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Posts tagged ‘Amy Goodman’

A Little Common Sense

From Nation of Change
26 July 2012

U.S. Gun Laws: Guilty by Reason of Insanity
by Amy Goodman

James Holmes, the alleged shooter in the massacre in Aurora, Colo., reportedly amassed his huge arsenal with relative ease. Some of these weapons were illegal as recently as eight years ago. Legislation now before Congress would once again make illegal, if not the guns themselves, at least the high-capacity magazines that allow bullets to be fired rapidly without stopping to reload. Holmes bought most of his weaponry within recent months, we are told. Perhaps, if sane laws on gun control, including the ban on high- capacity magazines, were in place, many in Aurora who are now dead or seriously injured would be alive and well today.

The facts of the assault are generally well-known. Holmes allegedly burst into the packed theater during the 12:30 am premier of the Batman sequel “The Dark Knight Rises,” threw one or two canisters of some gas or irritant, which exploded, then began to methodically shoot people, killing 12 and wounding 58.

“Everybody sort of started screaming, and that’s when the gunman opened fire on the crowd, and pandemonium just broke out,” Omar Esparza told me. He was in the third row, with five friends out for a birthday celebration: “He started opening fire on the audience pretty freely, just started shooting in every direction, that’s when everybody started screaming, started panicking. A lot of people had been hit at that point at those initial few rounds, and that’s when everybody sort of hit the floor and started to exit.”

Esparza continued: “It sounded like the bullets had stopped, and it sounded like he was either switching guns or reloading his rifle. At that very second when we sort of heard the silence, we realized that that was our only opportunity of getting out or of dying. So, at that split second, we had to react and had to exit as quickly as possible. And we barely made it, too, because approximately a second after we had exited, we heard him starting to shoot again.”

That moment of silence may have been when one of the weapons jammed. CNN reported that “the semiautomatic rifle used in the Colorado theater killings jammed during the rampage … a law enforcement source with direct knowledge of the investigation said Sunday.”

Holmes allegedly had an AR-15, equipped with a 100-round drum magazine, as well as one or two Glock pistols with 40-round extended magazines and a Remington 870 shotgun that can fire up to seven shells without reloading. The AR-15 can fire from 50 to 60 rounds per minute. Holmes had a massive arsenal, easily acquired at retail stores and online.

Carolyn McCarthy is a member of Congress from Long Island, N.Y. Her husband was shot in the head and among the six killed in the 1993 Long Island Rail Road massacre. Her son also was shot in the head, but survived and remains partially paralyzed. She was a nurse back then, but when her congressman voted against the assault-weapons ban, she ran against him. She won and has been in Congress ever since.

McCarthy has introduced H.R. 308, the Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act. It would ban the sale or transfer of these large-capacity clips that enabled the massive casualties in Aurora, and in Tucson, Ariz., in January 2011 when Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot and six were killed. McCarthy told me: “The problem is, politicians, legislators across this country are intimidated by the NRA and the gun manufacturers who put so much money out there to say that ‘we will take you down in an election if you go against us.’ Common sense will say we can take prudent gun-safety legislation and try to save people’s lives. That is the bottom line.”

Read entire story at Nation of Change.

The Real Mad Men

From Nation of Change
Op-Ed by Amy Goodman
3 May 2012

The Real Mad Men: Following The Money Behind TV Political Ads

Murdoch and the murder of Milly Dowler. What do they have to do with the 2012 U.S. general election? This year’s election will undoubtedly be the most expensive in U.S. history, with some projections topping $5 billion. Not only has the amount of spending increased, but its nature has as well, following the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which allows unlimited spending by corporations, unions and so-called super PACs, all under the banner of “free speech.” This campaign season will unfold amidst a resurgent Occupy Wall Street movement launched globally on May 1, the same day the British Parliament released a report on Rupert Murdoch’s media empire charging that he is “not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company.” Now more than ever, people should heed the advice of the famous Watergate source, Deep Throat: “Follow the money.”

Most money in our elections goes to TV stations to run political advertisements. According to writers Robert McChesney and John Nichols in the Monthly Review, the amount of political ad spending is skyrocketing, such that “factoring for inflation, the 1972 election spent less than 3 percent of what will be spent on TV political ads in the 2012 election cycle.”

For just one relatively small race, a recent Pennsylvania congressional primary between Democrats, journalist Ken Knelly provided a comprehensive analysis of the local TV news coverage compared with the amount of political ads that ran on the same TV stations. Knelly’s headline says it all: “28 hours of political ads (and a few minutes of news).” More than 3,300 ad spots were run on the stations serving the predominantly Democratic district. Lost in the hours of ads, Knelly writes, was the “very occasional news report on the race,” and he said the reports contained very little substance.

How Knelly was able to probe these details is crucial. The Federal Communications Commission requires that TV stations maintain a public inspection file, and any member of the public can view it. Within the disclosures are the details of the political advertising purchases made, the amounts paid and what entity bought the airtime. Recent efforts have been made to compel these hugely profitable broadcast entities to publish these files online. The broadcasters have vigorously fought such efforts and, although they usually prevail in the industry-friendly halls of the FCC, have lost this battle. On Friday, April 27, the FCC voted 2-1 to require stations to transition from paper to online filing over a two-year period. ProPublica reporter Justin Elliot notes the files will not be provided in a standard format, and will likely not be searchable.

Most of the major U.S. broadcast networks lobbied against the new disclosure rules, including Fox Television, one of the crown jewels of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. media empire. Murdoch received a stinging rebuke this week with the release of a British Parliament report on the phone-hacking scandal that has racked his newspapers in Britain. The scandal exploded in 2011, when The Guardian reported that News of the World reporters had hacked into the voice mail of 13-year-old murder victim Milly Dowler in 2002. While Dowler was still missing, reporters deleted some of her voice mails, which gave false hope to her family that she still might be alive.

Journalists, along with both a judicial inquiry and parliamentary hearings, have uncovered a culture of criminality behind much of the newsgathering facade at Murdoch’s now-defunct News of the World newspaper in London. The parliamentary committee released its report this week, saying the Murdoch-controlled company “stonewalled, obfuscated and misled and [would] only come clean, reluctantly, when no other course of action was sensible.”

Read complete Op-Ed and other stories at Nation of Change.

Climate Change Apartheid

From Nation of Change by Amy Goodman
December 14, 2011

Climate Apartheid

“You’ve been negotiating all my life,” Anjali Appadurai told the plenary session of the U.N.‘s 17th “Conference of Parties,” or COP 17, the official title of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa. Appadurai, a student at the ecologically focused College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, addressed the plenary as part of the youth delegation. She continued: “In that time, you’ve failed to meet pledges, you’ve missed targets, and you’ve broken promises. But you’ve heard this all before.”

After she finished her address, she moved to the side of the podium, off microphone, and in a manner familiar to anyone who has attended an Occupy protest, shouted into the vast hall of staid diplomats, “Mic check!” A crowd of young people stood up, and the call-and-response began:

Appadurai: “Equity now!”

Crowd: “Equity now!”

Appadurai: “You’ve run out of excuses!”

Crowd: “You’ve run out of excuses!”

Appadurai: “We’re running out of time!”

Crowd: “We’re running out of time!”

Appadurai: “Get it done!”

Crowd: “Get it done!”

That was Friday, at the official closing plenary session of COP 17. The negotiations were extended, virtually nonstop, through Sunday, in hopes of avoiding complete failure. At issue were arguments over words and phrases—for instance, the replacement of “legal agreement” with “an agreed outcome with legal force,” which is said to have won over India to the Durban Platform.

The countries in attendance agreed to a schedule that would lead to an agreement by 2015, which would commit all countries to reduce emissions starting no sooner than 2020, eight years into the future.

“Eight years from now is a death sentence on Africa,” Nigerian environmentalist Nnimmo Bassey, chairperson of Friends of the Earth International, told me. “For every one-degree Celsius change in temperature, Africa is impacted at a heightened level.” He lays out the extent of the immediate threats in his new book about Africa, “To Cook a Continent.”

Bassey is one among many concerned with the profound lack of ambition embodied in the Durban Platform, which delays actual, legally binding reductions in emissions until 2020 at the earliest, whereas scientists globally are in overwhelming agreement: The stated goal of limiting average global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) will soon be impossible to achieve. The International Energy Agency, in its annual World Energy Outlook released in November, predicted “cumulative CO2 [carbon dioxide] emissions over the next 25 years amount to three-quarters of the total from the past 110 years, leading to a long-term average temperature rise of 3.5 [degrees] C.”

Despite optimistic pronouncements to the contrary, many believe the Kyoto Protocol died in Durban. Pablo Solon, the former Bolivian ambassador to the United Nations and former chief climate negotiator for that poor country, now calls Kyoto a “zombie agreement,” staggering forward for another five or seven years, but without force or impact. On the day after the talks concluded, Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent announced that Canada was formally withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol. Expected to follow are Russia and Japan, the very nation where the 1997 meeting was held that gives the Kyoto Protocol its name.

The largest polluter in world history, the United States, never ratified the Kyoto Protocol and remains defiant. Both Bassey and Solon refer to the outcome of Durban as a form of “climate apartheid.”

Despite the pledges by President Barack Obama to restore the United States to a position of leadership on the issue of climate change, the trajectory from Copenhagen in 2009, to Cancun in 2010, and, now, to Durban reinforces the statement made by then-President George H.W. Bush prior to the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, the forerunner to the Kyoto Protocol, when he said, “The American way of life is not up for negotiation.”

The “American way of life” can be measured in per capita emissions of carbon. In the U.S., on average, about 20 metric tons of CO2 is released into the atmosphere annually, one of the top 10 on the planet. Hence, a popular sticker in Durban read “Stop CO2lonialism.”

Read Entire Editorial at Nation of Change

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