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Mar 152011
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It’s tragic. My heart goes out to the people of Japan who should be dealing with the aftermath of one of the worst natural disasters of all time – a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, followed by a powerful tsunami that wiped out entire towns.  But instead of beginning the process of grieving and rebuilding, the Japanese are now bracing for an even bigger disaster – this one entirely avoidable.

The man-made nuclear power plants are just no match for mother nature. Last night, the Japanese Prime Minister delivered a very uncharacteristic speech in which he cautioned that “dangerous levels of radioactivity had been detected”, enough to be “harmful to human life.”   BradBlog’s Brad Friedman watched the NHK-TV English translation and tweeted much of the speech:

“Please listen to my message calmly” … “Every possible method used to cool down all three reactors.” … “There is a fire at Unit 4 and we’ve had explosions at units 1,2 & 3″ … “Radiation has spread from these reactors and reading of levels seems very high” … “Still further risk of radioactive material coming out” … “We need now for everybody to move out of 20km from plant.” … “We would like to you to remain indoors at home or offices and avoid going outside from the 20km to 30km radius” … “Everybody move out from 20km radius at Fukushima-2 (Daini) plant” … [Note: As I understood that, references to Fukushima-2 (Daini) were first ones. Previous problems were at Fukushimi-1 (Daiichi)] … “This is a situation of serious concern. But I request that you react very calmly.” … Takes 1 question: You have not talked about Unit 2 reactor. Kan: “Rather than talk abt each indvdl reactor, I talk about whole picture” …

Go to the BradBlog for continuing great coverage of what’s happening there.

NHK-TV is streaming live… if the embedded player doesn’t work, click here.


Live TV : Ustream

Could anyone have known this was a disaster waiting to happen? Greg Palast says yes.  In an explosive (pun unintended) new piece for Truthout, Greg recounts his time as a lead investigator in several government nuclear power plant fraud and racketeering investigations.  He’ll join us at the very beginning of today’s show to explain how this was to be expected, and tell of the US-Japanese partnership in the Obama administration plans to build new nuclear power plants in Texas.

Yes, that’s what disaster looks like.

Here at home, we’re fighting disaster on another front: the GOP waged war against labor, women, the working class and the poor.  A sidebar story could be the mainstream media’s refusal to cover it!

Wisconsin has been ground zero in the fight to preserve what little bastion of democracy we have left in this country.  Yet, over the past three weeks, I’ve been hard pressed to find much, if any, coverage.  Even this past Saturday, when over 100,000 people turned out in Madison, the only place to watch what was happening was online.

Special thanks to The Uptake for doing what none of the so-called news organizations in this country would do – cover the news!  It’s quite stunning, actually, that we could see a revolution happen in real time in Egypt (although it took Al Jazeera to do so), but we don’t have access to real news coverage of real people turning out to stand up for their rights.

Quick aside: if this had been another astro-turf teabagger rally, the TV cameras would have been out in force.  But you already know that.  So, another disaster in waiting is the GOP and corporate war on Net Neutrality.  If you want to have access to real, unfettered news, we must keep the internet free and open.  But more on that another day.

Due to the lack of news about the protests here in the US, you might think that they were only happening in Wisconsin.  But people are standing up for democracy all over the country, especially in the wake of some truly heinous Republican  governors who think they were elected dictators.

Ohio and Indian are under fire.  And this week, all eyes should be on Michigan where, as Michigander Michael Moore wrote,

Governor Snyder, once elected, yanked off his nice-guy mask to reveal that he is in fact a multi-millionaire hell-bent on destroying our state and turning it over to his buddies from Wall Street.

In fact, here’s the letter he wrote about the disaster happening in his home state:

Friends and neighbors,

The call has gone out and I’m asking everyone who can to take Wednesday off and head to the State Capitol in Lansing to protest the cruel and downright frightening legislation currently being jammed down our throats.

What is most shocking to many is that the new governor, who ran against the Tea Party and defeated the right wing of his party in the primaries– and then ran in the general election as “just a nerd from Ann Arbor” who was a moderate, not an ideologue– has pulled off one of the biggest Jekyll and Hyde ruses I’ve ever seen in electoral politics.

Governor Snyder, once elected, yanked off his nice-guy mask to reveal that he is in fact a multi-millionaire hell-bent on destroying our state and turning it over to his buddies from Wall Street.

In just 8 short weeks he has:

* Gotten the House and Senate to pass bills giving him “Emergency Management” powers such as the ability to appoint a corporation or a CEO who could literally dissolve town governments or school boards, fire the elected officials, nullify any local law and run your local governmental entity. That company then would have the power to immediately declare all collective bargaining contracts null and void.

* Proposed giving business a whopping 86% tax cut while raising everyone’s personal taxes by 31%! And much of that tax hike he believes should be shouldered by — I kid you not — senior citizens and the poor! He says these two groups have not been “sharing the sacrifice” the rest of us have been burdened with. So his budget proposes a $1.8 billion tax CUT for business and a $1.75 billion tax INCREASE for the rest of us, much of it from the poor, seniors and working people — even though the top 1% in Michigan ALREADY pay a lower state tax rate than everyone else does!

* Together with the legislature, introduced over 40 anti-labor bills in just the first two months of this session! They have wasted no time and have caught most people off guard. Much of this is being rushed through right now before you have a chance to raise your voice in objection.

These actions are breathtaking when you realize they will drive our already battered state straight into the ground. What we needed right now was an inspiring leader to help us reinvent Michigan and to find creative ways to create new jobs and lift us out of our economic depression. The rest of the country may call what they’re experiencing the “Great Recession,” but few argue that Michigan is suffering a “one-state Depression.”

I know many of you are filled with a great sense of despair and a justifiable loss of hope these days in Michigan. But you must not let things get even worse. You must stand up against these Draconian measures and this outrageous attempt to rip our democratic rights from us by turning our state over to well-paid hacks from Wall Street and corporate America. They see our state as one big fire sale– and they are licking their chops to get their hands on what is still a state rich in natural resources and industrial infrastructure.

Please show up at noon on Wednesday for our first mega-rally against this insanity. Hundreds of groups are already organizing car pools and buses. You can right now just declare yourself an organizer and get your friends and neighbors committed to being in Lansing. If ever there were a day to call in sick, Wednesday is it (because this IS sick). Students, if ever there were a day to cut class and become a participant in your democracy, Wednesday is it. This event needs to be HUGE– and I believe it will be if you will simply be there and take a stand.

Much attention has been paid to Wisconsin in recent weeks. Well, they got nothing on what’s going on here in Michigan. Rick Snyder is Scott Walker on steroids. There’s never been what even the AARP calls “an all-out attack” like this on us. Trust me, you will rue the day you sat home and did nothing while thieves posing as politicians stole your Great Lakes State from you.

Don’t let it happen. Be at the capitol by noon on Wednesday for the largest demonstration the state has ever seen.

Howie Klein (aka Down With Tyranny) has a great post up this morning about what’s happening in Michigan right now.

My friend Lance Enderle is right there at the state capital, where he’s been fighting back.  He’ll join us this morning to tell us about what’s planned for today and, as Michael Moore mentioned, tomorrow too.

Although you likely won’t get any news about what’s happening in Michigan today and tomorrow on your television, you’ll want to check out Michigan Messenger and Lansing Online News for regular updates.

There’s a lot to talk about when GottaLaff joins in for hour two, including her latest Blunt video: Hey Scott Walker!

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Mar 012011
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I have a piece I play frequently on my show that welcomes you to “opposite world… where up is down, and in is out”.  It’s the world in which Speaker Boehner and the rest of the Republicans who are trying to break this nation reside.

They ran on JOBS, but the only jobs they seem to want are for the uterus police who will track your pregnancy from conception to birth to make sure nothing happens to the zygote or fetus.  Once the baby is born, they want to make sure there’s no one to care for, teach, or protect him or her.

The Fake News Channel lemmings also live in opposite world, where they watch the channel that pretends to report on the news but just makes shit up® and then act as if they know what the hell they’re talking about.   The sad truth is that they haven’t got a clue, and they continue to do the bidding of the mega-rich, against their own best interests.

So here we sit, at a scary crossroads.  All I can do is speak truth to power (and to anyone else who’ll listen), and hope that good triumphs over evil…

Today on the show, we got an update on the latest from Ground Zero in the fight for democracy in Wisconsin from David Dayen – who ventured out from his warm life in Southern California to Madison, WI where it was bitterly cold and snowing, to bring us the story of  the (at least) 100,000 who froze their asses off to defend  workers’ rights in this country.  Dayen writes the news for FireDogLake, and is one of the best in the business.

To be continued…

Have you ever wanted to blow the whistle on some corporation or government entity who’s breaking the law? Did you know that you have to be realllly careful, or you could wind up in jail, or worse? (See Bradley Manning!)  Well, help has arrived.

The National Whistleblowers Center has always been there to help the courageous few… but now, they’re spelling out the proper steps to take!  This morning, I had the honor of speaking with Stephen Kohn, NWC Executive Director and author of The Whistleblower’s Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Doing What’s Right and Protecting Yourself.

The book was just released today.  Timely, considering Glenn Greenwald’s piece for Salon on Friday: The DOJ’s creeping war on whistleblowers.

And if it’s Tuesday, it’s Gotta Laff of The Political Carnival, with some of the stories we might otherwise have missed, including:

TPC reader’s conversation with tea party activist Senator Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin: “Out of state messages do not matter”

VIDEO: The Dirty F’ing Hippies were right

If Wisconsin voters could do it over today they’d support Barrett (D) over Walker
PhotOh! One protester’s invitation to Fox viewers

Proof! “The situation in Wisconsin is not really about finances.”

UPDATES, PhotOh! AFL-CIO filing for temporary restraining order to open WI capitol. Windows bolted.

Orrin Hatch: Affordable Care Act is “an awful piece of crap.”

George Lakoff: Democracy as We Know It at Stake in WI Protests. How Long Can We Afford to Subsidize the Rich?

REPORT: 10 disastrous policies from WI GOP bill you haven’t seen

Republican: Michele Bachmann is “Sarah Palin with a brain.”

Looking for L.A. Times coverage of union protests? See Page 20 (+ commentary on CNN, MSNBC)

PhotOh! “Andrew Breitbart fans threatening deadly force on union protesters”

Gawker: Report: Craigslist Congressman Chris Lee and the Crossdressing Prostitute

Town hall question: “Who’s going to shoot Obama?”

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Jan 312011
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Wondering what it would take to get Americans walking like Egyptians these days. According to a report I saw numerous times on Al Jazeera English this weekend, the conditions that led to Egyptians taking to the streets to take control of their government are much like what we are experiencing here in US these days: High unemployment, growing poverty, huge divide between the rich and the poor, too many “businessmen” in government.  Seriously.

I had the honor of being a guest on Thom Hartmann‘s TV show, “The Big Picture” Thursday evening to talk about the plight of the 99ers. Interesting, isn’t it, that to uncensored coverage of what’s happening in Egypt, we must turn to RTV  (Russian television) and Al Jazeera English (based in Qatar) but difficult to get here in the US.

In fact, Ryan Grim writes in the Huffington Post about the US blackout of Al Jazeera. In fact, there are very few places in the US that carry Al Jazeera English. From their website, here’s where they’re carried here:

Buckeye Cable (Toledo, OH)
Burlington Cable (Burlington, VT)
GlobeCast World TV
Link TV (Direct TV, Channel - 375/Dish Network, Channel - 9410)
Washington Cable (Washington, DC)
MHz Networks (Washington, DC)

However, Link TV -although I’m a big fan of their programming – only carries the feed sporadically.

To get the uncensored coverage, you can watch their stream here. (I’d embed the player, but can’t seem to find that option.)

Unfortunately, most of the cable news channels have been worthless on this issue… most notably Faux News. (See the picture at the top of this post for an actual screen grab from their coverage. Oy.)

This morning, I attempted to get an Al Jazeera journalist on the show. When that didn’t happen, I called the Four Seasons in Cairo, and spoke with an Egyptian citizen.  We’ll try another hotel tomorrow morning too.

After a news update from Victoria Jones at the TRNS, it was time for our weekly Fools on the Hill segment with Nicole Belle of Crooks and Liars.  She watches the Sunday morning talking head shows so you don’t have to.  Here’s what she brought us today:

Obviously, the issue of Egypt sort of sucked all the oxygen out of the room for most the Sunday shows.  It was very interesting to see what was and wasn’t said.  Because our foreign policy has the tragic tendency to be rather myopic, the United States finds itself balancing between supporting a dictator whom we have supported for the last 30 years, both financially and politically and the wave for a democratic reform from the people themselves.  Don’t forget that the crux of the Bush Doctrine was that is we showed the Middle East a functioning democracy in Iraq (ha!) and one by one, repressive regimes would fall in favor of democratically elected politicians.

Now that seems sweet in theory, but in reality it hasn’t worked so well for us.  The Palestinians giving Hamas seats in their parliament and the Iranians re-electing Ahmadinejad are just a couple examples of democratic elections not necessarily in our national interests (and often in direct reflection of our international interference).

So politicos are treading carefully on exactly what to say.  Mitch McConnell, who has made it his priority #1 to get Obama out of office in 2012, can’t bring himself to say anything detracting from Obama or Hillary Clinton.  Have no fear, that unified voice dies off when we get to the economy, but for now, McConnell is unwilling to try to take partisan advantage of the Egyptian uprising.

John McCain, too, cautions that we want to be on the right side of history.   But you know, it’s hard to talk about how our focus is to argue strenuously for civil rights when the Egyptians know only too well our killing of hundreds of thousands Iraqi civilians and displacement of a million more; our stealth war in Pakistan, killing wedding parties with drone strikes; our refusal to even count how many Afghan casualties we’re responsible for; our blind eye to the human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, Israel, Yemen, etc. Especially since we’ve been using the repressive aspect of Egypt’s government to do our dirty work with rendition and torture, something that is also not unknown to the general citizenry.

But there were non-Egyptian news as well.  Speaker of the House John Boehner was Fox News admitting that failure to raise the debt ceiling would mean “financial disaster” but he still wouldn’t rule out holding the debt hostage to force the Democrats to make deep spending cuts, which he insists will create jobs.  Boehner claims that he 200 economists that agree with him.  I’d love to talk to just one and ask him how he can assert such an easily proven fallacy.   Failed stimulus? Are we in the midst of another Great Depression? No? Wasn’t that the purpose of the stimulus, to pull us back from the brink? The only reason it didn’t do better were all the stupid concessions added to get the Republicans to sign off on it. And as far as jobs are concerned, the unemployment rate is still bleak, but to ignore that the Obama administration — even with all the obstruction placed before them by the Republican Party — managed to create more jobs in 2010 than Bush did in all eight years of his term put together is fundamentally disinforming the public.  But that’s the plan for the GOP. If you get enough right wing people on traditional media and right wing blogs repeating ad nauseam that the stimulus didn’t work, well, then no one challenges these failed ideas that Boehner advocates.

And then finally, Howie Kurtz took umbrage over Rachel Maddow’s criticism that the only network to give Michele Bachmann’s embarrassingly bad tea party SOTU response was CNN.   Problem was, he completely glossed over the thrust of Maddow’s criticism, which was that CNN legitimized the Astroturf organization that set itself apart from the GOP.  What happens next year?  A Socialist response with Bernie Sanders?  A Joe Lieberman response too?

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