President Barack Obama signed a slew of bills into law during the lame-duck session of Congress and was dubbed the "Comeback Kid" amid a flurry of fawning press reports. In the hail of this surprise bipartisanship, though, the one issue over which Democrats and Republicans always agree, war, was completely ignored. The war in Afghanistan is now the longest war in U.S. history, and 2010 has seen the highest number of U.S. and NATO soldiers killed.
One of President Barack Obama's signature campaign promises was to protect the freedom of the Internet. He said, in November 2007, "I will take a back seat to no one in my commitment to network neutrality, because once providers start to privilege some applications or websites over others, then the smaller voices get squeezed out and we all lose."
Jump ahead to December 2010, where Obama is clearly in the back seat, being driven by Internet giants like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast. With him is his appointed chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Julius Genachowski, his Harvard Law School classmate and basketball pal who just pushed through a rule on network neutrality that Internet activists consider disastrous.
Despite being granted bail, Wikileaks founder and editor Julian Assange remains imprisoned in London, awaiting extradition proceedings to answer a prosecutor's questions in Sweden. He hasn't been formally charged with any crime. His lawyers have heard that a grand jury in the United States has been secretly empanelled, and that a U.S. federal indictment is most likely forthcoming.
Politicians and commentators, meanwhile, have been repeatedly calling for Assange to be killed.
CANCUN, Mexico -- Critical negotiations are under way here in Cancun, under the auspices of the United Nations, to reverse human-induced global warming. This is the first major meeting since the failed Copenhagen summit last year, and it is happening at the end of the hottest decade on record. While the stakes are high, expectations are low, and, as we have just learned with the release of classified diplomatic cables from Wikileaks, the United States, the largest polluter in the history of the planet, is engaged in what one journalist here called "a very, very dirty business."
Wikileaks is again publishing a trove of documents, in this case classified U.S. State Department diplomatic cables. The whistle-blower website will gradually be releasing more than 250,000 of these documents in the coming months so that they can be analyzed and gain the attention they deserve. The cables are internal, written communications among U.S. embassies around the world and also to the U.S. State Department. Wikileaks described the leak as "the largest set of confidential documents ever to be released into the public domain [giving] an unprecedented insight into U.S. government foreign activities."
Michael Moore, the Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker, makes great movies but they are not generally considered "cliff-hangers." All that might change since a whistle-blower on the Democracy Now! news hour revealed that health insurance executives thought they may have to implement a plan "to push Moore off a cliff." The whistle-blower: Wendell Potter, the former chief spokesman for health insurance giant Cigna. He was quoting from an industry strategy session on how to respond to Moore's 2007 documentary Sicko, a film critical of the U.S. health insurance industry. Potter told me that he is not sure how serious the threat was but he added, ominously, "These companies play to win."
"Gitmo is going to remain open for the foreseeable future," said an unnamed White House official to The Washington Post this week. For guidance on the notorious U.S. Navy base in Cuba, President Barack Obama should look to an old naval facility in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
If a volcano kills civilians in Indonesia, it's news. When the government does the killing, sadly, it's just business as usual, especially if an American president tacitly endorses the killing, as President Barack Obama just did with his visit to Indonesia.
Just days away from crucial midterm elections, WikiLeaks, the whistle-blower website, unveiled the largest classified military leak in history. Almost 400,000 secret Pentagon documents relating to the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq were made available online. The documents, in excruciating detail, portray the daily torrent of violence, murder, rape and torture to which Iraqis have been subjected since George W. Bush declared "Mission Accomplished." The WikiLeaks release, dubbed "The Iraq War Logs," has been topping the headlines in Europe. But in the U.S., it barely warranted a mention on the agenda-setting Sunday talk shows.
The big banks that caused the collapse of the global finance market, and received tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded bailouts, have likely been engaging in wholesale fraud against homeowners and the courts. But in a promising development this week, attorneys general from all 50 states announced a bipartisan joint investigation into foreclosure fraud.
Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, GMAC and other big mortgage lenders recently suspended most foreclosure proceedings, following revelations that thousands of their foreclosures were being conducted like "foreclosure mills," with tens of thousands of legal documents signed by low-level staffers with little or no knowledge of what they were signing.