Blogs

Punk Planet Magazine Dead in the Water

| Thu Jul. 5, 2007 5:12 PM EDT

The gutting of independent publishing and news media doesn't show signs of letting up.

Punk Planet in June announced that after 13 years and 80 issues, its final magazine issue was being sent out.

Staff blamed the internet, consumerism, bad distribution deals, and a stagnating independent music business for the demise of their publication.

The Chicago-based Punk Planet magazine and its online component punkplanet.com covers punk music, punk subculture, visual arts, and progressive issues such as media criticism, feminism, and labor issues through interviews, essays and album reviews.

Independents' Day Media, a small community-supported journalism project, has been publishing Punk Planet, as well as their own line of books and a skateboarding magazine called Bail.

The group will continue to publish fiction and nonfiction books on poster art, punk "rabble-rousers," inner-city organizing, and personal tragedy online and its website will continue to function as a social networking location for "independently minded folks."

Over here at Mother Jones, we're paying close attention to the struggles facing news media and indie publishing. For more info, see here, here, here, and here.

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Netroots Sends ActBlue Love to John Edwards

| Thu Jul. 5, 2007 2:36 PM EDT

Our package on Politics 2.0 is all about how the internet will decentralize politics and make it more accessible to the common man. That includes fundraising, mostly in the form of the website ActBlue.

To learn more about the site, check out the link. But suffice it to say, the netroots and online activists use ActBlue to funnel money to favorite candidates, and have sent almost $25 million over ActBlue's wires (average donation: $60). So who are the candidates receiving the lion's share of that cash?

Turns out, it's John Edwards. Just John Edwards. And it's not even close.

For number of lifetime donations through ActBlue, Edwards leads with 41,236. The next highest are James Webb with 16,363 and Ned Lamont with 12,420. Edwards also leads in terms of lifetime money raised, with $3,437,887. Webb is again second with just $894,042.

Obama and Clinton aren't in the top ten in either category. Hmmm... a strong clue on who the internet supports for president.

'08 Campaign's Next Big Issue: Hedge Fund Taxes

| Thu Jul. 5, 2007 2:12 PM EDT

There's an upcoming issue that will test the principles of the Democratic presidential candidates. From Politico:

On the merits, this specific proposal -- which is part of a larger, ongoing re-examination by congressional tax writers of the way Wall Street is treated -- should not be a close call for a progressive leader courting union leaders and activists in Iowa and New Hampshire. It would correct an outrageous loophole that enables hedge fund and private equity managers to have their eye-popping profits (known as "carried interest") taxed as capital gains instead of income.
The net effect of this is that billionaires are getting taxed for their work at a lower rate -- 15 percent, instead of the top income bracket of 35 percent -- than the men and women who clean their offices, drive their cars and tend their gardens.
But when billions of dollars are at stake, the calculus is rarely that simple. Particularly when the billions are being taken away from a group of donors the Democratic Party is literally banking on for a competitive edge in the all-important financial arms race with the business-backed Republicans...

Favoring a fairer tax on hedge fund managers would very directly hurt any Dem's pocketbook: three-quarters of the $1.1 million that hedge fund managers contributed in a single quarter went to Democratic candidates. It's safe to say that anyone who supports doubling the taxes of these folks will be cut off from the money trough.

Politico frames this as an issue most important for Edwards, because he has focused most on bridging the gap between the rich and the poor in America, and because he needs campaign money the most dearly of the top three Democratic candidates.

I agree that it'll be interesting to see what Edwards does on the issue -- Politico recommends that he make it a central part of his campaign, because the loss of campaign cash will more than be made up for by the positive press and character points -- but I'm more interested in seeing what Hillary Clinton does. She's the most business-oriented of the Democratic candidates, and cares most about tending to her donors. Will she take the populist route, or will she disappoint yet again?

Iraq Creating New Terrorists, and Americans Know It

| Thu Jul. 5, 2007 2:02 PM EDT

According to a new poll, 67 percent of Americans believe that the Iraq War is creating new terrorists. And they're absolutely right. Here's the proof.

Weird Weather Watch: Floods and Draughts

| Wed Jul. 4, 2007 3:40 PM EDT

I'm late on this one, but you may have read elsewhere that Central Texas was deluged with day after day of rain in late June, causing a dozen deaths. Is this weather weird? Yes indeed. As a former Texan, I can tell you that Texas summers (everywhere but East Texas, where weather is more like Louisiana's) are dry as a bone. There is an occasional thunderstorm to cool things down, but all too briefly and infrequently. Not so this summer. The days of continuous rainfall reached a 70-year high, and the weather was sometimes so bad that helicopters rescuing people from rooftops were grounded.

Now move over a bit to the east. Things in the Cotton Belt are dry as a bone. Farmers in this traditional agricultural hotbed are facing the worst draught in 100 years, and three quarters of their crop is gone to proverbial seed.

It seems difficult to get people to respond to the threat of global warming because in many places the warm (or dry) weather is a welcome change. But this is what global warming really looks like: floods and draughts right next door to one another, with nobody benefiting.

Political "Outsider" Fred Thompson Happy About Libby News

| Wed Jul. 4, 2007 11:06 AM EDT

When George W. Bush commuted Scooter Libby's sentence, one of the Republicans to speak up on behalf of the action was possible presidential candidate Fred Thompson, who said, "I am very happy for Scooter Libby. I know that this is a great relief to him, his wife, and children. While for a long time I have urged a pardon for Scooter, I respect the President's decision. This will allow a good American, who has done a lot for his country, to resume his life."

You bet he was happy. According to a June 25 article in the Washington Post, Thompson helped run the Scooter Libby Defense Fund Trust, which raised more than $5 million. Yet, as Media Matters for America points out, Thompson's connection to the Libby defense fund was totally ignored by NBC's Today, ABC's Good Morning America, and ABC's Nightline. A story on the Fox News website does mention his connection to the fund.

The Washington Post article describes Thompson's anything-but-outsider position in Washington. He has lobbied for S&L deregulation, liability limits for asbestos lawsuits and nuclear energy, and has increased his income significantly through lobbying.

The news media has also continued to ignore Thompson's recent shutting down of his PAC, an act that became necessary when it was discovered that it had raised only $66,700 for candidates, but had paid Thompson's son $178,000 in consulting fees.

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Construction Of Oil Platforms Scaring Whales From Feeding Grounds

| Tue Jul. 3, 2007 7:59 PM EDT

Extremely high noise levels at an oil and gas construction site off the east coast of Russia is frightening critically endangered whales out of their summer feeding grounds, reports New Scientist. Monitors for WWF (World Wildlife Fund) and Sakhalin Environment Watch report that western gray whales were nowhere to be seen over the weekend of 30 June to 1 July, when noise levels increased dramatically. Normally the monitors see the whales daily. Sakhalin Energy, a company partially owned by oil giant Shell, is in the final stages of installing two platforms 7.5 miles offshore &mdash part of the world's largest oil and gas extraction project. The company denies exceeding noise limits. Fewer than 100 western grey whales are left on Earth. They congregate around Sakhalin to feed. . . Just another way the carbon footprint squashes the life out of the planet. JULIA WHITTY

US Halts Bioweapons Research At Texas A&M After Safety Screw-Ups

| Tue Jul. 3, 2007 6:33 PM EDT

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has halted infectious diseases research at Texas A&M University over safety concerns. This is the first ban on bioweapons work across an entire institution, reports Nature. The indefinite suspension follows two reports from the Sunshine Project, a watchdog group from Austin, alleging that Texas A&M failed to report researchers' exposure to infectious agents. The first exposure occurred in February 2006 when a student contracted Brucella, a bacterium carried by dairy animals. The student was treated with antibiotics. The second occurred in April 2006 when three workers showed signs of exposure to Coxiella burnetii, a bacterium in livestock that causes Q fever in humans. None fell ill. Although Coxiella and Brucella are considered bioweapons, and all exposures require immediate reporting, neither incident was reported to the CDC until April 2007. Texas A&M faces fines of up to $750,000, and a long-term ban on funding for similar research. JULIA WHITTY

Tony Snow Probably Wishes He Could Have That One Back

| Tue Jul. 3, 2007 2:30 PM EDT

Tony Snow was just asked at a press conference if, in light of the apparent resolution of the Libby case and the Plame affair, the American people are owed an apology from the White House. Snow's (frustrated and incredibly dismissive) response: "In Washington, things get leaked all the time."

See the video at AMERICAblog.

So after years of claiming that this was a serious issue and that they would fire anyone who leaked a covert agent's name or broke a law, the Bush Administration is now writing the whole thing off as business as usual. And the funny thing is that after six and a half years of these guys, it is.

Do you think Snow regrets taking that job? Before he got there, even though he worked for FOX News, he wasn't a living embodiment of anyone's lack of respect for the American people and the rule of law. Now he absolutely is.