|Progressive Calendar 01.09.10||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Sat, 9 Jan 2010 00:02:52 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 01.09.10 1. Peace walk 1.09 9am Cambridge MN 2. Salvador 1.09 10am 3. Depleted uranium 1.09 10am 4. Plan 3.20 protest 1.09 1pm 5. CUAPB 1.09 1:30pm 6. Northtown vigil 1.09 2pm 7. City repair 1.09 4pm 8. Cynthia McKinney 1.09 9pm 9. Stillwater vigil 1.10 1pm 10. Peace walk 1.10 6pm RiverFalls WI 11. Nichols/McChesney - How to save journalism 12. Ramzy Baroud - Freedom of expression is at risk/ the media vultures 13. Missy Beattie - Shall we gather at the CIA? 14. Arun Gupta - Hope has left the building 15. ed - One question quiz --------1 of 15-------- From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Peace walk 1.09x 9am Cambridge MN every Saturday 9AM to 9:35AM Peace walk in Cambridge - start at Hwy 95 and Fern Street --------2 of 15-------- From: Jason Stone <jason.stone [at] yahoo.com> Subject: Salvador 1.09 10am Coffee Hour: El Salvador-Recent Developments and Responses to Its Truth Commission Report - Jan. 9 Saturday, January 9th, 2010 10a-Noon At the Resource Center of the Americas 3019 Minnehaha Ave, Suite 20, 1/2 block south of Lake Street. Park on the Minnehaha side of the building. What are the issues facing Presidente Mauricio Funes? How is El Salvador recovering from Ida's rains? What are the plans for the 30th anniversaries of the assassination of Monsenor Romero and the murder of the U.S. church women? What has happened to the findings of the Truth Commission? What is the work of El Salvador's Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad (CIS)? These are some of the issues to be addressed by Duane Krohnke, Adjunct Professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, where he co-teaches international human rights law. He has been a pro bono attorney for Salvadoran asylum-seekers and has been to the country five times, most recently in 2003 as an election observer for CIS. Presented in English. CONTACT Speaker: Duane Krohnke Email: dkrohnke [at] comcast.net --------3 of 15-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Depleted uranium 1.09 10am Coffee with AlliantACTION: "The Lethal Legacy of Uranium-Core Munitions" Saturday, January 9, 10:00 a.m. to Noon Van Cleve Park Building, Corner of Como and 15th Avenue Southeast, Minneapolis. Join Susu Jeffrey and AlliantACTION to learn more about depleted uranium. Refreshments served. Free and open to the public. Sponsored by: Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Minnesota Metro Branch (WILPF) and AlliantACTION. Endorsed by: WAMM. FFI: Visit www.wilpfmn.org or www.alliantaction.org. --------4 of 15-------- From: IPAC <iraqpeaceactioncoalition [at] yahoo.com> Subject: Plan 3.20 protest 1.09 1pm First planning meeting for March 20, 2010 anti-war protest. Saturday, January 9 1:00 PM Mayday Books 301 Cedar Ave. South Minneapolis March of 2010 will mark seven years of the U.S. war and occupation of Iraq. This benchmark comes as the U.S. is escalating the war in Afghanistan and threatening to escalate the war into Pakistan, Yemen and other countries. Many national and local anti-war coalitions, networks and organizations are planning mass protests on Saturday, March 20, 2010 to mark the 7th anniversary. The January 9 meeting will be a chance to start planning a Twin Cities mass demonstration as part of this national effort. There is a great need for the largest possible number of people to be in the streets with the anti-war message. Over the next two and a half months we can reach out to the widest possible numbers of people with the anti-war message and urge people to turn out on March 20 to oppose the wars and occupations with a highly visible, enthusiastic and educational demonstration. Please be sure that someone from your organization, community, school, church or union is able to attend the January 9th meeting. Iraq Peace Action Coalition --------5 of 15-------- From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at] visi.com> Subject: CUAPB 1.09 1:30pm Meetings: Every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Walker Church, 3104 16th Avenue South http://www.CUAPB.org Communities United Against Police Brutality 3100 16th Avenue S Minneapolis, MN 55407 Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867) --------6 of 15-------- From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 1.09 2pm Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday 2-3pm -------7 of 15-------- From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at] visi.com> Subject: City repair 1.09 4pm SAT. JAN. 10, 4pm @ May Day Books MARK LAKEMAN co-founder of the CITY REPAIR PROJECT gives a presentation on Aspects of PERMACULTURE! Community Gardening! DIY! Re-Claiming Public Space! MURALS! & other forms of INSURRECTIONARY CREATIVITY MAY DAY BOOKS 301 Cedar Ave. S. *basement of HUB Bicycle) WEST BANK, Minneapolis 612-333-4719 Hear more in an archived interview (latest one) on NORTHERN SUN NEWS @ http://www.kfai.org --------8 of 15-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Cynthia McKinney 1.09 9pm Dear Minneapolis Television Network (MTN) viewers: "Our World In Depth" cablecasts on MTN Channel 17 on Saturdays at 9pm and Tuesdays at 8am, after DemocracyNow! Households with basic cable may watch. Saturday, 1/9, 9pm and Tues, 1/12, 8am "Cynthia McKinney, Part 1" The 6 term US Congresswoman and 2008 Green Party Pres. candidate speaks candidly about lobby power in Washington DC, her experiences in trying to break the siege of Gaza, her experience running for public office as an outsider, the role of primary elections in her home state of GA and much more. --------9 of 15-------- From: scot b <earthmannow [at] comcast.net> Subject: Stillwater vigil 1.10 1pm A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2 p.m. Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be positive. Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers. If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it. Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to <http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/>http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/ For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560 --------10 of 15-------- From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at] comcast.net> Subject: Peace walk 1.10 6pm RiverFalls WI River Falls Peace and Justice Walkers. We meet every Monday from 6-7 pm on the UWRF campus at Cascade Ave. and 2nd Street, immediately across from "Journey" House. We walk through the downtown of River Falls. Contact: d.n.holden [at] comcast.net. Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls, Wisconsin 54022 --------11 of 15-------- How to Save Journalism by John Nichols & Robert McChesney Friday, January 8, 2010 The Nation Common Dreams The founders of the American experiment were even by their own measures imperfect democrats. But they understood something about sustaining democracy that their successors seem to have forgotten. Everyone agrees that a free society requires a free press. But a free press without the resources to compensate those who gather and analyze information, and to distribute that information widely and in an easily accessible form, is like a seed without water or sunlight. It was with this understanding that Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton and their contemporaries instituted elaborate systems of postal and printing subsidies to assure that freedom of the press would never be an empty promise; to that end they guaranteed what Madison described as "a circulation of newspapers through the entire body of the people...[that] is favorable to liberty." Two centuries after Madison wrote those words, American news media are being steered off the cliff by investors and corporate managers who soured on their "properties" when the economic downturn dried up what was left of their advertising bonanza. They are taking journalism with them. Newsrooms are shrinking and disappearing altogether, along with statehouse, Washington and foreign bureaus. And with them goes the circulation of news and ideas that is indispensable to liberty. This is a dire moment for democracy, and it requires a renewal of one of America's oldest understandings: that a free people can govern themselves only if they have access to independent information about the issues of the day and the excesses of the powerful, and that it is the duty of government to guarantee both the promise and the reality of a free press. When we recommended government subsidies last year in a Nation cover article ("The Death and Life of Great American Newspapers," April 6), some publishers and pundits objected, forgetting their Jeffersonian roots and arguing, with no sense of irony, that policies promoting diversity and robust debate would foster totalitarianism. Even well-intended Congressional hearings on the crisis avoided discussion of this logical response. But as 2009 wore on and the crisis extended - with the venerable Christian Science Monitor and newspapers in Seattle and Ann Arbor ceasing print publication to exist solely online, with papers in Denver, Tucson and other cities closing altogether, and with talk of closures from San Francisco to Boston - the urgency of the moment, and the recognition that journalism would not be reborn on the Internet or saved by foundation grants, made it harder to dismiss subsidies. By year's end, the Columbia Journalism Review was highlighting a report by Leonard Downie Jr. and Michael Schudson that proposed requiring "broadcasters, Internet service providers, and telecom users to pay into a fund that would be used to support local accountability journalism in communities around the country." CJR called the idea a "radical suggestion." If the rather modest proposal by Downie and Schudson is "radical," then it is merely a fraction of the radicalism of America's founding. And like so many founding precepts, it is a radicalism that has long since been accepted as common sense by the rest of the world. Now Americans must re-embrace that common sense if we are to have journalism worthy of the Republic's promise and sufficient to meet its needs. This is an unavoidable reality. No reasonable case can be made that journalism will rebound as the economy recovers from a recession that accelerated but certainly did not cause the crisis confronting newspapers - or that a "next big thing" will arrive as soon as news organizations develop good Internet business plans. Many of the nation's largest papers are in bankruptcy or teetering on the brink, and layoffs continue at an alarming rate. The entirety of paid journalism, even its online variant, is struggling. There are far fewer working journalists per 100,000 Americans today than existed one, two or three decades ago. At current rates of decline, 2020 will make 2010 look like a golden age. When the Federal Trade Commission held its unprecedented two-day conference on the state of journalism in December, the operative term was "collapse." Conversely, the ratio of PR flacks to working journalists has skyrocketed, as spin replaces news. The implications are clear: if our policy-makers do nothing, if "business as usual" prevails, we face a future where there will be relatively few paid journalists working in competing newsrooms with editors, fact-checkers, travel budgets and institutional support. Vast areas of public life and government activity will take place in the dark - as is already the case in many statehouses across the country. Independent and insightful coverage of the basic workings of local, state and federal government, and of our many interventions and occupations abroad, is disappearing as rapidly as the rainforests. The political implications are dire. Just as a brown planet cannot renew itself, so an uninformed electorate cannot renew democracy. Popular rule doesn't work without an informed citizenry, and an informed citizenry cannot exist without credible journalism. This is more than academic theory; it is how the Supreme Court has interpreted the matter. As Justice Potter Stewart explained in 1974, the framers believed the First Amendment mandated the existence of a Fourth Estate because our experiment in constitutional democracy cannot succeed without it. That is hardly a controversial position, nor one that is necessarily left wing. It should be inviting to readers of the Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek, as markets cannot work effectively or efficiently unless investors, managers, workers and consumers have the credible information produced by serious journalism. Moreover, political decisions about economic issues will respect Main Street concerns only if citizens are kept abreast of the issues by independent news media. American officials urged Asian economies during the financial crisis of the late 1990s to develop independent media or suffer from the corruption and stagnation of "crony capitalism." We need to take a dose of our own medicine, and fast. Unfortunately, misconceptions about the crisis and the proper relationship between government and media warp the debate. Addressing these misconceptions, and getting beyond them, will be the great challenge of 2010. The most dangerous misconception has to do with journalism itself. Journalism is a classic "public good" - something society needs and people want but market forces are now incapable of generating in sufficient quality or quantity. The institution should be understood the way we understand universal public education, military defense, public health and transportation infrastructure. The public-good nature of journalism has been largely disguised for the past century because advertising bankrolled much of the news, for better and for worse, in its efforts to reach consumers. Those days are over, as advertisers no longer need or seek to attach their appeals to journalism to connect with target audiences. Indeed, to the extent commercial media can scrap journalism standards to make the news "product" more attractive to advertisers, the cure will be worse than the disease. This takes us to the second great misconception: that the crisis in journalism was created by the rise of the Internet and the current recession. In fact, the crisis began in earnest in the 1970s and was well under way by the 1990s. It owes far more to the phenomenon of media corporations maximizing profits by turning newsrooms into "profit centers," lowering quality and generally trivializing journalism. The hollowing out of the news and alienation of younger news consumers was largely disguised by the massive profits these firms recorded while they were stripping newsrooms for parts. But that's no longer possible. The Internet, by making news free online and steering advertisers elsewhere, merely accelerated a long-term process and made it irreversible. Unless we grasp the structural roots of the problem, we will fail to generate viable structural solutions. By ignoring the public-good nature of journalism and the roots of the current crisis, too many contemporary observers continue to fantasize that it is just a matter of time before a new generation of entrepreneurs creates a financially viable model of journalism using digital technologies. By this reasoning, all government needs to do is clear the path with laxer regulations, perhaps some tax credits and a lot of cheerleading. Even David Carr of the New York Times, who has consistently recognized the point of retaining newsrooms and journalism, falls into the trap of assuming that the "cabals of bright young things" who are swarming New York might create a "fresh, ferocious wave" of new media that will turn the Internet from killer of media into savior. Carr's vision may work for entertainment media, but it is a nonstarter for journalism. As Matthew Hindman's new book, The Myth of Digital Democracy, convincingly demonstrates, the Internet is not some "wild west" incubator, where a new and more democratic journalism is being hatched. Internet traffic mostly gravitates to sites that aggregate and reproduce existing journalism, and the web is dominated by a handful of players, not unlike old media. Indeed, they are largely the same players. There is no business model or combination of business models that will create a journalistic renaissance on the web. Even if the market and new technologies were to eventually solve journalism's problems, the notion that we must go without journalism for a decade or two while Wall Street figures out how to make a buck strikes us, frankly, as suicidal. There will be commercial news media in the future, and the right of anyone to start a business that does journalism should remain inviolable. But there is no evidence that the news media democracy requires will be paid for by advertisers or subscribers. Nor will they be supported by foundations or billionaires; there simply are not enough to cover the massive need. And while it might be comforting to think we can rely on tax-deductible citizen donations to fund the news media we need, there is scant evidence enough money can be generated from this source. House Energy and Commerce Committee chair Henry Waxman was right when he told December's FTC workshop on journalism, "This is a policy issue. Government is going to have to be involved in one way or another." Journalism, like other public goods, is going to require substantial public subsidy if it is to exist at a level necessary for self-government to succeed. The question, then, is not, Should there be subsidies? but, How do we get subsidies right?" To do that, policy-makers, journalists and citizens must take an honest look at the history of journalism subsidies here and abroad, and they cannot cling dogmatically to the Manichaean view that press subsidies inexorably lead to tyranny. Even those sympathetic to subsidies do not grasp just how prevalent they have been in American history. From the days of Washington, Jefferson and Madison through those of Andrew Jackson to the mid-nineteenth century, enormous printing and postal subsidies were the order of the day. The need for them was rarely questioned, which is perhaps one reason they have been so easily overlooked. They were developed with the intention of expanding the quantity, quality and range of journalism - and they were astronomical by today's standards. If, for example, the United States had devoted the same percentage of its GDP to journalism subsidies in 2009 as it did in the 1840s, we calculate that the allocation would have been $30 billion. In contrast, the federal subsidy last year for all of public broadcasting, not just journalism, was around $400 million. The experience of America's first century demonstrates that subsidies of the sort we suggest pose no threat to democratic discourse; in fact, they foster it. Postal subsidies historically applied to all newspapers, regardless of viewpoint. Printing subsidies were spread among all major parties and factions. Of course, some papers were rabidly partisan, even irresponsible. But serious historians of the era are unanimous in holding that the extraordinary and diverse print culture that resulted from these subsidies built a foundation for the growth and consolidation of American democracy. Subsidies made possible much of the abolitionist press that led the fight against slavery. Our research suggests that press subsidies may well have been the second greatest expense of the federal budget of the early Republic, following the military. This commitment to nurturing and sustaining a free press was what was truly distinctive about America compared with European nations that had little press subsidy, fewer newspapers and magazines per capita, and far less democracy. This history was forgotten by the late nineteenth century, when commercial interests realized that newspaper publishing bankrolled by advertising was a goldmine, especially in monopolistic markets. Huge subsidies continued to the present, albeit at lower rates than during the first few generations of the Republic. But today's direct and indirect subsidies - which include postal subsidies, business tax deductions for advertising, subsidies for journalism education, legal notices in papers, free monopoly licenses to scarce and lucrative radio and TV channels, and lax enforcement of anti-trust laws - have been pocketed by commercial interests even as they and their minions have lectured us on the importance of keeping the hands of government off the press. It was the hypocrisy of the current system - with subsidies and government policies made ostensibly in the public interest but actually carved out behind closed doors to benefit powerful commercial interests - that fueled the extraordinary growth of the media reform movement over the past decade. The argument for restoring the democracy-sustaining subsidies of old - as opposed to the corporation-sustaining ones of recent decades - need not rest on models from two centuries ago. When the United States occupied Germany and Japan after World War II, Generals Eisenhower and MacArthur instituted lavish subsidies to spawn a vibrant, independent press in both nations. The generals recognized that a docile press had been the handmaiden of fascism and that a stable democracy requires diverse and competitive news media. They encouraged news media that questioned and dissented, even at times criticized US occupation forces. They did not gamble on the "free market" magically producing the desired outcome. In moments of crisis, our wisest leaders have always recognized the indispensible role of journalism in democracy. We are in such a crisis now. It is the character of the crisis, and the urgency of the moment, that should make Americans impatient with blanket condemnations of subsidies. State support is vital to higher education; on rare occasions professors have been harassed by governors or legislators over the content of their research or lectures. But only an extreme libertarian or a nihilist would argue to end all public support of higher education to eliminate the threat of this kind of government abuse. Likewise, the government does not tax church property or income, which is in effect a massive subsidy of organized religion. Yet the government has not favored particular religions or required people to hold religious views. As for the notion that public broadcasting is a more propagandistic or insidious force than commercial broadcasting because of the small measure of direct state support it receives, the evidence suggests otherwise. When the United States geared up to invade Iraq in 2002, commercial broadcast news media, with only a few brave exceptions, parroted Bush administration talking points for war that were easily identified as lies. In contrast, public and community broadcast coverage, while far from perfect, featured many more critical voices at exactly the moment a democracy requires a feisty Fourth Estate. Not surprisingly, public broadcasting is the most consistently trusted major news source, with Americans telling pollsters it deserves far greater public funding. Perhaps the strongest contemporary case for journalism subsidies is provided by other democracies. The evidence shows that subsidies do not infringe on liberty or justice; they correlate with the indicators of a good society. In The Economist's annual Democracy Index, which evaluates nations on the basis of the functioning of government, civic participation, civil liberties, political culture and pluralism, the six top-ranked nations maintain some of the most generous journalism subsidies on the planet. If the United States, No. 18 in the index, spent the same per capita on public media and journalism subsidies as Sweden and Norway, which rank 1 and 2, we would be spending as much as $30 billion a year. Sweden and Norway are also in the top tier of the pro-business Legatum Group's Prosperity Index, which measures health, individual freedom, security, the quality of governance and transparency, in addition to material wealth. The United States ranks ninth. The evidence is also clear that huge journalism subsidies and strong public media need not open the door to censorship or threaten private and commercial media. Consider the annual evaluation from Freedom House, the pro-private media organization that annually ranks international press freedom. It has the keenest antennas for government infringement of private press freedoms and routinely places nondemocratic and communist nations in its lowest, "not free" category. (It ranks Venezuela, for example - highly regarded by some on the democratic left for its commitment to elections and an open society as well as its wide-ranging adversarial media - as having a "not free" press.) Strikingly, Freedom House ranks the heavy subsidizing nations of Northern Europe in the top six spots on its 2008 list of nations with the freest news media. The United States ties for twenty-first. Research by communications professor Daniel Hallin demonstrates that increases in subsidies in Northern Europe led not to a docile and uncritical news media but to a "more adversarial press." In short, massive press subsidies can promote democratic political cultures and systems. But must Americans pay $30 billion a year to get the job done right? Possibly not. Digital technologies have dramatically lowered production and distribution costs. Still, the main source of great journalism is compensated human labor, and, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. We're longtime advocates of citizen journalism and the blogosphere, but our experience tells us that volunteer labor is insufficient to meet America's journalism needs. The digital revolution has the capacity to radically democratize and improve journalism, but only if there is a foundation of newsrooms - all of which will be digital or have digital components - with adequately paid staff who interact with and provide material for the blogosphere. The moral of the story is clear: journalism and press subsidies are the price of civilization. To deliver this public good in sufficient measure to sustain democracy, it must be treated as we treat national security. No one would dare suggest that our military defense could be adequately covered by volunteer labor, pledge drives, bake sales, silent auctions and foundation grants. The same is true for journalism. Cautious proponents of press subsidies think in terms of nickels and dimes, but we need to think in terms of billions. Columbia Journalism School professor Todd Gitlin got it right: "We're rapidly running out of alternatives to public finance.... It's time to move to the next level and entertain a grown-up debate among concrete ideas." How can we best spawn a vibrant, independent and competitive press without ceding government control over content? There are models, historic and international, from which we can borrow. No one-size-fits-all solution will suffice, since all forms of support have biases built into them. But if citizens spend as much time considering this issue as our corporate media executives and investors do trying to privatize, wall off and commercialize the Internet, journalism and democracy will win out. In our new book, The Death and Life of American Journalism, we offer proposals for long-term subsidies to spawn independent digital journalism. But we do not claim to have all the answers. What we claim - what we know - is that it is now imperative that emergency measures be proposed, debated and implemented. People need to see tangible examples of "public good" interventions, or the discussion about renewing journalism will amount to little more than fiddling while Rome burns. The point now is to generate popular participation in and support for a small-d democratic response. The starting point could be a debate about "bailouts" to keep struggling commercial news media, especially newspapers and magazines, afloat. As a rule, we oppose bailing out or subsidizing commercial news media. We believe subsidies should go primarily to nonprofit and noncommercial media. We are not doctrinaire on this point and believe it should be subject to debate, especially for short-term, emergency measures. If subsidies do go to commercial interests, the public needs to get something of substance in return. But the lion's share of subsidies must go now and in the future to developing and expanding the nonprofit and noncommercial sector. Journalism needs an institutional structure that comports with its status as a public good. What are we talking about? For starters, spending on public and community broadcasting should increase dramatically, with the money going primarily to journalism, especially on the local level. We never thought one commercial newsroom was satisfactory for an entire community; why should we regard it as acceptable to have a single noncommercial newsroom serve an entire community? Let's also have AmeriCorps put thousands of young people to work, perhaps as journalists on start-up digital "publications" covering underserved communities nationwide. This would quickly put unemployed journalists to work. Let's also craft legislation to expedite the transition of failing daily newspapers into solvent nonprofit or low-profit entities. It is healthy for communities to have general news media that cover all the relevant news and draw everyone together, in addition to specialized media. Shifting newspapers from high-profit to low-profit or nonprofit ownership allows them to keep publishing as they, and we, complete the transit from old media to new. Americans will embrace some of these ideas. They will reject others. The point is to get a debate going, to put proposals forward, to think big and to act with a sense of urgency. Let's assume, for the sake of journalism and democracy, that there will be subsidies. Then all we must do is put them to work in the same spirit and toward the same end as did the founders. 2010 The Nation John Nichols and Robert W. McChesney were the founders, with Josh Silver, of Free Press, which has launched a campaign to save the news. Their latest book is The Death and Life of American Journalism: The Media Revolution that Will Begin the World Again. John Nichols is Washington correspondent for The Nation and associate editor of The Capital Times in Madison, Wisconsin. Nichols is co-author with McChesney of Tragedy & Farce: How the American Media Sell Wars, Spin Elections, and Destroy Democracy - from The New Press. Nichols' latest book is The Genius of Impeachment: The Founders' Cure for Royalism. Robert McChesney is research professor in the Institute of Communications Research and the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois. He is the author many books including Rich Media, Poor Democracy, The Political Economy of the Media, and Problem with the Media: US Communication Politics in the 21st Century. --------12 of 15-------- Freedom of Expression is at Risk The Media Vultures By RAMZY BAROUD January 7, 2010 CounterPunch As you flip through a range of channels on your TV or browse through a stack of newspapers and magazines at a newsstand, you may feel lucky about living in a world where such a plethora of viewpoints is available. It might also seem that the apparent increase in media choices also increases the chances for the public interest to be understood and served fairly. Unfortunately, this is far from the case. The media world is shrinking by the day. Welcome to 2010. The coming year might go down in history as that of major media consolidation, as in concentration of media ownership in the hands of a few large conglomerates and powerful media moguls. Predictions regarding mergers of media companies are very bleak, and to a degree frightening. In his Los Angeles Times article "2010 predictions: Another turbulent year ahead for media", Joe Flint determines that the debate in the media world over which is king 'content or distribution' was settled in 2009. As a result, a new wave of mergers is likely to follow. Giant media will guzzle other giant media, which had already swallowed less enormous media companies, who in turn had .. well, you get the point. When US President Thomas Jefferson made his famous assertion that "the only security of all is in a free press," he hardly had media consolidation in mind. Giant media companies reflect the giant, albeit specific business interests of their owners and their advertisers. Neither News Corp nor Viacom are dedicating their services to serving the public. Such companies are dedicated only to financial growth, even at the expense of what matters, or should matter most to the majority of their consumers. In other words, while media companies proudly propagate the value of democracy, as they gain from a very specific interpretation of it, they are neither democratic nor representative. How will democracy, mass participation or public interest be served by the Comcast Corp's purchase of NBC's Universal or the Disney Company's acquisition of Marvel Entertainment Inc.? The media industry has turned into a jungle, where the survival of the fittest is determined not by value of content, or by contribution to society, but rather by "smart" business deals that ensure survival in an increasingly demanding media market. Times are changing. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was in fact established with a clear mandate (the Communications Act of 1934) to operate in the benefit of "public convenience, interest, or necessity". Whether the FCC lived up to that mandate or faltered in some of its responsibilities, the fact remains that the FCC is now part and parcel of the incessant efforts aimed at concentrating the ownership of the media in fewer hands. More, even the courts that kept the FCC in check might possibly concede in favor of more media consolidation. "Get ready for a flood of media consolidation deals," Ira Teinowitz wrote in theWrap.com. The reason is simple, but requires a short detour. In the mid 1990's, the FCC began relaxing its regulations on media ownership. In 1996 a process of "deregulation" led to a wave of mergers, as thousands of radio stations were sold to a few larger companies, and TV ownership became more concentrated than ever before. In 2003, the FCC once again moved to deregulate US laws regarding media, and this time the new media ownership laws targeted local media across the US. Fortunately, a US court moved in to thwart the FCC's concessions that seemed to mainly serve large media conglomerates. But the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit's decision is being challenged once more. The economic recession in the US has hit many newspapers hard. One hundred and fifty newspapers have either gone out of business altogether or are now online, the Seattle PI and the Christian Science Monitor being major examples. Thousands of media outlets across the US are barely breaking even and many are struggling to come up with a viable business model, with little hope on the horizon. The time is ripe for media vultures to make their move. In 2007, the court blocked the FCC's attempt to change the rules of ownership. Now it is reconsidering that decision. "A three-judge panel of the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, which had put the stay in effect, ordered the FCC and consumer groups to 'show cause' by mid January (2010) why the stay should not be dropped". If the rules are reversed, the mergers and further media consolidation will affect the top twenty markets in the US. Knowing what we know about the history of encroachment of large media companies, we can only guess that this is just the beginning of further concentration of media ownership, and subsequently the stifling of freedom of expression for the large majority of people, especially those whose opinion is not consistent with the business (or political and ideological) interests of media owners and their benefactors. Unfortunately, this trend is not confined to the US. The economic recession is global, and giant media companies are not operating within specific geographic boundaries. "The Spanish media sector saw the start of a wave of consolidation amid signs that at least two of them were close to announcing a tie-up," reported the Financial Times on December 17. This seems to be a repeated media-related news story in various countries. More, the media consolidation is felt in all media sectors, including film, music and others. The continuation of this trend is terrible news for public interest, civil society and democracy as a whole. We must resist shameless efforts of the few at owning everything we see, hear and read. By owning all the influences that shape our views of our surroundings and the world at large, the public will soon be forced to surrender every available outlet of expression, and eventually its very self-definition. Yes, even the way we define ourselves will ultimately be determined by a billionaire in some penthouse, who makes his wealth selling us packaged lies as news and trash as entertainment. Ramzy Baroud is an author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle (Pluto Press, London). --------13 of 15------- Be There or Be Scared Shall We Gather at the CIA? By MISSY COMLEY BEATTIE CounterPunch January 8 - 10, 2010 On January 16th, peace devotees will gather at Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia to protest the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), operated primarily by the CIA to kill al-Qaida in Iraq, Pakistan, and along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. These attacks have killed many more civilians, children included, than the "terrorists" they target. I often wonder, especially when I'm trying to fade into sleep, if many Americans are considering the collide-with-disaster tragedy our leadership is directing. It seems the majority go about their lives as if the most important contemplation is selecting a fast-food joint to patronize or what to watch on television. We are a country that now accepts torture. According to a Pew report, 67 percent of Republicans and 47 percent of Democrats support its use. We imprison and place in solitary confinement the young and the old, those who may be guilty of one thing only - being in the wrong place at a time when justice has been rendered meaningless by something called the Global War on Terrorism and the Patriot Act, a weird acronym for "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act". This chilling mouthful, especially "Providing Appropriate Tools," describes a nation gone rogue. For decades, we have endured inept lawmakers and cabinet appointees. But 9/11 turned many into caricatures. The invasion of Afghanistan with its resultant war fever added another level of absurdity. We witnessed jaw-dropping, waste-of-time lunacy during the buildup to topple Saddam Hussein. When France refused to sign on to the disastrous destabilizing of the Middle East, French fries were renamed freedom fries on the menus of eateries run by the House of Representatives. This derangement was contagious. Francophobes poured French wine down sink drains. Restaurants removed it from their wine lists. Germany weighed in on the side of France. Gerhard Schroeder, Chancellor at the time, said, "War may never be considered unavoidable". His sanity was anathema to a nation of warmongers. Soon, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld referred to France and Germany as "old Europe". All this would have been farcical had the Project for the New American Century not been so diabolical. We have watched Congress become frenzied to avenge the deaths of those who died on that September morning by funding operations that have killed hundreds of thousands of civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq, creating a widening gyre of violence that has expanded to Pakistan. The director of the Afghanistan Rights Monitor, Ajmal Samadi, reports "at least three children were killed in war-related incidents every day in 2009". At least a half million people who lived in the lands we've ruptured have been displaced. Their countries are environmental disasters as a result of our weaponry. Army historians now say that early errors are to blame for the current problems in Afghanistan. This is inaccurate - because the initial mistake was invading in the first place. With the Christmas 2009 "incident," Yemen has become the new front in the war on terror. Yemeni leaders stress that they don't want our boots on their ground, and Obama's top counterterrorism advisor, John Brennan, said the US has no plan to deploy troops to Yemen. But with Obama's continuation of his predecessor's policies, the Bush Doctrine of preemptive war forebodes more aggression. Each day of combat is another 24 hours of desolation somewhere. Here at home with the ringing of the doorbell by a messenger of death. In lands far away where entire families are incinerated by the technology of drone warfare, war fire, war power. We created what we're fighting and we've become what we're fighting. Our troops are illegal enemy combatants. So, how do we forge peace? What can we do to reach inside our hearts and find humanity - that which connects each of us regardless of ethnicity, borders, religious beliefs, gender, philosophies? How can we hold what seems to be moving inexorably from our grasp, nurture, and then deliver it to those who will shepherd its safe passage through the tomorrows of our children and grandchildren? Only by taking nonviolent action can we stop the atrocities, can we stop the dronings, stop the suffering, stop the wars. Come to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia on January 16th to protest drones. If you can't make the distance, organize a rally in your community. Also, participate in Peace of the Action (www.peaceoftheaction.org) in Washington, DC, starting in March and continuing until our troops come home. Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She's written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she's a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a novel last year, but since the death of her nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, in Iraq on August 6,'05, she has been writing political articles. She can be reached at: Missybeat [at] aol.com --------14 of 15-------- Hope Has Left the Building by Arun Gupta Friday, January 8, 2010 The Indypendent (New York) Common Dreams If one case encapsulates the disaster that is the Obama administration, it may be the dustup over the A.I.G. bonuses last March. Recall that extreme gambling by A.I.G. Financial Products nearly crashed the world in 2008, necessitating a taxpayer bailout of $182.3 billion (and counting). Following this, A.I.G., now 80 percent government owned, rained more than $400 million in bonuses on Financial Products employees for their performance in 2008. The Obama administration, which knew of the bonuses for months, played defense for A.I.G. by unspooling a bloated Larry Summers to argue, "The government cannot just abrogate contracts." The problem was the feds had just demanded that auto workers abrogate their hard-won contracts before Detroit got a bailout. United Auto Workers leaders complied, sacrificing "job security provisions and financing for retiree health care," plus agreeing to cuts in base pay, overtime pay, break time, raises, skilled worker positions and chopping wages for many new hires in half to $14 an hour. Far from failures or mistakes, these episodes illustrate how Team Obama, which surfed a tsunami of corporate money and savvy branding to victory, is doing exactly what it was elected to do: redistribute money upwards. It's hard to think of a decision by this White House that would have not elicited cackling glee from the Bush administration. The number of horrendous policies] enacted by the Obama administration in barely a year boggles the imagination. What follows is by no means an exhaustive list, just a few dozen of the worst. EMPIRE'S BACKYARD Even Time magazine has concluded that "Obama's Latin American Policy Looks Like Bush's." While many hoped Obama would lift the 48-year-old embargo against Cuba, Obama loosened a few restrictions only for Cuban Americans. Last April, Obama declared the United States a "full partner" in Mexico's calamitous drug war. Months later, the White House slapped Bolivia with economic penalties, allegedly for not being an enthusiastic drug warrior, but more likely for pursuing an independent agenda. And there is the Honduran coup, which Obama endorsed by recognizing the rigged election in November. Most ominously, his administration inked a deal in October for seven military bases in Colombia, convenient for launching new wars against socialist governments in the region. GREEN JOB LOSSES Before Van Jones was thrown under the bus, Obama promised to create five million green jobs in plug-in hybrids, weatherization, renewable energy, biofuels and clean coal. Biofuels and clean coal? Okay, maybe it's a good thing this promise was snuffed. But as Naomi Klein points out, between the stimulus, the auto bailout and the Wall Street rescue, Obama had the leverage and political capital to fund mass transit and a smart electrical grid, restructure government-owned automakers to focus on green technology and force bailed out banks to fund industrial restructuring and green infrastructure. Instead, we get a White House vegetable garden the size of a New York apartment. TOO BIG TO FAIL, TOO BIG TO JAIL While the original Troubled Assets Relief Program was "only" $700 billion, the program's watchdog estimates taxpayer money at risk is a phenomenal $23.7 trillion. The Obama administration has been more interested in defending obscene executive pay, blessing more of Wall Street's highrisk trading, stonewalling on how the TARP funds were used and abused, and resisting real regulation, rather than prosecuting Goldman Sachs and other banks that peddled risky mortgage-backed securities while secretly betting they would plummet in value - a textbook case of securities fraud. But what do you expect from a candidate who raked in the most dough from Wall Street, real estate, commercial banks and hedge funds? A DREAM FORECLOSED In comparison to the bank bailout, relief for homeowners is limited to a miserly $75 billion under Obama's Making Home Affordable program. As of December, only 31,000 homeowners have received permanent mortgage modifications. The real winners are loan servicers. Of the top 25 participants, 21 were "heavily involved in the subprime lending industry." The parent companies of the lenders, which have vacuumed up more than $21 billion from the program, include Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup. Homeowners in the program who don't get permanent help are left with wrecked credit scores while they continue to pay for homes they can't afford, which may be lengthening the crisis. Meanwhile, the number of homeowners with mortgage debt greater than the value of their homes was 23 percent as of September and could peak at 48 percent in 2011. Even modest measures, such as allowing bankruptcy judges to lower mortgages, were abandoned by the Obama administration. HEALTH CARE DEFORM There is a method to Obama's madness. First, his economic philosophy is to subsidize private entities to provide public goods. Second, his main tactic is to appeal to bipartisanship. (Never mind that there was plenty of bipartisanship during the Bush era when Democrats surrendered to virtually every heinous decision.) In the case of healthcare, a much simpler and more effective single-payer system was rejected because Republican support was supposedly needed. The bipartisan tactic allowed the Obama administration to replace single payer with a fake public option that was then dropped. As for the healthcare bill, it will skim $500 billion from publicly funded Medicare and Medicaid and use it to subsidize individuals who will be forced to buy for-profit insurance or pay a fine. The bill does nothing to control costs, ensure quality coverage or prevent workers from losing job-related insurance. It allows for wildly different rates based on age and region, and will deliver millions of new "customers" to insurance and drug companies and for-profit hospitals. WAR IS THE HEALTH OF THE STATE While President-elect, Obama was largely silent about the Israeli slaughter of 1,400 civilians in Gaza. Three days after being inaugurated, Obama ordered Predator drone strikes inside Pakistan, expanding the illegal U.S. war. Over the last year, Obama has committed another 64,000 soldiers to Afghanistan, effectively launching a new year. There are still 115,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. The use of private military contractors is surging, with 121,000 (and growing) in Afghanistan alone. Obama has continued to threaten Iran over its uranium-enrichment program. And many believe the White House is "initiating a low-level war in Yemen." Author and Ret. U.S. Army Col. Andrew Bacevich writes that Obama has effectively signed on to "perpetual war." LABOR PAINS Despite reportedly pouring $450 million into Obama's campaign and providing thousands of volunteers, organized labor has been unable to advance its main cause: a bill called the Employee Free Choice Act that would make it easier for employees in a workplace to unionize. The Obama administration says it is committed to passing the bill, but it has not put any muscle behind it. That may be because wealthy Obama backers, including three Chicago billionaires who own hotels, vehemently oppose the bill. 2010 The Indypendent A founding editor of The Indypendent, Arun Gupta writes about energy, the economy, the media, U.S. foreign policy, the politics of food and other subjects for The Indypendent, Z Magazine, Left Turn and Alternet. Gupta is a regular commentator on Democracy Now! and GritTV with Laura Flanders. He.s writing a book on the decline of American Empire to be published by Haymarket Books. From 1989 to 1992 he was an international news editor at the Guardian Newsweekly. --------15 of 15-------- Q: In January 2010, those who are still Obama enthusiasts are: 1. mentally deficient 2. morally deficient 3. all of the above. A: This is a trick question - there are no Obama enthusiasts now. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments vote third party for president for congress now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8 Research almost any topic raised here at: CounterPunch http://counterpunch.org Dissident Voice http://dissidentvoice.org Common Dreams http://commondreams.org Once you're there, do a search on your topic, eg obama drones
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