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

26 March 2011

March 24 - Abolishing the Kansas Death Penalty

Community Bridge opens this week with a previously recorded interview that host Christopher Renner conducted with Sr. Helen Prejean, CSJ.  Prejean's work on death row was showcased in her book, Death Man Walking and the film of the same title.   Her second book, The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions, tells the story of two innocent men she accompanied to their deaths. Then we hear some commentary on what's been happening in the Kansas legislature from the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty and close out with two syndicated clips: Chris Hayes's program, The Breakdown, takes on corporate personhood and Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting’s CounterSpin takes on the issue of taxes with Chuck Collins of US Uncut.

MP3 File

22 March 2011

More on Kansas State Rep. Virgil Peck and His Hog-Wild Comments about Immigrants

The following appeared on America's Voice blog:

As it turns out, it wasn’t over.

Last week, America’s Voice collected almost 4,800 signatures to investigate Kansas Rep. Virgil Peck’s comments about shooting undocumented immigrants from helicopters.  To jog your memory, Peck is the state legislator who jumped in during a committee debate on how to control the feral hog population, and suggested that the method used for killing hogs could also be used to solve “our illegal immigration problem.”  When asked for an apology, he slandered all southeast Kansans as fellow racists and rather obliviously claimed that no one else would have a problem with his statement.


Since then, Peck has been denounced by fellow politicians, Republicans and Democrats alike. LA Late talked to representatives furious about Peck’s comment:
[Kansas] Gov. Sam Brownback called the remarks “completely inappropriate…I’m from southeast Kansas.. I disagree with that statement.” Rep. Bob Grant told news that “I have no intention of letting Representative Peck brand me with his own extremist views just because I live in the same region.”

The blogosphere has been up in arms, denunciating “Klansas”.  Chicago Now reminds us that hogs and helicopters are only the latest in a long trend of public racism:
"Let's microchip illegal immigrants so we can track them like lost dogs."  "How about we put down land mines to get them at the border?"...The microchip comment was from Pat Bertroche, a physician running for Congress in Iowa.  Tom Mullins, a Republican candidate for Congress in New Mexico, had the land mine idea.

Balloon Juice defended non-racist Kansans:
"I highly doubt this is the way southeast Kansans speak; tossing out jokes about genocide willy-nilly. I’ve never been to Kansas, but I saw The Wizard of Oz, and I don’t remember Dorothy taking a detour to shoot some Mexicans."

Constituents let it be known that Peck did not speak for them, with Janet Murguia, Kansas native and President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, writing in a letter:
"It is despicable that Peck would invoke his Kansan heritage to defend his remarks. I was born and raised in Kansas, and the people I grew up with are hardworking people with close-knit families, good neighbors and strong faith. They do not think that hunting human beings is funny. Kansans deserve better."

Kansas Democrats have asked him to resign, and Somos Republicanos is looking to strip him of his chairmanship of the Kansas House Transportation and Public Safety Budget Committee:
"We believe that Peck cannot be entrusted the responsibility to serve as chairman of the Transportation and Public Safety Budget Committee, and we ask for the removal of Peck’s chairmanship…Peck has advocated violence in a civil society, and provoking violence should not be tolerated. Encouraging the shooting of people proves his inability to serve as chairman of a Public Safety Committee, and we hope to see Kansas Republican leadership replace him with a person who has reasonable and sound solutions to offer when conducting official business on the state floor."

Peck finally apologized via CNN:
"I'm Virgil Peck, and on Monday, I made an inappropriate comment.  For that, I'm sorry, and I apologize to anyone that I offended with my inappropriate comment. I'll be more careful with my words in the future."

However, at this point it may be too little, too late. Latina Lista describes the Latino voting bloc as a sleeping giant that’s becoming fighting mad over comments like Peck’s, over public racism that’s somehow considered ok, over ridiculous and hyper-stringent legislation, over policies that tear families apart.  With the 2012 election coming up and census data every day describing how crucial the Latino vote will be in key states, Republicans like Peck might want to reconsider how publicly they want to flaunt their racism.  Advocating genocide is kind of hard to walk back.

Meanwhile, we’re still collecting petitions against Rep. Peck—we’ll be delivering the petition next week to the FBI, but we want to double our count before then.  You can sign here.

20 March 2011

The State of Media in Kansas

This week Community Bridges takes up the issue of the media in Kansas. In particular we explore the media landscape in Kansas, the conservative bias in reporting, consolidation of media ownership, lack of diversity on opinion pages of newspapers, and the role of new media (blogs, e-newspapers, online radio) in informing the public debate and challenging what corporate media isn't telling Kansans. Guests include: Michael Caddell, host of Radio Free Kansas and the blog Fightin’ Cock Flyer; R. J. Dickens, host of the long-running talk show "The River City Forum" on KCTU-TV Wichita and Acting Executive Director of the American Low-Power Television Association; Jim Herrman, a data base consultant and co-chair of the Kansas Progressive Caucus of the Kansas Democratic Party; and veteran journalist Carl Williams, a media consultant for a non-profit organization with responsibilities that include producing video training programs.

MP3 File

19 March 2011

Clippings for 19 March 2011

Manufacturing the Muslim Menace: Private Firms, Public Servants, and the Threat to Rights and Security
Political Research Associates's comprehensive investigation, Manufacturing the Muslim Menace details a systemic failure to regulate content in nationwide counter-terrorism training. Myths perpetrated by trainers may put the rights of millions of Muslim Americans at risk from the very public servants who have sworn to protect them. Downland the complete report here (PDF file). Photo: Flickr, Asterix611

Islamophobia Can Create Radicalization
James C. Zogby comments for Arab American Institute: "Let me state quite directly: Islamophobia and those who promote it are a greater threat to the United States of America than Anwar al Awlaqi and his rag-tag team of terrorists. On one level, al Awlaqi, from his cave hide-out in Yemen, can only prey off of alienation where it exists. Adopting the persona of a latter-day Malcolm X (though he seems not to have read the last chapters of the 'Autobiography' or learned the lessons of Malcolm's ultimate conversion), he appears street-smart, brash, self-assured and assertive - all of the assets needed to attract lost or wounded souls looking for certainty and an outlet for their rage. Like some parasites, al Awlaqi cannot create his own prey. He must wait for others to create his opportunities, which until now have been isolated and limited - a disturbed young man here, an increasingly deranged soldier there."

CBO: Obama Understates Future Budget Deficits By $2.3 Trillion
The Associate Press reports via the Huffington Post: "A new assessment of President Barack Obama's budget released Friday says the White House underestimates future budget deficits by more than $2 trillion over the upcoming decade. The estimate from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that if Obama's February budget submission is enacted into law it would produce deficits totaling $9.5 trillion over 10 years – an average of almost $1 trillion a year. Obama's budget saw deficits totaling $7.2 trillion over the same period." Photo: Jehlum Post

9 Million Laid-Off Americans Lost Health Insurance In Last Two Years: Study
Laura Bassett reports for the Huffington Post: "During the last two years, 57 percent of Americans who lost a job that provided them health insurance -- nearly 9 million people -- could not afford to regain coverage, according to a new study published by the Commonwealth Fund, a longtime advocate of health care reform. In addition, 19 million Americans who tried to buy a health plan in the individual insurance market between 2007 and 2010 were either rejected due to a prior health condition or unable to find affordable coverage that fit their needs, according to the Commonwealth Fund report.

REPORT: In 12 States, GOP Plans To Slash Corporate Taxes While Increasing Burden on Working Families
Paul Breer and Kevin Donohoe report for Think Progress: "ThinkProgress has been documenting conservative efforts to shift the burden of record budget shortfalls onto middle-class Americans, while simultaneously doling out tax cuts to corporations. While progressive governors have proposed raising revenue from those who can afford it, alongside painful cuts to programs, Republican governors have unveiled budgets that cut taxes for corporations and raise them on the middle-class and working poor. In this report, ThinkProgress evaluates the priorities conservatives have set in twelve states..."

Afghanistan MIA From Deficit Debate
Bill Boyarski writes for Truthdig.com: "While Republicans race to cut spending, including outlays for education, health care and social services, they never mention one of the real reasons for the deficit: the cost of the war in Afghanistan and the mess we’ve made in Iraq. President Barack Obama ignores it, too, as he cautiously moves to the right, proposing minor reductions, letting the Republicans control the debate. Aiding and abetting them are cable news, Internet news outlets and most of the print media."

Ex-Goldman Banker Behind WSJ 'Smear Campaign' Against Elizabeth Warren
Zach Carter reports for the Huffington Post: "A Wall Street Journal editorial writer who has been closely involved with the paper's recent attacks on Elizabeth Warren is a former Goldman Sachs banker. The same editorial writer, Mary Kissel, is readying another piece critical of Warren and the new consumer agency, according to a source familiar with the coming article. Like most major newspapers, the Journal does not disclose the authors of its editorials. Kissel recently appeared on the John Batchelor radio show as a representative of the Journal's editorial board to discuss Warren, and repeated the main arguments used in the editorials."

US Chamber of Commerce: Shoot the Messenger Whatever the Cost
R.P. Segel writes on Triple Pundit: "Bill McKibben wrote a piece last week in which he looks past the Koch brothers, who are finally getting the scrutiny they deserve, to the number one enemy of climate action: the US Chamber of Commerce. According to McKibben, the US C. of C. 'spent more money lobbying in 2009 than the next five biggest players combined; they spent more money on politics than either the Republican or Democratic National Committees.'  And while they claim to represent 3 million businesses, the majority of their funding comes from just 16 companies. Given the fact that the Chamber has been expending so much effort attempting to thwart any attempt to control carbon emissions, it’s not hard to guess who has been filling the Chamber’s pot."

Who Is Bankrolling A Lawsuit To End The Ban On Foreign Money In US Elections?
Ian Millhiser reports for  ThinkProgress: "When President Obama warned that the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision 'will open the floodgates for special interests - including foreign corporations - to spend without limit in our election,' conservatives began damage control literally before the President could even finish his sentence. Justice Sam Alito infamously mouthed the words 'not true' while Obama was speaking. Of course, we subsequently learned the Chamber of Commerce was raising money from foreign corporations and then placed this money in the same account which funds their political attack ads. Someone is now bankrolling a lawsuit to undermine the longstanding ban on political contributions by non-U.S. citizens."

UN Reported Only a Fraction of Civilian Deaths From US Raids
Gareth Porter and Shah Noori report for Inter Press Service: "The number of civilians killed in U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) raids last year was probably several times higher than the figure of 80 people cited in the U.N. report on civilian casualties in Afghanistan published last week, an IPS investigation has revealed. The report also failed to apply the same humanitarian law standard for defining a civilian to its reporting on SOF raids that it applied to its accounting for Taliban assassinations."

FOIA Eyes Only: How Buried Statutes Are Keeping Information Secret
Jennifer LaFleur reports for ProPublica: "Anyone can request information from U.S. officials under the Freedom of Information Act, a law designed to allow people to know what their government is up to. When a government agency withholds information from a requester, it typically must invoke one of nine FOIA exemptions that cover everything from national security to personal privacy. But among that list is an exemption-known as b(3) for its section in the FOI Act-that allows an agency to apply other statutes when denying information requests. New data compiled by the Sunshine in Government Initiative, a coalition of journalism and transparency groups, shows that agencies have applied more than 240 other laws in withholding information over the last decade."

Bradley Manning's Torturous Treatment Met By Growing Resistance
James Ridgeway reports for Mother Jones: "The solitary confinement of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning in a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Virginia, is now approaching its tenth month. In addition to sporadic on-the-ground protests, a growing chorus of media and activist voices is calling for an end to Manning’s appalling treatment. Implicitly or explicitly, they link the accused WikiLeaker’s fate to that of tens of thousands of other US prisoners held in solitary, and shed new light on a widespread and torturous practice. Yesterday the ACLU sent a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, charging that the 'gratuitously harsh treatment" of Manning "violates fundamental constitutional norms.'"

Nuclear Experts: Japan Nuclear Disaster Unprecedented -- No Way to Know About US Impact
Joshua Holland writes for AlterNet: "In the days after a massive earthquake battered Japan – triggering a deadly tsunami, shifting the earth several inches off its axis, and most frighteningly, damaging one of the most powerful nuclear power plants in the world – many nuclear engineers sought to reassure the American public that while the crisis was a serious one for Japan, there was no cause for Americans to be alarmed. But experts interviewed by AlterNet cautioned that the events taking place in the Fukushima No. 1 power plant are simply unprecedented, and noted that the situation appears to be deteriorating.

Saying No to the Nuclear Option
Sarah Laskow reports for The Media Consortium: "Faced with the nuclear crisis in Japan, governments around the world are confronting the vulnerabilities of their nuclear energy programs. And while some European countries, such as Germany and France, are already considering more stringent safety measures - or backing off of nuclear development altogether - in the United States, the Obama administration is pushing forward with plans for increased nuclear energy production. Ultimately, these questions are the same that the country faced after last summer's Gulf Coast oil spill. As we search for more and more clever ways to fill our energy needs, can we write off the risk of disaster? Or are these large-scale catastrophes so inevitable that the only option is to stop pursuing the policies that lead to them?" Photo: Farm4static/Flickr

Fracking Debate Heats Up as New Jersey Seeks Ban
Mike Ludwig reports for Truthout: "New Jersey lawmakers advanced legislation last week that would make their state the first to ban the controversial and largely unregulated practice of hydraulic fracturing, aka 'fracking,' used to drill for natural gas. The New Jersey Senate Environment Committee approved the legislation amid a public debate over proposed regulations for an estimated 10,000 fracking wells that could soon be established in the Delaware River Basin."

NPR: The Saga Continues
Bill Moyers and Michael Winship comments for Truthout: "There’s no more scrupulous or versatile broadcast journalist than NPR’s Daniel Zwerdling. He is one of those reporters who keeps his eye on the sparrow – that is, on small details from individual lives that add up to significant issues of public policy. As he described in a special report this week how the United States Army is clarifying guidelines 'that should make it easier for soldiers with traumatic brain injuries from explosions to receive the Purple Heart,' it was mind-boggling to think that right wingers in Congress were at that very moment voting to eliminate the modest federal funds that make such essential and authoritative reporting available to anyone in America who cares to tune in."

NPR Defunding Vote: Don't diminish Democracy to Settle a Political Score
The Christian Science Monitor comments: "Republicans in Congress have wanted to defund public broadcasting for decades. Now, after former National Public Radio fundraising executive Ronald Schiller was caught saying that NPR would be “better off in the long run without federal funding,” they’re on the verge of making that happen. A vote could happen this week.  Last week’s video sting certainly makes it easier to repeat the talking point that public radio doesn’t deserve public support. But careful research of public media in other democracies shows the opposite is true."

Senator Al Franken to Introduce Bill Making Net Neutrality Violations a Crime
Eric W. Dolan reports for the Raw Story: "While House Republicans push to eliminate new net neutrality regulations adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) announced Monday he will introduce legislation to make violations of net neutrality a crime. 'I'm introducing a new bill that would call violations of net neutrality out for what they are - anti-competitive actions by powerful media conglomerates that represent violations of our anti-trust laws,' Franken said at this year's South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas."

A Fox Alert for Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB
Ilsey Hodge reports for The Guardian: "In the 7 March issue of the Tribune, Mark Seddon reported on the threat that Glenn Beck, 'as a sort of hired gauleiter on Fox News', poses to American democracy. The article hit the nail on the head when it comes to Beck's paranoiac propaganda. Seddon, however, misses the broader danger of the Murdoch-owned Fox News: the media outlet's audience is growing even as its programming veers away from broadcast journalism and shapes instead a rightwing political operation. Consider the facts: more than twice as many Americans watch Fox News as watch CNN, the next most popular cable news channel, and almost five times as many as watch MSNBC. Fox's audience cuts across age, gender, race, education, and income level. The average Fox News viewer is a male between the ages of 30 to 49 – far from most people's perception that mostly seniors watch Fox. So where Seddon pointed to a fabled minority audience of 'not-so-bright … American citizens', Fox is instead popular among a wide swath of well-educated, contributing members of society. Fox's audience includes your neighbour, your cousin and the guy in front of you in line every morning at Starbucks."

Julian Assange Tells Students that the Web Is the Greatest Spying Machine Ever
Patrick Kingsley reports for The Guardian UK: "The internet is the 'greatest spying machine the world has ever seen' and is not a technology that necessarily favours the freedom of speech, the WikiLeaks co-founder, Julian Assange, has claimed in a rare public appearance. Assange acknowledged that the web could allow greater government transparency and better co-operation between activists, but said it gave authorities their best ever opportunity to monitor and catch dissidents. 'While the internet has in some ways an ability to let us know to an unprecedented level what government is doing, and to let us co-operate with each other to hold repressive governments and repressive corporations to account, it is also the greatest spying machine the world has ever seen,' he told students at Cambridge University. Hundreds queued for hours to attend."

Study: Majority of Consumers Obtain News From Online Sources
Nadia Prupis reports for Truthout: "For the first time, 21st century consumers are reading the news online more than in print, according to the 'State of the News Media 2011' report by the Pew Research Center Project for Excellence in Journalism. Only television remains the most-used resource for news among American adults, but the gap is closing. In fact, most sectors of the American news industry began to recover in 2010 after two difficult years - but technological advances present old and new media alike with increasingly complex challenges."

17 March 2011

My Written Testimony Against HB 2372

This afternoon, Thursday 17 March, in Topeka the House Judiciary Committee is once again going to take up another xenophobic law that the racist right-wing extremist Kris Kobach is trying to force on the state of Kansas. Today the Judiciary Committee Chair, the right-wing extremist Rep. Lance Kinzer  is going to force a vote on Kobach’s anti-immigration bill HB 2372. Modeled on the now notorious Arizona legislation that Kobach authored, should this legislation pass, Kansas will face spending millions of taxpayer dollars defending legislation that is nothing more than the race laws passed by Nazi Germany.

While I am a fourth generation Kansan, born and raised in Marshall county, from 1982 - 1998 I lived and worked in Italy. The first four years I lived in Italy, I did so as an undocumented worker. Thus I know well what it means to be an immigrant and why HB 2372 is a morally corrupted piece of legislation.

According to the US Census Bureau, the foreign-born share of Kansas' population rose from 2.5 percent in 1990 to 5.9 percent in 2008. More than four in five (or 85%) of children in immigrant families were born in the US. Latino and Asian entrepreneurs and consumers add $10 billion and thousands of jobs to the Kansas economy. In 2009 the purchasing power of Hispanic Americans in Kansas totaled $5.2 billion - an increase of 488 percent since 1990. Asian buying power totaled $2.1 billion - an increase of 418 percent. Immigrants comprise 7.3 percent of the Kansas workforce.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, in 2009 roughly 2.8% of the Kansas workforce was undocumented -- meaning they did not possess the papers needed to work here. Research conducted by the Perryman Group found the following: If all undocumented immigrants were removed from Kansas, the state would lose $1.8 BILLION in economic activity; would lose $807 million in gross state product; and, roughly 12,000 jobs.

At a moment when Kansas is facing a catastrophic economic crisis, can we afford to cause this much damage to an already depressed economy?

But moreover the cost of the implementation of the Arizona law which HB 2372 imitates has been disastrous for that state:

New America Media reports that Arizona has lost $141 million due to the cancellation of conferences and conventions, as a result of a national boycott that was launched against the state following its passage of the immigration law SB 1070. Center for American Progress found that some 2,761 jobs were lost in the convention industry while hotels and conference venues have lost $45 million in revenues.

In order to implement the Arizona legislation, the Yuma County Sherriff's estimated the cost to Yuma County law-enforcement agencies to be:

* Law-enforcement agencies would spend between $775,880 and $1,163,820 in processing expenses;

* Jail costs would be between $21,195,600 and $96,086,720;

* Attorney and staff fees would be $810,067-$1.6 million;

* Additional detention facilities would have to be built at unknown costs.

Where will the state and county governments come up with this funding when we have had to cut basic, life-saving services to those living in poverty, the elderly, the mentally ill and those with disabilities and our schools?

Howard Fisher, a reporter for the East Valley Tribune in Arizona, reports that from July to October 2010, SB 1070 cost the state over $1 million in in legal fees with a total budget of over $3.6 million needed to defend the legislation in court. How can Kansas AFFORD SUCH AN EXPENDITURE to advance an fascist xenophobic law?

The great American Henry Wallace in 1942 defined Fascism as the lust for money or power combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make one ruthless in one’s use of deceit or violence to attain one ends.

American fascists, such as Kris Kobach, are easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Kobach’s anti-immigrant propaganda is designed to challenge democracy. While claiming to be a super-patriot, he aims to destroy every liberty guaranteed by the US and Kansas Constitutions.

Kansas cannot afford to waste taxpayer dollars so one individual can impose his xenophobic fear on our state. I encourage you to stand on the side of the American Dream and our democracy and stand against the "impostures of pretended patriotism” (George Washington).

I hope you will join me in speaking out against this waste of taxpayer dollars and the racism Kris Kobach is trying to force on our state.

13 March 2011

A conversation with Rich Jankovich

Community Bridge opens this week with Rich Jankovich, candidate for the Manhattan City Commission. In the second half of our first hour we hear from Naomi Klein on the union busting efforts that are taking place across the US and the frontal attach on our democracy by corporate-owned state governors.

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International Women's Day 2011

Following this week's Media Minutes, we turn our attention to International Women's Day and it's centennial celebration. Host Christopher E. Renner provides some historical background before we hear a clip from Democracy Now! featuring Sharif Abdel Kouddous, Amy Goodman, and Kavita Ramdas. Then Renner takes on Kris Koback's racist anti-immigration legislation before we close out with some commentary from Jim Hightower addressing the on-going protests in Wisconsin.

MP3 File

Clippings for 13 March 2011

Scott Walker's Real Agenda in Wisconsin
Michael Hudson and Jeffery Sommers report for the Guardian UK: "On Wednesday evening, in a veritable Night of the Long Knives, Wisconsin's integrity was brutally murdered on the floor of the state Capitol in Madison. On 9 March, integrity and trust built up over a century was obliterated as Wisconsin state senators quickly reversed course and cleaved its budget "repair bill" in half. Financial items require a quorum, thus, collective bargaining was split off from the budget repair bill and voted on separately so as to permit its being voted on now. Even so, this still broke the state's open meeting law requiring 24 hours' notice to ensure transparency. Instead, the Wisconsin senate Republicans pulled out this new legislation without advance notice and began voting, leaving only a stunned Democratic legislator, Peter Barca, to read the open meeting law out loud to prevent the senators from voting. The senate voted over his objections anyway."

Governor Walker’s Coup D’Etat
Robert Reich writes on his blog: "Governor Scott Walker and his Wisconsin senate Republicans have laid bare the motives for their coup d’etat. By severing the financial part of the bill (which couldn’t be passed without absent Democrats) from the part eliminating the collective bargaining rights of public employees (which could be), and then doing the latter, Wisconsin Republicans have made it crystal clear that their goal has had nothing whatever to do with the state budget. It’s been to bust the unions."

'America Is NOT Broke': Michael Moore Speaks in Madison, WI -- March 5, 2011
Michael Moore writes on his blog: " America is not broke. Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you'll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It's just that it's not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich. Today just 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans combined."

Bryce Covet writes for New Deal 2.0: "With the budget battle raging on, cries that the US’ finances are ruined are growing to a fever pitch. So Marshall Auerback bravely headed into the lion’s den (aka Fox News) to explain some basic accounting rules. Is the US broke? Marshall says no: 'We’re not really broke because the US government, by constitutional mandate, is the sole issuer of the currency. It can always create dollars.'"

Wisconsin Senate Leader Admits Union-Busting Bill Is about Defeating Obama
Megan Carpentier reports for Raw Story: "State Sen. Scott Fitzgerald (R), the Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader, must have forgotten his talking points while appearing on Megyn Kelly's Fox News show. This afternoon he admitted on-air what many liberals have long-suspected: rescinding collective bargaining rights from state workers is Wisconsin is as much about the 2012 presidential election as Wisconsin's 2011 budget shortage."

Wisconsin Firefighters Spark "Move Your Money" Moment
Mary Bottari writes for PR Watch: "On the day that the bill passed the Wisconsin Assembly effectively ending 50 years of collective bargaining in Wisconsin and eviscerating the ability of public unions to raise money through dues, a new front opened in the battle for the future of Wisconsin families. Bagpipes blaring, hundreds of firefighters walked across the street from the Wisconsin Capitol building, stood outside the Marshall and Ilsley Bank (M&I Bank) and played a few tunes -- loudly. Later, a group of firefighters and consumers stopped back in at the bank to make a few transactions. One by one they closed their accounts and withdrew their life savings, totaling approximately $190,000. After the last customer left, the bank quickly closed its doors, just in case the spontaneous 'Move Your Money' moment caught fire."

The Corporate/GOP Attack on America's Middle Class
Jim Hightower comments for Truthout: "The most revealing comments by politicians are rarely revealed. This is because they're made in unrecorded conversations, when politicos let their guard down. However, in a recent sting, blogger Ian Murphy recorded a revealing phone call he made to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Murphy pretended to be David Koch, the far-right-wing billionaire who pumped more than a million dollars into Walker's election last year. The governor is very busy, but he spent 20 minutes regaling the fake David Koch with details of his effort to kill the collective bargaining rights of state workers."

Simon Johnson: "A Healthy Financial System Cannot Be Built on the Expectation of Bailouts"
Simon Johnson blogs on The Baseline Scenario: "The financial crisis is not over, in the sense that its impact persists and even continues to spread. Employment remains more than 5 percent below its pre-crisis peak, millions of homeowners are still underwater on their mortgages, and the negative fiscal consequences - at national, state, and local level - remain profound."

Military Cutbacks Won't Fix Deficit
Paul Krugman, Krugman and Co.: "I am baffled by the argument that the United States can incur big savings by ending the war in Afghanistan and, more generally, by cutting bloated defense budgets. I've mostly been hearing this from liberals, and indeed this is a variation of a debate that has continued for years. Now, I am not endorsing our current levels of defense spending. The nation's military buildup following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was outrageous. The United States was hit by a handful of men wielding box-cutters (or something similar - I am aware that's not certain), and we responded by buying a lot of heavy tanks and later invading a country that had nothing to do with the attack."

Rasmussen Poll: Majority Want U.S. Troops Out Of Afghanistan Within A Year
Amanda Terkel reports for The Huffington Post: " On the same day that Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that America would continue to have a military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014, a new poll finds that the majority of Americans want all U.S. troops withdrawn within one year. The polling firm Rasmussen, whose surveys are often accused of having a decidedly conservative tilt, finds that for the first time, a majority of likely voters want the U.S. government to set a timetable to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan within one year. Within that group, 31 percent want troops to come home immediately. In September 2010, just 43 percent of likely voters wanted a one-year timeline."

GOP Budget Cuts Would Lead to Furloughs at Tsunami Warning Centers, Undermining Their "Ability to React"
Kevin Donohoe, ThinkProgress: "Congressional Republicans' 2011 budget would slash funding for government agencies directly responsible for issuing tsunami warnings and severely reduce the government's capacity to track and respond to these disasters, the president of the union that represents employees of the National Weather Service told ThinkProgress today in the wake of the tragic tsunami in the Pacific. The House Republican budget, which was rejected by the Senate this week, would have cut funding to NOAA - the agency directly responsible for tsunami monitoring and warning - restricting the government's ability to respond."

Anti-Nuclear Groups Warn of Fallout at Japanese Plant
Suvendrini Kakuchi reports for IPS: "Heightened tension on Saturday after a blast at a nuclear facility in Fukushima, 150 kilometres north of Tokyo, eased off after the government reported that the danger had been overstated. But anti-nuclear experts continued to express concern. 'There are many areas that remain unclear in the government's explanation, which is why we cannot accept that the coast is clear,' Professor Hiroaki Koiwa from the Research Reactor Institute at the national Kyoto University told IPS."

Recommended Audio: Democracy Now - Naomi Klein: “My Fear is that Climate Change is the Biggest Crisis of All”
Award-winning journalist Naomi Klein has been reporting on global warming and the climate justice movement for years. “My fear is that climate change is the biggest crisis of all,” Klein says. “If we don’t come up with a positive vision of how climate change can make our economies and our world more just, more livable, cleaner, fairer, then this crisis will be exploited to militarize our economies, to create fortress continents. And we’re really facing a choice. What we really need now is for the people fighting for economic justice and environmental justice to come together.”

Palin Falsely Claims Domestic Drilling Is "The Solution" To High Gas Prices
Media Matters for America provides the following research: "Fox News contributor Sarah Palin claimed that "the solution" to rising gas prices is "to drill here and drill now" and argued that recoverable oil and natural gas in the Arctic could make the U.S. "energy independent." In fact, experts have said expanding domestic production of fossil fuels would not shield the U.S. from volatility in the global price of oil."

Peter King's Radicalization Hearings, Explained
Tim Murphy reports for Mother Jones: "On Thursday (March 10), Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, will hold hearings on what he calls the "radicalization" of members of the American Muslim community. King, who has previously called for the New York Times to be tried for treason and for WikiLeaks to be listed as a terrorist organization, has never shied away from confronting terrorist threats wherever he sees them—but this time he's struck a nerve. He's been denounced by the ACLU and Democratic rivals—who have compared him to Joseph McCarthy. His own party, meanwhile, has been conspicuously silent. So who's going to speak on Thursday? And what are they going to say?" Photo:

Muslim-American Terrorism Down in 2010
Emily Badger reports for Miller-McCune: "The number of Muslim Americans involved in terrorist threats declined in 2010 from the previous year, although you wouldn't know that from the tone of a congressional hearing scheduled for Thursday on 'the extent of radicalization of the American Muslim community.' Committee chairman Rep. Peter King, a Republican from New York, has been planning the hearing for months, partly as a response, he says, to the lack of cooperation some law enforcement officials have complained of within the Muslim-American community. Civil liberties groups and Muslim leaders, meanwhile, are decrying what looks like the singling-out of a minority group in a congressional setting that recalls McCarthyism."

Recommended Audio: Rachel Maddow - Pulling Back the Curtain on Political Puppetmasters
AlterNet reports: "Monday (March 7), Think Progress released a video that showed Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown slavishly fawning over David Koch and begging him for money. "Your support during the election, it meant a ton. It made a difference and I can certainly use it again," said Brown on the tape.  Brown's gross display of subservience is only the latest reminder of the right-wing billionaire brothers' shockingly outsized influence on our politics. Over the past year, progressive journalists, including AlterNet's Adele Stan, have documented the Koch brothers' role in promoting the conservative agenda, from helping fund the Tea Party movement to supporting Gov. Walker's union-busting efforts in Wisconsin. Thanks to a prank in which blogger Ian Murphy posed as David Koch in a phone call to Governor Walker, the Koch brothers have become more visible than ever. Signs calling Walker a "Koch-conspirator" and, more bluntly, a "Koch-whore" have proliferated at pro-labor rallies in Wisconsin and throughout the country. "  Read complete article here.

Koch Brothers Increased Wealth by $9 Billion Last Year As They Fund Laws to Make Working Class Poorer
Mark Karlin reports for Buzzflash at TRUTHOUT: "Based on a recent Forbes survey, Rachel Maddow revealed that while Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is stripping away the financial security of workers, the Koch brothers increased their wealth by $9 billion last year. Together, Maddow notes, they would rank as the fourth-wealthiest person ($44 billion) in the world."

Conservative Corporate Advocacy Group ALEC Behind Voter Disenfranchisement Efforts
Tobin Van Ostern reports for Campus Progress: "The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative organization linked to corporate and right-wing donors, including the billionaire Koch brothers, has drafted and distributed model legislation, obtained by Campus Progress, that appears to be the inspiration for bills proposed by state legislators this year and promoted by Tea Party activists, bills that would limit access of young people to vote."

Anti-Gay State Senator’s Secret Gay Life Is Revealed In Bribery Indictment
John Cook reports for Gawker: "Carl Kruger is a Democratic state senator from Brooklyn. His vote against gay marriage last year was crucial in stopping the measure in New York. Funny thing: He lives with his gay lover, who's the bagman in their bribery racket. Yesterday, a criminal complaint against Kruger was unsealed in federal court in the southern district of New York, lifting the veil from what must be one of the most satisfyingly convoluted and brazen cases of self-loathing gay political figures in our time."

Marking 100 Years of International Women's Day
Katrina vannden Heuvel comments for The Nation: "With right-wing assaults on women’s rights and reproductive health growing fiercer (and more sensational) by the day, we can all draw strength from the committed struggle women from around the world have waged in pursuit of full gender equality. The Nation has a long history of championing woman-friendly policies and standing firmly behind the feminist principles that have revolutionized the role of women in our society. That’s why today at The Nation we are proud to mark the 100th International Women’s Day by not only highlighting the achievements of women, but also reflecting on ways we can effectively face the many challenges that still lie ahead."

In Defense of NPR
Bill Moyers and Michael Winship write for Truthout: "Come on now: let's take a breath and put this National Public Radio (NPR) fracas into perspective. Just as public radio struggles against yet another assault from its longtime nemesis - the right-wing machine that would thrill if our sole sources of information were Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and ads paid for by the Koch Brothers - it walks into a trap perpetrated by one of the sleaziest operatives ever to climb out of a sewer."

06 March 2011

An Interview with Tim Wise

This week's Community Bridge opens with Ruth Douglas Miller giving an overview of the next Science Cafe that will take place on Tuesday, March 8th at 7:00 pm at Radina's.

Then we hear a previously-recorded interview Christopher Renner conducted with Tim Wise when he was at K-State earlier in February.  Wise is among the most prominent anti-racist writers and educators in the United States. Recently named one of “25 Visionaries Who are Changing Your World,” by Utne Reader.  

Wise is the author of five books, including White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son; Affirmative Action: Racial Preference in Black and White; Speaking Treason Fluently: Anti-Racist Reflections From an Angry White Male; Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama, and his latest, Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity. He has contributed essays to twenty-five books, and is one of several persons featured in White Men Challenging Racism: Thirty-Five Personal Stories (Duke University Press). He received the 2001 British Diversity Award for best feature essay on race issues, and his writings have appeared in dozens of popular, professional and scholarly journals.

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Manhattan City Commission Candidates

In our second hour, we welcome Phil Anderson and Stan Hoerman, candidates for Manhattan City Council, for a discussion of their qualifications and to respond to questions submitted by Community Bridge listeners. We talk about taxpayer dollars going to the Chamber of Commerce, rental inspections, separation of church and state, and much more. Rich Jankovich will join us on March 10th at 5:00 for a similar interview. At this time John Matta and Wynn Butler have not responded to my invitation to be on Community Bridge.

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02 March 2011

Kansas Rallies to Save the American Dream

On Saturday February 27th, approximately 1500 Kansans joined with hundreds of thousands of others across the United States to protest the war on the middle class that is being waged by the Republican Party and their corporate billionaire backers.

Joining with voices echoing the need to return government to the people, working class Kansans from teachers to correctional officers spoke out against the extremism of Sam Brownback and the Koch Brothers.

We hear from Aaron Fowler of Wichita, a member of the American Federation of Musicians union, who emceed the rally. Then, Teresa Molina, a Wichita teacher, Greg Winfield a correctional office at the Lansing State Prison, followed by Jane Carter, executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, Emilio Ramirez of the United Steel Workers; Rep. Paul Davis, House Democratic Leader, and Senator Anthony Hensley concludes. Then we hear from a couple of people in the audience, Tracee Collins, Sen. Marci Francisco of Lawrence, and Janice Norlin of Salina.

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