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

27 June 2010

Clippings for 27 June 2010

United States Social Forum: The Control of Public Media as a Social Justice Issue
Yana Kunichoff reports for Truthout: "The control of public media is a life-or-death struggle fought by diverse communities working toward social change against corporate-owned or undemocratic, government-sponsored media and professional journalists. The participation of marginalized and oppressed communities in shaping media systems is the only way forward for a democratic system of communication, and experiences from South America show this to hold true not only on the page, but in the field as well."

15,000 Progressive Activists in Detroit: Why No Media or Respect?
Sally Kohn reports for AlterNet: "It’s not surprising that the mainstream media is paying little attention to the 15,000-plus community organizers and progressive activists gathered in Detroit, Michigan this week for the second United States Social Forum. After all, the center-left political establishment isn’t paying attention either."

Big Banks Escape Toughest Limits in New Regulation Bill
Kevin G. Hall and David Lightman report for McClatchy Newspapers: "Like a hard-fought draw in a World Cup soccer match, consumers won sweeping new protections under a revamp of financial regulation that lawmakers agreed to Friday but large banks dodged the biggest hits that had been coming their way. The sweeping regulatory revamp affects everything from credit cards and mortgages to the structure of large global banks and who regulates the financial sector and how."

Wall Street 'Reform' in a Nutshell: The Politicians Lied, Media Applauded, and We Americans Will Suffer
Dylan Ratigan writes for AlterNet: "The same Washington spinsters who have driven our country into the ground seemed to be out in full force on Friday, claiming that their latest policy "victory" is the most "sweeping change" of our financial regulatory since the Great Depression. Actually, it is nothing more than window dressing."

More Stimulus Needed to Reduce Unemployment
Mark Weisbrot writes for The Center for Economic and Policy Research: "It is sad to see that the U.S. Congress is having trouble even passing just $24 billion for unemployment insurance at a time when the economy is weak and unemployment is at nearly 10 percent. This shows the power of right-wing ideology in this country: Even the simplest, smallest and most obvious steps to relieve economic misery can be held back."

Hands Off Social Security: There Are Better Ways to Cut the National Debt
Robert Weiner and Jonathan Battaglia comments for The Palm Beach Post: "The Social Security Trustees' Annual Report on the program's finances comes out Wednesday, delayed from March by the health bill. It will be turned into a marketing tool by advocates of cutting Social Security to reduce the national debt. Among those, the president's newly appointed National Commission on Fiscal Reform (the 'debt commission') is threatening to strangle the economic lifeblood of seniors by denying the solvency of Social Security and then using the solvent funds for other purposes." Photo: Scott Nolan Smith

America Detached from War
Tom Engelhardt writes for TomDispatch: "Admittedly, before George W. Bush had his fever dream, the U.S. had already put its first unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drone surveillance planes in the skies over Kosovo in the late 1990s.  By November 2001, it had armed them with missiles and was flying them over Afghanistan. In November 2002, a Predator drone would loose a Hellfire missile on a car in Yemen, a country with which we weren’t at war.  Six suspected al-Qaeda members, including a suspect in the bombing of the destroyer the USS Cole would be turned into twisted metal and ash -- the first “targeted killings” of the American robotic era."

5 Million Iraqis Killed, Maimed, Tortured, Displaced -- Think That Bothers War Boosters Like Christopher Hitchens?
Fred Branfman writes for AlterNet: "In 1970 a Lao villager who had survived five years of U.S. bombing wrote: In reality, whatever happens, it is only the innocent who suffer. And as for the others, do they know all the unimaginable things happening in this war? Do they? Do we? And if we did know about the innocent men, women and children our leaders kill, would it matter? Does it matter that those who justified the Iraqi invasion in the name of the people of Iraq have largely ignored their unimaginable suffering under U.S. occupation, as more than 5 million civilians have been murdered, maimed, made homeless, unjustly imprisoned and tortured -- and millions more impoverished? Would war supporters serve themselves and their nation if they wrote about both the humanity and suffering of, say, just 10 Iraqi victims -- and sought to convey how each represents at least 500,000 more? Is the suffering our leaders inflict on innocent civilians relevant to deciding whether to support our present war-making in Afghanistan and Pakistan? Would it matter if the N.Y. Times had run daily profiles and photos of Iraqi civilian victims since 2003, as it did of U.S. victims after 9/11?"

The Runaway General
Michael Hastings writes for Mother Jones: "How'd I get screwed into going to this dinner?" demands Gen. Stanley McChrystal. It's a Thursday night in mid-April, and the commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan is sitting in a four-star suite at the Hôtel Westminster in Paris. He's in France to sell his new war strategy to our NATO allies – to keep up the fiction, in essence, that we actually have allies. Since McChrystal took over a year ago, the Afghan war has become the exclusive property of the United States. Opposition to the war has already toppled the Dutch government, forced the resignation of Germany's president and sparked both Canada and the Netherlands to announce the withdrawal of their 4,500 troops. McChrystal is in Paris to keep the French, who have lost more than 40 soldiers in Afghanistan, from going all wobbly on him. "

Firing McChrystal Isn’t Enough. Fire the War.
Pierre Tristam writes for FlaglerLive.com: "Gen. Stanley McChrystal should never have been the top commander in Afghanistan. He’s a rogue and a bully, politically and militarily, and he’s dishonest in the most dishonorable way: he signed off on the cover-up of the killing by his own troops of Pat Tillman, the NFL star who became an Army Ranger. McChrystal falsified the documents that lied to Tillman’s family. 'The false narrative, which McChrystal clearly helped construct, diminished Pat’s true action,' Tillman’s mother, Mary, wrote." Photo: Bradley A. Lail/U.S. Air Force

Now What?
Fred Kaplan writes for Slate.com: "McChrystal is out, Petraeus is in. Civilian authority is reasserted, with no real compromise to the military mission. Good news, masterfully played. Now what? Or, to put it more crudely, so what? Yes, Gen. David Petraeus, who will be taking over command of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, is a brilliant soldier, one of the rare and true strategic thinkers in the military today. But the description also matches Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the man Petraeus is replacing."

Into the Valley of Death Rode the... 15?
Richarl Schickel reviews Restrepo for Truthdig.com: "Restrepo was the name of an American Army outpost in Afghanistan’s beautiful, dangerous Korengal Valley. It was built and maintained, from May 2007 until July 2008, by 15 members of the 173rd Airborne Brigade with the goal of interdicting Taliban troops as they moved freely through the valley, aided occasionally by the local inhabitants, who also at times at least pretended to be allied with the Americans. The outpost was named for an American soldier, a medic, who was killed early in the fighting, and “Restrepo” is, as well, the title of a documentary film by Sebastian Junger—he of “A Perfect Storm” and currently the author of the best-selling “War,” which draws on the same material as the film—and the well-known combat photographer Tim Hetherington. Together and separately they visited the outpost 10 times, for stays of up to a month in duration." Photo: National Geographic Films / Tim Hetherington

Carrie Battan writes for The Nation: "This week, the Obama administration decided that the private military contractor formerly known as Blackwater—now Xe—is the most qualified organization to guard US consulates in Afghanistan, and has been awarded nearly a quarter-billion dollars to do so. Xe officials swear up and down that they've cleaned up their act and departed from the ways that made the Blackwater name infamous, but Jeremy Scahill, author of the book Blackwater, tells Keith Olbermann otherwise during his appearance on Countdown. 'They've cleaned up their act about as much as BP has cleaned up the Gulf,' Scahill says. 'Who knows what they're doing around the world right now on behalf of the US government?' What's almost more frightening is America's dependence on private defense operations and the fact that among them, Xe is the leader. 'If you review all of the companies and you determine that Blackwater is your best company, then you know that this country is in serious, serious trouble with its national security policy.'"

Gutting Public Education: Neoliberalism and the Politics of Opportunism
Anthony DiMaggio, Truthout: "America's political and economic elites have declared a war on working, middle-class and poor Americans. Now that war is coming to a head with the draconian cuts in education, among other vital services, under the economic recession. Progressive critics of Republicans and Democrats have attacked the return of 'Hooverian economics' in recent years - understood as the do-nothing approach to dealing with the economic crisis and declining state budgets." Image: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: Kevin Steele, fling93

Teach Media Literacy
Jarred Keller writes for The Atlantic: "In the Internet age of unlimited information, clear truths and facts are often in short supply, a problem frequently exacerbated by performers in the blogosphere and the 24-hour news cycle. Not only has the participatory net led to a surge of sites, aggregators, and blogs espousing different ideologies or values, but rampant competition among them to be your most trusted source in news. "

Obama Making BP Pay Is Good Government, and That's Why Republicans and the Corporate Media Are Freaking Out
Joshua Holland writes for AlterNet: "Last week, the nation witnessed an act of good governance when the Obama administration put the full-court press on oil giant BP to set aside $20 billion in assets to compensate the thousands of Americans whose livelihoods -- and in some cases, lives -- are being devastated by the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe. It was an example of exactly what government is supposed to do; whatever it can, within the limits of the law, to protect its citizens’ interests. "

Gulf Oil Spill's Wildlife Toll: Sharks Near Shore, Turtles Incinerated
Patrik Jonsson reports for The Christian Science Monitor: "A sunbathing family spots a beached baby dolphin covered in oil from the Gulf oil spill. The family tries to scrape off the oil until a wildlife officer, jaw hard-set, carries it to shore. On its way to a sea mammal rescue center in Panama City, the dolphin dies."

Documents Show Vast Cleanup of Plum Island Land
Frank Eltman reports for the Associated Press: "Government documents obtained by The Associated Press show extensive efforts since 2000 to remove vast amounts of waste and contaminants from Plum Island, site of top-secret Army germ warfare research and decades of studies of dangerous animal diseases. Yet some environmentalists remain concerned about the secrecy surrounding the 840-acre, pork chop-shaped island off northeastern Long Island _ and they're dubious of any claims that pollution has been remedied."  Photo: AP Photo/USDA-ARS

Save the Trees, Save the Planet
Joe Conason writes for Truthdig.com: "What would the wealthy nations of the West (and their rising rivals in the East) do if they actually wanted to prevent catastrophic warming? Here in Africa, the obvious answer is that they would find the ways and means to discourage deforestation—the ruinous practice of clear-cutting for timber, charcoal and arable land that accounts for at least 20 percent of the atmospheric carbon burden. Save the trees, and you might just save the planet."

100,000 Americans Die Each Year from Prescription Drugs, While Pharma Companies Get Rich
Daniela Perdomo reports for AlterNet: "How many people do you know who regularly use a prescription medication? If your social group is like most Americans', the answer is most. Sixty-five percent of the country takes a prescription drug these days. In 2005 alone, we spent $250 billion on them. I recently caught up with Melody Petersen, author of Our Daily Meds, an in-depth look at the pharmaceutical companies that have taken the reins of our faltering health care system by cleverly hawking every kind of drug imaginable. We discussed how this powerful industry has our health in its hands."

Supreme Court on R-71: Names on Petitions Can Be Made Public
Chris Grygiel reports for the Seattle PI: "The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the names of people who signed petitions in an attempt to overturn a new gay rights law in Washington could be made public, a victory for state officials who said the case was a test of open government laws.  Justices ruled 8-1 in a case called Doe V. Reed. Only Justice Clarence Thomas dissented. They heard oral arguments in Washington, D.C., April 28. The ruling dealt broadly with claims by foes of the new gay rights law that disclosing their names would violate their First Amendment rights. However the justices said the plaintiffs could go back to a lower court to try to get a specific exemption on other grounds - and the chief lawyer for people who signed the Referendum 71 petitions said he would do so.

Will President Obama Abandon the Open Internet?
Joe Torres writes for the Huffington Post: "Perhaps the greatest freedom in a democracy is freedom of speech. Throughout our nation's history, people have died fighting not only for our right to speak, but for our right to be heard.The Internet is the greatest communications network ever created because it allows us to speak for ourselves without first asking permission from corporate gatekeepers. This is possible because of the principle called Net Neutrality, which prevents Internet service providers from discriminating against content online. But Net Neutrality and the open Internet may be in serious trouble. Julius Genachowski, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has been holding closed-door meetings with Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and Google that could pave the way for a corporate takeover of the Internet by curtailing our ability to speak online."

Internet 'Kill Switch' Approved By Senate Homeland Security Committee
Bianca Posker reports for the Huffington Post: "The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs has approved a cybersecurity bill, Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act (PCNAA), that would give the president far-reaching authority over the Internet in the case of emergency. As The Hill explains, the bill, sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman, Susan Collins, and Tom Carper, would give the president "emergency authority to shut down private sector or government networks in the event of a cyber attack capable of causing massive damage or loss of life." The original bill granted the president the authority to "indefinitely" shut down networks, but an amendment to the PCNAA, approved yesterday, mandates that the president "get Congressional approval after controlling a network for 120 days."

Former Government Officials Hired to Lobby as Congress Looks to Rewrite Telecom Law
Paul Blumenthal writes for the Sunshine Foundation: "As leaders in Congress announced a series of hearings this June to tackle huge telecommunications issues with a focus on the Internet, the top phone and cable organizations that control the majority of the access to the Internet have hired 276 former government officials to lobby both the Congress and the executive branch. According to data obtained from lobbyist disclosure forms and the Center for Responsive Politics, seventy-two percent of the lobbyists hired by AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Verizon, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and the US Telecom Association have previous government experience. These organizations combined to spend $20.6 million lobbying the federal government in the first quarter of 2010."

FCC Stops Comcast-NBCU Shot Clock Again
John Eggerton writes for Broadcast and Cable: "The FCC is stopping the shot clock on the Comcast-NBC Universal merger for a second time. Thursday, June 24, had been day 50 on what is an informal 180-day deadline for vetting the deal. The review began March 18.  The commission says that the companies returned incomplete answers and did not follow the directions in responding to a May FCC request for a raft of information from both on everything from organizational structure and channel lineups to copies of all programming agreements and detailed discussions of all deliberations in making content available online. The commission sent letters to the two Thursday, informing them that the FCC would put the brakes on vetting the merger until such time as they had complied fully."

Rolling Stone McChrystal Profile: The End of Fly-on-the-Wall Reporting?
Walter Shapiro writes for Politic Daily at AOL: "This week the entire journalistic pundit pack embraced the control-the-message dictates of political spin and corporate public relations as they excoriated Gen. Stanley McChrystal for allowing a Rolling Stone reporter to spend a month with him and his entourage. The derogatory towel-snapping mockery that cost McChrystal his Afghan command was often depicted as less of a mistake than his naiveté in cooperating with a magazine profile-writer."

Who Is Attending These "Secret" FCC Net Neutrality Meetings?
Matthew Lasar writes for Ars Technica: "Anger and confusion remains high over these private "back door" meetings that the Federal Communications Commission has been holding with various "stakeholders" regarding its proposed open Internet rules. Reform groups are still up in arms over the Tuesday gatherings, which appear to have focused on a legislative solution to the problem. Congress, it should be noted, is exploring rewriting the Communications Act in response to the current FCC logjam on the issue."

Industry-Funded Study Wrong (Again) on Net Neutrality and Investment
Moira Vahey writes for Free Press: "This week an industry-funded study from New York Law School generated some misleading news about Network Neutrality and broadband investment. Though we have shown over and over again that Net Neutrality will boost innovation and economic growth and spark job creation, we know all too well that Telco lobbies and industry groups would have us believe that the FCC’s plan to bring Americans universal affordable broadband and protect the open Internet is somehow bad for business."

25 June 2010

The Legacy of Agent Orange

On June 16th, a joint panel of U.S. and Vietnamese policymakers, citizens and scientists released an action plan, urging the U.S. government and other donors to provide an estimated $30 million annually over 10 years to clean up sites still contaminated by dioxin, a toxic chemical used in the defoliant. However, the Agent Orange legacy is still affecting the American GIs who served in Vietnam, their children and grandchildren as well as the people of the former South Vietnam. Susan Schnall, a former Navy nurse and officer and Board member of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign joins us to discuss the on-going disaster of Agent Orange.

MP3 File

An Interview with Colony Collapse

In our second hour, we first hear this week's edition of "The Breakdown" with The Nation's DC Editor Christopher Hayes who brings in Kert Davies, research director for Greenpeace, to try to answer this week's question: Is BP unique in its ability to create catastrophe or is the entire practice of offshore oil drilling inherently and equally dangerous regardless of which company is running the rig?"

Then Taylor Holenbeck, Nathan Dixey, David Thomas and Trent Banks of Colony Collapse join us in studio to discuss their music, new CD, tour, and Colony Collapse Disorder - the pandemic affecting honey bees.

MP3 File

24 June 2010

Clippings for 24 June 2010

Special Feature: What Everyone Should Know about Colony Collapse
On today's show we feature Taylor Holenbeck and his band, "Colony Collapse."  The band is on tour this summer working to raise peoples awareness of what is happen to bee populations around the world.  The New Internationalist in their September 2009 edition covered the issue of colony collapse - when entire hives of bees suddenly die or go missing.  Here are some key articles:

Why Are They Dying?
Wayne Ellwood writes for the New Internationalists: "It’s safe to say that the late John Muir would not recognize California’s vast Central Valley were he to visit today. When the intrepid Scots-American naturalist and founder of the Sierra Club travelled by foot through the region in the 1860s and 1870s he was astounded by the richness and diversity of the plants and flowers which carpeted the valley bottom and surged up the mountain slopes. In rapturous prose he described what he called the ‘bee pastures’..."

The Bee's Knees -- The Facts
The New Internationalist writes: "Bees are truly amazing creatures, found in just about every region of the world from the Arctic tundra to the towering peaks of the Himalayas. About three quarters of more than 240,000 of the world’s flowering plants rely on them to reproduce."

10 Ways to Help Save the Bees
The New Internationalist writes: "Over 90 per cent of the world’s plants rely on insect and animal pollinators for fertilization and reproduction. Bees are the most common and most important of those pollinators and they’re in serious trouble – mostly because of us. We have destroyed much of their natural habitat, planted millions of hectares with monocrops like soy and maize, and doused our farmlands with poisonous chemicals. Reforming the dominant agricultural model is a major challenge. But in the meantime we can do a lot to help our buzzing buddies." Illustration by Scott Ritchie

Another World Is Possible, Another Detroit Is Happening
Amy Goodman writes for Truthdig.com: "“I have a dream.” Ask anyone where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. first proclaimed those words, and the response will most likely be at the March on Washington in August 1963. In fact, he delivered them two months earlier, on June 23, in Detroit, leading a march down Woodward Avenue."

Runaway Defense Spending Not Winning Any Wars
William Pfaff writes for Truthdig.com: "In Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, the major places of military interest to the United States today (disregarding the hundreds of other places where American soldiers and agents or mercenaries have been dispatched to suppress one or another outbreak of ethnic, tribal, religious or territorial conflict, the United States having appointed itself the enemy of Disorder), there are indications that things are coming apart."

Who's in Charge Here?
Fred Kapland writes for Slate: "Is Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, about to get fired? Should he be? As everyone now knows, freelance (and former Newsweek) reporter Michael Hastings has an article in the latest issue of Rolling Stone, quoting McChrystal and his staff officers talking dirt about their civilian superiors from President Barack Obama on down."

Petraeus and the Myth of the Surge
David Corn writes for Monther Jones: "As soon as the news was reported that Gen. David Petraeus is succeeding soon-to-be-retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal as commander of the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, the media narrative was set in stone: the super-general who won the war in Iraq with the so-called surge can now work his magic in another theater."

Still Waiting for Answers About Afghanistan
Bill Boyarsky writes for Truthdig.com: "After last week’s two-day congressional hearing on the Afghanistan war, I have two questions: One, why did Gen. David Petraeus faint under questioning? Two, why are we still in Afghanistan? 'I just got dehydrated,' Petraeus said after he returned to face the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday shortly after collapsing while answering questions from Sen. John McCain. That could happen. He was jetting across continents the day before. He skipped breakfast. It wasn’t just a case of his dozing off during McCain’s questioning, although that is a possibility."

Congressional Investigation Confirms: US Military Funds Afghan Warlords
Aram Roston writes for The Nation: "Security for key US military supply routes in Afghanistan is in the hands of a small group of powerful Afghan warlords who run a massive protection racket and may be paying off the Taliban, according to a Congressional report being released Tuesday. The report, an advance copy of which was obtained by The Nation, discloses that the Army has opened a criminal investigation into the payoffs, as an Army Criminal Investigation Command spokesman confirmed this evening to the Associated Press."

On Your Marx: Neoliberalism on the Rocks
The Editors of Truthout comment: "The first intellectual consequence of the economic crisis was to undermine neoliberalism—or the belief in the sufficiency of markets to secure human welfare—as the age’s default ideology. The second was to prompt a hasty resurrection of Keynes. “We are all Keynesians again!” the ghost of Richard Nixon might have declared as Gordon Brown and Barack Obama, leaders of the nations most squarely behind the neoliberal push of the last thirty years, changed the Anglo-American tune and, this past winter, begged their European colleagues to stimulate the Continental economy with borrowed money. The crisis also made the economists Paul Krugman and Nouriel Roubini into the first Keynesian superstars since John Kenneth Galbraith. Their recommendations, on their invaluable blogs, of still vaster countercyclical spending and the temporary nationalization of banks were not taken up by the Obama administration, but they did confer new respectability on the idea of close state involvement in the economy." Photo: leralle

Senate Republicans Nix Jobs Bill
Anne Shields writes for The Media Consortium: "It looks as if election-year strategies are trumping any actual problem-solving efforts from Republican lawmakers. In the midst of one of the worst unemployment crises in U.S. history, Senate Republicans killed a jobs bill last Thursday by a 56-40 vote."

Really Rich Back to Being...Rich
Andy Kroll writes for Mother Jones: "The housing market is still a mess; foreclosures are mounting; unemployment hovers near 10 percent; and, as Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said just today, "Our economy is still going through an incredibly difficult period." All of this stems from one of the worst financial crises in US history, a meltdown of epic proportions from which the country and the world has yet to fully recover."

New York Forum, Summit of Business Leaders, Opens Amid Economic Crisis
Rob Fishman reports for the Huffiongton Post: "The New York Forum — billed as a new, more focused Davos by the man who for 13 years produced it — opened last night at the Grand Hyatt with a panel discussion led by CNBC's Maria Bartiromo, and featuring Rupert Murdoch. The plenary session, which also included Hearst's Cathleen Black, Philippe Camus of Alcatel-Lucent, and Jerry Speyer, the real estate mogul, touched broadly on what the Forum's host, Richard Attias, called the "one area of human behavior that is suffering," which is, he said, the global economy."

Wall Street Reform's Final Act
Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Matt Corley, Benjamin Armbruster, Zaid Jilani, Pat Garofalo, Alex Seitz-Wald, Tanya Somanader write the Progress Report for Think Progress: "This week, the conference committee reconciling the House and Senate's respective versions of financial regulatory reform is dealing with some of the most contentious aspects of the effort to rein in Wall Street and build a fairer financial system. These include the titles dealing with protecting consumers, reforming the derivatives market, and regulating the riskiest practices of the nation's biggest banks. The conferees hope to send the bill back to each congressional chamber for a final vote by the end of the week. "It is important we finish by Thursday. These are not arbitrary times," said House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA), who is also the chairman of the conference committee. "If we are not able to finish by Thursday, then this bill cannot pass until the middle of July. I think that would be unwise from a standpoint of economic stability." The White House also asked the committee to finish quickly so that President Obama can "head to the Group of 20 economic summit this weekend in Toronto with a deal in hand." With that in mind, the financial services industry has launched a last-ditch effort to weaken the bill with exemptions and loopholes, even if it doesn't have the ability to kill important reforms outright. Lawmakers should be wary of opening any loopholes in the legislation, because, as Frank Partnoy, a professor of law at the University of San Diego and a former trader at Morgan Stanley, said, 'Once you open up the door just a crack, Wall Street shoves the door open and runs right through it.'"

Mastermind Behind Arizona Immigration Law Strikes Again
Susy Khimm reports for Mother Jones: "Kris Kobach—the Kansas lawyer behind Arizona's harsh immigration law (and candidate for Kansas Secretary of State) —has helped put another punitive measure on the books. A small Nebraska town passed a local referendum on Monday to exclude illegal immigrants from jobs and rental homes. The measure, which Kobach helped author, would bar landlords from renting to illegal immigrants, require the city to screen renters for their immigration status, and would require businesses use a federal database to ensure that only legal immigrants are allowed to work."

Protecting Our Water Commons: Interview with Robert Kennedy Jr.
Sarah van Gelder writes for YES!: "Whose job is it to protect our waterways? Water quality laws and enforcement are only as strong as the popular movements that press for them. Unless we stand up, those who would privatize, pollute, or divert our waters get away with it. That’s the message of Robert Kennedy Jr., founder of the international Waterkeeper Alliance and chief prosecutor of the New York-based Riverkeeper, which helped lead the successful movement for the restoration of the Hudson River."

Judge With Oil Investments Blocks Drilling Moratorium
James Russell reports for Truthout: "A US district judge with investments in affected energy firms blocked President Obama's six-month drilling moratorium Tuesday, The Washington Post reports. The judge's repeal allows BP and other companies to resume deepwater drilling in the wake of the ongoing Deepwater Horizon oil disaster."

BP Oil Leak Setback: 'Top Hat' Removed, Oil Flow Unhindered
Mark Seibel reports for McClatchy News: "Workers removed the "top hat" device collecting crude oil from BP's gushing Deepwater Horizon well Wednesday morning in a major setback to efforts to contain the leak. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the Obama administration's point man on the BP oil leak, told reporters in his daily briefing that the long term impact of the decision was uncertain, but video from the leak showed crude gushing unhindered into the water for the first time since the 'top hat' device, also referred to as the Lower Marine Riser Package, was set in place June 3."

Enter, Real Populists
Jim Hightower comments for Truthout: "Few people today call themselves populists, but I think most are. I'm not talking about the recent political outbursts by confused, used and abused tea-bag ranters who've been organized by corporate front groups to spread a hatred of government."

ACORN Vindicated of Wrongdoing by Congressional Watchdog Office, Yet Again
John Atlas writes for Everyday Citizen: "On Monday, June 14, a preliminary probe by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) of ACORN has found no evidence the association or related organizations mishandled the $40 million in federal money they received in recent years.  A review of grants by nine federal agencies found no problems with ACORN's grants. In my new book, Seeds of Change: The Story of ACORN, America's Most Controversial Antipoverty Community Organizing Group, I document how ACORN, the largest most successful national anti poverty organization in America, was forced to close its door."

The "Great White Hope" is what Republican Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins is looking for in the Republican party. Keith Olbermann and Maxine Waters discuss this completely racist statement on Countdown. Actual Video footage of her saying this at a Town Hall in Hiawatha Kansas.

U.S. Scores Dead Last Again in Healthcare Study
Reuters reports: "The United States ranked last when compared to six other countries -- Britain, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand, the Commonwealth Fund report found. 'As an American it just bothers me that with all of our know-how, all of our wealth, that we are not assuring that people who need healthcare can get it,' Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis told reporters in a telephone briefing."

Sugar High: 20 Worst Beverages In America You Can Swallow
Briana Rognlin reports for Blisstree: "Sugary drinks are the bane of our diets, and even some “health drinks” and “energy drinks” are full of sweet, empty calories. Men’s Health came up with a jaw-dropping list of the 20 worst beverages in America right now, and created some pretty shocking photos to show just how much sugar you’re sipping. Even if you’ve got a sweet tooth, we don’t know many people would like to get their daily sugar allowance through a straw. Check out the astonishing list, below, and click here to read more about the nutrition facts of these super-sugary drinks. It’ll give you the chills. And if it does, check out 10 Ice Cream Truck Treats That Will Blow Your Diet Fast and our equally scary brand-new post: What Happens to Your Body After You Drink a Coke Every Day, For a Long Time."

The Fate of the Internet -- Decided in a Back Room
Tim Karr writes for the Huffington Post: "The Wall Street Journal just reported that the Federal Communications Commission is holding "closed-door meetings" with industry to broker a deal on Net Neutrality -- the rule that lets users determine their own Internet experience. Given that the corporations at the table all profit from gaining control over information, the outcome won't be pretty."

FCC Makes Excuses for Secret Meetings, Abandons Transparency
Free Press writes: "After a series of secret meetings this week between the Federal Communications Commission and top industry lobbyists was revealed by the Wall Street Journal, FCC Chief of Staff Edward Lazarus tried to explain away the backroom meetings in a post on the FCC’s blog."

Back Room Net Neutrality Deal? Reform Groups Up in Arms
Matthew Lasar writes for Ars Technica: "The media reform crowd is going nuts over reports that the Federal Communications Commission is holding closed door meetings with ISPs, Google, and Skype in a bid to reach a compromise deal on the agency's proposed net neutrality rules. 'It is stunning that the FCC would convene meetings between industry giants to allow them determine how the agency should best protect the public interest," declared Free Press. "The Obama administration promised a new era of transparency, and to 'take a backseat to no one' on 'Net neutrality, but these meetings seem to indicate that this FCC has no problem brokering backroom deals without any public input or scrutiny.'"

Banning Secret Government Meetings Isn’t Hard, Or Why Some FCC Officials Should Fear Going to Jail
Scarecrow writes for FireDogLake: "The Federal Government has long conducted most of its real business behind closed doors, out of the public view. With the exception of a few public working sessions, Congressional hearings are often staged events to allow legislators to preen before cameras and each other, but the real decisions about legislation are more often than not made without public or media access. Real decision-making at administrative agencies isn’t much better."

Internet a Key Point of Opposition to Comcast-NBCU Deal
Alex Weprin writes for WebNewser: "Yesterday was the last day to file comments on the proposed Comcast-NBC Universal merger, and a number of individuals and companies weighed in. Among those filing comments in opposition to the deal were Senator Al Franken (D-MN), and satellite companies DirecTV and DISH Network. All three made access to content on the internet a key point of their arguments."

Comcast-NBC Universal Merger Draws Criticism
Joe Flint writes for the Los Angeles Times: "The proposed merger between the cable company Comcast Corp. and entertainment giant NBC Universal was heavily criticized Monday by some rival media companies and consumer advocacy groups that are trying to persuade the Federal Communications Commission to block the $30-billion deal."

21 June 2010

Clippings for 20 June 2010

Washington Drunk on War
Tom Engelhardt writes for Tom's Dispatch: "Mark it on your calendar.  It seems we’ve finally entered the Soviet era in America.You remember the Soviet Union, now almost 20 years in its grave.  But who gives it a second thought today?  Even in its glory years that “evil empire” was sometimes referred to as “the second superpower.”  In 1991, after seven decades, it suddenly disintegrated and disappeared, leaving the United States -- the “sole superpower,” even the “hyperpower,” on planet Earth -- surprised but triumphant. The USSR had been heading for the exits for quite a while, not that official Washington had a clue.  At the moment it happened, Soviet “experts” like Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (then director of the CIA) still expected the Cold War to go on and on.  In Washington, eyes were trained on the might of the Soviet military, which the Soviet leadership had never stopped feeding, even as its sclerotic bureaucracy was rotting, its economy (which had ceased to grow in the late 1970s) was tanking, budget deficits were soaring, indebtedness to other countries was growing, and social welfare payments were eating into what funds remained.  Not even a vigorous, reformist leader like Mikhail Gorbachev could staunch the rot, especially when, in the late 1980s, the price of Russian oil fell drastically."

First Signs of Strain in Kandahar Offensive
Ben Gilbert reports for GlobalPost: "These are some of the first casualties of an 'offensive' in southern Afghanistan that the military has suddenly grown reluctant to call an 'offensive.' It has begun quietly, with the U.S.-led NATO force here seemingly confused about whether the operation is about bringing 'governance' to Kandahar or clearing areas of insurgents. What is clear is that the slow trickle of wounded and the dead back to America has started. Fifty-three NATO troops have died so far this month if the pace continues, it will be the deadliest month since the Afghan war began."

Pentagon investigators are reportedly still searching for Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange, who helped release a classified US military video showing a US helicopter gunship indiscriminately firing on Iraqi civilians. The US military recently arrested Army Specialist Bradley Manning, who may have passed on the video to Wikileaks. Manning’s arrest and the hunt for Assange have put the spotlight on the Obama administration’s campaign against whistleblowers and leakers of classified information. We speak to Daniel Ellsberg, who’s leaking of the Pentagon Papers has made him perhaps the nation’s most famous whistleblower; Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a member of the Icelandic Parliament who has collaborated with Wikileaks and drafted a new Icelandic law protecting investigative journalists; and Glenn Greenwald, political and legal blogger for Salon.com.

G-20 Summit: Financial Reform Is Needed. But How Fast?
Dan Murphy reports for The Christian Science Monitor: "The heads of state for the Group of 20 (G-20) - a body that seeks to coordinate financial regulation and standards across some of the world's largest economies - will hold a two-day summit in Canada starting June 26 at which almost all participants are expected to call for more banking regulation but where some, echoing St. Augustine's famous prayer, are expected to say 'please, not yet.'"

Why Wall Street's Generous to New Democrats in House
David Lightman and Kevin G. Hall report for McClatchy Newspapers: "Members of the powerful New Democrat Coalition in the House of Representatives are among the top Democratic recipients of Wall Street campaign money this election cycle - and also among the most vocal advocates for weakening a plan to regulate complex financial instruments called 'derivatives' that helped fuel the near-collapse of the economy in 2008."

Did Democrats' Deal With the NRA Kill Campaign Finance Reform?
Gail Russell Chaddock reports for The Christian Science Monitor: "At issue is a deal brokered by the House Democratic leadership to exempt the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA) and others from disclosure requirements in a new campaign finance law. The legislation aimed to restore campaign finance limits stripped away by a controversial 5-4 US Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, which scrapped restrictions on when and how much corporations and unions can spend to influence elections."

Report Finds ACORN Did Not Support Voter Fraud; O'Keefe Is the Real Criminal
Mike Ludwig reports for Truthout: "A new government report debunks claims made by right-wing politicians and media that the now defunct community advocacy group ACORN violated elections law and supported voter fraud."

US Social Forum to Target Long-Term Progressive Goals
Yana Kunichoff writes for Truthout: "The picture Chomsky went on to paint, of an America ridden by fear and aggression, called for the creation of 'a different world, one that is not based on violence and subjugation, hate and fear. That is why we are here, and the WSF offers hope that these are not idle dreams.' Under the banner 'Another World is Possible, Another US is Necessary,' the attendees of the United States Social Forum (USSF) plan to do just this - on a more local level."

Witness: US Agent Aimed at Mexican
Dennis Bernstein and Jesse Strauss report for Consortium News: "An eyewitness to the June 7 shooting death of a 14-year-old Mexican youth said a U.S. Border Patrol agent took aim at the boy for several seconds after the boy emerged from behind a pillar of a bridge on the Juarez side of the border near El Paso, Texas."

A Green 'New Deal' Now
Joe Conason writes for Truthdig.com: "If the right-wing chorus insists that the Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico is “Obama’s Katrina,” then let us hope the president will make the most of that slogan. The comparison between the utter failure of the Bush administration and the missteps and errors of the Obama White House is fundamentally false. Yet there is nevertheless a crucial parallel to be drawn as the fifth anniversary of the hurricane approaches."

No Energy in Obama's Energy Plan
Alexander Cockburn comments for Truthout: "Every president since Nixon has tried to sell an energy plan, and the only one to yield any tangible results was Reagan's consummated pledge to rip the Carter-installed solar system off the roof of the White House. Carter wore his cardigan and America laughed and turned up the heaters in their SUVs."

Fixing Global Warming For 40 Cents a Day
Kevin Drum writes for Mother Jones: "I was pretty hard on President Obama's oil spill speech on Tuesday, and one reason was his unwillingness to use the occasion to press for a serious climate policy. It's true, as Dave Roberts points out, that Obama talked about raising efficiency standards, investing in clean energy tech, and setting renewable energy standards, all of which are important things. But he very deliberately didn't mention climate change, didn't mention cap-and-trade, and didn't mention carbon pricing even in passing. He just punted."

Life Aboard the Drilling Rig That's the Gulf's Last Hope
Jennifer Lebovich reports for McClatchy Newspapers: "Here, the Development Driller II and another drilling rig, the DD III, about half a mile away are the last hope for finally plugging the gushing underwater well. Both rigs are drilling relief wells that, deep under the ocean bottom, will aim to tap into the pipe gushing oil, pour cement into it and hopefully stop the oil permanently." Photo: Ann Marie Gorden / US Coast Guard

Gulf Oil Spill: A Hole in the World
Naomi Kline writes for The Guardian UK: "Everyone gathered for the town hall meeting had been repeatedly instructed to show civility to the gentlemen from BP and the federal government. These fine folks had made time in their busy schedules to come to a high school gymnasium on a Tuesday night in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, one of many coastal communities where brown poison was slithering through the marshes, part of what has come to be described as the largest environmental disaster in US history."

Exclusive: New Documents, Employees Reveal BP's Alaska Oilfield Plagued by Major Safety Issues
Jason Leopold reports for Truthout: "Nearly 5,000 miles from the oil-spill catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, BP and its culture of cost-cutting are contributing to another environmental mess. According to internal BP documents obtained by Truthout, and after interviewing more than a dozen employees over the past month, the Prudhoe Bay oil field, in a remote corner of North America on Alaska's north shore, is in danger." Photo: abmatic

The People Versus the Powerful
Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Matt Corley, Benjamin Armbruster, Zaid Jilani, Alex Seitz-Wald, Tanya Somanader write the Progress Report for Think Progress: "As BP CEO Tony Hayward testified before Congress yesterday, oil continued to gush into the Gulf of Mexico for the 58th day after the oil rig his company operated exploded and initiated the largest oil spill in U.S. history. While many lawmakers used this opportunity to press Hayward on his company's incompetence and malfeasance, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) apologized to BP for the White House's efforts to make sure the oil giant compensates the victims. Barton's stunning apology to a giant foreign oil corporation that has devastated the Gulf Coast economy is emblematic of a larger philosophical divide in U.S. politics. On issue after issue, progressives have fought to hold big corporations accountable, stand by everyday Americans struggling to create a better life for themselves, and create a more just America for all. Conservatives, on the other hand, have aligned themselves with the nation's most powerful interests -- Big Oil, Wall Street, insurance companies, labor rights violators, and others whose mantra may as well be "greed is good." At stake in the battle between these two sides is the very idea of the American Dream -- that anyone who plays by the rules and works hard will succeed. The question Americans must ask of their politicians is clear: Which side are you on -- the people or the powerful?"

Taking on Tarmageddon
Jess Worth reports for the New Internationalist: "‘If local indigenous communities tell us they don’t want the Sunrise Project, then of course we won’t do it,’ Peter Mather, boss of BP UK, said to me earnestly. I could barely believe my ears. Was the oil giant, poised to enter the tar sands for the first time, really claiming it would be prepared to back down in the face of local opposition? My strange evening had just got stranger. I was in Oxford’s swanky Randolph Hotel. It was last October, and I’d gone with a group of student activists to BP’s flagship graduate recruitment event. The company had really pulled the stops out, lavishing free wine and canapés on around 100 engineering and geology students, perhaps in the hope of giving them a taste of what life could be like if they worked for the transnational." Photo by: Thomas Ball

Coming to Terms With Equality and Diversity in America's Ongoing Culture Wars
Cary Fraser writes for Truthout: "The recent decision by the Texas School Board of Education to revise the curriculum in the state to reflect a more 'conservative' approach to social studies and history has highlighted the ongoing debate about the role of education in American society and culture."  Photo: Associated Press

Jennifer Ludden writes for National Public Radio: "There's no federal law that bans workplace discrimination against parents or people who care for elderly or disabled family members, but that hasn't stopped a surge of lawsuits by such workers alleging unfair treatment by their employers. In the past 10 years, the number of such suits has quadrupled and many have been successful, according to the Center for WorkLife Law."

Mama Grizzlies to Working Moms: Drop Dead
Betsy Reed writes for The Nation: "First, let's swallow hard and be fair. There is something to cheer in the so-called Year of the Woman. You don't have to credit the Republican Party, which did next to nothing to bring on the wave that swept Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman, Sharron Angle and Nikki Haley to victory in June's primary elections. Indeed, before the RNC began heralding its Mama Grizzlies, in Sarah Palin's typically catchy but grating phrase, it was brushing off complaints about how its roster of 104 rising "Young Guns," lavished with party attention and resources, included only seven women. Fiorina and Whitman bought their gleaming California wins with their own money, while Angle charged to victory in Nevada on sheer Tea Party adrenaline. There's certainly nothing progressive about these women, but their brash, unapologetic and largely unsolicited emergence in Republican politics—in American politics—does represent progress, of a sort."

McDonalds Chief: 'I'm Christian - no gay ads for USA' 
Micha J. Stone writes for the Portland Humanist Examiner: "McDonalds President and Chief of Operations Don Thompson is under fire for making disparaging remarks about the gay and lesbian community in a recent interview with the Chicago Tribune. Thomas claimed that since he was Christian, McDonalds would not run any gay positive ads in the USA."  Photo: commons.wikimedia.org

Joe Barton Apology-Fest Continues: First BP, Now AT&T, Comcast ... [Your Company Here]
Craig Aarom writes for the Huffington Post: "Joe Barton is really, really sorry. The Texas congressman made headlines today for publicly apologizing to oil giant BP for what he called a government "shakedown" against the company; the government is asking BP to pay into a fund for those harmed by the disastrous Gulf oil spill. "I'm not speaking for anyone else, but I apologize," he said."

The Uncommon Courage of the FCC
Art Brodsky writes for Public Knowledge: "One of Ernest Hemingway’s more enduring quotes is the one defining courage as “grace under pressure.”  For the past couple of months, no officials in Washington have been under such sustained pressure as Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski and his Democratic colleagues, Commissioners Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn.  Today, they demonstrated the essence of Hemingway’s courage."

FCC to Consider First Step Toward Broadband Regulation
Grant Gross writes for PC World: "The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to vote on the first step toward reclassifying broadband as a regulated, common-carrier service, despite objections from many U.S. lawmakers and broadband providers. The FCC, in a Thursday morning meeting, is scheduled to vote on a notice of inquiry on new legal frameworks for enforcing network neutrality rules, redirecting telephone subsidies to broadband and implementing other parts of the agency's national broadband plan. In a notice of inquiry, or NOI, the FCC seeks public comment on a topic. NOIs often lead to FCC rulemaking proceedings."

AT&T: Drop Net Neutrality or U-Verse Gets It
Matthew Lasar reports for Ars Technica: "Back when Google announced it was looking for cities to test its fiber-to-the-home trial network, we profiled a host of municipalities that tried every possible publicity stunt in the book to get the search engine giant's attention. These included a North Carolina city council member who promised to name his offspring after Google's co-founders, along with the mayor of Topeka... who tried to rename his town 'Google, Kansas.'"

20 June 2010

What White People Fear

Community Bridge opens with author and professor Robert Jensen. Jensen, a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin, is author of The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege and his latest, All My Bones Shake: Seeking a Progressive Path to the Prophetic Voice. He is co-producer of the new documentary Abe Osheroff: One Foot in the Grave, the Other Still Dancing. Jensen will discuss "what while people fear" as we look out on US society, the Obama election and the rise of the Tea Party element and what it has to do with racism.

MP3 File

On the Varieties of Homophobia

In our second hour, following this week's Media Minutes, Community Bridge welcomes Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Out, discussing his recent article "On the Varieties of Homophobia" which appeared in the current edition of the Gay and Lesbian Review.

Truth Wins Out is a non-profit organization that defends the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community against anti-gay misinformation, counters the so-called “ex-gay” industry and educates America about the lives of LGBT people. Their goal is to fight for a world where LGBT individuals can live openly, honestly, free of discrimination and be true to themselves.

MP3 File