Leaked: The Internet must go!

Hey! Are you on the internet right now? Of course you are! Then you should definitely check out this amazing video about what the internet companies are planning. This move could hurt both consumers and content creators--but of course would be a huge windfall for internet providers.

How weathly are Americans?

The disparity in wealth between the richest one percent of Americans and the bottom 80 percent has grown exponentially over the last thirty years — but the video, posted by user politizane and relying on data from a popular Mother Jones post, focuses on the difference between the ideal disparity that Americans would like to see and the reality.

Tax the Rich

So long! It's been fun.

Dear listeners,

In July 2011 I started a new job teaching Italian at Kansas State University. In some ways this was a return to my roots, as I taught English as a Foreign Language for 17 years in Italy. Now I am teaching English speakers Italian. I've come full circle.

This coming full circle also means the end of an attempt on my part to start a new career in my 50s. Sadly, as much as I tried to bring community radio to Manhattan, I was not successful. So I have decided to dedicate my energy and time to my first love, being an educator.

The archive of my shows will remain active - there's a lot of great content in the shows. So I hope you continue to listen and enjoy them.

Once again thank you for your support and encouragement over the five years the show was on the air. I know many feel that my program needs to be on the air and I agree with you that a diversity of voices is sorely lacking in the local media. But alas, it is not I who will bring that diversity. It will have to be someone else.

Christopher E. Renner

31 March 2010

Clippings for 31 March 2010

Recommended Audio: Democracy Now! - Banks Could Be Big Winners of President Obama's Foreclosure Prevention Program
Amy Goodman reports for Democracy NOW!: "The Obama administration has announced changes to its signature foreclosure prevention program, Making Home Affordable. The initial foreclosure relief program unveiled one year ago was supposed to help up to four million struggling homeowners. So far fewer than 200,000 borrowers have been granted permanent loan modifications. Meanwhile, a record 2.8 million properties with mortgages received foreclosure notices last year, according to the real estate data company RealtyTrac."

Obama and Dems Put a Stop to the Republicans' Kickback Cash Cow in the College Loan Industry
Alexander Zaitchik writes for AlterNet: "Reining in insurers and expanding health coverage for Americans aren't the only reforms achieved last week by the White House and Congress. The passage of the health care bill also accomplishes a much-needed if less-noticed goal that, like health care, was last seriously pursued during the early days of grunge rock: The termination of federal subsidies to the scandal-plagued private student loan industry." Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

The 'Long War' Quagmire
Tom Hayden comments for the Los Angeles Times: "Without public debate and without congressional hearings, a segment of the Pentagon and fellow travelers have embraced a doctrine known as the Long War, which projects an 'arc of instability' caused by insurgent groups from Europe to South Asia that will last between 50 and 80 years. According to one of its architects, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan are just 'small wars in the midst of a big one.'"

Kathy Kelly comments for Truthout: "If the US public looked long and hard into a mirror reflecting the civilian atrocities that have occurred in Afghanistan over the past ten months, we would see ourselves as people who have collaborated with and paid for war crimes committed against innocent civilians who meant us no harm."

Obama’s Rhetoric in Afghanistan Prolongs U.S. Role in Civil War There
Matthew Rothschild writes for The Progressive: "President Obama showed courage in going to Afghanistan to talk to the troops, but he’s just getting the U.S. in deeper over there. The rhetoric he used on Sunday was at times distorting, and the thrust was distressing. Like Bush, he summoned the 9/11 attack, saying, 'We did not choose this war.' And he added: 'This is the region where the perpetrators of that crime, al Qaeda, still base their leadership.'”

The Obscenity of War
Amy Goodman writes for Truthdig.com: "President Barack Obama has just returned from his first trip as commander in chief to Afghanistan. The U.S.-led invasion and occupation of that country are now in their ninth year, amid increasing comparisons to Vietnam. Daniel Ellsberg, whom Henry Kissinger once called “the most dangerous man in America,” leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971. Ellsberg, who was a top Pentagon analyst, photocopied this secret, 7,000-page history of the U.S. role in Vietnam and released it to the press, helping to end the Vietnam War.

Citizens United Against Citizens United
David Swanson comments for Truthout: "Eighty-five percent of Democrats and 76 percent of Republicans tell pollsters when asked that they oppose the Supreme Court's decision in 'Citizens United,' which lifted limits on corporate political spending."

Federal Appeals Court Rules Finance Law Contributions Are Unconstitutional
John Eggerton reports for Multichannel News: "The Federal Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Friday, saying that the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United had resolved the appeal, ruled that the campaign finance law, limiting contributions by individuals to SpeechNow, a 527 group advocating the election of federal candidates, is unconstitutional."

PR Firm Behind Propaganda Videos Wins Stimulus Contract
Sebastian Jones and Michael Grabell report for ProPublica: "President Obama's push for electronic medical records has faced resistance from those who question whether health information technology systems can protect patient privacy. So last week, the US Department of Health and Human Services hired a public relations firm to try to win consumer trust."

Who's Afraid of Health Care Reform?
Marcia Alesan Dawkins writes for Truthdig.com: "After days of protests over reform, the Obama administration has, in fact, created a change that many Americans can now see and feel. The new law, though imperfect, represents progress in a new direction. However, it seems that for this step forward some Americans have taken two steps back."

Ten Things You Didn't Know Were in the Health Bill
Emily Badger reports for Miller-McCune: "The 2,000-page health care bill that became law last week is packed with major reforms probably well-known (in concept if not in detail) by anyone who has channel-surfed through the nightly news over the past year. There's an individual mandate, a system of exchanges, new government subsidies and a ban on some of the worst practices of the insurance industry."

Recommended Audio: The Breakdown: An Unconstitutional Mandate?
Christopher Hayes writes for The Nation: "Late Sunday night, after a full day of raucous floor debate, the House of Representatives voted to pass a (nearly) finalized version of healthcare reform. On Tuesday, President Obama signed the legislation amidst fanfare, relief and a pitch-perfect obscenity, compliments of the vice president. Since its passage, opponents have been finding all possible avenues to obstruct, delay and derail the newly instated law. Many of these attempts are farcical, but one in particular seems to be gaining traction amongst conservative scholars and lawmakers. As of Thursday, attorneys general from fourteen states have filed suit challenging the healthcare overhaul, particularly the provision known as the individual mandate, as unconstitutional. While the argument has certainly stirred rhetorical fervor, the question remains, does it hold up legally? To answer, this week's The Breakdown With Chris Hayes invites Columbia law professor Gillian Metzger to examine the validity of the constitutionality argument."

Is America ‘Yearning for Fascism’?
Chris Hedges writes for Truthdig.com: "The language of violence always presages violence. I watched it in war after war from Latin America to the Balkans. The impoverishment of a working class and the snuffing out of hope and opportunity always produce angry mobs ready to kill and be killed. A bankrupt, liberal elite, which proves ineffectual against the rich and the criminal, always gets swept aside, in times of economic collapse, before thugs and demagogues emerge to play to the passions of the crowd. I have seen this drama. I know each act. I know how it ends. I have heard it in other tongues in other lands. I recognize the same stock characters, the buffoons, charlatans and fools, the same confused crowds and the same impotent and despised liberal class that deserves the hatred it engenders."

Welcome to Glennbeckistan
Chip Ward writes for TomDispatch.com: "What if the Tea Party ruled? Imagine a land, let's call it Glennbeckistan, where white, patriarchal, religiously zealous, Tea Party-type patriots hold a super-majority in both houses of the legislature, sit in the governor's mansion, and control most local governments. It's a place so out of sync with the rest of the nation that states' rights and even secession are always on the agenda. It's a place where gun ownership trumps all other rights, climate change is considered an insidious socialist conspiracy, and a miscarriage can be investigated as a potential crime. Welcome to Utah."
(Image: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: Jettpakk1, Gage Skidmore)

So Much for a 'Post-Racial' America
Stanley Kutler writes for Truthdig.com: "Thanks to Newt Gingrich’s loose lips, the cat is out of the bag: The Republican Party, answering the call of a large part of its following, will continue its subtle and not-so-subtle uses of the “race card.” Gingrich said during the health care debate that “much as Lyndon Johnson shattered the Democratic Party for 40 years” when Congress enacted civil rights legislation, President Barack Obama’s health care reform will prove as destructive. His audience needs no reminder of Republican divisiveness, but Gingrich, no stranger to distorting history, demands correction."

Hannity's Charity Under Fire
Kate Sheppard writes for Mother Jones: "Sean Hannity is proud of noting that "every penny" from his Freedom Concerts goes to scholarships for the children of killed or injured veterans. But in a legal complaint filed today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and VoteVets dispute that claim." Photo credit: — Flickr/josejose (Creative Commons).

Recycle Plant-Based Plastics?
Kiera Bulter writes for Mother Jones: "A café in my neighborhood sells salads in supposedly compostable corn-based containers. Since I live in one of only a handful cities in the US with a curbside composting program, I can just chuck my empty salad container into my curbside green bin. But I always wondered what might become of it in a backyard compost pile. Luckily, MoJo senior editor Dave Gilson answered my question last year in an article on the subject: Ramani Narayan, a Michigan State professor of chemical and biochemical engineering who helped develop biodegradable corn-based plastic, told Gilson that most plant-based plastics need to go to a commercial composting facility, not just your yard."

Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine
Greenpeace reports: "Billionaire oilman David Koch likes to joke that Koch Industries is “the biggest company you've never heard of.” But the nearly $50 million that David Koch and his brother Charles have quietly funneled to climate-denial front groups that are working to delay policies and regulations aimed at stopping global warming is no joking matter. Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch have a vested interest in delaying climate action: they’ve made billions from their ownership and control of Koch Industries, an oil corporation that is the second largest privately-held company in America (which also happens to have an especially poor environmental record). It’s time more people were aware of Charles and David Koch and just what they’re up to.
Download the report as a PDF

Salazar: 'Cap And Trade' Not In The Lexicon Anymore
Rachel Saljda write for Talking Point memo: "Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, on CNBC this morning, suggested the administration will no longer use the term "cap and trade" to describe climate change legislation."

She's Really Saying Something

Jeff Glass writes for Jazz Times: "What distinguishes a singer who 'has something to say' from one who is simply pleasant to listen to? Lisa Engelken's new CD Caravan has helped me answer this question. It abundantly delivers on the promise of her riveting live shows (the CD release concert happens May 7 at the Jazzschool in Berkeley), and it raises the bar of what to expect from a vocal jazz outing."

Google Goes Evil? Gets in Bed With Verizon
Josh Silver writes for the Huffington Post: "Tuesday's Wall Street Journal features an Op-ed by the CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, and the CEO of Verizon, Ivan Seidenberg, about the importance of high-speed Internet access.  It is mostly boring; until it gets to the punchline and tells us that government should have as little role as possible in delivering broadband to America. Just like government should stay out of banking regulation, I take it?"

A (Neglected) Duty to Inform
Elise Crane writes for SaveTheNews.org: "With the widespread closure of international bureaus, and serious underfunding of those that remain open, American coverage of world affairs nears an all-time low. Today, the mainstream U.S. media often seems precariously close to preaching an official reality and severely restricting the average media consumer’s view of the world."

Chicago Public Radio reports: "With wireless Internet access at coffee shops, at home and even in parks, it seems we’re always connected. We can email, update Facebook, and send a tweet, in a matter of seconds. But this kind of high speed access is not available everywhere. So the Federal Communications Commission has launched a new initiative to bring broadband access to more Americans. Chairman Julius Genachowski discussed the ambitious National Broadband Plan in a Congressional hearing last week. To find out what increased access will mean, and how it will affect us here in Illinois, we turn to Dr. Joe Mambretti. He’s the director of the International Center for Advanced Internet Research at Northwestern University."

Memo To News Sites: There Is No Future In ‘Digital Razzle Dazzle’
John Yemma writes for paidcontent.org: "Let’s agree that Rupert Murdoch is right: Content is king. You’ll get nothing but applause from a journalist of four decades like me. Saying it and believing it, however, doesn’t solve the problem of content racing to zero value on the internet. Paywalls such as the ones News Corp (NYSE: NWS). and the New York Times are moving to may seem like the next step, in the same way that sandbagging the tops of levies on the Mississippi are the next step during spring flooding. The problem is that the internet flood never recedes. It is the Great Deluge that grows more powerful every day. Paywalls for general interest publications cannot hold it back.

The Digital Divide Will Ensure a Broadband Ghetto
Stacey Higginbotham writes for GigaOm: "If you live in New York City or in any of the heavily populated and wealthy areas of the Northeast, you likely have access to some of the fastest broadband speeds available in the country. If you live in a suburb of Austin, Texas, however, you’re offered speeds some six times slower for about half the price. And as the technologies race ahead for network access, ISPs with fiber to the home and cable-provided Docsis 3.0 service are going to surpass the speeds that providers using old-school copper and even wireless can offer."

28 March 2010

Clippings for 28 March 2010

We Are in the Middle of Transformational Change: It's Time the Debate Matches up with the Huge Challenges Ahead of Us
Frank Joyce writes for ALterNet: "A better world is possible. So is a worse one. Which will we get? Finding the proper focus is itself a challenge. For example, much of the conversation these days among well-meaning people about the state of our economy and what the president (or somebody) ought to do about it centers on jobs. Do we need more jobs? The conventional answer is of course we do, so let’s keep on having the old arguments about tax breaks versus government stimulus, big business versus small business, blah, blah, blah."

The Difference Between Liberalism and Progressivism
David Sirota writes for Truthdig.com: "As a progressive, I’m often asked if there is a real difference between progressivism and liberalism, or if progressivism is merely a nicer-sounding term for the less popular L-word. It’s a fair question, considering that Democratic politicians regularly substitute progressive for liberal in news releases and speeches. Predictably, Republicans call their opponents’ linguistic shift a craven branding maneuver, and, frankly, they’re right: Most Democrats make no distinction between the two words."

Globalization Marches On
Noam Chomsky writes for the New York Times Syndicate (via CommonDreams.org): "Shifts in global power, ongoing or potential, are a lively topic among policy makers and observers. One question is whether (or when) China will displace the United States as the dominant global player, perhaps along with India. Such a shift would return the global system to something like it was before the European conquests. Economic growth in China and India has been rapid, and because they rejected the West's policies of financial deregulation, they survived the recession better than most. Nonetheless, questions arise."

Why the President's Next Big Thing Should Be Jobs
Robert Reich, RobertReich.com: "Few presidents get a second honeymoon of their own making. (George W. got one when terrorists attacked the United States.) Barack Obama's victory on health care reform has breathed new life into his administration, recharged the Democratic base, and given the rest of America a sense of someone who fights for average working people. The question now is: What does he do with his second honeymoon?"

The Most Vital Ingredient in Wall Street Reform Goes Missing
Pam Martens writes for CounterPunch: "Last Fall, it was all about the wall: financial bigwigs like former Federal Reserve Chair Paul Volcker, former Citigroup co-CEO John Reed, Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, all espoused reestablishing the legal barrier between the derivatives casino that masquerades today as Wall Street and commercial banks holding insured deposits."

Derailing Help for Consumers
Bob Herbert comments for the New York Times: "Why should there be any significant opposition to the creation of an independent agency with strong powers of enforcement to protect consumers from exploitation by banks, mortgage companies, auto dealers and other purveyors of credit? The dragons lurking in the fine print of some credit agreements are enough to give you heart failure. Payday loans, for example, typically carry annual interest rates in the vicinity of 400 percent. Or look at the lineup of fees, penalties and interest rates on your credit cards and overdraft privileges. Don't even start on mortgage abuses. That would take too long, and it's too depressing."

Kansas Chamber for Wall Street, Not Main Street
Marty Keenan writes for the Kansas Free Press: "The Kansas Chamber of Commerce scolded 14 local chambers of commerce on Thursday for supporting a tax increase to fix the yawning Kansas budget deficit. The starkly differing constituencies of the KCCI (Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Industry) and local chambers of commerce can no longer be papered over."

Coburn Pulls The Trigger: Jobless Benefits Extension Blocked By GOP
Evan McMorris-Santoro reports for Talkign Points Memo: "Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) promised that he'd be the next Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) if he had to be. And last night, he made good on his threat. Coburn is blocking unanimous consent on extension of unemployment benefits, just as Bunning did a few weeks ago. Only this time, Coburn's not alone -- the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other members of the Republican caucus have joined with Coburn, promising to block billions in unemployment benefits just as the Senate is set to leave on a two-week recess."

Counterfactual: A curious history of the C.I.A.’s secret interrogation program.
Jane Mayer writes for The New Yorker: "On September 11, 2006, the fifth anniversary of Al Qaeda's attacks on America, another devastating terrorist plot was meant to unfold. Radical Islamists had set in motion a conspiracy to hijack seven passenger planes departing from Heathrow Airport, in London, and blow them up in midair. Courting Disaster (Regnery; $29.95), by Marc A. Thiessen, a former speechwriter in the Bush Administration, begins by imagining the horror that would have resulted had the plot succeeded. He conjures fifteen hundred dead airline passengers, televised "images of debris floating in the ocean," and gleeful jihadis issuing fresh threats: 'We will rain upon you such terror and destruction that you will never know peace.'"

Pentagon Wants $33 Billion More for War in Afghanistan
Gordon Lubold, The Christian Science Monitor: "The Pentagon wants $33 billion in additional funding to pay for the war in Afghanistan this year and train the Afghan military, but members of Congress want to make sure they're not writing a blank check."

Obama Appoints New Chief for War Court at Guantanamo
Carol Rosenberg reports for the Miami Herald and McClatchy News: "In the clearest sign yet that the Obama administration is re-energizing tribunals for captives at a Guantanamo it wants closed, the Pentagon this week installed a retired three-star admiral with national security and international law experience to run the war court."

Obama Gives Up: The era of bipartisanship is over, at least until November.
John Dickerson writes for Slate: "President Obama's allies have occasionally been irritated that he won't do away with all his bipartisan talk and treat his opponents as they deserve to be treated. These allies/critics must be happy with his speech today in Iowa City, the same place he unveiled his health care proposal in December 2007 and where today he mocked his opponents with the thoroughgoing enjoyment he displayed during the campaign. 'Leaders of the Republican Party, they called the passage of this bill Armageddon.' Obama told the audience, to laughter. 'End of freedom as we know it.' So after I signed the bill, I looked around to see if there [were] any asteroids falling or some cracks opening up in the Earth. It turned out it was a nice day. Birds were chirping. Folks were strolling down the Mall. People still have their doctors.'"

Last weekend's 200,000-person-strong march on Washington for justice on immigration was spared from too much violence and anger because the press was largely focused on health care reform. But as that bill was signed into law Monday, immigration will again find itself at the top of the list for political action--and the passions that it inspires are certain to flare.  Joining Laura Flanders to talk about whether the Obama administration and this Congress will have the will, vision, and political capital to get anything done on immigration--and whether the legislation being considered at the moment will do more harm than good--are Seth Freed Wessler of the Applied Research Center and ColorLines, and Roberto Lovato of New America Media.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is now law — but the battle over health care reform is far from over. Already at least 14 state attorneys general have filed lawsuits in state courts charging that the mandate for individuals to buy health insurance is unconstitutional. The Republican Party has vowed to make health care reform the central issue in their bid to gain Democratic seats in the mid-term elections. Stalwart advocates of a single-payer system are also unhappy with the outcome — calling the bill "a false promise of reform" and "wimpy."

On Pop Clarity: Public Intellectuals and the Crisis of Language
Henry Giroux comments for Turhtout: "The presupposition that academics no longer function as critical public intellectuals willing to connect their knowledge and expertise to larger public issues is now pervasive. Many factors have contributed to this alleged withdrawal from speaking to public issues, ranging from the demands of academic professionalism and the suppression of dissent to a simple lack of time to address such work. What is indisputable is that the voices of progressive academics have become increasingly irrelevant when it comes to assuming the role of engaged intellectuals interested in sharing their ideas, research and policy recommendations with a broader public. All the better for those neoliberal and conservative critics, who insist that academics must remain neutral, apolitical and professional, disavowing that politics has a place in the classroom or in the pursuit of research that speaks to broader public concerns. Sadly, the most pronounced voices critical of academics as public intellectuals come from the general public (who may or may not agree with right-wing portrayals of the university as a hotbed of left totalitarianism), who unite in their dismissal of ivory tower elites for speaking and writing in a discourse that is as arcane as it is irrelevant."

The Horrible Prospect of Supreme Court Justice Cass Sunstein
Glenn Greenwald writes for Salon.com: "A media consensus has emerged that the retirement of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, the 90-year-old Ford-appointee who became the leader of the Court's so-called "liberal wing," is now imminent.  The New York Times' Peter Baker has an article today on Obama's leading candidates to replace Stevens, in which one finds this strange passage:

The president’s base hopes he will name a full-throated champion to counter Justice Antonin Scalia, the most forceful conservative on the bench. . . . The candidates who would most excite the left include the constitutional scholars Harold Hongju Koh, Cass R. Sunstein and Pamela S. Karlan."

The Mad Tea Party
Richard Kim writes for The Nation: " Leftists like to say that another world is possible, but I was never quite sure of that until I started reading tea party websites. There, a government of leftists is not only possible, it's on the cusp of seizing permanent power, having broken American capitalism and replaced it with a socialist state. Down that rabbit hole, Barack Obama and Rahm Emanuel are communists, and 'The Left'--which encompasses everyone from the Democratic Leadership Council to Maoist sectarians--is a disciplined and near omnipotent army marching in lockstep to a decades-old master plan for domination called the 'Cloward-Piven strategy' or, as of January 20, 2009, 'Cloward-Piven government.'" Graphic by DREW FRIEDMAN.

Nooses And Broken Windows: A Week Of Threats And Vandalism
Rachel Slajda reports for Talking Points Memo: "As the health care debate came to its conclusion this week, the high-running emotions of many finally crested, taking the form of threats and acts of vandalism at the offices of several lawmakers, most of them Democrats. Here, a roundup: The FBI is investigating a severed gas line at the home of Rep. Tom Perriello's (D-VA) brother. A local tea party group had posted the brother's address online, thinking it was Perriello's and calling for a protest there." Photo: Clockwise, from top left: Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-SC), a broken window, the stage prop coffin used in the demonstration on Rep. Russ Carnahan's lawn, and Rep. Louise Slaughter.

Secrets of the Tea Party: The Troubling History of Tea Party Leader Dick Armey
Beau Hodai, In These Times: "As the Tea Party movement has gained momentum during the last 12 months, it seems few Tea Partiers have caught on to the troubling past of the man at the center of their movement: FreedomWorks chairman, former House Majority Leader and recently-retired lobbyist extraordinaire, Dick Armey."

Inside David Frum's Bitter Exit
Tunku Varadarajan writes for The Daily Beast: "David Frum, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, no longer works for the American Enterprise Institute, a free-market think tank in Washington. We know this because Frum has said so and the AEI has confirmed it. All narrative similarities end there, however."

Fox News, Health Care, and the Right-Wing Nervous Breakdown
Eric Boehlert writes for Media Matters for America: "Watching Fox News personalities recently come unglued as the realization set in that (surprise!) Democrats might actually have the votes to pass health care reform -- and noting how extraordinarily loopy and dire both the attacks on the White House, and the proclamations for pending, apocalyptic doom were becoming -- I was getting nervous that one of Fox News' more unhinged hosts might finally just snap and pull a Rev. Jim Jones, beseeching viewers to make the ultimate sacrifice."

The Oxymoron of "Texas Education"
Jim Hightower writes for his blog: "love nuts. Pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios – I love them all. But my favorite nuts by far are those homegrown natives on the Texas Board of Education. You just can't get any nuttier than this bunch!"

Nuclear Waste Piles Up, and It's Costing Taxpayers Billions
Mark Clayton reports for The Christian Science Monitor: "In the waning days of the Bush administration, the US Department of Energy signed contracts with more than a dozen utilities promising to permanently store nuclear waste from 21 not-yet-built reactors, nuclear watchdog groups reported Wednesday. But that "below the radar" DOE commitment was an unreasonable and unnecessary risk to taxpayers given the $1 billion dollars in contractual penalties the agency faced at the time – and the agency's 35-year failure to develop a permanent radioactive waste storage site, the groups said, citing federal contract documents they had obtained."

Kansas's Got Talent: Lisa Engelken's "Caravan"
Christopher E. Renner writes for the Kansas Free Press: "What now seems like a lifetime ago, I taught English as a Foreign Language in Naples, Italy. A young lady came into my life for the academic year 87-88. She was the younger sister of a friend, and the last child of huge German Catholic family. She was a student at the University of Kansas and had come to Naples to study the great 20th Century Neapolitan playwright, Eduardo De Fillippo."
Engelken will be our guest on the April 1st edition of Community Bridge. 

New Millennium, Same Old Backlash?
Maya Schenwar comments for Ms. Magazine: "From the climate of angry machismo that accompanied the drive toward the Iraq war, to the Bush-led campaign against contraception and abortion that has overflowed into the current Congress, this past decade has seen a host of reactionary shifts in attitudes towards women. Barbara J. Berg chronicles this current backlash in Sexism in America: Alive, Well, and Ruining Our Future (Chicago Review Press)."

Cheat Sheet: Sticking Points In Broadband Plan
Sara Jerome writes for The National Journal: "Every American should have broadband access -- that's an idea every faction in the telecom world seems to endorse. Making it so is another thing altogether. While not everyone has shown their cards yet, major telecom players are sure to air grievances soon over Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski's decade-long plan to get more Americans online. Hearings scheduled on the Hill this week and panels featuring industry lobbyists will provide forums for venting. In fact, with its aims to spark action from Congress and in the agencies, including heavy lifting at the FCC, the blueprint may also inadvertently pay many telecom lobbyists' salaries over the next few years in a sector that already spends exorbitantly on sway.

Newspaper Ads Tumbled to 1963 Levels Last Year
Ryan Chittum writes for the Columbia Journalism Review: "The New York Times reports that newspaper advertising tanked by more than 27 percent last year, shedding $10 billion from 2008. Online advertising swooned more than 11 percent, which would largely be, I suspect, because it’s so tied to print sales via upsells."

"We're At a Ground Zero Moment to Save Real Journalism"
Byard Duncan writes for AlterNet: "On March 24, 2010, the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, in Ithaca, NY announced that award-winning independent journalist Jeremy Scahill would receive the second annual 'Izzy Award.' The Izzy, which is named after the legendary muckraker I.F. Stone, celebrates outstanding achievement in independent media. Last year's winners were Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! and Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com." Photo Credit: Troy Page / t r u t h o u t

Public Knowledge and Free Press: Sprint Shutdown of Haiti Relief Effort Shows FCC Needs to Protect Text Messaging
Liz Rose writes for Free Press: "Public Knowledge and Free Press said this new incident provided fresh evidence that the FCC needs to act to prevent telephone companies from having unlimited power to shut down text-messaging campaigns they may not like for whatever reason. A petition filed by those two groups and others asking the FCC to protect text messaging from the whims of big telephone companies has been pending at the FCC since Dec. 11, 2007, after Verizon arbitrarily denied NARAL Pro-Choice America a short code for text messages to be sent to that group’s members."

Court OKs Local Media Consolidation
Ira Teinowitz reports for The Wrap: "An appellate court panel Tuesday removed its hold on a 2007 Federal Communications Commission rule that let newspapers and broadcasters buy each other in a market. But while lifting the hold, the three-judge panel of the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals said it would continue to look at the rule’s legality. The move appears to let Tribune Company and some other media companies keep their TV stations -- and could further consolidate local media."

Recommended Audio: Democracy Now! - Court Strikes Down Restrictions on Media Ownership
A federal court has lifted a key set of government rules aimed at curbing media consolidation in the United States. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit struck down the FCC's ban on ownership by a single company of both a newspaper and a television or radio station in the same market. The media reform group Free Press urged the FCC to respond to the ruling.

27 March 2010

March 25, Pt. 2 - An Interview with Cheryl Hudspeth

For our second hour, we welcome Cheryl Hudspeth, candidate for Congress from the 2nd Congressional District. Two years ago Lynn Jenkins upset Nancy Boyda and has been a strong advocate of the Party of NO since before she got to Washington! Hudspeth, a Girard native, who has thirty years of experience helping communities and people, shape their goals and realize their aspirations, is working to remove Jenkins from office in November. She will share her vision for what Kansas and what she plans to do to help all Kansans.

MP3 File

26 March 2010

March 25 2010 - Crisis of Journalism

Community Bridge opens this week with a look at the "crisis" facing American journalism. We hear from Robert McChensey, professor of communication at University of Illinois, and John Nichols, journalist and a pioneering political blogger, in their new book, The Death and Life of American Journalism: The Media Revolution That Will Begin the World Again.

The House of Representatives, under Speaker Nancy Pelosi, passed historic health care reform late Sunday night. The bill is far from perfect, and legislators from all sides will be working to shape the bill more to their liking. Progressives regret the lack of a public option, let alone single payer, and the use of women's reproductive choice as a political football in the negotiations.

But what does it all mean? Will the protests die down, or just get worse? What can we do to get REAL change we can believe in, with a country this polarized? Laura Flanders of GRIT TV discusses these questions with Chip Berlet, an expert on right-wing populism and senior analyst with Political Research Associates, and Nina Agrawal, pediatrician and director of community outreach with the National Physicians Alliance.

We close out the first half on this week's show with some music from Lisa Engelken, a native of Corning, KS, from her new CD, "Caravan." Engelken will be our guest next week on Community Bridge.

MP3 File

24 March 2010

Clippings for 24 March 2010

Good-Bye: Truth Has Fallen and Taken Liberty With It
Paul Craig Roberts writes for CounterPunch: "There was a time when the pen was mightier than the sword. That was a time when people believed in truth and regarded truth as an independent power and not as an auxiliary for government, class, race, ideological, personal, or financial interest. "

Bank of America: Our Balance Sheet Management Is ‘Routine and Appropriate’
Marian Wang reports for ProPublica: "Yesterday we wrote about allegations that Bank of America had engaged in manipulation of its balance sheet using tactics akin to Lehman Brothers’ “Repo 105.” (Repo 105, as the Wall Street Journal puts it, is a 'more-than-questionable interpretation of accounting rules' that enabled the bank to hide its risks before its eventual bankruptcy.)"

Have You Caught Gold Fever? The Value of That Shiny Metal Is as Artificial as Paper Money
Scott Thill writes for AlterNet: "Quick, check out this hot investment tip! For decades now, the Federal Reserve has been suppressing the true value of gold to keep its prodigious impact out of the market, which is currently dominated by fiat currencies like the dollar and light-speed binary code transactions like high-frequency trading. If you stripped away the Fed's continuing manipulation, gold's free-market value, currently hovering around $1,000 per ounce, would increase by multiples. Wait, are you yawning? Why are you leaving?"

War in Iraq, Seven Years On
Greg Mitchell writes for The Nation: "The seventh anniversary of the start of the Iraq War dawned today with very little notice in the media, despite the huge (and ongoing) costs of the war, not the least of which the nearly 4,400 dead US military personnel and at least 100,000 deceased Iraqi civilians. What we have heard from commentators, again, this year is that the United States went to war with the overwhelming support of the public and the press. Actually, this is a myth."

U.S.-Led Forces in Afghanistan Are Committing atrocities, Lying, and Getting Away with It
Jerome Starkey, recently reported for The Times of London about a night raid on Feb. 12 in which U.S. and Afghan gunmen opened fire on two pregnant women, a teenage girl and two local officials -- an atrocity which NATO’s Afghanistan headquarters then tried to cover up. Now, in a blistering indictment of both NATO and his own profession, Starkey writes for Nieman Watchdog that the international forces led by U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal are rarely called to account because most reporters are too dependent on access, security and the 'embed culture' to venture out and see what's happening for themselves.

PTSD Claims Rise Among Veterans Treated at VA, New Research to Study PTSD and TBI
Mary Susan Littlepage reports for Truthout: "New statistics show that the number of Iraq and Afghanistan veteran patients being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and who have had PTSD claims approved increased. Also, new research projects are in the works to treat PTSD and traumatic brain injuries (TBI)."

Obama's Military Is Spying on U.S. Peace Groups
Amy Goodman writes for the Huffington Post: "Anti-war activists in Olympia, Wash., have exposed U.S. Army spying and infiltration of their groups, as well as intelligence gathering by the U.S. Air Force, the federal Capitol Police and the Coast Guard.The infiltration appears to be in direct violation of the Posse Comitatus Act preventing U.S. military deployment for domestic law enforcement, and may strengthen congressional demands for a full-scale investigation of U.S. intelligence activities, like the Church Committee hearings of the 1970s."

Tens of Thousands March on Washington, DC, for Immigration Reform
Yana Kunichoff reports for Truthout: "Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Washington, DC, on Sunday to pressure President Obama to work toward reforming the nation's immigration system and giving legal status to the estimated 12 million undocumented people currently living in the United States." (Photo: RRRPhotos)

Immigration Reform: We Need a Better Alternative
David Bacon comments for Truthout: "Sens. Charles Schumer and Lindsey Graham announced Thursday their plan for immigration reform. Unfortunately, it is a retread, recycling the same bad ideas that led to the defeat of reform efforts over the last five years. In some ways, their proposal is even worse."

Who Speaks for Human Rights?
D.D. Guttenplan and Maria Margaronis write for The Nation: "Its leaders may not wear white hats--or wings--but most people would put Amnesty International on the side of the angels. Decades of denunciations by dictators across the political spectrum have only increased the organization's prestige. Yet in recent weeks a new wave of criticism has portrayed Amnesty as "a threat to human rights," whose "leadership is suffering from a kind of moral bankruptcy." And this time the attack, which may affect not only Amnesty's reputation but also its funding, originates inside Amnesty itself."

Why ACORN Fell: The Times, Lies, and Videotape
Peter Dreier and John Atlas write for the Huffington Post: "The New York Times hit ACORN with a one-two punch last weekend, making sure that the community organizing group -- flattened by attacks from the right and withdrawal of funding from liberal foundations -- stays knocked out. Both articles -- Ian Urbana's Saturday story, "Acorn on Brink of Bankruptcy, Officials Say" and public editor Clark Hoyt's Sunday column, "The Acorn Sting Revisited" -- reflect the paper's obsession with being so even-handed that the truth gets lost."

The Health Care Hindenburg Has Landed
Chris Hedges writes for Truthdig.com: "Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s decision to vote 'yes' in Sunday’s House action on the health care bill, although he had sworn to oppose the legislation unless there was a public option, is a perfect example of why I would never be a politician. I respect Kucinich. As politicians go, he is about as good as they get, but he is still a politician. He has to run for office. He has to raise money. He has to placate the Democratic machine or risk retaliation and defeat. And so he signed on to a bill that will do nothing to ameliorate the suffering of many Americans, will force tens of millions of people to fork over a lot of money for a defective product and, in the end, will add to the ranks of our uninsured."

Health Care Reform Bill 101: Who Will Pay for Reform?
Peter Grier reports for the Christian Science Monitor: "For the United States, health care reform would come with a hefty co-pay. So where's the cash to pay for this coming from? The answer is that the money will be provided by new taxes, fees on industries involved in health care, and cuts in projected spending growth for existing government health efforts, primarily Medicare."

Health-Insurance Coverage Rates for US Workers, 1979-2008
Hye Jin Rho and John Schmitt report for the Center for Economic and Policy Research: "This study estimates rates of all forms of health insurance coverage for workers aged 18 to 64, by wage quintiles, over the past three decades. This analysis looks at health insurance from any source, while other reports (with rare exceptions) look at only employer-provided health coverage. This report provides trends from 1979 to 2008, while even the Census Bureau typically presents data starting from only either 1987 or 1999 (due to methodology changes made in those two years). The Census Bureau also does not publish data for workers, as this report does."
Download PDF of complete report here.

Calorie Count Disclosure And The Health Care Bill: Will This Lead To A Food Revolution?
Kathrine Goldstein writes for the Huffington Post: "One aspect of the health care bill that is taking effect immediately is that chain restaurants will be required to prominently display nutrition information. This could be a significant step in changing the food landscape in America."

Health Care and Wingnuts
Joe Conason writes for the New York Obaserver: "Listening to right-wing talk radio on the day after Congress passed health care reform, Bill O’Reilly was stunned. To him, the hosts and the callers sounded 'crazed; as they shrieked about 'the end of the world, we’re socialist now, we have to take the country back.'  Maybe the Fox News host hasn’t been listening, but there has been plenty of crazy in the air now for many months on his network and elsewhere on the airwaves."

Two Right-Wing Billionaire Brothers Are Remaking America for Their Own Benefit
Jim Hightower writes for the Hightower Lowdown: "Despite a constant racket from the forces of the far-out right (Fox television's yackety-yackers, just-say-no GOP know-nothings, tea-bag howlers, Sarah Palinistas, et al.), the great majority of Americans support a bold progressive agenda for our country, ranging from Medicare for all to the decentralization and re-regulation of Wall Street. Indeed, in the elections of 2006 and 2008, people voted for a fundamental break from Washington's 30-year push to enthrone a corporate kleptocracy."

Bruce vs. Beck: Borne in the USA
GReg Mitchell writes for The Nation: "When Bruce Springsteen became a political 'boss' about thirty years ago he could not have imagined that the lyrics from one of his most famous songs would be cited by one American president and used to lampoon critics of another--and read over the air by the wacky host of something called 'a cable news channel.'"

The 10 Most Outrageous Right-Wing Freakouts Over the Health Care Bill
Tana Ganeva writes for AlterNet: "The Monday after Congress passed historic health care legislation was a dark day for the right wing. Wouldn’t you be upset if you were doomed to live in a communist dystopia? Is there even a point in living once Nancy Pelosi kills every baby in America and your grandmother?  And by 'upset,' we mean certifiably insane. Here are the 10 most awesomely overwrought right-wing freakouts spurred by the passage of a bill that promises to extend coverage to tens of millions of the uninsured and curb some of the most inhumane abuses of the insurance industry." Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images - Mark Wilson

Are Greedy Water Bottlers Siphoning Your City's Drinking Water?
Tara Lohan, AlterNet: "It took six years for residents of tiny McCloud, California, to give Nestle Waters North America its walking papers. The water bottler had hoped to build a 1 million square-foot facility in the town of less than 2,000 and was given a backroom 50-year contract (renewable for an additional 50 years) to annually take 1,250 gallons per minute of delicious spring water from the town, hunkered in the shadow of Mount Shasta, and unlimited groundwater. But after years of opposition from community and environmental groups, Nestle scrapped its plans and left with its tail between its legs."

Recommended Audio: The Story of Stuff - The Story of Bottled Water 

Choi to HRC: "I Feel So Betrayed"
Advocate.com editors report: "Lt. Dan Choi is profiled in the week’s copy of Newsweek, recounting what really happened to him after he was arrested at the White House gates and spent the night in jail. Choi tells the magazine he was denied a phone call and at numerous points throughout the interview, slams the Human Rights Campaign."

Globalizing the Culture Wars
A groundbreaking investigation by Political Research Associates (PRA) discovered that sexual minorities in Africa have become collateral damage to our domestic conflicts and culture wars. U.S. conservative evangelicals and those opposing gay pastors and bishops within mainline Protestant denominations woo Africans in their American fight.

Report (PDF)| Executive Summary (PDF) | Key Background Documents

Google Departs China: The View From Beijing
Kathleen E. McLaughlin reports for GlobalPost: "Google has finally made its move, shifting searches from China to Hong Kong more than two months after threatening to quit China over hacking and censorship. But the big questions remain unanswered, in particular Beijing's next move and how the internet giant's shift will affect access to information for the world's biggest net population."

Fake Area Newspaper Gets Real Television Show
David Itzkoff reports for the New York Times: "The Onion, the satirical news organization that broke the fake story that the smoke monster from “Lost” would receive its own spin-off series and cheekily reported that television critics who praised “The Wire” had never seen the show, is itself headed to the small screen."

Recommended Audio: On The Media - A Man, a Plan - Broadband
After many months of fact-finding and opinion gathering, the FCC at last released its long-awaited National Broadband Plan. But will it bring better internet speeds at lower prices? Consumer advocates and the FCC's broadband chief weigh in.

Plans for Broadband: Pipe Dream
The Economist comments: "A YEAR ago, Congress asked for a plan that would provide affordable broadband service to all America’s citizens. On March 16th, the Federal Communications Commission responded with a non sequitur: a national wireless plan which is good in its way, but which largely fails to tackle the problem it was asked to solve."

Ending the Internet's Trench Warfare
YOCHAI BENKLER comments for The New York times: "IMAGINE that for $33 a month you could buy Internet service twice as fast as what you get from Verizon or Comcast, bundled with digital high-definition television, unlimited long distance and international calling to 70 countries and wireless Internet connectivity for your laptop or smartphone throughout much of the country."

For Many, the Local Newspaper Isn't Dying - It's Already Dead
Robert Hernandez writes for The Online Journalism Review: "The doomsday scenario has been on everyone's mind, including some at SXSWi, since the revenue/circulation has dropped through the floor and the brilliant mind of Clay Shirky articulated 'thinking the unthinkable.' The scenario, in short, is what will happen to a city when the last major newspaper dies? Who covers our city? Who becomes our watchdog? What happens to our community? Who tells our story? I would propose that this scenario, in many aspects, has already happened."

22 March 2010

Community Bridge Wins Top Honors

The 2010 Kansas Association of Broadcasters Awards were announced today. Community Bridge and host Christopher Renner received two 1st place honors:
  • 2010 First Place for Public Affairs Programming for our interview with Marci Penner, executive director of the Kansas Sampler Foundation. 
  • 2010 First Place Documentary for "Voices from the National Equality March." 
Have a listen to this award-winning shows!

1 Oct. 09 - An Interview with Marci Penner
The wonders of Kansas is the topic for this week's show as Community Bridge welcomes Marci Penner, Executive Director of the Kansas Sampler Foundation. Penner discusses the mission of the foundation, how it works to help small communities thrive, and the quest for perfect pie.

MP3 File

15 Oct. 09 - Voices from the National Equality March
On this edition of Community Bridge, we hear the voices from the National Equality March hosted by Equality Across America on October 11, 2009, in Washington, DC. In order of appearance we hear: Cleve Jones; Courage Camp participants; voices from 15th and I Streets; Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC; Reverend Troy Perry; Robin McGehee and Kip Williams; David Mixner, Corrine Mina; Tobias Packer; Aiyi’nah Ford; Mario Nguyen, Lady Gaga, Billy Myer and Dave Koz; Maxin Thorne; Julian Bond; Kate Clinton; Urvashi Vaid; and conclude with the voices of the DC Gay Men’s Chorus. C-Span has recorded all the speakers at the rally. Visit: http://www.c-spanvideo.org/videoLibrary/video.php?progid=213759 to watch.

MP3 File

20 March 2010

Clippings for 20 March 2010

Antiwar Protesters: "Bombs Don't Bring Democracy"
Yana Kunichoff and Mary Susan Littlepage report for Truthout: "Two days before the seventh anniversary of the occupation of Iraq, more than a thousand antiwar protesters marched Thursday in downtown Chicago to chants of 'Obama, don't lie to me. Bombs don't bring democracy!' and 'Money for jobs and education, not for wars and occupation!' The rally is one of many antiwar events being held across the country in places ranging from New York to Utah to Georgia to protest the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Two children wear masks and signs with casualty numbers to highlight the plight of the Iraqis. (Photo: Yana Kunichoff / truthout)

Seven Years and $747 Billon of of Waste, Fraud and Abuse in Iraq
Robert Greewald and Brave New Films writes: "March 19th, 2010 is the seventh anniversary of the Iraq invasion. There's a temptation as we begin to end our combat presence in Iraq to search for a happy ending. But there has been no 'victory' in Iraq. We created this video as a reminder of the damage done to Iraq and to our country over the last seven years.

We also know that there will be no economic recovery here at home as long as we're spending $100 billion a year on another war that isn't making us any safer - the war in Afghanistan.

That's why we're asking you to report the Afghanistan War as an example of waste, fraud and abuse on the White House's official economic recovery website, Recovery.gov."

The Pentagon Church Militant and Us: The Top Five Questions We Should Ask the Pentagon
William J. Astore writes for TomDispatch.com: "When it comes to our nation's military affairs, ignorance is not bliss. What's remarkable then, given the permanent state of war in which we find ourselves, is how many Americans seem content not to know. There are many reasons for this state of affairs.  Our civilian leaders encourage us to be deferential toward our latest commander/savior, whether Tommy Franks in 2003, David Petraeus in 2007, or Stanley McChrystal in 2010.  Our media employs retired officers, most of them multi-starred generals, in a search for expertise that ends in an unconditional surrender to military agendas.  A cloud of secrecy and “black budgets” combine to obscure military matters, ranging from global strategy to war goals to weapons procurement.  The taxpayer, forced to pony up about one trillion dollars yearly to fund our military, national security infrastructure, and wars, is sent a simple message: stay clear and leave it to the experts in uniform."

6 Billion Later, Afgan Cops Aren't Ready to Serve
T. Christian Miller reports for ProPublica: "Mohammad Moqim watches in despair as his men struggle with their AK-47 automatic rifles, doing their best to hit man-size targets 50 meters away. A few of the police trainees lying prone in the mud are decent shots, but the rest shoot clumsily, and fumble as they try to reload their weapons. The Afghan National Police (ANP) captain sighs as he dismisses one group of trainees and orders 25 more to take their places on the firing line. 'We are still at zero,' says Captain Moqim, 35, an eight-year veteran of the force. 'They don't listen, are undisciplined, and will never be real policemen.'" (Photo: Max Becherer/Polaris)

SEC Admits Flawed Oversight of Lehman Brothers
Grace Huang reports for Truthout: "In the wake of a 2,200-page report on how 'misleading' accounting techniques led to Lehman Brothers' collapse, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Mary Schapiro would not comment on whether an investigation would commence, but acknowledged that the agency's oversight of Lehman was 'terribly flawed in design and execution.'"

Banking for the People
John Nichols comments for The Nation: "Even if financial services reforms are finally enacted at the federal level, it is unlikely they will create a banking system that serves the interests of Main Street America or the great mass of citizens who do the work and pay the taxes yet reap few of the benefits of this nation's immense wealth. But what if that great mass of citizens owned the banks?"

What's the Matter with Democrats?
David Sirota writes for Truthdig.com: "Ever since Thomas Frank published his book “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” Democrats have sought a political strategy to match the GOP’s. The health care bill proves they’ve found one. Whereas Frank highlighted Republicans’ sleight-of-hand success portraying millionaire tax cuts as gifts to the working class, Democrats are now preposterously selling giveaways to insurance and pharmaceutical executives as a middle-class agenda. Same formula, same fat-cat beneficiaries, same bleating sheeple herded to the slaughterhouse. The only difference is the Rube Goldberg contraption that Democrats are using to tend the flock."

Attack of the Cheneys
Matthew Duss writes for The Nation: "I'm sure not many fathers think about whether their children will defend them one day from accusations that they ordered torture. Dick Cheney would probably be one of the few who has--and how nice that he got that lucky. Since her father left office, Liz Cheney has been his most visible and effective advocate. She's given speeches at conservative gatherings, written op-eds for publications like the Wall Street Journal and made dozens of television appearances, all aimed at defending her father's record and carrying his standard. And occasionally she finds herself having to claim that a technique developed by torturers as a method of torture (waterboarding) was not really torture when her father approved it."

Matthew Duss discusses neoconservatives attempts at keeping the war on terror alive and the future of the Cheney ideology.

Ominously For Ensign, Probe's Focus Appears To Shift To Possible Quid Pro Quo
Zachary Roth reports for Talking Points Memo: "Buried under the pile of details that have emerged in the last 48 hours on the John Ensign investigation is one crucial over-arching development: The federal probe into the matter appears to have expanded, and shifted its focus in a way that may could make it an even graver threat to the Nevada senator than before."

Right Wing Gone Wild
Joe Conason comments for Truthout: "Demagogues often prosper under the rules of democracy, intimidating the moderate and preying on the weak-minded. But in a healthy society, such figures cannot cross a final threshold of decency without jeopardizing their own status - and today's right-wing nihilists seem to be on the verge of doing just that."

Jefferson Is History In Texas
Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Matt Corley, Benjamin Armbruster, Zaid Jilani, and Alex Seitz-Wald write the Progress Report for Think Progress: "If America's lucky, what happens in Texas will stay in Texas -- at least when it comes to education standards. It would even better if the right wing's destructive manipulation of the state's schools wasn't happening at all. Last week, the Republican-dominated Texas Board of Education approved a social studies curriculum that extols the importance of the National Rifle Association, Phyllis Schlafly, Confederate leader Jefferson Davis, and Joseph McCarthy. Right-wing board members removed Thomas Jefferson from "a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century"; many of them bear ill will toward the third U.S. president because he coined the term "separation between church and state." They also decided to require U.S. history classes to teach the difference between legal and illegal immigration. Last week's vote was the culmination of a decades-long plot by social conservatives to gain control over the influential Board of Education and, ultimately, the power to impose a far-right ideology on the nearly 5 million schoolchildren in Texas. Unfortunately, what's happening in the Lone Star State may spread nationally: Texas is one of the largest textbook buyers in the nation, and publishers, eager to get the business, often tailor their books to the state's standards. "

The Questions Education Reformers Aren’t Asking
Mike Rose writes from Truthdig.com: "Education is moving to domestic policy center stage. The first round of competition for federal “Race to the Top” funds is over, and that competition generated a flurry of school reform activity across the nation. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia were selected and are now preparing for a winnowing round two."

Public Radio International writes: "Scientists' efforts to defend the integrity of climate studies thwarted by unbalanced media coverage. For climate scientists, now is the winter of their discontent. Their major work, the 2007 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, which won the Nobel Peace Prize, is now under attack. A sloppy paragraph wrongly projected how soon Himalayan glaciers might melt. Another section overestimated flood-prone areas in the Netherlands."

Recommended Audio: How to Feed the World?

To understand the complexities of the international food market -- and how traders in Chicago can cause Africans to starve -- you could get a Ph.D. in economics, or read a 400-page report from the World Bank. Or you watch this superb nine minute video, directed by Denis van Waerebeke.

Though ostensibly created for a science show in Paris for 12 year olds, it's actually probably waaaay over a kid's head. Just watch -- it's excellent, and very well illustrated:

How to feed the world ? from Denis van Waerebeke on Vimeo.

The Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism reports the future of news ultimately rests on more long-term concerns: What are the prospects for alternative journalism organizations that are forming around the country? Will traditional media adapt and innovate amid continuing pressures to thin their ranks? A new report on the state of news reveals just how urgent these questions, and more, are becoming.  To read the report go to: http://www.stateofthemedia.org/2010/overview_intro.php

The NBP and ISP Competition: This Fight's Just Beginning
Nate Anderson reports for Ars Technica: "For a plan that puts 'competition' as its number one goal, the National Broadband Plan is remarkably light on policies that will produce much of it in the wireline space. Talk of competition is everywhere, but all suggestions are remarkably general or terribly banal: "more data collection" and "future policy reviews" are everywhere. Suggestions about how such reviews should turn out is lacking."

Net Neutrality not in Conflict with Copyright Enforcement
Gigi B. Sohn reports for The Hill: "It is unfortunate that some in the music industry have fallen on hard times.  But it's not the fault of those of us who favor an open and non-discriminatory Internet.  It is a gross misperception of reality to say that proponents of Net Neutrality like Public Knowledge are “more interested in the freedom to steal” digital content, as songwriter Rick Carnes wrote here last week."

FCC National Broadband Plan: A Vision for the Nation
The Editorial Board of the Christian Science Monitor writes: " national broadband plan for America argues that high-speed Internet service is as vital to America’s economy as electric power. Everyone should have access to it. Everyone should be able to afford it. As anyone who writes a school report, looks for a job, buys something on eBay, or watches videos on YouTube knows, that’s a pretty easy case to make. The Federal Communications Commission does so in its National Broadband Plan. The hefty document was sent to Congress Tuesday. The question is, how does America go from 200 million broadband users at home to adding another 100 million (just about everyone) by 2020?"

The National Broadband Plan Needs to Be Fixed -- Already
Bill Synder writes for Info World: "We've seen the prescription for national health care reform shrivel from brain surgery to a bandage on the forehead. I fear that the FCC's National Broadband Plan could suffer the same fate. The lack of competition in broadband, both wired and wireless, is at the root of a myriad of evils, including poor service, overcharges, opaque billing, and a complete lack of service in parts of the country. But for all its good intentions, the plan postpones hard choices on how to fix a broken system, and this gives the carriers and others the opening they need to delay, dilute, and damage the plan's important goals. "

The FCC Wants Your Thoughts On Comcast/NBC Merger
KArl Bode writes for Broadband Reports: "An FCC statement (pdf) indicates that the agency is fielding public comments on Comcast's planned merger with NBC Universal. The nation's largest TV and broadband provider (and third largest phone company) is hoping to create a $28.2 billion joint venture with GE, which would give Comcast a a 51 percent share in NBC Universal. Not too surprisingly, Comcast lawyers and lobbyists continue to argue that the merger with NBC would be a good thing for consumers, and that somehow the consolidation would mean more competition and diversity in the marketplace:
The Applicants assert that the proposed transaction would serve the public interest and promote the Commission’s policy goals of diversity, localism, and competition. They argue that the proposed transaction would be in compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements, including the Commission’s media ownership rules and channel occupancy limits. They deny the potential for public interest harms and contend that the antitrust laws and the Commission’s current regulations, including the program access, program carriage, and retransmission consent rules, would serve as adequate safeguards against any anti-competitive behavior by the parties.
If you really love massive media consolidation -- or think the deal could spell problems for consumers -- you have until May third to make your voice heard at the FCC. You can file your thoughts electronically here, referencing MB Docket No. 10-56."