, for you to forget the fact that they want the ability to indoctrinate our children."

JeffCo Board Watch is calling for community members to join and help build a network that would monitor the board and eventually launch a recall effort. 

JeffCo parents were planning additional protests on Friday. According to a local ABC News affiliate, "The parent organizing the protest said... it was against this 'board majority—who time and time again—refuses to listen to their constituents and disrespects students/parents/teachers. These board members should believe in the institution they were elected to represent—clearly they don't.'"

Indeed, many have observed that this fight is about much more than curriculum changes.

"The controversy over a history curriculum in Colorado is an argument over a very much bigger issue," public education expert Jeff Bryant wrote Thursday at the Education Opportunity Network blog. "It’s about how we’re treating our nation’s youngest citizens with a substandard form of education that emphasizes fiscal efficiency over learning opportunity and standardization over individual needs and interests. And it’s about how we treat students as learners, imposing education as something done to them rather than with them."

The truth is that this board was elected by outside special interest and money, and the effect of poor voter turnout in an off year election (our fault). This is not what the people wanted. The reality is that this is part of a nationwide effort by some very rich and powerful groups to take control of government and advance a profit agenda.

Pam Mazanec,Colorado's state Board of Education CO. 
State Board of Education Member: 'We Ended Slavery Voluntarily, At Great Sacrifice'

Say hello to businesswoman Pam Mazanec, a member (God help us) of Colorado's state Board of Education. Ms. Mazanec is unhappy about the AP U.S. History curriculum because it doesn't give America enough credit for being 'exceptional'.

IRT the people who create the framework and test: I've spoken with some history professors with very impressive credentials who told me this new framework doesn't surprise them and is aligned with the content of college level history courses that downplay our noble history and accentuate the negative view. As an example, I note our slavery history. Yes, we practiced slavery. But we also ended it voluntarily, at great sacrifice, while the practice continues in many countries still today! Shouldn't our students be provided that viewpoint? This is part of the argument that America is exceptional.

Yes indeed. The United States voluntarily ended slavery, at great sacrifice. Apparently, the Civil War never happened and even if it did? It was about other stuff...y'know: states rights and like that.  The education of Colorado's school children is in safe hands.

 conservative board member Julie Williams had called for a review of the Advanced Placement History’s framework, which she said focused on negative aspects of U.S. history while downplaying its merits.
The New History Wars- NYT OPED
By  James R. Grossman is executive director of the American Historical Association.

WASHINGTON — WITH the news dominated by stories of Americans dying at home and abroad, it might seem trivial to debate how history is taught in our schools. But if we want students to understand what is happening in Missouri or the Middle East, they need an unvarnished picture of our past and the skills to understand and interpret that picture. People don’t kill one another just for recreation. They have reasons. Those reasons are usually historical.  

Last month, the College Board released a revised “curriculum framework” to help high school teachers prepare students for the Advanced Placement test in United States history. Like the college courses the test is supposed to mirror, the A.P. course calls for a dialogue with the past — learning how to ask historical questions, interpret documents and reflect both appreciatively and critically on history. 

Navigating the tension between patriotic inspiration and historical thinking, between respectful veneration and critical engagement, is an especially difficult task, made even more complicated by a marked shift in the very composition of “we the people.” This fall, whites will constitute a minority of public-school students in the United States. “Our” past is now more diverse than we once thought, whether we like it or not.

It turns out that some Americans don’t like it. A member of the Texas State Board of Education has accused the College Board of “promoting among our students a disdain for American principles and a lack of knowledge of major American achievements,” like those of the founding fathers and of the generals who fought in the Civil War and World War II. The Republican National Committee says the framework offers “a radically revisionist view” that “emphasizes negative aspects of our nation’s history.” Stanley Kurtz, in National Review, called it “an attempt to hijack the teaching of U.S. history on behalf of a leftist political and ideological perspective.”

Disagreement is not a bad thing. But learning history means engaging with aspects of the past that are troubling, as well as those that are heroic.

There was a time, for example, when historians didn’t worry much about the slave trade and the emergence of an economy based on forced labor. Historians likened the plantation to a “school,” and emancipated people as children let out of class too soon. Only slightly more than a half-century ago, historians began to “revise” that narrative, examining sources previously ignored or unseen, informed by new ideas about race and human agency. More recently, scholars have revised 19th-century images of the “vanishing Indian,” a wildly inaccurate narrative that lives on in public monuments and popular lore, and has implications for public policy.

This essential process of reconsideration and re-evaluation takes place in all disciplines; imagine a diagnosis from a physician who does not read “revisionist” medical research.

Revisionism is necessary — and it generates controversy, especially when new scholarship finds its way into classrooms. But debate over what is taught in our schools is hardly new. Part of the logic underlying the creation of Catholic schools in 19th-century America had to do with a public-school curriculum that took a distinctly Protestant view of religious conflicts and cultural values. Since the early 20th century, battles have been waged over the relative place of “history” and “civics” in public education, a dichotomy that many professional historians don’t even accept.

In 1994, Lynne Cheney, a former chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, pronounced the results of a congressionally mandated set of national standards in American history “grim and gloomy,” distorted by “political correctness,” and deficient for paying too much attention to the Ku Klux Klan and McCarthyism and too little to Robert E. Lee and the Wright brothers.

The latest accusations arise from belief born of assumption rather than careful reading. The document is not a curriculum; in the words of David Coleman, president of the College Board, “it is just a framework, requiring teachers to populate it with content required by their local standards and priorities.” Those who assume that America’s founders are neglected seem not to have actually read the material. The Declaration of Independence stands front and center alongside the Constitution in the section devoted to “experiments with democratic ideas and republican forms of government,” including those of France, Haiti and Latin America. The framework makes clear that these “new ideas” included evangelical religion.

The framework even makes a bow to American exceptionalism — noting “the emergence of distinctly American cultural expressions” in the new republic and declaring that “the United States developed the world’s first modern mass democracy.” For good measure, one can find Washington’s farewell address — not to mention the Articles of Confederation, state constitutions, the Emancipation Proclamation and the Four Freedoms — in both the curriculum framework and the sample exam released by the College Board.

The critics are unhappy, perhaps, that a once comforting story has become, in the hands of scholars, more complex, unsettling, provocative and compelling.

And there’s the rub. Fewer and fewer college professors are teaching the United States history our grandparents learned — memorizing a litany of names, dates and facts — and this upsets some people. “College-level work” now requires attention to context, and change over time; includes greater use of primary sources; and reassesses traditional narratives. This is work that requires and builds empathy, an essential aspect of historical thinking.

The educators and historians who worked on the new history framework were right to emphasize historical thinking as an essential aspect of civic culture. Their efforts deserve a spirited debate, one that is always open to revision, rather than ill-informed assumptions or political partisanship.

letter from historical society

National Coalition Against Censorship

Sunday, September 28, 2014


PNN - 9/28/14
Steve Horn
Gwen H. Barry
Luis Cuevas
Dave Wilcox
Ruthann Amarietiio

Report: Treasury approved ‘excessive’ pay at bailed-out firms

1. Cleansing HISTORY… not in Orwell's Future but in Denver and Texas
Sanitizing history, removing unions, suffragettes, abolitionists, the steel strikers, the mine workers struggle, the red scare, the comstock raids, the triangle factory fire, Sinclair Lewis, Ida Tarbell, John Steinbeck and the brave Americans - Ronnie Reagan turned in when he was a unionist in Hollywood. This "cleaner" neater version of America cleansed of Selma and Ludlow is an affront to every American. It serves the Neo-monarchists and theocrats that would end once and all the experiment of American Liberty and self rule. We the people do not need a dumbed down faux-historie to love the country, we don't need to think no one protested the War to End All Wars, despite what Bernays thought. 
Stand for truth the ugly uneven truth of America, honor the struggle for a more perfect union. Respect the FACTS.

2. Senate Torture Report Vanishes
Philip Geraldi / OpEdnews
The crisis involving the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a Godsend to politicians, which is probably why the threat actually posed by the group is being hyped as it is while the White House and Pentagon continue to change the meaning of commonly used English expressions to enable the attacking of just about anyone anywhere.
We are told that the United States will have a free hand in bombing Syria, an independent nation with which Washington is not at war. The Administration has warned that if Damascus attempts to defend itself from the air armada there will be consequences in the form of "retaliation," suggesting that the US would be striking back after being attacked. Oddly enough, my dictionary suggests that it would be the Syrians who would be retaliating, but one supposes that in the Emerald City everything is not as it seems and certain words have little or no meaning.
The welcome distraction afforded by ISIS means that the issue of Gaza, which was recently devastated by the Israelis, has largely disappeared from the mainstream media, enabling Benjamin Netanyahu to steal still more land on the West Bank for new settlements. And remember MH-17? Still a whodunit and nobody cares anymore.
Back here at home, the dispute over the Senate Intelligence Committee report on Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) torture, a hot button issue earlier this year, has also benefited, largely disappearing from sight. The meticulously researched Senate report, covering 6,000 pages and including 35,000 footnotes, apparently concluded that torturing terrorist suspects was not only illegal under the United Nations Convention on Torture, to which Washington is a signatory, it was also ineffective, producing no intelligence that was otherwise unobtainable.
Since a "forgive and forget" forward-looking White House has already indicated that no one will ever be punished for illegal actions undertaken in the wake of 9/11, why is the torture issue important beyond the prima facie case that a war crime that was authorized by the highest levels of the federal government? It is important because of its constitutional implications and its impact on rule of law in the United States, which is again being flouted by the Administration in its rush to "destroy" ISIS, which is little more than a terrorist group du jour being exploited to terrify the American public.
The crisis involving the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a Godsend to politicians, which is probably why the threat actually posed by the group is being hyped as it is while the White House and Pentagon continue to change the meaning of commonly used English expressions to enable the attacking of just about anyone anywhere.
We are told that the United States will have a free hand in bombing Syria, an independent nation with which Washington is not at war. The Administration has warned that if Damascus attempts to defend itself from the air armada there will be consequences in the form of "retaliation," suggesting that the US would be striking back after being attacked. Oddly enough, my dictionary suggests that it would be the Syrians who would be retaliating, but one supposes that in the Emerald City everything is not as it seems and certain words have little or no meaning.
The welcome distraction afforded by ISIS means that the issue of Gaza, which was recently devastated by the Israelis, has largely disappeared from the mainstream media, enabling Benjamin Netanyahu to steal still more land on the West Bank for new settlements. And remember MH-17? Still a whodunit and nobody cares anymore.
Back here at home, the dispute over the Senate Intelligence Committee report on Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) torture, a hot button issue earlier this year, has also benefited, largely disappearing from sight. The meticulously researched Senate report, covering 6,000 pages and including 35,000 footnotes, apparently concluded that torturing terrorist suspects was not only illegal under the United Nations Convention on Torture, to which Washington is a signatory, it was also ineffective, producing no intelligence that was otherwise unobtainable.
Since a "forgive and forget" forward-looking White House has already indicated that no one will ever be punished for illegal actions undertaken in the wake of 9/11, why is the torture issue important beyond the prima facie case that a war crime that was authorized by the highest levels of the federal government? It is important because of its constitutional implications and its impact on rule of law in the United States, which is again being flouted by the Administration in its rush to "destroy" ISIS, which is little more than a terrorist group du jour being exploited to terrify the American public.
The constitutional issue, in its simplest terms, is that the CIA works for the president and when it operates without legally mandated oversight by the legislative branch and judiciary it does so in defiance of separation of powers, making the Agency little better than a secret army run by POTUS.
The inability of the Senate Committee to compel the Agency and White House to come up with an acceptable draft of its report and agreement over what parts of it can be made public is also important because it reveals that the best the US Congress can do to oversee the country's intelligence agencies is not very good at all. The past 22 months of delay in the report's release have demonstrated that the intel community, with the support of the White House, can stonewall any issue until the cows come home.
The latest account of the head-butting between the Agency and Congress reveals a bad working relationship between the Senate and CIA, while also suggesting that Langley is again closing ranks against its critics. At a top secret behind closed doors meeting on September 9, Agency Director John Brennan refused to divulge who at CIA authorized the actual intrusion into the computers being used by Senate staffers to compile their report. Brennan would also not address what the presumed legal authority to do so was. A shouting match with several Senators, all Democrats, ensued with several Senators demanding to know how Brennan could refuse to answer their questions.
The Agency had initially contended in its defense that the computer search was motivated by the alleged accessing and removal of restricted CIA reports by the Senate staffers, but it is no longer making that claim. Brennan reportedly refused to answer the two questions posed by the Senators because he did not want to "compromise" the ongoing investigations by the Justice Department and the CIA Inspector General into the computer hacking, but the committee felt he was stonewalling over questions that invited a relatively simple response. If he did not know the answers he could have said so. It might also be noted in passing that the two investigations are hardly independent, one being conducted in house by CIA and the other by a highly politicized Attorney General who will be inclined to protect the president.
CIA has also been working on its own rebuttal of the Senate report which is intended to demonstrate that torture actually worked and that no one at the Agency broke any laws. It is also reportedly seeking to redact major sections of the 60-page summary, which is the part most likely to see the light of day, an effort, which, if successful, will likely make the end product largely unreadable. It would probably also avoid including any blame or suggestion of "mission failure" which would be damaging to broader Agency political interests.
There also has been some speculation that the CIA would like to drag out the process in hopes that the Republicans will take control of the Senate in November, making any release of any part of the report unlikely. The White House has been brokering the review process between the intelligence community and Senate, but has been largely mum about its preferences. It would likely want the report to remain classified or in limbo as its release might increase pressure on President Barack Obama to do something about criminal activity that might be revealed, which would be politically dangerous ground.
CIA has also welcomed back former Director George Tenet to help in crafting its own rebuttal report that it hopes will exonerate it from any blame, or at least point the finger elsewhere. Tenet was in charge of the Agency when the torture took place, so on one hand he would be a logical choice to craft a defense, though on the other hand he would be keen to conceal any direct role on the part of himself and his accomplices, if only to preserve what remains of their reputations since there is no chance that any of them will be going to jail.
Let's review who George Tenet is. He is a Greek American from Queens who never was an actual spy or analyst but made his way upwards in the intelligence community through a series of staff positions in Congress. As senior staffer for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence he got to know many important politicians. George could talk the talk in an affable way with Bill Clinton, who eventually named him Director of Central Intelligence in 1997, and then went on to discuss baseball minutiae with George W Bush, cementing his tenure with the new Republican administration.
Tenet also presided over 9/11, which was a bit of an embarrassment for the Agency. He later utterly destroyed his own credibility when he declared that making a case for war with Iraq was a "slam dunk" before misleading both the United Nations and Secretary of State Colin Powell about the threat posed by Iraq's Saddam Hussein. Tenet later retired into some well remunerated directorships before writing a book called At the Center of the Storm whichreportedly earned him an advance of $4 million while demonstrating clearly that he is a great American hero.

So George will be reviewing what George did when he was good ol' George DCI. When I was with the government I once served in a foreign city where a new United States Consul General's residence was being built. It was so poorly constructed that there were holes in the ceilings and water running down inside the walls but the State Department Admin officer who was responsible left post before the project was completed. He came back a year later, after complaints, as the inspector to review the project. He determined that everything was just fine.

That is sort of like putting George in charge of investigating George, but if the ISIS thing continues to pick up steam everyone in the media and among the public will in any event forget that there was ever a Senate torture report. In intelligence slang, it will "be disappeared."

3.  Sampling Continues at Bayou Corne as Sinkhole Expands

Subra Company/Louisiana Environmental Action Network/Lower Mississippi River Keeper
The Assumption Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness has reported a series of expansions of the Bayou Corne sinkhole in recent days. Land and trees continue to disappear as the sinkhole grows in size. 
September 20, 2012: Approximately 25' of embankment on the east side fell into the sinkhole.
September 18, 2012: Texas Brine reported a slough-in of approximately 200' of embankment at the sinkhole.
September 17, 2012: Texas Brine reported a 20' x 20' growth of the sinkhole. 
The highest Volatile Organic Compounds concentrations were detected at Hwy 70 and Gumbo St. and Hwy 70 and Well Head Road on September 11, 2012.  Gator Stop was the location with the most frequent detectable concentrations of Volatile Organic Compounds.  All  locations tested, with the exception of Sportsman Landing, had detectable concentrations of VOCs during one or more days of the sampling period.  
Sludge Material Floating on Surface of Sink Hole
On September 8, 2012, DEQ sampled the sludge material floating on the surface of the sink hole.  The material consisted of 48.1 % Diesel Range Organics and 15% Oil Range Organics.
Boston Chemical Data received a sample of surface material from the Bayou Corne sinkhole collected on September18, 2012.  On arrival, a portion of the sample was analyzed for radiation using an alpha and beta radiation counter, and a gamma spectrometer(Oil and gas production often concentrates naturally occurring radioactive material). The remaining sample was prepared for analysis of petroleum hydrocarbons, particularly diesel fuels. The results of which are still pending.

The gamma spectral results found 5.9 picoCuries per gram of radioactive decay products of naturally-occurring uranium and thorium.   Testing of total alpha and total beta radiation showed that these were at levels about twice the natural background.
State of Louisiana data shows that hydrocarbons in the sink hole sludge are dangerously elevated, while radiation levels exceeded background by only a small amount.  Based on this limited testing, this sinkhole sludge is a hazard because of the presence of the diesel fuel, which can contaminate air and groundwater. Hydrocarbon levels may also be in the flammable range.  
Radiation is still a concern.  The State of Louisiana found much higher levels of radiation in deeper parts of   the sink hole than the place where we received our surface sample.  There is enough radiation present to show that natural underground radioactive material has been concentrated in the sink hole.  Even though the diesel hydrocarbons are currently the greater hazard, radiation testing should continue.

4. Stop Sugar Hill/Buy the Land Press Conferences
Wednesday, October 1
5-5:30 pm at both locations:
In Ft. Myers: FDEP South District Office, 2295 Victoria Avenue, Ft. Myers, FL 33902
In Ft. Pierce: FDEP Branch Office, 337 N. U.S. Hwy 1, Ft. Pierce, FL 34952
Next week is the deadline for FDEP and SFWMD comments to the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) on the Sugar Hill Sector Plan - the DEO process is such that denial is impossible without negative comments from the agencies.
Despite what you may have seen/heard from Hendry County, all of the U.S. Sugar property in the Sugar Hill Sector Plan is included in the contract to buy U.S. Sugar land for Everglades restoration and the protection of the estuaries. Some of that property is for restoration projects and the rest of it is for swapping to get the non-U.S. Sugar lands in the EAA needed to send clean water south. Check out the attached map!
Join us to deliver a loud, clear message to FDEP, SFWMD and the Governor:
Stop the Harm
Buy the Land
Send Water South
Fund it Now
Save the Everglades
Please contact me for more information and to let us know if your organization would like to speak at the press conference.
Cris Costello
Regional Organizing Representative
Sierra Club
Cell: 941-914-0421
Office: 941-966-9508

If you ask an attorney if torture is OK, if broad based warrantless wiretapping is allowed, if wealthy private corporations can be absolved of felonies just because they are wealthy corporations, if American citizens can be executed with a no charges leveled against them or trial – it really doesn’t matter what political party they are affiliated with – a member of the bar will generally agree that none of the above statements make sense, and in fact, these statements actually contravene our laws, our treaties and our constitution.
But, if you are asking these questions of a member of the personal staff of the President of the United States, who happens to be an attorney, you can expect to get answers that turn your concepts of fair treatment under the law, constitutional guarantees and international law into shredded and masticated gloppy pulp.
Over the past decades the nation’s top attorneys, using the magic and misleading mumblings and deliberately deceptive diatribes of their clients, presidents of our United States, our Attorneys General have navigated into new territory as they justify clearly unlawful actions for their clients and set precedents, which have gone unchallenged by our elected officials, that will serve to deform the legal landscape in America for decades, generations.
As in:
“The Constitution doesn’t say every individual in the United States or every citizen is hereby granted or assured the right of habeas.”
- Alberto Gonzales, US Attorney General, Congressional hearing, 01.17.2007
“Due process and judicial process are not one in the same.”
- Eric Holder, US Attorney General, Northwestern University Law School, 03.06.2012
The retiring US Attorney General, Eric Holder, has recently claimed, after six years, that he believes that cannabis should be considered for rescheduling, removing the substance from the Department of Justice’s list of most dangerous drugs. No useful purpose, susceptible to being abused, a designation that (oddly) also applies to the drug LSD but (oddly) not to the drugs heroin, meth and cocaine.
As is obvious to any sentient being – torture is always wrong and always at the apogee of immoral human behavior, recording and storing forever the private conversations of our citizens with no judicial order violates the Constitution, killing our citizens with no trial, no judge, no jury, no charges, no right to even articulate a defense makes a mockery of the basic principles that are woven into American law as it grew out of fundamental rights recognized by humans since before our country was founded, and cannabis is essentially benign and medically important, the prohibition of which has resulted in life changing arrests for over 600,000 Americans every year that Holder has held his appointed position as US Attorney General – that’s over 3 million Americans since Barack Obama became president, 3 million Americans who are overwhelmingly African Americans and Latino Americans.
I wonder, now that he soon will be no longer ‘retained’ by his former client, if Holder will eventually confide to Katie Couric that, he really, really believes, like all moral humans, that torture is wrong, warrantless surveillance violates our rights, corporations can be charged with crimes and every person deserves a fair trial before being executed.

6. LAT and the CRUSHING  Journalistic Independence and dissent
This is old news to those of us who followed it in the 1990s and early ‘Oughts, but in light of a new film coming out about it, it’s still interesting to see The Intercept‘s Ryan Deveraux detail the orchestrated assault that destroyed Gary Webb:
Eighteen years after it was published, “Dark Alliance,” the San Jose Mercury News’s bombshell investigation into links between the cocaine trade, Nicaragua’s Contra rebels, and African American neighborhoods in California, remains one of the most explosive and controversial exposés in American journalism.
The 20,000-word series enraged black communities, prompted Congressional hearings, and became one of the first major national security stories in history to blow up online. It also sparked an aggressive backlash from the nation’s most powerful media outlets, which devoted considerable resources to discredit author Gary Webb’s reporting. Their efforts succeeded, costing Webb his career. On December 10, 2004, the journalist was found dead in his apartment, having ended his eight-year downfall with two .38-caliber bullets to the head.

Who were the perps? Reporters from the LAT, acting on orders from above – and with CIA help:
… newspapers like the Times and the Post seemed to spend far more time trying to poke holes in the series than in following up on the underreported scandal at its heart, the involvement of U.S.-backed proxy forces in international drug trafficking. The Los Angeles Times was especially aggressive. Scooped in its own backyard, the California paper assigned no fewer than 17 reporters to pick apart Webb’s reporting. While employees denied an outright effort to attack the Mercury News, one of the 17 referred to it as the “get Gary Webb team.” Another said at the time, “We’re going to take away that guy’s Pulitzer,” according to Kornbluh’s CJR piece. Within two months of the publication of “Dark Alliance,” the L.A. Times devoted more words to dismantling its competitor’s breakout hit than comprised the series itself.
The CIA watched these developments closely, collaborating where it could with outlets who wanted to challenge Webb’s reporting. Media inquiries had started almost immediately following the publication of “Dark Alliance,” and [former CIA Directorate of Intelligence staffer Nicholas] Dujmovic in “Managing a Nightmare” cites the CIA’s success in discouraging “one major news affiliate” from covering the story. He also boasts that the agency effectively departed from its own longstanding policies in order to discredit the series. “For example, in order to help a journalist working on a story that would undermine the Mercury News allegations, Public Affairs was able to deny any affiliation of a particular individual — which is a rare exception to the general policy that CIA does not comment on any individual’s alleged CIA ties.”
The attacks worked. Reporters who could get away with the sloppiest stuff so long as they attacked the approved targets (hint: nobody ever lost a 1990s gig at the WaPo, LAT, or NYT for going after Bill Clinton or Al Gore, no matter how questionable the evidence), suddenly found themselves holding Webb’s work to much higher standards than they themselves observed.
Webb’s career collapsed, and his mental state collapsed along with it. In December of 2004, unable to make a living as a journalist, having been made a pariah by persons not fit to carry his laptop, he was found dead of two gunshot wounds to the head.

Police ruled the death a suicide. Yet one of the persons who helped wreck his career copped to feeling something approaching remorse for his role in Webb’s death:

As [investigative journalist Nick] Schou reported for L.A. Weekly, in a 2013 radio interview L.A. Times reporter Jesse Katz recalled the episode, saying, “As an L.A. Times reporter, we saw this series in the San Jose Mercury News and kind of wonder[ed] how legit it was and kind of put it under a microscope. And we did it in a way that most of us who were involved in it, I think, would look back on that and say it was overkill. We had this huge team of people at the L.A. Times and kind of piled on to one lone muckraker up in Northern California.”
As much as it’s true that he suffered from a clinical depression for years and years — and even before ‘Dark Alliance’ to a certain extent — it’s impossible to view what happened to him without understanding the death of his career as a result of this story,” he explained. “It was really the central defining event of his career and of his life.”
“Once you take away a journalist’s credibility, that’s all they have,” Schou says. “He was never able to recover from that.”

7. There is no such thing as EXCESSIVE COMPENSATION when it comes to Executive Salary? [NOW - Minimum wage is another matter]
The Treasury Department approved “excessive compensation” for top corporate executives while their companies were still on the hook for the taxpayer-funded bailout, the bailout’s official watchdog SIGTARP said Wednesday, going against the pay limits that the White House had previously set.
Under the bailout legislation that Congress passed during the financial crisis, firms that received taxpayer-funded bailout money were subject to certain limits on executive compensation. In early 2009, the White House took additional steps to restrict executive pay for bailed-out firms, limiting executive pay to $500,000. Treasury went too far in making exceptions to those new rules for top-earning employees at General Motors and Ally Financial, the bailout’s Special Inspector General concluded in a new report
President Obama originally announced the executive pay restrictions with great fanfare, vowing to prevent “executives being rewarded for failure.” At the time, the Treasury Department said that compensation in the form of stocks couldn’t be paid out until after the company had repaid the government for the bailout money.  
However, it was up to Treasury to enforce the rules, and TARP’s watchdog says that officials were too lenient in making exceptions to the rules at GM and Ally. 
“Treasury approved at least $1 million in pay for every Top 25 employee in 2013 and increased compensation by 28% for GM and Ally Top 25 employees from 2009 to 2013. Treasury tripled the number of GM and Ally employees who received cash salaries exceeding $500,000 from 2009 to 2013,” the inspector general said in the report.
What’s more, the report added, “Treasury approved $3 million in pay raises, ranging from 4% to 20%, for nine GM employees in 2013, most of whom received raises in consecutive years.”
The Treasury Department pushed back strongly against the report’s findings. SIGTARP’s report “unfortunately contains many inaccuracies and omissions.,” Treasury Special Master Patricia Geoghegan said in a statement. “The record shows that the Office of the Special Master has fulfilled its obligation to balance limiting executive compensation with allowing companies to repay taxpayer assistance.”
Treasury added that executive compensation at both Ally and GM were average for their industries, about 4% below the median cash salary and 56% below the median for “total cash compensation for similar positions at similar companies,” the department said in a letter to SIGTARP. It added that there was no legislative cap on executive pay at TARP-assisted firms in the law originally passed by Congress.
But SIGTARP pointed out that Treasury had approved the exceptions to executive pay at a time when GM and Ally still had not fully repaid the government for the TARP funds they received. Ultimately, Treasury sold stock in both companies at a loss to help the companies exit the program. In December 2013, GM exited TARP after Treasury sold its shares of GM stock at a loss, ultimately costing taxpayers $11.2 billion for the bailout, the report notes. A month later, Treasury sold Ally stock at a $845 million loss. 
“Loosening limits on executive compensation for companies unable to repay TARP subjects Treasury to criticism that is rewarding top executives at companies that are losing taxpayers’ money over the interests of the taxpayers already shouldering billions of dollars in losses on those investments,” the report concludes. 
The Treasury Department said taxpayers have recovered the vast majority of the $440 billion spent on TARP and that only one of the seven companies is still under its jurisdiction. That company is Ally Financial.

f you don’t know Ray McGovern yet, you probably should.
You see, Ray just beat down, in court, Hillary Clinton, the State Department, and a small part of Post-Constitutional America.
Who is this Guy?
McGovern is a changed man. He started out in the Army, then he worked for the CIA from the Kennedy administration up through the first Bush presidency, preparing the president’s daily intel brief. He was a hell of a spy. McGovern began to see the evil of much of the government’s work, and has since become an outspoken critic of the intelligence world and an advocate for free speech. He speaks on behalf of people like Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.
Ray McGovern was put on the State Department’s Diplomatic Security BOLO list– Be On the Look Out– one of a series of proliferating government watch lists. What McGovern did to end up on Diplomatic Security’s dangerous persons list and how he got off the list are a tale of our era, Post-Constitutional America.
Offending the Queen
Ray’s offense was to turn his back on Hillary Clinton, literally.
In 2011, at George Washington University during a public event where Clinton was speaking, McGovern stood up and turned his back to the stage. He did not say a word, or otherwise disrupt anything. University cops grabbed McGovern in a headlock and by his arms and dragged him out of the auditorium by force, their actions directed from the side by a man whose name is redacted from public records. Photosof the then-71 year old McGovern taken at the time of his arrest show the multiple bruises and contusions he suffered while being arrested. He was secured to a metal chair with two sets of handcuffs. McGovern was at first refused medical care for the bleeding caused by the handcuffs. It is easy to invoke the words thug, bully, goon.
The charges of disorderly conduct were dropped, McGovern was released and it was determined that he committed no crime.
But because he had spoken back to power, State’s Diplomatic Security printed up an actual wanted poster citing McGovern’s “considerable amount of political activism” and “significant notoriety in the national media.” Diplomatic Security warned agents should USE CAUTION (their emphasis) when stopping McGovern and conducting the required “field interview.” The poster itself was classified asSensitive but Unclassified (SBU), one of the multitude of pseudo-secret categories created following 9/11.
Violations of the First and Fourth Amendments by State
Subjects of BOLO alerts are considered potential threats to the Secretary of State. Their whereabouts are typically tracked to see if they will be in proximity of the Secretary. If Diplomatic Security sees one of the subjects nearby, they detain and question them. Other government agencies and local police are always notified. The alert is a standing directive that the subject be stopped and seized in the absence of reasonable suspicion or probable cause that he is committing an offense. Stop him for being him. These directives slash across the Fourth Amendment’s prohibitions against unwarranted search and seizure, as well as the First Amendment’s right to free speech, as the stops typically occur around protests.
You Don’t Mess with Ray
Ray McGovern is not the kind of guy to be stopped and frisked based on State Department retaliation for exercising his First Amendment rights in Post-Constitution America. He sued, and won.
The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund took up the case pro bono on Ray’s behalf, suing the State Department. They first had to file a Freedom of Information Act demand to even get ahold of the internal State Department justifications for the BOLO, learning that despite all charges having been dropped against McGovern and despite having determined that he engaged in no criminal activity, the Department of State went on to open an investigation into McGovern, including his political beliefs, activities, statements and associations.
The investigative report noted “McGovern does seem to have the capacity to capture a national audience – it is possible his former career with the CIA has the potential to make him ‘attractive’ to the media.” It also cited McGovern’s “political activism, primarily anti-war.” The investigation ran nearly seven months, and resulted in the BOLO.
With the documents that so clearly crossed the First Amendment now in hand, the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund went to court. They sought, and won, an injunction against the State Department to stop the Be On the Look-Out alert against McGovern, and to force State to pro-actively advise other law enforcement agencies that it no longer stands.
McGovern’s constitutional rights lawsuit against George Washington University, where his arrest during the Clinton speech took place, and the officers who assaulted and arrested him, is ongoing.
Watch Lists in Post-Constitutional America
McGovern’s case has many touch points to the general state of affairs of post-9/11 government watchlists, such as No-Fly.
The first is that it is anonymous interests, within a vast array of government agencies, that put you on some list. You may not know what you did to be “nominated,” and you may not even know you are on a list until you are denied boarding or stopped and frisked at a public event. Placement on some watchlist is done without regard to– and often in overt conflict with– your Constitutional rights. Placement on a list rarely has anything to do with having committed any actual crime; it is based on the government’s supposition that you are a potential threat, that you may commit a crime despite there being no evidence that you are planning one.
Once you are on one watchlist, your name proliferates onto other lists. Getting access to the information you need to fight back is not easy, and typically requires legal help and a Freedom of Information Act struggle just to get the information you need to go forward. The government will fight your efforts, and require you to go through a lengthy and potentially expensive court battle.
We’ll address the irony that the government uses taxpaying citizens’ money to defend itself when it violates the Constitutional rights of taxpaying citizens another time.
Donating to The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund
Persons wishing to donate to The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund may do so online. I have no affiliation with the organization and do not benefit in any way from donations.
Full Discloure: I do know and respect Ray McGovern, and was once the subject of a State Department Be On the Lookout Alert myself, following these remarks I made about Hillarly Clinton. I have been unable to ascertain the status of my own BOLO alert but believe it is no longer in force. The State Department refuses to disclose any information to me about my status.

9. runaway gmo experiment
The discovery of rogue genetically modified wheat plants growing in an Oregon field last year was officially deemed an unsolved mystery by the U.S. Agriculture Department on Friday, even as it revealed that a similar incident in Montana is under investigation.
The new discovery involves unapproved genetically engineered (GE) wheat plants found growing at a University of Montana research center, adjacent to fields where the herbicide-resistant plants were field tested from 2000 to 2003.

While the new discovery raises questions about the regulation of such authorized tests, it is unlikely to generate the same level of alarm as the Oregon find on May 3, 2013, which involved a commercial wheat field. That prompted Japan, South Korea and Taiwan to temporarily suspend purchases of western white wheat grown throughout the Pacific Northwest.
The USDA says that while GE wheat has not been approved for sale or commercial production in the U.S., it does not pose a food safety threat. But foreign markets have rejected GE wheat, even as they have embraced other genetically engineered crops like corn, perhaps because it is so ubiquitous in processed food products.
The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said in a news release that the two U.s. appearances of the GE wheat in the wild do not appear to be linked, as genetic testing showed the plants were from different stocks.
In the Oregon case, a small number of wheat plants genetically modified to resist the Monsanto herbicide Roundup were found growing on a single field. The service said its “thorough and scientifically detailed “ investigation had been closed without determining how they got there.
“After exhausting all leads, APHIS was unable to determine exactly how the GE wheat came to grow in the farmer’s field,” it said.

The release said that the presence of the “volunteer” plants was apparently an isolated incident and that more than 100 laboratory tests of seeds and wheat harvested from the unidentified farmer’s field found no evidence that the genetically engineered wheat had made its way into commercial products.
The agency also indicated that the wheat plants apparently were not descendants of genetically engineered wheat plants field tested in Oregon as recently as 2001, saying they bore “genetic characteristics … (that) are representative of a wheat breeding program.”
Ed Curlett, a spokesman for APHIS, explained that wheat breeders generally cross varieties to accentuate certain beneficial traits, such as resistance to a certain disease or bug, specific to the region. During such experimentation, he said, the plants initially exhibit “a lot of genetic diversity,” which is reduced as the researchers focus in on specific desirable traits. The Oregon plants appeared to be in the early stages of that process, he said.
The genetically engineered wheat plants found on July 14 at the University of Montana’s Southern Agricultural Research Center in Huntley were scattered over 1 or 2 acres adjacent to fields where Roundup-resistant wheat was field tested from 2000 to 2003 under a contract with Monsanto, according to university spokesman Tracy Ellig.
He said that scientists at the center carefully followed the USDA’s research compliance requirements, including monitoring after the field test concluded.
“This entire time we’ve always been in compliance with what USDA dictates with field testing,” he said. “We’re cooperating fully and whatever recommendations they make we will certainly follow them going forward.”

Charla Marie Lord, a spokeswoman for Monsanto, said that the APHIS investigation of the Oregon incident “affirms that no genetically modified wheat is in commerce and that the commercial seed and grain supply does not contain genetically modified wheat.”
As for the Montana discovery, she likewise pointed to APHIS’ conclusion that there is no indication the wheat was used in any commercial product and said “Monsanto is fully cooperating with that investigation.”
In a statement provided to NBC News, Philip Miller, head of Monsanto’s global regulatory affairs division, said the company also continues to refine its field test practices.
“While we believe our compliance program is best in class, we continuously review our processes and procedures to improve them, including site selection, field trial isolation and verification and auditing of field trial locations,” he said.
Follow NBC News Investigations on Twitter and Facebook.

But critics say that field tests of GE crops have frequently led to contamination of natural crops. And in the case of wheat, such accidental escapes would damage farmers’ livelihoods and cripple the U.S. export market, they say.
“Just as the USDA closes one fruitless investigation, it tries to bury the story of yet another contamination,” Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, a nonprofit public interest and environmental advocacy organization, said Friday in a statement. “USDA cannot keep treating these as isolated incidents; contamination is the inevitable outcome of GE crop technology. It’s time for Congress to take definitive action.”
10.GMOs not just for PLANTS and more
Cornell University wants to use new GMO moths on crops without a full safety review. These moths — engineered to kill off non-GMO moths on crops like cabbage, cauliflower and brussels sprouts — could have unintended effects on our health, our food system and our environment.

The USDA hasn't yet figured out what impact these GMO moths might have on areas outside the test site. And let's face it — once released, these moths are going to fly, and there is no way to control where they're going to go, or what impact they might have on plants, animals or people outside the test area. If these GMO moths change the local population of moths (like they are supposed to), what does that mean for the ecological balance of the field trial and surrounding areas? The USDA doesn't know the answer to that question, but wants to release them anyway.

Cornell's plan for this proposed field test is lacking some important precautions — they don't have a plan to ensure that the plants these GMO moths touch are kept out of the supply chain, or to monitor the area outside the test area for stray GMO moths, or a plan to destroy all GMO moths in case of an emergency.

We cannot allow the release of these insects and their manipulated DNA into the world until we know how they will impact our food system and the environment.

Thanks for taking action with us,

Sarah Alexander
Deputy Organizing Director
Food & Water Watch

Major Tech Companies Cut Ties With The Secretive Conservative Lobbying Organization
Several tech giants announced this week that they are dropping out of ALEC, the conservative free-market lobbying group, partly over their spread of misinformation about climate change and lobbying against efforts to curb it.
ALEC, or the American Legislative Exchange Council, works by connecting corporations with conservative legislatures and drafts conservative model legislation on everything from health policy to education. It’s also been exposed as the designer of voter suppression laws used as models in various states.
The exodus started in August, when Microsoft announced that it would cease dealings with ALEC. This Monday, Google did the same, followed in quick succession by Facebook on Tuesday, Yelp on Wednesday, and Yahoo on Thursday. Google Chairman Eric Schmidt explicitly called out the group’s climate denialism as the motivating factor for the tech giant’s separation from ALEC: “Everyone understands climate change is occurring and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place,” he said. “They’re just literally lying.” ALEC has worked to kill renewable energy programs and teach climate denial in schools.
This isn’t the first time that high-profile companies have fled from ALEC en masse. In 2012, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Wal-Mart and others left suddenly after the revelation that ALEC supports so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws like the one used to justify Trayvon Martin’s death in Florida. How those laws relate to corporations’ business interests is anybody’s guess.

11. FBI Director Equates Protecting Personal Privacy with Lawlessness
James Comey says that moves by tech giants to offer encryption to customers allows cell phone users to "place themselves beyond the law."
FBI Director James Comey has responded to recent moves by tech giants Apple and Google to offer better encryption services on their handheld devices by suggesting that giving people the ability to protect their private communications from state law enforcement agencies is akin to lawlessness.
In recent weeks both companies have rolled out new software enhancements for their respective smartphones that make it harder for police or federal agents to obtain emails, photos, or call information that may be stored on the devices. The encryption is also designed to protect against fraud, theft, and other digital invasions. The move was widely applauded by privacy rights advocates, who in the wake of revelations about NSA surveillance practices on the U.S. population made possible by whistleblower Edward Snowden say that the American people are rightly concerned about the ways in which government agencies and law enforcement are using digital means to spy on their personal lives.
But in statements on Thursday, Comey criticized the companies. The head of the FBI said that his offices have already been in touch with Apple and Google to express the government's dismay and told reporters he could not understand why companies would “market something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law.”
The Washington Post reports:
Comey’s remarks followed news last week that Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 8, is so thoroughly encrypted that the company is unable to unlock iPhones or iPads for police. Google, meanwhile, is moving to an automatic form of encryption for its newest version of Android operating system that the company also will not be able to unlock, though it will take longer for that new feature to reach most consumers.
Both companies declined to comment on Comey’s remarks. Apple has said that its new encryption is not intended to specifically hinder law enforcement but to improve device security against any potential intruder.
Though Comey may not understand why such devices are increasingly appealing to customers, Apple's CEO Tim Cook seems to understand the reason very well.
In an open letter that accompanied the company's announcement of the new encryption service last week, Cook was explicit about understanding his customers' desires for increased privacy.
At Apple, Cook wrote, "we respect your privacy and protect it with strong encryption, plus strict policies that govern how all data is handled."
He also addressed the concerns raised over corporate complicity with government agencies that have been raised in the last 16 months, stating, "I want to be absolutely clear that we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will."
In a blog post that followed both Apple and Google's announcements to ramp up encryption, the ACLU's Chris Soghoian called decisions a "step in the right direction." He explained:
Apple's new move is interesting and important because it's an example of a company saying they no longer want to be in the surveillance business–a business they likely never intended to be in and want to get out of as quickly as possible.
This was a big step for Apple, and one that likely required significant engineering work. What is so interesting and smart about this move is that rather than telling the government that they no longer want to help the government, they re-architected iOS so they are unable to help the government. Think of it as Apple playing a game of chicken, and the company has just thrown the steering wheel out of the window.

12. Veteran Seeks Answers on Depleted Uranium
I served as a Hospital Corpsman with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines in Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah, Iraq. The fighting was heavy, and it was the bloodiest Marine battle since Iwo Jima. The city itself was left as a wasteland worse than anything you’d see in a Mad Max film.  There was enough loss of life, both civilian and military, to deal with without worrying about being exposed to toxic airborne chemicals. We never wore gas masks and our day-to-day clothing was barely enough to protect us from the sand, much less any chemical contamination. Fallujah, Najaf, and Basra account for almost a fourth of the chemical contamination that has been found across Iraq. 
One of the war's toxic legacies was our use of depleted uranium (DU), used to pierce through armor in different battles across Iraq. DU creates a fine dust upon impact that, when inhaled, settles into people’s bones and internal organs.  I know veterans who are unexplainably ill and have been refused testing for exposure to depleted uranium. When veterans who have been in the line of fire come home with failing health and the cause cannot be pinpointed, psychiatrists often ascribe it to mental problems.  We need to know what we were exposed to in Iraq to better understand our health problems and get the necessary treatment.
That is why my organization, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and the Center for Constitutional Rights today filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Department of Defense to get more information about where and when DU was fired in Iraq. With this information, I and other veterans can make better conclusions and decisions about our health.
This information is not only critical for veterans but for Iraqi civilians as well. It’s no secret that large numbers of birth defects have been reported across the country, and recent studies suggest that DU leads to interference with the development of a fetus during pregnancy. Reports from Basra – another site of heavy fighting where, by experts’ estimation, DU was used on a large scale – are stark. Childhood leukemia rates in Basra more than doubled between 1993 and 2007.  Local authorities estimate that in the Basra area alone, 46,000 tons of weapons debris remains, which the wind picks up and blows into people’s homes, food, and lungs.
DU is also believed to be a carcinogen, and cancer rates in Iraq are spiking. We still don’t know everything about the effects of DU, but without knowing where it was used, there is no scientific way to study them.
Our government cannot expect us to accept unexplained sickness as part of the job or to let Iraqis continue to be exposed to depleted uranium remnants. The only thing the government has to do is own up to the locations where depleted uranium was fired in Iraq so that it can be cleaned up and we can have more information about whether or not we were exposed. They are not the ones who have to live with mysterious illnesses, PTSD, amputated limbs, crippling addictions, and a distrust of the very people we risked our lives for.  With new military actions in Iraq, questions about the use of weaponized depleted uranium become even more urgent.
I, and many veterans like me, would like to see Iraq cleaned up for the current and future citizens who live there. My brothers and sisters (even two biological sisters) have bled to ensure that the country was stable at the urging of the past and present administrations, to say nothing of the fact that it didn’t remain that way. It says a lot about this country’s veterans that we are committed to getting the necessary information to help humanitarian organizations clean up the toxic sites that continue to sicken Iraqis. 

Over the last several decades, the Pentagon,conservative forces, and corporations have been systematically working to expand their presence in the K-12 learning environment and in public universities. The combined impact of the military, conservative think tanks and foundations,  and of corporatization of our public educational systems has eroded the basic democratic concept of civilian public education.  It is a trend that, if allowed to continue, will weaken the primacy of civilian rule and, ultimately, our country’s commitment to democratic ideals.
The signers of this statement believe it is urgent for all advocates of social justice, peace and the environment to recognize the dangerous nature of this problem and confront it with deliberate action.
The most aggressive outside effort to use the school system to teach an ideology with ominous long-term implications for society comes from the military establishment. Over the last two decades, with relatively little media coverage or public outcry, the Pentagon’s involvement in schools and students’ lives has grown exponentially. Now, for example:
  • Every school day, at least half a million high school students attend Junior ROTC classes to receive instruction from retired officers who are handpicked by the Pentagon to teach its own version of history and civics. These students are assigned “ranks” and conditioned to believe that military and civilian values are similar, with the implication that unquestioning obedience to authority is therefore a feature of good citizenship.
  • Armed forces academies are being established in some public schools (Chicago now has eight), where all students are given a heavy dose of military culture and values.
  • A network of military-related programs is spreading in hundreds of elementary and middle schools. Examples are the Young Marines and Starbase programs, and military programs that sneak into schools under the cloak of Science / Technology / Engineering / Math (STEM) education.
  • Military recruiters are trained to pursue “school ownership” as their goal (see: “Army School Recruiting Program Handbook”). Their frequent presence in classrooms, lunch areas and at assemblies has the effect of popularizing military values, soldiering and, ultimately, war.
  • Since 2001, federal law has overridden civilian school autonomy and family privacy when it comes to releasing student contact information to the military. Additionally, each year thousands of schools allow the military to administer its entrance exam — the ASVAB — to 10th-12th graders, allowing recruiters to bypass laws protecting parental rights and the privacy of minors and gain access to personal information on hundreds of thousands of students.
Efforts by groups outside the school system to inject conservatism and corporate values into the learning process have been going on for a number of years. In a recent example of right-wing educational intervention, The New York Times reported that tea party groups, using lesson plans and coloring books, have been pushing schools to “teach a conservative interpretation of the Constitution, where the federal government is a creeping and unwelcome presence in the lives of freedom-loving Americans.”

14.'His Life Is Our Life': Tribal Elders Want Buffalo Back in the Ecosystem
By Nate Schweber, Al Jazeera America

Pact signed on Blackfeet territory establishes alliance among Native American groups to revive bison population

ate in the afternoon, dozens of young Native American children arrived in a yellow school bus and galloped across a sunny field on Montana’s Blackfeet Reservation while wearing buffalo robes as if they were superhero capes.
They play-acted a long-gone Blackfeet practice of stampeding buffalo off cliffs to harvest their meat. But the only leap on this day was taken by Landen Ground, 6, who belly-flopped onto a pile of buffalo robes as if they were autumn leaves.
“Whoo! It felt like a trampoline,” he said. “You just imagine me as a buffalo.”
But buffalo are not just a figment of the imagination. Inside a large white teepee rising from a grassy hill nearby Ervin Carlson, president of the InterTribal Buffalo Council, told a crowd gathered for atreaty ceremony that bringing buffalo herds back to North America was a vital task for Native Americans — whatever the difficulties that lie ahead in ambitious plans to restoring their place in the landscape.
“We slowly have to work on it and work it out,” said Carlson, whose group has helped coordinate the return of some 20,000 buffalo to tribal land in the U.S., including the Blackfeet’s herd of about 250 that was celebrated on Tuesday at the signing of a multitribal treaty calling for even more buffalo restoration.
The group’s work has been successful. The buffalo has long been saved from extinction, and buffalo ranches are commonplace. But conservationists say that buffalo need what they call a second recovery, a return to their historic role in the ecology of North America. Buffalo till soil with their hooves and fertilize plants and spread seeds with their waste. They create living spaces for birds, prairie dogs and other small animals and feed apex predators like bears, wolves and people.
“The buffalo is a fantastic environmentalist. We want to respect them,” said Leroy Little Bear, a member of the Blood Tribe, part of the Blackfeet Nation in Alberta, Canada, and a professor emeritus at the University of Lethbridge.
When buffalo (technically bison, not buffalo, but the name persists in common usage) were all but annihilated, from an estimated 30 million to about 1,000 by 1889, the survivors were penned in a few zoos, ranches and wildlife preserves. By the 1930s, their numbers had grown to some 20,000, though many were inbred. Conservationists call this the first recovery of the buffalo because it kept the species from dying out. But it also seeded the notion that buffalo must be kept fenced like cattle and other domestic livestock. From an ecological perspective, scientists say, buffalo went extinct.
“We need restoration in a scale and management level that allows bison to be bison, that allows bison-ness,” said Keith Aune, bison program director for the Wildlife Conservation Society.
While millions of acres that could support the return of roaming buffalo remain in western North America, cultural opposition is fierce. Ranchers and farmers in the sparsely populated parts of the rural West where buffalo restoration is most feasible have long railed against it. They argue that buffalo restoration has been accomplished by private ranchers in the U.S. and Canada, who now raise about 400,000 domesticated buffalo for meat.
The overarching problem, conservationists say, is that the opportunity was lost for communities in the West to learn to co-exist with wild buffalo. Before Western states and Canadian provinces were created and just before homesteaders settled there, the landscape was wiped clean of buffalo by unregulated hunters who killed them with the tacit support of Army commanders who were waging war on Native tribes that depended on the buffalo. Other animal populations were devastated too — including elk, deer, antelopes, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, moose and bears — but none as thoroughly as buffalo. In the 1900s, other species recovered naturally in the wild and are today a part of the cultural fabric of the West. Buffalo, conservationists say, never had that chance.
“We have a failure of the imagination in treating buffalo as a wild animal in North America. I I believe we have a historic wrong to right,” said Harvey Locke, 55, founder of the Canadian group Bison Belong, which is working to restore a wild herd of bison in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada.
Momentum has grown in the last 15 years for ecological bison restoration. New conservation herds were founded in Grasslands National Park in Canada and to the south in Montana on land owned by a private nonprofit, the American Prairie Reserve. Bison from Yellowstone National Park were transplanted to the Fort Peck and Fort Belknap reservations in Montana, and plans are underway to reintroduce herds on the Wind River reservation in Wyoming and Badlands National Park in South Dakota.
The U.S. Department of the Interior released a report this year in support of more bison restoration, and last week three dozen scientists sent a letter to the governor of Montana that urged him to support the same. “If you’re looking at a bigger vision, you have to get people to work together,” said Arnie Dood, a native species biologist with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Last week’s signing of a Northern Tribes Buffalo Treaty was the first of its kind since 1855, when indigenous people from the northern U.S. and southern Canada met to establish boundaries for their buffalo hunting grounds. On Tuesday tribal elders shared a pipe while seated on buffalo robes and talked of their people’s ancient connection with the animal. This connection was noted in the 1890s by pioneering ethnologist and wildlife conservationist George Bird Grinnell, who visited Blackfeet country and translated from an elder a story about how of all the animals, the earth’s creator made the buffalo the most Nat-o’-ye, meaning sacred.
“The buffalo — we call him the Iinnii — he’s our brother, our sister,” said Larry Ground, 50, a member of the Blackfeet tribe’s Crazy Dog Society, who began the treaty ceremony with drums and song. “His life is our life.”
Around a campfire, attendees agreed that ecological buffalo restoration need not be accomplished by a single sweeping act. Separate herds of buffalo could be established in different places. The buffalo could be allowed to roam as naturally as possible on as many acres as is feasible, even in fenced areas. Herd managers could work to improve the genetics of their animals. Some herds could be managed by ranchers, others by hunters, others by natural predators and some by a mix of all three.
“It’s a gradual thing. It’s not going to happen overnight,” said Peter Weaselmoccasin, 59, a member of the Blood tribe from Standoff, Alberta. “But we feel it’s time.”
Most crucial to any buffalo restoration project is the support of surrounding communities. A fine example of that, tribe members and conservationists say, happened on the Blackfeet Reservation.
“The tables have turned,” said Angela Grier, a member of Piikani Nation, part of the Blackfeet Confederacy in Alberta. “We’re here trying to take care of these animals like they once took care of us.”

When Republicans can’t spread their crazy around the government enough, they head back to college. Florida State University has announced it has hired Florida State Senator John Thrasher as its new president. A Republican running a university is not shocking news in itself, but when asked about evolution, Sen. Thrasher talked about his religious beliefs, saying: "I have a great faith in my life that has guided me in my life in a lot of things I believe in." Thus, Thrasher implied that faith and science cannot exist side by side.
When Thrasher was pressed about climate change and whether he accepted the science behind it, he would not give an answer. This appeared to induce laughter from a few students in the front row. At this, Thrasher threatened to leave the podium, declaring that he "would not be heckled."  Congratulations FSU, the new person in charge of your public institution of higher learning is a climate change-denier and creationist, who can’t enjoy the irony of it all.

16. Please Join 
AWAKE Palm Beach County 
for coalition building and progressive action! 

Sunday, October 5th, 2014 
Ironworkers Hall, 1001 West 15th St. Riviera Beach, FL 33404 

Please come, bring a friend and an idea for an action project for which you are willing to take the lead, or just a willingness to jump on a couple of action projects and help out. If you have an action project you would like to see on our agenda, please send an email with "AWAKE agenda" in the subject line