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

29 March 2009

Clippings for 20 March 2009

FBI Director Pushes to Renew Patriot Act Surveillance Powers
Liliana Segure writes for AlaterNet: "Earlier this month, the ACLU released a report taking stock of the USA PATRIOT Act, almost eight years after its passage. The study, titled Reclaiming Patriotism, identifies key sections of the law that codified the most radical abuses of power under the Bush administration, interweaving stories of people who were unlawfully spied on, coerced, and intimidated through the PATRIOT Act's sweeping powers."

Constitutional Scholar Calls Bush Torture Memos Treason
Naomi Wolf writes for AlterNet: "In early March, more shocking details emerged about George W. Bush legal counsel John Yoo's memos outlining the destruction of the republic. The memos lay the legal groundwork for the president to send the military to wage war against US citizens; take them from their homes to Navy brigs without trial and keep them forever; close down the First Amendment; and invade whatever country he chooses without regard to any treaty or objection by Congress."

Recommended Audio: Truthdig Podcast - "Documenting 8 Years of Torture"
Mark Danner made headlines last week with his essay in The New York Review of Books on the CIA’s use of torture and a secret report from the International Committee of the Red Cross detailing such practices. Find out why he says, “Torture is for people with weak nerves.”

G-20 Should Think Twice About Increasing IMF

Mark Weisbrot writes for The Center for Economic and Policy Research: "The G-20 summit meeting in London on April 2nd will have a lot on its plate and will certainly fall short of expectations... There is a world recession, the worst for more than 60 years, and the immediate problem of how to get out of it through fiscal and monetary stimulus, as well as possible coordinated action to fix the global financial system. Then there is regulatory reform. And sadly, last on the agenda is aid for the poorest countries - who through the drying up of credit, shrinking exports, and falling commodity prices - pay the biggest price in human terms for a disaster caused mainly by the richest people in the richest countries."

Reform Is Needed. Reform Is in the Air. We Can't Affor to Wait.
Joseph Stiglitz writes for The Guardian: "The financial crisis that began in America's sub-prime mortgage market has now become a global recession - with growth projected to be a negative 1.5%, the worst performance since the Great Depression. Even countries that had done everything right are seeing marked declines in growth rates, and even deep recessions. And much of the most acute pain will be felt by developing countries."

An Economic Platform That Is Ours
Saskia Sassen writes for The Nation: "As Barbara Ehrenreich and Bill Fletcher note in their essay, we lack a plan for a post-capitalist society. I find the idea of such a plan almost an impossibility. But we do have the elements of a map of what's to be done by the left--including socialists and other adherents of critical politics--with inconsistencies and many blanks. Together, several comments in this forum begin to draw such a map. Henwood, Solnit and Wallerstein each argue for interventions in response to today's crisis that are either already underway or that we can work on now."

Kansas Senate and House Reach Budget Compromise
Jason writes for Kansas Jackass: "The negotiators from the Kansas House and Senate tasked with making the two chambers versions of the FY 2010 budget jive have reached an agreement that looks particularly good for higher education in Kansas."

Obama Plans for Funding for Afghan War
Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe report for The Washington Post: "President Obama will deploy as many as 4,000 additional US troops to Afghanistan, beyond the 17,000 he authorized last month, as trainers and advisers to the Afghan Army, according to a senior Pentagon official who has seen the new Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy Obama will unveil Friday. Obama briefed House and Senate leaders at the White House this afternoon on the strategy, while special envoy Richard Holbrooke outlined the plan to other lawmakers on Capitol Hill. The president also telephoned Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Pakistani counterpart, President Asif Ali Zardari. The result of military, intelligence and diplomat reviews that began the day Obama took office, the strategy is expected to include major increases in US military and development assistance to both countries."

Afghanistan: The Four Questions
Robert Naiman writes for Truthout: "It is widely recognized that sending more people - whether soldiers or civilians - is very unlikely in itself to change anything fundamental because the order of magnitude is wrong. The United States has not been, is not, and almost certainly never will be willing and able to commit the resources, which would be necessary to transform Afghanistan into a peaceful 'democracy' according to the present policy. The most that could be plausibly hoped for is that additional resources would help make a new policy work: a new policy based on a fundamental, political shift in US policy, including accommodation with the bulk of the political forces now backing Afghanistan's various insurgencies."

Enduring Freedom
William Rivers Pitt writes for Truthout: "Our war in Afghanistan began almost 3,000 days ago, on October 7, 2001. Our war in Afghanistan has lasted longer than World War I, World War II, the Civil War, the Korean War, the first Gulf War in Iraq and the second Gulf War in Iraq. If we are still fighting in Afghanistan a year from now, the war will have lasted longer than the American Revolution. Children who were born on the day the war began are now halfway through grammar school. All the bad economic news and the turmoil in the financial and housing markets have America looking inward these days. We rarely hear anything about Iraq anymore, and even less about Afghanistan. For the record, and to bring everyone up to speed, the following events have taken place in Afghanistan during the last 72 hours."

Strained Immigrant Detention System a Virtual Black Hole
Marina Litvinsky reports for Inter Press Service: "The U.S. government has failed to uphold international human rights standards in its detention of immigrants and asylum seekers, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) said in a report released Wednesday."

Inside Bush’s War on Birth Control
Masie Cocco writes for Truthdig: "For those whose nostalgia for the Bush administration is unfulfilled by former Vice President Dick Cheney’s snarling television appearance, there is a new window into the soul of the old regime. It is the brutally frank account of how political operatives and ideological helpmates of George W. Bush violated the law in their efforts to keep birth control away from American women—particularly teenagers at the greatest risk of an unplanned and life-altering pregnancy."

Why I Called Justice Scalia a Homophobe
REp. Barney Frank writes for the Huffington Post: "While responding to questions from journalists about my characterization of Justice Antonin Scalia as a homophobe, I realized that the fact that I made that comment in conjunction with a potential lawsuit about the Defense of Marriage Act created some confusion as to my basis for that characterization."

Hope in the Mountains
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. comments in The Washington Post: "Yesterday was a great day for the people of Appalachia and for all of America. In a bold departure from Bush-era energy policy, the Obama administration suspended a coal company's permit to dump debris from its proposed mountaintop mining operation into a West Virginia valley and stream. In addition, the administration promised to carefully review upward of 200 such permits awaiting approval by the US Army Corps of Engineers."

The Slumming of Suburbia
David Villano reports for Miller-McCune: "The financial meltdown has produced a vast patchwork of foreclosed and abandoned single-family homes across America, accelerating the decades-long migration of our nation's poor from cities to the suburban fringe. In 2005, as rising property values reduced affordable-housing stock in inner-city neighborhoods, suburban poverty, in raw numbers, topped urban poverty for the first time."

Cell Phone Scare: What So You Really Know about the Health Risks?
Elisa Batista writes for AlterNet: "Last July, renowned cancer expert Dr. Ronald Herberman sent off a rather alarming note to the 3,000 faculty and staff members at the University of Pittsburgh warning that children should limit their use of cell phones to decrease their risk of cancer. "Although the evidence is still controversial, I am convinced that there are sufficient data to warrant issuing an advisory to share some precautionary advice on cell phone use," wrote Herberman, who heads the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. He also advised adults to choose texting, Bluetooth headsets, or speakerphone options instead of holding a cell phone to the ear."

Zombie Media Still Fighting the Last Gotcha War
Leslie Savan writes for The Nation: "Of all the bad questions at Tuesday's primetime press conference (and you can vote for your favorite here), the one that best illuminates why the White House press corps asks such bad questions came from a Washington Times reporter, who wondered how much President Obama has "personally wrestled with the morality" of funding stem-cell research. "

Consolidation Won't Save the Media
Craig Aaron and Joseph Torres write for the Guardian UK: "Last week, House speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose hometown San Francisco Chronicle is in trouble, asked attorney general Eric Holder to consider loosening antitrust laws to help out struggling newspapers by allowing more media mergers. Holder responded by saying he is open to revisiting the rules."

YouTube Takedowns Offer a Chilling Look at What a Filtered Web Could Look Like
Mehan Jayasuriya writes for Public Knowledge: "If you happened to page through this week's Sunday edition of The New York Times, you might have noticed something unusual about the front page of the business section. Instead of leading with a story about AIG's transgressions or the latest eco-tech startup, this week's Sunday business section gave top billing to the brewing conflict between YouTube users and aggressive rights holders, most notably the "big four" record labels. While the placement of the article may have struck some as odd, the editors at the Times were right to file the story under 'business'. In a web-driven economy, there are fewer commodities more valuable than user-generated content. And as the article ably demonstrates, unlike with most valuable commodities, there's a cadre of deeply entrenched, extremely powerful companies who possess the ability to disrupt the flow of user-generated content at will. Trivial though it may seem, the outcome of this debate could come to define the very nature of the web that our children inherit--and the long-term viability of the Internet economy may lie in the balance."

25 March 2009

Clippings for 29 March 2009

Wall Street's Economic Crimes Against Humanity
Shoshana Zuboff writes for Business Week: "The financiers at AIG were awarded millions in bonuses because their contracts were based on the transactions they completed, not the consequences of those transactions. A 32-year-old mortgage broker told me: 'I figured my job was to get the transaction done... Whatever came after the transaction - that was on him, not me.' A long list of business executives have reaped sumptuous rewards even though they fractured the world's economy, destroyed trillions of dollars in value, and disfigured millions of lives."

A.I.G. Bonuses: Class War in the Media
Dean Baker comments for Truthout: "The debate over the A.I.G. bonuses is class war in its full naked glory. On the surface, everyone agreed that paying multi-million bonuses to the folks who bankrupted their company and handed the taxpayers a bill for $170 billion ($2,300 for a family of four) was outrageous. The difference is between the angry masses, who actually want to take back the bonuses, and the elites who insist that there is nothing that can be done. In spite of the superior education of the elites, the masses have the much better argument. As a result, the elites have been desperately cooking up excuse after excuse as to why their well-heeled friends at A.I.G. and the bankrupt banks shouldn't lose their bonuses."

Economic Dirty Bomb Goes Off in New York

Tom Engelhardt writes for TomDispatch.com: "In my neighborhood, back in those fateful September days in 2001, you could hear the sirens, see the jets streak overhead, catch the acrid smell of the towers and everything chemical in them burning, and like the rest of America, watch those apocalyptic-looking scenes of the towers collapsing in clouds of ash and smoke again and again. But if the look then was apocalyptic, the damage, however grim, was limited. This time around there's no dust, no ash, no acrid smell, no sirens, no jets, and no brave rescuers either. And yet the effect might, sooner or later, be far more apocalyptic and the lives swallowed up far greater. This time, of course, the fanatical extremists were homegrown. Their 'caves' were on Wall Street. They hijacked our economy and did their level best to take down our world."

Geithner's Plan: Like an Oil Spill
Laura Flanders writes for The Nation: "Twenty years ago this week, the Exxon Valdez ran aground, spilling ten millions gallons of filthy oil over 10,000 square miles of Prince William Sound. The Exxon corporation spent the next two decades fighting paying punitive damages to the victims. Announced, by coincidence, on the anniversary of that disaster, the Obama administration bank rescue plan is about as comforting as Exxon's clean up."

Obama's Toxic Advisers
Robert Scheer writes for Truthdig: "Bernie Sanders, the senator from Vermont who is independent in spirit as well as party label, has placed a hold on President Obama’s nomination of Gary Gensler to head the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Sounds like a minor issue to get worked up about, but the senator is right. Like most Americans, I am eager for Barack Obama to succeed, but I see this appointment as further evidence that the president has entrusted his economic policy to the wrong people."

The Iraq War's Six Years of Mayhem
David Swanson reports for Consortium News: "That's not counting many diagnosed after leaving Iraq, including estimated hundreds of thousands with traumatic brain injury, hundreds of thousands with post-traumatic stress disorder, unknown numbers poisoned by hexavalent chromium or depleted uranium, also not counting the many victims of murder by veterans unable to stop doing their jobs, not counting the one in three women in the military sexually assaulted by men in the military, and not counting 6,570 suicides, and twice that many attempts, per year by veterans, and rising."

These Colors Won't Run ... Afghanistan

Norman Solomon comments for Truthout: "Is your representative speaking out against escalation of the Afghanistan war? Last week, some members of Congress sent President Obama a letter that urged him to "reconsider" his order deploying 17,000 additional US troops to Afghanistan.

Ethanol's Land Grab
Adam Welz reports for Mother Jones: "Massingir is an unremarkable town. The electricity supply here in rural Mozambique is erratic, clean water is hard to come by, and the hotels—well, calling them hotels is a little too polite. The town center is two ragged blocks of colorful bars, stores, and market stalls arranged along a reddish sandy furrow—the main street—with goods packaged in the smallest possible quantities to match the pinched cash flow of local buyers: individual quarts of fuel in old bottles, spoonfuls of soap powder in bright little packets, single cigarettes, microcans of tomato paste and sardines, all laid out in creative patterns to catch the eye. Babies doze in the shade while their mothers gossip, pausing on the way back from the UNICEF tent outside the shabby clinic; loose-limbed teenagers play rough games of pool under a thatched roof by the side of the road."

Kansas Chamber of Commerce Sez Kansans Love Coal
From our friends at Kansas Jackass: "On Wednesday, the Kansas Chamber of Commerce released a poll that said a narrow majority, but a sizable plurality in their poll, of Kansans supported the construction of new coal fired power plants in the state of Kansas. From the Lawrence Journal-World: 'Fifty-one percent favor “the building of a new electrical power plant that uses coal in Kansas,” according to the poll. Twenty-six percent oppose it, and 23 percent were undecided, according to the poll of 600 registered voters that was conducted last week.' You can read each of the questions and see the all the spiffy little percentages here. While I am most certainly suspicious of anything released by the Chamber of Commerce ever- they are a very narrow ideological lobbying firm, after all- Passed my basic distrust, I don't put a lot of credence in this poll for two great big reasons:
  • The poll, as republished by the LJ-World, doesn't include a breakdown as to where the 600 people polled live, or how the poll was conducted.
  • The polling firm isn't what you'd call non-partisan or independent or unbiased."
How to Pay for a Global Climate Deal
Jeremy Brecher, Tim Costello and Brendan Smith write for SolveCimate.com: "The G-20 summit convening in London on April 2 is preparing to create a quarter trillion dollars of brand new stimulus money to help poor countries battle the global recession... If leaders at the G-20 summit can create 'paper gold' to jump-start the global economy, they can also turn it in a green direction to jump-start protection of the global climate."

EPA Says Global Warming a Public Danger

H. Josef Hebert reports for The Associated Press: "The White House is reviewing a proposed finding by the Environmental Protection Agency that global warming is a threat to public health and welfare. Such a declaration would be the first step to regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act and could have broad economic and environmental ramifications. It also would likely spur action by Congress to address climate change more broadly."

Finding the Power in Women's Voices
Hannah Miller writes for On The Issues : "A growing group of organizations work on what is called "media democracy," that is, changing the structure and legal framework of the media so that it reflects something a smidgeon closer to the actual public – including women."

Young Americans See Colbert, Stewart Replacing Traditional News Outlets
Megan Stack reports for the huffington Post: "A new poll released Wednesday by Rasmussen Reports found that about one-third of Americans under the age of 40 believe that shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are replacing "traditional" news outlets."

REPORT - Privatizing the Public Trust: A Critical Look at Connected Nation (pdf)
Public Knowledge, Common Cause, The Media and Democracy Coalition, and Reclaim the Media issue the following report: "As a result of the passage and signing of the new stimulus legislation, there is now up to $350 million available to map the deployment of broadband services across the country. The data collected as a result of this effort will be one of the important factors in the national broadband strategy plan the law directed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to construct."

TAKE ACTION: Tell O’Reilly’s Advertisers To Stop Supporting The O’Reilly Harassment Machine
From Think Progress: "Fox News host Bill O’Reilly employs producers charged with the specific mission of ambushing and harassing those who have said critical things about him. O’Reilly has not only stalked and accosted ThinkProgress deputy editor Amanda Terkel, but he has also targeted at least 40 other individuals in much the same way."

22 March 2009

Clippings for 25 March 2009

William Rivers Pitt writes for Truthout: "Six years ago, the United States of America began the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Since then, 4,259 American soldiers have been killed and tens of thousands more have been wounded. There is no accurate accounting of Iraqi dead and wounded, because as we were told, we do not do body counts. Because the Bush administration left its Iraq expenditures off the budget, and because of the tremendous amount of war-profiteering, graft and theft that has been involved, we do not know exactly how much we have spent. For the record, 2,192 days later, this is how we got here."

Recommended Audio: Keith Olberman: Enough!
Keith Olbermann, MSNBC, comments: "Finally tonight, as promised, a Special Comment on the latest atrocity from the banks. The vast, engorged, gluttonous multi-national corporations. Whose sneezes can be fatal to our jobs. Whose mistakes can turn us into the homeless. Whose accounting errors can be so panoramic that they can make our economy tremble and force us to hand them billions after billions in a blackmail scheme that has come to be known as 'bailout.'"

How the Fed Failed to Tell Obama About the Bonuses
David Cho and Michael D. Shear report for The Washington Post: "Federal Reserve officials knew for months about bonuses at American International Group but failed to tell the Obama administration, according to government and company officials, exposing problems in a relationship that is vital to addressing the financial crisis."

Major Media Outlets Yet to Report IG Testimony Implicating Bush Administration in AIG Bonuses
Eric Boehlert and Jamison Foser write for Media Matters: "Despite jumping on -- and in some cases advancing -- false Republican claims that congressional Democrats are responsible for AIG executive bonuses, major media outlets have yet to report that Neil Barofsky, a Bush-appointed special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), confirmed in March 19 congressional testimony that the Bush administration Treasury Department knew about the AIG bonus contracts and did not insist on their abrogation as a condition of AIG's receiving bailout money through a stock purchase agreement signed by AIG and the Bush Treasury Department."

The Secret War Against American Workers: The Unemployement Story No One Notices
Robert S. Eshelman writes for TomDispatch.com: "If a deepening recession weighs down and threatens businesses, some of those businesses are undoubtedly also making convenient use of the times to do things they might have wanted to do, but were unable to do in better conditions. In some cases, under the guise of 'recession' pressure, they may be waging a secret war against their own workers, using even the most innocuous transgressions of work-place rules as the trigger for firings - and so, of course, putting the fear of god into those who remain."

If You're a Little Guy, a Contract Means Nothing
Marie Cocco writes for Truthdig: "With due deference to George Orwell, all contracts are equal. But some contracts are more equal than others. Contracts entered into by the hotshots at American International Group for $165 million in bonuses, signed just months before their web of financial cunning unraveled, are inviolate. Contracts entered into by shop-floor workers at auto plants must be renegotiated, so that the taxpayers who bail out the industry don’t coddle supposedly overpaid union members."

Welcome to Double-Standard America

David Sirota writes for Salon: "United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard likes to say that Washington policymakers 'treat the people who take a shower after work much differently than they treat the people who shower before they go to work.' In the 21st century Gilded Age, the blue-collar shower-after-work crowd is given the tough, while the white-collar shower-before-work gang gets the love, and never before this week was that doctrine made so clear."

Why Merit Pay Lowers Teaching Quality
Jerome Popp writes for Truthout: "The Obama administration proposes merit pay for teachers, because of the belief that rewarding good teachers improves education. That this idea is proposed by people who supposedly understand politics is disappointing, because it reveals their lack of knowledge about institutional politics."

Gays, Lesbians More Likely to Be Poor than Straights: Study Undermines the 'Myth' of Gay Affluence
Chris Johnson reports for the Washington Blade: "A new report from a think-tank on sexual orientation reveals how poverty is affecting gay people in the United States. The report, released Friday by the Williams Institute at the University of California in Los Angeles, found that lesbian couples are more likely to be living in poverty than other couples. The analysis found that 7 percent of lesbian couples are living below the poverty line, compared to 4 percent of gay male couples and 5 percent of opposite-sex couples. The study also found that after 'adjusting for a range of family characteristics that help explain poverty,' same-sex couples are 'significantly' more likely to be poor than opposite-sex married couples."

Why Brands Can't Be Trusted
Roy O'Connor writes for the Media Channel: "When Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently called the Internet a “cesspool” of false information, he also claimed that corporate brands such as his own are necessary filters needed to help us sort through the muck. 'Brands are the solution, not the problem,' Schmidt said. 'Brands are how you sort out the cesspool.'”

Indentured Servants, Circa 2009
Barbara Koeppel writes for ConsortiumNews.com: "Feeding on this and last years' gigantic job losses and fear of more to come, anti-immigrant anger is exploding across the U.S. Thus, Nativists like Arizona's Sheriff Joe Arpaio are nudged to over-the-top nastiness: Just a month ago, he proudly paraded his villains (aka illegals) through the streets of Phoenix before deporting them."

Behind the Mask: Center for Immigration Studies Hardly 'Independent'
Heide Beirich reporsts for the South Poverty Law Center: "Last October, as America was being roiled by the subprime mortgage meltdown that led to the current financial crisis, the executive director of one of the most influential immigration think tanks in the nation was in a joking mood. Shortly after the failure of Washington Mutual Bank, Mark Krikorian found a press release issued months earlier by the bank that celebrated its inclusion on a list of "Business Diversity Elites" compiled by Hispanic Business magazine. Krikorian posted the release at the conservative National Review Online, where he writes from time to time, along with his own sneering headline: 'Cause and Effect?'"

Mexico's Drug War Bloodbath
Silja J.A. Talvi, AlterNet.org: "A minute is all the time that it takes for an employee in one of almost 7,000 gun shops dotting the U.S./Mexico border to accept a wad of cash from an eager customer, fill out a triplicate sales slip, and slide a nice, new Taurus .45 caliber pistol across the counter. Or two, or three, or twenty, as the case may be. Add those handguns to the countless tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of pistols, sniper and assault rifles, semi-automatic machine guns, shield-piercing bullets, grenades, plastic explosives, as well as anti-tank weapons outfitted with self-propelling rockets passing illegally through the hands of drug cartel foot soldiers and assassins. Throw in the array of weapons favored by DEA and CIA agents, Mexican federal police and military units, and other 'drug warriors,' of one sort or another. These are all people who are ready, willing, and able to use violence to get what they want."

Return of the Sovereigns: Resurgence of Far-Right Movement Reported
Casey Sanchez reports for the South Poverty Law Center: "In the middle of the morning rush hour last July 8, a dapper, 49-year-old gentleman by the name of Angel Cruz tapped his walking cane against the pavement as he serenely orchestrated the armed takeover of a strip mall branch of the Bank of America in a Miami suburb. Wearing counterfeit U.S. Treasury badges, 30 of Cruz's followers, including 10 armed guards, blocked the bank's main entrance, parking lot and drive-through lanes. They were fiercely loyal to their fashionable leader, and with good reason: As employees of Cruz's company, The United Cities, they'd been guaranteed lucrative jobs for 30 years and promised new cars while their mortgage, credit card and utility bills were to be paid off in full by their employer. Cruz paid for this largesse — or, rather, purported to pay — with fake bank drafts and fistfuls of "United States Private Dollars," a counterfeit currency he churned out in his Orlando, Fla., home."

The Year in Hate
David Holthouse reports for the South Poverty Law Center on the rise in hate groups across the U.S.: "From white power skinheads decrying "President Obongo" at a racist gathering in rural Missouri, to neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klansmen hurling epithets at Latino immigrants from courthouse steps in Oklahoma, to anti-Semitic black separatists calling for death to Jews on bustling street corners in several East Coast cities, hate group activity in the U.S. was disturbing and widespread throughout 2008, as the number of hate groups operating in America continued to rise. Last year, 926 hate groups were active in the U.S., up more than 4% from 888 in 2007. That's more than a 50% increase since 2000, when there were 602 groups."

Recommended Reading: YES! Magazine's Food Issue
Imagine a food system that delivers fresh, organic food to everybody. Can't be done? YES! Magazine says it can, and it must, especially in a time of economic and climatic peril. Their Spring issue (Food for Everyone) brings together the best ideas for a new food system, and tells the inspiring stories of people who are bringing that system to life. YES! Magazine is a long-time favorite here at the Organic Consumers Association, and we're delighted to offer you the chance to get this new Food issue as part of a special introductory offer for Organic Bytes readers: Subscribe to YES! right now and get four beautiful, ad-free issues-for just $10 (regular price $24).

Is Access to Clean Water a Basic Human Right?
Yigal Schleifer reports for The Christian Science Monitor: "With fresh water resources becoming scarcer worldwide due to population growth and climate change, a growing movement is working to make access to clean water a basic universal human right. But it's a contentious issue, experts say. Especially difficult is how to safely mesh public-sector interests with public ownership of resources - and determine the legal and economic ramifications of enshrining the right to water by law."

Leading Climate Scientist: "Democratic Process Isn't Working"
David Adam reports for The Guardian UK: "Protest and direct action could be the only way to tackle soaring carbon emissions, a leading climate scientist has said. James Hansen, a climate modeler with NASA, told the Guardian today that corporate lobbying has undermined democratic attempts to curb carbon pollution. 'The democratic process doesn't quite seem to be working,' he said."

Shut Out at the Polls
The Washington Post: "None of the fears that preceded last year's historic election were realized. There was no widespread fraudulent voting, electronic machines overall performed well and the vote was not too close to call. Nonetheless, the election was marred because millions of Americans were not able to cast ballots for candidates of their choice. At fault is the antiquated way voters are registered. Congress must work with the states to fix the problems that end up disenfranchising far too many citizens."

18 March 2009

Clippings for 19 March 2009

We Are Entering a New Political Era, and We Need an Educated Public to Deal with It.
Doug Keeger writes for AlterNet: "Like China during the Cultural Revolution, the cultural shift in the United States over the last thirty years has created a significant void in the talent required to shift this country into the 21st economy. Clearly, we stand at a crucial point in our history as a nation. We are a house divided by race and economics but, most importantly, divided by those who mistrust the very institutions that were created to protect us."

AIG Bonus Scandal -- Bernanke and Fed Signed Off
Sharona Coutts reports for ProPublica: "Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke knew of AIG's retention bonus plans well before the controversy erupted this week, CEO Edward Liddy told a congressional panel (PDF) today. Liddy also said several AIG executives have agreed to forgo their retention bonuses."

A.I.G. Using "Suicide Strategy" to Push Bonuses
Matt Renner writes for Truthout: "As nationwide populist anger boils after the news that hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars may be given to employees of the insurance-giant-turned-government-liability American Insurance Group (A.I.G.), President Obama promised to try to block what he described as an 'outrage' Monday, but a group of former regulators said the administration must get even tougher in A.I.G. Economics and law Professor William K. Black, a famous figure in the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s for his role as a senior regulator who fingered the then speaker of the House and 'The Keating Five' for doing favors for bankers, has been a vocal critic of the bailout programs, which began during the Bush administration. In an interview with Truthout, Professor Black said that A.I.G. is using a 'suicide strategy' to hold the government hostage and keep the bailout funds flowing."

The Real AIG Scandal
Eliot Spitzer, Slate Magazine: "Everybody is rushing to condemn AIG's bonuses, but this simple scandal is obscuring the real disgrace at the insurance giant: Why are AIG's counterparties getting paid back in full, to the tune of tens of billions of taxpayer dollars?"

The False Idol of Unfettered Capitalism
Chris Hedges writes for Truthdig.com: "When I returned to New York City after nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans, I was unsure of where I was headed. I lacked the emotional and physical resiliency that had allowed me to cope as a war correspondent. I was plagued by memories I wanted to forget, waking suddenly in the middle of the night, my sleep shattered by visions of gunfire and death. I was alienated from those around me, unaccustomed to the common language and images imposed by consumer culture, unable to communicate the pain and suffering I had witnessed, not much interested in building a career."

Former Guerrillas Win Power in El Salvador
Catherine Bremer reports for Reuters in the Independent UK: "El Salvador's former Marxist guerrillas, who fought one of the bitterest conflicts of the Cold War, finally won power through the ballot box after a tight election victory over their right-wing civil war foes. After years as a peaceful opposition party, the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, or FMLN, cashed in on fatigue over the ruling party's 20 years in office and fears of the world economic crisis to narrowly take yesterday's presidential election."

Recommended Audio: El Salvador's President-Elect Seeks Close Ties with the U.S.
New America Media: "Editor’s note: On the Ides of March, a day known for military might, democractic freedom prevailed on Sunday, as the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) became the first leftist party in the history of El Salvador to clinch the presidential election. By 10 p.m., it became clear to Salvadorans and to the world that the former guerrillas had ended more than 130 years of oligarchy and military rule over this tiny Central American nation of 7 million. In the streets, thousands of red-shirted sympathizers chanted “Si, Se Pudo!” (Yes, We Could), as they celebrated the victory of Mauricio Funes, the man who brought an end to the 20-year rule of the Nationalist Republican Alliance party (ARENA.) Funes captured 51 percent of the vote, defeating ARENA candidate Rodrigo Avila."

The Ongoing Occupation of Iraqi Artists
Dahr Jamail writes for Truthout: "For centuries, artists, writers, and intellectuals have been meeting in Baghdad's teahouses over tulip-shaped glasses of sweet lemon tea, cigarettes, and shisha pipes. A car bomb detonated near one of the oldest teahouses a year-and-a-half ago, causing massive destruction around the area. When it reopened recently, Mohammed Al-Mumain, a 59-year-old biology teacher resumed his visits there. The portly, jovial teacher brought tea for my colleague and I before settling to talk, 'The mind needs art and education. I come here because the lamp needs electricity. The lamp of my mind, like that in all of us, needs to discuss and review life continually. That feeds me. When I come here I feel like a teenager again. All that I need, the old culture along with the new, I find here.'"

Time for Real Workplace Democracy-- not the Phony Company Version
Jim Hightower writes for the Hightower Lowedown: "Last October, Home Depot cofounder Bernie Marcus blew a gasket, spewing outrage in all directions. 'This is the demise of civilization,' he exploded. 'This is how a civilization disappears. I'm watching this happen and I don't believe it!' Bernie's outburst came during an hour-long conference call with various other corporate executives and their political operatives. The purpose was to collect industry funds for a campaign to kill a piece of legislation called the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). Yes, the spark that ignited Bernie's fury, the hellish horror that he insisted would produce America's Armageddon, was a simple labor bill, and he was demanding that the corporate powers rally to save civilization as they know it."

Southern Oligarchy and the Labor Unions
Joseph B. Atkins writes in The Progressive Populist: "Cheap labor. Even more than race, it's the thread that connects all of Southern history - from the antebellum South of John C. Calhoun and Jefferson Davis to Tennessee's Bob Corker, Alabama's Richard Shelby and the other anti-union Southerners in today's US Senate. It's at the epicenter of a sad class divide between a desperate, poorly educated workforce and a demagogic oligarchy, and it has been a demarcation line stronger than the Mason-Dixon in separating the region from the rest of the nation."

Republican Temper Tanturm Hurts Kansas Schools, Kids
From our friends at Kansas Jackass: "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again...ad nauseum. This seems to be the mantra of the Republicans in the Kansas Legislature. We've seen it with the coal bill, now we're seeing it with K-12 funding. Angry over the Governor's line-item veto of their draconian cut to public education -- and really still smarting about the Kansas Supreme Court's decision going all the way back to 2005 -- Republicans in the Kansas House Appropriations committee voted again yesterday to cut money from the 2009 budget for local school districts."

KS Republicans Jeopardizes Federal Recovery Funds for Education
Kansas Jackass writes: "Yesterday (Tuesday 17 March), members of the Kansas Republican Party let their desire to cut the education budget of the state of Kansas override their common sense and put in jeopardy monies intended for Kansas schools allocated by the federal government in the recently signed economic recovery bill."

Immigrants Face Detentions, Few Rights
Michelle Roberts reports for The Associated Press: "America's detention system for immigrants has mushroomed in the last decade, a costly building boom that was supposed to sweep up criminals and ensure that undocumented immigrants were quickly shown the door. Instead, an Associated Press computer analysis of every person being held on a recent Sunday night shows that most did not have a criminal record and many were not about to leave the country - voluntarily or via deportation."

The Pope's Immoral Message on AIDS in Africa
Matthew Rothschild writes for The Progressive: "The Pope is in Africa, and in his infinite wisdom, he showed the utmost ignorance on the urgent subject of the AIDS epidemic."

Americas: Celebrating Women's Day
Eduardo Avila reports for Global Voices: "Bloggers from across Latin America also commemorated International Women's Day with posts about the day which is celebrated every March 8 throughout the world. Some also took the opportunity to reflect on some of the issues facing women, but also featured initiatives that are working to alleviate some of these problems."

Enough with Cramer's Apologies; Fix CNBC
John Nichols writes for The Nation: "Coming off the "meltdown smackdown" inquisition of CNC cheerleader Jim Cramer by Comedy Central's Jon Stewart, a great new campaign has been launched to "Fix CNBC!" Truth be told, CNBC may be beyond repair.

Sign a petition and demand that CNBC to stop acting like a PR firm for Wall Street and instead fulfill its journalistic obligation to the truth.

15 March 2009

Clippings for 15 March 2009

President Barak Obama: Tougher Food Safety Measures

Is the Next Defense Budget a Stimulus Package? Why the Pentagon Can't Put America Back to Work
Froda Berrigan writes for Tomdispatch: "It's the magic incantation to fix our economic woes. Many states and federal agencies have already gone from scouring their budgets for things to cut to green-lighting construction projects. The Obama administration's $787 billion stimulus package is sure to muster many shovels in an effort to rouse a despondent economy and put Americans back to work. "

What We Don't Know About Iraq
Philip Bennett writes for The Washington Post: "What do Iraqis call the war that is now entering its seventh year? If you can't answer that question, it's not because you haven't been paying attention. In this country, the Iraq war has been an American story. It was born inside the Beltway. Its costs in suffering have been most visible to us at gravesides across the United States, or in the wards of Walter Reed. A growing library of histories of the war chronicles battle after bitter battle between factions of official Washington, skirmishing over ideas, strategy, about how we got in and how to get out. As the war has gone on, Iraqis' stories have been overshadowed by the towering drama of our own experience. The imbalance struck me as I recently read and revisited some of the best books to grow out of American journalism on Iraq since the invasion began on March 19, 2003. They are rich in raw, unblinking dispatches from alongside US troops and investigative digging into the thinking of US leaders - overall, a remarkable record of a continuing conflict. But they also reflect how frustration and isolation, including the isolation of journalists, have reduced Iraqis to a narrow cast of supporting roles: ungrateful partners, untrustworthy supplicants, invisible enemies and unreadable victims."

U.S. Drops "Enemy Combatant" as Basis for Detention
Randall Mikkelsen reports for Reuters: "The Obama administration dropped the term 'enemy combatant' and incorporated international law on Friday as its basis for holding terrorism suspects at Guantanamo prison while it works to close the facility. The US Justice Department said it had filed court papers outlining its break from Bush administration detention standards, and said only those who provided 'substantial' support to al-Qaeda or the Taliban would be considered detainable."

The Brave, Living and Dead
Michael Winship writes for Truthout: "Alarmed by the increasing rate of suicide, the Army has begun releasing monthly numbers, in addition to the annual reports produced in the past. 2008 was a record high - 128 confirmed suicides and 15 under investigation. The rate has been increasing steadily since 2004. Last month there were 18 suspected suicides, up from 11 the previous year. In January there were 24, up from five in January 2008. According to The Associated Press, 'Usually the vast majority of suspected suicides are eventually confirmed, and if that holds true it would mean that self-inflicted deaths surpassed the 16 combat deaths [in January] reported in all branches of the armed forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and other nations considered part of the global war on terror.'"

House Conservatives Seek Patriot Act Extension
Jared Allen writes for The Hill: "More than a dozen of the GOP's most conservative members on Thursday introduced a bill to reauthorize controversial Patriot Act provisions set to expire later this year."

Why Do People Listen to Rush Limbaugh?
Tana Ganeva writes for AlterNet: "Despite the fact that he is batshit crazy, Rush Limbaugh continues to reign supreme over the GOP. The conservative talk show host has styled himself as the voice of the Republican Party, even as he spews hate-filled rhetoric and brazenly reiterates his hope that the president fails in his attempt to rescue the country from one of the worst financial crises in history."

Mary Quite Contrary: Piltcher-Cook Won't Comment on he own Sovereignty Resolution
Our friends at KansasJackass writes: "You know, really, the United States has kind of a strange political system- we've got this really powerful federal government that serves as our face to the rest of the world and then we have all these individual little states that, in many regards, are totally autonomous, save on pesky issues like foreign affairs of the minting/printing of money."

Fighting Back in America's 30-Year Class War
Jim Hightower writes for Creators Syndicate: "Leaving aside the fact that such things as health-care coverage for every American and a booming green energy economy will benefit the rich as well as the rest of us, Brooks' column was echoing a prevalent theme in all of the right's attacks on Obama's economic proposals: Class War! Indeed, the Times' columnist even suggested (sadly) that Obama's budget was fundamentally un-American: 'The US has never been a society riven by class resentment,' he sniffed. Whoa, professor, get a grip! Better yet, get a good history book (Howard Zinn's 'A People's History of the United States' would be an eye-opening place to start). While our schools, media and politicians rarely mention it, America's history is replete with class rebellions against various moneyed elites who act as though they're the top dogs and ordinary folks are just a bunch of fire hydrants."

Why are the Republicans Scared of Competition?
David Sirota writes for Salon.com: "Despite the shock and awe of Democrats' melodramatic press releases, nobody was genuinely surprised by the recent McClatchy newspaper headline screaming that "GOP Lawmakers Tout Projects in the Stimulus Bill They Opposed." We all know that politicians love to brag about bringing home the bacon -- even the bacon they vote against."

The Parable of the Shopping Mall
Alexandar Cockburn writes for CounterPunch: "In town after town across America these days one can physically see the economic mantras of an entire generation turning to boarded-up wasteland before one’s eyes. Shopping malls, which changed the American landscape within the course of a generation, are dying week by week."

Time to End Business as Usual for Toxic Coal Industry
Richard Fireman writes for the Citizen-Times: "The most absurd oxymoron of 2008 was "Clean Coal." Coal is dirty - its mining, washing, burning and storage as ash. Some call it the original sin of industrial society. Coal mining, as surface mining on native lands, and now as mountaintop removal in Appalachia in Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee and West Virginia, has destroyed more than 470 mountains, more than 1,200 miles of streams and rivers, and communities, both human and other than human."

Power Politics
Jessie Worth writes for the New Internationalist: "In the course of researching this magazine I’ve been charged at by riot police, had a meeting with a Minister and been interviewed on Newsnight, Britain’s most prestigious TV current affairs programme. Why? Because ‘climate justice’ isn’t just another magazine topic to me. It’s the greatest and most urgent challenge of our time – so I’ve thrown myself into the thick of trying to make it happen."

Four Principles for Climate Justice
The New Internationalist writes: "Climate change, caused by human activities, is threatening the lives and livelihoods of billions of people and the existence of millions of species. We need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions dramatically, while at the same time raising the quality of life for the majority of the world's people.

Newspaper Transition: Preserve Local Newsgathering
Ryan Blethen of the Seattle Times writes that the Internet will not kill off newspapers. The word "newspaper" is a catchall for whatever way news content is delivered, including a newspaper's Web site. The content might be digital, but it is still newspaper-created content. The goal is to preserve a local newsgathering operation."

12 March 2009

Clippings for 12 March 2009

John Yoo: UC Berkeley Is a "Magnet for Hippies, Protesters and Left-Wing Activists"
Jason Leopold writes for Truthout: "John Yoo doesn't have any regrets about the controversial legal opinions he wrote for the White House - many of which were later withdrawn and repudiated - that gave former President George W. Bush unfettered and unchecked power in the aftermath of 9/11. In a little known interview with the Orange County Register, published March 3, Yoo said he doesn't 'think he would have made the basic decisions differently.'"

U.N. Report Says US Rendition Policy Broke International Law

Julie Sell reports for the McClatchy Newspapers: "A UN expert is accusing the United States and some of its allies of breaching international law for the so-called extraordinary renditions and subsequent alleged torture of terrorism suspects during the Bush administration's global war on terrorism, and is launching a probe into the detention of suspects. Martin Scheinin, a UN special rapporteur and expert on international law, issued his annual report to the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday. While it identifies a US role in masterminding a 'comprehensive system' of rendition and detention of suspects as well as creating 'an international web' of intelligence sharing, his report notes that it was possible only through collaboration with many other countries."

Socialism Without a Soul
Robert Scheer writes for Truthdig: "Newt Gingrich is right: 'It is European socialism transplanted to Washington.' How else to describe an economy in which the government controls the entire financial center and is now supplying life support for the auto industry? That's on top of the existing socialist economy run by the military-industrial complex, which, thanks to George W. Bush, now absorbs upward of 60 percent of the non-entitlement federal budget. Although we still have a way to go to catch up with the good parts of the European system, including universal health care, high-quality public education and decent working conditions, we do have a system that is now as socialist in budget size as Europe's."

Van Jones: Beyond the Politics of Confrontation
Sarah van Gelder writes for Yes! Magazine: "When I first met Van Jones in 2004, he was working in Oakland with young people of color who were being funneled from inadequate schools and impoverished neighborhoods into overcrowded courts and detention centers. Jones was speaking at a beachside peace conference that day, trying to explain his world to a predominantly white, middle-class audience. When he spoke of his newborn son and the steep odds against his future success, the audience got it. The next economy needs to be both green and just, Van said. It needs to include those left out of the last economy. Van later founded Green for All, became a YES! contributing editor, and now speaks widely about the need for a transition to a just and green economy. I interviewed him shortly after the election of Barack Obama."

Seymour Hersh Describes "Executive Assassination Ring"
Eric Black writes for MinnPost.com: "At a 'Great Conversations' event at the University of Minnesota last night, legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh may have made a little more news than he intended by talking about new alleged instances of domestic spying by the CIA, and about an ongoing covert military operation that he called an 'executive assassination ring.'"

Afghanistan: Hearings not Escalation
Katrina Vanden Heuvel writes for The Nation: "Despite what most of the mainstream media would have you believe, a recent CBS News/New York Times poll revealed that more Americans want troop levels in Afghanistan to remain the same or decrease rather than to grow. It's time for Congress do its job representing the people by taking a hard look at this war before committing more treasure and lives to it -- and before President Obama's ambitious progressive agenda at home is sacrificed to another quagmire."

Baxter Admits Contaminated Seasonal Flu Product Contained Live Bird Flu Virus
The Canadian Press reprots: "The company that released contaminated flu virus material from a plant in Austria confirmed Friday that the experimental product contained live H5N1 avian flu viruses. And an official of the World Health Organization's European operation said the body is closely monitoring the investigation into the events that took place at Baxter International's research facility in Orth-Donau, Austria." Christopher's comment: And people wonder why I am skeptical about having NBAF in Manhattan!

Beneficiaries of Biodefense Dollars May Oppose Increased Oversight

Marcus Stren reports for ProPublica: "ProPublica last year reviewed the federal government’s $50 billion effort over the past seven years to prepare for a biological attack. We concluded [1] that the government might actually have significantly increased the risk of such an attack while making only marginal progress in preparing the nation to deal with one, if it happens."

Pork Nation: The political media’s frenzy over earmarks sort of misses the point
Katia Bachko writes for the Columbia Journalism Review: "The recent debate over earmarks in the spending bill signed today by Barack Obama has politicians and the national media twisting the story of pork into a bacon explosion. Earmarks are wasteful, or corrupt; the Democrats are to blame, or the Republicans are. John McCain took to Twitter to rail against humorous-sounding projects like '$819,000 for catfish genetics research in Alabama' and '$150,000 for lobster research.' Maureen Dowd gleefully recounted some of McCain’s top offenders (grapes, beavers, gang tattoos) and criticized the president for 'accepting the status quo by signing a budget festooned with pork.'”

"Fair and Balanced" Fox News Wages Assault on Unions: Distorts Facts on the Employee Free Choice Act
Think Progress reports: "Yesterday, the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) — a bill that makes it easier for workers to form unions and prevent employer harassment and intimidation — was introduced in both the House and Senate. The bill allows workers to unionize if a majority agrees, rather than forcing them to go through the months-long and often fruitless process of negotiating with powerful employers for the right to organize."

Give Me a Union, Not a Wheelchair: The Case for EFCA
Mike Elk writes for The Campaign For America's Future: "Gestapo-style, union-busting tactics by employers have kept workers from exercising their right to join a union. Today, the fight for the Employee Free Choice Act, which would give workers a weapon against these tactics, is on in Congress. It's time to say, as one nurse in a union-organizing drive once said, 'I'm not going to let them put me in a wheelchair.'"

KS GOP Blocks Stimulus Funds for Higher Education
Our friends at Kansas Jackass write: "Sometimes I really just don't understand what gets into the Republican members of the Kansas House of Representatives."

We Are Breeding Ourselves to Extinction
Chris Hedges writes for Truthdig.com: "All measures to thwart the degradation and destruction of our ecosystem will be useless if we do not cut population growth. By 2050, if we continue to reproduce at the current rate, the planet will have between 8 billion and 10 billion people, according to a recent U.N. forecast. This is a 50 percent increase. And yet government-commissioned reviews, such as the Stern report in Britain, do not mention the word population. Books and documentaries that deal with the climate crisis, including Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” fail to discuss the danger of population growth. This omission is odd, given that a doubling in population, even if we cut back on the use of fossil fuels, shut down all our coal-burning power plants and build seas of wind turbines, will plunge us into an age of extinction and desolation unseen since the end of the Mesozoic era, 65 million years ago, when the dinosaurs disappeared."

Ask the Expert: Building a National Clean Energy Grid

Bracken Hendricks, Center for American Progess:

08 March 2009

Clippings for 8 March 2009 - International Women's Day

International Women's Day
For a history of International Women's Day please visit the official IWD wedsite at: http://www.internationalwomensday.com/about.asp

Life and Work: A Conversation for International Women’s Day
Gloria Feldt, Deborah Siegel, Elizabeth G. Hines, and Courtney E. Martin write for the Women's Media Center: "Isn’t that one of the identifying questions people ask new acquaintances? The four of us—feminists spanning five decades—might answer by describing the physical housing we find for ourselves in each of our generational lifecycles. But in a larger sense, a generation views the world from where it 'lives' and interacts uniquely with such circumstances as the current economic recession. "

Can We Talk? Teens Need a Realistic Dialogue About Sex and Contraceptives

Shannon Reed writes for the Women's Media Center: "'Life happens. Life happens and you deal with it.' It’s the kind of cliché we expect from someone when life inconveniences us in a minor way with a spilled coffee or a new cavity. Annoying, but relatively easy to deal. But it was a very major thing that Sarah Palin was talking about when she made the remark. The former Republican vice-presidential candidate was responding to Fox News journalist Greta Van Susteren when asked about how she took the news of her daughter Bristol’s pregnancy last year. In an interview with Van Susteren that aired last week, 18-year-old Bristol discussed life with her newborn son, Tripp, and Governor Palin popped in at the end to say a few words. Coverage of the interview focused on what Bristol had to say about teen abstinence—and more about that in a minute—but it’s the casualness of Sarah Palin’s remark that stuck a chord with me."

Nepalese Women Free From War but Not Violence
Rosalie Hughes, Reuters AlertNet: "As Ashmi's belly grew, so did the insults. Eventually they turned violent. A female neighbour spat on her. Two boys she'd grown up with pelted her with rocks on her way home from school one day. She no longer felt safe in her village. Her growing belly reminded her that two lives were in danger. When she was three months pregnant, Ashmi followed the advice of a community-based organisation and left her village for a women's shelter in the capital Kathmandu. Ashmi's story embodies the hundreds of stories represented in a recently released report by the International Rescue Committee, United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) and Saathi, a Nepali NGO. The report looks at gender-based violence in two districts of mid-west Nepal, through interviews with over 400 women and focus group discussions with men, women and children."

Recommended Video: Celebrating Women of their International Day
Juliana Rincón Parra writes for Global Voices: "International Women's Day has been celebrated since the early 1900s: at first as a reminder of all the wrongs done to womankind and the long hard row necessary to achieve equality and fight for women's rights. However, for the past few years, many of the original points of dissention have been resolved and right now the day is used to celebrate the positive improvements instead of a reminder of the bad events. And through poetry marches and songs, we'll see how people around the world do just that."

Q&A: "Time Has Come for a New UN Women's Agency"

Nergui Manalsuren reports for Inter Press Service: "After being blind for years to the needs and rights of women, the United Nations is finally well on its way to creating a 'fully resourced' women's agency, says Stephen Lewis, the former UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa."

Glenn Greenwald And Amy Goodman Share Inaugural Izzy Award For Independent Media
The Park Center for Independent Media (PCIM) at Ithaca College has announced that its first annual Izzy Award for special achievement in independent media will be shared this year by two pillars of independent journalism: blogger Glenn Greenwald and “Democracy Now!” host/executive producer Amy Goodman.

CIA Videotapes Depict "Enhanced Interrogation Methods"
Daphne Eviatar reports for The Washington Independent: "The CIA has reportedly just confirmed - conveniently late on a Friday afternoon - that 12 of the videotapes it destroyed while its interrogation methods were under investigation and the subject of a pending lawsuit depicted the 'enhanced interrogation methods' that detainees' advocates were worried about."

A Bank Bailout that Works

Joseph Stiglitz writes for The Nation: "The news that even Alan Greenspan and Senator Chris Dodd suggest that bank nationalization may be necessary shows how desperate the situation has become. It has been obvious for some time that a government takeover of our banking system--perhaps along the lines of what Norway and Sweden did in the '90s--is the only solution. It should be done, and done quickly, before even more bailout money is wasted. "

Follow the Stimulus Money
ProPublic is doing a series of articles to help people follow what happens with the stimulus money the Federal Government is pouring into the economy. Michael Garbell writes: "Piggybacking off my colleague Christopher Weaver’s post on state Web sites tracking the stimulus [1], here are the projects lists released by states and federal agencies. From highways to health centers and education to explosives detection, the data provides the clearest picture yet of how officials are spending the stimulus. Oddly enough, some of the lists aren’t on the state sites, or even Recovery.gov [2]."

Keeping People in their Homes
Our friends at KansasJackass write: "If you listen to Republicans, the only entities in this country that ever deserve a leg-up from the federal government are businesses. Be it bailouts or tax cuts, the only people Republicans ever uniformly want to help is corporations and big business."

Foreclosures Now Affecting 1 in 8 American Homeowners
J.W. Elphinstone reports for The Associated Press: "Foreclosures are spreading by epidemic proportions, expanding beyond a handful of problem states and now affecting almost 1 in every 8 American homeowners. It's an economic role-reversal: The economy, driven down by the collapse of the housing bubble, is causing the housing crisis to spread."\

Ten Things You Can Do to Stay in Your Home
The Nation and ACORN team up to provide homeowners the following advice: "Without resolving the chicken-egg question of which came first, the housing crisis or the banking crisis, we can say that the pace of foreclosures is accelerating with the downward economic slide. Every thirteen seconds, an American loses his/her home. In 2008, more than 2.3 million families faced foreclosure. If the government doesn't intervene in a muscular way, an estimated 6 million owners will lose their homes in the next three years. President Obama has proposed to attack the crisis with a $75 billion initiative, the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan. A commendable effort to directly address the problems faced by homeowners, the bill nevertheless has inherent limitations on who can benefit from it. "

The "American Consumer" Is Responsible for Narcotrafficking
In a wide-ranging interview with two journalists from Le Monde, Mexico's President Felipe Calderon avers that the first cause of drug trafficking (English translation by Truthout.org): "... is the American consumer. If the United States were not the biggest drug market in the world, we wouldn't have this problem. And there's also the arms trade. In two years, we've seized 33,000 weapons, 18,000 of them high caliber, rocket launchers, thousands of grenades, devices able to pierce armor plating. Now, the overwhelming majority of this materiel had been purchased in the United States, including materiel which is the exclusive property of the American Army. In 2004, (the Bush administration) lifted the prohibition that had previously been in place against the sale of these very dangerous weapons." For original French article click here.

Tradegy Strikes at Home: Soldier Suicides
Phil Aliff writes for CounterPunch: "In the early morning hours of October 20, 2008, Pfc. Timothy Alderman took his own life in his barracks at Fort Carson, Colo. He died of an apparent prescription drug overdose. The 21-year-old had been stationed in the Iraqi city of Ramadi. Before his long deployment to the Middle East, he had never suffered from any mental health problems. In fact, according to his medical records, he didn't think he would have difficulty returning home because he 'mostly had fun killing people and getting paid for it.'"

Tens of Thousands Have TBI, Officials Say
Kelly Kennedy reports for Army Times: "As Army officials announced the beginning of Brain Injury Awareness Month, they offered up a figure that makes it hard to believe anyone in the military could be unaware of the problem: Between 45,000 and 90,000 troops have been treated for traumatic brain injury symptoms ranging from headaches to vision problems to an inability to function beyond a coma state."

16,000 Unopened Claims Letters Hidden at VA Offices
Rick Maze reports for Army Times: "A new report about Veterans Affairs Department employees squirreling away tens of thousands of unopened letters related to benefits claims is sparking fresh concerns that veterans and their survivors are being cheated out of money."

State Court Hears Challenge to Proposition 8
Sam Ferguson comments for Truthout: "The issue of same-sex marriage was once again in the California Supreme Court Thursday. For three hours, the seven justices of the California Supreme Court grilled attorneys on the constitutionality of Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment restricting marriage to heterosexual couples, passed by voters last November. Though the court held last May that marriage must be extended to same-sex couples under the state's equal protection clause, it now seems reluctant to overturn a constitutional amendment from the voters rebuking the May decision."

Recommended Audio: Fairness in the Media
National Public Radio/KCBX Community Radio: Fairness: The Senate voted last week to ban the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine. The long-defunct broadcasting regulation that was taken off the books in 1987. The ban will also prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from encouraging broadcasters to air local news and information, children's programming and public safety alerts. Executive director of Free Press Josh Silver, says the move assures, "that all Americans benefit when there is diverse media ownership."

Rushing Towards Irrelevance

Joe Conason writes for Truthdig.com: "Once upon a time, conservatives liked to say that 'ideas matter.' They attributed this pithy slogan to Ayn Rand, venerated author of 'Atlas Shrugged' and 'The Virtue of Selfishness,' and tried to live by it, generating books, papers and legislative proposals by the dozen. Although many of their theories later proved flimsy, they at least attempted to address real problems with fresh thinking. But ideas no longer matter—and in fact they’re dangerous, according to the maximum leader of the right."

The Danger of Losing Ethnic Media
Sally Lehrman writes for the Boston Globe: "ASIANWEEK, San Francisco's English-language weekly for Asian Americans, and San Francisco Bay View, which has served the black community there for three decades, both have dumped their print editions. Siglo21, a Spanish-language paper published in Lawrence, is returning to publishing weekly after three months as a daily due to declining advertising. Ming Pao Daily in New York will shut down entirely, while Hoy New York abandoned print at the end of last year. At the venerable Ebony and Jet in Chicago, all employees must reapply for their jobs - that is, the jobs that remain."

Get Off the Bus
Amanda Michel writes for the Columbia Journalism Review: The pro-am journalism experiment OffTheBus demonstrates that the "mass amateurization" of journalism can provide real breakthroughs -- not only in the democratization of news and information, but also in bolstering the role of the media as a pillar of democracy.

American's Digital Divide: Millions in American Have Inferior Internet Access
Megan Tady, Internet for Everyone, writes for AlterNet: "don’t have access to high-speed Internet. According to a July 2007 study, 30 percent or more of the state's population in 21 rural counties did not have high-speed Internet connectivity. In many cases, telephone and cable companies have refused to provide service to people living in the remote and rural areas of the state, while some people are simply priced out of buying expensive broadband service."

Harlots High and Low: A Foul Saga in the History of Netwook TV
Alexander Cockburn writes for CounterPunch: "When I was a lad of fourteen, at school in Scotland, a news mogul tycoon called Roy Thompson used five simple words to describe the higher purpose of commercial television. 1955 was the year the BBC lost its monopoly on TV provision in Britain. The government handed out licenses to new broadcasting companies which, unlike the BBC, could run ads. This privilege was, Thompson publicly rejoiced, 'a license to print money.'”