2009 - The Year in Review
John Reimann writes for The Daily Censored: "In the early morning hours of Jan. 1, 2009, a white transit cop in Oakland, California, shot and killed Oscar Grant, a young black man. Grant was lying face down on a train platform with his hands handcuffed behind his back at the time of the shooting. The cop claimed he thought Grant was going for a gun. Thus was the New Year ushered in."
Six Things to Do in 2010
Jim Hightower writes for Creators.com: "In my travels, I've heard many cries of despair from you good folks about the timorous
Andrew O'Hehir on the Best Movies of the Decade
Andrew O'Hehir writes for Salon.com:"A year of living one's life and watching movies can be considered in the abstract, as if it were an interesting phenomenon that happened to someone else. A year doesn't seem to matter that much. Sure, we're all that little bit older than we were last year. We've survived the tomato blight and the release of "Hotel for Dogs" and grown accustomed to the once-implausible phrase "President Obama." But it was just a year. We've lived through a bunch of them already, and most of us are hoping for a decent number still to come."
Anthony Lane to Zadie Smith: My 26 top cultural moments of the 2000s in alphabetical order.
Troy Patterson writes for Slate.com: "Anthony Lane on Her Majesty in "Battle Royal," a review of The Queen in The New Yorker, Oct. 9, 2006. Hot Brit-on-Brit action. Probably the greatest critic-on-movie match-up of all time. (It surpasses James Agee's review of The Lost Weekend, an appropriately evasive lush-on-lush spectacle.) Themes include the aristocracy of taste and the English way of death, the facade of Tony Blair, and the carriage of Helen Mirren. Divine, right?"
Autumn of the Republic?
Kirk Nielsen reviews some recent books on the U.S. for Miller-McCune: "Did America slip into a semiliterate, polarized, pre-fascist state over the past decade or so, allowing greedy oligarchs and corporate elites to run the government? Two books I recently read offer reasonably persuasive evidence and arguments that the country did, and a third suggests that dictatorial mindsets could besiege Americans, with an assist from the Internet, if they don't come to their more deliberative senses."
The Global War on Stealth Underware
Robert Scheer writes for Truthdig.com: "There is no “war” against terrorism. What George W. Bush launched and Barack Obama insists on perpetuating does not qualify. Not if by war one means doing the obvious and checking a highly suspicious air traveler’s underwear to see if explosives have been sewn in. If Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had put the stuff in his shoes we would have had him because that was tried before, but our government was too preoccupied with fighting unnecessary conventional wars and developing anti-missile defense systems to anticipate such a primitive delivery system."
Who's Running the TSA? No One, Thanks to Sen. Jim DeMint
Margaret Talev reports for McClatchy Newspapers: "An attempt to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day would be all-consuming for the administrator of the Transportation Security Administration - if there were one. The post remains vacant because Sen. Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) has held up President Barack Obama's nominee in opposition to the prospect of TSA workers joining a labor union."
Craving Terrorist Melodramma
Glenn Greenwald writes for Salon.com: "As dumb as our political discourse typically is, it gets dumber by many magnitudes whenever there's a terrorism-related scare (of the Islamic variety). From The Washington Post's editorial writer Jo-Ann Armao:
Why is Obama still in Hawaii?
President Obama wants us all to know he’s taking seriously the attempted terrorist attack of Christmas Day and that his administration is doing all it can to ensure our safety. But his words would be a lot more convincing if not delivered during time snatched between rounds of golf, swimming and sunbathing. . . ."
On Day We Will All Be Terrorists
Chris Hedges writes for Truthdig.com: "Syed Fahad Hashmi can tell you about the dark heart of America. He knows that our First Amendment rights have become a joke, that habeas corpus no longer exists and that we torture, not only in black sites such as those at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan or at Guantánamo Bay, but also at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Lower Manhattan. Hashmi is a U.S. citizen of Muslim descent imprisoned on two counts of providing and conspiring to provide material support and two counts of making and conspiring to make a contribution of goods or services to al-Qaida. As his case prepares for trial, his plight illustrates that the gravest threat we face is not from Islamic extremists, but the codification of draconian procedures that deny Americans basic civil liberties and due process. Hashmi would be a better person to tell you this, but he is not allowed to speak."
Eight GOP Senators Opposed Bill that Funded Airport Screening and Explosive Detection
Sam Stein reports for the Huffington Post: "Some of the same Republican lawmakers currently criticizing the President for softness on terrorism voted back in July 2007 against legislation that, among other reforms, provided $250 million for airport screening and explosive detection equipment. The Improving America's Security Act of 2007 was a relatively non-controversial measure that effectively implemented several un-acted-upon recommendations from the 9/11 Commission. Eighty-five Senators voted in favor of the bill's passage. Seven missed the vote (several of whom were on the campaign trail, including Barack Obama, John McCain and Chris Dodd)."
The New Call for Full Body Scanners
Irene North writes for The Daily Censored: "No one really wanted full body scanners. There were numerous talks of invasions of privacy and viable cases of abuse of that privacy. Today, however, the pantsbomber has made that discussion return to the forefront, with many people readily giving up their privacy because they now feel that the government knows what they’re doing. For the skeptic in me, it all seems rather convenient."
Terrorism Still Less Deadly in US Than Lack of Health Insurance, Salmonella
Blue Texan writes for the Firedodlake blog: "Since we still seem to be having a national freakout over some loser who got on a plane with a bomb in his underwear, which was apparently worthy of a presidential address, it might be a good idea to put the actual danger posed by terrorist attacks in some numerical perspective."
The Cowboys of Kabul
Daniel Schulman reports for Mother Jomes: "It was March 2002, and Del and Barbara Spier were flat broke. The Texas couple, grandparents of five and owners of a small, Houston-based private investigations firm, were more than $260,000 in debt. They carried balances as high as $18,600 on more than a dozen credit cards and were saddled with $80,000 in outstanding bank loans and a $95,000 mortgage. In their bankruptcy filing, the Spiers' company, which they founded in 1987 and named the Agency for Investigation and Protective Services, was deemed of 'no marketable value.'"
Inside the Military-Industrial-Media Complex: Impacts on Movement for Social Justice
Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff comment for Truthout: "Among the most important corporate media censored news stories of the past decade, one must be that over one million people have died because of the United States' military invasion and occupation of Iraq. This, of course, does not include the number of deaths from the first Gulf War nor the ensuing sanctions placed upon the country of Iraq that, combined, caused close to an additional one million Iraqi deaths."
US Military Is Meeting Recruitment Goals With Video Games - but at What Cost?
Jamie Holmes comments for The Christian Science Monitor: "For the first time since the establishment of all-volunteer forces in 1973, the US military has met all of its recruiting goals. This success can be attributed in part to the new video games and graphic novels aimed at America's youth. It may sound like the US military has solved a major recruitment problem, but there may be a high cost."
Uncle Sam's Signature
Bruno Odet in an editorial and Cathy Ceibe in an interview with scholar Julio Navarro, both for L'Humanite, decry the continuing usurpation of power in Honduras: "The death squads are circulating once more. A week does not go by without atrociously mutilated corpses of militants from the various democratic organizations gathered together in the Resistance Front against the Coup d'Etat (FRCG) being found. The mutilations prove that they were tortured before being killed." -- English translation by Truthout.
Recommended Audio: Democracy Now - Anti-Mining Activists Killed in El Salvador
For the second time in a week, a prominent anti-mining activist has been assassinated in El Salvador. On Saturday, thirty-two-year-old Dora “Alicia” Recinos Sorto was shot dead near her home. One of her children was also injured in the shooting. Sorto was an active member of the Cabañas Environment Committee, which has campaigned against the reopening of a gold mine owned by the Vancouver-based Pacific Rim Mining Company.
Take Your Money Out of the Hands of the Banking Oligarchs
Arianna Huffington and Rob Johnson write for Move your Money, via AlterNet: "Last week, over a pre-Christmas dinner, the two of us, along with political strategist Alexis McGill, filmmaker/author Eugene Jarecki, and Nick Penniman of the HuffPost Investigative Fund, began talking about the huge, growing chasm between the fortunes of Wall Street banks and Main Street banks, and started discussing what concrete steps individuals could take to help create a better financial system. Before long, the conversation turned practical, and with some help from friends in the world of bank analysis, a video and website were produced devoted to a simple idea: Move Your Money."
AIG Executives Failed to Repay Majority of Bonuses
Jason Leopold reports for Truthout: "Despite previous promises, beleaguered insurance giant American International Group (AIG) has failed to return tens of millions of dollars in bonus payments the firm doled out to executives following the company's spectacular unraveling and subsequent multibillion government bailout, according to a recent report by the special inspector general for the government's Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)."
The Lingering Bush Legacy: What to do About Those Tax Cuts
Kevin G. Hall, McClatchy Newspapers: "In the back of every Washington politician's mind is this sobering fact: Unless Congress acts, the temporary tax cuts it passed when George W. Bush was president will expire at the end of next year. If the Democrats who control Congress do nothing and let the tax rates on the highest income brackets return to their pre-2001 levels, their Republican rivals and many Americans will slam them as tax hikers."
Report Says ACORN Didn't Commit Voter Fraud or Misuse Federal Funding
Mary Susan Littlepage reports for Truthout: "The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) did not commit voter fraud, and it didn't misuse federal funding in the last five years, according to a recently released report prepared by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), a nonpartisan investigational arm of Congress."
The Racial Diversity of Hunger
David Bacon writes for the East Bay Express: "Everyone knows that Oakland is diverse. Probably more people from more races and nationalities live in the city than anywhere west of New York or north of Los Angeles. But before we celebrate diversity, think of its most diverse places. Some of them are surely the lines of hungry people lining up for food."
Burt's Bees, Tom's of Maine, Naked Juice: Your Favorite Brands? Take Another Look -- They May Not Be What They Seem
Andrea Whitfill writes for AlterNet: "My first introduction to natural, organic and eco-friendly products stems back to the early '90s, when I stumbled upon Burt’s Bees lip balm at an independently owned health food store in the heart of Westport, Kansas City, Mo. Before the eyesore invasion of ’98, when Starbucks frothed its way into the neighborhood, leading to its ultimate demise, Westport was the kind of 'hood I still yearn for. It was saturated with historically preserved, hip and funky, mom-and-pop-type establishments, delivering their goods people to people." This article was AlterNet's 6th most popular article in 2009.
Democracy's Baseline Need for Transparency
David Sirota comments in the Seattle Times: "This month, a British government report admitted that one of the major rationales for invading Iraq — the claim that Saddam could deploy WMDs in 45 minutes — probably came from a cabdriver. Had the public originally been told about this sketchy sourcing, there may have been a more, ahem, forceful mass opposition to pre-emptive war in the Middle East."
My Simple Fix for the Messed Up Sunday Shows
Jay Rosen writes on his blog: "Look, the Sunday morning talk shows are broken. As works of journalism they don't work. And I don't know why this is so hard for the producers to figure out. The people who host and supervise these shows, the journalists who appear on them, as well as the politicians who are interviewed each week, are all quite aware that extreme polarization and hyper-partisan conflict have come to characterize official Washington, an observation repeated hundreds of times a month by elders in the Church of the Savvy. Ron Brownstein wrote a whole book on it: The Second Civil War: How Extreme Partisanship Has Paralyzed Washington and Polarized America."