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The Nation

September 26, 2007
Max Fraser

The UAW's national strike against General Motors came to a quick end at 4 a.m. today, with the announcement that a tentative agreement had been reached. Though most details of the agreement are not yet available, it does include a provision for the creation of a VEBA health care trust. UAW President Ron Gettelfinger has assured his membership and the New York Times that the deal "will absolutely protect their jobs and keep jobs from being reduced." But he has not provided specific information on the job security guarantees the union was seeking when it walked out Monday morning.

According to a report in the Detroit Free Press, the deal also includes an attrition program to clear out current workers whose positions will be re-classified as "non-core" and their wages reduced, while implementing a two-tier wage scale and benefits packages for new hires.

If this is the case, and pending any further details that emerge on the agreement, the UAW leadership would appear to have acquiesced on GM's two most significant demands--the VEBA trust and the two-tier wage plan--and will now have to see if it can sell its membership on a disappointing contract that is sure to enflame dissidents within the union who have already been critical of the way Gettelfinger has handled negotiations.

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September 26, 2007
David Corn

Corruption in the Iraqi government--it's classified information. So says the State Department.

In preparation for a September 27 hearing on corrupti...

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September 25, 2007
Peter Rothberg
Peter Rothberg

Aurora, Illinois has become ground zero in the fight for women's access to reproductive health care.

Last Thursday a federal judge denied Planned Parenthood's request for an injunction that would have allowed its new clinic in Aurora to open as scheduled. The city of Aurora has refused to allow the new facility to begin operating until it completes an investigation into how the clinic obtained building permits. The refusal came after hundreds of anti-abortion activists rallied outside the facility and crowded into city hall meetings to oppose the clinic.

Ann Friedman offers the most succinct and accurate summary of events I've found in an excellent piece at the American Prospect Online:

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September 25, 2007
The Nation

On Wednesday the conservative Heritage Foundation took a short break from opposing the state children's health insurance program to ponder the tired conservative complaint that liberals control Hollywood. Steve Finefrock, founder of an outfit called the Hollywood Conservative Forum, and a screenwriter whose credits include Department of Homeland Security films, dramatized this right-wing tragedy to about a dozen concerned conservatives.

"All of life is a three-act structure," Finefrock informed them. In that spirit, his speech's first act brought back the age-old lament that "Hollywood is in the grip of PC liberals."

"If you're a conservative [in the movie business]," Finefrock said. "they block your career." He didn't say who "they" are. Finefrock estimated that more than one-third of Hollywood is conservative but like Communists in the McCarthy era they are afraid to speak out. Radical-turned-Republican David Horowitz has made a lucrative career out of this sort of moaning.

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September 25, 2007
Karen Houppert

When it comes to this whole scandal regarding graft in US military contracts, I like to muse over the strange mea culpa put forward by military brass who admitted to The New York Times yesterday that officers in Kuwait may have been a little under-trained.

That's why they accepted bribes when they shouldn't have. They should have had more contracting experience and training, military officials explained, then they would have learned that skimming approximately $6 billion off the top of awards was the wrong thing to do. (Apparently, this is not covered in Contracting 101.) Further, brass says, they should have annual ethics training to...what? Remind them that 365 days may have passed, but that stealing is still wrong?

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September 25, 2007
Laura Flanders
Laura Flanders

"Jena is America," says Alan Bean, speaking of the Louisiana town where six black students are looking at decades in jail for a schoolyard brawl while white kids are facing nothing for hanging up nooses. Jena is America in the sense that the unequal justice there is not unique. There are "Jena Sixes" behind bars in every state. But it isn't America in the sense that the country as a whole has had no trouble at all ignoring Jena.

Bean is a Baptist minister from Texas who formed Friends of Justice in response to the now infamous Tulia drug sting of 1999 in which over half of Tulia's black males were convicted on the uncorroborated word of a corrupt and racist undercover cop. He was instrumental in getting that story out. In January he got busy in Jena. By that time, a young white man had already been beaten up and six young black students had been indicted, originally on attempted murder charges. One of the six, Mychal Bell, was legally still a juvenile when he was convicted of attempted second-degree murder with a deadly shoe. While five were released on bail, Bell remains in jail.

"If the media wasn't watching what was going on then every last one of those kids would be in jail," one of the Jena mothers, Tina Jones, told the Nation's Gary Younge.

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September 25, 2007
Ari Berman
Ari Berman

Listen up. Can you hear the drums beating for a third war?

The neocons are in a bubbling rage over Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to Columbia University. The pro-surge propagandists at Freedom Watch labeled the Iranian leader a "terrorist" in--of all places--a New York Times ad. Neocon godfather, Giuliani advisor and "World War IV" author Norman Podharetz went to the White House recently to urge President Bush to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities.

And now Senators Jon Kyl and Joe Lieberman, who's already advocated attacking the country, are introducing a sense of the Senate resolution, possibly up for a vote today, that accuses Iran of fighting "a proxy war against the Iraqi state and coalition forces in Iraq." [SEE UPDATE AT END]

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September 23, 2007
Ari Berman
Ari Berman

Late last month, the US Air Force transported a dozen cruise missiles from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. The cargo, unbeknownst to the crew, included six nuclear warheads, with the power to destory 60 Hiroshimas. As they were moved across the country, the nukes went undetected for 36 hours. In an explosive front page story today, the Washington Post asks the question: "How Could It Have Happened?"

"It was the first known flight by a nuclear-armed bomber over US airspace, without special high-level authorization, in nearly 40 years," Post reporters Walter Pincus and Joby Warrick write. A high-ranking former Air Force official called it "one of the biggest mistakes in [Air Force] history."

The B-52 plane carrying the nukes sat on the tarmac in North Dakota for 15 hours with only minimal security protection. It was not authorized to transport such weapons. The episode, the Post writes, "may not have been a fluke but a symptom of deeper problems in the handling of nuclear weapons now that Cold War anxieties have abated." The military's post-Cold War nuclear safeguard system is described as "utterly debased."

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September 23, 2007
Katrina vanden Heuvel

To bomb or not to bomb Iran, that's the question the Bush Administration appears to be debating these days, once again revealing the extraordinary disconnect between the White House and the American people. With a catastrophic occupation of Iraq and polls showing the American public so skeptical about the use of military force that only eight percent support military action against Iran, there is nevertheless a clear and present danger that Cheney and the neocons will again prevail and lead this Administration into another disastrous military misadventure.

The parallels between now and the run-up to the Iraq War are troubling. Nobel Peace Prize-winner Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who warned the Bush administration in 2003 about the lack of a nuclear program in Iraq and was subsequently attacked for his position by the Bush machine, the neocons and by many in the mainstream media, has now struck a deal with Iran to answer questions about its nuclear program within a defined timeline and improve access for inspectors. ElBaradei has called for a "double time-out" of all enrichment activities and new sanctions.

The result of ElBaradei's attempt to shed light on Iran's nuclear program? More attacks by the Bush administration. More outright hit jobs like this one from the Washington Post, or even the more subtle shading by the New York Times that ultimately portrays ElBaradei as a dictatorial loon. The result is, once again, an amplifying of the Administration's drumbeat calling for war.

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