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

30 January 2011

The Watchman's Rattle

Community Bridge opens this week with a live interview of author and sociobiologist Rebecca Costa in a discussion of her thought-provoking new book: The Watchman's Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction.  

The Watchman's Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction, connects the dots between crime, oil prices, Wall Street, global warming, nuclear waste and childhood violence.  Costa reveals the four telltale patterns which paralyze innovative thinking, and with it, a civilization's ability to solve complex problems. Using both historic and modern day examples, The Watchman's Rattle describes what happens when complexity races ahead of the brain's ability to manage it, the underlying reason why experts and governments can no longer fix global crisis and conflict. 

MP3 File

Engaging the Muslim World

For our second hour we will broadcast Carolyn Benton Cockefair Chair in Continuing Education lecture given by Juan Cole on Nov. 15, 2010, at the University of Missouri - Kansas City entitled “Engaging the Muslim World."

Cole is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. For three decades, he has sought to put the relationship of the West and the Muslim world in historical context. His most recent book is Engaging the Muslim World (Palgrave Macmillan, March, 2009). As a commentator on Middle Eastern affairs, he has appeared in print and on television, and testified before the United States Senate. He has published several peer-reviewed books on the modern Middle East and is a translator of both Arabic and Persian. Since 2002, he has written a weblog, Informed Comment.

MP3 File

25 January 2011

Clippings for 25 January 2011

8 Reasons Global Capitalism Makes Our Lives Worse -- And How We Can Create a New Kind of Economy
Tara Lohan reports for AlterNet: "To many of us, a society where no one goes hungry, where there is no unemployment, where people are happy and they have spacious homes and lots of leisure time seems like fantasy. But it's not a fantasy for Helena Norberg-Hodge -- she saw it firsthand in the tiny Himalayan region of Ladakh, a remote mountain community that borders Tibet. During the course of 35 years there, she also saw what happened when Ladakh was suddenly thrown open to the outside world in the 1970s and subsidized roads brought subsidized goods to the region. The local economy was undermined, the cultural fabric was torn apart. Unemployment, pollution and divisiveness emerged for the first time."

Obama Embraces the "Economic Philosophy That Has Completely Failed"
William Black comments on Michael Moore's Blog: "President Obama's Executive Order on regulatory review was originally set in motion by his February 3, 2009 direction to OMB to create an improved regulatory review process.
The fundamental principles and structures governing contemporary regulatory review were set out in Executive Order 12866 of September 30, 1993. A great deal has been learned since that time. Far more is now known about regulation -- not only about when it is justified, but also about what works and what does not. Far more is also known about the uses of a variety of regulatory tools such as warnings, disclosure requirements, public education, and economic incentives. Years of experience have also provided lessons about how to improve the process of regulatory review. In this time of fundamental transformation, that process--and the principles governing regulation in general -- should be revisited."
Turbulence Ahead
Joseph E. Stiglitz provides the following analysis for Truthout: "Another year of malaise along the Atlantic. By the numbers, the great recession's long gone. The World Bank forecasts that developing countries - chugging along at an average growth rate of 6 percent - will expand the global economy by more than 3 percent this year. In the last six months, London's FTSE 100 is up more than 15 percent, and Wall Street's Dow Jones index is up nearly as much. It's just about enough to say the good times are back."

Discretion Advised
Ruth Marcus writes for Truthdig.com: "Discretionary spending, the part of the federal budget that is not on autopilot and is subject to annual appropriations, generally constitutes less than 40 percent of federal spending. Take out defense spending and that share drops to well under 20 percent. So if your goal is to slash government spending and your approach is to go after discretionary spending without touching the military, it will require punishing, drastic cuts to make any serious dent in the deficit."

Is America Too Corrupt to Keep Up?
David Sirota comments for Truthout: "A sovereign nation investing its wealth in its domestic economy seems like a no-brainer, especially during a global recession. But in this crazy age of American politics, even that has become a controversial notion. This is the subtext of a dispute that simmered beneath the pomp and circumstance of this week's U.S.-China summit.... China's industrial policy success carries a basic lesson: When a nation couples public spending with incentives that encourage domestic corporate investment, an economy tends to grow its own wealth-building industries. That's simple enough to understand, right? Evidently, not within our own government."

Congress to Investigate Pentagon Decision to Deny Coverage for Brain Injured Troops
T. Christian Miller, ProPublica, and Daniel Zwerdling, NPR, report for ProPublica: "A key congressional oversight committee announced today that it was opening an investigation into the basis of a decision by the Pentagon's health plan to deny a type of medical treatment to troops with brain injuries. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., the chairman of the subcommittee on contracting oversight, said she wanted to examine a contract issued by Tricare, an insurance-style program used by soldiers and many veterans, to a private company to study cognitive rehabilitation therapy for traumatic brain injury. Such injuries are considered among the signature wounds of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq."

US Case Against Wikileaks’ Julian Assange Collapses
Juan Cole writes on Informed Comment: "The US government, according to NBC correspondent Jim Miklaszewski, now admits that it cannot tie Pfc. Bradley Manning to Wikileaks leader Julian Assange. The military also admitted that Manning was put on suicide watch improperly twice last week by the base commander at Quantico, essentially as a form of punishment and with no consultation with psychiatrists. During the watch they took his glasses from him so he could not read."

Patriot Act's Wiretapping, FISA Provisions Quietly Come Up For Renewal
Rachel Slajda reports for Talking Points Memo: "At the end of next month, two of the Patriot Act's controversial provisions -- one authorizing "roving" wiretapping and one allowing the government to pull all sorts of records and electronic communications from U.S. citizens -- will expire. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), the new chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has already introduced legislation that would simply extend the provisions for one more year.  That would essentially be a repeat of what happened a year ago, after the provisions expired in December 2009. There was a bit of a fight from civil liberties advocates, but the measures were renewed for another year at the end of last February."

Justice Department Seeks Mandatory Data Retention
Declan McCullagh reports for CNET News: "Criminal investigations 'are being frustrated' because no law currently exists to force Internet providers to keep track of what their customers are doing, the U.S. Department of Justice will announce tomorrow. CNET obtained a copy of the department's position on mandatory data retention--saying Congress should strike a "more appropriate balance" between privacy and police concerns--that will be announced at a House of Representatives hearing tomorrow. 'Data retention is fundamental to the department's work in investigating and prosecuting almost every type of crime,' Jason Weinstein, deputy assistant attorney general for the criminal division, will say, according to his written testimony. 'The problem of investigations being stymied by a lack of data retention is growing worse.'" (See related article.)"

It's Not the Teachers' Unions
Richard Kahlenberg writes for the American Prospect: "The resignation of Washington, D.C., Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee concludes the latest chapter in the ongoing war between free-market education reformers and teachers’ unions. Many Rhee supporters blame union opposition for the electoral defeat of Rhee’s boss, Mayor Adrian Fenty, and see unions as the biggest problem in education. In the much-discussed documentary, Waiting for Superman, in which Rhee is painted as a heroine, Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter declares, 'It's very, very important to hold two contradictory ideas in your head at the same time. Teachers are great, a national treasure. Teachers' unions are, generally speaking, a menace and an impediment to reform.'"

Fudging the Facts on Health Care and Deficits
Joe Conason writes for Truthdig.com: "Facts always matter, but never more than when politicians deal with issues of real consequence, like health care and budget deficits. Data sets and out-year projections may make everybody’s eyes glaze over, but without accurate information, the end result of legislation is disaster. Today, there is no way to avoid fiscal ruin and social erosion unless we can determine whether health care reform will tame or swell deficits. Yet the Republican leaders in Congress are now insisting on their own 'facts' concerning health care and deficits, which directly contradict the careful studies of the Congressional Budget Office. They have gone so far as to denigrate the CBO, among the most respected agencies in Washington since its founding in 1974, by accusing its analysts of using 'rigged' assumptions to reach its conclusions."

Study: 84% of Nutrition Labels On Kids' Foods "Misleading"
Josh Harkinson reports for Mother Jones: "Labels on the front of foods marketed to children tout all sorts of nutritional benefits, from high protein and natural flavoring to heaps of fiber and vitamin C. But most of those claims are just feel-good marketing designed to mask the fact that our kids are being sold junk food. This is according to a study released yesterday by the Strategic Alliance, a California-based group of nutrition and exercise experts. It concludes that 84 percent of the nutritional claims made on the front of 58 "better for you" products were misleading; most of the products didn't even meet the basic nutrition standards set by the US Department of Agriculture and the National Academies of Science. "

Climate Benefits of Natural Gas May Be Overstated
Abrahm Lustgarten reports for Propublica: "The United States is poised to bet its energy future on natural gas as a clean, plentiful fuel that can supplant coal and oil. But new research by the Environmental Protection Agency—and a growing understanding of the pollution associated with the full “life cycle” of gas production—is casting doubt on the assumption that gas offers a quick and easy solution to climate change.  Advocates for natural gas routinely assert that it produces 50 percent less greenhouse gases than coal and is a significant step toward a greener energy future. But those assumptions are based on emissions from the tailpipe or smokestack and don’t account for the methane and other pollution emitted when gas is extracted and piped to power plants and other customers. Photo: Douglas C. Pizac/AP file photo

Foot-and-Mouth Study, in Kansas?
Bill Bishop reports in the Daily Yoder: "There are some who don’t think it is the best idea in the world to build a facility that will study live foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) pathogens across the street from the Kansas State University football stadium — and within 200 miles of nearly ten percent of the U.S. cattle herd."

Where Liberals Go to Feel Good
Chris Hedges comments for Truthdig: "Barack Obama is another stock character in the cyclical political theater embraced by the liberal class. Act I is the burst of enthusiasm for a Democratic candidate who, through clever branding and public relations, appears finally to stand up for the interests of citizens rather than corporations. Act II is the flurry of euphoria and excitement. Act III begins with befuddled confusion and gnawing disappointment, humiliating appeals to the elected official to correct 'mistakes,' and pleading with the officeholder to return to his or her true self. Act IV is the thunder and lightning scene. Liberals strut across the stage in faux moral outrage, delivering empty threats of vengeance. And then there is Act V. This act is the most pathetic. It is as much farce as tragedy. Liberals - frightened back into submission by the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party or the call to be practical - begin the drama all over again."

SPLC Report: Nativist Laws Cost Communities Millions, Inflame Racial Tension
The Southern Poverty Law Center writes: "Harsh anti-immigrant laws enacted in communities across the country – promoted by national nativist organizations that want to severely limit immigration – have burdened taxpayers with millions in legal expenses, inflamed racial tensions and devastated businesses, according to a report issued today by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).  The report – When Mr. Kobach Comes to Town: Nativist Laws and the Communities They Damage – examines the impact of these laws, which have been promoted and defended by former law professor and newly elected Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Kobach also played a leading role in drafting Arizona's controversial anti-immigrant statute, S.B. 1070."

GOP's State of the Union Responder Would Set Higher Taxes on Middle-Class Than Millionaires
Pat Garofalo reports for Think Progress: "House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) was announced today as the Republican who will be responding to President Obama's State of the Union address next week. Ryan has gained a (largely unearned) reputation as a fiscal hawk due to his radical Roadmap for America's Future, under which the U.S. budget will eventually be balanced (after federal debt surpasses 100 percent of GDP), mostly via privatizing Social Security and Medicare. According to an analysis by Citizens for Tax Justice, the Roadmap would raise taxes on 90 percent of Americans, while dramatically lowering them for millionaires. In fact, a new analysis from the Economic Policy Institute found that Ryan's plan would ultimately translate into middle-class tax rates being higher than those for millionaires."

Angry Progressive Coalition to Protest Billionaire Gathering Hosted by Koch Brothers, Major Tea Party Funders
Don Hazen reports for AlterNet:Increasingly, Democrats, liberals and progressives are coming to understand that the Koch brothers, a secretive right-wing billionaire family that pours limitless money into virtually every destructive anti-democratic initiative affecting tens of millions of Americans, are "Public Enemy Number One."
More and more, leaders and activists are shifting tactics and confronting the Kochs face-to-face, challenging their efforts to steal the American Dream and drown out the voices of ordinary Americans by buying our democracy, and trying to take control of civic and economic life. The Kochs' goal appears to be nothing short of transforming America into a radical right-wing, corporate, third-world-like country, crushing social safety nets, and letting the destructive "free market" reign supreme."

Clarence Thomas Failed to Report Wife's Income, Watchdog Says
Kim Geiger reports for the L. A. Times: "Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas failed to report his wife's income from a conservative think tank on financial disclosure forms for at least five years, the watchdog group Common Cause said Friday. Between 2003 and 2007, Virginia Thomas, a longtime conservative activist, earned $686,589 from the Heritage Foundation, according to a Common Cause review of the foundation's IRS records. Thomas failed to note the income in his Supreme Court financial disclosure forms for those years, instead checking a box labeled "none" where "spousal noninvestment income" would be disclosed."

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, Democracy Now!: "Today marks the one-year anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, that opened the floodgates for unlimited corporate spending on election campaigns. We speak with Bob Edgar, the president of Common Cause, which has filed a petition with the U.S. Department of Justice urging it to investigate whether Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas should have recused themselves from the case last year because of a conflict of interest."

With New TV Show, Radio Talker Thom Hartmann Brings Substance to Style
Adele M. Stan reports for AlterNet: " It's 9pm in the middle of a busy week and Thom Hartmann, the nation's most popular progressive talk radio host, is just sitting down to dinner with his wife Louise at a crowded Washington restaurant. As host of "The Thom Hartmann Program" (heard on 120 affiliates, according to the show's Web site), Thom did his customary three hours of radio earlier in the day, and just wrapped up an episode of his hour-long daily cable television program, "The Big Picture," which airs on RTTV and was just picked up by Free Speech TV, which runs the show over the Dish and DirecTV networks. (It's also available from iTunes in podcast form.) It's a typical 14-hour day for Hartmann, but he's hardly worse for the wear. At 59, he looks at least 10 years younger, and his energy is still bubbling over. Louise, just back from a day at the hospital with a friend who rushed there in an emergency, begs off the interview, wanting nothing more than a quiet meal after a stressful day."

FCC Blesses Comcast Merger and New Era of Media Monopoly
Joe Torres reports for the Huffington Post: "Yesterday the Federal Communications Commission gave its blessing to the Comcast-NBC Universal deal, one of the largest media mergers in a generation, and we have one man to thank for it.  When Julius Genachowski took the helm of the FCC in 2009, many predicted the chairman would restore confidence in an agency that has for too long placed corporate interests over the public interest.  He had President Obama's ear; he had experience at the agency and in the tech industry; and he pledged to change the way the agency operated. The new FCC chairman seemed to be the right man at the right time to lead this agency."

The Comcast-NBC Merger: Why the FCC Should Be Held to a Higher Standard
Corie Wright writes at StopBigMedia.com: "Question: Two federal agencies review the same merger. Both agencies have jurisdiction to review the merger under U.S. law. The agencies review the merger during the same time period, and ultimately they reach the same decision – to approve the merger with conditions. One is right, the other is wrong. Why? This is not an SAT question – it really happened."

Verizon Sues to Protect its Right to Pillage
Kevin Fogarty reports for ITworld: "Verizon sued the FCC today, asking a U.S. District Court to overturn a set of net neutrality rules the FCC created by taking the overly lax suggested outlines handed in by Verizon and other carriers and running them through a photocopier. Forget for a moment whether it's really kosher to take rules written by the companies you're supposed to regulate and pass them off as your own, and the overwhelming tendency of the FCC to protect the carriers at the expense of their customers and all you're left with is astonishment. That's all most of us are left with; Verizon still has some outrage left. Not only is Verizon not satisfied treating the FCC like a bully treats a nerd with lunch money, it wants to formalize the relationship."

Verizon Loves Net Neutrality to Death
Tim Karr writes for the Huffington Post: "Verizon has a love-hate relationship with Net Neutrality. The company professes its love of the open Internet, but then tries to smother it with a pillow in the middle of the night. The company's strained relationship with openness was evident yesterday when Verizon asked a federal appeals court to overturn an extremely weak Federal Communications Commission rule protecting Net Neutrality -- the principle that guarantees Internet users' the right to go where they want and do what they choose online. Ironically, the rule in question, adopted by the FCC just last month, was modeled after a vastly unpopular "policy framework" drafted by Verizon and Google attorneys in August. (Nate Anderson of ArsTechnica lays out these similarities in graphic detail)."

Organizations Renew Long-Outstanding Requests for Examination of Hate Speech in Media
The National Hispanic Media Coalition writes: "Yesterday, the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC), joined by a robust and diverse collection of other organizations, reached out to leaders at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to urge each entity to act on NHMC's long-standing requests to study the effects of hate speech in media. NHMC sent letters to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and Assistant Secretary Lawrence Strickling of the NTIA. In the letter to FCC Chairman Genachowski, NHMC requested prompt action on its two-year-old petition for inquiry and urged the FCC to examine the extent, nature and effects of hate speech in media, and possible non-regulatory ways to counteract or reduce its negative impacts. All four FCC Commissioners have been receptive to opening the inquiry. As the only person with the power to add the petition to the FCC's agenda, Chairman Genachowski is solely responsible for the delay. In the other letter, NHMC renewed another two-year-old request, and urged the NTIA to promptly update its 1993 report, The Role of Telecommunications in Hate Crimes. Assistant Secretary Strickling has agreed to update the 1993 report. However, he says that he cannot do so until he receives funding from Congress."  Image: TransGriot Blog

22 January 2011

Update on Sunflower Energy's Holcomb Plant

Community Bridge begins a new season with an old topic - the Sunflower Energy power plant slated for construction in Holcomb. Blocked numerous times and opposed by a majority of Kansans, Gov. Parkinson’s parting gift to Sunflower was a construction permit, after it had previously been denied.  

Scott AllegrucciGreat Plains Alliance for Clean Energy, and Stephanie ColeSierra Club of Kansas, join us for a discussion of recent developments including the firing of KDHE Secretary Bremby, the issuing of a permit for Sunflower, and the Sierra Club’s lawsuit against it.

Additional information/resources:
Community Bridge apologies for the sound quality of this recording, we had some technical difficulties.

MP3 File

Cutting Funding for the Arts in Kansas

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is proposing to phase out state tax funding for the arts andthat the Kansas Arts Commission become a privately funded nonprofit organization.  If these budget cuts are approved, Kansas will be the ONLY state in the country without a State funded arts agency.  Llewellyn Crain, Executive Director of the Kansas Arts Commission, and Penny Senften, director of the Manhattan Arts Center join host Christopher Renner in studio to discuss Sam Brownback's proposal to defund the arts in Kansas.  

Join the fight to save the arts by joining the Facebook group “Keep Funding for Kansas Arts!” at http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=100725473337844.

We close out by rebroadcasting an interview with Wendel Potter, author of Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans, conducted by The Nation magazine. Potter explains how insurance companies are manipulating the conversation surrounding healthcare legislation. Potter was a health insurance executive for nearly 20 years but quit his position in 2008 because he found it difficult to work for an industry that placed profit over people’s health. In 2009, Potter testified before the Senate on how insurance companies have engaged in practices that have forced millions of Americans to become uninsured.  We hear the first half of The Nation's interview with Potter.  To hear the complete interview (one hour in length) click here.

MP3 File

16 January 2011

Clippings for January 16, 2011

Martin Luther King's Legacy
Peter Rothberg writes for The Nation: "In the mid-1960s, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. contributed an annual essay to The Nation on the state of civil rights and race relations in the United States.  His last piece, from March 14, 1966, could have been written today: 'Jobs are harder to create than voting rolls. Harmonizing of peoples of vastly different cultural levels is complicated and frequently abrasive.'"  Readers will find links to several of King's speeches and to the video of King's "I Have a Dream" speech at this page.

Joshua Holland, a journalist at AlterNet provides the following summary of King's writings.

18 Disturbing Things We Wouldn't Know Without WikiLeaks
The Nation magazine writes: “Nearly fifty days have passed since the WikiLeaks document release in late November, this one centering on US diplomatic cables and quickly dubbed ‘Cablegate,’” Greg Mitchell writes in his article in "Why WikiLeaks Matters."

So far, WikiLeaks has released less than 3,000 cables from the 251,000-document cache, but already the media, politicians and the public are questioning the value of the leak. “It's important,” Mitchell writes, “to review a small sample of what we have learned thanks to WikiLeaks since April and the release of the 'Collateral Murder' US helicopter video, which showed the killing of two Reuters journalists, among others. It's necessary to do this because most in the US media, after brief coverage, provided little follow-up.”

Here are a few of the things we have learned from WikiLeaks.

Swiss Whistleblower Rudolf Elmer Plans to Hand Over Offshore Banking Secrets of the Rich and Famous to WikiLeaks
Ed Vulliamy reports for The Observer via The Guardian: "The offshore bank account details of 2,000 "high net worth individuals" and corporations – detailing massive potential tax evasion – will be handed over to the WikiLeaks organisation in London tomorrow by the most important and boldest whistleblower in Swiss banking history, Rudolf Elmer, two days before he goes on trial in his native Switzerland."

The Class War Launched by America's Wealthiest Is Getting More Savage
Larry Bienhart reports for AlterNet: "We’re in a class war. It’s the corporations and the very wealthiest against all the rest of us. We’re losing. In 1962 the wealthiest 1 percent of American households had 125 times the wealth of the median household. Now it’s 190 times as much. Is that a case of a rising tide lifting all boats, just a few of them a little bit higher? No."  Photo: AlterNet

From The Nation: "Wendell Potter, author of Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans, stopped by The Nation's offices this week to explain how insurance companies are manipulating the conversation surrounding healthcare legislation. Potter was a health insurance executive for nearly 20 years but quit his position in 2008 because he found it difficult to work for an industry that placed profit over people’s health. In 2009, Potter testified before the Senate on how insurance companies have engaged in practices that have forced millions of Americans to become uninsured."

Bradley Manning and GI Resistance to US War Crimes
Angola 3 News (via Truthout) interviews independent journalist Dahr Jamail on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the media's coverage of WikiLeaks, the actions of Bradley Manning and the military's response to soldier resistance. Jamail says, "The US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq could not have more clearly violated international law. Even the former secretary general of the United Nations (UN), Kofi Annan, said in September 2004 that the Iraq war was illegal and breached the UN Charter. An illegal war is thus the mother of all war crimes, for from that stems all the rest.... What Manning did by leaking this critical information has been to uphold his oath as a soldier in the most patriotic way."

Combat in Our Genes?
Jay Stanley, Speech, Privacy and Technology Program, ACLU writes: "Born soldiers may say they have "combat in our genes" — but a new report suggests the Pentagon may want to give the phrase whole new meaning by turning DNA into the next military battleground. The report, prepared by a defense science advisory panel known as JASON and reported by Secrecy News and HuffPost's Dan Froomkin, among others, recommends that the military take advantage of the rapidly falling cost of gene sequencing by preparing to engage in the mass sequencing of the genomes of all military personnel."

Former Community Bridge guest, Andy Worthington, provides the following commentary about the ninth anniversary of the Guantánamo concentration camp: "On the afternoon of January 11, after I had spoken at a rally outside The White House and at a protest outside the Department of Justice, the New America Foundation in Washington D.C. hosted a panel discussion, “Nine Years of Guantánamo: What Now?” which I had organized as part of a week-long US tour to raise awareness of the plight of the remaining 173 prisoners at Guantánamo on the 9th anniversary of the prison’s opening."

The following video features Andy Worthington, Morris Davis, Tom Wilner and Ben Wittes at the New America Foundation discussing the GITMO camp.

Green Energy Opponents Are the Real Job Killers
Dan Fenton writes for The Nation: "Listen to how we discuss clean energy in this country, and you'll note that the conversation is exactly upside down. To hear the mainstream discourse tell it, clean energy may be a nice idea but it's prohibitively expensive. Going green, it's said, will cost jobs and strangle growth at a time when America must do whatever it takes to get our economy and people working again. Environmentalists are going to raise everyone's energy bills. We're the 'job killers.'"

Opponents to Fracking Disclosure Take Big Money From Industry
Abrahm Lustgarten reports for ProPublica: "In the context of today’s roiling political and energy debates, it’s not at all clear who will win. But if money is an indicator, the anti-regulatory group has the upper hand.... According to data from Open Secrets, the 32 [congress] members against disclosure received $1,742,572. The average contribution from the oil and gas sector to individuals from that group was $54,455. Oklahoma Democrat Dan Boren, who co-chairs the caucus, personally received more than $202,000, including almost $15,000 from Chesapeake Energy, one of the largest natural gas producers in the United States." Photo by Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica

Sierra Club Files to Block New Kansas Power Plant
John Milburn reports for Associated Press (in the Beaumont Enterprise): "The Sierra Club asked the state Court of Appeals on Friday to strike down an air-quality permit for a new coal-fired power plant in southwest Kansas. The request, filed in Topeka, asks the court to set aside the permit issued last month by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to Sunflower Electric Power Corp. Named in the petition is acting KDHE Secretary Robert Moser Jr., who was appointed to the post by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback. Sierra Club attorneys argue in part that flawed environmental data were used in the permitting process. In addition, the Sierra Club says KDHE rushed the permitting process to ensure that Sunflower would have permission to build the plant before more stringent federal air quality regulations took effect Jan. 2."

Farmland by the Numbers
The Farmland Report writes: "Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2007 National Resources Inventory story of our nation’s farm and ranch land loss in numbers. The 2007 National Resource Inventory is the most comprehensive natural resource database in the United States—tracking conditions and trends on non-federal land from 1982 to 2007."

Come Saturday Morning: In Case It Wasn’t Obvious That Bigots Run The GOP
Phoniex Woman writes on FireDogLake: "So much racially-connected synchronicity going on over in Wingnutville lately.  Michael Steele, presiding over a midterm electoral romp by the Republicans in which the moderate GOP candidates that managed to survive the primaries outperformed the Tea Party endorsees by a three-to-one margin, was ousted as RNC chair by a teabagger-endorsed guy named Reince Priebus, the former head of the Wisconsin GOP, who got the gig ostensibly for actually managing to get a teabagger who wasn’t the son of a famous congressman into the senate seat of the much-beloved Russ Feingold."

New RNC Chairman Bashed Stimulus, but Helped Clients Get Stimulus Funds
Charles Johnston writes for Little Green Footballs: "The new head of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, is famous (or infamous, depending where you stand) for throwing this chunk of red meat to the angry right:
 if you’re pro-abortion, pro-stimulus, pro-G.M. bailout, pro-AIG, well you know guess what, you might not be a Republican.
Blatant right wing hypocrisy has become so commonplace that it’s no surprise at all to discover that Priebus himself worked at a law firm that helps clients secure federal stimulus funds."

Why We Should Take Jared Loughner's Politics Seriously
Steve Striffler comments for Truthout: "Contrary to the prevailing wisdom, however, holding muddled political views does not in and of itself necessarily make Loughner mentally ill, unstable, crazy, or even particularly unusual. It makes him American and peculiarly so. In the college classroom, at political events and in grassroots organizing meetings, it does not take long to find many young (and not so young) people who hold what many of us consider to be an oddly contradictory collection of political views.... In a world where fragments of information come from so many sources, it often leads them to the odd place where any explanation of the world is as good as any other, where there is no conceptual rudder for judging one theory or idea against another." Image: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: HeyThereSpaceman., unforth, D Sharon Pruitt

How the Right's Rhetoric Fueled the Actions of Arizona's Mass Murderer
Adele Stan writes for AlterNet: "It's too soon to say what, exactly, motivated the man apprehended for the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and 18 others outside a Tucson supermarket on Saturday. All we really know about Jared Lee Loughner, the 22-year-old alleged shooter, is that he is apparently a profoundly disturbed young man whose paranoia involves some indecipherable notions about the U.S. Constitution."

Hate and Violence Are Encoded in the DNA of the American Right
Arun Gupta reports for AlterNet: "Jared Loughner’s attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is a wakeup call for us to confront the reality that hate and violence are encoded in the political DNA of the American Right. Since Obama took office in January 2009, there have been seven separate cases of disturbed white men committing political murders after becoming hopped up on guns, right-wing media and anti-government and anti-Obama blather. And this doesn’t even include Loughner’s attack or other incidents where the gunman was intent on killing but didn’t succeed."  Photo: NewsCorpse.com

Talk show host Bill Maher once again displayed his ignorance for America's history and founding by telling Tea Partiers that the Founding Fathers would have "hated" their "guts."

As you'd come to expect from Maher he constantly referred to members of the Tea Party as "teabaggers" - which would probably be an insult coming from virtually everybody else. When Maher uses this word, however, the Tea Party should wear it as a badge of honor.

Next he told Tea Partiers that the Founding Fathers were "nothing like them." No, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, George Washington and all the others were profoundly different. How? Here comes Maher:

What the Right Gains From Poisoning Our Political Discourse and Inspiring Violence
Michael Winship writes for AlterNet: "The Russian playwright Anton Chekhov had a rule: if you show a gun in the first act, by the time the curtain falls, it has to go off. For weeks and months, that gun, the weapon of angry rhetoric and intemperate rabblerousing, has been cocked and loaded in plain view on the American stage; Saturday morning outside a shopping mall in Tucson, Arizona, it went off again and again and again."  Photo: AFP

13 January 2011

President Eisenhower's Speech on the Military Industiral Complex

Fifty years ago this week, President Eisenhower delivered the following speech in which he warned the American people about allowing the development of the military industrial complex to take over our economy.  Considering the situation our economy is in, maybe it would be a good idea to reflect on these words and begin to dismantle the complex for a more just, humane, and environmentally friendly model of economic development.  

From: Public Papers of the Presidents, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1960, p. 1035- 1040

My fellow Americans:

Three days from now, after half a century in the service of our country, I shall lay down the responsibilities of office as, in traditional and solemn ceremony, the authority of the Presidency is vested in my successor.

This evening I come to you with a message of leave-taking and farewell, and to share a few final thoughts with you, my countrymen.

Like every other citizen, I wish the new President, and all who will labor with him, Godspeed. I pray that the coming years will be blessed with peace and prosperity for all.

Our people expect their President and the Congress to find essential agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution of which will better shape the future of the Nation.

My own relations with the Congress, which began on a remote and tenuous basis when, long ago, a member of the Senate appointed me to West Point, have since ranged to the intimate during the war and immediate post-war period, and, finally, to the mutually interdependent during these past eight years.

In this final relationship, the Congress and the Administration have, on most vital issues, cooperated well, to serve the national good rather than mere partisanship, and so have assured that the business of the Nation should go forward. So, my official relationship with the Congress ends in a feeling, on my part, of gratitude that we have been able to do so much together.


We now stand ten years past the midpoint of a century that has witnessed four major wars among great nations. Three of these involved our own country. Despite these holocausts America is today the strongest, the most influential and most productive nation in the world. Understandably proud of this pre-eminence, we yet realize that America's leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.


Throughout America's adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt both at home and abroad.

Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology -- global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily the danger is poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle -- with liberty the stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.

Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research -- these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.

But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs -- balance between the private and the public economy, balance between cost and hoped for advantage -- balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.

The record of many decades stands as proof that our people and their government have, in the main, understood these truths and have responded to them well, in the face of stress and threat. But threats, new in kind or degree, constantly arise. I mention two only.


A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.

Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present

* and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientifictechnological elite.

It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system -- ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.


Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society's future, we -- you and I, and our government -- must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.


Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.

Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.

Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war -- as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years -- I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.

Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has been made. But, so much remains to be done. As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I can to help the world advance along that road.


So -- in this my last good night to you as your President -- I thank you for the many opportunities you have given me for public service in war and peace. I trust that in that service you find some things worthy; as for the rest of it, I know you will find ways to improve performance in the future.

You and I -- my fellow citizens -- need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under God, will reach the goal of peace with justice. May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the Nation's great goals.

To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America's prayerful and continuing aspiration:

We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.

09 January 2011

Clippings for January 9, 2011

Recommended Audio: Keith Olberman - Violence and Threats Have No Place in Democracy

ACTION ALERT: Tell Sarah Palin to Stop Inciting Violence

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) & 11 others were shot in a senseless act of a violence on Saturday morning in Tucson, Arizona.

Giffords was on Palin's "target list" (at right) before the election, with cross-hairs (from the score of a rifle) over her district. 

Palin has since deleted the "target list" from her site after the shooting and removed tweets urging her supporters to "reload" and use a "Second Amendment remedy."

Please sign the petition and tell Sarah Palin to STOP inciting violence! 

WikiLeaks' Most Terrifying Revelation: Just How Much Our Government Lies to Us
Fred Branfman writes for ALterNet: "Do you believe that it is in Americans' interest to allow a small group of U.S. leaders to unilaterally murder, maim, imprison and/or torture anyone they choose anywhere in the world, without the knowledge let alone oversight of their citizens or the international community? And, despite their proven record of failure to protect America -- from Indochina to Iran to Iraq -- do you believe they should be permitted to clandestinely expand their war-making without informed public debate? If so, you are betraying the principles upon which America was founded, endangering your nation, and displaying a distinctly "unamerican" subservience to unaccountable authority. But if you oppose autocratic power, you are called to support Wikileaks and others trying to limit U.S. Executive Branch mass murder abroad and failure to protect Americans at home."  Image: Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide

Bradley Manning and the Case Against Solitary Confinement
Kynn Parramore writes for New Deal 2.0: "In the earliest days of our Republic, a group of well-meaning Philadelphia Quakers set out to reform the prison system. The idea was to remove convicts from the mayhem and corruption of overcrowded jails to solitary cells where sinners would return to mental and spiritual health through reflection. In the Walnut Street Jail, no windows would distract the prisoners with street life; no conversation would disturb their penitence. Alone with God, they would be rehabilitated. There was a small problem. Many of the prisoners went insane. The Walnut Street Jail was shut down in 1835."

Timothy Leary on the Culture of Secrecy
Timothy Leary comments for Truthout: "Secrecy is the original sin. The fig leaf in the Garden of Eden. The basic crime against love. The issue is fundamental. What a blessing that Watergate has been uncovered to teach us the primary lesson. The purpose of life is to receive, synthesize and transmit energy. Communication–fusion is the goal of life. Any star can tell you that. Communication is love. Secrecy, withholding the signal, hoarding, hiding, covering up the light is motivated by shame and fear, symptoms of the inability to love. Secrecy means that you think love is shameful and bad. Or that your nakedness is ugly. Or that you hide unloving, hostile feelings. Seeds of paranoia and distrust."

Obama Created More Jobs In One Year Than Bush Created In Eight
Alex Seitz-Wald reports for Think Progress: "This morning (January 7, 2011), the Labor Department released its employment data for December, showing that the U.S. economy ended the year by adding 113,000 private sector jobs, knocking the unemployment rate down sharply from 9.8 percent to 9.4 percent — its lowest rate since July 2009. The “surprising drop — which was far better than the modest step-down economists had forecast — was the steepest one-month fall since 1998.” October and November’s jobs numbers were also revised upward by almost 80,000 each. Still, 14.5 million Americans remain unemployed, and jobs will have to be created much faster in coming months for the country to pull itself out of the economic doldrums."

Republicans' Radical Plans for Budget Could Threaten the Economic Security of Millions
Joshua Holland writes for AlterNet: "Through new budget rules that are expected to pass on a party-line vote in the House this week, and anupcoming battle over raising the government's “debt ceiling,” the new Republican leadership is preparing to codify a discredited far-right economic agenda into law, forcing deep cuts to public spending at precisely the moment when the economy needs that spending to build momentum."

 New Year, same shell game being played by the fat-cats on Wall Street.  In 2009, public employee Joe Wisniowski made $40,000/year as an Airport Equipment Operator for an Ohio airport while Wall Street raked in $20.3 BILLION in bonuses. Joe's story highlights the need for you to help us STOP THE LIES!  We the taxpayers bailed out Wall Street yet to divert attention, they want you to believe that public service workers are the ones who are overpaid.  Don't let Wall Street destroy the backbone of America. Meet the Public Service workers whose sweat and hard work help our communities.

Recommended Audio: Law and Disorder Radio - Economic Recovery? Austerity in the US and Abroad
In our previous interview with Professor of Economics, Rick Wolff, we talked about austerity, that is imposing on society a severe regimen of rising taxes, or cut government spending to please and satisfy creditors.  Massive protests erupt against austerity in Greece, Portugal, Ireland and soon maybe Spain, as governments raise college tuition, taxes, retirement ages plus cutting worker benefits and wages. These austerity measures are about to hit the United States. Veiled in the recent tax deal with the Republicans is a decision Americans will need to make. Higher taxes or cut services? With growing debts made worse by Obama’s tax deal, the US moves quickly toward austerity while the political establishment and the media mostly pretend all is well says Rick Wolff.
To download the MP3 file, click here

US Tax Deal Brings Austerity Closer
Richard Woff writes on his blog: "Once again, the two old wings of the political establishment do business as usual in Washington.  In the tax deal between Obama and the Republicans -- passed with the help of a majority of Democrats -- they all cut taxes, especially on the rich, and extended unemployment benefits.  In short, the government keeps spending mountains of money to subsidize a deeply recessional private capitalist economy, to prevent it from spiraling down into depression.  The result is a further expansion of the deficit that so recently was a pretend concern for so many candidates."

Democrats Failing Media’s Deficit Test: Embrace debt panel’s austerity to prove sincerity
Jim Naureckas writes for Extra!: "Having concluded that the United States needs an austerity program to cure its economic ills (Extra!, 1/10), and having decided in advance that the 2010 midterms were a mandate for downsizing the federal government (Extra!, 12/10), the leading outlets of the corporate media fixed on the deficit commission created by Barack Obama as a test of how serious the Democrats were about doing what needed to be done. The initial verdict: They’re failing the test."

A "Pledge of Resistance" to Defend Social Security (and Defund the Empire)
Robert Naiman, Truthout: "For the third time in the last 20 years, establishment voices with high-profile slots in traditional media are trying to convince the public to accept cuts to Social Security by endlessly claiming such cuts are necessary, without giving coherent evidence to justify the claim. Twice, under former presidents Clinton and George W. Bush, these voices were defeated - but they didn't give up." Image: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: dboy, SqueakyMarmot

Republicans Are out for Blood– Yours.
Ken Sayers writes for The Daily Censored: "The Republicans want to kill the health care bill.  They want to strip kids from their parent’s coverage.  They want to eliminate affordable coverage for people who have lost insurance along with their jobs.  They want to put a cap back on the amount of coverage your health insurance will have to pay.  AND, they want to put exclusions for pre-existing conditions back into effect.  Those are just a few of the benefits to which you are entitled under the new health care bill.  They don’t just want to kill health care, they want to kill you."

The Great MMR Vaccine Fraud
Kevin Drum reports for Mother Jones: "The belief that vaccines cause autism got its start in 1998 with a paper in the Lancet authored by Andrew Wakefield. We've known for a long time that it was a piece of crap: it used a nonrandom sample of 12 children, it depended largely on observations by parents, it was marred by egregious conflicts of interest, and in 2004 it was renounced by 10 of its co-authors and later retracted by the magazine. That's all bad enough. But it turns out that it was even worse: the paper was an outright fraud from start to finish."

A ‘Job-Killing’ Law?
FactCheck.org reports: "House Republicans misrepresent the facts. Experts predict the health care law will have little effect on employment.
We find:
  • Independent, nonpartisan experts project only a "small" or "minimal" impact on jobs, even before taking likely job gains in the health care and insurance industries into account.
  • The House Republican leadership, in a report issued Jan. 6, badly misrepresents what the Congressional Budget Office has said about the law. In fact, CBO is among those saying the effect "will probably be small."
  • The GOP also cites a study projecting a 1.6 million job loss — but fails to mention that the study refers to a hypothetical employer mandate that is not part of the new law.
  • The same study cited by the GOP also predicts an offsetting gain of 890,000 jobs in hospitals, doctors’ offices and insurance companies — a factor not mentioned by the House leadership."
Cutting the Defense Budget?
Faiz Shakir, Benjamin Armbruster, George Zornick, Zaid Jilani, Alex Seitz-Wald, Max Bergmann, and Tanya Somanader write the Progress Report for Think Progress: "One potential area for bipartisan action in the new Congress may be cutting the massively bloated Pentagon budget, which has risen to $540 billion annually and more than $700 billion if you include spending on Iraq and Afghanistan. Total defense spending in real terms is  higher than at any point since World War II. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates  yesterday announced a series of efficiency proposals to reduce waste in defense spending and to cut the projected Pentagon budget by $78 billion over the next five years. While these proposals represent a good start in constraining the runaway spending that accrued during the Bush administration, the cuts will result only in a decline in the rate of growth in the Pentagon's budget, not in absolute dollars. In other words, Gates was allowed to shift money around, and was not forced to actually cut the budget. As a result under this proposal,  the Pentagon's budget will be bigger in five years than it is now. This is not real fiscal restraint. To adequately address the problem of out-of-control defense spending and a growing deficit, not only are more defense cuts needed, but the U.S. must also re-balance its foreign policy and defense priorities. This means taking a hard look at the utility of continuing combat operations in Afghanistan, eliminating white elephant weapons programs, and looking for ways to make the Pentagon bureaucracy more efficient. Reducing Pentagon spending is possible, since it is advocated not just by progressives, but by  Tea Party conservatives and now the House Republican leadership."

Why the Handwriting is on the Afghan Wall
Chuck Spinney writes for New Deal 2.0: "The lead editorial in a recent Washington Post article, “Steady in Afghanistan,” claimed the early results of President Obama’s escalation strategy in Afghanistan 'are mixed — but promising,' because President Obama 'has raised the odds for success by committing U.S. forces to Afghanistan for four more years and by promising to negotiate a strategic partnership with the government of Hamid Karzai in 2011.' Raised the odds for success? Four more year versus 2011? Consider please the unexamined ramifications of these words." Photo: Getty

Wrong Again, Senator Graham
Juan Cole writes for Truthdig.com: "Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., repeated on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday his hope that the United States can maintain at least two permanent air bases in Afghanistan. He was pushing back against Vice President Joe Biden’s pledge that the U.S. would be out of Afghanistan by 2014 “come hell or high water.” Graham has been wrong about almost everything in the Middle East for a decade and a half, so this harebrained proposal is hardly surprising. But it signals the harder line likely to be pursued by Republicans now that they have taken back the House of Representatives and have much strengthened their position in the Senate."

Freedom Fighters for a Fading Empire
William J. Astore provides the followign analysis for TomDispatch: "Words matter, as candidate Barack Obama said in the 2008 election campaign.  What to make, then, of President Obama’s pep talk last month to U.S. troops in Afghanistan in which he lauded them as “the finest fighting force that the world has ever known”?  Certainly, he knew that those words would resonate with the troops as well as with the folks back home."

Army's "Spiritual Fitness" Test Comes Under Fire
Jason Leopold reports for Truthout: "An experimental, Army mental-health, fitness initiative designed by the same psychologist whose work heavily influenced the psychological aspects of the Bush administration's torture program is under fire by civil rights groups and hundreds of active-duty soldiers. They say it unconstitutionally requires enlistees to believe in God or a "higher power" in order to be deemed "spiritually fit" to serve in the Army."  Image: US Army

Recommended Audio: Keith Olberman - US Military Under Fire for Religious Test
Mikey Weinstein, president and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, discussed Jason Leopold's report detailing the forced spiritual testing of over 800,000 uniformed soldiers as part of the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program.

GOP Votes to Make Constitution Violation Go Away
Alex Pareene reports for Salon.com: "At least the Democrats are having fun in the minority. They're never as united as Republicans are, but most House Democrats voted against today's resolution invalidating the unconstitutional votes taken by Representatives Pete Sessions and Mike Fitzpatrick when they had not yet been sworn in as members of Congress. The resolution magically removes the votes they took while not being members, but doesn't do anything about all the other stuff they did -- like chairing the Rules Committee."

Read It and Weep: How the Tea Party's fetish for the Constitution as written may get it in trouble.
Dahlia Lithwick writes for Salon.com: "Members of the Tea Party are really into the Constitution. We know this because on Thursday, House Republicans propose to read the document from start to finish on the House floor, and they also propose to pass a rule requiring that every piece of new legislation identify the source of its constitutional authority. Even Roger Pilon of the Cato Institute—its popular pocket version of the Constitution is only $4.95!—agrees that these are largely symbolic measures, noting in the Wall Street Journal that as a legal matter, "at least since Marbury v. Madison in 1803, the Supreme Court has had the last word on what the Constitution authorizes Congress to do." Nobody has suggested that legislators don't have an independent duty to uphold the Constitution as they understand it. But that doesn't change the fact that the courts, not Tea Party Republicans—even those with the benefit of extra-credit classes from Justice Antonin Scalia—get to make the final call."

Republicans to Spend $1.1 Million Reciting Constitution on House Floor
Juli Weiner reports for Vanity Fair: "As we reported this morning (January 4), House Republicans will kick-start the 112th Congress tomorrow with a spirited recitation of the Constitution, a document whose recent relevance is due largely to the ideological and sartorial interests of the Tea Party. It’s an opening act designed to herald the arrival of a new season of checks, balances, and financial cutbacks. As Politico’s nocturnal prophet Mike Allen reported, House Republicans plan to reduce Congress’s budget by $32.5 million—a savings reaped from cutting 'the amount authorized for salaries and expenses of Member, committee, and leadership offices in 2011 and 2012.'"

Kris Kobach Campaigns for Secretary of State: An Overview of Candidates, Credibility, Strategy and Media/Voter Response
Dave writes for the Journal of Idiocracy: "On November 2nd, 2010 citizens of Kansas were asked to elect an official to the position of Secretary of State. As known to most individuals, the secretary of state is constitutionally charged with administering elections, voter registration, lobbyist registration and the filing of campaign finance reports. In short, if it involves elections, the secretary of state will be involved to ensure they are effectively run, maintained and fair. In addition to these duties, the secretary of state registers businesses, trademarks and provides regulation for these entities within the state of Kansas. Whoever holds the office of secretary of state serves a term lasting four years, after which candidates, including the incumbent, may seek election."

'Aflockalypse': Here's Why We Should Really Be Concerned About the Huge Bird and Fish Die-off
Tara Lohan reports for AlterNet: "By now, we've all seen the news reports of the "Aflockalypse." The New Year came in with a bang in Beebe, Arkansas when thousands of blackbirds fell from the sky. As news reports of the eerie incident spread, similar stories began surfacing all over the world: Massive fish kills by the thousands in Brazil, New Zealand, the Arkansas River and the Chesapeake; more bird deaths in Louisiana, Kentucky and Sweden; and tens of thousands of dead crabs (aptly named dead devil crabs) washing ashore in the U.K."

Panel: BP Well Blowout Revealed Industry-Wide Problems
Mark Seibel reports for McClatchy Newspapers: "The errors and misjudgments that led to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil drilling rig last spring weren't the result just of blunders by BP and its contractors, but reflect industry-wide problems that require new regulations and standards, a presidential commission has concluded."

Recommended Audio: Voice of America - FEAR IN THE U.S. NEWS MEDIA
Doug Stanhope discusses the U.S. media's fear-mongering and what it really means for you in the new series of Charlie Brooker's Newswipe..."I'm Doug Stanhope and that's why I drink."

Taking Media Mergers to the Next Level: Comcast/NBC would be unprecedented powerhouse
Krystle Manintveld writes for Extra!: "Over the last decade, dozens of media mergers and purchases have resulted in a media industry controlled by a handful of companies—and the cable giant Comcast wants to be one of them.  After a failed attempt to purchase Disney in 2004 for $66 billion (Inter Press Service, 3/20/04), Comcast offered to take over NBC Universal for the bargain price of $30 billion—which would buy a 51 percent controlling interest from General Electric, with the expectation of acquiring the remaining stake over the next seven years (Globe and Mail, 12/3/09)."

Court Reverses Order Unmasking Politician's Critics
Wendy Davis reports for Media Post News: "Backing online commenters' right to anonymity, an appellate court in Pennsylvania has overturned an order requiring a Web site operator to disclose the identities of commenters who slammed a local politician. The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas Judge Peter O'Brien didn't adequately examine whether the commenters' right to speak out anonymously was outweighed by former Scranton City Council President Judy Gatelli's defamation allegations. "Comments on matters of public importance or those which criticize public officials are entitled to robust protection, for it is in the public forum that the First Amendment right of speech is strongest," the court wrote."

Net Neutrality Fight: GOP wields garlic against FCC "vampires"
Nate Anders reports for Ars Technica: "The new, Republican-controlled House of Representatives started work yesterday, and it took only a few hours before anti-net neutrality legislation was introduced to stop the "vampires" at the FCC from imposing net neutrality on American Internet access providers. No surprises here; Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) had last year made plain her opposition to net neutrality, and she pledged back in November to legislate against the FCC."

The FCC's Net Neutrality Rules Leave the Future of the Internet Unclear
Fipna Morgan reports for Independent Weekly: "One of the best things about the Internet is its indifference to how you use it. Call your mom on Skype, watch some Simpsons on Hulu, settle an argument by consulting Wikipedia, update your blog. Whatever you do, you're seconds away from doing the next thing. Behind the scenes, there is a shakedown going on that may change the way you use the Internet, as well as how—and how much—you'll pay. Last month, the Federal Communications Commission approved rules that regulate network neutrality, or net neutrality for short. While the concept has many definitions, the guiding principle is that everything on the Internet, be it content, applications or services, should be treated equally, and that Internet service providers should not be allowed to serve as gatekeepers of what you can access online."

Schools, Libraries Say They Need Faster Broadband
John Eggerton reports for Multichannel News: "A just-released Federal Communications Commission study found that while 95% of schools and libraries that receive e-rate funding have some terrestrial broadband connection to at least one facility (2% have satellite and 3% still use dial-up), and while over half of those (55%) have it at speeds greater than 3 Mbps, 80% say it is not enough to meet their current needs.  Ten percent said they had speeds greater than 100 mbps.  The e-rate program provides discounted broadband service to schools and libraries through the Universal Service Fund."

The Newsonomics of Tablets Replacing Newspapers
Ken Doctor writes for Nieman Journalsim Lab: "Ready to trade up? That’s the new question now moving to the forefront of news publishers’ longer-range strategic planning, as the real tablet revolution seems to be upon us. The Consumer Electronics Show is shining a bright light on The Year of the Tablet. With tablet sales projected to reach 70 million in the U.S. in 2011 and 2012 (50 million of them iPads), and with early survey results, such as the Reynolds Journalism Institute’s study, showing longer news session times, more-than-snippets-reading, and a renewal of lean-back, pleasurable longer-form reading, publishers have been edging into an age of news reading renewal."