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Month: April 2016

Teflon Pollutes The World: Deadly Chemical Spreads Into Global Water Supplies

Posted in Journalism, and MintPress News

Earlier this month, climate and health activists from West Virginia and Ohio met with their Dutch counterparts to discuss the pollution caused by a chemical that was once a key ingredient in the non-stick coating Teflon.

Members of Keep Your Promises, DuPont, a group targeting contamination caused by PFOA, also known as C-8, in the United States, traveled to Dordrecht, Holland, to compare notes on this toxic chemical once dumped from a factory there. That factory, once owned by DuPont, was sold to Chemours, a spinoff company, last year.

PFOA has become so ubiquitous in water and food supplies that 98 percent of the U.S. population has trace amounts in their bloodstream, but amounts rise dramatically for factory workers and even residents who live in proximity to factories where PFOA was produced.

ACLU Of Oregon Condemns State’s Surveillance Of Black Lives Matter Activists

Posted in Journalism, and MintPress News

An investigation of social media surveillance of Black Lives Matter activists shows a pattern of systemic racism and disregard for the law, according to an Oregon civil rights group.

The comments from the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon came in response to a report issued this month by the Oregon Department of Justice on the DOJ’s Criminal Justice Division’s monitoring of the social media use of Black Lives Matter activists.

“The report is damning,” wrote Mat dos Santos, the nonprofit’s legal director. “It paints an abysmal picture of rampant misinformation, beginning with agents and analysts and running all the way up to the deputy attorney general, and it shows how one mistake in judgment can lead to dangerous consequences for the public.”

Last year, a “threat assessment report” issued by an investigator at the state’s DOJ, singled out Facebook and Twitter users that used the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag for surveillance. The investigation became so broad that one of the department’s own attorneys was cited in the report as a possible threat.

Ellen Rosenblum, the state’s attorney general, said she was “shocked and appalled” and called for a full investigation, according to a November article from The Oregonian.

Social Media Ban Could Curb Free Speech Behind Bars

Posted in Journalism, and The Texas Observer

Prison reform activists are concerned that a new state social media policy could be used to infringe on the free speech rights of both incarcerated people and and those who support them by sharing their stories, thoughts and experiences online.

According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s (TDCJ) “Offender Orientation Manual,” updated in early April, “Offenders are prohibited from maintaining active social media accounts for the purposes of soliciting, updating, or engaging others, through a third party or otherwise.”

Under the updated manual, prisoners can be penalized for infractions in a number of ways, including by receiving extra work duties or being confined to their cells.

WikiLeaks Founder Assange Demands Transparency In Panama Papers Release

Posted in Archive, Journalism, and MintPress News

Speaking to the media from the Ecuadorean Embassy where he lives under political asylum, Julian Assange called for greater transparency in the Panama Papers leak.

In an April 9 interview with Al-Jazeera, the WikiLeaks founder praised the work of Süddeutsche Zeitung, the German newspaper that received the massive leak of financial data revealing the offshore tax havens of the world’s rich and famous.

“We’re very pleased about the work that SZ (Süddeutsche Zeitung) — did in the beginning in developing that source. We think that’s really good work. The work of the source of course is the most impressive and then pulling together that collaboration is also impressive work,” Assange said.

After receiving the leak, which contains 11.5 million documents, Süddeutsche Zeitung and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists organized a coalition of hundreds of journalists who collaborated to analyze the files over the course of over a year before publication began.

The praise hasn’t gone both ways, though. Gerard Ryle, director of ICIJ, seemed to cast aspersions on Assange’s work earlier this month, when he told WIRED magazine, “We’re not WikiLeaks. We’re trying to show that journalism can be done responsibly.”

‘Orange Sunshine’: Tune In, Turn On With 100 Million Hits Of LSD (#SXSW)

Posted in Journalism, and SXSW

LSD is back in the news, as scientists begin to study this intriguing substance again.

After spending years banished to the realms of forbidden science, a study published in March from The Proceedings of the National Academy Of Sciences USA used neural imaging to examine the areas of the brain activated by the psychedelic drug. David Nuitt, a lead researcher, told Nature that he thinks LSD has potential to treat addiction and depression.

In the 1960s and 1970s, scientists and psychotherapists were fascinated by the therapeutic potential of psychedelics like LSD and psilocybin (the active ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms), even as everyday Americans experienced their effects firsthand by the thousands. A politically-motivated surge in the war on drugs sent both research and psychedelic culture underground.

“Orange Sunshine,” which premiered at SXSW in March, tells the story of The Brotherhood Of Eternal Love, the hippie surfer cult that fueled America’s LSD boom. In the name of helping the country “turn on,” they created and distributed millions of hits of acid to celebrities and festival-goers alike.

Tax Docs Reveal Goldman Sachs Donated $18,000 To Violent, Illegal Israeli Settlers

Posted in Journalism, and MintPress News

Goldman Sachs is a financial supporter of one of Israel’s most violent, racist illegal settlements in occupied Palestine.

Documents published last week by Haaretz, one of Israel’s most liberal mainstream newspapers, revealed that the controversial investment banking giant made an $18,000 tax-deductible donation to the Brooklyn-based Hebron Fund, via the Goldman Sachs Charitable Gift Fund.

All Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories are believed to be in violation of international law. And while settlements are known for the violent actions of their residents, Hebron in particular has achieved a reputation for settlers’ extreme actions against indigenous Palestinian residents.

“Hebron is a perpetual nightmare,” wrote Maya Haber, director of programming and strategy for Partners for Progressive Israel, in Haaretz. ”About 700 Jews live in tiny fortified urban settlements at the center of a city inhabited by 180,000 Palestinians.”