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    'Stingray': Increased and Secretive Cell Phone Surveillance by Local Police Raises Alarms

    Police across the United States are refusing to disclose information to the public about a controversial “stingray” device that allows them to intercept cellular phone communications. According to Associated Press journalist Jack Gillum, In 2011 the FBI acknowledged that the stingray technology sweeps up cell-phone users who are not considered suspects. Yet, little is known about the technology, and police departments have repeatedly rejected public records requests from media outlets in California, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Gillum reports: The ACLU is among those who have raised serious concerns about the technology and the manner in which law enforcement agencies have continued to hide the nature of their use. “There is a…

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    Arctic Sea Ice Continues 'Death Spiral'

    Looking at new data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, Suzanne Goldenberg at the Guardian reports Thursday that Arctic sea ice continues down a “death spiral,” disappearing much faster than scientists expected. According to satellite data, the amount of ice cover fell to its fifth lowest on record in March. Showing unusually warm temperatures, the Arctic struggled to produce ice at normal levels and took several weeks longer to “push the ice out across the Barents and Bering seas,” reports Goldenberg. The scenario was consistent with a continual decrease, or “linear rate of decline,” in Arctic ice levels this time of year over the last several decades, according…

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    CEO Pay Soars, Workers Toil in Capitalism's New Gilded Age

    Here’s the first number to know: 331. That, according to a new report, is the number of times more the average CEO in the United States made in 2013 compared to the average worker. Here’s the second number: 774. That’s the number of times more those same CEOs—some of the wealthiest individuals on the planet—made compared to the nation’s minimum wage workers. “I have proved that under the present circumstances capitalism simply cannot work.” —Thomas Piketty These two numbers are central to the AFL-CIO’s latest ‘Executive Paywatch’ report, released Wednesday, which shows the astronomical disparity between the annual pay of the nation’s top executives—which continue to rise year after year—and…

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    Thanks to Snowden, House Moves Forward on Anti-Spying Legislation

    Legislation to curb government surveillance moved forward in the House on Wednesday, a move cautiously welcomed by privacy advocates who say it’s still lacking needed reforms. A revised version of the USA Freedom Act, put forth by by Patriot act author Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), received bipartisan approval from the House Judiciary Committee in yesterday’s vote, passing unanimously. “The version of the USA Freedom Act that passed the Committee today bans the bulk collection of all types of communications metadata in the U.S., ensures that bulk collection cannot be shifted to another statute, and preserves the requirement that the government obtain court approval prior to surveillance activity,” Harley Geiger, Senior Counsel…

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    Songbirds Dying From DDT in Michigan Yards

    ST. LOUIS, Mich. – Jim Hall was mowing the town’s baseball diamond when he felt a little bump underneath him. “And there it was, a dead robin,” he said. Just last week, he found another one. “Something is going on here,” said Hall, who has lived in this mid-Michigan town of 7,000 for 50 years. Two dead birds may not seem like much. But for this town, it’s a worrisome legacy left behind by a chemical plant-turned-Superfund site. After residents complained for years about dead birds in their yards, 22 American robins, six European starlings and one bluebird were collected for testing. The results, revealed last week: The neighborhood’s songbirds…

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    Black Alpaca wool – the ‘Dom Pérignon’ of natural fibres

    “Black alpaca is our Dom Pérignon of natural fibres. It is the one that created the buzz. Which makes sense because you think about it, there is something intriguing about the colour black,” says Satoru Inoue, one half of duo-team that set up the social design brand The Inoue Brothers. Instead of letting the fast-paced industry dedicate the focus their collections, the studio produces capsule collections which stem from the brothers’ passion to produce the best wool knitwear and accessories, in the most responsible way. The Inoue Brothers most recent project saw them take to the Andes in Peru, where they entered into a partnership with Pacomarca Alpaca Research Facility…

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    Report: Pesticide Pushers Spin Bee Crisis to Protect Profits

    Worldwide bee deaths have now entered a crisis state threatening the global food supply and, according to a new report out Monday by Friends of the Earth, the human-made epidemic has been worsened by an industry-funded disinformation campaign The report, Follow the Honey: 7 ways pesticide companies are spinning the bee crisis to protect profits (pdf), details how the leading pesticide corporations—Bayer, Syngenta, and Monsanto—are taking a page from the playbook of Big Tobacco companies to stall any potential legislation from protecting bee colonies. According to report author and noted food industry critic Michele Simon, these corporations are engaging in a full-throttled public relations blitz, which includes funding industry-friendly research,…

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    'Tide is Turning' as Oregon Voters Overwhelmingly Approve Ban of GE Crops

    In a victory for sustainable food advocates everywhere, two counties in Oregon on Tuesday voted to ban the cultivation of genetically engineered (GE) crops. Despite an onslaught of spending by agribusiness giants such as DuPont and Monsanto, voters in Jackson County and Josephine County overwhelming took a stand for measures protecting “seed sovereignty and local control” of food systems. The Jackson Measure 15-119 passed 66-34 percent, while the Josephine County Measure 17-58 passed 58-42 percent. “It’s a great day for the people of Oregon who care about sustainability and healthy ecosystems!” GMO Free Oregon wrote on their Facebook page after receiving the final tally. “The people of Jackson and Josephine…

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    Teachers to Gates Foundation: Stop Pushing Corporate Education Reform!

    A group of teachers is holding a rally Thursday evening in Seattle to denounce education reform measures they say have been an attack on public education and let corporate interests and high-stakes testing trump real student learning. The target of their protest: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, whom the teachers say has used its monetary power to push corporate reforms and is symbolic of measures—like Common Core Standards and over-testing—that don’t let educators be the decision makers of education policies. The action, organized by the BadAss Teachers (BATs) of Washington, whose vision is to “educate teachers, parents, students and communities on the long term consequences of current education reforms,”…

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    Obama to Issue Executive Order Against LGBTQ Discrimination

    In what is being hailed as a major victory for LGBTQ rights, the White House confirmed on Monday that President Obama is going to issue an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity. “Barring discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity with taxpayer funds by all federal contractors will begin to undo one of the last vestiges of legally sanctioned discrimination,” said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, who called the news “historic.” According to a White House official who spoke to the Huffington Post, the president has “directed his staff to draft an executive…