Dean Baker writes for Counter Punch: "The latest cool thing for the Washington elite is to beat up on school teachers and firefighters for their overly generous pensions. It turns out that some of these public sector employees get enough money in their pensions that they can actually enjoy a decent retirement."
The Rubin Con Goes On
Photo: AP / J. Scott Applewhite
The Push for Social Security Cuts Ignores the Reality of the Program's Finances and Conditions of Near-Retirees
The Center for Economic and Policy Research writes: "CEPR Co-Director Dean Baker issued the following statement on the 75th anniversary of Social Security: "As we are celebrating Social Security's 75th anniversary, many of the most powerful political figures in Washington are making plans to reduce the benefits provided by the program. This drive reflects little understanding of either the program's financial health or the economic situation facing near-retirees."
Situation Room Scaremongering: CNN's Social Security crisis
Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan: Beyond the Body Count
Mike Ludwig reports for Truthout: "The United Nations announced on Tuesday that the rate of civilian casualties in Afghanistan is reaching an all-time high as the US-led occupiers escalate a war that has ravaged the country since 2001. The report proves that the situation is getting worse for the people of Afghanistan amid allegations that coalition governments have attempted to cover up recent civilian massacres. The report tracks 2010 civilian casualties up to June 30, and does not include the consequences of escalated fighting during July."
For more information:
How the Military Destroys the Lives of Soldiers Who Try to Tell the Truth
Justine Sharrock writes for AlterNet: "Last week, Representative Mike Rogers called for the execution of military whistleblower, Private Bradley Manning. His crime? Sharing the “Collateral Murder” video and the classified Afghanistan “war logs” with Wikileaks, which exposed the truth behind the failing war in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s cooperation with the Taliban, and potential war crimes. The 22-year-old Army intelligence analyst said he felt it was "important that it gets out...I feel, for some bizarre reason...it might actually change something.” He is currently in jail at Quantico, on suicide watch, and is facing up to 50 years in prison for exposing information the American public has the right to know."
Iraq Veterans Against the War Calls for Prosecution of Bush Administration Officials for War Crimes
IVAW alleges that Bush administration officials conspired to create the perception that Saddam Hussein presented an imminent threat to the United States in order to bypass an uncooperative U.N. Security Council and secure a congressional Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iraq. The growing body of evidence, including testimony from British officials in the ongoing Chilcot Inquiry, indicates that Bush officials could be charged with criminal offenses against the United States and violations of international law for making false claims to national self-defense."
In Place of Mental Health Care, Are Some Troops Being Evangelized?
William J. Astore comments for Truthout: "Yesterday, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and Veterans for Common Sense sent a startling letter to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. It alleged that the military has sent some psychological casualties to chaplains for counseling, rather than to mental health care professionals for diagnosis and treatment."
Honduras Down the Memory Hole: U.S. media ignore the aftermath of dubious elections they praised
Alyssa Figueroawrites for Extra!: "A year after a military coup removed democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya from office, Hondurans are still living under a repressive government—but the U.S. is pushing Latin American countries to join it in normalizing relations with the regionally ostracized nation."
activist 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court struck down a decades-long ban on the use of corporate money in elections with its ruling in the Citizens United case in January, opening the floodgates to unlimited, anonymous spending on political campaigns by corporations, unions, and advocacy organizations. Reactions were swift, as many voices joined the dissenting justices in expressing concern that the ruling "threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the nation." Lawmakers quickly set to work on a bill, unveiled in April with bipartisan support, designed to mitigate the negative effects of the Supreme Court decision. The legislation -- called the DISCLOSE (Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections) Act -- seeks to secure transparency in the electoral process through provisions holding corporations to a number of disclosure rules. President Obama called it the "toughest-ever disclosure requirements for election-related spending by big oil corporations, Wall Street and other special interests...trying to buy representation in our government." The Sunlight Foundation, a government watchdog group, said the bill would "shine a powerful light on...corporate political expenditures." However, corporate lobbyists and many leading Republicans, who cheered the Citizens United decision as a victory for First Amendment rights, called the DISCLOSE Act an attack, as U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue put it, on "constitutionally protected speech." However, as Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in his dissent, "While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics." Indeed, new polling from MoveOn.org shows that 77 percent of voters in 18 battleground congressional districts and 4 battleground states think that "corporate election spending is an attempt to bribe politicians;" only 19 percent consider it free speech. And 79 percent believe it's important that a candidate commit to reducing the influence of corporations over elections."
Mosque Mania: Anti-Muslim Fears and the Far Right
Photo: Robert Huffstutter
The Rise of America's Idiot Culture - The Muslim Community Center at Ground Zero: a Manufactured Controversy
Anthony DiMaggio writes for Counter Punch: "substantial racist uproar is taking place in conservative America, particularly in right-wing radio and television. Reactionary pundits are drawing increased attention to plans to build an Islamic community center in downtown Manhattan, near Ground Zero. Republicans and conservatives have long been known to harbor racist views of Islam, although they’re hardly alone in this. Many on the right frame the entire religion as radical, fundamentalist, and a threat to national security. In light of this pattern, there’s little surprising about the right’s most recent attack on Muslim Americans as a secret, under the radar threat."
The Right-Wing Hardliner Immigration Approach Would Create a Police State -- Is That What Those Supposed Freedom Lovers Want?
immigration violations than all other crimes and misdemeanors combined -- it charged more people for breaking our immigration laws than it charged drug traffickers, bank robbers, counterfeiters and everything else under the sun. Yet right-wing lawmakers and pundits who oppose a comprehensive re-think of our immigration system continue to insist the opposite is true: that the government is just sitting on its hands."
Sarah Palin, Bloggers "Debunk" Truths about Teacher Argument Video
Alex Pareene writes for Salon.com: "We all know that Sarah Palin's videotaped argument with a woman who hoisted a sign calling her the "Worst Governor Ever" is just a Rorschach test in which her supporters will see the usual aggrieved victim of liberal intolerance and the vast majority of Americans will just wonder why this unpleasant woman is still on TV all the time. But let us at least attempt to get some basic facts right, before the simple act of writing and repeating untruths muddles the issue."
Kline Sued for Sexual Discrimination
Ben Cohen writes for Forward Kansas: "Former Kansas GOP darling Phill Kline shouldn’t be getting into too much trouble nowadays. He always made headlines as a career politician, seeking various offices and then using them to advance his neo-conservative agenda, regardless of said position’s actual responsibilities. Ever since 2006, when he was thoroughly trounced in his bid for reelection as Kansas Attorney General, it’s been clear that Kline’s political career has been on the wane."
Post-Copenhagen Quest for Global Warming Accord Stuck in Reverse
News at 11: How Climate Change Affects You
Amy Goodman writes for Truthdig.com: "Our daily weather reports, cheerfully presented with flashy graphics and state-of-the-art animation, appear to relay more and more information. And yet, no matter how glitzy the presentation, a key fact is invariably omitted. Imagine if, after flashing the words 'extreme weather' to grab our attention, the reports flashed 'global warming.' Then we would know not only to wear lighter clothes or carry an umbrella, but that we have to do something about climate change."
Wall St.: Cutting Off Big Coal's Baddest?
wrecking the global economy, pocketing trillion-dollar bailouts, and now profiting handsomely while the American economy sputters, it's hard to muster any praise at all for the titans of Wall Street. Some recent developments on the Street, though, do deserve plaudits, however tempered: Over the past two years, many of the world's biggest banks have limited or severed ties with one of the world's most environmentally destructive practices, mountaintop removal mining." Photo: Flickr/The Sierra Club
Americans are Dying to Eat
Michael F. Jacobson writes for Other Words: "Try pronouncing disodium 6-hydroxy-5-((2-methoxy-5-methyl-4-sulfophenyl) azo)-2-naphthalene-sulfonate. It's not easy, right? That explains why this mouthful goes by its friendlier name, Red 40. It might sound innocent, but this ingredient and others like it are far from harmless. And they're in our food. For years, we at the Center for Science in the Public Interest and food-safety officials in Europe have highlighted studies linking food dyes to hyperactivity and other behavioral problems in children. The British government and the European Parliament even decided to phase out artificial dyes based on these concerns alone, but the same can't be said for the United States. So why do food manufacturers continue to pour about 15 million pounds of eight synthetic dyes into the American food supply every year?"
Facebook Criticizes Verizon-Google Plan For 'Open Internet'
Bianca Bosker reports for the Huffington Post: "Facebook is taking sides. The social network has come out against Google and Verizon's policy proposal for an 'open Internet' released earlier this week. Google and Verizon have suggested a framework for how Internet traffic should be handled over wireless and wireline networks. While the two companies maintain that their plan would 'protect the future openness of the Internet' and ensure there would be 'no prioritization of traffic,' critics have countered that the proposal, which includes exceptions for wireless networks and 'new services,' would create a tiered Internet, upend net neutrality, and '[set] the stage for the corporate takeover of the Internet.'"
Google-Verizon Pact: It Gets Worse
Craig Aaron reports for the Huffington Post: "So Google and Verizon went public today with their "policy framework" -- better known as the pact to end the Internet as we know it. News of this deal broke this week, sparking a public outcry that's seen hundreds of thousands of Internet users calling on Google to live up to its "Don't Be Evil" pledge. But cut through the platitudes the two companies (Googizon, anyone?) offered on today's press call, and you'll find this deal is even worse than advertised."
Google-Verizon Pact Proves Need for Real Net Neutrality
Tony Bradley writes for PC World: "The Internet is abuzz with reports that the sky is falling and the end is near following the Google-Verizon proposal for "net neutrality". On the contrary, Google and Verizon did the Internet a huge favor by demonstrating exactly why net neutrality is necessary, and creating a backlash strong enough to drive Congress and the FCC to do the right thing."
Google-Verizon Pact: Makes BP Look Good
Marvin Ammori writes for the Huffington Post: "A lot of people have been discussing the Verizon-Google pact, including venture capitalists (on NYT's Room for Debate) and Silicon Valley companies. Most people agree: Google does evil, calls it net neutrality. Last week I wrote up a guide of the FCC negotiations on net neutrality, setting out all the loopholes, and noting that the carriers needed only one loophole to kill an open Internet. Verizon and Google announced their pact two days ago. Rather than including one loophole, they went down the checklist and included just about every loophole they could."
If We Had Competition, We Might Not Need Neutrality Rules
Karl Bode writes for Broadband Reports: "Opinions of the Google/Verizon proposal for network neutrality continue to flood in, with the vast majority of thoughts on the proposal being negative. While there are small bits that some like (the EFF for instance likes the idea of limiting FCC authority), most criticisms of the plan (see Wired's, for instance) correctly note the plan is riddled with loopholes and is designed to protect Google's Android ad empire. Of course there's also been a fair share of those who just think network neutrality itself is a bunch of silly hysteria, like Yale Professor David Gelernter, who writes in the NY Times that this is all a case of 'net irrationality'..."