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

29 September 2008

Clippings for 28 September

A Better Bailout
Joseph E. Stiglitz writes in The Nation: "The champagne bottle corks were popping as Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced his trillion-dollar bailout for the banks, buying up their toxic mortgages. To a skeptic, Paulson's proposal looks like another of those shell games that Wall Street has honed to a fine art. Wall Street has always made money by slicing, dicing and recombining risk. This 'cure' is another one of these rearrangements: somehow, by stripping out the bad assets from the banks and paying fair market value for them, the value of the banks will soar."

Is the Bailout Needed? Many Economists Say "No"

Kevin G. Hall reports for McClatchy Newspapers: "A funny thing happened in the drafting of the largest-ever US government intervention in the financial system. Lawmakers of all stripes mostly fell in line, but many of the nation's brightest economic minds are warning that the Wall Street bailout's a dangerous rush job. President Bush and his Treasury secretary, former Goldman Sachs chief executive Henry Paulson, have warned of imminent economic collapse and another Great Depression if their rescue plan isn't passed immediately. Is that true?"

AIDS Epidemic Reaches a "Chronic Stage"
Sarah Boseley reports in The Guardian UK: "After more than two decades and a truly epic struggle, the HIV/AIDS epidemic appears to be leveling off. The numbers of new infections are dropping. By now we have medicine we can give those infected to stop them from dying and we know how to prevent people becoming HIV positive. And yet every day, destitute women with children to feed sell their bodies for unsafe sex, babies are born with the virus and men die for lack of drugs. So much has been achieved in the fight against AIDS, and so much remains to do."

Ohio's Battle Over Early Voting
Amy Merrick writes in The Wall Street Journal: "In Ohio, where early voting will begin Tuesday, the fight in the courts is becoming as bruising as the one expected at the ballot box. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit in Cleveland late Wednesday, challenging a central Ohio county's decision to reject the secretary of state's instructions about same-day registration and voting."

The New Corporate Threat to Our Water Supplies

Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman write for TomDispatch.com: "In the last few years, the world's largest financial institutions and pension funds, from Goldman Sachs to Australia's Macquarie Bank, have figured out that old, trustworthy utilities and infrastructure could become reliable cash cows - supporting the financial system's speculative junk derivatives with the real concrete of highways, water utilities, airports, harbors and transit systems."

Bush "Conscientious Refusal" Puts Us All at Risk
Dr. Wendy Chavkin comments in RH Reality Check: "Recently, the Department of Health and Human Services proposed a set of regulations that claim to increase protection for healthcare workers' right to abstain from medical services to which they conscientiously object. These regulations represent another in a long line of cynical attempts by the Bush administration to distort science and medicine to fit its religious views and sabotage women's access to reproductive health care."

Ideology of Judges Determines Asylum Seekers' Fate
Matthew Blake reports in The Washington Independent: "In August 2006, then-Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales unveiled a 22-point plan to rescue the severely strained immigration court system. Gonzales vowed to better assist and police the more than 200 U.S. immigration judges, who are civil servants in the Executive Office for Immigration Review at the Justice Dept. Each year, these judges issue more than 300,000 rulings on whether an undocumented immigrant seeking asylum in the United States can stay or must be deported."

An Unfolding Crisis in the Wake of Mississippi ICE Raid

Kari Lydersen writes for In These Times: "On August 25, federal agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raided the Howard Industries electronics factory in Laurel, Miss., taking into custody 592 immigrant workers-the largest single workplace raid in US history. But as in Postville, Iowa, New Bedford, Mass. and other sites of recent massive workplace raids, local immigrants and advocates say the real story is only now unfolding, as the waves of fear unleashed by the raids ripple throughout the community."

Recommended Audio
Check out last week's Counter Spin. They open by looking at the Republicans attempts to bar people from voting in November who have lost their homes in the mortgage crisis—targeting a largely poor, African-American pool of voters who would likely lean heavily towards the Democratic Party. Michigan's Republican party denied the allegations just as soon as the story started making its way into the mainstream media. CounterSpin speaks with Michigan Messenger reporter Eartha Jane Melzer about what she uncovered, and what she makes of the pushback against her reporting. Also on the show: The proposed federal bailout of Wall Street financial giants is still a top story.

25 September 2008

Clippings for 25 September

Paulson Bailout Plan a Historic
William Greider writes for The Nation: "Financial-market wise guys, who had been seized with fear, are suddenly drunk with hope. They are rallying explosively because they think they have successfully stampeded Washington into accepting the Wall Street Journal solution to the crisis: dump it all on the taxpayers. That is the meaning of the massive bailout Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has shopped around Congress. It would relieve the major banks and investment firms of their mountainous rotten assets and make the public swallow their losses - many hundreds of billions, maybe much more. What's not to like if you are a financial titan threatened with extinction?"

Fleecing What’s Left of the Treasury
Chris Hedges writes for Truthdig.com that the lobbyists and corporate lawyers, the heads of financial firms and the crooks who control Wall Street, all those who spent the last three decades assuring us that government was part of the problem and should get out of the way, are now busy looting the U.S. treasury.

The $700 Billion Bailout Plan's Fine Print
Nomi Prins, Mother Jones: "Treasury Sec. Hank Paulson's $700 billion bailout plan now has a name: the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. But even as Capitol Hill debates TARP, few seem to have noticed the proposal item that puts taxpayers on the hook for future bailouts. It's in Section 6, and the key phrase is this: 'The Secretary's authority to purchase mortgage-related assets under this Act shall be limited to $700,000,000,000 outstanding at any one time.'"

Taxpayers, Congress Push Back Against Bailout
Matt Renner writes for Truthout: "Push back against the massive $700 billion Wall Street bailout proposal has come hard and fast from members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. The bailout plan proposed by the Bush administration would give the Treasury Department and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson - a former Wall Street CEO himself - the power to buy up extremely risky mortgages and other dangerous debt using taxpayer dollars. Members of Congress point to a severe lack of oversight in the proposed Bush administration plan."

Schools: Obama Stresses More Investment, McCain Parental Choice
Stacy Teicher Khadaroo reports for The Christian Science Monitor: "Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama offer different visions for how the federal government can help America's students get ahead. Senator McCain's drumbeat is parental choice and empowerment - making it easier for students in substandard schools to take funding with them, whether to a tutoring company or another public or private school. Senator Obama's thrust is strategic investment - more federal dollars to put good teachers into high-needs schools, increase charter-school options, and boost early childhood development to stave off achievement gaps."

AUDIO: Truthdig.com Podcast: Robert Scheer on the Economic Meltdown
Community Bridge receommends this week's podcast from Truthdig.com. Robert Scheer, editor in chief at Truthdig.com, warns against thinking about the economic crisis as an “act of God,” saying “this is man-made” and that the individuals responsible are well known and entirely too influential in the current election.

RFK Jr. and Mike Papantonio: "Is Your Vote Safe?"
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. anchor on Air America's Ring of Fire writes: "There are about 30 scams the Republicans are deliberately using, particularly in the swing states to get Democratic voters off the rolls. These scams originate in the so-called Help America Vote Act, which was passed after the Florida debacle in the year 2000. It was originally suggested by Democrats and Republicans, but it was passed by a Republican Congress with a Republican Senate and a Republican president. And instead of reforming what happened in Florida, it basically institutionalized all the problems that happened in Florida."

Election Deception on College Campuses in Swing States
Greg Gordon, McClatchy Newspapers: "Colorado Democrats accused a Republican county clerk Wednesday of falsely informing Colorado College that students from outside the state could not register to vote if their parents claimed them as a dependent on their tax returns."

Free Trade Can Mean the Poor Stay Hungry
Felicity Lawrence writes for The Guardian (UK): "More than half the world's population also still depends for some of its income on agriculture. Rising food commodity prices ought to have helped them, but they haven't. The fact is that much of the money made in the food chain is captured by transnational corporations based in richer nations."

Listen to the Women: The UN Weighs Its Millennium Development Goals
Barbara Crossette writes for The Nation: "On September 25, in a summit-style gathering at the UN to which all 192 member nations are invited, successes and failures will be parsed, region by region, country by country. Then, predictably, the conversation will turn to money, the perennial quick fix prescribed for soul-destroying underdevelopment in the world's poorest places. Money is always needed, but there is more to ensuring development than that."

21 September 2008

Clippings for the last day of summer

Click on title to read full articles.

Moguls Steal Home While Companies Strike Out
Bill Moyers and Michael Winship write for Truthout: "From our offices in Manhattan, we look out on the tall, gleaming skyscrapers that are cathedrals of wealth and power - the Olympus ruled by the gods of finance, the temples of the mighty, the holy of holies, whose priests guard the sacred texts of salvation - the ones containing the secrets of subprime lending and derivatives as mysterious and elusive as the Grail itself."

States Accuse Pentagon Of Threats, Retaliation
Lyndsey Layton writes for The Washington Post: "Environmental officials from several states that have tried to force the Pentagon to clean up polluted military sites say the Defense Department has retaliated by reducing or withholding federal oversight dollars due them. A group representing state environmental officials says California, Colorado, Alabama, Ohio and about a dozen other states have been pressured by the Pentagon to back off the oversight of cleanup at polluted military sites. 'In the worst-case scenarios, the Department of Defense is intimidating a state environmental agency into not pursing enforcement,' said Steve Brown, executive director of the Environmental Council of States."

Making America Stupid
Thomas Friedman puts a real bite on the "lipstick-on-a-pig" line in a New york Times commentary: "Imagine for a minute that attending the Republican convention in St. Paul, sitting in a skybox overlooking the convention floor, were observers from Russia, Iran and Venezuela. And imagine for a minute what these observers would have been doing when Rudy Giuliani led the delegates in a chant of 'drill, baby, drill!'”

The Media's Counter Productive Focus on Negative Campaigning
Jamison Foser writes for Media Matters: "It's getting awfully hard to pick up a newspaper or turn on the television without seeing a news report about the presidential campaign turning negative. It often seems the media consider the tone of the campaign more important than the collapsing economy, the war, our continued failure to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, and the Bush administration's apparent disdain for the Constitution -- combined."

Palin's Husband Refuses to Testify In Alaska Probe
Reuters reports: "The husband of Gov. Sarah Palin will ignore a subpoena from Alaska lawmakers investigating whether the Republican vice presidential nominee's firing of a state commissioner constituted an abuse of power, officials from her campaign said on Thursday. Todd Palin was among 13 people, including several Palin administration staffers, subpoenaed by a legislative committee to testify in private or at a hearing scheduled for Friday. The governor's husband, however, refuses to answer questions to a panel that he believes is politically motivated, according to campaign officials for Republican presidential candidate John McCain and Palin."

A Spaniard in the Works
Oliver Burkeman writes for The Guardian UK: "Does John McCain know that Zapatero is the Spanish prime minister, and that Spain is in Europe? You'll have to decide for yourself whether the painful interview above, which John McCain gave yesterday to a Spanish journalist in Florida, really does seem to indicate that he didn't know that Jose Luis Zapatero is the prime minister of Spain, and that he perhaps even thinks Spain might be in Latin America."

Return of the Geeks: Bush's Continued Assault on Scientific Integrity
Chris Mooney writes for Mother Jones: "If the Bush administration had consciously plotted to leave office with one last jab at American scientists, it could hardly have done better than the North Atlantic right whale incident. This fish tale has everything: attacks on science, appeasement of special interests, delays in government action - even a cameo by Moby Dick Cheney."

Wall Street and Washington: How the Rules of the Game Have Changed
Steve Fraser writes for TomDispatch.com: "What is Washington to do as the financial system collapses? Clearly, stark differences in approach as well as in public policy have already emerged. Bail-out Bear Stearns and pump up the brokerage and investment business with new lines of credit. Nationalize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on the backs of the taxpayer -- but let Lehman drown. Tell the financial community to save itself, after which Bank of America salutes and buys Merrill Lynch. Then, the Fed gets cold feet and decides it can't let an institution the size of the insurance giant AIG go under as well. Washington is left staring into the abyss. The old rules no longer apply. And that's the point. At moments of crisis since the mid-1980s, the relationship between Washington and Wall Street has changed fundamentally, at least when compared to anything that would have been recognizable in the previous century. As a result, the road ahead is dark and unknown."

Second Stimulus Needed to Create Jobs and Revive Our Economy

Michael Ettlinger and David Madland, The Center for American Progress: "With 605,000 jobs lost so far this year and an unemployment rate topping 6 percent, the U.S. economy-and especially its labor market-needs another shot in the arm. The economic stimulus package passed in February gave the economy a helpful prod and staved off an economic contraction over the summer. The Treasury Department and Federal Reserve are intervening in financial markets on a massive scale to hold off a complete collapse wrought by their own and other agencies' incompetent supervision of Wall Street business practices. But other stimulus measures are needed as well."

U. S. Court Is Now Guiding Fewer Nations

Adam Liptak reports in The New York Times: "Judges around the world have long looked to the decisions of the United States Supreme Court for guidance, citing and often following them in hundreds of their own rulings since the Second World War. But now American legal influence is waning. Even as a debate continues in the court over whether its decisions should ever cite foreign law, a diminishing number of foreign courts seem to pay attention to the writings of American justices."

Barack Obama: Fire Them All
Responding to John McCain's call for the firing of the chairman of the Security Exchange Commission, Christopher Cox, Obama called for voters to "fire the whole Trickle-Down, On-Your-Own, Look-the-Other-Way crowd in Washington who has led us down this disastrous path. Don't just get rid of one guy, get rid of this administration, get rid of this philosophy, get rid of the do nothing approach and put somebody in there who is going to fight for you."

19 September 2008

This is Your Nation on White Privilege

By Tim Wise

For those who still can't grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because "every family has challenges," even as black and Latino families with similar "challenges" are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a "fuckin' redneck," like Bristol Palin's boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll "kick their fuckin' ass," and talk about how you like to "shoot shit" for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.

White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don't all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you're "untested."

White privilege is being able to say that you support the words "under God" in the pledge of allegiance because "if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it's good enough for me," and not be immediately disqualified from holding office--since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the "under God" part wasn't added until the 1950s--while if you're black and believe in reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school, requires it), you are a dangerous and mushy liberal who isn't fit to safeguard American institutions.

White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you.

White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto is "Alaska first," and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you're black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she's being disrespectful.

White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do--like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor--and people think you're being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college and the fact that she lives close to Russia--you're somehow being mean, or even sexist.

White privilege is being able to convince white women who don't even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because suddenly your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party a "second look."

White privilege is being able to fire people who didn't support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.

White privilege is when you can take nearly twenty-four hours to get to a hospital after beginning to leak amniotic fluid, and still be viewed as a great mom whose commitment to her children is unquestionable, and whose "next door neighbor" qualities make her ready to be VP, while if you're a black candidate for president and you let your children be interviewed for a few seconds on TV, you're irresponsibly exploiting them.

White privilege is being able to give a 36 minute speech in which you talk about lipstick and make fun of your opponent, while laying out no substantive policy positions on any issue at all, and still manage to be considered a legitimate candidate, while a black person who gives an hour speech the week before, in which he lays out specific policy proposals on several issues, is still criticized for being too vague about what he would do if elected.

White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God's punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you're just a good church-going Christian, but if you're black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people, you're an extremist who probably hates America.

White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a "trick question," while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O'Reilly means you're dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.

White privilege is being able to go to a prestigious prep school, then to Yale and then Harvard Business school, and yet, still be seen as just an average guy (George W. Bush) while being black, going to a prestigious prep school, then Occidental College, then Columbia, and then to Harvard Law, makes you "uppity," and a snob who probably looks down on regular folks.

White privilege is being able to graduate near the bottom of your college class (McCain), or graduate with a C average from Yale (W.) and that's OK, and you're cut out to be president, but if you're black and you graduate near the top of your class from Harvard Law, you can't be trusted to make good decisions in office.

White privilege is being able to dump your first wife after she's disfigured in a car crash so you can take up with a multi-millionaire beauty queen (who you go on to call the c-word in public) and still be thought of as a man of strong family values, while if you're black and married for nearly twenty years to the same woman, your family is viewed as un-American and your gestures of affection for each other are called "terrorist fist bumps."

White privilege is when you can develop a pain-killer addiction, having obtained your drug of choice illegally like Cindy McCain, go on to beat that addiction, and everyone praises you for being so strong, while being a black guy who smoked pot a few times in college and never became an addict means people will wonder if perhaps you still get high, and even ask whether or not you ever sold drugs.

White privilege is being able to sing a song about bombing Iran and still be viewed as a sober and rational statesman, with the maturity to be president, while being black and suggesting that the U.S. should speak with other nations, even when we have disagreements with them, makes you "dangerously naive and immature."

White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism and an absent father is apparently among the "lesser adversities" faced by other politicians, as Sarah Palin explained in her convention speech.

And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because a lot of white voters aren't sure about that whole "change" thing. Ya know, it's just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain.

White privilege is, in short, the problem.

Tim Wise is among the most respected antiracist writers and educators in the US. He has trained teachers, as well as corporate, government, media and law enforcement officials on methods for uprooting institutional racism. He has contributed essays to over twenty books. Visit his webpage at: http://www.timwise.org/

17 September 2008

Clippings for September 17

Click on titles to read complete articles.

Palin: The Opposite of Progress
Cynthia Boaz writes for Truthout: "Is it possible that voters have, once again, been duped by the Rovian rhetoric machine? Are we really as gullible as the GOP seems to think? Apparently so."

Gas Underlies the Bolivian Crisis
(English translation)
Laurent Tourneux writes for the French paper Liberation: "Between the energy interests of some and others' opposition to the 'Yankee' enemy, Bolivia enjoys the 'unanimous' support of Latin American countries." For original French click here.

Is the U.S. Losing Its Edge in Tech

Arik Hesseldahl writes in Business Week that the United States still has the world's most competitive information technology industry, but its lead is slipping, according to a new study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit for the Business Software Alliance.

Will the Media Show Real Spine?
Edward Wasserman writes for the Miami Hearld that since the nominating conventions, we've entered a period of casual smears that have only the remotest bearing on the problems the electorate faces. And the news media, instead of acting as proxies for the public, have become enablers of a discourse that seems destined to grow evermore destructive.

Evaluating the Security of Electronic Voting Systems: Are Your Votes Really Counted?

The the Security Group of Univ. Calif. at Santa Barbara made a movie that shows how the virus-like attack would be carried out, and exemplifies the different scenarios that our malicious firmware would exploit.

The video shows how one can use a simple USB key to infect the laptop used to prepare the cards that initialize the various voting devices. As a result, the cards are loaded with a malicious software component.

Later, when the terminal is used by the voters to cast their votes, the firmware uses a number of different techniques to modify the contents of the ballots being cast.

The movie also shows that the physical security measures being used to limit access to essential parts of the voting systems are ineffective.

Part 1.

Part 2

The Corporate Control of Water Takes an Unexpected Twist
Jon Keesecker writes for Alternet: "During an otherwise unexceptional State of the City address in February 2008, Mayor Donald Plusquellic put before the residents of Akron, Ohio, a proposal to sell the city's sewer system. The still-nascent plan, news even to some in the mayor's administration, involved handing over the city's system to a private company in return to for a roughly $200 million fee."

American Political Logic

This came across my screen and it was just too good not to post. Pretty much sums up the situation we are in.

Hummm....let me get this straight:

* If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you're 'exotic, different.'

* Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, a quintessential American story.

* If your name is Barack you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.

* Name your kids Trig and Track, you're a maverick.

* Graduate from Harvard law School and you are unstable.

* Attend five different small colleges before graduating, you're well grounded.

* If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you don't have any real leadership experience.

* If your total resume is: local weather girl, four years on the city council and six years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you're qualified to become the country's second-highest ranking executive.

* If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising two beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you're not a real Christian.

* If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a Christian.

* If you teach responsible, age-appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.

* If, while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence-only, with no other option in sex education in your state's school system while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant, you're very responsible.

* If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values don't represent America's.

* If your husband is nicknamed 'First Dude,' with at least one DWI conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.

OK, everything is much clearer now.

15 September 2008

Clippings for 15 September

To read complete article, click on titles.

McCain Would Privatize Social Security
Dean Baker writes for Truthout: "The Republicans have already turned to sick sexual innuendo and nonsense about their vice-presidential candidate, pigs and lipstick in order to distract the public from the real issues in this campaign. One of the items that should be on top of the list of real issues is Senator McCain's plans to privatize and cut Social Security."

The $70 Billion Spectrum Rip-Off
Megan Tady reports In These Times that in February 2009, new digital TV channels on spectrum valued at over $70 billion will be handed over to the current 1,762 U.S. broadcast licensees. Local communities, entrepreneurs, nonprofit organizations, unions, schools and everyday taxpayers won't be allowed to set one foot in this new broadcasting game.

Tawdry Tale of Oil Drillers and "MMS Chicks"

Carl Hiaasen reports in The Miami Herald: "People always say the Bush administration is in bed with the oil companies, but it turns out to be literally true. According to the Interior Department, some government officials in charge of collecting oil and gas royalties smoked pot, snorted cocaine and had sex with employees of big energy firms. Meanwhile, the rest of us were getting screwed at the gas pump."

Rage on the Radio
What happens when America's airwaves fill with hate? BILL MOYERS JOURNAL takes a tough look at the hostile industry of "Shock Jock" media with a hard-hitting examination of its effects on our nation's political discourse. The JOURNAL traveled to Knoxville, where a recent shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church has left the pastor asking what role hateful speech from popular right-wing media personalities may have played in the tragedy. "A lot of people are hurling insults from the safety of television studios, the safety of radio studio, the safety of cyberspace," says Rev. Chris Buice, "So that's a void in our community — the chance to be in the same room and to have these exchanges and remember the humanity of the person on the other side." To watch the video of this segment, click here.

Military Industrial Complex 2.0
Frida Berrigan qrites for TomDispatch.com: "Seven years into George W. Bush's Global War on Terror, the Pentagon is embroiled in two big wars, a potentially explosive war of words with Tehran, and numerous smaller conflicts, and it is leaning ever more heavily on private military contractors to get by. Once upon a time, soldiers did more than pick up a gun. They picked up trash. They cut hair and delivered mail. They fixed airplanes and inflated truck tires. Not anymore. All of those tasks are now the responsibility of private military corporations."

Charles Darwin to Receive Apology from Church of England
Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent for the UK Telegraph, writes: "The Church of England will concede in a statement that it was over-defensive and over-emotional in dismissing Darwin's ideas. It will call 'anti-evolutionary fervour' an 'indictment' on the Church. The bold move is certain to dismay sections of the Church that believe in creationism and regard Darwin's views as directly opposed to traditional Christian teaching."

Impact of Big Box Stores on Taxes and Public Costs
Institute for Local Self-Reliance, reports that when evaluating retail development proposals, municipal officials often focus on only one side of the equation: the amount of new tax revenue that the project will generate. It's easy to overlook the fact that big-box stores and shopping centers also create new costs.

McCain's Court: Change We Don't Need

Cass R. Sunstein, writes for The Washington Independent: "John McCain has said that, should he be president, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito 'would serve as the model for my own nominees.' He regularly attacks what he calls 'activist judging,' and he described a recent ruling vindicating the right to habeas corpus as 'one of the worst decisions in the history of this country.' McCain has repeatedly said that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and should be overruled. If McCain is elected, change would clearly be coming to the US Supreme Court."

Lose Your House, Lose Your Vote

Eartha Jane Melzer reports for The Michigan Messenger: "The chairman of the Republican Party in Macomb County Michigan, a key swing county in a key swing state, is planning to use a list of foreclosed homes to block people from voting in the upcoming election as part of the state GOP's effort to challenge some voters on Election Day."

US Should Disclose Funding for Opposition Groups in Bolivia

The Center for Economic and Policy Research: "The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) called on the US State Department, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and other agencies to release information detailing whom it is funding in Bolivia - where violent right-wing opposition groups have wreaked havoc this week in a series of shootings, beatings, ransacking of offices and sabotage of a natural gas pipeline - as well as in other Latin American countries, including Venezuela."

Rule Changes Would Give FBI Agents Extensive New Powers
Carrie Johnson writes for The Washington Post: "The Justice Department will unveil changes to FBI ground rules today that would put much more power into the hands of line agents pursuing leads on national security, foreign intelligence and even ordinary criminal cases. The overhaul, the most substantial revision to FBI operating instructions in years, also would ease some reporting requirements between agents, their supervisors and federal prosecutors in what authorities call a critical effort to improve information gathering and detect terrorist threats. The changes would give the FBI's more than 12,000 agents the ability at a much earlier stage to conduct physical surveillance, solicit informants and interview friends of people they are investigating without the approval of a bureau supervisor."

10 September 2008

Civil Liberties in the post-9-11 era

Civil Liberties after September 11
In 2003 Tom Stephens wrote for Counter Punch: "The shock and horror following the deadly terrorist crimes of September 11, 2001 led to major legal changes in America that undermine fundamental civil liberties and constitutional rights. In swift succession, government security and intelligence agents have been granted broad powers: to spy on citizens and others lawfully in this country, without evidence of any crime; to keep previously public information and legal proceedings secret; to engage in ethnic profiling, including indefinite detention without criminal charges; to conduct secret searches and wiretaps, without probable cause; to monitor People's internet and library use; and to collect personal records."

Civil Liberties in an Age of Terrorism
Chris Van Buren writes for The American Prospect a review of the ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero's book, In Defense of Our America: The Fight for Civil Liberties in the Age of Terror, in which he argues that the Bush administration's post 9-11 dismantling of our civil liberties has implications far beyond the "War on Terror."

The Civil Liberties Implications Of Counterterrorism Policies: Full Chapter
Freedom House provides a summary of impact of Bush administration policies on the sixth anniversary of 9-11.

Remembering 9-11 and Moving Forward

An essay by Congressman Dennis Kucinich on the seventh anniversary of the attacks that appeared on Roliing Stone's website, Sept 11. 2008.

Kucinich writes: "America must move from the errant, retributive justice of 9/11 to a healing, restorative process of truth and reconciliation. Before the Congress adjourns, I will bring forth a new proposal for the establishment of a National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation, which will have the power to compel testimony and gather official documents to reveal to the American people not only the underlying deception which has divided us, but in that process of truth seeking set our nation on a path of reconciliation."

Clippings for September 10

Click on titles to read complete articles.

Tyranny on Display at the Republican Convention
Chris Hedges writes for Truthdig.com that St. Paul is a window into our future. It is a future where constitutional rights mean nothing and where lawful dissent is branded a form of terrorism.

Demand Free Press, Free Speech at Conventions
Johns Nichols writes for the Nation that the rush to get on with the business of the fall campaign makes it easy to neglect the serious civil liberties and freedom of the press concerns raised by the arrests that occurred in St. Paul during the convention.

Sarah Palin: "A Gidget for God's Truth"

Steve Weissman writes for Truthout: "'The Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation,' declared John McCain back in September 2007. With his vice-presidential pick of Governor Sarah Palin, he has found a winsome soul mate who is even more of a Christian nationalist, eager to use government to impose her religious views on the rest of us."

A Telling Palin Scandal: Her Environmental Record.
Leonard Doyle writes for the UK Independent that Sarah Palin has an environmental policy so toxic it would make George W. Bush blush.

Ten Ways the GOP Is Now Stealing the Ohio Vote
Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman write for The Free Press: "The McCain/Palin GOP is already in the process of stealing the Ohio vote, as was done in 2004. Among those at the center of the GOP strategy is Bush family computer operative Michael Connell, who programmed the key vote-counting mechanisms that were used to give George W. Bush his second term."

9/11 Plus Seven
Andrew J. Bacevich writing for TomDispatch.com states: "The events of the past seven years have yielded a definitive judgment on the strategy that the Bush administration conceived in the wake of 9/11 to wage its so-called Global War on Terror. That strategy has failed, massively and irrevocably. To acknowledge that failure is to confront an urgent national priority: to scrap the Bush approach in favor of a new national security strategy that is realistic and sustainable - a task that, alas, neither of the presidential candidates seems able to recognize or willing to take up."

Workers Overcome Divisions After Mississippi Raid
David Bacon reports for Truthout: "In the recent raid of the Howard Industries electrical plant in Laurel, Mississippi, 481 workers have been detained for almost two weeks in Jena, Louisiana. Neither they nor their attorneys know when they will be formally charged, deported or released, and Barbara Gonzalez, spokesperson for the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, says simply, 'Their cases are being investigated.'"

Not a Flock of Dodos: The Lastest Chicken Research Flies in the Face of Creationism
Rick Weiss writes for Science Progress that the battle over teaching evolution is still far from won in this country, despite the overwhelming mass of scientific evidence that supports this model of how the biological universe works.

VIDEO: Olbermann | Obama: McCain/Palin "Not Telling the Truth"
Senator Barack Obama is interviewed by Keith Olbermann on MSNBC's "Countdown," where he addressed "stretching the bounds of spin" by McCain and Palin.

Five McCain Videos Everyone Needs to See.
Below are the links to five videos that present the Real McCain: an elitist out of touch with hard-working Americans; a double talker who supports a costly war in Iraq but won't support our veterans. This is the McCain everyone should know.

1. The Real McCain 2: Watch as McCain's YouTube problem became his nightmare in the video that received over 4 million views.

2. Less Jobs. More Wars: What is this 'Iraq war' charge on my bill?

3. John McCain vs. John McCain: Tell McCain to get off the Double Talk Express.

4. McCain's Spiritual Guide: The video that caused McCain to renounce Rev. Rod Parsley's bigoted endorsement.

5. Why Won't McCain Sign the GI Bill? Presenting the most blatant hypocrisy of the McCain campaign.

05 September 2008

Clippings for September 5

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Palin: Wrong Woman, Wrong Message
Gloria Steinem write in The Los Angeles Times: "Here's the good news: Women have become so politically powerful that even the anti-feminist right wing - the folks with a headlock on the Republican Party - are trying to appease the gender gap with a first-ever female vice president. We owe this to women - and to many men too - who have picketed, gone on hunger strikes or confronted violence at the polls so women can vote. We owe it to Shirley Chisholm, who first took the 'white-male-only' sign off the White House, and to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who hung in there through ridicule and misogyny to win 18 million votes."

Making Goliath Walk
David Sirota comments on Truthdig.com: "'This is a David-and-Goliath confrontation, but we believe we'll have enough stones in the sling to knock this out.' That is a recent statement from the US Chamber of Commerce when asked whether business lobbyists will defeat the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) - a labor-backed bill that cribs from Canadian law and makes joining a union a tiny bit easier. In the imminent confrontation over this almost embarrassingly modest proposal, corporations are actually billing themselves as the underdog - the poor, overmatched peasant David against the Philistine monster Goliath."

Analysis: Myth that Offshore Drilling Would Lower Gas Prices Get Boost from Major Media
The media has played a significant role in convincing Americans that offshore drilling for oil in the United States could significantly lower the price of gasoline, according to an analysis released today by the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Fox Attacks Obama like Kerry

Sex Education as Liberation
Courtney E. Martin writes for The American Prospect: "Young women learn to see their bodies as ticking time bombs and young men to see theirs as the uncontrollable fire that could lead to explosion. Instead of promoting self-awareness, responsible exploration, respect for the diversity of sexualities, or compassionate communication, we teach them that their bodies are dangerous. Conservatives want that danger staved off until marriage, where it suddenly becomes holy, and liberals want it staved off along the way - through the use of accessible contraception."

Iraq from the Inside
Truthdig.com's most recent podcast features Iraqi journalist Huda Ahmed. In 2007 she received the Courage Award for Journalism for her coverage of the war in Iraq. Now a refugee, she looks back on more than five years of war and occupation from an Iraqi perspective.

John McCain's Dereliction of Duty

Cliff Schecter writes for In These Times: "At a town hall meeting in Denver in early July, a Vietnam veteran asked presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) why he had opposed increasing healthcare for veterans whenever Congress had taken up the issue over the past six years. McCain virtually ignored the man's question, dissembling his opposition to an updated GI Bill for veterans. After the questioner challenged McCain's response, the senator reacted as he usually does when queried beyond his comfort level: He got visibly angry. Because McCain is running for president almost solely on his biography as a war hero, he can't - and won't - allow the slightest doubt to linger about his dedication to soldiers both past and present."

02 September 2008

Community Bridge update for 2 September

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Did a Mississippi Raid Protect Rightwing Politicians?
David Bacon reports for Truthout from Laurel, Mississippi: "On August 25, immigration agents swooped down on Howard Industries, a Mississippi electrical equipment factory, taking 481 workers to a privately-run detention center in Jena, Louisiana. A hundred and six women were also arrested at the plant, and released wearing electronic monitoring devices on their ankles if they had children, or without them if they were pregnant. Eight workers were taken to Federal court in Hattiesburg, where they were charged with aggravated identity theft."

Yes He Can: Obama's Speech and the Decline of Political Journalism
Bill Boyarsky writes for Truthdig.com how in a speech that rose beyond the occasion, Sen. Barack Obama changed the dynamics of the presidential campaign. With fire in his eyes and politeness thankfully forgotten, he finally put Sen. John McCain on the defensive, most notably mocking the Republican’s claim that he’s best suited to be commander in chief.

Evidence of Extremist Infiltration of Military Grows
Date Holthaus writes for Hatewatch: "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). Two years ago, the Intelligence Report revealed that alarming numbers of neo-Nazi skinheads and other white supremacist extremists were taking advantage of lowered armed services recruiting standards and lax enforcement of anti-extremist military regulations by infiltrating the U.S. armed forces in order to receive combat training and gain access to weapons and explosives. Forty members of Congress urged then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to launch a full-scale investigation and implement a zero-tolerance policy toward white supremacists in the military.

US Military Keeping Secrets About Female Soldiers' "Suicides"?

Ann Wright reports for Truthdig: "Since I posted on April 28 the article 'Is There an Army Cover Up of the Rape and Murder of Women Soldiers?,' the deaths of two more US Army women in Iraq and Afghanistan have been listed as suicides - the September 28, 2007, death of 30-year-old Spc. Ciara Durkin and the February 22, 2008, death of 25-year-old Spc. Keisha Morgan. Both 'suicides' are disputed by the families of the women."

McCain Running Mate Sarah Palin Misled GOP
Alex Spillius writes for The Telegraph UK: "The Governor of Alaska gave a misleading version of events over a controversial bridge project in her home state when she made her maiden speech as the presumptive nominee. Mrs. Palin told a cheering audience in Ohio that she had turned down an offer from the US Congress to build the so-called 'Bridge to Nowhere', which would have connected Gravina Island with Ketchikan International, an airport in Alaska's southeast serving just 200,000 passengers a year. Mr. McCain routinely cites the $100 million project as a symbol of wasteful central government spending."

Why CIA Veterans Are Scared of McCain
Laura Rozen writes in MotherJones: "Four years ago, the candidate called the CIA a 'rogue organization'; now he's advised by a former Chalabi promoter and Agency basher. No wonder the spooks are spooked."

What a McCain Victory Could Mean: No Money for Health Care and the End of Our Volunteer Army
Robert Parry writes for Consortiumne News: "In judging the shape of a future John McCain presidency, there are already plenty of dots that are easy to connect. They reveal an image of a war-like Empire so full of hubris that it could take the world into a cascade of crises, while extinguishing what is left of the noble American Republic."

The Christian Right's Slick Campaign to Make Abstinence Seem Trendy
Vanessa Valenti writes for Alternet how conservatives finally learned that sheer moralizing doesn't keep teens from having sex. Now they have a creepy new tactic.