Wednesday, October 31, 2012

NYC transport brought to a standstill



Hurricane Sandy brought the city that never sleeps to a halt. New Yorkers are still assessing the damage to transport networks, which are likely to remain out of commission for days. Al Jazeera's Cath Turner has more.

Coastal towns in New Jersey devastated by storm



Communities in the state of New Jersey have been worst hit by Sandy. Residents in small coastal towns are only now starting to pick up the pieces. Tom Ackerman visited Sea Bright, New Jersey, which was caught by the brunt of the storm.

US declares major disaster in NY after Sandy



Barack Obama, the US president, has declared a "major disaster" in New York state and freed up federal aid for those who lost homes or businesses, after "super storm" Sandy swept through the Eastern Seaboard. At least 15 people were reported to have died in New York, after one of the biggest storms to ever hit the country made landfall on Monday night in New Jersey. The storm, which dropped just below hurricane status before striking land, which has left 33 people dead across several US states. It had already killed more than 60 people in the Caribbean. Al Jazeera's Kristen Saloomey reports from New York.

The Democrats' regard for rights and freedoms

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Foreign campaigners protect Palestinian farmers



Human rights campaigners say Israeli settlers have uprooted more than 7,000 Palestinian olive trees this year. That is down on last year, but farmers say they are still frequently attacked and harassed. In the Occupied West Bank, foreign volunteers are joining the harvest, hoping their presence will help protect farmers and their trees. Al Jazeera's Nicole Johnston reports from Biddo.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Romney would bring back right-wing freak show



Bill Maher used his final New Rule of the night to warn voters unhappy with President Obama of the political and social consequences of the other guy winning. Maher argued that Mitt Romney winning the presidency would not just be a victory for him, but for every Republican extremist Romney has ever supported in his recent political career. Maher said Romney "may seem like a nice fella," but he's "a compulsive liar whose whole life is secret" and would bring too much unwanted baggage into a relationship with America.

US prepares for largest hurricane to hit mainland



U.S. forecasters are warning it could be the largest hurricane ever to hit the United States mainland. Communities from Washington to Boston are bracing for Hurricane Sandy, a superstorm that's due to hit later on Monday. The New York subway and stock exchange are closed and thousands of people have been evacuated. Dominic Kane reports on how residents are preparing for Sandy.

New Yorkers evacuate ahead of Hurricane Sandy



Public services in New York City are being suspended and 375,000 people there have been told to leave their homes. Al Jazeera's Kristen Saloomey reports from "the city that never sleeps" as the most densely populated area in the United States prepares for "Frankenstorm" Hurricane Sandy.

China halts factory expansion after protests



Chinese authorities are halting work on the expansion of a chemical factory after a week of protests that saw thousands of people demonstrating in the eastern port city of Ningbo. They say the plant uses harmful chemicals. The protests come just as the country gets ready for a major transition of power. Al Jazeera's Caroline Malone reports.

"If there was ever a wake-up call, this is it"



Democracy Now!:

Much of the East Coast is shut down today as residents prepare for Hurricane Sandy, a massive storm that could impact up to 50 million people from the Carolinas to Boston. The storm has already killed 66 people in the Caribbean, where it battered Haiti and Cuba. "This thing is stitched together from elements natural and unnatural, and it seems poised to cause real havoc," says Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org. New York and other cities have shut down schools and transit systems. Hundreds of thousands of people have already been evacuated. Millions could lose power over the next day. Meteorologists say Sandy could be the largest storm ever to hit the U.S. mainland. The megastorm comes at a time when President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have refused to make climate change an issue on the campaign trail. For the first time since 1984, climate change was never addressed during a presidential debate. "It’s really important that everybody, even those who aren’t in the kind of path of this storm, reflect about what it means that in the warmest year in U.S. history, ... in a year when we saw, essentially, summer sea ice in the Arctic just vanish before our eyes, what it means that we’re now seeing storms of this unprecedented magnitude," McKibben says. "If there was ever a wake-up call, this is it." We’re also joined by climate scientist Greg Jones from Southern Oregon University.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Greeks horrified: universal healthcare dismantled



Just when the austerity-ravaged people of Greece thought things couldn't get any worse for them, their universal healthcare system is dismantled and turned into an American-style death system. As the New York Times reports this week, the Greek healthcare system that ensured coverage for all of its citizens before the financial crisis hit has today been completely decimated by technocrats and austerity-pushers. In the past, Greece provided universal care thanks to employers, individuals, and the government contributing to a fund to administer medical services to the entire population. Even those Greeks who lost their jobs still received health benefits for one year, and after those benefits expired, Greece made sure those individuals still received the healthcare they needed at no cost to them.

Editor arrested for publishing tax dodger list



Greek police arrested the editor of a weekly magazine for publishing a list of more than 2,000 names of wealthy Greeks who have placed money in Swiss bank accounts, police said. The so-called "Lagarde List", which led to the arrest of editor Costas Vaxevanis on Sunday, was given to Greece by French authorities in 2010 with names to be probed for possible tax evasion - has been a topic of heated speculation in the Greek media. It is named after International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, who was French finance minister when the list was handed over.

How cannabis can help you

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US election restricts voters



One of the more controversial aspects of the 2012 election campaign has been a series of new laws that make it harder for some people to vote. In the past two years, more than a dozen states across the U.S. have passed laws that could restrict voting. Democrats have accused Republicans of trying to blocking legitimate voters from casting ballots. But Republicans claim that they are trying to stop fraud. Al Jazeera's John Hendren reports from Ohio.

Corporate consolidation of the media


Ex-Warden backs end to death penalty



Democracy Now!:

The former warden of San Quentin State Prison, Jeanne Woodford, joins us to discuss why she has come out in favor of Proposition 34, a ballot initiative to abolish the death penalty in California. Home to nearly a quarter of the nation’s death row population and in a state coping with budget crisis, independent analysts estimate that getting rid of the death penalty could save California taxpayers $130 million annually. The latest polls show a narrow margin of Californians oppose Prop 34 and that significant percentages are still undecided. Since leaving San Quentin — where she oversaw four executions, despite being personally opposed — Woodford now serves as executive director of Death Penalty Focus of California, which educates the public about alternatives to the death penalty.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The human cost of austerity



Rates of suicide and depression are on the rise in Spain as the unemployment figures in the country reach a record high. So is this the human cost of austerity? Inside Story debates with guests: Diego Lopez, Madhur Jha and Maria Nyman.

Berlusconi sentenced in tax evasion case



Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian prime minister, has been sentenced by a Milan court to a year in prison for tax fraud connected to his Mediaset television channels and also banned from holding public office for three years. The court sentenced him on Friday to four years but later cut it to one year because of an amnesty law which reduces the sentences of all crimes committed up to May 2006. Berlusconi and 10 co-defendants were further ordered to pay 10m euros ($13m) to Italian tax authorities, a statement said. Al Jazeera's Claudio Lavanga reports from Rome.

Are US drone strikes a war crime?



A special unit is being set up to investigate the legality of US drone strikes but the White House appears unapologetic. Is the White House trying to buffer and widen its scope of targeted killings with controversial new legislations? Shihab Rattansi speaks to Greg Miller, and Hina Shamsi.

Do we need industrial agriculture to feed the world?



For more information:
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How can we feed the world—today and tomorrow?

The biggest players in the food industry—from pesticide pushers to fertilizer makers to food processors and manufacturers—spend billions of dollars every year not selling food, but selling the idea that we need their products to feed the world. But, do we really need industrial agriculture to feed the world? Can sustainably grown food deliver the quantity and quality we need—today and in the future? Our first Food MythBusters film takes on these questions in under seven minutes. So next time you hear them, you can too.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Matt Taibbi on Obama's Rolling Stone interview

Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone:

Obama brought in many people from the leadership of Citigroup to shape his economic policy, from chief of staff Jack Lew to transition team chief Michael Froman to a host of people connected in some form or another to former Citi executive and Glass-Steagall architect Bob Rubin (even Geithner served under Rubin in the Clinton administration).

The presence of so many Citigroup executives in the Obama administration makes it not terribly surprising that the president would be sensitive on the subject of Glass-Steagall. The fact that two of Obama's closest economic advisors, Geithner and Gene Sperling (who was NEC chief under Clinton), were original architects of Glass-Steagall is also an obvious factor here.

The repeal of Glass-Steagall was just part of the decades-long deregulatory effort that led to this toxic situation. Another Clinton-era law, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, contributed to it as well, by completely deregulating the market for derivatives (which were used to package all of those mortgages, were a major contributor to the collapse of AIG, and also played a huge role in the Jefferson County, Alabama disaster, among other things).


Reinstating Glass-Steagall or imposing a strong Volcker Rule would have been part of that, because it would have removed the threat that the federal government or the FDIC would ever again have to worry about what sorts of loony gambling schemes these new supermarket firms are getting themselves into. Obama also could also have helped reverse the damage of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act by forcing derivatives to be traded on simple, regulated exchanges. FDR did exactly the same thing with stocks and commodities after the Depression, but Obama passed on doing it with derivatives, again allowing his own party's derivatives reform proposals in Dodd-Frank to be severely gutted from within.

Finally, Obama had a chance to physically reduce the size of Too-Big-To-Fail companies by supporting the Brown-Kaufman amendment to Dodd-Frank, which would have forced big banks to cap deposits and liabilities to under 10% of GDP. He didn't support that amendment and it died.

The sum total of all of this is that Obama didn't really do anything to alleviate the dangers of Too-Big-To-Fail. If anything, we now live in a world that is more concentrated and dangerous than it was before 2008. TBTF companies like Chase and Wells Fargo and Bank of America are even bigger and less-able-to-fail-ier than they were when he took office. This is why Obama's answer to our interview question is so disappointing. If I'm understanding the president correctly, he basically says he doesn't think Glass-Steagall should be re-instated, and beyond that, he just thinks Wall Street needs to self-regulate better.

The only hope we really have to fix many of these problems is to do just that, and we will need the chief executive's help there. But President Obama apparently still isn't willing to take that step, which is really too bad.


Continue reading here.

Noam Chomsky on US fueled dangers



Democracy Now!:

In the week when President Obama and Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney debated issues of foreign policy and the economy, we turn to world-renowned political dissident, linguist, author and MIT Professor, Noam Chomsky. In a recent speech, Chomsky examined topics largely ignored or glossed over during the campaign: China, the Arab Spring, global warming, nuclear proliferation, and the military threat posed by Israel and the U.S. versus Iran. He reflects on the Cuban missile crisis, which took place 50 years ago this week, and is still referred to as "the most dangerous moment in human history." He delivered this talk last month at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, at an event sponsored by the Center for Popular Economics. Chomsky’s talk was entitled, "Who Owns the World?"

Globalism is the #1 health risk facing humanity



In the past - diseases like tuberculosis and malaria have been number one health concerns around the world. But not anymore. In today's world - globalization is the number one health risk facing humanity. A new study released this week by the Blacksmith Institute reveals, for the first time ever, the impact of industrial pollutants on communities across the planet. It found that industrial waste dump sites containing lead, mercury, chromium, pesticides, and other toxic horrors, poison more than 125 million people in 49 different low and middle income nations around the planet.

And the authors of the study say this is a very conservative estimate - and likely even more people are sickened by this rampant industrial pollution. In fact, the report says that industrial pollution is now a bigger global health problem for the world than malaria and tuberculosis. Just look at what's happening in places like Zamfara, Nigeria. It's a state without children - or very few children walking around. Why? because hundreds of children who work in gold mines are exposed to high levels of lead.

Back in March of 2010 - the organization Doctors Without Borders arrived on the scene in Zamfara - and found that hundreds of children had died from lead poisoning - and thousands more were diseased by it. Mortality rates in some villages were as high as 43%. This is a genocide carried out by transnational corporations that have no restraints on how they operate in what were once sovereign nations. That's the consequence of globalism
.

Voting against the machine



Will third party voters decide the next U.S. President?

O'Donnell encourages third party support



But again falls victim to the myth that Ralph Nader cost Al Gore the state of Florida in the 2000 presidential election. When are people going to get it through their heads that: 250,000 registered Democrats in Florida voted for Bush; Gore failed to carry his home state of Tennessee; Gore refused to have Clinton campaign for him; the Supreme Court stopped the Florida recount, which would have shown that Gore won the state.

Regardless, it's still nice to see this sentiment in the American mainstream corporate media.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Money is Speech



Money is Speech: A Musical History of Campaign Finance - the storied history of money in politics.

Mexico's workers protest labour reforms



Workers in Mexico are angry at a series of proposed labour reforms that the government is keen to push through. The government says the new law is aimed at making Mexico more competitive and will create thousands of new jobs. Workers, however, say they will be forced to accept lower wages and will not be able to afford to pay their bills. The new law would also make it easier for firms to fire their employees. Al Jazeera's Rachel Levin reports from Mexico City.

Ex-Goldman executive jailed for insider trading



Former Goldman Sachs executive Rajat Gupta has been sentenced to two years in prison for a huge insider trading operation. He's also been ordered to pay a $5 million fine. Al Jazeera's Cath Turner has more details.

Ford says 4,000 to lose jobs in Belgium



Ford has announced it will shut down its factory in Genk, Belgium within two years, moving the production of three models produced there to Spain. More than 4,000 workers will lose their jobs when the factory closes and many are already worried about finding new jobs in difficult economic times. Car sales across Europe have slumped since the economic crisis began, and Ford expects to lose more than $1bn in the region this year. Ford said the decision to close the factory could save the company about $500m. The US company is not the only car maker who will need to trim production, manufacturing across Europe has been continually contracting for more than a year. On Friday, the French government offered Peugeot a $9bn lifeline and to keep the car industry moving more deals between governments and major manufacturers could follow. Al Jazeera's Charlie Angela reports from Genk.

Prop 36 to decide future of three strikes law



Democracy Now!:

Under California’s three strikes, a person convicted of a felony who has two or more prior convictions for certain offenses must be sentenced to at least 25 years to life in state prison, even if the third offense is nonviolent. Critics have argued it is the harshest sentencing law in the United States. Life sentences have been handed down for stealing a pair of pants, shoplifting, forging a check and breaking into a soup kitchen. Although other states have three strike laws, California is the only state where a life sentence can be handed down for a nonviolent crime that could qualify as a misdemeanor, such as petty theft or drug possession. We speak to Michael Romano, director of the Three Strikes Project at Stanford Law School and a co-author of Proposition 36, and to Judge LaDoris Cordell, a retired Superior Court Judge.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

US urged to prosecute financial fraud



In the five years since the US economy crashed, there have been few corporate convictions, despite public desire for Wall Street to be held accountable. A former Goldman Sachs director is about to be sentenced for insider trading - but as Cath Turner reports, Rajat Gupta's trial is rare. But many feel not enough is being done to rein in corporate greed. Al Jazeera's Cath Turner reports from New York.

Third-party candidates face off in US debate



Presidential candidates from the Libertarian, Green, Constitution, and Justice parties hold their own debate in Chicago on Tuesday. Al Jazeera's John Hendren.



Sam Husseini, founder of VotePact.org, said third party candidates are getting very limited attention in the media, and are automatically written-off as nuisance candidates, even though they are raising legitimate issues. The debate was sponsored by the Free and Equal Elections Foundation.



In Chicago, it was no surprise that much of the mainstream media failed to show up as third party presidential candidates came to present an alternative vision for US domestic and foreign policy. From the Green Party to the Libertarian party, and from the Constitutional Party to the Justice party, both left and right were well represented.

Wall Street back in business, but unreformed



Greg Smith, a former Goldman Sachs employee who quit the firm and is releasing a tell-all book, says financiers at the investment bank often took the most sophisticated instruments and sold them to the least sophisticated client - the quickest way to earn money. Such reckless profit-seeking was a key factor behind the crash that blew through the US and the world's banks in 2008. But there's little indication that bad behavior has been drummed out of the industry, four years on. Other former bankers say new recruits need to have ethics ingrained from the beginning of their careers, but few in the industry or government seem willing to force it. Al Jazeera's Scott Heidler reports from New York City.

Obama should be called out like Bush

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Prop 37 could galvanize growing food movement



Democracy Now!:

As California voters prepare to vote on whether to label GMOs in food, we go to Berkeley to discuss Prop 37 and its implications for the broader food system with journalist and best-selling author Michael Pollan. Among the nation’s leading writers and thinkers on food and food policy, Pollan is the Knight Professor of Science and Environmental Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley School of Journalism. He’s written several books about food, including "The Botany of Desire," "The Omnivore’s Dilemma," "In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto," "Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual," and the forthcoming, "Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation."

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The UN is sending election observers to the US



Thanks to the nationwide efforts by conservatives to keep Democratic voters away from the polls and rig the election for Mitt Romney - foreign election observers will be on hand to make sure that the voting rights of minorities in America are protected come election day. More than 44 observers with the UN-affiliated Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe will be deployed at polling stations around the nation to monitor the election and potential disputes at polling stations. These observers were asked for by civil rights groups in the United States who've raised concerns over systematic efforts to restrict the votes of minorities ahead of the election - including Voter Suppression ID laws.

Iceland approves first "crowdsourced" constitution



Over the weekend, voters took to the polls in Iceland to approve a national referendum calling for a new Constitution to be approved in the wake of Iceland's financial crisis in 2008. That new Constitution was drawn up by a special panel of 25 citizens who took suggestions from Facebook and Twitter to draft the world's first ever "crowd-sourced" constitution. According to the results - 66% of the nation approved the new Constitution, which includes reforms such as nationalizing more resources, giving voters more power to call for their own referendums, and enacting term limits on the presidential office.

Third parties give alternative foreign policy



Democracy Now!:

In the last of our exclusive "Expanding the Debate" series, we bring you highlights of our coverage of last night’s final presidential debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney, with the added voices of third-party candidates. As Obama and Romney faced off for the last time before the general election, we once again broke the sound barrier by inserting Jill Stein of the Green Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party into the discussion. In an evening focused on foreign policy, both Obama and Romney shared wide agreement on issues including support for the Israeli government, the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, and opposition to U.S. military involvement in Syria. But they clashed over a few key points, including military spending, negotiating with Iran, and responding to the Libyan embassy attack. Before a live audience in San Rafael, California, we aired the Obama-Romney debate and paused the tape to give Stein and Anderson a chance to respond in real time to the same questions put to the major-party candidates.

Pussy Riot sent to remote prison camps

Pussy Riot band members Maria Alyokhina (left) and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova sit in a glass cage during their court hearing.
 

Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova to serve sentences in Russia's 'harshest prisons' in Perm and Mordovia
 
Two members of the anti-Kremlin punk band Pussy Riot have been sent to remote prison camps to serve their sentences, the group has said.

Maria Alyokhina, 24, will serve the rest of her two-year term at a women's prison camp in Perm, a Siberian region notorious for hosting some of the Soviet Union's harshest camps. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, has been sent to Mordovia, a region that also hosts a high number of prisons.

"These are the harshest camps of all the possible choices," the band said via its Twitter account on Monday.

Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for performing an anti-Putin "punk anthem" in a Moscow cathedral in February. They argued that their conviction was part of a growing crackdown on free speech and political activism in Russia.

They are expected to serve the rest of their sentences, which end in March 2014, in the camps, where conditions are reportedly dire.

A third member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was released earlier this month after being given a suspended sentence. Pussy Riot's supporters have argued that her release was designed to give the appearance of mercy from the authorities.

Confusion reigned on Monday as relatives and lawyers tried to assess exactly where the women were sent. Both Perm and Mordovia host several prison camps, some of which comprised the Soviet-era gulag system. Prison authorities declined to comment on the women's whereabouts.

Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova had petitioned to serve their sentences in Moscow, arguing that they wanted to be close to their children. Alyokhina has a five-year-old son named Filipp, while Tolokonnikova has a four-year-old daughter named Gera.

Romney: same old failed supply side economics

Paul Krugman, The New York Times:

For Mr. Romney, who started as a business consultant and then moved into the heady world of private equity, insists on portraying himself as a plucky small businessman. 

I am not making this up. In Tuesday’s debate, he declared, “I came through small business. I understand how hard it is to start a small business.” In his speech at the Republican convention, he declared, “When I was 37, I helped start a small company.” 

Ahem. It’s true that when Bain Capital started, it had only a handful of employees. But it had $37 million in funds, raised from sources that included wealthy Europeans investing through Panamanian shell companies and Central American oligarchs living in Miami while death squads associated with their families ravaged their home nations. Hey, doesn’t every plucky little start-up have access to that kind of financing? 

But back to the Romney jobs plan. As many people have noted, the plan has five points but contains no specifics. Loosely speaking, however, it calls for a return to Bushonomics: tax cuts for the wealthy plus weaker environmental protection. And Mr. Romney says that the plan would create 12 million jobs over the next four years. 

Where does that number come from? When pressed, the campaign cited three studies that it claimed supported its assertions. In fact, however, those studies did no such thing. 

Just for the record, one study concluded that America might gain two million jobs if China stopped infringing on U.S. patents and other intellectual property; this would be nice, but Mr. Romney hasn’t proposed anything that would bring about that outcome. Another study suggested that growth in the energy sector might add three million jobs in the next few years — but these were predicted gains under current policy, that is, they would happen no matter who wins the election, not as a consequence of the Romney plan. 

Finally, a third study examined the effects of the Romney tax plan and argued (implausibly, but that’s another issue) that it would lead to a large increase in the number of Americans who want to work. But how does that help cure a situation in which there are already millions more Americans seeking work than there are jobs available? It’s irrelevant to Mr. Romney’s claims. 

Continue reading here.



Monday, October 22, 2012

Third party candidates will debate



Christina Tobin,The Free and Equal Elections Foundation, joins Thom Hartmann. Why are third-party candidates in America locked out of mainstream media debates? What are Democrats and Republicans really afraid of?

Taking on corporate power: unionization



The corporate state today is stronger than it's ever been. Thanks to the Supreme Court - our elections are up for sale to the highest bidder - be it a billionaire casino mogul like Sheldon Adelson - or a massive transnational corporation like Koch Industries. And employers can now use the power of their position as the holder of the paycheck to implicitly coerce their employees to vote or lend support to whichever politician the CEO wants - or face consequences on the job. Many companies, are doing exactly that - including Murray Energy in Ohio - Westgate Resorts - and the Koch brothers' Georgia Pacific.

And Mitt Romney himself is encouraging employers to use this tactic, as a June 2012 conference call with the National Federation of Independent Businesses revealed. Plain and simple - the mechanisms by which we the people can control our democracy are being destroyed one-by-one. So the question is...how do we get them back? How do we wrestle back control from corporate CEOs and the super-rich who have now become Kings in our so-called democracy? Now of course - there's overturning Citizens United and putting in place a constitutional amendment that says money is property - not speech - and corporations are property - not people. Go to MoveToAmend.org to get involved in that fight.

Living the American Dream in 2012



As the US presidential candidates prepare for their final debate, we look at the family from Sudan who came searching for the "American Dream". The third debate in the US presidential race will take place on Monday night. Throughout the campaign, both candidates have often alluded to the so-called American Dream. In the second of two special reports, Al Jazeera's Rob Reynolds travels to California searching for that dream.

Remembering George McGovern

Democracy Now!:  

The former South Dakota senator and Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern has died at the age of 90. McGovern is best known for running against Richard Nixon in the 1972 presidential election on a platform of withdrawing U.S. troops from Vietnam, reducing defense spending and providing amnesty to those who evaded the draft. We’re joined by Stephen Vittoria, director of the documentary, "One Bright Shining Moment: The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern."

Children from Palestine share their dreams

Sunday, October 21, 2012

George McGovern: war hero fought to end a war

McGovern's greatest achievement was bridging the gulf between generations.
 

It is with deep regret that I report that George McGovern has died. A Democratic Senator from South Dakota, McGovern was his party’s nominee for president in 1972. His campaign was called The Children’s Crusade because it mobilised thousands of students against the war in Vietnam and the morally ambiguous presidency of Richard Nixon. The scale of McGovern’s ambition and idealism were matched by the scale of his defeat – winning just one state, his campaign showed the limits of American liberalism. Moderate Democrats blamed McGovern’s radicalism and the McGovernites blamed Nixon’s dirty tricks. But the sad truth is that a man like George was probably just too decent to win the presidency of the United States. Nobody has yet.

Let me correct some myths about George McGovern. He was no peacenik; during World War II he flew in bombing missions across Europe and was decorated for his bravery. Nor was he another rich liberal like the Kennedys; his parents were rural Republicans in South Dakota and his father was a Methodist minister. It wasn’t Mill or Rawls that shaped his view of life but the experience of poverty during the Great Depression and the vision of Hell that he saw over the cities that he bombed. After the war, McGovern helped build the South Dakota Democratic Party out of nothing, won a seat in Congress and then a seat in the Senate. He voted for the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin resolution that authorized escalation of US involvement in Vietnam – and soon regretted it. By 1965 he was an acknowledged dove and in 1968 he ran for the Democratic presidential nomination on a peace ticket. His second candidacy, in 1972, exploited the creation of a new nominating system based on caucuses and primaries. Packing caucuses with anti-war liberals, he was able to win the nomination with a mix of idealism and canny manipulation. McGovern was no fool.

In fact, everything McGovern advocated was shaped by a yearning for a simpler, older time when the government was smaller and the citizen was bigger. His opposition to military spending marked him out as a tax cutter and a fiscal hawk and his campaign was as critical of the Democratic Party machine as it was Nixon – for good reason. It was a Democratic president who put America in Vietnam, and McGovern regarded the conflict as a stain on the country’s character. Every war is a tragedy, but Vietnam was reprehensible. McGovern didn’t just feel anger about it; I think he felt guilt. He cut an ad in which he visited a veteran’s hospital, and what is remarkable about the film is the unedited anger of the boys he met. These kids were furious – with the Generals, with the President, but also perhaps with George. He represented a generation of failed leadership, of the grey men in Washington who sent the young to fight an unwinnable war on their behalf. McGovern’s greatest accomplishment was to earn the trust of boys like these – showing that a bridge between generations could be built and offering hope for progress and healing. Critics sneered that McGovern's youthful campaign was staffed by "the beautiful people." But there's no escaping the beauty of his humility.

Continue reading here.


Calls to close corporate tax holes in UK



A week after the UK's coalition government announced another $15bn worth of cuts to public services, anti-austerity campaigners are focusing on big corporations that many people believe are not paying their fair share of taxes. Some estimates place multinational tax evasion in the UK at up to $40b annually. US-based firms such as Starbucks, McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken are among the latest companies to be cited as paying only a fraction of taxes on billions in annual profits. Al Jazeera's Laurence Lee reports from London.

Striking miners claim intimidation in South Africa



South African mine workers at the Samancor chrome mine in Rustenburg have told Al Jazeera they're being intimidated by striking colleagues. It follows weeks of protests by miners demanding higher wages.

Thousands march against UK austerity



Anger over government austerity measures spilled onto the streets of London. Tens of thousands marched through the streets of the UK capital to protest against wide-ranging public spending cuts. Simultaneous marches took place in Ireland and Scotland in the largest anti-austerity demonstrations so far this year. Al Jazeera's Peter Sharp reports from London.

Spain austerity boosts Basque independence



One year after the Basque separatist group ETA's unilateral declaration of a ceasefire, and one day before fresh regional elections, analysts say a new optimistic mood is capturing this mountainous region straddling the border between Spain and France. Iñigo Urkullu, the leader of the nationalist party, is becoming increasingly popular in the region, according to opinion polls, giving more hope to Basque voters seeking an independent state. Their calls for independence have been boosted by their relatively robust economy, while Spain suffers from a severe economic crisis. "People today feel at ease, the political possibilities have opened up and going forward there is an opportunity for society to go wherever it wants," Xabier Aierdi, a professor from the department of sociology at Basque Country University, says. ETA had launched a violent struggle for an independent state in 1962. After killing more than 800 people across Spain over the past four decades in its fight, ETA said on October 20, 2011, that it would lay down its arms but stopped short of declaring it was defeated. Al Jazeera's Paul Brennan reports from Bilbao.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Arrested, shackled to chairs for eight hours



DemocracyNow.org - Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and vice presidential candidate Cheri Honkala were arrested Tuesday as they attempted to enter the grounds of the presidential debate site at Hofstra University. Like other third party candidates, Stein was blocked from participating in the debate by the Commission on Presidential Debates, which is controlled by the Republican and Democratic parties. Stein and Honkala were held for eight hours, handcuffed to chair. As she was being arrested, Stein condemned what she called "this mock debate, this mockery of democracy." Just hours after being released, Stein joins us in the Democracy Now! studio.

American students drowning in tuition debt



American students are going back to school in order to advance their careers in a bad economy, but more education mean more debt. Many students owe tens of thousands of dollars in loans by the time they graduate. The total amount of US student debt is more than a trillion dollars. The weak economy is exacerbating the problem because graduates cannot find jobs and therefore are not able to pay off their loans. Al Jazeera's Kimberly Halkett reports from Washington, DC.

McGovern: challanged Vietnam War, elitist politics



Democracy Now!:

In a Democracy Now! special, we look at the life and legacy of Sen. George McGovern, best known for running on an anti-war platform as the Democratic challenger to President Richard Nixon in the 1972 presidential election. A family spokesperson confirms the 90-year-old McGovern is no longer responsive and is "at the end stages of his life." He has been in hospice care in South Dakota since Monday, suffering from a combination of age-related medical conditions that have worsened in recent months. McGovern ran against Nixon in 1972 on a platform of withdrawing U.S. troops from Vietnam, reducing defense spending, and providing amnesty to those who evaded the draft. Although he ultimately lost his election bid by a landslide, McGovern shattered the consensus in Capitol Hill around the Vietnam War as one of the first senators to speak out against the war. As a decorated World War II pilot who flew B-24 bombers over Nazi Germany, McGovern did not fit the stereotype of antiwar leaders in the 1960s and 1970s. He is also known for transforming how the Democratic Party chooses its presidential nominee, and for his efforts to end world hunger. We air an excerpt of a 2005 documentary about McGovern, "One Bright Shining Moment: The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern," narrated by Amy Goodman. Exploring McGovern’s 1972 grassroots campaign for the presidency, the film features interviews with the candidate himself; supporters and activists like Gore Vidal, Gloria Steinem, Warren Beatty, Howard Zinn; and music from Bob Dylan, Robbie Robertson, Donovan and Elvis Costello.

Conservative pundit resigns post in scandal

The New York Times:

While attending a conference last month, the president of the King’s College was spotted in the company of a woman other than his wife. At a typical institution of higher learning, a sighting like that might not have turned into a major controversy. 

But the King’s College is not a typical institution of higher learning. It is a tiny Christian college based in a downtown Manhattan office building, whose mission statement articulates a “commitment to the truths of Christianity and a biblical worldview.” 

Its president was Dinesh D’Souza, better known as the outspoken conservative commentator behind the caustic documentary “2016: Obama’s America.” And the ensuing scandal has cost him his job. 

The King’s College announced Mr. D’Souza’s resignation on Thursday, two days after World Magazine, a Christian-oriented publication, reported that he had checked into a Comfort Suites in South Carolina in September with a woman he introduced as his fiancée, despite the fact that he was already married. The magazine reported that he filed for divorce the same day its reporter called to ask about the situation. 

Mr. D’Souza, 51, angrily denounced the article, insisting that he and his wife had been separated for two years and that he and his traveling companion had stayed in separate hotel rooms. “I had no idea that it is considered wrong in Christian circles to be engaged prior to being divorced,” he wrote on FoxNews.com. “As a result of all this, and to avoid even the appearance of impropriety,” he wrote, he was suspending his engagement. 

The college’s board of trustees met Wednesday, from noon until late into the night, then again on Thursday morning, according to the school’s newspaper, Empire State Tribune. At 12:30 p.m. students, gathered in a conference room at the school’s space on lower Broadway, were informed of the news: The board had accepted Mr. D’Souza’s resignation, and Andy Mills, the board chairman, would step in as interim president.

Continue reading here.

A brief history of credit unions



Find out how credit unions started and who played key roles in their success.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Walmart workers issue Black Friday ultimatum



Josh Eidelson, Labor Journalist / Contributing Writer-Salon & Neal Asbury, Truth for America join Thom Hartmann. In recent weeks we've seen unprecedented labor strikes against the world's largest private retailer - Walmart. It started with a walkout among Walmart supply chain workers - and turned into a strike by Walmart's retail workers in a dozen cities across the nation last week. Workers threatened to hold actions on Black Friday at the end of November if Walmart doesn't agree to stop retaliating against employees who speak out abour poor working conditions. And now we know that this strike has the attention of Walmart executives. According to a leaked corporate memo obtained by the Huffington Post that was sent around to Walmart's salaried employees only - managers are instructed to act with caution when confronting striking workers. For fifty years - Walmart has stifled any sort of union activity - but this latest memo is unusually cautious - telling managers not to violate their workers' right to organize - and not to discipline employees who engage in walk-outs are sit-ins. The memo also cautions managers from threatening, intimidating, or spying on workers who are trying to organize. It does however instruct managers to give workers facts, opinions, and personal experiences with labor organizaing in an effort to discourage union activity. So given the strikes in the recent week - and now this leaked corporate memo - who has the upper-hand in the fledgling labor dispute with Black Friday looming at the end of next month?

How to steal an election in nine easy steps



Democracy Now!:

With just weeks until the November 6 election, we are joined by investigative journalist Greg Palast, who has been tracking voter disenfranchisement and election trickery closely over the years. He joins us now to detail how people can protect their vote this year. He is the author of the recently released New York Times bestseller, "Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps."

Thousands protest in Athens: anti-austerity rally



Thousands of Greek protesters have responded to their leader's plans for austerity measures by gathering in Athens for an anti-austerity rally. Some of the demonstrators pelted riot police with petrol bombs, bottles and pieces of marble. The protest in the capital is part of a nation-wide strike that has shut down rail service, grounded flights and closed schools. Al Jazeera's Dominic Kane reports from Athens.

Runaway Fighter: facts and statistics

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Protesting Bain’s plan to close Sensata plant



Democracy Now!:

We turn now to Freeport, Illinois, where more people have been arrested protesting plans by Mitt Romney’s former company, Bain Capital, to shut the Sensata Technologies plant and move operations to China — a loss of 170 American jobs. On Wednesday, six people were arrested in the lobby of the plant during a sit-in demanding full severance pay for those who will lose their jobs. Last month, Senata workers set up an encampment called "Bainport" across the street from the facility to protest the company’s plan to close the plant. Last week, three protesters were arrested for blocking the path of trucks leaving the plant in an effort to stop the removal of equipment from their workplace. To find out more about the “Bainport” protest, we speak to Tom Gaulrapp, who has worked at the Sensata Technologies plant for 33 years. His last day of work at Sensata is November 5, one day before the election. The protesters have invited Romney to visit “Bainport” to address their situation.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Left against Obama

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Rightwing insurrection is usurping our democracy

After contemplating a military coup Sir James Goldsmith went on to form the Referendum party, slogan: Let the People Decide.
 

To subvert means to turn from below. We need a new word, which means to turn from above. The primary threat to the democratic state and its functions comes not from mob rule or leftwing insurrection, but from the very rich and the corporations they run.

These forces have refined their assault on democratic governance. There is no need – as Sir James Goldsmith, John Aspinall, Lord Lucan and others did in the 1970s – to discuss the possibility of launching a military coup against the British government: the plutocrats have other means of turning it.

Over the last few years I have been trying better to understand how the demands of big business and the very rich are projected into policymaking, and I have come to see the neoliberal thinktanks as central to this process. These are the groups which claim to champion the free market but whose proposals often look like a prescription for corporate power.

In Think Tank: the story of the Adam Smith Institute, the institute's founder, Madsen Pirie, provides an unintentional but invaluable guide to how power in Britain really works.

Soon after it was founded (in 1977), the institute approached "all the top companies". About 20 of them responded by sending cheques. Its most enthusiastic supporter was the coup plotter James Goldsmith, one of the most unscrupulous asset strippers of that time. Before making one of his donations, Pirie writes, "he listened carefully as we outlined the project, his eyes twinkling at the audacity and scale of it. Then he had his secretary hand us a cheque for £12,000 as we left".

From the beginning, senior journalists on the Telegraph, the Times and the Daily Mail volunteered their services. Every Saturday, in a wine bar called the Cork and Bottle, Margaret Thatcher's researchers and leader writers and columnists from the Times and Telegraph met staff from the Adam Smith Institute and the Institute of Economic Affairs. Over lunch, they "planned strategy for the week ahead". These meetings would "co-ordinate our activities to make us more effective collectively". The journalists would then turn the institute's proposals into leader columns while the researchers buttonholed shadow ministers.

Soon, Pirie says, the Mail began running a supportive article on the leader page every time the Adam Smith Institute published something. The paper's then editor, David English, oversaw these articles himself, and helped the institute to refine its arguments.

As Pirie's history progresses, all references to funding cease. Apart from tickets donated by British Airways, no sponsors are named beyond the early 1980s. While the institute claims to campaign on behalf of "the open society", it is secretive and unaccountable. Today it flatly refuses to say who funds it.

Pirie describes how his group devised and refined many of the headline policies implemented by Thatcher and John Major. He claims (and produces plenty of evidence to support it) either full or partial credit for the privatisation of the railways and other industries, for the contracting-out of public services to private companies, for the poll tax, the sale of council houses, the internal markets in education and health, the establishment of private prisons, GP fundholding and commissioning and, later, for George Osborne's tax policies.

I see these people as rightwing vanguardists, mobilising first to break and then to capture a political system that is meant to belong to all of us. Like Marxist insurrectionaries, they often talk about smashing things, about "creative destruction", about the breaking of chains and the slipping of leashes. But in this case they appear to be trying to free the rich from the constraints of democracy. And at the moment they are winning.

Continue reading here.

Expanding the debate with third party candidates



Democracy Now!:

President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney sparred last night in their second of three debates. Today, in a two-hour special, we expand the debate by including the voices of three presidential candidates shut out of the official debate. We are joined by Jill Stein of the Green Party, Constitution Party nominee Virgil Goode, and Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson. We re-air parts of last night’s presidential debate, pausing the videotape to give third-party candidates a chance to respond to the same questions put to the major-party candidates.

Spanish students join anti-austerity campaign



Students in Spain are voicing their anger over the cuts in the education budget, saying their future is now at stake. Since 2010, some $6.5bn have been cut from education funding in Spain. Tens of thousands of teaching jobs have been lost, class sizes have risen, and there have been dramatic increases in tuition fees. Scholarships, subsidies for textbooks and school dinners have disappeared, and other support grants have been cancelled. Students are deeply concerned, not least by comments this week from Spain's education minister. Al Jazeera's Paul Brennan reports from Madrid.

Green Party candidates arrested, wanted to debate



Democracy Now!:

Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and vice-presidential candidate Cheri Honkala were arrested Tuesday as they attempted to enter the grounds of the presidential debate site at Hofstra University. Like other third-party candidates, Stein was blocked from participating in the debate by the Commission on Presidential Debates, which is controlled by the Republican and Democratic parties. Stein and Honkala were held for eight hours, handcuffed to chairs. As she was being arrested, Stein condemned what she called "this mock debate, this mockery of democracy." Just hours after being released, Stein joins us in the Democracy Now! studio.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Breaking the cycle of poverty with schooling



Some 200 million young people aged between 15 and 24 years old in developing countries never finish primary school. One in eight of those are unemployed, according to a new report published by UNESCO - and just over a quarter of those who are lucky enough to find a job earn around two dollars a day. The UN calculates that for every dollar spent on a person's education, $10-$15 are generated in economic growth. Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh reports on one groundbreaking project developed to help give school drop-outs in Egypt a second chance to escape the cycle of poverty.

Gary McKinnon extradition to US blocked



The United Kingdom has blocked the extradition of an English computer hacker to the United States, ending his decade-long campaign to avoid trial there over allegations he broke into sensitive military and NASA computer networks. British Interior Secretary Theresa May on Tuesday told the House of Commons that she had refused the US request to send Gary McKinnon to face charges over an electronic rampage between 2001 and 2002. Al Jazeera's Laurence Lee has more details.

Scotland moves a step closer to independence



Plans are underway a referendum which could lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom. The go ahead is about to be given for a 'Yes-No' vote on full independence from the rest of Great Britain.



British Prime Minister David Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond have signed an agreement to hold a referendum in 2014 on Scottish independence, the prime minister's office has said. The deal will allow Scotland to decide in a 2014 referendum whether it should become an independent country or stay within the United Kingdom after three centuries of union with England. Al Jazeera's Laurence Lee speaks to the First Minister, Aex Salmond.

Third parties excluded, questions controlled



Democracy Now!:

As President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney prepare for their second debate tonight at Hofstra University on Long Island, we speak with George Farah, author of "No Debate: How the Republican and Democratic Parties Secretly Control the Presidential Debates." The debate will feature questions from the audience that have been pre-selected by moderator Candy Crowley of CNN — a detail revealed when Time magazine published the contract secretly negotiated by the Obama and Romney campaigns and the Commission on Presidential Debates.

McGuinty prorogues legislature, resigns

The Toronto Star:

Premier Dalton McGuinty is saying so long, but not necessarily goodbye.

McGuinty has resigned from Ontario politics and taken the rare step of suspending the legislature, but not before dangling the possibility of a run for the federal Liberal leadership against front-runner Justin Trudeau. 

In power for nine years and leader of the provincial Liberals since 1996, the Ottawa lawyer made his stunning announcement Monday evening — just 12 months into his toughest stretch in government, leading a minority.

McGuinty, 57, said his decision stemmed from a mix of professional headaches and personal considerations, from tense relations with rival parties to the recent wedding of his only daughter.

A snap poll Monday night suggested Ontarians welcome his departure — two-thirds, or 67 per cent, approved of his move, with 17 per cent disapproving and 16 per cent having no opinion.

Forum Research, using interactive voice response technology, polled 220 Ontarians within minutes of McGuinty’s announcement.

Opposition party leaders thanked him for his service but said it’s irresponsible to prorogue the legislature with the province struggling to eliminate a $14.4-billion deficit and almost 600,000 Ontarians unemployed.

Shutting the legislature will put a temporary halt to committee hearings on the cost of the two cancelled gas plants in Mississauga and Oakville, noted NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.

“The work we need to do here is simply too important to stop not . . . the people who make this province work every day sent us here to do a job,” she told a news conference.

“Stopping that work, while the Liberals select a new leader, is really not serving very well the people who sent us here.”

After taking power in 2003, he made peace with public-sector workers, particularly teachers, after years of strikes and tumult under the Tories.

But he hits the road at a time when tumult is returning over his wage freeze on teachers and other civil servants. Education unions, once key Liberal allies, are now more aligned with the New Democrats having helped them win last month’s byelection in Kitchener—Waterloo.

However, there were also damaging political scandals, including the $3,000-a-day consultants at eHealth Ontario, the ORANG air ambulance fiasco, the cost of at least $230 million to cancel gas-fired power plants in Liberal-held Oakville and Mississauga and a so-called “slush fund” to ethnocultural groups, including a cricket club that got $1 million without asking for it.

He will remain in power until a successor is elected by about 2,500 Liberal party members, including MPPs and candidates from all 107 ridings, delegates from each constituency and party brass and luminaries.

The premier said he will remain as MPP for Ottawa South — which is represented federally by his brother David, who is also mentioned as a federal Liberal leadership contender — until the next provincial election.

Continue reading here.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Rising sea levels threaten US coastline



The sea level on the east coast of the US is rising five times faster than the global average. It is a major threat to the millions who live in the region, and is causing the US government a big problem. Scott Heidler reports from a small community in the state of Delaware which has found itself on the front line.

UK UFO hacker to learn extradition fate



Gary McKinnon, a British computer hacker who has been fighting a ten-year battle against extradition to the United States is set to learn his fate. McKinnon was a Scottish systems administrator when he found himself labeled as the biggest military computer hacker of all time by the United States. He was accused of hacking into computers at the Pentagon and NASA. The Home Secretary will tell parliament whether the government accepts medical reports suggesting McKinnon, who suffers from Aspergers and is on the Autism specturm, would be a risk to himself if he was sent for trial in the US. Al Jazeera's Peter Sharp reports from London.

Historic blockade: Keystone XL tar sands pipeline



Democracy Now!:

A standoff is underway in Texas over construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would run oil from the Canadian tar sands fields to U.S. refineries on the Gulf Coast. In a protest now entering its fourth week, dozens of environmental activists working with local Texas landowners have blocked the pipeline’s path with tree sits and other nonviolent protests. We speak to Susan Scott, who owns land where the pipeline will run; actress Daryl Hannah, who was arrested there last week and has long been active in protests against the pipeline; and Tar Sands Blockade coalition spokesperson Ron Seifert.

Walmart policies: workers need public assistance

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The hidden price of public-private partnerships

Tens of billions of dollars have been sunk into some 180 projects, including Ontario’s Highway 407, and many more are in the works.
 

Governments are essentially “renting money” they could borrow more cheaply on their own because it’s politically expedient to defer expenses and avoid debt, Prof. Boardman added. P3 has become a “slogan” with often dubious benefits, he said.

Based on a new study of 28 Ontario P3 projects worth more than $7-billion, University of Toronto assistant professor Matti Siemiatycki and researcher Naeem Farooqi found that public-private partnerships cost an average of 16 per cent more than conventional tendered contracts. That’s mainly because private borrowers typically pay higher interest rates than governments. Transaction costs for lawyers and consultants also add about 3 per cent to the final bill.

Continue reading here.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Why Bhutan did the opposite of privatization



Let's think about what's going on in the United States right now...Everywhere you look - the profit motive is replacing the public good. What used to be our commons: our education systems, our roads and bridges, our social safety nets, our prisons, our water and power systems, you name it - they are all being devoured by billionaires and their for-profit corporations. And they only have one motive - to make higher and higher quarterly profits.

So with the privatization of water facilities in Detroit - it's no longer a question of, "How water can be supplied to the most residents in the best way possible?" - it's now a question of, "How can the basic human need for water be used to turn a profit?" With the privatization of prisons in places like Ohio and Arizona - it's no longer a question of "How we can administer our criminal justice system for the good of the society?" - but, rather, "How we can lock up more and more Americans to increase profits?" And with the privatization of education - which can be seen in the push for charter schools and billionaire-funded Hollywood movies - it's no longer a question about, "How we can educate our kids to be leaders in the new economy?" - but, rather, "How we can shuffle kids in and out of classes in the most profitable way possible?" The Republican Party has pushed privatizing Social Security since the thirties, and privatizing Medicare since the sixties. Our food supply is now increasingly dominated by one private corporation - Monsanto - that is peddling genetically modified foods that scientific tests have proven to be unhealthy in lab animals - but are extremely profitable.

Obama more conservative than Ronald Reagan?



Cenk Uygur from The Young Turks points out Barack Obama's conservative record.

Witness - A Schoolgirl's Odyssey



On October 9, 2012, masked gunmen ambushed a van carrying schoolgirls home in Pakistan's Swat Valley. They shot 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai at point blank range in the head and neck leaving her in critical condition. The Taliban in Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack and vowed to "finish the chapter" in Malala's story. Bringing and end to education for girls has long been one of their goals. The young activist was only 11 when she first stood up to the Taliban and despite numerous threats she continued to speak out against them. This documentary filmed in 2009 follows the journey of Malala and her father as the deteriorating security situation forces them to leave not just their home in Swat Valley but their life's passion.

Brazil police move to root out slums' drug dealers



More than a thousand police and soldiers are preparing to invade four of Rio de Janeiro's most dangerous slums. It's part of an ongoing attempt to root out drug traffickers Gabriel Elizondo reports on Rio's attempt to clean up its favelas.

Lewis Black on America's two party system






Where is the "prison capital" of the world?


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sensata workers, community blockade Bain



Debi Kempel of Freeport joins Thom Hartmann. In just over a month - Sensata Technologies in Freeport, Illinois will shut its doors - thanks to Mitt Romney's Bain Capital and it's love of outsourcing. But workers at Sensata aren't going quietly - and are doing all they can to bring attention to Bain Capital's all out attack on American jobs.

Controversy: EU awarded the Nobel Peace Prize



The European Union has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. There were gasps of surprise when the announcement was made in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.The EU was chosen over other contenders that included the founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko and Egyptian activist Wael Ghonim. Al Jazeera's Tim Friend reports.

Walmart's historic first strike

Labor rights activists demonstrate outside Walmart's lobbying office in Washington, DC.
 
Amy Goodman, Opinion, The Guardian:

American workers are on the move

It's a huge symbolic moment as grassroots labor activists take on America's largest, resolutely anti-union private employer
 
The great recession of 2008, this global economic meltdown, has wiped out the life savings of so many people, and created a looming threat of chronic unemployment for millions. This is happening while corporate coffers are brimming with historically high levels of cash on hand, in both the "too big to fail" banks and in non-financial corporations. 

Despite unemployment levels that remain high, and the anxiety caused by people living paycheck to paycheck, many workers in the United States are taking matters into their own hands, demanding better working conditions and better pay. These are the workers who are left unmentioned in the presidential debates, who remain uninvited into the corporate news networks' gilded studios. These are the workers at Walmart, the largest private employer in the United States.

This week, Walmart workers launched the first strike against the giant retailer in its 50-year history, with protests and picket lines at 28 stores across 12 states. Many of these non-union workers are facing retaliation from their employer, despite the protections that exist on paper through the National Labor Relations Board. The strikers are operating under the banner of Our Walmart: Organization United for Respect at Walmart started with support from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

Our Walmart members protested outside Walmart's "Meeting for the Investment Community 2012" in Bentonville, Arkansas. Demanding a stop to the company's retaliations, the group promised a vigorous national presence at Walmart stores on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the largest retail shopping day of the year. The workers have an impressive array of allies ready to join them, including the National Organization for Women.

Continue reading here.

Shakedown in Ontario



In Ontario, Public Sector workers are about to have their collective bargaining rights severely curtailed for six years, or longer. Why ? So that New York bond rating loan sharks don't increase the vig. But the real solution to the problem is right next door, in Quebec !

Stay classy, Republicans

A Romney supporter at a rally in Lancaster, Ohio, on Friday, October 12.

Friday, October 12, 2012

BBC denies cover-up of Savile 'abuse'



He was a British institution, a flamboyant TV host who raised millions for charity. But a year after his death, Jimmy Savile's reputation has been destroyed by a series of allegations of sex abuse. And the company he worked for, the BBC, has been forced to defend itself against accusations that it tried to cover up the scandal. In December it decided not to broadcast an investigation into the charges. Al Jazeera's Tim Friend reports from London.

Walmart owes $1.4 million to worker: mistreatment

Former Walmart employee Meredith Boucher, centre, walks out of Superior Court of Justice during the first day of a civil trial by jury Monday September 24, 2012
 

A jury on Wednesday awarded a former Walmart assistant manager $1.46 million — more than she had requested — for six months of mistreatment she suffered at the hands of a Windsor store manager three years ago.
 
Meredith Boucher, 42, successfully argued that she was subject to profane and insulting mental abuse from May to November 2009 from Jason Pinnock, 32, then the manager of the east-side Walmart store, including being called “a (expletive) idiot” and being made to count skids in front of others to prove she could count.

“We’re delighted for Ms. Boucher,” her lawyer Myron Shulgan said after the verdict was announced. “She championed the cause for workers and indicated that corporations will be made to respond to improper treatment of employees.”

Shulgan argued his client was subject to sexual harassment and discrimination, intentional infliction of mental suffering, and — at the hands of an assistant manager who punched her in the arm two days in a row and was subsequently fired — assault.

The jury of three men and three women, who decided that Boucher was constructively dismissed — in other words, forced out through abusive treatment — awarded her: from Walmart, $200,000 for intentional infliction of mental suffering, $1 million for punitive damages, and $10,000 for assault; and from Pinnock, $100,000 for intentional infliction of mental suffering, and $150,000 for punitive damages. She received nothing for alleged sexual harassment and discrimination.

Continue reading here.

Selling off Britain: Privatizing the police



British police are warning that government plans to privatise some police services is putting people in danger. Critics say it's more about ideology than saving money. In the final instalment of our "Selling off Britain" series, Laurence Lee reports on police privatisation plans that are the focus of massive opposition.

Expanding the VP Debate



Democracy Now!:

Our “Expanding the Debate” special series continues as we open the discussion to include two third party vice presidential candidates who were excluded last night from the “official” debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan: Cheri Honkala of the Green Party and Luis Rodriguez of the Justice Party. With the general election just weeks away, Biden and Ryan squared off in their only debate Thursday night, aggressively challenging each other on foreign and domestic policy issues asked by moderator Martha Raddatz of ABC News. Raddatz pressed them with questions on the deaths of Americans at the U.S. Embassy in Libya, taxes, Medicare, Social Security, the budget deficit, terrorism and Afghanistan. Raddatz also asked each of the candidates, both of whom are Catholic, about how their personal beliefs affect their views on abortion. Romney’s personal wealth came up, but many issues were missing — including poverty, global warming, immigration, gun control and the country’s staggering incarceration rates. Democracy Now! poses many of these same questions today to Honkala and Rodriquez in order to bring new voices into the discussion. Democracy Now! first broke the sound barrier during the presidential debate on Oct. 3 by pausing after answers offered by President Obama and Mitt Romney to get real-time responses from Jill Stein of the Green Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Greece vs. Iceland - the collapse of Globalism?



The global economy is sputtering out. The International Monetary Fund cut its growth forecasts for the world economy - and warned that there is an "alarmingly high" risk of deep economic slowdown. IMF projections now show the global economy growing by a mere 3.3% this year - the slowest growth since 2009. As the IMF says in its report: "Confidence in the global financial system remains exceptionally fragile...Bank lending has remained sluggish across advanced economies." With Europe's economy contracting, the United States headed for a "fiscal cliff," and emerging economies like India and China also slowing down - IMF leaders are calling on policy makers to address the threats in their economies. All around the world - we are witnessing the collapse of corporate globalism. Economist Marshall Auerback, Economists for Peace and Security joins Thom for more on this topic.