Economic recovery in review. The Dow's up, but why are Main Street Americans still reeling from last year's economic collapse? With Americans still facing rising unemployment, foreclosures, and declining property values, renowned economist James K. Galbraith on whether we've averted another crisis and how to get help for the middle class.
Read the Transcript here.
Former Wall Street Player Reveals the Inside World Behind Shady Bailouts to Bankers
Joshua Holland and Nomi Prins write for ALterNet: "A former managing director at Goldman Sachs and now a razor-sharp financial muckraker (and regular AlterNet contributor), Nomi Prins understands the labyrinthine world of Wall Street finance, with all its warts, as well as anyone. In her new book, It Takes a Pillage: Behind the Bailouts, Bonuses and Backroom Deals From Washington to Wall Street, Prins lays bare the whole fetid corpse of the burst mortgage bubble."
Cash for Clunkers Drives 3rd Quarter GNP Growth
Dean Baker reports for The Center for Economic and Policy Research: "GDP grew at a 3.5 percent annual rate in the third quarter, driven by a 22.4 percent jump in car sales, the result of the Cash for Clunkers (C4C) program. This increase in car sales accounted for 42.0 percent of the growth in the quarter. Consumption as a whole, which grew at a 3.4 percent annual rate, added 2.36 percentage points to growth. Other components making large contributions to growth were inventories, which added 0.94 percentage points; national defense, which added 0.45 percentage points; and residential construction, which added 0.53 percentage points, its first positive number since the fourth quarter of 2005. The surge in car buying will be reversed in the current quarter, as the main effect of the C4C was to pull car purchases forward. As a result, the auto sector will be a substantial drag on growth in the current quarter. Apart from the auto sector, consumption grew at a 1.0 percent annual rate."
Ecuador, Bolivia Show That Even Small Developing Countries Can Pursue Independent Economic Policies, Stand Up for Their Rights, and Win
Mark Weisbrot, The Center for Economic and Policy Research: "Among the conventional wisdom that we hear every day in the business press is that developing countries should bend over backwards to create a friendly climate for foreign corporations, follow orthodox (neo-liberal) macro-economic policy advice, strive to achieve an investment-grade sovereign credit rating so as to attract more foreign capital... Guess what country is expected to have the fastest economic growth in the Americas this year? Bolivia.
McChrystal Doesn't Get It -- Does Obama?
Scott Ritter writes for Truthdig.com: "There is a curious phenomenon taking place in the American media at the moment: the lionization of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the American military commander in Afghanistan. Although he has taken a few lumps for playing politics with the White House, McChrystal has generally been sold to the American public as a “Zen warrior,” a counterinsurgency genius who, if simply left to his own devices, will be able to radically transform the ongoing debacle that is Afghanistan into a noble victory that will rank as one of the greatest political and military triumphs of modern history. McChrystal’s resume and persona (a former commander of America’s special operations forces, a tireless athlete and a scholar) have been breathlessly celebrated in several interviews and articles. Reporters depict him as an ascetic soldier who spouts words of wisdom to rival Confucius, Jesus and Muhammad."
Obama's Latest Use of "Secrecy" to Shield Presidential Lawbreaking
Glenn Greewald writes for Salon.com: "The Obama administration has, yet again, asserted the broadest and most radical version of the "state secrets" privilege -- which previously caused so much controversy and turmoil among loyal Democrats (when used by Bush/Cheney) -- to attempt to block courts from ruling on the legality of the government's domestic surveillance activities. Obama did so again this past Friday -- just six weeks after the DOJ announced voluntary new internal guidelines which, it insisted, would prevent abuses of the state secrets privilege. Instead -- as predicted -- the DOJ continues to embrace the very same "state secrets" theories of the Bush administration -- which Democrats generally and Barack Obama specifically once vehemently condemned -- and is doing so in order literally to shield the President from judicial review or accountability when he is accused of breaking the law.
Lawsuit Accuses Psychologist of Ignoring Guantanamo Torture
Willian Fisher writes for Truthout.org: "The state board responsible for licensing - and disciplining - psychologists in Louisiana is 'fighting awfully hard to turn a blind eye to serious allegations of abuse' brought against one of its members, who is being accused of complicity in beatings, religious and sexual humiliation, rape threats and painful body positions during his service as a senior adviser on interrogations for the US military in Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib."
UN Can't Account for Millions Sent to Afghan Election Board
T. Christian Miller and Dafna Linzer report for ProPublica: "The United Nations cannot account for tens of millions of dollars provided to the troubled Afghan election commission, according to two confidential UN audits and interviews with current and former senior diplomats. As Afghanistan prepares for a second round of national voting, the documents and interviews paint the fullest picture to date of the finances of the election commission, which has been accused of facilitating election fraud and operating ghost polling places. The new disclosures also deepen the questions about the UN's oversight of money provided by the United States and other nations to ensure a fair election in Afghanistan."
The Second Wave: Evidence Grows of Far-Right Militia Resurgence
Larry Keller reports for The Intelligence Report at the Southern Poverty Law Center: "In Pensacola, Fla., retired FBI agent Ted Gunderson tells a gathering of antigovernment "Patriots" that the federal government has set up 1,000 internment camps across the country and is storing 30,000 guillotines and a half-million caskets in Atlanta. They're there for the day the government finally declares martial law and moves in to round up or kill American dissenters, he says. "They're going to keep track of all of us, folks," Gunderson warns."
The Right Isn't Only Trying to Take Down ACORN, It's Got a 25-year Project to 'Defund" the Left
Muriel Kane writes for The Raw Story (via AlterNet): "When Michele Bachman crowed in September that the exposure of alleged illegal activity by the anti-poverty group ACORN was just the start of a campaign to "defund the left," she may have revealed more about current Republican strategy than she intended. 'Defunding the left is going to be so easy,' Bachmann told the audience at a conservative conference, 'and it’s going to solve so many of our problems.' The Senate and House had just voted to cut off ACORN's federal funding in what CBS/AP called 'a GOP-led strike against the scandal-tainted community organizing group' that followed the release of video showing ACORN employees apparently endorsing illegal activities, The bills passed by lopsided majorities, with many Democrats joining Republicans, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told a news conference, 'We have to have our own scrutiny of an organization with an allegation of this kind against it.'"
The Obstacles to Real Health-Care Reform
Mark Schmitt writes for The American Prospect: "American presidents have tried seven times to bring us into the community of nations that provide health care to all citizens. Seven times the effort failed. More accurately, it was blocked. In the 1940s, the anti-reform movement was led by doctors, through the American Medical Association. In the 1990s, it was led by the insurance and small-business lobbies."
Centrist Democrats = Corporate Sellouts
Ari Berman writes for The Nation: "Every time I hear about Joe Lieberman's latest apostasy, I think, Oy vey! There he goes again. More Joementum. Remind me why we still call this guy a Democrat? Sure, Lieberman caucuses with Democrats in the Senate--Joe is nothing if not opportunistic and who wants to be part of a lowly Republican minority?--but I think he forfeited his right to call himself one when he almost became John McCain's VP and campaigned stridently against an Obama presidency. Yet somehow he managed to keep his chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Gotta love those Senate Democrats--they always find a way to reward someone for stabbing them in the back. See Baucus, Max."
Medical Insurance Fat Cats Working to Fleece Regular Citizens
Bill at The Daily Censored writes: "Glenn Ford of the “Black Agenda Report” says that President Obama is waging a phony fight for public relations purposes in the media verse the insurance agencies. Ford says it’s really a sham battle and the issue has in actuality already been decided. The insurance companies gained the biggest prize in 50 years, forcing even poor people to buy private medical insurance and if they don’t purchase medical insurance they will face terrible fines. Obama is only pretending to put up a fight to deceive the American people that he has good intentions."
Lack of Health Care Lead to 17,000 US Child Deaths
Agence France-Presse reports: "Lack of adequate health care may have contributed to the deaths of some 17,000 US children over the past two decades, according to a study released by the Johns Hopkins Children's Center. The research, to be published Friday in the Journal of Public Health, was compiled from more than 23 million hospital records from 37 states between 1988 and 2005. The study concluded that children without health insurance are far more likely to succumb to their illnesses than those with medical coverage."
It's Liberty at Stake in a Warming World
Preserving an Open Internet
Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Matt Corley, Benjamin Armbruster, and Zaid Jilani write for Progress rEport on Think Progress: "With the way the Internet is structured right now, it is just as easy for Americans to visit a tiny website about knitting run by a young mother in Ohio as it is to visit a site run by the federal government or a major corporation. This feature is part of the reason that in 1999, John Chambers, president and CEO of networking giant Cisco, called the Internet the great 'equalizer between people, companies, and countries.' But powerful interests in the telecom and cable industries, along with their conservative allies on Capitol Hill and in the media, are trying to create a pay-for-play system where companies able to shell out large amounts of money would have the power to make their sites run faster. If they succeed, they will change the lives of 40 million Americans who use the Internet as their primary source of news and information. (Here's what that could look like.) Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, has explained what would happen if U.S. communications served the interests of broadband providers, rather than the public: 'Imagine if you tried to order a pizza and the phone company said AT&T's preferred pizza vendor is Domino's. Press one to connect to Domino's now. If you would still like to order from your neighborhood pizzeria, please hold for three minutes while Domino's guaranteed orders are placed.' The solution to preserving the openness of the Internet is net neutrality, supported by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), prominent federal lawmakers, consumer groups, and the 'geeks' who helped build the Internet. The coalition has even attracted unlikely allies such as the Christian Coalition and Gun Owners of America. But Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is trying to help telecoms and the cable industry make their destructive dream a reality. He recently introduced the inaptly-named 'Internet Freedom Act,' arguing that rules preserving net neutrality would be a "government takeover of the Internet." Join the tens of thousands of people who have spoken out in favor of a free and open Internet by taking action here."
Fox News Viewed as Most Ideological Network
The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reports: "The Fox News Channel is viewed by Americans in more ideological terms than other television news networks. And while the public is evenly divided in its view of hosts of cable news programs having strong political opinions, more Fox News viewers see this as a good thing than as a bad thing."