Saturday 08 January 2011
Attacking Public Employees: Will New York Lead?
Richard D. Wolff, MR Zine: "As in other states, New York's new governor has focused attention on the state's budget woes: revenues insufficient to cover expenditures.
His major response has been to blame public employees and their unions as if their pay, benefits, and especially pensions were chief causes of the problem.... Many political leaders across the states and in both major parties have been pushing the same agenda."
US Seeks Twitter Info on WikiLeaks' Assange, Others
McClatchy Newspapers: "A U.S. magistrate in San Francisco has ordered Twitter to turn over to the Justice Department account whatever information it was about four of its users, including WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Army PFC Bradley Manning, the one-time Baghdad-based intelligence analyst accused of unauthorized downloading of hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. government documents."
Will Our Economy Ever Recover From the "Greatest Recovery"?
Mark Provost, Truthout: "For the past two years, American workers submitted to the president's appeal - taking steep paycuts despite hectic productivity growth. By contrast, corporate executives have extracted record profits by sabotaging the recovery on every front - eliminating employees, repressing wages, withholding investment and shirking federal taxes.... The global recession increased unemployment in every country, but the American experience is unparalleled.... Washington's embrace of labor market flexibility ensured companies encountered little resistance when they launched their brutal recovery plans. Leading into the recession, the US had the weakest worker protections against individual and collective dismissals in the world."
Obama Created More Jobs in One Year Than Bush Created in Eight
Alex Seitz-Wald, ThinkProgress: "Yesterday morning, the Labor Department released its employment data for December, showing that the U.S. economy ended the year by adding 113,000 private sector jobs, knocking the unemployment rate down sharply from 9.8 percent to 9.4 percent — its lowest rate since July 2009.... Indeed, from February 2001, Bush’s first full month in office, through January 2009, his last, the economy added just 1 million jobs. By contrast, in 2010 alone, the economy added at least 1.1 million jobs."
Protest by Suicide Highlights Economic and Political Oppression in Tunisia
Basel Saleh, Truthout: "Bouazizi's attempted suicide, which comes hard on the heels of police humiliation and confiscation of his only source of income, reveals the utter despair prevalent today among Tunisia's population, especially college graduates. Twenty-four years of ruthless corruption, dictatorship and neoliberal economic policies led to a concentration of wealth in the hands of a very few people.... The miserable economic conditions in the interior of the country and the lack of employment opportunities and political freedoms pushed Bouazizi, like thousands of other young men and women in the Maghreb countries, to the margins of society."
Obama Signs Law, Decries Its Limits on Transfer of Guantanamo Detainees
Margaret Talev and Carol Rosenberg, McClatchy Newspapers: "President Barack Obama on Friday reluctantly signed into law a military-funding bill that limits him from transferring terrorism detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the U.S. or foreign countries, but he signaled that he may get past the restrictions by using non-Pentagon resources to get the job done. Even as he reserved that right, it wasn't immediately clear to what degree the president still may capitulate to political pressure between now and his 2012 re-election campaign to keep detainees off U.S. soil and out of civilian courts."
Compensating for Decline: Revitalizing US Asia-Pacific Hegemony
Joseph Gerson, Truthout: "The Obama administration is attempting to leverage its allies' resources and power while taking advantage of the insecurities resulting from China's rising power and its aggressive assertions of its territorial ambitions. The US is weaving together a system of military and political alliances and relationships from Japan to India and across Central Asia, as well as to Europe and to NATO."
What's Behind North Korea's Offer for Unconditional Talks?
Donald Kirk, The Christian Science Monitor: "China, as expected, has strongly supported North Korea’s call for talks, saying they offer hope for “stability” on the Korean Peninsula. Japanese leaders have been increasingly concerned by rising confrontation on the Korean Peninsula – a major reason why the Democratic Party of Japan has reversed its previously soft-line stance. Analysts are puzzled, however, as to what North Korea expects from calling for talks – or, for that matter, is likely to gain even if talks resume."
Cathie Black and the Demise of Public Education
Christopher Lawrence, Truthout: "The appointment of Cathie Black - the Hearst magazine executive with zero education experience - as New York City schools chancellor is further evidence of the complete collapse of the 20th century model of liberal public education in the US.... [This] only serves to highlight the obvious message: education is a business that is too lucrative in these difficult times to leave to teachers and communities. It now seems inevitable that we will move to a dual education system not seen since the days of legal segregation, with minorities and the poor shuttled through a system of for-profit institutions emphasizing standardized testing, uniform lessons and rote learning."