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 January 2009

Afghanistan Special

As a supplement for our 29 January show featuring Debra Frey discussing her experiences in Afghanistan, we offer our listeners/readers the following resources:

Recommended Audio: Bill Moyers Journal for 19 December 2008 - An Interview with Sarah Chayes
When Sarah Chayes left her job as an NPR reporter to help rebuild Afghanistan, she did so because she believed that Afghanistan had the potential to be a stable, lawful country. Seven years later, as the incoming Obama Administration looks to change course in Afghanistan and send in 20,000 more troops, Chayes joins Bill Moyers on THE JOURNAL to explain what she thinks U.S. policy should be in the region. Individuals can watch the show via stream video or download the podcast.

Sarah Chayes' Afghanistan Policy Action Plan (PDF download)
Chayes writes "Afghanistan, the “good war,” is on the brink of being lost. But the failure of the US and international effort there is not a foregone conclusion. A thoughtful, wideranging shift in strategy can still avert Afghanistan’s likely fate as an irrevocable – and dangerous – failed state. Such a shift ought to include the following components."

Gates Predicts "Slog" in Afghanistan
Ann Scott Tyson reports for the Washington Post: "Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates yesterday signaled sharply lower expectations for the war in Afghanistan, warning the conflict will be "a long slog" and that U.S. and allied military forces, even at higher levels, can achieve limited goals. "

Recommended Audio: CounterSpin for 23 January 2009
"Major Push is Needed to Save Afghanistan, General Says" was the headline on a recent major daily story. Our guest says reporters need to be asking questions about the U.S. military campaign that go beyond how many more troops and when to send them. Ann Jones has worked in Afghanistan and is author of the book Kabul in Winter: Life Without Peace in Afghanistan. We'll hear from her on what's missing from the media debate.

The Afghan Scam: The Untoild Story of Why the U.S. Is Bound to Fail in Afghanistan
Ann Jones writes for Tomdispatch: "The first of 20,000 to 30,000 additional U.S. troops are scheduled to arrive in Afghanistan next month to re-win the war George W. Bush neglected to finish in his eagerness to start another one. However, "winning" the military campaign against the Taliban is the lesser half of the story."

Failing Afghanistan
Ann Jones writes for The American Empire Project: "The morning after the U.S. hit Iraq with Shock and Awe, I went out to the street in Kabul—the Street of Martyrs, as it happened—to face Sharif, my driver. He was in a deep, sorrowful rage. 'Already you forget Afghanistan,' he said. 'Just like before.'"

Not the Same as Being Equal: Women in Afghanistan
Ann Jones writes for Tomdispatch.com: "Born in Afghanistan but raised in the United States, like many in the worldwide Afghan Diaspora, Manizha Naderi is devoted to helping her homeland. For years she worked with Women for Afghan Women, a New York based organization serving Afghan women wherever they may be. Last fall, she returned to Kabul, the capital, to try to create a Family Guidance Center. Its goal was to rescue women -- and their families -- from homemade violence. It's tough work. After three decades of almost constant warfare, most citizens are programmed to answer the slightest challenge with violence. In Afghanistan it's the default response. "

'Accidents' Will Happen: Excusing Civilian Deaths in Afghanistan
Peter Hart writes for Extra!: "When they’re discussed at all by corporate media, civilian deaths in Afghanistan are often presented as a tactical or public relations problem for U.S. military and political officials, or labeled as “accidental” or “errant.” The civilian deaths are not accidents, however; they are the predictable result of a deliberate decision to protect American troops by putting Afghan noncombatants at risk."

Clippings for 29 January 2009

Tear Down This Myth
Will Bunch comments for Truthout: "Last week didn't only mark the inauguration of Barack Obama. January 20, 2009, was also a less noticed anniversary - marking 20 years to the day that the 40th president, Ronald Reagan, said his final goodbye to the Oval Office. During those two decades since, the world evolved, and the man who some called a Great Communicator and others called a 'Teflon president' passed away - yet, watching last year's presidential race unfold, you might have been excused if you'd thought Reagan was somehow on the ballot."

Too Big to Fail; Too Big to Jail
Amy Goodman writes for Truthdig.com: "Karl Rove recently described George W. Bush as a book lover, writing, “There is a myth perpetuated by Bush critics that he would rather burn a book than read one.” There will be many histories written about the Bush administration. What will they use for source material? The Bush White House was sued for losing e-mails, and for skirting laws intended to protect public records. A federal judge ordered White House computers scoured for e-mails just days before Bush left office. Three hundred million e-mails reportedly went to the National Archives, but 23 million e-mails remain “lost.” Vice President Dick Cheney left office in a wheelchair due to a back injury suffered when moving boxes out of his office. He has not only hobbled a nation in his attempt to sequester information—he hobbled himself. Cheney also won court approval to decide which of his records remain private."

The Union Way Up
Robert B. Reich writes for The Los Angeles Times: "Why is this recession so deep, and what can be done to reverse it? Hint: Go back about 50 years, when America's middle class was expanding and the economy was soaring. Paychecks were big enough to allow us to buy all the goods and services we produced. It was a virtuous circle. Good pay meant more purchases, and more purchases meant more jobs. At the center of this virtuous circle were unions."

Geithner's Dilemma: How to Fix Financial System
Kevin G. Hall reports for McClatchy Newspapers: "The fate of the US banking system and the economic well-being of roughly 300 million Americans, not to mention billions of people around the globe, is now is in the hands of Timothy Geithner, the newly confirmed treasury secretary. Few, if any, treasury secretaries since America's first, Alexander Hamilton in 1789, have stepped into the office facing more daunting challenges. Geithner faces an accelerating global financial crisis that's plunging the nation and the world into a recession that's destroying jobs, wealth and the established economic order."

'Organizing for America" Means Fighting for Human Rights Worldwide

Yifat Susskind writes for CommonDream.org: "So now we know the fate of Team Obama's thirteen-million strong e-mail list, that unprecedented netroots force that used social networking and new media technologies to put a one-time community organizer in the White House. President Obama is banking on the continuing support of his online constituency through the creation of "Organizing for America."

The Wrong Man for the Job
Scott Ritter writes for Truthdig.com: "It was early in October 2001, and I had been invited to New York City on behalf of The History Channel for a show in which I was to discuss the situation in Afghanistan in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. I was pitted against a seasoned American diplomat who had made his reputation negotiating peace accords in difficult corners of the world. I felt a little out of place, since my area of expertise was arms control and disarmament, and specifically how arms control was being implemented in Iraq. I had written a few scholarly articles about Afghan-Soviet relations, with a focus on the ethnic and tribal aspects of Afghan politics, and in the mid-1980s I had been an analyst with the Marine Corps component of the rapid deployment force, following very closely the Soviet war against the Afghan mujahedeen, so I wasn’t totally out of my element."

Torture Case Tests Obama Secrecy Policy

Daphne Eviatar writes for The Washington Independent: "President Obama's sweeping reversals of torture and state secret policies are about to face an early test. In issuing an executive order and two presidential memoranda last week proclaiming a new transparency in the workings of the federal government, advocates for open government were thrilled. The test of those commitments will come soon in key court cases involving CIA 'black sites' and torture that the Bush administration had quashed by claiming they would reveal state secrets and endanger national security."

ACLU Tests Obama With Request for Secret Bush-Era Memos
Marisa Taylor reports for McClatchy Newspapers: "Dozens of secret documents justifying the Bush administration's spying and interrogation programs could see the light of day because of a new presidential directive. The American Civil Liberties Union asked the Obama administration on Wednesday to release Justice Department memos that provided the legal underpinning for harsh interrogations, eavesdropping and secret prisons."

Wanted: A Revolution in Critical Thinking
Susan Jacoby writes for On The Issues: "
Of all the revolutions we need, as a society, the most crucial—and the foundation of all other social change—is a renewal, on a vast scale, of respect for critical, tough-minded, evidence-based thinking. We have just been through a political era of unprecedented disdain for evidence and unprecedented reliance on blind faith—for everything from justification for the war in Iraq to belief in the efficacy of abstinence-only sex education."

Redefining "Moral Clarity"
Sara Robinson writes for the Campaign for America's Future: "
On Thursday night, for the first time since 9/11, I actually sat down and watched George Bush speak. (At this late date, I figured there was absolutely nothing the man could say that could quench the deep satisfaction of knowing that this was the last time we'd ever have to endure The Smirk.) There was one passage, in particular, that rang in my ears long after his final goodbye. It probably went over most Americans' heads—but it went right to the heart of Our Problem With George..."

State of the States: Political Party Affiliation
Gallup reports: "An analysis of Gallup Poll Daily tracking data from 2008 finds Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Hawaii to be the most Democratic states in the nation, along with the District of Columbia. Utah and Wyoming are the most Republican states."

Un-American: Have You Listened to Right-Wing Media Laterly?
Michael Massing writes for the Columbia Journalism Review: "
In the weeks following the election, the debate over the issue of media bias, and of whether the press was overly kind to Barack Obama, has continued to swirl. Much less attention has been paid to another, more troubling aspect of the coverage, and that’s the relentless and malevolent campaign that the right-wing media waged against the Democratic candidate. Few people who did not regularly tune in to the vast, churning combine of bellowing radio hosts, yapping bloggers, obnoxious Web sites, malicious columnists, and the slashingly partisan Fox News have any idea of just how vile and venomous were the attacks leveled at Obama."

Religion Crowds into America's Bedroom
Don Monkerud writes for Dissident Voices: "Evangelical, right-wing groups are engaging in a vast, many-pronged “cultural war” to manipulate sexual anxieties and determine what goes on in American’s bedrooms. To help roll back the sexual revolution of the 1970s, the Bush administration spent over $1 billion on abstinence-only programs. Thousands of sermons, workshops and other propaganda reinforced the message. Under the pithy slogan ABC (Abstain, Be faithful, use Condoms), ultra-conservative religious groups, such as Focus on the Family, American Family Association and Concerned Women for America, promote marriage as a solution to everything from suicide to poverty and self-worth issues."

The Definition of a "Two-Teared Justice System"
Glenn Greenwald writes for Salon.com: "Aside from the intrinsic dangers and injustices of arguing for immunity for high-level government officials who commit felonies (such as illegal eavesdropping, obstruction of justice, torture and other war crimes), it's the total selectivity of the rationale underlying that case which makes it so corrupt. Defenders of Bush officials sing in unison: We shouldn't get caught up in the past. We shouldn't be driven by vengeance and retribution. We shouldn't punish people whose motives in committing crimes weren't really that bad. "

Global Warming Is Irreversible, Study Says
Richard Harris of NPR News writes: "Climate change is essentially irreversible, according to a sobering new scientific study. As carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise, the world will experience more and more long-term environmental disruption. The damage will persist even when, and if, emissions are brought under control, says study author Susan Solomon, who is among the world's top climate scientists. 'We're used to thinking about pollution problems as things that we can fix,' Solomon says. 'Smog, we just cut back and everything will be better later. Or haze, you know, it'll go away pretty quickly.'" To listen to the story, click here.

Obama Has Opportunity to Reverse Mistake on Offshore Drilling

Mark Weisbrot, The Center for Economic and Policy Research: "Campaigning in Florida last June as a presidential candidate, then-Senator Barack Obama blasted the proposal of his opponent, Senator John McCain, to open coastal areas of the United States to offshore drilling. Declaring that it 'makes no sense at all,' Obama correctly stated that such drilling would make very little difference in the price of gasoline, and supported a reduction of fossil fuel use through a stimulus program that would create 'green jobs.' But as gasoline prices soared past $4 a gallon and the Republicans campaigned on the issue of 'drill here, drill now,' the Democratic leadership softened its position. The end result was that a 27-year ban on drilling in coastal areas off the United States was allowed to expire."

26 January 2009

Recommended Audio: Bill Moyer Journal for 9 January

There's no question that change is in the offing for American workers — the economic downturn, Washington bailouts and a new administration are all bound to have a profound effect on our working world. Organized labor is in an interesting spot. On the one hand, some on Capitol Hill and in the press are lambasting the United Auto Workers as greedy and out-of-date. On the other hand, Hilda Solis, arguably the most union-friendly candidate in years, stands ready to be confirmed as Secretary of Labor.

In this changing climate Bill Moyers talks with Leo W. Gerard, president of the United Steel Workers (U.S.W), the largest industrial union in North America about what organized labor wants:

"All we want to do is sit down and negotiate. Negotiation is the cornerstone of democracy as well. And I've threatened and challenged to debate people. Show me a country on earth that is a democratic country that doesn't have a free, strong, independent labor movement. If you crush the labor movement in America, you crush democracy."
By clicking on the title above you will be taken to the Journal webpage were you can watch this informative interview.

25 January 2009

Clippings for 25 January 2009

Power of the Pen
Mike Madden writes for Salon.com: "It turns out that the good thing about setting up a classified detention system in Cuba that's entirely run by the Pentagon, or a secret network of CIA torture chambers around the world, is that the White House can pretty much do whatever it wants with them by executive fiat -- including, as of Thursday, order them all shut down, as quickly as possible. (Of course, that power to rule Guantánamo and the secret prisons without any oversight is also one of the main reasons human rights advocates have been clamoring for them to be closed.)"

Day One: New FOIA Rules
Clint Hendler writes for the Columbia Journalism Review: "Addressing his new White House staff in a ceremony this afternoon, President Barack Obama spoke repeatedly of the importance of open government to his new administration. 'Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones,' he promised, shortly before signing several new executive orders, two of which were specifically designed to increase access to government information. One will require Obama and past presidents to consult with the solicitor general and the attorney general before they claim privilege over information. I’ll be interested to learn the details on that one, once the White House updates its online listing of executive orders."

Remaking America
Carol Jenkins writes for the Women's Media Project: "In the darkness of predawn, we walked silently through the streets of Washington to take our places on the mall. As the day began, there was no noisy jubilation, only the sound of forward movement, a determination to secure a spot to witness history. Mine was about midpoint among, we believe now, a million and a half witnesses. I stood next to a middle-aged man wiping tears from his face as his wife leaned into him; behind a mixed group of young men—black, Asian, white—in awe of the spectacle; in front of a group of older black women, quietly insisting the younger, taller ones stoop down so they could see. They responded quickly with a smile. I’ve never been in a more congenial, optimistic, unified throng."

Foreclosure Fightback: Resistance to Housing Foreclosures Spread Across the Land
Ben Ehrenreich writes for The Nation: "'This is a crowd that won't scatter,' James Steele wrote in the pages of The Nation some seventy-five years ago. Early one morning in July 1933, the police had evicted John Sparanga and his family from a home on Cleveland's east side. Sparanga had lost his job and fallen behind on mortgage payments. The bank had foreclosed. A grassroots 'home defense' organization, which had managed to forestall the eviction on three occasions, put out the call, and 10,000 people - mainly working-class immigrants from Southern and Central Europe - soon gathered, withstanding wave after wave of police tear gas, clubbings and bullets, 'vowing not to leave until John Sparanga [was] back in his home.'... The crowds appear to be gathering again - far more quietly this time but hardly tentatively. Community-based movements to halt the flood of foreclosures have been building across the country."

MUST READING for Every Manhattanite: Another Real Estate Crisis is about to Hit
Former Community Bridge guest Craig Paul Roberts writes for CounterPunch: "For a picture of the US real estate crisis, imagine New Orleans wrecked by Hurricane Katrina, and before the waters even begin to recede, a second Katrina hits. The 1,120,000 lost US retail jobs in 2008 are a signal that the second stage of the real estate bust is about to hit the economy. This time it will be commercial real estate--shopping malls, strip malls, warehouses, and office buildings. As businesses close and rents decline, the ability to service the mortgages on the over-built commercial real estate disappears."
Comment by Christopher: Two years ago I question Commissioner Tom Phillips on one of our first shows about this issue - real estate in an economic downturn - and he said we should not think about such things. When do we think about such issues Commissioner Phillips? It is obvious that you consistently fail to understand the complexity of the issues before our community. We are building a "redevelopment" project that is going to be a 1,000 lb yoke around our necks as a majority of the City Commissioners - our "gangsters" - show no fortitude to contribute to a better community for all. It's all about maintaining the status quo by enriching the rich and to hell with everyone else.

How America Embrased Lemon Socialism
Robert Reich writes on Robert Reich's Blog: "America has embraced Lemon Socialism. The federal government -- that is, you and I and every other taxpayer -- has taken ownership of giant home mortgagors Fannie and Freddie, which are by now basket cases. We've also put hundreds of millions into Wall Street banks, which are still flowing red ink and seem everyday to be in worse shape. We've bailed out the giant insurer AIG, which is failing. We've given GM and Chrysler the first installments of what are likely to turn into big bailouts. It's hard to find anyone who will place a big bet on the future of these two."

More Mea Culpas from Geithner as Regulator
Jeff Gerth reports for ProPublica: "As Timothy Geithner inched closer to becoming Treasury Secretary, document hounds got a treat: 100 pages of Geithner's answers (PDF) to pointed written questions from Senate Finance Committee members, who today voted 18-5 in favor of his confirmation."

The Duncan Doctrine: The Military-Corporate Legacy of the New Secretary of Education
Andy Koll writes for Tomdispatch: "On December 16th, a friendship forged nearly two decades ago on the hardwood of the basketball court culminated in a press conference at the Dodge Renaissance Academy, an elementary school located on the west side of Chicago. In a glowing introduction to the media, President-elect Barack Obama named Arne Duncan, the chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools system (CPS), as his nominee for U.S. Secretary of Education. 'When it comes to school reform,' the President-elect said, 'Arne is the most hands-on of hands-on practitioners. For Arne, school reform isn't just a theory in a book -- it's the cause of his life. And the results aren't just about test scores or statistics, but about whether our children are developing the skills they need to compete with any worker in the world for any job.'"

The Audacity of Educated Hope: The Promise of an Educated Citizenry

Henry Giroux writes for CoutnerPunch: "Most recently a number of progressive pundits have argued that with the election of Barack Obama to the presidency, intelligence and hope are once again not only embraced but promoted as part of an essential element of American culture. At work in this discourse is a qualified endorsement of Obama’s emphasis on hope, one that is audacious in its reach and courageous in its ability to see beyond the wretched cynicism and inflated self-interest that accompanied the embrace of an unchecked and unprincipled market fundamentalism celebrated with great fervor since the Reagan revolution of the 1980s. But the country needs more than a notion of hope that is audacious; it needs a conception of educated hope, one that is both bold in its vision and keen in its understanding that only by supporting those institutions that provide the conditions for an educated citizenry can reform actually work in the interest of sustaining a substantive democracy in which hope as a precondition for politics itself."

Getting Rid of the "War on Terror" Mindset
Matthew Yglesias writes for The American Prospect: "The notion of a 'war on terror' is a controversial one - British Foreign Secretary David Miliband recently critiqued it for giving the impression of a 'unified, transnational enemy.' Will Obama discard the phrase? The inauguration of Barack Obama clearly augurs the beginning of the end of America's disastrous war in Iraq. Less clear is what it means for the larger conceptual framework in which the war is embedded, the so-called 'war on terror' of which the Iraq war, in the Bush administration's formulation, is but one 'battle.'"

The People vs. Dick Cheney

Karen Greenberg writes for Mother Jones: "Just weeks before the 2004 presidential election, Donald Rumsfeld, then secretary of defense, appeared at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City. After the secretary finished, with customary panache, assessing the state of the war on terrorism ("Have there been setbacks in Afghanistan and Iraq? You bet"), a young man in a business suit asked politely, 'Mr. Secretary, you have a very impressive career both within...and outside the government sector. As such a credible leader, could you please explain to us what your definition of the word 'accountability' is?'"

NSA Whistleblower: Wiretaps Were Combined With Credit Card Records of US Citizens
Kim Zetter writes for Wired: "NSA whistleblower Russell Tice was back on Keith Olbermann's MSNBC program Thursday evening to expand on his Wednesday revelations that the National Security Agency spied on individual US journalists, entire US news agencies as well as 'tens of thousands' of other Americans."

Immigration Reform Must Regain a Moral Compass
Roberto Lovato comments for New America Media: "The buzz filling Blackberrys, busy halls and spacious deal-making rooms in Washington appears to signal that spring arrived early this year for immigrants. In the last week alone, several prominent figures—outgoing President Bush, incoming President Obama, Mexican President Calderón, Los Angeles Cardinal Mahoney, to name a few—have discussed the possibility of comprehensive immigration reform. And, as in the previous failed attempts at reform in 2006 and 2007, legalization for the more than 12 million undocumented among us occupies the center of forums, speeches and other public statements of Democratic and civic leaders in the beltway."

Obama Frees Bush Historical Records
Robert Parry reports for Consortium News: "When authoritarian forces seize control of a government, they typically move first against the public's access to information, under the theory that a confused populace can be more easily manipulated. They take aim at the radio stations, TV and newspapers. In the case of George W. Bush in 2001, he also took aim at historical records, giving himself and his family indefinite control over documents covering the 12 years of his father's terms as President and Vice President. It was, therefore, significant that one of Barack Obama's first acts as President was to revoke the Bush Family's power over that history and to replace it with an easier set of regulations for accessing the records."

This Week in Scandals: Bank of America, Goodbye Gitmo, and More...
Alexandra Andrews compiles ProPublica's weekly report on what's rally happening: "Last Friday, Bank of America admitted a secret deal with the U.S. government [4] that helped oil its purchase of Merrill Lynch, prompting angry shareholders to ask why they were left in the dark [5]. The news came on the heels of BofA’s disclosure that Merrill had lost $15.3 billion [6] in the fourth quarter. BofA claims it didn’t know about the massive loss before shareholders agreed to buy Merrill on Dec. 5, but one investor isn’t so sure [7]. At any rate, BofA told the government about the losses about a month before shareholders were clued in [8]."

Food Crisis - The Facts
The New Internationalist reports: "The increase in global food prices may have temporarily stalled but food is expected to remain at record price levels for the foreseeable future. Industrial agriculture’s chickens have come home to roost. But the price is being paid not by agribusiness and food retailers but by small farmers whose income remains low, and by the millions being pushed into malnutrition."

Equal Pay for Breadwinners: More Men Are Jobless While Women Earn Less for Equal Work
Heather Boushey writes for The Center for American Progress: "With so many men out of work, it is clear that more families are relying on women workers to make ends meet. As women increasingly take on the role of breadwinner, ensuring that they get a fair wage is taking on more urgency than ever before. Nearly half a century after passage of the Equal Pay Act, women continue to earn less than men, even if they have similar educational levels and work in similar kinds of jobs as their male co-workers."

Biggest Jackass in Kansas Politics
Our friends at KansasJackass deliver another stinging evaluation of Kansas' Republican National Senator and Representatives who voted against paying women equal pay for equal work.

Far-right Obama Critics Get a Reply
Leonard Pitts Jr. comments for the Maimi Hearld: "'I hope he fails.' -- Limbaugh It is, of course, a calculated outrage. Meaning, it was spewed by a clown in the media circus to kick a familiar sequence into motion: angry denunciation by bloggers, pundits and supporters of President Barack Obama (the ''he'' whose failure is hoped), followed by Rush Limbaugh refusing to retract a word, a courageous truth teller who will not be moved. And, trailing behind, like the folks with brooms trail the elephants in the circus parade, Limbaugh's devotees, complaining that their hero has been misquoted, misunderstood or otherwise mistreated. `What Rush meant was . . . yadda yadda yadda.'''

Recommended Audio: Limbaugh's desire for Obama to 'fail' is 'arguably treasonous': Stewart
David Edwards and Ron Brynaert comment for TheRawStory.com: "After only a few days, Fox News does its "duty," and, of course, all the while, remaining "fair and balanced," finds reasons Americans should fear the Obama administration." You can view John Stewart's comeback at this site.

Ecologists Warn the Planet Is Running Short of Water
Leo Lewis, The Times Online UK: "A swelling global population, changing diets and mankind's expanding “water footprint” could be bringing an end to the era of cheap water. The warnings, in an annual report by the Pacific Institute in California, come as ecologists have begun adopting the term 'peak ecological water' — the point where, like the concept of 'peak oil,' the world has to confront a natural limit on something once considered virtually infinite. "

Global Warming Increasing Death Rate of US Trees, Scientists Warn
Alok Jha reports for The Guardian UK: "Trees in the western United States are dying twice as quickly as they did three decades ago and scientists think global warming is to blame. In their surveys, ecologists found that a wide range of tree species were dying including pines, firs and hemlocks and at a variety of altitudes. The changes can have serious long-term effects including reducing biodiversity and turning western forests into a source of carbon dioxide as they die and decompose. That could lead to a runaway effect that speeds up climate change."

FCC Slaps Comcast, Fuels Network Neutrality Hopes
Kim Dixon reports for Reuters: "A last-minute bid by outgoing FCC Chairman Kevin Martin to deepen a probe of Comcast is fueling the hopes of those pushing for unfettered access to the Internet. The FCC said that Comcast's attempt to revise the practices it uses to manage Internet traffic unfairly favors its own VoIP service."

Staff Finds White House in Technological Dark Ages
Anne Kornbult reports for the Washington Post: "If the Obama campaign represented a sleek, new iPhone kind of future, the first day of the Obama administration looked more like the rotary-dial past. Two years after launching the most technologically savvy presidential campaign in history, Obama officials ran smack into the constraints of the federal bureaucracy yesterday, encountering a jumble of disconnected phone lines, old computer software, and security regulations forbidding outside e-mail accounts."

22 January 2009

Clippings for 22 January 2009

The Day the Earth Still Stood: What Will Obama Inherit?
Tom Engelhardt of TomDispatch.com, discusses the impact of Tuesday's inauguration and the legacy the Bush administration will leave behind.

Seven Questions for Barak Obama
The Colombia Journalism Review staff write: "As the inaugural crowds pack their bags and head home from Washington, suffused with the sense of having been part of history, the time has come for the media to pack away their superlatives and start treating Barack Obama like a president, not a monument."

And Now, the Hard Part
BillBoyarsky writes for Truthdig.com: "President Barack Obama’s inaugural speech was an inspiring call to national service. But you have to read it closely. The words were challenging: 'What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility—a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.'"

Let There Be Light
The editors of the Columbia Journalism Review write: "Over many years, Americans have come to embrace the idea that democracy suffers when the work of government is excessively secret—the people are shut out, corruption and cynicism thrive, and accountability wanes. Yet President Bush and Vice President Cheney have run an administration in which the executive’s lust for power outstripped the public’s right to know. One of the most troubling aspects of Bush’s campaign against government transparency was the ease of its advance. Battles were won with brief memos, unilateral executive orders, and signal flags from on high."

Obama Has to Hold Bush Accountable for the Laws He Broke
Elizabeth Holtzman writes for The Nation: "President Obama, on his first day in office, can make a number of changes that will mark a clean break with the Bush presidency. He can, and should, issue an executive order revoking any prior order that permits detainee mistreatment by any government agency. He should begin the process of closing Guantanamo, and he should submit to Congress a bill to end the use of military commissions, at least as presently constituted. Over the coming months he can pursue other reforms to restore respect for the Constitution, such as revising the Patriot Act, abolishing secret prisons and 'extraordinary rendition,' and ending practices, like signing statements, that seek to undo laws. While these steps are all crucial, however, it is not enough merely to cease the abuses of power and apparent criminality that marked the highest levels of George W. Bush's administration. We cannot simply shrug off the constitutional and criminal misbehavior of the administration."

Peace Is in the Eye of the Beholder

Former Community Bridge guest, Chris Hedges, writes for Truthdig.com: "I do not like Hamas. I detest religious fundamentalism and the use of suicide bombers. I find the group’s anti-Semitism and ruthless silencing of internal Palestinian opponents repugnant. The rocket attacks on Israeli civilians are a war crime. But this does not negate the legitimacy of Palestinian resistance to the long Israeli siege and occupation of Gaza. "

MLK's Dream Also Included Economic Justice
Deepti Hajela reports for The Associated Press: "While the election of Barack Obama is a huge step toward King's dream of a time when people are judged on the content of their character and not their skin color, economic data shows racial disparities are still pervasive when it comes to financial equality."

The Bailout: TARP Failing, Next Step Unclear
Paul Keil reports for ProPublica: "The TARP hasn't saved [1] the nation's major banks, and the Obama administration doesn't know what to do [2] to save them. That is the unusually sober takeaway in the morning's major papers, following yesterday's sharp decline for banks in the stock markets. Bank stocks have been sliding all month: "The common stock of the major banks tracked by the Dow Jones Wilshire U.S. Banks Index has fallen roughly $287 billion in value since Jan. 2, a 43% decline in just over two weeks," reports the Wall Street Journal [3]."

TARP II: Money for Banks, Not Homeowners
Dean Baker, Truthout: "TARP II, the second helping of $350 billion that is supposed to restore the health of our financial system, will soon be dished out by the Obama administration. Ostensibly, much of this money will go to help homeowners stay in their homes. But, as is the case with many Washington policies, this money is also going to end up in the bankers' pockets."

Fiddling While the Coal Burns
Bill McKibben writes for Grist: "Given the sheer number of candidates for 'worst legacy of the Bush years,' it may seem perverse to pick the hundreds of coal-fired power plants that have opened across China during his administration. But given their cumulative effect - quite possibly the concrete block that broke the climate-camel's already straining back - I think they may be what history someday seizes on. And they are emblematic of George W. Bush's utter failure to help the world rein in carbon emissions at what may have been the last possible moment."\

Gas Drilling Update: An Industry Set Back in Utah
Abrahm Lustgarten writes for ProPublica: "A U.S. District Court judge put the brakes on a 110,000-acre last-minute sale of federal lands for natural gas drilling in Utah last week, adding another voice to a chorus of concerns over the environmental prudence of the Bush administration's energy policy. The judge, Ricardo M. Urbina, found that the Bureau of Land Management's management plans and environmental analysis for the lands that border Arches National Park and other significant scenic areas failed to adequately study air pollution and other impacts. His decision to stay the highly contested sale, which took place Dec. 19, will allow the court time to fully evaluate a lawsuit brought by environmental organizations challenging the sale."

Learn the Myths of Roe vs. Wade
Gary Bauer of Politico.com writes: "Few Supreme Court decisions have had as much of an impact on American life as has Roe v. Wade, which subsequent courts have interpreted as having discovered a constitutional right to abortion for virtually any reason and at any time during pregnancy. Since Roe, abortion has taken the lives of at least 50 million Americans (equal to the combined populations of 25 states). The demographic repercussions of Roe continue to shape voting patterns and are a driving force behind America’s fast-approaching entitlements crisis."

End Torture, End Domestic Violence
Rhonda Copelon writes for On the Issues Magazine: "When one compares what is done to a woman in an advanced domestic battering cycle and to prisoners subjected to torture, the situations are frighteningly similar. But only recently have they begun to be equated legally and culturally."

Getting over the Rev. Rick
David Kirp writes in the San Francisco Chronicle: "There has been much gnashing of teeth, and not only in the gay community, over the selection of the Rev. Rick Warren to deliver the premier prayer at tomorrow's Inauguration. Understandably so -after all, the televangelist had famously likened same-sex marriage to incest, polygamy, and 'an older guy marrying a child.'" It would be a mistake, though, to read the choice as signaling that the Obama administration will leave gays out in the cold. The decision to ask Gene Robinson, the openly gay Episcopal bishop and the center of a religious firestorm, to deliver the invocation at the opening ceremony is smart politics. What's more important, the fact that Barack Obama sought out Robinson during the campaign - asking him "what it's like to be first"; discussing Obama's commitment to gay civil rights as well as to the U.N. Millennium Development Goals for reducing poverty and disease - speaks volumes about the breadth of the president-elect's worldview.

Lynn Jenkins, CPA Blunder: Legislators Want Multimillion Dollar Mistake Fixed

From our friends at KansasJackass: "One of the several reasons no one, save Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins herself, thought she would beat former Congresswoman Nancy Boyda in November was that, while treasurer, Jenkins overlooked a massive accounting error- effected by her predecessor in the treasurer's office- that resulted in her office misallocating tens of millions of Kansas tax dollars."

Network VP Dismisses Military Pundit Scandal
Ali Flick writes for Think Progress: "Yesterday, the Department of Defense Inspector General released its report on the military analyst program first revealed by the New York Times last April. The report said there was 'insufficient evidence to conclude that OASD(PA) conceived of or undertook the type of disciplined public relations effort' alleged by the program’s critics. The report concluded that the program 'was not a secret or covert effort,' and thus not propaganda, which it defined as activities that 'are covert, that is, the communications do not reveal to the target audience the government’s role in sponsoring the material.'”

18 January 2009

Clippings for 18 January 2009

Action Alert: Kansas Families for Education
Tell the Kansas Legislature that cutting funding to our public schools is unacceptable.

Just 48 hours ago Governor Sebelius released her proposed budget. Schools were not exempt from sharing in the pain. While school funding remains at the same level approved for the current year under Governor Sebelius' budget, it in no way means that school funding has not taken a cut. Schools will have to use the same amount of money for more pupils and pupils with greater needs.

While the Governor's proposal holds funding at the same level it equates to a $22 cut in base state aid per pupil this year and $66 cut in base state aid per pupil next year. Special Education fares no better. The state will reduce its portion of excess costs from 92% to 84%.

Folks, I'm afraid this is about as good as it gets.

However, many GOP lawmakers are calling for deeper cuts. They don't even want to look for ways to minimize the impact on schools. Apparently across the board cuts are much easier.

"The quick way to fill a hole is across the board" - Mike O'Neal ~ Topeka Capitol Journal, Jan. 15, 2008

It took them almost 10 years to fund public schools, even after a court order. We can't understand why they can't wait and give careful consideration to the budget and possible help that is on the way from the federal government.
Do Senators want the people who elected them to weigh in? Apparently not. Discussions were canceled and a hearing held today. Of course there was NO notice giving the public an opportunity to participate. Perhaps it is because they don't care what their constituents think.
According to KFE executive director Kathy Cook, "Certain legislators are unable to disguise their eagerness to cut education. They are using the national and state financial crisis as an excuse to roll back the vital educational improvements we have made. If members of the legislature seek across the board cuts in school funding now, it is clearly because they WANT to, not because they HAVE to, and the voters should evaluate them accordingly."
We urge you to contact the individuals below as well as your legislators and tell them we will NOT stand for deeper cuts to public schools. Tell them you support the Governor's budget. Tell them you don't appreciate being shut out of the discussion and the solution!

Rep. Kevin Yoder, Chairperson yoder@house.state.ks.us
Rep. Jason Watkins, Vchairperson Watkins@house.state.ks.us
Rep. Barbara Craft craft@house.state.ks.us
Rep. David Crum crum@house.state.ks.us
Rep. Peter DeGraaf degraaf@house.state.ks.us
Rep. Owen Donohoe donohoe@house.state.ks.us
Rep. John Faber faber@house.state.ks.us
Rep Mitch Holmes holmesm@house.state.ks.us
Rep. Kasha Kelley Kelley@house.state.ks.us
Rep. Bill Light light@house.state.ks.us
Rep. Peggy Mast mast@house.state.ks.us
Rep. Joe McLeland Mcleland@house.state.ks.us
Rep. Lee Tafanelli tafanelli@house.state.ks.us
Rep. Jeff Whitham whitham@house.state.ks.us
Rep. Bill Feuerborn, Ranking Minority Member feuerborn@house.state.ks.us
Rep. Barbara Ballard ballard@house.state.ks.us
Rep. Tom Burroughs burroughs@house.state.ks.us
Rep. Sydney Carlin carlin@house.state.ks.us
Rep. Doug Gatewood gatewood@house.state.ks.us
Rep. Jerry Henry, henry@house.state.ks.us
Rep. Harold Lane lane@house.state.ks.us
Rep. Tom Sawyer sawyer@house.state.ks.us
Rep. Jerry Williams Williams@house.state.ks.us

Senator Jay Emler, Chairperson emler@senate.state.ks.us
Senator Carolyn McGinn V Chairperson mcginn@seante.state.ks.us
Senator John Vratil, Vice Chairperson vratil@senate.state.ks.us
Senator Ty Masterson masterson@senate.state.ks.us
Senator Vickie Schmidt schmidtv@senate.state.ks.us
Senator Jean Schodorf schodorf@senate.state.ks.us
Senator Mark Taddiken taddiken@senate.state.ks.us
Senator Ruth Teichman teichman@senate.state.ks.us
Senator Dwayne Umbarger umbarger@senate.state.ks.us
Senator David Wysong wysong@senate.state.ks.us
Senator Laura Kelly Kelly@senate.state.ks.us
Senator Kelly Kultala Kultala@senate.state.ks.us
Senator Janis Lee lee@senate.state.ks.us

The Acts of Change
Abbie McCeney writes for The Coloradoan: "My grandfather, Jonathan Brown Sutin (Papa), was approximately the age of 25 when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was fighting toward African-American rights. King fought tirelessly for voting rights, educational rights and overall respect, as did Papa. King brought hope to his fellow people and gave them courage to stand up to people who disrespected them. What King and my grandfather both hoped for the most was change." Her commentary is one of the winning entries in an Matrin Luther King Day essay and poetry contest honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

The Power of Nonviolence
Last spring The Nation Institute sponsored a forum at the Society for Ethical Culture in New York City on "Gandhi, King and the Power of Nonviolence: Alternatives to Force in the 21st Century." The participants were Jonathan Schell, The Nation's Peace and Disarmament correspondent, author of The Fate of the Earth and most recently, The Seventh Decade: The New Shape of Nuclear Danger; and Taylor Branch, author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning three-volume history of the Martin Luther King era. The moderator was the writer Suzannah Lessard. What follows is an edited transcript of the discussion.

Cease Fire, Cease Siege
Former Community Bridge guest, Kathy Kelly writes for Truthout: "Yesterday, en route to the Rafah border crossing that leads into Gaza, our driver pointed to a long line of trucks laden with goods that are desperately needed in every area of Gaza. 'You see,' he said, 'all of this is to help people.' Generous people, around the world, want Gazans to have food, shelter, fuel, medicine and water while the Israeli military ruthlessly attacks their homes and neighborhoods. The aid shipments will surely save lives and ease affliction. Nevertheless, this relief will meet only a fraction of the need."

What's CIA Director Hayden Hidin?

Ray McGovern, who appeared on Community Bridge last October, writes for Common Dreams: "Outgoing CIA Director Michael Hayden is going around town telling folks he has warned President-elect Barack Obama 'personally and forcefully' that if Obama authorizes an investigation into controversial activities like waterboarding, 'no one in Langley will ever take a risk again'"

Sources: Obama Ready to Ban Harsh Interrogations
Lara Jakes and Pamela Hess write for The Associated Press: "President-elect Barack Obama is preparing to prohibit the use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques by ordering the CIA to follow military rules for questioning prisoners, according to two US officials familiar with drafts of the plans. Still under debate is whether to allow exceptions in extraordinary cases."

Obama's Stimulus Plan Is Only Half a Loaf
Steven Hill writes for Truthout: "Imagine a place where doctors still do house calls. Or where child care is affordable, professional and widely available. Or where all new parents are paid to stay home and care for their newborns and they receive a monthly stipend to pay for diapers, food and other daily needs."

Budget Office Estimates Bailout to Exceed $64 Billion
Paul Keil reports for ProPublica: "In a report today, the Congressional Budget Office tried to put a price tag on the bailout [1] (PDF) through the end of last year. The answer: $64 billion. That's what the office projects the 'subsidy cost' of the Treasury Department's actions through Dec. 31 to be. As of Dec. 31, the Treasury Department had invested or lent $247 billion. The subsidy cost, according to the report, is 'the difference between what the Treasury paid for the investments or lent to the firms and the market value of those transactions.'"

Can Labor Revive the American Dream?
Esther Kaplan writes for The Nation: "The financial markets are in tatters, consumer spending is anemic and the recession continues to deepen, but corporate America is keeping its eyes on the prize: crushing organized labor. The Center for Union Facts, a business front group, has taken out full-page ads in newspapers linking SEIU president Andy Stern to the Rod Blagojevich scandal. The Chamber of Commerce is capitalizing on the debate over the Big Three bailout to claim that 'unions drove the auto companies off the cliff,' while minority leader Mitch McConnell and other Republican senators insist on steep wage cuts. A December 10 Republican strategy memo revealed their central obsession: 'Republicans should stand firm and take their first shot against organized labor,' the memo read. 'This is a precursor to card check' - a clear reference to the Employee Free Choice Act."

Coverage of Economy Repeats Iraq mistakes

Jamison Foser writes for Media Matters: "Barack Obama is still nearly 100 hours away from becoming the 44th president of the United States, and already some in the media are looking ahead to the next election. CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider wonders, 'How long will the voters give President Barack Obama to turn the economy around?' Looking back at Presidents Reagan and Clinton, Schneider finds that 'Obama can expect midterm grades in two years, and final grades at the end of four. Another conclusion: Grades are based on many subjects, not just the economy.'"

Why Citi Turned Around on Mortgage "Cramdowns"
Robert Reich writes on Robert Reich's Blog: "Could it be that Citi's Pandit knew last week that he'd soon need even more help from Congress than the $45 billion bailout the bank already received?"

Ray LaHood and Changing Our Thinking about Transportation
Alex Steffen writes for Worldchanging: "Soon, the U.S. Senate will hold a confirmation hearing on the president-elect's choice of Ray LaHood for Secretary of Transportation. No one expects that hearing to be anything but easy for LaHood. That's too bad, because it shows that when it comes to greening the stimulus, we're not only missing the forest for the trees, we're not even seeing the trees right."

Agriculture Nominee Vilsack: Supporter of Genetic Engineering and Corporate Farming

Environmental News Service: "Agriculture Secretary nominee Tom Vilsack had no problem winning over both Democrat and Republican members of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee during his confirmation hearing today, but he has not done as well with the growers and consumers of organic foods."

Bush Tarnishes Medal of Freedom by Bestowing It on Uribe
Matthew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive, writes: "Bush keeps outdoing himself on his way out the door. On Tuesday, he gave the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Alvaro Uribe, the head of Colombia. Uribe has had close ties with rightwing paramilitary squads. And his government is a notorious human rights abuser."

Midnight Regs: Nearing the End Game
Jesse Nankin reports for ProPublica: "With just a few days left, the Bush administration is still implementing midnight regulations -- and we're still bird-dogging them. Today's update includes two additions to our chart and a decision from the Environmental Protection Agency that concerns a rule on a contaminant found in drinking water."

The Party of No Ideas
Joe Conason writes for Truthdig.com: "Would it be rude to ask whether the Republicans have any new proposals to save the country from this worsening recession? The question arises not because anyone expects the minority party to burst forth with creative ideas, but because conservatives in Congress and the media seem so determined to thwart or stall the economic stimulus plans of President-elect Barack Obama."

Trading in "Barefoot and Pregnant" for Economic nad Reproductive Justice
Gloria Feldt comments for the Women's Media Center: "Arkansas State Senator Paul Van Dalsem got a roaring laugh in 1963 at the then all-male Optimist Club when he railed at women lobbying to improve educational opportunities for African Americans. He said his home county’s solution would be to get an uppity woman an extra milk cow. 'And if that’s not enough, we get her pregnant and keep her barefoot.' Fast forward to January 2009. The relevance of barefoot and pregnant remains central to an inclusive and just America. Economic parity and reproductive justice are still intertwined, not only in the lives of individual women; they are indivisibly connected to our economic recovery as well."

Why Gene Robinson Is too Little, too Late
Nancy Goldstein writes for Salon: "Finally: Nearly four weeks and tons of negative press since Barack Obama announced his choice of the popular -- and notoriously homophobic and anti-Semitic -- evangelical pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the presidential inauguration, Team Obama has gone into damage control mode. Monday morning they announced that Obama has also invited the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, who was elected the Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop in 2003, to deliver the invocation for Sunday's kickoff inaugural event on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial."

Gay but Equal?
Mary Frances Berry, the chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights from 1993 to 2004, in this piece calls for the creation of a "new, independent human and civil rights commission" that would take a hard look at rectifying the lack of equal rights for gays and other minorities. "A number of explosive issues like immigration reform await such a commission, but recommendations for resolving the controversies over the rights of gays, lesbians and transgendered people should be its first order of business," Berry writes.

Obama this is UNACCEPTABLE: Rick Warren Invokes Hilter Youth
Lisa Derrick writes for Firedoglake: "I know I have been on and on about Rick Warren and his loathing of homosexuals, his utter conviction that man and dinosaurs once frolicked together, that he doesnt think abused spouses should divorce because it's not in the Bible, and his support of crazed African pastors."

16 January 2009

Jenkins, Tiahrt Vote Against Increased Healthcare Coverage for Children

From our friends at KansasJackass:

Jenkins, Tiahrt Vote Against Increased Healthcare Coverage for Children
Thursday 15 January - Landmark legislation passed the United States House of Representatives today by a nearly veto-proof majority- 289-139- that expands health insurance coverage to millions of American children in need. Sadly, Kansas Representatives Lynn Jenkins and Todd Tiahrt voted against the bill.

The Office of Auditor of the State of Kansas?
The Kansas Republican legislative leadership unveiled their "List of Things We Must Do in 2009" yesterday. Here's the quick rundown from the KC Star's Prime Buzz blog- along with my always enjoyable running commentary...

14 January 2009

Clippings for 16 January 2009

Breaking News: Vilsack Confirmation Hearing Begins
Despite a deluge of over 100,000 emails and petition signatures from organic consumers and farmers objecting to the appointment of biotech and biofuels booster Tom Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture, the Senate is scheduled to begin confirmation hearings for Vilsack on Wednesday.

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) released the followign statement: "OCA is disappointed in this controversial appointment, and we are calling on our national network and allies to pressure Obama to move beyond "agribusiness as usual" by drafting Jim Riddle to head the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), the department that oversees organic food, farming, and standards. Riddle is an organic farmer from Minnesota, former Chair of the National Organic Standards Board, and a longtime advocate for sustainable and organic farming. With Riddle heading up the AMS, farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture, transition to organic programs, and the National Organic Program will finally receive the attention, technical assistance, and funding they deserve."

OCA is proposing to draft Jim Riddle as Secretary of Agriculture. To take part in this effort, click here.

Why Eric Holder Represents What's Wrong with Washington
MotherJones Blog writes: "Eric Holder Jr., by all accounts, is a decent, smart, caring, competent fellow. President-elect Barack Obama's pick to be attorney general had a brilliant career in public service: he graduated from Columbia University law school, worked at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, was a trial attorney at the Justice Department, a Superior Court judge in Washington, DC, a US attorney, and, then deputy attorney general. He has served on various nonprofit boards: George Washington University, the American Constitution Society, Morehouse School of Medicine, Save the Children Foundation, the District of Columbia's Police Foundation, and the Innocence Project. He's been a member of Concerned Black Men for over 25 years. He also, in a way, represents what's wrong with Washington."

Mythbusting the Obama Recovery Package
Sara Robinson writes for The Campaign For America's Future: "Here it is: our moment of economic truth. We're standing at that historic fork in the road where the nation decides, now and for the foreseeable future, whether it's going to hang on to the catastrophic assumptions of the free-market fundamentalists and rely once more on the nostrums that have so far failed to fix the mess, or take a bold step down a new, more progressive path that will finally re-empower the American people to build an economy that works for us all."

Hope and Change for Low-Wage Workers
Rev. William G. Sinkford writes for CommonDreams.org: "On March 18, 1968, two weeks before his murder, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. told striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tenn., "It is criminal to have people working on a full-time basis getting part-time income." He said, "A living wage should be the right of all working Americans." What would Dr. King have thought of a $6.55 federal minimum wage in 2009, when the 1968 minimum wage is worth about $10 in today's dollars. What would he have made of a minimum wage that is less adequate for the basic necessities of life than it was 40 years ago?"

Billions Face Food Shortages, Study Warns
Ian Sample reports for The Guardian UK: "Half of the world's population could face severe food shortages by the end of the century as rising temperatures take their toll on farmers' crops, scientists have warned... The worst of the food shortages are expected to hit the poor, densely inhabited regions of the equatorial belt, where demand for food is already soaring because of a rapid growth in population."

Wall Street Robber Barons Ride Again
Robert Scheer writes for Truthdig.com: "Why rush to throw another $350 billion of taxpayer money at the Wall Street bandits and their political cronies who created the biggest financial mess since the Great Depression? And why should we taxpayers be expected to double our debt exposure when the 10 still-secret bailout contracts made in the first round are being kept from the public?"

44 to Reverse 43's Executive Orders
Ben Smith and Lisa Lerer write for Politico.com: "President-elect Barack Obama is expected to move swiftly to reverse executive orders regarding torture of terror suspects, the military prison at Guantanamo Bay and other controversial security policies, sources close to his transition team said, in dramatic gestures aimed at reversing President Bush's accumulation of executive power."

What We Didn't Know Has Hurt Us

Clint Hendler writes for the Columbia Journalism Review: "Advocates for open and transparent government are quick to note that no American presidential administration has, in practice, been enthusiastic about reducing secrecy in the executive branch—for some obvious and sometimes quite legitimate reasons. There are secrets that almost everyone agrees should remain secret. But secrecy must be balanced with the citizens’ right to examine the operations of their government—to learn, to improve, to enforce, and sometimes to shame. That’s especially true when there are political or bureaucratic incentives for secrecy that deserve far less respect than true matters of national security. And despite the bipartisan resistance from those in power, the arc of history has trended, if unevenly, toward openness."

Internal Probe Slams Bush Justice Department for Illegal Hiring
Greg Gordon writes for McClatchy Newspapers: "A former acting Justice Department civil rights chief illegally favored conservative job applicants as 'real Americans,' kept liberal lawyers off key cases and lied in Senate testimony to conceal his misconduct, internal investigators say in a report made public Tuesday. Bradley Schlozman privately dubbed liberal department lawyers 'commies' and 'pinkos' and told a subordinate that the Civil Rights Division shouldn't be limited to hiring 'politburo members' who belong to some 'psychopathic left-wing organization designed to overthrow the government,' the department's inspector general and Office of Professional Responsibility found."

Congress Aims to Take Back Constitutional War Powers
Maya Schenwar reports for Truthout: "As America anticipates the official arrival of the Obama presidency on January 20, the power grabs and ballooning executive privileges of the Bush administration may seem far behind us. However, staving off the normalization of those abuses has remained at the forefront of several Congress members' legislative agendas. Congress took little initiative to rein in Bush's excesses throughout his administration, and now, some members worry that his vast expansion of executive powers could set a dangerous precedent for generations to come. Unless Congress formally rejects Bush's generous interpretation of the role of the president, they say, the system of checks and balances could be permanently disrupted."

The Afghan Scam: The Untold Story of Why the US Is Bound to Fail in Afghanistan
Ann Jones writes for TomDispatch.com: "The Bush administration perpetrated a scam. It used the system it set up to dispense reconstruction aid to both the countries it 'liberated,' Afghanistan and Iraq, to transfer American taxpayer dollars from the national treasury directly into the pockets of private war profiteers. Think of Halliburton, Bechtel and Blackwater in Iraq; Louis Berger Group, Bearing Point and DynCorp International in Afghanistan. They're all in it together. So far, the Bush administration has bamboozled Americans about its shady aid program. Nobody talks about it. Yet the aid scam, which would be a scandal if it weren't so profitable for so many, explains far more than does troop strength about why, today, we are on the verge of watching the whole Afghan enterprise go belly up."

Is America's Love Affair with Stupidity Finally Over?
Liz Langley writes for AlterNet.org: "There was a time in this country when smart people were considered cool -- well not cool, but they did things like build ships and pyramids and they even went in the moon ... I believe that time can come again. That's an abridged quote from Idiocracy, the 2006 scarily spot-on parody film about what life will be like on Earth in 500 years if we don't throw a Stop Stick under the tires of the dumbing-down process. Written and directed by Mike Judge ("Beavis and Butthead," "King of the Hill") in Judge's world of tomorrow, the top TV show is "Ow! My Balls!" on the Violence Channel, and the U.S. president is an ex-porn star and pro-wrestler."

Obama Must Seize Opportunity From Crisis
Jeremy Ben-Ami writes for The Jewish Week: "Whatever faint hope President-elect Barack Obama's national security team may have held of pushing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the back burner went up in smoke in recent days. As ever, 'the conflict,' now focused on Gaza, is squarely front and center on a new American president's plate. My hope is that the president-elect will seize this crisis and its aftermath as an opportunity to set a bold new course for America in the Middle East."

Gaza: An Ongoing Challenge for the Media

Oliver Luft writes from the Guardian UK: "The blockade of Gaza by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) preventing reporters entering the besieged territory has created a series of operational headaches for British news organisations. Several hundred journalists from across the globe have now gathered on the Israeli side of the Erez crossing from Israel into Gaza seeking news from inside the territory."

Sebelieus Budget Unveiled, Prevents Cuts to Public Education
KansasJackass writes: "See, Republicans? All you had to do was sit tight and wait- Governor Kathleen Sebelius has delivered her budget just as you always knew she would. It isn't pretty and won't likely make, well, anyone anywhere in the whole state happy. Potentially the biggest news from the budget is that Sebelius has managed to balance the state budget without cutting funding to public schools."

A Wake-Up Call for Science Education
Alan I. Leshner reports for The Boston Globe: "The United States is once again missing from the list of top-10 science and math education countries. A new Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study confirmed that America lags behind many other industrialized countries at the task of preparing tomorrow's labor force. Long-term economic growth depends on a fully competent talent pool, including workers who can excel in a technology-based economy. But young people in many less-developed countries now outperform their American counterparts in both science and math."

Women's Liberation Through Submission: An Evangelical Anti-Feminism Is Born
Kathryn Joyce, Religion Dispatches: "This October, more than 6,000 women gathered in Chicago for the True Woman Conference ’08: a stadium-style event to promote what its proponents call 'biblical womanhood,' 'complementarianism,' or—most bluntly—'the patriarchy movement.' Women gathering to support the patriarchy movement? It’s evangelical counterculture at its most contrarian."

Obama Will End "Don't Ask" Policy, Aide Says
Matthew B. Stannard reports for The San Francisco Chronicle: "President Obama will end the 15-year-old 'don't ask, don't tell' policy that has prevented homosexual and bisexual men and women from serving openly within the U.S. military, a spokesman for the president-elect said."

Equality Matters Launches Online March for LGBT Equality
Gaypolitics.com reports that the first Online March for Equality will be held on Facebook and other social-networking sites from Jan. 18 to 24, the week of the presidential inauguration. The event, which is being organized by LGBT-rights group Equality Matters, has garnered more than than 40,000 Facebook registrants who are pledging to replace their profile photos with one of several "badges" representing the inability to file joint taxes, handle medical decisions for a partner and other rights not available to LGBT Americans.

Beware of Bogus National Broadband Plans

Karl Bode writes for Broadband Reports: "Obama's team is supposedly considering a plan to expand broadband, centered largely around providing tax breaks to companies willing to extend broadband where it isn't available. Remember that many of these companies already spent millions trying to keep under-served areas from wiring themselves. Should they be rewarded?"

Report: Public Broadcasting and Public Affairs
Pat Aufderheide and Jessica Clark, Berkman Center for Internet and Society, issue a new report looking at public broadcasting's resources and assets are valuable and hold great potential value for tomorrow's nonprofit online media sector. The sector will have to transform to fulfill that potential -- the question is how. Scenarios include going local, going national, partnering up, or fighting it out. (PDF download)