Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Common Dreams headlines 3/31

Barack Obama Reverses Campaign Promise and Approves Offshore Drilling
Insurance Industry Already Finding Ways to Game New System
Haiti Looking More and More Like a War Zone
Bush-Ordered Wiretaps Illegal, Judge Says
McChrystal's Support for Raids Belies New Image
Arizona Sets a Minefield for Undocumented Immigrants
Assassinations Development: Kopassus Pressure Cited as TV One Cancels Live Interview at Last Minute
and more...
Helen Thomas on Obama, the WH Press Corps, and More
Haitians Skeptical of Foreign Aid

Truthout 3/31

Ann Coulter and Blowhard Politics
David L. Clark, Truthout: "This has been a tough week for Canadian universities. On the one hand, a small but daring group of professors at the University of Regina called for a public forum on the war in Afghanistan and on the militarization of Canadian culture, especially the culture of higher education. Unless and until such a forum took place, they argued, the university should do its very best to stand for peace."
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Walmart: The Inhuman Essence of a Corporate "Person"
Jim Hightower, Truthout: "I'm curious about those five Supreme Court justices who recently decreed that a corporation is a 'person' with human rights: Do you think they ever met Mr. Walmart? If they had, they'd be forced to concede that corporate personhood is a sheer fantasy, for there is nothing even remotely human about the bloodless and brainless thing that is Walmart."
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Fraud on the Street
Robert Reich, "The Securities and Exchange Commission announced Monday it had begun an inquiry into two dozen financial companies to determine whether they followed accounting practices similar to those recently disclosed in an investigation of Lehman Brothers."
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Obama Signs Sweeping Student Loan Reform Bill Into Law
Grace Huang, Truthout: "President Obama signed legislation on Tuesday that will revamp the existing federal student loan system, allowing the government to directly provide loans to college students in the US. The bill will end a $60 billion program that gave federal money to private banks to provide loans for students, effectively cutting out their role as a middleman."
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British Columbia's Coast in the Balance
Chris Genovali, Paul Paquet and Misty MacDuffee, Truthout: "In this part of the world the month of March is, to borrow a phrase from Franklin Delano Roosevelt, one that will live in infamy; it is the anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster that took place in Alaska's Prince William Sound in 1989."
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McChrystal's Support for Afghan Raids Belies New Image
Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service: "Gen. Stanley McChrystal has recently acquired the image of a master strategist of the population-sensitive counterinsurgency, reducing civilian casualties from airstrikes and insisting that troops avoid firing when civilians might be hit during the recent offensive in Helmand Province. One recent press story even referred to a 'McChrystal Doctrine' that focuses on 'winning over civilians rather than killing insurgents.'"
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Can Anyone Pacify the World's Number One Narco-State?
Alfred W. McCoy, "In ways that have escaped most observers, the Obama administration is now trapped in an endless cycle of drugs and death in Afghanistan from which there is neither an easy end nor an obvious exit."
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Destroying Educational Institutions or Using Them for Military Purposes Is a War Crime
Dirk Adriaensens, Truthout: "'The education system in Iraq, prior to 1991, was one of the best in the region; with over 100 percent Gross Enrollment Rate for primary schooling and high levels of literacy, both of men and women. Higher education, especially the scientific and technological institutions, was of an international standard, staffed by high quality personnel.' (UNESCO Fact Sheet, March 28, 2003)"
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Whose Freedom?
Ira Chernus, Truthout: "The first Passover was a bloody one, the Bible says. God spent the whole night killing off first-born males all over Egypt. But He told every Israelite family to slaughter a lamb and smear its blood on their door, so that He could recognize the Israelites' houses and 'pass over' them, sparing their eldest sons. When dawn came, the Jews exited from slavery to freedom."
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Free Press Haven: Iceland May Soon Become Utopia for Journalists and Publishers
Samuel Knight, In These Times: "Icelandic members of parliament have plans to transform their crisis-ridden North-Atlantic nation into a sanctuary for publishers, production companies and information technology firms from around the world. 'It would free the press from fear,' says Thor Saari, one of the members of parliament spearheading the proposal, which is known as the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI). Iceland's Parliament, the Althingi, is expected to support the effort."
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Gulf War Veterans: The VA Takes Important First Steps
Paul Sullivan and Anthony Hardie, Truthout: "Last week, the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) officially recognized several diseases as linked with deployment to the 1991 Gulf War. As Gulf War veterans, we applaud the VA's proposed new regulations that streamline access to disability benefits for Gulf War, Iraq war and Afghanistan war veterans."
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More Dark Truths From Guantanamo as Five Innocent Men Are Freed
Andy Worthington, Truthout: "After eight years imprisonment without charge or trial, five former Guantanamo prisoners are beginning new lives this week - two in Switzerland and three in Georgia. Their stories reveal, yet again, how Republican lawmakers and media pundits in the US, who have, in recent months, renewed their fear-filled attacks on those still held, are guilty of hyperbolic and unprincipled outbursts and, in addition, how these critics' attacks are damaging to the prospects of cleared men, seized by mistake, finding new homes in countries that, unlike the US, are prepared to offer them a chance to rebuild their shattered lives on a humanitarian basis."
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Food Safety, Agriculture and Nutrition: Seven Predictions for 2010
Dr. Charles Benbrook, Truthout: "The Organic Center, a leading research institute focused on the science of organic food and farming, has revealed its broad concern for the state of the food industry and American agriculture. Despite the hopeful and symbolic gesture of planting an organic garden at the White House and the First Lady's ongoing efforts throughout 2009 to promote healthier diets amongst children, the year ended with little progress on important domestic policy issues affecting food safety and quality, agriculture and nutrition."
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When a Union Acts Like a Big Corporation
Carl Finamore, Truthout: "The quiet decorum of a courtroom is a far cry from a union hall. But in San Francisco, it is precisely in a federal court where an extremely crucial and unprecedented debate is taking place that may fundamentally alter how much democratic control members exercise over local union chapters."
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Jack Bauer: Patriot, Hero, Terrorist-Torturing Badass?
Amanda Najjar, Truthout: "In the weeks following 9/11, the Jack Bauer character in the '24' series was exactly the type of character Americans craved to see on their TV screens, and the Fox Television Network delivered. As The New York Times said when the show began, it seemed as if there had been a 'deadly convergence between real life and Hollywood fantasy.'"
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FP morning post 3/31

Week of violence continues in Russia with Dagestan bombing

Top news: A double suicide bombing targeting police in Russia's southern province of Dagestan killed at least 12 people, just two days after suicide bombings killed 39 in the Moscow Metro.

The first bomb exploded in an SUV that had been pulled over by police in the town of Kizlyar. Half an hour later, a second bomber dressed in a police uniform approached the crime scene where emergency workers had gathered and blew himself up. Seven of those killed were police officers including the district police chief. The first vehicle's intended target is unknown but the explosion took place not far from Interior Ministry and Federal Security Service buildings.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said it is possible that the latest attacks are linked to the Moscow bombing. "I don't rule out that the same terrorists were involved," he said. "It does not matter for us in what part of the country these crimes have been committed, or who -- people of what ethnicity or religion -- have fallen victims to these crimes. We see this as a crime against Russia."

More than 500 terrorist acts were carried out in the North Caucasus in 2009 according to the Russian prosecutor general's office. The latest attacks come at a moment when President Dmitry Medvedev appeared to be shifting toward a focus on poverty and unemployment as root causes of the violence in the region. Medvedev took the unusual step of discussing these matters in the wake of this week's subway bombings, saying, “people want a normal and decent life, no matter where they live,” but this week's deadly violence may herald a return to the harder-edged military tactics favored by Putin.

Environment: The Obama administration is proposing opening large expanses of the Atlantic coastline, Gulf of Mexico, and North Coast of Alaska, to oil drilling.

Middle East
  • A vetting panel says that six of the winning candidates in Iraq's parliamentary elections should be disqualified because of ties to the Baath party.
  • Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appears intent on remaining in power after coming in second to former Prime Minsiter Ayad Allawi's bloc in the elections.
  • New sanctions targeted at Iran's nuclear program were discussed at a meeting of G8 foreign ministers in Canda.
  • The U.S. embassy in Nigeria has raised its security alert status.
  • Kenya's government has denounced a U.N. reports saying that many of its citizens are linked to Somalia's al Shabaab rebels.
  • Ugandan police say a man has confessed to setting fire to royal tombs in Kampala earlier this month.
  • A British investigation into the "climategate" e-mails largely cleared the scientists involved on any wrongdoing.
  • Serbia's government approved a measure apologizing for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.
  • A Belgian parliamentary committee has voted to ban the waring of the Burqa in public.
  • A Colombian soldier held hostage by the FARC was finally released after 12 years.
  • Former U.S. President Bill Clinton will co-chair a committee overseeing billions in aid to Haiti.
  • An Ecuadorean journalist facing a three-year sentence for defamation has accused Rafael Correa's government of persecuting journalists.
-By Joshua Keating


McClatchy Washington report 3/31

  • For about $10, Ravi Arora will sell you a pound of the Indian military's latest biological weapon. "No, no, no. We recommend not to try them," Mr. Arora says. "Before exporting these chilies we have also informed my clients not to taste them.... It is killing." That potency is just why the Indian military said last week that it would use the bhut jolokia, or "ghost chili," to make tear gas hand grenades.
  • Former President Bill Clinton, who has spent the past year championing Haiti, has a new job: co-czar of Haiti's post-earthquake reconstruction. Clinton said Tuesday that he accepted the Haitian government offer to help lead the country's reconstruction over the next 18 months.
  • After a smoother-than-expected military operation to take the southern Afghan town of Marjah from the Taliban, the U.S. military is aiming to quash Taliban resistance in the Islamist group's spiritual home of Kandahar by the fall, two senior NATO officials said Tuesday.
  • With national health care reform finally checked off President Barack Obama's domestic "to do" list, many Americans wonder where the administration goes next. No question Obama has regained momentum in the wake of last week's historic passage of health care reform. Still, the political path that lies ahead will be rocky, no matter which way Obama goes.
  • Houston has health insurance. The news, announced on a Web site set up for the Texas baby, ended his family's week-long fight after the newborn was denied health insurance because he needed surgery to repair a heart defect — what the insurance company called a pre-existing condition.
  • With the nation facing unprecedented deficits, spending on pet projects is dividing members of Congress and the constituents they represent. Earmarks have a long history in Congress, but they've come under increased attack in recent years as their use has exploded. California's congressional delegation is an example of the split between earmark supports and those opposing their use as a way to reduce government spending.
  • About 1.3 million Haitians are living outdoors in sprawling camps or in front of their houses since a 7.0-magnitude earthquake killed more than 200,000 people and toppled thousands of buildings in January. Experts say 300,000 to 400,000 of Haiti's homeless quake survivors have undamaged houses — and show no signs of going back indoors. They are simply too afraid to go back inside.
  • A San Francisco appellate court applied the brakes Tuesday to a judge's order to end "Furlough Fridays" for tens of thousands of state workers, keeping furloughs in place. The 1st District Court of Appeal's decision temporarily maintains Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's furlough policy for employees in about 70 state departments who were supposed to resume a regular work schedule this week.
  • Sens. Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski were on opposite sides during the debate leading up to health care reform in Congress and it's the same now that Alaska's two U.S. senators are back in Alaska talking about the result.
  • The son of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was unable to make a federal case against Duke University for kicking him off the golf team. A federal judge in Greensboro on Tuesday dismissed the 20-month-old case that Andrew Giuliani filed against his alma mater.
  • I've seen those faces before. More than I'd like to recall, I've heard the vile words coming from their lips. I have witnessed the hatred proclaimed on their crude signs and demonstrated in their violent actions.
    And I long ago grew weary of their political leaders wrapped in the rhetoric of states' rights, interposition and the almighty 10th Amendment. Oh, I know them, no matter what name or disguise they now wear. I know them well.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Truthout 3/30

Student Loans: The Government Is Now Officially in the Banking Business
Ellen Brown, Truthout: "William Jennings Bryan would have been pleased. The government is now officially in the banking business. With the passage of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA) that was slipped into the health care bill, the federal government will lend directly to students, ending billions of dollars in wasteful subsidies to firms providing student loans."
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Jason Leopold | US Recants Claims on "High-Value" Detainee Abu Zubaydah
Jason Leopold, Truthout: "The Justice Department has quietly recanted nearly every major claim the Bush administration had made about 'high-value' detainee Abu Zubaydah, a Guantanamo prisoner who at one time was said to have planned the 9/11 attacks and was the No. 2 and 3 person in al-Qaeda. Additionally, Justice has backed away from claims intelligence officials working in the Clinton administration had also leveled against Zubaydah, specifically, that he was directly involved in the planning of the 1998 embassy bombings in East Africa as well as the 'Millennium' bomb plot in Los Angeles."
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Naomi Wolf: Tea Parties Help Fight Fascism
Justine Sharrock, AlterNet: "In her bestselling 'End of America,' Naomi Wolf outlines the 10 warning signs that America is headed toward a fascist takeover. Using historical precedents, she explains how our government is mimicking those of Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin through practices like surveillance of ordinary citizens, restricting the press, developing paramilitary forces and arbitrarily detaining people."
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Ten Things You Didn't Know Were in the Health Bill
Emily Badger, Miller-McCune: "The 2,000-page health care bill that became law last week is packed with major reforms probably well-known (in concept if not in detail) by anyone who has channel-surfed through the nightly news over the past year. There's an individual mandate, a system of exchanges, new government subsidies and a ban on some of the worst practices of the insurance industry."
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George Lakoff | Brown vs. Democracy
George Lakoff, Truthout: "With the California Financial Crisis at stake, the impartiality of the California attorney general has come under scrutiny. Proponents of the California Democracy Act, a ballot initiative that would restore a majority vote for revenue and budget in the legislature, are asking Jerry Brown, the attorney general, for a new title and summary."
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Citizens United Against Citizens United
David Swanson, Truthout: "Eighty-five percent of Democrats and 76 percent of Republicans tell pollsters when asked that they oppose the Supreme Court's decision in 'Citizens United,' which lifted limits on corporate political spending."
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Kathy Kelly, Truthout: "If the US public looked long and hard into a mirror reflecting the civilian atrocities that have occurred in Afghanistan over the past ten months, we would see ourselves as people who have collaborated with and paid for war crimes committed against innocent civilians who meant us no harm."
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Veterans Courts Try to Keep PTSD Victims Out of Jail
Mary Susan Littlepage, Truthout: "Zachariah Parzych, 23, spent eight months in Iraq checking areas for weapons and serving in combat. When he returned home to Orange County, California, his life started to change."
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Why Current Air Pollution Controls Won't Avert Climate Catastrophe
Joshua Frank and Christine Shearer, Truthout: "If you were told that a coal-fired power plant near your home was going to invest $500 million to upgrade the facility in order to reduce the amount of harmful air pollutants it spews, you would probably think to yourself that it was about time they did something."
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Van Jones and Billy Parish, the Two Bird Challenge
Leslie Thatcher, Truthout: "On Monday, March 22, Van Jones and Billy Parish appeared together for a presentation entitled 'Challenging America: Achieving Sustainability and Justice Through the Green Collar Economy' at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff."
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Two-Thirds of Boys in Afghan Jails Are Brutalized, Study Finds
Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service: "Nearly two of every three male juveniles arrested in Afghanistan are physically abused, according to a study based on interviews with 40 percent of all those now incarcerated in the country's juvenile justice system."
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PR Firm Behind Propaganda Videos Wins Stimulus Contract
Sebastian Jones and Michael Grabell, ProPublica: "President Obama's push for electronic medical records has faced resistance from those who question whether health information technology systems can protect patient privacy. So last week, the US Department of Health and Human Services hired a public relations firm to try to win consumer trust."
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Forests May Depend on Survival of Native People
Stephen Leahy, Inter Press Service: "After the failures in Copenhagen to agree on a new climate protection treaty, and more recently at the Doha meetings on trade in endangered species to prevent bluefin tuna from going extinct, indigenous forest communities may offer examples of sensible governance for shared resources on a small planet."
Read the Article

FP morning post 3/30

Russia mourns 38 left dead in terrorist bombing

Top Story: In the wake of a double suicide bombing in the Russian subway system at rush hour, an attack that killed at least three dozen and injured more than a hundred, Russian security forces weighed a response. The attackers are presumed to be Chechens, but the two women who carried out the suicide bombing have not yet been identified.

Some Russian agents were said to be investigating whether the "Black Widows" might have been avenging the death of Chechen rebel leader Said Buryatsky, who was killed at the beginning of March in Ingushetia in the restive North Caucasus region. But in the meantime, Moscow is mourning while world leaders offer condolences and promises to help Russia fight domestic terrorism.

To Watch: Amnesty International released its annual report on executions in the world, and said China leads, with "thousands" executed each year.

  • Tomorrow, Haitian President René Préval will announce a $3.9 billion reconstruction plan for Haiti at a U.N. donors conference.
  • U.S.-led forces will start a major anti-Taliban offensive in Kandahar in June.
  • Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, is visiting Afghanistan today.
  • Mexican officials have arrested the head of the Barrio Azteca gang, reportedly responsible for much of the drug-related violence in Ciudad Juarez and the Mexico-U.S. border.
  • South Korean President Lee Myung-bak visited the disputed waters off the Korean Peninsula where a naval ship went down four days ago.
  • Myanmar's opposition expressed concern over the decision of Aung San Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy, to pull out of elections for the first time in 20 years.
  • Talks between the Thai government and the "red shirt" protesters have stalled.
Middle East
  • A kidnapped Iranian diplomat was freed in Pakistan.
  • Israeli Defense Forces killed a Palestinian teenager trying to cross the fence from Gaza to Israel.
  • Car bombs have killed five in Karbala, Iraq.
  • The party of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi improved its parliamentary seat-count in Italy's regional elections, the final tally shows.
  • French President Nicolas Sarkozy is meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama today.
  • Serbia's parliament is debating an act officially apologizing for not doing more to prevent the Srebrenica massacre.
  • Somali pirates have commandeered three ships.
  • A South Sudanese political party raised concerns that the government is printing ballots on its own presses.
  • A group of white farmers ousted from their land in Zimbabwe are seeking government land in South Africa.


McClatchy Washington report 3/30

  • Six winning candidates in Iraq's parliamentary elections will be stripped of their votes and lose their seats — which would cost secular politician Ayad Allawi's bloc its narrow victory — if a federal court upholds a broad purge of candidates who are suspected of past involvement with the late dictator Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baath Party, Iraqi officials said Monday.
  • Three recent events — the foiled Christmas Day bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner, the Dec. 30 assassination of seven CIA officers and contractors by a Jordanian double agent in Afghanistan and the difficulties that U.S. Marines in Marjah, Afghanistan, have encountered — all have something in common: inadequate intelligence. To lower the odds of similar troubles in the future, the government has launched a swarm of spooky, out-of-the-box research projects known collectively as the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity
  • Kansas Republican lawmakers critical of federal health care reform are considering a rare procedural move that would force Attorney General Steve Six, a Democrat, to join the mounting legal challenges against the new law.
  • The Archdiocese of Miami, along with top Vatican authorities, knew as far back as 1968 that the Rev. Ernesto Garcia-Rubio, a priest later defrocked amid child sex-abuse allegations, had a troubled past in Cuba before transferring to South Florida, lawyers representing victims claimed Monday.
  • Under fire from both right and left, the Republican National Committee is investigating how and why it spent nearly $2,000 for "meals" at a bondage-themed strip club in West Hollywood featuring topless dancers simulating lesbian sex.
  • Attorneys representing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have asked an appellate court to block the order that ended "Furlough Fridays" for tens of thousands of state workers, but leaves others taking off three unpaid days each month. The governor's move came just four days before the government is scheduled to shut down again. The court will probably act quickly, legal experts said, given that informal deadline.
  • South Carolina failed Monday in its bid to land $300 million in new federal education money aimed at helping states make innovative changes that can be used by other schools nationwide. Delaware and Tennessee won a combined $600 million in the initial Race to the Top grants awarded by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
  • As more than 100 countries prepare to descend on the United Nations Wednesday for the much-anticipated Haiti donors conference, Haiti observers question whether the country's leaders will seize the opportunity to lift the earthquake-ravaged nation out of the economic abyss that has defined it for decades.
  • It will be years before the most sweeping parts of health care reform take effect. But some provisions will start in just a few months. The provision that covers pre-existing conditions is one of the initial benefits of the new law and many uninsured, like Jim Lewis of Charlotte, find that to be a relief.
  • Someone vandalized the Alaska Democratic Party headquarters over the weekend, breaking the front center window of the Midtown office, according to Anchorage police.
  • Hi, boys and girls! As a public service, I've prepared the following statement for Republican leaders to use when some disgruntled opponent of health care reform injures somebody — or worse. Given recent reports of threats against Democratic lawmakers in the wake of last week's historic vote, that moment has come to feel inevitable.
  • Frank von Hippel's lab at the University of Alaska Anchorage looks more like the section of the pet store where they sell guppies than a place where groundbreaking research on the endocrine system is taking place. Von Hippel, an evolutionary biologist, has been pursuing nationally regarded research on the endocrine system of the three-spined stickleback, a three-inch fish that could hold in its biology keys to how ingested chemical contaminants are affecting people

Monday, March 29, 2010

Truthout 3/29

Torture Diaries, Drawings and the Special Prosecutor
Jason Leopold, Truthout: "Attorneys defending Abu Zubaydah, a Guantanamo prisoner designated as the first 'high-value' detainee by the Bush administration, have finally gained access to three volumes of diaries he wrote while he was in the custody of the CIA and brutally tortured by agency interrogators and contractors at a secret 'black site' prison."
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James Howard Kunstler | Our Turn?
James Howard Kunstler, "Nations go crazy. It's terrifying when it happens, especially to a major nation with the ability to project its craziness outward. We look back on the psychotic break of Germany in 1933 and still wonder how the then-best-educated population in Europe could fall under the sway of a sociopathic political program."
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Welcome to Glennbeckistan
Chip Ward, "What if the Tea Party ruled? Imagine a land, let's call it Glennbeckistan, where white, patriarchal, religiously zealous, Tea Party-type patriots hold a super-majority in both houses of the legislature, sit in the governor's mansion, and control most local governments. It's a place so out of sync with the rest of the nation that states' rights and even secession are always on the agenda. It's a place where gun ownership trumps all other rights, climate change is considered an insidious socialist conspiracy, and a miscarriage can be investigated as a potential crime. Welcome to Utah."
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China: What Do We Want?
Dean Baker, Truthout: "There is growing momentum to do something about the overvaluation of the dollar. This is a good thing. The overvaluation of the dollar has led to record trade deficits. While there is a well-funded industry devoted to whipping up hysteria around the budget deficit, the trade deficit actually poses a much more serious cause for concern."
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Norman Solomon | Obama in a Bomber Jacket
Norman Solomon, Truthout: "President Obama has taken a further plunge into the kind of war abyss that consumed predecessors named Johnson, Nixon and Bush. On Sunday, during his first presidential trip to Afghanistan, Obama stood before thousands of American troops to proclaim the sanctity of the war effort. He played the role deftly - a commander in chief, rallying the troops - while wearing a bomber jacket."
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The Personal Is Political: Q&A With Leang Seckon, Cambodian Freedom Artist
Anne Elizabeth Moore, Truthout: "Leang Seckon, one of Cambodia's foremost contemporary artists, will see his first European solo exhibition, The Heavy Skirt, opening March 31 at London's Rossi & Rossi gallery. Unlike depictions of his homeland that you might come across in the US, Seckon's work presents a rich and complex view of Cambodia, involving elements of performance, collage, painting and illustration. But it can be confusing, like speaking with the artist himself."
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Moscow Metro Bombings: Insecurity in Chechnya, North Caucasus Comes to Moscow
Fred Weir, The Christian Science Monitor: "Officials blamed today's twin Moscow Metro bombings, which struck near the FSB security service and a major state-run media outlet, on two female suicide bombers from the North Caucasus. Suicide bombers struck two stations in Moscow's crowded metro less than an hour apart Monday morning, killing at least 37 people and injuring 73, and bringing Russia's seething northern Caucasus directly to the Kremlin's doorstep."
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"Socialism," Chicago Style
Howard Fineman: "Why the health industry quietly loves Obamacare. I've been covering Congress forever and had never heard this in the press gallery: shouts of an angry crowd outside the Capitol. Since the health-care vote in the House, Republicans seem to be finding inspiration less from the words of Ronald Reagan than the films of George Romero."
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Taking a Stand to Keep Sitting Legal
Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., Truthout: "San Francisco is poised to become the latest in a string of cities to adopt a law making it a crime to sit on the sidewalk. While it is the case that some of these other cities are known as being among the more liberal in the nation (e.g., Portland, Seattle, Boulder, Austin), no city with such a deep progressive history has sought to impose anything like a citywide ban on sitting such as is being proposed for San Francisco."
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Union Democracy on Trial
Carl Finamore, Truthout: "Going to court can make anyone nervous. But in civil court, where breach of contract disputes are normally settled, the stakes are not quite as high as in criminal court. You can't be thrown in jail. That's a plus."
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Black Farmers Forgotten Again
Sue Sturgis, Facing South: "The Obama administration reached a historic $1.25 billion settlement last month in a long-standing lawsuit over decades of racial discrimination against African-American farmers by the US Department of Agriculture."
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With Burma Election Boycott, Suu Kyi Party Risks Breakup
Simon Montlake, The Christian Science Monitor: "Aung San Suu Kyi party members announced a boycott on the Burma election Monday to avoid endorsing an 'unfair' process. But the largest opposition group in Burma (Myanmar) now risks being broken up under controversial election laws."
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French Regional Elections: Who Are the National Front (FN) Voters?
Christophe Deroubaix, Humanite in English: "A comment in the local press last week went like this: who, indeed, would wonder at a resident of a sensitive neighborhood, or lawless area, casting a FN vote? Except with an attitude of hesitant indulgence, few would challenge this staple image of the typical FN voter: an honest Frenchman, who's been left defenceless against the 'laws' of these districts, a citizen whom change has left behind and who casts a heinous ballot paper out of rage ... And yet no proof can be brought to validate the prevalent archetype of the 'leftist-frontist', the thesis so dear to political analyst Pascal Perrineau, save some superficial judgements, or the desire to pursue an ideological line."
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Lying About Nuclear Weapons
Lawrence S. Wittner, The History News Network: "One of the most popular muckraking American journalists of the late twentieth century, I.F. Stone, once remarked: 'All governments lie.' Even a prominent government official - Andrei Gromyko, the veteran Soviet diplomat - once admitted, in a weak moment: 'Governments are never sincere.'"
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Banks Could Be Big Winners of President Obama's Foreclosure Prevention Program
Amy Goodman, Democracy NOW!: "The Obama administration has announced changes to its signature foreclosure prevention program, Making Home Affordable. The initial foreclosure relief program unveiled one year ago was supposed to help up to four million struggling homeowners. So far fewer than 200,000 borrowers have been granted permanent loan modifications. Meanwhile, a record 2.8 million properties with mortgages received foreclosure notices last year, according to the real estate data company RealtyTrac."
Read the Article

McClatchy Washington report 3/29

  • It wasn't long ago that Rachel Cales volunteered at her church's food pantry, bagging canned goods and emergency provisions for families that had fallen on hard times. Last May, however, Cales lost her job managing a yogurt shop. Suddenly, she couldn't afford the groceries her family needed, and she had to turn to the pantry for help.
  • Police in Argentina are looking for Angie Jeaneth Sanclemente Valencia, a dethroned Colombian beauty queen and lingerie model who, according to authorities, led a band of beautiful women who transported cocaine from Buenos Aires into several European countries.
  • President Barack Obama paid a surprise visit to Afghanistan Sunday as he sought to steel American forces for a tough summer fight and deliver a political jolt to Afghan President Hamid Karzai as he weighs potential peace talks with the Taliban.
  • Gov. Charlie Crist tried to chip away at his U.S. Senate rival's conservative boy-wonder image during their first televised debate Sunday but failed to deliver a broadside powerful enough to level the surging Marco Rubio.
  • The bitter legislative battle over health care reform is finally over, but the political war has just begun, and the fallout is being felt across the country and in Missouri.
  • The program director of KMBZ radio in Kansas City says the station has no choice but to air commercials with racially biased and anti-Semitic claims from a write-in candidate for the U.S. Senate from Missouri. Under Federal Communications Commission rules and federal law, a "legally qualified candidate" must be given reasonable, uncensored access to broadcast airtime if he or she can pay the cost.
  • Several hundred Vodou practitioners gathered at a public plaza in downtown Port-au-Prince Sunday to bid farewell to the souls of victims of the Jan. 12th quake that claimed more than 200,000 lives. The ceremony — led by Haiti's supreme leader of Vodou, Max Beauvoir — came several weeks after an angry crowd of Evangelicals crashed a similar service when they started throwing rocks at Vodou practitioners in Cite Soleil, a sprawling seaside slum in Port-au-Prince.
  • With her husband deployed in Iraq with a Stryker brigade from Washington state's Joint Base Lewis-McChord, 20-year-old Lauren Silva isn't your typical college student. But when it comes to finding money for tuition, books and other expenses, she's not so different.
  • The recent crackdown on the Ladies in White protest marchers, the latest in a string of abuses in Cuba, might delay or derail congressional efforts to ease sanctions on the Castro government, even supporters of a thaw acknowledge.
  • The man in charge of upgrading the quality of health care in California's overcrowded prisons has an idea for taxpayers: medical parole. J. Clark Kelso, the federal court-appointed prison health receiver, suggests that California could stop spending millions of dollars a year if officials could grant parole to a handful of inmates who are comatose or otherwise severely incapacitated.
  • Miami-Dade Corrections says it can do little about jail inmates who are racking up tens of thousands of dollars in collect calls billed to the fax lines of unwitting victims. Alabama-based Global Tel*Link, which operates jail collect- and prepaid-call systems nationwide, has reimbursed customers nearly $200,000 for bogus calls over the past two years, almost all in Miami-Dade.
  • After the murder of two U.S. consulate workers in Mexico's border city of Ciudad Juarez, many of you have written to me wondering whether it is safe to travel to Mexico. The answer is: If you are courageous enough to travel to Washington, D.C., you can safely visit most parts of Mexico.

What do you think it symbolizes?