Leaked: The Internet must go!

Hey! Are you on the internet right now? Of course you are! Then you should definitely check out this amazing video about what the internet companies are planning. This move could hurt both consumers and content creators--but of course would be a huge windfall for internet providers.

How weathly are Americans?

The disparity in wealth between the richest one percent of Americans and the bottom 80 percent has grown exponentially over the last thirty years — but the video, posted by user politizane and relying on data from a popular Mother Jones post, focuses on the difference between the ideal disparity that Americans would like to see and the reality.

Tax the Rich

So long! It's been fun.

Dear listeners,

In July 2011 I started a new job teaching Italian at Kansas State University. In some ways this was a return to my roots, as I taught English as a Foreign Language for 17 years in Italy. Now I am teaching English speakers Italian. I've come full circle.

This coming full circle also means the end of an attempt on my part to start a new career in my 50s. Sadly, as much as I tried to bring community radio to Manhattan, I was not successful. So I have decided to dedicate my energy and time to my first love, being an educator.

The archive of my shows will remain active - there's a lot of great content in the shows. So I hope you continue to listen and enjoy them.

Once again thank you for your support and encouragement over the five years the show was on the air. I know many feel that my program needs to be on the air and I agree with you that a diversity of voices is sorely lacking in the local media. But alas, it is not I who will bring that diversity. It will have to be someone else.

Christopher E. Renner

28 December 2008

Clippings for 28 December 2008

Click on titles to read complete articles.

Recommended Audio: Beyond Our Differences.

Bill Moyers Journal presents the film BEYOND OUR DIFFERENCES which explores the common threads that unify the world's religious traditions. In BEYOND OUR DIFFERENCES, religious leaders, politicians and luminaries in their fields give voice to the positive effects of spirituality and morality, focusing on commonalities spanning all faiths. While the negative — even violent — side of religion is widely reported, director Peter Bisanz documents the hope for positive change and healing universal to so many.

How to Throw a Green New Year's Eve Party
Center for American Progress writes: "Another year is coming to an end, and that means it’s time to celebrate. Hosting your own party is the best way to make sure it’s sustainable, as it gives you control over the environment—not to mention you can pick your own music and save on gas or cabs. You can also skip paper invitations and send out Evites encouraging friends to carpool or use public transportation. By following the rest of the tips below, you can cut back on the amount of trash you have to clean up the next morning, make sure your guests eat healthy, and help with the inevitable post-party hangover."

Former Governor Back Antibiotics Limits
John Carlin writes for the Lawrence Journal World: "For two years my colleagues at the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production and I poured over volumes of data on what the Food and Drug Administration calls on its Web site “a growing threat,” and what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has termed “among its top concerns” — the phenomenon of antibiotic resistant bacteria. What we found in our research was that overuse of antibiotics, especially in the production of food animals, is one of the primary culprits. We released our findings in April of this year with the recommendation that the FDA phase out the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in farm animal production, meaning quite simply, preserve these drugs to treat sick animals, not healthy ones, and don’t use them simply to stimulate weight gain."

Clean Coal Smoke Screen
Daniel J. Weiss, Nick Kong, Sam Schiller, Alexandra Kougentakis write for the Center for American Progress: "A series of feel-good ads this year showcased a variety of people straight from central casting: the feisty grandma, the hip-looking teacher, the salt-of-the earth farmer. They all communicated the same message: "I believe in…” the future, technology, American ingenuity. Only at the end do we learn what they all believe in: “Clean Coal. America’s Power.'" To download the PDF version of the report, click here.

Recommended Audio: CounterSpin for 19 December.
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting's CounterSpin hears from Michael Ratner, Center for Constitutional Rights, who explores why when the Senate Armed Services Committee issued a report finding former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other high officials responsible for abusive treatment of detainees in Guantánamo, Iraq and Afghanistan--with few exceptions, the media played the story down, preferring, for instance, righteous anger over embroiled Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. Michael Ratner's book, The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld, was published in September.

Also on CounterSpin, Obama's pick for education secretary drew more attention than you might have expected--in large part because the press corps was lobbying Obama to make a more conservative choice. What do the media mean when they talk about things like education "reform"? We'll be joined by author and education expert Alfie Kohn to talk about the media's role in this debate, and what we should make of Obama's choice of Arnie Duncan. Read Kohn's Beware of School 'Reformers' that appeared in The Nation on December 10th.

Bush a Catalyst in America's Declining Influence
Paul Richter reports for The Los Angeles Times: "As President Bush's term comes to a close, the United States has the world's largest economy and its most powerful military. Yet its global influence is in decline. The United States emerged from the Cold War a solitary superpower whose political and economic leverage often enabled it to impose its will on others. Now, America usually needs to build alliances - and often finds that other powers aren't willing to go along."

Don't Fix the Economy -- Change it
Peter G. Brown and Geoffrey Garver write for the Toronto Star: "Amid the discordant clash of solutions being served up to address the global financial crisis, a common refrain can be heard: Most global leaders and their economic advisers key their policy prescriptions to "sustained economic growth." The prevailing debate is how to get there most quickly. In Canada, how this debate plays out could bring down the government in a matter of weeks.

Five Bailout Lesson from Katrina
Bill Quigley writes for CounterPunch: "Despite promises of buckets of bucks, New Orleans still has sixty thousand abandoned homes. Media reports say that 75% of the abandoned buildings have homeless people sleeping in them. Public healthcare and public education and public housing are all less available and being thoroughly privatized. Crime is sky high though we still have 100 National Guard members patrolling our streets. "

A New New Deal?
Robert L. Borosage and Eric Lotke write for The Nation: "While the old basics are crumbling, twenty-first-century needs are being ignored. We maintain our addiction to oil while forfeiting our lead in renewable-energy technologies that will drive the green markets of the future. As two-income and single-parent families spread, we are failing to provide the high-quality childcare and pre-kindergarten programs vital to educating the next generation. Even as college or advanced training are deemed essential in the modern economy, more and more Americans find them priced out of reach. Our health care system is broken, consuming too many resources while providing care for too few."

Update: New Orleans Police “Looking Into” Katrina Vigilantism
A. C. Thompson reports for ProPublica: "New Orleans Police Superintendent Warren J. Riley on Wednesday announced that he is investigating alleged crimes reported in a story co-published last week by The Nation and ProPublica. The story, “Katrina’s Hidden Race War,” shows how white residents in one New Orleans neighborhood attacked African American men in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina with impunity." For related stories, see Clippings for 21 December.

Recommended Audio: Progressive Radio Interview of Fred Ho.
Progressive magazine editor, Matt Rothschild interviews Fred Ho, a scholar on the politics of African Americans and Asian Americans, as well as an innovative jazz musician. Very informative and insightful.

Cheney's Legacy of Deception
Robert Scheer writes for TruthDig.com: "In the end, the shame of Vice President Dick Cheney was total: unmitigated by any notion of a graceful departure, let alone the slightest obligation of honest accounting. Although firmly ensconced, even in the popular imagination, as an example of evil incarnate - nearly a quarter of those polled in this week's CNN poll rated him the worst vice president in US history, and 41 percent as 'poor' - Cheney exudes the confidence of one fully convinced that he will get away with it all. And why not? Nothing, not his suspect role in the Enron debacle, which foretold the economic meltdown, or his office's fabrication of the false reasons for invading Iraq, has ever been seriously investigated, because of White House stonewalling. Nor will the new president, committed as he is to nonpartisanship, be likely to open up Cheney's can of worms."

Will Move-On Live Up to Its Name?
Andie Coller writes for Politico.com: "Last week, the group’s members chose their top four priorities for the organization, winnowed down from a top-10 list culled from 50,000 suggestions. The decisions they weighed would determine in large part whether the group would become a friend or foe of the Obama administration, a player or a gadfly in progressive politics, a piece of the Democratic machine or a thorn in the party’s side."

Post-Palin Feminism
Abby Scher writes for Public Eye: "From the podium at the Christian Right’s Values Voter Summit in mid-September, National Review Institute’s Kate O’Beirne, 59, pronounced that the 'selection of Sarah Palin [as the GOP vice presidential nominee] sounded the death knell of modern American feminism.'"

You're Likable Enough, Gay People
Frank Rich writes for the New York Times: "IN his first press conference after his re-election in 2004, President Bush memorably declared, 'I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it.' We all know how that turned out. Barack Obama has little in common with George W. Bush, thank God, his obsessive workouts and message control notwithstanding. At a time when very few Americans feel very good about very much, Obama is generating huge hopes even before he takes office. So much so that his name and face, affixed to any product, may be the last commodity left in the marketplace that can still move Americans to shop."

How the Hell Did Rick Warren Get Inauguration Tickets?

Mike Madden writes for Salon.com: "For more than two years, cozying up to Rick Warren has been one of Barack Obama's favorite ways of showing evangelical Christians that he might not be so scary, after all -- and for just as long, palling around with Obama every once in a while has been Warren's way of trying to show more secular-minded people that he's not so bad, either."

Brown First in Decades to Go Against Voters
Bob Egelko writes for the San Francisco Chronicle that California Attorney General Jerry Brown's refusal to defend the Proposition 8 marriage ban in court marks the first such opposition to the outcome of a ballot measure since 1964. That year, Attorney General Thomas Lynch declined to defend a ban reversing a fair-housing law that would have permitted racial discrimination in property sales and rentals. Brown's decision is getting a mixed reaction from former attorneys general, according to this article.

Top Censored Stories for 2009
Founded by Carl Jensen in 1976, Project Censored is a media research program working in cooperation with numerous independent media groups in the US. Project Censored’s principle objective is training of SSU students in media research and First Amendment issues and the advocacy for, and protection of, free press rights in the United States. Project Censored has trained over 1,500 students in investigative research in the past three decades.
Through a partnership of faculty, students, and the community, Project Censored conducts research on important national news stories that are underreported, ignored, misrepresented, or censored by the US corporate media. Each year, Project Censored publishes a ranking of the top 25 most censored nationally important news stories in the yearbook, Censored: Media Democracy in Action, which is released in September. Recent Censored books have been published in Spanish, Italian and Arabic.

In Transition|FCC
Cecilia Kang reports in The Washington Post: "How is the transition likely to affect the Federal Communications Commission? What it does: The FCC was created by the Communications Act of 1934. It regulates communications by radio, telephone, television, wire, satellite and cable. The growth of the Internet and wireless technology has expanded the agency's profile, as it also oversees consumer prices and contracts, mergers among communications and media companies, and access to communications services during natural disasters. That has brought people such as Google co-founder Larry Page and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to lobby in the past year."

Broadband Stimulus Plan: How About Some Data First?

Ryan Singel writes for Wired: "During the Great Depression, the government tried to revive the economy with the New Deal's public work projects, and ended up paying people to dig unneeded ditches. In today's deep recession, digital age advocates are trying to persuade President-elect Barack Obama to put billions into a nationwide broadband build-out as part of his planned economic stimulus package."

25 December 2008

Clippings for 25 December 2008

Merry Christmas - Happy Hanukkah - Glorious Yule - Joyous Kawanza to all our readers/listeners and wish for prosperity in the New Year.

Click on titles to read complete articles.

The Battle for Human Rights.
Barbara Cossette writes for The Nation: "There was a lot of self-congratulation in the United States and Europe in the 1990s over a post-Communist new world order marked by a global stampede to democracy and, by implication, a wide embrace of traditional Western concepts of civil and political rights. There is certainly a new world order. But it is not the one many predicted."

The Grinning Skull: The Homicides You Didn't Hear About in Hurricane Katrina
Rebecca Solnit writes for TomDispatch.com: "What do you do when you notice that there seems to have been a killing spree? While the national and international media were working themselves and much of the public into a frenzy about imaginary hordes of murderers, rapists, snipers, marauders, and general rampagers among the stranded crowds of mostly poor, mostly black people in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, a group of white men went on a shooting spree across the river. Their criminal acts were no secret but they never became part of the official story."

Dismantling the Imperial Presidency
Aziz Huq, The Nation: "President-elect Obama's first appointments to the Justice, State and Defense Departments mark no radical change. Rather, they return to a centrist consensus familiar from the Clinton years. But pragmatic incrementalism and studied bipartisanship will do little to undo the centerpiece of the Bush/Cheney era's legacy. At its heart, that regime was intent on forcing the Constitution into a new mold of executive dominance."

Recommended Audio: Democracy Now December 22: Rove's IT Guru Warned of Sabotage
Amy Goodman reports on Democracy Now!: "A top Republican internet strategist who was set to testify in a case alleging election tampering in 2004 in Ohio has died in a plane crash. Mike Connell was the chief IT consultant to Karl Rove and created websites for the Bush and McCain electoral campaigns. He also set up the official Ohio state election website reporting the 2004 presidential election returns. Connell was reportedly an experienced pilot. He died instantly Friday night when his private plane crashed in a residential neighborhood near Akron, Ohio."

US Economy Shrinks as IMF Warns of Great Depression
Agence France-Presse reports: "The US economy shrank in the third quarter, official data confirmed Tuesday, as the IMF's top economist warned of a second Great Depression offering no respite from relentless gloom ahead of Christmas. The abrupt 0.5 percent contraction of gross domestic product (GDP) in the world's largest economy was seen as marking the start of a steep downturn for the United States after GDP growth of 2.8 percent in the second quarter."

Housing Starts Fall Through the Floor
Dean Baker reports for the Center for Economic and Policy Research: "The Census Bureau reported a sharp drop in housing starts in November from a downwardly-revised October rate.... In fact, the start reported for November is lower than any rate reported for the last fifty years."

AP Study Finds $1.6 Billion Went to Bailed-Out Bank Executives
Frank Bass and Rita Beamish report for The Associated Press: "Banks that are getting taxpayer bailouts awarded their top executives nearly $1.6 billion in salaries, bonuses, and other benefits last year, an Associated Press analysis reveals. The rewards came even at banks where poor results last year foretold the economic crisis that sent them to Washington for a government rescue. Some trimmed their executive compensation due to lagging bank performance, but still forked over multimillion-dollar executive pay packages."

My Battle With the Banks
Dennis Kucinich writes for Truthdig: "Once they were as gods, but the deities of the American banking system are now in ruins, plunged from their pedestals into the maw of taxpayer largesse. Congress voted to give the banks $700 billion, lifting them temporarily out of their sepulcher of debt, while revealing a deep truth about the condition of America’s financial powers: They never had the money they said they had as they constructed their debt-based monetary system which now lies in ruins. Their decisions on behalf of depositors, shareholders and investors were lacking in basic integrity and common sense. Green gods bailing out with their golden parachutes. There was a time when their power was real. Come with me to Cleveland 30 years ago today."

Thinking Forward: Conceptualizing Economic Vision
Michael Albert for Znet. “Thinking Forward” is a compendium of lectures from a course on Conceptualizing Economic Vision given on the Left On Line telecommunications system. The procedures for the course are typical for online courses. Each week there is new lecture. During the week, students react and pose questions. Faculty responds, as do other students. Debate proceeds and there is another lecture at week’s end. This volume, then, is one among many that we hope will emerge from the Ideas on Line University.

Man Is a Cruel Animal
Chris Hedges writes for Truthdig.com: "It was Joseph Conrad I thought of when I read an article in The Nation magazine this month about white vigilante groups that rose up out of the chaos of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans to terrorize and murder blacks. It was Conrad I thought of when I saw the ominous statements by authorities, such as International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, warning of potential civil unrest in the United States as we funnel staggering sums of public funds upward to our bankrupt elites and leave our poor and working class destitute, hungry, without health care and locked out of their foreclosed homes. We fool ourselves into believing we are immune to the savagery and chaos of failed states. Take away the rigid social structure, let society continue to break down, and we become, like anyone else, brutes."

Profits in Hungry Times
GRAIN - a small international NGO which promotes the sustainable management and use of agricultural biodiversity based on people’s control over genetic resources and local knowledge - reports in the New Internationalist: "The current hunger crisis is forcing millions of the world’s most vulnerable people to the edge. The most recent headlines come from Ethiopia but it was Haiti earlier this year that provided a quick snapshot of the dynamics of starvation. Runaway prices for basic staples like rice have driven its people to desperate measures. Some have even tried to stave off hunger by eating mud patties mixed with oil and sugar. Others have turned to protest. When commodity prices peaked earlier this year, food riots broke out across the country. They drew the world’s attention and even forced the Prime Minister to resign, but this has made little difference to government policy. Several months later, the riots are starting again."

Will Environmental Justice Finally Get Its Due?

Brentin Mock, The American Prospect: "If President-Elect Barack Obama's recent cabinet choices are any indication, the decades-old environmental justice movement may finally see many of its top policy goals fulfilled. The Obama administration is poised to finally deliver on White House promises made in the early 1990s to protect minorities from toxic waste, and with the addition of an Office of Urban Policy, it may go even further toward correcting historical racial disparities when it comes to environmental hazards. On Feb. 11, 1994, President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order #12898, the Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations. It was a huge milestone for the environmental justice movement, which began in the early 1980s when multi-racial coalitions of activists fought against pollution and dumpings near African-American communities in Warren County, North Carolina, and Dickson County, Tennessee."

Coalition Sues Over Mining Ruling
James Bruggers writes for The Louisville Courier Journal: "A coalition of environmental groups including Kentucky Waterways Alliance has sued the Interior Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, seeking to overturn a new rule that will make it easier for mining companies to dump waste rock into streams. The revisions, made final December 12, will let mining companies disregard a 100-foot stream buffer zone if they are able to convince regulators that no other option was available and that they had taken steps to minimize harm to the environment."

US: Soaring Rates of Rape and Violence Against Women

Human Rights Watch reports: "A new government report showing huge increases in the incidences of domestic violence, rape, and sexual assault over a two-year period in the United States deserves immediate attention from lawmakers and the incoming administration, Human Rights Watch said December 18. The statistics show a 42 percent increase in reported domestic violence and a 25 percent increase in the reported incidence of rape and sexual assault."

Planned Parenthood Says Midnight Regulation Jeopardizes Women's Health
Salem-News.com reports: "The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) sharply criticized a last-minute regulation by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that poses a serious threat to patients' rights to receive complete and accurate health care information and services."

Brown's Stand on Prop. 8 Raises New Questions
Victoria Kim and Jack Leonard report for The Los Angeles Times: "California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown's decision to throw the weight of his office behind same-sex marriage has sparked debate over whether his arguments will actually do more harm than good for those hoping to overturn the initiative. Brown's request that the California Supreme Court overturn the state's ban on same-sex marriage - arguing that it undermines fundamental liberties - has been widely hailed as a victory in the fight for gay rights. But far less attention has been paid to Brown's long written rejection of some of the principal legal theories put forth by same-sex marriage advocates in their bid to roll back Proposition 8."

Recommended Audio: Feast of Fools Interview of Cleve Jones.
Fausto Fernós interviews the real-life Cleve Jones, Harvey Milk’s protegee and friend portrayed by the hunky actor Emile Hirsch in Gus Van Sant’s new biographic film MILK brings forth a chilling timeliness with parallels to the anti-gay measures passed in the last election. Since the 1970s, Jones has been working tirelessly for gay rights and union organization. Have we come a long way baby, or have we only just begun?

One Leg Raised on the Bush-Cheney Legacy: Deconstructing the Spin and Propaganda
In an incisive 2,500 word analysis, award-winning journalist and university professor Walter Brasch reviews eight years of Republican spin and propaganda, all wrapped up in a letter sent by the Republican National Committee.

Statement of Public Interest Groups on Proposed Broadband Principles in Upcoming Economic Stimulus Package
Public interest groups in the Media and Democracy Coalition are urging the Obama-Biden administration and Congress to focus on accountability, local approaches, access and adoption, Internet freedom and a coherent national broadband policy.

Broadband Bailout Needs Accountability
Jon Bartholomew writes for Common Cause Blog: "The time is critical for broadband expansion, and the Obama administration's broadband plan in needed. But we have to do it right. We need accountability to make sure this is money well spent. The last thing we should do is give it to the big incumbent carriers for projects they are already planning on doing."

Recommended Audio: NPR's On the Media - The Stories they Carried.
The Federal Writers' Project put thousands of people to work including Zora Neale Hurston, Stetson Kennedy, and John Steinbeck. They recorded oral histories, folkways, music and wrote everything from state guides to children's books. Along the way, the program upended the American story. (Audio 6:35)

Recommended Audio:Lawrence Lessig's 'Remix' For The Hybrid Economy
Fresh Air from WHYY, December 22, 2008: In his new book Remix, law professor Lawrence Lessig explores the changing landscape of intellectual property in the digital age — and argues that antiquated copyright laws should be updated.

23 December 2008

State Representative Lance Kinzer is a Heartless Bigot

Our friends at Kansas Jackass fill us in on what one of our *favorite* Kansas legislators is up to for the coming season. To read the blog entry just click on the title.

22 December 2008

Clippings for 21 December 2008

Announcement: Community Discussion to Focus on Improving Health Care
Date: Tuesday Dec. 30, 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.,
Where: Manhattan Public Library Auditorium

Health Care providers and all interested citizens are invited to attend a public forum to discuss ways to improve our health care delivery system. Forum participants will be encouraged to state their opinions and share their experiences. A summary of the forum comments and anecdotes will be shared with the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Project.

Sponsors for this public forum are the Kansas Chapter of the American College of Physicians Organizations, the Riley County Medical Society, the League of Women Voters of Manhattan and Riley County, and the North Central-Flint Hills Area Agency on Aging. Their goal is to provide information from those who use the health care system to those who will be forming legislative policy change of the Health Care system and the Federal Government.

Click on Titles to read complete stories.

A World Enslaved
E. Benjamin Skinner writes in Foreign Policy: "There are now more slaves on the planet than at any time in human history. True abolition will elude us until we admit the massive scope of the problem, attack it in all its forms, and empower slaves to help free themselves."

Tortured Reasoning
David Rose writes in Vanity Fair: "George W. Bush defended harsh interrogations by pointing to intelligence breakthroughs, but a surprising number of counterterrorist officials say that, apart from being wrong, torture just doesn't work. Delving into two high-profile cases, the author exposes the tactical costs of prisoner abuse."

Will War Crimes Be Outed?

Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith writes in The Nation: "As the officials of the Bush administration pack up in Washington and move into their posh suburban homes around the country, will they be able to rest easy, or will they be haunted by the fear that they will be held accountable for war crimes? There are many reasons to anticipate that the incoming Obama administration and the new Congress will let sleeping dogs lie."

Gates Orders Development of Plans to Close Guantanamo
Jonathan S. Landay and Margaret Talev write for McClatchy Newspapers: "The Defense Department is drawing up plans to close the Guantanamo Bay military prison in anticipation that one of President-elect Barack Obama's first acts will be ordering the closure of the detention center associated with the abuse of terror suspects. Defense Secretary Robert Gates 'has asked his team for a proposal on how to shut (the detention center) down, what would be required specifically to close it and move the detainees from that facility while at the same time, of course, ensuring that we protect the American people from some dangerous characters,' Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told reporters on Thursday."

Foreign Donors to Clinton Charity Could Prompt Hillary Debate
Julian Borger reports in The Guardian UK: "The revelation that the Saudi Arabian government and Indian businessmen and politicians have donated millions of dollars to Bill Clinton's charitable foundation is likely to provoke allegations that his international fundraising could conflict with America's interests if his wife is confirmed as the next US secretary of state."

Pondering the Inner Meanings of Bill's Big List
Eugene Robinson writes for Truthdig.com: "It’s far-fetched to think that Hillary Clinton’s performance of her duties as secretary of state would be influenced in any way by foreign donations to her husband’s charitable foundation. But it is naive to think that the exhaustive list of donors released Thursday by the William J. Clinton Foundation won’t provoke suspicion and give rise to conspiracy theories in parts of the world where transparency is seen as nothing more than an illusion. "

It's a Man's Meltdown
Marie Cocco writes for Truthdig.com: "Today's brainteaser: Name the top female executives who were forced to go before Congress, explaining why their companies made multibillion-dollar mistakes that helped wreck the economy but nonetheless deserve billions in taxpayer bailouts."

White House on Times: 'Gross negligence'
Mike Allen writes for Politico.com: "The White House on Sunday issued a blistering 500-word response to a scathing 5,000-word article on the front page of Sunday's New York Times that says President Bush and his style and philosophy of governing played a direct role in the mortgage meltdown that's crippling the nation's economy."

Recommended Audio: Bush's Last-Minute "Conscience" Rules Cause Furor

Julie Rovner reports for National Public Radio News: "Health care workers, hospitals and even entire insurance companies could decline to perform, refer or pay for abortion or any other health care practice that violates a 'religious belief or moral conviction' under new rules issued by the outgoing Bush administration."

Jerry Brown: Gay-Marriage Ban Should Be Invalidated
Jessica Garrison reports for The Los Angeles Times: "In a surprise move, state Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown asked the California Supreme Court on Friday to invalidate Proposition 8. He said the November ballot measure that banned gay marriage 'deprives people of the right to marry, an aspect of liberty that the Supreme Court has concluded is guaranteed by the California Constitution.'"

US Refuses to Sign United Nations' Anti-Gay Condemnation

Associated Press and David Carry write in Time magazine: "(UNITED NATIONS) — Alone among major Western nations, the United States has refused to sign a declaration presented Thursday at the United Nations calling for worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality. In all, 66 of the U.N.'s 192 member countries signed the nonbinding declaration — which backers called a historic step to push the General Assembly to deal more forthrightly with any-gay discrimination. More than 70 U.N. members outlaw homosexuality, and in several of them homosexual acts can be punished by execution. (Read "A Gay-Pride Revolution in Hong Kong".)

Katrina's Hiden Race War: White Vigilantes short African Americans with Impunity
A. C. Thompson writes in The Nation: "The way Donnell Herrington tells it, there was no warning. One second he was trudging through the heat. The next he was lying prostrate on the pavement, his life spilling out of a hole in his throat, his body racked with pain, his vision blurred and distorted."

For additional information on this topic, including a video and additional reading material made available by ProPublica.com, click here.

Obama Cranks Up Green Revolution
Geoffrey Lean reports in The Independent UK: "Barack Obama yesterday promised to end George Bush's 'twisting' of science to suit 'politics or ideology' in an extraordinarily outspoken address to the nation, and announced that he was putting top climate scientists in key positions in his administration."

How the West's Energy Boom Could Threaten Drinkign Water for 1 in 12 Americans
Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica and David Hasemyer, The San Diego Union-Tribune report: "The Colorado River, the life vein of the Southwestern United States, is in trouble. The river's water is hoarded the moment it trickles out of the mountains of Wyoming and Colorado and begins its 1,450-mile journey to Mexico's border. It runs south through seven states and the Grand Canyon, delivering water to Phoenix, Los Angeles and San Diego. Along the way, it powers homes for 3 million people, nourishes 15 percent of the nation's crops and provides drinking water to one in 12 Americans. "

EPA Eases Emissions Regulations for New Power Plants
David A. Fahrenthold and Steven Mufson report in The Washington Post: "The Environmental Protection Agency ruled yesterday that new power plants are not required to install technology to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, rejecting an argument from environmental groups."

Does Old Glory Have a Dark Side?
Lee Drutman reports for Miller-McCune: "Research suggests that seeing the flag doesn't make Americans feel more patriotic. But it does make them feel more nationalistic and more superior to non-Americans."

The Axe, the Book and the Ad: On Reading in an Age of Depression
Tom Engelhardt, writes for TomDispatch: "Worlds shudder and collapse all the time. There's no news in that. Just ask the Assyrians, the last emperor of the Han Dynasty, the final Romanoff, Napoleon, or that Ponzi-schemer Bernard Madoff. But when it seems to be happening to your world, well, that's a different kettle of fish. When you get the word, the call, the notice that you're a goner, or when your little world shudders, that's something else again. Even if the call's not for you, but for a friend, an acquaintance, someone close enough so you can feel the ripples, that can do the trick."

To Ten Media Blunders of 2008
Michael Calderone writes for Politico.com: "The media took its share of lumps this year, with persistent claims of bias and complaints about often wrong-headed speculation from a seemingly endless parade of talking heads. Of course, there was great reporting, with journalists breaking news and penning terrific profiles of the candidates and the campaigns. TV ratings and Web traffic were through the roof, evidence of huge voter interest. But there were plenty of missteps on the way, and Politico’s compiled a list of 2008’s greatest blunders (along with a look at how the media responded to each)."

Announcing the P.U.-litzer Prizes for 2008
Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon write for Truthout: "Now in their 17th year, the P.U.-litzer Prizes recognize some of the nation's stinkiest media performances. As the judges for these annual awards, we do our best to identify the most deserving recipients of this unwelcome plaudit."

LA Times Editor's Fear: We could 'cut ourselves out of business'
David Westphal writes for the Annenberg School of Communications that newspapers are reinventing the news business on the fly. But they need a break from the relentless cost-cutting of recent months. For Tribune Co., bankruptcy may give the company a little time to regroup and recoup.

Your Turn: Call for Broadband Action
Charles Benton, Benton Foundation, writes: "On December 2, the Benton Foundation joined over 50 diverse organizations and corporations calling on President-elect Barack Obama and Congress to create a National Broadband Strategy (NBS.) Benton took the opportunity to release the Action Plan for America: Using Technology and Innovation to Address Our Nation's Critical Challenges. This report includes persuasive evidence that broadband is a catalyst for innovation, economic growth, job creation, educational opportunity and global competitiveness. It enhances public safety, homeland security, health care, energy efficiency, environmental sustainability and the worldwide distribution of millions of products, processes and services. It aids in revitalizing depressed urban and rural economies. It creates a vehicle for enhancing the level of civic participation and discourse so important to a functioning democracy. In short, it links this powerful new technology with our nation's basic needs."

18 December 2008

Clippings for 18 December 2008

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Obama's Betrayal of Public Education? Arne Duncan and the Corporate Model of Schooling

Henry A. Giroux and Kenneth Saltman comment for Truthout: "Barack Obama's selection of Arne Duncan for secretary of education does not bode well either for the political direction of his administration nor for the future of public education. Obama's call for change falls flat with this appointment, not only because Duncan largely defines schools within a market-based and penal model of pedagogy, but also because he does not have the slightest understanding of schools as something other than adjuncts of the corporation at best or the prison at worse."

Beware School "Reformers"
Alfie Kohn writes in The Nation: "Progressives are in short supply on the president-elect's list of cabinet nominees. When he turns his attention to the Education Department, what are the chances he'll choose someone who is educationally progressive?"

Gay Leaders Furious with Obama
Ben Smith and Nia-Malika Henderson write for Politico.com: "Barack Obama’s choice of a prominent evangelical minister to deliver the invocation at his inauguration is a conciliatory gesture toward social conservatives who opposed him in November, but it is drawing fierce challenges from a gay rights movement that – in the wake of a gay marriage ban in California – is looking for a fight."

What's the Matter with Rick Warren?
Sarah Posner writes for TheNation.com: "Now it has officially gone too far: Democrats, in their zeal to appear friendly to evangelical voters, have chosen celebrity preacher and best-selling author Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at Barack Obama's inauguration. There was no doubt that Obama, like every president before him, would pick a Christian minister to perform this sacred duty. But Obama had thousands of clergy to choose from, and the choice of Warren is not only a slap in the face to progressive ministers toiling on the front lines of advocacy and service but a bow to the continuing influence of the religious right in American politics. Warren vocally opposes gay marriage, does not believe in evolution, has compared abortion to the Holocaust and backed the assassination of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad."

Senate Panel's Report on U.S. Torture Abuse
Read the devastating bipartisan report from the Senate Armed Services Committee that indicts high-level Bush administration officials—including former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld—as bearing major responsibility for the torture at Abu Gharib, Guantanamo, and other detention facilities. To download a PDF version, click here.

Time to Cut the Military Pork
Titus Levi writes for Truthdig.com: "The U.S. budget is bleeding red ink by the buckets. Given the rate of the economic slowdown and the potential economic pain that Americans are likely to experience during a steep and protracted economic slump, substantial deficit spending makes sense as a way of stimulating economic activity. Still, deficits create economic problems; they drive up the cost of capital in the short run while locking in spending on debt servicing for years. So even as we take on deficits and debts, we should look for places to trim the budget. The incoming administration should start by rolling back the Bush tax cuts for those making over $250,000 a year and by putting the ax to the most sacred of sacred cows in the federal budget: the Department of Defense."

Mr. Obama, Weigh the Price of War
Douglas MacGregor writes for Defense News: "Today's world is different from the world of 1991 or 2001. Outside of the United States and Western Europe, nation-building with US military power is a euphemism for imperialism. American financial hegemony has collapsed. As seen in Iraq, the 'total victory' construct as it equates to the imposition of Western-style government and a free-market economy subservient to the US is in full retreat. In the broader Middle East, as well as in most of Africa, Latin America and Asia, 'damage control,' not 'total victory,' is the most realistic goal for US national security strategy."

War Talk, the Death of the Social, and Disappearing Children: A Lesson for Obama
Henry Giroux writes for Truthout: "Under the Bush administration, the language of war has taken on a distinctly new register, more expansive in both its meaning and its consequences. War no longer needs to be ratified by Congress since it is now waged by various government agencies that escape the need for official approval. War has become a permanent condition adopted by a nation state that is largely defined by its repressive functions in response to its powerlessness to regulate corporate power, provide social investments for the populace and guarantee a measure of social freedom."

Report: Iraq's Reconstruction a $100 Billion Failure
Agence France-Presse reports: "An unpublished US government report says US-led efforts to rebuild Iraq were crippled by bureaucratic turf wars, violence and ignorance of the basic elements of Iraqi society, resulting in a 100-billion-dollar failure, The New York Times reported on its website."

Ten Tips for Greener Holiday Gifts
The Center for American Progress writes: "The holidays are approaching quickly, and if you’re like many Americans, you’re dreading long lines at department stores and spending wads of cash on stuff you’re not even sure will be as much as glanced at after Christmas morning. With a recession in full swing and another year of inaction on climate change behind us, employing practical, environmentally conscious shopping techniques can keep more money in your wallet while also taking action on a serious problem—and it’ll be good for your blood pressure, too."

How to Be an Ethical Consumer without Breaking the Bank
Suyeon Khim writes for Campus Progress: "During most of my time as a student at the University of Chicago, I rarely thought about the wider social impact of the vote in my pocket. My prevailing argument against my ethically minded, upper-middle-class friends who always have "disposable income" was that the ethics of consumer choices are relative. If the cost of buying fair- trade coffee over regular coffee means that I had to forgo buying toothpaste that month, then my decision to pass on the "ethical" product could not be branded as socially irresponsible."

The Logic of Keynes in Today's World
Robert Reich writes on Robert Reich's Blog: "Not long ago I was talking to someone who once had been a deficit hawk but the current recession had turned into a full-blooded Keynesian. He wanted a stimulus package in the range of $500 to $700 billion. 'Consumers are dead in the water,' he said, fervently, 'so government has to step in.' I agreed. But I didn't tell him his traditional Keynesianism is based on two highly-questionable assumptions in today's world, and the underlying logic of Keynes leads us toward something bigger and more permanent than he has in mind."

Is GOP Risking the Economy to Win the PR War Against Unions?

Art Levine writes for The Huffington Post: "Even as the auto industry teeters on collapse, union-bashing continues as the mainstay of a GOP propaganda war against organized labor. With three million jobs at stake, potentially costing taxpayers $150 billion in unemployment insurance, Medicaid, other aid and lost tax revenues, unions remain the primary targets of the GOP blame game for the troubled auto industry and the failed bailout deal. The Bush Administration, while dithering over the scope of any bailout with federal funds, has faced mounting pressure from Republicans to impose the same sort of union-wrecking conditions that scuttled a deal in the Senate last week."

Down on Upward Mobility

Dan Carpenter comments in The Indianapolis Star: The labor movement, which made teachers into empowered professionals and factory workers into middle-class taxpayers, has been under attack for a generation from the forces of phony simplicity. The idea that collective bargaining has achieved a standard of living that is unfair and unsustainable, rather than one that society as a whole should pursue, is one of our most powerful national myths. Like the glory of war and the frivolousness of environmental protection, union bashing is a bill of goods sold by the most myopic of special interests and bought by ordinary folks against their own interests."

Foreclosure ‘Hope for Homeowners’ Program Still Hopeless
Alexandra Andrews reports for ProPublica: "Early in November, we wrote that HUD’s "Hope for Homeowners" program was struggling to dole out the hope. In its first two weeks, only 42 people applied to the program meant to help as many as 400,000 avoid foreclosure. Two weeks later, the government made some fixes, but we couldn’t figure out how they’ve been working out. Until today."

Executive Pay Limits May Prove Toothless
Amit R. Paley reports in The Washington Post: "Congress wanted to guarantee that the $700 billion financial bailout would limit the eye-popping pay of Wall Street executives, so lawmakers included a mechanism for reviewing executive compensation and penalizing firms that break the rules. But at the last minute, the Bush administration insisted on a one-sentence change to the provision, congressional aides said. The change stipulated that the penalty would apply only to firms that received bailout funds by selling troubled assets to the government in an auction, which was the way the Treasury Department had said it planned to use the money."

Obama Eyes 'Provide Conscience' Rule

Jesse Nankin writes for ProPublica: "Yesterday we reported on the White House's approval of a regulation that would allow health care workers at federally-funded institutions to deny treatment they find morally objectionable. It's commonly known as the 'provider conscience' rule, and if finalized this week will go into effect before the end of the Bush administration."

Climate Change: Chasm Widens Between Science and Policy
Stephen Leahy reports for Inter Press Service: "The roof of our house is on fire while the leaders of our family sit comfortably in the living room below preoccupied with 'political realities' - that was essentially the message from 1,000 scientists from around the world along with northern indigenous leaders gathered in Quebec City for the International Arctic Change conference that concluded last weekend. Presenting data from hundreds of studies and research projects detailing the Arctic region's rapid meltdown and cascading ecological impacts, participants urged governments to take 'immediate measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.'"

Probe Finds Politics Drove Endangered Species Decisions
Michael Doyle reports for McClatchy Newspapers: "Politics corroded Bush administration decisions on protecting endangered species nationwide, federal investigators have concluded in a sweeping new report. Former Interior Department official Julie MacDonald frequently bullied career scientists to reduce species protections, the Interior Department investigators found. Species from the California tiger salamander to plants and crustaceans found in vernal pools were rendered potentially more vulnerable as a result, environmentalists believe."

The Crisis: An Opportunity to Save the Planet
Antoine Reverchon, of Le Monde, interviews Lord Nicholas Stern, professor at the London School of Economics and author of the Stern Report on the costs of global warming, about the nexus between the global economic crisis and what Sir Nicholas calls "the planetary crisis." For original French, click here.

The Year in Media Errors and Corrections 2008: Trend of the Year: Epic Organizational Failure
Craig Silverman writes for Regret the Error: "It’s rare to look back over a year of corrections and errors and see so many examples of organizational failure. Years past have seen plenty of malfeasance by individuals, but 2008 is remarkable for news organizations that pursued completely outrageous behavior."

Sean Hannity: Media Matters' 2008 Misinformer of the Year
Media Matters for America: "As Media Matters for America has demonstrated time and again, Fox News' Sean Hannity has been a prolific and influential purveyor of conservative misinformation. But never has he so enthusiastically applied his talents for spreading misinformation as he did to the 2008 presidential race, focusing his energies primarily on President-elect Barack Obama. Day after day, Hannity devoted his two Fox News shows and his three-hour ABC Radio Networks program to 'demonizing' the Democratic presidential candidates, starkly explaining in August: 'That's my job. ... I led the 'Stop Hillary Express.' By the way, now it's the 'Stop Obama Express.'' Hannity's 'Stop Obama Express' promoted and embellished a vast array of misleading attacks and false claims about Obama. Along the way, he uncritically adopted and promoted countless Republican talking points and played host to numerous credibility-challenged smear artists who painted Obama as a dangerous radical. When he was not going after Obama, Hannity attacked members of Obama's family, as well as Sen. Hillary Clinton and other progressives, and denied all the while that he had unfairly attacked anyone."

Daily Banter Exclusive: Meet the Man Trying To Change The Face of The American Media
Ben Cohen writes for the Daily Banter: "Head of ‘The Real News’ network Paul Jay is trying to save the news media, one viewer at a time. Horrified at the corporate media’s acquiescence to the White House during 9/11 and the run up to the war in Iraq, Jay decided to set up his own organization to provide the public with real, unadulterated journalism that would effectively challenge power regardless of the political environment." Real News RSS feeds are available on the Community Bridge webpage.

Future of the Internet III

Pew Internet and American Life Project reports: "A survey of internet leaders, activists and analysts shows they expect major tech advances as the phone becomes a primary device for online access, voice-recognition improves, artificial and virtual reality become more embedded in everyday life, and the architecture of the internet itself improves."

Recommended Audio: Obama on the FCC, Media and Internet Policy

15 December 2008

Clippings for 14 December 2008

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Human Rights and the Economic Crisis
Michael Honey comments for the Seattle Post-Intillegencer: "Sixty years ago this week, the United Nations adopted he Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It codified liberties Americans had long supported: freedom of speech, assembly, association, belief and worship; legal rights and due process; rights to a job at good wages under reasonable conditions, and economic security."

Homelessness, Hunger on Rise in US Cities: Report
Agency France-Presse: "Homelessness and hunger increased in an overwhelming majority of 25 US cities in the past year, driven by the foreclosure crisis and rising unemployment, a survey showed Friday. Out of 25 cities across the United States surveyed by the US Conference of Mayors, 83 percent said homelessness in general had increased over the past year while 16 cities, or nearly two-thirds of those polled, cited a rise in the number of families who had been forced out of their homes."

A Year of Living Dangerously

Richard Swift writes for the New Internationalist: "2008 – what a year! First the price of petroleum doubled, then a global food crisis, now a complete financial meltdown. People can be forgiven for wondering ‘what next?’ The runaway cost of basic foodstuffs hit hard earlier in the year. The Western media played it as an unfortunate, but far away, tragedy. Most people in the industrial world barely noticed as the prices on the supermarket shelves edged up. But for those in the Global South living on $2 or less a day – about one in three of us – it was catastrophic. Figures vary, but most estimates, including that of the Food and Agriculture Organization, hold that the runaway price spiral of basic foodstuffs (rice, grain, corn) pushed another 100 million people into situations of life-threatening malnutrition. This is on top of perhaps 900 million people already in this position. That’s a billion people without the means to survive. How many actually died? Or are dying? No-one really knows."

We Told You So

David Sirota for Truthdig reports that with the release of three new reports, there’s no debate anymore about who was correct and who wasn’t concerning the economic collapse and the Wall Street bailout. The studies prove that progressive critics were right and the Washington ideologues and the pundits were wrong.

Detroit's Problem: It's Health Care not the Union
Christopher Martin writes for CommonDreams.org: "The Senate's failure to pass the bailout of the U.S. auto industry strikes a big blow at one of labor's last stands in manufacturing in the U.S. What's at stake? According to the bill: 355,000 workers in the U.S. directly employed by the automobile industry; 4,500,000 employed in related industries (the auto industry has the highest job creation multiplier effect of any industry); 1,000,000 retirees (with pensions and health care benefits)."

The Nasty Class and Anti-Union Bais of Auto Bailout Opposition
Robert Weissman writes for CommonDreams.org: "What is remarkable about the Senate Republican refusal to agree to a $15 billion loan deal for the auto industry is that they are not serving any corporate interest. A collapse of the U.S. auto industry would be bad not just for the Big Three, and the supplier networks and auto dealers, but pretty much every sector of the economy, including Wall Street. Earlier this week, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue urged that 'Congress must immediately authorize bridge loans to America's carmakers to prevent the collapse of the U.S. auto industry and the devastating impact it would have on the economy, American workers, and national security.'"

Let the Banks Fail: What a Few of the Financial Giants Should Crash
Joshau Holland writes for AlterNet: "So far, much of Washington’s ad hoc, ham-fisted response to the economic crisis has been based on the dictum that the financial institutions must be prevented from taking their losses. That should come as no surprise. Big finance’s lobbyists have been all over the "bailout" (it should be bailouts, plural) from the very start, Wall Street pumped piles of cash into the elections — AIG, recipient of tens of billions in taxpayer largesse, ponied up $750,000 for both the Democratic and Republican conventions — and the whole thing’s been designed by "free-market" ideologues who came to Washington directly from Wall Street."

Fed Refuses to Disclose Recipients of $2 Trillion in Bank Loans
Mark Pittam reports for Bloomberg News: "The Federal Reserve refused a request by Bloomberg News to disclose the recipients of more than $2 trillion of emergency loans from U.S. taxpayers and the assets the central bank is accepting as collateral."

Putting Aid and Trade to Work: Fostering Development for Sustainable Security

Sabina Dewan and Reuben Brigety write for The Center for American Progress: "The United States is facing a period of unprecedented challenges, from overcoming a severe economic recession to battling terrorism and climate change. On the one hand, each of these challenges reaffirms America's interconnectedness with its global community. But on the other, each also points to its faltering leadership. This unique juncture for the United States requires a new model for sustainable security that takes into account the dynamism, interdependence, and mutual vulnerabilities of an integrated world."

Mumbai Wake-up Call
Frida Berrigan writes for Foreign Policy In Focus: "A few months ago, trucks loaded with goods crossed a border. All over the world, this kind of thing happens every day, but not here. October marked the first time in 60 years that Indian trucks loaded with apples and walnuts traveled to Pakistan. The trucks returned carrying a shipment of Pakistani rice and raisins. Around the same time, India and Pakistan increased the number of goods the two nations could trade from just 13 to nearly 2,000. They opened new freight train lines and refurbished custom houses in anticipation of vigorous cross border trade. All of this goodwill is now frozen, stopped by a hail of bullets and the deafening crash of bombs in Mumbai."

9 Is Not 11 (and November Isn't September)
Arundhati Roy writes for TomDispatch.com: "We've forfeited the rights to our own tragedies. As the carnage in Mumbai raged on, day after horrible day, our 24-hour news channels informed us that we were watching 'India's 9/11.' And like actors in a Bollywood rip-off of an old Hollywood film, we're expected to play our parts and say our lines, even though we know it's all been said and done before. As tension in the region builds, US Senator John McCain has warned Pakistan that, if it didn't act fast to arrest the 'bad guys,' he had personal information that India would launch air strikes on 'terrorist camps' in Pakistan and that Washington could do nothing because Mumbai was India's 9/11."

A Legal Time Bomb in Iraq
Bruce Ackerman and Oona Hathaway report for The Guardian UK: "Hillary Clinton's first task as US secretary of state will be to defuse the legal time-bomb that the Bush administration has set up in Iraq. Up to now, the military occupation has been authorised annually by the UN. But now the administration plans to let the UN mandate expire on December 31, and replace it with a new 'status of forces agreement' recently approved by the Iraqi parliament."

Senate Report Ties Rumsfeld to Abu Ghraib Torture

David Morgan reports for Reuters: "Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other senior US officials share much of the blame for detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to portions of a report released on Thursday by the Senate Armed Services Committee. The report's executive summary, made public by the committee's Democratic chairman Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan and its top Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, said Rumsfeld contributed to the abuse by authorizing aggressive interrogation techniques at Guantanamo Bay on December 2, 2002."

Exclusive: Pentagon Pro-Troop Group Misspent Millions, Report Says
Noah Shachtman comments in Wired: "While the Pentagon preps for a new administration, a scandal from an earlier era is rearing its head. A Defense Department project, supposedly designed to support US troops, was used instead to channel millions of dollars to personal friends and allies of its chief. The 'America Supports You,' or ASY, program was led in a 'questionable and unregulated manner,' according to a Department of Defense Inspector General report, obtained by Danger Room. At least $9.2 million was 'inappropriately transferred' by the project's managers. Much of that money served only to further promote ASY, instead of assisting servicemembers."

NBAF: Why There Are No Winners

Butner Blogsport writes: After almost three years of waiting, we now know the preferred location of the much sought after federal biotech prize the NBAF. On Friday the Department of Homeland Security confirmed what the Associated Press leaked on Wednesday. Manhattan, Kansas was chosen as the 'Preferred Alternative' to host the world’s largest BSL4 Agricultural facility. With the facility comes the claims of an economic boom with the influx of construction jobs, state and federal taxes, federal grants and last but not least research prestige. The official announcement was made as a delegation of Kansas Politicos waltzed one by one toward the mic to express their glee on the 'historic opportunity.'"

'Killing a Brown': New Evidence of Exremists in the Military
David Holthaus writes for the Intelligence Reporter: "The racist skinhead logged on with exciting news: He'd just enlisted in the United States Army. 'Sieg Heil, I will do us proud,' he wrote. It was a June 3 post to AryanWear Forum 14, a neo-Nazi online forum to which 'Sobibor's SS,' who identified himself as a skinhead living in Plantersville, Ala., had belonged since early 2004. (Sobibor was a Nazi death camp in Poland during World War II)."

Baby Steps -- and Big Questions -- for General Colin Powell
Steve Ralls for Huffington Post discusses comments by retired Gen. Colin Powell that the military gay ban "should" be reviewed are encouraging to hear, but will do little to advance the debate since the former secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff remains mum on what actions Congress should take to change the policy, according to Steve Ralls, a former spokesman for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. Ralls writes: "While no one doubts that Powell could answer with specifics about what he believes, the question is: does he understand why now is the time that he should?"

Anti-Immigrant Fervor Translates to Terror for Women
Melissa Nalani Ross writes for On the Issues Magazine: "In my work on civil and human rights, especially with immigrant populations, I was contacted recently about a woman without documentation who worked at a fruit stand in the northeast. A male customer approached her and asked if she had any waitressing experience, as he needed servers at his restaurant. Seeing this as an opportunity to make a little more money to support herself and her family, the woman agreed to stop by the establishment for an interview. When she arrived, instead of sitting down and discussing a job opportunity, the woman was met by a group of men who took turns raping her. They then told her that if she went to the authorities, they would have her deported."

Hard Times Without Studs
Tom Engelhardt blogs for The Nation: "On Sunday, I went to a memorial for Studs Terkel, that human dynamo, our nation's greatest listener and talker, the one person I just couldn't imagine dying. After all, the man wrote his classic oral history of death, 'Will the Circle Be Unbroken?' at 89, and only then did he do his oral history of hope, 'Hope Dies Last.' The celebration of his life went on for almost two and a half hours. Everyone on stage had a classic story about the guy, one better than the next, and Studs would have been thrilled that so many people talked at such length about him. But he wouldn't have stayed. Half an hour into the event, he would have been out the door, across the street, and into the nearest bar, asking people about their lives."

Most Outrageous Media Comments of 2008

Julie Millican reports for Media Matters: "With attacks on autistic children, the poor, and HIV-positive basketball star Magic Johnson, talking heads showed that nobody was safe in 2008, no matter how unfounded and unseemly the smear. Progressive politicians, particularly Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton and President-elect Barack Obama, were also targets. Obama was called everything from a 'pussy' (Don Imus), to a 'steamy crap sandwich' (Chris Krok). One commentator said Obama 'fits the stereotype blacks once labeled as an Oreo -- a black on the outside, a white on the inside' (John McLaughlin), while others associated him with the Antichrist (Bill Cunningham, Chris Baker, Brian Sussman, others). Michelle Obama was also targeted, being described, among other things, as 'Kim Jong-Il dressed up with a bit of Oprah Winfrey dressing' (Mark Steyn). MSNBC's Chris Matthews said Clinton's success is attributable not to her merit, but to the fact that 'her husband messed around.'"

Black Journalist, Bloggers Discuss the Future of News
Talla Whyte writes for the Bay State Banner that with newspapers across the nation watching their circulations decline, many black journalists find themselves re-evaluating the next steps in their own careers. The drop in print readership has also affected the nation’s approximately 200 black newspapers, leading many to reconsider how to stay competitive.

The FCC and the KGB -- No Long a Laughing Matter
Art Brodsky writes for Public Knowledge: "Over the past couple of years, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin got a lot of mileage out of making jokes about his 'KGB-style management' at the Commission. In 2006 and last year, he used his designated humor speech at the Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA) dinners to poke fun at himself, including drawing up a “top 7 list” of how the FCC isn’t like the KGB. Number 3 on the list: 'The KGB is run efficiently.' Nobody’s laughing today. That’s because the Democratic staff of the House Energy and Commerce Committee released a report, entitled 'Deception and Distrust: The Federal Communications Commission Under Chairman Kevin J. Martin.' The report reads like a 110-page indictment, complete with exhibits. And, according to Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), the chairman of the Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee, there will be more to come."