Julian Sanchez writes for The Nation: "We know the rules by now, the strange conventions and stilted Kabuki scripts that govern our cartoon facsimile of a national security debate. The Obama administration makes vague, reassuring noises about constraining executive power and protecting civil liberties, but then merrily adopts whatever appalling policy George W. Bush put in place. Conservatives hit the panic button on the right-wing noise machine anyway, keeping the delicate ecosystem in balance by creating the false impression that something has changed. We've watched the formula play out with Guantánamo Bay, torture prosecutions and the invocation of "state secrets." We appear to be on the verge of doing the same with national security surveillance."
In the Name of Fighting Terror
Dinyar Godrej writes for The New Internationalist: "On 30 July 2005, Masood Janjua, a Rawalpindi entrepreneur, set off for a bus trip to Peshawar – and vanished without a trace. A friend he was supposed to be travelling with, Faisal Faraz, also disappeared. The bus company confirmed bookings in the men’s names but in the short distance from their homes to the bus station, it seemed as if they had slipped into another dimension. Most of us have, at some point, experienced the failure of a loved one to turn up at the expected time and place, and the delirium that follows. The repeated checking of the clock, the monitoring of the silent phone, the paranoid worst-case scenarios ticked off by a racing mind. As time slips by, numerous internal struggles start – should one call the police or is it too early? Should the missing person be worried over or blamed for not arriving? Had anything happened in the past days that could have prompted this absence?"
Uncle Sam in Afghanistan
Norman Solomon writes for CounterPunch: "Almost eight years after choosing Hamid Karzai to head the Afghan government, Uncle Sam would like to give him a pink slip. But it’s not easy. And the grim fiasco of Afghanistan’s last election is shadowing the next. Another display of electioneering and voting has been ordered up from Washington. But after a chemical mix has blown a hole through the roof -- with all the elements for massive fraud still in place -- what’s the point of throwing together the same ingredients? This time, the spinners in Washington hope to be better prepared."
Judge Refuses to Dismiss War Crimes Case Against Blackwater
Jeremy Scahill writes for The Nation: "On Wednesday, a federal judge rejected a series of arguments by lawyers for the mercenary firm formerly known as Blackwater seeking to dismiss five high-stakes war crimes cases brought by Iraqi victims against both the company and its owner, Erik Prince. At the same time, Judge T.S. Ellis III sent the Iraqis' lawyers back to the legal drawing board to amend and refile their cases, saying that the Iraqi plaintiffs need to provide more specific details on the alleged crimes before a final decision can be made on whether or not the lawsuits will proceed."
Trade Your Job
Valerie Saturen writes in Yes! Magazine: "In the last 30 years, wages have dropped for people without college degrees. But in Pierce County, Washington, high school students who aren't headed for college are learning to retrofit houses; they stand to make up to $50 an hour once they're experienced journeymen. In Lansing, Michigan, unemployed auto workers can get up to $10,000 to train for new careers in renewable energy. These people, and others nationwide, are part of a rapidly expanding market for green-collar workers."
Freddie Mac, Given Oversight of Mortgage Mod Program, Falls Down on Job
Paul Kiel reports for ProPublica: "Since its March launch, the government's $50 billion program to prevent foreclosures has been marked by confusion, delays and doubts. A little-noticed conclusion in a government report released on Wednesday reveals that the program's auditor is no different: Freddie Mac - yes, that Freddie Mac - has been given responsibility for auditing the program. And it turns out, Freddie is stuck at square one."
Playing Monopoly with America's Health
Jon Conason writes for Truthdig.com: "Popular disgust over the fat premiums that financial executives bestow upon themselves is burgeoning, and rightly so. Those Wall Street piggy banks are filling up with billions upon billions of government-subsidized dollars. But anyone infuriated by the grossly inflated compensation of the masters of finance should check out the incredible earnings of the top executives in the health insurance business. They’re among the most highly paid suits in the country—not owing to any skill in providing health care, which they don’t do, but because they have succeeded in denying care, quashing competition, driving up costs and winning federal subsidies for their companies."
Not Dead Yet
William Rivers Pitt comments for Truthout: "For the last several weeks, politicians, political action groups and pundits have been declaring the 'Public Option' portion of President Obama's health care reform push all but dead. Republicans, with typical shoulder-to-shoulder unanimity, have been shouting it down with bull-throated ferocity. Well-heeled interest groups have been spraying the airways with anti-public-option propaganda."
The Cost of Being a Woman
Srah Kliff writes for Newsweek: "At a recent Capitol Hill press conference on women and health care reform, Sen. Barbara Mikulski started things off with rallying cry: "Equal insurance for equal premiums!" Four female senators spent the event discussing disparities women face in the individual health-care market, where eight states and D.C. consider domestic abuse a preexisting condition and maternity coverage is often lacking. Chief among concerns about health-care discrimination is gender rating, the health-insurance practice of charging different premiums based on gender. Mikulski reiterated the point on Larry King last Thursday: 'Just like we didn't get equal pay for equal work, we haven't got equal insurance benefits for equal insurance premiums.'"
Blinded by Reform
Mike Rose writes for Truthdig.com: "It’s gotten lost in the splashier news, but big things are going on at the U.S. Department of Education. Following on the unprecedented federal reach of No Child Left Behind, the Obama administration is extending further and putting serious money behind its education initiatives, inviting states and districts to compete for federal dollars. The department wants to increase the community college graduation rate. For K-12, it wants to stimulate the production of better state standards and tests, measure teacher effectiveness, turn around failing schools and increase the number of charter schools. Through a third initiative it wants to spark innovation and scale up the best of local academic programs."
Taking Stock in Our Children's Education
Danny Weil writes for The Daily Censored: "Your public schools are failing and your children aren’t learning. The school system is choked by bureaucracy and over-regulation and it is being held hostage by teacher unions that won’t respond to parents’ concerns nor adopt meaningful reforms. Principals are weak and refuse to fire teachers who underperform. The public schools are overcrowded and in disrepair and state and local municipalities are broke and cannot afford the cost of curriculum, books, and repairs to the infrastructure of schools, not to mention the personnel, supplies and technology needed to educate students. What can be done? Privatize the management of schools, says the burgeoning educational industry; only a huge, vibrant and creative private sector can fix what is ailing schools, parents and their children."
Why You Should Care About Net Neutrality
Leslie Harris comments for ABC News: "You've probably heard the term or read it online and simply skipped past it without a second thought. Maybe it seemed abstract, arcane or a bit geeky, not something you as an Internet user needed to worry about. But now it's time to pay attention, because this week the Federal Communications Commission turned up the heat on a long-simmering debate known as 'Internet neutrality.'"
Fighting net neutrality, telecom companies, outside lobbyists, cluster contributions to members of Congress
Bill Allison writes for the Sunlight Foundation: "While the Federal Communications Commission considers the first steps toward ensuring net neutrality–making certain that broadband providers do not discriminate against high traffic sites–the telecom firms that would be affected by the rules and their trade groups have been swamping Congress with a one-two punch of campaign contributions from the companies and their registered lobbyists. Some 244 members of Congress were the beneficiaries of these contribution clusters–totaling more than $9.4 million–from January 2007 to June 2009, an investigative collaboration of the Sunlight Foundation and the Center for Responsive Politics has found. Telecom interests and their lobbyists engaged in more clustered giving than any industry save pharmaceuticals."
McCain Introduces Bill to Block Net Neutrality
Republican strategy is to paint Net neutrality as government 'control' of Internet
Daniel Tenscer writes for The Raw Story: "Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) introduced a bill in the Senate on Thursday that would effectively allow Internet service providers to slow down or block Internet content or applications of their choosing. The move came the same day as the federal government decided to move forward on an official Net neutrality policy that would prevent ISPs from making those types of decisions."
AT&T "Encourages" Employees and Their Families to Complain to the FCC about Net Neutrality
Matt Buchanan writes for Gizmodo: "Remember the Comcastard-stacked FCC hearing on BitTorrent? AT&T thinks that's a good strategy, since AT&T's main lobbyist sent a letter to
Grayson: Fox News in the 'Enemy of America"
David Edwards and Muriel Kane write for The Raw Story: "Since the Obama administration began accusing Fox News of being "a wing of the Republican Party," the war of words has intensified. The latest counterattack from Fox's defenders is the claim that the White House is putting Fox on a Nixon-like enemies list, a list which Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) describes as also including the insurance companies and the US Chamber of Commerce. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), however, believes that an enemies list is exactly where Fox belongs.
Recommended Video: The Ten Most Egregious Fox News Distortions
The Huffington Post: "Fox News has defended itself against administration criticism by saying the White House has confused its pundit shows with its news programs. But the network constantly, misleadingly disparages Obama and his administration in its supposedly straight reporting. Here are the ten of the worst examples; there are many more."