Saturday, January 1, 2011

2 more from Truthout:

US at War Since 1950: A New Year's Meditation
Michael True, Truthout: "At the beginning of the new year, consequences of 'life at war' stare us in the face: the victimization of military and civilian populations and a huge national debt, including an annual military budget that is larger than all military budgets in the world combined and includes $5 billion that remains unaccounted for in Iraq, as well as aid to Pakistan that has wound up in the hands of the Taliban.... Any responsible citizen acknowledges this painful history in the hope of redirecting US foreign policy in the future. The purpose of reclaiming it is not to open old wounds, but to encourage legislative and direct action committed to peacemaking. It is a call to critique the policies and competence of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the national security apparatus responsible for these disasters."
Read the Article

Ethnic Studies Classes Illegal in Arizona as of January 1
Lourdes Medrano, The Christian Science Monitor: "A controversial Arizona law targeting ethnic studies in public schools will take effect come midnight.... The law bans classes that promote the overthrow of the United States government and resentment toward a race or class of people. Also outlawed are courses designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group and those that advocate ethnic solidarity rather than treat students as individuals. In Arizona, critics claim that the law – along with the partially suspended immigration law – threatens to make the state a "new South" of discrimination against minorities."
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Via truthout: William Rivers Pitt | Over, Done, Finished, Out

William Rivers Pitt, Truthout: "These are the columns where people like me are expected to drag out all the events, good and bad, which took place in the year that has now passed us by. I'd just as soon avoid the task, but as Frank Herbert observed in Dune, 'The Forms must be obeyed,' so here we go.... It was a bad year. It was a wild year. It is a finished year."

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Reveillon 2011 - Copacabana Queima de Fogos

Rio de Janeiro divulga logomarca dos Jogos Olímpicos de 2016 em Copacabana

Friday, December 31, 2010

3 from Truthout:

Project Censored's Mickey Huff Finds the News That Didn't Make the News
Mickey Z., Truthout: "For the uninitiated, here's how Mickey Huff describes Project Censored: 'Project Censored's principal objective is training students in media literacy and First Amendment issues for the future advocacy and protection of free press rights in the United States. Project Censored has trained some 2,000 students in investigative research in the past three decades. Through a partnership of faculty, students, and the community, Project Censored conducts research on important national news stories that are underreported, ignored, misrepresented, or otherwise censored by the US corporate media.'"
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Bushwacking Obama: Conservatives Seek to Trap President on Social Security
Robert Borosage, The Campaign for America's Future: "Beware of conservatives bearing gifts. Today in the Washington Post, former Bush policy advisor, Michael Gerson echoes a growing chorus of conservative pundits offering up "Social Security reform" as 'the answer to Obama's problems.' The advice is illogical on its face, pernicious in its consequence, and poisoned from its source. Gerson argues that Obama faces a major strategic decision in his coming State of the Union address, which must take the 'first cut at the reelection message he carries to reelection or defeat.'"
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Robert Reich | New Year's Prediction II
Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog: "What will happen to the US economy in 2011? If you're referring to profits of big corporations and Wall Street, next year is likely to be a good one. But if you're referring to average American workers, far from good. The two American economies - the Big Money economy and the Average Working Family economy - will continue to diverge. Corporate profits will continue to rise, as will the stock market. But typical wages will go nowhere, joblessness will remain high, the ranks of the long-term unemployed will continue to rise, the housing recovery will remain stalled, and consumer confidence will sag."
Read the Article

Blog discussion quote of the day (via JMG):

Scientists have found that people with conservative views have brains with larger amygdalas, almond shaped areas in the centre of the brain often associated with anxiety and emotions. [Boehner? Glenn Beck?]

On the other hand, they have a smaller anterior cingulate, an area at the front of the brain associated with courage and looking on the bright side of life. [Obama?]

[ ]

Via JMG: Candy Baby

Rachel Maddow- Republicans go lame duck hunting

JMG Quote Of The Day - Ezra Klein

"Successful governance is about getting 60 votes for things that move the ball forward. The people who tend to control the 55th through 60th votes on any given issue are not like you and me. They are driven by a baffling combination of raging egomania and crippling terror. They want to be treated like statesmen even as their decisions are based on a paralyzing fear of contested elections, primary challenges, Fox News and party pressure. They have few opinions on what good policy looks like, what opinions they do have on the subject change frequently, and they're not willing to risk very much on them anyway. Taking a pound of flesh from these people -- or even their allies -- would mean never getting their votes. Want to see what we mean? Look at Don't Ask, Don't Tell. In the end, it got done because Murkowski, Brown and Collins let it get done. Alienating them would've been satisfying, but unwise." - Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein, saying that Obama's bipartisan approach to DADT was the right one, even if liberals found it frustrating.

(Tipped by JMG reader Band)
reposted from Joe

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Via JMG: What Does Your State Do Best?

reposted from Joe

Via truthout: Robert Scheer | In Money-Changers We Trust

Robert Scheer, Truthdig: "Two years into the Obama presidency, and the economic data is still looking grim. Don't be fooled by the gyrations of the stock market, where optimism is mostly a reflection of the ability of financial corporations - thanks to massive government largesse - to survive the mess they created. The basics are dismal: Unemployment is unacceptably high, the December consumer confidence index is down, and housing prices have fallen for four months in a row. The number of Americans living in poverty has never been higher, and a majority in a Washington Post poll said they were worried about making their next mortgage or rent payment."

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Via truthout: Solution: End the Insurance Gap for People With Preexisting Conditions

Dina Rasor, Truthout: "In 2014, it will be illegal to discriminate against any American who has a preexisting health condition when applying for health insurance. Since there are millions of Americans with preexisting conditions (over 57 million of us under the age of 65 - one in five of us), the health care law set up a high-risk pool in each state to allow those who have been turned down by insurance companies to buy insurance at a reasonable cost until the full enactment of the law in 2014. One of the reasons that enrollment is so low could be that the law has a serious Achilles heel: You can't be accepted into the PCIP high-risk pool until you've gone six months without any health care."

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Via JMG: The English Dialects Map Of North America

Gothamist calls the above "the world's most confusing map." (Massive version here.) According to the authors, sub-dialects of the eight major regional dialects exist in many places like Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, the Outer Banks, and perhaps most curiously, the Hamptons.

reposted from Joe

Come Fly With Me - Episode 1 BBC

Via SacBee:

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

TED: Sometimes the power of a story is not in the magnitude of what happens, but in how it’s told.

TED: Mike Rowe talks about the strength he gained by being completely and utterly wrong.

Nine stories: A TEDTalks playlist

The single most powerful way to connect with another person is to tell them a personal story, or to listen to them tell one. We do it all the time: while eating with friends, when introduced to new acquaintances, when challenged by teachers and parents. Stories are the fabric of our social reality. All TEDTalks tell a story in one way or another — often a very personal one. Indeed, one of the TED Commandments is: “Show us the real you.” But sometimes the talk is the story, and when that happens we can see the craft, both ancient and continually re-invented, on display.

Follow along for nine TEDTalks, each by an extraordinary storyteller, and each highlighting a different aspect of the craft of storytelling.

TEDxAthens - Dimitris Protopsaltou - Veria City Library

The Partisans: Top 6 Political Hot Messes of 2010

Via SacBee: Lula's legacy, leaving behind a transformed Brazil

Monday Dec 27, 2010
Plopping her swollen ankles upon a purple couch, 72-year-old Dilma de Lima exults in the new government-built apartment she now calls home after a ... read entire article

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Via SacBee: Brazil's leader laments US views toward LatAm

Published: Monday, Dec. 27, 2010 - 9:31 am
Brazil's leader says U.S. policies toward Latin America have changed little since President Obama took office, disappointing many hoping for more engagement.
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva says the U.S. vision of Latin America has "changed little or not at all" though the region has gone through what he calls the world's most important democratization process.

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Rachel Maddow- A year-long silly season

Via truthout: Paul Krugman | The Era of Instability: Where We Went Wrong

Paul Krugman, Krugman & Co.: "It seems that in the United States, our perception of history has changed in the wake of the Great Recession. J. Bradford DeLong, a professor of economics at the University of California at Berkeley, makes this point in an online syndicated column about how our generation used to pity our grandfathers, who lacked the knowledge and compassion to fight the Great Depression effectively, and how we are repeating the same mistakes today. I share his sentiments."

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Via SacBEE: Commodity prices are about finite resources, not U.S. policy

Oil is back above $90 a barrel. Copper and cotton have hit record highs. Wheat and corn prices are way up. Overall, world commodity prices have risen by a quarter in the past six months.    So what’s the meaning of this surge? Is it speculation run amok?    

Is it the result of excessive money creation, a harbinger of runaway inflation just around the corner? No and no.    What the commodity markets are telling us is that we’re living in a finite world, in which the rapid growth of emerging economies is placing pressure on limited supplies of raw materials, pushing up their prices. And America is, for the most part, just a bystander in this story.     

Some background: The last time the prices of oil and other commodities were this high, two and a half years ago, many commentators dismissed the price spike as an aberration driven by speculators. And they claimed vindication when commodity   prices plunged in the second half of 2008.    But that price collapse coincided with a severe global recession, which led to a sharp fall in demand for raw materials. The big test would come when the world economy recovered. Would raw materials once again become expensive?     

Well, it still feels like a recession in America. But thanks to growth in developing   nations, world industrial production recently passed its previous peak – and, sure enough, commodity prices are surging again.    

This doesn’t necessarily mean that speculation played no role in 2007-08. Nor should we reject the notion that speculation is playing some role in current prices; for example, who is that mystery investor who has bought up much of the world’s copper supply? But the fact that world economic recovery has also brought a recovery in commodity prices strongly suggests that recent price fluctuations mainly reflect fundamental factors.     

What about commodity prices as a harbinger of inflation? Many commentators on the right have been predicting for years that the Federal Reserve, by printing lots of money – it’s not actually doing that, but that’s the accusation – is setting us up for severe inflation. Stagflation is coming, declared Rep. Paul Ryan in February 2009; Glenn Beck has been warning about imminent hyperinflation since 2008.       

Yet inflation has remained low. What’s an inflation worrier to do?     

One response has been a proliferation of conspiracy theories, of claims that the government is suppressing the truth about rising prices. But lately many on the right have seized on rising commodity prices as proof that they were right all along, as a sign of high overall inflation just around the corner.    You do have to wonder what these people were thinking two years ago, when raw material prices were plunging. If the commodity-price rise of the past six months heralds runaway inflation, why didn’t the 50 percent decline in the second half of 2008 herald runaway deflation?     

Inconsistency aside, however, the big problem with those blaming the Fed for rising commodity prices is that they’re suffering from delusions of U.S. economic grandeur. For commodity prices are set globally, and what America does just isn’t that important a factor.       

In particular, today, as in 2007-08, the primary driving force behind rising commodity prices isn’t demand from the United States. It’s demand from China and other emerging economies. As more and more people in formerly poor nations are entering the global middle class, they’re beginning to drive cars and eat meat, placing growing pressure on world oil and food supplies.     

And those supplies aren’t keeping pace. Conventional oil production has been flat for four years; in that sense, at least, peak oil has arrived. True, alternative sources, like oil from Canada’s tar sands, have continued to grow. But these alternative sources come at relatively high cost, both monetary and environmental.    
Also, over the past year, extreme weather – especially severe heat and drought in some important agricultural regions – played an important role in driving up food prices. And, yes, there’s every reason to believe that climate change is making such weather episodes more common.      

So what are the implications of the recent rise in commodity prices? It is, as I said, a sign that we’re living in a finite world, one in which resource constraints are becoming increasingly binding. This won’t bring an end to economic growth, let alone a descent into Mad Max-style collapse. It will require that we gradually change the way we live, adapting our economy and our lifestyles to the reality of more expensive resources.    

But that’s for the future. Right now, rising commodity prices are basically the result of global recovery. They have no bearing, one way or another, on U.S. monetary policy. For this is a global story; at a fundamental level, it’s not about us.   

Paul Krugman writes for the New York Times.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Via Utne: Wendell Berry on Work

Wendell Berry responds to John de Graaf's article "Live More, Work Less" and argues that what matters is not how much we work but the quality of the work we do.

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Via JMG: Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie To Birthers: STFU, I Was There When Obama Was Born

Newly elected Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) says that now that he's in charge, he's going to institute changes that allow his state to release birth documentation on President Obama without violating medical confidentiality laws. Abercrombie is quite certain the birth took place in his state because he was friends with Obama's parents before the future president was born.
"It's an insult to his mother and to his father, and I knew his mother and father; they were my friends, and I have an emotional interest in that," Abercrombie told the Times. "It's an emotional insult. It is disrespectful to the president; it is disrespectful to the office." Abercombie was quoted by the Chicago Tribune as saying, "What bothers me is that some people who should know better are trying to use this for political reasons," he said. "Maybe I'm the only one in the country that could look you right in the eye right now and tell you, 'I was here when that baby was born.'"
Politico warns that Abercrombie's move could only fuel birther claims of a conspiracy by Democrats.

reposted from Joe

Via truthout: The Top Ten Ways the Right Will Wreck the Recovery

Isaiah J. Poole, Campaign for America's Future: "Conservatives have a legislative agenda for 2011 that will hurt your ability to get or keep a job, your neighborhood's ability to recover from the recession and this country's ability to regain its footing in the global economy. To keep conservatives from enacting policies that will kill a nascent economic recovery, progressives will have to organize against these top 10 economy killers."

1. Repeal of Health-Care Reform
2. Diminish the Federal Government's Ability to Support Job-Creation
3. Slash Federal Infrastructure Spending
4. Dismantle Medicare (and Give Seniors "Vouchers")
5. Undo Financial Reform, and Let the Predators Run
6. Support Big Oil and Kill Green Jobs
7. Don't Just Cut Government Waste; Cripple Government
8. Amp up the Insecurity in Social Security
9. Starve Public Education
10. Don't Ask the Rich to Help Reduce the Deficit; Ask Low-Income Americans Instead  
Make the jump hear to read the Article

Via truthout: Chris Hedges | 2011: A Brave New Dystopia

Chris Hedges, Truthdig: "The two greatest visions of a future dystopia were George Orwell's '1984' and Aldous Huxley's 'Brave New World.' The debate, between those who watched our descent towards corporate totalitarianism, was who was right. Would we be, as Orwell wrote, dominated by a repressive surveillance and security state that used crude and violent forms of control? Or would we be, as Huxley envisioned, entranced by entertainment and spectacle, captivated by technology and seduced by profligate consumption to embrace our own oppression? It turns out Orwell and Huxley were both right. Huxley saw the first stage of our enslavement. Orwell saw the second."

Read the Article


The CIA has launched a new task force to investigate WikiLeaks.
The group will scour the released documents to survey damage caused by the disclosures. One of the most embarrassing revelations was that the US state department had drawn up a list of information it would like on key UN figures – it later emerged the CIA had asked for the information. "Officially, the panel is called the WikiLeaks Task Force. But at CIA headquarters, it's mainly known by its all-too-apt acronym: WTF," the Washington Post reported. WTF is more commonly associated with the Facebook and Twitter profiles of teenagers than secret agency committees. Given that its expanded version is usually an expression of extreme disbelief, perhaps the term is apt for the CIA's investigation.
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reposted from Joe

Via JMG: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert: Tom Tom Club

Via Top 10 Victories in 2010

Dear Daniel,
This was the year our powerfully diverse community hit a tipping point. members organized 9,132 campaigns on six continents. Together, we took action nearly 8 million times. A million more people joined our movement. And we're growing more quickly every day.
We didn't just fight. Time and time again, we won. In towns and cities all around the globe, members saw a way their world could be better, organized for social change, and emerged victorious.
The team at has watched in amazement at everything this exploding community has accomplished so far. And we can't wait to see what we can do together in the year to come.
To celebrate our successes together, we've created a list of 10 of the most inspiring victories on in 2010. See the top 5 below, and all 10 here. Then, if you're feeling bold, start your own petition -- your campaign could be on this list in 2011. members teamed up with anti-trafficking groups in a massive campaign to get Cragislist to shut down their "adult services" sections, which had become the biggest source of ads for sex trafficking victims in the world. After 11,612 members signed a petition to founder Craig Newmark and a coordinated campaign published letters of protest from girls formerly sold for sex on the site, Craigslist shut down their U.S. based adult ad pages in September -- leading to a 48% drop in the overall volume of prostitution ads online and shrinking the online commercial sex industry by a projected $37 million this year.
Seth Stambaugh was a 23-year-old education major assigned to student teach a fourth grade class at the Beaverton School District near Portland, Oregon. After a student asked if he was married, Seth replied that because he was gay, it would be illegal for him to wed in the state. Seth was subsequently removed from the classroom when his comment was deemed "inappropriate" by the district. Over the span of the next three weeks, more than 5,000 members -- many of them parents in the district -- emailed the district's superintendent, demanding that he be allowed to teach - and won. As Seth wrote to members, "It worked! I am back in my original classroom and am thrilled every day that I get to go there."
You can't kill by lethal injection without sodium thiopental, used to put the victims in a coma before two poisons are administered to kill them. So when the sole American provider ran out of its supply, states like Arizona and California turned to a British company that manufactured the same drug. But members lobbied British Business Minister Vincent Cable via his personal email address, and successfully compelled him to ban the sale under an old law that forbids the export of "execution equipment" like guillotines. Executions across the U.S. continue to be delayed because of the shortage.
Mary Kate Hallock returned to her home one afternoon to find that Oakland police -- the same force that gunned down eight dogs last year -- had shot and killed her 11-year-old yellow lab in her own backyard. Refusing to wait for another incident, nearly 2,000 members demanded action to stop the unnecessary shootings. Soon after, the Oakland P.D. announced a partnership with an East Bay animal protection group for a program to train officers in animal handling and behavior. After a rash of animal shootings by police nationwide this year, the Oakland program now serves as a model for other communities.
Twenty-year-old Steve Li, whose parents had brought him to the U.S. from Peru at a young age, didn't even know he was undocumented until immigration authorities showed up at his door, brought him from California to Arizona, and locked him in a detention center. Just before he was to be deported, his classmates at the City College of San Francisco rallied to win his freedom, launching a petition on targeting Sen. Diane Feinstein and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Hundreds of friends and supporters signed, and the two lawmakers passed a bill specifically delaying Li's deportation. As the DREAM Act -- legislation to give undocumented students brought to the U.S as minors a path to American citizenship -- languished in Congress, friends and family successfully ran campaigns on again and again this year to free detained students like Li.
See victories 6-10 on our "Top Ten Victories of 2010" list.
Happy New Year!

– The Team
P.S. spread the word: share our victories on Facebook!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ed Schultz - Media Matters names Palin 'Misinformer' of 2010

History, it seems, will remember 2010 in the United States as the year of health-care reform, the Gulf oil spill, and the tea party movement. But the most widely covered stories are clearly not the only events that could shape the future of the nation.

Here we note five overlooked stories of 2010 – developments that might have received some press coverage but perhaps not as much as they should have, given the impact they could have on various aspects of American life in the years ahead.

Top 5 Overlooked Stories of 2010
The world's first publicly known cybersuperweapon fits on a thumb drive. (Photo: Ambuj Saxena; Edited: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t)

Via Truthout: Top 5 Overlooked Stories of 2010

Mark Clayton, Ron Scherer, Amanda Paulson and Chris Gaylord, The Christian Science Monitor: "History, it seems, will remember 2010 in the United States as the year of health-care reform, the Gulf oil spill, and the tea party movement. But the most widely covered stories are clearly not the only events that could shape the future of the nation. Here we note five overlooked stories of 2010 - developments that might have received some press coverage but perhaps not as much as they should have, given the impact they could have on various aspects of American life in the years ahead."

Read the Article

Hans Rosling's 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes - The Joy of Stats - BBC Four

Via SacBee:

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