David Sirota writes for Truthout: "While I'm loathe to write a top-ten list, if only for fear of falling short of Dave Letterman's legendary bit, I'm making an exception in this first week of 2010 - a moment when we get to not only make New Year's resolutions, but resolutions for the new decade. As we make those prospective pledges, let's take a moment to look back at the Top Ten Quotations from the last ten years - the ones telling us some painful truths about our country, society and worldview; the ones that might inform us of what we need to do as we move forward."
Good-bye to 2009, Hello to 2010: Year of the Tiger
Alexander Cockburn writes for Counter Punch: "Once again hands are raised in stupefaction. How could they have missed him – meaning in this case Umar Abdulmutallab the Nigerian bomber on that flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. Why, his own father – one of the most powerful bankers in Africa – gave the US embassy in Lagos a warning! He was on the US master computer list of potential terrorists but never made it on to the watch list. The Truthers reject the obvious answers – caution, bureaucratic inertia, buck-passing, turf fights – and say it was a plot. Obama joins Bush and Cheney in the big conspiracy. It won’t be long before David Griffin rushes out a book on the affair."
Reducing Your Impact: A Guide to New Year's Resolutions for 2010
Ashwin Seshagiri writes for Planet Green: "When writer Colin Beavan set out to become the No Impact Man, it wasn't because of any near-death experience, New Year's resolution, or other catalyzing moment in his life. He noticed a heat wave ripping through Manhattan in January, and realized something big was going on. He didn't know much about global warming at the time, but he recognized it was one of the most important things happening in our lifetimes, and wanted to do something about it."
The 20 Best Socially Conscious Movies of the Decade
Robert Scheer writes for Truthdig.com: "2009 was a record year at the box office, but there are those who worry that Hollywood has gone into decline over the last decade. Moviegoers are reportedly much more interested in gimmicks than substance, and people supposedly would rather watch talking robots than talking humans, let alone stories about the human condition. But the oughts turned out to be a vibrant decade for politically and culturally enlightened movies, after all. The last 10 years were abundant with films that pushed limits and attacked real issues in real time. The documentary and the foreign film both gained unprecedented mainstream acceptance, the studios experimented with edgier independent movies (though many have now given it up) and even the biggest blockbusters sometimes needled the Establishment.
2009: The Year Wall Street Bounced Back and Main Street Got Shafted
Robert Reich writes on Robert Reich's Blog: "The five largest remaining banks are today larger, their executives and traders richer, their strategies of placing large bets with other people's money no less bold than before the meltdown. The possibility of new regulations emanating from Congress has barely inhibited the Street's exuberance. But if Wall Street is back on top, the everyday lives of large numbers of Americans continue to be subject to overwhelming trauma, chaos and disruption."
Mega Giant Corporation Are Very Bad for America
Barry Lynn writes for Alternet.org: " The following is an excerpt from the first chapter of Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction, published by Wiley Press. Even with a GPS and a good map, I have a hard time finding Diane Cochrane’s home, which is tucked in the crease of a hill a few miles east of Prescott, Arizona. The one-story green frame building sits at the bottom of a steep driveway that drops from a rocky road that cuts off a maze of streets that, as I drive along in my rented Pontiac, seem more like a mad Motocross track than the arteries of a neighborhood. Yet it is easy to understand why Diane settled here with her husband after they fled the monotony of a Ford assembly line in Ohio. The landscape is a testament to the creativity of both humanity and God. Every one of the hundred or so houses in the community is unique. There are ramblers, chalets, A-frames, ranches, and log cabins. The terrain, meanwhile, seems to change in character almost inch by inch as the roadway drops and twists vertiginously into deep and scrubby ravines, only to crest a moment later to stunning views of a far shimmering horizon."
Judge Dismisses Charges Against Blackwater Guards Involved in Iraq Massacre
Jason Leopold reports for Truthout: "A federal judge in Washington, DC on Thursday dismissed criminal charges against five Blackwater guards involved in the massacre of 14 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in September 2007, an incident that led to a public outcry over the government's increasing reliance on contractors in the battlefield."
Success of Afghanistan Troop Surge Doubted Widely
Sherwood Ross reports for The Public Record: "'There isn’t the slightest possibility that the course laid out by Barack Obama in his Dec. 1 speech (at West Point) will halt or even slow the downward spiral toward defeat in Afghanistan,' writes Thomas Johnson in a report published Dec. 10 in Foreign Policy magazine. And for emphasis, he adds the word 'None.' 'The US president and his advisors labored for three months and brought forth old wine in bigger bottles,' Johnson wrote, noting, 'The speech contained not one single new idea or approach, nor offered any hint of new thinking about a conflict that everyone now agrees the United States is losing.'"
They Chant of Bitterness and Hell
Patrick Cockburn reports for The Independent (UK):
"We are the AwaleqThis is the tribal chant of the powerful Awaleq tribe of Yemen, in which they bid defiance to the world. Its angry tone conveys the flavour of Yemeni life and it should give pause to those in the US who blithely suggest greater American involvement in Yemen in the wake of the attempt to destroy a US plane by a Nigerian student who says he received training there."
Born of bitterness
We are the sparks of hell
He who defies us will be burned
Hope Fades for End of American Empire under Obama
John Pilger reports for The Daily Censored: "'Information Clearing House' — In Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell described a superstate called Oceania, whose language of war inverted lies that 'passed into history and became truth. "Who controls the past", ran the Party slogan, "controls the future: who controls the present controls the past".' Barack Obama is the leader of a contemporary Oceania. In two speeches at the close of the decade, the Nobel Peace Prize winner affirmed that peace was no longer peace, but rather a permanent war that 'extends well beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan' to 'disorderly regions and diffuse enemies.' He called this 'global security' and invited our gratitude. To the people of Afghanistan, which America has invaded and occupied, he said wittily: 'We have no interest in occupying your country.'”
The Degrading Effects of Terrorism Fears
Glenn Greenwald writes for Salon.com: "I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but David Brooks actually had an excellent column in yesterday's New York Times that makes several insightful and important points. Brooks documents how "childish, contemptuous and hysterical" the national reaction has been to this latest terrorist episode, egged on -- as usual -- by the always-hysterical American media. The citizenry has been trained to expect that our Powerful Daddies and Mommies in government will -- in that most cringe-inducing, child-like formulation -- Keep Us Safe. Whenever the Government fails to do so, the reaction -- just as we saw this week -- is an ugly combination of petulant, adolescent rage and increasingly unhinged cries that More Be Done to ensure that nothing bad in the world ever happens. Demands that genuinely inept government officials be held accountable are necessary and wise, but demands that political leaders ensure that we can live in womb-like Absolute Safety are delusional and destructive. Yet this is what the citizenry screams out every time something threatening happens: please, take more of our privacy away; monitor more of our communications; ban more of us from flying; engage in rituals to create the illusion of Strength; imprison more people without charges; take more and more control and power so you can Keep Us Safe."
Cheney in Winter
Eugene Robinson writes for Truthdig.com: "It’s pathetic to break a New Year’s resolution before we even get to New Year’s Day, but here I go. I had promised myself that I would do a better job of ignoring Dick Cheney’s corrosive and nonsensical outbursts—that I would treat them, more or less, like the pearls of wisdom one hears from homeless people sitting in bus shelters. But he is a former vice president, which gives him a big stage for his histrionic Rottweiler-in-Winter act. It is never a good idea to let widely disseminated lies and distortions go unchallenged. And the shrill screed that Cheney unloosed Wednesday is so full of outright mendacity that, well, my resolution will have to wait.
Homeland Security Marked by Waste, Lack of Oversight
G. W. Schulz reports for the Center for Investigative Reporting: "Soon after hijackers obliterated the World Trade Center towers eight years ago, Marin County received more than $100,000 in surveillance equipment to keep its water treatment system safe from a terrorist attack. But four years after the funds were awarded, state authorities found more than $67,000 worth of the gear still boxed in its original packaging. It had never been used."
Krugman’s Health Care Sell-Out: The Health ‘Reform’ Bill in Congress Is Worse than Nothing
David Lindroff write for The Public Record: "Paul Krugman, one of the few liberal columnists writing for the New York Times, claims that at some point in the hoary past when he 'began writing a lot about health care,' he was in favor of a Canadian-style single-payer health care system. He adds that even today if he thought there was 'any chance of creating Medicare for All any time in the next decade,' he would be 'pushing for single-payer now.' But on Christmas, Krugman threw in the towel, calling on progressives to support the Senate’s version of health care legislation. Suggesting that the so-called Senate Health Reform Bill, if it had been the law back in Dickens’ time in England, would have saved Tiny Tim without any need for the belated charitable intervention of Ebenezer Scrooge, Krugman says progressives should recognize that the Senate bill is the best they can hope for, and that they need to accept that politics is 'the art of the possible.'”
Do Charter Schools Encourage Innovation and Best Practices in TPS?
Danny Weil writes for the Daily Censored: "The neo-liberal argument that charters will oxygenate the practices of traditional public schools (TPS’s) with new and promising educational innovations and practices thereby raising all boats has been more propaganda than fact. The press repeats it, and the people are beguiled. Take the study done by Good and Braden in 2000 which found that public school officials did not believe that charter schools were providing new models and programs for best practices to be highlighted; nor did they see anything being done within the charter schools that they and their schools wished to emulate (Good and Braden 2000). And in Arizona, a state where charter schools have witnessed enormous growth and support, over half the administrators polled said their districts had not been affected by charter schools nor did they believe charter schools would improve education (ibid). As Corwin and Schneider consider, charters are really not doing many things that have not been done some where else at one time or another and frankly, many public school teachers find little in common with experimental charters nor do they have any form of institutional support or mechanisms in place for learning about what they might be doing (Corwin and Schneider 2007)."
Zombie Anti-Choice Bill Shows Up Again
Erin Doughty writes for Forward Kansas: "s we’ve come to expect with the Party of No, forming policy that benefits their constituents, is financially sound, and free of moral judgement is beyond their apparent reasoning level. Enter today’s prime example, Sen. Tim Huelskamp! In the 2009 leg session, Huelskamp introduced an amendment to the budget that would have withheld all federal funds from Planned Parenthood of Kansas + Mid-MO (PPKM). In a time of state budget crisis, its important to remember that these funds do not come from the state’s general fund – they’re federal funds that have no budgetary impact on the state whatsoever. The budget passed with the amendment, which was then line-item’d by Gov. Parkinson."
Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill Controversy Heats Up
Gregory Branch reports for GlobalPost: "To many non-Ugandans, Uganda conjures up two sustaining images; One, a small, beautiful, landlocked east African nation, once called the 'Pearl of Africa' by her British colonizers. The other, a country ruled by African strongman Idi Amin, recently immortalized by the 2006 Oscar-winning performance of Forest Whitaker in, 'The Last King of Scotland.' A new image could be emerging for Uganda, one that would eclipse any other notion and one that Ugandans are hotly debating: one of the few countries in the world to implement the death penalty for gays and lesbians."
The 2010 Forecast: More Delays for Gays
Deb Price comments for Truthout: "Imagine looking up at an airport monitor. Next to the list of flights scheduled for departure is 'delayed,' 'delayed,' 'delayed.' Got the image? Then you have a fairly good feel for how gay Americans ended 2009, a year in which Democrats ran the control towers. Long-promised flights toward equality were, well, you got it, largely delayed."
Top Golbal Media Figures of 2009
Peter Phillips reports for The Daily Censored: "PU L S E has just released their list of the top Global Media Figures of 2009. Include in the list is Nora Barrows-Friedman and Dennis Bernstein from Flashpoints Radio at KPFA in Berkeley. Flashpoints has recently been under threat by management at KPFA loosing over 50% of its funding in the past three years."
Money, Journalism and Democracy
Randy Baker comments for Truthout: "The business model on which most American journalism relies, making a profit by attracting enough readers to sell advertising, is failing. With the closure of several major daily newspapers, such as the Seattle Post Intelligencer, and risks of closure at other major papers, such as the Boston Globe, alarm bells are being sounded. Citing the importance of the press, and particularly newspapers, to democracy, political commentators, concerned citizens, scholars, journalists, newspaper owners and politicians, including, it seems, President Obama, are moving to secure some sort of government assistance for newspapers."