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

30 November 2009

Clippings for 19 November 2009

Understanding Our Hollow Centrist
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."

Recommended Video: Bagram Prison Exposed
 New from Robert Greenwald, this video interviews two brothers and former prisoners at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, who give their testimony about the harsh abuse they witnessed while being captured. Their tale is an example of just how difficult and complex the situation in Afghanistan is.

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."

23 November 2009

Clippings for 22 November 2008

Our clippings service will be taking a week off for the Thanksgiving holiday. We will begin posting again November 30th.

Holiday Season Memo: How to Shop Sweatshop-Free
Diana Noval writes for In These Times: "This holiday season, give gifts that only come at a cost to you by thinking about who made them. The next four weeks or so are a perfect time to consider those who labor to make what sits on America's shelves. When you head off to the mall with your list of who has been naughty and nice, don't forget to read the "Shop With a Conscience Consumer Guide" from Sweat Free Communities and take along this "Sweatshop Hall of Shame report " (PDF link). The resources, compiled by the International Labor Rights Forum and SweatFree Communities, respectively, make it easy to support fair labor during this stressful time."

4 Tips for Less Thanksgiving Waste
Kiera Butler writes for MotherJones: "Thanksgiving is here. Family! Friends! Food! Leftovers! Garbage. This year I'm going to try really hard not to make a trough of stuffing so immense that half of it ends up in the compost bin.  A new study from the British anti-food-waste group Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) found that the average British household produces 463 pounds of avoidable food and drink waste per year, the packaging, shipping, distribution, and cooking of which creates the equivalent of 1,764 pounds of CO2. That's about the same as all the members of a household flying from NYC to Charleston, South Carolina, or a quarter of the emissions produced by a household's yearly driving miles."

Real Simple Economics
Katrina Vander Heuvel comments for The Nation: "Chuck Collins, co-founder of United for a Fair Economy and a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, describes the difference between this financial crisis and those of the past. 'The risk of this economic crisis is that people stay isolated, hunkered down and afraid,' Collins says. 'What's different from the serious economic crises of the past is the much greater potential for fragmentation and isolation--because we've lived through a couple generations of 'you are on your own' economics. So the idea that we can trust any kind of shared response is broken.'"

Economic Crisis Is Getting Bloody -- Violent Deaths Are Now Following Evictions, Foreclosures and Job Losses
Nick Truse reports for AlterNet: "In 2007, Jason Rodriguez was fired from his position at an Orlando, Florida engineering firm and ended up taking a job as a "sandwich artist" at a Subway restaurant. His salary was cut nearly in half and his debts mounted until, last May, he filed for bankruptcy, listing his assets at just over $4,600 and his liabilities at nearly $90,000. Although he lived only 30 minutes away, according to his former mother-in-law, America Holloway, Rodriguez barely saw his son. When the boy asked why his father didn't visit, Holloway said Rodriguez told him: 'Because I don't have any money. I don't have a job. I don't have anything to eat. When things get better, I'll come see you.'"

Are the Criticisms of the Gov’s Stimulus Site Legit?
Jennifer LaFleur and Michael Grabell report for ProPublica: "Stimulus critics were abuzz [1] this week flogging the federal Web site Recovery.gov [2] for flaws in its first big data release. Problems ranged from confusing variation and gaps in job numbers to mistakes that put projects in nonexistent congressional districts [3] to spending that never made it into the data. Even stimulus backers demanded fixes. Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations [4] and one of the chief architects of the nearly $800 billion stimulus package, demanded that the Obama administration “correct the ludicrous mistakes.”

Bush Officials Knew AIG Would Use Bailout Funds to Pay Counterparties
Mary Susan Littlepage reports for Truthout: "Government officials were aware that billions of dollars used to bail out American International Group (AIG) last year were used by the insurance giant to pay off its creditors, according to a newly released government watchdog report."

Has "Nation Building" Ever Worked?
Michael Collins writes for The Daily Censored: "November 21, 2009 was a bad day for Afghanistan if you look at the news reports.   That’s nothing new.  Afghanistan has had decades of bad days since the Soviet invasion and the civil war sustained by U.S. financial and intelligence efforts in partnership with the Pakistani intelligence community. There are two assumptions that justify the essential role of the question in any further effort by the United States in Afghanistan.  100,000 of the finest troops in the world can’t subjugate  a nation of 31 million people indefinitely.  In order to achieve the “mission,” there must be a viable government with the motivation and ability to keep in check those forces dangerous to the U.S.  These two assumptions form the criteria for 'nation building' (or 'state building')."

US Pours Millions into Anti-Taliban Militias in Afghanistan
John Boone reports for the Guardian UK: "US special forces are supporting anti-Taliban militias in at least 14 areas of Afghanistan as part of a secretive programme that experts warn could fuel long-term instability in the country. The Community Defence Initiative (CDI) is enthusiastically backed by Stanley McChrystal, the US general commanding Nato forces in Afghanistan, but details about the programme have been held back from non-US alliance members who are likely to strongly protest. The attempt to create what one official described as "pockets of tribal resistance" to the Taliban involves US special forces embedding themselves with armed groups and even disgruntled insurgents who are then given training and support."

Thousands Demand Closure of Fort Benning's School of the Americas
Scott Galindez reprots for Turthout: "This weekend, thousands of people gathered at the gates of Ft. Benning to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the killings of 14-year-old Celia Ramos, her mother Elba Ramos and the six Jesuit priests with whom she worked at the Central American University in San Salvador. Nearly 5,000 people are gathered in the pouring rain according to Larry White, a protester who spoke to Truthout. Earlier in the day, following a rally featuring a performance by the Indigo Girls, activists participated in the yearly "presente march," ending at Ft. Benning. During the march, activists carried crosses with the names of the victims of brutal repression in Central America. According to White, 50 of the marchers left the permitted route and are being threatened with arrest."

Recommended Audio: Rachel Maddow - The Right's Fear Mongering Political Strategy

Harry Reid, and What Happened to the Public Option
Robert Reich writes on Robert Reich's Blog: "First there was Medicare for all 300 million of us. But that was a non-starter because private insurers and Big Pharma wouldn't hear of it, and Republicans and "centrists" thought it was too much like what they have up in Canada -- which, by the way, cost Canadians only 10 percent of their GDP and covers every Canadian. (Our current system of private for-profit insurers costs 16 percent of GDP and leaves out 45 million people.)"

More GOP Lies about Heath Care Reform
Joan Walsh writes for Salon.com: "The Senate will vote Saturday on whether to open debate on the healthcare reform bill, or make it easy for Republicans to filibuster. The only action is in the Democratic caucus, including the independents who caucus with them. (Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Aetna, has threatened to back a Republican filibuster; let's hope Democrats find a peaceful solution.)"

Women's Reproductive Health Is Not a Social Issue
Connie Schultz comments for Truthout: "Language matters, so let's be clear: Women's reproductive health is not a 'social issue.' Deciding whether to carry the red purse or the black bag to dinner Saturday night? That's a social issue. Wondering why your child wasn't invited to her classmate's birthday party? That, too, is a social issue. Attempting to limit women's access to legal and safe abortions? Not even remotely a social issue, so let's stop calling it that as we debate the Stupak-Pitts amendment, which is the latest effort in Congress to prohibit insurance coverage for abortion."

Somalia to Join Child Rights Pact, Only U.S. Outside
Reuters reports: "Somalia has announced it plans to ratify a global treaty aimed at protecting children, leaving the United States as the only country outside the pact, UNICEF said Friday.  Somalia and the United States have long been the last hold-outs to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly exactly 20 years ago.  The most widely ratified international human rights treaty, it declares that those under 18 years old must be protected from violence, exploitation, discrimination and neglect.  'Adherence to and application of the Convention will be of crucial importance for the children of Somalia, who are gravely affected by the ongoing conflict, recurrent natural disasters and chronic poverty,' the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) said in a statement welcoming the move."

The "Drug War" Is Doing Far More Harm Than Marijuana Itself Ever Will
Jim Hightower writes in the Hightower Lowdown: "You might remember Robert McNamara's stunning mea culpa, delivered a quarter century after his Vietnam War policies sent some 50,000 Americans (and even more horrendous numbers of Vietnamese) to their deaths in that disastrous war. In his 1995 memoir, the man who had been a cold, calculating secretary of defense for both Kennedy and Johnson belatedly confessed that he and other top officials had long known that the war was an unwinnable, ideologically driven mistake. 'We were wrong,' he wrote, almost tearfully begging in print for public forgiveness. 'We were terribly wrong.'"

5 Bad Things That Immediately Happen to Your Body When You Eat Sugary Junk
Vicki Santillano writes for Divine Caroline (via AlterNet): "At this point, most people understand the basic effects of subsisting on junk food. We’d be hard pressed to find someone who thinks eating a bowl of broccoli is the same as eating a bowl of candy (though doing either will undoubtedly wreak havoc on the human digestive system). But simply knowing that junk food is bad -- or even knowing how it’s bad -- doesn’t make it any less tempting. Humans have a natural predilection for high-fat, high-sugar foods, and if those ingredients are combined into one magical dish, resistance is practically futile."

Global Warming's Impacts Have Sped Up, Worsened Since Kyoto
Seth Borenstein reports for the Huffington Post: "Since the 1997 international accord to fight global warming, climate change has worsened and accelerated – beyond some of the grimmest of warnings made back then. As the world has talked for a dozen years about what to do next, new ship passages opened through the once frozen summer sea ice of the Arctic. In Greenland and Antarctica, ice sheets have lost trillions of tons of ice. Mountain glaciers in Europe, South America, Asia and Africa are shrinking faster than before."

Population and Environment: a Progressive, Feminist Approach
Laurie Mazur writes in On the Issues Magazine: "In 'The 'New' Population Control Craze: Retro, Racist, Wrong Way to Go", Betsy Hartmann implies that everyone working on population-environment issues is part of a misogynistic plot to bring back 'population control.' I'm here to tell you she is wrong. I am a lifelong, card-carrying feminist and political progressive. I am passionately committed to sexual and reproductive health and rights, to environmental sustainability, and to closing the inequitable divide between men and women, rich and poor."

New Marriage Strategy Needed
Leland Traiman comments for the Bay Area Reporter: "Same-sex marriage has never won an election. Maine was our 33rd loss. On the other hand, domestic partnership has never, on its own, lost an election. Washington state continued that winning streak, barely. The attempt to repeal comprehensive domestic partnerships was too close for liberal Washington State, 47 percent. This means trouble for us. Our enemies, undoubtedly, are already planning domestic partnership repeals in more conservative areas. Even in California, instead of fighting for the rites of marriage, we may be forced to defend the rights of marriage we have already won through domestic partnerships. (California law says that all laws, regulations, and court decisions that apply to spouses in a marriage equally applies to registered domestic partners.) Even if California's domestic partnership law is not in jeopardy, certainly other states with domestic partnerships or other forms of recognition are at risk."

Is Right-Wing Media Hustler Trying to "Blackmail" Obama's Attorney General over ACORN Videos?
David Edwards and Muriel Kane write for the Raw Story (via AlterNet): "Filmmakers James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles have released new tapes of their anti-ACORN sting operation which appear to show an ACORN employee cheerfully counseling them on how to run a prostitution ring with underage girls and launder the proceeds into a campaign for Congress.  The two appeared with Fox News' Sean Hannity on Thursday, along with conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart, who distributed their earlier sting tapes at his BigGovernment.com website. All three are targets of an ACORN lawsuit in Maryland alleging 'illegal videotaping.'"

What Is so Patriotic about Hysteria?
Joe Conason writes for Truthdig: "The loudest voices on the right never tire of telling us that they are the truest patriots. They claim to be the deepest believers in our system, the strongest defenders of our Constitution, the most upbeat, bold and courageous Americans anywhere. But now that the government is finally prepared to put the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on trial, these same patriots are the first to spread doubt, instigate anxiety and abandon constitutional principles."

22 November 2009

Judicial Selection Reform on the Move (revised edition)

This podcast features Hon. Rebecca Kourlis, Executive Director of the Institute for the Advancement of the Legal System. Hon. Kourlis spoke at the Kansas League of Women Voters forum: "Does the Kansas Judiciary Reflect the Diversity of our State? If Not, Why Not?" held on 17 October 2009 in Topeka, KS. The forum was the opening of a two-year League project focusing on promoting diversity at all levels of the state judiciary and enhancing the legitimacy of our system of justice in the eyes of an increasingly diverse public.

Rebecca Love Kourlis was appointed to the Colorado Supreme Court in 1985 and resigned in 2006 after serving for 11 years. Kourlis authored of more than 200 opinions and dissents during her tenure and spearheaded significant reforms in the court system relating to juries, family law and attorney regulation.

MP3 File

What Energy Future for Kansas?

What's up with the proposed coal-fired power plant Sunflower Electric wants to build in southwest Kansas? What is the financial situation for Sunflower? Did you know the Environmental Protection Agency has declared carbon a treat to the environment and public welfare? Does "clean coal" really exist, or is this just a PR campaign to help polluters keep on keeping on? Answering these and other questions is Stephanie Cole of the Kansas Sierra Club and Scott Allegrucci of the Great Plains Alliance for Clean Energy as we discuss Kansas' energy future. At the end of the show we are joined by Chelsey Fritch as she discusses the Out and Greek national conference that was held at K-State Nov. 20 - 22.

MP3 File

19 November 2009

Clippings for 19 November 2009

Who Are You and What Have You Done with the Community Organizer We Elected?
Reboert Scheer writes for Truthdig.com: "What's up with Barack Obama? The candidate for change once promised to take on the powerful banking interests but is now doing their bidding. Finally, a leading Democrat, in this case Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, has a good idea for monitoring the Wall Street fat cats who all but destroyed the American economy, and the Obama administration condemns it. "

Banksters Gave Heavily to Committees Debating Financial Reform (report pdf)
Public Citizen writes" "While Congress has debated legislation to reform Wall Street, the financial services industry has showered members of the Senate and House banking committees with about two and a half times as much money, on average, as other members of Congress, according to a new Public Citizen report. Public Citizen joined other activists Monday in front of Goldman Sachs' D.C. headquarters to protest this outrageous behavior and urge Congress to pass real reform that puts people before Wall Street profits."

Attempt to Push Transparency for Mortgage Modifications Falls Short
Paul Kiel reports for ProPublica: "For months, housing advocates have complained that mortgage servicers are wrongfully denying homeowners' applications for the administration's $50 billion mortgage modification program. Last week, the Treasury Department took a step to address those concerns: For the first time, it issued guidelines requiring mortgage servicers to give homeowners details about why they've been denied. But the required disclosure will only be partial, and housing advocates say that means servicers' denials of loan modifications will still be shrouded in secrecy and protected from scrutiny."

How Much Have Today’s Wars Weakened the Economy?
John Hanrahan comments for the Nieman Watchdog: “'The question is not whether the economy has been weakened by the [Iraq] war,' wrote economists Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes in their 2008 book, The Three Trillion Dollar War. 'The question is only by how much.'  Bilmes and Stiglitz, using what they termed a 'realistic-moderate scenario,' determined that the losses to the economy for war spending, as of that writing, totaled 'more than a trillion dollars.' They posited that 'no serious economist [today] holds the view that war is good for the economy.'”

We Need a Civilian "ROTC"
E. J. Dionne writes for Truthdig.com: "Imagine a time when government work was exciting, widely admired and much sought after. It seems an outlandish thought at a moment when you cannot turn on your television without hearing government spoken of as almost an alien creature. It is cast as far removed from the lives of average Americans and more likely to destroy the achievements of private citizens than to accomplish anything worthwhile. True, we don’t apply our anti-government sentiments to at least one group of Americans who draw government paychecks: our men and women in uniform. All the polls show they are, deservedly, held in high esteem. But civilians who do the daily work of government are more likely to be referred to as “bureaucrats,” “time servers” and various unprintable things than as public servants."

With Few Strong Cases, Government Rushes Towards Plea Deals for Guantanamo Detainees
Dafna Linzer reports for ProPublica: "As the United States moves to prosecute Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four others accused of being conspirators behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, federal and military prosecutors are racing each other to strike plea deals with at least a dozen additional Guantanamo detainees whose testimony could be used against some of the most notorious prisoners.  The plea bargaining exposes the difficulty the government faces in bringing prosecutable cases against these defendants and others still in Guantanamo. Most of the remaining detainees are considered too difficult to prosecute, mostly because the evidence against them is thin or based on statements obtained through coercion."

The Republican Party, Fox News and the Importance of Terror Prosecutions
Fred Sandhu writes for The Daily Censored: "The poster child of Muslim terrorism,  Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the alleged mastermind behind the American 9/11 holocaust, is to be tried in the Southern Judicial District of New York , which includes Manhattan. Mohammed, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Walid bin Attash, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi will all be transferred to the U.S.  The trial will be held  in a Manhattan court complex that is walking  distance from the site of the crime,  possibly within visual range. The alleged plotters and participants in the mass murder of 9/11 are to be prosecuted by a special team of prosecutors, from the very same prosecution office that, with surgical precision, convicted the 1993 Trade Tower bombers.  The new Special Prosecution team is yet to be publicized, though it has likely already been formed to some extent.  Informed speculation is that the  lead prosecutor will be newly appointed U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, Preet Bharara."

Gates Bars Torture Photos Release
Nick Baumann writes for Mother Jones: "Defense Secretary Robert Gates has used powers granted to him by a controversial new law to block the court-ordered release of numerous photos of detainee abuse, government lawyers revealed in a court filing [PDF] Friday evening.  Gates' new authority comes from a law, signed by President Barack Obama last month, that gives the Secretary of Defense the power to rule that photos of detainees are exempt from release under the Freedom of Information Act. Gates' action on Friday was the first use of the new FOIA exemption since it passed Congress last month. The photos in question are the subject of a years-long legal fight by the American Civil Liberties Union, which first filed a FOIA request for records pertaining to detainee treatment, rendition, and death in May of 2005. The case is currently being reviewed by the Supreme Court."

Recommended Media: Media Matters hosts Max Blumenthal
On Sunday 15 November Media Matters interviewed Max Blumenthal, who revealed a direct link to right-wing Christian fundamentalism and the torture documented in the photos from the story above.  Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and blogger whose articles and video documentaries have appeared in The New York Times, The Daily Beast, The Nation, The Huffington Post, Salon.com, Al Jazeera English and many other publications. He is a senior writer for The Daily Beast and a writing fellow for the Nation Institute. Bob and Mr. Blumenthal discuss his book, Republican Gomorrah: Inside The Movement That Shattered The Party."

The Palin Effect: How Sarah Palin Destroyed the Republican Party
Max Blumenthal writes for TomDispatch.com: "Sarah Palin's heavily publicized book tour begins in earnest this Monday, but weeks before, her ghostwritten memoir, Going Rogue: An American Life, had already vaulted into the number one position at Amazon. Warming up for a tour that will take her across Middle America in a bus, Palin tested her lines in a November 7th speech before a crowd of 5,000 anti-abortion activists in Wisconsin. She promptly cited an urban legend as a 'disturbing trend,' claiming the Treasury Department had moved the phrase 'In God We Trust' from presidential dollar coins ... In a Republican Party hoping to rebound in 2010 on the strength of a newly energized and ideologically aroused conservative grassroots, Palin's influence is now unparalleled."

Rachel Maddow guest, author Frank Schaeffer, summarizes The Right Wing
A frightening window into the current efforts by corporate and authoritarian interests to bring the nation to a boil.  Complete transcript available from AlterNet.

"All the Conditions Are Assembled for a New Food Crisis"
Herve Kempf and Clement Lacombe write for Le Monde (Translation: Leslie Thatcher for Truthout.org): "Hunger, still and always. And at levels never touched before: Under the impact of the economic crisis, the threshold of a billion people suffering from malnutrition was crossed in 2009. A situation to which the Global Summit on Food Security, taking place in Rome from Monday, November 16, to Wednesday, November 18, under the aegis of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), will - once again - attempt to bring elements of a response. United Nations Rapporteur for Food Rights since 2008, Belgian Olivier de Schutter, is alarmed by the situation."

Nearly One in Six Citizens Went Hungry in 2008
Jim Lobe reports for Inter Press Service: "As the World Food Security Summit got under way in Rome Monday, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) disclosed that nearly one in six US households went hungry at some time during 2008, the highest level since it began monitoring food security levels in 1995."

Precious Star in Spotlight
Emily Wilson writes for the Women's Media Center: "In Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire, Gabourey Sidibe plays the title role of the obese Harlem teenager caught up in a cycle of abuse, incest and poverty. The New York Times, among others, raved about this, her first film performance, calling it 'terrific' and 'dazzling.'  Sidibe, who knows she is no one’s idea of a movie star, says the best thing about actually starring in a movie is the example it sets for her two younger sisters, 13-year-old twins, who sleep in the same Harlem bedroom she did growing up. 'What is so great about me doing this film,' she says, is that 'I’m an actual example for them to see that they can be whatever they want to be, no matter what they look like. When you think Hollywood actress, you don’t think of a girl that looks like me, but now you can. There’s hope for my sisters.'”

Dialogue a Key Ingredient of Democracy Missing in US Corporate News Media
Mickey Huff writes on his blog: "For anyone imbibing US corporate news media, the outcome is certain: they will be treated to a zero-calorie infotainment diet served on traditional feeding intervals at the networks, or for the insatiable junk food news consumer, round the clock cable news menus heavy on advertiser appetizers and tabloid dessert specials. This is a recipe for a literal Truth Emergency in our society. When we rely on corporate media outlets to provide context for national discourse, we find ourselves in a sea of information but are left with a paucity of understanding regarding anything relevant in our daily lives…"

Does Political Journalism Focus on the Trivia?
Bill Kirtz writes for the Poynter Institute Online: "Trivia or legitimate front-page news? Journalists and political commentators sparred over the difference Friday in a discussion of presidential coverage at Harvard's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.  One example of trivia trumping vital subjects, said Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Taylor Branch, is the "silly" New York Times Page One story about President Barack Obama's all-male basketball games.  But Boston Globe columnist Renee Loth and Elaine Kamarck, who served in the Clinton White House and was a senior policy advisor to Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign, said the hoops story illuminated important gender equity issues."

'Daily Show' Producers, Writers Say They're Serious about Media Criticism
Mallary Jean Tenore writes for The Poynter Institute Online:  "Daily Show producer Ramin Hedayati spends his morning flipping back and forth between the Today Show and The Early Show, glancing at major news sites and political blogs and reading The New York Times. When he gets into the office, he scans through news shows recorded on the office's 13 TiVos and looks for glaring inconsistencies, misleading reports and humorous soundbites.  While watching Sean Hannity's coverage of an anti-health-care-reform rally at the Capitol last week, he knew something wasn't quite right. 'I remember saying to myself ...'There couldn't be a more beautiful day for this rally.' Then all of a sudden it went to cloudy footage,' said Hedayati. 'Hannity used footage from Glenn Beck's 9/12 rally to make his rally look bigger ... We were surprised that no one else caught it.'

Fox News's Faux News
Brad Freidman writes for the Guardian UK: "It must be stated over and over again: the Fox News Channel is not a news channel. It's a Republican party propaganda channel. As such, its first amendment right to say whatever it likes ought to be protected, but not its 'right' to call itself 'news.' That's false advertising, and it ought to be outlawed by whoever regulates such things."

Web 2.0 Expo: O'Reilly Warns of Web War
Paul McDougall reports for Information Week: "The Web, which began life as an open community where information and tools were freely shared across geographic, political, and social boundaries, is in danger of becoming segmented into a federation of closed camps led by a handful of increasingly powerful vendors, said Internet pundit Tim O'Reilly. 'We're heading back into an ugly time,' said O'Reilly, during a keynote address Tuesday at the Web 2.0 Expo in New York City."

18 November 2009

The future of the Death Penalty in Kansas

On this week's edition of Community Bridge - After the Sunday Morning Talk Show Edition we hear Sam Millsap, former Texas District Attorney, who was the keynote speaker at the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty's Annual Meeting on 14 November in Topeka.
Among many notable prosecutions, Millsap prosecuted Ruben Cantu for capital murder; Cantu was executed in 1992. In December, 2005, as a result of investigative reporting by the Houston Chronicle, serious questions were raised concerning Cantu’s guilt. Millsap, acknowledging that he made an error in judgment when he decided to seek the death penalty on the basis of the testimony of a single eyewitness, has assumed personal responsibility for Ruben Cantu’s execution. Millsap is the only former elected major metropolitan prosecutor in America who has prosecuted capital murder cases and is now an opponent of the death penalty. Millsap has campaigned against the death penalty throughout the country and spoke against it's use at the United Nations.

MP3 File

15 November 2009

Clippings for 15 November 2009

How the US Funds the Taliban
Aram Roston reports for The Nation: "On October 29, 2001, while the Taliban's rule over Afghanistan was under assault, the regime's ambassador in Islamabad gave a chaotic press conference in front of several dozen reporters sitting on the grass. On the Taliban diplomat's right sat his interpreter, Ahmad Rateb Popal, a man with an imposing presence. Like the ambassador, Popal wore a black turban, and he had a huge bushy beard. He had a black patch over his right eye socket, a prosthetic left arm and a deformed right hand, the result of injuries from an explosives mishap during an old operation against the Soviets in Kabul."

Did Big Oil Win the War in Iraq?
Antonia Juhasz writes for AlterNet: "Last week, ExxonMobil became the first U.S. oil company in 35 years to sign an oil-production contract with the government of Iraq.  As I write, several other contracts with the world’s largest oil companies are being finalized, and more are expected when a new negotiating round kicks off in Baghdad on Dec. 11. Do these contracts represent a "victory" for Big Oil in Iraq? Yes, but not one as big as the companies had hoped for (at least, not yet)."

Blackwater Attempted to Bribe Iraqi Officials
Jeremy Scahill reports for The Nation: "In the aftermath of the 2007 Nisour Square massacre in Baghdad by operatives working for Blackwater, top company officials including then-president Gary Jackson "authorized secret payments of about $1 million to Iraqi officials that were intended to silence their criticism and buy their support," according to the New York Times. Seventeen Iraqis were killed and more than twenty others wounded in the shooting, prompting the Iraqi government to announce it would ban the company from Iraq with officials vowing to prosecute the shooters. Blackwater, however, remains in Iraq to this day."

Huge Rise in Birth Defects in Falluja
Martin Chulov reports for The Guardian UK: "Doctors in Iraq's war-ravaged enclave of Falluja are dealing with up to 15 times as many chronic deformities in infants and a spike in early life cancers that may be linked to toxic materials left over from the fighting.  The extraordinary rise in birth defects has crystallised over recent months as specialists working in Falluja's over-stretched health system have started compiling detailed clinical records of all babies born.  Neurologists and obstetricians in the city interviewed by the Guardian say the rise in birth defects – which include a baby born with two heads, babies with multiple tumours, and others with nervous system problems - are unprecedented and at present unexplainable."

Meet Our Afghan Ally: Stealing Money, Selling Heroin, and Raping Boys
Patrick Cockburn writes for CounterPunch: "Just when President Barack Obama looked as if he might be railroaded into sending tens of thousands more US troops to Afghanistan the American envoy to Kabul has warned him not to do so. In a leaked cable to Washington sent last week, the US ambassador to Afghanistan, Gen Karl W. Eikenberry, argues that it would be a mistake to send reinforcements until the government of President Hamid Karzai demonstrates that it will act against corruption and mismanagement. General Eikenberry knows what he is talking about because he has long experience of Afghanistan. A recently retired three star general, he was responsible for training the Afghan security forces from 2002 to 2003 and was top US commander in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2007."

Welcome Home, War! How America's Wars Are Systematically Destroying Our Liberties
Alfred W. McCoy comments for Tom Dispatch.com: "In his approach to National Security Agency surveillance, as well as CIA renditions, drone assassinations, and military detention, President Obama has to a surprising extent embraced the expanded executive powers championed by his conservative predecessor, George W. Bush. This bipartisan affirmation of the imperial executive could 'reverberate for generations,' warns Jack Balkin, a specialist on First Amendment freedoms at Yale Law School. And consider these but some of the early fruits from the hybrid seeds that the Global War on Terror has planted on American soil."

US Must Solve Its Own Economic Problems
Mark Weisbrot,comments in the Guardian UK and reported by The Center for Economic and Policy Research: "President Obama will go to Asia next week and has promised to say something about the exchange rate between the Chinese yuan and the U.S. dollar. It would be good if some enterprising journalist asked him why the United States is worried about the Chinese dumping their dollars, and why U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner recently said that the United States is committed to a 'strong dollar.' As a matter of accounting, a 'strong dollar' is the same as an 'undervalued yuan.' So it makes no sense to be worried about the great 'power' that the Chinese are holding over us -- that they can dump a few hundred billion dollars of their reserve holdings and cause the dollar to fall."

Where Are the Real "Deficit Hawks"?
David Sirota writes for Truthdig.com: "Let’s say you’re a congressperson or tea party leader looking to champion deficit reduction—a cause that 38 percent of Americans tell pollsters they support. And let’s say you’re deciding whether to back two pieces of imminent legislation. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the first bill’s spending provisions cost $100 billion annually and its tax and budget-cutting provisions recoup $111 billion annually, thus reducing total federal expenditures by $11 billion each year. The second bill proposes $636 billion in annual spending and recoups nothing. Over 10 years, the first bill would spend $1 trillion and recover $1.11 trillion—a fantastic return on taxpayer investment. Meanwhile, the second bill puts us on a path to spend $6.3 trillion in the same time."

The US as Aging Prize Fighter: The US Capitalist Class
John Reimann writes for The Daily Censored: "One hundred years ago (November, 1909), the famous American author Jack London, wrote a short story called “A Piece of Steak.” In it, an aging prize fighter climbs into the ring one last time. In his prime, this fighter was able to overwhelm his opponents with his strength and speed. Over the years, he has acquired a much greater knowledge, which he seeks to apply in the ring. But this is also a sign of weakness, as age has sapped his speed, strength and stamina; he must use strategy since he lacks the ability to simply physically overwhelm his opponents."

An Open Letter to Harry Reid on Controlling Health Care Costs
Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog: "I know you're in a tough spot. It would be bad enough if you only had to get Ben Nelson, Evan Bayh, Mary Landrieu, and Blanche Lincoln on board, but anyone who has to kiss Joe Lieberman's derriere deserves a congressional medal of honor. But Harry, you really need to take on future health-care costs."

Memo to the Tea-baggers:  God and Country Aren't with You
Glynn Wilson comments for the Locust Forks News-Journal (via AlterNet): "There must not be a tea-bagger alive who has ever had to sit all night in the Charity hospital in a city like New Orleans, waiting for the morning shift to call their number.  In hospitals across America, the uninsured wait there through the night in the midst of all that painful sickness, some with swine flu, others on the verge of a heart attack."

Testing Next Year's Lies Today
Joe Conason writes for Truthdig.com: "Within hours after the House of Representatives approved health care reform by a narrow margin, Republicans predicted retribution at the polls next fall. They promised to make every Democrat regret that historic vote as the first step toward the reversal of power in Washington. And as the current debate has proved, they aren’t going to let honesty become an obstacle."

ACORN Sues Federal Government Over Congress' "Unconstitutional" Move to Defund Group
Jason Leopold reports for Truthout: "Last September, just as Congress was getting ready to pass a Republican-sponsored initiative to withhold federal funds from the community advocacy group ACORN, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-New York), warned that the measure was wholly unconstitutional. The 'Defund ACORN Act,' sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California), 'is in blatant violation of the Constitution's prohibition against Bills of Attainder,' said Nadler, the chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. A bill of attainder is a legislative act that singles out an individual or group for punishment without a trial or judicial hearing." 

Copenhagen: Seattle Grown Up
Naomi Klein writes for The Nation: "The other day I received a pre-publication copy of The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle, by David Solnit and Rebecca Solnit. It's set to come out ten years after a historic coalition of activists shut down the World Trade Organization summit in Seattle, the spark that ignited a global anticorporate movement."

The Choice Ahead: Entrenched Fossil Fuel Dependence Or Climate Change Management
Emily Spence writes for Dissident Voice: "According to Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard economist Linda Bilmes, the Iraq War cost three trillion dollars. While much of the money used to conduct the war was borrowed (most notably from Chinese institutions), ultimately American taxpayers will be responsible for many years to come for footing the bill, including the high interest payments on the funds loaned. This is because the federal budget, especially between the military and big business bailout costs, far exceeded the annual and shrinking amount taken in by taxes."

FBI Was Warned about Scott Roeder
Tracy Clark-Flory writes for Salon.com: "Roughly a month before the shooting death of Dr. George Tiller, the FBI received an anonymous letter warning that suspected killer Scott Roeder "would do physical harm" to the abortion provider, the Associated Press reports. The letter didn't offer a time-line, specifics or incriminating details -- just that the anti-abortion activist was going to hurt the late doctor. Here's where things get messy: The tipster, now revealed to be Mark Archer of Tunkhannock, Pa., and his wife were fighting for custody of Roeder's 7-year-old daughter. That's because his wife got pregnant by Roeder before she married Archer."

Lawmakers Ready to End "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
Eric Zimmerman reports for The Hill: "Democratic leaders have indicated that they will repeal the Clinton-era "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in next year's defense-authorization bill -- legislation that has long been considered a likely vehicle for reversing the discriminatory policy. The decision could make the divisive social issue an agenda for voters and candidates during the 2010 midterm elections."

The Media's Silly Ft. Hood Coverage
Mark Benjamin writes for Salon.com: "The conventional narrative of the Fort Hood shootings, one week later, has been distinguished by the reporting of unconfirmed -- and sometimes incorrect -- details and the drawing of dubious conclusions. The only thing that suggests the current story will withstand the test of time better than the initial Pat Tillman myth (that he died in combat, rather than by friendly fire), or the overheated tale of heroism by Jessica Lynch in 2003 (which Lynch herself protested), is that two basic facts seem clear: The shootings certainly happened, and given the number of eyewitnesses, it's almost certain that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan did it."

A Need to "Dig Beneth the Corporate Surface"
John Hanrahhan comments for Nieman Watchdog: "Economist Simon Johnson wants to see modern-day muckrakers take on the nation’s economic collapse and the financial institutions that helped precipitate -- and are even benefiting from -- the collapse.  In an interview with Nieman Watchdog, Johnson, professor of global economics and management at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, emphasized that he believes there are many fine journalists doing a good job of covering the economic news on a day-to-day basis. What’s largely missing from the mainstream press coverage of the last year, though, is 'the long, in-depth, comprehensive dissection of a financial institution, going through all the nuances and details of how the institution is run, taking a skeptical look at the people who run it, and investigating how we got to where we are today.'"

Jon Stewart Continues to Break Stories the "Real" Media Won't
Will Bunch writes for Philadelphia Daily News: "Earlier this year, I wrote a post about "fake newscaster"/comedian Jon Stewart and his epic "Daily Show" takedown of bogus business reporting and misleading hype on the business news channel CNBC, and I wondered why it took someone like Stewart to report what the mainstream media seemed unable or unwilling to tackle. I said there were valuable lessons for traditional, so-called "serious" media in Stewart's brand of -- dare I say it -- journalism."

FCC Releases Top Five Barriers to Broadband
John Eggerton writes for Cable and Broadcasting: "According to a request for comment issued Wednesday, the FCC has tentatively concluded that the chief barriers to broadband adoption include: 'Affordability of service, affordability of hardware, insufficient digital and technical literacy levels, unawareness of the personal relevance and utility of broadband technology and online content and an inability to use existing technology and applications due to physical or mental disabilities.'"

Net Neutrality and Freedom Threatened by Internet Freedom Act
Tim Jones writes for Tigerweekly.com: "Net neutrality is the most important technology issue in the public sphere today, and it's important to have a clear definition of the term. "Net neutrality" refers to the structure of the Internet as it is now: All Web sites are loaded with the same speed, and Internet Service Providers charge one flat rate for access to the entire Internet with no monthly limit on usage. Recently, the FCC stated four guidelines for the continued existence of net neutrality, which say that consumers are allowed to access what they want on the Internet, use applications that make use of the Internet, use devices that make use of the Internet and are entitled to competition between ISPs."

Presidential Leadership in Transformational Times

Community Bridge proudly presents the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library's Howard & Virginia Bennett Forum on the Presidency -- Presidential Leadership in Transformational Times. Forum participants include:

Joseph S. Nye, Jr., is former chair of the National Intelligence Council and dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government; books include Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics.

Arianna Huffington is co-founder and editor-in-chief of "The Huffington Post". The author and nationally syndicated columnist recently was named one of the most influential women in media by "Forbes" magazine.

Robert Kuttner is co-founder of "The American Prospect" and longtime columnist for BusinessWeek. He is the author of the best-selling book Obama's Challenge: America's Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency.

Timothy Naftali is the director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library. A prolific writer for scholarly and popular audiences, his work has been published by Slate.com, "The Washington Post", "Foreign Affairs", and more. Naftali's books include Blind Spot: The Secret History of American Counterterrorism.

This forum took place on 1 November 2009 at Unity Temple on the Plaza in Kansas City, MO.

MP3 File

14 November 2009

An Interview with Jeff Sharlet

Community Bridge welcomes Rolling Stone and Harper's contributing editor, Jeff Sharlet, as we look into one of the most powerful Christian fundamentalist movements in America -- an organization most people have never heard of and one that claims three current Kansas politicians among its membership: Sen. Brownback, Rep. Tiahrt and Rep. Moran, along with other members of congress, corporate leaders, generals and foreign heads of state. But unlike James Dobson's Focus on the Family or Pat Robertson's electoral armies, this group, which calls itself "The Fellowship" or "The Family," works behind-the-scenes with fundamentalism not as an end in itself but as a means to an empire "with Washington its Christian capitol." Sharlet is the first and only journalist to have lived with this secretive group to write from inside its walls. In his penetrating and explosive new book, "The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power," Sharlet brings to light the untold story of Christian fundamentalism's most elite organization.

MP3 File

12 November 2009

Clippings for 12 november 2009

Major Hasan and the Legacy of George W. Bush
Thom Hartmann writes on The Smirking Chimp: "If Bill Clinton - or, presumably, Al Gore (or even Ralph Nader) - had been President in 2001, the Ft. Hood massacre almost certainly wouldn't have happened. Because George W. Bush was president, it did. Here's why it's Bush's fault: One of the first lessons aspiring novelists and screenwriters learn is that the goodness of a hero is defined by a single quality - the evil of his opponent. From Superman's Lex Luthor to Batman's Joker to Indiana Jones' Nazis to Luke Skywalker's Darth Vader, for a hero to be perceived as larger than life, he must have a larger than life enemy."

Afghanistan's Sham Army
Chris Hedges writes for Truthdig.com: "Success in Afghanistan is measured in Washington by the ability to create an indigenous army that will battle the Taliban, provide security and stability for Afghan civilians and remain loyal to the puppet government of Hamid Karzai. A similar task eluded the Red Army, although the Soviets spent a decade attempting to pacify the country. It eluded the British a century earlier. And the United States, too, will fail."

A Morally Bankrupt Military: When Soldiers and Their Families Become Expendable
Dahr Jamail comments for Truthout: "The military operates through indoctrination. Soldiers are programmed to develop a mindset that resists any acknowledgment of injury and sickness, be it physical or psychological. As a consequence, tens of thousands of soldiers continue to serve, even being deployed to combat zones like Iraq and/or Afghanistan, despite persistent injuries. According to military records, over 43,000 troops classified as 'nondeployable for medical reasons' have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan nevertheless."

Scahill: Obama May Be Afraid of Blackwater
David Edwards and Daniel Tencer report for The Raw Story: "Despite news reports that the security contractor formerly known as Blackwater has seen its contracts dry up and its influence wane, the company continues to do brisk business in Iraq and Afghanistan -- and the Obama administration may be too afraid of the firm to do anything about it, says investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill."

Denying Responsiblity for the Wars One Cheers on
Glenn Greenwald writes for Salon.com: "David Brooks' column today perfectly illustrates what lies at the core of our political discourse:  namely, self-loving tribalistic blindness laced with a pathological refusal to accept responsibility for one's actions.  Brooks claims there is a unique evil that one finds in the 'fringes of the Muslim world':"

Drone Race to a Known Future: Why Military Dreams Fail -- and Why It Doesn't Matter
Tom Engelhardt writes for TOmDispatch: "For drone freaks (and these days Washington seems full of them), here's the good news: Drones are hot! Not long ago -- 2006 to be exact -- the Air Force could barely get a few armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the air at once; now, the number is 38; by 2011, it will reputedly be 50, and beyond that, in every sense, the sky's the limit."

Where's the Jobs Stimulus?
Rev. Jesse Jackson writes on CounterPunch: "nemployment has soared above 10 percent, but that figure doesn't count those forced to work part-time, those who have given up in despair, young people who were never able to get hired. There are now 25 million people unemployed. For African Americans, it is worse. African Americans are experiencing a silent depression. Unemployment is more than 18 percent; underemployment even higher. And among black teens, unemployment is more than 40 percent.

Where Have All The Good Jobs Gone?
David Moberg writes for In These Times: "People don’t just want a job. They want a good job. And over the past three decades the American economy has increasingly failed to deliver enough good jobs.  What is a good job? According Algernon Austin, an Economic Policy Institute economist and author of the brand-new report 'Getting Good Jobs to America’s People of Color,' a good job provides an above-poverty wage, health insurance and adequate retirement income."

Rachel Maddow comments: "The new rules for Wall Street and the banks will also create a consumer financial protection agency.  So in the same way that regulation keeps off the market things that, when used as directed, have a good chance of killing you, things like long darts, or cars with the fuel tank right next to the bumper. "

The Tea Party's Takeover of the GOP
Stephanie Mencimer writes for Mother Jones: "You have to hand it to Michele Bachmann: She has succeeded in turning the GOP into one big Tea Party.  This past weekend, the Minnesota Republican went on Fox News and called on viewers to show up on the Capitol lawn on Thursday at noon for a press conference and a last ditch attempt to kill health care reform.  The gathering that resulted was marked by the now-routine extremism of the Tea Party conservatives.  'I'm a bitter gun owner who votes,' read one sign. Others questioned President Obama’s citizenship, portrayed him as Sambo, or called him a traitor. One said, 'Obama takes his orders from the Rothschilds.' Old ladies wore red T-shirts decrying 'Obamao care.' The crowd also took spirited swipes at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. At one point someone yelled, 'Put down your Botox and show yourself.'"

When Voters Disrupt the Tea Party
E. J. Donne writes for Truthdig: "Here’s a story you may have missed because it flies in the face of the dreary conventional wisdom: When advocates of public programs take on the right-wing anti-government crowd directly, the government-haters lose. This is what happened in two statewide referendums last week that got buried under all of the attention paid to the governors’ races in Virginia and New Jersey. In Maine, voters rejected a tax-limitation measure by a walloping 60 percent to 40 percent. In Washington state, a similar measure went down, 57-43."

The Dark Side of the Bright Side
Anis Shivani writes for In These Times: "In her new book Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America (Metropolitan/Holt, October 2009), Barbara Ehrenreich traces the origins of contemporary optimism from nineteenth-century healers to twentieth-century pushers of consumerism. She explores how that culture of optimism prevents us from holding to account both corporate heads and elected officials."

The Stupka Stupor
Emily Douglas writes for The Nation: "We know that the House healthcare reform bill passed after an eleventh-hour compromise (you might say betrayal) on abortion access. We know the compromise, the Stupak-Pitts amendment, is bad. But do we know exactly how it's bad for women (and their partners)? Here's a quick primer on what the amendment actually means for any woman accessing healthcare through the newly-created health insurance exchange."

The Price of Health Care Reform:  Abortion Rights?
Rachel Morris writes for Mother Jones: "Will health care reform come at the expense of abortion rights? The Democrats’ historic health care bill squeaked through the House on Saturday only after pro-life forces scored a major victory. Despite months of wrangling over the public option and the price tag, in the end the legislation’s fate turned on an eleventh-hour push by conservative Democrats to broaden the bill's existing limits on government funding of abortion, in the form of an amendment authored by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.). Here’s what happened and what it means:"

Will the Stupak Amendment Affect Insurance Coverage for Miscarriages? I Think So
Robin Marty writes for RH Reality Check: "This weekend, a group of male pro-life Democrats gambled with women's health, and women lost. By broadly writing in that insurers can chose whether or not to cover abortion services, pro-life amendments don't just affect their intended victims - women seeking a way out of an unwanted or medically harmful pregnancy. They also affect another group of victims - women whose pregnancies have already ended but have not yet miscarried." 

Education Reform: Wrong Diagnosis, So Wrong Cure
Marion Bradly writes for Truthout: "Sooner or later, a reluctant Congress is going to have to do something about replacing No Child Left Behind. If senators and representatives will listen, they'll learn why Education Secretary Arne Duncan's "Race to the Top" initiative is a really bad idea, and why thoughtful educators think politicians, business leaders and wealthy philanthropists are bulls in the education china shop."

A Helping Hand
The Editors at the Columbia Journalism Review writes: "When in September President Obama said he would be “happy to look” at congressional proposals designed to help the beleaguered newspaper industry, the president’s throwaway line provoked a flurry of articles about how government help for newspapers would compromise editorial integrity and stifle innovation and competition rising from the digital frontier—and wouldn’t save the doomed newsrooms anyway. Even the Newspaper Association of America said it wasn’t looking for 'a specific handout, bailout, financial assistance, what have you.'"

Fort Hood Cover-up: A Dozen Tales of Disinformation
Mark Ames comments for The Exiled: "I don’t want to go too deep down the Fort Hood Rabbit Hole Of Weirdness, so I’m just going to get off my chest some of the incredibly weird shit that’s being thrown around in the media to confuse us or throw us off. It’s looking pretty clearly like there’s a cover-up in progress, and not a very professional cover-up either. But the sad thing is that all the confusion and bullshit thrown our way will probably succeed in its goal of steering the public away from whatever it is the military doesn’t want us to find out about the shooting massacre."

Public Media and the Decommodification of News
Jim Naureckas writes for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting: "There have been various proposals to “save journalism” from the crisis brought on by digitalization. But by and large these ideas have less to do with meeting the information needs of a democratic society than with preserving the profit potential of existing media outlets.Take the various suggestions as to how to get news outlets to stop giving away their content for free. Among others, Walter Isaacson (formerly of Time), Steven Brill (formerly of Content) and Rupert Murdoch (formerly of Australia) have all offered suggestions for how newspapers can be saved by putting their content behind pay walls (Time, 2/5/09; PoynterOnline, 2/9/09; L.A. Times, 8/21/09)."

Feds Consolidate Last Two Broadband Stimulus Funding Windows into One
Andy Opsahl writes for Government Technology: "Agencies seeking broadband stimulus money now have only one more opportunity to apply because the two remaining funding windows have been consolidated into one, according to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and Rural Utilities Service (RUS), the two federal agencies tasked with distributing $7.2 billion set aside in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for broadband projects. This may surprise some, given the U.S. Government Accountability Office said the two agencies were being overwhelmed by the application process in late October."

Free Press Asks White House for a "Knight 2.0" Commission
Karen Everhart write for Current.com: "There’s been more than enough talk about restructuring public broadcasting as digital public media. The time to start walking the walk has arrived. So says Josh Silver, executive director and co-founder of Free Press, the media reform group that has had a seat at the table in talks about redefining public broadcasting as public media."

Does Murdoch Agree with Glenn Beck or Not?
James Rucker writes for the Huffington Post: "Rupert Murdoch is now trying to backpedal after saying in an interview with Sky News that Glenn Beck was right when he called President Obama a "racist." Now that he's been called out and the spotlight is squarely on him, Murdoch says he doesn't agree with Beck, but he won't explain what he meant or denounce Beck's rhetoric either."

The GOP's Looming (Media) Civil War
Eric Boehlert writes for Media Matters: "It's not easy to flip a congressional district that's been Republican since the late 1800s, but after being willingly hijacked by the right-wing media -- after getting steamrolled by Fox News' embrace of third-party candidate Doug Hoffman -- Republicans managed to hand Upstate New York's 23rd District to Democrats last week. And they did it just in time for the newly elected Democrat to help (barely) push health care reform through the House of Representatives during Saturday night's historic vote."