Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Matt Corley, Benjamin Armbruster, Zaid Jilani, Max Bergmann and Alex Seitz-Wald write for Think Progress' Progress Report: "On Tuesday evening, a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince. Tens of thousands of people are feared dead and many thousands are injured and remain in desperate need of medical care, as countless buildings and neighborhoods have been flattened. Now there is a frantic race against time to save the lives of those who remained trapped, get medical assistance to those injured, provide food and water to the survivors, and prevent the spread of disease in the aftermath. However, relief efforts have been hampered as Haiti, the poorest country in the hemisphere, has seen its already-decrepit infrastructure shattered. 'Parliament has collapsed. The tax office has collapsed. Schools have collapsed. Hospitals have collapsed,' Haitian President Rene Preval said. 'There are a lot of schools that have a lot of dead people in them.' This is an urgent challenge, one that the world -- and especially the world's only superpower -- must step up to meet. Haiti is just a few hundred miles off the U.S. coast, and the two countries have a closely shared history. The Obama administration has put together a coordinated and integrated response, involving all relevant government agencies and the military. Moreover, the American public has been generously giving money and supplies for earthquake victims. However, much more will have to be done over the coming days, weeks, months and years."
Televangelist Pat Robertson Says Earthquake Payback for Haiti's "Pact With the Devil"
Adele Stan writes for AlterNet: "Every disaster that befalls a nation -- hurricanes, floods, terrorism, earthquakes -- constitutes God's punishment of a people gone astray, according to Pat Robertson, who famously blamed feminists for 9/11 and gays for Hurricanes Katrina and Andrew. In the case of Haiti's devastating earthquake, he blames an ostensible deal that black Haitians made with the Devil in order to win their emancipation and independence from the French colonials who enslaved them. So, in Haiti's case it might not be God who did the nation in, but rather the Devil calling in his chit."
You can help the survivors by making a tax-deductible donation to CARE now.
Obama's Alternative Universe
Scott Ritter writes for Truthdig.com: "As America enters the year 2010 and President Barack Obama his second year in office, the foreign policy landscape presented by American policymakers and media pundits appears to be dominated by two physical problems—Iraq and Afghanistan—which operate in an overarching metaphysical environment loosely defined as a “war on terror.” The ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, entering their seventh and ninth years respectively, have consumed America’s attention, treasure and blood without producing anything close to a tangible victory."
Shooting Gnats with a Machine Gun: The U.S. Military, al-Qaeda, and a War of Futility
Tom Engelhardt and Nick Turse write for TomDispatch: "In his book on World War II in the Pacific, War Without Mercy, John Dower tells an extraordinary tale about the changing American image of the Japanese fighting man. In the period before the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, it was well accepted in military and political circles that the Japanese were inferior fighters on the land, in the air, and at sea -- “little men,” in the phrase of the moment. It was a commonplace of 'expert' opinion, for instance, that the Japanese had supposedly congenital nearsightedness and certain inner-ear defects, while lacking individualism, making it hard to show initiative. In battle, the result was poor pilots in Japanese-made (and so inferior) planes, who could not fly effectively at night or launch successful attacks."
Yemen, North Africa and the Spread of Islamic Fundamentalism
John Reiman reports for The Daily Censored: "General Stanley McChrystal, the top US commander in Afghanistan recently commented that 'We’ve been at this for about seven months now and I believe we’ve made progress.' In fact, it is entirely possible that a further build-up of US troops in Afghanistan could militarily defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda, or at least keep them at bay, preventing them from controlling large swaths of the country. After all, these forces have nothing to offer the masses in Afghanistan as far as resolving their basic problems. All they have to offer is bloodshed, continued poverty, and further repression."
The Associated Press breaks down the numbers:
The U.S. agency overseeing the multibillion dollar Afghanistan reconstruction effort is investigating 38 criminal cases ranging from contract fraud to theft – most involving non-Afghans, officials said Tuesday…Just 10 of the criminal cases under the microscope involve Afghans only, while the rest involve U.S. and other foreigners, according to Raymond DiNunzio, the agency’s assistant inspector general for inspections.
Here is the latest in Robert Greenwald's on-going Rethink Afghanistan project:
Wall Street Will Be Back for More
Chris Hedges writes for Truthdig.com: "Corporations, which control the levers of power in government and finance, promote and empower the psychologically maimed. Those who lack the capacity for empathy and who embrace the goals of the corporation—personal power and wealth—as the highest good succeed. Those who possess moral autonomy and individuality do not. And these corporate heads, isolated from the mass of Americans by insular corporate structures and vast personal fortunes, are no more attuned to the misery, rage and pain they cause than were the courtiers and perfumed fops who populated Versailles on the eve of the French Revolution. They play their games of high finance as if the rest of us do not exist. And it is a game that will kill us."
GeithnerGate: Obama's Treasury Sec. Should Get the Boot and Let's Take Our Money Back Too
Les Leopold and Dylan Ratigan write for AlterNet: "Cover-up revelations keep coming about Timothy Geithner's secret assistance to AIG. The latest show that he urged AIG not to disclose how it would be shoveling money to Goldman Sachs and other large financial institutions by paying off its credit default swaps at par value instead of much less."
Thank You, Wall Street. May We Have Another?
David Corn writes for Mother Jones: "LAST JANUARY, shortly before President Obama took office, veteran Democratic pollster John Marttila conducted a series of focus groups on a range of issues in the Philadelphia and Baltimore areas. When the conversations turned to the economy, Marttila was shocked. In the middle of the financial collapse, these people—men and women of different ages, incomes, races, and political affiliations—were predictably ticked off. But, he recalls, the "dominant emotional dynamic was self-criticism. They really felt that they had failed. They had spent too much on things they didn't need." The pollster had expected rage at Wall Street and George W. Bush, but the people in the groups barely mentioned Bush. And though they were upset by the shady and incomprehensible machinations of big banks, they were not revved up for revenge. 'Their intellectual criticism was directed at the financial world,' Marttila says, 'but their emotional criticism was directed at themselves.' Bottom line: They were not reaching for the pitchforks."
Zero Sum: Is Wal-Mart Boosting Employment or Retail Sales?
Pamela Jean writes for the Kansas Free Press: "In 2010, the world's biggest corporation and largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT), expects to add approximately 38 million square feet of retail space through remodels of existing stores and by accelerating growth of new stores. In the last decade, many U.S. cities have sweetened these deals for Wal-Mart in hopes that the retailer will move into their neighborhoods and boost local economic development."
The Health Care Monopoly
Don Monkerud writes for CounterPunch: "Like pathetic knights of another era jousting at windmills, industry shrills attack health care reform, claiming it "tramples individual liberty" and stifles 'free enterprise.' Far from protecting individual liberty or promoting free enterprise, these forces uphold monopoly control of health care insurance that has a stranglehold on American consumers. And they pay huge sums to control the debate and twist legislation to their advantage.
Feingold Fears "Lawless" Court Ruling on Corporate Campaigning
John Nichols writes for The Nation: "More than one hundred years ago, after a 1904 president race that saw big life insurance companies pour money into the project of electing Republican Teddy Roosevelt, the defeated Democratic candidate, Judge Alton Parker, raised the question of whether presidents and congresses would simply be bought by corporations seeking policies that favored their interests."
DOE Grants Moratorium on Safety Inspections for Nuclear Weapons Labs
Project on Government Oversight reports for The Daily Censored: "If your kid accidentally blew apart a building, would you give them less supervision? This hands-off approach is exactly what the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is doing by giving the contractors who manage the nation’s eight nuclear weapons sites (Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Nevada Test Site, Sandia National Laboratory, Savannah River Site, Pantex, Y-12, and the Kansas City Plant) a six-month break from many regularly scheduled oversight reviews."
The Rehabilitation Of Joseph McCarthy? Texas Textbooks Process Grinds On
Justin Elliott writes for Talk Points Memo: "When we last checked in on the U.S. history textbooks standards setting process down in Texas, the conservative-dominated State Board of Education was mulling one-sided requirements to teach high school students about Newt Gingrich, Phyllis Schlafly, and the Moral Majority. Now, in the home stretch of a process that will set the state's nationally influential standards, a liberal watchdog group is worried that the State Board of Education will try to push through changes to claim that communist-hunting Sen. Joseph McCarthy has been vindicated by history, among other right-wing pet issues."
The Decade for Women: Backwards, Forwards, Sideways
Katha Pollitt writes for The Nation: "How have American women fared in what seems to be everyone's least favorite decade since the Fall of Rome, which at least was fun for the Vandals? (Well, to be fair, today's investment bankers have plenty to chortle over.) Herewith some feminist highs and lows of the era that began with the Supreme Court choosing the president and ended with hope hangovers and tempests in teabags."
Renaming Reparative Therapy Does Not Make It Acceptable
Tiffany Cooper comments in the K-State Collegian: "Information has surfaced about a type of therapy that is offered in Manhattan. It regards the change in personal sexual orientation and problems involving sexuality. Whether the newfound light on this therapy causes rational debate or radical behavior, we must remember we are all humans and deserve the same respect, as these basic principles are what allow humans to recognize differences with acceptance."
Saving the Internet for Consumers
Timothy Karr writes for the Huffington Post: "The Internet is and was always intended to be an open and neutral network. Right now, the FCC is crafting rules that will determine whether or not it will stay that way. Thursday is the last day for the public to submit comments on the proposed rules. Because of Net Neutrality, consumers have had unfettered access to new content and ideas online; our preferences and choices have determined which new ideas succeed and which don't."
The Fundamental Unreliability of America's Media
Glen Greenwald writes for Salon.com: "Consider the record of the American media over the last two weeks alone. Justin Elliott of TPM documents how an absolute falsehood about the attempted Christmas Day airline bombing -- that Abdulmutallab purchased a "one-way ticket" to the U.S., when it was actually a round-trip ticket -- has been repeated far and wide by U.S. media outlets as fact. Two weeks ago, Elliott similarly documented how an equally false claim from ABC News -- that two of the Al Qaeda leaders behind that airliner attack had been released from Guantanamo -- became entrenched as fact in media reports (at most, it was one, not two). This week, Dan Froomkin chronicles how completely discredited claims about Guantanamo recidivism rates continue to be uncritically 'reported' by The New York Times and then inserted into our debates as fact."
Washington Post Ombud Responds on Fiscal Times
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting resports: "Responding to complaints by FAIR activists and others (FAIR Action Alert, 1/6/10), Washington Post ombud Andy Alexander (1/10/10) denied that a Post article (12/31/09) underwritten by an anti-Social Security crusader constituted 'propaganda,' but he acknowledged that the piece contained serious flaws. The Post had come under fire for running a piece from the Fiscal Times, a for-profit news outlet launched by Peter Peterson, a billionaire who has spent millions promoting cuts in entitlement spending (Extra!, 3-4/97). Alexander maintained that it was 'false' to say that by publishing the Fiscal Times story--about the possible creation of a bipartisan commission that would recommend cuts in entitlement programs--the 'took special-interest 'propaganda' and passed it off as a news story.'"
Activists Worried About "Secret" Internet Treaty
Emilio Godoy reports for Inter Press Service: "An international treaty to combat copyright infringement and piracy, being negotiated by Mexico and other countries, could curtail expansion of the internet, violate people's rights to privacy and freedom of expression, and undermine multilateral accords on intellectual property, activists warn. Canada, the European Union, Japan, Switzerland and the United States announced their intentions to negotiate the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in October 2007, and a number of other countries including Australia, Jordan, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates have joined the subsequent formal negotiating sessions."