Healthcare Summit Ends in Deadlock; Single-Payer Advocates Excluded, 2010 by Democracy Now!
After nearly seven hours of televised debate, President Obama’s so-called bipartisan healthcare summit ended Thursday without any substantive agreement between Republicans and Democrats. Republican lawmakers remained staunchly opposed to using the federal government to regulate health insurance. We speak to Columbia Journalism Review contributing editor Trudy Lieberman and pediatrician Dr. Margaret Flowers of Physicians for a National Health Program. VIDEO: http://www.commondreams.org/video/2010/02/26-0
Coffee Hit by Global Warming Say Growers, February 27, 2010 by Agence France-Presse
GUATEMALA CITY – Coffee producers say they are getting hammered by global warming, with higher temperatures forcing growers to move to prized higher ground, putting the cash crop at risk.
“There is already evidence of important changes” said Nestor Osorio, head of the International Coffee Organization (ICO), which represents 77 countries that export or import the beans.
“In the last 25 years the temperature has risen half a degree in coffee producing countries, five times more than in the 25 years before,” he said.
Sipped by hundreds of millions of people worldwide, coffee is one of the globe’s most important commodities, and a major mainstay of exports for countries from Brazil to Indonesia.
But producers meeting in Guatemala this week are in a state of panic over the impact of warming on their livelihoods. READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/02/27-0
Profiting from the Inside? Friedmanism at the Fed, February 26, 2010 by The Nation by Greg Kaufmann.
Ongoing Congressional investigations into the AIG bailout have put the incestuous and murky relationship between the Federal Reserve and Wall Street in the spotlight–and put Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Fed chair Ben Bernanke in the hot seat. Calls for Geithner’s resignation regularly reverberate inside the Capitol, and Bernanke’s recent reappointment was opposed by thirty senators, including Republican John McCain and independent Bernie Sanders. Critics from both sides of the aisle fault Geithner and Bernanke for mismanagement, unnecessary secrecy and undermining Congressional oversight. But neither of them has been the target of questions about gaming the system for personal financial gain.
That distinction belongs to Stephen Friedman, the former chairman of the board of the New York Federal Reserve Bank and a member of the board of directors of Goldman Sachs. Through those two posts, Friedman may have had access to privileged information about the extent of Goldman’s exposure to AIG and the opportunity to profit from the Fed’s bailout of the beleaguered insurance giant. While he was serving on both boards, Friedman purchased 52,600 shares of Goldman stock, more than doubling the number of shares he owned. These purchases have since risen millions of dollars in value–and raised allegations of insider trading. READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/02/26-4
US Congress Extends Patriot Act without Privacy Improvements, February 26, 2010 by Agence France-Presse
WASHINGTON – US lawmakers voted to extend key parts of the Patriot Act law enacted after the September 11th attacks without adding privacy safeguards sought by the White House’s Democratic allies.
US lawmakers voted Thursday to extend key parts of the Patriot Act law enacted after the September 11th attacks without adding privacy safeguards sought by the White House’s Democratic allies. (AFP/Getty)
The US House of Representatives, following the Senate, voted 315-97 to renew the counter-terrorism tools, sending the legislation to President Barack Obama to sign into law.
Lawmakers extended authorities’ power to use roving wiretaps to track an individual on several telephones; to track a non-US national suspected of being a “lone-wolf” terrorist not tied to an extremist group; and to seize personal records seen as critical to an investigation.
While court approval is required for the wiretaps and the seizures, Democrats and civil liberties groups had hoped to beef up privacy and oversight safeguards, but lacked the votes to overcome Republican opposition. READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/02/26
The Power of Local, February 26, 2010 by YES! Magazine by Jeff Milchen
Local businesses are educating communities, changing economic policies, and even outperforming chain competitors.
The 2009 holiday season was a tough one for retail businesses. In November, their sales increased just 1.8 percent over low 2008 numbers-failing to keep pace with inflation. December was worse, with sales actually falling three tenths of a percent from 2008.
But in more than a hundred communities across North America, independent community-based businesses had a more positive story to tell. A nationwide survey of more than 1,800 independent businesses by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) found them outperforming chain competitors. Most notably, the survey found independent retailers in communities with active “Buy Independent” or “Buy Local” campaigns reported an increase in holiday sales three times stronger (up three percent) than those in cities without such campaigns (up one percent).
Given the current inflation rate of 2.7 percent, the benefit of such campaigns could mean the difference between success and failure for many store owners. “Amid the worst downturn in more than 60 years, independent businesses are succeeding by emphasizing their community roots and local ownership,” says Stacy Mitchell, who executed the survey. READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/02/26-8