The ITT List
Last winter, Michael Hastings emailed me asking me out for beer. I was beyond shocked—Hastings was a hero of mine for taking down Gen. Stanley McChrystal in his Rolling Stone classic “The Runaway General”. Why in the world a famous war reporter like Hastings would want to get beer with a lowly labor reporter like myself was beyond me, but he did. Somehow, through the miracle of Twitter, Hastings had become a fan of my work on organized labor.
Hastings and I got pretty drunk that night and I remember he told me that he felt there were only two ways to be successful as a reporter: either suck up to your sources, or be feared. Hastings told me he always preferred to be feared.
It was the most shit-kicking thing I have ever heard any reporter say, but it didn’t seem like blustering bullshit coming from him. Hastings had laid one of the biggest journalistic achievements of the last decade—the takedown of Stanley McChrystal—by using that same mentality.More »
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In the June issue of Z Magazine, Scott McLarty, media coordinator for the Green Party of the United States, takes 350.org founder Bill McKibben to task for his reliance on the Democratic Party, rather than a third party, as the political vehicle to address global warming. In a TomDispatch piece in April, McKibben wrote, "The narrow window of opportunity that physics provides us makes me doubt that a third party will offer a fast enough answer to come to terms with our changing planet."
McLarty rejects this notion, given the Democratic Party's move to the right and its acceptance of contributions from large energy companies. He also rejects the claim that third parties spoil elections. Drawing on recent disappointments, he dismantles the argument that progressives should put their faith in the DemocratMore »
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The West Coast is having a rough week. Genetically modified wheat was found in Oregon (where an active campaign currently fights GMO corn) and on Thursday, Joshua Frank posted on CounterPunch about the scramble to frack the oil out of California. Documentaries, community groups, farmers, and even judges around the world are communicating the dangers to air and water, and thus people and the environment, from the practice of fracking. Frank highlights the wishy-washy response from Governor Brown, who has tried to address these dangers while allowing fracking to move forward. Any irony in the state with the iconic smog of L.A. allowing oil fracking? Bueller? Bueller?More »
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It’s been a frightening few weeks for journalists concerned with protecting their sources—and for Americans concerned with protecting their privacy. On May 13, the Associated Press revealed that the Justice Department secretly obtained two months of reporters’ call logs. Citing the Espionage Act, which prohibits the disclosure of classified information, the Justice Department had subpoenaed Verizon Wireless for the call logs of more than 20 AP phone lines. Within a week The Washington Post reported that in 2010 the DOJ had subpoenaed emails from Fox News’ chief Washington correspondent James Rosen's personal Gmail, also with the motive of prosecuting leakers.
The revelations have caused a furor over whether national security interests should trump civil liberties. AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt called the DOJ surveillance an “unprecedented intrusion.” Michael Clemente, Fox News executive vice president of news, released a statement calling the DOJ's surveillance of Rosen “chilling” and an “outrage.” He wrote, “We will unequivocally defend [Rosen's] right to operate as a member of what up until now has always been a free press.”
And a Pew survey showed a plurality of voters, 44 percent, disapproved of the DOJ obtaining AP phone records. Thirty-six percent, on the other hand, approved of the department's obtaining the records.
What’s been largely overlooked, however, is that, subpoenaed call logs aside, the government may be recording your actual phone calls. And your emails. And all that data may be a mouse click, not a subpoena, away.
While that may sound paranoid, it’s been implied by several offhand comments of NSA and FBI insiders.More »
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Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, captures the attention of U.S. citizens far less than it should, considering that its byproducts include carcinogens that make their way into drinking water and cause air pollution. The practice is pervasive, due in part to the “Halliburton Loophole,” which, according to Don Lieber’s PlanetSave.com article "Fracking Waste: Too Toxic, Even for A Hazardous Waste Site," gets the natural gas industry out of a slew of regulatory and reporting requirements in the Safe Drinking Water Act. We can thank former Vice President Dick Cheney for that loophole.More »
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If you've ever played Super Mario Brothers, you've been to a world built in and on the clouds, mysteriously suspended in mid-air. You've also no doubt gone tumbling out of those clouds. That’s a good metaphor for the economic recovery, which is built on the equally tenuous ground of cheap government loans to the very banks whose speculation brought us to crisis in the first place, and could have us in for another precipitous tumble.
Jack Rasmus offers a succinct explanation in "Cyprus and Global Banking Instability" over at Z Communications. He argues that instead of reinvigorating the economy, the bank bailouts on both sides of the Atlantic have fueled a new wave of airy speculation, which led to the crisis in Cyprus.More »
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Rape allegations. Sexual harassment. Patriarchal abuse of power. No, this time the accusations are not against Catholic clergy or American politicians, but rather a high-ranking member of the Socialist Workers Party in the United Kingdom. Unhappiness over how the party handled the scandal has sparked a mass exodus of members.
In "Sexism and the Left: Fight the (Invisible) Power," from the April/May issue of Red Pepper, Zoe Stavri uses this case to shine a broad light on persistent sexism within the Left.More »
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It’s no secret that congressional elections have a bit of a competitiveness problem. Most congressional districts invariably vote for either Republicans or Democrats. In those districts, the minority party’s candidates have no hope of winning elections, and their voters have no hope of winning representation. Take the 2012 election, when Democrats didn’t pick up a single seat in the 201 districts where Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama by more than 4 percent and Republicans didn’t pick up a single seat in the 167 districts where Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney by at least 11 percent. That’s an awful lot of safe districts.
But maybe you’re foolhardy enough to believe you could actually break through those impenetrable partisan walls. You’re a Democrat in a red district or a Republican in a blue district, and you want nothing more than to represent your district in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Well, with this election-tested* guide, you too can fruitlessly struggle to overcome our increasingly hyper-partisan winner-take-all congressional elections. If you follow the guide closely, you might even feel like you have a real chance at winning your race before your inevitable failure on Election Day.More »
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Over at Counterpunch, Ari Paul has sobering details from the trial over the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk policy. The testimony in the class action lawsuit reveals that maintaining control of minority populations is one of the explicit goals of the NYPD practice. Paul writes:
A police officer even revealed an audio recording of his commanding officer mandating racial profiling with the stops, saying, “I have no problem telling you this…Male blacks. And I told you at roll call, and I have no problem [to] tell you this, male blacks 14 to 21.” ... Various testimony over several weeks have confirmed that the police view every single stop-and-frisk as successful, as it is a reminder to every black and Latino male that they are not in charge, the police are in control and that they are being watched.More »
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Not all judges believe corporations are people. At portside.org, Mike Ferner's "In PA, the Corporation Does Not have Natural Personhood—Democracy Is Coming? To the USA" details a decision by Pennsylvania Judge Debbie O'Dell-Seneca that states that local hydraulic "fracking" companies have no rights to privacy on the grounds that, under the state's constitution, corporations are not people.
After these selfsame gas companies were forced to pay a local Western Pennsylvania family a settlement of $750,000 for health problems caused by nearby drilling, local reporters and researchers naturally wanted to know what those problems were. Yet despite their best efforts to keep it a secret, Judge O'Dell-Seneca's decisions means the suit's terms of settlement will be opened and the beans will be spilled.
So maybe the movement for a constitutional amendment defining corporations as nonpersons isn't completely in the legal wilderness. Take heart. There is hope! As the court's decisions states, in an almost thunderous rhetoric:More »