April 14, 2014


Ex-Blackwater Guards Sentenced to Long Prison Terms in 2007 Killings of Iraqi Civilians. . . The men had been among several private American security guards who fired into Baghdad’s crowded Nisour Square on Sept. 16, 2007, and last October they were convicted of killing 14 unarmed Iraqis in what prosecutors called a wartime atrocity. Yet on Monday, as they awaited sentences that they knew would send them to prison for most if not all of their lives, they defiantly asserted their innocence.. . . The ruling ended a long investigation into the Nisour Square shooting, a signature, gruesome moment in the Iraq war that highlighted America’s reliance on private contractors to maintain security in combat zones. . . The Nisour Square shooting transformed Blackwater from America’s most prominent security contractor into a symbol of unchecked and privatized military power. New York Times

Hillary Clinton needs to champion public schools – editorial. . . It’s an issue that puts Clinton in a difficult position, pitting some of her big Wall Street supporters against the ”everyday Americans” whose votes she is courting. School choice lobbyists have spent enormous sums of money around the country to promote the idea that public schools have “failed” and to support privatization. But the data don’t back up their claims. National research shows that charter and voucher schools perform no better, on average, than traditional public schools. To offer a fair shot at success to all students, public schools need more resources, not punitive, test-and-punish ”reforms” or dubious school privatization schemes. Progressive.org

Why Congress Can Sell Off Our National Forests, But Not National Parks. . . The argument for such a move is masked in small government, states’ rights and good ol’ fashioned capitalism, but rather than being a logical conclusion of conservative values, it instead clashes directly with the conservation movement that was begun by the Republican party’s most famous leaders in order to protect our country’s natural beauty and environment for future citizens. And, as a result, conservative organizations like Backcountry Hunters & Anglers are up in arms. “Public lands are the fabric that binds America together,” stated BHA executive director Land Tawney. “Nationally, an organized, concerted movement is underway to sell off and limit access to America’s public lands and waters. These are not merely the actions of a lunatic fringe. Now is the time to double down and fight back against this ill-conceived idea.” Indefinitely Wild

Helium Shortage Opens the Door to Alternatives. . . The U.S. is the biggest supplier of helium in the world. Disruptions in the supply of helium gas in the U.S impact the entire world. Recent disruptions are due to a number of factors: Reduction in helium production from U.S. reservoirs. The Helium Privatization Act of 1996 has not produced expected results to control the irregular prices of helium gas. The Stewardship Act of 2013 reinforced the privatization of U.S. helium reserves. Despite government efforts to privatize the helium gas supply, the situation has not improved due to slow response from private players. Laboratory Equipment

TX: Senate votes to strip private toll road company of eminent domain powers. Legislation that would bar a private toll road company in Texas from having eminent domain powers was unanimously approved by the Senate on Monday. The measure is aimed at the Texas Turnpike Corp., which claims to be exempt from a 1991 law that stripped private toll road companies of eminent domain authority in acquiring land to build toll roads. Dallas Morning News (blog)

VA: Del. Ramadan vows to keep fighting ‘highway robbery’ on Dulles Greenway. In the wake of several failed attempts to halt the rising cost of tolls on the Dulles Greenway, Virginia Del. David I. Ramadan (R-Loudoun) and the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors are redoubling their efforts to seek relief for motorists who use the privately owned road. Washington Post

WI: Opinion: Stop governor’s privatization of ADRCs. As Dane County Executive, I am very concerned about Governor Walker’s proposed state budget and its impact on vital county and state services. The governor’s proposal to privatize our local Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) is especially troubling. Our ADRC works and thousands of our most vulnerable citizens depend on it. Our local ADRC is a one–stop-shop that connects seniors and the disabled with critical services available to them through various federal, state and community resources. hngnews.com