Michael T. Klare writes for TomDispatch.com: "As the second decade of the twenty-first century begins, we find ourselves at one of those relatively rare moments in history when major power shifts become visible to all. If the first decade of the century witnessed profound changes, the world of 2009 nonetheless looked at least somewhat like the world of 1999 in certain fundamental respects: the United States remained the world's paramount military power, the dollar remained the world's dominant currency, and NATO remained its foremost military alliance, to name just three."
What's Ahead for the Economy and Politics in 2010
Robert Reich writes on RobertReich.org: "Just about everything you'll hear coming out of Washington starting now is really about November's midterm election. The gravitational pull of the midterms was already apparent last year, as Republicans marched in perfect lockstep to vote against whatever the president and Dems proposed (Republicans always have authoritarian discipline on their side, which is why they're Republicans) but you haven't seen anything yet."
Abandoning EFCA Is Obama's Political Suicide: Lessons From Three Presidents on Workers' Rights
Mike Elk comments for Truthout: "Whatever happened to the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA)? Is it dead? I remember sitting in a meeting last May with Senate staff who said that after Al Franken was sworn in, EFCA would be an eight-week fight and then a vote in the Senate. It has been nearly eight months and there still has been no vote, not even in committee."
Poverty and Unemployment Equal Misery In America
Tom Eley writes for The Daily Censored: "The new decade finds the US working class suffering a level of social misery not seen since the Great Depression. Unemployment, poverty, hunger, utility cutoffs, homelessness, foreclosures and bankruptcies have become common experiences for millions. But unlike in the Great Depression, when limited reforms were put in place in response to the crisis, the Obama administration, Congress, and state and local governments are taking no serious measures to provide relief. On the contrary, the two parties of big business are exacerbating the crisis through budget cuts at the state and local level and the federal government is preparing new austerity measures."
Less Than Honest Policy
Bob Herbert comments for the New York Times: "There is a middle-class tax time bomb ticking in the Senate's version of President Obama's effort to reform health care. The bill that passed the Senate with such fanfare on Christmas Eve would impose a confiscatory 40 percent excise tax on so-called Cadillac health plans, which are popularly viewed as over-the-top plans held only by the very wealthy. In fact, it's a tax that in a few years will hammer millions of middle-class policyholders, forcing them to scale back their access to medical care."
The Pictures of War You Aren't Supposed to See
Chris Hedges writes for Truthdig.com: "War is brutal and impersonal. It mocks the fantasy of individual heroism and the absurdity of utopian goals like democracy. In an instant, industrial warfare can kill dozens, even hundreds of people, who never see their attackers. The power of these industrial weapons is indiscriminate and staggering. They can take down apartment blocks in seconds, burying and crushing everyone inside. They can demolish villages and send tanks, planes and ships up in fiery blasts. The wounds, for those who survive, result in terrible burns, blindness, amputation and lifelong pain and trauma. No one returns the same from such warfare. And once these weapons are employed all talk of human rights is a farce. "
Multiple Deployments Leads to Major Increase in PTSD Cases, New Study Says
Mary Susan Littlepage reports for Truthout: "Soldiers with multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan are more than three times as likely as soldiers with no previous deployments to screen positive for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depression, according to a new study published by the American Journal for Public Health."
After Flight 253, Should Obama Ramp Up on Terrorism Politics?
Simon Rosenberg, who heads the New Democratic Network, has an interesting take on the failed Christmas Day terrorism attack. He notes that this bungled al Qaeda-linked attempt to blow up an airliner flying to Detroit from Amsterdam "could radically impact Washington's agenda in 2010" and "may very well knock other important priorities off the legislative calendar." That calendar is already overflowing with the completion of health care reform, financial reform, climate change legislation, and Obama's top priority for the election year of 2010: jobs, jobs, and jobs.
All Together Now: Shut Up You Lefties
Kai Wright comments for The Nation: "It's bound to happen, any time progressives have the audacity to demand brave leadership from a Democratic Party that asks for our money, our votes and our volunteer labor. The cry goes up from the self-proclaimed level heads of corporate media: You impractical, self-defeating lefties! Stop whining and let the adults run things! And so, as the leadership debacle that was health reform reaches its climax, it's little surprise that those of us who won't stop fighting for true reform are once again told to shut up."
Reading the Tea Leaves
Howard Kurtz writes for the Washington Post: "The tea party movement -- if that angry, inchoate mass of disaffected dissidents deserves to be called a movement -- was probably the most surprising development of last year, and the most underestimated by the MSM. It wasn't just that lots of folks turned out for protests, but that the demonstrators were fueled by considerable emotion -- which surfaced again amid the shouting of the summer's health-care town halls. Even today, I can't tell you exactly what the tea partiers stand for, since the shorthand label covers all sorts of people with all kinds of grievances."
Meltdown, USA: Nuclear Drive Trumps Safety Risks and High Cost
Art Levine writes the following news analysis for Truthout: "The pro-nuclear Department of Energy is set to offer this month the first of nearly $20 billion in loan guarantees to a nuclear industry that hasn't built a plant since the 1970's or raised any money to do so in years. But although the industry is seeking to cash in on global warming concerns with $100 billion in proposed loan guarantees, environmentalists, scientists and federal investigators are warning that lax oversight by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) of the nation's aging 104 nuclear plants has led to near-meltdowns along with other health and safety failings since Three Mile Island - including what some critics say is a flawed federal health study apparently designed to conceal cancer risks near nuclear plants."
Rethinking Education as the Practice of Freedom
Henry A. Giroux writes for Truthout: "As the market-driven logic of neoliberal capitalism continues to devalue all aspects of the public good, one consequence has been that the educational concern with excellence has been removed from matters of equity, while the notion of schooling as a public good has largely been reduced to a private good. Both public and higher education are largely defined through the corporate demand that they provide the skills, knowledge and credentials that will provide the workforce necessary for the United States to compete and maintain its role as the major global economic and military power."
Reclaiming Legal Abortion as a Fundamental Right
Frances Kissling writes for The Women's Media Center: "The debate about abortion coverage in health insurance reform is the latest disappointing moment in the efforts of feminists to ensure that the social transformation Roe promised women was equally available to all women, including those who were dependent on the government for health care. To hear President Obama call the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal Medicaid funds for abortion, an “American tradition” is only the most recent of many misstatements about what a fundamental right entails. It seems that prochoice legislators, following the president’s lead, now explicitly consider that throwing women who cannot afford to pay for their own abortions under the bus is a reasonable compromise between those who favor and those who oppose legal abortion and a sensible concession to those who think abortion is immoral."
Comcast Launches "TV Everywhere": Say Goodbye to Free Online Television
Josh Silver writes for The Huffington Post: "On Monday, public interest groups called on federal authorities to investigate a plan by the largest cable, satellite and phone companies that threatens the future of Web-based video. "TV Everywhere" gets programmers like TNT, TBS and CBS to keep their content offline unless a viewer also pays for TV through a traditional company like Comcast or AT&T (phone companies are starting to offer TV service, too)."
Consumer Groups Cry Foul over 'TV Everywhere'
Kim Hart writes for The Hill: "Free Press, Consumers Union, New America Foundation and Public Knowledge are among the public interest groups pushing Congress, the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department to investigate the "TV Everywhere" initiative. The groups say it is an attempt by phone, satellite and cable companies to stamp out competition by requiring consumers to pay for a pay-TV subscription to access online programming."
Nearly 140 Journalists Killed in 2009
John Plunkett reports for the Guardian (UK): "Governments must take more action to protect journalists after 137 media personnel were killed last year, according to the International Federation of Journalists. The IFJ described last year as one of the worst for the targeted killing of journalists, with 113 deliberate killings out of a "grim total" of 137 deaths among journalists and media personnel. The Philippines, Mexico and Somalia were the most dangerous countries for journalists, it found. But the number of killings in Iraq – which for much of the decade has seen the highest number of media deaths – fell from 16 to five."