You might remember during the Egyptian revolution, I called and spoke to a number of regular Egyptians – from hotel clerks, to Marwa Rakha, a woman who dispenses relationship advice online (and just gave birth to her son, Adam. on May 3 – a great day to have a kid.  It happens to be both my daughter’s and my mother’s birthday too!).

Today, I reached out to Kaswar Klasra, a young man born and raised in Pakistan, he works as a journalist for The Nation (Pakistan).  Although it’s difficult at times to understand what he’s saying due to his accent, it’s worth a listen to our conversation.  Just trying to bridge the gap between two countries in a delicate situation by speaking as one human being to another.

I hope that some news organization with pockets deep enough to do what he suggests will do some sort of journalist exchange program to help the Pakistani population better understand the American people, and vice versa.

Here in our own country, the problems we’re facing continue.  We can trace most of our problems back to the greedy money manipulators on Wall Street who keep getting richer while the rest of us suffer a little more with each passing day.  I received a press release last week from a group called the May 12 Coalition, who has big things planned for this week in NYC:

New Yorkers to Wall Street on May 12: MAKE BIG BANKS AND MILLIONAIRES PAY!
National Movement Connects the Dots to NYC, Demands Reform and Fair Share in Taxes from Financial Sector

NEW YORK  –  A growing coalition of community, labor, and progressive groups announced today plans for a week of events starting May 9th, calling for Mayor Michael Bloomberg to end taxpayer-financed giveaways to Wall Street and ask for fair-share taxes from millionaires to mitigate his proposed budget cuts.  The week of action will culminate in a major mobilization in Lower Manhattan on Thursday, May 12.

The coalition, uniting under the banner “Make Big Banks and Millionaires Pay” will contrast the corporate welfare, property tax giveaways, and seemingly endless local and national tax cuts enjoyed by the financial sector with Bloomberg’s proposed cuts to childcare, classrooms, public safety, and dozens of other services working New Yorkers rely on.

“The big banks wrecked our economy and are back to making billions in profits and lavish bonuses, while the rest of us are still cleaning up the mess they created,” said Mary Brosnahan, the Executive Director of the Coalition for the Homeless.  “Now Bloomberg has a choice: ask Wall Street bankers to contribute their fair share to fixing New York City, rather than enacting devastating cuts to working families.”

The organizers promise more than a typical “rally” on May 12th, with a day of diverse, creative actions across the downtown financial district.  Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers, said: “On May 12, tens of thousands of New Yorkers will descend on Wall Street, creating a giant school without walls throughout the financial district.   Together, we will educate our city and expose the people and institutions that are destroying our jobs and our economy, and the politicians who are letting them get away with it.”

The week of actions coincides with a growing national movement by communities increasingly questioning the practices of the financial industry and fighting back against attacks on working people. “We are connecting the dots from the big banks that crashed our economy, destroyed millions of jobs and foreclosed on millions of family homes to the human impact here in the financial capital of our country, ” said Michael Kink, Executive Director of Strong Economy for All Coalition.

As the week of action approaches, organizers plan to release new data detailing the tax breaks and giveaways New York City doles out to the banking industry, as well as the effect of Wall Street-caused foreclosures on New York’s communities and tax revenue.  “When New Yorkers see the skewed choices this city has made, it is no longer an abstraction,” added Kink.  “Homeless shelters are bursting at the seams, and child care and senior centers are closing down — not because we have gone broke, but because Bloomberg has chosen to spend hundreds of millions in subsidies for the people who need it least.”

The following community groups and unions have joined the May 12 coalition (list in formation):

Center for Children Initiatives
Center for Working Families
Citizen Action of New York
Coalition for the Homeless
Community Voices Heard
Housing Works
Make the Road New York
New York Communities for Change
New Deal for New York Campaign
Organization for a Free Society
Picture the Homeless
United Students Against Sweatshops
Urban Youth Collaborative
1199 SEIU
CWA 1104
CWA 1180
CWA District 1
Professional Staff Congress – CUNY
United Federation of Teachers

Learn more at
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I spoke about it this morning with Greg Basta of NY Communities for Change, who’s the social media director for OnMay12.  We’ll follow up on this on Wednesday too…

Speaking of getting out and protesting, Awake The State is waking up Florida again tomorrow.  Visit the site, and find an action near you.  We’ll talk about it tomorrow morning on the show.

Every Monday morning, Crooks & Liars’ Nicole Belle joins me for a segment we call “Fools on the Hill”© – recapping the Sunday talking head shows.  Here’s what Nicole brought us this morning:

If you ever needed a case study to show how the media frames narratives with a clear agenda rather than impartially provide information to their viewers, this week would be it.  Just one week after the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, every single one of the Sunday news shows had on a former Bush administration member to clamor and insist that they too deserve credit for removing terrorist #1, and all those illegal things they did–waterboarding, rendition, indefinite detention—they set the wheels in motion for the current president do to nothing more than give the okay.

The Big Dick himself, former VP Cheney, appeared on that friendliest of news outlets, Fox News, to tell us that the success of the bin Laden means that torture should absolutely be back on the table.  No, seriously.   Because we need a foreign policy dictated by a sociopath.

Speaking of sociopathy, Chris Wallace actually asked why it’s okay to kill bin Laden but torture isn’t okay. The very fact that that question could be asked chills me to the bone.

Meanwhile, David Gregory shows the kind of hard-hitting journalism that landed him the host spot on the stalwart Sunday show Meet the Press, when he lobs Rudy “A Noun, a verb and 9/11” Giuliani the ultimate softball: are you running for President?

Fareed Zakaria did a slightly better job asking former CIA Director Michael Hayden why the trail grew so cold in the search for bin Laden.  Unfortunately, Hayden can’t be honest and admit that the Bush administration didn’t want to find bin Laden because he was a useful tool to politicize terror and keep people fearful  (as Howie Kurtz and Brian Ross also implicitly admit) so that they could do things like invade and occupy Iraq.

And then finally, we have Christiane Amanpour and ABC News, both of whom I’ve given up on at this point.  Not only do the producers of This Week ask on nothing but Bushies to discuss the bin Laden killing, then they put on Liz Cheney on the roundtable panel and Christiane Amanpour starts the discussion off with “Well, we know waterboarding gave us information, isn’t that right, Liz Cheney?”