Truth Going, Going, Gone… With the Papers


From CHRIS HEDGES
Truthdig

[…] Newsrooms today are anemic and forlorn wastelands. I was recently in the newsroom at The Philadelphia Inquirer, and patches of the floor, also the size of a city block, were open space or given over to rows of empty desks. These institutions are going the way of the massive rotary presses that lurked like undersea monsters in the bowels of newspaper buildings, roaring to life at night. The heavily oiled behemoths, the ones that spat out sheets of newsprint at lightning speed, once empowered and enriched newspaper publishers who for a few lucrative decades held a monopoly on connecting sellers with buyers. Now that that monopoly is gone, now that the sellers no long need newsprint to reach buyers, the fortunes of newspapers are declining as fast as the page counts of daily news sheets.

The great newspapers sustained legendary reporters such as I.F. Stone, Murray Kempton and Homer Bigart who wrote stories that brought down embezzlers, cheats, crooks and liars, who covered wars and conflicts, who told us about famines in Africa and the peculiarities of the French or what it was like to be poor and forgotten in our urban slums or Appalachia. These presses churned out raw lists of data, from sports scores to stock prices. Newspapers took us into parts of the city or the world we would never otherwise

Suspended Agitation


From JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER

[…] I just hope Michele Bachmann and her probable running mate, Jesus, don’t steal the next election. They’ll rip out the Obamas’ vegetable garden and put a Nascar track there so that all of Ms. Bachmann’s 27 children can have jobs selling miniature bibles in the parking lot. (“Prayed over by qualified preachers twenty-four hours a day!”)

By the by, many observers were amused by last week’s cute trick of releasing sixty million barrels of oil from the world’s strategic reserves at the rate of two million-a-day in an effort to pretend that the world doesn’t have a basic oil production problem. It is, of course, at the bottom of the world’s financial disarray, because if you can’t increase energy inputs that feed an industrial economy you don’t get growth and then the whole idea of compound interest falls apart because it is predicated on a perpetual increase in wealth. Hence, debt collapses in on itself. The world is caught up in an epochal contraction now, and it manifests in situations like the Greek emergency. But soon it will be a universal emergency.

The lesson, if I may be tendentious for moment, is that the human race is welcome at any time to begin living differently, at a smaller scale, much more locally, with fewer automatic machines doing all the work for us, and more time spent on useful and necessary activities than on television fantasies. Got a problem with oil? Don’t imagine that you’re going to run WalMart – or, for that matter, Goldman Sachs – on wheat-straw distillates. Something is in the air this week and it is making a lot of people very nervous. If you loaded up the old investment portfolio with shale gas stocks, I feel especially sorry for you.

Original article here
~~

Senator Bernie Sanders: Dear Mr. President, Do not yield…


From BERNIE SANDERS

[PLEASE TAKE ACTION RIGHT NOW! Co-sign the letter and then send the link to your personal email list. Let’s overwhelm Obama with the people’s demands. Thank you! -DS]

Dear Mr. President,

This is a pivotal moment in the history of our country. Decisions are being made about the national budget that will impact the lives of virtually every American for decades to come. As we address the issue of deficit reduction we must not ignore the painful economic reality of today – which is that the wealthiest people in our country and the largest corporations are doing phenomenally well while the middle class is collapsing and poverty is increasing.  In fact, the United States today has, by far, the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country on earth.

Everyone understands that over the long-term we have got to reduce the deficit – a deficit that was caused mainly by Wall Street greed, tax breaks for the rich, two wars, and a prescription drug program written by the drug and insurance companies. It is absolutely imperative, however, that as we go forward with deficit reduction we completely reject the Republican approach that demands savage cuts in desperately-needed programs for working families, the elderly, the sick, our children and the poor, while not asking the wealthiest among us to contribute one penny.

Mr. President, please listen to the overwhelming majority of the American people who believe that deficit reduction must be about shared sacrifice.

Imperialism 101


From MICHAEL PARENTI

[…] Economic conditions have worsened drastically with the growth of transnational corporate investment. The problem is not poor lands or unproductive populations but foreign exploitation and class inequality. Investors go into a country not to uplift it but to enrich themselves.

People in these countries do not need to be taught how to farm. They need the land and the implements to farm. They do not need to be taught how to fish. They need the boats and the nets and access to shore frontage, bays, and oceans. They need industrial plants to cease dumping toxic effusions into the waters. They do not need to be convinced that they should use hygienic standards. They do not need a Peace Corps Volunteer to tell them to boil their water, especially when they cannot afford fuel or have no access to firewood. They need the conditions that will allow them to have clean drinking water and clean clothes and homes. They do not need advice about balanced diets from North Americans. They usually know what foods best serve their nutritional requirements. They need to be given back their land and labor so that they might work for themselves and grow food for their own consumption.

The legacy of imperial domination is not only misery and strife, but an economic structure dominated by a network of international corporations which themselves are beholden to parent companies based in North America, Europe and Japan. If there is any harmonization or integration, it occurs among the global investor classes, not among the indigenous economies of these countries. Third World economies remain fragmented and unintegrated both between each other and within themselves, both in the flow of capital and goods and in technology and organization. In sum, what we have is a world economy that has little to do with the economic needs of the world’s people… Original article here
~~

Here’s the function that the book – the physical paper book – does for you that nothing else will


From THE INDEPENDENT UK
Thanks to Ron Epstein

Read a book with your laptop thrumming. It can feel like trying to read in the middle of a party where everyone is shouting

In the 20th century, all the nightmare-novels of the future imagined that books would be burnt. In the 21st century, our dystopias imagine a world where books are forgotten. To pluck just one, Gary Steynghart’s novel Super Sad True Love Story describes a world where everybody is obsessed with their electronic Apparat – an even more omnivorous i-Phone with a flickering stream of shopping and reality shows and porn – and have somehow come to believe that the few remaining unread paper books let off a rank smell. The book on the book, it suggests, is closing.

I have been thinking about this because I recently moved flat, which for me meant boxing and heaving several Everests of books, accumulated obsessively since I was a kid. Ask me to throw away a book, and I begin shaking like Meryl Streep in Sophie’s Choice and insist that I just couldn’t bear to part company with it, no matter how unlikely it is I will ever read (say) a 1,000-page biography of little-known Portuguese dictator Antonio Salazar. As I stacked

What happened to media coverage of Fukushima?


From ANNE LANDMAN
PR Watch
Thanks to Meca Wawona

While the U.S. media has been occupied with Anthony Weiner, the Republican presidential candidates and Bristol Palin’s memoir, coverage of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster has practially fallen off the map. Poor mainstream media coverage of Japan’s now months-long struggle to gain control over the Fukushima disaster has deprived Americans of crucial information about the risks of nuclear power following natural disasters. After a few weeks of covering the early aftermath of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, the U.S. media moved on, leaving behind the crisis at Fukushima which continues to unfold. U.S. politicians, like Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, have made disappointing and misleading statements about the relative safety of nuclear power and have vowed to stick by our nuclear program, while other countries, like Germany and Italy, have taken serious steps to address the obvious risks of nuclear power — risks that the Fukushima disaster made painfully evident, at least to the rest of the world.

Problems Multiply

News outlets in other countries have been paying attention to Fukushima, though, and a relative few in this country have as well. A June 16, 2011

Hey! Lookee here: If Congress does nothing, the deficit will simply disappear in 6 years


From TPM

[NO MORE CUTS!! -DS]

On Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office released its updated long-term budget forecast, which looked surprisingly like the previous version of its long-term budget forecast.

It showed, as one might expect, that if the Bush tax-cuts remain in effect and Medicare and Medicaid spending isn’t constrained in some way, the country will topple into a genuine fiscal crisis — not the fake one the Congress is pretending the country’s in right now.

Republicans, of course, seized on that particular projection, and claimed (a bit ridiculously) that it proved the government must adopt their precise policy views: major spending cuts, particularly to entitlement programs.

While all this — from the findings to the politicization of them — is perfectly expected, the forecast also presents another opportunity to remind people that the medium-term budget outlook is perfectly fine if Congress adheres to the law as it’s currently written. That means no repealing the health care law, for one, but more significantly

Will Parrish: The Mendonoma Coast’s Second Spanish Invasion


Courtesy Friends of the Gualala River

From WILL PARRISH
TheAVA.com
Laytonville

Spanish wine corporation Grupo Codorníu is accustomed to doing things in a big way.  It is reputed to own a greater expanse of vineyard acreage than any wine company in Spain, which in turn has more land under grapevine cultivation than any nation in the world. It is perhaps the world’s largest distributor of the Spanish sparkling wine Cava, producing more than 100 million bottles of it annually at a wine factory in Barcelona, which are distributed en masse to over 100 countries spanning the globe.

Codorníu’s portfolio also features what may well be the world’s largest vineyard, a 4,000-acre span of tendril and vine that acts as source of grapes for one among the many wineries in its portfolio, Raimat – “recognized,” according to the company’s web site, “as Spain’s preeminent wine estate.”  At 6.25 square miles, this monolithic grape plantation covers a surface area equivalent to nearly one and a half Ukiahs.

With such grandiosity in mind, it is not at all surprising that in one of the various Wine Country regions where Codorníu is invested, it is proposing to carry out the largest conversion of designated forestland to vineyards