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29 Aug

Analyses of Today’s Issues

Monday, 29 August 2011

10 Things Martin Luther King, Jr. Taught Us About Today’s Struggles

Richard (RJ) Eskow, Op-Ed: “A lot of people in the media are so afraid of offending anyone that they can’t even tell the truth about the man whose memorial is being unveiled this weekend in Washington. Their coverage could give you the impression that the purpose of Martin Luther King, Jr’s life was simply to make everybody in this country feel good about themselves. So once again we’re presenting ten quotes that represent Dr. King as he truly was — the kind of brave and visionary leader we so badly need today.”

First Federal Reserve Audit Reveals Trillions in Secret Bailouts

Matthew Cardinale, News Report: “The first-ever audit of the U.S. Federal Reserve has revealed 16 trillion dollars in secret bank bailouts and has raised more questions about the quasi-private agency’s opaque operations. ‘This is a clear case of socialism for the rich and rugged, you’re-on-your-own individualism for everyone else,’ U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, said in a statement. The majority of loans were issues by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY). ‘From late 2007 through mid-2010, Reserve Banks provided more than a trillion dollars… in emergency loans to the financial sector.’”

 

Jim Hightower | Mass-Marketing Goes Platinum

Jim Hightower, Op-Ed: “Even though America’s workaday majority has produced a phenomenal rise in wealth during the past decade, that majority’s income has shrunk — and there’s no improvement in sight. Where did the gains go? Practically all of the new wealth flowed straight up to the richest 10 percent of America’s people, who own more than 80 percent of all stocks and bonds. Instead of deploring this widening disparity, major hawkers of consumer products are choosing to embrace it. Advertising Age, the marketing industry’s top publication, has curtly declared that “mass affluence is over.”

Texas Gov. Perry Became A Millionaire While Serving in Office

Aman Batheja, News Analysis: “Perry’s bank account no longer reflects those humble beginnings as his bottom line has soared in recent years, records show, thanks largely to a handful of real estate deals that critics allege were achieved through the presidential candidates’ political connections. In just about every campaign Perry has run since 1989, allegations of his using his position for financial gain have come up. It’s an issue that Perry long ago accepted would linger as long as he remains in the public eye. ‘I’ve been in politics long enough to know that this is just a part of doing business,’ Perry told the Star-Telegram in 1998. ‘I know full well, as my wife knows, that our private lives, particularly on the financial side, becomes fair game.’”

The Economics of Happiness

Jeffrey D. Sachs, Op-Ed: “Here are some of the initial conclusions. First, we should not denigrate the value of economic progress. When people are hungry, deprived of basic needs such as clean water, health care, and education, and without meaningful employment, they suffer. Economic development that alleviates poverty is a vital step in boosting happiness. Second, relentless pursuit of GNP to the exclusion of other goals is also no path to happiness. In the US, GNP has risen sharply in the past 40 years, but happiness has not. Instead, single-minded pursuit of GNP has led to great inequalities of wealth and power, fueled the growth of a vast underclass, trapped millions of children in poverty, and caused serious environmental degradation.”

Bill McKibben: Will Hurricane Irene Be a Wake-Up Call About Climate Change?

Video Report: “Hurricane Irene received a massive amount media coverage, but television reports made little or no reference to the role global warming played in the storm. We speak with someone with his eye on climate change and its impact. “Not only have we had extraordinary flooding, but the same day of Hurricane Irene, Houston set its all time temperature record, 109 degrees,” says Bill McKibben, co-founder and director of 350.org. McKibben is among hundreds of people arrested last week during ongoing sit-ins outside the White House, protesting the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would carry tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf of Mexico.”

Chris Hedges | The Election March of the Trolls

Chris Hedges, Op-Ed: “We have begun the election march of the trolls. They have crawled out of the sewers of public relations firms, polling organizations, the commercial media, the two corporate political parties and elected office to fill the airwaves with inanities and absurdities until the final inanity—the 2012 presidential election. Journalists, whose role has been reduced to purveyors of court gossip, whether on Fox or MSNBC, descend in swarms to report pseudo-events such as the Ames straw poll, where it costs $30 to cast a ballot. And then, almost immediately, they blithely inform us that the Iowa poll is meaningless now that Rick Perry has entered the race.”

 

Pentagon’s No-Bid Contracts Triple In 10 Years of War

Sharon Weinberger, News Analysis: “The bomb fighting contract is a small example of a problem that’s been exacerbated by 10 years of war: awarding contracts without competition. While the Pentagon says its overall level of competition has remained steady over the past 10 years, publicly available data shows that Defense Department dollars flowing into non-competitive contracts have almost tripled since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. According to analysis by the Center for Public Integrity’s iWatch News, the data shows that the value of Pentagon contracts awarded without competition topped $140 billion in 2010, up from $50 billion in 2001.”

Applying the Libya “Model” to Syria and Iran

Robert Dreyfuss, Op-Ed: “President Obama is not President Bush, and I don’t think that for a moment that Obama is seeking excuses to bomb and invade Middle East countries, as Bush was. Not do I think that Obama, preoccupied with the dismal economic mess that threatens to elect Rick Perry, wants to make foreign policy adventures his chief concern, although the White House might welcome a war or two to take Americans’ minds off unemployment and stagnation. But there’s a kind of inexorability to these things. Just as Obama intervened reluctantly in Libya, it’s all too possible that an intensified crisis in Syria, and even Iran, could lead Obama to seek NATO support for things like no-fly zones, blockades of shipping, and even air strikes.”

How Seniors Survived Katrina: Family, Faith and Community

Katrina L. Rogers, News Analysis: “Six years after Hurricane Katrina hit the coast of Louisiana, communities are still working to rebuilding from the devastation. One group that has been mostly overlooked — yet struggling to adjust to their new ways of life — is seniors. ‘No group has been more heavily harmed than seniors,’ said New Orleans Housing Authority Director James Perry. ‘They paid their mortgage for more than half of their lives, and now, all of a sudden, Katrina takes that away.’ Although a large number of Americans face a financial and housing crisis, older adults on the Gulf Coast, who often live on limited income, have been thrown into a way of life they simply cannot afford, he said.”

Education Department Backs Away From Fix to Help Disabled Student Borrowers

Sasha Chavkin, News Analysis: “The Education Department said it was still making good on a pledge to write new regulations for the program and that the resulting reforms would be substantial. It said it was focused on streamlining its system, for example by eliminating the initial reviews by loan holders and guarantors that many borrowers must undergo. The new rules should create ‘a process that will result in superior treatment for borrowers even when compared to the best practices of any other federal agency,’ said David Bergeron, of the department’s Office of Postsecondary Education. But experts say the department is shelving the most significant potential change—accepting Social Security decisions—before the process of writing the new rules even begins.”

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