Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Night Fun and Culture: Sylvia Robinson RIP


Published: September 30, 2011

Sylvia Robinson, a singer, songwriter and record producer who formed the pioneering hip-hop group Sugarhill Gang and made the first commercially successful rap recording with them, died on Thursday in Edison, N.J. She was 75.

She had been in a coma at the New Jersey Institute of Neuroscience and died there of congestive heart failure, a family spokeswoman said. Ms. Robinson lived in Englewood, N.J.

Ms. Robinson had a successful career as a rhythm and blues singer long before she and her husband, Joe Robinson, formed Sugar Hill Records in the 1970s and went on to serve as the midwives for a musical genre that came to dominate pop music.

She sang with Mickey Baker as part of the duo Mickey & Sylvia in the 1950s and had several hits, including “Love Is Strange,” a No. 1 R&B song in 1957. She also had a solo hit, under the name Sylvia, in the spring of 1973 with her sultry and sexually charged song “Pillow Talk.

In the late 1960s, Ms. Robinson became one of the few women to produce records in any genre when she and her husband founded All Platinum Records. She played an important role in the career of The Moments, producing their 1970 hit single “Love on a Two-Way Street.”








Reality Struck: BBC's 'Goldman Sachs Rules' eye opener

Romney to Share Stage with Bryan Fischer; PFAW Urges Candidates to Denounce Bigotry

Romney is a freaking pathetic ass kisser who is sucking up to people who hate him because he is Mormon and he just doesn't get it.

He would probably have been better treated if he had been a moderate Democrat.

At least he wouldn't have to kiss the ass of Christo-Nazi Bryan Fischer, who is pissing on him.

Plus he could have stood by some of the decent things he did as governor, like the Massachusetts Health Care Program he helped pass.


Press Release: Sep 29, 2011

At next week's Values Voter Summit, Mitt Romney is scheduled to take the stage immediately before Bryan Fischer, an American Family Association (AFA) spokesman with a long and shocking record of bigotry against gays and lesbians, American Muslims, Native Americans and other minority groups. Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain and Rick Santorum are also scheduled to speak at the event, which is sponsored by the anti-gay Family Research Council, the AFA, and other Religious Right groups. PFAW is urging these candidates for our nation's highest office to condemn bigotry.

At next week’s Values Voter Summit, Mitt Romney is scheduled to take the stage immediately before Bryan Fischer, an American Family Association spokesman with a long and shocking record of bigotry against gays and lesbians, American Muslims, Native Americans and other minority groups. Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain and Rick Santorum are also scheduled to speak at the event, which is sponsored by the anti-gay Family Research Council, the AFA, and other Religious Right groups.

Last year, People For the American Way called on Romney and other prominent GOP leaders to denounce Fischer’s bigotry before appearing with him at the Values Voter Summit. This year, the event's organizers kept Fischer off the list of “confirmed speakers,” but listed his Oct. 8 speech on an event schedule posted yesterday, PFAW’s Right Wing Watch reports.


  • He has written that African American welfare recipients “ rut like rabbits.”
  • Last year, Fischer insulted Medal of Honor winner Sal Giunta, who saved the lives of two fellow soldiers under heavy fire in Afghanistan, saying “we have feminized the Medal of Honor” because "we now award it only for preventing casualties, not for inflicting them."
People For the American Way president Michael Keegan urged Romney and his fellow presidential candidates to denounce Fischer’s bigotry before appearing with him at the event.

“Bryan Fischer’s stunning record of public bigotry would make him a pariah in any sane political movement,” Keegan said. “But his long record of hate speech doesn’t seem to bother the supposed ‘mainstream’ GOP politicians like Mitt Romney and Rick Perry who are sharing the stage with him at an event sponsored by his employer. Candidates don’t have to agree with the views of everyone they appear with – but they should be wary of lending legitimacy to those who peddle hate and fear of their fellow Americans.

“If Mitt Romney wants to appeal to mainstream audiences, he should publicly disassociate himself from Fischer’s bigotry before handing him the podium.”


Class Warfare: Bring It On!


Posted on Sep 28, 2011

LOS ANGELES—President Obama came out here last Tuesday to proclaim himself a "warrior for the middle class." Would that it were true.

In a similar situation to what we have today—that is the rich get richer and the poor (and middle class) get poorer—President Franklin Roosevelt said of what used to be called plutocrats: "I welcome their hatred."

I’m not sure that Obama, the rationalist beloved, is capable of talking that way or acting that way. Evidence be damned, he has acted as if we are in a time of rational discourse about class, job creation, incentives, and all the rest of modern populism. He seems to accept Republican and conservative blather about "job creators." Where the hell have the job creators—rich investors and their banks—been these last few years of heartbreaking struggle for the middle and lower classes?

Well, they have been "creating wealth," piled up in banks, profits and their own accounts. The "investing class," as President George H.W. Bush called them, has been creating jobs—in China and other points east maybe, but not here.

In The Guardian in England, economist Richard Wolff has written:

"The charge of class war is particularly obtuse. Consider simply these two facts. First, at the end of the Second World War, for every dollar Washington raised in taxes on individuals, it raised $1.50 in taxes on business profits. Today, that ratio is very different: For every dollar Washington gets in taxes on individuals, it takes 25 cents in taxes on business. In short, the last half-century has seen a massive shift of the burden of federal taxation off business and onto individuals.

"Second, across those 50 years, the actual shift that occurred was the opposite of the much more modest reversal proposed this week by President Obama; over the same period, the federal income tax rate on the richest individuals fell from 91 percent to the current 35 percent. Yet, Republicans and conservatives use the term ‘class war’ for what Obama proposes—and never for what the last five decades have accomplished in shifting the tax burden from the rich and corporations to the working class.

A Massive Union Just Voted To Side With The Wall Street Protesters


Sep. 29, 2011

According to Daily Kos, The New York Transit Workers Union (TWU) voted to supportthe Wall Street Protestors at their meeting last night.

A member of TWU Local 100 told a reporter that they would join the protest Friday at 4PM.

Here's more about them from their website:

The TWU has four main divisions: Railroad; Gaming; Airline; Transit; and Utility, University and Service. The Union has 114 autonomous locals representing over 200,000 members and retirees in 22 states around the country.

Occupy Wall Street has been picking up some decent support from unions in the past few days. Yesterday we reported that the Teamsters Union declared their support for protestors, and we also found out that the United Pilots Union had members at the protest demonstrating in uniform.

How Conservative Politicians Wait for God to Fix the Economy, With Frightening Results


The theology embraced by American religious conservatives may render them immune to evidence and reason when it comes to economic management.

By Joshua Holland
September 26, 2011

Is it merely partisan politics and the misguided ideology of "austerity" that leads conservatives to reject commonsense fixes for this miserable economy? Or is something else going on?

It may well be the latter. A study released last fall suggests that the theology embraced by American religious conservatives may render them immune to evidence and reason when it comes to economic management. The study found that a sizable minority share a uniquely faith-based view of how the economy functions, believing that both good and bad outcomes are an expression of God's will, and are therefore beyond the reach of mere mortals.

This may help explain the disconnect between the gravity of our economic crisis and lawmakers' – especially conservative lawmakers' -- decided lack of a sense of urgency in addressing it. Consider for a moment three related facts that, taken together, cast what appears to be the sheer madness of our nation's economic stewardship in sharp relief.

First, we have an “infrastructure gap” of over $2 trillion. According to a report by the American Society of Civil Engineers, the nation’s “deteriorating surface transportation infrastructure,” if not upgraded, “will cost the American economy more than 876,000 jobs, and suppress the growth of the country’s Gross Domestic Product by $897 billion by 2020.” That doesn't speak to energy or communications infrastructure – just roads and bridges and the like.

Second, the construction industry was absolutely devastated by the bursting housing bubble. While the overall unemployment rate hovers around 9 percent, it's still at 13.5 percent for construction workers. The Architechtural Record estimated that 20-30 percent of the nation's architects were jobless as of last fall.

Finally, in effect, investors are now willing to pay the United States government to lend it money. That's right, after factoring in inflation, the real interest the government must pay on five- and seven-year bonds is currently in negative territory.

So we face a huge gap between our potential and actual output. People and equipment are standing idle, we have deteriorating infrastructure which, if left unrepared, the civil engineers tell us will cost the average American household $1,600 per year in higher prices and lower incomes, and the government has access to what is essentially free money to repair it -- a move that would get a lot of unemployed people back to work in the process.

Within the reality-based community, this situation represents a true no-brainer. As economist Dean Baker writes, “We know how to get out of this mess, we have known how for 70 years. We just need the government to generate demand. That means spending money."

But, according to the study -- commissioned by Baylor University, the National Science Foundation and the John Templeton Foundation -- only about one in five Americans adhere to a purely secular view of the economy. Almost three in four say, "I know God has a plan for me," and within that group, about half believe the government is “trying to do too many things” that should be left to the private sector, eight in 10 believe "able-bodied people who are out of work shouldn't receive unemployment checks” and more than 90 percent believe in the myth that the American economy represents a pure meritocracy in which people are limited only by their innate talents and appettite for hard work.

Thom Hartmann: If Obama Doesn't Want to Lead the Revolution - Young People Will

The Keystone Pipeline Revolt: Why Mass Arrests are Just the Beginning

Inside the growing movement to shut down the environmentally devastating tar-sands project

By Bill McKibben
September 28, 2011
Let's get the jail part out of the way right at the start. Central Cell Block in Washington, D.C., is exactly as much fun as it sounds like. In fact, the entire process of being jailed unfolded more or less as any observer of, say, the 84,000 episodes of Law & Order might imagine.
When we were hauled away from the gates of the White House on the morning of Saturday, August 20th, where 65 of us had been peacefully sitting in for an hour to urge the president to veto the proposed Keystone XL pipeline – a 1,700-mile fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the continent – we were taken, hands cuffed behind our backs, in paddy wagons to the Park Police headquarters across the river Anacostia. There we sat – hands still cuffed – on a lawn for a couple of hours, until one by one we were called inside, uncuffed and stripped of all but our clothes. (I mean all – they took away my wedding ring, which hadn't been off in 23 years, saying, "Where you're going, they'll cut off your finger for that.") An officer with a ballpoint pen filled out every form in triplicate. (The Park Police still seem to be deciding if the whole digital thing is going to work out – there were three IBM Wheelwriter typewriters circa 1974 on a desk, but Bic apparently remains the technology of choice.) We stood 15 men to a five-by-seven cell for five or six hours (until need finally overcame squeamish reticence and we used the toilet in the center of the cell). Eventually, they recuffed us and put us back in the wagon for the ride to Central Cell Block, still with no idea of our prospects.

There the District police fingerprinted us and locked us up, two apiece, in four-by-seven cells. No beds, just two stainless-steel slabs without mattress, sheet or pillow. (Shoes make decent pillows, but it's harder than it sounds to sleep on bare steel – my hips were still bruised two weeks later.) We stayed there all night, all the next day and all the next night; baloney sandwiches and a Styrofoam cup of water arrived at 3 a.m. and 3 p.m. The lights never went off, the din was constant and the heat stifling. (We counted ourselves lucky, however, when we found out that the 20 women under arrest had been left in a single cell without beds of any kind, huddled together to keep warm as guards blasted an air conditioner at them.) The hours passed with incredible slowness, especially since the guards, who had taken our watches, kept lying about the time. But on Monday morning at 5 a.m. (we walked past a clock), they shackled us again, this time by the feet – you really do have to put your hand on the next guy's shoulder, and shuffle down the hall, just like in the movies – and took us to the holding cell at the courthouse, where the 45 of us stood, feet cuffed together, in a giant cage with the rest of the District's weekend criminals for about 10 hours. No food, no water – until finally, all of a sudden, they simply called us out and let us go. The judge, apparently, had dismissed all charges, and we were free.

Food and climate change: The forgotten link


GRAIN
28 September 2011

Food is a key driver of climate change. How our food gets produced and how it ends up on our tables accounts for around half of all human-generated greenhouse gas emissions. Chemical fertilizers, heavy machinery and other petroleum-dependant farm technologies contribute significantly. The impact of the food industry as a whole is even greater: destroying forests and savannahs to produce animal feed and generating climate-damaging waste through excess packaging, processing, refrigeration and the transport of food over long distances, despite leaving millions of people hungry.

A new food system could be a key driver of solutions to climate change. People around the world are involved in struggles to defend or create ways of growing and sharing food that are healthier for their communities and for the planet. If measures are taken to restructure agriculture and the larger food system around food sovereignty, small scale farming, agro-ecology and local markets, we could cut global emissions in half within a few decades. We don’t need carbon markets or techno-fixes. We need the right policies and programmes to dump the current industrial food system and create a sustainable, equitable and truly productive one instead.

Food and climate: piecing the puzzle together

Most studies put the contribution of agricultural emissions – the emissions produced on the farm - at somewhere between 11 and 15% of all global emissions.[1] What often goes unsaid, however, is that most of these emissions are generated by industrial farming practices that rely on chemical (nitrogen) fertilizers, heavy machinery run on petrol, and highly concentrated industrial livestock operations that pump out methane waste.

The figures for agriculture's contribution also often do not account for its role in land use changes and deforestation, which are responsible for nearly a fifth of global GHG emissions.[2] Worldwide, agriculture is pushing into savannas, wetlands, cerrados and forests, plowing under huge amounts of land. The expansion of the agricultural frontier is the dominant contributor to deforestation, accounting for between 70-90% of global deforestation.[3] This means that some 15-18% of global GHG emissions are produced by land-use change and deforestation caused by agriculture. And here too, the global food system and its industrial model of agriculture are the chief culprits. The main driver of this deforestation is the expansion of industrial plantations for the production of commodities such as soy, sugarcane, oilpalm, maize and rapeseed.

Listeria outbreak expected to cause more deaths across US in coming weeks

Getting away from Industrial mono-crop farming would help avoid these out breaks as would having an FDA that was well enough funded to have more food inspectors out there.


Outbreak of listeria in cantaloupe melons from Colorado farm has caused at least 72 illnesses and up to 16 deaths so far

Associated Press in Washington
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 29 September 2011

An outbreak of listeria in cantaloupe melons in the US may cause more illness and deaths in coming weeks, say health officials.

So far, the outbreak has caused at least 72 illnesses and up to 16 deaths, in 18 states, making it the deadliest food outbreak in the country in more than a decade.

The Colorado farm where the potentially deadly cantaloupes were traced to, Jensen Farms in Holly, says it shipped fruit to 25 states, and people with illnesses have been discovered in several states that were not on the shipping list.

A spokeswoman for Jensen Farms said the company's product is often sold and resold, so they do not always know where it ends up.

"If it's not Jensen Farms, it's OK to eat," said Thomas Frieden, director of the US Centres for Disease Control. "But if you can't confirm it's not Jensen Farms, then it's best to throw it out."

The recalled cantaloupes may be labelled "Colorado Grown," "Distributed by Frontera Produce," "Jensenfarms.com" or "Sweet Rocky Fords" but not every recalled cantaloupe is labelled with a sticker, the US Food and Drug Administration said. The company said it shipped out more than 300,000 cases of cantaloupes that contained five to 15 melons each, meaning the recall involved 1.5m to 4.5m pieces of fruit.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Country music brings home US economic woes

Country Music and its relatives, American folk music and the blues were common working folk's music long before they were discovered by and popularized by college kids and corporations.

One of the joys of moving to Texas was connecting with Texas country, which has a rawness and authenticity that died in Nashville many years ago. Nashville country runs to safe Corporate Pap errrr Pop. The country music I like tends to be labeled alt-country or outlaw country and be represented by folks like Willie Nelson and the late Townes Van Zant.


I'm glad that BBC picked up on country music that is usually found a bit left on the dial down below 100 on the FM where one finds the listener supported and college stations instead of the Clear Channel crap.

I'm also glad some mainstream country folks have discovered their fan base is hurting.


By Paul Adams: BBC News, Connecticut
September 26, 2011
It's known for tackling some of life's grittier issues, among them loss, poverty and nostalgia. But today's country music lyrics are turning to the effects of economic hardship.
Country music and hard times. A cliche perhaps, but try telling that to legions of fans across the United States, many of whom are on the frontlines of economic struggles, seeking solace in the music.

Fans like 53-year-old Jim Yocius, from Windsor, Connecticut.

"For the first time in my life, I feel very vulnerable," he says outside the Comcast Theatre in Hartford, before a concert by Country star Toby Keith.

Barbecue smoke drifts over serried ranks of pickup trucks as fans enjoy pre-concert tailgate parties.

"I feel like that older white male who did everything right, and now I feel like the next generation really wants me gone," he says.

 

An act of conscience -- going over the fence against the XL pipeline

By Fred Wilson
September 27, 2011
Holding hands with Maude Barlow and marching with Dave Coles, Tony Clarke, Graham Saul, George Poitras and a group of Aboriginal leaders, we marched slowly towards a metal fence. Media blocked our way and it was difficult to see past them to the police awaiting us, but it seemed to me that they were standing back rather than moving forward to confront us. That was comforting and a small sign that this would more or less go as planned. We were supposed to spread out at arms length to give each of us room to step up onto the lower bar of the fence and swing the other leg over. But the media funnelled us into a narrow space and that just wasn't going to happen. Coles was first over, the rest of us one or two at a time after. An RCMP approached and told me that I was in a restricted zone and if I did not go back over the fence he would arrest me. He asked again to make sure I understood. Plastic cuffs bound my hands behind me and that was it -- my first arrest in a lifetime of political and labour activism.

This was an act of conscience against the Keystone XL pipeline which in spite of Canadian regulatory approval a year and a half ago has not yet received U.S. approval and has not commenced construction in Canada.

Dave Coles, President of CEP, and I were representing our members who have stood opposed to the pipeline and the model of development it represents from its inception. CEP opposed XL at the National Energy Board, appealed their decision to cabinet and then sought leave in federal court to force a judicial appeal.



Bolivians march against Evo Morales over jungle highway crackdown


President halted construction in wake of police violence but remains accused of betraying native peoples

Associated Press
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 28 September 2011

Tens of thousands of Bolivians have taken to the streets to reproach President Evo Morales over a police crackdown on indigenous protesters.

The marchers decried the perceived betrayal by Bolivia's first Indian president of his prime constituencies: native groups and environmentalists.

"Evo was a very strong symbol for many people. He embodied principles of justice, of human rights. But now these people are disenchanted," said Jim Shultz, an analyst with thinktank the Democracy Centre, which works on Bolivian issues.

Some Bolivians, such as 44-year-old schoolteacher Juana Pinto, said Morales had proved a disappointment. "This government is the worst and it should go because it attacked human beings, the indigenous compatriots who had given it their support, and now it's turned its back on them," said Pinto, who took part in a march that brought central La Paz to a standstill.

The president issued a statement saying the protests had been a "profound wake-up call" for his government following weekend police action that broke up a march by Indians protesting against a proposed highway through their protected Amazon reserve.

"I could never order such violence as has been seen by the Bolivian people," Morales said in a statement released to news media. He asked for forgiveness from the families of the protesters and urged indigenous groups to hold talks with the government.

Study Finds Students’ Knowledge of Civil Rights History Has Deteriorated

Really?

Who would have thought that possible what with all the trashing of everything that came out of the 1960s and all the Hippie punching.

I lost any delusions I might of had about Obama being any sort of progressive the minute he said how much he respected Reagan and how essential Reagan was in ending the "excesses of the 1960s and 1970s."

They have erased the history of every people's movement this country has had for the last hundred years.

I have people who weren't there and are clueless argue with me about events I was a part of. This is why Howard Zinn and James Loewen are such important historians.


Published: September 28, 2011

When Julian Bond, the former Georgia lawmaker and civil rights activist, turned to teaching two decades ago, he often quizzed his college students to gauge their awareness of the civil rights movement. He did not want to underestimate their grasp of the topic or talk down to them, he said.

“My fears were misplaced,” Mr. Bond said. No student had heard of George Wallace, the segregationist governor of Alabama, he said. One student guessed that Mr. Wallace might have been a CBS newsman.

That ignorance by American students of the basic history of the civil rights movement has not changed — in fact, it has worsened, according to a new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, on whose board Mr. Bond sits. The report says that states’ academic standards for public schools are one major cause of the problem.

“Across the country, state educational standards virtually ignore our civil rights history,” concludes the report, which is to be released on Wednesday.

The report assigns letter grades to each state based on how extensively its academic standards address the civil rights movement. Thirty-five states got an F because their standards require little or no mention of the movement, it says.

Eight of the 12 states earning A, B or C grades for their treatment of civil rights history are Southern states where there were major protests, boycotts or violence during the movement’s peak years in the 1950s and ’60s.

“Generally speaking, the farther away from the South — and the smaller the African-American population — the less attention paid to the civil rights movement,” the report says.

Alabama, Florida and New York were given A grades. Those states require relatively detailed teaching about the decade and a half of historic events, roughly bookended by the Supreme Court’s 1954 school desegregation ruling and the April 1968 assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the enactment of the federal Civil Rights Act a week later.

Many states have turned Dr. King’s life into a fable, said Mr. Bond, who now teaches at American University and the University of Virginia. He said his students knew that “there used to be segregation until Martin Luther King came along, that he marched and protested, that he was killed, and that then everything was all right.”

Obama must face meaningful Democratic primaries


Only a slate of serious candidates can oblige the president to listen to his loyal Democratic base as he runs for re-election

guardian.co.uk,
Tuesday 27 September 2011

America's two-party dictatorship – a model unknown in any other western country – keeps reinventing the ways it closes doors not just on third party candidates but on any challenges to their incumbent presidents within the party's primaries.

Now, it is the turn of the Democrats to make a mockery out of the first amendment rights of others to speak, assemble and petition their government by running inside the upcoming presidential primary season that runs from January to June 2012. After President Obama took his liberal/progressive base for so many one-sided corporatist rides in his administration, he and his allies are very determined to give him a free ride by having him campaign around the country on Air Force One as an unchallenged, one-man primary.

This tedious scenario would have his supporters watch President Obama repeatedly respond, on his omnipresent teleprompter, to the crazed Republicans and their issues – instead of offering a ringing affirmation for his second term of the neglected majoritarian liberal/progressive agendas.

Clearly, the Republicans are not going to initiate any attention to getting out of the quagmire wars in Iraq, Afghanistan/Pakistan and the mini-wars elsewhere. Republicans are not going to ask why Obama did not press forward for full Medicare for all, instead of his limited, incomplete, corporate-subsidised Obamacare. Nor are the Republicans going to demand that he explain why he has turned his back on labor and the impoverished, whose hopes for change he raised so high with specific promises in 2008.

But with one in three workers receiving Walmart-level wages, with 45,000 of the 50 million people without health insurance dying each year for lack of coverage, with pensions for millions of Americans being looted or drained by their corporate masters, with tax systems skewed for the wealthy during high unemployment, and with the White House routinely engaged in constitutional violations in its foreign/military adventures, the "no debate" mantra deepens autocracy.

'Occupy Wall Street' Fighting Bankster Greed and the Surveillance State

Along with Mainstream Media making a concerted effort to deny left wing protest by people being injured in the Class War that is being waged by the rich upon the poor we have started to hear all sorts of un-American, anti-constitutional proposals such as limiting the right of the poor to vote.

We are subjected to the PATRIOT ACT which helped legitimatize a police state. Can we expect another attempt at shoving sedition laws down our throats that will criminalize our making disparaging comments about the Fed and other corporations?


Over a week in, and despite mass arrests, the protesters are still camped out around the corner from Wall Street, and the Internet is watching.

By Sarah Jaffe
September 27, 2011
The crackdown on the Wall Street protesters this weekend seems to have backfired. The campsite-cum-experiment in radical democracy is still there, holding general assemblies just shouting distance from Goldman Sachs and the Wall Street bull. It even appears to be growing.

The complaints that the media has ignored the sustained protest seem to be resonating—the park has cameras aplenty today, and food trucks line one side of the plaza. (Local eateries have been taking out-of-town orders for protesters.) Tourists seem to be catching on that this is something, as they snap pictures of protest signs.

While even theoretically like-minded folks had been a bit dismissive of the Wall Street occupation before Saturday, the heavy-handed moves by police to control a small march have brought worldwide attention to Zuccotti Park, formerly Liberty Plaza. The Guardian has broken stories ahead of the New York media, outing the police officer caught on tape pepper-spraying penned-up protesters as the same officer named in a wrongful arrest lawsuit from 2004's Republican National Convention protests.

Techniques honed from the “Battle in Seattle” in 1999, including penning up protesters with temporary fences or an orange mesh net, were deployed in 2004 and then exported to the UK in the past year, as student activists fighting their government's attempt to impose fee hikes on university attendees found out when they were trapped outside in so-called “kettles” for hours in the cold, unable to leave.

The Federal Reserve Plans To Identify “Key Bloggers” And Monitor Billions Of Conversations About The Fed On Facebook, Twitter, Forums And Blogs


September 25, 2011
The Federal Reserve wants to know what you are saying about it. In fact, the Federal Reserve has announced plans to identify "key bloggers" and to monitor "billions of conversations" about the Fed on Facebook, Twitter, forums and blogs. This is yet another sign that the alternative media is having a dramatic impact. As first reported on Zero Hedge, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has issued a "Request for Proposal" to suppliers who may be interested in participating in the development of a "Sentiment Analysis And Social Media Monitoring Solution". In other words, the Federal Reserve wants to develop a highly sophisticated system that will gather everything that you and I say about the Federal Reserve on the Internet and that will analyze what our feelings about the Fed are. Obviously, any "positive" feelings about the Fed would not be a problem. What they really want to do is to gather information on everyone that views the Federal Reserve negatively. It is unclear how they plan to use this information once they have it, but considering how many alternative media sources have been shut down lately, this is obviously a very troubling sign.

You can read this "Request for Proposal" right here. Posted below are some of the key quotes from the document (in bold) with some of my own commentary in between the quotes....

"The intent is to establish a fair and equitable partnership with a market leader who will who gather data from various social media outlets and news sources and provide applicable reporting to FRBNY. This Request for Proposal ("RFP") was created in an effort to support FRBNY's Social Media Listening Platforms initiative."

A system like this is not cheap. Apparently the Federal Reserve Bank of New York believes that gathering all of this information is very important. In recent years, criticism of the Federal Reserve has become very intense, and most of this criticism has been coming from the Internet. It has gotten to the point where the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has decided that it had better listen to what is being said and find out who is saying it.

"Social media listening platforms are solutions that gather data from various social media outlets and news sources. They monitor billions of conversations and generate text analytics based on predefined criteria. They can also determine the sentiment of a speaker or writer with respect to some topic or document."

Thom Hartmann: European Market Predicted to Melt Down Within Next 12 Months

The new sparks of labor resistance


There's a new surge of labor struggles in the U.S.--and what unites them is the activism and solidarity on display, despite a hostile media and aggressive employers.

Editorial
September 28, 2011

PICKET LINES are popping up with greater frequency across the U.S.--and strikers are displaying a new, fighting mood that exists among growing numbers of working people fed up with being forced to pay for an economic crisis caused by Wall Street and Corporate America.

These struggles represent a challenge and an opportunity for working-class activists and socialists to put forward a strategy for taking on Corporate America and the business-backed attack on public-sector workers.

The struggles are varied. They include teachers who defied a judge's order to win a strike in Tacoma, Wash.; hospital workers who struck the Kaiser health care system in California for two days, with nurses honoring the walkout; professors on the picket line at Long Island University in New York; Hyatt hotel workers carrying out a weeklong strike at six hotels in four cities; members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) blocking trains filled with scab cargo at the port of Longview, Wash.; a strike at the Central Park Boathouse restaurant in New York City against a notorious union-buster; and the beginnings of a campaign by postal workers' unions against the assault on their members at the U.S. Postal Service.

All this follows the two-week strike at Verizon in August, where roving pickets and demonstrations at the company's wireless stores caught management by surprise--and, earlier this year, the uprising in Wisconsin against Republican Gov. Scott Walker's union-busting attack on public-sector workers.

Workers haven't yet prevailed in all of these struggles, nor will all of them win in the future. But what unites these fights is the activism and solidarity on display, despite a hostile corporate media and aggressive employers.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"Something Has Started": Michael Moore on Occupy Wall St. Protests That Could Spark Movement

'Occupy Wall Street': Drawing the Battle Lines


By Matt Taibbi
September 27, 2011

I was speaking at a conference in Boston yesterday when one of the attendees asked me, "How come the media isn't covering the protests on Wall Street?"

I was about to give a pithy answer about how the press doesn't cover marches unless someone sets a car on fire or someone throws a rock through the window of a Starbucks, when I realized that I myself hadn't even written anything about it.

I don't know a whole lot about Occupy Wall Street, although I'm going to check it out when I return to New York. There are times when one wonders how effective marches are – one of the lessons that the other side learned from the Vietnam era is that you can often ignore even really big protests without consequence – but in this case demonstrations could be very important just in terms of educating people about the fact that there is, in fact, a well-defined conflict out there with two sides to it.

There is a huge number of Americans who simply don't realize that they've been victimized by Wall Street – that they've paid inflated commodity prices due to irresponsible speculation and manipulation, seen their home values depressed thanks to corruption in the mortgage markets, subsidized banker bonuses with their tax dollars and/or been forced to pay usurious interest rates for consumer credit, among other things.

Miles Davis (May 26, 1926 – September 28, 1991)









Rights Collide as Town Clerk Sidesteps Role in Gay Marriages

Imagine for a second the level of up-roar there would be if this Bible Thumping "Christian" were to refuse to issue marriage licenses to say African-American couples citing the "curse of Ham" or Jewish couple based on traditional Christian anti-Semitism of the sort I remember from my childhood. Would there be a shadow of doubt that this woman is a bigot of the worst sort, one who would be better off working in one of her precious churches than in a public office where one is expected to treat all people with the same level of respect and dignity.

Some one should tell this woman the era when it acceptable to be a KKK member or a Nazi are long past.

A substantial minority of atheists are fed up with this privileging of bigotry that go with these claims of religious exemption.


By THOMAS KAPLAN
Published: September 27, 2011

EDYARD, N.Y. — Rose Marie Belforti is a 57-year-old cheese maker, the elected town clerk in this sprawling Finger Lakes farming community and a self-described Bible-believing Christian. She believes that God has condemned homosexuality as a sin, so she does not want to sign same-sex marriage licenses; instead, she has arranged for a deputy to issue all marriage licenses by appointment.

But when a lesbian couple who own a farm near here showed up at the town hall last month, the women said they were unwilling to wait.

Now Ms. Belforti is at the heart of an emerging test case, as national advocacy groups look to Ledyard for an answer to how the state balances a religious freedom claim by a local official against a civil rights claim by a same-sex couple.

Ms. Belforti, represented by a Christian legal advocacy group based in Arizona, the Alliance Defense Fund, is arguing that state law requires New York to accommodate her religious beliefs.

“New York law protects my right to hold both my job and my beliefs,” she said in an interview last week, pausing briefly to collect $50 from a resident planning to take 20 loads of refuse to the town dump. “I’m not supposed to have to leave my beliefs at the door at my government job.”

But the couple, Deirdre DiBiaggio and Katie Carmichael of Miami, are arguing that the law requires all clerks in New York to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The couple are being represented by a liberal advocacy organization, People for the American Way, based in Washington.

Wall Street protests reveal slice of America's barely tamed brutality


Pepper spray, Swat teams and judicial torture. This barbarity is ever present – but rarely so visible – in American life

guardian.co.uk,
Monday 26 September

One of the hardships of life as a reporter in New York City is that you so rarely get credited with the kind of heroism shown by colleagues in Helmand, say, or Baghdad. The assumption is that you're spending time drinking gin martinis on the roof of Soho House (I prefer vodka) or dining at the Grand Central oyster bar (try the Rhode Island Cuttyhunks, they're sumptuous), rather than dodging bullets in Tripoli.

I'd like to think that over the past few days perception of my job as a soft landing has started to change, and that its true nature as a tough, dangerous and – yes – heroic posting has begun to emerge. Take the events over the weekend in Wall Street. Admittedly, I wasn't there, but that's not the point. I could have been.

The protests were a lament for a nation in which, despite the 2008 meltdown, the financial system remains largely unregulated, where 46 million Americans live below the official poverty line, and where inequality is greater now than at any time since 1929. That's hardly the stuff of revolutions: you can read Paul Krugman make a similar point every week in the New York Times. And in the land of the first amendment you'd think it was OK to shout it out in the street, even if that street is Wall Street.

Not according to the two white-shirted senior NYPD officers captured on video. The film shows a small group of women protesters, who are doing nothing menacing at all, having been kettled by police. As they stand there fenced in and defenceless, the two white shirts walk up to them, hold out a pepper-spray canister and zap them straight in the face.

It's the officers' insouciance that is most shocking. They engage the pepper spray as calmly as if they were handing out parking tickets, then turn and just as calmly walk away.

The video reminded me of another recent event at which I was present: last week's execution in Georgia of Troy Davis. The case drew international attention because there was no forensic evidence and seven out of nine key witnesses had recanted their testimony.




Occupy Wall Street Interview with Chris Hedges





Trader on BBC Sounds Alarm About Market Crash

Statement on BBC News channel interview with trader Alessio Rastani

The BBC have today issued the following statement regarding an interview with trader Alessio Rastani on the BBC News channel yesterday (Monday 26 September):

"We've carried out detailed investigations and can't find any evidence to suggest that the interview with Alessio Rastani was a hoax. He is an independent market trader and one of a range of voices we've had on air to talk about the recession."

BBC Press Office

While this has the appearances of one of the Yes Men Stunts they deny involvement.

Rastani is not in Liberty Plaza (#occupywallstreet)

By Andy Bichlbaum on Sep 27 2011

The Yes Men wish to commend Mr. "Alessio Rastani" for his masterful performance as "trader" on BBC World yesterday. Mr. Rastani's real name is Granwyth Hulatberi; he once appeared on CNBC MarketWrap as a "representative" of the WTO. Well done, Granwyth! You're getting better and better.

Just kidding. We've never heard of Rastani. Despite widespread speculation, he isn't a Yes Man. He's a real trader who is, for one reason or another, being more honest than usual. Who in big banking doesn't bet against the interests of the poor and find themselves massively recompensed—if not by the market, then by humongous taxpayer bailouts? Rastani's approach has been completely mainstream for several years now; we must thank him for putting a human face on it yesterday.

If you'd like to see the human face of the human perspective—the perspective of the 99% victimized by our demented and out-of-control financial system—come join the occupation of Wall Street. Michael Moore did so last night, and pointed out that in America, it's just 400 people who own as much as most of the rest of us put together—and that when we decide we really want to change the rules of the game, those 400 people won't be able to do squat about it.

No Fossil Fuel Unburnt


Published on Tuesday, September 27, 2011 by TomDispatch.com

Pepe Escobar, that ever-energetic, globetrotting correspondent for Asia Times, has long been on the Pipelinestan beat, covering the skeletal geography of energy that girds the planet. Today, however, he leaves pipelines behind to consider the planet they service -- or is it we who service them? In his newest piece, “The West and the Rest in a One-Model-Fits-All World,” he focuses on this question: if the West is going down, and Atlantic bust is giving way to Pacific boom, what’s to be made of the fate of a planet in the embrace of a single grim model of economic “development”?

Last Tuesday, my hometown paper had, I thought, a relevant article, a seemingly triumphalist reportorial shout of joy that the Americas, from Patagonia to the Arctic seas, might be the next Saudi Arabia. “New Fields May Propel Americas to Top of Oil Companies’ Lists,” the headline went. (“For the first time in decades, the emerging prize of global energy may be the Americas, where Western oil companies are refocusing their gaze in a rush to explore clusters of coveted oil fields.”)

Huzzah! We should all feel great, it turns out, because that tilting imperial slope on which the U.S. seems to be sliding downhill has long been linked to Middle Eastern oil dependency. Now, so says the New York Times, that might be reversed.

Only one minor problem: just about every bit of that energy -- tar sands in Canada, oil shale in the American West, pre-salt oil deposits in the Atlantic Ocean (way) off Brazil’s coast, oil in the Arctic seas (where Shell has just gotten its latest permit from the Obama administration), and oil fields in Colombia in a region embroiled in an ongoing civil war -- involves what Michael Klare has long called “tough oil” or “extreme energy.” Those fossil fuels -- dirtier, harder to extract, or existing under the worst possible political, environmental, or weather conditions -- guarantee nightmares to come.

With No Future Visible, Young Activists Have Few Options but to "Occupy Wall Street"


Is it really surprising that young protesters on Wall Street and around the world would like to have a word with the financial magnates who stole their future?

By David Graeber
September 26, 2011

Why are people occupying Wall Street? Why has the occupation – despite the latest police crackdown– sent out sparks across America, within days, inspiring hundreds of people to send pizzas, money, equipment and, now, to start their own movements called OccupyChicago, OccupyFlorida, in OccupyDenver or OccupyLA?

There are obvious reasons. We are watching the beginnings of the defiant self-assertion of a new generation of Americans, a generation who are looking forward to finishing their education with no jobs, no future, but still saddled with enormous and unforgivable debt. Most, I found, were of working-class or otherwise modest backgrounds, kids who did exactly what they were told they should: studied, got into college, and are now not just being punished for it, but humiliated – faced with a life of being treated as deadbeats, moral reprobates.

Is it really surprising they would like to have a word with the financial magnates who stole their future?

Just as in Europe, we are seeing the results of colossal social failure. The occupiers are the very sort of people, brimming with ideas, whose energies a healthy society would be marshaling to improve life for everyone. Instead, they are using it to envision ways to bring the whole system down.