Welcome to the Wednesday edition of the Daily News Drop! Today has been a huge day for news. First, the news that everyone is discussing is the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs. While it is quite sad, and my condolences go out to his family, he should not be the only story for the day. I have compiled a few more stories that also deserve consideration. Here is today’s news.
Occupy Wall Street Update
Unions Join with Occupy Wall Street for Massive March. Then Violence Later Today, unions from the SEIU 1199, the Transport Workers Union and the United Federation of Teachers joined in with the beachhead supporters of Occupy Wall Street and staged the largest demonstration of the movement to date. Allison Kilkenny was there interviewing protesters and genuinely reporting on what is actually happening on the ground. The same cannot be said for those in the mainstream media who have done little more than mock it… or call it dangerous… or something. I cannot say enough about the coverage that Allison is providing on the OWS movement. I’ve read every shred she’s put out there and I would highly recommend that you do the same. Tonight, while the world mourned Steve Jobs, the march led to violence. After marchers allegedly attempted to push through police barricades, the NYPD reacted by pepper spraying protesters and conducting multiple arrests. As of this writing, there isn’t an official count on the number of arrests, but I am reminded of the words of comedian Lee Camp to the NYPD in regards to OWS, “You are throwing water on Gremlins. The more you arrest, the more will come.”
Official Support for Occupy Los Angeles Five days into the Occupy Los Angeles solidarity protest, and there has been major gains. 100 rain ponchos have been donated to the protesters on behalf of the Mayor of LA. In addition to the mayor, seven of the 15 councilmembers of Los Angeles have pledged support for both the local protest and the larger one as well. To see government officials showing such a public display of support is, though quite heartening, shocking. If government officials are willing to voice disapproval of the Wall Street might be the beginning of a trend… hopefully.
What are we Going to Do About it?
Dueling Philosophies by Democrats: Option One – Fold NY Senator and Wall Street BFF Chuck Schumer has apparently lined up on the side against the 99 Percent Movement. While President Obama is committed to fighting for a tax increase for all individuals who make more than $250,000 a year (which a majority of Americans are behind), Chuck Schumer put the bar a bit higher at $1 Million. While it might seem like a small difference of opinion, it is his rationale for the difference that is the problem. He agrees with the GOP that many who make $250,000 to $300,000 a year are but simple small business owners. This is, of course, false. While those individuals might not be lavishly wealthy, they are quite well-to-do and could bear with a slight tax increase.
Option Two – FIGHT Oregon Congressman Pete DeFazio has a solution to help rein in Wall Street and lower the deficit – tax the trading of stocks, bonds and derivatives. Calling Wall Street a ‘gambling casino,’ DeFazio claims that this plan would help raise funds for the Treasury and reduce speculation on Wall Street. Mind you, this would not be a massive tax, just a small transaction fee on each trade that would add up very quickly. DeFazio and Congressman Tom Harkin have brought this bill forward several times, but the public pressure of Occupy Wall Street and the 99 Percent Movement might be the tipping point to get this major reform passed.
Environmentalists Sue to Stop Keystone XL Pipeline Several Green groups have brought lawsuits to stop the construction of the international Keystone XL Pipeline. These lawsuits cite such reasons as major aquifers which will be threatened by possible leaks, and the potential extinction of the endangered American Burying Beetle. You would hope that politicians could see the possibility of potential leaks and the certain damage to our climate that would happen if we extract and burn the tar sands of Alberta… but money rules in politics. So hopefully these lawsuits can do what needs to be done – stop the construction of this pipeline.
Scientists Create Embryonic Stem Cells Through ‘Cloning’ Scientists appear to have found a new way to procure stem cells. Through a cloning process, they have been able to take adult skin cells and create new embryonic stem cells. While it is unknown whether this process will ever be able to be reliably used on humans, the scientific achievement in unquestionable. Read the report by the BBC and see the science behind the discovery. Fun stuff!
Thanks for reading and staying informed! Keep reading The Progressive Playbook and check back tomorrow for another Daily News Drop!
Sources: The New York Times, The Nation, Think Progress, New York Daily News, The Raw Story, Talking Points Memo, BBC News
Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Officially Ends After a completely unnecessary waiting period, the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy toward Gay soldiers has officially ended. And the world didn’t end. Really, it didn’t. Dan Choi, who was discharged from the military under the policy and became one of DADT’s most outspoken critics, has stated that he intends to re-enlist. Congratulations Dan, I met the man a couple years ago and I can say that he deserves this happy ending. Now if we can just end these illegal wars…
Miscarriage of Justice: Troy Davis to be Killed Today, the Georgia Board of Parole and Pardons ignored severe doubts raised about the conviction of Troy Davis and the hundreds of thousands of petitions sent on Troy’s behalf and ruled that he shall be executed at 7:00pm tomorrow. This case is a clear example of why the death penalty is barbaric and why it should be eliminated. Its permanence eliminates any chance of righting wrongful convictions. The editors of the Nation have written a concise piece on what this case says for our nation in regards to the death penalty.
U.S. Building Massive Prison in Afghanistan Barack Obama wanted to close Guantanamo Bay. Or at least he said he did. But he didn’t. Not only that but he used a prison in Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan to continue the massive incarceration of ‘terrorists.’ Now, with austerity on the tongues of all the politicians in Washington, and surefire domestic cuts on the horizon, the Obama Administration solicited bids for the construction of a massive new prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. This project will cost between $25 million and $100 million dollars.
Because of Wikileaks, Al Jazeera Replaces Top News Director During the run up to the Iraq war, the Bush Administration demonized the Arabic news station Al Jazeera to the point of calling them terrorist sympathizers. Because of a disclosure by Wikileaks, we now know that the Top News Director at Al Jazeera (Wahad Khanfar) changed the coverage of the network because of the U.S.’s pressure. Because of this clear example of the breach of impartiality, Al Jazeera has replaced Khanfar. This is why entities like Wikileaks are vital. It helps keep everyone honest.
The GOP’s War on Pleasure Great commentary by Digby on a statement by a Texas GOP representative Wayne Christian claiming that there was a legitimate war on birth control across the country. It moves beyond just birth control – it is a war on pleasure, and the pleasure of women in particular.
A Primer on Why you Should Care About the Horn of Africa Famine I know, you haven’t heard this on the mainstream media, but thousands are dying in the Horn of Africa due to a horrific drought and subsequent famine. This famine is worse than the one that Somalia experienced in 1992 that killed 300,000. Read this in depth primer and tell your friends. More people need to know that 12 million people in the region are at risk of starvation. Also, climate change deniers, does this count as extreme weather that might have been caused by climate change?
Shocker: Mainstream Media Ignores the Left Michael Moore went on The Rachel Maddow Show yesterday to talk about the recent liberal protests around the country. The #OccupyWallStreet protest and the Keystone XL Pipeline protests in DC where more than 1,000 individuals were arrested to show opposition to the proposed oil pipeline were discussed in detail. Moore made a cogent point – isn’t it strange that a supposedly liberal media would largely ignore these protests? If 1,000 Tea Partiers were arrested in protest a year ago, we’d still be talking about it today.
To end the post, we conclude with two happier stories to lighten the mood…
Elizabeth Warren Leads Scott Brown in Polls Elizabeth Warren trailed Senator Scott Brown by 9 points when she announced her intention to run for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts. As of today, she has a 2 point lead. This is great news. It remains to be seen whether one Senator can actually make a difference in our political system, but all I can say is that Ted Kennedy’s old seat could do a whole lot worse than Elizabeth Warren.
Cornhuskers Fans Chop-Block Pipeline As a Nebraska fan, I was delighted to see the school highlighted by Dave Zirin. The fanbase, without any organizing, were able to deal a symbolic blow to TransCanada, the corporation who will be building and running the transnational pipeline that will pump the Tar Sands from Alberta through Nebraska to the Gulf of Mexico. The story is great, so read Zirin’s post and enjoy!
Thanks for reading and staying informed! Keep checking back to The Progressive Playbook for wonderful progressive commentary and more Daily News Drops!
Sources: The Huffington Post, The Nation, Salon, The New York Times, Digby’s Hullabaloo, Mother Jones, The Raw Story, Firedoglake, Edge of Sports
This post is a part of the “What Democracy Looks Like” weekly column, which covers left-wing movements and activism. Formerly known as “The Active Left.”
I’m sure by now you have heard about all of the people that have been arrested protesting the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. As of Tuesday, September 6, over 1,200 activists had been arrested outside the White House since Saturday, August 20.
Here’s a quick recap in case you’re not too familiar with this story: The 1,700-mile-long Keystone pipeline would carry tar sands oil from Canada though the Midwest of the United States, and all the way to the coast. Tar sands oil are considered by many to be the world’s dirtiest fuel. The pipeline would potentially bring two major threats. One of them would be the very tangible pollution of water if a spill where to occur. The second threat would be more of a “bigger picture” type of thing, climate change, also known as global warming. Climate change of course is the warming of the planet along with the threat of extreme weather, all partly attributed to human activity.
Irene Hits the East Coast Hurricane Irene has already hit North Carolina and over 2 million individuals along the east coast have been told to move to safer ground. Both the previous links will provide live updates on the situation. I’m located in Washington DC so it isn’t supposed to hit here too hard, but I wish those in North Carolina and New York the best of luck.
Allen West’s Whitewashing of MLK Allen West, an African-American GOP Representative from Florida, has in one statement twisted the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. West, a Tea Party favorite, claimed that King’s philosophy was one that cherished ‘individual responsibility’ and that he would be disgusted with the black community today. Think Progress goes point by point debunking West’s claim. King saw poverty as the ultimate evil that should be abolished immediately – even to the point where he questioned the capitalist system.
Roots of Islamophobia in America The Center for American Progress has put out an extensive study chronicling who is behind the funding of Anti-Islamic hate groups. Based on the vitriol that the Right Wing has put out in reaction to the support, I can only believe that it hit a nerve. It’s so important that CAP has the resources to put out this kind of research. When there are Islamophobic elected officials hijacking congress to spew Anti-Muslim hatred (NY Rep. Peter King), it’s critical to have someone pushing back.
The Real Ron Paul Looking at the GOP Presidential Primary as a Progressive, it’s easy to see Ron Paul as the hero. He wants to end all of our wars immediately, and favors the legalization of drugs. But, looking a bit closer than that… his libertarian roots show. His anti-government beliefs extend to the abolition of the Department of Education and the repeal of the Civil Rights Act. If you’re Progressive, Pro Choice, or like Social Security and would consider voting for Ron Paul for President, read this list put out by Alternet and rethink that position.
The New Fight in Congress – Regulations As the August recess comes to an end, the conventional wisdom in Washington is that Republicans have been hurt by the debt ceiling fight and will be more willing to come to compromises in terms of spending bills for the rest of the year. I don’t believe that for a damn second. Firedoglake has a post that exposes what looks to be the next ‘to the death’ fight that the GOP appears to be preparing for – slashing regulation on businesses.
What is the Obama Doctrine? The New York Times put out a great collection of opinions on Obama’s foreign policy in light of the apparent ousting of Muammar Qaddafi. No matter how you stand on your opinion of Obama, each of the supposed ‘doctrines’ seem to hold some water. Is Barack Obama a ‘hands off’ non-interventionist, a limited interventionist, or simply George W. Bush without the hostility? As I see it, we still seem to be attempting to spread democracy with the barrel of a gun… so it seems more neoconservative than anything else.
State Dept. Endorses Keystone XL Pipeline Even as over 300 people have been arrested outside the White House protesting the new Keystone XL Pipeline (including Jane Hamsher, Dan Choi and Bill McKibben), the State Department has endorsed the construction of the pipeline that will transport 500,000 gallons of oil a day from the tar sands of Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. This massive pipeline will travel over where the majority of the nation’s food is produced, where potential oil leaks could be devastating. Also, the massive influx of oil production can only worsen the negative effects of climate change. With more than 2,000 people pledging to be arrested in front of the White House in protest of the pipeline, it remains to be seen whether the Obama Administration will listen to the voice of the people. Read Bill McKibben’s explanation for why he is protesting.
Once again we end with a happier story…
Homophobic Bridal Store Gets ‘Yelp-Bombed’ Fun little story from Jezebel about the justified outrage that came in reaction to a New Jersey Bridal Store refusing to sell a dress to a lesbian bride. There’s a bit of a controversy about people commenting who haven’t had first hand experience in the store… but it’s nice to see the internet being used to shame bigots from time to time.
Thanks for reading and staying informed! If you’re on the East Coast, stay safe this weekend! Check back tomorrow for another Daily News Drop!
Sources: Talking Points Memo, Huffington Post, Think Progress, Center for American Progress, Alternet, Firedoglake, New York Times, The Raw Story, Mother Jones, Jezebel
Libyan Rebels Pushing Towards Capital With the Libyan Rebels finishing their push towards the capital of Tripoli, it brings us to the usual question that we face after regime change is achieved through military intervention – will we step back and allow the Libyan people to form their own government or will we feel the need to intervene and shape the new government in our own interests? We didn’t leave Afghanistan, we didn’t leave Iraq, and I doubt that we’ll leave Libya.
Paul Ryan Calls Cops on Unemployed Protesters Paul Ryan, the Congressman who was ‘brave’ enough to slash social welfare programs while lowering taxes for the wealthiest Americans in his budget proposal, is looking less and less brave in the face of opposition. After announcing that he would be eliminating free town hall discussions for meetings that have a cost of admission ($15) – his staff called the police to remove unemployed protesters who were staging a sit-in as an attempt to see the Congressman.
Huntsman Talks Sense – Disqualifying Himself Jon Huntsman, the former Governor of Utah and Diplomat to China under the Obama Administration, called out Rick Perry for his Anti-Science views and said that he wouldn’t necessarily trust any of his opponents (in the GOP Primary) right now on the economy. Huntsman, a GOP Presidential hopeful himself, has quite possibly ruined any chance of earning the nomination by speaking these truths. The fact that simply stating your belief in Evolution and Climate Change could effectively eliminate a nominee’s chances in the Republican primary is a reflection on how sorry of a state the party is in at this point.
U.S. Forces May Stay in Afghanistan Until 2024 Wasn’t Barack Obama the anti-war President who won the Nobel Peace Prize? That man seems long gone at this point. With the Administration starting another war in Libya and attempting to stay in Iraq past the Status of Forces Agreement put in place by President Bush, there is now talk of an agreement between the US and Afghanistan allowing US forces to stay in Afghanistan until 2024. This is what perpetual war looks like. Those in power never come out and say that our wars will never end, but they move the end date over and over until we’re in de facto endless war.
Largest Environmental Protest in Decades in Front of White House In a story that the mainstream media has completely ignored, the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline that would carry 900,000 barrels of oil from the tar sands of Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico every day has come under intense opposition by environmentalist groups. In what was one of the largest acts of civil disobedience by environmentalists in decades, more than 70 activists were arrested outside the White House. More than 2,000 activists have already pledged to protest and be arrested daily (in groups of 75-100) until September 3. This is hugely important issue, to get more information go to Bill McKibben’s 350.org.
Monsanto’s Roundup Damages Soil That’s what USDA scientist Robert Kremer says. As weeds become more and more resistant to Roundup and other herbicides, farmers are having to turn to more toxic ‘pesticide cocktails.’ In this interesting article from Mother Jones, Kremer’s research suggests that, “Roundup may also be damaging soil—a sobering thought, given that it’s applied to hundreds of millions of acres of prime farmland in the United States and South America.” Yikes!
Vegetarian Products Partly to Blame for Meat Propaganda In this thought-provoking post by David Sirota, he begins with a question – what will he tell his 8-month old son when he’s old enough to ask why their family doesn’t eat meat? Rather than focus on demonizing the factory farming industry, he turns his eye to the vegetarian ‘meatless’ alternative products. By succumbing to the storyline that meat is what people want, these companies make veggie bacon, veggie sausage and Tofurkey. I’m not blaming these companies, they’re manufacturing products that people want, but it is an interesting paradigm to look at the situation through.
‘One Day’ Promotes Toxic Relationships The upcoming Anne Hathaway/Jim Sturgess film ‘One Day,’ focuses on a relationship of twenty years on each anniversary. This piece in Jezebel underscores how the premise of this relationship is anything but feminist. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend reading the entire article if you intend to watch the movie (because there are many SPOILERS in the article), but I thought it was really insightful.
Thanks for reading and staying informed! Please share this and other posts on The Progressive Playbook if you feel so inclined. Check back in tomorrow for another Daily News Drop!
Sources: Al Jazeera English, Think Progress, Talking Points Memo, Common Dreams, The Nation, Mother Jones, In These Times, Jezebel