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 [
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."
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."