By Mark Feeney and Bryan Marquard, Boston Globe Staff
Howard Zinn, the Boston University historian and political activist who was an early opponent of US involvement in Vietnam and whose books, such as “A People’s History of the United States,” inspired young and old to rethink the way textbooks present the American experience, died today in Santa Monica, Calif, where he was traveling. He was 87.
His daughter, Myla Kabat-Zinn of Lexington, said he suffered a heart attack.
“He’s made an amazing contribution to American intellectual and moral culture,” Noam Chomsky, the left-wing activist and MIT professor, said tonight. “He’s changed the conscience of America in a highly constructive way. I really can’t think of anyone I can compare him to in this respect.”
How loud do the alarms have to get? There is an economic emergency in the country with millions upon millions of Americans riddled with fear and anxiety as they struggle with long-term joblessness, home foreclosures, personal bankruptcies and dwindling opportunities for themselves and their children.
The door is being slammed on the American dream and the politicians, including the president and his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill, seem not just helpless to deal with the crisis, but completely out of touch with the hardships that have fallen on so many.
Key Points About the Citizen’s United v. FEC Decision
The Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC has opened the floodgates to corporate money in federal campaigns in ways we haven’t seen for nearly a century. While for decades corporations have been able to set up special accounts, called PACs, to accept contributions and spend them on political activities, they have not been allowed to spend money from their vast corporate treasuries in connection with federal elections. Citizens United v. FEC has changed all that.
In this case, the Court took a narrow campaign finance issue and decided a much broader one—whether a century of laws protecting against corruption in government, laws which have been repeatedly upheld as constitutional, should suddenly be overturned. While the core of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), often known as McCain-Feingold, isn’t affected by this decision, the decision does eviscerate longstanding campaign finance law.
Below are some key points about the decision, and how the Court’s move to overrule Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1991) and portions of McConnell v. FEC (2003) will undermine our democratic process.
Jan 21, 2010 – Dr. Raniah Khairy, left, of Tri-State OB/GYN in Beaver goes through supplies with office manager Kelly LeFebvre. Khairy will take the supplies with her when she leaves for Haiti Sunday as part of a medical relief mission with other Heritage Valley personnel.
Some of the same local organizers of a relief mission to rescue orphans from Haiti are organizing a second trip scheduled for departure on Sunday to deliver medical personnel and supplies to the earthquake ravaged nation.
Two Dozen States’ Unemployment Funds in the Red, Nine More Within Six Months
by Olga Pierce, ProPublica – January 20, 2010 12:42 am EST
The record 20 million Americans who collected unemployment insurance benefits last year landed on a safety net that was already deeply frayed.
New Interactive: ProPublica Predicts if Your State’s Unemployment Insurance Fund Is About to Hit the Skids
A historical compromise has left responsibility for unemployment benefits largely in the hands of states, and they have fulfilled this charge with varying degrees of effectiveness.
In a series last summer with public radio’s Marketplace, we reported that only a handful of states had built up reserves sufficient to weather the Great Recession  – and forecast a spate of borrowing by states where reserves ran out.
WASHINGTON — Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) on Wednesday said the Massachusetts election was a “wake up call” for Democrats and that his party had better change course or it could suffer devastating losses come November.
“People elected Democrats in 2008 to change the direction,” he told Raw Story in a nearly hour-long interview.
“And the same entrenched interests that George Bush could not shake, this current White House is having great difficulty in shaking. One could suggest they might be more entrenched than ever.
“Kucinich staunchly defended liberalism but alleged that Democrats are not behaving like liberals.
Machinists Remain Opposed to Health Care Excise Tax
Washington, D.C., January 14, 2010
Despite the so-called agreement announced today by various labor organizations, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) reiterated its
opposition to any health care reform legislation that is funded by taxing the value of workers’ existing health care benefits.
“The IAM opposes the excise tax, period. We believe it is unfair to our current members and particularly unfair to those members we hope to organize in the future,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger.
I’m writing from Worcester. It is the second largest city in New England, the city where the American Revolution began in Sept. 1774, and perhaps the largest city in North America that no one has ever heard of! I have been going door to door in my immediate neighborhood canvassing for Democrat Martha Coakley.
After campaigning for PDA endorsed Mike Capuano in the primaries I dropped back to get my life back together, and then left town and went out of contact for a week. When I returned I found three emails from one progressive democratic activist and one from MoveOn.org about the campaign – when the Internet should have been abuzz with traffic about it.
I am told that she made no outreach to the Capuano and Khazei campaigns to include them and their supporters, who have responded by sitting on their hands. For the last week however everyone has been in panic mode.
Rustbelt Radio, Pittsburgh’s local independent media outlet, is featuring Ed Grystar and Dr. Mary Pat Donegan on the Monday January 18th show.
The 20-minute feature covers how a single payer system would function, a look at the current healthcare delivery system, and what the bill in Congress will mean for Pennsylvania residents. The show airs Monday, January 18th on WRCT 88.3 FM from 6pm-7pm.
Rustbelt Radio is broadcast live from WRCT studios every other Monday at 6 PM on 88.3 FM in Pittsburgh, and the program airs again on WRCT every Tuesday morning at 9AM after Democracy NOW!
We’re also available on the internet, both on WRCT’s live webstream at wrct.org and for download, stream or podcast from our website at radio.indypgh.org.
PA 4th C.D. Chapter, Progressive Democrats of America
Democrat Martha Coakley may win the Massachusetts special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by the death of Ted Kennedy. But the massive mobilization of Democratic Party resources across the nation, including the President, to save a Democratic seat from a Republican upset in a state with a 3:1 Democratic registration edge is a sign of a serious problem.
President Obama said in Massachusetts today that he understands that people are upset. He claimed that it wasn’t his fault but the fault of eight years of Bush that he’s had only one year to rectify. “Understand what’s at stake here, Massachusetts,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s whether we’re going forwards or backwards.”