SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Final election reports released Monday show Jerry Brown spent about $36.5 million in his successful bid to become governor, just a fraction of the $178.5 million spent by his Republican opponent, Meg Whitman, in what was the costliest campaign for statewide office in the nation’s history.
Brown was buoyed by millions of dollars in spending by union-backed groups. But Whitman, the former eBay CEO, tapped $144 million from her personal fortune and raised the rest from donors in the 2010 California governor’s race, including the primary and general election cycles.
This has been an unprecedented month in Al Jazeera history. Transformational events in the Middle East have brought enormous demand for news about the region.
As director general of the region’s largest TV network, I am proud to say Al Jazeera Network has been reporting from the region’s hot spots well before they “mattered” in January 2011. From Sudan to Tunisia to Palestine to Egypt, our trademark “journalism of depth” has been on display for all who are able and care to see. Our courageous teams were long ago embedded among the populations, capturing their stories, and helping our wider audience find context and meaning to events taking place at home and half a world away.
At this moment, scores of our reporters are in Egypt to cover the unrest, which requires changing locations often, dealing with arrest/confiscation of equipment, and reporting with stealth as secret services threaten to jail them. Our journalists there fully appreciate these challenges. For years Al Jazeera has reported on how the Egyptian population is affected by economic hardship and political stagnation. Other networks may choose to focus on headline-grabbing stories simplifying extremist threats, or framing violence against human beings as merely a factor in global oil prices. Other networks, of course, have provided excellent coverage in many parts of the world. All along, Al Jazeera continued apace, offering more pedestrian, if nuanced, perspectives, even when our home region is not the topic on everyone’s minds.
No one would accuse us of failing to forecast Egypt’s boiling anger, or Tunisia’s for the matter. That’s not because our journalists are superheroes — though, if you watch, you appreciate their determination to get the story right. I would posit a simpler explanation for their successes: our journalists exist in the right places and are given the space and resources to get the job done. Most importantly, they have editorial freedom.
Even still, there are many places where we cannot do our jobs. The governments of Algeria, Morocco, Iraq, and Bahrain will not let our journalists step foot on their soil.
We were also banned in Ben Ali’s Tunisia. We overcame this through the use of social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Images of Tunisia’s uprising went from local villages to our global audience of over one hundred million viewers. I am proud to say we were not only first, we were everywhere, deploying well ahead of the tipping point, arriving to cover the demonstrators when they gathered on the Ministry of Interior — a symbol of torture and repression in most Arab countries.
Before Egypt’s street protests exploded last week we made the historic presentation of the “Palestine Papers,” an unprecedented leak of more than 1,600 records of secret negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The Papers were produced by the newly formed Al Jazeera Transparency Unit, and became a world exclusive for both our Arabic and English broadcasts. It was also a top story of our colleagues and partners at the Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom.
Through investigative and on-location journalism, our ultimate goal is to bring greater awareness, painting a more complete picture of the Middle East’s realities. Armed with more information, we believe the people of this region and further afield can make better choices to guide their lives — hopefully ones that will lead to a more peaceful and democratic future, regardless of where they live.
As I write, Egyptian President Mubarak is closing our offices and arresting our journalists. The Egyptian government has removed Al Jazeera from NileSat, the state-owned satellite carrier, delaying our ability to be found on the dial in Egypt and North Africa. We have reappeared through other carriers, while instructions on how to find us go viral across the Internet.
Elsewhere, in the United States, Al Jazeera faces a different kind of blackout, based largely on misinformed views about our content and journalism. Some of the largest American cable and satellite providers have instituted corporate obstacles against Al Jazeera English. We are on the air and on the major cable system in the nation’s capital, and some of America’s leading policymakers in Washington, D.C., have told me that Al-Jazeera English is their channel of choice for understanding global issues. But we are not available in the majority of the 50 states for much of the general public.
We believe all Americans, not just those in senior governmental positions, could benefit from having the option to watch Al-Jazeera English — or not to watch us — on their television screens.
We know the demand is there. We have seen a 2000 percent increase in hits on our English-language website, and more than 60 percent of that traffic originates in the United States. We have seen Jeff Jarvis, in the pages of the Huffington Post, make the case publicly that many are making privately. While millions of Americans have turned to the Internet and to Internet-connected-devices, many more millions should have the freedom to flip to our channel on their remotes — especially when the Middle East is on everyone’s mind.
We will report the news however we can. If we have to use flip cams in Egypt, we will. If we have to use online platforms in the US, we will. Yet we will work hand in hand with partners everywhere — including American cable and satellite companies — to ensure that even more people have the option to watch Al Jazeera. Even those with access can choose to change the channel and watch something else — Fox News or Desperate Housewives. But the last month has shown us something that America can no longer ignore: millions of Americans want to watch our channel and better understand our region, and too many are deprived that opportunity.
Wadah Khanfar is the director general of Al Jazeera Network.
by L. Kathryn Jones (Lady Liberty)
Like many other states, the state of Ohio is in trouble. It’s lost thousands of jobs in manufacturing (in fact, the state is second only to Michigan in that regard), and that, in turn, has resulted in the loss of still more jobs, as much as 5% of its total work force. And what did its Democrat Governor Ted Strickland, do about it? He effectively promised higher taxes and the loss of still more jobs. (When Strickland suggested critics and supporters alike could learn how he’d handle the state’s problems in the future by looking at how he’d handle similar problems in the past, I’m almost sure he didn’t think anybody would actually look it up and make a list!)
Ohio’s budget isn’t in very good shape, either. While it’s not poised on the edge of bankruptcy (like Illinois), or plagued with providing massive amounts in entitlements to illegal aliens (like California, which apparently doesn’t grasp the notion that illegals aren’t entitled to anything), the deficit is estimated to be approaching $8 billion. What’s worse is the fact that there’s no end in sight to lower tax revenues and higher unemployment numbers thanks to the state’s already unfriendly business climate. In fact, Ohio’s new Republican Governor John Kasich was told just that when he visited auto executives in Detroit recently.
Given the very serious problems at hand, many of them exacerbated if not caused by its Democrat Governor, it’s no surprise that Ohioans went to the polls and elected a Republican with a solid record of fiscal responsibility and conservatism. As a Congressional Representative and House Budget Chairman, Kasich was instrumental in the crafting and passage of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. He’s also a repeat winner of the NFIB Guardian of Small Business Award thanks to his business-friendly attitude and a voting record to match it. Sounds to me like that’s just what Ohio needs!
No matter the reality of government coffers that are far from bottomless, there are some who are already criticizing Kasich’s early financial decisions. Headlines across the country announced that Kasich had refused to take $400 million in federal monies for the purposes of building a “high speed” rail system (I don’t think 39 miles per hour qualifies as high speed, and apparently neither does Kasich). Most were upset that the state of Ohio wasn’t getting all of that yummy money; Kasich, though, was thinking ahead to the fact that the state itself would be responsible for the cost of the system once it was built (estimated at some $17 million a year).
But the thing that apparently has at least some Ohioans riled up has nothing to do with money, at least not directly. It seems that the new Governor is, well, a racist. Or a sexist. Or something that’s not good! As soon as Kasich took office, he went about his business of appointing his cabinet. It wasn’t long after that that an area newspaper, and then the Associated Press, trumpeted that his “20 Cabinet appointments so far lack diversity.” Kasich immediately responded by noting that
…he has hired the first woman to serve as an Ohio governor’s chief of staff and only the second female adjutant general in the country. But he said he didn’t hire them because they are women. He has considered some black candidates for Cabinet posts, but at least one he wanted to hire, he said, doesn’t want to leave his current job.
Then, of course, Kasich said something that has certain diversity groups all up in arms. What was it that was so incendiary?
“I want the best possible team I can get, and hopefully we will be in a position that we are fully diverse as we go forward,” Kasich said. “But I can’t say I need to find somebody to fit this metric, not when I am trying to get a state that is in deep trouble out of trouble.”
In other words, Kasich is trying to hire the best people for the job. He’s not out looking for the best black man, the most qualified Hispanic woman, or the homosexual with the most relevant experience. He’s looking for the best, most qualified, most experienced person no matter their color or their gender. It seems to me that Kasich is behaving as though he’s entirely color blind here! Unfortunately, his critics who now range across the country, don’t see it that way.
In a story that’s titled as racially provocatively as I’ve ever seen, one publication actually printed that “Whites, men control Cabinet.” I’m not sure that that’s a bad thing in and of itself (though the headline was obviously geared to make me think that it is), but it seems there are others who are less sanguine about it. In a letter written by state Senator Shirley Smith (a black Democrat hailing from Cleveland), she said:
“I do not doubt that your appointees will be well qualified or that many of them have served the public with distinction in the past. But it is difficult to believe that a Cabinet that does not reflect the composition of our state’s population can adequately serve it.”
Let’s take a closer look at that statement from Ms. Smith. First, take note of the fact that she does “not doubt” that those who accepted Cabinet positions are “well qualified” or that they’ve served “with distinction in the past.” Smith just doesn’t care. Apparently, she believes that minorities should be hired because they’re minorities. In other words, based on the color of their skin. She also suggests that a white person can’t possibly serve the blacks (or Hispanics or other minorities) “adequately.” To properly gauge the racist impact of that statement, try this on for size: A black woman can’t possibly serve the population of Cleveland adequately because some people there are white. That is, of course, not true. At least, not any more so than Smith’s statements concerning Kasich’s choices!
Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) is in trouble for being a racist, too. In an interview, he noted that there was a time in this country where an entire class of people-the black slave population-weren’t considered persons, but rather property. He made it clear that he thought that was wrong. Then he noted that unborn babies are currently not considered persons, and he wondered at the irony of a black president who supported abortion rights. As Santorum put it, “I am disappointed that President Obama, who rightfully fights for civil rights, refuses to recognize the civil rights of the unborn in this country.” (And here I thought Santorum might be in trouble for pointing out that black abortion rates are disproportionately higher than those for whites, which is also, by the way, a fact, but for which he’d probably also gotten in trouble.)
There’s no need to get into a debate about whether Santorum’s position on abortion dovetails with yours (or mine, for that matter). The salient point is that Santorum himself sees it that way, and he gave a powerful analogy of how one group didn’t have “personhood” under the law and it was a bad thing, but another group lacks personhood under the law, and that’s somehow okay. There’s nothing racist about it; both of Santorum’s facts are entirely true. His analogy is even more relevant when you take note of the fact that Michelle Obama’s ancestry has been traced back to slaves on a South Carolina plantation, and that her husband touted that fact in a speech he gave during his campaign.
As far as I’m concerned, you can argue with Senator Santorum all day long as to whether or not the unborn should qualify for personhood or not. But you can’t fault his analogy, and you certainly can’t misconstrue his words as racist…unless, of course, that’s how you see pretty much everything and anything. And unfortunately, there are those who do.
Members of the Tea Party have been roundly accused of being racist almost from inception, seemingly because there aren’t a lot of black members (though an all black Tea Party group did just organize in Texas), or maybe because they’re criticizing the policies of a president who happens to also be a black man. I myself have been accused of doing just that, of opposing the president and his myriad socialist programs not because I don’t like his agenda but because I don’t like his skin color. Well, I have news for you: In the first place, I don’t think of Barack Obama as the first black president. I think of him as the second red president (the first being Franklin Delano Roosevelt). More to the point, I was supporting a black man for president (Alan Keyes, who first ran for the presidency in 1996) long before the liberal left jumped on the Obama bandwagon. Where were all of those on the left then? Maybe they didn’t like Keyes because he was black. Or more realistically, perhaps they didn’t like his conservative stance on a host of issues. Imagine that!
I’ve been charged racism because I oppose illegal immigration. Never mind the damage it does to our economy, to the rule of law, or to the country itself; I can only want our borders secure because I’m a racist! I’ve been told I must be a racist simply because I oppose affirmative action; who could possibly think that anybody ought to be able to get ahead in this life solely because they work hard, and they learn from each and every experience to become still better at whatever it is that they do?
Contrary to the apparent belief of some on the left, everything that comes from the right does not have racist overtones. What is racist is to cry “racism!” at every available opportunity. What’s worse is that it’s become the battle cry of those who have nothing left-no facts, no ideas, no basis in reality-with which to fight. And sadly, it’s a weapon of some potency. For Ohio’s sake, I hope the new governor continues to find the best man (or woman) for the job, and that he will ignore those who demand he do otherwise for any reason. I hope that Rick Santorum will continue to fight for his beliefs and represent his constituency even if what he says and does garners unwarranted accusations elsewhere. I hope the Tea Party will hold firm on its worthy cause and ignore the only criticism those ignorant of history and facts are able to lob. Real racism-the discrimination against others for no other reason than the color of their skin-is on the wane. But racism in a theoretically kinder guise-the notion that favoritism should be granted for no other reason than the color of someone’s skin-is on the rise, and it’s offering a false divide between Americans who, by and large, are neither racist nor really bad people.
I hope that people will start to see through all of the talk of race, and look instead at the ideas and the facts that some try to disguise with sheer volume. Ideas can-and often should-be debated. The truth, although it may be hard at times, can be accepted once it’s understood. Until then, though, go ahead and call me a racist if that somehow makes you feel superior. But if that’s the best you’ve got, what it really means when you make that accusation is that I just won the argument. Thankfully, I’m not the only one who’s not letting race or other superficial traits cloud my judgment, or allowing that kind of baseless criticism keep me quiet or stop me from doing what I know is right. The really good politicians-the ones who actually mean to keep their oath to the Constitution-won’t, either. And that, my friends, is when we all win, and we do so together without any manufactured divides.
Lady Liberty is a pro-freedom activist currently residing in the Midwest. More of her writings and other political and educational information is available on her web site, Lady Liberty’s Constitution Clearing House http://www.ladylibrty.com/. E-mail Lady Liberty at email@example.com.
Red-light cameras are saving lives even as they make millions in revenue, according to the first definitive study of the subject.
The deaths of eleven people in Louisiana, Florida and Virginia were not caused by Chinese drywall, a CDC (Centers For Disease Control and Prevention) report announced today. According to the CDC, the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) and the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health, there is absolutely no evidence which associates the deaths with problem drywall…
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Carsten de Dreu, 44, a professor of psychology at the University of Amsterdam… has been exploring the role of the “love” hormone oxytocin in group dynamics and inter-group competition. His latest experiments, the results of which have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, indicate a potentially more negative side.
Reuters – Two drugs that produce a “meth-like” high and are being sold under the guise of “bath salts” would be banned as federally controlled substances under a bill unveiled by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York.
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Last year the state of Arizona started the Save My Home AZ program with $125 million from the Obama administration. And now, nearly a year later, the program has saved exactly ONE home: [Thanks M!]
Of the 1,055 Arizona homeowners who have applied, only one has qualified for help from the program. A National Bank borrower is slated to get $40,000 knocked off a distressed home loan. Executive Vice President Greg Wessel declined to give details about the borrower, but he said two or three more are up for approval.
Can you see the headlines in the Arizona Republic if all three of those additional borrowers are approved? “Save My Home AZ Triples Success Rate In 2011!” It makes you feel good to see your tax dollars at work, doesn’t it?