Daniel Ellsberg writes for Truthdig.com: "I just learned that my friend Howard Zinn died today. Earlier this morning, I was being interviewed by the Boston Phoenix, in connection with the February release of a documentary in which he is featured prominently. The interviewer asked me who my own heroes were, and I had no hesitation in answering, first, 'Howard Zinn.'”
Howard Zinn: A Public Intellectual Who Mattered
Henry A. Giroux, Truthout: "In 1977 I took my first job in higher education at Boston University. One reason I went there was because Howard Zinn was teaching there at the time. As a high school teacher, Howard's book, 'Vietnam: the Logic of Withdrawal,' published in 1968, had a profound effect on me."
Haiti’s Tragedy: A Crime of US Imperialism
Bill Van Auken writes for the World Socialist Website: "The immense death and suffering inflicted upon the people of Haiti by the January 12 earthquake has laid bare a massive international crime by US imperialism, which prepared this catastrophe with a century of oppression and is now attempting to exploit the disaster for its own ends."
Obama's Secret Prisons: Night Raids, Hidden Detention Centers, the "Black Jail" and the Dogs of War in Afghanistan
Anand Gopal comments for TomDispatch.com: "One quiet, wintry night last year in the eastern Afghan town of Khost, a young government employee named Ismatullah simply vanished. He had last been seen in the town's bazaar with a group of friends. Family members scoured Khost's dust-doused streets for days. Village elders contacted Taliban commanders in the area who were wont to kidnap government workers, but they had never heard of the young man. Even the governor got involved, ordering his police to round up nettlesome criminal gangs that sometimes preyed on young bazaar-goers for ransom."
Obama Ignores Key Afgan Warning
Ray McGovern writes for Consortium News: "No longer is it possible to suggest that Obama was totally deprived of good counsel on Afghanistan; Eikenberry got it largely right. Sadly, the inevitable conclusion is that, although Obama is not as dumb as his predecessor, he is no less willing to sacrifice thousands of lives for political gain."
Regardless of Polls, Afghans Say Mood in Country is Worsening
Jean MacKenzie reports for GlobalPost: "There is a loud sound of head-scratching in Kabul these days as Afghans and foreigners alike ponder the results of a poll conducted jointly by ABC News, the BBC and German television company ARD."
Justice Department Clears Torture Memo Authors John Yoo, Jay Bybee of Misconduct
Jason Leopold, Truthout: "A long-awaited Department of Justice watchdog report that probed whether John Yoo and his former boss Jay Bybee violated professional standards when they provided the Bush White House with legal advice on torture has cleared both men of misconduct, according to Newsweek, citing unnamed sources who have seen the document."
The Nation comments in the following editorial: "The Citizens United campaign finance decision by Chief Justice John Roberts and a Supreme Court majority of conservative judicial activists is a dramatic assault on American democracy, overturning more than a century of precedent in order to give corporations the ultimate authority over elections and governing. This decision tips the balance against active citizenship and the rule of law by making it possible for the nation's most powerful economic interests to manipulate not just individual politicians and electoral contests but political discourse itself. As such, it demands a vigorous response, uniting progressive activists and good-government reformers of every stripe along with those conservatives who are also troubled by the decision. We must now fight for legislative and constitutional remedies to this threat to the American experiment."
The Supreme Coup
Jim Hightower writes for Truthout.org: "Despite 234 years of progress toward the American ideal of equality for all, we still have to battle unfairness. How happy, then, to learn that a handful of our leaders in Washington took bold and forceful action last week to lift another group of downtrodden Americans from the pits of injustice, helping them gain more political and governmental power. I refer, of course, to corporations."
10 Ways to Stop Corporate Dominance of Politics: It's Not Too Late to Limit or Reverse the Impact of the Supreme Court's Disastrous Decision in Citizens United v. FEC
Fran Korten writes for Yes! Magazine: "Pro-democracy groups, business leaders, and elected representatives are proposing mechanisms to prevent or counter the millions of dollars that corporations can now draw from their treasuries to push for government action favorable to their bottom line. The outrage ignited by the Court's ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission extends to President Obama, who has promised that repairing the damage will be a priority for his administration."
Nice Speech. Now What?
Bill Boyarsky writes for Truthdig.com: "If words alone could do the trick, President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech worked. But this time, words were not enough. Words won’t put people to work. Not even Obama’s eloquence—and he did reach that point on occasion—will be enough to inject courage into the gutless Democrats running from a mild heath care reform bill. Nor will words turn Republicans away from the unrelenting opposition they think will bring down the Democrats."
Two Cheers for Obama on Foreign Affairs
Robert Dreyfuss writes for The Nation: "Make no mistake -- to use one of President Obama's favorite phrases -- the United States faces a difficult and daunting foreign policy challenge over the next three years of Obama's first term. Still, it was a pleasure to listen to a State of the Union address, especially after eight years of his predecessor's alarmist warnings and warlike thundering, in which war, terrorism, and 'rogue states' went almost unmentioned."
How to Reform our Financial System
Paul Volcker comments in the New York Times: "PRESIDENT OBAMA 10 days ago set out one important element in the needed structural reform of the financial system. No one can reasonably contest the need for such reform, in the United States and in other countries as well. We have after all a system that broke down in the most serious crisis in 75 years. The cost has been enormous in terms of unemployment and lost production. The repercussions have been international."
Obama Needs to Teach the Public How to Get Out of the Mess We're In
Robert Reich writes on RobertReich.org: "The President wants businesses that hire new employees this year to get $5,000 per hire, in the form of a tax credit. That will come to about $33 billion. It's good step. He's also supporting a cut in the capital gains tax for small businesses. That makes sense; after all, small businesses generate most jobs."
HealthCareFAIL: How The Dems Botched Their Signature Legislation
Brian Buetler writes for Talking Point Memo: "Talk about fits and starts. A year ago Democrats committed to passing comprehensive health care legislation; six months ago, it became clear that their project wouldn't go smoothly; one month ago it was full speed ahead; and a week and a half ago it all fell apart. Health care reform is now on life support. To mix metaphors, it's on life support and the back burner at the same time. How the Democrats' signature agenda item went from a foregone conclusion to a prospect in peril is a tale of missteps and bad luck. No single player or event brought us to where we are today. But if any of the below episodes had gone...more smoothly, this might've been a done deal"
Rep. Grayson: Obama Needs to Push Health Care In Earnest -- With a Public Option
Adele Stan writes for AlterNet: "Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., has a message for Senate Democrats: Pass health care with a public option -- and pass it quickly. On Wednesday, Grayson joined Adam Green of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Jim Dean of Democracy for America in delivering some 225,000 petitions to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that demand the Senate leadership use a procedure it has avoided so far in the health care fight in order to pass a bill that contains a public health insurance option. CREDO Action also co-sponsored the petition."
Obama Orders Cut in Federal Government's Greenhouse-Gas Emissions
Mark Clayton, The Christian Science Monitor: "President Obama Friday told federal agencies to cut energy use to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 28 percent by 2010. Agencies are taking measures ranging from using more solar energy to switching from gasoline vehicles to hybrid vehicles."
Coalition of Women's Groups Protests Focus on the Family Super Bowl Ad
National Partnership for Women and Families writes: Some national women's groups on Monday told CBS not to broadcast a Super Bowl commercial featuring former University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and his mother that is expected to include an antiabortion-rights message, the AP/Washington Post reports. Tebow and his mother, Pam, will appear in the 30-second commercial on behalf of the Christian group Focus on the Family. They are expected to discuss Pam's personal story of falling ill while in the Philippines when she was pregnant with Tim and ignoring doctors' recommendations to have an abortion."
Rise in Teen Pregnancy Rate Invigorates Debate Over Federally Funded Abstinence-Only Programs
National Partnership for Women and Families writes: "The recent release of a new study by the Guttmacher Institute showing a 3% increase in the U.S. teen pregnancy rate from 2005 to 2006 is "likely to intensify the debate over federal financing for abstinence-only sex education," the New York Times reports. The Guttmacher study showed higher pregnancy rates for white, black and Hispanic teens, as well as the first increase in the teen abortion rate in more than a decade."
The Most Hated Name in News: Will Al Jazeera English Revolutionize America's TV News Landscape?
Deborah Campbell writes for The Walrus: "There are three forces shaping the world, an Arab reporter I met in the Gaza Strip once told me: money, women, and journalism. On the first and third counts, he might have been thinking of Qatar, where I pass by luxury shopping malls, glittering real estate developments, and, in a spirit of reasonableness, traffic signs that advise caution when driving the wrong way down one-way streets. Over the past decade, this tiny desert emirate of a million and a half people -- a bump on the rib cage of Saudi Arabia, directly across the Persian Gulf from Iran -- has asserted itself on the world stage in large measure by pouring money into, of all things, journalism. Since 1996, it has been funding Al Jazeera (Arabic for "the island"), the network that revolutionized the Arab media and is poised to do the same for the English-speaking world."
Not-so-Breitbart and the Story of James O'Keefe
Karl Frisch writes for Media Matters: "Back in September, right-wing activist James O'Keefe told Fox News host Glenn Beck that he was "willing to serve prison time" for his work. That just may happen. According to an affidavit from the FBI, O'Keefe and three others were arrested in connection with an alleged plot to "interfer[e]" with the phone system in Sen. Mary Landrieu's New Orleans office. O'Keefe is perhaps best known for the heavily edited and misleading undercover videos he and shot of low-level ACORN employees while the right-wing duo were dressed as a pimp and prostitute, an escapade that itself may have violated state criminal statutes."
Report Details Long History of Government Support of Journalism
FreePress reports: "A new report released today examines the history of the U.S. government's role in subsidizing the gathering and distribution of news and information. The report, Public Policy and Funding the News, by David Westphal and Geoffrey Cowan, was published by the University of Southern California's Center on Communication Leadership and Policy." Download full report.
As Murdoch and Sulzberger Dream of Paywalls, Consider Poor Newsday's Example
David Weir writes for BNET: "Perhaps the only way to figure out what is actually going on in the media industry these days is to not get too mired in the daily, weekly, or even monthly details, because the pace of news has quickened to the extent that even the small army of us here at BNET could never hope to cover everything of interest to the average media exec. Take the issue of paywalls. Everyone knows about Rupert Murdoch’s threats, and the The New York Times’ plans, but while those industry leaders prepare their well-publicized initiatives, what is the actual experience of the publications that are out ahead of the curve on this?"
RESEARCH: "Bolshevik plot": Right-wing media declare Obama a radical who threatens America
Media Matters reposts: "Urging that 'we've got to close the gap a little bit between the rhetoric and the reality,' President Obama stated during his January 29 question and answer session with House Republicans that 'if you were to listen to the debate' over health care reform 'you'd think that this thing was some Bolshevik plot.' Throughout Obama's administration thus far, conservative media have embraced such rhetoric, routinely attacking Obama's agenda as socialist, communist or fascist and telling audiences that Obama and health care reform are a threat to America itself."
Why Media and Journalism Scholars Support Network Neutrality
Bill Herman reports for DaveTheInternet.com: "Academic associations tend to be politically conservative. I don't mean that they revere Ronald Reagan and Milton Friedman, though plenty of scholars do. Rather, each group – representing a field's professors and graduate students – tends to evade controversy, rarely taking a public stance on an issue that might divide the membership. Thus, it is remarkable that the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) has declared its support for Network Neutrality."
Why the Opinion Industry Hates 'Most People'
Timothy Karr writes for the Huffington Post: "They've called us pirates, pigs, lunatics and communists. They've funneled their money to PR firms that spin the media about the "evils" of Net Neutrality -- the principle that protects our online freedom. Because nearly two million people have stood up for an open Internet, they're trying to knock us down."