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

02 February 2011

Clippings for 2 February 2011

Saad's Revolution
Saad Eddin Ibrahim
Juan Cole writes for Truthdig.com: "A largely unheralded hero of the Egyptian revolution is a mild-mannered academic who endured imprisonment and then exile for daring to criticize the Mubarak family’s increasingly dynastic ambitions. Saad Eddin Ibrahim has spoken out forcefully on human rights and democracy for decades, and he is finally being vindicated. But his message that the United States needs to support democracy in the Arab world and put aside its paranoia about Muslim fundamentalist movements may be unpalatable to Washington’s elites."  Photo: AP/Amr Nabil

When Corporations Choose Despost Over Democracy
Amy Goodman writes for Truthdig.com: "“People holding a sign ‘To: America. From: the Egyptian People. Stop supporting Mubarak. It’s over!” so tweeted my brave colleague, “Democracy Now!” senior producer Sharif Abdel Kouddous, from the streets of Cairo. More than 2 million people rallied throughout Egypt on Tuesday, most of them crowded into Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Tahrir, which means liberation in Arabic, has become the epicenter of what appears to be a largely spontaneous, leaderless and peaceful revolution in this, the most populous nation in the Middle East. Defying a military curfew, this incredible uprising has been driven by young Egyptians, who compose a majority of the 80 million citizens. Twitter and Facebook, and SMS text messaging on cell phones, have helped this new generation to link up and organize, despite living under a U.S.-supported dictatorship for the past three decades. In response, the Mubarak regime, with the help of U.S. and European corporations, has shut down the Internet and curtailed cellular service, plunging Egypt into digital darkness. Despite the shutdown, as media activist and professor of communications C.W. Anderson told me, 'people make revolutions, not technology.'”

Gladstone's Legacy for Israel
Naomi Klein writes for The Nation: "A sprawling crime scene. That is what Gaza felt like when I visited in the summer of 2009, six months after the Israeli attack. Evidence of criminality was everywhere—the homes and schools that lay in rubble, the walls burned pitch black by white phosphorus, the children’s bodies still unhealed for lack of medical care. But where were the police? Who was documenting these crimes, interviewing the witnesses, protecting the evidence from tampering?"

Cow Most Sacred: Why Military Spending Remains Untouchable
Andrew J. Bacevich provides the following analysis for TomDispatch: "In defense circles, 'cutting' the Pentagon budget has once again become a topic of conversation. Americans should not confuse that talk with reality. Any cuts exacted will at most reduce the rate of growth. The essential facts remain: US military outlays today equal that of every other nation on the planet combined, a situation without precedent in modern history."

Govt's Loan Modification Program Crippled by Lax Oversight and Deference to Banks
Paul Kiel and Olga Pierce report for ProPublica: "With millions of homeowners still struggling to stay in their homes, the Obama administration’s $75 billion foreclosure prevention program has been weakened, perhaps fatally, by lax oversight and a posture of cooperation - rather than enforcement - with the nation’s biggest banks. Those banks, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, and Citibank, service the majority of mortgages. Despite a dismal showing for the program, rising complaints from homeowners, and repeated threats from officials, the government has levied no penalties against even the most error-prone banks and mortgage servicers. In fact, despite issuing public warnings for more than a year about imposing penalties, the Treasury Department told ProPublica this week they don’t even have the power to punish servicers for wrongfully denying help to homeowners. Instead of toughening the program, Treasury has actually loosened it in the face of industry lobbying." Photo: Robyn Back/AFP/Getty Images

Back to Full Employment
Robert Pollin writes for the Boston Review: "Employment conditions in the United States today, in the aftermath of the 2008-09 Wall Street collapse and worldwide Great Recession, remain disastrous - worse than at any time since the Depression of the 1930s. Since Barack Obama entered office in January 2009, the official unemployment rate has averaged more than 9.5 percent, representing some fifteen million people in a labor force of about 154 million. By a broader definition, including people employed for fewer hours than they would like and those discouraged from looking for work, the unemployment rate has been far higher - 16.5 percent, on average."

Debts Should Be Honored, Except When the Money Is Owed to Working People
Dean Baker writes for Truthout: "This seems to be the lesson that our nation's leaders are trying to pound home to us. According to The New York Times, members of Congress are secretly running around in closets and back alleys working up a law allowing states to declare bankruptcy. According to the article, a main goal of state bankruptcy is to allow states to default on their pension obligations. This means that states will be able to tell workers, including those already retired, that they are out of luck. Teachers, highway patrol officers, and other government employees, some of whom worked decades for the government, will be told that their contracts no longer mean anything. They will not get the pensions that they were expecting." Photo: MasonCooper

Happy Days Are Here Again - as Long as You Ignore the Jobs Crisis
Imara Jones reports for ColorLines: "If Tina Turner was to reprise her 1980's hit in 2011, it would surely be called, 'What's jobs got to do with it?' Unemployment and underemployment remain dangerously high, at around 17 percent, but you wouldn't know it listening to the optimism ringing out from Wall Street to Washington last week. The New York Stock Exchange flirted with 12,000, a level not seen since 2008, everyone celebrated economic growth data, and the annual gathering of global finance and business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, was dominated by declarations of an American rebound. A fundamental disconnect between the finance economy and the real one couldn't be more apparent."

Stop the Austerity Craze! Massive Budget Slashing Can Lead to Economic Disaster, Violence and Repression
Mark Ames reports for AlterNet: "Now that the shock of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting is starting to wear off and the country is returning to its more familiar climate of insanity, we’re back to facing a far worse, far more serious, and far more violent threat than mere rampage shootings: Austerity. The Washington-Wall Street power circuit has already decided for the rest of us that “austerity” will define the 2011 political agenda. Austerity is what the oligarch-sponsored Tea Party demanded, what the Republicans are promising to deliver now that they’re in control of drafting the budget in the House, and what the Obama administration is going to try to enact as part of its neo-Clinton triangulation strategy. And the DC pols have the total endorsement of the corporate media, which have been hammering home the same message for months now: Austerity is the answer to our problems — problems that were created by the same establishment which wants to make us scream in pain again."

Attack on Birthright Citizenship
Faiz Shakir, Benjamin Armbruster, George Zornick, Zaid Jilani, Alex Seitz-Wald, Andrea Nill, and Tanya Somanader write the Progress Report for Think Progess: "Last week, Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and David Vitter (R-LA) introduced a resolution that would amend the Constitution to eliminate the guarantee that all persons born in the U.S. are automatically citizens. The resolution stipulates that, in order for U.S.-born children to qualify for citizenship, at least one parent must be a legal citizen, legal immigrant, active member of the Armed Forces, or a naturalized legal citizen. Meanwhile, in Arizona, Republicans  introduced legislation this past Thursday seeking to challenge the right to U.S. citizenship for children born in the state whose parents are undocumented immigrants. The 14th Amendment explicitly states, "[a]ll persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." These proposals all seek to either radically change or reinterpret what it means to be "subject to the jurisdiction thereof."  As the draconian Arizona immigration law which made headlines last year moves its way up the courts, the attack on the 14th Amendment and over 100 years of jurisprudence is looking to be the next immigration battlefield in the months to come."

Crashing the Koch's Billionaire Caucus
Lindsay Beyerstein reports for The Media Consortium: "Oil barons Charles and David Koch held their annual billionaires' summit in Palm Springs on Sunday, Nancy Goldstein reports in The Nation. Every year, the Kochs gather with fellow plutocrats, prominent pundits, and Republican legislators to plan their assault on government regulation and the welfare state. This is the first year that the low-profile gathering has attracted protesters."

The Birther Plan To Block Obama's Re-election
David Corn reports for Mother Jones: "The birthers have a plan to end Barack Obama's presidency—and in Arizona, they're making progress. Last week, Arizona state Rep. Judy Burges, a Republican, introduced a bill that would bar presidential candidates who do not prove they were born in the United States from appearing on the ballot in the Grand Canyon state. And state Rep. Chad Campbell, the top Democrat in the GOP-controlled Arizona House of Representatives, tells Mother Jones that the bill is likely to pass. It was introduced with 25 co-sponsors in the House and 16 co-sponsors in the state Senate; the measure needs 31 votes in the House and 16 in the Senate for approval. 'Will it matter?' asks Campbell. 'We've started a tradition here of passing legislation that is political grandstanding or that sets up litigation.'"

The Smearing of Frances Fox Piven
Progressive America Rising reports: "Frances Fox Piven is a professor of sociology at City University of New York, longstanding advocate for the rights of working and poor people and an author of numerous books studied in universities across the country. In recent months, Fox News' Glenn Beck has repeatedly described Piven as an advocate of violence and "enemy of the Constitution." As a consequence, a torrent of death threats against Piven has appeared on Beck's Web site The Blaze--threats that went unopposed on Beck's site for weeks."

Recommended Audio - James Howard Kunstler: Peak Oil and Our Financial Decline
Kevin Gosztola writes for The Nation and On The Earth Productions:
In this fifth video in the series “Peak Oil and a Changing Climate” from The Nation and On The Earth Productions, author, blogger and social critic James Howard Kunstler opens up on two circumstances he sees running neck and neck “that are going to put us out of business as an advanced industrial civilization”—the “fiasco” in banking, money and finance and the unfolding “energy predicament.” He explains that the crises are really all about "capital" and that we need to look at how wealth has been accumulated and deployed for productive purposes.

Kunstler suggests that “cheap abundant energy” has facilitated ever-increasing industrialization for centuries. But now that society is in a period of self-destructive capital accumulation, he expects debt to increase as abundance in energy drops. The tremendous amount of accumulated debt, “a by-product of cheap abundant energy,” will mean that in the future governments will be less able to make investments in socially-beneficial programs.

He also criticizes the US environmental movement for shying away from the problem of energy. The movement is unable to talk about walkable neighborhoods, smaller cities or investing in rail or water transit, an “intellectual failure of the culture to have a coherent conversation from people who ought to be leading” such a conversation.

Go here to learn more about "Peak Oil and a Changing Climate," and to see the other videos in the series.



The Disappearance of Keith Olbermann
Robert Parry writes for Consortium News: "Keith Olbermann’s abrupt departure from MSNBC should be another wake-up call to American progressives about the fragile foothold that liberal-oriented fare now has for only a few hours on one corporate cable network. Though Olbermann hosted MSNBC’s top-rated news show, “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” he disappeared from the network with only the briefest of good-byes. Certainly, the callous treatment of Olbermann by the MSNBC brass would never be replicated by Rupert Murdoch’s right-wing Fox News toward its media stars."

News Organizations Should Stop Being Neutral on Net Neutrality
Kat Aaron writes for MediaShift: "Many news organizations have a love-hate relationship with the Internet. While the abundance of free, online news has helped wreak havoc on the industry, the Internet itself has created incredible possibilities for news outlets to expand their reach and spark innovation. Thanks to the Internet, audiences can contribute to reporting and news in ways that would have been unimaginable a generation ago. Even the most venerable papers are experimenting with crowdsourced journalism."

With a Quiet Vote this Year, Congress Could Irreparably Damage Public Media

Bill King comments for Current.org: "In coming weeks, public media in this country could quietly cease to exist as we know it. It's up to us to make sure our audiences are aware of this threat, and that they have the opportunity to do something about it. In 1967, I began my career as the first hire at what would become Minnesota Public Radio/American Public Media. The Public Broadcasting Act was signed into law that same year. Flash forward to 2011 as I prepare to step down as c.e.o. of MPR/APM, and I see CPB facing the biggest threat so far to its continued funding."

Shutting Down Sesame Street: Republicans Aim to End the Arts
Adriel Luis reports for Change.org: "Conservatives are getting frugal up in this piece. Last week the Republican Study Committee pledged to cut $2.5 trillion in spending through the Spending Reduction Act – a bill that would eliminate a slew of government-funded programs. Among this list of "unnecessary spending" are the National Endowment for the Arts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting – all vital outlets for the livelihoods of workers in the art and media industries. Killing the arts isn't new for Republicans. In fact, some measures from the new Republican Study Committee proposal date back to 1995."

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