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Unplug Yourself - J's Monthly Wrap-Up Volume 1 - J's Favorite Alternative News Sites

Posted Oct 02 2008 12:22pm
As promised - though late, this is my second (and final) installment of the monthly update as to my progress with the Unplug Yourself initiative. Brett, in the midst of papers and finals, will have to do the October introduction and his "progress report" next week when he has the week off in between classes. I hope to be more punctual next month, I apologize for the delays.

Anyway, this post will focus on the get your news and information from only alternative sources section of the initiative. I wasn't sure how to go about this at first, but I thought I would provide a list, and a brief description of the different sources I've been looking in to.

Now, this is a long list. I do not read all these sites daily, but I do read a least one of them daily, and try to make sure I peruse a diversity of sources. They are mostly liberal - some are so liberal they are almost conservative again. I do have a few conservative sites that I check in on from time to time. I like to see how "the other side" paints issues, and it helps me frame my arguments with conservatives. As I'm sure most of you who read this blog can assume that I am not a republican - nor am I a democrat, I prefer to refer to myself as a "green-liberal-conservative-ish something or another". Overall I am extremely liberal, but I do have some conservative beliefs too, but those are mostly in relation to constitutional topics such as state's rights and so on. Growing up in a family of libertarians and democrats, I got an interesting mix of political views, but the overarching theme was to be skeptical and don't believe everything people tell you - very powerful and important traits in this day and age. Thanks Mom and Dad!

On to the list.

What follows is my list of progressive, liberal, or well, I'm not sure what to call them, but they sure as hell aren't conservative news/information sources!

Issue Oriented Resources:

Institute for Public Accuracy - This organization merely wishes to expand the discourse of journalists and scholars. It is a great resource.

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) - FAIR is a media watchdog group that sends out "misinformation" briefings and alternative looks at current topics in the news. I've gotten some of my best information from here. It is highly critical of the media (as they should be) and point out biases and conflicts of interest in the media.

GRAIN - This is an organization that promotes sustainable agriculture and protection and expansion of biodiversity. They are also interested in promoting human scaled systems that are fair and equitable. They have an occasional newsletter called "Seedling", which discuss in depth current topics of interest.

Foreign Policy in Focus - FPIF is a "think-tank" that focuses (obviously) on foreign policy and other related topics. The scholars working at FPIF offer critiques as well as alternatives to proposed or current policies. To me, as someone who really dislikes politics and foreign policy, this is a breath of fresh air. It's a place to find reasonable and common sense ideas, as opposed to the backwards and often nonsensical plans our government puts forth.

Daily General News Sites:

Alternet - I personally would call this site "kind of liberal" - they offer alternative views, though definitely not as radical as what you will find on some of the other sites I recommend. I like to think of it as "progressive politics lite" - but it is a good gauge of where "mainstream progressives" stand.

Common Dreams - This has to be one of my favorite news sites. CD brings together, on one site, the days most important (as judged by them, of course) stories from a wide range of alternative, and mainstream news sources. There is original writing done for CD as well.

Truth Out - Another great alternative, reader supported, news site.

Truth Dig - Now, I am a huge fan of Chris Hedges, and they now run a weekly column by him at Truth Dig, so this has helped to increase my love for this already wonderful site. I would rate this site up there with Common Dreams.

Democracy Now! - This is a daily, alternative radio show - well, it is a radio show/TV show. It airs on Free Speech TV, public access TV, satellite TV, etc. But you can also watch the broadcast online at their website, or even read the transcripts if your prefer. The program gives a platform to those voices and stories often overlooked, and provides alternative perspectives on current events. This is one of the best resources I've found and I learn so much every time I listen or watch. Amy Goodman, the main host of the show just recently won the Alternative Nobel Prize for her work.

Grist - This is an environmental news organization with a satirical edge. It's great - 'nuff said.

Environmental News Network - Another excellent environmental news organization, though without the humor of Grist.

Blogs or Podcasts:

Clusterfuck Nation - This is James Howard Kunstler's blog. Kunstler wrote The Long Emergency about peak oil, and does a weekly post on current events, generally in relation to peak oil. He is from what I would refer to as the "doomer" side of the peak oil camp, he truly believes that TSIATHTF (the shit is about to hit the fan, like that one?).

Club Orlov - This is Dmirtri Orlov's blog. Orlov talks about many things from peak oil to the process of social/environmental/economic collapse. Always eloquent and informative.

From the Wilderness (the blog) - From the Wilderness is a site put together by Michael C. Ruppert. This is the blog FTW has put together. The FTW site deals with many issues - even what many would call "conspiracy theories", 9/11 Truth, civil liberties, peak oil, climate change, the economy, etc. The blog focuses more on peak oil and the resulting economic turmoil. I personally prefer the blog to the site - though there is a lot of good information there. It's also fun to go look at the conspiracy theories (and if you are really looking for a good time in this regard, check out Alex Jones' site - now there is a conspiracy theorist - he seems to think that everything is a conspiracy - perhaps even conspiracies for conspiracies. What do you think of that one? Hehe).

The C-Realm Podcast - This podcast is put on by a gentleman with the handle KMO. KMO discusses many things on his podcasts from something he calls the "technological singularity" (not my area of interest), shamanism and hallucinogenic drug use (again, not my area of interest), as well as peak oil and re-localization (these are my areas of interest).

Evening Edition - This is a radio show on our local community radio station 89.5 KOPN. The host of the show is Mark Haim, a friend and long-time community activist. He has been doing community activism for decades and is the director of Peaceworks here in Columbia. His shows cover a wide range of material from social justice, war, the economy, energy, sustainability, and so on. You can listen to an archive of his shows podcasts by going here.

A Chautauqua - This is another show on our local community radio station hosted by Deb Hobson. Please don't be fooled by the picture or the "New Age-y" introductory music to her show. She is serious and she gets serious guests - she's had Normon Solomon, Barbara Eherenreich, Michael T. Klare (a peak oiler), Howard Zinn and many, many more great guests on her program. Again, you can listen to an archive of her shows podcasts by going here.

Conservative Sources (you will notice this list is quite a bit smaller than the other):

Heritage Foundation - I'm not even going to tell you what the claims are of this organization. It is not really what comes out of it - let's just say that. This is a think-tank that promotes "smaller government", "strong defense", a "free market", and "individual civil liberties". I put those things in quotes as this is not what has tended to come from these and similar policy recommendations. It is generally more de-regulation, strong offense, and a clamping down on free, civil society - basically, it seems to me that these folks are "for" individual civil liberties so long as we all want to live like them. I try not to be judgmental, and it is very useful for all of us to have an understanding of what "the other side" (whatever side that might be) is thinking and where they stand. I just staunchly disagree with pretty much everything put forth on this site - but I still see the value in knowing about it.

American Enterprise Institute - I feel pretty much the same way about this organization as I do the Heritage Foundation - but again, this is where a lot of conservative thought comes from, so it is good to understand it.

Council on Foreign Relations - This is a very important organization that not enough people are familiar with. Many of the ideas that become policies and legislative endeavors come out of the CFR. The CFR claims to be a non-partisan think-tank - and I guess in many ways they are - it is comprised of both democrats and republicans, so in that respect they are being truthful. But really, this is a think-tank comprised of neo-conservatives and neo-liberals, who may differ on the details and specifics, but tend to agree on certain fundamental assumptions: that continued and unlimited growth is possible and desirable; US hegemony; our role in policing the world; economic deregulation, and so on. This is where some of the worst ideas of the Clinton and Bush administrations have come from. I must say though, there is some really interesting information on this site - and you will see how familiar the ideas and rhetoric are to what you hear coming out of Washington.

And that's all for now - there are so many more sources of information out there than this list I put forth, these are just my favorite ones. I will be back tomorrow with some yummy food and a brief description of the Eat Local Challenge Brett and I are participating in for the month of October (check out the sidebar of the blog for more information). Perhaps some of you will consider joining the Eat Local Challenge - it is a perfect complement to the Go Local part of the Unplug Yourself initiative.

'Til next time!
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