September 16, 2006

Students, Beware Professor Osama
Fear-mongering conservatives are on their perennial crusade to purge universities of liberal professors
by Rosa Brooks

WITH SEPTEMBER upon us, it's time to reflect on that perennially popular back-to-school activity, Bash the Professors.

According to David Horowitz's book, "The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America," American universities are dominated by "a shocking and perverse culture of academics who are poisoning the minds of today's college students with hatred of America and support for America's terrorist enemies." His crusade against "radical academics" is not, alas, a lonely one.

By coupling his overheated rhetoric with a seemingly respectable campaign for "academic freedom," Horowitz has managed to snooker quite a few students and politicians into supporting his agenda.

Horowitz's website,, laments that most professors hold liberal political views, and he urges greater ideological "diversity" on faculties. On his Students for Academic Freedom website, he asks students to report "abuses" of academic freedom by professors, and state legislatures to mandate that public universities comply with what he calls the Academic Bill of Rights. more...

September 15, 2006

IAEA Protests "Erroneous" U.S. Report On Iran
By Mark Heinrich

U.N. inspectors have protested to the U.S. government and a Congressional committee about a report on Iran's nuclear work, calling parts of it "outrageous and dishonest," according to a letter obtained by Reuters.

The letter recalled clashes between the IAEA and the Bush administration before the 2003 Iraq war over findings cited by Washington about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that proved false, and underlined continued tensions over Iran's dossier.

Sent to the head of the House of Representatives' Select Committee on Intelligence by a senior aide to International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei, the letter said an August 23 committee report contained serious distortions of IAEA findings on Iran's activity.

The letter said the errors suggested Iran's nuclear fuel program was much more advanced than a series of IAEA reports and Washington's own intelligence assessments have determined. more...

September 14, 2006

Wild salmon along the Pacific Coast are declining at alarming rates. Salmon fishermen are facing a devastating fishing closure this summer, due largely to the federal government's mismanagement of the Klamath River that has led to a collapse of its once epic salmon runs.

I am joining Earthjustice, the law firm for the environment, to help secure disaster relief for affected communities, and to ask Congress to provide the leadership necessary to reverse the decline of the Klamath River and its salmon.

Families in these communities deserve more than our sympathy -- they deserve action. If you go to the link below you can check out what is at stake, and sign this important petition.

*****NEW ARTICLE*****

Universal Health Insurance and the Race for Governor of California
by Tom Gallagher

You generally figure a thirteen point poll deficit will set a campaign looking to scare up a little excitement out on the hustings. So when California Senator Sheila Kuehl delivered Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides' trailing campaign a hot issue, in the form of universal health insurance bill that has everything but a governor willing to sign it into law, a lot of people might have thought he'd grab at it. But so far he's acted like it's too hot an issue for him.

The "single payer" health insurance bill Senator Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, introduced just a few years ago has moved with surprising speed, arriving on the governor's desk this year far sooner than most expected. Not surprisingly though, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger plans to veto it. But maybe the biggest surprise lies in the fact that thus far his challenger, who is currently the state's treasurer, hasn't said that Governor Angelides would sign it either.

Although Kuehl's Senate Bill 840 (the California Health Insurance Reliability Act) will save "the state almost a billion dollars," in the view of Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, and is "responsible ... achievable and ... what we need to do to fix the health care system in California" in the words of Senate President pro Tem Don Perata, it hasn't gotten this far because a few people in Sacramento think it's good public policy. And certainly its success doesn't come from having big money behind it. What it does have is grassroots support in legislative districts the bill claims the backing of hundreds of organizations around the state. more...

September 13, 2006

Too Much Information
Pervasive surveillance and torture yield plenty of intelligence -- bad intelligence, that is. And way too much of it.
By Matthew Yglesias

Say what you will about Joseph Stalin, but at least the man ran a top-notch crime control apparatus. Freed of the petty constraints of due process and human rights, the crack investigative team at the KGB ran down leads swiftly and diligently. When they found someone with information, they tortured him, quickly generating accurate information and keeping the authorities ahead of the curve. Stalin's Soviet Union had its problems, to be sure. Bad weather, economic deprivation, a certain absence of political freedom, etc. But the criminal justice system -- that was solid.

Well, no.

It wasn't like that at all. Pervasive surveillance, an absence of due process, and widespread use of torture, shockingly enough, didn't actually create an effective law enforcement system. Instead, you got the madness of the Great Purge. Thousands upon thousands of supposed traitors and saboteurs were arrested and sent away to the GULAG for, essentially, no reason at all. Rather than the Soviet security forces serving as a hyper-effective mechanism for rooting out a conspiracy, the utter absence of restraint on those forces led to mass repression of a conspiracy that didn't even exist. more...

September 12, 2006

Artist Banksy targets Disneyland
The figure appeared in Disneyland over the weekend

A life-size replica of a Guantanamo Bay detainee has been placed in Disneyland by "guerrilla artist" Banksy.

The hooded figure was placed inside the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride at the California theme park last weekend.

It is understood to have remained in place for 90 minutes before the ride was closed down and the figure removed.

A spokeswoman for Banksy said the stunt was intended to highlight the plight of terror suspects at the controversial detention centre in Cuba. more...

*****NEW ARTICLE*****

Five Years After 9/11: Drop the War Metaphor
by George Lakoff and Evan Frisch

Language matters, because it can determine how we think and act.

For a few hours after the towers fell on 9/11, administration spokesmen referred to the event as a "crime." Indeed, Colin Powell argued within the administration that it be treated as a crime. This would have involved international crime-fighting techniques: checking banks accounts, wire-tapping, recruiting spies and informants, engaging in diplomacy, cooperating with intelligence agencies in other governments, and if necessary, engaging in limited "police actions" with military force. Indeed, such methods have been the most successful so far in dealing with terrorism.

But the crime frame did not prevail in the Bush administration. Instead, a war metaphor was chosen: the "War on Terror." Literal not metaphorical wars are conducted against armies of other nations. They end when the armies are defeated militarily and a peace treaty is signed. Terror is an emotional state. It is in us. It is not an army. And you can't defeat it militarily and you can't sign a peace treaty with it.

The war metaphor was chosen for political reasons. First and foremost, it was chosen for the domestic political reasons. The war metaphor defined war as the only way to defend the nation. From within the war metaphor, being against war as a response was to be unpatriotic, to be against defending the nation. The war metaphor put progressives on the defensive. Once the war metaphor took hold, any refusal to grant the president full authority to conduct the war would open progressives in Congress to the charge of being unpatriotic, unwilling to defend America, defeatist. And once the military went into battle, the war metaphor created a new reality that reinforced the metaphor. more...

September 11, 2006

File A Complaint With The F.E.C. Against ABC/Disney For Gross Violations Of Campaign Finance Law

*****NEW ARTICLE*****

Is Our Students Learning?
The measurements elite colleges don't want you to see
By Kevin Carey

Imagine you're about to put a chunk of your life savings into a mutual fund. Now imagine you peruse the various "best mutual fund" guides on the news rack, only to find they're all missing crucial pieces of information. The guides list where the fund managers went to college, how much investment capital they've attracted, and what kind of "experience" investors had at the annual fund meeting. But they don't tell you what you most want to know: What the funds' rates of return have been--or if they've ever made a dime for anyone. You might still decide to invest in a mutual fund, but it would be a heck of a crapshoot. And with their scorecard hidden, fund managers wouldn't be under much pressure to perform, let alone improve.

That imaginary mutual-fund market pretty much shows how America's higher-education market works. Each year prospective college students and their parents pore over glossy brochures and phone-book-sized college guides in order to decide how to invest their hard-earned tuition money--not to mention four years of their lives. Some guides, like the popular rankings published by U.S. News & World Report, base ratings on factors like alumni giving, faculty salaries, and freshman SAT scores. Others identify the top "party schools," most beautiful campuses, and most palatial dorms.

But what's missing from all the rankings is the equivalent of a bottom line. There are no widely available measures of how much learning occurs inside the classroom, or of how much students benefit from their education. This makes the process of selecting a college a bit like throwing darts at a stock table. It also means that colleges and universities, like our imaginary mutual-fund managers, feel little pressure to ensure that students learn. As anyone who's ever snoozed through a giant freshman psychology 101 lecture knows, sitting in a classroom doesn't equal learning; knowledge doesn't come by osmosis. more...

September 10, 2006

Max Blumenthal
Discover the Secret Right-Wing Network Behind ABC's 9/11 Deception

Less than 72 hours before ABC's "The Path to 9/11" is scheduled to air, the network is suddenly under siege. On Tuesday, ABC was forced to concede that "The Path to 9/11" is "a dramatization, not a documentary." The film deceptively invents scenes to depict former President Bill Clinton's handling of the Al Qaeda threat.

Now, ABC claims to be is editing those false sequences to satisfy critics so the show can go on -- even if it still remains a gross distortion of history. And as it does so, ABC advances the illusion that the deceptive nature of "The Path to 9/11" is an honest mistake committed by a hardworking but admittedly fumbling team of well-intentioned Hollywood professionals who wanted nothing less than to entertain America. But this is another Big Lie.

In fact, "The Path to 9/11" is produced and promoted by a well-honed propaganda operation consisting of a network of little-known right-wingers working from within Hollywood to counter its supposedly liberal bias. This is the network within the ABC network. Its godfather is far right activist David Horowitz, who has worked for more than a decade to establish a right-wing presence in Hollywood and to discredit mainstream film and TV production. On this project, he is working with a secretive evangelical religious right group founded by The Path to 9/11's director David Cunningham that proclaims its goal to "transform Hollywood" in line with its messianic vision. more...
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