Speak Up for Human Rights - The Price of Silence is Much Too High
Marcia G. Yerman writes for the Huffington Post: "With Barack Obama poised to take office in January 2009, one of the major lessons his candidacy has offered is that movements are built from individuals taking action. In an effort to rally attention to the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Amnesty International, working in cooperation with Link TV: Television Without Borders, is releasing the international song and video The Price of Silence. "
Spying on Pacifists, Environmentalists and Nuns
Bob Drogin writes for The Los Angeles Times: "'Lucy' was an undercover Maryland State Police trooper who between 2005 and 2007 infiltrated more than two dozen rallies and meetings of nonviolent groups. Maryland officials now concede that, based on information gathered by 'Lucy' and others, state police wrongly listed at least 53 Americans as terrorists in a criminal intelligence database - and shared some information about them with half a dozen state and federal agencies, including the National Security Agency. Among those labeled as terrorists: two Catholic nuns, a former Democratic congressional candidate, a lifelong pacifist and a registered lobbyist. One suspect's file warned that she was "involved in puppet making and allows anarchists to utilize her property for meetings."
The Secret Weapon: Religious Abuse in the War on Terror
Michael Peppard writes for Commonweal: "In Fünf Jahre meines Lebens (“Five Years of My Life”), the most powerful memoir yet published by a former Guantánamo detainee, the German Murat Kurnaz remembers an especially disturbing episode that took place while he was in a cage at Camp X-Ray: 'One time there was a long, tortured cry. I turned around. There was a second and then a third cry, but they sounded different from the cries of people being beaten. It was the long and frightening wail of death. Through the chain-link fencing I could see a guard in the cage of one of the Arab prisoners. I immediately knew what had happened.'"
Joseph Stiglitz writes for Vanity Fair: "There will come a moment when the most urgent threats posed by the credit crisis have eased and the larger task before us will be to chart a direction for the economic steps ahead. This will be a dangerous moment. Behind the debates over future policy is a debate over history—a debate over the causes of our current situation. The battle for the past will determine the battle for the present. So it’s crucial to get the history straight."
Stimulus is for Suckers
James Galbraith writes for Mother Jones: "The historical role of a stimulus is to kick things off, to grease the wheels of credit, to get things "moving again." But the effect ends when the stimulus does, when the sugar shock wears off. Compulsive budget balancers who prescribe a "targeted and temporary" policy followed by long-term cuts to entitlements don't understand the patient. This is a chronic illness. Swift action is definitely needed. But we also need recovery policies that will continue for years."
The Best and the Brightest Led America Off a Cliff
Chris Hedges writes for Truthdig.com: "The multiple failures that beset the country, from our mismanaged economy to our shredded constitutional rights to our lack of universal health care to our imperial debacles in the Middle East, can be laid at the feet of our elite universities. Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Stanford, along with most other elite schools, do a poor job educating students to think. They focus instead, through the filter of standardized tests, enrichment activities, advanced placement classes, high-priced tutors, swanky private schools and blind deference to all authority, on creating hordes of competent systems managers. The collapse of the country runs in a direct line from the manicured quadrangles and halls in places like Cambridge, Princeton and New Haven to the financial and political centers of power. "
Republicans Bring Socialism to America
Robert Scheer writes for Truthdig.com: "Let the record show that it was George W. Bush, the rich Texas Republican, who brought socialism to America, so don’t blame it on that African-American Chicago Democrat community organizer who made it into the White House. The government takeover of the banking and automobile industries not only happened on President Bush’s watch, it was also the deregulatory mania of this president’s family, beginning with his father, which took this country into such starkly unfamiliar territory. "
A Whitewash for Blackwater
Eugene Robinson writes in the Washington Post: "The federal manslaughter indictment of five Blackwater Worldwide security guards in the horrific massacre of more than a dozen Iraqi civilians in Baghdad may look like an exercise in accountability, but it's probably the exact opposite -- a whitewash that absolves the government and corporate officials who should bear ultimate responsibility."
The Silent Winter of Escalation
Norman Solomon comments for Truthout: "...the silence now enveloping the political nonresponse to plans for the Afghanistan war is a message of acquiescence that echoes what happened when the escalation of the Vietnam War gathered momentum. Right now, the basic ingredients of further Afghan disasters are in place - including, pivotally, a dire lack of wide-ranging debate over Washington's options."
The Imperial Transition: 44, the Prequel
Tom Engelhardt writes for TomDispatch: "Maybe if the imperial presidency and the national security state worked, none of this would matter. But how can they, given the superlatives that apply to them? They're oversized, over-muscled, overweight, overly expensive, overly powerful, and overly intrusive. Bottom line: they are problem creators, not problem solvers. To expect one genuine 'decider,' moving in at the top, to put them on a diet-and-exercise regimen is asking a lot. After all, at the end of the George Bush era, what we have is the GM of governments, and when things start to go wrong, who's going to bail it out?"
Recommended Audio: Counter Spin for 5 December
This week on CounterSpin: For years veterans claiming to suffer from Gulf War Syndrome were derided as cranky and hysterical by the department of defense and even by some journalists. Will that change now that a definitive report says the Gulf War illnesses are real, incurable, and caused by toxic materials used by the U.S. military during the 1991 Gulf War? We'll talk to Paul Sullivan, a veteran and the executive director of Veterans for Common Sense.
Also on the show: As the Obama White House takes shape, Americans are asking what the president-elect's cabinet choices suggest about the political direction his administration may take. Corporate media are making no effort to hide what they think are smart, responsible choices for Obama, but the reasons for those strong preferences are rarely explored. We'll talk with FAIR's Peter Hart about the press reception of the new cabinet picks.
Read FAIR's media advisory: Media Cheer for "Non-Ideological" Centrists.
Who is 'Senate Candidate 5'?
Ben Protess writes for ProPublica: "The FBI’s arrest today of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has brought a new figure into our political lexicon: 'Senate Candidate 5.' The FBI recorded Blagojevich last week saying to an adviser that “Candidate 5” might raise money for Blagojevich and even give him “some (money) up front, maybe” in exchange for being appointed to replace Obama, according to today’s criminal complaint (PDF) filed by the United States Attorney’s office in Chicago."
Environmentalists Say Big Three Blocking States from Imposing "Clear Car" Standards
Tiffany Gabbay reporting for Cybercast News Service says: "Environmental groups say consumers want to buy cars that get 50 miles per gallon and they want electric vehicles - but Big Three automakers don't want to have to produce them. When asked why the Big Three - Ford, GM and Chrysler LLC - should be forced to make cars that the automakers say there is no demand for, Mike Tidwell of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network claimed that the market actually wants environment-friendly vehicles."
'Yes We Can' Create a Sane Food Policy in the US
Bruce Friedrich writes for CommonDreams.org: "Two extensive reports released in April indicate that our current method of devising food policy is broken and that the current system is doing tremendous harm in many areas, including those that are of particular interest to President-elect Obama: human health, the environment, and global poverty. "
Who Started the War on Christmas?
'The War on Christmas' started in a white nationalist cabal and spread to conservative media.
Max Blumenthal writes for The Daily Beast: "What would Christmas be without warnings of the secular crusade to destroy it? Thanks to the fulminations of cable news cranks and evangelical moralists, the War on Christmas has become an annual outrage. The story typically goes as follows: secular elements have intimidated stores into replacing the phrase “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Holidays;” nativity scenes have been removed from public spaces under threat of ACLU lawsuits; a decadent culture is moving ever closer to eradicating Christian morality; and America slouches towards Gomorrah."
Ben Adler writes for The New Republic: "In the weeks leading up to Election Day, the hand-wringing over voting irregularities reached a fever pitch. Rolling Stone published a feature by Greg Palast and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., warning that Republicans may have already stolen the election. The McCain campaign highlighted accusations that the civil rights group ACORN was trying to commit voter fraud by fabricating voter registrations. Voting rights groups sent nearly daily e-mail blasts to reporters obsessing over every state and local incident of voter intimidation or suppression. And yet after Election Day, the stories seemed to have vanished. What happened?"
Fair Trade Magic: Women profit from news ways of doing business
Ann Hutchens writes for the New Internationalist: "Doing business in Vanuatu is a struggle at the best of times. But a group of illiterate women basket-weavers on one of its remote islands, with no market, no business skills and no money, have been showing that fair trade can offer previously unheard-of opportunities."
Take Action: Tell Congress to Pass the Matthew Shepard Act
A law protecting all of our citizens against senseless hate and violence is long overdue. Twenty-one year old Mathew Shepard died ten years ago on a lonely fence in Wyoming. It is now time for the Congress and President to act. Lawrence King was just 15 when he was shot dead by a classmate in February of 2008 because he was gay. Trans youth Simmie Williams Jr., was also killed in a hate-based drive-by shooting. Many others have shared their fate.
The Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Hate Crimes Prevention Act/ Matthew Shepard Act would add sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability to existing hate crimes legislation. It would strengthen federal hate crime laws by allowing the Department of Justice to assist local authorities in the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes cases.