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

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

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