Sunday, March 13, 2011

Assault on Collective Bargaining Illegal, Says International Labor Rights Group
Jeanne Mirer and Marjorie Cohn, Truthout: "The International Commission for Labor Rights (ICLR) sent a notice to the Wisconsin Legislature, explaining that its attempt to strip collective bargaining rights from public workers is illegal. Anyone who has watched the events unfolding in Wisconsin and other states that are trying to remove collective bargaining rights from public workers has heard people protesting the loss of their 'rights.' The ICLR explained to the legislature exactly what these rights are and why trying to take them away is illegal."
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Japan Nuclear Crisis Spreads to Third Plant
Hiroko Tabuchi and Matthew L. Wald, The New York Times News Service: "Japanese officials struggled on Sunday to contain a widening nuclear crisis in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake and tsunami, saying they presumed that partial meltdowns had occurred at two crippled reactors and that they were facing serious cooling problems at three more. The emergency appeared to be the worst involving a nuclear plant since the Chernobyl disaster 25 years ago. The developments at two separate nuclear plants prompted the evacuation of more than 200,000 people. Japanese officials said they had also ordered up the largest mobilization of their Self-Defense Forces since World War II to assist in the relief effort."
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Religious Leaders Hold Out Against Qaddafi
Mike Elkin, Inter Press Service: "Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi claims Al-Qaeda and other Muslim extremists are behind the recent rebellion to oust him from power. Salem Geber, the most well-known cleric in Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city, says this explanation is not only wrong, but a vintage Qaddafi tactic to inspire fear. 'Qaddafi's latest speeches are nothing new,' the imam said from his office, which manages Benghazi's mosques and other Islamic heritage sites. 'Qaddafi liked to warn us of the Americans and the Europeans who craved our oil, and also of Al-Qaeda.'"
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Madison Rally Bigger Than Biggest Tea Party Rally
Alex Seitz-Wald, ThinkProgress: "Police estimated up to 100,000 people turned out in Madison, WI yesterday to protest Gov. Scott Walker's (R) assault on unions, making it bigger than any protests the city has witnessed, even those during the Vietnam War. The Madison rally is part of a much larger Main Street Movement of average Americans demanding fairness in labor laws, social spending, and taxation that has emerged in Ohio, New Jersey, Florida, Michigan, and elsewhere. But yesterday's rally in Madison is noteworthy because at 85,000-100,000, it was bigger than the biggest tea party protest, the September 12, 2009 rally in Washington, D.C., which turned out only an estimated 60,000-70,000."
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The Printing Press and the Euromess
Dimitri Papadimitriou, Truthout: "On March 15, Federal Reserve Bank officials will convene to decide on which way to direct - or redirect - their resources. Accusations that the Fed is running the printing press on overtime (as Republican budget maven Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin put it) have been steadily on the rise. Monetary policies shorthanded as 'printing money' and a European-style disaster will be portrayed as simply opposite shores of a small pond and ever more equations will be made between US financial troubles and those of Ireland and Southern Europe. As the run-up to the congressional debate on the debt ceiling proceeds (it has migrated from January to possibly July), the same accusations will crescendo."
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Humanitarian Pays With Life for Feeding the Children of Iraq
Katherine Hughes, Truthout: "February 26, 2011, marks the eighth anniversary of the imprisonment of Dr. Rafil Dhafir. Dhafir continues to pay the price for feeding the children of Iraq during the US- and UK-sponsored UN sanctions against that country. According to the United Nations' own statistics, every month throughout the 1990's, 6,000 children under the age of five in Iraq were dying from lack of food and access to simple medicines. Three senior UN officials resigned because of what they considered a 'genocidal' policy of sanctions against Iraq. Dhafir's charity, Help the Needy (HTN), openly sent food and medicines to starving civilians in Iraq during the brutal embargo. Seven government agencies investigated Dhafir and HTN for many years. They intercepted his mail, email, faxes and telephone calls; bugged his office and hotel rooms; went through his trash; and conducted physical surveillance. They were unable to find any evidence of links to terrorism, and no charges of terrorism were ever brought against Dhafir."
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For Wisconsin's Lawmakers, a Hero's Homecoming
A.G. Sulzberger, The New York Times News Service: "They are the unlikeliest of folk heroes. But this group of once-obscure lawmakers - a dairy farmer, a lawyer and a woman who is seven months pregnant, among others - that fled this capital nearly a month ago, returned Saturday to the cheers of tens of thousands who once again packed the streets in protest. Many in the crowd wore buttons or held signs bearing admiring nicknames for the group: the 'Fighting 14,' the 'Fab 14' or, simply, 'the Wisconsin 14.' They chanted, 'Thank you' and 'Welcome home.'"
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Pennsylvania's Corbett Expands Conservative War on the Middle Class
Linn Washington Jr., This Can't Be Happening: "Swinging a sledge hammer, Pennsylvania's first-term Republican Governor Tom Corbett smashed into educational spending and state worker jobs during his first-ever budget address, following in the footsteps of his conservative cost-cutting confederates across the nation. While Corbett proposes slashing over a billion dollars in funds for pre-K through college, he spares the Keystone State's burgeoning billion-dollar Marcellus Shale natural gas industry from his call for 'shared sacrifice' to close a $4-billion gap in the state's budget."
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"Do Not Waste Your Bullet": Over 20 Years After Gawkadal Massacre, Human Life Is Still Cheap in Kashmir
Sana Altaf, Truthout: "Again this year, Moisza did not celebrate her birthday. That day, January 22, once again brought back the memories of her maternal uncle, Rauf Ahmad, who laid down his life to save hundreds of people. It was January 20, 1990, just a year after the Kashmiri insurgency against Indian occupation began. Faced with massive unrest as the insurgency swelled, the Indian government, unable to restore law and order, dismissed Kashmir's democratically elected National Conference government; the legislature and cabinet was dissolved and governor rule was declared. Indian bureaucrat Jagmohan Malhotra was appointed governor. That night … the Indian paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) conducted warrantless house-to-house searches, arresting hundreds of people, beating them and allegedly harassing women."
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One Creature That Deserves Extinction: The V-22 Osprey
John Feffer, Foreign Policy in Focus: "Some animals should be endangered. Consider the V-22 Osprey. The tilt-rotor aircraft, which takes off like a helicopter but flies like a plane, costs more than a $100 million apiece, killed 30 personnel in crashes during its development stage, and survived four attempts by none other than Dick Cheney to deep-six the program. Although it is no longer as crash-prone as it once was, the Osprey's performance in Iraq was still sub-par and it remains a woefully expensive creature. Although canceling the program would save the U.S. government $10-12 billion over the next decade, the Osprey somehow avoided the budget axe in the latest round of cuts on Capitol Hill."
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Democratic Finance vs. Banking Fraud in Early America
William Hogeland, new deal 2.0: "Ordinary 18th-century Americans fought for fair access to small-scale credit and usable currencies. Big finance fought back. Calling modern banking 'a widespread fraud,' Rob Burns wants to push the finance industry out of everyday lending. A candidate for Congress in the fourth district of Illinois, Burns proposes using federally insured savings as a public fund for mortgages, student loans, consumer credit, business bridge loans - the kind of borrowing engaged in by ordinary Americans, not entrepreneurs. On a different finance reform front, the technology pioneer and culture critic Douglas Rushkoff has been exploring complementary currencies. Rushkoff envisions new monetary units, exchanged via handheld devices, helping to break what he calls 'the money monopoly.'"
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"Scott Walker's real agenda in Wisconsin: The Republican governor's budget plan would open the state up to a corporate asset-grab not seen since robber baron capitalism."
That headline is not from BuzzFlash at Truthout; it's from The Guardian UK, and it pretty much nails where the current GOP is at: Milton Friedman on a triple dose of steroids.
Yesterday, BuzzFlash at Truthout speculated about the trend of the government selling off public assets. In the end, this would lead to Grover Norquist's dream of "strangling government and drowning it in a bathtub" (a paraphrase). BuzzFlash, alas, was not being entirely sardonic when we predicted that we will have a manufactured "education crisis" resolved by selling off corporate naming rights (and perhaps ownership) to high schools, privatized teaching (mostly through computers), Wackenhut school security and even pay toilets to cover the costs of privatized sanitation services.
For anyone who thought that this was a parody, read this from The Guardian:
Fast-forward to Scott Walker today. Representing a new breed apart from Wisconsin's earlier Republicans, he is seeking to reopen the asset-grabbing, Gilded Age-style. A plague of rent-seekers is seeking quick gains by privatizing the public sector and erecting tollbooths to charge access fees to roads, power plants and other basic infrastructure....
But who is one to steal from? Most wealth in history has been acquired either by armed conquest of the land, or by political insider dealing, such as the great US railroad land giveaways of the mid-19th century. The great American fortunes have been founded by prying land, public enterprises and monopoly rights from the public domain, because (to paraphrase Willie Sutton) that's where the assets are to take. Throughout history, the world's most successful economies have been those that have kept this kind of primitive accumulation in check. The US economy today is faltering largely because its past barriers against rent-seeking are being breached.
Nowhere is this more disturbingly on display than in Wisconsin. Today, Milwaukee - Wisconsin's largest city, and once the richest in America - is ranked among the four poorest large cities in the United States. Wisconsin is just the most recent case in this great heist. The US government and its regulatory agencies are effectively being privatized as the "final stage" of neoliberal economic doctrine.
Will the likes of Koch Industries, Bank of America, and Wal-Mart "own" your high schools soon? If Scott Walker and much of the GOP across the United States has its way, the answer is not, "That is ridiculous." The answer is, "It is really quite possible."
Just think of your grandchildren looking forward to their 20th reunion from JP Morgan Chase High of Peoria.
Oh, on the upside, they will get a free starter checking account.
Mark Karlin
Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout

Next Will Walker Sell Bank of America Naming Rights to High Schools? Hire Wackenhut Security as Hall Monitors?
Read the Article at BuzzFlash
State Department Spokesman Steps Down After Criticizing Treatment of Bradley Manning
Read the Article at Politico
Nearly Identical Anti-Labor Bills Appear in Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, Other States
Read the Article at ThinkProgress
Capitol Square Overflows in Largest Wisconsin Labor Solidarity Demonstration Yet
Read the Article at The Daily Page
Bachmann Muddles American History, Puts Battles of Lexington and Concord in New Hampshire
Read the Article at Talking Points Memo
War Crimes Good, Exposing Them Bad
Read the Article at Al Jazeera
We Must Seek Agreement on Gun Reforms
Read the Article at The Arizona Daily Star
The Age of the Political Sting
Read the Article at Mother Jones
Veering From Peaceful Models, Libya's Youth Revolt Turns Toward Chaos
Read the Article at The New York Times
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