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  this week flogging the federal Web site Recovery.gov  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  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  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 , adopted by the exactly 20 years ago. The most widely ratified 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."