Leaked: The Internet must go!

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

How weathly are Americans?

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

Tax the Rich

So long! It's been fun.

Dear listeners,

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

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

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

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

Christopher E. Renner

27 February 2011

Feb 24 - National Spay Day 2011

We open this week with commentary by Christopher Renner on HR 2260 and other legislation being worked in the Kansas House. Then we hear from Law and Disorder Radio, for a discussion of a new report from Political Research Associates that exposes an influential anti-Islam and anti-Muslim segment of the counter-terrorism training Industry. Since September 11, 2001, the “war on terror” has give rise to private companies that offer training by so-called “experts” on Islam and terrorism. These experts label Islam as a terrorist religion, routinely branding Muslims as vengeful and duplicitous people who oppress Westerners. For more information, visit PRA at: http://www.publiceye.org/islamophobia/cincotta-2010/index.html.

We close out our first hour with Lynn Schumacher and Gary Sears from the T. Russell Reitz Animal Shelter.  National Spay/Neuter Day is celebrated the last Tuesday of February each year.  The Humane Society of the United States reports that four million cats and dogs - about one every eight seconds - are euthanized in animal shelters in the U.S. each year.  We explore what people can do to help reduce this number as well as other services the shelter offers to Manhattan and Riley County.

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Feb. 24: Anti-Immigrant Legislation in the KS House

In our second hour, we take up the issue of anti-immigrant legislation in the Kansas House. This week the House voted to repeal in-state tuition for Kansas high school graduates who are undocumented. This law provides in-state tuition for some 400 Kansans who in many cases have only known our state as their home. Now Kris Kobach and his xenophobic supporters are trying to deny these Kansas graduates their right to a university education. In addition, Kobach is trying to make Kansas a second Arizona by introducing in the Kansas House a Kansas version of AZ SB 1070 that legalizes racial profiling and denying "suspected" undocumented immigrants basic services. 

Lalo Muñoz, director of the Latino Information Network of Kansas, Alaide Vilchis, a 2008 graduate of the University of Kansas who benefited from the in-state tuition law, Holly Weatherford from the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri, and  Angie Williams, immigration lawyer and an expert on Kobach's draconian laws, will join us by telephone for a discussion of the legislation being proposed.

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25 February 2011

Clippings for 25 February 2011

Plutocracy Now: What Wisconsin Is Really About
Kevin Drum writes for Mother Jones: "IN 2008, A LIBERAL Democrat was elected president. Landslide votes gave Democrats huge congressional majorities. Eight years of war and scandal and George W. Bush had stigmatized the Republican Party almost beyond redemption. A global financial crisis had discredited the disciples of free-market fundamentalism, and Americans were ready for serious change. Or so it seemed. But two years later, Wall Street is back to earning record profits, and conservatives are triumphant. To understand why this happened, it's not enough to examine polls and tea parties and the makeup of Barack Obama's economic team. You have to understand how we fell so short, and what we rightfully should have expected from Obama's election. And you have to understand two crucial things about American politics."

It's the Inequality, Stupid: Eleven Charts that Explain Everything that's Wrong with America
Dave Gilson and Carolyn Perot report for Mother Jones:

Recommended Audio: The Breakdown - Why Aren't Corporations Paying Their Taxes?
While pressure mounts for both sides of the aisle to pursue more fiscally-responsible budget plans in Washington and around the country, many are rightly wondering why generating more revenue from uncollected corporate taxes isn't on the agenda. There's even a citizen movement called US Uncut afoot to hold corporations accountable for their tax evasion. On this week's episode of The Breakdown, DC Editor Chris Hayes talks with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston about the manifold maneuvers corporations carry out in order to avoid paying their share of contributions to civil society.

Why Isn't Wall Street in Jail?
Matt Taibbi reports for RollingStone: "Over drinks at a bar on a dreary, snowy night in Washington this past month, a former Senate investigator laughed as he polished off his beer. 'Everything's fucked up, and nobody goes to jail,' he said. 'That's your whole story right there. Hell, you don't even have to write the rest of it. Just write that.' I put down my notebook. 'Just that?' 'That's right,' he said, signaling to the waitress for the check. 'Everything's fucked up, and nobody goes to jail. You can end the piece right there.'"

Recommended Audio: Democracy Now - Matt Taibbi: "Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail?"
"Nobody goes to jail,” writes Matt Taibbi in the new issue of Rolling Stone magazine. “This is the mantra of the financial-crisis era, one that saw virtually every major bank and financial company on Wall Street embroiled in obscene criminal scandals that impoverished millions and collectively destroyed hundreds of billions, in fact, trillions of dollars of the world’s wealth." Taibbi explains how the American people have been defrauded by Wall Street investors and how the financial crisis is connected to the situations in states such as Wisconsin and Ohio.

"US Uncut" Calls Out Corporate Tax Deadbeats
Allison Kilkenny provides the follow analysis for Truthout: "A few weeks before he died, Howard Zinn had lunch at the Warwick Hotel in Manhattan with New York Times columnist Bob Herbert. Their topic of conversation was, of course, social justice. 'If there is going to be change, real change,' Zinn told Herbert, 'it will have to work its way from the bottom up, from the people themselves. That's how change happens.' A year later, the streets of London erupted with citizens who were engaging in Zinn's favorite pastime: active democracy. Students gathered in protest at Parliament Square, but there were also other protests in Oxford, Scotland, Glasgow, Cambridge, Birmingham and Leeds. Across the region, students displayed their frustration with a government that sought to triple tuition fees, effectively pricing young men and women out of their educations."  Photo: UK Uncut

All-American Decline in a New World: Wars, Vampires, Burned Children, and Indelicate Imbalances
Tom Engelhardt comments for TomDispatch: "This is a global moment unlike any in memory, perhaps in history. Yes, comparisons can be made to the wave of people power that swept Eastern Europe as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989-91. For those with longer memories, perhaps 1968 might come to mind, that abortive moment when, in the United States, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Brazil, and elsewhere, including Eastern Europe, masses of people mysteriously inspired by each other took to the streets of global cities to proclaim that change was on the way."

Recommended Audio: Tom Engelhardy and Jeremy Scahill Discuss the Near East

Bringing Home 150 Troops From Afghanistan Would Fix Wisconsin's Budget "Crisis"
Robert Greenwald writes for Rethink Afghanistan: "Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker is using phony budget projections to manufacture a staged “fiscal emergency” in his state so that he can whack programs and political opponents, but even his fake “emergency” pales in comparison to the cost of the Afghanistan War to his state. In fact, the U.S. would only have to bring home 151 troops from Afghanistan to save more money than Walker’s ridiculous union-busting plan. Better yet, ending the Afghanistan War altogether would save taxpayers in Wisconsin $1.7 billion this year alone, more than ten times the amount “saved” in Walker’s attack on state employee rights."

Walker’s Budget Plan is a Three-Part Roadmap for Conservative State Governance
Mike Konczal writes for New Deal 2.0: "Tim Fernholz wrote an excellent article in the National Journal about the 'bait and switch' of Governor Walker’s Wisconsin plan. Fernholz points out that the short-term deficit problem can be covered by debt restructuring and that the big pieces of the bill that relate to dismantling public sector unions, control over Medicaid and creating a no-bid energy asset sale process are not directly budget related. There’s a three-prong approach in Governor Walker’s plan that highlights a blueprint for conservative governorship after the 2010 election. The first is breaking public sector unions and public sector workers generally. The second is streamlining benefits away from legislative authority, especially for health care and in fighting the Health Care Reform Act. The third is selling of public assets to private interests under firesale and crony capitalist situations."

Really Bad Reporting in Wisconsin: Who 'Contributes' to Public Workers' Pensions?
David Cay Johnston writes for Tax.com: "When it comes to improving public understanding of tax policy, nothing has been more troubling than the deeply flawed coverage of the Wisconsin state employees' fight over collective bargaining. Economic nonsense is being reported as fact in most of the news reports on the Wisconsin dispute, the product of a breakdown of skepticism among journalists multiplied by their lack of understanding of basic economic principles.  Gov. Scott Walker says he wants state workers covered by collective bargaining agreements to "contribute more" to their pension and health insurance plans."

You have to hear this: A blogger impersonating Tea Party billionaire David Koch called Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and got him to reveal his secret plan to lure Democrats back to the state. Phenomenal.

Koch Brothers "Prank" No Laughing Matter
Mary Bottari writes for the Center for Media and Democracy: "Embattled Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker came under fire today after news broke about statements he made in a 20-minute phone call from a Buffalo-area alternative news reporter, Ian Murphy of the Daily Beast, posing as David Koch, a billionaire whose corporate PAC directly supported Walker and who has given millions to groups that have run ads to aid Walker's rise to the state's highest office.  As the Center for Media and Democracy has reported, the Koch PAC not only spent $43,000 directly on Walker's race, but Koch personally donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association which spent $5 million in the state. Besides the Governor, the Koch brothers have other "vested interests" in the state."

Addicted to Koch
Mark Sandlin writes on his blog "The God Article:" "That's right.  We are all addicted to Koch.  That's Koch Industries – the infamous Koch (pronounced 'coke') Brothers. For those who may not be familiar with these fine (I use the term loosely) brothers, let me give you a little background.  Let's see... they are filthy rich... no, stinking, filthy rich.  And they got that way because YOU (and the rest of we minions) buy their stuff.  You might be asking yourself at this point, 'Self? What do they do with their butt loads of money?' If you don't mind, I'll take this one."

Yes, America Still Needs Unions
Joe Conason writes for Truthdig.com: “'There was once a need for unions, but they’ve outlived their purpose,' said a nice lady interviewed on the radio in Tennessee just the other day. Annoyed by the spectacle of tens of thousands of teachers, firefighters, cops and other public employees rallying to protect their rights in Wisconsin, she was saying what more than a few Americans think about the labor movement.”

GPACE Comments to Colorado Public Utilities Commission Regarding 2010 Tri-State G and T IRP: 28 Questions that should have been asked...
Scott Allegrucci writes: "As the Executive Director of the Great Plains Alliance for Clean Energy (GPACE), I write to you regarding the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association (Tri-State) 2010 integrated resource plan (IRP) submitted for review to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC).  Specifically, this letter references PUC docket number 10M-879E, and PUC decision number C11-0109. Briefly, GPACE is a Kansas non-profit organization formed to support a clean, secure, prosperous energy economy benefiting Kansas businesses, farms, communities, and all future Kansans.  We have coordinated grassroots education and outreach and legislative lobbying with a diverse alliance of partner organizations and communities, including private companies, other non-profit groups, student organizations, and religious congregations around Kansas.  GPACE has approximately 2,000 active members and a direct, opt-in communications network of over 10,000 Kansas citizens.

USDA Approved Monsanto Alfalfa Despite Warnings of New Pathogen Discovered in Genetically Engineered Crops
Mike Ludwig reports for Truthout: "Just two weeks before the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) fully deregulated Monsanto's Roundup Ready alfalfa, a senior soil scientist alerted the department about a newly discovered, microscopic pathogen found in high concentrations of Roundup Ready corn and soy that researchers believe could be causing infertility in livestock and diseases in crops that could threaten the entire domestic food supply."

Monsanto Shifts ALL Liability to Farmers
Cassandra Anderson reports for MORPHcity: "Farmers like genetically modified (GM) crops because they can plant them, spray them with herbicide and then there is very little maintenance until harvest. Farmers who plant Monsanto's GM crops probably don't realize what they bargain for when they sign the Monsanto Technology Stewardship Agreement contract. One farmer reportedly 'went crazy' when he discovered the scope of the contract because it transfers ALL liability to the farmer or grower."

Oscar-Nominated 'Gasland' Director Calls Latest Attack on His Film 'Outlandish' and Tells Why the Industry Is Getting Desperate
Editor's Note: Read the letter Josh Fox wrote in response to the gas industry's attacks on his film. Brad Jacobson reports for AlterNet: "When the gas industry sent an open letter this month to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences demanding it revoke its best documentary nomination for the gas-drilling exposé Gasland, many seemed surprised by this brazen missive. Gasland director Josh Fox wasn't one of those people."

The Year in Hate and Extremism, 2010
Mark Potok reports for The Southern Poverty Law Center: "For the second year in a row, the radical right in America expanded explosively in 2010, driven by resentment over the changing racial demographics of the country, frustration over the government’s handling of the economy, and the mainstreaming of conspiracy theories and other demonizing propaganda aimed at various minorities. For many on the radical right, anger is focusing on President Obama, who is seen as embodying everything that’s wrong with the country. Hate groups topped 1,000 for the first time since the Southern Poverty Law Center began counting such groups in the 1980s. Anti-immigrant vigilante groups, despite having some of the political wind taken out of their sails by the adoption of hard-line anti-immigration laws around the country, continued to rise slowly. But by far the most dramatic growth came in the antigovernment “Patriot” movement — conspiracy-minded organizations that see the federal government as their primary enemy — which gained more than 300 new groups, a jump of over 60%."

Right-Wing Hate on the Rise
HurricaneDean reports for the Censored Project: "Yesterday, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) released their spring 2011, Intelligence Report. Since the 80’s, SPLC began counting hate groups. For the first time, the organization has counted over 1000 hate groups, up from 932 in 2009. Since 2000, there has been a 66% increase in hate groups. According to the SPLC, “All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”  The report points out, that just because an organization is on the “Hate Group” list, doesn’t imply the group advocates violence or criminal activities."

House Approves FY 2011 Spending Proposal, Including Amendment Blocking Federal Funding to Planned Parenthood
The National Partnership for Women and Families: "The House on Friday voted 240-185 to approve an amendment to the continuing resolution (HR 1) that would block any federal funding for Planned Parenthood, Politico reports. The amendment was introduced by Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.). Ten Democrats supported the amendment, and seven Republicans voted against it (Nather/Nocera, Politico, 2/18). On Saturday, the House voted 235-189 to approve the continuing resolution -- an appropriations bill that will fund government programs for the remainder of fiscal year 2011, the New York Times reports. President Obama has said he would veto the spending bill if it passes the Senate (Herzenhorn, New York Times, 2/20)."

White House Declares Defense of Marriage Act Unconstitutional
Nadia Prupis reports for Truthout: "The Obama administration said Wednesday that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and the Justice Department will no longer support it. The Defense of Marriage Act is a federal law defining marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman.  Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner stating, 'Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act ... as applied to same-sex couples who are legally married under state law, violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment.'"

The FCC, Net Neutrality and the Future Enrons of the Internet
Derek Lazzaro writes for Truthdig.com: "America’s largest Internet service providers, which own most of the network backbone, have decided that Internet content providers such as YouTube are using too much bandwidth, and becoming too rich, and now the ISPs are demanding a bigger piece of the pie. Amid surprisingly little public debate, the ISPs have engaged in a focused campaign to lobby Congress and win court cases with the goal of stripping the government of any meaningful authority to regulate their price structures or data-routing policies."

What You Need to Know About the Assault on NPR and PBS
Megan Tady reports for In These Times: "Congressional attacks on public media seem to come as regularly as NPR fundraising drives. Every year, as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) pleas for federal funding, some members of Congress denounce public media altogether, while others quietly vote to shave off another sliver of subsidies, rather than eliminate all funding. In the end, the CPB limps away still intact, but wounded."

>In the Absence of Public Media Funding, the US Has Outsourced Its National Voice
OrganGrinder blog at The Guardian UK writes: "If you want to get coverage for public media funding, try turning up at Congress with a puppet on your arm. Last week it was the turn of Arthur the Aardvark (unless advocates were picked alphabetically) to try and defend the principle of publicly-funded media. Arthur was unsuccessful, for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting potentially lost its $430 million funding as part of a budget amendment which the House of Representatives voted through the following morning. The CPB scatters what funds it has fairly widely. The two best known recipients of state funding are the radio platform NPR and the broadcaster PBS although, in truth, the handout from government is only a small part of their collective income."

What Effect has the Internet had on Journalism?
Aleks Krotoski reports for The Guardian UK: "For Peter Beaumont, this newspaper's foreign affairs editor, the revolution in Egypt revealed more than the power of the people in triumphing over repressive regimes; on a personal level, he discovered something new about his working practices. Beaumont trained as a journalist in the days before the world wide web, but, like most of his profession, he has integrated new technologies into his news-gathering techniques as they've emerged. Covering the events in Cairo during the internet blackout in Egypt was like taking a step back in time. 'We went back to what we used to do: write up the story on the computer, go to the business centre, print it out and dictate it over the phone,' he says. 'We didn't have to worry about what was on the internet; we just had to worry about what we were seeing. It was absolutely liberating.'"

19 February 2011

Sesquicentennial Tour of the Underground Railroad

Community Bridge opens this week with Richard Pitts, executive director of Wonder Workshop, discussing the upcoming Sesquicentennial tour of underground railroad sites around Manhattan. Then we hear The Breakdown with Chris Hayes discussing the federal budget and the excessive money spent on the military complex and asks why, in all the wailing and mashing of teeth about the need to cut the federal deficit, this isn’t being the first place to look for cuts.  Finally, Christopher Renner takes up Kansas House Bill 2260, the “Religious Preservation Act” that allows people to discriminate against homosexuals based on religious ideology but also other the door for people to do all sorts of things, forced marriages, female circumcision, and possibly even the stoning of those guilt of adultery and murdering doctors who provide abortions, if those acts are done based of religious conviction.

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Mountain Top Removal - Coal Mining on Steroids

In our second hour we hear from Washburn University instructor Kellis Bayless on the environmental destruction cause by mountain top removal coal mining and what our coal addiction is costing us.

Mountaintop removal/valley fill coal mining (MTR) has been called strip mining on steroids. One author says the process should be more accurately named: mountain range removal. Mountaintop removal /valley fill mining annihilates ecosystems, transforming some of the most biologically diverse temperate forests in the world into biologically barren moonscapes.


Cancer Rates Higher Near Mountaintop Removal Sites, Kate Sheppard, Mother Jones, July 28, 2011.

ILoveMountains.org - Local, state, and regional organizations across Appalachia are working together to end mountaintop removal and create a prosperous future for the region. Through iLoveMountains.org, members of the Alliance for Appalachia have come together to use cutting edge technology to inform and involve Americans in their efforts to save mountain and communities.

Mountain Justice - Mountain Justice seeks to add to the growing anti-MTR citizens movement. Specifically Mountain Justice demands an abolition of MTR, steep slope strip mining and all other forms of surface mining for coal. We work to protect the cultural and natural heritage of the Appalachia coal fields. We work to contribute with grassroots organizing, public education, nonviolent civil disobedience and other forms of citizen action.

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18 February 2011

Clippings for 18 February 2011

"Facts Still Matter ..."
Bill Moyers, Truthout: "While 'most of us like to believe that our opinions have been formed over time by careful, rational consideration of facts and ideas and that the decisions based on those opinions, therefore, have the ring of soundness and intelligence,' the research found that actually 'we often base our opinions on our beliefs ... and rather than facts driving beliefs, our beliefs can dictate the facts we chose to accept. They can cause us to twist facts so they fit better with our preconceived notions.' These studies help to explain why America seems more and more unable to deal with reality. So many people inhabit a closed belief system on whose door they have hung the 'Do Not Disturb' sign, that they pick and choose only those facts that will serve as building blocks for walling them off from uncomfortable truths." Photo: Grahamtastic; Edited: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t

Obama’s Budget: Freezing the Poor
Amy Goodman writes on Truthdig.com: "President Barack Obama unleashed his proposed 2012 budget this week, pronouncing, proudly: 'I’ve called for a freeze on annual domestic spending over the next five years. This freeze would cut the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, bringing this kind of spending—domestic discretionary spending—to its lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was president.'

Home Sweet Wall Street
Robert Scheer comments for Truthdig.com: "A most dastardly deed occurred last Friday when the Obama administration issued a 29-page policy statement totally abandoning the federal government’s time-honored role in helping Americans achieve the goal of homeownership. Instead of punishing the banks that sabotaged the American ideal of a nation of stakeholders by “securitizing” our homesteads into poker chips to be gambled away in the Wall Street casino, Barack Obama now proposes to turn over the entire mortgage industry to those same banks."

Interactive: The Chopping Block
Michael Linden, Michael Ettlinger write for Center for American Progress: "Get out your axe! Before last fall’s elections, House Republicans promised to cut $100 billion from the budget. Furthermore, they said they would do so without touching entitlements, defense spending, or veterans’ services. This portion of the budget, known as “non-security discretionary spending,” makes up less than 15 percent of the federal budget. Though it is a relatively small slice of the overall budget, conservatives routinely ignore other kinds federal spending—like defense and tax expenditures—and instead focus their ire on this one part."

Boehner's Spending Cuts Would Kill 1 Million Jobs
Megan Carpentier reports for Talking Points Memo: "At a press conference yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told reporters that if some federal jobs were lost as a result of his proposed spending cuts, 'so be it.' How many jobs are we talking about? According to federal budget expert Scott Lilly at the Center for American Progress, Boehner's proposed spending cuts could kill almost 1 million jobs."

House Republicans' Spending Plan for Remainder of FY 2011 Cuts Funds for Title X Family Planning, Health Reform Law
National Partnership for Women and Families writes: "House Republicans on Friday unveiled a revised version of their plan (HR 1) to fund the government from March 4 through the end of fiscal year 2011, proposing to eliminate funding for the Title X family planning program and to cut funds for a range of other health care programs, Politico reports (Nather, Politico, 2/11). The program helps provide family planning and reproductive health services to low-income women, including contraceptive counseling and supplies, pelvic and breast exams, safer-sex counseling, and basic infertility counseling. No Title X funds can be used for abortion services (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/10)."

Recommended Audio: Rachel Maddow - GOP Goal
Rachel Maddow laid out very well in her opening segment how the struggle going on now in Wisconsin and other states is not about whether the state of Wisconsin has a financial crisis. It doesn't. This is about busting the largest organization that organizes, gets out the vote and raises money for the Democratic Party, the public sector unions.

Wisconsin Is a Battleground Against the Billionaire Kochs' Plan to Break Labor's Back
Adele Stan reports for AlterNet: "As some 30,000 protesters overwhelmed the state capitol building in Wisconsin today, Democratic state senators hit the road, reportedly with State Police officers in pursuit. The Dems left the state in order to deprive Republicans the necessary quorum for taking a vote on Gov. Scott Walker's bill to strip benefits and collective bargaining rights from state workers. Newsradio 620 WTMJ reported that the Democratic senators were holed up in a Rockford, Illinois, hotel, out of reach of Wisconsin state troopers. Now, it seems, Republican lawmakers are beginning to waver on their support for the union-busting bill."

Wisconsin Crowds Swell to 30,000; Key GOP Legislators Waver
John Nichols reports for The Nation: ""I have never been prouder of our movement than I am at this moment,' shouted Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt, as he surveyed the crowds of union members and their supporters that surged around the state Capitol and into the streets of Madison Wednesday, literally closing the downtown as tens of thousands of Wisconsinites protested their Republican governor’s attempt to strip public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights."  Photo: Mark Hirsch/Getty

What Wisconsin's Governor Is Really Threatening
Stephanie Taylor writes for Salon.com: "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has declared war on state workers, almost literally. First, he proposed a state budget that would cut retirement and healthcare for workers like teachers and nurses, and strip away nearly all of their collective bargaining rights. But even more significantly, he announced last Friday that he had alerted the National Guard to be ready for state workers to strike or protest, an unprecedented step in modern times. This would be the first time in nearly 80 years that the National Guard would be used to break a strike by Wisconsin workers, and the first time in over 40 years that the National Guard would be used against public workers anywhere in the country. The last time was the Memphis sanitation strike in 1968, just before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination."

IVAW to Justice Department: Investigate INC Ties to Iraqi WMD Intelligence Fabricator "Curveball"
Thomas Buonomo writes for Iraq Veterans Against the War: "On 15 February 2011, the Guardian reported that Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, code-named 'Curveball' by U.S. intelligence officials, admitted to fabricating knowledge of Saddam Hussein's alleged biological weapons program. Despite clear warnings from CIA officials, the Bush administration used Mr. Janabi's information in public statements and reports to Congress that influenced its vote to authorize military force against Iraq."

Announcing Progressives United

Russ Feingold Launches 'Progressives United' To Combat Corporate Influences In Politics
Amanda Terkel reports for the Huffington Post: "When some senators retire, they decide to take lucrative lobbying jobs. Others go straight to Wall Street. But Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold, who lost his re-election bid in November, is continuing on his principled -- and often lonely -- path by starting an organization to combat corporate influence in politics, an effort he hopes will spark "a new progressive movement" that will truly hold elected officials accountable."

'Voluntary' Immigration Program not so Voluntary
Suzanne Gamboa reports for the Associate Press: "A voluntary program to run all criminal suspects' fingerprints through an immigration database was only voluntary until cities refused to participate, recently released documents show. The Obama administration then tightened the rules so that cities had no choice but to have the fingerprints checked. Thousands of documents made public by the Homeland Security Department provide a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how the administration scrambled to quiet the criticism and negative publicity surrounding the immigration enforcement program known as Secure Communities."

One Company's Toxic Agenda or Our Poisonous Way of Life? Marie-Monique Robin's "The World According to Monsanto"
Leslie Thatcher writes for Truthout: "When I reviewed 'The World According to Monsanto' over two years ago, I was hopeful a new administration would craft a new approach to genetically engineered food and the regulation of industry overall, but as we have documented at Truthout, the US government continues to act like a fully owned subsidiary of Monsanto, threatening retaliation against an ally that moved to ban GMO corn in accordance with the desires of a vast majority of its population, approving the deregulation of GMO alfalfa virtually ensuring the end of organic beef as an available option for Americans, and, most recently approving sugar beet planting this spring 'despite an earlier court ruling that government approval for planting the beets violated environmental law.' Monsanto's war against independent science also continues. 'The World According to Monsanto' remains an essential read for all citizens, especially any who eat."

Fight for a World Without Coal
Chris Hedges comments for Truthdig: "The writer and philosopher Wendell Berry, armed with little more than a copy of William Shakespeare's 'The Tempest' and his conscience, has been camped out for three days with a handful of other activists in the governor's outer office in Frankfurt, Kentucky. Berry, who is 76 and the author of a number of important books including the 'Unsettling of America' and 'Life Is a Miracle,' has been sleeping on the floor of Gov. Steve Beshear's reception area since Friday night with 13 others to protest the continued blasting of mountaintops in eastern Kentucky and the poisoning of watersheds, soil and air by coal companies."

Recommended Audio: GRITtv - Conspiracy Tactics From the Chamber
GRITtv: "In the war of information around WikiLeaks, the story just keeps getting messier. The latest chapter involves Anonymous, the group of hackers who targeted banks that denied WikiLeaks funding, a private security firm called HBGary, Bank of America, the CIA and our good friends at the US Chamber of Commerce. Spying, data mining and smear campaigns against progressive bloggers and union members and activists are just part of the mess, which is still unfolding. Lee Fang from Think Progress and Michael Whitney at FireDogLake have been following the story closely, and they join Laura to discuss what we know so far about the sleazy tactics being used by the banksters and their US Chamber allies."

The Right's War On Women
Faiz Shakir, Benjamin Armbruster, George Zornick, Zaid Jilani, Alex Seitz-Wald, Tanya Somanader, and Ian Millhiser write the Progress Report for Think Progress: "Yesterday on the House floor, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) blasted the Republican "anti-woman, anti-child agenda." Noting that Republicans have yet to bring up any legislation aimed at tackling the jobs crisis, she added, "[Republicans] have had time to bring forward an extreme anti-woman agenda." This assault has been aided and abetted in recent weeks by anti-choicers at the state level as well, and by slick public relations campaigns aimed to convince Americans of the evils of abortion providers. The right is not only targeting abortion services, but also other essential services that provide contraception and other family planning services and programs that provide food and nutrition for many women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. If opponents of choice get their way, it will leave women nowhere to turn -- nowhere to get essential family planning services, nowhere to get an abortion, and nowhere to get support once they are pregnant."

Think Again: A Real Tea (Pity) Party
Eric Alterman writes for the Center for American Progress: "In its apparently endless quest to assuage the sensitive feelings of all the victimized right-wingers in America one day at a time, The Washington Post published Steve Hendrix’s sob story of the pain and suffering experienced by Washington’s 'tea party residents' who live in a city where 'home can at times feel like enemy territory.' How bad is it? Well, a man at another table in a coffee shop said 'sorry' and walked away from one guy. And another one had to experience the pain of being asked whether 'your boyfriend listens to Glenn Beck.' Apparently, the notion that self-proclaimed 'tea party patriots' listen to Glenn Beck is the kind of thing one hears 'in the left-wing news media ... they don't know any real tea party people.' No wonder Tea Party member Brian says, 'I fear for my country.' He is, after all, 'just more tolerant than they are.'"

Radical States
Faiz Shakir, Benjamin Armbruster, George Zornick, Zaid Jilani, Alex Seitz-Wald, Tanya Somanader, and Ian Millhiser write the Progress Report for Think Progress: "When President Obama took office amidst the worst recession in three generations, he immediately focused his energy on enacting a comprehensive plan to revive the nation's economy. Newly elected Republicans, however, have interpreted their temporary rise to power in an entirely different way. Where Obama saw an immediate need to grow the nation's economy, GOP leaders are seizing their moment to force longstanding GOP fantasies upon the people they govern. Several GOP-led states are pushing plans to strip state workers of their collective bargaining rights. Twelve states are considering unconstitutional bills "nullifying" the Affordable Care Act. Arizona Repub licans are lining up behind a plan to unconstitutionally strip citizenship from millions of Americans. New Hampshire Republicans have returned to the GOP's favorite pastime of denying gay Americans their constitutional rights. Given the opportunity to lead, far-right politicians have decided instead to ignore the nation's needs and pursue their own narrow, unpopular ideological vendettas."

A Conglomerate’s Tack to Quash a Parody Site
Noam Cohen reports for the New York Times: " Satire, George S. Kaufman once said, is what closes on Saturday night. And if that doesn’t happen, some corporations may try to close it down in court. In December, a fake news release was sent out by a group claiming to be Koch Industries, the oil processing company owned by Charles and David Koch, the Republican donors, arts benefactors and global warming skeptics. Under the headline “Koch Industries Announces New Environmental Commitments,” the fake release said that after 'a recent internal and thorough company review,' the company would be 'restructuring its support of climate change research and advocacy initiatives.'”

Tea Party Patriots Investigated: The Tax-Dodging Treasurer
Stephanie Mencimer reports for Mother Jones: "The finances of the nation's largest tea party group have increasingly become a subject of concern—and outrage—to conservative activists. Some question whether donations to the organization, Tea Party Patriots, have gone to advance the movement, or just the careers and jet-setting lifestyles of its leaders. What they don't know is that the group has had a man with an unusual background managing its money: He was sanctioned by the IRS several years ago for failing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll taxes related to a failed business that pushed him into bankruptcy. He also happens to be married to one of the group's leaders." Photo:

House Votes to Stop FCC from Enforcing Net Neutrality; Punishes Public Servant
FreePress writes: "On Thursday evening, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve a pair of amendments to a massive bill that would slash the federal budget. One amendment, introduced by Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), would prevent the Federal Communications Commission from enforcing rules it enacted in December to protect Internet users from discrimination online."

14 February 2011

Clippings for 14 February 2011

Obama Budget Seeks Deep Cuts in Domestic Spending
Jackie Calmes reports for The New York Times News Service via Truthout: "President Obama, who is proposing his third annual budget on Monday, will say that it can reduce projected deficits by $1.1 trillion over the next decade, enough to stabilize the nation’s fiscal health and buy time to address its longer-term problems, according to a senior administration official. Two-thirds of the reductions that Mr. Obama will claim are from cuts in spending, including in many domestic programs that he supports. Among the reductions for just the next fiscal year, 2012, which starts Oct. 1, are more than $1 billion from airport grants and nearly $1 billion from grants to states for water treatment plants and similar projects. Public health and forestry programs would also be cut."

House Republicans to Propose Deeper Budget Cuts
Lisa Mascaro reports for the L. A. Times: "On the heels of an uprising by rookie Republican lawmakers, House leaders Friday will unveil a new budget proposal that instructs appropriators to slice deeper to reduce the 2011 budget by the $100 billion the GOP promised voters last fall. The new proposal is expected to produce steep cuts and may require job losses in government agencies, putting some elected officials in the difficult position of choosing between fiscal austerity or employment opportunity as the nation continues to struggle with high unemployment during the economic recovery."

G.O.P. Ignores Jobs Crisis, Targets Theoretical Crisis
Zachary Kolodin writes for New Deal 2.0: "Millennials have spent their entire political lives waiting for America to get over the culture wars of the 1970-1990s and deal with our urgent problems. President Obama took a big step in the right direction by addressing America’s health care access problem through major reform. Now, the Republican Congress has taken its turn by announcing that it will attempt to avert a crisis through $2.5 trillion in spending cuts with H.R. 408. Unfortunately, faced with two “crises,” the GOP chose theory over reality. On the one hand, the US has a long-term budget problem — over the next thirty years or so, the rising costs of Medicare and Medicaid will cause unprecedented national debt, which will impair growth and stability. On the other hand, the US has an urgent jobs crisis right now. Millions of Americans find themselves out of work and completely strapped. An entire generation of young people trying to start families finds itself without stability and without an outlet for their remarkable energy."

Blueprint: Ensuring Job Security by Protecting Workers
Progessive States Network writes: "Ask voters in any state what single issue concerns them the most, and the answer is likely to be the same: the economy and jobs. More than two years removed from a crisis that caused the greatest economic downturn in generations, Americans with a job still feel as vulnerable as ever, while those out of work through no fault of their own worry every day about finding an increasingly scarce commodity: a good job that will allow them to provide for their families." Graphic source: Institute for Policy Studies

Obama Assertion: FBI Can Get Phone Records Without Oversight
Marisa Taylor reports for McClatchy Newspapers: "The Obama administration's Justice Department has asserted that the FBI can obtain telephone records of international calls made from the U.S. without any formal legal process or court oversight, according to a document obtained by McClatchy. That assertion was revealed — perhaps inadvertently — by the department in its response to a McClatchy request for a copy of a secret Justice Department memo. Critics say the legal position is flawed and creates a potential loophole that could lead to a repeat of FBI abuses that were supposed to have been stopped in 2006."

More Troops Lost to Suicide
John Donnelly writes for Congress.org: "For the second year in a row, the U.S. military has lost more troops to suicide than it has to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. The reasons are complicated and the accounting uncertain — for instance, should returning soldiers who take their own lives after being mustered out be included? But the suicide rate is a further indication of the stress that military personnel live under after nearly a decade of war."

Why Hershey's Chocolate Isn't My Valentine
Titania Kumeh reports for Mother Jones: "As far as sweet confections go, chocolate tops my list. But the sourcing reality of some mass-produced chocolate's main ingredient, cocoa, is a bitter pill to swallow. Six years ago, children who had been trafficked from Mali to Cote d'Ivoire to work on cocoa plantations filed a lawsuit in US courts against Archer Daniels MidlandCargill, and Nestle. The children described being beaten and forced to work for 12 to 14 hours a day without pay, given little food and sleep. The lawsuit is ongoing."

The Environment as Our Common Heritage
James K. Boyce comments for TripleCrisis: "What does it mean to say that the environment is our 'common heritage'? On one level this is a simple statement of fact: when we are born, we come into a world that is not of our own making. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the natural resources on which our livelihoods depend, and the accumulated knowledge and information that underpin our ability to use these resources wisely - all these come to us as gifts of creation passed on to us by preceding generations and enriched by their innovations and creativity."

Taking Climate Denial to New Extremes
By Kate Sheppard reports for Mother Jones: "The spending plan the House GOP was supposed to roll out on Thursday included a number of cuts meant to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from doing anything about climate change. But Republicans had to take that plan back to the drawing board Thursday night after tea party members claimed the package of cuts didn't go deep enough. And if a trio of House members get their way, we won't ever have to worry about the climate—since we won't know what's happening with it, anyway."

John Hanger, PA’s Former Environmental Chief, Talks About Challenges of Keeping Gas Drilling Safe
Nicholas Kusnetz reports for ProPublica: "John Hanger, who led Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection until January, recently talked with ProPublica about the challenges of trying to regulate the expanding drilling industry. Hanger joined the DEP in 2008, when gas drilling in the state's Marcellus Shale formation was ramping up. During his tenure, the department tightened drilling regulations by limiting the discharge of certain pollutants into rivers and streams, strengthening standards for new wells, banning development within 150 feet of certain waterways and requiring drillers to include water-use and waste-disposal plans with their well permit applications. Before he joined the department, Hanger was president and CEO of PennFuture, an environmental organization. He left the DEP when Tom Corbett took over as governor." Photo: Philadelphia Independent Media Center

REPORT: At Least 13 States Have Introduced Bills Guarding Against Non-Existent Threat Of Sharia Law
Zaid Jilani reports for Think Progress: "This past November, Oklahoma voters by a 70-30 percent margin passed a ballot question that barred “state courts from considering international or Islamic law when deciding cases.” The new law — which was widely considered as unfairly targeting the Muslim community and blaming it for the non-existent threat of Sharia law in the United states — was blocked by an injunction issued just a few weeks later by federal judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange. The judge argued that the Sharia ban was unconstitutional because it violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment and unfairly singled out Muslims."

Arizona Sues Feds for Not Being Tough Enough on Immigration
Julianne Hing writes for ColorLines: "Arizona is sick of being a defendant in lawsuit after lawsuit challenging the state’s harsh anti-immigration policies. On Thursday Gov. Jan Brewer announced that the state is turning the tables and suing the federal government in a countersuit to the Department of Justice’s lawsuit against SB 1070. Brewer accused the federal government of failing to enforce federal immigration laws, failing to control the Arizona-Mexico border and failing to protect the state from violence."

Pelosi: GOP Offers The ‘Most Comprehensive And Radical Assault On Women’s Health In Our Lifetime’
Igor Volsky writes for Think Progress: "On a conference call with reporters and bloggers this afternoon, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) characterized the GOP’s recent legislative effort to restrict access to abortion and contraception as “the most comprehensive and radical assault on women’s health in our life time,” promising to wage a campaign against the effort. Pelosi was referring to the Republican-backed H.R. 3 “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” and H.R. 358, “Protect Life Act,” as well separate measures to eliminate federal funding for family planning."

'Forcible Rape' Language Remains In Bill To Restrict Abortion Funding
Amanda Terkel writes for the Huffington Post: "After significant public blowback, House Republicans last week promised to drop a controversial provision in their high-priority No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act that would redefine rape. But almost a week later, that language is still in the bill. Last week, a spokesman for the bill's principal sponsor, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), said, "The word forcible will be replaced with the original language from the Hyde Amendment." The Hyde Amendment bans taxpayer dollars from being used for abortions, except in cases of incest and rape -- not just "forcible rape," as the Smith bill, H.R. 3, would have it."

10 Things Conservatives Don’t Want You To Know About Ronald Reagan
Alex Seitz-Wald reports for Think Progress: "Tomorrow (February 6th) will mark the 100th anniversary of President Reagan’s birth, and all week, conservatives have been trying to outdo each others’ remembrances of the great conservative icon. Senate Republicans spent much of Thursday singing Reagan’s praise from the Senate floor, while conservative publications have been running non-stop commemorations. Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee and former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich are hoping to make a few bucks off the Gipper’s centennial.  "

Clarence Thomas Gets Away With Breaking the Law; Ginny Thomas Shills for Right-Wing Interests
Nancy Goldstein reports for AlterNet: "When it comes to the financial and ethical improprieties of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife, Ginni, there is only bad news and worse news. That's true not only in terms of what they've done but because there's so little reason to believe they'll ever be held accountable for their active role in tainting our judiciary with the money and influence of their wealthy, conservative GOP patrons."

Backward, Christian Soldiers
Mikey Weinstein
Stephen Glain reports for The Nation: "Late last summer, Mikey Weinstein broke up a fight between Crystal and Ginger, the guard dogs trained to protect him and his family from a violent reckoning with Christian zealots. For the 55-year-old civil rights activist committed to ridding the US military of religious intolerance, it was a refreshingly secular and evenly matched bout. Weinstein is, after all, famously combative, both pugnacious and profane, with the bearing and sensibility of a mastiff. In the end he prevailed and peace was restored, though at the price of some bad scratches on his arms and a hole in his right hand where a well-aimed canine had struck." Photo: Troy Page / t r u t h o u t

10 Historical 'Facts' Only a Right-Winger Could Believe
Roy Edroso reports for AlterNet: "As you may have noticed by following their writings, conservatives are not sticklers for historical accuracy, especially when they have a point to defend and not a lot of evidence to support it. Get a load, for example, of John Podhoretz explaining how the pro-choice Rudy Giuliani reduced abortions in New York City (though, um, not really) because he cut crime, which is one of "the spiritual causes of abortion."

ENDA: The Longest Journey
David Mixner comments on his blog: "The Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) has had a long and frustrating journey. The original legislation was introduced by Congresswoman Bella Abzug (D-New York) and then Congressman Ed Koch (D- New York) on May 14, 1974. Called the "Gay Rights Bill" it would have added sexual orientation to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Senator Paul Tsongas and Senator Edward Kennedy became big champions of the legislation in the United States Senate."

Fox News Insider: "Stuff Is Just Made Up"
Eric Boehlert reports for Media Matters for America: "A former Fox News employee who recently agreed to talk with Media Matters confirmed what critics have been saying for years about Murdoch's cable channel. Namely, that Fox News is run as a purely partisan operation, virtually every news story is actively spun by the staff, its primary goal is to prop up Republicans and knock down Democrats, and that staffers at Fox News routinely operate without the slightest regard for fairness or fact checking."

High-speed Wireless Access for Entire US will Spark Innovation, Obama says
Mark Guarino reports for the Christian Science Monitor: "Emphasizing a goal he set out in his State of the Union address, President Obama promoted a plan Thursday for 98 percent of Americans to have high-speed wireless Internet access within five years.  In remarks given at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mr. Obama said his proposal, titled the National Wireless Initiative, would boost small-business development and would be of particular use in rural areas. He likened high-speed wireless access to the transcontinental railroad, which united both coasts of America. 'This isn’t just about faster Internet or being able to find a friend on Facebook. It’s about connecting every corner of America to the digital age,' he said."

Recommended Audio: Media Matters Feb 13th - Interview with FCC Commissioner Michael Copps
Copps served until January 2001 as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Trade Development at the U.S. Department of Commerce, where he was previously Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Basic Industries. Copps came to Washington in 1970, joining the staff of Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC) and serving for over a dozen years as Chief of Staff. He has also held positions at a Fortune 500 company and at a major trade association. Before coming to Washington, Copps was a professor of U.S. History at Loyola University of the South. Copps received a B.A. from Wofford College and earned a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

FCC Chairman Genachowski 'Out of Touch' with Broadband Reality
Free Press writes: "FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski delivered a speech to the Broadband Acceleration Conference touting the value of broadband and the need for continued investment in its infrastructure. He promised to cut the "red tape" that stands as "a significant obstacle to broadband deployment." Genachowski's statements are further evidence that he's more interested in appeasing the giant phone and cable companies than in solving the real problems in the American broadband market."

11 February 2011

Kobach's Boondoggle Vote ID Law

Community Bridge opens this week with a look at the "Voter ID" legislation nativist extremist Kris Kobach wants to force on Kansas. Inspired by "race laws" of a by-gone era, Kobach has thrown the sound bite of "voter fraud" around to cover up his xenophobic fears of brown and black people. In ten years, there have been 80 incidents which could be labeled "voter fraud." Just to give some perspective, Kansas has 1.7 million registered voters. That means there is a .00004 percent chance of a register voter being fraudulent. More people are misdiagnosed in hospitals in a month (research reports 155 misdiagnosed cases per 1,000 hospitalized patients) than there are cases of voter fraud in Kansas in 10 years. Now it looks like Kobach's xenophobic fears are going to cost Kansas tax payers over a million dollars, when the state doesn't have money to take care of it current commitments. So why is the legislature even considering this law?

Representatives from the Kansas Voter Coalition will discuss the proposed law, the testimony that was delivered on Wednesday against it, what Kansans can do to oppose this effort to limit who can vote in our state, and a discussion of Kobach and his links to white supremacist groups. Connecting by phone are Ernestine Kriehbel, League of Women Voters of Kansas, and Kari Ann Rinker, Kansas National Organization of Women.

MP3 File