Bill Moyers and Michael Winship comment for Truthout: "That famous definition of a cynic as someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing has come to define this present moment of American politics. No wonder people have lost faith in politicians, in parties and in our leadership. The power of money drives cynicism deep into the heart of every level of government."
Seven Deadly Traits: Decoding the confession of the Austin plane bomber.
David Cullen writes for Slate.com: "Joseph Stack spent months on his manifesto. He was adamant about convincing us—or himself—why flying his plane into an IRS building was an act of charity. The five-page rant the software engineer wrote before his performance murder is illogical, hysterical, hyperbolic, and deeply dishonest. Stack's convoluted arguments explain nothing, and the thumbnail sketch of his impoverished life is absurd. And that's exactly why it's so revealing. The software engineer tried to con us with a deceptive self-portrait, but the real Joseph Stack reveals himself in the way he concocts it."
Terrorism: The Most Meaningless and Manipulated Word
Glenn Greenwald writes for Salon.com: "Yesterday, Joseph Stack deliberately flew an airplane into a building housing IRS offices in Austin, Texas, in order to advance the political grievances he outlined in a perfectly cogent suicide-manifesto. Stack's worldview contained elements of the tea party's anti-government anger along with substantial populist complaints generally associated with "the Left" (rage over bailouts, the suffering of America's poor, and the pilfering of the middle class by a corrupt economic elite and their government-servants). "
Obama's Pentagon Rebrands Iraq War, Rolls Out PR Offensive in Afghanistan
Liliana Segura writes for AlterNet: "This week, the same week that saw the U.S. military launch a major new assault in Afghanistan -- a much ballyhooed effort that is as much a PR offensive as a military one -- the Pentagon decided to formally rebrand the Iraq War. In a one-page memo dated Feb. 17, 2010 and signed by Robert Gates, the Secretary of Defense officially requested that U.S. Central Command "change the name of Operation Iraqi Freedom to Operation New Dawn."
DOJ Report on Torture Memo: Yoo Said Bush Could Order Civilians "Exterminated"
Jason Leopold writes for Truthout: "A long-awaited report into the legal memos former Justice Department attorneys John Yoo and Jay Bybee prepared for the Bush administration on torture was released Friday afternoon and concluded that the men violated 'professional standards' and should be referred to state bar associations where a further review of their legal work could have led to the revocation of their law licenses."
Bagram, Obama's Secret Penal Colony
Sara Daniel reports for Le Nouvel Observateur (English translation by Truthout.org): "It's the biggest American prison outside the United States. No journalist has ever been able to penetrate this no-law zone situated to the north of Kabul. Arbitrary detentions, humiliations, even torture, in the name of the 'war against terror' ... From Afghanistan, Sara Daniel reports horrific testimonies. After Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, the next scandal to threaten America?"
A Convenient Truth
Ken Sayers writes for The Daily Censored: "How convenient it is that the Justice Department has decided the person who sent weapon’s grade anthrax to key Democratic offices, like Senator Patrick Leahey’s, is a dead person. Yes, It is Obama’s justice Department, but the people in it were hired in the last nine years. I think Obama’s Justice department is working under a bit of a handicap. Unless, of course, Obama is actually happy with the Justice Department, declaring the “torture memos” as being within the law — that it coincides with his idea of Justice. If that is the case, than we are operating under a handicap."
Private Contractors "Like Vultures Coming to Grab the Loot"
Anthony Fenton reports for Inter Press Service: "Critics are concerned that private military contractors are positioning themselves at the centre of an emerging 'shock doctrine' for earthquake-ravaged Haiti. Next month, a prominent umbrella organisation for private military and logistic corporations, the International Peace Operations Association (IPOA), is co-organising a 'Haiti summit' which aims to bring together 'leading officials' for 'private consultations with attending contractors and investors' in Miami, Florida."
Anniversary of Stimulus Met with Praise and Scorn
Christopher Flavelle reports for ProPublica: "A year ago, Congress passed one of the biggest-ever attempts to spend the United States out of an economic maelstrom. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stands as one of President Obama’s signature initiatives — a mix of tax cuts, financial aid and infrastructure projects worth some $800 billion. Has the stimulus lived up to its promise? As we’ve reported before, where you stand depends on where you sit."
The Wal-Mart Counter Revolution
Adam Turl writes for CounterPunch: "Once upon a time, GM was the biggest employer in the U.S. In the historic labor battles of the 1930s, GM workers formed the United Auto Workers (UAW). During the economic boom of the 1950s and 1960s, they won substantial gains in wages and benefits. Of course, both GM and the UAW are now pale shadows of their former selves. Today the largest employer in the U.S. (and the world) is the anti-union behemoth Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart's 1.4 million U.S. "associates" often earn poverty or near poverty wages."
Looting Social Security
Paul Graig Roberts writes for Counter Punch: "Hank Paulson, the Gold Sacks bankster/US Treasury Secretary, who deregulated the financial system, caused a world crisis that wrecked the prospects of foreign banks and governments, caused millions of Americans to lose retirement savings, homes, and jobs, and left taxpayers burdened with multi-trillions of dollars of new US debt, is still not in jail. He is writing in the New York Times urging that the mess he caused be fixed by taking away from working Americans the Social Security and Medicare for which they have paid in earmarked taxes all their working lives."
Jeremy Seabrook writes for The New Internationalist: "The Left is so demoralized that even in the worst recession in 70 years, it poses no threat to capitalism. Most who ‘like to think of themselves as on the Left’ (that refuge of fantasy), ritually deplore the loss of popular support, bleakly placing faith in ‘the swing of the pendulum’ or telling each other that ‘the world has changed’ and we must make the best of it."
The GOP's Mixed Medicare Message
Joe Conason comments for Truthout: "For voters listening to the Republican leadership over the past year, the most startling surprise was the shift in their attitude toward Medicare. Where faithfulness to true conservatism was once measured by fierce hostility to the popular insurance program for the elderly, as articulated by Ronald Reagan at the birth of Medicare in 1965, today the Republicans claim to be its staunchest defenders."
Post-Katrina Shootings by Police Get Federal Attention
A.C. Thompson, ProPublica, Laura Maggi and Brendan McCarthy Times-Picayune, report for ProPublica: "Federal agents have broadened their investigation of the New Orleans Police Department and are now looking into three post-Katrina police shootings detailed in a news series published by ProPublica, The Times-Picayune and the PBS series “Frontline” in December. Assistant Superintendent Marlon Defillo of the NOPD confirmed that the FBI has subpoenaed documents relating to the shootings—which included police investigative reports, as well as other related files—in the past two months."
Here's to You Glenn Beck
Samuel Jacobs writes for The Daily Beast: "Conservative America crowns a new king this Saturday night, when Fox News broadcaster Glenn Beck gives the keynote address to 10,000 activists at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC. The Washington confab is a must-attend event for any right-winger worth his salt, and Beck’s address—last year’s was given by Rush Limbaugh—is yet another sign of the talker’s ascendancy."
Defying Progressives, Obama Revives Nuclear Power
Randy Shaw writes for CommonDreams.org: "Those who continue to insist that President Obama would implement progressive measures if he only had 60 Senate votes (ignoring that he had this for most of 2009) will have a hard time explaining his move this week to launch the first nuclear power plants built in the United States since the 1970's. Anti-nuclear power activism, coupled with the Three Mile Island near-meltdown, doomed the nuclear power industry, and major environmental groups have long opposed new plants. But as with Obama's dramatic escalation of the war in Afghanistan (and the covert sending of troops to Pakistan), there was little outcry from progressives in response to an action that would have brought thousands into the streets if initiated by a Republican President. Is it not becoming clear that President Obama uses the 60-vote filibuster Senate threshold to justify inaction on progressive goals, while almost consistently acting against progressive interests when the 60 votes are not a factor?"
Book Review: The Food Wars by Walden Bello
Tom Fawthrop writes for The New Internationalist:
According to the gospel of corporate globalization, only large-scale farming methods can feed the world. Well, just as the real-estate mess burst one capitalist bubble, so The Food Wars shows that another has already exploded. Agribusiness and supermarkets control an unprecedented extent of the food chain, yet hunger and food prices have soared. Filipino activist-academic Walden Bello traces the causes of today’s food crisis back to the World Bank’s strategy of structural adjustment, which was applied to around 90 countries in the South. Small farmers and local producers were marginalized as export-orientated food production was promoted and foreign corporations privileged. The result: loss of food security in many parts of the South.
Bello’s is a convincing critique. The alternatives he proposes centre on the notion of food sovereignty – prioritizing local food production, harnessing new technology and meshing it with traditional knowledge. Exactly how this can be elevated from a local and regional alternative to a global one is less clear. Bello seems to assume that all countries can and should be self-sufficient in food production, as if they all had an equal capacity and land fertility. Nonetheless, The Food Wars is a valuable contribution to the urgent debate on how to thwart further Tesco-ization of the world and land-grabbing from small producers. If we don’t move in this direction, food riots – such as those that erupted in Egypt and Haiti – will surely escalate into food wars.
The President's Budget: A Mixed Bag for Women's Health
Susan Cohen reports for RH Reality Check: "On February 1, President Obama sent his proposed budget for the fiscal year starting October 1, 2010 to Congress. On the domestic front, the administration's top priority for reproductive health and rights is teen pregnancy prevention, for which the administration is recommending a significant boost in funding. With the abstinence-only-until-marriage approach of the bygone era defeated, the new initiative will emphasize an evidence-based approach to reducing teenage pregnancy and the underlying factors that put teens at risk."
ACLU Sues USAID: Are We Exporting US Taxpayer-Funded Religion?
Amie Newman writes for RH Reality Check: "The ACLU has waited long enough. On Thursday, February 18th, they filed a lawsuit against USAID for refusing to comply with their Freedom of Information Act requests from July and September 2009, for documents related to USAID-funded abstinence-only-until-marriage programs abroad. The ACLU has patiently awaited documents that may help shed light on an audit completed last year suggesting USAID is dispersing money, unconstitutionally, for religiously-based HIV prevention programs."
The '70s: Wichita Women Change the World
Diane Wahto writes for the Kansas Free Press: "During the 1960s, while male activists were out in the streets protesting the war, the draft, the CIA, Dow Chemical, or what have you, their female counterparts often complained that they were left behind to brew the coffee and tidy up the meeting rooms. By the beginning of the decade that started Jan. 1, 1970, however, the ferment that had started to percolate in the '60s erupted into a movement that eventually became a feminist tsunami of marches, political appointments, laws, and legal decisions that changed forever the lives of women and the men who lived and worked with them."
Outraged Citizens Campaign Forces History Channel to Rethink Miniseries About the Kennedys
Daniela Perdomo reports for AlterNet: "Media observers are abuzz with talk of a History Channel mini-series called The Kennedys. While the scripts for the eight-part show, slated to air in 2011, are still unfinished, that hasn't stopped 40,000 people from signing a petition calling the series "right-wing character assassination" and "politically motivated fiction."
Facing Our "Crisis of Jourmalism"
Free Press. While I had always been an "activist," this conference change my outlook on US culture and society like nothing else I have even been involved in. In particular, Bill Moyers's speech (you can watch it here) articulated much of the frustration I had and have with the direction our nation has taken since the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980."
Charging for Content Elicits Strong Objections among Bloggers
The Pew Reserch Center's Project for Excellence in Jourmalism reports: "Social media last week dove into the debate of free versus pay online content. Sparked by Warner Music's plan to favor Web sites that charge users, bloggers answered in force: It's free or we flee. Twitter users also joined voices last week-in this case to criticize the privacy settings on Google's new social networking tool, Google Buzz. And Google, for its part, quickly responded. In the blogosphere, the top subject was the news that Warner Music was no longer going to support free online music streaming services such as Spotify, We7 and Last.fm. From February 8-12, this topic received 19% of the week's links according to the New Media Index produced by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism."
FCC Proposes Turning Federal Buildings into Broadband Anchor Institutions
John Eggerton writes for Broadcast and Cable: "The FCC said Feb. 18 that it would propose using federal buildings as anchor institutions for broadband service, saying federal assets have 'not [been] used effectively to spur local adoption and deployment of broadband.' That was one in a series of proposals the FCC signaled will be part of a national broadband deployment and adoption plan due to Congress March 17."
Sen. Feingold Doesn't Like Cable Industry's Bundling Habits
Joe Flint writes for The LA Times: "Looks like Sen. Russell D. Feingold (D-Wis.) isn't a fan of bundling. In written questions to Comcast and NBC Universal about their $30-billion merger proposal, the senator, a member of the Judiciary Committee, asked: "Is it common practice now to require a television distributor ... to carry several less popular channels in order to get a cable channel that they and consumers really want?" He then wondered whether Comcast and NBC would stop the practice, according to people familiar with his letter."