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Originally Published: 2/28/2015

Chicago Black Site:  According to the Chicago-based People’s Law Office, Chicago Torture Justice Memorials, from 1972 to the early 1990s, at the instigation of police commander Jon Burge, Burge and his detectives subjected suspects to all kinds of torture to get confessions - many false. The torture included cattle-prodding on the mouth and genital areas, long hours of beatings, suffocation, and other things. The torture was carried out against mostly black males from Chicago’s Southside neighborhood. Burge was finally fired in 1993 for “mistreating a suspect.”


It seems, however, that Burge’s legacy lives on. The Guardian broke the news about Chicago’s Homan Square - a black site right here in the good ole U.S.of A. (It’s important to note that the Guardian is a British news outlet and, to my knowledge, no U.S. news media has picked up this story.) While few ever get access to Homan Square, “the few attorneys granted a measure of access, and one person who was detained inside for nearly an entire day, describe an unusual, secretive police compound, complete with armored vehicles, surveillance gear, and places to hold people for interrogation.” Alleged police practices include: “keeping arrestees out of official booking databases; beating by police resulting in head wounds; shackling for prolonged periods; denying attorneys access to the ‘secure’ facility; holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15. “At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square ‘interview room’ and later pronounced dead.” (Guardian) Watch the video as Brian Jacob Church, who was in Chicago to protest the NATO Summit and was arrested as a suspected terrorist, tells his story. (Guardian) Vic Suter, another protester arrested as a suspected terrorist, “was shackled to a bench . . . for 18 hours before being permitted access to a lawyer. She was neither booked nor allowed a phone call. (Guardian)


Sam Bagenstos, a senior Justice Department (DOJ) official during Obama’s first term, is calling for an investigation. He said the Guardian’s exposé raises concerns about “a possible pattern or practice of violations of the 4th and 5th amendments” that need investigation. And William Yeomans, “who worked in the civil rights division” of the DOJ from 1981 to 2005, said “allegations about off-the-books interrogations and barred access to legal counsel . . . merited a preliminary investigation to confirm them, a first step toward a full civil rights investigation.” (Guardian) But, as always, the people are moving faster than the squeaky wheels of justice. A protest movement has been organized for this weekend, “as the hacktivist collective Anonymous and organizers associated with the Black Lives Matter movement seized on allegations of unconstitutional abuse at the secretive warehouse.” (Guardian)


Canada:  The Communications Security Establishment (CSE) is Canada’s equivalent of the National Security Agency (NSA). And the CSE is “covertly monitoring vast amounts of Canadians’ emails as part of a sweeping domestic cybersecurity operation,” according to top-secret documents obtained by The Intercept and CBC News.


Greece:  The Greek government cut a deal with the euro zone that “makes it less likely that Athens will be forced out of the common currency.” Mark Gilbert, writing at Bloomberg, believes this is a big win for the European governments. “Greece’s interlocutors displayed a united front on refusing to cede to Greece’s demands throughout the talks, with 18 euro members allied against one.” But economist Paul Krugman disagrees. “Greece came out of the negotiations pretty well, although the big fights are still to come. And by doing O.K., Greece has done the rest of Europe a favor.”


Iran:  As I’m sure you know, Israel has been pushing for a war against Iran because of its nuclear program, proclaiming - against all the information - that it’s ready to have nuclear weapons. (TWW, Iran, 5/24/14; 1/18/14; 11/30/13; 11/16/13; 5/25/13; 5/26/12) Well, apparently Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s claims are known by him to be false. His declaration in 2012 that Iran was only a year away from making a nuclear bomb was contradicted by his own Mossad. “It is part of a cache of hundreds of dossiers, files, and cables from the world’s major intelligence services - one of the biggest spy leaks in recent times.” Mossad concluded that Iran was “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons.” And its report “highlights the gulf between the public claims and rhetoric of top Israeli politicians and the assessments of Israel’s military and intelligence establishment.” (Guardian) Does this remind you of anyone?


Alaska:  It has made smoking, growing, and owning small amounts of marijuana legal. “Anyone aged 21 or older can now possess up to an ounce of marijuana in Alaska and can grow up to 6 marijuana plants, 3 of which can be flowering. Smoking in public and buying and selling the drug remains illegal - though private exchanges are allowed if money is not involved.” (Guardian)


Arizona:  They did away with the AIMS test. Students are no longer required to pass this standardized test in order to graduate. (AZ Central)


California:  The statewide ban on plastic bags, scheduled to be phased in starting in July at large grocery stores and supermarkets, has been put on hold. Plastic bag manufacturers gathered enough signatures to put the ban on the 2016 ballot so, until then, the law won’t go into effect. (Al Jazeera)


Georgia:  It postponed the execution of Kelly Renee Gissendaner, the first woman to be executed in Georgia in 70 years. It was postponed due to weather. (CNN) What kind of event is this? A football game?


Minnesota:  When Mark Dayton (D), a billionaire, took over as governor in 2011, he inherited a $6.2 billion budget deficit and a 7% unemployment rate from Tim Pawlenty (R), who prided himself on not raising taxes. But he only added 6,200 jobs in 10 years. Dayton raised the state income tax on people making over $150,000 and couples making over $250,000. He is phasing in a new minimum wage of $9.50 an hour by 2018 and passed a state law guaranteeing equal pay for women. What did this do to the “job creators?” In 4 years Dayton added 172,000 jobs and has taken Minnesota (now the 4th highest income tax in the country) to the 5th lowest unemployment in the country - 3.6%. “By 2013, Minnesota’s private sector job growth exceeded pre-recession levels, and the state’s economy was the 5th fastest-growing in the United States. Forbes even ranked Minnesota the 9th-best state for business.” As of January 2015, Minnesota had a $1 billion budget surplus and Dayton has pledged to reinvest more than one-third of that into public schools. (Huffington Post)


Net Neutrality:  Well, you can all pat yourselves on the back. You did it. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved “strict new rules for Internet providers.” The vote was 3 to 2, “with the commission’s Republican members voting against them.” The new rules represent “the government’s most aggressive attempt to make sure the Web remains a level playing field.” The Web will now be regulated like a public utility. “It will be illegal for companies such as Verizon or Cox Communications to slow down streaming videos, games, and other online content traveling over their networks. They also will be prohibited from establishing ‘fast lanes’ that speed up access to Web sites that pay an extra fee. And in an unprecedented move, the FCC could apply the rules to wireless carriers, such as T-Mobile and Sprint, in a nod to the rapid rise of smartphones and the mobile Internet.” (Washington Post) Listen to what FCC chair Tom Wheeler had to say about the rules. (Raw Story)


DHS:  On Friday morning the Senate finally passed a “clean” bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security with no mention of immigration. (TWW, DHS Funding, 2/21/15) The vote was 68 to 31. The House, however, wouldn’t go for it and even failed to pass a “stopgap” funding bill on Friday afternoon that would have funded DHS for 3 more weeks. (Washington Post) Late Friday, just before DHS funding expired, the House finally passed a 7-day extension. The vote was 357 to 60, with 50 Republicans defecting. (NY Times)


Privacy for a Price:  AT&T is going to charge users of its “super-fast gigabit broadband service” not to “track and monetize” its customers’ internet activity. That’s right. AT&T reportedly plans to track its customers’ activity - “webpages you visit, the time you spend on each, the links or ads you see and follow, and the search terms you enter” - in order to deliver targeted “ads online, via email or through direct mail.” Don’t want to be tracked? It’ll cost you $29 a month. (Guardian)


No Release Policy:  A federal judge ruled to temporarily block the Obama Administration’s policy known as “No Release.” This is a detention of mothers and children seeking asylum in the U.S. A lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenged the policy, saying it was aimed at discouraging others from seeking asylum. (Reuters)


Immigration:  The Justice Department filed a motion with U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen (TWW, Immigration, 2/21/15) to “temporarily lift his hold of President Obama’s Executive Actions on immigration.” (Talk Radio News)


Women:  International Monetary Fund (IMF) chair Christine Lagarde stated that nations need to remove laws that “prevent women from working in order to increase the female labor supply and boost their economies.” She wrote in a blog: “In too many countries, too many legal restrictions conspire against women to be economically active. In a world in search of growth, women will help find it, if they face a level playing field instead of an insidious conspiracy.” (Guardian)


Keystone XL Pipeline:  Obama, as expected, vetoed the bill mandating the construction of the pipeline. He wrote: “Through this bill, the United States Congress attempts to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest.” (Washington Post)


Siberian Craters:  Multiple craters have been showing up in Siberia. At first it was a mystery. Where did they come from? “Global warming had thawed the permafrost, which had caused methane trapped inside the icy ground to explode. ‘Gas pressure increased until it was high enough to push away the overlaying layers in a powerful injection, forming the crater.” But they keep finding new craters and fear that more are forming all the time. “And one giant crater is rimmed by a ring of at least 20 mini-craters.” Temperatures have been higher than usual the past couple of years and, if temperatures continue to rise, “more craters will emerge in an area awash in gas fields vital to the national economy.” No one has been hurt so far. The explosions have occurred in areas with no populations. But, if the explosions continue to grow as temperatures rise, injuries are sure to happen. “Of particular interest is the Siberian crater B2. Since its emergence, only 6 miles away from Bovanenkovo, a major Gasprom gas field, it has turned into a lake.” And the lake is still leaking gas. “So, to recap: Siberia is warming. Permafrost thaws and spews methane, and blasts out a burst of highly flammable gas. Who could have guessed global warming would do all of that?” (Washington Post)


Federal Coal Leasing:  The U.S. coal leasing program is an example of a huge subsidy to the coal companies. They pay only $1.03 per ton for a coal lease. However, the public will, on average, cover damages of between $22 and $237 for that ton. Since 2009 the Bureau of Land Management has leased 2.2 billion tons of publicly owned coal, “unlocking 3.9 billion metric tons of carbon pollution.” This is a cost to U.S. taxpayers - or a subsidy to coal producers - of between $52 billion and $530 billion in just 6 years. (Greenpeace)


Fukushima Leak:  Another radioactive water leak into the ocean has been detected. “Contamination levels in the gutter reportedly spiked up 70 times over regular readings.” (RT)


Nestlé:  It is finally going to stop using artificial colors and flavors in U.S. candy that it removed from candy sold in Europe years ago. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken no steps to control these ingredients. Nestlé will replace the artificial ingredients with “natural ingredients.” It will be phasing them out and have them all removed by the end of the year. “The move will affect 10 brands and more than 250 products including legacy candies like Butterfinger, Baby Ruth, Oh Henry!, Sno-Caps, and Raisinets.” (EcoWatch)


Corporate Shill:  For years now people wanting to deny the science of climate change have touted out a handful of scientists to boost their arguments. One such scientist most named is Wei-Hock Soon, known as Willie, “a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who claims that variations in the sun’s energy can largely explain recent global warming.” But Greenpeace and the Climate Investigations Center have obtained documents showing that Soon has “accepted more than $1.2 million in money from the fossil-fuel industry over the last decade while failing to disclose that conflict of interest in most of his scientific papers. At least 11 papers he has published since 2008 omitted such a disclosure, and in at least 8 of those cases, he appears to have violated ethical guidelines of the journals that published his work.” The documents also show that in correspondence to his corporate funders he “described many of his scientific papers as ‘deliverables’ that he completed in exchange for their money. He used the same term to describe testimony he prepared for Congress.” (NY Times)


Gold:  The Justice Department (DOJ) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission are investigating “at least” 10 banks for rigging the precious-metals markets. The banks being investigated are no surprise: HSBC Holdings, Bank of Nova Scotia, Barclays, Credit Suisse Group, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Société Générale, Standard Bank Group, and UBS Group. (Reuters)


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