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

25 February 2009

Clippings for 26 February 2009

Address to the Joint Session of Congress

Truthout provides the transcript of President Obama's speech: "I know that for many Americans watching right now, the state of our economy is a concern that rises above all others. And rightly so. If you haven't been personally affected by this recession, you probably know someone who has - a friend; a neighbor; a member of your family. You don't need to hear another list of statistics to know that our economy is in crisis, because you live it every day. It's the worry you wake up with and the source of sleepless nights. It's the job you thought you'd retire from but now have lost; the business you built your dreams upon that's now hanging by a thread; the college acceptance letter your child had to put back in the envelope. The impact of this recession is real, and it is everywhere. But while our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken; though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this: We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before."

Getting Warmer
Truthdig.com editor Robert Scheer comments on President Obama's speech: "We are lucky to have Barack Obama as president. I write that even though I believe the content of his Tuesday evening speech deserved no more than a B+ / A-, for its failure to seriously address the origins of the banking crisis and for only hinting at the severe military budget cuts required to get close to his goal of reducing the federal deficit by the end of his first term."

Wired for Progress: Building a National Clean-Energy Smart Grid
Bracken Hendricks writes for the Center for American Progress: "The United States stands at a crossroads. The convergence of a deep economic recession, high unemployment, energy insecurity, and a looming climate crisis demands decisive action. Our country is embarking on an economic recovery plan of historic proportions. Investments in our public infrastructure will be made to get the economy moving, but we need to make sure we get the economy moving in the right direction. Jump-starting economic activity is only the start. The future of our nation’s competitive economic advantage and our long-term prosperity rests on the choices we make now—in particular, whether we build a modernized infrastructure for jobs and growth that uses resources wisely, anticipates the coming demand for low-carbon energy, and captures new opportunities for innovation and improved productivity."

Read the full report (pdf)

Download the executive summary (pdf)

Background: Energy grid 101

Infographic: Building a Clean Energy Pipeline: The Four Components for Success

Maps: How the grid is managed | Power lines where renewable energy isn't | The potential of renewable wind and solar power | New high-voltage transmission lines

Recommended Audio: CounterSpin for February 20
A new study from Think Progress shows that cable news stories about the stimulus debate were dominated by Republicans, with GOP guests outnumbering Democrats by 2 to 1. This isn’t an aberration says our guest, but a return to the status quo after a brief decrease in conservative media bias caused by Bush era failures. Robert Parry, the publisher of ConsortiumNews.com, and the veteran journalist who broke many Iran-Contra stories, will join CounterSpin to talk about current political coverage.

The Obama Code
George Lakoff writes for Truthout: "The pundits will stress the nuts-and-bolts policy issues: the banking system, education, energy, health care. But beyond policy, there will be a vision of America - a moral vision and a view of unity that the pundits often miss. What they miss is the Obama Code."

The US and Afghan Tragedy
Khushal Arsala and Stephen Zunes write for Foreign Policy in Focus: "One of the first difficult foreign policy decisions of the Obama administration will be what the United States should do about Afghanistan. Escalating the war, as National Security Advisor Jim Jones has been encouraging, will likely make matters worse. At the same time, simply abandoning the country - as the United States did after the overthrow of Afghanistan's Communist government soon after the Soviet withdrawal 20 years ago - would lead to another set of serious problems."

Right Wing Outraged At Chas Freeman’s Appointment To Head National Intelligence Council

Ben Armbuster writes for Think Progress: "Last week, Laura Rozen reported (and Politico today confirmed) that President Obama has appointed Middle East Policy Council President Chas W. Freeman to become chairman of the National Intelligence Council — which is responsible for producing national intelligence estimates. "

Foggo Addendum: In Their Own Words
Marcus Stern reprots for ProPublica: "Court documents released this week in advance of Thursday’s sentencing of former CIA Executive Director Kyle "Dusty" Dustin Foggo provide a remarkable glimpse into the mindset of the key players in a sordid drama involving corruption that reached the highest levels of the CIA and touched the agency’s most sensitive and secret covert operations in the war on terror."

Suspend Military Aid to Israel, Amnesty Urges Obama after Detailing US Weapons Used in Gaza
Rory McCarthy reports for The Guardian UK: "Detailed evidence has emerged of Israel's extensive use of US-made weaponry during its war in Gaza last month, including white phosphorus artillery shells, 500lb bombs and Hellfire missiles. In a report released today, Amnesty International detailed the weapons used and called for an immediate arms embargo on Israel and all Palestinian armed groups. It called on the Obama administration to suspend military aid to Israel. The human rights group said that those arming both sides in the conflict 'will have been well aware of a pattern of repeated misuse of weapons by both parties and must therefore take responsibility for the violations perpetrated'"

Irresponsible, Thy Name Is Peterson
Bill Scher writes for The Campaign For America's Future: "In advance of Monday's 'Fiscal Responsibility Summit' at the White House, summit participant Pete Peterson and his foundation launched a $1 million ad campaign, irresponsibly peddling false information about the nation's budget. The ad begins: 'Everyone's focused on the obstacles now facing our economy. But there's a much larger threat: 56 trillion dollars in unfunded retirement and health care obligations.'"

Tough Times in Troubled Towns: America's Municipal Meltdowns
Nick Turse reports for TomDispatch.com: "When Barack Obama traveled to Elkhart, Indiana, to push his $800 billion economic recovery package two weeks ago, he made the former 'RV capital of the world' a poster-child for the current economic crisis. Over the last year, as the British paper The Independent reported, 'Practically the entire [recreational vehicle] industry has disappeared,' leaving thousands of RV workers in Elkhart and the surrounding area out of work. As Daily Show host Jon Stewart summed the situation up: 'Imagine your main industry combines the slowdown of the auto market with the plunging values in the housing sector.' Unfortunately, the pain in Elkhart is no joke, and it only grew worse recently when local manufacturers Keystone RV Co. and Jayco Inc. announced more than 500 additional job cuts."

Labor's Time Has Come, but Trouble Stirs Within
Evelyn Larrubia reports for The Los Angeles Times: "With a Democratic majority in Congress, an economy in meltdown and what many see as the most labor-friendly White House in generations, unions would seem to be poised for a comeback. Experts say they are at a defining moment to rebuild their forces by putting their strength behind an effort to revamp labor laws. So why are some of the most prominent and progressive labor leaders spending time and energy fighting one another for workers who are already members?"

New Report Reveals Why the GOP Hates Unions: They Raise Wages, Boost Economy
Art Levine writes for The Huffington Post: "The Hoover-like GOP has been working overtime to oppose President Obama's stimulus package while hoping he fails. Meanwhile, a report released yesterday by the Center for American Progress Action Fund essentially underscores the real reasons Republicans and the business community have taken another equally short-sighted economic stance: fighting workers' right to organize."

The Conflict Between American Energy Needs and Climate Change
Andrew Thomaides writes for Dissident Voices: "There’s a major conflict brewing between two policy objectives in Washington; energy security (relying on Venezuela and the Middle East for oil) and the Obama administrations commitment to stop global warming. These two stated objectives of the current administration were put to the test on Obama’s first trip abroad as President of the United States."

The Climate Change Lobby
Marianne Lavelle writes for the Center for Public Integrity: "After years of resistance from the Bush administration, global warming advocates are convinced the time has come for passage of major climate change legislation. But even with a sympathetic White House and Congress, the years of delay might well have complicated their task as an army of lobbyists assembled to do battle over the issue. A Center for Public Integrity analysis of Senate lobbying disclosure forms shows that more than 770 companies and interest groups hired an estimated 2,340 lobbyists to influence federal policy on climate change in the past year, as the issue gathered momentum and a bill came to a vote in Congress."

Judge Questions Law Giving Telecoms Immunity
Bob Egelko reports for The San Francisco Chronicle: "A federal judge in San Francisco is raising questions about the constitutionality of a law designed to dismiss suits against telecommunications companies accused of cooperating with government wiretapping. Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker has asked President Obama's Justice Department to present its views by Wednesday on whether the law gives the attorney general too much power to decide whether a company is immune from lawsuits. Obama supported the measure as a senator when Congress approved it last year."

When Asked Whether He Would ‘Consider’ Gay Civil Unions, Steele Replies, ‘What Are You, Crazy?’
Think Progress reports that despite some well-publicized calls for a more inclusive GOP, newly installed Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele rejected the possibility of any kind of legally recognized civil union for gays and lesbians. Appearing on Mike Gallagher's radio show, Steele responded to a question on civil unions by saying, "No, no no. What would we do that for? What are you, crazy?"

Educators Fail Gay Students of Color
Deb Price reports for the Detroit News: "Imagine being a lesbian, gay bisexual or transgender teen who loves singing in the school chorus. Now imagine that experience being spoiled by a thoughtless, homophobic adult -- the music teacher who ought to be striving for harmony. 'My choir teacher constantly makes gay jokes,' a 12th-grade Latino student reported in a new national study. 'And he doesn't realize that he makes it so uncomfortable for us because it's choir. There's a large LGBT community in choir, and he sits there and cracks gay jokes all the time.' In its groundbreaking report, Shared Differences, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network captures what school feels like for America's LGBT minority youth.

The Great Broadband Scam
Dave Rosen writes for the Media Channel: "As President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan begins to be implemented, all the hoopla about infrastructure renewal has evaporated. Unfortunately, as the Associated Press estimates, only $7 billion of the estimated $789 billion stimulus plan (or less then 1 percent) will be targeted to expansion of broadband service and only in underserved rural areas. Other “infrastructure” spending topped $78 billion. These allocations are far below what advocates called for and what America really needs to address the specific requirements of infrastructure renewal, let alone to effectively stimulate the economy. [AP, February 12, 2009]"

23 February 2009

Lumps of coal wrapped inside ‘green’ package

by Scott Rothchilds, Lawrence Journal World, Monday February 23, 2009

Topeka — For the second straight year, Kansas lawmakers have put green wrapping around a carbon dioxide-emitting coal-fired power project.

Legislative leaders say House Bill 2014, which would pave the way for construction of two 700-megawatt coal-burning plants near Holcomb, will be up for a vote this week.

“It’s a pretty comprehensive bill,” House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, said.

The legislation incorporates more than a dozen bills that would implement sweeping changes in state energy policy, including several “green” initiatives aimed at increasing the use of renewable energy sources, such as wind.

But the core of the bill includes changes that would essentially require that Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Roderick Bremby issue permits for the Holcomb project in southwestern Kansas.

Bremby denied the permits in 2007, citing environmental and health effects of the project’s emission of 11 million tons per year of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that scientists say is contributing to destructive climate change.

The Legislature spent much of the 2008 session passing legislation to reverse Bremby’s decision, but Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed the attempts and efforts to override her fell just short of the two-thirds majority needed in the House.

Developers of the project — Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corp. and Colorado-based Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association — are seeking to have Bremby’s decision overturned in court.

But they also are seeking legislative help again. O’Neal said the Legislature needs to act because it is unknown when the legal process will run its course.

“The court is on its own timetable. That timetable doesn’t fit our timetable in terms of if we’re going to do the project,” O’Neal said.

O’Neal said he believes he has the votes in his chamber to override an expected Sebelius veto — 84 votes in the 125-member House. In the 40-member Senate, 27 votes are needed to override.

But opponents of the project say they will be able to uphold a veto.

The project, they say, is even more untenable now than last year because of the election of President Barack Obama, who has vowed to address greenhouse gases.

Last week new EPA administrator Lisa Jackson set in motion a process that could lead to regulations of CO2.

David Bookbinder, chief climate counsel for the Sierra Club, said Jackson’s decision “should cast significant further doubt on the approximately 100 coal-fired power plants that the industry is trying to rush through the permitting process without any limits on carbon dioxide.”

Christopher's Comment:

Since I doubt if the Manhattan Mercury will have anything even close to the quality of Mr. Rothchilds' writing, I am posting it here in order to help inform the public debate and keep Manhattanites abreast of what is happening. Please share this article with other people you feel would be willing to speak out for our environment and future generations of Kansans.

HB 2014 is a terrible idea and the proponents of coal, pollution of our air and further degradation of our environment are lying to the people of Kansas in order to get this bill passed. They have put in "green" elements in the bill to make it more palatable and gets the votes they need, but at its core, this bill is anything but green. It is about making a corporate business strategy the energy policy for our state and deserves to be defeat as it was last year.

How many times do the people of Kansas have to say "NO!" to such a example of bad government?

Let our legislators know you aren't going to be fooled by the candy coating of a rotten bill. Contact them at:

Senator Roger Reitz. Phone: 785-296-7360, Email: Roger.Reitz@senate.ks.gov

Rep. Sydney Carlin, Phone: 785-296-7677, Email: sydney.carlin@house.ks.gov

Rep. Tom Hawk, Phone: 785-296-7665, Email: tom.hawk@house.ks.gov

22 February 2009

Clippings for 22 February 2009

Recommended Audio: Todd Tiahrt - Bought and Sold by DC Lobbyists

From our friends at Kansas Jackass:
Todd Tiahrt secured $7 M in Earmarks
Last week we told you Congressman Todd Tiahrt had received more than $27,000 in campaign donations from a lobbying firm called PMA Group. That lobbying firm is in a wee bit of trouble: PMA’s offices have been raided, and the firm closed its political action committee last week amid reports that the FBI is investigating possibly illegal campaign contributions...Today, CQPolitics breaks the news that 91 Members of Congress who received contributions from PMA Group turned around and authored earmarks for PMA Group's clients- Tiahrt himself penned earmarks to a tune of $7 million.

5 Great Progressive Moves by Obama that You Might Have Missed
Alexander Zaitchik writes for ALterNet: "
It's been a full month since the inauguration of Barack Obama. With debates raging over the financial system and the larger economic crisis, Obama has quietly succeeded in pushing through some great progressive initiatives and picked an encouraging candidate for his drug czar."

Harlem's Man with a Plan: Obama's the first president in 50 years to prioritize fighting poverty. Met the man who shown him how.
Pauk Tough writes for Mother Jones: "And Harlem has long needed delivering. Poverty has always been a fact of life in the United States, but the concentrated urban poverty that Harlem—along with sections of every American city—has experienced in the past half-century is a relatively new phenomenon. In the 1950s and 1960s, middle-class blacks, less constrained by restrictions on where they could live, began to move out of neighborhoods like Harlem in great numbers. At the same time, the postwar decline of the country's manufacturing economy deprived the urban African American families who remained of the jobs that had sustained them. As a result, the number of poor people living in neighborhoods with at least a 40 percent poverty rate almost tripled during the 1970s in the five largest American cities. These areas became a brand-new kind of urban ghetto, almost all poor and all black."

Pre-empting a Progressive Split on Afghanistan
Spencer Ackerman writes for The Washington Independent: "As the Obama administration spends the next two months reviewing strategy options for Afghanistan, a progressive organization is attempting to cobble together a liberal consensus around basic principles for the future of the seven-year-old war - thereby fending off a progressive split over Afghanistan early in the Obama administration's term."

PBS Screws Up Report on Financial Crisis
Danny Schechter writes for AlterNet: "Last week, an action thriller move called The International opened nationwide. It is a big-screen shoot 'em up about a bank gone bad. A crime story, involving gun running, buying up debt and conniving with politicians. It seemed timely but was actually a dramatization of a real, if barely remembered, story -- the corruption of that notorious failed bank, BCCI, popularly known as the Bank of Crooks and Criminals."

The Power of Imagery
Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III comments for Truthout: "This past Wednesday, February 18, The New York Post published a cartoon drawn by famed cartoonist Sean Delonas depicting two white police officers killing a chimpanzee. One of the police officers says to the other, 'They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.' In response to public outrage at the bigoted, insensitive and racially inflammatory cartoon, Col Allen, editor in chief of The New York Post, released the following statement: 'The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut. It broadly mocks Washington's efforts to revive the economy. Again, Al Sharpton reveals himself as nothing more than a publicity opportunist.'"

Health Care Reform Can't Wait
Bill Boyarsky writes for Truthdig.com: "Who needs Tom Daschle? The national health care crisis, intensified by the recession, is so bad that nothing can be permitted to stop reform of the system, not even the implosion of the former Senate Democratic leader. Daschle, remember, was paid big speaking fees by the health business before President Barack Obama chose him to lead the health reform fight."

Recommended Audio: Coping with Corporate Media
Truthdig's podcast for this week features a panel who tackles our obsession with imperfect athletes, the first days of the Obama administration and the decline of media. Special guest Megan Tady, campaign coordinator for Free Press, joins James Harris and Josh Scheer.

Report: No Child Left Behind Unattainable
Sarah Stultz reports for The Albert Lea Tribune: "Ninety-seven percent of principals surveyed across the state said Minnesota schools will not be in compliance with federal No Child Left Behind guidelines by 2014, according to a report released Thursday by non-profit think tank Minnesota 2020."

The Hidden Link Between Factory Farms and Human Illness
Laura Sayre writes for Mother Earth News: "You may be familiar with many of the problems associated with concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs. These 'factory farm' operations are often criticized for the smell and water pollution caused by all that concentrated manure; the unnatural, grain-heavy diets the animals consume; and the stressful, unhealthy conditions in which the animals live. You may not be aware, however, of the threat such facilities hold for you and your family's health - even if you never buy any of the meat produced in this manner."

EPA May Reverse Bush, Limit Carbon Emissions From Coal-Fired Plants
Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin report for The Washington Post: "The Environmental Protection Agency will reopen the possibility of regulating carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, tossing aside a December Bush administration memorandum that declared that the agency would not limit the emissions."

Coal Ash: The Hidden Story
Kristen Lombardi reports for The Center for Public Integrity: "Pat Nees never liked the water at the Moose Lodge. Almost everyone in tiny Colstrip, Montana, drank and dined at Lodge No. 2190, but the well water was notorious - it smelled like a sewer. It felt oily, gritty from sediment. Lodge members braving a drink - Nees among them - frequently doubled over from indigestion."

Anti-Gay Forces Work to Regain National Influence
Chris Johnson writes for the Washington Blade that some top LGBT advocates believe the tone of anti-gay rhetoric getting sharper, in response to a boost in LGBT support on the national level, while others think conservatives are shifting their tactics to push for more anti-LGBT laws. "The more gains you make and the closer your opponents are to losing, the more ferocious they are in the way in which they lash out. That is just the nature of social change," said HRC President Joe Solmonese.

How Will the $7.2 Billion Allotted for Broadband Stimulus Be Spent?
CyrusFarivar writes for PC World: "In the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, recently enacted by Congress, many details regarding the allocation of funds for high-tech projects remain blurry. Nevertheless, the nation's tech community appears to be encouraged by the $7.2 billion provision for broadband in the near $789 billion economic stimulus package signed into law by President Barack Obama earlier this week. Many observers believe that the allocation is a clear first step toward establishing a nationwide broadband strategy."

Goodbye to the Age of Newspapers (Hello to a New Era of Corruption)
Paul Starr writes for the New Republic: "We take newspapers for granted. They have been so integral a part of daily life in America, so central to politics and culture and business, and so powerful and profitable in their own right, that it is easy to forget what a remarkable historical invention they are. Public goods are notoriously under-produced in the marketplace, and news is a public good--and yet, since the mid-nineteenth century, newspapers have produced news in abundance at a cheap price to readers and without need of direct subsidy. More than any other medium, newspapers have been our eyes on the state, our check on private abuses, our civic alarm systems."

19 February 2009

Clippings for 19 February 2009

Recommended audio: Bill Moyers
Bill Moyers interviews former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), MIT Sloan School of Management professor and senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Bill Moyers states: "The battle is joined as they say - and here's the headline that framed it: 'High Noon: Geithner v. The American Oligarchs.' The headline is in one of the most informative new sites in the blogosphere called: baselinescenario.com. Here's the quote that grabbed me: 'There comes a time in every economic crisis, or more specifically, in every struggle to recover from a crisis, when someone steps up to the podium to promise the policies that - they say - will deliver you back to growth. The person has political support, a strong track record, and every incentive to enter the history books. But one nagging question remains. Can this person, your new economic strategist, really break with the vested elites that got you into this much trouble?'"

Part 1:

Part 2:

Good Money After Bad
Robert Scheer writes for Truthdig.com: "The Republican-engineered controversy around the stimulus is a phony. The stimulus package that President Obama signed into law Tuesday is a modest effort, actually too modest, at arresting the free fall of the American economy. It's just not that expensive in light of the dimensions of the economic crisis, most of it is quite conservatively aimed at tax cuts for a suffering public and bailouts for beleaguered state programs, and it pales in comparison with the trillions wasted on the bloated military budget during the Bush years."

Reviewing Recovery.gov: How the Stimulus Site Delivers – and Doesn’t
Michael Garbell reports for ProPublica: "For a federal government that can sometimes take eight months to simply acknowledge an open records request [1], a Web site that lists every project funded by the economic stimulus plan [2] sounds like a bold adventure in transparency. The Web site, Recovery.gov [3], went live yesterday and there are a few features worth noting. At the bottom of the homepage is a timeline [4] of what happens next. For example, tomorrow, federal agencies will begin reporting formula grants to states and other agencies. On March 3, the public should get its first peek at some of the projects that will be funded."

Recommended audio: GritRadio for 16 February
As the nation struggles to save and create jobs what can workers and policy makers do to make sure workers aren't robbed. Then, one place jobs are probably safe is in the so called defense industry. Pratap Chatterjee of Corpwatch, filmmaker Eugene Jarecki, and former Iraq weapons inspector Scott Ritter on the American Business of war. Also a commentary from the father of Rachel Corrie, who was crushed by a Caterpillar bulldozer in Gaza in 2003. President Obama visits a Caterpillar plant to stir up support for his stimulus package, Craig Corrie sent him a message.

Burning Questions: What Does Economic "Recovery" Mean on an Extreme Weather Planet?
Tom Engelhardt writes for TomDispatch: "As anyone who has turned on the prime-time TV news these last weeks knows, southeastern Australia has been burning up. It's already dry climate has been growing ever hotter. In fact, everything's been burning there. Huge sheets of flame, possibly aided and abetted by arsonists, tore through whole towns. More than 180 people are dead and thousands homeless."

Can Green Jobs Be Good Jobs?
Jeremy Brecher writes for The Nation: "At the first Good Jobs, Green Jobs conference, held in Pittsburgh a year ago, advocates of green energy bemoaned their inability to get a modest renewable-energy tax credit through Congress over the opposition of the Bush administration. The idea of addressing the economic, energy and environmental crises through green jobs seemed a distant vision. So did the idea that a labor-environment coalition around green jobs could reach beyond the fringes of the two movements. But this year, things were different. Meeting in Washington, DC, February 4-6, speakers were reporting in from their BlackBerries on congressional negotiations of the yet-to-be-approved stimulus package estimated by the Center for American Progress to include $80 billion for green jobs."

Republicans Gamble With America's Future
Our friends at KansasJackass write: "So, I let my brother borrow $10 a couple of weeks back, it turns out I’m now America’s third biggest lender. That's nothin' though, I went to the ATM with a friend on our way to brunch and she got an 'insufficient funds' notice - we were confused if it was her or the bank.... Your recession's so big even the illegal immigrants are sayin 'I'm going to Mexico to make some money...'"

Another Conservative Crusade Against a Phantom Enemy
Alex Koppelman writes for Salon.com: "On Wednesday, a spokesman for President Obama broke the news to the right as gently as possible: The president doesn't want to see the Fairness Doctrine reinstated. This revelation might have come as a shock to some conservatives, who've been told over and over recently that liberals were planning to shut down people like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity by bringing back the old FCC rule, which mandated equal time for opposing viewpoints on the public airwaves."

The Stimulus and the Auto Bailout: The Perils of Confusing American Companies With American Jobs
Robert Reich writes on Robert Reich Blog: "Do not confuse American companies with American jobs. The new stimulus bill, for example, requires that the money be used for production in the United States. Foreign governments, along with large US multinationals concerned about possible foreign retaliation, charge this favors American-based companies. That's not quite true. Foreign companies are eligible to receive stimulus money for things they make here."

Obama Slows Down Troop Boost Decision
David S. Cloud writes for The Politico: "President Barack Obama is refusing to be rushed into his first decision to send troops into combat, an early sign he may be more independent-minded than U.S. military leaders expected. The new president's methodical decision-making offers an early insight into how the new commander in chief will approach the war in Afghanistan and has surprised some Pentagon officials, who had predicted repeatedly in the past two weeks that Obama would decide within days on additional forces, only to find the White House taking more time."

Army Suicides in January Outnumber Combat Deaths
Bruce Levine reports for AlterNet.org: "The U.S. Army recently reported that for the month of January in 2009, the number of soldiers who committed suicide surpassed the number of soldiers who were killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. While there were 16 U.S. combat deaths, the Army believes that there were 24 suicides (the Army has confirmed seven suicides, and it believes that investigators will confirm an additional 17 other deaths as suicides). The number of suicides in January 2009 is more than five times as many as the total in January 2008."

Former Guantanamo Guard Tells All

Scott Horton reports for Harper's Magazine: "Army Private Brandon Neely served as a prison guard at Guantanamo in the first years the facility was in operation. With the Bush Administration, and thus the threat of retaliation against him, now gone, Neely decided to step forward and tell his story. 'The stuff I did and the stuff I saw was just wrong,' he told the Associated Press. Neely describes the arrival of detainees in full sensory-deprivation garb, he details their sexual abuse by medical personnel, torture by other medical personnel, brutal beatings out of frustration, fear, and retribution, the first hunger strike and its causes, torturous shackling, positional torture, interference with religious practices and beliefs, verbal abuse, restriction of recreation, the behavior of mentally ill detainees, an isolation regime that was put in place for child-detainees, and his conversations with prisoners David Hicks and Rhuhel Ahmed."

Inside USA's Biological Warfare Center; Q. A. With Citizen Activist Barry Kissin
Sherwood Ross writes for Australia.TO : "One legacy of the Bush-Cheney administration is the grandiose expansion of our germ warfare research program. This was declared to be necessary because of the September-October 2001 anthrax letters’ attacks on Congress and the media---attacks the public is now being told came not from the Middle East but from within our own government’s facilities. As a result, developmental work is going forward with deadly and loathsome pathogens capable of triggering plagues and epidemics."

Government -Funded Study Calls for an Overhaul of the Nation's Crime Labs
Ben Protess reports for ProPublica: "Forensic science has helped send thousands of suspected murderers, rapists and other alleged criminals to prison. But according to a much-anticipated report (PDF) released today by the nation's leading scientific research group, this evidence can't always be trusted. Calling the forensic science system "badly fragmented," the report's authors said their findings could trigger a massive overhaul of the nation's crime labs."

Jailing Kids for Cash
Amy Goodman writes for Truthdig.com: "As many as 5,000 children in Pennsylvania have been found guilty, and up to 2,000 of them jailed, by two corrupt judges who received kickbacks from the builders and owners of private prison facilities that benefited. The two judges pleaded guilty in a stunning case of greed and corruption that is still unfolding. Judges Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan received $2.6 million in kickbacks while imprisoning children who often had no access to a lawyer. The case offers an extraordinary glimpse into the shameful private prison industry that is flourishing in the United States."

Locked Out and Locked Up
Henry A. Giroux writes for Truthout: "Already imperiled before the recent economic meltdown, the quality of life for many young people appears even more fragile in the United States in this time of political, economic and social crisis. A great deal has been written critically about both the conditions that enabled the free market to operate without accountability in the interests of the rich and how it has produced a theater of cruelty that has created enormous suffering for millions of hard-working, decent human beings."

Getting Well
William Rivers Pitt comments for Truthout, discusses the importance of stem cell research and its impact on individuals struggling with degenerative diseases. Individuals affected by such conditions, along with the scientific community, eagerly await an executive order expected from President Barack Obama, which will repeal the ban on embryonic stem cell research.

Post-Palin Feminism

Abby Scher write for PublicEye.org: "From the podium at the Christian Right’s Values Voter Summit in mid-September, National Review Institute’s Kate O’Beirne, 59, pronounced that the 'selection of Sarah Palin [as the GOP vice presidential nominee] sounded the death knell of modern American feminism.' 'She’s a prick to the liberal establishment, to the feminists, and to the men who fear them,' she jeered to the audience of Christian Right activists. And when Phyllis Schlafly, 84, threw anti-feminist red meat to the cheering crowd, a 60-plus woman in the audience turned to me and said proudly she had been with Ms. Schlafly since the campaign against the Equal Rights Amendment in the late 1970s."

The Obama Mandate: End Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs
Jodi Jacobson, RH Reality Check: "Republicans these days are very, very deeply concerned about 'wasteful government spending.' House Minority Leader John Boehner complained about wasteful spending in the stimulus. Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana stated: 'More big government spending ... won't cure what ails the American economy.' House Republican Whip Eric Kantor made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows talking 'waste, waste, waste.' And now, according to The New York Times, the National Republican Congressional Committee is launching ads blasting House Democrats on the stimulus bill, which it ridicules as 'chockfull of wasteful Washington spending.'"

Humor: Sex Ed for Teens from Red State Update (Adult Content)

We Are a Nation of Junkies Hooked on Media-Fabricated Outrage
David Sirota writes for Creators Syndicate: "I'm not sure if it's because we're strung out on "Lost" episodes, or if it's because we're still suffering from a post-9/11 stress disorder that makes us crave "breaking news" alerts, or if it's because the economy has turned us into distraction junkies. But one thing is painfully obvious after Michael Phelps' marijuana "scandal" erupted last week: Our society is addicted to fake outrage -- and to break our dependence, we're going to need far more potent medicine than the herb Phelps was smoking."

The US Media & Democracy in Crisis
Robert Perry writes for Consortium News: "For those of us who have criticized the U.S. mainstream media for failing to resist right-wing pressure over the past three decades, there is a sad sense of vindication watching the downward spiral of so many once-venerable newspapers. But this trend carries with it a new threat to American democracy. The core problem is this: as flawed as the MSM has been – as complicit as the New York Times and the Washington Post were in many of George W. Bush’s war crimes, for instance – journalists for mainstream news outlets provide most of the factual information that the rest of us rely on."

Obama Gives Broadband Stimulus the Green Light
Free Press writes: "President Barack Obama has signed into law the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, unleashing $7.2 billion to expand broadband access and adoption. The law attaches open Internet conditions to broadband funds and directs the Federal Communications Commission to produce a national broadband plan."

15 February 2009

Clippings for 15 February 2009

Trying to Revive the Bubble Economy: Obama's Awful Financial Recovery Plan
Michael Hudson writes for Counter Punch: "Martin Wolf started off his Financial Times column for February 11 with the bold question: 'Has Barack Obama’s presidency already failed?' The stock market had a similar opinion, plunging 382 points. Having promised 'change,' Mr. Obama is giving us more Clinton-Bush via Robert Rubin’s protégé, Tim Geithner. Tuesday’s $2.5 trillion Financial Stabilization Plan to re-inflate the Bubble Economy is basically an extension of the Bush-Paulson giveaway – yet more Rubinomics for financial insiders in the emerging Wall Street trusts. The financial system is to be concentrated into a cartel of just a few giant conglomerates to act as the economy’s central planners and resource allocators. This makes banks the big winners in the game of 'chicken' they’ve been playing with Washington, a shakedown holding the economy hostage. 'Give us what we want or we’ll plunge the economy into financial crisis.' Washington has given them $9 trillion so far, with promises now of another $2 trillion– and still counting."

The Stimulus Plan: A Detailed List of Spending
Michael Grabell and Christopher Weaver write for ProPublica: "The House approved the economic stimulus plan Friday afternoon with a vote of 246 to 183, followed by the Senate with a vote of 60 to 38. Want to know what's in it? You could read the 1,071-page gorilla that passed today. Or you could let us do the work for you. We’ve dissected the beast in two charts – one for spending below, and one for taxes. The appropriations section of the bill details spending in excess of $311 billion for programs ranging from Pell grants for college students to clean water in central Utah to nearly $100 billion in new transportation and infrastructure projects. "
More on the Stimulus Package: Stimulus Bill Limits TARP Executive Pay
Paul Keil writes for ProPublic: "Top executives at banks that got money from the TARP will face stricter compensation limits thanks to the stimulus bill. That’s because tucked into the 1,071-page bill is a twelve-page section that goes much further than any limits imposed by the Bush administration or even contemplated by the Obama administration."

Economic Stimulus Bill Passes Without a Single Kansas Republican Vote
Our friends at KansasJackass writes: "At least they're predictable. Not a single Kansas Republican Member of Congress voted in favor of the economic stimulus bill as it achieved final approval yesterday. In fact, in the House, not a single Republican from anywhere voted for it for the second time, while three moderate Republicans in the Senate broke ranks and voted for final passage."

Schools Take the Back Seat Again
Derrick Z. Jackson comments for the Boston Globe: "Eight years ago, President Bush entered office with some bipartisan credibility on education, rightfully proclaiming that schoolchildren suffer from the soft bigotry of low expectations. He and the Republicans quickly discredited themselves with low federal funding for reform. So long was Washington anesthetized that the Democrats still seemed in a coma this week as Republican Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the three moderates the Democrats desperately needed for the stimulus bill, stripped more than $40 billion in school construction and general aid to schools."

Report: Public Fears More Job Losses
Pew Research Center for the People & the Press reports: "For the public, the continuing financial crisis has been overtaken by a jobs crisis. The proportion of Americans citing jobs or unemployment as the nation's most important economic problem has more than quadrupled - from 10% to 42% - since early October and job worries now far surpass concerns over the financial crisis."

Media Under Scrutiny for "Talking Up" Financial Crisis
Kathleen Moore reports for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: "In September 2007, the BBC broke a huge story: troubled bank Northern Rock was to get an emergency loan from Britain's central bank. The next day, anxious depositors queued up to withdraw their cash in the first run on a bank in Britain in around 150 years. One year later, during perhaps the most intense week in the credit crisis, Britain's Lloyds bank was reported to be in talks to buy its rival, HBOS. Shares in HBOS soared. These were among a series of major scoops that catapulted BBC reporter Robert Peston to national attention, and made financial journalists part of last year's biggest news story."

Dump the GOP
William Rivers Pitt comments for Truthout: "Former GOP Congressman Joe Scarborough was doing his MSNBC morning yak-fest on Friday, and made a comment about how President Obama's newly-finalized stimulus package has 'greatly offended Republicans.' His guests all agreed with solemnly nodding heads, yeah, you're right, Joe, Obama offended the Republicans. Greatly and stuff. This grim pronouncement came on the heels of GOP Sen. Judd Gregg's stunning announcement that he was withdrawing as Obama's nominee for commerce secretary. Citing irreconcilable differences between himself and the Obama administration on the stimulus bill as well as the upcoming census, Gregg said, 'The bottom line is, this was simply a bridge too far for me.'"

The Ultra-Radical Republicans
Robert Barry writes for Consortium News: "Sixteen years ago, when another new Democratic President was trying to enact an economic package, the Republicans were entrenched in opposition, too. But there was a striking difference between those Republicans and today’s: the 1993 Republicans still showed some respect for democracy. In the Senate, Minority Leader Bob Dole whipped 100 percent of his troops into line opposing President Bill Clinton’s “deficit reduction plan.” With the help of six Democrats, Dole managed to deny Clinton a majority on the bill and forced Vice President Al Gore to break the 50-50 tie."

World Social Forum: Is Another World Possible?
Tim Costello and Brendan Smith write for The Nation: "The recently concluded World Social Forum is a good gauge for assessing the state of the world's alternative social, economic and political movements. Organized in 2001 as a counterpoint to the World Economic Forum, the annual meeting of global and corporate elites held in Davos, Switzerland, the WSF brings social movement organizations and activists from around the world together around the idea that 'another world is possible.'"

It's Called: "Misprison of a Felony" (And it is a felony, too!)

Stephen Pizzo writes for News for Real: "During the Bush years Americans the boogeyman used to keep Americans cowed was the real or imagined threat of imminent terrorist attack. Now we have a new president – and we have a new boogeyman – the economic meltdown. Now don't get me wrong. Anyone who's read this column over the past few years knows I've been Chicken Littling about the financial house of cards for a long time. And, now that it's finally collapsed, it's even worse than I predicted, and getting worse by the day."

New Torture Memos Outline Black Sites, Ghost Prisoners
Steve Aquino writes for Mother Jones: "Three human rights groups released more than a thousand pages of Department of Defense and CIA documents Thursday that outline how closely the two agencies worked in rendering terrorism suspects to black sites, keeping detainees' identities secret, and tempering bad publicity for inmate treatment at Guántanamo Bay."

"That young man never should have come into the Army"
Kenneth Eastridge had PTSD before he ever donned a uniform or did two tours of duty in Iraq. Now he's in prison for his part in the murder of a fellow soldier.

Editor's note: This is the fourth installment in a weeklong investigative series called "Coming Home." You can look at Kenneth Eastridge's MySpace page here, and read the story of Robert Marko here. Marko was sent to Iraq despite psychological problems and is now awaiting trial for murder in Colorado. You can also read the introduction to the series, and the first, second and third installments, which appeared Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

Michael de Yoanna and Mark Benjamin write for Salon.com: "Feb. 13, 2009 | FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Late on the night of March 11, 2006, Kenneth Eastridge got in a fight with his girlfriend. It ended with his arrest for a felony. The Kentucky native, an Army soldier stationed at Fort Carson, between deployments in Iraq, had fallen asleep after drinking when his girlfriend began to pound on his apartment door. She wanted inside, and she wanted to talk. Eastridge responded with a string of obscenities and then flung the door open. He pointed a loaded pistol at his girlfriend. She looked at him like he was crazy, then turned and ran. Eastridge didn't fire. He stood motionless, stunned by his own reaction."

Six Key Questions for Obama on Health Care
Rashi Fien writes for Nieman Watchdog: "There are some critical decisions that need to be made on the way to universal health care. Distinguished medical economist Rashi Fein wants to know if the new president is of the 'strike while the iron is hot' school – or the 'haste makes waste' school? Which does he think comes first: universal health care or cost containment? And four other questions."

Elevating Maternal and Child Health and Family Planning Under the Obama Administration
Maurice Middleberg writes for RH Reality Check: "By repealing the Global Gag Rule on his third day in office, President Obama took a huge first step toward leading the world in addressing the health needs of the world's poorest women, children and families. Now it is time to get to work on elevating what has been a stagnant American response on global family health and work toward saving the lives of millions of women and children."

Recovery Plan Captures Energy Opportunity

Daniel J. Weiss and Alexandra Kougentakis write for the Center for American Progress: "More than a year after the recession began and after 3.6 million Americans lost their jobs, Congress is about to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, H.R. 1. The act will inject $789 billion into new programs and tax incentives to stimulate the economy. Unprecedented investments in clean energy are a central element of the recovery plan. The bill includes $71 billion for clean energy programs—more than three times the current spending for these same programs (download the breakdown here (.xls)). H.R. 1 also adds $20 billion in clean energy tax incentives. The bill would 'spark the creation of a clean-energy economy' that President Barack Obama promised during his inaugural address."

Don't Get Duped like Obama: Here's the Top 5 Myths about Coal
Torra Lohan writes for AlterNet.org: "The facts are pretty simple, the U.S. Department of Energy said: 'Burning coal is the dirtiest way we produce electricity.' And yet oddly the Obama administration, which has embraced climate legislation and green jobs, is a supporter of the oxymoronic 'clean coal.' The White House Web site proclaims that one of Obama's priorities is to, 'develop and deploy clean coal technology.' And Obama isn't the only who is helping to spread the 'clean coal' myth. The new stimulus bill, which just passed Congress, calls for $3.4 million for 'fossil energy research,' which refers to carbon dioxide sequestration projects (more on the problems with that below) -- the key component in the 'clean coal' fantasy."

Coal-Fired Power Stations Are Death Factories. Close Them.
James Hansen writes for the Guardian UK: "A year ago, I wrote to Gordon Brown asking him to place a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants in Britain. I have asked the same of Angela Merkel, Barack Obama, Kevin Rudd and other leaders. The reason is this - coal is the single greatest threat to civilisation and all life on our planet. The climate is nearing tipping points. Changes are beginning to appear and there is a potential for explosive changes, effects that would be irreversible, if we do not rapidly slow fossil-fuel emissions over the next few decades. As Arctic sea ice melts, the darker ocean absorbs more sunlight and speeds melting. As the tundra melts, methane, a strong greenhouse gas, is released, causing more warming. As species are exterminated by shifting climate zones, ecosystems can collapse, destroying more species."

Western Front: While secularists sleep well-funded creationists are on the march in Europe
Peter C Kjærgaard writes for the New Humanist: "
On 4 October 2007 the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly passed Resolution 1580, which issued a stark warning: creationism, the denial of Darwinian evolution, is on the rise in Europe. The resolution focused on the way that creationists across the continent, using the model pioneered in America, have been targeting education, and warned of 'a real risk of serious confusion being introduced into our children’s minds between what has to do with convictions, beliefs, ideals of all sorts and what has to do with science.' 'An ‘all things are equal’ attitude,' it concludes, 'may seem appealing and tolerant, but is in fact dangerous.'"

What's the Outlook for Broadband and the Internet?

Bruce Kushnick writes for Nieman Watchdog: The congressional stimulus packages could go either way, writes consumer advocate Bruce Kushnick. They could mark a new, promising beginning—or they could be a new boondoggle for AT&T, Verizon and rural phone companies."

David Brooks Reveals the Mentality of the Beltway Journalist
Glen Greenwald comments for Salon.com: "The New York Times' David Brooks and Gail Collins had an online "conversation" with one another this week, and Brooks did an excellent job of explicitly demonstrating most everything that is relevant -- and destructive -- about the mentality of the standard Beltway journalist (h/t reader jm). In fact, much of what Brooks wrote about what he believes tracks almost completely the discussion I had with Jay Rosen on Bill Moyers' show last week regarding the rot of the American political press. First, there's this from Brooks..."

13 February 2009

Clippings for 12 February 2009

Where's the Top Gun?
Marie Cocco writes for Truthdig.com: "The split-screen image of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s speech on a new-and-we-all-hope-improved financial industry bailout plan was of a banker trying to do a politician’s job while the markets he was trying to calm jumped off the cliff. Things got worse when Geithner went before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee to explain himself. How much worse?"

Tiny Tim Sings Off Key
Willian Geirder writes for The Nation: "The look and tone of the Treasury Secretary reminds me of the third grade. The smartest kid in the class, the one teachers loved, was the boy who always raised his hand and waved it impatiently while some other student fumbled for an answer. If the teacher stepped out of the room for a moment, bedlam usually followed and this kid would try to restore order. 'Be quiet or I will tell.' Kids threw things and tormented him until the teacher returned. "

The Stimulus Deal: The Latest Tally
Michael Garbell writes for ProPublica: "Well, we wanted to tell you what’s in the final, $789 billion stimulus package, but guess what? The bill still hadn't been released as of late Thursday. So the best we can do is this partial account, which is based on summaries (PDF) released (PDF) so far. In our chart, where an item is blank, it means we don't yet have the figure. For those of you following education spending, note that while school construction has been cut out, about $41 billion of the amount for state fiscal relief is for schools. States will have the option to use that money for school repairs."

Humor: Red State Update - We're all mad at the Wall Street bigwigs

Cut the Military Budget - I
Christopher Hayes writes for The Nation: "The cardinal rule of bargaining is that the first number you propose should never be the number you actually think you can get, and nobody knows this better than the Defense Department. In September the Army Times reported that the Pentagon was preparing to box the new president in to a major increase in military spending by drawing up a budget before the election had been decided. The number it eventually leaked was $584 billion, a whopping increase of $68.6 billion over last year. It was kind of like telling the new boss that your old boss had already agreed to give you a $100,000 raise. In any other context, the sheer hubris would get you fired or laughed out of the room. "

How Economists (and Pundits and Politicians) Helped Steer American Off a Cliff
Joshua Holland writes for AlterNet: "As the economy crashes around us, Dean Baker's star has been on the rise, and for good reason. While most of his colleagues were following the herd, swept up in the irrational exuberance of an economy fueled by the growth of a massive housing bubble, Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, was one of the few voices warning of the housing market's impending crash."

Cut the Military Budget -- II
Rep. Barney Frank writes in The Nation: "I am a great believer in freedom of expression and am proud of those times when I have been one of a few members of Congress to oppose censorship. I still hold close to an absolutist position, but I have been tempted recently to make an exception, not by banning speech but by requiring it. I would be very happy if there was some way to make it a misdemeanor for people to talk about reducing the budget deficit without including a recommendation that we substantially cut military spending. "

Taliban Stealing War From US
Shahan Mufti writes for the GlobalPost: "Throughout the ages, this ancient Silk Road town near the border of Afghanistan has been the place where the black market thrives and the military spoils of empires are hawked openly. Here in the storefronts you can still buy antique field rifles left over from the British presence of the 19th century and find uniforms and revolvers from the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. Now the shops in this industrial rim of Peshawar are filling with military equipment and computers looted from the most recent empire to bog down in this hostile and impenetrable terrain: the United States of America."

Obama's Canada Trip May Spell Change for NAFTA
Rick Arnold writes for Foreign Policy in Focus: "Canadians are looking forward to Barack Obama's February 19 visit to Ottawa - the president's first trip to a foreign country since he took office. Many of us here dare to hope Obama's 'change' agenda will inspire some fresh thinking among our own politicians. Ironically, Canadians concerned about our country's economic future (along with the well-being of our social programs) may now find a more sympathetic ear in Washington than in Ottawa - particularly when it comes to the subject of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)."

Petraeus Leaked Misleading Story on Pullout Plans
Gareth Porter reports for Inter Press Service: "The political maneuvering between President Barack Obama and his top field commanders over withdrawal from Iraq has taken a sudden new turn with the leak by CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus - and a firm denial by a White House official - of an account of the Jan. 21 White House meeting suggesting that Obama had requested three different combat troop withdrawal plans with their respective associated risks, including one of 23 months."

The Real Economics of Immigration Reform
Cristina Jimenez writes for The American Prospect: "Shortly after the November election, a few congressional offices privately acknowledged that it would be smart for the Obama administration to try to include pro-immigration provisions in the upcoming stimulus package. Some policy staffers were reading studies and hearing testimonies about how hardworking immigrants drive productivity and job creation across many different sectors of the economy. But as the stimulus bill gets finalized in conference this week and heads to Obama's desk for a signature, immigration will be debated only in the narrow terms of E-verify, the Bush-mandated system that all businesses benefiting from the stimulus may be required to use to verify the immigration status of their employees."

The GOP's Jihad on Obama
Robert Parry writes for Consortium News: "The Republicans and their right-wing media allies are doing whatever they can to strangle the Obama phenomenon in its cradle; the mainstream media pundits are stressing the negative so they don't get called 'in the tank for Obama'; and the Democrats are shying away from holding the Bush-Cheney administration accountable for its crimes. None of these developments is particularly surprising. Indeed, they track closely to the political-media pattern that took shape the last time a young Democrat won the White House, when Bill Clinton became President in 1993."

Big Pharma Gone Wild
Martha Rosenberg writes for AlterNet: "Risperdal (risperidone), an atypical anti-psychotic, may have contributed to the deaths of 31 children since its 1993 approval, according to The New York Times - including 11 treated for unapproved uses."

A Dubious Equality for Women
Ellen Goodman writes for Truthdig.com: "I suppose this falls under the general heading 'Be Careful What You Wish For.' There are a whole lot of folks who once looked forward to the day when women would become equal participants in the work force with men. They tracked the gradual increase of women. They debated why progress stalled over the past decade. They talked about work-family conflicts and the appeal of 'opting out.'"

What Would Harvey Milk Say about President Clinton's Speech at the Manchester Hotel?

Cleve Jones writes for the Huffington Post: This Sunday, President Clinton is scheduled to give a paid speech at the Manchester Hyatt in San Diego to the annual convention of a major political action committee, the International Franchise Association. To give this speech, President Clinton will have to violate a union boycott and labor dispute - the workers at the hotel lack job security and the housekeepers face onerous workloads. He will also offend gay and lesbian Americans, including myself - the owner of the hotel, Doug Manchester, contributed $125,000 in early seed money to the Proposition 8 campaign. President Clinton should move this speech.

Kansas Jackass of the Century: Sen. Dennis Pyle
Our friends at KansasJackass write: "Apparently, Dennis Pyle decided today he was going to lock up the award for most insensitive, bigoted and just down-right ignorant comment of this legislative session. The bill in question, SB 169, would add sexual orientation and gender identity as a protected class, protecting Kansans from being discriminated against in job firings, eviction from rental property and other forms of harassment. Note it doesn't add "being gay," just sexual identity. This means that you couldn't be fired for being straight either."

08 February 2009

Clippings for 8 February 2008

Impact of Budge cuts on Kansas Public Education - Update from Kansas Families for Education
The House debated the budget bill for several hours yesterday and the final result was a $66 per pupil cut for schools. Rep. Kevin Yoder (R) amended his own bill first thing, lessening the blow to school districts by $22 per pupil from his original $88 plan. It passed.

Our opposition didn't fall on deaf ears, just on ears that are still hard of hearing.

Rep. Bill Feuerborn (D) offered an amendment that would have reduced education cuts to $33 per pupil (the same as the Senate plan); reduced the cuts to SRS; and reduced the cuts to corrections, but it failed, essentially along party lines with Rep. Dan Johnson being the only Republican to support it. The same type of attempt was made later in debate by Rep. Tom Sawyer, it failed as well.

During debate Rep. Lana Gordon offered an amendment that added back in money for Kansas, Inc., it passed.

In the end it came down to choices. Everything in my opinion is a choice.

Our allies argued that education was mandated by the constitution (in fact it's the only state expenditure mandated by the constitution).

They argued that the state is projecting a $200 million deficit and they proposed $280 million in reductions to cover that and give them some wiggle room.

The slash-the-schools zealots argued that everyone is equal and needed to share the pain and that somehow more education cuts now would mean a better scenario for schools in the 2010 budget. I don't know how that works. And frankly, we don't believe the board of cosmetology, the board of realtors, the board of accountants and the board of barbers, for example, ought to be an equal priority to our children and our schools.

One big difference for schools is they have a budget year that ends June 30th, while most other agencies end in December. So schools have to enact cuts in a much shorter period of time. Where's the equality in that?

Schools are a large part of the budget (perhaps because of that pesky constitution) and they are willing to share in the pain. But they need time to prepare. Cuts of this magnitude are very difficult to implement between now and the end of this school year. Teachers are on contract through the end of the year, and there are no student fees to raise at this point.

Let's face it, our kids are preparing to be tested under guidelines handed down by the state. These cuts will take vital learning opportunities away when we need them most, without any time for preparation.

The bill goes to a final vote this morning. Don't expect a change.

We feel the choice made to cut more funding to the disabled and school children, versus taking a more cautious approach, was unfair to the most vulnerable Kansans who need our protection.

After final action today the bill will go to conference committee to work out the differences between the Senate and House plan. We will be asking you to contact the conference committee appointees as soon as they are named.
Finally, all I can say is hold on to your hats...........the debate on the 2010 budget is going to blow us away. Prepare for deeper cuts!

The only way to salvage the situation is direct political action by large numbers of people. If you want to protect your schools and your children's future, you can't sit on the sidelines any more. You have to get involved!

Kathy Cook
Executive Director
Kansas Families for Education

Public Revolt Builds Against Rip-off Rescue Plans for the Economy
Naomi Klein writes for Z Magazine: "Watching the crowds in Iceland banging pots and pans until their government fell reminded me of a chant popular in anti-capitalist circles in 2002: 'You are Enron. We are Argentina'. Its message was simple enough. You--politicians and CEOs huddled at some trade summit--are like the reckless scamming execs at Enron (of course, we didn't know the half of it). We--the rabble outside--are like the people of Argentina, who, in the midst of an economic crisis eerily similar to our own, took to the street banging pots and pans. They shouted, '¡Que se vayan todos!' ('All of them must go!') and forced out a procession of four presidents in less than three weeks. What made Argentina's 2001-02 uprising unique was that it wasn't directed at a particular political party or even at corruption in the abstract. The target was the dominant economic model--this was the first national revolt against contemporary deregulated capitalism."

Watchdog: No, Hank, You Didn't Get a Good Deal for the Taxpayer
Paul Kiel writes for ProPublica: "Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson said last October that the taxpayers shouldn't fret about putting $250 billion in the nation's banks: 'This is an investment, not an expenditure, and there is no reason to expect this program will cost taxpayers anything.' But a draft report from the Congressional Oversight Panel for the TARP says Paulson should have known better. According to the panel's analysis, the preferred stock and warrants Treasury received are worth far less than the investments themselves, amounting to at least a $43 billion subsidy to the banks. That shortfall, they found, was inevitable from the structure of the investments. That's because the analysis 'demonstrates that the value received – including the market’s estimate of its future worth – was considerably less at the time of the transaction than the amount paid by Treasury.'”

TARP Recipients Paid $114 Million to Lobby Lawmakers
Tierney Plumb reports for the Washington Business Journal: "Recipients of the $700 billion federal bailout package in the finance and auto sectors may view their contributions and lobbying as the smartest investments made in years, according to the Center for Responsive Politics."

Watchdogs: Government Overpaid for Wall Street Assets
Kevin G. Hall and Greg Gordon, McClatchy Newspapers: "The federal government overpaid by about $78 billion for stock and other troubled assets when it bailed out big banks last year, and it lacks sufficient internal controls to police and protect taxpayers' investment in the institutions, government watchdogs said Thursday. The new special inspector general for the bailout effort, formally called the Troubled Asset Relief Program, issued his first report Thursday and said that the Treasury Department needs to put more safeguards in place to protect taxpayers."

Nationalized Banks Are "Only Answer," Economist Stiglitz Says

Michael Knigge interviews Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz for Deutsche Welle: "We live in a very different world than during the Great Depression. Then, we had a manufacturing economy. Now we have a service-sector economy. Many people in the in the United States are already working part time because they can't get full-time jobs. People are talking more about the 'comprehensive' measures of unemployment, and these show unemployment at very high levels, around 15 percent. So it clearly is a serious downturn."

Beyond the Bailout: Agenda for a New Economy
David Korten writes for YES! Magazine: "The financial crisis has put to rest the myths that our economic institutions are sound and markets work best when deregulated. Our economic institutions have failed, not only financially, but also socially and environmentally. This, combined with the election of a new president with a mandate for change, creates an opportune moment to rethink and redesign."

They Just Don't Get It
Bernie Horn writes for the Campaign for America's Future: "Right now, conservative U.S. senators—both Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats—are thrashing around trying to cut pieces out of President Obama’s economic recovery plan. They say it costs too much. Ironically, these are the same senators who increased the legislation by more than $100 billion just a couple of days ago. They just don’t get it."

The Economic Crisis Returns with a Vengeance
The Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism reports: "The financial crisis filled 45% of the coverage studied from Jan 26-Feb. 1, as measured by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. A week earlier, it was Obama’s move into the White House that consumed most of the media’s attention, also accounting for 45% of the newshole, or the time on TV and radio and space in print and online."

Fundamentally Flawed Stimulus Coverage
Jamison Foser writes for Media Matters: "If there's one fact that should be made clear in every news report about the stimulus package working its way through Congress, it is this: Government spending is stimulative. That's a basic principle of economics, and understanding it is essential to assessing any stimulus package. So it should be an underlying premise of the media's coverage of the stimulus debate. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case. Indeed, reporters routinely suggest that spending is not stimulative."

Obama's Team of Zombies: Even under the new president, Washington is the same one-party town it always has been -- controlled not by Democrats or Republicans, but by thieves.
David Sirota writes for Salon.com: "Only weeks ago, the political world was buzzing about a 'team of rivals.' America was told that finally, after years of yes men running the government, we were getting a president who would follow Abraham Lincoln’s lead, fill his administration with varying viewpoints, and glean empirically sound policy from the clash of ideas. Little did we know that "team of rivals" was what George Orwell calls 'newspeak': an empty slogan 'claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts.'"

Obama and the Empire

William Blum writes for Counterpunch: "I've said all along that whatever good changes might occur in regard to non-foreign policy issues, such as what's already taken place concerning the environment and abortion, the Obama administration will not produce any significantly worthwhile change in US foreign policy; little done in this area will reduce the level of misery that the American Empire regularly brings down upon humanity. And to the extent that Barack Obama is willing to clearly reveal what he believes about anything controversial, he appears to believe in the empire."

Whistling Past the Afghan Graveyard: When Empires go to Die
Tom Englehardt writes for Tomdispatch: "It is now a commonplace -- as a lead article in the New York Times's Week in Review pointed out recently -- that Afghanistan is "the graveyard of empires." Given Barack Obama's call for a greater focus on the Afghan War ('we took our eye off the ball when we invaded Iraq...'), and given indications that a "surge" of U.S. troops is about to get underway there, Afghanistan's dangers have been much in the news lately. Some of the writing on this subject, including recent essays by Juan Cole at Salon.com, Robert Dreyfuss at the Nation, and John Robertson at the War in Context website, has been incisive on just how the new administration's policy initiatives might transform Afghanistan and the increasingly unhinged Pakistani tribal borderlands into 'Obama's War.'"

Afghanistan: Losing a No-Win War
Steve Weissman writes for Truthout: "I could go on, but it all boils down to the one lesson of Vietnam that Robert Gates and his Pentagon brass do not want to accept - that Afghans, Pakistanis, Iraqis and other people in Asia, Africa and Latin America will no longer accept the United States and Europe occupying and running their countries. Counter-insurgency can prolong the pain, but it will never overcome the anti-colonial dynamic, as the British Empire, the French Empire and others all learned before us."

Army Reports Alarming Spike in Suicides Last Month
Pauline Jelinek reports for The Associated Press: "The Army is investigating an unexplained and stunning spike in suicides in January. The count is likely to surpass the number of combat deaths reported last month by all branches of the armed forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the fight against terrorism. 'In January, we lost more soldiers to suicide than to al-Qaida,' said Paul Rieckhoff, director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. He urged 'bold and immediate action' by the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs."

Rush Limbaugh Loses Popularity Contest
Max Blumenthal writes for the Daily Beast: "Congressional Republicans have turned to Rush Limbaugh to lead the battle against Obama. One problem: A poll says he's less popular than Jeremiah Wright. Republicans who have turned to Rush Limbaugh to lead the fight against President Obama may have backed the wrong horse. According to one recent poll, Limbaugh turns out to be one of the most unpopular political figures in the country."

Ann Coulter Under Investigation for Voter Fraud
Rachel Weiner reports for the Huffington Post: "The New York Daily News reports that Ann Coulter is under investigation by the Connecticut Elections Enforcement Commission for allegedly voting in that state while registered to vote in New York City."

KDP National Smacks Kansas GOP for Duplicity
Our friends at KansasJackass write: "Kinch is exactly right. The Republican Party nationwide, and right here in Kansas, as pushed this country to the brink of fiscal catastrophe with unsound economic policies as they pay lip service to caring about the poor. They've dragged our Constitution through the mud, they've fought right here in Kansas has hard as possible to prevent public schools from getting the funds they need, and all the while they continue to push the lie the GOP is the party of fiscal responsibility when it was they, they Republicans, who wasted the Clinton budget surplus on tax cuts for the rich that were supposed to bolster the economy, only to have the exact opposite become reality."