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:
- Download the Stimulus Bill
- Track the Stimulus (Decoder Ring Included!)
- The Stimulus Bills: House vs. Senate
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..."