John Nichols writes for The Nation: "The Obama administration and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are aggressively whipping House Democrats to support the 2009 war supplemental bill that seeks to steer another $100 billion in US tax dollars into the quagmires of Iraq and Afghanistan while at the same time squandering at least $5 billion on the failed economic schemes of the International Monetary Fund ... This is a very bad bill."
Sotomayor & Identity Politics
Eyal Press writes for The Nation: "Take the time, if you haven't already, to read the following post on Sonia Sotomayor and identity politics, by my good friend Ta-Nehisi Coates, a blogger at The Atlantic. In addition to being an original thinker with a highly original voice, Ta-Nehisi is the son of a black nationalist. I am the grandson of a Jewish nationalist (i.e. a Zionist). We've thus spent many evenings exchanging notes about what Ta-Nehisi once called ‘the perils and boons' of nationalism – the air of superiority but also the sense of empowerment that can be wrung out of thinking in terms of ethnic/racial categories and groups."
Why Have We Stopped Talking About Guns?
Bill Moyers and Michael Winship write for Truthout: "There is much talk about hate talk; hate crimes against blacks, whites, immigrants, Muslims, Jews; about violence committed in the name of bigotry or religion. But why don't we talk about guns?"
The Lone Wolves Among Us
Eugene Robinson writes for Truthdig: "We are blessed to live at a time when violent acts of hatred based on race, ethnicity or religion have become rare, at least in this country. As the act of terrorism committed Wednesday at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum should remind us, though, rare doesn’t mean nonexistent."
Homegrown Hate Groups Increase in Number
Mara Schiavocampo reports for NBC News: "The SPLC has been tracking hate groups for almost 30 years. In its spring 2009 Intelligence Report, they found that 926 hate groups are currently operating in the U.S., an all-time high. These groups include the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, racist skinheads and Black separatists. Potok attributes this rise in hate groups to the recession, the election of the nation's first black president, and the immigration debate."
Right-wing Media and the Fringe: A growing history of violence (and denial)
Media Matters for America produces the following video:
John Santore writes for Media Matters: "This week, the country's attention was captured by the horrific shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, allegedly by James W. von Brunn, an 88-year-old man with ties to white supremacist and anti-Semitic organizations. The fatal shooting came just two months after an April 7 Department of Homeland Security report detailing potential increases in right-wing extremism."
About that DHS Report
Karl Frish writes for Media Matters: "Fringe extremism is a scary, sometimes deadly reality, regardless of the ideology that creates it. In early April, a Department of Homeland Security report detailing potential increases in right-wing extremism was made public. The report concluded that 'rightwing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about several emergent issues. The economic downturn and the election of the first African American president present unique drivers for rightwing radicalization and recruitment.' The report also cited as potential mobilizing issues for right-wing extremism 'immigration and citizenship, the expansion of social programs to minorities, and restrictions on firearms ownership and use.'"
Bailout Bank Execs Get Payouts
Paul Keil reports for ProPublica: "Yesterday, the Treasury Department released new rules  on how much banks that received TARP money can pay their executives. Among the rules is one that prohibits golden parachutes – defined as any payment to a departing exec simply because the exec is leaving. But an examination of public filings shows that a number of executives at banks that received TARP funds have received large payments just for resigning. It’s unclear if the new rules will apply retroactively."
Senators Held Stock in Bailed-Out Banks
Reid Wilson and Kevin Bogardus report for The Hill: "Senators who oversee the $700 billion Wall Street rescue package held stocks in many of the banks bailed out towards the end of last year, according to financial disclosure reports released Friday."
Goodbye to Cheap Oil
Michael T. Klare writes for TomDispatch.com: "Every summer, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the US Department of Energy issues its International Energy Outlook (IEO) - a jam-packed compendium of data and analysis on the evolving world energy equation. For those with the background to interpret its key statistical findings, the release of the IEO can provide a unique opportunity to gauge important shifts in global energy trends, much as reports of routine Communist Party functions in the party journal Pravda once provided America's Kremlin watchers with insights into changes in the Soviet Union's top leadership circle."
ACLU Challenges Defense Department Personnel Policy to Regard Lawful Protests As 'Low-Level Terrorism”
ACLU as reported on CommonDreams: "Anti-terrorism training materials currently being used by the Department of Defense (DoD) teach its personnel that free expression in the form of public protests should be regarded as "low level terrorism." ACLU attorneys are calling the approach "an egregious insult to constitutional values" and have sent a letter to the Department of Defense demanding that the offending materials be changed and that the DoD send corrective information to all DoD employees who received the erroneous training."
John Yoo Ordered to Testify on Torture.
Think Progress reports: The New York Times reports that a federal judge in California has ruled that former Bush administration lawyer John Yoo will have to testify in court about accusations that his work led to the torture of a detainee:
Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley has said that Yoo’s memos “provide the very definition of tyranny.”
The government had asked Judge Jeffrey S. White of Federal District Court in San Francisco to dismiss the case filed by Jose Padilla, an American citizen who spent more than three years in a military brig as an enemy combatant. Judge White denied most elements of Mr. Yoo’s motion and quoted a passage from the Federalist Papers that in times of war, nations, to be more safe, “at length become willing to run the risk of being less free.”
Conversation With Henry Giroux: (Part II) Let Us Make Haste While We Can
Tolu Olorunda of The Black Commentator continues his interview with Henry Giroux on the American education system.
Depraved Injustice and the Privatization of the Global Freshwater Commons
Frank Joseph Smecker writes for Dissident Voice: "Around the world, scarcity of potable water is becoming a portentous matter. Admonishing phrases like 'water is the next oil,' and 'wells are running dry' have percolated their way into the collective lexicon of global issues. Rivers and streams are vanishing, and the desiccation and depletion of entire watersheds and aquifers is increasing the world over. Desperately seeking a reason for the withering away of drinkable water and the silencing of gushing streams, it becomes obvious that there is not one sole factor contributing to this dire situation, but many. Global warming and climate change, industrial modes of production, dam construction, and water privatization all conduce to the problem of water scarcity."
Federal Agent Sacked for Reporting Illegal Cougar Kills
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility report: "A federal agent who reported that his colleagues had illegally used government airplanes to hunt mountain lions was fired in retaliation, according to filings released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The legal complaint filed by Gary Strader, a professional hunter for US Wildlife Services, is one of the first whistleblower cases arising during the Obama administration. How the case is handled may give important clues as to whether civil servants can expect a respite from the heavy-handed personnel practices that characterized the Bush administration. Gary Strader worked for Wildlife Services, an arm of the US Department of Agriculture, as a hunter and tracker, principally of coyotes, out of the agency's Ely, Nevada office. His job was abruptly eliminated after he reported both to his regional office, as well as the FBI, that his agency co-workers had illegally shot as many as five mountain lions from government airplanes."
Why So Scared of a Public Plan?
Joe Conason writed for Truthdig: "Within the coming weeks, Americans will begin to consider critical issues concerning the future of health care for themselves and their children, including universal coverage, taxation of benefits, computerized records and the controlling of costs. But before the debate commences in Congress and the media, big insurance and pharmaceutical companies are lobbying frantically (and spending millions of dollars) to foreclose the possibility of the most promising aspect of health care reform: a public insurance option."
Who Will Be at the Table? PhRMA and AMA join forces with insurers
Trudy Leiberman writes for the Columbia Journalism Review: "During the campaign, Barack Obama promised his cheering crowds that, when he rolled up his sleeves to work on health care, he would "have insurance company representatives and drug company representatives at the table. They just won't be able to buy every chair." Now is a good time to look at just what kind of seats special interest groups are having at Obama's table and what they're doing to bring the public around to their ways of thinking. This is the ninth of an occasional series of posts that will analyze their activities and how the media are covering them. The entire series is archived here.
The Rise of Single-Payer Health Care
David Swanson writes for Truthout: "Health care reform plans are being drafted and passed around on both sides of Capitol Hill, but the plan with the greatest number of Congressional members behind it was first introduced as a bill six years ago. With two new co-sponsors having just signed on, Congressman John Conyers's single-payer health care plan, HR 676, now has 80 Congress members supporting it."
Students Draw the Line on Sexual Violence
Stephanie Gilmore writes for On the Issues Magazine: "'Sexual violence is a problem on this campus!' 'Your silence will not protect you!' 'What do we want? Safety! When do we want it? Now!' On the limestone steps of Old West, outside the admissions building where campus tours for new students and their parents begin and end, and in front of the Board of Trustees, hundreds of students shouted these chants throughout the day on April 24, 2009, at a protest against sexual assault and rape at Dickinson College, a selective liberal arts college in Carlisle, Pennsylvania."
"Common Ground" Is Reducing the Need for Abortion
Rev. Debra W. Haffner writes for The Women's Media Center: "[we have] an opportunity to reach across the divide on abortion to forge ahead toward a goal that surely is common ground - to reduce the need for abortion by reducing the incidence of unwanted pregnancy. And it's an opportunity to uphold the moral agency of women in making the decisions that are right for their individual circumstances. That's how we can honor George Tiller, whose motto was 'trust women.'"
Recommended Audio: The Human Toll of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
This video clip, the spouse of a gay soldier stationed in Iraq discusses the difficulties of having his partner in harm's way without either one being able to be open about their status because of the military's gay ban. The narrator of the clip is not shown, nor is his name disclosed, out of concern that his partner would be outed and discharged for being gay.
DOJ Moves to Dismiss First Fed Gay Marriage Case
Linda Deutsch reports for Associate Press: "The U.S. Justice Department has moved to dismiss the first gay marriage case filed in federal court, saying it is not the right venue to tackle legal questions raised by a couple already married in California. The motion, filed late Thursday, argued the case of Arthur Smelt and Christopher Hammer does not address the right of gay couples to marry but rather questions whether their marriage must be recognized nationwide by states that have not approved gay marriage."