Sunday, July 31, 2011

Stop! In the Name of Health, Don't Cut My Medicare

After the Debt Deal, Four Trends That Spell the End of Jobs


Jul. 31 2011

2012 will be a pivotal year in how we think about employment, not just for how we create jobs. The debt debate hides a shift in the way jobs, and indeed wealth creation, are organized and that shift is accelerating even as politicians struggle to find an agreement on economic management.

Recessions so big that they cost trillions of dollars signal the need for deep structural change so we should expect, anticipate, even enjoy a re-imagining of the economy, and we should articulate new economic trends as part of the big debate on economic management.

Continued high debt and austerity will give 2012 a superficial air of sameness but 2012 is an election year so the debate will get more shrill. Supporters of public super-spending will say job losses are a slow unravelling of what otherwise have been a cataclysmic collapse in 2008/9. Opponents will blame spending. So be it but there are signs that employment has changed for good anyway.

I raised the issue of crowdsourcing yesterday. One example: companies like Trada have cunningly opened up search engine optimisation to crowdsourced labor but there is much more going on. Talking to crowdsourcing.org’s Carl Esposti this week he told me they now have 3,000 case studies of crowdsourcing in action, from crowdsourcing routine processes like bank check exception monitoring to crowdsourcing creative tasks, like the Fiat Mio. Microsoft, Yahoo, Google all have their eyes on it.

The consumerization of software meanwhile illustrates how people are just plain fed up with big company decision making, and they are opting instead to freelance their IT purchases. Many companies are plagued by people who come to work to do the minimum, as defined by them. In fact the innovation boom, particularly the ideation side of innovation, is in part a giant motivational game, offering employees a little extra kudos for showing more commitment. Consumerization shows where the power is headed but this is an uneasy environment, and a conflict that can’t go on.

Propaganda Whore, Steve Milloy, Anti-Science Tobacco Apologist, Now Denies Coal Plant Pollution Kills People

Sex workers sell their bodies "propaganda whores" sell their ethics and souls.


By Sam Parry, Director, Online Membership and Activism, EDF
July 31, 2011

In a falsehood-filled Washington Times op-ed, Steve Milloy attacks the EPA and EDF for supporting tough new clean air standards for coal-fired power plants.

Asking EPA to “show us the bodies,” Milloy questions public health estimates that these standards will prevent up to 17,000 premature deaths every year.

Some might find it odd to question decades of research by innumerable scientists and public health professionals. But, for Steve Milloy, notorious climate denier and tobacco apologist, it’s something of a personal trademark.

Had he done any actual research for his hit piece, he may have come across a May 10, 2011, letter written by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Lung Association, the American Public Health Association, the American Thoracic Society, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, and the Physicians for Social Responsibility to Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX).


Time to Reset Our Moral Compass


Published on Saturday, July 30, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

Progressives are suffering from debilitating cognitive dissonance. Incapable of reconciling President Obama’s rhetoric with his actions, they have created an elaborate, but flimsy, structure of rationales to harmonize this dissonance. These rationales began shortly after Obama took office, with progressives blaming all those nasty triangulating, progress-by-tiny-increment advisers from the Clinton Administration, who were leading him astray from his principles. From the outset, the Administration supplied it’s own excuses for its failure to achieve audacious goals: “Change comes slowly” and “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Then, despite control of the House and a sizable Democratic majority in the Senate, the party was deemed the problem, because it couldn’t keep its troops in line to get the 60 votes required to pass his agenda. This morphed into a much larger obstacle—the Republicans, following the 2010 landslide. In the recent debt-ceiling debate (and particularly with progressives’ denial that he would actually cut Social Security and Medicare) we’ve seen a rebirth of the meme: “He's playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers.” Numerous current articles indicate that we now face an epidemic of “he’s just not a competent negotiator” rationale.

Glenn Greenwald adroitly addressed this in his April 14, Salon.com article, “Why Do We Assume Obama’s Actually Trying to Enact a Progressive Agenda.” The crisis is now so threatening that a rational mind can no longer make such excuses credible. His supporters correctly maintain that he’s a man of extraordinary intelligence. They seem blissfully unaware that it is impossible to hold this belief concurrently with the notion that he is just not capable of learning the most basic negotiation skills, or that his advisers, who have been both hardened politicians and businessmen and who, after all, include a vice president who was a senator since 1972, are incapable of instructing him in these arts.

Let’s look at the argument that his advisers are preventing him from delivering on campaign promises. Name a manager any field who is not held ultimately responsible for hiring choices. Again, if we assume that the fault is with the advisers, we must concede that Obama was so politically ill informed or did such a poor job interviewing these people that he had no idea what they stood for—not to mention that he refused to fire them upon learning they were reading from a different play script. Further, we would have to entertain the absurd idea that he is powerless to override his appointees’ suggestions. Beyond that, we would have to acknowledge that not only did he make poor choices with his first appointments, but also that he chose badly the second time around, i.e. William Daley and Jeffrey Immelt.

We are long past the expiration date for denying that the Obama we now know— through his actions rather than his words —is anything other than the real Obama. We must come to grips with the fact that much of the rhetoric we heard during the campaign was fraudulent—or more charitably, that we heard only what we wanted to hear. How many ominous signals did we ignore during the campaign?

Debunking the Big Lie Right-Wingers Use to Justify Black Poverty and Unemployment


Economic factors and changes in public policies, not manifestations of "black culture," explain African Americans' relatively poorer economic outcomes.

By Joshua Holland
July 29, 2011

In April, the Oklahoma legislature passed a constitutional amendment that would do away with affirmative action policies in the Sooner State. Sally Kern, a state rep vying for the coveted title of Most Extreme Lawmaker in America, explained her rationale for supporting the amendment, saying (among a slew of nutty things) that “it's character that ought to count, not whether you're white or black... it should be your willingness to say, 'I'm going to become everything I can become.'"

Kern suggested that blacks simply don't work as hard as whites. “I’ve taught school,” she said, “and I saw a lot of people of color who didn’t study hard because they said the government would take care of them.”

Kern was simply advancing one of the most enduring and pernicious untruths in America's political economy. It holds that poverty – in general, but especially within communities of color – doesn't result from purely economic factors. Rather, the poor are where they find themselves as a consequence of some deep-seated cultural flaws that keep them from achieving success. They're held back, the story goes, by what is known alternatively as a “culture of poverty,” or a “culture of dependence.” It's a popular fable for the right, as it absolves the political establishment for public policies that harm the working class and the poor.

t's a myth that should be put to rest by the economic experience of the African American community over the past 20 years. Because what Kern and other adherents of the “culture of poverty” thesis can't explain is why blacks' economic fortunes advanced so dramatically during the 1990s, retreated again during the Bush years and then were completely devastated in the financial crash of 2008.

In order to buy the cultural story, one would have to believe that African Americans adopted a “culture of success” during the Clinton years, mysteriously abandoned it for a “culture of failure” under Bush and finally settled on a “culture of poverty” shortly after Lehman Brothers crashed.

That's obviously nonsense. It was exogenous economic factors and changes in public policies, not manifestations of “black culture,” that resulted in those widely varied outcomes.

Israel: The middle-class anarchists of the tent city revolution


July 25, 2011

Just last week, when a tent city suddenly snowballed the length of Israel's most prestigious boulevard in protest of the lack of affordable housing, Likud lawmaker Ofir Akunis, a former spokesman and adviser for Benjamin Netanyahu, took to state radio to elucidate a government response.

"Part of the protest going on at the moment on Rothschild Boulevard is being driven by a gang of anarchists," the Likud member said, claiming the protesters came from "the adjacent Ahad Ha'am Street, where, as you know, the main branch of the Communist Party is located."

It took tens of thousands of people filling Tel Aviv's streets Saturday night, people from all over Israel, from all walks of life, from across the political spectrum, for the government to see their anarchists for what they really are - the middle class - and to realize just how revolutionary all of this is. It took all of them for the government to realize that they had a revolution where they least expected it, when and where they were least prepared for it, led by middle-class young adults that seemed the least likely to ever raise a cry.

You'd expect an Israeli government to know how to deal with a revolution. After all, the story of Israel is a clash of revolutionary movements, the sum total of which is the cabinet table. Every political party was once a revolutionary movement, from the Revisionists that gave birth to the Likud, to the Soviet Jewry movement which spawned Yisrael Beiteinu, to the Sephardi revolution called Shas.

But revolutions get old. Their fire goes out, and with it, their memory. This is what their leaders forget:

When a revolution is born, it is born messy. It erupts hoarse and rough-edged and faltering. Its hunger may not have direction. When a revolution begins to move under its own power, it doesn't play by the rules. It's one of the ways you can know that it's for real. And it's one of the reasons why this one may be so difficult to contain.


Anger Tsunami: Mass protest wave reaches Israel

Nobel chairman warns Europe's leaders over 'inflaming far-right sentiment'


Thorbjørn Jagland says Europe's leaders are 'playing with fire' if they use right-wing rhetoric when discussing multiculturalism

, home affairs editor
guardian.co.uk,

Europe's leaders, including David Cameron, have been warned to adopt a more "cautious" approach when discussing multiculturalism. The Norwegian chairman of the Nobel peace prize committee has told them they risk inflaming far-right and anti-Muslim sentiment.

Thorbjørn Jagland, a former prime minister of his country, said leaders such as the British premier would be "playing with fire" if they continued to use rhetoric that could be exploited by extremists.

Four months ago in Munich, Cameron declared that state multiculturalism had failed in Britain, a view immediately praised by Nick Griffin, leader of the BNP, as "a further huge leap for our ideas into the political mainstream". Marine Le Pen, vice-president of the far-right National Front party in France, also endorsed Cameron's view of multiculturalism, claiming that it corroborated her own party's line.

Jagland's comments come in the wake of the Oslo bomb and the massacre on Utøya Island that left 77 people dead. The killer, Anders Behring Breivik, said he was inspired by the right-wing English Defence League. Breivik sent his manifesto, published online hours before the attacks, to about 250 British members of the BNP, the EDL and the Stop Islamisation of Europe group.

Jagland, who is also secretary general of the Council of Europe, told the Observer: "We have to be very careful how we are discussing these issues, what words are used.

"Political leaders have got to defend the fact that society has become more diverse. We have to defend the reality, otherwise we are going to get into a mess. I think political leaders have to send a clear message to embrace it and benefit from it.

"We should be very cautious now, we should not play with fire. Therefore I think the words we are using are very important because it can lead to much more."

Your Chicken Nuggets Are Killing Your Crab Cakes


Thu Jul. 28, 2011

Every year in the Chesapeake Bay, an algae bloom spreads out, sucking oxygen out of the water and destroying fish habitat. This year's "dead zone" stretches from Baltimore Harbor to south of the Potomac River, the Washington Post reports. It's on track to become the bay’s largest ever. Already, fully a third of the bay—once one of the globe's most productive fisheries—is incapable of supporting sea life.

Meanwhile, down the Gulf of Mexico, the same thing is happening on an even grander scale. According to Texas A&M University researchers, this year's Gulf dead zone blots out 3,300 square miles of our nation's most important fishery—"roughly the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined," they calculate. Before the year's out, it could as much as triple in size, the researchers fear, which would make it the Gulf's largest hypoxic (oxygen-depleted) area ever.

Why such huge dead zones this year? The immediate cause is heavy rains in both the Midwest and the Northeast, which wash vast amounts of nutrients down streams and rivers and into the sea at key river delta areas like the Chesapeake and the Gulf. There, the nutrients provide a feast for algae, and voilà, dead zones.

But the ultimate source of the nitrogen and phosphorus that feed the algae blooms is industrial agriculture: millions of acres of fertilizer-guzzling corn farms in the Mississippi River watershed and massive concentrations of chicken farms right on the banks of the Chesapeake.

Snip

But this is pure industry hucksterism. In the Gulf, according to the US Geological Survey, "agricultural sources contribute more than 70 percent of the nitrogen and phosphorus...versus only 9 to 12 percent from urban sources." As for the Chesapeake, Pew Environment Group has just released a major report called Big Chicken (PDF) that demonstrates the poultry industry's devastating impact on the bay. The poultry industry has chosen to concentrate enormous production on the bay's eastern shore, known as the Delmarva Peninsula. The factory-scale poultry farms there generate more than 40 million cubic feet of nitrogen- and phosphorus-rich manure—much more than can be effectively absorbed by the area's limited farmland as fertilizer. As a result, all too much of it runs off into the bay, Pew shows.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Kucinich "Rating Agencies Should Have Subject To Civil Fraud Charges & Revocation Of Their Licenses"

Ben & Jerry on Citizens United

NAACP CONVENTION: WANDA SYKES SAYS YOU CAN'T 'PRAY AWAY THE GAY'

From Frontiers LA: http://www.frontiersla.com/Blog/FrontierBlog/blogentry.aspx?BlogEntryID=10265135

$230,000 For a Guard Dog: Why the Wealthy Are Afraid Of Violence From Below


As inequality in the US grows, the ultra-rich are pouring their spare cash not just into private jets, but into private security. Think there's a connection?

By Sarah Jaffe
July 29, 2011

“Violence in the streets, aimed at the wealthy. That’s what I worry about.”

That was what an unidentified billionaire told Robert Frank of the Wall Street Journal a while back. Rich people are scared of global unrest, Frank reported, citing a survey by Insite Security and IBOPE Zogby International of people with liquid assets of $1 million or more (translation: folks who have or can get their hands on $1 million in cash fairly easily) that says 94 percent of the wealthy are concerned about “global unrest” around the world.
He noted:
Of course, Insite has an interest in getting the paranoid rich to beef up their security. Still, the numbers are backed up by other trends seen throughout the world of wealth today: the rich keeping a lower profile, hiring $230,000 guard dogs, and arming their yachts, planes and cars with military-style security features.
John Johnson, the owner of the $230,000 dog featured in the New York Times, is a former debt collector. (You can't make this stuff up.) He sold his debt collection company three years ago, but still has not just one, but six highly—and expensively—trained “executive protection dogs.” Harrison K-9 services, the trainers behind Johnson's pricey protection dogs, used to train dogs for elite military units like the Navy Seal team that raided Osama bin Laden's compound. The article doesn't say exactly how many dogs Harrison K-9 has provided for the world's rich and famous, but it does feature a quote from their head trainer saying she's trained “a thousand” dogs.

In addition to security systems, dogs and armed yachts, the security-conscious oligarch can hire a private spy company—Jellyfish, a spinoff of the notorious private security company Blackwater. Or what about their own personal drone? “Smaller, private versions of the infamous Predator” may be coming to well-heeled private citizens near you, according to the UK's Daily Mail. So far the private drones appear to only be for spying, but former Navy fighter pilot Missy Cummings told the Daily Mail, “It doesn't take a rocket scientist from MIT to tell you if we can do it for a soldier in the field, we can do it for anybody.”

IKEA Workers Build Solidarity, Vote for Machinists


Jul 28, 2011

For two years, management at IKEA’s Danville, Va., subsidiary Swedwood fought the workers’ choice to join the Machinists (IAM). But after yesterday’s overwhelming 221-69 vote, the workers who assemble furniture for IKEA stores have that voice at work.

Coretta Giles says working conditions—especially heat inside the plant—and low wages are two of the biggest issues she wants resolved. She told the Danville Register and Bee she voted for the IAM:

So we can have a voice. So we can all be heard and have another leg we can stand on when we need to.

The Danville plant is not air conditioned and, says Bill Street, director of the IAM’s Woodworking Department, is routinely 15 to 20 degrees hotter inside than outside. Working conditions on normal summer day are oppressive, but the recent heat waves have made it nearly unbearable, he says.

Also, while Ikea pays its Swedish workforce that does the same jobs about $19 an hour, along with five weeks of paid vacation, in Danville full time workers start at $ 8 hour. About third of the workers are from temp agencies and they make even less. While full-time workers receive 12 vacation days, management determines when eight of them must be taken. Says Street:
It’s ironic that IKEA looks on the U.S. and Danville the way that most people in the U.S. look at Mexico. In this case, we’ve become Sweden’s Mexico.

Author Neil Howe on Thom Hartmann Show: U.S. may be on the verge of another revolution

From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rawreplay/2011/07/author-u-s-may-be-on-the-verge-of-another-revolution/

Greek debt crisis and power plant explosion leave Cyprus on 'verge of economic collapse'


Island may need bailout following exposure to Greek banks and an explosion that hit the island's finance and tourism sector

guardian.co.uk,

Europe's debt drama has rippled across the Mediterranean to Cyprus. The country's beleaguered leader was scrambling today to form a government amid speculation that the island's ailing economy may soon need to be rescued by the EU.

Barely a week after EU leaders attempted to contain the crisis by agreeing to a new aid package for Greece, Cyprus has begun to show all the signs of fiscal contagion, with rising borrowing costs and an economy that has seen its credit rating downgraded.

"We are on the verge of economic collapse," said Ioannis Kasoulides, the island's former foreign minister and current MEP. "Unless serious structural reforms are implemented, we will face bankruptcy and need [a bailout] too."

Hopes of the crisis being nipped in the bud were crushed yesterday as President Demetris Christofias struggled to appoint a new administration.

Christofias' refusal to confront the island's tough trade unionists – widely blamed for its profligate public sector – appeared to be a major obstacle.

Until recently Cyprus was considered an "economic miracle". But the global financial crisis and a series of misfortunes have added to its woes. An explosion at a naval base on the island earlier this month left 13 dead and knocked out its main power plant, triggering daily blackouts that have severely affected the financial and tourism sectors on which it depends. Damage from the blast is estimated at €1bn-€3bn (£878m-£2.6bn) and as much as 20% of gross domestic product.

With 19 months left in office, Christofias has come under heavy attack for the accident. The disaster occurred after a cache of explosives confiscated from a Syrian-bound Iranian ship were left out in high temperatures close to the power plant.

Bill Clinton: GOP War On Voting Is Most Determined Disenfranchisement Effort Since Jim Crow


Jul 7, 2011

Speaking yesterday at the annual Campus Progress convention, former President Bill Clinton called out the GOP’s state by state efforts to make it harder to vote— a war on voting designed almost entirely to reduce the number of Democrats who cast ballots:
I can’t help thinking, since we just celebrated the Fourth of July and we’re supposed to be a country dedicated to liberty, that one of the most pervasive political movements going on outside Washington today is the disciplined, passionate, determined effort of Republican governors and legislators to keep most of you from voting next time. There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the other Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today.

Getting rid of same-day registration. Some states getting rid of all advanced voting. Governor of Florida proposed to reverse his Republican predecessor’s signing of a bill that gave people the right to vote when they got out of prison and they’d finished they’re probation period, even if they didn’t have a pardon—that’s one of the most important things we can do. Why should we disenfranchise people forever once they pay their price? Cause most of them in Florida were African Americans and Hispanics and would tend to vote for Democrats, that’s why.

Why do we want to get rid of same day registration? Why has New Hampshire made it almost impossible for college students who come from other states but live in New Hampshire most of the year to vote there? Why is all this going on? This is not rocket science. They are trying to make the 2012 electorate look more like the 2010 electorate than the 2008 electorate.

Neoliberalism, Not Multiculturalism Is Biggest Threat to Western Values


Tarak Barkawi
27 Jul 2011

The paranoid style in politics often imagines unlikely alliances that coalesce into an overwhelming threat that must be countered by all necessary means.

In Clash of Civilizations, Samuel Huntington conjured an amalgamated East - an alliance between "Confucian" and "Islamic" powers - that would challenge the West for world dominance. Many jihadis fear the Crusader alliance between Jews and Christians. They forget that until recently, historically speaking, populations professing the latter were the chief persecutors of the former.

Now Anders Breivik has invoked the improbable axis of Marxism, multiculturalism and Islamism, together colonising Europe. As he sees multiculturalism as essentially a Jewish plot, Breivik has managed to wrap up the new and old fascist bogies in one conspiracy: communists, Jews and Muslims.

Like his terrorist counterparts who kill in the name of various Islamic sects, Breivik is willing to slaughter people for an invented purity. Modern Norway is a latecomer to the world of nations, becoming sovereign only in 1905. Vikings, Arctic explorers and international humanitarians all went into imagining the place.

Given how readily jihadi texts are dismissed as ravings, it is notable how much attention has already been paid to Breivik's wacky ideological brew. This is a worrying portent of the line of analysis that says that the "root causes" of Breivik's madness - immigration and cultural difference - must be addressed. Otherwise, European societies will lose their social cohesion, to choose one current euphemism for the Volk.

To the extent such a view takes hold, the far right may be forgiven for concluding that terrorism works. As for the rest of us, now facing terrorist re-imaginings from both sides of obscure battles in a mythic past, we may long for the leftist and anti-colonial insurgents of bygone days. They at least could offer plausible accounts of what they were up to.

To be sure, tactically speaking, Breivik thought through his operation. Unlike many jihadis, however, he lacked the courage to face men armed like him, and to offer his own life for his beliefs as well as the lives of others. Nonetheless he wanted at his court appearance to strut about in some kind of military uniform.

Smartly tailored uniforms, an abhorrence of cultural difference, and a desire for racial purity are all of a piece with fascist mysticism. As with jihadi ideology, it is precisely the non-rational elements of fascism that give it emotive, and hence political, power. For what Breivik and others see as under threat in the West is the vital source of meaning, of ultimate values, which they associate with the communion of a purified people.

Since the West faces no obvious threat of such existential scale and significance, one must be fabricated. It is here that the unlikely alliance of left wing parties and Islam plays its role, purportedly importing on a mass scale Muslims to colonise Europe. In Norway, Muslims account for less than three per cent of the population; in the UK, less than five per cent. Even so, the fantastical fear of the "loss" of Europe to Islam animates many on the right. It is part of mainstream electoral politics in Europe, and has long been an element of right wing discourse in the US.

Assange speaks about ‘burning mass media to the ground’

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rawreplay/2011/07/assange-speaks-about-burning-mass-media-to-the-ground/

By David Edwards
Posted on 07.29.11

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange spoke to a forum at the Splendour in the Grass music festival in Queensland Friday, saying that the current generation was “burning the mass media to the ground.”
“We are becoming the agents of perspective,” he said. “This generation is burning the mass media to the ground.”

Assange continued: “We are reclaiming our rights to world history. We are ripping open secret archives from Washington to Cairo. We don’t know yet exactly where we are. But we can see where we are going. The change in perspective that has happened over the last year is what this generation is going to use to find our lighthouse.”

“And when we get there, we’ll turn the fucking spotlight on.”

Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Night Fun and Culture Lesbian Feminist Music Edition








The American People Are Angry




By Sen. Bernie Sanders, Reader Supported News
28 July 11

s House and Senate leaders fine-tuned rival deficit reduction plans on Wednesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke on the Senate floor about the public's strong belief that additional revenue from the wealthy should be part of any package to reduce red ink. He cited a new Washington Post poll that found 72 percent favor raising taxes on those who make more than $250,000 year. Despite those overwhelming numbers, he said, "We are marching down a path which will do exactly opposite of what the American people want." He called Republican opposition to more revenue "fanatical." He also faulted President Obama for a bargaining strategy that sugars down to this: "Retreat after retreat after retreat." Of the competing House and Senate proposals Sanders bluntly concluded that one is bad and the other is much worse. He shared his assessment with radio host Ed Schultz.

The senator also summarized his analysis in this statement:

"The rich are getting richer, and their effective tax rate is the lowest in modern history. Many corporations are enjoying huge profits and, because of outrageous loopholes, pay nothing in taxes. Among many other absurdities, we lose about $100 billion every year from companies and individuals who stash their wealth in tax havens in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and other locations.

"And yet, the Republicans have been fanatically determined to protect the interests of billionaires and large multi-national corporations so that they do not contribute one penny toward deficit reduction. The Republicans want the entire burden of deficit reduction sacrifice to be placed on the elderly, the sick, children, and working families. That is morally wrong and, in terms of getting us out of this recession, bad economic policy.

"Sadly, the Democrats have yielded far, far too much. In December, with the Democrats controlling the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate they extended Bush's tax breaks for the rich and lowered the tax rates on estates for the very rich. In April, they allowed tens of billions of dollars in cuts to vitally important programs for low- and moderate-income Americans.

"And now, we find ourselves debating two plans. The Reid plan, which calls for $2.2 trillion in cuts over a 10-year period, includes $900 billion in cuts (which will be determined later by committees) in education, health care, nutrition, affordable housing, child care and many other programs desperately needed by working families. Appropriately, it calls for meaningful cuts in military spending and ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Reid plan does not require the wealthiest people in this country and the largest corporations to pay one nickel in deficit reduction.

"The Reid plan is bad. The Boehner plan is much worse. It calls for large cuts in discretionary spending now and demands that this debt-ceiling discussion be revisited next year - which is totally absurd and which will likely keep the Congress paralyzed.

"Lastly, both plans call for a congressional committee to determine future efforts toward deficit reduction. Based on recent committees - Bowles-Simpson, the Gang of Six, etc. - I have little doubt that that new committee will call for major cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and will ask very little of the wealthy and multi-national corporations.

"Meanwhile, while all of this is occurring in Washington the American people have consistently stated, in poll after poll, that they want the wealthy and large corporations to pay their fair share of taxes and they want to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. For example, a recent Washington Post poll found that 72 percent of the American people believe that Americans earning over $250,000 a year should pay more in taxes.

"Given that reality, is there any reason to wonder why the American people are so angry and frustrated with what's going on in Washington?"

Reproductive rights: the new activists


July 27, 2011

The generations born after Roe v. Wade have never known a country without legal abortion. The Supreme Court's 1973 landmark decision declared the due-process clause of the 14th Amendment covers "a woman's qualified right to terminate her pregnancy."

The decision didn't end the controversy, of course. Abortion and reproductive rights as a whole have always been among the most polarizing topics the nation faces. And citizens and elected officials have sought to impose restrictions, whether on abortion itself or access to it, right from the beginning.

The abortion battle has intensified over the past year and is spilling over into other areas of reproductive health. That's put new generations - some Gen-Xers and Millennials - in the position where it's up to them to fight for their reproductive rights if they want to keep them.

"The fact that abortion has been legal throughout most young people's lives makes it more common to them," says Tara Sweeney, a spokesperson for NARAL Pro-Choice New York.

But do they take that right for granted? Does a generation that grew up post-Roe v. Wade, that didn't live through a time of unsafe, illegal abortions, realize what's at stake? And are they prepared to push back when legislators attack reproductive rights?

The short answer is yes, young people are engaged and in significant numbers, says Angela Clark-Taylor, a reproductive rights activist and former chair of Planned Parenthood of the Rochester-Syracuse Region's young professionals group. The group hosts events, does advocacy work, and helps with Planned Parenthood events.

The Progressive Magazine: Tim DeChristopher Is Not the One Who Should Be in Prison



Gay Weddings: Is There a New Etiquette?


Award-winning actress, author and activist
Posted: 7/28/11

You know that moment we all look forward to at a wedding -- when the bride comes down the aisle and, for the first time, we get to see that beautiful white dress? How magical that moment always is.

Well, it's even more magical when there are two white dresses.

I experienced this for the first time when my niece, Tracy, married the love of her life, a woman also named Tracey (only hers has an "e"). At that moment, as I looked at their radiant faces, I remembered seeing Tracy, age 8, singing along to the record of Free to Be...You and Me. And I couldn't help but think, at last, Tracy is truly free.

For all of us who have long supported same-sex marriage, the depth of the justice of it all has never hit home for me as it did when I saw the these two dear, young women exchange their vows.

And everything was the same: the little kids giggling and running underfoot; the proud moms and dads wiping away a tear; the distant uncle sitting by himself, happily having one drink too many; and, as always, someone sneaking an early piece of the cake.

Now in New York, this historic ritual is being celebrated with a new and liberating joy. And while the ceremony at the heart of these weddings is no different from any other we've ever witnessed, many people have asked if there's any special etiquette that guests attending a gay wedding need to know -- such as "Will I insult the couple if I ask what they're going to call themselves -- like husband and husband or wife and wife?"

According to Steven Petrow of GayManners.com and author of Steven Petrow's Complete Gay and Lesbian Manners, "Not at all! Intention is a big part of manners, so you don't have to worry so much about making a faux pas. If you don't know how to refer to a couple, just ask.

Rebuild the Dream Rally

Investors: The $1 Billion Armageddon Trade Placed Against The United States

Gee I smell something totally corrupt and rotten. The level of corrupt and rotten that would call for prison or in some countries , execution.


July 25, 2011

Jack Barnes: Someone dropped a bomb on the bond market Thursday – a $1 billion Armageddon trade betting the United States will lose its AAA credit rating.

In one moment, an invisible trader placed a single trade that moved the most liquid debt market in the world.

The massive trade wasn’t placed in bonds themselves; it was placed in the futures market.

The trade was for block trades of 5,370 10-year Treasury futures executed at 124-03 and 3,100 Treasury bond futures executed at 125-01.

The value of the trade was about $850 million dollars. In simple terms, if that was a direct bond buy, no one would be talking about it.

However, with the use of futures, you have to have margin capacity behind the trade. That means with a single push of a button someone was willing to commit more than $1 billion of real capital to this trade with expectations of a 10-to-1 return ratio.

You only do this if you see an edge.
This means someone is confident that the United States is either going to default or is going to lose its AAA rating. That someone is willing to bet the proverbial farm that U.S. interest rates will be going up.

Goldman's New Money Machine: Stockpiling Aluminum


Thursday, 28 Jul 2011

In a rundown patch of Detroit, enclosed by a cyclone fence and barbed wire, stands an unremarkable warehouse that investment bank Goldman Sachs has transformed into a money-making machine.

The derelict neighborhood off Michigan Avenue is a sharp contrast to Goldman's bustling skyscraper headquarters near Wall Street, but the two operations share one important element: management by the bank's savvy financial professionals.

A string of warehouses in Detroit, most of them operated by Goldman, has stockpiled more than a million tonnes of the industrial metal aluminum, about a quarter of global reported inventories.

Simply storing all that metal generates tens of millions of dollars in rental revenues for Goldman every year.

There's just one problem: much less aluminum is leaving the depots than arriving, creating a supply pinch for manufacturers of everything from soft drink cans to aircraft.

The resulting spike in prices has sparked a clash between companies forced to pay more for their aluminum and wait months for it to be delivered, Goldman, which is keen to keep its cash machines humming and the London Metal Exchange (LME), the world's benchmark industrial metals market, which critics accuse of lax oversight.

Analysts question why London's metals market allows big financial players like Goldman to own the warehouses which store huge quantities of metal even as they trade the commodity. Robin Bhar, a veteran metals analyst at Credit Agricole in London says the conflict of interest is so acute he wants U.S. and European anti-trust regulators to weigh in.

Do Women Have What it Takes?

This is why I am leery about replacing the classification of sex based on the physical with gender which is based on a social construct of masculinity and femininity.


Of course! But stereotypes about leadership still pose barriers to women’s advancement
July 13, 2011

EVANSTON, Ill. --- So much has changed since 1963, when Betty Friedan’s influential “The Feminine Mystique” provoked a national discussion about the deep dissatisfaction women were feeling about the limitations of their lives. Many women came to believe that discrimination limited their opportunities, especially in relation to leadership roles.

But a new Northwestern University meta-analysis (an integration of a large number of studies addressing the same question) shows that even today leadership continues to be viewed as culturally masculine. Thus, women suffer from two primary forms of prejudice.

Women are viewed as less qualified or natural in most leadership roles, the research shows, and secondly, when women adopt culturally masculine behaviors often required by these roles, they may be viewed as inappropriate or presumptuous.

These reactions to women leaders reflect gender stereotypes. Previous research found that predominantly “communal” qualities, such as being nice or compassionate, are associated with women, and predominantly “agentic” qualities, such as being assertive or competitive, are associated with men.

It is these agentic qualities that are believed to be essential to successful leadership. Because men fit the cultural stereotype of leadership better than women, they have better access to leadership roles and face fewer challenges in becoming successful in them.

The good news for women is that the project’s analyses indicate that this masculine construal of leadership is weaker now than it was in earlier years. Despite this shift toward more androgynous beliefs about leadership, it remains culturally masculine — just not as extremely so as in the past. However, this masculinity lessens somewhat for lower-level leadership positions and in educational organizations.

The implications of the meta-analysis are straightforward, said Alice Eagly, professor of psychology and faculty fellow in the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern and a co-author of the study.

“Cultural stereotypes can make it seem that women do not have what it takes for important leadership roles, thereby adding to the barriers that women encounter in attaining roles that yield substantial power and authority,” she said.

IMF chief: Dollar status in doubt if debt crisis persists


Thursday, July 28th, 2011

WASHINGTON — IMF chief Christine Lagarde warned Thursday that failure to resolve the US debt crisis would likely raise "doubts" about the dollar's status as the world's prime reserve currency.

"It would probably entail a decline of the dollar relative to other currencies, and probably doubts in the mind of those people who reserve currencies as to whether the dollar is effectively the ultimate and prime currency of reserve," she told PBS television in an interview.

Her comments, excerpts of which were released by the broadcaster, came as Republicans and Democrats remained locked in a showdown over rival plans to raise the US debt ceiling and stave off a looming default.

Fracking Operations Cause Thousands of Earthquakes in Arkansas


by: Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report
Thursday 28 July 2011

Geologists say fracking wastewater disposal wells in central Arkansas caused an outbreak of thousands of minor earthquakes.

The Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission placed a ban on fracking wastewater wells in the area yesterday. A moratorium on well activity had been in place for months as geologists investigated a possible link between fracking activity and the outbreak of more than 1,200 earthquakes that measured lower than 4.7 in magnitude.

Fracking is a common term for hydraulic fracturing, a controversial gas drilling method that involves pumping water and chemicals deep underground to break up rock and free natural gas.

Fracking produces millions of gallons of wastewater, and the gas industry has been experimenting with different ways to dispose of it.

At least three gas companies were injecting fracking wastewater in the area of the earthquake outbreak, including BHP Billiton Petroleum, Clarita Operating LLC and Chesapeake Operating. The companies were injecting fracking wastewater near an active fault.

Steve Horton, an earthquake expert from the University of Memphis, told Truthout that continued fracking activity near the fault could have caused an earthquake strong enough to cause property damage.

At least one resident in the area is suing the gas companies over damage an earthquake caused to his home.

Debt Madness Was Always About Killing Social Security


Posted on Jul 27, 2011

This phony debt crisis has now passed through the looking glass into the realm where madness reigns. What should have been an uneventful moment in which lawmakers make good on the nation’s contractual obligations has instead been seized upon by Republican hypocrites as a moment to settle ideological scores that have nothing to do with the debt.

Hypocrites, because their radical free market ideology, and the resulting total deregulation of the financial markets, is what caused the debt to spiral out of control this last decade. That and the wars George W. Bush launched but didn’t have the integrity to responsibly finance. The consequence was a banking bubble and crash leading to a 50 percent run-up of the debt that has nothing to do with the “entitlements” that those same Republicans have always wanted to destroy.

Even Barack Obama has put cuts in those programs into play, warning ominously that a failure to lift the debt ceiling could cause the government to stop sending out Social Security checks. Why, when the Social Security trust fund is fully funded for the next quarter-century and is owed money by the U.S. Treasury rather than the other way around? Why would we pay foreign creditors before American seniors? The answer, offered as conventional wisdom by leaders of both parties, is that we cannot endanger our credit by failing to back our bonds, even though the Republicans have aroused the alarm of the main U.S. credit rating agencies by their brinkmanship on the debt.

What a topsy-turvy world when the same credit rating agencies that gave the thumbs up to the bankers’ toxic mortgage-backed securities and credit default swaps now threaten the AAA rating of U.S. Treasury bonds. According to them, it will not be enough to merely lift the debt ceiling—what had been assumed by both Republican and Democratic presidents to be a routine act. In addition to that, as the credit agency Standard & Poor’s has insisted, more than $4 trillion has to be cut from programs that mostly benefit the victims of the banking meltdown. Otherwise the agencies will downgrade the U.S. credit rating, leading to higher interest rates that will destroy what remains of the U.S. housing market, dim the prospect for any improvement in employment and further enrich the Chinese government and other holders of U.S. debt.

Glenn Greenwald: Norway Attacks Expose U.S. Media's Double Standard On "Terrorism"

From Democracy Now:

July 26, 2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Don’t Fall for the GOP Lie: There is No Budget Crisis. There’s a Job and Growth Crisis.


By Robert Reich
Thursday, July 28, 2011

A friend who’s been watching the absurd machinations in Congress asked me “what happens if we don’t solve the budget crisis and we run out of money to pay the nation’s bills?”

It was only then I realized how effective Republicans lies have been. That we’re calling it a “budget crisis” and worrying that if we don’t “solve” it we can’t pay our nation’s bills is testament to how successful Republicans have been distorting the truth.

The federal budget deficit has no economic relationship to the debt limit. Republicans have linked the two, and the Administration has played along, but they are entirely separate. Republicans are using what would otherwise be a routine, legally technical vote to raise the debt limit as a means of holding the nation hostage to their own political goal of shrinking the size of the federal government.

In economic terms, we will not “run out of money” next week. We’re still the richest nation in the world, and the Federal Reserve has unlimited capacity to print money.

Nor is there any economic imperative to reach an agreement on how to fix the budget deficit by Tuesday. It’s not even clear the federal budget needs that much fixing anyway.

Yes, the ratio of the national debt to the total economy is high relative to what it’s been. But it’s not nearly as high as it was after World War II – when it reached 120 percent of the economy’s total output.

Monsanto Nation: Taking Down Goliath


Published on Thursday, July 28, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

"If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it." - Norman Braksick, president of Asgrow Seed Co., a subsidiary of Monsanto, quoted in the Kansas City Star, March 7, 1994

After two decades of biotech bullying and force-feeding unlabeled and hazardous genetically engineered (GE) foods to animals and humans‹aided and abetted by the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations‹it¹s time to move beyond defensive measures and go on the offensive. With organic farming, climate stability, and public health under the gun of the gene engineers and their partners in crime, it¹s time to do more than complain. With over 1/3 of U.S. cropland already contaminated with Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), with mounting scientific evidence that GMOs cause cancer, birth defects, and serious food allergies and with new biotech mutants like alfalfa, lawn grass, ethanol-ready corn, 2,4 D-resistant crops, and genetically engineered trees and animals in the pipeline time is running out.

Living in Monsanto Nation there can be no such thing as "coexistence." It is impossible to coexist with a reckless industry that endangers public health, bribes public officials, corrupts scientists, manipulates the media, destroys biodiversity, kills the soil, pollutes the environment, tortures and poisons animals, destabilizes the climate, and economically enslaves the world¹s 1.5 billion seed-saving small farmers. It¹s time to take down the Biotech Behemoth, before the living web of biodiversity is terminated.

But, to bring down Goliath and build an organic future, we need to be strategic, as well as bold. We must take the time to carefully analyze our strengths and weaknesses and critique our previous efforts. Then we must prepare to concentrate our forces where our adversary is weak, like a chess master, moving the field of battle from Monsanto¹s currently impregnable territory into more favorable terrain. Given the near-dictatorial control of Monsanto, the Farm Bureau, and the Grocery Manufacturers Association over the Congress, the White House, regulatory agencies, and state legislators, we have no choice in the present moment but to revert to "asymmetrical" guerrilla tactics, to seek out the Achilles heel or fundamental weakness of the biotech industry.

Consumers Right to Know: Monsanto's Achilles Heel