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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Is this the future of education?

Haiti Telethon 5 to 11 PM Friday night

George Clooney will host a telethon to help the people of Haiti tomorrow night, January 22, 2009.

A total of 9 networks, including all MTV channels as well as ABC, NBC, CNN and HBO will air the telethon, which will run live on Friday, January 22, from 8-10 PM EST (5 PM, in most cases repeated at 8 PM Pacific).

The structure of the telecast, as repoted by Access Hollywood, including associated charitable orgainzations, musical talent and other logistics is still in the works. Over 35 major celebrities and acts are expected to participate, with each networking lending its own personalities in break-out segments.

According to The Hollywood Reporter’s Showbiz 411 column, which broke the news, the “Up In The Air” star is in the process of reaching out to his Hollywood friends to garner famous faces for the telethon.

A number of stars, including Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and rock band Coldplay, have come forward to urge people to donate to relief efforts for Haiti, which was struck by a devastating 7.0 earthquake earlier this week.

Air America to sign off

Air America, the "liberal" or "progressive" alternative voice to dominent conservative talk radio, went off the air at 3 PM Pacific time today. Simply put, they ran out of money, a victim of the recession. Several major conservative programs have lost money, gone off the air or are being subsidized by conservative action funds (PAC's). The recession has no politics. It is impacting everyone.

In a statement to employees of the New York-based network, Air America's chairman, Charlie Kireker, wrote: "It is with the greatest regret, on behalf of our Board, that we must announce that Air America Media is ceasing its live programming operations as of this afternoon, and that the Company will file soon under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code to carry out an orderly winding-down of the business.
The very difficult economic environment has had a significant impact on Air America's business. This past year has seen a 'perfect storm' in the media industry generally. . . . In this climate, our painstaking search for new investors has come close several times right up into this week, but ultimately fell short of success."

Conserative media organ, The National Review, was quick to gloat, posting in their blog:

"Scott Brown wins in Massachusetts, the filibuster is restored, campaign finance restrictions on corporations are overturned by the Supreme Court... and now, Air America goes kaput. This has to rank as one of the worst weeks for liberals in recent memory."

If you favor a conservative or "right wing" bias, it may be too early to gloat. The non-profit media watch group "Media Matters" post the following commentary:

The Right might want to hold off on gloating over Air America's demise

January 21, 2010 5:46 pm ET by Jamison Foser
With today's announcement that Air America is shutting down, I'm sure it'll only be a matter of minutes before conservatives start gleefully insisting that this demonstrates that there is no market for liberal news outlets.
Two quick points to keep in mind:
1) You can either claim that ABC/CBS/CNN/MSNBC/NBC/NPR/NYT/WAPO/ETC are "liberal media," or that there is no market for liberal media -- but not both.  Please pick one.  Thanks!
2) The Washington Times has been losing money for two decades.  In the early days of Fox News, Rupert Murdoch paid cable companies $11 per subscriber to carry FNC (and Rudy Giuliani pressured Time Warner to carry the outlet in New York City.)  Point being: conservative media outlets have succeeded not only because of market forces, as conservatives would have you believe, but because right-wing billionaires like Murdoch and Rev. Moon have been willing to subsidize them.

News report sources for this posting include the Washington Post, National Public Radio, CBS, Reuters, AP and CNN. 

UPDATE: Employees have been let go as of 6 PM Eastern Time. Starting at 6 pm EST today, Air America will provide our affiliates, listeners and users a selection of encore programming until 9 pm EST on Monday, January 25, at which time Air America programming will end. 

Obama Moves to Restrict Big Banks

In a very public swipe at Wall Street, President Obama blamed banks for sparking the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and said common sense reforms were needed. But will Obama's proposals, and other changes in how banking is overseen by government have the desired effect?

From the Wall Street Journal:

President Barack Obama proposed Thursday new rules designed to restrict the size and activities of the U.S.'s biggest banks, the latest in a series of administration moves to curb Wall Street.
The White House wants commercial banks that take deposits from customers to be barred from investing on behalf of the bank itself—what's known as proprietary trading—and said the administration will seek new limits on the size and concentration of financial institutions.

President Obama proposes new rules designed to restrict the size and activities of the nation's biggest banks. WSJ's Jerry Seib joins the News Hub to discuss the latest in a series of administration moves to curb Wall Street. Plus, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) tells reporters the House is unlikely to pass Senate health-care legislation without changes. The News Hub brings you the latest.

Wall Street Journal News Hub: White House Outlines Bank Restrictions

Under the White House's proposed bank regulations, banks will be forced to choose between taking deposits and trading. The News Hub weighs in on what this means for the future of banking.

Administration officials said the new rules would force major institutions from J.P. Morgan Chase to Bank of America to decide the direction of their business. Banks shielded from risk through federal-deposit insurance, or aided in financial crises by low-interest loans from the Federal Reserve Board, would no longer be allowed to engage in trading unrelated to their customers' interests, one senior administration official said.
Under the proposed rule, commercial banks would be prohibited from owning, investing in or advising hedge funds or private-equity firms. Bank regulators would not be simply given the discretion to enforce such rules. They would be required to do so.

Note: The Wall Street Journal is a subscription based news service. As a student your student fees allow access through the student library. Limited access is allowed for education purposes for the general public on the day of publication. The Journal is now a product of Newscorp, operators of FOC News. In the near future access will be limted to Microsoft Bing! through a paid promotional consideration from Microsoft. Sources used above include the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Yahoo News, CNN and NPR radio.

Unemployment highest for Hispanics and African Americans

Janaury 21, 2009 Washington Post blogs:
By Michelle Singletray

The unemployment situation is hitting many minority groups hard.

The unemployment rate for Hispanics and African Americans is projected to rise in the third quarter to 13.9 and 17.2 percent, respectively, reports the Post's V. Dion Haynes. In fact, a recent study predicts that unemployment among African Americans may reach a 25-year high. The rising numbers can in part be explained by the fact that Hispanic and African American men have been disproportionately employed in sectors hardest hit in the recession -- manufacturing and construction.

The Congressional Black Caucus is urging the government to create training programs and jobs in low-income communities.

"It's like a triage in an emergency room-you take care of the people who need help first and you help the others later," said Kai Filion, research analyst at the Economic Policy Institute.

If the unemployment rate continues to skyrocket in the black community, we could see staggering poverty levels not seen in years. Clearly, we are still in the recession's aftermath.
Read more of Haynes' report here: U.S. unemployment rate for blacks projected to hit 25-year high (Jan. 15).

Tuesdays US Senate Election: union perspective

 A Message from the President of the AFL-CIO 
 (video of slightly different copy at AFL-CIO You Tube).

What happened Tuesday in Massachusetts was a wake-up call to all of us.

It was a working class revolt—a signal that in this economic crisis, the American people demand jobs, health care and an economy that works for them now—not political business as usual.

It was a loud and clear message that our elected leaders—and our labor movement—must do more for working people, do it fast and do it smarter.

An AFL-CIO poll taken Tuesday night shows without doubt:

Voters are fed up that elected leaders have done too little to help working families.

They said Democrats have NOT overreached on jobs, the economy and health care—they have underreached.

Voters have seen too much help for Wall Street and not nearly enough help for Main Street.

Unless Democrats demonstrate that fixing the economy is their overriding priority, and begin to create more jobs for working Americans NOW, we’re going to see more results this November like the Massachusetts election.

For the union movement and activists, the message was also clear: It’s not time to leave it to any political party to take care of us once we put them in office. It’s time to organize and mobilize as never before to make every elected or aspiring leader PROVE he or she will create the jobs we need in an economy we need with the health care we need.

I am not discouraged by Tuesday’s election results. Actually, I’m energized and I want you to be, too. Working America is demanding major change NOW—not timid, go-slow, partial solutions.

I know we are the people who can mobilize a massive army to force elected leaders to deliver.

Let’s do it—starting NOW.

P.S. I’m sending this same message in a YouTube video. Please take a look and share it with other fighters for working families.

In solidarity,

Richard L. Trumka
President, AFL-CIO

A corporate democracy: Court overturns voter finance protections

Campaign Finance Limits Overturned
NPR, the AP and New York Times reports that this morning the US Supreme Court overturned federal legislation that restricts how much money corporations can donate to political campaigns. By a 5-4 vote, the court ruled that corporations may spend freely to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress, overturning a 20-year-old decision that barred such contributions. The vote tended to go along partician lines, with judges appointed by Republican presidents voting to overturn campaign finance limitations. The decision has wide-ranging implications. The new ruling blurs the lines between corporate and individual contributions in political campaigns. It also strikes down part of the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law that banned unions and corporations from paying for political ads in the waning days of campaigns. The ruling gives lobbyist and special interests near total control of the paid information flow during polical campaigns.

President Obama says he is highly disappointed and saddened by the court's decision. He is calling on Congress to act quickly to restore one hundred years of voter protection. Meanwhile Republicans say that the decision will lead to greater free speech, take power from "special interests" and reinforce Democracy, the opposite view of the president.

All Things Considered on NPR talks a look at ways of viewing the decision and its ramifications. This includes how various lawmakers responded to the decision.

What are these implications and how to they impact you as a citizen and voter? How will future elections be impacted? What about campaign finance reform? Are we a democracy of the people or a corporate capitalist republic? If business is America, it would follow that business should have a voice and the ability to support candidates for office. But what of civil rights, and issues that may run counter to business or industry? What are your thoughts?

In its editorial, set to publish on Friday, The New York Times makes it's stand clear:

"The Court’s Blow to Democracy

"With a single, disastrous 5-to-4 ruling, the Supreme Court has thrust politics back to the robber-baron era of the 19th century. Disingenuously waving the flag of the First Amendment, the court’s conservative majority has paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding.
Congress must act immediately to limit the damage of this radical decision, which strikes at the heart of democracy.

As a result of Thursday’s ruling, corporations have been unleashed from the longstanding ban against their spending directly on political campaigns and will be free to spend as much money as they want to elect and defeat candidates. If a member of Congress tries to stand up to a wealthy special interest, its lobbyists can credibly threaten: We’ll spend whatever it takes to defeat you."

Full editorial: click here.

Members of the US Supreme Court pose for a group photograph at the Supreme Court building on September 29, 2009 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

A timeline on campaign finance reform going back 100 years can be found in a link on the NPR home page (look for the photo of Tricky Dick Nixon).