'34 General Strike Laid Base for Counterculture
Fred Glass writes for the San Francisco Chronicle: "These days, when San Franciscans of a certain age respond to the visitors' (or their grandchildren's) query, "What made San Francisco different?" they tend to think culture. Beat poets, flower power and Castro Street are instantly recognizable tropes reflecting the city's historically tolerant attitudes and liberal politics."
Our Hunger for Cheap Meat Has Created Swine Flu
Johann Hari writes for the San Francisco Bay View: "A swelling number of scientists believe swine flu has not happened by accident. No, they argue this global pandemic - and all the deaths we are about to see - is the direct result of our demand for cheap meat. So is the way we produce our food really making us sick as a pig? At first glance, this seems wrong. All through history, viruses have mutated, and sometimes they have taken nasty forms that scythe through the human population. This is an inescapable reality we just have to live with, like earthquakes and tsunamis."
How "The NAFTA Flu" Exploded
Al Giordano reports for Narco News: "US and Mexico authorities claim that neither knew about the 'swine flu' outbreak until April 24. But after hundreds of residents of a town in Veracruz, Mexico, came down with its symptoms, the story had already hit the Mexican national press by April 5."
Sick System in the U.S. Helps Spread Swine Flu
Martha Burk and HeidI Hartmann write for the Huffington Post: "As of today, at least 132 cases of the swine flu have been confirmed in the United States, and hundreds more in other countries, prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare the situation a "public health emergency of international concern." The U.S. government followed suit, clearing the way for the distribution of antiviral drugs from a federal stockpile."
Don't Let Insurance Company Greed Block Swine Flu Response
John Nichols writes for The Nation: "Anyone who has had much experience with America's health care system knows that nurses are the essential players in making things work. So as the swine flu outbreak evolves into a genuine public health emergency - with cases being discovered in more states and the announcement by President Obama of the first death in the US - it is time to consult the nation's nurses."
Banksters Win One, Lose One in Congress
Bernie Horn, The Campaign for America's Future: "Yesterday, the US House of Representatives handed bankers in the credit card industry a defeat. But almost simultaneously, mortgage bankers won big in the Senate. Senator Richard Durbin lamented that the banks 'are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place.'"
Do They Frankly Own the Place? You Betcha!
Paul Blumenthal writes for The Huffington Post: "Earlier this week, Ryan Grimm reported on the words of Sen. Dick Durbin describing the power of the bankers and financial sector over Congress. Durbin remarked about the banking industry's relation with Congress by saying, "they frankly own the place." You would think that this might be an exaggeration, or just a rhetorical bit of anti-bank populism, but if you look at the numbers, Durbin isn't wrong. From 1997 to 2008, financial sector lobbying -- represented by the finance, insurance and real estate industries -- has amounted to fully 15% of all lobbying spending in Washington."
End of the Middle Class as We Know It
Marie Cocco writes for Truthdig: "This is how it ends. Or at least, this is how the latest, sad chapter in a story that has been ending for three decades is written. If Chrysler survives, it will be in partnership with the Italian automaker Fiat, an odd pairing for any number of reasons. If General Motors survives, it will be only because the government effectively took it over, ousted its management—and cleared the way for thousands upon thousands of workers to lose their jobs and the hard-won benefits that once made them symbols of a robust American middle class."
Rep. Jenkins Could Stand To Learn "A Thing Or Two About Handling Taxpayer Dollars"
Media Matters writes in response to Jenkin's Republican Radio Address this week: "In the Republican Radio Address set to air May 2, 2009, Rep. Lynn Jenkins claimed to "know a thing or two about handling taxpayer dollars." She must have forgotten that as state treasurer of Kansas she misallocated $15 million in taxpayer money AND played hookie as a trustee of a public retirement fund as it lost over $1 billion for Kansas workers."
Mortgaging the White House
Bill Moyers and Michael Winship comment for Truthout: "Your opinion of Obama's first 100 days depends, of course, on your own vantage point. But we'd argue that as part of his bending over backwards to support the banks and avoid the losers, he has blundered mightily in his choice of economic advisers."
Jenkins, Tiahrt Vote Against New Credit Card Rules
Jason at Kansas Jackass writes: "With another attempt to protect big business instead of average Americans, Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins and Congressman Todd Tiahrt voted against a bill that would protect people from predatory credit cared companies...Only 70 people voted against it, and two of our uber partisan Republican representatives were among them."
Secession-Ready Texas Has Received the Most Federal Disaster Assistance of Any State
Ali Flick writes for Think Progress: "Just weeks after declaring that Texas might secede from the union because “the federal government has become oppressive,” Gov. Rick Perry (R) today asked for more federal aid when he “issued a disaster declaration” because of the swine flu. Mother Jones’ Jonathan Stein found that, since the beginning of FEMA’s record-keeping, Texas has actually received more federal assistance from FEMA than any other state."
The Budget Fails!
Jason at Kansas Jackass writes: "The Kansas House of Representatives just defeated the budget proposal endorsed by the House Republican leadership, even after the body adopted an amendment to strip the proposed 5% pay cut for state employees out of the bill."
Torture Memos Expose Dark, Imperial Presidency
Robert S. Becker, Ph.D., writes on BeyondChron.org: "This was not a happy week for the torture lobby, nor its defenders, derailing months of charm offensive by Bush-Cheney legacy boosters. A wary President Obama backed off attempts to defuse the torture parade - fretting over divisive investigations and hard-to-win court convictions. Public indignation likely surpassed February polling when 65% favored torture investigations, 40% criminal prosecutions."
Andrew Hehir writes for "Beyond the Multiplex" on Salon.com: "Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Simone Bitton's documentary Rachel, which premiered this week at the Tribeca Film Festival, is what's not in it. Bitton, a Moroccan-born Jewish filmmaker who spent many years in Israel and now lives in France, conducts a philosophical and cinematic inquiry into the death of Rachel Corrie, the 23-year-old American activist who was killed under ambiguous circumstances in the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip in March 2003. But the political firestorm that followed Corrie's death, which saw her beatified as a martyr for peace by some on the left and demonized as a terrorist enabler by some on the right, is virtually absent from the film."
Recommended Audio: Listen to the interview with Simone Bitton.
How To Make a Film about Rachel Corrie
Human Rights in the Dust
Karen Greenberg writes for TomDispatch.com: "These days, it's virtually impossible to escape the world of torture the Bush administration constructed. Whether we like it or not, almost every day we learn ever more about the full range of its shameful policies, about who the culprits were, and just which crimes they might be prosecuted for. But in the morass of memos, testimony, op-eds, punditry, whistle-blowing, documents, and who knows what else, with all the blaming, evasion, and denial going on, somehow we've overlooked the most significant victim of all. One casualty of the Bush torture policies -- certainly, at least equal in damage to those who were tortured and the country whose laws were twisted and perverted in the process -- has been human rights itself. And no one even seems to notice."
Recommended Audio: Rain Forest Residents, Texaco Face Off in Ecuador
Juan Forero reports for National Public Radio: "A judge is preparing to render a decision in a long-running, multibillion-dollar lawsuit filed by residents of Ecuador's Amazonian rain forest against Texaco for fouling their land."
Air Pollution Endangers Lives of Six in Ten Americans
Environmental News Source reports: "Six out of every 10 Americans - 186.1 million people - live in areas where air pollution endangers lives, according to the 10th annual American Lung Association State of the Air report released today. Some of the biggest sources of air pollution - dirty power plants, dirty diesel engines and ocean-going vessels - also worsen global warming, the Lung Association says in State of the Air 2009. "
Book Review: Taking Inequality to Court
Maya Schenwar comments for Truthout: "'Equal' brings to light perhaps the most obstructive force in the fight for women's rights and liberation: the predicament of not being taken seriously. The book depicts the institutionalized stereotypes of vengeful wives bringing rape cases and vindictive female employees suing for sexual harassment, showcasing the overwhelming tendency of courts to 'disbelieve women.' During one sexual harassment case, the referee asks the plaintiff whether her boss was simply a 'pain in the neck.' When she responds emphasizing the situation's severity, the referee rejoins, 'Oh, so he's one of these Male Chauvinist Pigs?' The dismissive vibe makes its way all the way up to the Supreme Court: In attacking VAWA, Justice Rehnquist asserts that the federal courts should be reserved for 'important national interests.' Strebeigh wonders 'why the issue of violence against women was not important and not national.'"
Recommended Audio: Laura Flanders and GritTV for April 9
"The news this week has been bad for supporters of women's rights in at least three parts of the world." So began a blog post in the New York Times last Friday. One of those parts of the world was Pakistan—much in the news these days--where the flogging of a 17 year old girl in the Swat valley, who allegedly had an affair, has been circulated widely on line. But what does that video say? About women's rights around the globe and about the US role in Afghanistan? Over here, in the United States, however, it didn't take long for Michelle Obama’s fashion and the sex lives of Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston to dominate national coverage. To unpack the big stories of the past week--the politics of gender, sexual identity, and power--are Michelle Goldberg, journalist and author most recently of The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World, Rebecca Traister a regular contributor to Salon, and The Nation’s Associate Editor Richard Kim.
Culture of Unpunished Sexual Assault in Military
Dahr Jamail writes for Inter Press Service: "Sexual assault of women serving in the US military, while brought to light in recent reports, has a long tradition in that institution. Women in America were first allowed into the military during the Revolutionary War in 1775, and their travails are as old."
O'Reilly Calls Kelly McGillis a Pinhead – For Coming Out as a Lesbian
Julie writes for News Hounds: "And now on Bill O'Reilly's Pinhead front . . . Top Gun star Kelly McGillis got O'Reilly's top billing for saying that 'she's looking for a few good women – she's a lesbian.' O'Reilly, clearly in disbelief, quoted her as saying, 'I'm done with the man thing.' With video."