DAVID CAY JOHNSTON – Kentucky’s two Republican senators, who built their political careers railing against unions and government spending, stuck people and businesses in the Pacific Northwest with hundreds of millions of dollars of debts plus higher costs for electricity. They did it to save union jobs by wasting millions in federal dollars. Confused? Hold tight. It gets worse. (Or better, if you live in Kentucky.)
NORMAN SOLOMON – The National Security Agency depends on huge computers that guzzle electricity in the service of the surveillance state. For the NSAâ€™s top executives, maintaining a vast flow of juice to keep Big Brother nourished is essential — and any interference with that flow is unthinkable. But interference isnâ€™t unthinkable. And in fact, it may be doable.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS – HANOI, Vietnam – Working on her blog in California one day, Vietnamese democracy activist Ngoc Thu sensed something was wrong. It took a moment for a keystroke to register. Cut-and-paste wasn’t working. She had “a feeling that somebody was there” inside her computer. Her hunch turned out to be right.
ERIC HOLTHAUS – So itâ€™s come to this. Last year, a researcher presented a paper on climate change at the American Geophysical Unionâ€™s meeting entitled â€Is Earth F**ked?â€ which advocated â€œenvironmental direct action, resistance taken from outside the dominant culture, as in protests, blockades and sabotage by indigenous peoples, workers, anarchists and other activist groups.â€
ANGUS DUNCAN – What was the biggest energy story of 2013 in the United States? Most observers would point to the vast, unlooked-for quantities of natural gas and oil released by new â€œfrackingâ€ recovery techniques. National oil production has surged by 30 percent just since 2011. Five yearsago the natural gas industry was looking for sites to import liquefied natural gas (LNG); today itâ€™s flipping those sites around to export the stuff. But, the real energy story of 2013 may turn out to be the death of coal.
KENT D. SHIFFERD – There are other ways to make electricity, namely solar, wind, geothermal, and hydro dams, and there is always conservation. Why would anyone in their right mind risk going nuclear as a way to deal with global warming?
PAUL BUCHHEIT – The fear of running out of money in retirement is America’s greatest financial concern. It’s a fear greater than death. But the American workers who have paid all their lives for retirement security are being cheated by wealthy individuals and corporations who refuse to meet their tax obligations, and who have found other ways to keep expanding their wealth at the expense of the middle class.
RT.COM – A group of former National Security Agency insiders who went on to become whistleblowers have written a letter to President Barack Obama requesting a meeting with him to offer â€œa fuller pictureâ€ of the spy agencyâ€™s systemic problems.
NORMAN SOLOMON – American journalism has entered highly dangerous terrain. A tip-off is that the Washington Post refuses to face up to a conflict of interest involving Jeff Bezos — whoâ€™s now the sole owner of the powerful newspaper at the same time he remains Amazonâ€™s CEO and main stakeholder. The Post is supposed to expose CIA secrets. But Amazon is under contract to keep them. Amazon has a new $600 million â€œcloudâ€ computing deal with the CIA.
LAWRENCE WITTNER – There would certainly be less disillusionment, as well as a great savings in lives and resources, if more Americans recognized the terrible costs of war before they rushed to embrace it. But a clearer understanding of war and its consequences will probably be necessary to convince Americans to break out of the cycle in which they seem trapped.
MEGAN FINCHER – [Dec. 30, 2013; Kansas City, MO.] Defense attorney Henry Stoever meekly approached the bench of Presiding Judge Ardie Bland Dec. 13, complaining that security had refused to let him bring certain pieces of evidence into the courthouse: a full-sized wooden door with a banner proclaiming, “Open the door to a nuclear weapons free world!”, as well as an array of picket signs. Stoever was representing eight nuclear protesters on this unlucky trial date, and Bland, who had sentenced other nuclear activists to jail just two years prior, was the inauspicious icing on the cake.
JOHN LAFORGE – Four more innocents were released from Americaâ€™s Robben Island this month. Our offshore penal colony at Guantanamo Bay still holds 158 prisoners, 84 of whom have been cleared for release. The men sent home were never charged with a crime and were cleared four years ago.
JOSE-ANTONIO OROSCO – Today, the annihilation of humanity looms again as a possibility because of climate change. In 1964, King could not have imagined the particular features of global environmental destruction that we now face. Yet, he had reflected carefully on the forms of action needed to avert mass extinction before, so his work can still be useful today in thinking about directions for the climate justice movement.
GLEN GERSMEHL – Itâ€™s time for a serious New Yearâ€™s resolution: Among our friends and in citizen groups and faith communities to which we belong, we must discuss budget priorities and the elimination of wasteful and unnecessary defense spending. And we must take the next step and urge our elected officials to focus on our nationâ€™s real priorities and on where we can find the resources to pay for them. That is what our members of Congress most need to hear. It also suggests some New Yearâ€™s resolutions that they should be making.
BENJAMIN SCHNEIDER – It may come as a surprise to many Americans that the U.S. military is deeply committed to addressing the threat of climate change and developing renewable energy sources. Thatâ€™s what Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel spoke about on Friday, Nov. 22, 2013, at the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia, where he assured the audience the emerging impacts of climate change on national security are a priority.
NORMAN SOLOMON – News media should illuminate conflicts of interest, not embody them. But the owner of the Washington Post is now doing big business with the Central Intelligence Agency, while readers of the newspaperâ€™s CIA coverage are left in the dark.
JONATHAN STEMPEL – (Reuters; Dec. 27, 2013) – A federal judge ruled that a National Security Agency program that collects records of millions of Americans’ phone calls is lawful, calling it a “counter-punch” to terrorism that does not violate Americans’ privacy rights.