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Community Articles from 2017

An Outdated Legal System Is Punishing Minor Offenses With Decades Of Jail Time

An Outdated Legal System Is Punishing Minor Offenses With Decades Of Jail Time
By Claire Bernish
Posted August 29, 2017

America has become a prison stateFor a nation lauding itself as the “land of the free,” the United States certainly maintains a remarkable number of laws criminalizing activities most would consider part of their daily lives. From kids penalized for setting up a lemonade stand to the prohibition of cannabis, seemingly everything Americans do has attached to it a law, license, permit, or regulation, as well as a consequent penalty.

A penalty — as a list of thousands killed by police in recent years during encounters surrounding countless non-violent “crimes” attests — up to and including death.

The U.S. justice system grapples with a number of systemic problems. Among them are unjustified yet unpunished police violence, the opioid epidemic – and other drug-related issues, as well as backlogged courts and a proclivity toward punitive incarceration — the result of which has rightfully garnered the U.S. a reputation internationally as a prison state. When debating reform in these and other areas, over-criminalization as a root cause is rarely considered. But it must be. More…

Here’s How to Boycott Organic Imposters

Here’s How to Boycott Organic Imposters
By Katherine Paul and Ronnie Cummins
Posted August 28, 2017

Costco organic milk from factory farm Aurora DairiesA recent series of articles by a Washington Post reporter could have some consumers questioning the value of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) organic seal. But are a few bad eggs representative of an entire industry?

What can consumers do to ensure that the certified organic products they buy meet existing organic standards? And how do we, as consumers, fight back against efforts to weaken those standards?

The short answers: One, there are about 25,000 honest organic local and regional producers, vs. a handful of big brands, mostly national, who flout the rules. (Most “Factory Farm Organic” companies sell their products, and provide private-label products, for big retail chains like Costco, Walmart, Safeway, Albertson’s, Kroger’s and others).

Two, if consumers want stronger, not weaker organic standards, we need to demand them. More…

The FCC’s case against net neutrality rests on a deliberate misrepresentation of how the Internet works

The FCC’s case against net neutrality rests on a deliberate misrepresentation of how the Internet works
by Devin Coldewey
Posted August 27, 2017

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wants to get rid of net neutralityThe FCC has just published the notice of proposed rule making that would roll back the 2015 Open Internet Order establishing net neutrality. Its first and primary justification for doing this is a way of defining broadband access that’s so backwards it’s ridiculous. It would be funny, if the future of the Internet didn’t depend on this incredibly disingenuous maneuvering.

After the introductory bloviation and half-told history, the “Restoring Internet Freedom” proposal begins its argument in earnest. The first point the FCC makes is regarding the text of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, and how it defines “telecommunications service” (how broadband is currently defined, allowing net neutrality rules to be effected) and “information service” (how it was before the net neutrality rule).

Now, I’m going to list the two definitions. Which one do you think sounds like what a broadband provider does? More…

Nestlé can keep piping water from national forest, despite permit that is 28 years out of date

Nestlé can keep piping water from national forest, despite permit that is 28 years out of date
by Brett Kelman
Posted August 26, 2017

Nestle pays $540 to pump millions of gallons of water from public resourceA federal judge has ruled that a permit allowing Nestle to pipe water out of the San Bernardino National Forest is valid, despite the fact that the permit listed 1988 as the expiration date and was never renewed.

“The court has just confirmed what many Americans fear, massive corporations play by a different set of rules than the rest of us,” said Eddie Kurtz, executive director of the Courage Campaign Institute, another plaintiff, in a news release. “Nestlé has been pulling a fast one for nearly 30 years, taking a public resource, depriving plants and animals of life-sustaining water, and selling that water at an obscene profit without the right to do so, but apparently our justice system is OK with that.” More…

Beware the “The Cultural Civil War” Narrative: You’re Being Played

Beware the “The Cultural Civil War” Narrative: You’re Being Played
by Charles Hugh Smith
Posted August 25, 2017

the power elites want us fighting among ourselvesRemember the “Russians hacked our election!” hysteria–or have you already forgotten? That entire narrative collapsed under a deluge of factual evidence that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) data release was an insider job, and a compelling lack of evidence of any other Russian hacking.

That failed narrative has now been replaced with a new mass hysteria: “a new cultural Civil War is inevitable.” In this narrative, America has succumbed to us-versus-them divisions divided by all-or-nothing ideological bright lines. Snap out of it, America: you’re being played, just as you were played by the absurd “Russia hacked the election” mania.

The core strategy here is the destruction of any common ground: once the delusion that there is no common ground left has been cemented by relentless mainstream and social media hysteria/ propaganda, the populace fragments into echo-chamber fiefdoms of ideological conformity that are easily manipulated by the political-financial power structure.

Once the populace has been fragmented into ideologically divisive camps, controlling the resulting mass of warring mobs is easy. Rather than recognize the commonality of their powerlessness and impoverishment, the fragmented fiefdoms are easily turned on each other. More…

LA’s weed industry needs a bank. City leaders might create one it can use

LA’s weed industry needs a bank. City leaders might create one it can use
By Elizabeth Chou
Posted August 24, 2017

public bank to finance  business private banks will notLos Angeles city leaders are looking into the possibility of setting up a public bank that would do business with marijuana dispensaries, as well as cater to affordable housing developers.

Council President Herb Wesson proposed the idea in a speech at City Hall, laying out his agenda for the next two years. He said a municipal bank would be able to focus on providing financing to small businesses and developers of affordable housing.

The announcement comes as Oakland is also considering opening its own bank.

“Imagine, if this is possible, to have a bank, where its vision statement is to finance the building of affordable housing,” he told his colleagues on the City Council. “Imagine if we have a bank that is focused on working with small business entrepreneurs to give them loans.” More…

Why Elites Are Winning the War on Cash

Why Elites Are Winning the War on Cash
By James Rickards
Posted August 23, 2017

the elites are winning the war on cashVisa recently unveiled its own offensive in the war on cash. Visa is offering certain merchants a $10,000 reward if they refuse to accept cash in the future. Not surprisingly, Visa’s competitor is also part of the war on cash. Mastercard is increasing its efforts to encourage merchants to refuse cash.

These private efforts by Visa and MasterCard exist side by side with official efforts to eliminate or discourage the use of cash coming from governments in India, Australia, Sweden as well as the United States.

But the so-called “cashless society” is just a Trojan horse for a system in which all financial wealth is electronic and represented digitally in the records of a small number of megabanks and asset managers. Once that is achieved, it will be easy for state power to seize and freeze the wealth, or subject it to constant surveillance, taxation and other forms of digital confiscation. More…

Why Are the Danes so Happy? Because their Economy makes Sense

Why Are the Danes so Happy? Because their Economy makes Sense
By George Lakey
Posted August 22, 2017

Danes have economy that works for peopleThe World Happiness Report puts Danes consistently in the top tier. Twice in the past four years Denmark came in first. Danes also report more satisfaction with their health care than anyone else in Europe, which makes sense, since happiness is related to a sense of security and others being there for you. A fine health care system makes that real.

The Danish approach is especially interesting to Americans because of the U.S. suspicion of centralization. Danes prefer to administer their health care locally. On the other hand, they’ve found that the fairest and most efficient way of paying for their system is through income tax, most of which is routed through Copenhagen. The system delivers quality health care to all and costs Denmark only two-thirds what the United States spends. More…

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