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Senate Nixes Buffet Tax Rule, Electotainment: The Gaps In Election Coverage, NY Times on WBCN

April 17th, 2012 - by:

Tax Day In The USA

Quote Of The Day Google Co-Founder Sergey Brin: “The principles of openness and universal access that underpinned the creation of the internet three decades ago are under greater threat than ever.” an interview with the Guardian, Brin warned there were very powerful forces that have lined up against the open internet on all sides and around the world. “I am more worried than I have been in the past,” he said. “Its scary.”

Tax Action
In New York Today:

NYT: GOP Kills Buffet Tax Reform Rule In Senate

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans on Monday blocked a move to open debate on the so-called Buffett Rule, ensuring that a measure pressed for months by President Obama and Senate Democrats to ensure that the superrich pay a tax rate of at least 30 percent will not come to a decisive vote.

But the fierce debate preceding the 51-45 vote — the Democrats were nine votes short of the 60 they needed — set off a week of political wrangling over taxes that both parties insist they are already winning.

Can We Trust The Media?

Excerpt From My Latest Essay on AlJazeera.com: Why can’t the media do a better job of covering elections?

In a ‘post-journalism era’, media outlets operate on routines, not innovation.

The Wall Street lobbyists – gutting financial reforms and opposing a global tax on transactions – are never discussed in the political race that keeps the debate simple, partisan and personality driven.

The role of powerful companies are also mostly off-limits, because both Democratic and Republican candidates depend on their largesse.

Who do you think lobbied to stop the end of subsidies to super wealthy oil and gas companies? They did.

This issue became public at most for one day and, then, was quickly pushed off the agenda.

‘Too big too fail’

In China, the prime minister attacks the banks there as too powerful, but in the US, the big ones are still considered “too big too fail” and allowed to suck off pro-bank financing schemes and bailouts by the privately owned Federal Reserve Bank.

Romney’s Florida win: More money than policy?

When libertarian Republican Ron Paul began questioning the powerful Fed in his political campaign, the media turned away from him in droves, dismissing his candidacy – which challenged war and the money masters – as non-serious.

They would rather talk about pregnancies than power.

The result is a process built around denial and avoidance, where the most important issues get buried in the name of reporting and speculating about the horse race.

Inanities replace information, and spectacles such as Sarah Palin’s dramatised “debate” on a morning TV show get more ink than who’s funding who.

Issues are bandied about; interests are ignored.

None of this is new. Some years back, I reviewed the post-mortem analysis of journalists – reviewing how political races were covered during 30 years. It was clear that the coverage fell into a recurring pattern, with the complaints and criticisms all predictable and, then, recycled, year after year.

Why can’t news outlets do a better job? That question is rarely explored.

In what some media analysts have deemed a “post-journalism era”, media outlets operate on routines, not innovation. Just like sports is mostly about winners and losers, so is politics. The networks genuflect and serve power, covering the politics of only two established parties and candidates with what Europeans call “extra-parliamentary movements” deemed illegitimate.

For the rest of the article, Visit AlJazeera.com

Blast From The Past

NY Times Discovers The Return WBCN In Boston: We Are Back

From a newly repurposed electric green school bus parked next to his split-level home in suburban Hingham, Mass., Sam Kopper is broadcasting music live on a Friday night. But is anyone listening?

For many Boston residents and thousands of students who passed through the city from 1968 through the late 1980s, Mr. Kopper, 66, is a legend, first the program director and later live concert producer for one of the first progressive rock radio stations, WBCN-FM.

The format blew into town with Cream’s “I Feel Free,” replacing classical music, and was welcomed for its free-wheeling spirit and eclectic playlist — D.J.’s played what they wanted — and investigative news from Danny Schechter, “the News Dissector.”

Over the years, WBCN staff members proved to have keen ears. The station was among the first to play the Cars and U2, among other acts, and its live concert broadcasts became live albums for the likes of the Police and the Clash. Alumni included J. J. Jackson, later an original MTV V.J., and Peter Wolf, of the J. Geils Band.

But along the way, radio, and WBCN, changed as the business became more corporate and consolidated. Playlists became narrower, D.J.’s were told to keep it short, and syndicated shows, including Howard Stern, edged out local programs.

Disillusioned as these trends gained strength, Mr. Kopper left WBCN in 1991 and sold swimming pool chlorinators, among other jobs, he said.

The “Rock of Boston,” as the station was known, switched to alternative rock in the 1990s, was acquired by CBS in 1996, and, after other permutations, was killed in 2009 in a complicated switch to make room for a sports station.

Now CBS is trying to make the original WBCN format popular again. The “WBCN Free Form Rock” biodiesel-burning bus will hit Boston’s streets May 1, Mr. Kopper said. The hitch: the station is on HD.

HD digital radio technology, introduced commercially in 2006, was intended as broadcast radio’s free riposte to the static-free signals of satellite radio, where — for the cost of a subscription — formats thrive and no ads intrude. Local FM stations could broadcast their original analog station on HD1, with additional space for differently formatted substations, known as HD2 and HD3.

Chris Hedges, Truth Dig, “First They Come For The Muslims”

IPS: The Bubble’s Back:—New bubble grows, with Fed’s help

James Saft writes: The founders of Instagram, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, ought to get down on their knees every night and pray in gratitude to Ben S. Bernanke.

That is because Mr. Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chief, has been crucial in creating an atmosphere in which two 20-somethings can sell an 18-month-old company with 13 employees and no significant revenue for $1 billion.

Facebook agreed Monday to pay $1 billion in cash and stock for Instagram, which develops photo-sharing applications, just a week after the infant company closed a funding deal valuing it at a paltry $500 million.

Although Mr. Bernanke and the Fed will not get a cut of the cash, the past 15 years show exactly how much credit they deserve for such bubble valuations.

Twice since 1997, the Federal Reserve has eased policy after disruptions to financial markets, and twice, speculative bubbles have grown up in the aftermath. It is looking increasingly as if social media technology shares are the third in the series.

In 1998, after the Asian financial crisis, the hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management nearly failed and required a Fed-orchestrated bailout. Although no Fed money was used in the rescue, it was followed up shortly with a cut in interest rates intended in part to calm the waters. That sent a clear signal to the market: the Fed has your back.

It should come as no surprise that subsidizing speculation gave rise to more speculation, but this time on a larger scale. The Internet bubble rose rapidly and burst just as rapidly, after which there was a sustained campaign by the Fed to lower interest rates.

World Bank Names New Prexy: Dartmouth Chief Now On Top

LBN: The World Bank named Jim Yong Kim, Dartmouth Colleges president, as its new chief on Monday after an unprecedented competition against nominees from Nigeria and Colombia.
In a statement Monday afternoon, the bank board said it had chosen Kim as the institutions 12th president to succeed Robert Zoellick when his five-year term ends in June.

Business Insider: Joseph Stiglitz Presentation On Why The Entire Global Economy Is Doomed To Fail

Business Insider: How Iceland Stood Up To Britain

Zero Hedge: “>The Pain in Span Cannot Be Contained

Marvin Kitman: FCC Invites Public to Follow the Money

Chris Hayyes on “Twitterocracy:

In the age of Twitter, presidential candidates get a level of exposure now more than ever, and what once would have been a small story can become viral – and huge – in a matter of minutes.
Chris Hayes, Host of Up with Chris Hayes on MNSBC, offers his tape on twitter and politics: http://nbcudirect.com

Taiwanese Animation: Secret Service agents prostitution scandal in Cartagena, Colombia

The Secret Service has long been considered the most professional protection service in the world, with agents putting their lives on the line for a succession of presidents down the years. But that image has been shattered after 12 Secret Service agents in Colombia to protect President Obama were allegedly caught using prostitutes. They were allegedly discovered after hotel staff found a hooker in one of their rooms. She refused to leave before being paid. The 12 agents were relieved of their duty. Five soldiers at the same hotel are also in hot water and have been confined to their rooms after breaking curfew. President Obama was informed of the ordeal and ordered a probe, but the hooker ordeal completely overshadowed his mission to woo Latin American leaders.

BBC: Karzai Blasts NATO for Poor Intelligence in Attack On Kabul

Comn Halinan, Portside: The U.S. & The Afghan Train Wreck

The recent decision by the Taliban and one of its
allies to withdraw from peace talks with Washington
underlines the train wreck the U.S. is headed for in
Afghanistan. Indeed, for an administration touted as
sophisticated and intelligent, virtually every decision
the White House has made vis-a-vis Afghanistan has been
a disaster.

On Mar. 15 the Taliban ended preliminary talks with
Washington, because, according to a spokesman for the
insurgent organization, the Americans were being
“shaky, erratic and vague.” The smaller Hizb-i-Islami
group followed two weeks later.

That both groups are refusing to talk should hardly
come as a surprise. In spite of the Obama
administration’s talk about wanting a “political
settlement” to the war, the White House’s strategy
makes that goal little more than a mirage.

Release:
Largest Mobilization Ever Against Shareholder Meetings Launches Next Week

99% Power To Target Shareholder Meetings With Direct Action; Demand Economic Equality

This spring, more than 10,000 activists will target shareholder meetings across this country with direct action in the largest mobilization against corporate shareholder meetings ever. The effort, called 99% Power, will demand an economy and a democracy that works for all of us, not just for the 1%.

Starting this month, thousands of people will be inside and outside more than three-dozen corporate shareholder meetings across the country, including Wells Fargo, General Electric, Verizon, Bank of America, Sallie Mae, Wal-Mart and more.

99% Power is a coalition that includes workers and retirees, families fighting foreclosure and the unemployed, students, immigrants and environmentalists.

You can learn more about the coalition and the mobilizations here: www.the99power.org.

“This spring, Americans from all walks of life will come together around a shared vision of a new bottom line that includes the health and well-being of workers, communities and the environment,” said George Goehl, executive director of National People’s Action and co-founder of The New Bottom Line. “Under the broad banner of 99% Power, thousands of people will engage in mobilizations and nonviolent direct action leading up to and at the shareholder meetings of dozens of corporations.”

Your Letters

Curt Day writes About Occupy

This is my take on the Occupy movement as a participant and visitor to Zuccotti Park. There is a difference in the make up of the people since the eviction. There is a noticeable percentage of people who are there to disrupt meetings and distract people’s attention. There are more people there who support the democratic party and try to frame the talks there so that they support democratic candidates. In, addition, there are more and more OWS facebook photos that show support for Obama. Though it is not paranoid to think that opposing groups would send people to interfere with or co-opt OWS, it would be hyper vigilant to assume that co-optation or marginalization are the only explanations for all of the above observations.

The occupy movement consists of a high percentage of young people who will make youthful mistakes. For it to continue to succeed, it will have to be inclusive while at the same time be apolitical in terms of supporting any candidates from the two major political parties. But more important than that, it will have to be patient with both itself and those outside the movement.

Though I haven’t been to Zuccotti Park for a while, I do participate electronically in the OWS Global Justice Working Group. And what is striking is the difference in demographics between the current participants at Zuccotti and those in the working group. The working group I am in consists of people who are dedicated activists with a high percentage of them being from other countries while the people I see at Zuccotti consists of more regular people. And though I love exposure to and working with foreign activists, my concern is that we need to include more of those regular people into our working group, assuming that the demographics of our working group significantly resembles the make up of the other working groups, less we become an elite led movement.

You Tube: Don’t Miss Occupy West Side Story–Office Winski

NYT: Pulitzer Prizes Announced

2 Pulitzers for Times; Huffington Post and Politico Wi

The New York Times won two Pulitzer Prizes on Monday for its reporting on Africa and for an investigative series on loopholes that allow the wealthiest Americans and corporations to avoid paying taxes. In a sign of the changing media landscape, two primarily online news outlets, The Huffington Post and Politico, won their first Pulitzer Prizes.
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Also notable this year was the absence of prizes in two categories. The Pulitzer Prize Board at Columbia University in New York, which administers the awards, did not name a winner in the editorial writing category. More notably, the judges declined to name a winner for the highly coveted prize for fiction. The last time no winner was named for fiction was in 1977.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, which like many regional newspapers has struggled lately with a decline in print advertising revenue and changes in ownership, won the award for public service, among the most prestigious in journalism. The Inquirer’s winning series focused on the pervasive, child-against-child violence in Philadelphia’s schools.

“After all this newsroom has gone through in the last three or four years,” said The Inquirer’s editor, Stan Wischnowski. “Bankruptcy, being owned by hedge fund managers, the downsizing, so much that our staff had no control over. This is an absolute crowning achievement to their dedication and commitment to excellence.”

The winning journalism articles this year covered many of the biggest news topics of 2011, including an award to Sara Ganim, 24, and The Patriot-News staff in Harrisburg, Pa., for local reporting on the Penn State sexual abuse scandal.

In the arts, the winners included Quiara Alegría Hudes, who took the prize for drama for her play “Water by the Spoonful,” and the late Manning Marable for “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention,” which won the history prize.

The Tuscaloosa News won in the breaking news category for its coverage of the deadly tornado that devastated that Alabama city last year. The judges cited the paper’s use of “social media as well as traditional reporting to provide real-time updates.”

In 2009 the Pulitzers, now in their 96th year, expanded to include online-only news sites, and the awards to Politico and The Huffington Post reflect the emerging power of Web-based journalism as it competes with legacy newspapers.

Happy Tax Day

Comments to dissector@mediachannel.org. AlJazeera English airs a program today at 3 PM touching on the conflicts within the Occupy Movement.I was invited but had a schedule conflict.