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Sahel: The End of the Road

By Orville Schell (Afterword), Sebastiao Salgado (Foreword)
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Elsewhere, California

Elsewhere, California

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Wikimedia Commons

U.S. Puts Fresh Cash Into the Drug War

While the rest of the world has been preoccupied with a financial meltdown, a handful of wars and a terrorist attack or two, Mexico has been waging war on its homegrown drug industry, and the death count is mounting. U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza announced that El Norte is sending a couple hundred million down south to aid the cause.

Posted on Dec 4, 2008 READ MORE



Wikimedia Commons / mlb.com

Bailout Ballpark

The U.S. taxpayer is on the hook for more than $300 billion of Citigroup’s junk investments, so where did the ailing bank find $400 million to put its name on the New York Mets’ new stadium?

Posted on Dec 4, 2008 READ MORE


Breathing New Life Into Health Care

Over the past 10 months, as the hemorrhage of jobs began to push the national unemployment rate toward its October level of 6.5 percent, about 3 million Americans were thrown off the insurance rolls or had their incomes fall so much that they became eligible for Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Posted on Dec 4, 2008 READ MORE


Not a Team of Rivals at All

When the journalistic pack bites into a tasty cliché, they often refuse to let go, lazily chewing and regurgitating a phrase like “team of rivals” long after the flavor is gone.

Posted on Dec 4, 2008 READ MORE



Flickr / SteelCityHobbies

Class Bigotry Mars Auto Debate

The auto industry bailout would have no chance of passing without the muscle of the Big Three’s unionized work force. Yet you can’t turn around without hearing someone trash autoworkers for the terrible crime of trying to earn a decent living.

Posted on Dec 1, 2008 READ MORE



Richard Ellis on ‘Diagnosis: Mercury’

Thinking of whipping up another tuna casserole? You may change your mind after reading this convincing expose by Jane M. Hightower, a San Francisco doctor.

Posted on Nov 28, 2008 READ MORE


The Peril and Promise of Interesting Times

If things get much more “interesting,” we might have a collective nervous breakdown. But along with the anxiety, there’s also a sense of rare opportunity—a chance to emerge better than we were economically, politically and socially.

Posted on Nov 26, 2008 READ MORE


Bush’s Hoover Impression Flirts With Depression

At the earliest, it is likely to be at least February or March before the first dollar of an Obama recovery plan is felt. This is a national disgrace.

Posted on Nov 26, 2008 READ MORE


The Smoke Is Clearing

This week marks a decade since a consortium of state attorneys general negotiated the landmark settlement of lawsuits against tobacco companies. The results are in: Cigarette consumption has declined by 28 percent in the past 10 years.

Posted on Nov 24, 2008 READ MORE



AP photo / Kiichiro Sato, file

Starving for Change

The swelling numbers waiting outside homeless shelters and food pantries around the country have grown by at least 30 percent since the summer. If Barack Obama continues to turn to the elites who created the mess, if he does not radically redirect the nation’s resources to assist the working class and the poor, we will become a third-world country.

Posted on Nov 24, 2008 READ MORE


book cover

Regina Marler on Ted Hughes’ Letters

A new volume of the late poet’s correspondence sheds fresh light on the anguish and art of Sylvia Plath.

Posted on Nov 21, 2008 READ MORE


Tuning Out the Braindead Megaphone

If you’re having trouble remembering what the recent election was all about, rest easy: You’re probably not going senile – you’re likely experiencing the momentary effects of brainwashing.

Posted on Nov 20, 2008 READ MORE


Sooner or Later, They’ll Bail Out Detroit

The Big Three left Capitol Hill empty-handed, but they’re bound to get some kind of federal help, however grudging. In the end, I don’t think either George W. Bush or Barack Obama wants to be remembered as the president who lost the auto industry.

Posted on Nov 20, 2008 READ MORE


Should Obama’s Army Lay Down Its Arms?

While the nation’s capital obsesses over who will be the next pick for Barack Obama’s Cabinet, the president-elect’s lieutenants are engaged with what may be a more important long-term issue: What will become of Obama’s vast grass-roots network?

Posted on Nov 20, 2008 READ MORE



finance.google.com

Dow-nward Spiral

In a little over two weeks, the Dow has tumbled more than 2,000 points as bad economic news continues to pile up. Word on Thursday that jobless claims hit a 16-year high, combined with a dreary outlook for Detroit and a lack of confidence in major financial institutions, helped drive the DJIA down to 7,552.29.

Posted on Nov 20, 2008 READ MORE



AP photo / Carlos Osorio

Bailout or Bust: How to Save the Big Three From Themselves

There’s no guarantee that a bailout would save the incompetently managed American automobile industry. However, doing nothing may be worse, especially for the state of Michigan.

Posted on Nov 20, 2008 READ MORE


book cover

Jane Ciabattari on Toni Morrison’s ‘A Mercy’

An unabashed triumph, Morrison’s new novel is a gloriously poetic and incantatory retelling of America’s tragic and redemptive story.

Posted on Nov 14, 2008 READ MORE



Collage: Meutia Chaerani / Indradi Soemardjan and Shealah Craighead / White House

Paulson Revises Bailout Strategy

“I will never apologize for changing a strategy or an approach if the facts change,” explained Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who has retreated from his original plan of buying up near-worthless mortgage securities with taxpayer funds. Instead, Paulson will continue to pump money into troubled banks in exchange for equity, a scheme that has proved more expeditious and popular.

Posted on Nov 12, 2008 READ MORE



Flickr / Rain Rannu

What’s a Few Trillion Yuan Between Comrades?

Instead of buying lots of new cheap things, people are busy stuffing what’s left of their money in mattresses. That has China, where the goodies come from, worried. The Chinese government has decided a stimulus is in order, to the tune of 4 trillion yuan (more than $550 billion).

Posted on Nov 9, 2008 READ MORE



goodguide.com

Your Money Votes, Too

You may have knocked on doors for Barack Obama, but it’s possible you gave money to John McCain. GoodGuide has a tool that sorts donations by party, logo and industry. Tech companies seem to prefer Democrats while food companies love Republicans. The banks, of course, throw money at everybody.

Posted on Nov 7, 2008 READ MORE


Organizer in Chief

Perhaps the job that qualified Obama most for the presidency was the one most vilified by his opponents: community organizer. Yet community organizing is inherently at crosscurrents with the massive infusion of campaign cash.

Posted on Nov 5, 2008 READ MORE


Johnny 5
myspace.com

Robocalls Confuse Voters

Calls have been going out in Virginia and Pennsylvania, telling people to vote tomorrow, on Nov. 5, according to Jonah Goldman, director of Election Protection at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights. Goldman says he doesn’t know who’s responsible, but similar misleading messages are being distributed via e-mail, FaceBook and fliers, often targeting young and minority voters.

Posted on Nov 4, 2008 READ MORE


A New Pride in Our Country

I know there’s a chance that the first African-American to make a serious run for the presidency will lose. But that is precisely what’s new: I’m talking about possibility, not inevitability. For African-Americans, this is nothing short of mind-blowing.

Posted on Nov 3, 2008 READ MORE



AP photo / LM Otero

The Obama Standard

A good politician triumphs by adapting to the times and taking advantage of opportunities as they come. A great politician anticipates openings others don’t see and creates possibilities that were not there before.

Posted on Nov 3, 2008 READ MORE



us.penguingroup.com

Nicholas von Hoffman on Kevin Phillips’ ‘Bad Money’

An insightful book discloses how a confidence game combined pride and cunning and stupidity to bring America to the brink of catastrophe.

Posted on Oct 31, 2008 READ MORE



AP photo / Al Grillo

Homeland Security Pays Dividends for Alaska

When Sarah Palin brags about the self-reliance of her state, she doesn’t mention the mobile command communications vehicle, bought with federal dollars to help keep her home town of 7,028 safe from terrorism. Thanks in part to an anti-terrorism bonanza, Alaska is one of the greatest per-capita beneficiaries of federal funding among the 50 states.

Posted on Oct 31, 2008 READ MORE



Reagan Library

Liberals Resurrect Reagan to Endorse Obama

OK, so Ronald Reagan isn’t around to actually endorse anyone. But that doesn’t stop political operatives from invoking his presidency to boost their candidate. A new, liberal Colorado-based group called Progressive Future is bringing back the Gipper to put in a plug for Barack Obama, while the conservative Let Freedom Ring calls Obama the “anti-Reagan.”

Posted on Oct 30, 2008 READ MORE


Stevens’ Corruption Was About the Little Things

For a steel sculpture of migrating salmon, amongst other goodies, Ted Stevens—one of the lions of the Senate—was willing to forfeit the kingdom.

Posted on Oct 30, 2008 READ MORE


The Scariest Day of the Year

Have you noticed that the spookiest colors of the season are not orange and black but red and blue? As Halloween slips into Election Day, the race for the White House has scared more grown-ups than any trip to the haunted house.

Posted on Oct 30, 2008 READ MORE



tickertapedigest.com

What Goes Down ... Dow Up 10 Percent

The Dow shot up 889.35 points on Tuesday, a welcome respite from Wall Street’s month of plunges. Things could still get a lot worse: While some buyers snapped up what looked like bargain stocks, others said they expected a major drop before things get better.

Posted on Oct 28, 2008 READ MORE



Flickr / Svadilfari

Dems Tap Credit for Congressional Campaigns

Not everyone is feeling the credit crunch: The DNC is borrowing $10 million to spend on Senate and House races. Encouraged by polls, the party wants to win as many seats as possible before the public stops hating on the GOP.

Posted on Oct 28, 2008 READ MORE



An ‘Emergency Effort to Stop Barack Obama’

Every election season, some independent groups sizzle with controversy and impact, and others fizzle. We couldn’t tell at first, but the National Republican Trust PAC appears to be of the sizzling variety.

Posted on Oct 28, 2008 READ MORE


‘H’ Is for Hypocrisy

My computer will allow a letter to be displayed at a maximum 500 percent of its normal size. That isn’t big enough for a capital “H” that conveys the towering hypocrisies of the Sarah Palin political wardrobe malfunction.

Posted on Oct 27, 2008 READ MORE


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Posted on Oct 26, 2008 READ MORE



Wikimedia Commons / edited for effect

Populism Arising—but Will It Be the Killer Kind?

The old assumptions and paradigms about capitalism and free markets are dead. A new, virulent populism, still inchoate, is slowly and painfully rising to take their place. This populism will determine the future of the country. It is as likely to be right-wing as left-wing.

Posted on Oct 26, 2008 READ MORE


McCain Banking on a Confederacy of Dunces

Is John McCain stupid, or does he believe we are? That’s the question as he criticizes Barack Obama for allegedly trying to “redistribute the wealth” with a plan to lower taxes on the middle class and raise them on the super-rich.

Posted on Oct 23, 2008 READ MORE



npr.org / youtube

Citizen Tim Takes On Obama by Himself

The one form of political advertising that’s completely unregulated and free is the speech of an individual citizen, even when money amplifies that speech by putting it on the airwaves. Tim D’Annunzio, who describes himself as a “concerned North Carolina businessman,” is doing just that.

Posted on Oct 23, 2008 READ MORE


McCain’s Socialist Delusion

Wherever John McCain appears on the stump in these waning days of the presidential campaign, he is always accompanied by his imaginary friend “Joe the Plumber,” but it is the specter of Karl Marx that lurks just offstage.

Posted on Oct 22, 2008 READ MORE


Obama Doesn’t Need Your Money

After the eye-popping fundraising revelations of the past couple of days, the need that’s far more pronounced is the imperative of acting quickly after November’s election to restore some common sense to the presidential campaign finance system—before we don’t have any system at all.

Posted on Oct 22, 2008 READ MORE


Change Big Donors Can Believe In

The candidates’ coffers are swelling with larger and larger bundles of cash, but don’t hold your breath waiting for the extended television discussions of this, because it’s the broadcasters who profit the most.

Posted on Oct 22, 2008 READ MORE


How to Win Votes and Influence People

Conservatives fear a “period of unchecked left-wing ascendancy” should Barack Obama and the Democrats sweep in November, but the voters care more about competent government than ideology.

Posted on Oct 20, 2008 READ MORE



AP photo / Henny Ray Abrams

The Idiots Who Rule America

Our oligarchic class is incompetent at governing, managing the economy, coping with natural disasters, educating our young, handling foreign affairs, providing basic services like health care and safeguarding individual rights. They have no concept, thanks to the educations they have received, of the common good.

Posted on Oct 20, 2008 READ MORE



Flickr / Joe Crimmings Photography

Obama Raises $150 Million in September

The Obama campaign announced early Sunday morning that it had raised $150 million in September, more than doubling the previous single-month record of $66 million, set by Obama in August.

Posted on Oct 19, 2008 READ MORE


McCain Sounds Worse Than He Looks

Grouchiness, twitchiness and haughtiness didn’t help John McCain in Wednesday’s debate, but what he said hurt him more than how he said it.

Posted on Oct 17, 2008 READ MORE


U.S. Loses Its Grip on Europe

Military and economic disasters have caused Europeans and European governments to view the United States in a new, unflattering light.

Posted on Oct 16, 2008 READ MORE


Fixing the Economy Has to Start With Jobs

The last thing we need is another “economic stimulus” package. What we need is a jobs package. And we ought to start calling it that.

Posted on Oct 16, 2008 READ MORE


The GOP Identity Crisis

Can any Republican candidate claim with a straight face to represent the party of small government? For that matter, can any Republican candidate plausibly explain what the party is supposed to stand for these days?

Posted on Oct 13, 2008 READ MORE



AP photo / Gerald Herbert

America’s Political Cannibalism

It is no longer our economy but our democracy that is in peril. Financial collapses lead to political extremism. The rage bubbling up from our impoverished and disenfranchised working class, glimpsed at John McCain rallies, presages a looming and dangerous right-wing backlash.

Posted on Oct 13, 2008 READ MORE



Wikimedia Commons / Hk1992

Markets Warm to Euro Bailout Plan

Stock traders in Asia and Europe seemed to like the news that European governments will coordinate with one another as they throw cash at troubled banks. The euro zone plan was announced on the heels of similar British and American schemes.

Posted on Oct 12, 2008 READ MORE


This Is No Time for Specifics

Each campaign has given voters ample notice about the inclinations, temperaments, habits, philosophical leanings and advisers they would bring to the White House. That’s enough.

Posted on Oct 10, 2008 READ MORE


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