Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Truthout 2/24

William Rivers Pitt | Has a Shakeup Started in Washington?
William Rivers Pitt, Truthout: "All of a sudden, things are getting weird in Washington, DC. We've all gotten used to nothing coming out of government but a whole lot of obstructionism and big talk, because that's basically all we've gotten for the better part of a year. Health care reform: fail. Real banking reform: fail. The Democrats' ability to use their 60-vote majority in the Senate to pass important pieces of legislation: epic fail."
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Robert Reich | Bust Up the Health Insurance Trusts
Robert Reich, "Years ago I worked at an agency in Washington called the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC predates the New Deal. It was set up in 1914 during the administration of Woodrow Wilson, at a time when many of America's industries had combined into giant trusts that had enormous market and political power. The FTC was designed to root out such unfair practices. It ought to take on the health insurance trusts."
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What's in the President's Health Care Plan?
Jason Rosenbaum, The Campaign for America's Future: "Over the past few weeks, House and Senate Democratic leaders have been working to craft a compromise between their two health care bills that were passed over the last few months. Today, President Obama has released what Dan Pfeiffer, communications director at the White House, is calling the administration's 'best shot' at bridging the differences between the House and Senate."
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Cell Phone Tracking: The New Constitutional Crisis
William Fisher, Truthout: "If you own a cell phone, you should care about the outcome of a court case that 'could well decide whether the government can use your cell phone to track you - even if it hasn't shown probable cause to believe it will turn up evidence of a crime.'"
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"Avatar": The Prequel
Michael T. Klare, "The anticipation may be building, but we'll all have to wait for the 82nd Academy Awards on March 7 to find out just how many Oscars the global box-office smash 'Avatar' will receive. That 3-D sci-fi spectacle, directed by James Cameron, has garnered nine nominations, including ones for Best Picture and Best Director, and it's already overtaken "Titanic," another Cameron global blockbuster, as the top money-maker in movie history."
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Hire Heroes Pairs Veterans With Job Recruiters
Mary Susan Littlepage, Truthout: "After Hire Heroes USA founder John Bardis met veteran Justin Callahan - who lost a leg when he served in Afghanistan - playing basketball, he got the idea to start Hire Heroes USA. Hire Heroes USA's mission is to provide career placement assistance to returning service men and women, and the program specializes in the placement of those injured or with any level of disability."
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Haitian Garment Workers Should Get $5 a Day
Robert Naiman, Truthout: "Americans want to help Haiti; Democrats control the US Congress; the Haitian Parliament has passed legislation saying Haitian workers should be paid at least $5 a day; and specific legislation that provides preferential access to the US market to garments from Haiti is already US law. Therefore, the following policy reform ought to be a slam dunk: Haitian garment workers whose products receive preferential access to the US market under the HOPE II Act ought to be paid at least $5 a day."
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Egyptians and Internationals Rally Against the Wall of Shame
Max Ajl, Truthout: "The building housing the Egyptian Journalists' Syndicate is not beautiful. Its beige concrete is filthy with Cairene grit. Towering, meter-square concrete columns stand in rows in front of a cobalt blue, mirrored-glass facade, a jarring mix of faux-Greek architecture and modernist conceit. It has a large set of steps in front of it, rising for five or six meters. On Saturday, on those steps, over 200 Egyptian activists for Palestinian rights, alongside 20 or more international sympathizers, condemned the underground metal wall the Mubarak government is building on the Gaza-Egypt border."
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Bishops Lose the Faith(ful)
Jon O'Brien, Ms. Magazine: "These days, many US Catholic bishops don't seem to understand the distinction between church and state. In fact, there's a powerful lobbying group working on the bishops' behalf, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and they've been trying to call the shots on health-care reform. Unfortunately for women, they've been having some success."
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Haiti: Collapsed House, No Number
Beverly Bell, Truthout: "'Collapsed house, no number' is an old expression that Haitians use to indicate that their flimsy homes of sticks and mud or shoddy concrete blocks have finally fallen apart. Today that expression could serve as the motto for the capital city of Port-au-Prince."
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Protecting Endangered Species
NOW: "In 1995 and 1996, sixty-six gray wolves were relocated from Canada to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho to help recover a wolf population that had been exterminated in the northern Rockies. The gray wolf relocation is considered one of the most successful wildlife recovery projects ever attempted under the Endangered Species Act; today, there are more than 1,600 wolves in the region. But a debate has erupted between conservationists and ranchers over the question: how many wolves are too many?"
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A Perturbing Argument on "Don't Ask"
Ruth Marcus: "Boy, you could see that one coming. It was a pivotal moment earlier this month when Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates backed repealing "don't ask, don't tell." Pivotal, but not enough. I don't spend a lot of time chatting up military officers, but enough to know that, just below the top-most ranks, there remains an enormous, if incomprehensible, amount of squeamishness about letting gay men and women serve openly in the military."
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Childhood Obesity: Address Farms, Factories and Families
Linda Chalmer Zemel, Truthout: "Last month, my car insurance company left me a voice mail reminding me that the three-year discount from the safe-driving course I had taken was about to expire. I zipped over to the local AAA branch to take the next all-day-Saturday version of the course, sat through the videos and Q and A's, and mailed in my certificate."
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It's Time for a Progressive Tea Party Movement
Stephen Crockett, Truthout: "Most progressives have little respect for the Fox News-generated 'Tea Party' movement. However, it has tapped into a very real populist anger with the direction the country is headed in at this point in our history. Progressives should see a real opportunity in the emergence of the 'Tea Party' movement to educate the public and redirect the anger to the real villains whose actions and policies created the many problems faced by the citizens of the United States of America."
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