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A Parting Gift to the Religious Right

From the people who brought you the Terri Schiavo spectacle, the stem-cell research stalemate and the atrocious waste of tax money on abstinence-only sex education that has been shown not to work, comes a sequel: a proposal to redefine abortion to include some of the most common forms of birth control.

Posted on Jul 28, 2008 READ MORE



AP photo / EyePress

China Under Fire for Olympic Crackdowns

When Beijing was chosen to host the Olympics, the Chinese government pledged to make human rights improvements, but Amnesty International says the situation has actually gotten worse because of the coming games: “Specifically we’ve seen crackdowns on domestic human rights activists, media censorship and increased use of re-education through labor as a means to clean up Beijing and surrounding areas.”

Posted on Jul 28, 2008 READ MORE


George W. Bush
AP photo / Ron Edmonds

From Surplus to a Record Deficit

George W. Bush rode into office with a budget surplus, courtesy of his predecessor. When he leaves in January, he will not return the favor. The White House estimated the budget deficit for next year at a record $482 billion—and that doesn’t include the full cost of two wars, the potential bailout of Fannie and Freddie, the full stimulus package or the loss of tax revenue from an economy in the toilet.

Posted on Jul 28, 2008 READ MORE


ENTER_ALT_TEXT
news.bbc.co.uk

U.K. Cracking Down on Net Piracy

The British government is planning to “significantly reduce” the country’s online file-sharing of copyrighted content, by at least 50 percent, in the next three years through a sequence of warning letters, Internet account suspensions and ultimate expulsion from Internet access.

Posted on Jul 25, 2008 READ MORE


book cover

Nikki Keddie on Iran

In “Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies,” Barbara Slavin, a leading Middle East reporter for USA Today, offers a refreshingly nuanced and revelatory taxonomy of power within theocratic Iran that sheds light on its leaders and their ambitions.

Posted on Jul 25, 2008 READ MORE


Six Little Words

History books teem with six-word phrases, from the comforting (“Nothing to fear but fear itself”) to the inspiring (“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”) to the embarrassing (“Read my lips, no new taxes”). But the six words “on the basis of union membership” could be more momentous than any of those.

Posted on Jul 24, 2008 READ MORE


Turn On, Tune In, Change the World

The conventional wisdom on certain subjects is so deeply rooted that no amount of evidence disturbs its hold. That’s how it is with those dreary predictions that young Americans just won’t vote.

Posted on Jul 24, 2008 READ MORE



commons.wikimedia.org

Super Mega Housing Bill on Bush’s Desk

There’s a lot the president doesn’t like about the new housing bill, just passed by the House, but he’ll hold his nose and sign it. The package includes huge guarantees for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae—the national debt ceiling had to be lifted by about $800 billion, just in case—but also rescue for hundreds of thousands of homeowners at risk of foreclosure.

Posted on Jul 23, 2008 READ MORE


Washington’s Overrated ‘Old Hands’

The strongest argument for Obama is the weak performance of the Republican regime’s vaunted “grown-ups,” including McCain and his advisers. They have gone far in proving that experience can be overrated.

Posted on Jul 23, 2008 READ MORE


Sarkozy’s List of Successes

France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy is often dismissed for his flamboyance, but he has quite remarkable accomplishments, including some reforms long sought by the left.

Posted on Jul 23, 2008 READ MORE


Chinese Police
AP photo / Ng Han Guan

China to Allow ‘Protest Lite’

Taking cues from past Olympic protests and the U.S.‘s notoriously ironic “free speech zones,” the Chinese government has declared its openness to dissidents criticizing the state—so long as dissent is contained in one of three areas, does not threaten vague notions of national unity, and is submitted five days beforehand to the local security bureau.

Posted on Jul 23, 2008 READ MORE



AP photo / Mark Lennihan

Bad Days for Newsrooms—and Democracy

The decline of newspapers is not about the replacement of the antiquated technology of news print with the lightning speed of the Internet. It does not signal an inevitable and salutary change. It is not a form of progress.

Posted on Jul 21, 2008 READ MORE


U.S. Tehran Embassy
wikimedia.org

U.S. to Maybe Consider Thinking About Talking to Iran

Plans for a bastardized version of a U.S. embassy—an “interests section”—are reportedly in motion in Iran as the Bush administration tries to supplement its bellicose rhetoric with what it calls “people-to-people exchanges” between Iranians and U.S. citizens.

Posted on Jul 18, 2008 READ MORE


The Democrats’ Visionary

On the issue of gasoline prices, Republicans think they have a winner in their call for new drilling and Democrats are playing defense. Democrats need—this is a technical term—a lot more oomph. Al Gore wants to help them.

Posted on Jul 17, 2008 READ MORE


‘Kafka Comes to America’

Steven Wax’s new book provides an insider’s view of some of the most hideous practices our country has allowed since the 9/11 attacks. And that’s without giving accounts of torture and abuse of detainees.

Posted on Jul 16, 2008 READ MORE


The House That Gramm Built

Phil Gramm’s dismissal of America’s economic suffering has forced him to the political sidelines, but as one of the congressional architects of Republican economics, the mess he made will haunt Americans no matter who the next president is.

Posted on Jul 14, 2008 READ MORE


Fannie Mae
foreclosurewearhouse.com

The Rise and Fall of Fannie and Freddie

Although certain Washington denizens from both sides of the aisle might have been thrown when the two government-backed mortgage finance companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, hit the skids last week, several of their current and former colleagues had long seen the crisis coming.

Posted on Jul 12, 2008 READ MORE


The Death of Reaganomics

The biggest political story of 2008 is getting little coverage. It involves the collapse of assumptions that have dominated our economic debate for three decades.

Posted on Jul 10, 2008 READ MORE



AP photo / Petros Giannakouris

Disorderly or Not, America Should Withdraw

The endless debate about the U.S. withdrawing its army from Iraq and what will happen to the country once it does tends to ignore much of what we know about how the world works.

Posted on Jul 9, 2008 READ MORE


Colombia: Celebrate the Release, Not the Regime

It is fantastic to see Ingrid Betancourt free, but the celebration of her release should not be confused with celebration of the Colombian government.

Posted on Jul 9, 2008 READ MORE



Executive Office of the President of the United States

Bush’s Christmas in July: Senate Passes FISA

You know a legislative compromise is one-sided when the AP headline announcing its passage reads “Senate Bows to Bush.” Democratic advocates of the new FISA bill, passed by the Senate on Wednesday, are still trying to explain what they got in exchange for rolling back a few civil liberties and burying some of the president’s abuses. When they figure it out, someone, somewhere, will surely be listening.

Posted on Jul 9, 2008 READ MORE


Betancourt Rescue
news.bbc.co.uk

The Real Operation to ‘Rescue’ Ingrid Betancourt

The July 2nd rescue of French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and U.S. mercenaries employed by the Northrop Grumman Corp. was heralded as a dramatic victory over the anti-imperial FARC guerrilla forces in Colombia. The real story may be significantly less daring. The mainstream media’s heroic rescue narrative is being contradicted by claims that a $20-million ransom payment was made.

Posted on Jul 9, 2008 READ MORE


Marty Klein

The War on Sex

What do abortion, nude beaches and group sex have in common? According to author and sex therapist Marty Klein, they’re all targets of a coordinated war on sex. “The government,” he says, “has acquired more and more tools to regulate sexual expression over the last thirty years.”

Posted on Jul 7, 2008 READ MORE


book cover

Ruth Rosen on ‘The Populist Vision’

Do the socially progressive ideals that jump-started 20th-century reform movements have lessons relevant to the concerns of 21st-century America? A new book makes a strong case that they do.

Posted on Jul 3, 2008 READ MORE


Obama’s Leap of Faith

Barack Obama keeps trying to end the wars over culture and religion, and good for him. The 1960s are so 40 years ago. But Obama’s opponents, as well as some of his friends, won’t let him do it.

Posted on Jul 3, 2008 READ MORE



Patrick Chappatte, NZZ am Sonntag

France Rejects Mugabe

France’s foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, announced on Monday that his country would not recognize the government of Robert Mugabe. Kouchner, who co-founded the human rights organization Doctors Without Borders, dismissed Zimbabwe’s recent election as a “farce.”

Posted on Jun 30, 2008 READ MORE


midwest flood
AP photo / Jeff Roberson

Floods Fall, Anger Rises

After the past weeks’ disastrous floods, many in the rural Midwest are looking to the government not with gratitude but animosity. Folks in towns that requested levees back in 1993 were left, paradoxically, high and dry by the Army Corps of Engineers, which required small communities to pay more than $1 million for flood barriers.

Posted on Jun 27, 2008 READ MORE


Ratner

Obama and McCain’s FISA Flip-Flop

Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights has the goods on the new FISA bill, which offers retroactive immunity to the telecoms and allows the government to spy on Americans without a warrant.

Posted on Jun 26, 2008 READ MORE


Funny Man in an Unfunny World

The world lost one of its great comedians this week with the death at age 71 of George Carlin. Carlin had a career as a stand-up comic that spanned a half-century, in which he continually broke new ground, targeting those in power with his wit and genius.

Posted on Jun 25, 2008 READ MORE


Oil Mania

There’s nothing like the Saudi version of straight talk to put in perspective the tongue-twisting of American politicians.

Posted on Jun 23, 2008 READ MORE



AP photo / Charles Dharapak, file

The Hedonists of Power

Washington has become Versailles. We are ruled, entertained and informed by courtiers.

Posted on Jun 23, 2008 READ MORE


FISA Deal: Compromise or Capitulation?

Democrats and Republicans cut a deal in Congress on Thursday to rewrite controversial surveillance legislation. It’s being billed as a compromise, but civil rights advocates are groaning over concessions including virtual immunity for telecommunications companies and the ability to spy on Americans without a warrant.

Posted on Jun 19, 2008 READ MORE



AP photo / Brennan Linsley

A Government of Law, Not Fear

John McCain and Barack Obama’s differences over the Supreme Court’s recent Guantanamo decision speak volumes about the two candidates and their competing visions for America.

Posted on Jun 19, 2008 READ MORE



DoD / Sgt. Luis R. Agostini

Iraq Negotiations Hinge on Sovereignty

President Bush is trying to wrap up a new status-of-forces agreement with the Iraqi government before the U.N. resolution under which the U.S. operates its occupation runs out. Team Bush has made some concessions to the Maliki government, but there’s one sticking point that threatens an agreement: veto power over military operations.

Posted on Jun 18, 2008 READ MORE



commons.wikimedia.org

Senators Fume Over Torture Revelations

With statements such as “if the detainee dies, you’re doing it wrong” guiding our government’s thinking during the formation and implementation of interrogation techniques, it’s no wonder Carl Levin and others were outraged in the Senate on Tuesday.

Posted on Jun 17, 2008 READ MORE



Flickr / maveric2003

China Gives U.S. Some Economic Pointers

The United States has long enjoyed lecturing the communist government of China over the conduct of that nation’s economy. How times have changed. Chinese officials have recently criticized the United States’ “warped conception” of regulation, among other economic blunders.

Posted on Jun 17, 2008 READ MORE


Fiat Chief on the Global Finance Crisis

The Italian-Canadian chief executive of Fiat, the leading Italian industrial enterprise, Sergio Marchionne, speaking about the present economic crisis last weekend, mentioned the well-known argument first made by the Austrian-American economist Joseph Schumpeter about the function of “creative destruction” in modern capitalism.

Posted on Jun 16, 2008 READ MORE


book cover

Richard Flacks on Tom Hayden

For 50 years, Tom Hayden has been an indefatigable organizer on behalf of the disenfranchised, and now, with the publication of his “Writings for a Democratic Society,” we have a chance to trace the arc of activism of an American original who continues to make history.

Posted on Jun 12, 2008 READ MORE


John McCain
AP photo / LM Otero

John McCain’s Chilling Project for America

John McCain has long been a major player in a radical militaristic group driven by an ideology of global expansionism and dominance attained through perpetual, pre-emptive, unilateral, multiple wars. Over its two terms, the George W. Bush administration has planted the seeds for this geopolitical master plan, and now appears to be counting on the McCain administration, if one comes to power, to nurture it.

Posted on Jun 12, 2008 READ MORE


Kucinich Tilts at Impeachment

You cannot find a more complete and compelling indictment of the Bush administration than the Ohio representative has presented in his 35 articles of impeachment.

Posted on Jun 11, 2008 READ MORE


Gordon Brown
Flickr / World Economic Forum

British PM Wins Anti-Terror Vote

Gordon Brown has won an important victory in his effort to extend the time British authorities can hold terror suspects without charge from 28 to 42 days. The measure was significantly controversial, however, that 36 members of the prime minister’s party voted against it.

Posted on Jun 11, 2008 READ MORE



DoD / R.D. Ward

Investigate This

As a critic of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, especially when unsubstantiated allegations of weapons of mass destruction are used to sell a war, I am no stranger to the concept of questioning authority. It’s too bad more journalists can’t say the same thing.

Posted on Jun 9, 2008 READ MORE


book cover

Nicholas von Hoffman on ‘The Big Squeeze’

A new book by New York Times reporter Steven Greenhouse argues that the plight of American workers, both white-collar and blue-collar, is growing worse, putting the American dream out of the reach of tens of millions of citizens.

Posted on Jun 6, 2008 READ MORE


The Populist Uprising

American history is the history of populist uprisings. From the Revolutionary War to the coalfield wars, from labor organizers to anti-tax crusaders, from the New Deal to the current conservative era, backlashes to the status quo have defined every major political era.

Posted on Jun 5, 2008 READ MORE


Rezko Goes Down

A day after Barack Obama made history, an unfortunate figure from his past was back in the headlines. Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a former Obama fundraiser, was convicted of 16 corruption charges. Obama said he was “saddened,” but took the opportunity to get in another plug for change: “This isn’t the Tony Rezko I knew, but now he has been convicted by a jury on multiple charges that once again shine a spotlight on the need for reform.”

Posted on Jun 5, 2008 READ MORE


fighter plane
AP photo / LM Otero

Indefensible Spending

What should be the most important issue in this election is one that is rarely, if ever, addressed: Why is U.S. military spending at the highest point, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than at any time since the end of World War II?

Posted on Jun 1, 2008 READ MORE


Israel’s Self-Destruction as a Jewish State

Israel’s colonization and annexation of the Palestinian territories over the last 40 years, and opposition to the creation of an independent Palestinian state, have turned Israel into an Arab-Jewish state under Jewish control.

Posted on May 28, 2008 READ MORE


America’s Insane Cuba Policy

Other than providing Fidel Castro with a convenient antagonist to help him whip up nationalist fervor—and thus prolong his rule—the U.S. trade embargo and other sanctions have accomplished precisely nothing.

Posted on May 26, 2008 READ MORE


book cover

Amy Wilentz on Rachel Corrie

The just-published journals of Rachel Corrie, killed by an Israeli bulldozer, reveal her to have been a natural-born writer and a spirit full of intensity and yearning whose lust for life and sense of justice made her untimely death all the more tragic.

Posted on May 23, 2008 READ MORE


Jovial in Qatar
AP photo / Hasan Jamali

Lebanon’s Leaders Reach Deal

The Lebanese government and the Hezbollah opposition group came to a power-sharing agreement Wednesday, potentially marking the end to the country’s two-year-old political crisis, which only weeks ago erupted in clashes that left 65 people dead. The move, which some analysts say may benefit Hezbollah more than the Western-backed government, has been hailed by the parties directly involved and others, including the U.S. as well.

Posted on May 21, 2008 READ MORE


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