William Fisher reports for Truthout: "After 2009 - a year when federal prosecutors charged more suspects with terrorism than in any year since the attacks of September 11, 2001 - and in today's atmosphere of heightened fear triggered by the aborted plot to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day, Congress will begin again next month to consider reauthorization of key parts of the USA Patriot Act."
Pricing "Free Speech Out of Our Reach
Jim Hightower writes: "Let us now praise the Supreme Five! I refer to the five Supreme Court justices who looked all around our land to find the one issue of injustice that cried out most for their judicial compassion. And, lo, it was this: Corporations do not have enough power over our government."
Our Incredible Shrinking Democracy
Robert Reich writes on RobertReich.org: "I wish conservatives would stop complaining about big government and start worrying about the real problem - small democracy. I wish we'd all worry more about our incredible shrinking democracy."
Shadow Elite: How the World's New Power Brokers Are Upending Our Democracy
Janine Wedel writes for AlterNet: "We live in a world of flexibility. We have flex time, flex workers, flex spending, flex enrollment, flex cars, flex technology, flex perks, mind flex—even flex identities. “Flex" has become an integral part not only of how we live, but of how power and influence are wielded. While influencers flex their roles and representations, organizations, institutions, and states, too, must be flexible in ways they haven’t been before. The mover and shaker who serves at one and the same time as business consultant, think-tanker, TV pundit, and government adviser glides in and around the organizations that enlist his services. It is not just his time that is divided. His loyalties, too, are often flexible. Even the short-term consultant doing one project at a time cannot afford to owe too much allegiance to the company or government agency. Such individuals are in these organizations (some of the time anyway), but they are seldom of them. "
Don't Call It a "Defense" Budget
Norman Solomon writes for Truthout: "This isn't 'defense.' The new budget from the White House will push US military spending well above $2 billion a day. Foreclosing the future of our country should not be confused with defending it. 'Unless miraculous growth, or miraculous political compromises, creates some unforeseen change over the next decade, there is virtually no room for new domestic initiatives for Mr. Obama or his successors,' The New York Times reported February 2."
On the Claimed "War Exception" to the Constitution
Glenn Greenwald writes for Salon.com: "Last week, I wrote about a revelation buried in a Washington Post article by Dana Priest which described how the Obama administration has adopted the Bush policy of targeting selected American citizens for assassination if they are deemed (by the Executive Branch) to be Terrorists."
Chase Denied Loan Mods for Now Forbidden Reason—Homeowners in Limbo
Paul Keil reports for ProPublica: "On the Saturday before Thanksgiving, Lesa Herron of Santa Rosa, Calif., opened a letter from Chase Home Finance  (PDF). She’d been denied a permanent modification under the federal government’s loan-mod program, Chase said, because 'Your hardship is not of a permanent nature.' No other reason was given."
Robert Scheer writes for Truthdig.com: "Finally President Barack Obama has come to his senses on financial regulation. His endorsement of what he calls the “Volcker Rule” for once puts him squarely on the side of ordinary Americans as opposed to the banking bandits who have so thoroughly fleeced the public."
Joseph Stiglitz writes in Mother Jones: "IT IS SAID THAT A NEAR-DEATH experience forces one to reevaluate priorities and values. The global economy has just escaped a near-death experience. The crisis exposed the flaws in the prevailing economic model, but it also exposed flaws in our society. Much has been written about the foolishness of the risks that the financial sector undertook, the devastation that its institutions have brought to the economy, and the fiscal deficits that have resulted. Too little has been written about the underlying moral deficit that has been exposed—a deficit that is larger, and harder to correct."
We Wanted a Nelson Mandela; We Got a Clarence Thomas
Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez writes for CommonDream.org: "President Barack Obama is an enigma. No one quite seems to know what he actually stands for. Most progressives saw in the election of Obama, a Nelson Mandela figure. Based on his first year in office, many are understandably disillusioned. Conversely, much of the right wing of this country demonize(d) him as a Joseph Stalin figure, this in a 'right-center' country."
William Greider comments for The Nation: "When citizens shake off their resignation and rebel against the political elites, Washington reacts as if a dread new disease has risen from the swamp of public opinion. Spin doctors are on the case, prescribing various "cures" to inoculate the governing order against this virulent strain of flu. The White House senior adviser says he needs better "data" to warn Democrats against any more upsets like the Massachusetts senatorial election. The president revives popular ire as a speech theme, trying to go two ways at once. For the right, he promises a freeze on spending. For the left, he talks up jobs and his anger at Wall Street. Bankers are out. The people are in."
BEWARE: Miranda Rights Restricted — Another Constitutional Right flies out the Door
Marti Hiken writes for The Daily Censored: "The words we hear in so many movies and television shows when someone is arrested, “Read him his Miranda rights,” no longer have meaning. These rights are dead because the courts have “interpreted” them out of existence. Throughout our country, if you don’t say the right words during police interrogations, your rights to remain silent and to a lawyer don’t kick in. This leads to unfettered police powerwhen any arrestee tries to protect herself in a powerless situation when confronted by the police. And in a courtroom, all your statements are admissible against you."
Dodge City, Kansas Latino on Trial for Murder Claims Self-Defense Against Hate Crime Called "Border Patrol"
Marisa Treviño writes for Lista Latina Chances are you haven't heard about Samuel Bonilla. Hopefully, that will change on February 25. That's the day Bonilla gets his day in court in Dodge City, Kansas to prove his innocence in a town, known historically as the gateway to the Wild West, and currently as a town with a lousy track record for how they treat Latino defendants.
White Roofs May Help Society Adjust to Climate Change
Lola Wheeler writes for the Kansas Free Press: "White roofs can have the effect of cooling temperatures within buildings. As a result, depending on the local climate, the amount of energy used for space heating and air conditioning could change, which could affect both outside air temperatures and the consumption of fossil fuels such as oil and coal that are associated with global warming."
Shrimp's Dirty Secrets: Why America's Favorite Seafood Is a Health and Environmental Nightmare
Jill Richardson writes for AlterNet: "Americans love their shrimp. It's the most popular seafood in the country, but unfortunately much of the shrimp we eat are a cocktail of chemicals, harvested at the expense of one of the world's productive ecosystems. Worse, guidelines for finding some kind of "sustainable shrimp" are so far nonexistent."
Obama Slams Ugandan “Kill The Gays” Bill At National Prayer Breakfast
David Dayen reports on the Fire Dog Lake news desk: "Incredibly, the secretive group “The Family” still runs the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. This 50-year tradition is put together annually by the shadowy Christian group which has attracted widespread negative publicity, both for the conduct of affiliated politicians like Mark Sanford and John Ensign, and for the unveiling about its activities here and around the world – in particular, a notorious “kill the gays” bill in Uganda."
Integrity Isn't Just a Military Value
Laura Flanders comments for The Nation: "On Tuesday, several of the nation's top military officials, including Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, spoke out in favor of ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the Clinton-era policy that can get a lesbian or gay service person fired if their sexuality becomes known."
powerful statement today on ending discrimination in the armed services is driving the fundies a bit crazy. Chris Matthews hosted a debate between Aubrey Sarvis of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council about the military’s don’t ask don’t tell policy, and eventually we got around to Sprigg’s real agenda. Do watch the whole thing to see Sprigg’s bankrupt arguments and Aubrey Sarvis’ rebuttals (”No one should have to lie to fight and die for their country”), but skip to around 4:49 for the punch line."
Kansas Supreme Court Denies Mandamus Request
The Kansas Press Association reports: "The Kansas Supreme Court denied standing Tuesday to Dodge City Daily Globe reporter Claire O’Brien and the Globe’s parent company, GateHouse Media, in their attempt to get a writ of mandamus to block enforcement of an order for her to testify at an inquisition."
The Creed of Objectivity Killed the News
Chris Hedges writes for Truthdig.com: "Reporters who witness the worst of human suffering and return to newsrooms angry see their compassion washed out or severely muted by the layers of editors who stand between the reporter and the reader. The creed of objectivity and balance, formulated at the beginning of the 19th century by newspaper owners to generate greater profits from advertisers, disarms and cripples the press."
Public Interest Groups Warn Congress: Comcast Takeover of NBC Is Anticompetitive
Free Press writes: "In testimony prepared for the House and Senate hearings Thursday on Comcast’s proposed takeover of NBC Universal, public interest groups Consumer Federation of America, Free Press and Consumers Union argue that Comcast has both the incentive and the ability to engage in anticompetitive practices if the government allows the takeover."
McChesney and Nichols: $30-billion to Save Journalism
Christopher Lydon reports for The Huffington Post: "Robert McChesney and John Nichols are grappling with the question: what would Thomas Jefferson do about the death of the American newspaper? Better, Jefferson said, to have newspapers without a government than to have government without newspapers. Yet here we are two centuries later, and the papers are disappearing. What is to sustain essential journalism in the digital age?"