Joe Conason comments for Truthdig.com: "The puzzling thing about politicians of either party who claim to be "centrist" or "moderate" is how much they sometimes sound like party-line right-wing Republicans. Distinguishing among these species of politicians can be almost impossible during the current struggle over health care reform, especially when a senator like Blanche Lambert Lincoln of Arkansas tries to explain herself."
This Is George Bush's Recession: Why Doesn't Anybody Talk About That?
Joshau Holland writes for AlterNet: "In October, Barack Obama told a San Francisco audience about what it was like trying to deal with an economy he’d inherited in smoking ruins last January. “I'm busy … cleaning up somebody else's mess,” he said. “We don't want somebody sitting back saying, you're not holding the mop the right way… That's a socialist mop." As the audience applauded the line, Obama challenged Republicans to 'Grab a mop, let's get to work.'"
Obama's Profile in Courage, or Cave-In?
Ray McGovern writes for Truthout: "'It took a lot of courage on Kennedyís part to defy the Pentagon, defy the military - and do the right thing,' said Col. Larry Wilkerson, USA (ret.), according to Robert Dreyfuss in his recent Rolling Stone article 'The Generalsí Revolt.' ... Wilkerson, who was chief of staff at the State Department (2002-2005) and now teaches at George Washington University, was alluding to President John F. Kennedyís courage in 1962, when he faced down his top generals and refused to bomb Cuba and risk nuclear war."
Rumsfeld Decision Let Bin Laden Escape: Senate Report
Andrew Gully reports for Agence France-Press: "Osama bin Laden was 'within the grasp' of US forces in late 2001 but escaped because then-defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld rejected calls for reinforcements, a hard-hitting US Senate report says. The report, set for release Monday, is intended to help learn the lessons of the past as President Barack Obama prepares to announce a major escalation of the conflict, now in its ninth year, with up to 35,000 more US troops."
Recommended Audio: Scahill and Olbermann on Blackwater: Murderous Crusaders for Christ
In the window below, see frequent AlterNet contributor, Jeremy Scahill, discusses Blackwater on Keith Olbermann's show. If you missed it last Tuesday, be sure to check out Jeremy's piece on the shady mercenary firm's secret war in Pakistan.
Fraud Hits Disabled Veterans
Jim Wyss reports for the Miami Herald: "Millions of dollars worth of government contracts designated for service-disabled veterans are being siphoned off by fraud and abuse, according to a recent government report. In a case-study of 10 firms, including one Florida company, the Government Accountability Office found ineligible companies had won about $100 million worth of contracts earmarked for service-disabled veteran-owned companies. The 'program is vulnerable to fraud and abuse, which could result in legitimate service-disabled veterans losing contracts to ineligible firms,' according to the report, which was presented to Congress last week."
Colbert Conservatives and Military Waste
David Sirota writes for Truthdig: "Pop quiz—name the political leader who said the following: 'We must be willing to pull the plug before sinking more dollars into weapons that do not provide what our warriors need.' Now name the leader who said this: '[W]e cannot track $2.3 trillion in [Pentagon spending]. ... We maintain 20 to 25 percent more base infrastructure than we need to support our forces, at an annual waste to taxpayers of some $3 billion to $4 billion. ... There are those who will oppose every effort to save taxpayers’ money. ... Well, fine, if there’s to be a struggle, so be it.' I’m willing to bet many self-described 'conservatives' guessed Ralph Nader and Dennis Kucinich. I would make that wager based on the enraged response to my recent column about government data showing that our waste-ridden, $600-billion-a-year defense budget will cost about seven times more than the health care legislation currently before Congress."
White House's Ties to Health Care Industry Deeper Than Visitor Records Show
Daniela Perdomo reports for AlterNet: "In August, the Associated Press asked the Obama White House -- which has promised to be the most transparent administration 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has ever seen -- to release information on all communications between top staff and health care industry bigwigs. The call went unanswered, so in September the AP downgraded its request to a log of health care-related visits to those same top White House officials. On Wednesday, the White House released records of 575 such visits since Jan. 20. It catalogs meetings with 22 top Obama aides including chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and senior advisers Valerie Jarrett, David Axelrod, and Pete Rouse."
Give Thanks to Kathleen Sebelius for Saving 47,000 Women
George Lakoff comments for Truthout: "Cost-benefit analysis can kill. The failure to distinguish statistics from arithmetic can kill. In the current debate over mammograms, the number of women projected to be at risk of death due to cost-benefit analysis is about 47,000. That is the approximate number the United States Preventive Services Task Force projected to die if its recommendations on scaling back mammograms had been accepted. It is their number, if you do the arithmetic, which they apparently did not."
Books, Not Bombs
Amy Goodman writes for Truthdig.com: "California campuses have been rocked by protests this past week, provoked by massive student fee increases voted on by the University of California Board of Regents. After a year of sequential budget cuts, faculty and staff dismissals and furloughs, and the elimination of entire academic departments, the 32 percent fee increase proved to be the trigger for statewide actions of an unprecedented scale. With President Barack Obama’s Afghanistan war strategy—which, according to one leak, will include a surge of 35,000 troops—soon to be announced, the juxtaposition of education cuts and military increases is incensing many, and helping to build a movement."
Charter Schools Excacerbate Ethnic, Racial and Class Divisions while Feeding into a Politics Public Meltdown
Danny Well reports for The Daily Censored: "In a study of ethnic and class stratification in fifty-five urban and fifty-seven rural charter schools in Arizona done for the Education Policy Analysis, a nonprofit think-tank some ten years ago, researchers noted that nearly half the charter schools studied exhibited evidence of substantial ethnic separation (Cobb and Glass 1999, 1). They concluded that subtle exclusionary practices among charter schools, including initial parent contacts and the provision of transportation, had an appreciable affect on ethnic and racial segregation in charter schools:"
State Charter Schools Program Is 'Out of Control'
Tony Kennedy writes for the Minneapolis-St. Paul StarTribune: "Minnesota's charter school movement, which sparked a national rethinking of public schooling nearly two decades ago, has been infected by an out-of-control financing system fueled by junk bonds, insider fees and lax oversight. State law prohibits charter schools from owning property, but consultants have found a legal loophole, allowing proponents to use millions of dollars in public money to build schools even though the properties remain in the hands of private nonprofit corporations."
Learning How to Count to 350
Rebecca Solnit writes for TomDispatch.com: "Next month, at the climate change summit in Copenhagen, the wealthy nations that produce most of the excess carbon in our atmosphere will almost certainly fail to embrace measures adequate to ward off the devastation of our planet by heat and chaotic weather. Their leaders will probably promise us teaspoons with which to put out the firestorm and insist that springing for fire hoses would be far too onerous a burden for business to bear. They have already backed off from any binding deals at this global summit."
Purloined E-Mails Don’t Change the Facts
Eugene Robinson writes for Truthdig: "Stop hyperventilating, all you climate change deniers. The purloined e-mail correspondence published by skeptics last week—portraying some leading climate researchers as petty, vindictive and tremendously eager to make their data fit accepted theories—does not prove that global warming is a fraud. If I’m wrong, somebody ought to tell the polar ice caps that they’re free to stop melting."
The Real Scandal Over Climate Change Isn't About Hacked Emails But the Media's Coverage
Alex Steffen writes for World Changing (via AlterNet): "There's been a lot of talk recently about the "hacked climate emails." Long story, short: Hacker steals email, posts. Wingnuts take some lines out of context, claim they show a cover-up, cry conspiracy. Scientists refute, in detail. Media covers "controversy." Driven by talk radio and oil money, the whole thing escalates into a scandal."
‘The Family’ Behind Proposed Ugandan Law that Would Execute HIV+ Men
Stephen Webster writes for The Raw Story: "The African nation of Uganda is weighing a bill that would impose the death penalty on HIV positive men who have committed what it calls 'aggravated homosexuality.' As if that were not shocking enough, a U.S. author is claiming that a secretive group of American politicians appear to be a driving force in seeing the proposal become law. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009, heavily supported by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, was first read in October, triggering a wave of condemnation. According to the gay blog Queerty, Joann Lockard, public affairs officer at the Kampala, Uganda embassy, said the law would 'constitute a significant step backwards for the protection of human rights in Uganda.'"
Libraries Dying for Bandwidth — Where's the Fiber (and Cash)?
Nate Anderson writes for Ars Technica: "Most of America's libraries make it a part of their mission to offer Internet access to anyone in the community, but a severe bandwidth crunch is hobbling those efforts. That's one of the conclusions reached by the American Library Association, which says that 59.6 percent of American libraries 'report their connectivity speed is inadequate some or all of the time to meet patrons' needs.'"
Net Neutrality at Home Is Key to Promoting Democracy Abroad, say White House, State Department
Marvin Ammori reports for the Huffington Post: "If we as a nation don't preserve Network Neutrality at home, we undermine our diplomacy goals and pro-democracy initiatives abroad. So say senior officials at the State Department and the White House, who spoke Thursday at an academic conference organized by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Their comments came just days after President Obama praised Net Neutrality during his visit to China and attributed some of his electoral success to the Internet."
Telcos to FCC: Give Us Billions, but Don't Make Us Share Lines
Matthew Lasar reports for Ars Technica: "It was a report that went right to the roots of United States broadband policy, so it should come as no surprise that it's getting hammered by the telecommunications industry. Harvard's Berkman Center study of global broadband practices, produced at the FCC's request, is an 'embarrassingly slanted econometric analysis that violates professional statistical standards and is insufficiently reliable to provide meaningful guidance,' declares AT&T. The study does does nothing but promote the lead author's "own extreme views," warns a response from Verizon Wireless. Most importantly, it "should not be relied upon by the FCC in formulating a National Broadband Plan," concludes the United States Telecom Association."