My Top News Stories of 2010

by Paul Donahue

New Year’s Eve seems like a good time to reflect on the most important news stories of 2010, so here are a few stories that come to mind.

The permanent war - The war criminal in the Oval Office has kept the U.S. war machine set on “KILL” throughout 2010. The illegal war on Afghanistan is now the longest running war in U.S. history. For both the war-weary Afghanis and U.S. troops, 2010 was the deadliest year of the war to date. According to all accounts, except those of the Prevaricator-in-Chief, we are losing ground in Afghanistan, not gaining. The war on Pakistan is picking up steam. There were twice as many drone attacks (all illegal) inside Pakistan in 2010 as there were in 2009. While there have been U.S. ground troops operating covertly inside Pakistan for some time, the U.S. is poised to openly send in ground troops for the first time. The U.S. is spending more and more on war and killing, with the Pentagon budget for 2010 experiencing yet another increase in both actual dollars and as a percentage of our total tax dollars.

WikiLeaks - The thousands and thousands of classified documents exposed by the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks has shown us an account of U.S. international relations that is very different from the fairy tale our so-called leaders would have us believe. The revelations are many - illegal spying by the U.S. on UN officials, U.S. support for coups of democratically elected governments, U.S. support of repressive right-wing regimes, and proof that the generals and our so-called leaders have been lying to us about the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. The most important part of this story, however, is that the substance of all these revelations has apparently made almost no difference to the American people. It would seem that we just don’t care that our government consistently lies to us. The focus, instead, has been on crucifying Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.

Global Warming - The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere continues to increase and the planet continues to heat up. 2010 was a year marked from beginning to end by extreme weather around the world, including flooding in Pakistan that affected 20 million people. It looks like 2010 will turn out to be the warmest year on record. Despite that, our so-called leaders continue to do nothing about the situation that climatologists the world over say will likely be the greatest threat humanity has ever faced. At the recent climate talks in Cancún world leaders again had the opportunity to do something significant to deal with the problem, but again decided to give it a pass.

BP - The explosion of the Deep Horizon oil drilling rig back in May signaled the beginning of the worst oil spill and greatest environmental crime in U.S. history. As millions of gallons of oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico, destroying the marine ecosystem and human livelihoods, the Obama administration acted as a wholly-owned subsidiary of BP, slowing response, blocking access of the press, obfuscating the facts about the extent of the spill and damage it was causing, lying about the effectiveness of the cleanup efforts, and collaborating in the further poisoning of the marine environment through the release of millions of gallons of toxic dispersant. The effects of the spill will be felt for many decades. However, without even yet knowing the full extent of the damage done to the Gulf of Mexico, the Obama administration is pushing for expanded offshore drilling in the Arctic, an even more fragile ecosystem, in an area with an even higher risk factor, and where it will be virtually impossible to cleanup after a spill.

Campaign finance - In its January decision in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case, the U.S. Supreme Court opened the floodgates to corporate money pouring into political campaigns. With our electoral process already badly broken, this disastrous decision makes the situation exponentially worse. The effect will be even greater corporate control of our government - if that is even possible - and a further merging of state and corporate power on the road to fascism.

Permanent detention - In a further affront to the rule of law, the Obama administration is preparing an executive order formalizing permanent detention without trial. Like most of Obama’s campaign promises, his pledge to close the torture camp at Guantanamo has blown away in the wind. This executive order shows that he has no intention of ever allowing most of the detainees at Guantanamo to see the inside of a courtroom,

Almost forgot, there was the announcement of the engagement of Prince William to Catherine Middleton, Lindsay Lohan checked herself into a rehab clinic, and wasn’t there something about Tiger Woods and didn’t some sports team win some championship or something?

Are you casting around for a New Year’s resolution? Here’s a suggestion - do whatever you can to ensure that in December 2011 there is more hopeful news to report under the headings of permanent war and global warming.

Pacifica, California

31 December 2010