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In These Times

December 1, 2010 Leave a comment

From In These Times:

FEATURES/NEWS

A Wasted Crisis: How the environmental movement missed the moment on climate change.

The Progressive Deficit Hawk: Rep. Jan Schakowsky wants to solve the deficit crisis without soaking the lower- and middle-class.

China’s New Lost Generation: Dissidents struggle against state-induced historical amnesia.

The End of Indie?: The difference between “mainstream” and “indie” music has almost disappeared.

The Politics of a New Metropolis: Fritz Lang’s newly expanded dystopian classic looks better than ever. Its vision of humanity? Not so much.

Another Sit-in Success: A group of Hispanic parents save a Chicago community center from destruction.

Debt Vultures Shot for Chanukah: Liberia is saved, but the predators are not done.

Invasion of the Land Grabbers: U.S.-based multinational corporations are buying up massive chunks of Africa.

COMMENTARY

Barbarism With A Human Face: Slavoj Zizek explains how “today’s tolerant liberal multiculturalism is an experience of the Other deprived of its Otherness-the decaffeinated Other.”

Let Them Drink Soda: “The millions that New York’s food stamp recipients spend annually on sugary drinks amount to a handout to soft drink manufacturers,” Terry Allen writes.

Haiti News Start-Up Challenges Conventional Reconstruction Wisdom: What if ‘cash for work’ programs are actually bad for Haiti? No one has been asking-except Haiti Grassroots Watch, Megan Tady writes.

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Truthout – Confronting the Myths of Water Fluoridation Promoters

December 1, 2010 Leave a comment

From Truthout:

Confronting the Myths of Water Fluoridation Promoters

Wednesday 01 December 2010

by: Chelsea Green Publishing | Book Excerpt

photo
(Photo: Cayusa)

The following is an excerpt adapted from the recently-released book, The Case Against Fluoride by Paul Connett, PhD; James Beck, PhD; and H. S. Micklem, DPhil (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2010).

Proponents of fluoridation have made a number of claims that have been effective with an ill-informed public. However, when those claims are examined carefully, they are found to have little merit. Although opponents have pointed out the weaknesses and fallacies in some of these “chestnuts” over the many years of this debate, they continue to crop up. Let’s take a look at them.

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Leaked Cables: US Pressured Spain to Drop Case of Journalist Killed in Army Attack in Baghdad

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Chicago Activists Recount FBI Raids

December 1, 2010 1 comment

Economist Max Fraad Wolff – The Tale of Two Economies

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War in Context – WikiLeaks…

December 1, 2010 Leave a comment

From War in Context:

When lives are at stake and governments choose to guard our ignorance

Posted: 01 Dec 2010 11:15 AM PST

Gary Anderson, a retired US Marine colonel, says that Julian Assange is an enemy combatant and is “as much an enemy to the United States as any Al Qaeda operative.” Not long ago an Esquire headline writer posed the question: “Should we execute Julian Assange?” “We” being the national American vigilante? “Lives are at risk” is one […]

Is Yossi Melman linking WikiLeaks to Mossad?

Posted: 01 Dec 2010 11:00 AM PST

In The Independent yesterday, Yossi Melman made an intriguing statement. Melman is the intelligence and military affairs correspondent for Haaretz and generally regarded as well informed on the operations of Mossad. He wrote: Three events – not seemingly related – took place yesterday. The leaking of State Department documents, many of which deal with the world’s […]

“Terrorism” is now a fabrication of a national security state

Posted: 01 Dec 2010 10:21 AM PST

This is not a conspiracy theory. To say that terrorism is a fabrication of a national security state is to say that when the label “terrorist” starts being indiscriminately applied to anyone who threatens the government we have taken another step towards totalitarianism. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., the incoming chairman of the House Committee on Homeland […]

Real hope is about doing something

Posted: 01 Dec 2010 09:49 AM PST

Chris Hedges writes: On Dec. 16 I will join Daniel Ellsberg, Medea Benjamin, Ray McGovern and several military veteran activists outside the White House to protest the futile and endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of us will, after our rally in Lafayette Park, attempt to chain ourselves to the fence outside the White House. […]

Tom Engelhardt: The United States of Fear

Posted: 30 Nov 2010 05:15 PM PST

The national security state cops a feel By Tom Engelhardt It’s finally coming into focus, and it’s not even a difficult equation to grasp.  It goes like this: take a country in the grips of an expanding national security state and sooner or later your “safety” will mean your humiliation, your degradation.  And by the way, it […]

WikiLeaks exposes Obama’s willingness to engage Iran as disingenuous

Posted: 30 Nov 2010 02:15 PM PST

Christian Science Monitor reports: WikiLeaks revelations that American officials were planning to raise pressure on Iran with more sanctions and a missile defense shield – even while President Obama was making high-profile public overtures to Iran – are being seen in Tehran as validation of deep skepticism from the start about Obama’s effort. Iranians and analysts alike […]

WikiLeaks row: China wants Korean reunification, officials confirm

Posted: 30 Nov 2010 01:45 PM PST

The Guardian reports: China supports the “independent and peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula” and cannot afford to give the North Korean regime the impression it has a blank cheque to act any way it wants, Chinese officials based in Europe said today. The officials, who asked not to be identified, spoke after the Guardian revealed that […]

WikiLeaks: good for Israel

Posted: 30 Nov 2010 01:26 PM PST

I didn’t come up with the headline — it’s from Israel’s pro-settler Arutz Sheva news network. And as their report makes clear, this favorable review of what has been described as a diplomatic 9/11, reflects the views of the Israeli government. Just as Benjamin Netanyahu on September 11, 2001, said the attacks were a “good thing” […]

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RJ Eskow – 10 Reasons the Final Proposal of Obama’s “Deficit Commission” Is Still a Huge Scam

December 1, 2010 Leave a comment

From AlterNet:

10 Reasons the Final Proposal of Obama’s “Deficit Commission” Is Still a Huge Scam

By RJ Eskow

This proposal still places a greater financial burdens on the lower- and middle-class Americans while easing those of the wealthy who can most afford it.

December 1, 2010

The co-chairs of the Presidential Deficit Commission released the final draft of their report today, and it’s now scheduled for a Friday vote by members of the Commission. We’re being told that it’s a fairer and more reasonable document than its predecessor. It’s nothing of the kind. In many ways this document is worse than the draft that preceded it, and those much-lauded “compromises” evaporate in the cold light of reality. This new draft is lipstick on a piggy-bank robber, window dressing on a plan that still benefits the rich and bleeds everybody else.

This proposal is still designed to cripple government’s vital role in society. It still places a greater financial burdens on the lower- and middle-class Americans while easing those of the wealthy who can most afford it. It adds up to the most profoundly right-wing policy prescription the nation has seen in decades. Democrats who lack the political courage to oppose it will be remembered for it for a long time to come.

There are ways to balance the budget responsibly, and there are ways to use the balanced-budget issue to push a harsh ideological agenda. This proposal still does the latter. Here are the ten reasons this proposal remains unacceptable and must be opposed:

1. It’s still a massive tax giveaway for the rich.

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Nomi Prins – Ten Reasons We’d Be Better off Without Ben Bernanke

December 1, 2010 Leave a comment

From AlterNet:

Ten Reasons We’d Be Better off Without Ben Bernanke

By Nomi Prins

The Federal Reserve chief has recklessly bailed out our financial system — we shouldn’t wait the 10 years before his term expires to toss him overboard.
December 1, 2010

On Wednesday, the Fed disclosed its highly anticipated report about which banks got the most perks during the Great Bank Bailout and Subsidization period. Long story short, the report, spanning 21,000 transactions from December 2007 to July 2010, did not reveal which banks borrowed what from the Fed’s discount window (the part we wanted to know), but confirmed that the biggest banks got the most help from various facilities (the part we already knew). The report is parceled out through a maze of different pages and spreadsheets for inconvenient viewing. But hey – the future of the free world was at stake, the Fed did what it had to do, and things would have been much so worse without fearless Ben, Tim and the boys intervening with trillions of manufactured dollars. Now, Bernanke will breathe a sigh of relief.

Why? Because there will be nothing else for him to weather. That is, until the true ramifications of the reckless banking system subsidization and securities inflation manifests in a broader, scarier version than last time.

Here are ten reasons this dire economic fate is likely, and we’d be better off getting rid of Bernanke long before his term ends in 2020.

1) The Banks Bernanke Made Bigger are Still Bigger

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Columbia Journalism Review

December 1, 2010 Leave a comment

From the Columbia Journalism Review:

Corporate Welfare, Hurray! Audit Deputy Chief Ryan Chittum dissects a recent Wall Street Journal report that says government activism is good… when it benefits Big Business. It’s a puff piece that asserts that Utah’s corporate-welfare policies are boosting its economy. But the math doesn’t add up.

A Hole in the NYTChittum says a recent New York Times piece on the Bizarro world of the Irish bailout started strong by showing that average people will shoulder the burden while corporate tax rates will remain untouched. But there’s a pretty big hole in the piece. It leaves the impression that the Irish government is getting bailed out because it overspent on its welfare system, but in fact those cuts are made to pay for obligations taken on from the private sector that caused the Irish crisis in the first place.  Context was missing.

Shorting the “Heard” — In a “Heard on the Street,” the WSJ‘s Simon Nixon says the Irish crisis bepeaks “a major weakness of the Basel capital rules. CJR Peterson Fellow Felix Salmon says that’s is an interesting idea, but if you look more closely at Nixon’s reasoning, his thesis ends up falling apart.

China Syndrome: Chittum says CNBC’s Becky Quick tosses off a dud over at Fortune, telling us all to “Stop the Beijing bashing!” because the “The health of the U.S. economy depends on trade with China.” The people appearing in the pages of Fortune and on the pixels of CNBC would have you believe that’s true. It’s part of the air they breathe. Fortunately for us, it’s not true.

Bonus—The Paterson E-Mails: We bring you a selection of articles and excerpts from the e-mails between the news mdia and New York Governor David Paterson’s two most senior press aides during the period of time when the The New York Times was working on an investigation that would lead to Paterson’s decision to drop his gubernatorial campaign, and when Albany was seized by rumors about what the impending bombshell would be. This is the result of our successful Freedom of Information Law suit.

Some are just for fun, but others reveal serious newsroom conflict, reporters angling for access, sharp elbows from the governor’s communications staff, or previously unknown aspects of the Times’s reporting. They all have something to say about how reporters do their work.

Boing Boing – San Francisco’s steep hills

December 1, 2010 Leave a comment

From Boing Boing:

San Francisco’s steep hills

Posted: 30 Nov 2010 10:55 PM PST


Håkan Dahlström got this delightful shot of one of San Francisco’s steeper hills, turning his camera so that the road (and not the houses) were at level to convey the extent of the slope. Crazy hills of San Francisco (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

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Firedoglake – Catfood Delirium: US Pretends It’s Not Repeating Europe’s Mistakes

December 1, 2010 1 comment

From Firedoglake:

Catfood Delirium: US Pretends It’s Not Repeating Europe’s Mistakes

By: Scarecrow Wednesday December 1, 2010 9:22 am

My dead-tree New York Times aptly depicts the mass economic insanity now gripping the US and Europe. There are several related articles, none referring to the others, but they’re all part of the same story: Governments are on their knees from bailing out insolvent banks and rescuing their economies after the financial collapse, but further crippling themselves by pretending that punishing citizens via austerity will keep their economies from tanking further.

On the Times front page, top-right, we read about America’s hysteria over federal deficits. The article frets over whether Obama’s failed Deficit (aka “let them eat Catfood”) Commission can get even a majority, let alone the required 14 of 18 votes, to endorse measures already widely panned, partly because Simpson-Bowles merely wave their hands on health care costs that are the principal driver of structural deficit. Even worse, in the aggregate their proposals shift more wealth from the middle class and elderly to the richest 10 percent of Americans, while restricting the government’s ability to right the inequality. It doesn’t occur to the Times to hope enough members will have the courage and wisdom to just say NO!

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WikiLeaks Cables Reveal US Tried to Thwart Spanish Probes of Gitmo Torture and CIA Rendition

December 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Anderson Cooper Takes on Another Birther on AC360

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Student protests in London: A street-level view of the day

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Student protests: Inside a university occupation

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Tom Laskawy – Wikileaks: State Dept. wants intel on African acceptance of GMOs

December 1, 2010 Leave a comment

From Grist:

Genetically modified diplomacy

Wikileaks: State Dept. wants intel on African acceptance of GMOs

State Department documents released by Wikileaks reveal insight into how deep the U.S. government’s commitment to genetically engineered crops really is. Get the story from Tom Laskawy.

Truthdig – Hillary Gets Wiki-Served

December 1, 2010 Leave a comment

From Truthdig:


AP / Evan Vucci

Robert Scheer’s Columns

 * NEW! * Hillary Gets Wiki-Served

By Robert ScheerHillary Clinton should cut out the whining about what the Obama administration derides as “stolen cables” and confront the unpleasant truths they reveal about the contradictions of U.S. foreign policy and her own troubling performance.


AP / Susan Walsh

Interviews

 * NEW! * Wendell Potter on ‘Deadly Spin’

The health industry spinmaster-turned-whistle-blower says the consumer is funding the industry’s smear campaigns: “A big portion of what we spend or pay in premiums is skimmed off to operate and conduct these fear-mongering and anger-mongering campaigns.”

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David Corn – Wikileaks: Can Karzai’s Brother be Trusted?

December 1, 2010 Leave a comment

From Mother Jones:

Wikileaks: Can Karzai’s Brother be Trusted?

— By David Corn

Mon Nov. 29, 2010 12:40 PM PST


— Flickr/ISAF Media

A crucial front in the Afghanistan war is the Kandahar region in the southern part of the country. A crucial player in that area is Ahmed Wali Karzai, the younger half-brother of President Hamid Karzai. He is the chief of the provincial council—which means he essentially runs the place—and he’s long fought off charges that he’s a drug-dealing warlord (even claiming the US Drug Enforcement Agency has cleared him of this accusation, though it hasn’t).

Now, the latest WikiLeaks dump of classified US State Department cables shows that AWK—as he’s called—is in low repute among Americans officials, who nevertheless figure they have no choice but to work with him. In a October 3, 2009, cable to Foggy Bottom reporting on a meeting Frank Ruggiero, the embassy’s senior civilian representative for southern Afghanistan, held with AWK, the US embassy in Kabul wrote, “While we must deal with AWK as the head of the Provincial Council, he is widely understood to be corrupt and a narcotics trafficker.”

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MORE TROUBLE: Gulf smells like tap water, no salt or fish smell

December 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Israel demolishes home, workshop in al-Quds

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techdirt – FBI Celebrates That It Prevented FBI’s Own Bomb Plot

December 1, 2010 Leave a comment

From techdirt:

FBI Celebrates That It Prevented FBI’s Own Bomb Plot (Overhype)

by Mike Masnick from the feeling-safer? dept on Tuesday, November 30th, 2010 @ 11:38AM

With all of the new security procedures we keep hearing about, it’s important for the government to keep convincing us that we’re under a very real immediate threat that could put us at risk at any moment. Along those lines, you may have heard over the weekend about how the FBI supposedly stopped a terrorism bomb plot in Portland, Oregon. Except it appears more and more people are scratching beneath the surface and realizing that the entire plot appears to have been cooked up by the FBI itself. Yes, it sounds like they found a dumb kid who was willing to carry out a bombing. But there doesn’t appear to be any evidence that he actually had any ability to actually do so… until the FBI came along and provided him with all the details.

Of course, this is hardly new. There appears to have been a very similar story just a month ago, involving a guy in DC who wanted to bomb Metro stations, but the only actual plotting he was able to do was after federal authorities stepped in and helped him plan everything.

Even that is hardly new. I remember a fascinating episode of This American Life back from the summer of 2009 describing (in great detail) a very similar story of a supposed “arms dealer” that the Justice Department championed as a success story when it arrested and prosecuted him for selling missiles to terrorists. The only problem is that the deeper you dig, the more you realize that the whole plot was also set up by the feds. The guy had no way to get a missile. It was actually provided by the feds themselves.

As that report notes, this is how the government has acted since 9/11. It basically creates its own terrorist plots, and then searches for willing participants… and then arrests them, and hypes how it prevented a terrorist attack, even if there’s absolutely no indication that anyone involved would have actually been able to carry out any sort of attack (or arms deal) without the aid of the US government.

We’ve talked about “security theater,” but this appears to be law enforcement theater, complete with actors and props. Feel safer yet?

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AMERICAblog – Comcast to charge toll for Netflix

December 1, 2010 Leave a comment

From AMERICAblog:

Comcast to charge toll for Netflix

by Chris in Paris on 12/01/2010 12:40:00 AM

They do this because they can get away with it. Comcast has plenty of friends in Congress on both sides of the aisle and they’re not shy with handing out money. The reality is that the service they provide is slow and very expensive compared to other parts of the world, so they have lots of cash to work with. (As I’ve mentioned in the past, even “socialist” France has multiple fiber optic options for around €35. This includes 100MB service, plus calls to well over 60 countries around the world plus TV channels. Other European and Asian countries have even better deals.)

So who still says we don’t need net neutrality?

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AMERICAblog – GOP brings the Christmas spirit – 2 million Americans lose unemployment benefits

December 1, 2010 Leave a comment

From AMERICAblog:

GOP brings the Christmas spirit – 2 million Americans lose unemployment benefits

by Chris in Paris on 12/01/2010 09:09:00 AM

Thankfully Obama is ready to negotiate with them on tax cuts for the richest Americans. Surely caving in this time will work, right? Washington is probably upset that Wall Street bonuses will probably be down this year and who can really live on $400,000 – $500,000 per year? (An average range, of course, but how can one live on such chump change?) If Wall Street is prepared to cut back, everyone else should be ready to cut back, right? Just imagine how rough it’s going to be for Wall Street traders to provide proper holiday gifts with so little? At least we know that we’re all in this together and our brave leaders in Washington understand the situation.

Let them eat cake.

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Calitics – CA GOP To Use White Supremacy To Stop Their Collapse

December 1, 2010 Leave a comment

From Calitics:

CA GOP To Use White Supremacy To Stop Their Collapse

We’ve been discussing the implications of the decline and fall of the California Republican Party here at Calitics in recent days – they have made themselves unelectable because their base hates 21st century reality, demanding white supremacy and destruction of the public sector despite the fact that a diverse population wants neither. Because of this, the CA GOP will struggle to win statewide elections, leading the corporate elite to bypass the GOP and forcing progressives to step up and ensure that Democratic majorities deliver for the base.

The most likely outcome of this is a state politics that looks like SF or LA, where statewide elections are contested between the left and a pro-corporate center, with the right-wing at the fringes of statewide politics, winning some races at the local and legislative/Congressional level but nothing more.

So how is the right-wing going to deal with their impending marginalization? By coming back to reality, embracing the diversity of 21st century California and the public’s desire to have strong public services?

Heh, no, don’t be ridiculous. Instead they plan to construct a 21st century Jim Crow, stemming the demographic tide that is swamping their movement by undermining the Constitution:

As one of its first acts, the new Congress will consider denying citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants who are born in the United States….The idea has a growing list of supporters, including Republican Reps. Tom McClintock of Elk Grove and Dan Lungren of Gold River, but it has aroused intense opposition, as well.

This is a straightforward violation of the 14th Amendment, which explicitly states that anyone born in the United States is a citizen. These right-wingers are claiming they can violate the Constitution because, somehow, children born to undocumented immigrants aren’t “subject to the jurisdiction” of the US. I’m guessing that means McClintock and Lungren also believe that the undocumented aren’t subject to other federal laws, including deportation?

TaxProf Blog – CBO: Tax Cuts Were Least Effective Stimulus in Recovery Act

December 1, 2010 Leave a comment

From the TaxProf Blog:

CBO: Tax Cuts Were Least Effective Stimulus in Recovery Act

The Congressional Budget Office has released Estimated Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on Employment and Economic Output From July 2010 Through September 2010 (Nov. 2010), which reports that the tax relief included in the Recovery Act had less of a stimulative impact than either government purchases or…

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