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Obama's Organizing for Action: A Boost for Progressives

By Randy Shaw
Beyond Chron
President Obama's second inaugural address struck a populist tone, but the real news for progressives came last Friday when it was announced that Obama's campaign organization would continue under a new name, Organizing for Action.

Media Bits and Bytes - Free Access Edition

Published by Portside
Father of Media Reform Turns 100; Aaron Schwartz case; New York Times dismantles environment desk; Google Wires NYC neighborhood - for free; free Internet in Tel Aviv; North Carolina bill bans community-owned cable networks; Is Broadband Internet Access a Public Utility?; Smartphone now has remote control of your life; Smartphone Users Demand More Data than Tablets; CNET Scandal - Can They be Trusted in the Future; The Atlantic's Scientology Problem; and more...

Fiscal Footnote: Senate Gift to Drug Maker

By ERIC LIPTON and KEVIN SACK
The New York Times
Just two weeks after pleading guilty in a major federal fraud case, Amgen, the world's largest biotechnology firm, scored a largely unnoticed coup on Capitol Hill: Lawmakers inserted a paragraph into the "fiscal cliff" bill that did not mention the company by name but strongly favored one of its drugs.

Barack Obama Charts an Arc of History That Bends Toward Justice

John Nichols
The Nation
Barack Obama, the president who publicly swore his second oath of office on the Bibles of Abraham Lincoln and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., used his inaugural address to chart an arc of history from the liberation movements of the sixteenth president’s time through the civil rights movements of a century later to the day on which hundreds of thousands of Americans packed the National Mall to cheer for the promise of an emboldened presidency.

RIP Leo Robinson, Soul of the Longshore

David Bacon
In These Times
Leo Robinson was a leader of the longshore union in San Francisco. He died this week. For many of us, he was an example of what being an internationalist and a working-class activist was all about.

How Did the Gates of Hell Open in Vietnam?

Jonathan Schell
Nation of Change
In Kill Anything that Moves, Nick Turse has for the first time put together a comprehensive picture, written with mastery and dignity, of what American forces actually were doing in Vietnam. The findings disclose an almost unspeakable truth. Turse discovers that episodes of devastation, murder, massacre, rape, and torture once considered isolated atrocities were in fact the norm,...

A Young Publisher Takes Marx Into the Mainstream

Jennifer Schuessler
The New York Times
Bashkar Sunkara earns praise as the founding editor of the online magazine, Jacobin. Started in September 2010, and buoyed by the Occupy movement, the magazine brings left and Marxist reporting in a new way to a new generation.

RIP Leo Robinson, Soul of the Longshore

David Bacon
In These Times
Leo Robinson was a leader of the longshore union in San Francisco. He died this week. For many of us, he was an example of what being an internationalist and a working-class activist was all about.

Introducing Portside 2.0

The new Portside: better communication, a more usable web site, hyperlinked text, photos, brighter pages, better typography and formatting, integration with Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

French Unions Back Revisions of Labor Law

Liz Alderman
The New York Times
PARIS — French labor unions and business leaders struck a deal to overhaul labor laws. The changes include more flexibility for employers to reduce hours to prevent lay offs in times of "economic distress." Employers will pay a higher tax for using temporary labor. In exchange for flexibility, unions secured improvements to unemployment benefits and health insurance, as well as seats on the board of large companies.

Leprosy Reprograms Body's Cells

Gisela Telis
Science NOW
A new study in mice suggests that Leprosy employs a bit of biological trickery to do its damage: It reprograms certain nerve cells to become like stem cells and uses them to infiltrate the body's muscle and nervous systems.

What Obama’s Gun Plan Means For Mental Health Care

Seth Freed Wessler
ColorLines
The consequences for the mentally ill of the gun control push are not yet fully clear, as the full content of the president’s executive actions have yet to be released. And advocates will watch closely as congressional deliberations unfold over the vast parts of gun control that the president can’t do alone. But for now, it appears things are moving forward with some distance between proactive plans to improve mental health care and those to prevent mass murder.

How to Cut Megabanks Down to Size

Gretchen Morgenson
New York Times
Huge banks must be restructured and their access to the safety net scaled back, Mr. Fisher said, because neither regulators nor market participants have proved effective in monitoring risks at these institutions.

U.S. Health Worse Than Nearly All Other Industrialised Countries

Carey L. Biron
IPS-Inter Press Service
U.S. citizens suffer from poorer health than nearly all other industrialised countries, according to the first comprehensive government analysis on the subject, released Wednesday. Of 17 high-income countries looked at by a committee of experts sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, the United States is at or near the bottom in at least nine indicators.

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