Monday, February 28, 2011

Reclaiming the banks: Activists turn British banks into creches, classrooms and launderettes in protest over public service cuts


By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 10:30 PM on 26th February 2011

Activists stormed more than 40 banks across Britain in protest over executive bonuses and public service cuts -  and turned them into a variety of ad hoc walk-in centres.

UK Uncut said demonstrators set up creches, laundries, school classrooms, libraries, homeless shelters, drama clubs, walk-in clinics, youth centres, job centres and leisure centres at branches of RBS, NatWest and Lloyds.

At 10am in Camden, north London, demonstrators invaded a NatWest and set up a creche where children played, practiced musical instruments while parents caught up.

Wisconsin is making the battle lines clear in America's hidden class war


The brazen choices of the Republican governor shows the real ideology behind attacks on unions – in the US and beyond

guardian.co.uk, Sunday 27 February 2011

You can tell a great deal about a nation's anxieties and aspirations by the discrepancy between reality and popular perception. Polls last year showed that in the US 61% think the country spends too much on foreign aid. This makes sense once you understand that the average American is under the illusion that 25% of the federal budget goes on foreign aid (the real figure is 1%).

Similarly, a Mori poll in Britain in 2002 revealed that more than a third of the country thought there were too many immigrants. Little wonder. The mean estimate was that immigrants comprise 23% of the country; the actual number was about 4%.

Broadly speaking, these inconsistencies do not reflect malice or wilful ignorance but people's attempts to make sense of the world they experience through the distorting filters of media representation, popular prejudice and national myths. "The way we see things is affected by what we know and what we believe," wrote John Berger in Ways of Seeing. "The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled."

When it comes to class, Americans have long seen themselves as potentially rich and perpetually middling. A Pew survey in 2008 revealed that 91% believe they are either middle class, upper-middle class or lower-middle class. Relatively few claim to be working class or upper class, intimating more of a cultural aspiration than an economic relationship. Meanwhile, a Gallup poll in 2005 showed that while only 2% of Americans described themselves as "rich", 31% thought it very likely or somewhat likely they would "ever be rich".

But trends and ongoing events are forcing a reappraisal of that self-image. Social mobility has stalled; wages have been stagnant for a generation. It is in this light that the growing resistance to events in Wisconsin must be understood. The hardline Republican governor, Scott Walker, has pledged to remove collective bargaining rights from public sector unions and cut local government workers' health benefits and pension entitlements.

Protesters Are Locked Out of Wisconsin Capitol

The pigs palace guard have installed bolts that prevent the opening of windows so people can neither reinforce those sitting in inside the building nor escape if arrests appear eminent.  This is an old police tactic when the police are about to proceed with mass arrests.

Today, due to ultra right wing laws passed over the last thirty years there is a possibility these brave people, who are standing up to the ultra right wing fascists could face felony charges rather than minor misdemeanor charges.  Thanks to the PATRIOT ACT passed by Herr Bush and the craven cowards in the House and Senate these people could potentially be labeled as terrorists.

From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/01/us/01wisconsin.html?_r=1

By RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr.
Published: February 28, 2011

MADISON, Wis. — The administration of Gov. Scott Walker abruptly locked out protesters from the Capitol on Monday morning, the latest gambit in the showdown between the new Republican governor and demonstrators rallying against his plan to strip public employee unions of almost all of their collective bargaining power.

About 60 demonstrators who had slept in the statehouse overnight remained inside as of noon Monday, and they banged drums, sang and danced in the rotunda. They had access to restrooms and, given the dwindling size of the group, appeared to have a decent supply of food. There was no indication that the police were preparing to arrest or eject them, and several said in interviews that they had no intention of leaving.
Protesters won a victory on Sunday when Mr. Walker’s administration reversed a plan to remove demonstrators who had been sleeping in the Capitol overnight for the last two weeks.

Many of the protesters left the building voluntarily on Sunday night, planning to return in the morning. But when they did, they found themselves barred from entering, the first time during the two-week demonstration, they said, that the building was locked during normal business hours. At least a hundred protesters stood outside one entrance, waiting to be let inside.

Protesters said they believed that the Walker administration was trying to slowly shrink the size of the protest inside the building before Tuesday’s scheduled unveiling of the governor’s budget proposal.
“The governor is trying to force a conflict between us and the police,” said one protester still inside, Damon Terrell, a university student. “He wants us to feel caged so we’ll do something stupid, and then he wants the police to react.”

Peter Barca, the leader of the Democrats in the state Assembly, which is the lower house, called the closure “not acceptable.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/01/us/01wisconsin.html?_r=1

Pay Up, Corporate Tax Dodgers

We're chumps unless we force Congress to stop tax haven abuse.

Published on Monday, February 28, 2011 by OtherWords

Instead of cutting state and federal budgets, the United States should crack down on the corporate tax dodgers thumbing their noses at us.

Across the nation, states are making deep cuts that will wreck the quality of life for everyone to close budget gaps that total more than $100 billion.

But there's a more sensible option. Overseas tax havens enable companies to pretend their profits are earned in other countries like the Cayman Islands. Simply making that ruse illegal would bring home an estimated $100 billion a year.

The next time you read a story about some politician bemoaning that "there's no money" and "we have to make cuts," just point to artful tax dodgers in our midst.

They include some of the banks that trashed the economy but gladly took our tax dollars to stay alive after the economic meltdown. Bank of America. Wells Fargo. Citigroup.

Goldman Sachs took a $10 billion taxpayer bailout but then gamed its effective tax rate down to one percent through what its shakedown-artist executives call "changes in geographic earnings mix." Shame on them. Pay up.
See that FedEx delivery van go by on the roads you paid for? Pay up FedEx! Don't pretend you're not making billions in the U.S. Don't lie and tell us you made all those profits on some island with more palm trees than people. We know the demand for coconut delivery isn't that big.

US Uncut's Anti-Austerity Protests Start Small, Strong Against Bank of America


Monday 28 February 2011

Anna Becker looks tired. Becker is leaning against the brick wall beside the entrance to Bank of America's Pearl District branch in Portland, Oregon, where one of over 50 nationwide protests by US Uncut has been underway for nearly two hours.

But Becker, a retired teacher, is just as energized as the protesters at the front of the crowd of about 60, who spill into the street and draw long, loud honks from the stream of cars driving toward the Willamette River.

"I have been waiting for 20 years for something like this to happen in America," says Becker. The words she has spoken in private for years are now plastered onto the canary yellow poster board she holds up like a shield: "B of A is al-Qaeda: financial terrorists."

Bank of America (B of A) is the first corporation to be targeted by US Uncut, the transatlantic offspring of the United Kingdom-based anti-austerity group UK Uncut, which held its first demonstration to protest corporate tax evasion in late 2010.

As a voice at the megaphone of the Portland protest said, "The United States does not have a deficit problem. The United States has a revenue problem." According to a 2008 report by the Government Accountability Office, 25 percent of the biggest corporations pay no federal income tax. B of A, the recipient of $45 billion in bailout funds, shuttles its would-be tax dollars into 115 offshore tax havens. Meanwhile, budget deficits are cited as justification for pay freezes for public workers and cuts to heating assistance programs, Social Security, and other social safety nets.

"The $3 in my wallet is more than ExxonMobil, GE and Bank of America paid in taxes last year, combined," said Carl Gibson, founder of the first American Uncut group, US Uncut Mississippi, in a release prior to the February 26 protests.

Main Stream Media Ignores Major Pro-Planned Parenthood Demonstration In Austin



A Feb. 26th rally in Austin, Texas to protect women's right to healthcare. Rally to help promote a woman's right to choose and to heath care for women. Also supporting Planned Parenthood. Don't let those right wing idiots take away your right to choose. Rally lasted for hours as participants marched up and down Congress Avenue in Austin, Texas.

WI Capitol Police Chief: Protesters Can Stay Tonight


February 27, 2011

Madison, WI -- In a major victory for the protesters at the Wisconsin state Capitol -- who were supposed to clear out at 4 p.m. CT today, but have remained inside in the hundreds -- Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs has announced that those protesters still in the building will be able to stay the night.

Protesters will be able to sleep on the ground floor, as cleaning is done of the upper floors. Tubbs said there had been no decisions made yet on what the policy would be for successive nights.

"There will be no arrests, as we said before, there will be no use of force," Tubbs said. "We want the people to continue to cooperate and work within the guidelines and the laws of the state of Wisconsin. So there'll be no one asked to leave the Capitol tonight."

Continue reading at:  http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/02/wi-capitol-police-chief-protesters-can-stay-tonight.php?ref=fpa

Demonstrators Can Continue Overnight Stays in Wisconsin Capitol

From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/28/us/28wisconsin.html?ref=us

By RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr.
Published: February 27, 2011

MADISON, Wis. — In a victory — at least a symbolic one — for Wisconsin’s public employee unions, the Capitol authorities announced on Sunday that demonstrators could continue their all-night sleepovers in the building and would not be forcibly ejected or arrested.

Just one day earlier, the state agency that oversees the Capitol police had said that the overnight protests, which have occurred continuously for almost two weeks and have been the heart and soul of the demonstrations in Madison, would cease on Sunday. The agency is led by an appointee of Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, whose plan to strip public employee unions of nearly all of their collective bargaining rights has led to huge rallies in opposition, with as many as 70,000 demonstrators marching around the Madison Statehouse.

Union officials, who had denounced the plan to close the Capitol overnight as an effort to silence critics, called the reversal a capitulation by Mr. Walker’s administration.

“Cooler heads prevailed,” said Jim Palmer, the executive director of the 11,000-member Wisconsin Professional Police Association. “They had said they were going to clear the place out, and then they thought the better of it. Now it’s clear that law enforcement professionals are running the show.”

Officials from both the governor’s office and the Department of Administration, the cabinet-level state agency that had previously called for closing the Capitol, could not be reached for comment.

Continue reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/28/us/28wisconsin.html?ref=us

More than 100,000 Rally in Wisconsin


February 26th, 2011 


On a snowy Wisconsin Saturday over 100,000 union members, working families, community members, faith leaders, activist groups and concerned citizens gathered in Madison to tell Gov. Walker to stop the attacks on the middle class and kill the bill.

Despite the weather, today’s rally was the biggest in the 13 days of protests. The people of Wisconsin will continue to fight for their rights. It is time for our elected officials to show leadership, come to the table and move Wisconsin forward.


Wisconsin’s teachers, nurses, snow plow drivers, and other public employees have agreed to Walker’s pension and health care concessions, which he said would solve the budget challenge. The Governor’s continued attacks on our state’s working families harm us all. It is now up to the Governor to be reasonable and listen to his constituents.

The whole nation has taken notice of what we are doing in Wisconsin. Today solidarity rallies were held in all 50 states, as America stands with Wisconsin.

What’s happened in our state has made the whole labor movement stronger. None of this would have been possible without the support, dedication and solidarity of both union members and non-union members who understand more than they have in a long time just how much we’re all in this together.

For photos of past rallies and select solidarity actions visit the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Flickr page. Be sure to “like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter so you can be up-to-date as we spread the word to stand with Wisconsin.

Merlin Stone 1931 – 2011

Even though I am an atheist rather than a pagan I nonetheless went through journeys of spiritual exploration including the Wicca and Buddhism.

Much of my disgust with religion was due to the way it abuses women and LGBT/T people.  Generally the existentialism of Sartre, Camus and de Beauvoir always made more sense to me.

But i am a product of the psychedelic as well as the political 1960s and liked to party, which was always fun with the Wiccans and their feasts.  I might add that the Wicca tied in nicely with my worshiping the earth and planets, the Gaia principles.

I was a feminist and involved with the Women's Building on Spring St in LA when Merlin Stone book, When God Was a Woman came out.  I ran out to Sisterhood Books on Westwood Blvd, near UCLA and picked up a copy.

Even suggesting a alternative female god was subversive and Merlin Stone's book was followed with books by Starhawk, Zee Budapest, and Marita Gimbutas.

I became part of a coven until I sort of realized that believing in a whole bunch of gods made even less sense than believing in one.  I also realized that science was more magical than superstitions could ever be.

At the same time writers like Merlin Stone challenged us to imagine an alternative to a misogynistic, domineering male god and for that I am thankful.

There is a nice obit at: The Wild Hunt

Indecorous and Free! About Womyn's Protests in Italy

Saturday, February 26 2011

In this latest phase of widespread political and economic crisis, the subject of sexuality has become crucial. In this context the role of women is once again determined and exploited by those in power, within an old traditional ideological perspective. We’ve surely needed a women’s mobilisation against the government and its PM for some time now, and not just because of the sexual scandals. Italy is ranked amongst the lowest in Europe for freedom and quality of life for women – especially in a context where the government combines the dogmas of unconditional allegiance to Catholic fundamentalism on one hand and unrestrained liberalism on the other. Berlusconi has been the maker of brutal laws that victimise and stigmatise women’s bodies: the law on IVF*, the repealing of the law that made it illegal to “fairly dismiss” pregnant women**, the increase of state pension age. These are just some striking examples of the government’s politics. Other examples are the relentless attacks against the abortion law, the disqualifying and privatisation of the infrastructure (like sexual health centres), the war against the Month-After pill. 

All this, in a country that deliberately disowns its youth and therefore its own future, cutting university funds and making work more and more precarious. Women and migrants are the most hard hit by this political system – both are denied fundamental guarantees for a free and dignified existence. Last but not least in this list, the creation of the CIE: proper concentration camps where women are constantly exposed to violence and abuse.*** The recent scandals involving the PM reveal a squalid picture of corruption, in which the woman’s role is defined by the worst possible stereotypes and expressions of an archaic and vulgar sexism.

On the other hand though, some of the recent mobilisation address their appeals only to “good” women: mothers, wives, working women. This perspective assumes a separation between respectable and non respectable women, invoking a universal and abstract morality. The danger of this distinction is that it judgementally stigmatises women who “sell their bodies”, but not the sexist discourse and practices that create this twisted dynamic in the first place. Instead of opposing the traditional and regressive vision of sexuality, this kind of divisive morality serves to reinforce it. We, on the other hand, believe the political questions that need to be asked are of a completely different nature. The redistribution of wealth between profiteers and those who are paying for this crisis, between those who own many buildings and those who don’t even have a house, between those who luxuriate on millionaire wages and those who are jobless: these are the crucial political questions. 

Above all, we think it’s time for women to speak out for themselves and express their opinions on topics that relate to them. For a long while now, women’s sexuality has been disciplined and controlled, ruled by procreation and male pleasure – in a devious picture where on one hand, prostitutes are being criminalised and marginalised through “security package” laws and moralistic campaigns and on the other, they are being used at men’s leisure in the political palaces. It’s significant that the most difficult moment of Berlusconi’s government has been caused by a question that has at its heart gender and relationship issues. We have an extraordinary opportunity to incite a women’s revolt – a revolt that calls for a free and aware sexuality, devoid of commodification and imposed rules, and based on the acknowledgment of desires, liberation from stereotypes and self-determination.

* The law restricts the provision of fertility treatments to ‘stable heterosexual couples’ who live together and are of childbearing age, and who are shown to be clinically infertile. A survey carried out by the Reproductive Tourism Observatory in 2006 shows that the number of Italian couples travelling to other countries for such procedures has increased four-fold since the law was passed three years before. 

** A common practice that hits pregnant women especially: employees are asked to sign a blank dismissal letter. The employer will then add a date and sack that person whenever they want to, for example, when a female employee gets pregnant. With the repealing of the law against this practice in 2008, women (and employees in general) have one less legal weapon to fight unfair dismissal.
*** Several migrant women locked up in Italian detention centres have denounced the violence, beatings and in some cases, rapes going on inside. For further info check out my previous articles on the blog. This text was published in the days leading to the women’s demo of 13 February. As I didn’t have time to translate it before I have taken the liberty to adapt it and take out some parts strictly relating to the demo. 

Original article from Le Malefiche feminist blog. Translated and adapted by Italy Calling.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

‘Anonymous’ targets the brothers Koch, claiming attempts ‘to usurp American Democracy’


By Stephen C. Webster
Sunday, February 27th, 2011

The decentralized protest group "Anonymous" has a new target: no, it's not a middle eastern dictator, a major bank or even a bit player in the military-industrial complex.

It's none other than tea party financiers Charles and David Koch, who were being targeted, an open letter stated, for their attempts "to usurp American Democracy."

"Koch Industries, and oligarchs like them, have most recently started to manipulate the political agenda in Wisconsin," an announcement posted to anonnews.org declared.

"Governor Walker's union-busting budget plan contains a clause that went nearly un-noticed. This clause would allow the sale of publicly owned utility plants in Wisconsin to private parties (specifically, Koch Industries) at any price, no matter how low, without a public bidding process," they explained. "The Koch's have helped to fuel the unrest in Wisconsin and the drive behind the bill to eliminate the collective bargaining power of unions in a bid to gain a monopoly over the state's power supplies.

The group, which was responsible for taking MasterCard Worldwide offline for an entire day -- along with numerous other organizations that plotted against secrets outlet WikiLeaks -- said it would now be "actively seeking vulnerabilities" in Koch industries.

"In a world where corporate money has become the lifeblood of political influence, the labor unions are one of the few ways citizens have to fight against corporate greed," the release added. "Anonymous cannot ignore the plight of the citizen-workers of Wisconsin, or the opportunity to fight for the people in America's broken political system. For these reasons, we feel that the Koch brothers threaten the United States democratic system and, by extension, all freedom-loving individuals everywhere."

They added that if one would like to withdraw their unknowing support for the brothers Koch, an array of products would need to be boycotted -- and not just by Americans, but people world-wide.

The Dems' Tepid Approach to What's at Stake in Wisc. Is Helping Conservatives Destroy Unions, Defund the Democratic Party and Take over the Country


The Wisconsin protests are about a lot more than budgets and unions -- and the Dems need to get out on front or reap the whirlwind.

By George Lakoff
February 26, 2011
 
The Wisconsin protests are about much more than budgets and unions. As I observed in What the Right-wing Assault on Women, Unions, the Environment, Health Care and PBS Is All About, the conservative story about budget deficits is a ruse to turn the country conservative in every area. Karl Rove and Shep Smith have made it clear on Fox: If the Wisconsin plan to kill the public employees’ unions succeeds, then there will be little union money in the future to support democratic candidates. Conservatives will be effectively unopposed in raising campaign funding in most elections, including the presidential elections. This will mean a thoroughly conservative America in every issue area.

The media, with few exceptions, is failing to get at the deeper issues.

Let’s start with the case of the Lincoln legislators. As is well known about Lincoln, and as the Political Wire reports,
    On December 5, 1840, Democrats "proposed an early adjournment, knowing this would bring a speedy end to the State Bank. The Whigs tried to counter by leaving the capitol building before the vote, but the doors were locked. That's when Lincoln made his move. He headed for the second story, opened a window and jumped to the ground!"
Lincoln would be, and we all should be, proud that the Wisconsin state senators have courageously crossed the state line to Illinois to avoid a quorum in Wisconsin that would have a disastrous effect, not only on Wisconsin, but on America for the indefinite future.

Quorum rules are an inherent part of democracy. They are in the Wisconsin Constitution for a reason. When an extreme move by a legislative majority would be a disaster, patriotic legislators can, like Lincoln, refuse to allow the disaster is the have the power to stop it. That is their democratic duty, not only to their constituents, but to the nation.

Continue reading at:  http://tinyurl.com/4s5pter

The Rally in Dallas in Support of the Workers in Wisconsin

Yesterday Tina and I joined 250-300 demonstrators in South Dallas in support of the brave workers who are standing up to the ultra right wing Union busting Koch Brothers owned Governor of Wisconsin.

The Demonstration was chaired by a member of the El Centro College Students For a Democratic Society.

I was so proud and elated to see someone from SDS standing up and leading the renewed struggle, so glad to see a radical organization that was so instrumental in shaping me arise from oblivion. The Socialist Workers were there too and lent their voice in support of the workers in Wisconsin.

It was wonderful to see all the groups that came together in support of the workers in their struggles.

Teachers fighting to be able to continue teaching the children of Texas when Governor Good Hair Perry is trying to bust the Teachers Union and cut funding for Education while continuing to give corporations huge tax breaks.

Code Pink was there.  The Teamsters were there, the Communication Workers, Postal Workers, Nurses.

While People of Color seemed under represented, they were nonetheless more represented than I see at many LGBT/T events.

There were many older people there.

With good reason.  During the Reagan and post-Reagan years we have been sold this scam of private pension plans, which the Wall Street scumbags and corporate pieces of shit immediately turned into free gambling chips to use at the High Finance Casino run by the fucking Masters of the Universe.

Now older people have something like 20% real unemployment.  Many are members of the 99 Club and no longer counted among the unemployed.  They have no health insurance if they are too young for Medicare (my situation) and are either dependent upon Social Security or will soon be dependent upon Social Security.
The situation is particularly grim for Teachers who were not part of Social Security but rather are dependent upon State Pension programs that the “Pro-Business Governors” used as gambling chips at that High Finance Casino while totally ignoring what happened to Orange County California when they played that game and lost.

Oddly enough I was surprised by the total absence of any representatives of the Transgender Community carrying signs demanding a Trans-inclusive ENDA.

There were gay and lesbian people at the rally supporting both the workers in Wisconsin and the workers here in Texas, because lesbian and gay people face the same uncertainty in the labor market straight people do.

Yesterday women also held a rally in Austin in support of Planned Parenthood which is facing voracious attacks from the well financed Taliban Christian Right as well as ultra right wing neo-Nazi Republicans who want to get government out of the lives of the corporation and back into the lives of people.

Getting the Government out of people’s lives is exposed as a huge lie when the government wants to regulate the most intimate portion of women’s lives, the when and if of bearing children.  Make no mistake about that one, the Reich Wing Republicans are so interested in regulating that  aspect of our lives, I’m surprised they haven’t required women to submit their sanitary napkins and tampons for testing to assure they haven’t deliberately or accidentally prevented the implantation of a fertilized egg .

Many people who were at the rally were sick and tired of the rich waging class war upon the working people of America.  Why should we be the ones subjected to austerity measures to pay for the Republican version of Robin Hood in Reverse.  For the last thirty years the right wing has stripped working people and the unemployed poor of every single program aimed at our survival.
The rich have been waging class war on the working people since the McCarthy Era and the passage of the Taft Hartley Act which drove the Reds who were the most honest and dedicated of all the union leaders and workers from the union leadership and replaced them with business friendly collaborators with big business.

Since I was a child there has been an anti-union war of propaganda in this nation, one that is particularly apparent in the right wing dominated red states where businesses have the right to hire and fire at will and workers are basically denied the right to organize.
“Right to Work Laws”, one of those devious post-modern, Orwellian constucts of phrase were enacted as not only a means of destroying unions, but also as an end run around all anti-discrimination laws.  The workers have no one to represent them as the corporate financed right wing Republicans did away with Legal Aid and there are no unions.  This makes anti-discrimination measures meaningless, as businesses can afford legal teams well versed in defeating these law suits in courts packed with corporation friendly right wing judges appointed by Republi-Nazis.

Some folks fault me for not putting more personal energy behind the passage of a trans-inclusive ENDA than I put behind marriage equality.  The personal is the political and my concerns as an aging lesbian woman in a committed relationship that is not recognized by the state is about as personal as politics can become. We have to worry about all sorts of things including  not being able to care for or even visit each other should one of us require long term care. In the case of either of our deaths we have to be concerned about blood relatives who would have little or nothing to do with us in our lives suddenly swooping in at the hour of the surviving partners grief and snatching the deceased partner’s body, as well as laying claim to all shared assets including home, car(s) and personal possessions.
The way benefits are taxed for same-sex couples and Social Security Survivor’s Benefits are determined even in states with full marriage equality helps make marriage equality a worker’s rights issue.

For too long LGBT/T folks have separated themselves from straights who are part of the working class and share common issues.

For too long LGBT/T folks have treated discrimination against them as something peculiar to the LGBT/T communities rather than  discrimination placing them together with all sorts of other groups and communities who are subject to discrimination, including people of color, women, the poor, and differently abled, or older.

How does discrimination based on gender appearance really differ from any other discrimination based on appearance or ableism?

Fighting the right wing and winning will not be based on a movement that Balkanizes itself based on identity politics.  Winning the struggle against the alliances of the right, that include racist, anti-lgbt/t bigots, misogynists, free marketeers, big money, big pharm., big oil/coal etc. cannot be accomplished as long as we spend so much time and energy fighting among ourselves while carving out bigger and bigger fiefdoms of personal power based on identity politics.

The reality is middle class or poor, lower/middle management or hourly, person of color or white, straight or lgbt/t, we share a common oppressor, one who is using our divisiveness to keep all of us oppressed.

Sadly I have friends who rail on about how undocumented workers are destroying America, yet not one of those friends would climb up on the roofs of houses to replace the shingles in the hot Texas summer heat, or pick the lettuce from the pesticide filled fields, butcher the thousands of animals who grace our table or bus the tables and wash the dishes in the restaurants where we dine.
The four hundred wealthiest individuals in this nation control more wealth than the poorest hundred million of us.  Fifty million of us are in poverty and as many are without health insurance.  Millions of us have lost our homes we worked so hard to have due to the scams of the fucking masters of the universe.

But if we suggest that the corporations and the rich should pay more, the right wing noise machine cries like baby stuck with a safety pin. “Class war!” “Class war!”  “Those left wing Commies are calling for ‘Class War”.  As though there hasn’t always been a class war waged in this country, by the rich and corporations against the working people.
As though those who live lives of insecurity and who can have their lives destroyed on a whim by the rich who own the corporations are really free.

Time to turn off Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Hannity and the rest of the right wing lie machine.  These pieces of shit don’t want workers to belong to unions and tell you how bad unions are and yet they belong to a union.

Maybe we should turn them off, boycott their stations and sponsors.
Maybe we should realize that government and corporations are two different things and have two different purposes, that it is bad for the American people to run the government like a business and that the purpose of the government should be to protect the people not the corporations.

I suggested to the guy running the rally that maybe we should start realizing class war wasn’t just for the rich anymore.

He announced my slogan, “Class war, not just for the rich anymore!”

The rally ended with people chanting, “No War but Class War!”

100,000 strong in Wisconsin


2/26/2011

Wisconsin police union joins protesters in statehouse


2/26/2011

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Matt Taibbi: Why Isn't Wall Street in Jail?

Matt Taibbi has made Rolling Stone relevant again and a must read publication.


Rolling Stone's Taibbi explains how the American people have been defrauded by Wall St. investors and how the financial crisis is tied to Wisconsin.

February 25, 2011
 
Nobody goes to jail,” "writes Matt Taibbi in his the new issue of Rolling Stone magazine. “This is the mantra of the financial-crisis era, one that saw virtually every major bank and financial company on Wall Street embroiled in obscene criminal scandals that impoverished millions andcollectively destroyed hundreds of billions, in fact, trillions of dollars of the world’s wealth." Here is the complete interview from which we played an excerpt on our Feb. 22 show. Taibbi explains how the American people have been defrauded by Wall Street investors and how the financial crisis is connected to the situations in states such as Wisconsin and Ohio.

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to Matt Taibbi. But before I do, let me read a sentence from a recent paper by Dean Baker, who concludes, "Most of the pension shortfall using the current methodology is attributable to the plunge in the stock market in the years 2007-2009. If pension funds had earned returns just equal to the interest rate on 30-year Treasury bonds in the three years since 2007, their assets would be more than $850 billion greater than they are today."

And this—he quotes David Cay Johnston of tax.com: "The average Wisconsin pension is $24,500 a year, which is hardly lavish. But what is stunning is that 15% of the money contributed to the fund each year is going to Wall Street in fees," which is why we now ask the question, "Why isn’t Wall Street in jail?"

Actually, that’s the title of reporter Matt Taibbi’s new article for Rolling Stone magazine. In the piece, Matt writes, quote, "Nobody goes to jail. This is the mantra of the financial-crisis era, one that saw virtually every major bank and financial company on Wall Street embroiled in obscene criminal scandals that impoverished millions and collectively destroyed hundreds of billions, in fact, trillions of dollars of the world’s wealth."

Continue reading at: http://www.alternet.org/economy/150056/matt_taibbi%3A_why_isn%27t_wall_street_in_jail/

Exclusive: Non-partisan ‘US Uncut’ group demands corporations pay taxes


By Sahil Kapur
Friday, February 25th, 2011


WASHINGTON – Corporate tax evasion has evolved into a virtual art form. Two-thirds of US corporations didn't pay so much as a dime in taxes between 1998 and 2005, exploiting a multitude of loopholes, according to a Congressional report.

Targeting corporations who evade taxes turned out to be quite the anti-austerity rallying cry in England, where a new prime minister is pushing painful cuts for working people.

Now, that same rallying cry is going out across the United States, where the anti-spending tea party movement has in recent years overshadowed the voices of those who want government to be more active on behalf of the middle class.

A new non-partisan group called US Uncut -- named after UK Uncut -- aims in part to challenge the tea party's push for lower corporate taxes. They instead want Congress stop letting wealthy corporations dodge their taxes.

"This is an issue that has been ignored for way too long," Carl Gibson, a US Uncut spokesman, told Raw Story. "Congress has been chipping away and chipping away at corporate responsibility to pay taxes."
"And now it's gotten to the point where the middle class is being sacrificed on the altar of deficit reduction, while big corporations are getting away with not paying any taxes at all."

USDA Approved Monsanto Alfalfa Despite Warnings of New Pathogen Discovered in Genetically Engineered Crops


Mike Ludwig
Friday 25 February 2011

Just two weeks before the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) fully deregulated Monsanto's Roundup Ready alfalfa, a senior soil scientist alerted the department about a newly discovered, microscopic pathogen found in high concentrations of Roundup Ready corn and soy that researchers believe could be causing infertility in livestock and diseases in crops that could threaten the entire domestic food supply.

Dr. Don Huber, a plant pathologist and retired Purdue University professor, wrote in a letter to the USDA that the pathogen is new to science and appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals and probably humans.

"For the past 40 years, I have been a scientist in the professional and military agencies that evaluate and prepare for natural and manmade biological threats, including germ warfare and disease outbreaks," Huber wrote in his January 16 letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Based on this experience, I believe the threat we are facing from this pathogen is unique and of a high risk status. In layman's terms, it should be treated as an emergency."


Huber called for an immediate moratorium on approvals of Roundup Ready crops, but on January 27, the USDA fully deregulated Roundup Ready alfalfa after nearly five years of legal battles with farmers and environmental groups. The USDA partially deregulated Roundup Ready sugar beats on February 4.

The pathogen is about the size of a virus and reproduces like a micro-fungal organism. According to Huber, the organism may be the first micro-fungus of its kind ever discovered, and there is evidence that the infectious pathogen causes diseases in both plants and animals, which is very rare.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Shoppers Wary of GM Foods Find They're Everywhere


by Mary Clare Jalonick
Published on Friday, February 25, 2011 by the Associated Press

You may not want to eat genetically engineered foods. Chances are, you are eating them anyway.

 Genetically modified plants grown from seeds engineered in labs now provide much of the food we eat. Most corn, soybean and cotton crops grown in the United States have been genetically modified to resist pesticides or insects, and corn and soy are common food ingredients.

The Agriculture Department has approved three more genetically engineered crops in the past month, and the Food and Drug Administration could approve fast-growing genetically modified salmon for human consumption this year.

Agribusiness and the seed companies say their products help boost crop production, lower prices at the grocery store and feed the world, particularly in developing countries. The FDA and USDA say the engineered foods they've approved are safe — so safe, they don't even need to be labeled as such — and can't be significantly distinguished from conventional varieties.

Organic food companies, chefs and consumer groups have stepped up their efforts — so far, unsuccessfully — to get the government to exercise more oversight of engineered foods, arguing the seeds are floating from field to field and contaminating pure crops. The groups have been bolstered by a growing network of consumers who are wary of processed and modified foods.

Friday Night Fun and Culture







Time to show our power


Unions have the strength to block everything in Scott Walker's union-busting bill.

February 24, 2011

THE BATTLE for Wisconsin's future has come to a crossroads--and the movement that has electrified the country with its opposition to Gov. Scott Walker's anti-labor assault needs to step up the fight to win.

Last week, the capitol building in downtown Madison took on the spirit and feel of Cairo's Tahrir Square as growing numbers of workers and students, first from Madison and then from around the state and the country, occupied the building and took over the grounds around it.

Their determined spirit--and action--pressured Senate Democrats to boycott a session where Walker and the Republicans were ready to ram through a proposal that would effectively cut state workers' wages by 5 to 7 percent and cripple public-sector unions by virtually destroying collective bargaining.

This week, though, Republicans are vowing not to make any concessions, and Walker recruited enough police from around the state to push protesters out of sections of the capitol building. Senate Democrats are still boycotting the session, denying Republicans the quorum they need to conduct most business. But the movement against Walker's anti-union assault needs to regain the initiative.

Walker's threat to lay off 1,500 state workers if his proposal isn't passed by Friday is aimed at breaking workers' resolve. But it's more obvious than ever what Walker is after--his premeditated intention to destroy organized labor was highlighted in a recorded conversation with a blogger pretending to be union-hating billionaire David Koch.

Shock Doctrine, U.S.A.

Not to belabor a point, but I have been telling people they MUST READ Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine" ever since I started this blog.


By PAUL KRUGMAN
Published: February 24, 2011

Here’s a thought: maybe Madison, Wis., isn’t Cairo after all. Maybe it’s Baghdad — specifically, Baghdad in 2003, when the Bush administration put Iraq under the rule of officials chosen for loyalty and political reliability rather than experience and competence.

As many readers may recall, the results were spectacular — in a bad way. Instead of focusing on the urgent problems of a shattered economy and society, which would soon descend into a murderous civil war, those Bush appointees were obsessed with imposing a conservative ideological vision. Indeed, with looters still prowling the streets of Baghdad, L. Paul Bremer, the American viceroy, told a Washington Post reporter that one of his top priorities was to “corporatize and privatize state-owned enterprises” — Mr. Bremer’s words, not the reporter’s — and to “wean people from the idea the state supports everything.”

The story of the privatization-obsessed Coalition Provisional Authority was the centerpiece of Naomi Klein’s best-selling book “The Shock Doctrine,” which argued that it was part of a broader pattern. From Chile in the 1970s onward, she suggested, right-wing ideologues have exploited crises to push through an agenda that has nothing to do with resolving those crises, and everything to do with imposing their vision of a harsher, more unequal, less democratic society.

Which brings us to Wisconsin 2011, where the shock doctrine is on full display.

Study: US wasted billions in Iraq, Afghanistan

If the Republi-Nazis were really interested in saving tax payers money they would support ending the war in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as bring the troops home from around the world.

Since private business claims they can do everything cheaper than the government, perhaps we should pay the mercenaries working for the war corporations say 2/3s what we pay our actual military personnel.

Perhaps austerity should start with the Military Industrial Complex and the Prison Industrial Complex.


By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, February 24th, 2011

WASHINGTON – Corruption and waste has cost the US government billions of reconstruction dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to an official study on wartime contracting released on Thursday.
The report found that "criminal behavior and blatant corruption" were responsible for much of the waste related to the nearly $200 billion spent since 2002 on US reconstruction and other projects in the two countries.

It did not give exact figures, but cited the Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction report to Congress in January that found efforts were at clear risk because of poor planning and insufficient oversight.
Another estimate in the "Commission on Wartime Contracting" report found that losses to fraud alone in both war zones could be as high as $12 billion.

"When it comes to oversight of contingency contracting, we've been driving beyond the reach of our headlights. Reforms are badly needed," said the report.

"For many years, the government has abdicated its contracting responsibilities -- too often using contractors as the default mechanism -- without consideration for the resources needed to manage them."

Don't Sit on the Sidelines -- This Saturday, Be Part of the Uprising Sweeping the Country from Wisconsin to Your Home Town

We plan on going to a local rally sponsored by Move On...


A huge coalition of progressive groups have organized rallies across the country to stand up against harsh budget cuts and tax cheats, and protect the middle class.

February 25, 2011 
 
Noam Chomsky was asked in a recent interview whether it's possible to make our government work for ordinary Americans rather than a rarified elite. “What has to be done,” he replied, “is what’s happening in Madison, or what’s happening in Tahrir Square in Cairo. If there’s mass popular opposition, any political leader is going to have to respond to it, whoever they are.”

Today, we may be seeing the emergence of just such a force in American politics. This Saturday, the sleeping giant will stir as progressives across the country rally in solidarity with public-sector workers and in opposition to the draconian cuts to our already threadbare safety net proposed by the Tea Party-infused GOP.

There's a new militancy in the air. Inspired not only by the protesters standing tall in Wisconsin, Ohio and a half-dozen other states but also by the seismic upheaval taking place around the world, progressive America, long overshadowed by the media-friendly Tea Parties, will show up in force in all 50 states this Saturday to demand that budgets aren't balanced on the backs of working people and the most vulnerable among us.
In Wisconsin, there has even been talk of organizing a general strike, an event not seen in this country since the 1930s, if right-wing Governor Scott Walker manages to push his union-busting bill through the legislature. Labor hasn't flexed its muscles like that for generations, but there is a growing sense that we, as working people, face a defining moment in our democracy.

On Saturday, there will be two opportunities to make your voice heard above the astroturfed right-wing din. First, a coalition of grassroots progressive groups are staging a nationwide “Rally to Save the American Dream” in front of every state house in the country at noon local time to express support for the working people of Wisconsin.


You can find out more about the Rally to Save the American Dream, and get involved in the action, here.

The other major actions this weekend are being organized by US Uncut, which is targeting the corporate power behind the elites' assault on our middle-class. Modeled on the UK Uncut movement that was organized to push back against the “austerity” measures being imposed by the Cameron government (and inspired by an excellent essay by Johann Hari titled, “How to Build a Progressive Tea Party”), they have an exceedingly simple yet powerful message: there is a simple alternative to imposing economic pain on working people to balance budgets: make corporate tax cheats pay.