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Archives from May 2009
“If I Wasn’t Grace Slick, I’d Be Dead”
PHYLLIS POLLACK
When I told Grace Slick that Paul Kantner, her former band mate and father of her daughter, China, is getting ready to go out on tour with a group billed as The Jefferson Starship, and that tickets are currently on sale at venues across the country, who knew? Well, appare...
Eros and Susan Boyle; Fakery and Simon Cowell
DAVID YEARSLEY
"We may be ugly, but we’ve got the music." –Leonard Cohen, "Chelsea Hotel" What is most astonishing about the Susan Boyle phenomenon is not that a frumpy middle-aged woman stands poised to win I...
Reeling Republicans
VIJAY PRASHAD
In 2004, a pall of gloom fell over American liberalism. George W. Bush was re-elected the United States’ President against all odds: a quagmire in Iraq and a faltering economy were not sufficient to bury the Republican Party. In fact, the opposite, as conservat...
The Destabilization of Pakistan
GARY LEUPP
So far the principle result of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan following the events of 9-11 has been the destabilization of Pakistan. That breakdown is peaking with the events in what AP calls the “Swat town” of Mingora—actually a city of 375,000 f...
Turtle Island
DAVID KER THOMSON
The question of how many environmentalists it takes to change a light bulb gained a brief piquancy as we shared a subway platform with David Suzuki yesterday here in Toronto. “We’re the students of Alpha 2,” we announced gnomically to a bemu...
The Mother of All Corruption Scandals
PATRICK COCKBURN
Iraq plans to arrest 1,000 officials for corruption after a scandal which has forced the resignation of the Trade Minister and is threatening the food supply of millions of Iraqis. Corruption at the Trade Ministry is an important issue in Iraq because the mini...
The Impossible Rehab of Colin Powell
RAY McGOVERN
Watching retired Gen. Colin Powell refer to the parable of the Good Samaritan during Sunday’s Memorial Day ceremonies on the Mall in Washington, it struck me that Powell was giving hypocrisy a bad name.Those familiar with the Good Samaritan story and also...
“If I Wasn’t Grace Slick, I’d Be Dead”
PHYLLIS POLLACK
Part Two. The file has some of your high school records in it. The F.B.I. states that that to allow the band to continue to perform, could be quote, “Detrimental to the defense interests of the nation.” Yeah. After going through all o...
Mined Out in Zambia
JEAN-CHRISTOPHE SERVANT
Peter and Irene, both 30, are engineering graduates of Lusaka university and have been working since 2006 in Chingola, a small Copperbelt town in Zambia in southern Africa . The couple are employed by Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), the biggest mining company in a countr...
Sotomayor’s Problem Isn’t That She’s Too Latina
DAVE LINDORFF
OI don’t know at this point whether Judge Sonia Sotomayor is a good choice for Supreme Court Justice or a bad one. She certainly is a lousy judge for writers and other creative people, having ruled (and been overruled by an appellate court and then, whe...
Star Trek and the Continuing Mission of American Imperialism
SOPHIA MIHIC
It is set years in the future, but the new Star Trek movie is a sixties nostalgia film. I sat riveted to the screen and to the present moment with my husband and our daughter between us. At the same time, I was transported back to the original run of the series betwe...
The Mechanic’s Tale
BILL HATCH
In the late 1990s, an entrepreneurial mechanic with a wife and one child bought a house for $65,000 with a down payment of $1,500?and took a fixed-rate FHA mortgage. His wife, a beautician, got a job as a clerk at a discount store. In the midst of the speculative rea...
Big Trouble in Little Britain
STEPHEN MARTIN
Any American who is prepared to run for president should automatically, by definition, be disqualified from ever doing so. –Gore Vidal Some kind of answer to Vidal’s proposition; extrapolated by way of ‘syllog...
Sin Nombre: Only Part of the Border Story
JOSEPH NEVINS
The Philadelphia Inquirer calls the film “[t]ough and beautiful,” the USA Today “a powerful and wrenching thriller,” giving it fours stars out of four. The Denver Post characterizes it as “vivid and haunting,” while The Washington ...
When Workers’ Rights Go Unenforced
DAVID MACARAY
“The Law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich, as well as the poor, to sleep under the bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal.” —Anatole France Given the dramatic changes in the political landscap...
A Place Called Despair
MISSY COMLEY BEATTIE
At least 20 US soldiers have died in Iraq during the the month of May. By June 1, this number may be higher. According to Iraq Body Count: On May 1, seven Iraqi civilians were killed. On May 3, eight Iraqi civilians were killed. On May 4...
Straw Dogs
JAMES McENTEER
The controversy over Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination illustrates a fundamental problem with how mass media supposedly “inform” the American public about salient events.  To stir up interest (in themselves, mostly), media invite predi...
Drilling the Marcellus Shale Through the Halliburton Loophole
ADAM FEDERMAN
Of all the threats posed by oil and gas companies seeking to drill in the Marcellus Shale—a geologic formation that stretches from Ohio to New York and may contain the largest supply of natural gas in the United States—hydraulic fracturing has been cited ...
Dylan Kelehan Gets What He Needs
LORENZO WOLFF
It’s amazing how much attention we can pay to ourselves nowadays. Between Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube the opportunities for self-indulgence are endless. This is why I was surprised to find a concise, intelligent documentary about the compromises and pitfalls...
On Evolution
JAMES C. FARIS
This is the 200th year celebration of Charles Darwin’s birth.  There are new books by the dozens, there is a tremendous amount of new research into evolution and its mechanisms, and in many ways, the specifics of Darwin’s ideas have been surpassed, s...
The Catastrophic Economics of Nuclear Power
HARVEY WASSERMAN
In a devastating pair of financial reports that might be called "The Emperor Has No Pressure Vessel," the New York Times has blazed new light on the catastrophic economics of atomic power. The two Business Section specials cover the fiasco of new Fr...
Three Luddites Talking …
CHELLIS GLENDINNING, STEPHANIE MILLS And KIRKPATRICK SALE
Part two. SM:  I got started in the anti-technology movement in the 1970s because I longed for a congenial world.  I thought that others — maybe even a majority — might hold similar ideas of what a congenial world would be; and that the ...
Great Egrets Return
MARK SETH LENDER
Flying low, beneath an invisible sun the Great Egrets return. Not white on white but gray on gray and their long legs laid behind them There is no wind. They make no sound. An adornment of plumage trailing is bride price and dowry in which the beating heart of migrat...
Sotomayor and the Last of the WASPs
ALEXANDER COCKBURN
If Judge Sonia Sotomayor is confirmed, the US Supreme Court will consist of six Catholics, two Jews and precisely one white Anglo-Saxon Protestant in the form of Justice John Paul Stevens, who is 88 years old and boasts of two important WASP insignia: inherited wealt...
Spies, Lies and Mr. Lebanon’s Demise
RANNIE AMIRI
“There are agents, like Mahmoud Rafea, who confessed to have delivered bags with explosives. Other collaborators have confessed to have carried out field reconnaissance missions. Others have facilitated the entrance and exit of Israelis after accomp...
Three Luddites Talking …
CHELLIS GLENDINNING, STEPHANIE MILLS And KIRKPATRICK SALE
Three elder critics of technological civilization got together in a rather bizarre way — via email.  Their mission?  To reflect on the anti-technology movement of the 1970s-‘90s and offer perspective to new generations growing up in a cyber-worl...
The Philanthropies and the Economic Crisis
JOAN ROELOFS
We in the United States have been endowed with enormous philanthropic foundations, which have been fixing up the world for the last 100 years. One might wonder how their activities relate to the current economic crisis. News on this subject is not found in the headli...
Have We Turned Into Sheep?
DAVID MACARAY
There were a couple of moments which, had they gone the other way, could have made a big difference for organized labor.  One was Ronald Reagan firing those 11,000 striking air traffic controllers, in August, 1981.  Reagan is president for ten minutes and h...
Obama and the Harsh Racial Reality
DEDRICK MUHAMMAD
The black love affair with President Barack Obama is stronger than with any figure in the post-civil rights era. According to a recent "New York Times" poll, President Obama enjoys a 96 percent approval rating among African Americans. As an African American...
On Speaking Out in Haiti
RICHARD MORSE
Dear Jean,  I saw Michele the other day in New York after the RAM show at New York’s French Institute. She came up to me after the performance and her look of concern made me stop the conversation I was having and I headed over to her immediately. I...
America Held Hostage
JAMES McENTEER
While there is a lower class, I am in it, while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free. – Eugene V. Debs* Two hundred forty souls reside now inside the American prison...
Corporate Frankensteins
RALPH NADER
Once upon a time early in the 19th century, corporations came into existence by state legislatures approving charters, which were granted for a limited period of time and for limited purposes.  These corporations – producing textiles and other products in ...
Nothing to be Done
MOUIN RABBANI
The recent announcement that Barack Obama will deliver a major address to the Muslim world from Cairo in early June has further heightened expectations that the new American administration is determined to achieve a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As ...
The 8 Green Steps to Solartopia
HARVEY WASSERMAN
The noble vision of a Solartopian green-powered Earth is at last upon us. Our eco-future is defined by the four Great Green Truths: we have a global crisis, it has a solution, the solution is winnable, and winning requires a "middle path" of action ...
Plain Truths From Appalachia
JOE BAGEANT
When it comes to expressing plain truths, few are as gifted as American rednecks. During recent travels in the Appalachian communities of West Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky I’ve collected scores of their comments on our national condition and especially Pres...
Torture and the American Conscience
PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
Torture is a violation of US and international law. Yet, president George W. Bush and vice president Dick Cheney, on the basis of legally incompetent memos prepared by Justice Department officials, gave the OK to interrogators to violate US and international law....
Overcoming the Poverty of Ambition
DAVID MICHAEL GREEN
Presidents, and especially former presidents, sometimes say things that will surprise you. One of the most surprising to many people, and one of the most thematically consistent, is the insistence of their claim to the weakness of the office.  In making t...
Along the Durand Line
BRIAN M. DOWNING
In February the government of Pakistan and the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) came to an agreement whereby the government accepted the latter’s imposition of Islamic law in parts of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) in exchange for a ceasefire. Few thought the a...
RadWaste and Texas’ Future
LARAY POLK
"It took us six years to get legislation on this passed in Austin, but now we’ve got it all passed. We first had to change the law to where a private company can own a license (to handle radioactive waste), and we did that. Then we got another law passed t...
The PCBs of the Hudson River
ADAM FEDERMAN
One would be forgiven for not believing headlines last week stating that General Electric has finally started the process of dredging the Upper Hudson in an effort to remove polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from the river. Forgiven because it has been more than half ...
Doublespeak on North Korea
PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
"Obama Calls on World to ‘Stand Up To’ North Korea” read the headline. The United States, Obama said, was determined to protect “the peace and security of the world.” Shades of doublespeak, doublethink, 1984. North Ko...
Military Commissions, Round Three
JOANNE MARINER
Politicians normally like to be praised, but I have to wonder how President Obama feels having gotten accolades from such unaccustomed sources as Ari Fleischer, John McCain and the Wall Street Journal. As a presidential candidate, Obama rightly called the mili...
Armageddon Now?
NADIA HIJAB
Of all the analysis generated by the Obama-Netanyahu meeting Robert Satloff’s is the most significant. Satloff is executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which serves as AIPAC’s think tank. His piece, circulated Thursday, prov...
Can China Save the World From Depression?
WALDEN BELLO
Will China be the "growth pole" that will snatch the world from the jaws of depression? This question has become a favorite topic as the heroic American middle class consumer, weighed down by massive debt, ceases to be the key stimulus for global pro...
Separate But Equal Just Fine in California?
CARLOS VILLARREAL
The California Supreme Court declared today that separate but equal is acceptable for gays in California when it comes to marriage – indeed it is now enshrined, oddly enough, as an exception to our Equal Protection clause until voters decide to un-enshrine it t...
The Fall of a Brazilian Financier
ISABELLA KENFIELD
On April 18, seven members of the Brazilian Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) were shot by private security guards on a farm in the Amazon that belongs to Agropecuária Santa Bárbara Xinguara S/A, a company controlled by international banker Daniel ...
Recidivism and Guantánamo
DAVE LINDORFF
You’d have to say that the American prison system is a rank failure. With two million inmates, it is the largest and at over $60 billion a year, the costliest prison system in the world, not just in the percent of the population that is kept behind bars, but in...
The Vindication of Sgt. Northcutt
FRED GARDNER
“There’s a lone soldier on the cross smoke pourin’ out of a boxcar door You didn’t know it, you didn’t think it could be done In the final end he won the war after losing every battle…”&nbs...
The Gitmo Appeasment Plan
MARJORIE COHN
Two days after his inauguration, President Obama pledged to close Guantánamo within one year. The Republicans, led by Senators John McCain, Mitch McConnell and Pat Roberts, immediately launched a concerted campaign to assail the new president. They claimed his...
Waterboard the Fed
DEAN BAKER
To my knowledge, no one has proposed waterboarding the Fed. However, the response of much of the country’s political leadership to the suggestion that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit the Federal Reserve Board might lead people to think that wat...