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Guest Commentary

Guest Commentary (4472)

by Sabrina Shankman and Olga Pierce of ProPublica

Using results from a questionnaire we did with American Public Media's Public Insight Network , we're looking at how the proposed health care reforms will actually affect people facing common health care coverage situations. This is the second in a series (Part 1).

Fairfield Lighting and Design, Office Manager Barbara D'Agostino

Location: Fairfield, Conn. Employees: 12 (10 receiving health insurance) Sales: $2 million annually Payroll: $384,000 annually

Fairfield Lighting and Design co-owner Sandy Zemola provides insurance for 10 out of 12 employees, but the economic downturn has made it difficult to pay those bills.

Their story:

Fairfield Lighting and Design has been in business since 1972, but it is struggling to cope with tough economic times. It has 12 employees, whose average wage is about $20 an hour. Because of the recession, opportunities to work overtime have dwindled, and the regular hours of some employees have been cut.

The recession has also made it difficult to keep paying their health care costs: Fairfield offers health insurance to 10 of its employees, at a company cost of $550 per employee each month.

The costs to each employee are relatively low. They pay only 20 percent of the premium, or $110 per month. Their co-payments are $15 to see a doctor or $500 for a hospital, and medications cost them $15, $25, or $50, depending on the type of drug.

by Bill Berkowitz

The Rev. Sun Myung Moon-owned The Washington Times fired three top executives on Monday, November 7, "amid reports that the paper's top editor might also be leaving," The New York Times reported. However, despite billion dollar losses, a series of editorial shakeups over the past few years, the tough economic climate for newspapers in general, and ownership by the controversial Moon, it doesn't appear that the paper will cease operations anytime soon.

The dismissed included Thomas P. McDevitt, the president and publisher who was a former pastor at Washington's Unification Church, Keith Cooperrider, the chief financial officer, and Dong Moon Joo, the chairman. Jonathan Slevin, a former vice president of the paper, was named acting president and publisher, and the paper retained the business consulting firm, Tatum, according to the NYT.

(In October, The Washington Times' Julia Duin reported that Moon had "turned over day-to-day control of the church and financial empire he founded to a daughter and three sons." Hyun Jin "Preston" Moon, 40, is chairman of News World Communications, the parent company of The Washington Times, United Press International, and other media properties. In addition, he leads The Washington Times Foundation.)

The newspaper also reported that the paper's executive editor, John Solomon, who came over from The Washington Post in early 2008, is weighing whether to step down.

by Richard A. Stitt
The charge by all too many Republicans that Barack Obama is a Muslim justifies the hatred that spews from their racist, right-wing, paranoid mob of teabaggers and birthers. It feeds into the vitriol that keeps the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq going on precisely because they perceive these wars to be religious battles between the righteous, the Republicans, and those who disagree with them, the infidels.
We heard this proclamation early in the Iraq War when General William Boykin, dressed in full uniform, stood behind a church lectern and stated, "George Bush was not elected by a majority of the voters in the United States….he was appointed by God." In denouncing Islam, Boykin added, "My God is bigger than his God. I knew my God was a real God, and his was an idol."
Thus, their mission was stenciled in place for the justified torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. They, the Islamic people, were inferior people whose god was an idol. Therefore, the God-appointed G. W. Bush became the Crusader-In-Chief with unlimited, divinely endowed authority to kill whomever he so desired. And kill he did.

by Michael Winship

ATHENS, GREECE - Last Sunday, we visited the ruins of ancient Delphi, two hours or so from here in the Greek capital, an extraordinary site at the base of Mount Parnassus overlooking the Pleistos Valley, almost half a mile below. You could see the acres of olive trees there. The Ionian Sea shimmered on the horizon.

Legend has it that Zeus released two eagles from the opposite ends of the earth. They met at Delphi, determining that it was the center, the so-called navel of the world.

Delphi and its temples were where the famous Oracle lived, uttering its often ambiguous and mysterious predictions through a priestess who spoke on its behalf -- but, our guide claimed, only after inhaling sulfuric vapors from a hole in the earth and chewing laurel leaves to get into the proper psychotropic mood.

During the Persian Wars, the guide said, Athenians asked the Oracle how to protect themselves from being attacked by the enemy. The Oracle replied, "A wall of wood alone shall be uncaptured." Many of the Athenians figured that meant they should seek protection behind a formidable wooden barricade. Makes sense, but the Persians seized the city anyway. Such is the price of being logical -- in my experience, it's always a mistake to take a priestess imbibing laurel leaves and sulfur too literally.

Monday, 09 November 2009 01:06

Bill Berkowitz: The Return of Ted Haggard

by Bill Berkowitz

After a much publicized HBO documentary, a feature story in People magazine, an appearance on Oprah, an aborted church-supervised restoration program and travels around the country, Ted Haggard has decided its time to convene a prayer group in the living room of his house.

Haggard, the former head of the National Association of Evangelicals and founder and pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, who resigned those posts after revelations of his sex and drugs scandal came to light three years ago, recently sent out a tweet announcing the upcoming: "For those of you who love the Word and payer (sic), Gayle and i are having a prayer meeting at our place next Thursday [November 12] at 7:00. You are welcome!"

by Jacqueline Marcus

We don't have to be economists to know that when most of the nation's treasury is going to support an indefensible and indefinable war for the last nine years, something's going to give. The dam broke. We're sinking. Today's The New York Times reports that unemployment rose to 17.5%, but not a word about the largest war budget in the history of this nation and how it's contributing to economic despair and unemployment. Not a word. Worse still: very little on how the war is driving soldiers off the deep end: suicide, violence. The media focus has been on the general theme of America and Violence. Meanwhile, no one wants to point to the Pentagon Elephant in the room: This unending occupation that, of course, (wink-wink) has nothing to do with oil or drug investments in Iraq's oil and Afghanistan's poppy fields, is unleashing a horrific domino effect on the enlisted soldiers and on the economy. Few are growing super rich while millions of Americans are falling in the abyss of a Great Depression.

The ruthless robbery of the U.S. treasury for the Few at the expense of the Many is beyond unconscionable. While these robbers of our treasury are having lavish parties on private islands, millions of children in this country are starving. There are no words to describe the shocking arrogance on the part of the war profiteering and Wall St. thieves who didn't honestly earn this vast amount of billions and billions of dollars: they out-and-out stole it from the public treasury, compliments of the Bush and Obama Administrations.

Anna Quindlen argues in her Newsweek article, "Did the President Keep His Promises?" that we should be skeptical about the way government works. If so, our expectations for change would not be so high. In other words, it's not Obama's fault that he hasn't changed the business-as-usual operations in D.C., nor should he be blamed for helping the super rich much more than the average, working American. Ah! It's the SYSTEM! The Process!

by Dee Evans

I have always thought that there is a reason why it's easier to stand on the sidelines and cheer (or boo) than actually getting into the game.

It's interesting that Huffington, Schultz, and Maher (as well as Limbaugh, Beck, and Hannity) and the like never want to put their money where their mouths are and actually run for an office...they just want to stand back and criticize those who do. These are some of the same people who sat around for 8 years while Bush and Cheney systematically tore this country apart and only woke up around year 6 to ask what was going on. Now they want to hound President Obama from Day 1 to try to make up for being MIA for the past decade.

Newsflash: If you wanted a shoot-first, ask questions later administration, then you should have voted for McCain/Palin. They were raring to go. Most of us voted for Barack Obama because of his promise to make thoughtful decisions and to have a steady hand in leading. Now the ADD crowd that claimed to have deplored so-called 'cowboy diplomacy' seems to want Obama to be a bull in a china shop.

Well, I've got news for you. We didn't vote to put a bull in a china shop, we voted to put a sane man in a nut house...and he is trying to fix it if only we will let him.  

by Susan J. Demas

Some people might be shocked about the carnage in the NY-23, where moderate Republican Dede Scozzafava was just forced out of the way to make room for uber-conservative Doug Hoffman, puppet of the anti-tax group Club for Growth.

I'm not one of them, because I covered the dress rehearsal back in 2006 in the MI-7. This was the start of the Republican civil war, which few people recognized at the time. But with the subsequent federal purges of Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), Reps. Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) and Heather Wilson (R-NM), and now Scozzafava, it's clear that the Club for Growth-sponsored bloodletting won't be stopping anytime soon.

U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz (R-MI) was in his first term representing a rural southern Michigan district and was named one the top 10 most effective freshmen. The seat was hand-drawn as the second-most conservative in the state with a 57-percent GOP base.

Today, it is represented by U.S. Rep. Mark Schauer, a pro-choice Democrat who has voted repeatedly to raise taxes.

How did this happen?

by Sue Wilson

Today, a divided jury rendered a unanimous verdict against Entercom Sacramento in the case of Jennifer Strange, a mother of three who died as a result of radio station KDND's water drinking contest in January 2007. The jury of seven men and five women awarded Jennifer's family more than $16 million compensation.

For much of the past two months, I have been observing and live blogging the trial. There is much to process before I comment at length. But in brief:

KDND 107.9 "the End's" Morning Rave ruled the airwaves in Sacramento's morning drive. The on air personalities ruled the radio station, too, the proverbial inmates running the asylum. And they clearly knew a person could die from drinking too much water: just a month before the contest, the Morning Rave spent an entire show making fun of a local college kid who had died from water intoxication. They made fun of Matthew Carrington's death, and they knew someone could die from drinking too much water.

by Nikolas Kozloff

Fed up with the "glacial" pace of climate negotiations and the unwillingness of the Global North to address their concerns, Indians and environmentalists in South America have come up with a shrewd new way of drawing the world's attention. Meeting recently in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba, civil society groups set up an international tribunal on climate justice and actually brought legal cases against the principal countries and companies responsible for global warming.

Of particular concern to indigenous peoples are vanishing Andean glaciers. During a meeting of leftist Latin American leaders allied to the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (known by its Spanish acronym ALBA, an agreement designed to facilitate trade and reciprocity amongst like minded progressive regimes), a symbolic group of eight progressive jurists took up the issue of Illimani, a glacier located in the Bolivian Andes. Elderly Aymara Indians inhabiting the area of Illimani can still remember a time when the snow capped hills extended close to their native village of Khapi. In the past few years, however, the snowline has risen 1,500 feet up the mountain.

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