Friday, December 24, 2010

Truthout... News Briefs 12/23/10

News Briefs
Thursday 23 December 2010

$385 Million TSA Program Fails to Detect Terrorists
Matthew Harwood, Truthout: "Even though the TSA failed to carry out scientific testing of Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT), the TSA has allotted nearly $383 million to SPOT since 2007, rolling it out at 161 of 457 TSA-regulated airports. Despite this considerable investment, the agency didn't even perform a cost-benefit analysis on the pilot tests that began in 2003, according to the GAO.... 
Maybe the most damning evidence that SPOT doesn't work is that it has never identified a terrorist at an airport where the program has been implemented."

Paul Krugman | Free Trade Won't Cure Unemployment
Paul Krugman, Krugman & Co.: "Now that there seems to be no hope of using reasonable fiscal policy to fix the United States's economy, I've been hearing a different idea lately: that trade can be a driver of economic recovery. Namely, the suggestion that the trade proposal South Korea and the United States recently agreed on can serve as a form of macroeconomic policy. Um, no. The problem in the United States is insufficient spending on American-produced goods and services - that is, a lack of demand."

US Stepping Up Pressure on Pakistan
Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service: "This week's leak to the New York Times of a proposal for U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) raids against Afghan insurgent sanctuaries in Pakistan may be intended to put more pressure on the Pakistani military to take action against those sanctuaries. But the proposal for such cross-border raids also reflects a real demand from the U.S.-NATO command in Afghanistan to target insurgent leaders inside Pakistan if the Pakistani military does not respond to the threat, according to a U.S. source familiar with discussions at the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) headquarters in Kabul."

Michael Moore | Another WikiLeaks Cable From the Bush Administration
Michael Moore, "Twice within four days, my name has popped up in the Bush-era secret cables uncovered by WikiLeaks. Lucky me. Though nowhere near as earth-shattering as the uncovering of American misdeeds in Iraq and Afghanistan, these classified cables provide a stunning and bizarre peek into the paranoid minds of the Bush White House when it came to the subject of one Michael Francis Moore. And considering how WikiLeaks has released only 1,826 cables of its planned drop of 251,287 - and I've already played a starring role twice - I can only say I await with bemused anticipation how the moi-storyline will play itself out."

Ivory Coast: Hopes for Peace Dwindle
Marco Chown Oved, GlobalPost: "Room for a peaceful resolution dwindled here as both men who claim to be president hardened their positions amid increasing accounts of political killings and abductions. Nearly 200 people have been killed in Ivory Coast political violence that must be halted and fully investigated, the United States told the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday."

News in Brief: Pat Robertson Supports Marijuana Legalization, and More ...
The infamous right-wing Christian Pat Robertson, who has blamed natural disasters on gay people, supports marijuana legalization; President Obama won considerable victories in Congress during the latest session; tensions between the state of Texas and the federal government hit a boiling point this week in a feud over greenhouse gas emissions; Israeli activist Jonathan Pollack could be sent to prison for three to six months for participating in a Critical Mass bike ride in protest of Israel's treatment of Palestinians on the Gaza strip.

Jim Hightower | Obama to the Corporate Powers: I Feel Your Pain
Jim Hightower, Truthout: "Guess who's whining the loudest these days, wailing that they're getting a raw deal from Barack Obama. Not the unemployed and barely employed - even though the White House has blithely ignored their critical need for a national jobs program. Not the poor, even though their ranks are swelling as millions of Americans fall out of the middle class."

Inupiaq People Ask: "Will We Be the Victims of the Next Oil Spill Disaster?"
Harvard Ayers and Chie Sakakibara, ClimateStoryTellers: "The BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico that began on April 20, 2010, was a wakeup call for all of us as Americans as we weigh our country's energy future. In what way? It's because we Americans have consumed most of our 'easy' oil. Like a drug addict who desperately takes more chances as he has to have more of his drug of choice than he can afford, we are willing to take more and more chances as we drill for the 'hard' oil in more and more fragile and risky environments. In the BP Gulf disaster, strongly motivated by profit, BP was willing to risk drilling in super-deep water to maintain profits even though they had no idea what they would do in the worst-case blowout."

Social Security's Future at Risk With New Tax Deal
Jonathan Battaglia and Robert Weiner, The Palm Beach Post: "Under the radar screen, the new tax deal is threatening the livelihood of America's present and future seniors - to line the pockets of millionaires. If made permanent, a new Social Security 'payroll tax holiday,' reducing the 'match' employers pay from 6 percent to 4 percent of salary, will drop the solvency of the program 14 years, from 2037 to 2023, according to the Congressional Budget Office. At the same time, Congress agreed to increase high-end loopholes in the estate tax, exempting 39,000 estates worth as much as $5 million."

Afghan Youth Supply Their Answer to US's December Review
Alissa Bohling, Truthout: "Two days after the Obama administration released its December review of the war in Afghanistan to a public made increasingly skeptical by the war's rising human and economic costs, a coalition of young Afghan peace activists issued their own review. The Global Day of Listening to Afghans brought together listeners from around the world, who joined sessions of a day-long conference call that offered a grassroots alternative to the official report, which has been criticized for its lack of hard facts or specifics on withdrawal."

Exclusive Julian Assange Interview With Cenk Uygur (Video)
Cenk Uygur (host of The Young Turks) interviewed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on MSNBC's "Dylan Ratigan Show." They discussed critics of Assange, the treatment of Pvt. Bradley Manning and more.

Michael Winship | Censorship: Toys in the Nation's Attic
Michael Winship, Truthout: "In the snows of yesteryear, far away from 'don't ask, don't tell' or START treaties or the War on Christmas, I see the movie house of my youth, the Playhouse Theater on Chapin Street, the only one in my small hometown - except for a nearby drive-in that closed during the winter. In the colder months, we'd get a short ride downtown to the Playhouse or crunch along the shoveled sidewalks, stepping over or through the deeper drifts, watching out for patches of ice. Sometimes during semester breaks in high school, I'd go to a double feature and, after it was over, walk down an icy, silent Main Street late in the night to where my father was closing his store and preparing to drive home."

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in the Dustbin
Editorial cartoonist Clay Bennett depicts Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) in the dustbin, along with the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that he was so bent on supporting.

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