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Juan Williams (Getty Images)

"Since his contract as a senior news analyst at NPR was terminated in October, Juan Williams has found no shortage of platforms from which he can express himself," Dave Itzkoff wrote Tuesday in the New York Times. "In addition to the new contract he signed with the Fox News Channel, amid a dispute over remarks he made on 'The O’Reilly Factor,' he has now entered into a two-book deal with the Crown Publishers imprint of the Crown Publishing Group at Random House, the imprint said on Tuesday.

"Crown said in a statement that the first book from Mr. Williams, planned for a summer publication and not yet titled, will 'focus on free speech and the growing difficulty in America of speaking out on sensitive topics.' In the book Mr. Williams 'will argue that the American public benefits from a vigorous and full-throated debate on hot button issues of political and cultural import' and 'chronicle his own first-hand experience of the consequences of crossing the line in public expression,' the statement said. . . .

"Crown said the second book from Mr. Williams, which does not yet have a publication date, will 'examine the changing face of America since the time of the Founding Fathers, as seen through the eyes of some of the noteworthy individuals who have helped to expand on and transform our ideas of what it means to be an American.' "

["More important, perhaps, is that few contributors revoked financial pledges made to the stations during fundraising drives held the week of Williams's firing."]

"The staff of the Huffington Post came together on Monday night for our annual holiday party at Manhattan's Bar 89," the Huffington Post website reported Tuesday, wishing everyone happy holidays.

Asked to name the one or two staffers in the photo who appeared to be African American, Mario Ruiz, spokesman for the operation, replied by e-mail, "sorry, cant identify folks for you."

Meanwhile, site founder Arianna Huffington told Brett Pulley of Bloomberg News that the news site, which began in 2005, "will post its first annual profit this year and aims to keep sales rising as it turns readers into pundits," Pulley reported on Tuesday.

"Consistent with the mood of the nation all year, 2010 is closing on a down note. Fully 72% are dissatisfied with national conditions, 89% rate national economic conditions as only fair or poor, and majorities or pluralities think the country is losing ground on nine of 12 major issues," the Pew Research Center reported on Wednesday.

"The public is especially bearish about the federal budget deficit, the cost of living, the financial condition of Social Security and the availability of good-paying jobs. At least six-in-ten say the country is losing ground in each of these areas.

"Smaller majorities say the nation is losing ground on the gap between rich and poor (58%), the ability to compete economically with other countries (55%) and the financial condition of Medicare (51%).

"The latest national poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Dec. 1-5 among 1,500 adults, finds only two issues where relatively small minorities say the United States is losing ground — international terrorism (25% losing ground) and environmental pollution (23%). Even in these areas, however, most Americans do not see progress being achieved; rather, pluralities say things are staying about the same as they have been.

"Yet Americans’ views about how the nation is doing on several major issues have improved since December 2008, a time when Americans expressed an even more negative view of the economy than they do today."

*Dan Balz and Jon Cohen, Washington Post: Washington Post-ABC poll: Public is not yet sold on GOP

*Derrick Z. Jackson, Boston Globe: A repeal that’ll be dangerous to our health

*Jeffrey M. Jones, Gallup Organization: Obama Approval Rating Holding Steady Since Midterms (Dec. 7)

*Lenny McAllister, theRoot.com: Is Democratic Opposition to Obama Also Racial?

*Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Don't cry for me, John Boehner — really

*Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Tag-team smackdown

*Elmer Smith, Philadelphia Daily News: For Prez & tax bill, a different week

 

"Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism picks up on this story, as does The Huffington Post and HousingWire.

"But the only mainstream media coverage it got was in the Des Moines Register and Reuters.

"This is a story the rest of the press might want to report. The ante just got upped bit on this scandal.

"This isn’t necessarily just another politician blowing smoke. BusinessWeek put the longtime AG, Tom Miller, on its cover a couple of years ago with the headline 'They Warned Us About the Mortgage Crisis.' He and other state attorneys general tried to crack down on predatory lending but were preempted by the Bush administration. And he’s heading up the joint investigation by all fifty states into the scandal. It’s worth following what he has to say.

"Especially when it’s 'we will put people in jail.'

"That’s also notable, since as we discussed last week, no major executive has gone to jail for the financial crisis and its fallout. It’s unclear, of course, if Iowa will be able to prosecute executives or just the low-level employees who implemented the fraud."

At a hearing on the causes of the foreclosure crisis Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., Detroit lawyer Vanessa Fluker said she would like to address "this media perception has been that for some reason we have all these massive foreclosures because you have this multitude of people who bit off more than they could chew; who went into homes that just were exorbitant and beyond their reach.

"This is not true," Fluker said. "The majority of people in subprime mortgages are the working poor — minorities and senior citizens — and that is what constitutes and makes up the majority of my practice. Unfortunately, the scenario is such that these subprime mortgages were marketed and pushed disparately on the working poor, minorities and senior citizens.

"For instance, to give a real-life first-hand perspective, my client, Ms. Harp [phonetic spelling], works every day as a legal assistant; mother dying of cancer; been fighting for two years to get a modification with Bank of America. Who, by the way, just got $7 billion additionally in January of this year to do that.

"No go. They're proceeding to eviction on that matter right now. The only reason eviction hasn't occurred is because there may be some impropriety with the affidavits and documentation.

"My client is a senior citizen who was diagnosed with dementia in 2000, who was put in a pay-option ARM mortgage in 2007, who we're still fighting. Of course, this is family now, seeing as we've been fighting so long. He died a week and a half ago.

"My client who has a farm in Michigan who was put in a subprime residential mortgage, interest-only, but now it covers his house and his whole farm. And they're foreclosing and trying to take the whole farm.

"Or most — even more egregious, my client who is on active duty in Iraq, serving his country, comes back. He's in foreclosure. They're like, 'Oh, well, too bad. We can't work with you. We can't modify your loan.'

"This is just a sampling of what I deal with every day, and it is voluminous."

 

 

"While tributes have been pouring in for Richard Holbrooke," the veteran U.S. diplomat who died Monday at age 69, "little attention has been paid to his role in implementing and backing U.S. policies that killed thousands of civilians," host Amy Goodman said Wednesday on Pacifica Radio's "Democracy, Now!"

"As assistant secretary of state in the Carter administration, Holbrooke oversaw weapons shipments to the Indonesian military as it killed a third of East Timor's population. In 1980, he played a key role in the Carter administration's support for a South Korean military crackdown on a pro-democracy uprising in the city of Kwangju that killed hundreds of people. Details of Holbrooke's role in East Timor and Korea have been entirely ignored by the corporate media since his death — hardly covered before, as well. Richard Holbrooke was also a prominent Democratic backer of the Bush administration's decision to attack Iraq in 2003," she asserted.

Goodman then played a tape of investigative journalist Allan Nairn confronting Holbrooke in 1997 at Brown University about East Timor.

"If you want to accuse me of genocide, you're welcome to do so," Holbrooke replied. "And if — as far as extending the war crimes tribunal to Timor, or for that matter, Cambodia, where it's incomprehensibly not of a mandate, I'm all for it. In fact, I have recently written a letter to the Holocaust Commission at the museum recommending that they take this issue on, precisely because it's incomprehensible to me why various people who are equally as murderous as Radovan Karadžic and Ratko Mladic have never been investigated.

"But I tell you here, for the benefit of everyone else, that the Timor issue is not as simple as described just now. It just isn't. This is not what happened, and I don't think anyone who knows Jimmy Carter or what he stands for would agree that this was a deliberate policy of giving low-flying airplanes or helicopters to the Indonesians so that they could go out and kill people in the hills."

Holbrooke was well-liked by reporters, and he was married to television journalist Kati Marton, the daughter of Endre Marton, an Associated Press White House correspondent. She was previously the wife of the late ABC News anchor Peter Jennings.

Last year, Holbrooke gave the keynote address at the International Center for Journalists' 25th Anniversary Awards Dinner in Washington.

On the e-mail list of the National Conference of Editorial Writers, Jonathan Gurwitz of the San Antonio Express-News wrote Wednesday, "Those of us who attended State Department briefings in 2009 and 2010 got to spend a total of approximately two hours with Richard Holbrooke. He was not shy about letting us know that he was able to utilize the media to his advantage. He had been in and around Washington long enough to prove it. Beyond the posturing, he also was without doubt a patron of journalism. This was evident in his extended, off-the-record sessions with us about Afghanistan and Pakistan. The nation lost a diplomat. Journalism lost a friend."

At the 2009 session, Holbrooke volunteered to this columnist that he remembered Robert C. Maynard when Maynard was an editorial writer at the Washington Post.

*Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Karen DeYoung blog, Washington Post: Holbrooke's last words on the Afghan war

*Robert Mackey blog, New York Times: Revisiting Holbrooke’s Last Remarks

"In a two-day marathon, SavetheInternet.com Coalition allies and activists delivered 2 million petitions for real Net Neutrality to the Federal Communications Commission before the close of the public comment period on new FCC rules," the activist group Free Press reported on Tuesday. "The petitions, collected from across the country, urged the FCC to stand up for real Net Neutrality and safeguard the open Internet. The agency is scheduled to vote on its proposed Net Neutrality rules at its Dec. 21 open meeting.

". . . The petitions were delivered by local volunteers and representatives of the many groups that helped collect them, including Free Press, New America Foundation, Media Access Project, Public Knowledge, Future of Music Coalition, the Media and Democracy Coalition, [CREDO] Action, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, MoveOn.org, ColorofChange.org, Common Cause, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Prometheus Radio Project, the Harry Potter Alliance and the Open Source Democracy Foundation."

In addition, "a quartet of network neutrality proponents led by MoveOn.org said they would rather the FCC do nothing than adopt the chairman's current compromise proposal to expand and codify network neutrality guidelines," John Eggerton reported for Broadcasting & Cable. The other groups are ColorOfChange.org. CREDO Action and Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

*James Rucker, theRoot.com: Why We Need Net Neutrality

*David Sutphen, theRoot.com: Let's Ensure Web for All

Television personality Star Jones has joined Uptown magazine as editor-at-large, the magazine announced on Wednesday.

"Jones’ first UPTOWN editorial contribution to the publication will be in the first ever Weddings and Travel special issue available on newsstands January 20. She will make her on-line debut in late December. Among her Editor-at-Large duties, Jones will act as a contributor with a regular column as well as writing political, entertainment and celebrity feature stories," an announcement said.

Spokeswoman Jackie Saril told Journal-isms that although Jones' first column will be about weddings, it would not directly address her lavish and widely publicized 2004 wedding to investment banker Al Reynolds, attended by nearly 500 people. They divorced four years later.

Uptown, published eight times a year, describes itself as "the only luxury lifestyle publication for affluent African Americans."