Danny Schechter @ Common Dreams - Journalists are not supposed to have political opinions, and yet we all do. Our “biases” are usually disguised, not blatant or overtly partisan, and can be divined in what stories we cover and how we cover them,
Even ‘just the facts, ma'am,’ journos for big Media have to decide which facts to include and which to ignore.
Our outlooks are always shaped by our worldviews, values and experience, not to mention the outlets we work for.
Which brings me to the challenge of seeking truth and recognizing it when you see it.
I have to admit that I was seduced by the idea of Barack Obama. Read more.
Chris Hedges @ Truthdig - We have begun the election march of the trolls. They have crawled out of the sewers of public relations firms, polling organizations, the commercial media, the two corporate political parties and elected office to fill the airwaves with inanities and absurdities until the final inanity—the 2012 presidential election. Journalists, whose role has been reduced to purveyors of court gossip, whether on Fox or MSNBC, descend in swarms to report pseudo-events such as the Ames straw poll, where it costs $30 to cast a ballot. And then, almost immediately, they blithely inform us that the Iowa poll is meaningless now that Rick Perry has entered the race. The liberal trolls, as they do in every election cycle, are beating their little chests about the perfidiousness of the Democratic Party and Barack Obama. It is a gesture performed not to effect change but to burnish their credentials as moralists. They know, as do we, that they will trot obediently into the voting boo…
Mathew Rothschild @ The Progressive - With Qaddafi on the run, we’re now hearing about Libya being a model for future U.S. interventions.
The New York Times today reports that Administration officials say the Libyan intervention “may, in some important ways, become a model for how the United States wields force in other countries where its interests are threatened.”
I should hope not.
Because what the United States and its European allies did was “international gangsterism,” as Dennis Kucinich so colorfully put it the other day. Read more.
This Can't Be Happening - A classic David vs. Goliath battle is taking shape in the courtroom and in the streets and fields of Vermont as Entergy Nuclear of Louisiana tries to overturn Vermont law in the federal courts.
The state has thoughtfully and repeatedly voted no to the extension of Entergy's Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor's license, which is due to expire on March 21, 2012. Results of Town Meeting votes, a 26-4 vote by the Vermont Senate, and a pivotal gubernatorial race all have shown that the state does not see Vermont Yankee as a reliable or economical partner for its energy future. Forty years' accumulation of radioactive waste on the banks of the Connecticut River is enough. Read more.
Medea Benjamin @ Common Dreams - Former Vice President Dick Cheney was given a multi-million contract to write a book about his political career. According to Cheney’s media hype, the book, called In My Time, will have “heads exploding all over Washington.” The Darth Vader of the Bush administration offers no apologies and feels no remorse. But peace activists around the country are stealthily gearing up to visit bookstores, grab a stack of books, and deposit them where they belong—the Crime Section. Read more.
Dean Baker @ Guardian UK - We've heard plenty about Obama's post Labor Day job creation speech, but will it contain anything that might actually work?
President Obama has discovered how serious the recession is. That's what he told an audience in Chicago last week. To be fair, he was referring to revised data from the commerce department showing that the falloff in GDP was larger than originally reported.
But ridicule is appropriate. He and we knew all along how many people were out of work. The employment numbers told us the size of the hole and the desperate need for government action. Read more.
Michael Peters interview Henry Giroux @ Truthout - Henry Giroux is one of the founding theorists of critical pedagogy in the United States and a close friend of the late Paulo Freire. He and Freire coedited a very influential series on education and cultural politics for Bergin and Garvey. Giroux has made groundbreaking contributions to numerous fields, including education, critical theory, youth studies, cultural studies, media studies, higher education and public pedagogy. A leading cultural critic in the United States and Canada, he has held positions at Boston University, Miami University of Ohio, and Penn State, and currently occupies the Global TV Network Chair in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. He is a public intellectual and has written over 50 books...read more.
Medea Benjamin @ Common Dreams - The ceremonies for the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington DC were kicked off on August 24 at an event billed as Honoring Global Leaders for Peace. But some of those honored are a far cry from King’s beloved community of the poor and oppressed. The tribute to peacemakers, organized by the MLK National Memorial Foundation, was mostly a night applauding warmakers, corporate profiteers and co-opted musicians.
The night started out with great promise when MC Andrea Mitchell mentioned Dr. King’s brilliant anti-war speech Beyond Vietnam as a key to understanding the real Dr. King. And sure, there were a few wonderful moments—a song by Stevie Wonder, a speech about nonviolence by the South African Ambassador and a quick appearance by Jesse Jackson in which he managed to spit out a call to “study war no more.” Read more.
Politico - A leaked U.S. diplomatic cable shows that Arizona Republican Senator John McCain promised to help Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi obtain U.S. military hardware in 2009.
The cable, released by the open information group Wikileaks, reveals the pledge came at meeting that was attended by other prominent members of Congress, including Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT). Read more.
UK Observer - Disney's best-selling Cars toys are being made in a factory in China that uses child labor and forces staff to do three times the amount of overtime allowed by law, according to an investigation.
One worker reportedly killed herself after being repeatedly shouted at by bosses. Others cited worries over poisonous chemicals. Disney has now launched its own investigation. Read more.
Mike Ludwig @ Truthout - Dozens of United States diplomatic cables released in the latest WikiLeaks dump on Wednesday reveal new details of the US effort to push foreign governments to approve genetically engineered (GE) crops and promote the worldwide interests of agribusiness giants like Monsanto and DuPont. food I need. Read more.
Japan Times - High levels of cesium isotopes are cropping up in dust at 42 incineration plants in seven prefectures, including Chiba and Iwate, an Environment Ministry survey of the Kanto and Tohoku regions shows. Read more.
New America Media - When Mary Broad moved to Lanare in 1955, there were only four other families still living in this tiny, unincorporated community in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley, halfway between old Highway 99 and Interstate 5 on the cracked blacktop of Mt. McKinley Avenue.
It wasn't always this way.
Lanare used to be a company town, taking its name from rancher and speculator L.A. Nares, one of the last of a string of speculators from the east coast who purchased the old Spanish land grants - in his case, the Rancho Laguna de Tache. From 1912 to 1925 the town had a post office and a station on the Laton and Western Railway. Read more.
Eugene Robinson - As the nation honors the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. with a stirring new memorial on the National Mall, let's not obscure one of his most important messages in a fog of sentiment. Justice, he told us, is not just a legal or moral question but a matter of economics as well.
In this sense, we're not advancing toward the fulfillment of King's dream. We're heading in the opposite direction. Read more.
New Deal 2.0 - This week’s credit check: Average student debt can spiral up to $100,000 with interest and late payments. Room and board charges at colleges have doubled in actual dollars since 1982.
It’s no great secret that student loan debt is exploding. The total amount is set to top $1 trillion, more than total credit card debt. But accompanying that post-recession surge in student debt...read more.
Truthout - "Shooting and crying" is a phrase popular in Israel regarding soldiers and their engagement with civilian life following combat. In this short film, former Israeli soldiers reflect...read more.
In These Times - A 21st-century land rush is on. Driven by fear and lured by promises of high profits, foreign investors are scooping up vast tracts of farmland in some of the world’s hungriest countries to grow crops for export.
As the climate changes and populations shift and grow, billions of people around the globe face shortages of land and water, rising food prices and increasing hunger. Read more.
Foreign Policy In Focus - We make a bargain with our governments. We pay taxes and expect a set of government services in return. And in return for a guarantee of some measure of security, we grant the government a monopoly on legitimate violence. In theory, then, we forswear mob rule and paramilitary organizations, we occasionally accept the death penalty as an appropriate punishment, we delegate the responsibility to declare and prosecute war to our legislative and executive branches, and we put guns into the hands of the army and the police. Read more.
Jason Leopold @ Truthout - The US Army has told a reservist who has spent half his life in the military that he is barred from re-enlisting, asserting he "leaked" classified information to this reporter during an interview in which he spoke candidly about his experiences working as a guard at Guantanamo Bay eight years ago. Read more.
Robert Scheer @ Truthdig - They will get away with it, at least in this life. “They” are the Wall Street usurers, people of a sort condemned in Scripture, who have brought more misery to this nation than we have known since the Great Depression. “They” will not suffer for their crimes because they have a majority ownership position in our political system. That is the meaning of the banking plea bargain that the Obama administration is pressuring state attorneys general to negotiate with the titans of the financial world.
It is a sellout deal that, in return for a pittance of compensation by banks to ripped-off mortgage holders, would grant the banks blanket immunity from any prosecution. That is intended to short-circuit investigations by a score of aggressive state officials, inquiries that offer the public a last best hope to get to the bottom of the housing scandal that has cost U.S. homeowners $6.6 trillion in home equity in the past five years and left 14.6 million Americans owi…
Common Dreams - Mathias O is 34 years old. He is one of about 600,000 people still homeless from the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. He lives with his wife and her 2 year old under a homemade shelter made out of several tarps. They sleep on the rocky ground inside. The side tarp walls are reinforced by pieces of cardboard boxes taped together. Candles provide the only inside light at night. There is no running water. No electricity. They live near a canal and suffer from lots of mosquitoes. There are hundreds of families living in tents beside him. This is the third tent community he has lived in since the earthquake.
The earthquake made Mathias homeless when it crushed his apartment and killed his cousin and younger brother. Read more.
Matt Tabbi's Blog @ Rolling Stone - A power play is underway in the foreclosure arena, according to the New York Times.
On the one side is Eric Schneiderman, the New York Attorney General, who is conducting his own investigation into the era of securitizations – the practice of chopping up assets like mortgages and converting them into saleable securities – that led up to the financial crisis of 2007-2008.
On the other side is the Obama administration, the banks, and all the other state attorneys general.
This second camp has cooked up a deal that would allow the banks to walk away with just a seriously discounted fine from a generation of fraud that led to millions of people losing their homes. Read more.
LA Times - An effort by state attorneys general to take big mortgage servicers to task over faulty foreclosure practices has stalled as financial institutions demand broad legal immunity from other mortgage-related probes.
The nationwide effort looking into faulty foreclosures, which involves attorneys general from all 50 states as well as some federal agencies, was expected to have produced a settlement of more than $20 billion by now. But talks have stumbled over how much the banks should pay as well as to what degree they will be released from liability from future investigations. Read more.
Independent UK - British businesses are scrambling to return to Libya in anticipation of the end to the country's civil war, but they are concerned that European and North American rivals are already stealing a march as a new race to turn a profit out of the war-torn nation begins.
Business leaders with previous experience of making deals in Libya have told The Independent that plans are in hand to send a trade mission to Benghazi to meet leaders of the Transitional National Council (TNC). Read more.
Guardian UK - Beijing used to be famous for the millions of bicycles thronging its streets. But it is the success of the motor car there and in other Chinese mega-cities that has now tipped the number of cars in the world over the 1bn mark.
According to a report by the trade journal Ward's, 35m new cars and lorries were sold worldwide last year – the second-biggest increase ever recorded. That is 95,500 extra vehicles being added to the global traffic jam every day. Read more.
Ralph Nader @ Common Dreams - It was only a matter of time before the "pull down" NAFTA and WTO trade agreements on U.S. wages and jobs would be followed by "pull down" contract demands by U.S. corporations on their unionized workers toward levels of non-unionized laborers.
The most recent illustration of this three-decade reversal of nearly a century of American economic advances for employees is the numerous demands by Verizon. Read more.
Guardian UK - After years of struggle, Shell is finally being held legally accountable for the damage it has caused in the Niger delta where it is estimated up to 10 million gallons of oil has been leaked.
A class action lawsuit originating in London forced the Dutch oil giant to accept full responsibility for the 2008 ruptures of the Bodo-Bonny trans-Niger pipeline. Together the Ivorian community and a London law firm have forced the energy company to take responsibility for its actions.
This precedent is cause for great celebration. However, one thing this law case cannot accomplish is to undo the decades of social and environmental injustice caused to the Niger Delta's communities and natural environment. Read more.
Baltimore Sun - A frightening earthquake jolted Baltimore and much of the East Coast on Tuesday, shaking buildings and rattling nerves. Thousands of people streamed from offices and homes into the afternoon sunshine, stunned by a phenomenon more commonly associated with seismic hot spots like California and Japan. Read more.
Politico - Tuesday’s magnitude-5.8 earthquake shut down the North Anna nuclear plant roughly 40 miles northwest of Richmond, Va., not far from the quake’s epicenter.
Both reactors at the Dominion Power-operated plant automatically shut down as designed in response to the quake, NRC spokesman David McIntyre said. The plant’s diesel generators switched on when the plant eventually lost off-site power. Read more.
Guardian UK - Shortly before 2 on Tuesday, Climate Central's Princeton office shook unmistakably. It was obvious that the earth had moved, and within moments, we learned that the epicenter of the 5.9-magnitude quake was in Louisa, Virginia, Southeast of Charlottesville and northwest of Richmond. The shaking was dramatic in Washington, D.C., and felt to some degree all the way north to Boston (a colleague with a birds-eye view reported cars backing carefully out of the Holland Tunnel that connects New York City to New Jersey).
Tuesday's earthquake on the US east coast shut down two nuclear reactors. Seismic activity in the US is unlikely to cause a meltdown, but it poses serious engineering challenges. Read more.
NY Times @ Truthout - An earthquake sent tremors from the nation’s capital to New York City and New England Tuesday afternoon, the result of what officials said was a 5.9 magnitude earthquake based in Virginia.
Buildings throughout major metropolitan centers in the northeast were evacuated after the quake, and tremors were felt...read more.
Greg Mitchel @ The Nation - As a new debate seemingly fails to build over US policy on Afghanistan—in the wake of President Obama’s announcement of a rather-too-slow “drawdown”—it is useful to review the much-forgotten revelations that emerged from WikiLeaks’s massive “war logs” release last July, and the reaction (or lack of) they produced.
WikiLeaks released more than 91,000 documents related to the United States and the war in Afghanistan, which the New York Times called “a six-year archive of classified military documents [that] offers an unvarnished and grim picture of the Afghan war.” Explicitly, or by extension, the release also raised questions about the media coverage of the war to date. Read more.
NY Times - Eric T. Schneiderman, the attorney general of New York, has come under increasing pressure from the Obama administration to drop his opposition to a wide-ranging state settlement with banks over dubious foreclosure practices, according to people briefed on discussions about the deal. Read more.
NY Times - A judge formally ordered the dismissal of all criminal charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn on Tuesday, but he said his order would be stayed until an appellate court decides whether a special prosecutor should be appointed.
Prosecutors in the office of Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, told Justice Michael J. Obus of State Supreme Court in Manhattan that they could not prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt because of serious credibility issues with the hotel housekeeper who had accused Mr. Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her as she entered his suite to clean it. Read more.
Agence France Presse - Some areas close to Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant will likely remain no-go zones for "several decades", a media report citing an unnamed government official said Monday.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan is expected to visit the region as early as Saturday to apologize to people who had to flee their homes as a result of the nuclear accident more than five months ago. Read more.
Bill Quigley and Davida Finger @ Common Dreams - Six years ago, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf coast. The impact of Katrina and government bungling continue to inflict major pain on the people left behind. It is impossible to understand what happened and what still remains without considering race, gender, and poverty. The following offer some hints of what remains.
$62 million. Amount of money HUD and the State of Louisiana agreed to pay thousands of homeowners because of racial discrimination...read more.
Richard D. Wolff @ Truthout - Last week, Democratic Governors in New York and Connecticut repeated the austerity politics of Greece’s Prime Minister Pappandreou and Portugal’s Socrates. In doing so, they likewise imitated the austerity politics of their Republican and Democratic counterparts across virtually all 50 states. Austerity for labor and the public is everywhere capitalism’s Plan B. Even capitalists now see that capitalism’s Plan A failed. Read more.
Politico - The FCC gave the coup de grace to the fairness doctrine Monday as the commission axed more than 80 media industry rules.
Earlier this summer FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski agreed to erase the post WWII-era rule, but the action Monday puts the last nail into the coffin for the regulation that sought to ensure discussion over the airwaves of controversial issues did not exclude any particular point of view. A broadcaster that violated the rule risked losing its license. Read more.
Truthout - In American culture, Disney has become synonymous with childhood. Present-day grandparents grew up watching the animated films, wearing Mickey Mouse pajamas and begging to go to Disneyland. But while it all seems innocent, few people have considered the hold that the Disney Corporation has not only on their own lives, but on the world as a whole.
Henry Giroux and Grace Pollock explore this relationship between consumer and industry in their book "The Mouse that Roared: Disney and the End of Innocence." Read more.
Solutions - Some crises appear and disappear in global media while remaining acute in the lives of real people. Global food insecurity is this type of crisis. In January 2011 the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) warned that global food prices in December 2010 exceeded the 2008 peak during the so-called food price crisis that sparked “food riots” across Africa, Asia, and Latin America.1 The UN also warned that the price increase would not stop overnight and that we were entering “danger territory.”2 Although prices stabilized in the spring, global food prices in May 2011 remained higher than they were in June 2008. We will see more price spikes in the future, due to a growing discrepancy between supply and demand, the impacts of climate disruption on agricultural production, and the merger of the energy and food markets. The food crisis is here to stay. Read more.
Rutland Herald (Vermont) - Vermont environmental author and activist Bill McKibben went to Washington, D.C., in hopes of getting attention by getting arrested. This weekend he got that and more: a surprise two-night stay in jail.
McKibben and 64 other protesters kicked off a two-week sit-in at White House on Saturday to oppose a $7 billion, 1,700-mile oil pipeline planned to cross the nation’s Great Plains.
U.S. Park Police had warned demonstrators that each would be arrested and quickly released with a $100 fine for trespassing. But after authorities learned that more than 2,000 people from all 50 states plan to join the protest sometime between now until Sept. 3, they jailed McKibben and his peers until a court hearing Monday — all in hopes of deterring future participants. Read more.
Observer UK - After the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and this summer's looting in England, there is no longer any doubt about the speed with which large crowds can be mobilised on to the streets. As flash-mobbing morphs into flash-robbing, the attention of British authorities is turning to the mobile phones and social media that empower everything from benign groups dancing in railway stations to the vandalism of entire high streets.
During the riots, two London MPs called for a BlackBerry Messenger curfew, proposing a 6pm to 6am shutdown of the service being used by gangs to organise looting. It was not implemented but in the aftermath, a review of police powers, including those to intervene in mobile communications, was announced. Theresa May is to meet Twitter, Facebook and BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (Rim) to discuss tighter controls, and the prime minister has warned: "When people are using social media for violence, we need to stop them." Read more.
McClatchy Newspapers @ Truthout - After 15 years as a white-collar "corporate nomad," Dan Rogers found his new career in the thriving green-collar industry of Colorado, the only state in America with a for-profit medical marijuana market.
The equities trader and former investment banker now produces pot breeds "Reclining Buddha" and "Heartland Cream" in a converted printing press warehouse near downtown Denver. Read more.
Truthout - On a warm spring day, strolling in south London, I heard demanding voices behind me. A police van disgorged a posse of six or more, who waved me aside. They surrounded a young black man who, like me, was ambling along. They appropriated him; they rifled his pockets, looked in his shoes, inspected his teeth. Their thuggery affirmed, they let him go with the barked warning there would be a next time.
For the young at the bottom of the pyramid of wealth and patronage and poverty that is modern Britain, mostly the black, the marginalized and resentful, the envious and hopeless, there is never surprise. Their relationship with authority is integral to their obsolescence as young adults. Half of all black British youth between the ages of 18 and 24 are unemployed, the result of deliberate policies since Margaret Thatcher oversaw the greatest transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top in British history. Forget plasma TVs, this was panoramic looting. Read more.
Foreign Policy In Focus - As the sun rose on August 2, Spanish authorities destroyed the tent-village that had come to symbolize what some participants have called the Spanish Revolution. The ruling Socialist Party, via the Ministry of the Interior and in conjunction with the right-wing Popular Party that controls the local government, ordered Madrid's Puerta del Sol cleared of all remnants of the 15-M (May 15) movement as its participants, the indignados (the outraged) watched helplessly. Police boots, chainsaws, and fire hoses erased months of makeshift architecture, street art, and community – once inhabited by some 28,000 campers – from the Spanish capital’s central square. Read more.
Sharable - Ask a headline writer at any paper of record and they’ll tell you that today’s young people are “The Lost Generation.” They tend to use this label as if Hemingway and Fitzgerald hadn’t stumbled their way through half the bars in Paris under the same flag. Unfortunately, the youths of today aren’t lost in a morass of sex, art, booze, and politics (not necessarily in that order), but rather can’t find a path through the haze of economic insecurity and impending ecological catastrophe. The current use of the term draws less from those charmed ex-pats than from “The Lost Decade”, the name given to Japan’s period of economic stagnation during the 90′s. But the two uses point towards different aspects of sociohistorical lostness: one is about a generation not knowing what to do with its capacity within society, the other about a society that doesn’t know what to do with its capacity for generation, a world that seems to have already made too much of everything. It is unclear in w…
Fire Dog Lake - A major two-week action involving daily sit-ins at the White House against the granting of a permit for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline began Saturday. Just over seventy people were arrested. The action continues today, as over thirty plan to engage in civil disobedience at the White House again.
Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, Gus Speth, Lt. Dan Choi, Jane Hamsher and many other fine activists came together at 10:30 am on Saturday morning. They all participated in a rally in Lafayette Park. Following the rally, a carefully orchestrated civil disobedience action took place with more than seventy people lining up in front of the White House. Read more.
Inter Press Service - The endeavour gave a deeper meaning to her life and turned her into an internationally recognised community organiser. Nevertheless, the real wish of Margarita Barrientos is that there would be more need for soup kitchens for the hungry, like the one she founded in the capital of Argentina.
"This shouldn't have to exist," Barrientos told IPS at the Los Piletones soup kitchen, which she runs. "What there should be is decent work, so that every man and woman could go out and earn a living. But until that is possible, we'll have to keep this going." Read more.
NY Times @ Truthout - Leaders of the unions that have been on strike against Verizon Communications announced on Saturday that they were ending the walkout even though the two sides had not reached an overall settlement for a new contract.
Beginning with the evening shift on Monday, the 45,000 striking workers will return to their jobs, posts that they left on Aug. 7 in the nation’s largest strike since 2007, when workers at General Motors held a two-day strike. Read more.
New American Media - One in four California households with children reported food hardship, according to a new analysis of Gallup data released last Thursday by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC).
“It’s disturbing, but not surprising,” said Kelly Hardy, director of health policy at Children Now.
The report analyzed data gathered as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index project’s responses to the question: “Have there been times in the past 12 months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?” Read more.
Michael Winship @ Truthout - The report, "Back to Work: A Public Jobs Proposal for Economic Recovery," written by Rutgers law and economics professor Philip Harvey, recommends an approach that "doesn't require us to wait for the economy to recover in order to put people back to work. It puts people back to work as a way of nourishing the recovery. It's a strategy for producing a job-recovery rather than the jobless recovery we have been experiencing so far.
"The recovery strategy... is conceptually simple: Create jobs for the unemployed directly and immediately in public employment programs that produce useful goods and services for the public's benefit. What this does for the unemployed is obvious. They get decent work while they wait for the recession to run its course... Benefits delivered... trickle up to the private sector, inducing private sector job creation that supplements the immediate employment effect of the job creation program itself."…
MaxEternity.com - On the evening of July 3, Charles Blair Hill was shot and killed in San Francisco. At the time of the shooting, Hill was on the platform of the Bay Area Rapid Transit’s (BART) Civic Center station, located just a couple blocks from San Francisco’s City Hall complex.
Hill was homeless and also thought to have had unaddressed mental health problems.
Initially Hill was suspected to have been intoxicated at the time, but unarmed. Since the incident occurred, however, BART police informed that Hill had a knife, which they say was used to assault the arresting officers.
In the ensuing weeks, protests have been planned and organized, one of which spurred BART administrators to shut down cell phone and internet service in the immediate area of the Civic Center station as an attempt to quell potential BART commute disruptions, also citing public safety. This event then trigger others, whereby civil rights organizations, including an international, activist, hacker group ca…
Think Progress - Has Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) turned the House Oversight Committee into a bank lobbying firm with the power to subpoena and pressure government regulators? ThinkProgress has found that a Goldman Sachs vice president changed his name, then later went to work for Issa to coordinate his effort to thwart regulations that affect Goldman Sachs’ bottom line. Read more.
YES! Magazine - With politics in D.C. hitting new lows, few progressives look to either the Obama administration or the two major parties for leadership in restoring the middle class and transitioning to a green, just economy. Instead, many are returning to a strategy that actually brought real progress during the last century: building strong, unified, and sustained people’s movements.
Van Jones is one of those working to build people power today. Jones is a co-founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Color of Change, and Green for All. Read more.
Truthout - There have been a number of cases of detainees held by the Department of Defense (DoD) who have been subjected to water torture, including some that come very close to waterboarding, according to an investigation by Truthout. The prisoners have been held in a number of settings, from Afghanistan and Iraq to Guantanamo Bay.
In a number of settings, DoD spokespeople in the past - most notably former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld - have denied the use of waterboarding by DoD personnel. But as examples of DoD water torture have multiplied, it appears government denials about "waterboarding" were overly legalistic, and that behind them, DoD personnel were hiding torture involving similar methods of choking, suffocation or near-drowning by water. Read more.
Tim Karr @ Media Citizen - I have spent most of the week poring over news stories, blogs and commentary on last week’s decision by Bay Area Rapid Transit officials to shut off cellphone service to quash planned protests on its trains and platforms.
Opinions are many and range from BART spokesman Linton Johnson, who says constitutional rights end the moment people walk through transit-authority turnstiles, to “X” of the hacker collective Anonymous, who protested BART’s action and said our freedom to connect should be absolute and universal. Read more.
Roots Action @ Common Dreams - The overarching challenge in the world today is: how do we advance the institutions and practices capable of enacting a desirable quality of life for a burgeoning global population of 6.5 billion people? And how do we accomplish that in a way that does not burn up the planet in a Venus atmosphere of our own creation? That is a tall order to fill, yet it is the defining task of the 21st century.
RootsAction is calling for a bold jobs plan to address poverty.
More than anywhere else, Europe has fostered the types of innovations that point the way forward for the world to meet these challenges. Europe's brand of "social capitalism" is better suited for the 21st century than America's "Wall Street capitalism" because it has developed itself on several major fronts. Read more.
Miami Herald - President Barack Obama will seek to set Washington's agenda in September by calling for new efforts to spur job growth and even deeper cuts in future federal budget deficits than called for in the widely panned deal he struck last month with lawmakers.
Speaking Wednesday at a town-hall meeting in Illinois, his home state, Obama said he'll continue to press for new tax revenue as he asks congressional negotiators to go beyond the $1.5 trillion in future deficit reductions that a special bipartisan joint congressional committee is charged with identifying. Read more.
Amy Goodman @ Truthdig - What does the police killing of a homeless man in San Francisco have to do with the Arab Spring uprisings from Tunisia to Syria? The attempt to suppress the protests that followed. In our digitally networked world, the ability to communicate is increasingly viewed as a basic right. Open communication fuels revolutions—it can take down dictators. When governments fear the power of their people, they repress, intimidate and try to silence them, whether in Tahrir Square or downtown San Francisco. Read more.
Ray McGovern - With few exceptions, like some salacious rumor about the Kennedy family, the mainstream U.S. news media has shown little interest in stories that throw light on history — even recent, very relevant history. So it comes as no surprise that, when a former White House counter-terrorism czar accuses an ex-CIA director of sitting on information that could have prevented a 9/11 attack, the story gets neither ink nor air.
Bulletin for those of you who get your information only from the New York Times, the Washington Post and other outlets of the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM): Former White House director for counterterrorism Richard Clarke has accused former CIA Director George Tenet of denying him and others access to intelligence that could have thwarted the attack on the Pentagon on 9/11. Read more.
WhoWhatWhy.com - The establishment media just keep getting worse. They’re further and further from good, tough investigative journalism, and more prone to be pawns in complicated games that affect the public interest in untold ways. A significant recent example is The New Yorker’s vaunted August 8 exclusive on the vanquishing of Osama bin Laden.
The piece, trumpeted as the most detailed account to date of the May 1 raid in Abbottabad Pakistan, was an instant hit. “Got the chills half dozen times reading @NewYorker killing bin Laden tick tock…exquisite journalism,” tweeted the digital director of the PBS show Frontline. The author, freelancer Nicholas Schmidle, was quickly featured on the Charlie Rose show, an influential determiner of “chattering class” opinion. Other news outlets rushed to praise the story as “exhaustive,” “utterly compelling,” and on and on.
To be sure, it is the kind of granular, heroic story that the public loves, that generates follow-up bestsellers and movie op…
Robert Reich - Not only is the United States slouching toward a double dip, but so is Europe. New data out today show even Europe’s strongest core economies – Germany, France, and the Netherlands – slowing to a crawl.
We’re on the cusp of a global recession.
Policy makers be warned: Austerity is the wrong medicine.
We all know about the weaknesses in Europe’s “periphery” – Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, and Italy. But the drop in Europe’s core is dizzying. Read more.
Independent UK - It is one of the mysteries of Japan's ongoing nuclear crisis: How much damage did the 11 March earthquake inflict on the Fukushima Daiichi reactors before the tsunami hit?
The stakes are high: if the earthquake structurally compromised the plant and the safety of its nuclear fuel, then every similar reactor in Japan may have to be shut down. With almost all of Japan's 54 reactors either offline (in the case of 35) or scheduled for shutdown by next April, the issue of structural safety looms over any discussion about restarting them. Read more.
Truthout - Data for this post was compiled by Matt Separa, Research Assistant with the Economic Policy Team at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), since he launched his presidential campaign on Saturday, has paraded around the stat that “since June of 2009, Texas is responsible for more than 40 percent of all of the new jobs created in America.” “Now think about that. We’re home to less than 10 percent of the population in America, but 40 percent of all the new jobs were created in that state,” Perry says. Read more.
Stephen Robert @ The Nation - I grew up in a small town in Massachusetts where my parents headed our local synagogue, Hadassah and the United Jewish Appeal. My first trip abroad after university, in 1962, included a week-long visit to Israel, where I was awed by its accomplishments, as well as by its vulnerability. After the Six-Day War in 1967, I basked in the courage and military prowess of my fellow Jews. The eloquence of foreign minister Abba Eban, defending his beleaguered country at the United Nations, still fills me with pride. In the years since, I’ve been a contributor and fundraiser for the UJA-Federation of New York, a governor of the American Jewish Committee, which is dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, and a founding director of the Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. I’ve made five additional visits to Israel since 1962, the last this summer as part of a humanitarian aid trip to East Jerusalem and the West Bank. As a Jew who has been an ardent…
John Nichols @ The Nation - President Obama is interrupting his long vacation to bus across the battleground states of the Midwest this week, on an officially “non-political” journey that his aides obviously hope will renew a connection with the people who overwhelmingly elected him president in 2008. It is an essential endeavor, as Obama’s uncertain tenure has frustrated voters who once saw him as a transformational leader but now wonder whether there is a point to his presidency.
The disconnect between Obama and his base has grown more profound this year, as he has focused on the compromises of Washington while working people in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and other states have engaged in “Which side are you on?” fights against a Republican austerity agenda that threatens the very underpinnings of civil society and democratic experiment.
Obama’s absence from the scene has raised questions about how the man who once promised...read more.
Warren Buffett @ NY Times - OUR leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.
While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors. Read more.
Common Dreams - Warren Buffett is calling. We need more wealthy folks to speak up for the common good.
Billionaire superinvestor Warren Buffett has done it again. The Oracle of Omaha has made a bold and revealing statement about “taxing the wealthy.” In his op-ed in Monday’s The New York Times, Buffett wrote, “While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks.”
Buffett revealed that his own effective tax rate – the percentage of his income that he actually pays – is far below his co-workers, thanks to how investment income is taxed at lower rates. Buffett pays an effective rate of 17.4 percent, whereas most middle and upper income individuals pay over 30 percent of their income. He revealed one of the dirty secrets of tax policy – the privileged treatment of income from wealth over income from work and wages. Read more.
Chris Hellman for Tom Dispatch @ Common dreams - The killing of Osama Bin Laden did not put cuts in national security spending on the table, but the debt-ceiling debate finally did. And mild as those projected cuts might have been, last week newly minted Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta was already digging in his heels and decrying the modest potential cost-cutting plans as a "doomsday mechanism” for the military. Pentagon allies on Capitol Hill were similarly raising the alarm as they moved forward with this year’s even larger military budget. Read more.
NY Times @ Truthout - Egyptian soldiers who were sent to crack down on lawlessness in the North Sinai Desert killed a man in a gunfight on Monday and captured a dozen others in a series of early morning raids, security officials said.
The military council that has governed Egypt since the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak said over the weekend that it was deploying about 1,000 soldiers to the region, apparently in response to an attack on a police station two weeks ago. In that attack, in the provincial capital of El Arish, gunmen launched rocket-propelled grenades and fought a nine-hour firefight with the police before escaping unharmed. Read more.
Inter Press Service @ Common Dreams - Canada has flexed its military muscles, first in Afghanistan for nine years alongside NATO forces, and now in Libya in its supply of ships and combat planes for the rebel forces, but little debate has happened on the ground among Canadians themselves on this direction.
Canada "had this terrible experience in Afghanistan, 157 military personnel dead, and 20 billion dollars spent." A recent summer opinion poll by Environics discovered that among priorities for Canadians, the economy or job creation factors as high as 29 percent, compared to health care at 13 percent, deficit reduction and cutting taxes tied at six percent, and defence and crime tied at a mere four percent. Read more.
Japan Times - Antinuclear nongovernmental organizations and academics called for the complete abolition of nuclear power plants in Japan on Monday, the 66th anniversary of the end of World War II.
Drawing parallels between the nation's nuclear policy and the Imperial Japanese Army — both of which caused unwarranted grief to the public — University of Tokyo professor Tetsuya Takahashi urged the government to revise the nation's energy infrastructure. Read more.
International Business Times - There's an old axiom that goes "wise is the person who appreciates candor almost as much as good news" and with that as a guide, place the forthcoming decidedly in the category of candor.
Economist Nouriel "Dr. Doom" Roubini, the New York University professor who four years ago accurately predicted the global financial crisis, said one of economist Karl Marx's critiques of capitalism is playing itself out in the current global financial crisis. Read more.
Connie Schultz @ Cleveland Plains Dealer - Keep cool, Daniel Webster once said. Anger is not an argument.
Wise advice, but it sets an impossible standard if we reflect on the loss of 30 Americans in a single incident in Afghanistan. Perhaps only prolonged and widespread anger will bring an end to this relentless loss of American lives.
Last Saturday, in the single deadliest loss for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, 30 American men were killed after a rocket-propelled grenade took down their Chinook helicopter. Twenty-two of the dead were Navy SEALs, many of them from SEAL Team Six, which carried out the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, although the Pentagon said none of the dead participated in that raid. Seven Afghan soldiers and an Afghan interpreter also were killed. Read more. Read more.
Vancouver Sun (Canada) - Mushrooms joined the threats to Japan’s food chain from radiation spewed by Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, as the country expands efforts to limit the effects of the disaster. Read more.
Agence France-Presse @ Common Dreams - Billionaire investor Warren Buffett urged U.S. lawmakers Monday to raise taxes on wealthier Americans to cut Washington's huge budget deficit, saying the move would not dampen investments or jobs.
In a New York Times opinion article, the chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway proposed a tax increase on Americans who make at least $1 million per year and an additional increase on those making $10 million or more. Read more.
Other Words - Two-year-olds often go running around the house too wildly and crash into something. They get an "ouchie" and fall down crying, but they learn from it.
That's the virtue of the "ouchie" that Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and other big financiers got last year when they ran into the law after racing wildly through home foreclosure paperwork. They were caught falsifying thousands of documents and taking illegal shortcuts that were causing innocent families to lose their homes. They had to pay fines, make restitution, suspend foreclosures, and pledge to clean up their act. But at least they learned their lesson.
Banksy on the foreclosure crisis
Oh, wait — these aren't two-year-olds. They are wily bankers, and the only lesson they ever seem to learn...read more.
Guardian UK - Brand Oprah is a seamless and hugely influential melding of capitalism, self-help, humanitarian aspirations and spirituality. Endless consumption is encouraged by personal recommendations and lavish freebies from iPods to jewellery. At the same time, disciples can practise tasteful austerity with "debt diets" reminding us that "we are all responsible for everything that happens to us". The poor, too, are responsible both for their condition and for overcoming it. Buying things for the deserving poor – and Winfrey is clear that they are not all deserving – must be seen as "giving them bootstraps".
Pledging to "destroy the welfare mentality", Winfrey has often suggested that receiving state assistance is a choice, one she herself rejected. Her grand philanthropic acts, such as the failed experiment to move 100 Chicago families into private housing during Bill Clinton's "welfare reform" efforts, are accompanied by politi…
Guardian UK - A front page story in Sunday's New York Times gave the country the bad news. President Obama is no longer paying attention to economists and economics in designing economic policy. Instead, he will do what his campaign people tell him will get him re-elected, presumably by getting lots of money from Wall Street.
The article said that President Obama intends to focus on reducing government spending and cutting programmes like social security and Medicare. This is in spite of the fact that: "A wide range of economists say the administration should call for a new round of stimulus spending, as prescribed by mainstream economic theory, to create jobs and promote growth." Read more.
Inter Press Service @ Common Dreams - The nationwide movement for social justice that sent tens of thousands of Israelis to the streets on the weekend was seemingly oblivious to the fact that, concurrently, the Palestinians were officially announcing their bid for U.N.- endorsed recognition of statehood. Read more.
Jeffery J. Smith @ Truthout - The obese American is not just a person; it's also most US cities. Most cities here sprawl over way too much land for their number of inhabitants. Compare that footprint to Old World cities that are much more compact.
While we say "footprint," the more accurate term would be "tire track."
Our cities take up so much land not for humans, but for automobiles. Cars like wide streets, parking lots, driveways, parking garages for rest, gas stations for sustenance, repair shops and parts stores for health, dealer lots to show off, junk yards for final repose, plus highway patrol stations, parcels zoned commercial for insurance offices etc. Add it all up, cars take up as much surface area as do people in American cities. Read more.
Colorlines - Jobs, rather than debt, is the core problem afflicting the United States. This is what the Federal Reserve declared on Wednesday when it confirmed what many of us have feared: The country’s economy is stuck and without drastic action won’t move for at least two years. As an unprecedented statement by the nation’s central bank, it was a clear signal that the jobs crisis has no end in sight. It also serves as a plain message to elected officials: You are the only ones who can fix this mess. Read more.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch - If America truly is serious about dealing with its deficit problems, there's a fairly simple solution. But you're probably not going to like it: Enact a single-payer health care plan.
See, we told you weren't going to like it.
But the fact is that everyone who has studied the deficit problem has agreed that it's actually a health care problem — more specifically, the cost of providing Medicare benefits to an aging and longer-living population. Read more.
Michele Chen @ Colorlines - The famine in Somalia is a human tragedy on an unimaginable scale. But the loss of life depicted in the news reports masks other losses: there is the loss of shame—by the warring factions whose violent appetites continue to ravage the country from within; and there’s the loss of perspective by the geopolitical forces that have cynically stoked civil war under the banner of “fighting terror”; and there’s the loss of hope among the ordinary people caught in the crossfire.
The United Nations’ declaration of famine in Somalia highlighted a desperate need for international assistance, but also exposed how aid money fits into Washington’s political arsenal. Read more.
Washington Post - They were crucial for vaccines against hepatitis A and B. They took part in hundreds of early studies of HIV. And in 1961, two of them were shot into space.
(1961 Associated Press File Photo) - Ham was sent into space and returned to Earth in January 1961. Currently, there are about 1,000 medical research chimps in the United States But the role of chimpanzees in medical research is at a crossroads. Last week, the highest scientific body in the land put the issue on trial as a committee of the Institute of Medicine, part of the congressionally chartered National Academy of Sciences, met to deliberate the fate of nearly all of the world’s remaining medical research chimps. Read more.
Gregory Paul @ The Washington Post - A truly strange thing has happened to American Christianity. A set of profound contradictions have developed within modern conservative Christianity, big and telling inconsistencies that have long slipped under the radar of public knowledge, and are only now beginning to be explicitly noted by critics of the religious and economic right.
Here is what is peculiar. Many conservative Christians, mostly Protestant but also a number of Catholics, have come to believe and proudly proclaim that the creator of the universe favors free wheeling, deregulated, union busting, minimal taxes especially for wealthy investors, plutocrat-boosting capitalism as the ideal earthly scheme for his human creations. Read more.
This Can't Be Happening - How do you assure the security of a nation of human beings who consume a disproportionate amount of the world’s resources, habitually live beyond their means and are addicted to all forms of fantasy from Bible-based delusion, to patriotism-based arrogance, to movie special effects that make ordinary human drama seem boring?
What is the most powerful nation in the world with the largest, most expensive, most lethal military in the history of mankind to do when the good times turn bad, the money goes funny and class warfare breaks out on the homefront?
The answer for the United States seems to be a growing concentration on what is known as Special Operations, which includes Special Forces, Seals and a host of other lethal military forces that emphasize mobility, efficiency, secrecy and unaccountability. Read more.
Colorlines - In a open letter to network executives and editors earlier this year, Kathy Times, outgoing-president of the National Association for Black Journalists, decried this lack of diversity in the newsrooms of the top three broadcast networks, pointing out the large disparity between minority populations and their representation in news outlets. “As America inches toward a world that is more black and brown,” wrote Times, “corporations are adjusting their cultures to embrace diversity because they know it makes good business sense. But too many network executives are ignoring this reality.” Read more.
John Nichols @ The Nation - The essential vote on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals panel that ruled that the individual-coverage mandate in President Obama’s healthcare reform is unconstitutional did not come from a reactionary Republican appointed by Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush.
Rather, it came from respected jurist whose two appointments to the federal bench—first as a judge for the Northern District of Georgia in 1994 and then to the 11th Circuit in 1997—were made by then-President Bill Clinton. No, Judge Frank Mays Hull is not a raging lefty, but nor is she a right-wing judicial activist. A former law clerk for Judge Elbert Parr Tuttle, who as the chief justice of the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit from 1960 to 1967 led the court in issuing a series of epic decisions on behalf of civil rights, Judge Hull has a reputation as a moderate defender of the rule of law who has earned reasonable marks for her pragmatic and decidely mainstream interpretations of the Constit…
Reuters - "I think that the president, when he gets to the United Nations and meets the secretary general, will present the application," Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said in a briefing in Ramallah.
Malki's statement narrowed down the timing of the application to September during Abbas' visit to New York, but when asked give a specific date, Palestinian officials said it would still have to be determined. Read more.
AlterNet - Hollywood’s compulsion for feel-good movies is annoying at best, but when applied to storylines that are ostensibly historical—particularly when they involve issues that people still don’t seem to understand—they can be toxic. In The Help’s case, the history of civil rights in the virulently racist Southern town of Jackson, Mississippi, is neatly packaged into a heartstring-tugging Hallmark card, set to a rousing Mary J. Blige soundtrack, and completely trivializes the suffering and hard work that went into making civil rights a reality. Read more
AlterNet - As international aid agencies scramble for donations for East Africa's famine victims, one multi-million-dollar fundraising drive has come from an unexpected source: a West African schoolboy.
Andrew Adansi-Bonnah is 11. And during his eight-week school holiday, he wants to raise 20 million Ghanaian cedis — or about $13 million — for his cause by walking office to office collecting donations in Ghana's capital, Accra. Read more.
Christian Science Monitor - The decision by Bay Area Rapid Transit officials to cut off cellphone service Thursday evening – to forestall a planned protest – raises a fundamental question: Do Americans have a basic right to digital free speech or to digitally organized assembly? Read more.
AlterNet - Journalists often pass on our occupational hazard to our readers. In the search for the next big headline, the media often focus on the sensational, the original, but most importantly, the negative. “What went wrong today,” should be the sub-headline of every breaking story of the day. The injustice of the day is the driving force of nearly all news media and is too often driven by the desire for profits, rather than an interest in finding real solutions.
Colorlines, a progressive magazine focused on the intersections of race, politics, gender and society, is no different in the journalism game. Read more.
AlterNet - After mounting concern about the public health and environmental risks of the controversial shale gas drilling practice of hydraulic fracturing (or fracking), last May Obama charged Energy Secretary Steven Chu with the task of setting up an advisory board to look into the practice. Thanks to Dick Cheney and something known as the "Halliburton loophole," fracking is exempt from major environmental laws that protect our water and our health even though fracking can pose serious risks. The process involves injecting water, sand and a toxic cocktail of chemicals deep underground at high pressure to break up rock formations and capture natural gas that may be released. Read more.
AlterNet - Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., was angry. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, with the approval of the White House, had just offered up the deficit-reduction deal that would reel the nation in from the brink of default on the national debt, a precipice to which the country was marched by the Republican majority in the House of Representatives. Instead of taking on the Tea Partiers' demands for deep cuts to social programs in exchange for granting the president permission to raise the debt ceiling, the White House and the Senate majority leader were folding.
When the going gets tough, sometimes the tough take to Twitter. "Nada from million/billionaires," Edwards tweeted. "Corp tax loopholes aplenty; only sacrifice from the poor/middle class? Shared sacrifice, balance? Really?" Read more.
Michael Grabell for ProPublica @ Truthout - The nation's top economists are already giving odds on a double-dip recession. The Federal Reserve has only a few bullets left in its gun. And Congress seems politically paralyzed to come up with any new infrastructure or tax-cut plan that would fire up the economy.
So, it seems all the more surprising that the federal government still has $100 billion to $150 billion in stimulus money left to spend. Read more.
Michele Chen @ In These Times - The retail giant Target is under fire from all sides, for union-busting at home and labor violations overseas. The reports that have come out in the past several weeks highlight a continuum of cruelty in the global supply chain.
Though WalMart has long served as labor's arch nemesis, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) has lately zeroed in on Target as a new battlefield—with its hundreds of thousands of employees and recent expansion into the supermarket sector. Read more.
The Hill (Washington D.C.) - Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said this weekend he still expects President Obama to be the Democratic nominee for president in 2012, and doesn't know of anyone who might step forward to challenge Obama.
Sanders said he still supports the concept of a primary challenge for Obama, because, Sanders said, even Republicans have done a better job of keeping their campaign promises than Obama. Read more.
Waging Nonviolence - On Monday the Dow Jones industrial average fell 634.76 points; the sixth-worst point decline for the Dow in the last 112 years and the worst drop since December 2008. Every stock in the S&P 500 index declined.
It is easy to blame bipartisan bickering for the impasse that led to Standard & Poor’s downgrading of the American debt, and in turn the vertiginous fall of the Dow. This bickering—this substitution of ideology for reason, of egotism for compassion and responsibility on the part of lawmakers—is a national disgrace; but while it failed to fix the problem, we must realize that it did not cause it. The cause—and potential for a significant renewal—lies much deeper. Read more.