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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Political and Social Thought to the Left of College Station

One of the most significant places in which human trafficking takes place is only a drive away from Bryan-College Station; Houston has become the largest hub for modern-day slavery in the United States. According to a Free Speech Radio News report, the city’s large sea port, international airport, and geographic position on Interstate 10, which has identified by the Department of Justice as one of the main human trafficking routes in the United States, have contributed to Houston a center of the modern day slave trade.

The Houston Rescue & Restore Coalition organizes bus tours to raise awareness of the human trafficking problem in Houston, a FSFN correspondent took a ride on one the bus tours and reported on how the HRRC points out how to identify areas where human trafficking is taking place:

Although largely a hidden crime, it is possible to detect the red flags of human trafficking from a distance. Traveling down main roads, Houston Rescue and Restore staffers point out street prostitution tracks, parks frequented by teenage runaways, and a day labor site where workers have been tricked out of their pay. But most of the sites flagged on the tour advertise as “spas” or “modeling studios” and have blacked-out windows, barred doors, security cameras, and neon signs stating they're open 24 hours a day. Many are concentrated in one area

While many of the victims of human trafficking are brought to the United States slaves, some of those who become victims are undocumented immigrants. According to the report there are undocumented immigrants who may be forced into prostitution or forced into other work to pay off a debt from being smuggled across the border. Also, teenage runaways are susceptible to falling victim to human trafficking; traffickers will recruit young women by providing security, affection, and generosity before they commercializing their victims.

How bad is the human trafficking problem in Houston? The largest human trafficking case in the history of the continental United States took place in Houston: US vs. Mondragon, over 100 women rescued after being forced into labor. The alternative newspaper Houston Press recently reported on the prosecution of human traffickers for including sex trafficking of children, sex trafficking by force and the transportation and coercion of minors.

According to statistics compiled by the Polaris Project, throughout the world 27 million people are affected by the modern day slavery that is human trafficking and 800,000 are trafficked across international borders every year. Of the victims approximately 80% are female, 50% are children, and 70% are forced into prostitution. The total yearly profits generated from human trafficking are $32 billion.

Human trafficking is going to remain a significant problem because despite the startling statistics the problem of modern day slavery has not received significant media coverage. Because the victims are so often immigrants, and many times undocumented immigrants, it is easy for people to remain ambivalent about the problem. Over 140 years after slavery was ended in Texas on June 19th a modern day slaver continues.

Headlines

Local News
Veterans Affairs Program Uses Housing Vouchers to Get Homeless Veterans Off Streets

According to an article in the Waco Herald-Tribune, since 2008, Veterans Affairs has reserved 35 rental vouchers for Waco’s homeless veterans, and local officials are hoping to secure that many more in the future once the current allotment is used up. The vouchers typically require a veteran to pay 30 percent of his or her income for rent. That goes a long way toward fulfilling the city of Waco’s 2005 plan for ending chronic homelessness in 10 years, a plan that has support from a coalition of nonprofit and public agencies in Waco. The plan calls for 60 units of “permanent, supportive housing” for the chronically homeless, a population that includes the mentally ill and others who have been on the streets for multiple years. In addition to the VA vouchers, the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation has provided four housing vouchers for the chronically homeless and 11 for transitionally homeless. The city is applying for more 12 MHMR vouchers.

Local Politics
Filing Period for County and State Public Office Ends

Monday was the filing deadline for all state and county elections. The Bryan-College Station Eagle reports that Precinct 2 County Commissioner Duane Peters filed paperwork to run for Brazos County Judge, bringing the number of Republican candidates in the primary to four, including Bryan Mayor Mark Conlee, former Bryan Mayor Ernie Wentrcek and economic consultant Brian Alg. The Brazos County judge earns a base salary of $86,335, and incumbent Randy Sims will not seek re-election. Bryan dentist Don McLeroy also filed to run. He is seeking re-election to the State Board of Education. He was chairman of the board when it gained national attention last year for his advocacy of a more critical approach to evolution in school curriculum. He lost that position in May when the Texas Senate failed to confirm his appointment. Lobbyist and legislative consultant Thomas Ratliff has filed to run for McLeroy's seat, selling himself as a more moderate Republican.

Texas Politics
Texas Lawmakers Face Penalty Over Campaign Expenses

According to an article in the Houston Chronicle, State Senator John Whitmire D-Houston, was one of two Houston-area lawmakers accused of converting political contributions to personal use. The other was Ed Chance, Montgomery County Precinct 3 commissioner. The panel dismissed the most serious complaints against both officials, but found they had improperly reported political contributions and expenditures. Whitmire agreed to pay a $3,400 civil penalty and Chance a $500 civil penalty. State law prohibits the conversions of campaign funds to personal use “that primarily furthers individual or family purposes not connected with the performance of duties or activities as a candidate or officeholder.”

National News
Stimulus Funds for Special Education Bypass Special Education

The federal stimulus package set aside $11.3 billion for special-needs education in this school year and the next, but school districts across the country are using those funds for other purposes, reports The Wall Street Journal. A provision in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, a version of a statute originally enacted in 1975, makes the move perfectly legal, but it has left special-needs advocates feeling shortchanged. When the federal government amps up funding for special-needs students, the provision allows certain school districts to divert as much as half of the increase to other uses. In this school year, districts in Florida, Nevada and Connecticut have used special-needs funds to save jobs and add math programs. According to a poll conducted by the Government Accountability Office, more districts plan to follow suit. Adding insult to injury, schools must meet certain standards, like special-education graduation rates, to be eligible to divert the funds, so some states are "ignoring or lowering the standards," the Journal reports. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has urged states not to do this, but school administrators tell the Journal that stretched budgets have left them with little choice but to shift special-needs funding to other uses.

Foreign Policy
Multiple Deployments Leads to Major Increase in PTSD Cases

According to a report by TruthOut.org, soldiers with multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan are more than three times as likely as soldiers with no previous deployments to screen positive for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depression, according to a new study published by the American Journal for Public Health. Additionally, soldiers with multiple deployments are more than twice as likely to report chronic pain and more than 90 percent more likely to score below the general population norm on physical functioning. For the study, researchers assessed the effects of prior military service in Iraq or Afghanistan on the health of New Jersey Army National Guard members preparing for deployment to Iraq. Researchers analyzed anonymous, self-administered pre-deployment surveys from 2,543 National Guard members deployed to Iraq in 2008. They assessed the effects of prior service in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom) or Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom) on mental and physical health.

War and Peace
Surge in Casualties Predicted in Afghanistan

Americans should prepare to accept hundreds of U.S. casualties each month in Afghanistan during spring offensives with enemy forces. The Army Times reports that General Barry McCaffrey, an adjunct professor of international affairs at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, made the prediction in a periodic assessment of political and security issues he has conducted in the war zone since 2003. As of Dec. 20, there had been 305 U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan in 2009, the large majority of those due to hostile action. The number of wounded as of the same date for 2009 was 2,102, with more than half of those unable to return to duty. A month-by-month breakdown using data compiled by Army Times shows that in 2009, the highest number of wounded and dead in Afghanistan occurred from June, with 210 wounded and killed through October, when 318 were listed as wounded or killed. October was the deadliest month for U.S. troops, with 50 killed in hostile action; but September saw the most wounded with 457 taken out of the fight. McCaffrey predicts those numbers will go higher, up to 500 casualties per month, as the winter thaw permits enemy and coalition forces to launch their respective offensives.

Environmental
E.P.A. Seeks Stricter Rules to Curb Smog

According to an article in the New York Times, The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday proposed a stricter standard for smog-causing pollutants that would bring substantial health benefits to millions of Americans while imposing large costs on industry and local governments. The standard would replace one set by the Bush administration in March 2008, which has been challenged in court by state officials and environmental advocates as too weak to adequately protect human health and the environment. The Obama administration’s proposal sets a primary standard for ground-level ozone of no more than 0.060 to 0.070 parts per million, to be phased in over two decades. Regions with the worst smog pollution, including much of the Northeast, Southern and Central California and the Chicago and Houston areas, would have more time than other areas to come into compliance.

Immigration
Study Find Immigration Reform Would Boost Economy

Legalizing the status of the roughly 12 million undocumented immigrants living in America would create jobs, increase wages and boost the sagging U.S. economy. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the study found that citizenship and flexible limits on legal immigration would serve future labor demands and boost wages for native-born workers. The study released by the Center for American Progress and the Immigration Policy Center, found legalizing undocumented immigrants already in the United States could add $1.5 trillion to the gross domestic product over the next 10 years. President Obama has urged Congress to pass immigration reform legislation this year that provides a path to citizenship for the undocumented. Republicans have opposed citizenship as an amnesty for those who broke the law and entered the country illegally.

Human Rights
Somali Militants Force UN Agency to Suspend Food Distribution

According to an article in the Environmental News Service, attacks on humanitarian operations and a string of threats and unacceptable demands from armed groups have made it impossible for the world's largest food aid agency to continue feeding up to one million hungry people in southern Somalia. This choking of the humanitarian food lifeline raises the risk of greater instability in the entire Horn of Africa region, parched by the failure of the November rains after years of drought. The UN's World Food Programme said because its humanitarian operations in southern Somalia have been under escalating attacks from armed groups, the agency will suspend food distributions in much of southern Somalia. Two UN civilian staff members lost their lives in Somalia in 2009, the United Nations said today in a statement announcing the deaths of 28 civilian staff members and seven peacekeeping troops around the world last year. The killings of four World Food Programme staff between August 2008 and January 2009 prompted WFP officials to seek security commitments from local administrations and armed groups in much of southern and central Somalia.

Civil Rights
Washington State to Appeal Felon Voting Decision

Washington State will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a ruling that the state's ban on voting by prison inmates is unconstitutional. United Press International reports that Attorney General Rob McKenna announced his plans late Wednesday in a news conference and the state will ask the appeals court to delay enforcement of this week’s ruling. The court ruled this week in a suit originally brought in 1996 by black, Hispanic and American Indian inmates. The court found the justice system in Washington is so infected with racial discrimination that a ban on voting by inmates and felons on supervised release violates civil rights legislation. More than one-third of the state's inmates are from the three minority groups, although they make up only 12 percent of the population. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision contradicts opinions in similar cases by three other circuits.

Reproductive Rights
Curious Spending of Republicans for Choice

A new report by the Center for Public Integrity has revealed that one of the largest organizations working towards getting pro-choice GOP candidates elected to Congress has spent less than 5% of its budget on political campaigns in the last decade. In the last five years, just half of one percent of the one million dollars Republicans for Choice has spent was toward a political candidate, committees or expenditures. y comparison, Federal Election Commission data show the average federal PAC in the recent 2007-2008 cycle dedicated about 35 percent of spending to contributions aiding federal candidates. A comparison to other PACs on both sides of the abortion debate shows that similar groups spend a much greater portion of their funds on candidates and campaigns. Much of the group's spending has been for consulting companies owned by the PAC's chairwoman, Ann E. W. Stone. Those firms -- along with payments to reimburse Stone's expenses for travel, entertainment, and automobile repairs -- comprise more than two-thirds of RFC PAC's expenditures since 2006. And hundreds of dollars more went to pay for Stone's parking tickets.

Women’s Issues
Military Drops Iraq Soldier Pregnancy Policy

Major General Anthony Cucolo clarified his order allowing court-martial for soldiers who become pregnant or who impregnate a colleague in a war zone this week saying that any punishment is unlikely to come to that. The Christian Science Monitor reports that General Cucolo, who commands US forces in the northern sector of Iraq, issued a general order last month in which he stated that getting someone pregnant or becoming pregnant as a way to get out of a deployment could be punishable under the military court system, the Uniformed Code of Military Justice, to include court-martial. But after an angry response from women’s rights groups and others, Cucolo on this week appeared to retreat from that stance. While he retains the authority to court-martial a soldier under those circumstances, he said, the punishment would be unlikely to go that far. The policy, which caught the White House off guard, was meant to prevent young families from breaking up under the pressures of frequent deployment for young marines. After an uproar, the service ended the policy. The active-duty force of 1.4 million includes more than 201,000 women at any one time. Of the 2.2 million service members who have deployed to a war zone since 2001, 231,000 are women.

GLBT Issues
N.J. Senate Rejects Bill Legalizing Gay Marriage

According to an article in the New Jersey Star-Ledger, the state Senate rejected a same-sex marriage bill this week, a major victory for opponents who contend the measure would infringe on religious freedom and is not needed because the state already permits civil unions. The 20-14 vote defeating the measure followed an hour and a half of public debate inside the packed Senate chamber. The nearly thousand supporters and opponents of the bill held rallies on the Statehouse steps. The measure fell seven votes short of the 21 needed for passage. Last month, the legislation cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee after hours of emotional debate and testimony, which set the stage for today’s full Senate showdown. New Jersey passed a domestic partnership law in 2002 and legalized civil unions in 2006, but supporters say there are major flaws, like problems with pension benefits and hospitals denying visits to partners. They say gay couples do not have equal rights without being allowed to marry. Just four state have legalized gay marriage, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa and Vermont, while 30 states have banned it through constitutional amendments.

Race and Racism
Data Shows Racial Gaps in Colorado Public-School Suspensions

Black public-school students in Colorado are nearly three times as likely to face serious discipline as their white peers, a disparity that is persistently growing despite efforts to curb it. The Denver Post reports that in the 2008-09 school year, about 70,000, or 8.5 percent, of the state's 818,000 students were suspended, expelled or disciplined for being disruptive, according to a Denver Post analysis of newly released data. Reasons ranged from drug, weapon and alcohol infractions to disobedient and detrimental behavior, the most common — and subjective — reasons. But while black students make up just 5.9 percent of the student population, they were the subject of 12.7 percent of the discipline cases, up from 11.7 percent five years ago. White students, who were about 61 percent of the population, were the subject of 46.8 percent of discipline cases. Latino students make up 28.4 percent of the population and were involved in 37 percent of discipline cases, another persistent gap.

Friday, January 8, 2010

This Week on Information Underground

This week on Information Underground our studio guest is Lucy Miller, a transsexual woman who is a communications graduate student at Texas A&M and publishes a blog about her experience as a transsexual woman. Our topics of conversation will include who are transgender and transsexual people, and her own experiences.

Listen to Information Underground on 89.1FM KEOS on Sundays from 5-6pm after Tavis Smiley, for all the alternative news, politics, and commentary that you don’t hear in the mainstream media. To listen to Information Underground online and to listen to past episodes visit Information Underground on BlogTalkRadio. Tune in every week to hear headlines, interviews, and political and social thought to the Left of College Station.

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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Headlines

Local News
2009 Meant Tight Funds for Bryan and College Station

According to an article in the Bryan-College Station Eagle, Bryan and College Station budgets and water supplies came in lower than expected this year, and both cities were looking for ways to make up for budget shortfalls. Each city handled the issue differently. College Station addressed its $1 million general fund shortfall by holding vacant positions open, cutting travel and training costs, reducing maintenance at parks and city facilities and holding off on replacing old equipment. Bryan officials decided to lay off eight employees and eliminate two positions in an effort to make up for a $1.3 million budget shortfall. Officials said the rest of the shortfall would be recovered through a change in the way the city offers insurance to retirees and through a reduction in the number of times city parks are mowed each year.

Local Politics
Sen. Hutchison focuses on transportation issues in stops in Waco, across Texas

Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison was campaigning in Waco on this week, unveiling transportation policy proposals to unclog Texas’ highways, connect Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio and Houston with a high-speed rail system and to “clean up” the Texas Department of Transportation. The Waco Herald-Tribune reported it was the senator’s third event in Waco since kicking off her gubernatorial campaign in August and her second stop at Tejas Logistics, a warehouse company based in East Waco. The event was sandwiched between speeches in Tyler and Dallas, and Hutchison has scheduled events in San Antonio, Austin and Houston today. The state’s senior senator, who hopes to defeat Governor Rick Perry in a March Republican primary, laid out a series of reforms, including new restrictions on toll-road construction and more checks on spending, as well as a plan to connect the state’s roads with its railroads, airports and waterways.

Texas News
Poverty Growing in Texas Schools

According to an article in the Houston Chronicle, almost six out of 10 Texas public schoolchildren hail from low-income families, marking a troubling spike in poverty over the last decade, a new state report finds. The increase coincides with a significant jump in the number of Hispanic students, while fewer Anglo students were enrolled last year than 10 years ago, according to the study by the Texas Education Agency. Schools also are educating many more children whose primary language is not English. The rapidly changing makeup of the Texas public school classroom poses growing challenges for the state. Impoverished and disadvantaged children are more likely to falter academically and drop out, and educating struggling students can be costly. The state's school funding system is set up to pay districts more for their impoverished students, but some believe the extra dollars are not enough. This year, the price tag is $2.8 billion, according to the TEA.

Texas Politics
Finger-Pointing Grows on State Education Board

A feud on the State Board of Education has spun off a new round of conflict-of-interest questions, this time regarding senior member Geraldine Miller, Republican from Dallas, from two colleagues who doubt she can stay clear of $1.2 billion the board plans to invest in real estate projects. The San Antonio Express-News reports that Miller's family runs the state's largest independent real estate brokerage firm, Henry S. Miller Realty Services. She has been critical of the board's decision to invest part of the $22 billion Public School Fund in real estate, and the fact that her opposition was public is likely to create conflicts of interest for her when some of those real estate deals begin next year, say board members David Bradley, R-Beaumont, and Rick Agosto, D-San Antonio. A Texas Education Agency lawyer downplayed those concerns, and a spokesman for Miller said they were manufactured because of how she votes on curriculum and other non-financial issues.

National News
Report Says ACORN Didn't Commit Voter Fraud or Misuse Federal Funding

According to an article at TruthOut.org, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) did not commit voter fraud, and it didn't misuse federal funding in the last five years, according to a recently released report prepared by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), a nonpartisan investigational arm of Congress. Among its findings, CRS also reported that recently enacted federal legislation to prohibit funding to ACORN raises significant constitutional concerns. The report said courts "may have a sufficient basis" to conclude that the legislation "violates the prohibition against bills of attainder." Also, concerning recent "sting" operations related to ACORN, although state laws vary, two states, Maryland and California, "appear to ban private recording of face to face conversations absent the consent of all the participants," the report said. The CRS report was requested by House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Michigan) and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank in September.

National Politics
Allen Stanford Helped Pete Sessions Score Big Political Victory

Congressman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) offered aid and comfort to disgraced financier Allen Stanford, who's accused of bilking investors of $7 billion. The Center for Responsive Politics reports that Sessions wrote Stanford "I love you and believe in you," in a February 17, 2009 e-mail, according to the Miami Herald in an exclusive report this week. A Center for Responsive Politics analysis indicates that employees of Allen Stanford-led Stanford Financial ranked No. 2 among Sessions' donors during the 2004 election cycle, accounting for $24,275. The Stanford donation total ranked ahead of massive firms such as SBC Communications, Ernst & Young and Crow Holdings, all of which have notable presences in Sessions' Texas District 32, situated in Dallas and its suburbs.

Foreign Policy
U.S. Looks to Intensify Yemen Campaign

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the Obama administration is likely to intensify pressure on Yemen's president to focus his security forces against al Qaeda militants, following claims that the attempted Christmas Day airline bombing originated there. The U.S. also is discussing increasing its counterterrorism support to Yemen from $70 million this year to as much as $190 million in 2010, according to a senior military official. U.S. security policy toward Yemen had been increasingly focused on President Ali Abdullah Saleh even before the botched attack, officials said. His government in recent months has shown willingness to coordinate with the Obama administration in counterterrorism operations within his country.

War and Peace
Afghanistan Civilian Casualties Rise Ten Percent in 2009

Civilian deaths in Afghanistan rose more than 10 percent in the first 10 months of 2009, UN figures showed, amid anger over the alleged killing of children in a Western military operation. AFP reports that figures released to AFP by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) put civilian deaths in the Afghan war at 2,038 for the first 10 months of 2009, up from 1,838 for the same period of 2008 -- an increase of 10.8 percent. The figures were released a day after President Hamid Karzai launched an investigation into reports that 10 people, most of them school children, were killed in a raid by foreign troops near the Pakistan border. The UN calculations show the vast majority, or 1,404 civilians, were killed by insurgents fighting for the overthrow of Karzai's government and to eject Western troops. UNAMA said 468 deaths were caused by pro-government forces, including NATO and US-led forces, and 166 by "other actors".

Economy
State-Level Data Show Recovery Act Protecting Millions From Poverty

According to a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, while the recession is expected to drive states’ poverty rates up for 2009, new analysis based on Census data shows that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) is keeping large numbers of Americans out of poverty in states across the country. In addition to boosting economic activity and preserving or creating jobs, the recovery act is softening the recession’s impact on poverty by directly lifting family incomes. The Center’s analysis, which covers 36 states and the District of Columbia, examines the effect on poverty of seven ARRA provisions: the expansion of three tax credits for working families, two provisions that strengthen unemployment insurance assistance, a provision that boosts food stamp benefits, and a one-time payment for retirees, veterans, and people with disabilities. Nationally, these provisions are keeping more than 6 million Americans out of poverty and reducing the severity of poverty for 33 million more.

Environmental
Sea-Level Rise Quickening Along East Coast

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have learned that along the Atlantic Coast, including New Jersey, sea level rose three times faster during the 20th century than it did during the previous 4,000 years. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that at one location in North Carolina, they fixed the date of the rapid acceleration to between 1879 and 1915, after the Industrial Revolution had taken deep hold, lending credence to the connection between the rising temperatures that occurred then and rising sea levels. Scientists predict sea levels will rise as a result of global warming, but by how much, when, and where it will have the most effect is unclear. The studies suggested a strong acceleration in overall sea-level rise along the U.S. Atlantic Coast, including in New Jersey and Delaware. Levels there are rising not only because of higher water - due to melting polar ice and expansion of a warmer ocean - but because the land is sinking. In two papers published recently in the journal Geology, the researchers and collaborators teased out details of the complex relationship between the land and sea on the East Coast, mapping an epic geologic history that could help scientists predict what might happen under various climate-change scenarios.

Human Rights
Thailand Deports Hmong Asylum Seekers to Laos

According to an article by Inter Press Service, in a move that places greater weight on growing regional solidarity over historical ties with a western superpower, Thailand ordered its military to forcibly return over 4,000 men, women and children from the Hmong ethnic community to Laos, the country they had fled in search of political asylum. This week the first batch of 440 Hmong—an ethnic tribe living in the mountains of northern and central Laos—from an isolated camp in the Petchabun province in north-eastern Thailand was removed under the watchful eye of over 4,500 soldiers and police. Bangkok’s decision to send the Hmong back to communist-ruled Laos has prompted protests from a range of international actors, notably the United States. Washington has been equally troubled by Thai authorities justifying the deportation after characterising the majority of Hmong as "economic migrants," not refugees. The U.S. government, the United Nations and concerned human rights groups state that at least 158 of the Hmong asylum seekers had been recognised as refugees by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). And a further 80 had "bullet wounds," suggesting that they had fled violence in Laos.

Civil Rights
Disabled Workers Paid Cents Per Hour at State-Run Homes

More than 300 mentally retarded people are being paid less than the minimum wage to work at the state-run Woodward and Glenwood homes for the disabled. State records obtained by The Des Moines Register under the Iowa open-records law show that 74 of the mentally retarded workers are paid an average wage of about 60 cents an hour. One averages 11 cents an hour working for a company owned by one of the world's richest private equity firms, the Carlyle Group. Those wages are legal under a 71-year-old federal law that enables employers to pay the disabled less than the minimum wage. The law has always been controversial, but the alleged exploitation of mentally retarded employees by Henry's Turkey Service in Atalissa has rekindled the national debate on subminimum wages. The federal law is intended to ensure that jobs are available for people who cannot perform at the same level as people without disabilities. It has proved divisive even among the disabled, their families and mental health advocates. Citing the situation in Atalissa, the Association for Persons in Supported Employment is calling for a gradual phaseout of the minimum wage exemption. The organization says the exemption leads to a segregated work force and advances the notion that a disabled worker is not as deserving of base-line, minimum wage protections.

Reproductive Rights
Utah to Introduce Law Requiring Abortion Clinics to Display Ultrasound Images

According to an article by United Press International, a Utah lawmaker plans to introduce a law that would require abortion clinics to display ultrasound images so pregnant women can see them. Representative Carl Wimmer, a Republican, told The Salt Lake Tribune he believes the three abortion clinics in the state do not want patients to see the images of their fetuses before the procedure. Current state law requires the clinics to offer ultrasounds but says nothing about how the images are displayed. Wimmer's proposed bill would also require clinics to offer a detailed description of what is on the screen. Wimmer, who drafted his bill with the national organization Americans United For Life, would like ultrasounds to be mandatory. But he plans to wait for the outcome of litigation over mandatory ultrasound laws in other states.

Race and Racism
Neo-Nazis Use Deceptive Music Downloads to Attract Young People to White Supremacy

In an effort to lure young people into the white supremacist movement, neo-Nazis are using deceptive new tactics to appeal directly to high school and college students through advertisements in their school newspapers, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which actively monitors neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups. One scheme hatched by neo-Nazi Kevin McGuire of Bozeman, Montana involves placing advertisements in school newspapers offering "free music downloads." As a result of the scheme, last month unsuspecting students at high schools in San Francisco and Carmel, Indiana were apparently tricked into running ads promoting the racist "Victory Forever" site operated by McGuire. In an apparent attempt to be misleading, the Victory Forever site initially displayed a page of music by independent artists, including at least one African-American artist. However, between the time when the ads were purchased and when they actually ran, the site was changed to its present, explicitly white supremacist form.

Friday, January 1, 2010

This Week on Information Underground

This week on Information Underground our guest is Karl-Thomas Musselman, publisher of the Burnt Orange Report. Musselman has been the Tech Director for the Travis County Democratic Party, Online Coordinator of the Rick Noriega for US Senate campaign, and Campaign Manager for the Mark Strama for State Representative campaign. Our topics of conversation will include the progressive blogosphere in Texas and the upcoming 2010 political campaigns and elections.

Listen to Information Underground on 89.1FM KEOS on Sundays from 5-6pm after Tavis Smiley, for all the alternative news, politics, and commentary that you don’t hear in the mainstream media. To listen to Information Underground online and to listen to past episodes visit Information Underground on BlogTalkRadio. Tune in every week to hear headlines, interviews, and political and social thought to the Left of College Station.