by Robert C. Koehler
What I thought of, straight off, as I watched that 17-minute WikiLeaks video of Iraqis – including a Reuters photographer and his driver – being strafed on a Baghdad street in 2007 by a U.S. helicopter, was a book of postcards published a decade ago.
The book, compiled by James Allen, is called Without Sanctuary. My guess is that you don’t have it sitting on your coffee table. The postcards and various other stained, frayed photographs – about a hundred of them – depict mostly black men, a few women, a few white men, in the process or aftermath of being lynched in the United States, in the first half of the 20th century. The dangling or burned corpses are surrounded, in most of the pictures, by grim or smirking or benevolently smiling onlookers, some of them children. It’s the most surreal and troubling historical document I’ve ever seen in my life.
It’s a stark testimony to the devaluation of human life, and this is its thread of commonality with the video, which – justify it if you will in the name of war, rail as Defense Secretary Gates did that it’s “out of context” – records helicopter crewmen chuckling in exaltation as they kill a dozen people (“Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards”), including the driver of a van who was trying to rescue one of the wounded.
by Glen Ford
The campaign to bring White nationalism, the founding ideology of the United States, fully out of the closet, kicks into a higher gear on the Right's anti-holiday, April 15. Newt Gingrich and the various tribes of White Rightists unveil their "Contract From America," a scaled-down version of the manifesto the Republicans rallied around to win control of the U.S. House of Representatives, in 1994. The 2010 "contract" is leaner, built for mass Caucasian consumption. It is written largely in code, the language of obfuscation that American racists speak in an attempt to hide their white supremacist beliefs from others - and, in many cases, from themselves. Indeed, much of American mass political speech is conducted in code, allowing white people to identify each other through terms like "middle class," "family values," "taxpayers," "patriots," "law-abiding" - terms which, although literally applicable to people of every ethnicity, are understood to mean "good white American citizens."
Corporate media almost universally describe the Tea Partyers as "anti-government" - which is nonsense. They oppose the government providing assistance - economic, legal, educational, real or imagined - to those that are "undeserving," which in their world consists mostly of folks that can be defined by race, language or religion (using code words, when required by polite society). Naturally, the average Tea Partyer - when sober - will deny having "a racist bone" in his body, but any group whose unifying characteristic is daily engorgement on Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck is, by definition, racist. Anyone who tries to tell you different, is far too tolerant of bigoted behavior, assumptions and speech to be anything but a closet racist, himself.
I read with amusement a story in the Tri-City Herald on Friday regarding Congressman Richard Hastings holding one of his “signature” hour-long town hall meetings last Thursday in Zillah, WA. I am trying to remember the last election season that Hastings has held a town hall…anywhere in the district. Rep. Hastings has been like the Ghost of Politicians Past the last 3 election cycles---mostly not visible, but pops up here and there for a brief visit, then back to wherever he hides the rest of the time. So what causes the Champion of the Oil and Gas Lobby to start acting like a real pol again, I wonder? Maybe it’s the Tea Party activists, or---just maybe---it’s me.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEApril 14, 20104:03 PM
CONTACT: People For the American Way (PFAW)Miranda Blue or Josh Glasstetter 202-467-4999 / email@example.com
WASHINGTON - April 14 - Democrat Ted Deutch decisively won a special election yesterday to fill the open seat in Florida's 19th congressional district. Deutch made his support for a constitutional amendment to reverse the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC a centerpiece of his campaign.
Michael B. Keegan, President of People For the American Way, issued the following statement:
"I congratulate Senator Deutch on his decisive win, and wish him well as he continues his work on behalf of the people of Florida. Senator Deutch's vocal support of efforts to fight back against corporate influence in elections, and his advocacy for a Constitutional Amendment to undo the Supreme Court's devastating decision in Citizens United, earned him overwhelming support from Florida voters. He'll be a strong leader in the fight to preserve the power of everyday Americans in our democracy.
"Deutch's opponent attempted to paint the election as a referendum against the President and Democratic congressional leadership. Instead, he was roundly defeated by an electorate fed up with the growing corporate influence in elections and determined to take back the democratic process. This election sends a strong signal that the public won't stand for the Supreme Court handing outsized influence to wealthy corporations, and that voters are ready to take powerful steps to reclaim their power over the electoral process."
bj John Kerry
It would be at best sophomoric and at worst patronizing to “tell you” how important the Internet is to our economy and political culture now. But when you’re talking about almost 200 billion emails sent each day and more than $3 trillion in e-commerce a year ago, it’s more than clear we’ve just scratched the surface of what the Internet can do, both as a platform for commerce and discourse.
And so it’s far from surprising that the powerful interests have lined up on different sides of a huge fight going on in Washington; and it will probably be very familiar to you, after years of battling over net neutrality.
On one side are the telephone and cable companies who believe they should be in control because they own the wires that deliver the Internet to your house. On the other side is you, the consumer, and President Obama’s FCC, with a broad set of interests – making sure consumers are protected, users and content are not discriminated against, and broadband service is universally affordable and available.
But not surprisingly, the industry is fighting back, with heavy artillery on their side.
By BARBARA SHELLY
Coal baron Don Blankenship is the ultimate free marketeer, a trendy niche in this day of seething resentment against government big and small.
He has clever names for environmentalists (greeniacs) and brainless congressmen (scarecrows).
His outspoken hatred of taxes and regulations won him a seat on the board of directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
He has no use for unions and he abhors "nuisance" lawsuits, though he's filed a few. A few years ago, he spent millions to run a judge out of office.
Last year, Blankenship forked over $1 million to help sponsor the huge "Friends of America" rally, which brought 70,000 people to a reclaimed mountaintop removal mine in West Virginia to watch big-time entertainers and listen to rants about environmentalists and government regulators.
by Joyce Marcel
Margaret Thatcher once said, "There is no such thing as society: there are individual men and women, and there are families."
Maybe her view came from reading too much Ayn Rand at an impressionable age, but Thatcher's idea that the individual is all, unfettered commerce is king and that government -- taxes, regulations and anything except traffic lights and conscription of some other guy to fight for your right to be rich -- is a Big Evil, came to prevail. The common good? She sneered at it.
Thatcher came to mind because I've been reading about these new "benefit companies," or B Corps. Similar to "friends with benefits," these are corporations that allow new companies to write all kinds of social responsibility into their corporate charters.
A law supporting B Corps is currently moving through the Vermont Legislature. A similar law has been introduced in Maryland, and is expected to be discussed soon in New York State, Colorado, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Washington State.
According to the Web site Bcorportation.net, B Corps. use "the power of business to solve social and environmental problems." They are unlike traditional responsible businesses because they "meet comprehensive and transparent social and environmental performance standards; institutionalize stakeholder interests; and build collective voice through the power of a unifying brand."
They also appear to offer protection against hostile and not-too-hostile-but-not-too-benign-either takeovers.
Entrepreneur Bill Samuels announced his candidacy for State Senate President and Lieutenant Governor, launching a public campaign to achieve fundamental change in Albany with a new vision of the role of the Lieutenant Governor and how he can contribute to restoring The Empire State to its former greatness. Samuels is a longtime Democratic Party activist who was a leader in both 2006 and 2008 in the campaign to restore the Democrats to a majority in the State Senate.“New York can’t innovate-create new businesses and new good jobs without totally remaking the rules by which our legislature works. Sadly, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans can honestly wear the mantle of reform,” Samuels explained. “The GOP ran the Senate for 40 years, helped create the most dysfunctional legislature in the nation, and have shown no interest in change. Then the Democrats took the majority on a wave of change but despite taking some good small steps forward, they didn’t take advantage of the new majority. Rather than reforming, they didn’t reform a corrupt member item system; did nothing to fix the broken redistricting process; went along in 2009 with increased state spending at unsustainable rates and cynically accepted back Pedro Espada and Hiram Monserrate to keep their majority benefits. They simply failed to muster the political will to fundamentally change the system.” “We must set our goals high: New York demands and can be the best legislature in the country.”
WASHINGTON - April 12 - In an audio podcast recorded by Progressive Democrats of America, Congressman Dennis Kucinich commits to voting No on the upcoming war supplemental spending bill, which would fund a 30,000 troop escalation of the war in Afghanistan with $33 billion.
Kucinich urges his colleagues to vote no. He stressed that this needs to be a firm commitment to vote no, regardless of what useful measures are packaged into the bill to make it more attractive. ($2.8 billion in aid to Haiti is expected.)
Kucinich urges all Americans to lobby their representatives in Congress to join him in committing to voting No.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEApril 12, 20101:05 PM
CONTACT: Food & Water WatchKate Fried, Food & Water Watch: (202) 683-2500, kfried(at)fwwatch(dot)org
WASHINGTON - April 12 - "In July 2009, Food & Water Watch, Beyond Pesticides, and 35 other health, labor and environmental groups submitted an amended petition to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requiring that the agency ban the use of the controversial pesticide triclosan for non-medical applications on the basis that those uses violate the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act. Additionally, 80 organizations supported a similar petition to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) submitted in January 2010. A hazardous antibacterial agent, triclosan is found in many household and personal care products such as soaps, cleaners, cosmetics, clothing, and children's toys. Strong scientific evidence suggests that persistent use of triclosan poses imminent threats to human health and the environment. To date, we have yet to receive a formal response from either FDA or EPA on this matter.
by Andrew Kimbrell
The United States once had one of the safest food systems in the world, but now, 70 million Americans are sickened, 300,000 are hospitalized, and 5,000 die from food-borne illness every year. It is a sad fact: since 9/11, far more Americans have been killed, injured or hurt because of our lack of a coordinated food safety system than by terrorist acts that challenge our Homeland Security system.
The culprits in this assault on American wellbeing aren't shadowy terrorist figures, but rather, they are what most consumers would identify as wholesome -- not harmful -- foods. Peanuts, lettuce, pistachios, spinach, hamburgers sold to Boy Scout camps, peppers, tomatoes, and pepper-coated sausages are among the foods that have sickened and killed Americans in just the last few years. Our children are most at risk from these food threats, with half of all food-borne illness striking children under 15 years old.