LA Progressive Articles: March 14-20, 2010

South LA’s Rail Transit Finally Breaks Ground. Both where the Crenshaw Line runs and where the Crenshaw Line stops should, and will, be at the center of community focus. The community made sure it got done. Now we all have to make sure it gets done right. -Anthony Samad

News/PR Line Gets Blurrier. Many of the thirty-thousand-plus newspaper journalists laid off in the past two years have signed on to corporate public relations gigs, further blurring the already-murky line between PR and news. When the handful of corporate chieftains who control most mainstream media hire as PR agents the journalists who used to expose them, they’re one giant step closer to commandeering the information narrative in America. -Michael Sigman

Border Collies in the Rain. What I need to do is create the equivalent of television for dogs. It’s not that hard, I can just go someplace they have never been and follow local dogs and gather up the brush, leaves and dirt where they urinate and defecate. -Robert Singer

Does Anyone, Anywhere Have Real Courage? When someone has to choose between health coverage and paying their home mortgage, what kind of a moral choice is that? How can any nation that pays nearly 18% of its GDP for healthcare not have the best coverage in the world covering everyone? -Denis Campbell

Did Obama Kill Public Option in July? President Obama has been justifiably slammed for not pushing hard enough for a public option, but the truth may be even worse than that. We know the White House cut a deal with hospitals and insurance companies last July on prescription drugs – but as a New York Times reporter said this week, they also killed the public option. And given the public option’s inexplicable fate, I have to believe the story. –Paul Hogarth

LA Youth vs. the Probation Department: Who Is More in Need of Intervention? Problems in the department–the largest probation department in the world–are well known. Probation, with its $700-million budget, is monitored by the Department of Justice and sued by the ACLU. Young people are incarcerated for offenses no more serious than truancy and curfew violations. Probation officers known for physically abusing youth in their care remain on the job… --Diane Lefer

California Gubernatorial Candidate Steve Poizner Vows End Illegal Immigration. Poizner has proposed deploying the California National Guard and California Highway Patrol to secure the border with Mexico if the federal government doesn’t. Poizner has adamantly argued that undocumented immigrants should be denied emergency health care and that public schools should shut their doors in the face of undocumented children. –Andrea Christina Nill

International Women’s Day: Iran and The Global Struggle for Women’s Liberation. Although the U.S. and Europe are often regarded as the models for women’s political agency, Middle Eastern feminists like Gol emphasize their solidarity with the struggles of disenfranchised women in the West, particularly that of women of color. –Sikivu Hutchinson

Haiti: “All the Resources Are in the Wrong Place”. Relief efforts are limping along. There are thousands of foreign NGOs on the ground, but no overall organized effort to distribute aid. Compounding the problem is the fact that IDP camps are springing up overnight, and rural areas face a different set of problems than those faced in the city of Port-au-Prince. –Georgianne Nienaber

City Island: What a Tangled Web We Weave. I highly recommend the filmic City Island, a delightful family comedy with a superb ensemble cast with an uplifting message. More than any other movie in recent memory it reminded me of William Shakespeare’s wise words ironically uttered by the foolish Polonius in Hamlet: “This above all else, to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” -Ed Rampell

What’s Up with Rahm? For anti-war activists in the Democratic Party, Emanuel is probably best known for his role after 2004 as chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. In primary races around the country he raised cash and secured endorsements for opponents of anti-war candidates. -Carl Bloice

Why Republicans Should Regret Scott Brown’s “Massachusetts Miracle”. Prior to Brown’s win, national Democrats were adrift, the base was deeply demoralized, and a path to finally passing health care reform was unclear. But Brown’s win changed this, providing a desperately needed wake-up call to national Democrats and the Obama Administration. -Randy Shaw

On Guantánamo, Symbolism Trumps Substance. Although closing Guantánamo would be important symbolically, the law-free sanctuary that the Bush administration had achieved there has already been eroded by the Supreme Court’s demand that detainees have some legal rights. And even if the Obama administration closes Gitmo, some of Bush’s unconstitutional policies would continue in prisons around the United States—for example, the use of military tribunals for some detainees and the detention of some former Guantánamo detainees indefinitely without trial. -Ivan Eland

Why Teachers Unions Matter. The anti-teacher hysteria looks diverse on the surface, but underneath, this public controversy seeks to dislodge teachers unions: the right-wing trashes teachers’ unions outright, while the “liberal” media takes a more subtle, sophisticated approach, blaming the state of public education on “bad teachers” who must be fired and replaced. -Shamus Cooke

Why Republicans Should Regret Scott Brown’s “Massachusetts Miracle”. Prior to Brown’s win, national Democrats were adrift, the base was deeply demoralized, and a path to finally passing health care reform was unclear. But Brown’s win changed this, providing a desperately needed wake-up call to national Democrats and the Obama Administration. -Randy Shaw

On Guantánamo, Symbolism Trumps Substance. Although closing Guantánamo would be important symbolically, the law-free sanctuary that the Bush administration had achieved there has already been eroded by the Supreme Court’s demand that detainees have some legal rights. And even if the Obama administration closes Gitmo, some of Bush’s unconstitutional policies would continue in prisons around the United States—for example, the use of military tribunals for some detainees and the detention of some former Guantánamo detainees indefinitely without trial. -Ivan Eland

Why Teachers Unions Matter. The anti-teacher hysteria looks diverse on the surface, but underneath, this public controversy seeks to dislodge teachers unions: the right-wing trashes teachers’ unions outright, while the “liberal” media takes a more subtle, sophisticated approach, blaming the state of public education on “bad teachers” who must be fired and replaced. -Shamus Cooke

Jamaica’s Gay Underground Christians. Sometime in the late hours of Saturday night the call will come in. Philbert (not his real name) — like many of his Christian LGBTQ buddies — waits anxiously for the call to tell him the time and place of the van pickup, and where it’ll drop he and his friends off to a safe and secluded place for Sunday worship. -Rev. Irene Monroe

(Photo: Grettel Cortes)

Health Care 2010 and 1994, and the Political Lessons of History. Today’s Republican battle plan is exactly the same as it was sixteen years ago. In fact, it’s been the same since President Obama assumed office. They never were serious about compromise. They were serious only about regaining power. From the start, Republicans have remembered the lesson of 1994. Now, as they prepare to vote, House Dems should remember the lesson as well. -Robert Reich

New Immigrant Rights Campaign to Mount Largest March of Obama Era. Organized by the Center for Community Change (CCC), the March 21 event will be the largest protest march since President Barack Obama took office. It will include activist groups from nearly every state, and revives the labor-religious-community coalition that built the mass marches of 2006. -Randy Shaw

Charity CEOs Get Rich by Taking From the Poor. Years ago, the founder of central Massachusetts’ food bank told me of the obscenely high salaries that the directors of a major, well-known Massachusetts charity providing funds for hungry Americans received every year, an amount that was purposefully not readily made public. The reason is that all of the volunteers for this charity, that raises millions of dollars each year, would be greatly dismayed that around a fourth of them were, actually, working to enrich upper management. –Emily Spence

Haitian Women: Rea Dol vs. the Republic of NGOs. Needs are many. Temporary classrooms are a must, but tents are impossible to come by here. The current school will never be used, but the field is secured at 83 Delmas Road. She needs $20,000 to pay it off completely. Haitian officials have promised tents, but it is doubtful they will arrive. -Georgianne Nienaber

Education, Texas Style. Oh, by the way, country and western music will be studied as a cultural movement. High school freshmen will probably be assigned the task of writing lyrics to twangy melodies — when they’re not studying about the Contract with America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority, and the National Rifle Association. Yes, they’re all “in.” -Ron Wolff

UC Swindle: California’s Apartheid Schoolhouse. It’s simply not acceptable to blame the university’s egregious disregard for the needs of students of color on the bigoted acts of ignorant white or “minority” students. UCSD’s gross underrepresentation of Black students reflects the UC system’s institutional neglect of recruitment and outreach to African American high schools. -Sikivu Hutchinson

Costs of War to Climb as Congress Votes to Continue Military Occupation. There has been no real plan explained to the American public for an exit strategy in Afghanistan as mounting injuries and deaths occur and we continue to put our loved ones in harm’s way. In fact, we have no guarantee our troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan anytime soon. Some experts say it could take even longer than the six years we spent in Iraq. -Tracy Emblem

Israel and Palestine: The Folly of Strength and the Folly of Weakness. Vice President Biden’s visit to Israel didn’t go so well. When the Interior Ministry announced plans for a major expansion of Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem just as Biden was helping to organize renewed—if indirect—negotiations with the Palestinians, he, on instructions from the White House, promptly condemned the plan, a condemnation, which was amplified in a long, “tough” conversation between Secretary of State Clinton and Prime Minister Netanyahu. -John Peeler

Creating Community in LA: A Safety Net for Singers. Community can be created in many ways — geographically, electronically, or around a shared interest or cause. The community of singers which has formed around SOS and its sister organizations needs help from another community: us listeners, whose lives have been so enriched by the wonderful singers — past and present — performing in Los Angeles and around the world. -Michael Sigman

First Solve Prison Crisis, Then Fix California’s Budget. To get a handle on the damage California’s current approach to incarceration is having on its citizens, consider this: In a recent 23-year period, California erected 23 prisons—one a year, each costing roughly $100 million dollars annually to operate, with both Democratic and Republican governors occupying the statehouse—at the same time that it added just one campus to its vaunted university system, UC Merced. -Dick Price

Haiti’s Fayette Villagers Forgotten at Epicenter. While Leogane is completely overrun with NGOs, Fayette gets visits from the occasional scientist, and the only camera lens focused on the village is aboard NASA’s EO-1 satellite. Villagers told us they have not seen any aid workers since the quake. Nestled in fertile, natural surroundings along the Momance River, the local population is self-sufficient. They are not requesting money, food or water, but they do not want to be forgotten, either. -Georgianne Nienaber

Haiti Watch: There Are No Loaves and Fishes in This Purgatory. soft rain has just begun to fall, but it is a terrible event here in Petionville, Haiti. There are 5,000 people with no shelter, food, or sanitation on Highway 1, about an hour from here. Babies are sleeping in dust that is turning to mud alongside mothers with shriveled breasts who are offering the infants paint chips mixed with dirt because they believe it is nutritious. It is all they have. -Georgianne Nienaber

Exit Strategies for Afghanistan and Iraq. Rep. Dennis Kucinich will step into the crosswinds this week and force the House of Representatives to wake up, pay attention, and vote up or down on the Afghanistan war. -Tom Hayden

How to Get Your Own News. In a book entitled, Just How Stupid Are We?, author Rick Shenkman asks, “Are America’s voters prepared to shoulder the responsibility of running the most powerful nation on earth? Do a majority know enough?” These questions are not new but the current economic crisis brings to the fore the urgency of an answer. -Sharon Kyle

Generations. The Boomers have contributed so much to the world and transformed it in so many amazing ways — technologically, sociologically, emotionally, etc. (made possible by the investments in education of their parents) — Yet they’ve decided to let their children fend for themselves. They’ve so failed us. The Boomers have made more money collectively than any generation in human history but they appear intent on hogging it all. -Joseph Palermo

Lone Star State History Books and Bumper Sticker “History”. Just in time for next year’s sesquicentennial observance of the start of the Civil War, the Texas Board of Education apparently wants new Lone Star State history books that favorably compare Jefferson Davis to Abraham Lincoln. -Berry Craig

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Published by the LA Progressive on March 21, 2010
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