Saturday, December 31, 2011

Watch the Times Square ball Drop Live Online - Happy New Year

Watch the Times Square ball drop to bring in 2012 here. But before that watch live performances of top musical performers:

Watch live streaming video from 2012 at

Video: Occupy Charlotte Does not Condone Flag Burning

There are always a few bad apples. I would venture to say there are more Tea Partyers with disloyal views than the Occupy movement:

Citizens United loses in Montana, Supreme Court upholds state ban on corporate spending

A victory for democracy. Now for the U.S. Supreme Court:

 Citizens United loses in Montana, Supreme Court upholds state ban on corporate spending.

Video: Syrian man Records his Own Death

Basil Al-Sayid, a 24-year-old man in Syria, was shot to death while documenting violence committed by the government:

Obama and the Economy: Not as Bad, Not Good

The Obama administration argument is that the economy isn't collapsing like it was before they took office. That isn't good enough. This isn't change. It's not as bad. And after 4 years not as bad isn't good:

[...]the fact that people who've given up looking for work don't show up in the unemployment rate -- is not present in the EMPloyment rate: the share of the population working. That's fallen over the past couple of years and has been basically flat-lining for a year. It's probably the most pessimistic labor market indicator out there, and is a reliable sign that labor demand remains weak.

[...]The figure shows the year-over-year changes in the real weekly earnings of blue-collar, non-managerial workers (it's a good proxy for the median, or middle-class wage). It was already falling slightly in 2009 (Dec/Dec) but is falling faster now (down 1.5%, Nov10-Nov11).

[...]The other pothole indicator for the president is the increase in profit shares of GDP along with the decline in compensation shares. The figure shows these movements from 2009 compared to now, and while they don't look like big changes in the figure, they're actually quite significant-these variables usually move pretty glacially.

[...]Profits as a share of GDP are way up and compensation/GDP is way down. Now, it's not like high profits are a bad thing, and they often recover before wages. But their distribution is highly skewed, and they clearly signal the return of rising income inequality, a major concern for a lot of people today, myself included.

The decline in the compensation share is a symptom of the weak job market, high unemployment, and weak wage growth. It's why a lot of families still feel squeezed while flush corporations sit on trillions in cash.
Source: Jared Bernstein, HuffingtonPost

Credit card debt: Are consumers returning to bad habits?

Americans have no income to pay for things. So we charge. And the banks profit:

Americans are edging back toward their bad old pre-recession habits, when they charged whatever they wanted on their credit cards and didn’t worry about the build up of debt. After starting 2011 by paying down over $32 billion in credit card debt, consumers are on track to end the year with a $64 billion increase in their net credit card debt, according to Card Hub’s latest survey of credit card debt.

That’s a far bigger increase than in either 2009 or 2010. Unfortunately, the situation in 2012 will worsen before it improves. You can thank the busy holiday shopping season for that. It occurs during the year’s fourth quarter, which is largely why the fourth quarter sees debt build up faster than in the second and third quarters combined.
Full article 

Pittsburgh City Council Gives Itself a Pay Raise

Unless Pittsburgh's economy is booming a pay raise is outrageous. But they don't care. They'll still won't be held accountable come next election. Most incumbents get to keep their jobs no matter what. And we have no choices:

Pittsburgh City Council members gave themselves more taxpayer money to play with when they approved a 2012 operating budget, a decision that sends the wrong message in tight economic times.

Members say it's not their intention to play Santa, but each of the nine will get $94,000 for staff salaries next year, up from the current $88,000. Council will decide later on how to allocate the funds, by giving raises to some or all of their staffers or by increasing the hours of work available for part-timers.
Full article

Police: More cars set afire in LA, arson suspected

The Associated Press: Police: More cars set afire in LA, arson suspected

Several more cars burned in suspected arson attacks in the Los Angeles area early Saturday morning, and authorities investigated if they were connected to nearly two dozen deliberately set blazes a day earlier, police said.

Seven or eight cars burned Saturday in the North Hollywood area, said officer Robert Collier.

He said he didn't have further details of the blazes, but said arson is suspected and there could be a link to the earlier blazes.

Santorum defends his use of pork-barrel spending

The Dysfunction of America (1): The Rule of Greed

A Canadian perspective on greed in America:

The U.S. economy remains the most powerful, creative and dynamic in the world, but it faces major difficulties. No longer is it a true capitalist free-market system. It has become a gigantic welfare state whose prime beneficiaries are the rich and major corporations.

Think of the legions of millionaire lobbyists in Washington; the shuttle-bus-type ferrying of people back and forth between senior Washington positions and executive suites in the business world; the enormous subsidies paid to myriad industries, including agriculture; the complex loopholes that render the tax code incomprehensible to all but the beneficiaries; the deregulation of the financial system that led to the crisis of 2007 and 2008, followed by the trillion-dollar bailouts; and that’s to say nothing of the dramatically increasing inequality of income distribution.

Greed may be good, as Gordon Gekko famously declared in Wall Street, but it is good only for the rich.
Full article from MontrealGazette

Friday, December 30, 2011

Jason Salzman: The 99 Percent: Income Inequality by the Numbers

Jason Salzman: The 99 Percent: Income Inequality by the Numbers

So, here's a crib sheet for anyone writing about Occupy in 2012.

Income Inequality: Occupy by the Numbers

Percentage of our nation's wealth owned by the top 1% of earners: 33.8%

Percentage of U.S. wealth owned by the bottom 50% of Americans: 2.5%.

Percentage of investment assets (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.) owned by top 1%: over 50%

Percentage of investment assets owned by the bottom half: 0.5%

Percentage of the nation's personal debt owed by the top 1% in the US: 5%

Percentage of the nation's personal debt owed by the bottom 90% of Americans: 73%


75 Years Ago Today, the First Occupy

Great story. Working people have had to fight for every right we enjoy today.

75 Years Ago Today, the First Occupy - The Huffington Post

Don Cheadle Says President Obama Should Have Been More 'Gangsta,' Clarifies Comments

He's disappointed like so many loyal supporters who believed Obama's promises.

Don Cheadle Says President Obama Should Have Been More 'Gangsta,' Clarifies Comments - The Huffington Post

Cable Television Bills Have Nearly Tripled In The Past 10 Years

Occupy Philly Is Alive and Well

Written by Joan E. Dowlin (Huffington Post):

I was in town pet sitting for a friend when I went online to find out what is happening with the Occupy movement in Philadelphia. I saw that there was an Assembly Meeting at the Friends Center Thursday evening so I decided to check it out.

I am so glad I did. Previously I had written twice in The Huffington Post about Occupy Philly this past fall describing my trips to Dilworth Plaza and my interviews with various people connected to the movement. I remember coming away inspired and full of hope for the future.

This assembly was an even deeper experience of insightful, spiritual activism. Even though the tents are gone, one occupier shared that "the organic whole of the movement still exists." I would guess there were about 40 people there. There were representatives of all ages and races. It began with business items first: schedules, court dates, the website, and announcements. I almost felt like I was at a church meeting. Occupy is planning a New Year's Eve party and being a part of the Mummer's parade.
Full article

Romney takes the high road as Christie targets Obama

The main reason Christie is campaigning with Romney is in preparation to make him a running mate for the likely winner of the GOP primaries. Christie thought about running for President. He felt he was unprepared. Being VP for 4 or more years would prepare him for an eventual run for the White House. Christie is also popular with Republicans and is more well known than any other potential running mate. He also makes an interesting contrast with Romney. The only drawback? He is a Northerner. But it wouldn't matter for Romney. The South votes Republican, with a few exceptions. Christie is the logical choice:

Undeterred by the cold or by a steady drizzle, some 600 Iowans came out this morning to hear Mitt Romney, along with his surrogate and enforcer, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, rally the troops before Tuesday's Iowa caucus begins the 2012 primary campaign in earnest.

Romney, as he has done all week in Iowa, set the stakes for 2012 high, telling the crowd the race was not about just changing occupants of the oval office, but also about "saving the soul of America."

No one wages that fight better than Christie, said Romney; the New Jersey governor returned the favor.

"As we always do every four years, America's watching Iowa and Iowa's gonna be, gonna be the folks who are gonna help to start this process to get us going to make sure that the Republican Party nominates the very best person to take on President Obama in November," Christie told the shivering crowd. "Now when you look at that stage in these debates, I think you've gotta come to the conclusion I've come to: there is no person better qualified by his experience and his character to take on Barack Obama and to lead the United States of America than Gov. Mitt Romney"

Christie also jokingly warned the crowd that there would be consequences if they did not support Romney at Tuesday's caucuses. Christie said that he would return to Iowa "Jersey Style," a statement with different, but equally terrifying meaning, to fans of "The Sopranos" and "Jersey Shore" alike.
Full article

Bank CEOs Make Big Money 2011

Shouldn't there be a relationship between stock performance and CEO pay? Not in today's corporate environment. The DOW went up .3 percent in 2011. And the wages of American workers didn't do any better. So how is it that those responsible see their personal gain skyrocketing:

Here’s a tough pill to swallow for big bank investors: Your stock was slammed in 2011 but the CEO running the company is making out just fine.

According to data from bank analyst Dick Bove bank CEOs are out-earning their employees and shareholders even as shares of their respective companies dropped this year.

Bove found that while earnings per share increased about 13% at the 23 financial institutions he follows stock prices dropped more than 30%, and CEO salary was more than 65 times than the average employee salary.
Full article

Bank Fees Predicted To Rise In 2012, As Banks Try To Boost Revenue

Because bank profits are not high enough:

Squeezed by regulations under the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, banks are looking to find new ways to wring fees from customers. In 2012, expect to see higher minimum balance requirements and an ongoing push to increase customers' credit card spending, according to a "2012 U.S. Banking Sector Outlook" report from Trepp, an analytics company that provides information to the banking industry.

Other industry analysts predict that some banks could raise overdraft fees from $35 to a new high of $40 and that more institutions will increase monthly maintenance fees on basic checking accounts to between $12 and $15.

Over the past three years, various new regulations under the Dodd-Frank Act and the Credit Card Act have reined in certain aggressive fee practices. More regulations in 2012 are expected to further hamper banks' ability to make big profits off the basic banking activities of consumers.

Yet banks' losses from Dodd-Frank and other regulations haven't been as dramatic as portrayed. In 2007, the percentage of revenue that came from fees was more than 40 percent, according to Trepp. In 2011, that percentage dropped just 4 points to 36 percent.
Full article

It was an off year for the banks. You might even see some CEOs being laid-off:
So is Dodd-Frank “killing” the industry? In fact, “bank profits rose substantially” in the first quarter of the year, with banks showing the biggest profits since before the recession. Things were sunny in the second quarter as well:

    – Profits at JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s second largest bank, were up 13 percent.

    – Third-largest Citigroup’s profits soared 23 percent.

    – Fourth-largest Wells Fargo’s profits shot up 29 percent.

    – Fifth-largest Goldman Sachs, meanwhile, “disappointed investors” when it merely “more than doubled its profits.”

    –Sixth-largest Morgan Stanley’s profits were up an impressive 17 percent.

The only top-tier bank to have a rough second quarter was the nation’s largest, Bank of America, which has been dragged down in part by its acquisition of investment house Merril Lynch — a move that, ironically, would not have been allowed under the Glass–Steagall Act, the repeal of which Gingrich spearheaded as House Speaker in the 90s.

Video: Are the GOP Presidential Candidates part of the 99%

Watch this video and see whether you think the GOP candidates running for President sympathize with your plight. If you think they are then you'll find this video quite amusing:

Hundreds of thousands in Syria protest gov't

We must support the war on tyranny. Let's not forget how America came to be. And we would not have won against the British without support from other nations. Let's keep the heat on Assad just as we did with the tyrants in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, etc. If we don't succeed then we are all in danger:

 Hundreds of thousands of Syrians poured into the streets across the nation Friday in the largest protests in months, shouting for the downfall of the regime in a defiant display invigorated by the presence of Arab observers, activists said.

Despite the presence of the monitors, activists said Syrian forces killed at least 19 people, most of them shot during anti-government protests.

Rami Abdul-Raham, who heads the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the crowds were largest Friday in Idlib and Hama provinces, with 250,000 people each. Other massive rallies were held in Daraa province and the Damascus suburb of Douma, he said.
Full article

Video: Mitt Romney Was Outraged By Money In Politics In 1994

This video is without a doubt the best argument for getting money out of politics. Thanks to BuzzFeed and Stanscates for the info:

WHO 'Deeply Concerned' by Deadly flu Research

"Scientists altered a deadly virus to make it even more contagious"

The World Health Organization issued a stern warning on Friday to scientists who have engineered a highly pathogenic form of the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus , saying their work carries significant risks and must be tightly controlled.
Full article

Egyptian Police Raid Pro-Democracy Groups: Should U.S. Cut Aid to Egypt?

You mean we haven't cut aid to the Egyptian military?

Egyptian police raided 17 offices of pro-democracy and human rights groups Thursday over speculation that those groups are taking foreign money. Out of the 17 groups, three are supported by the United States.

With $1.3 billion of U.S. aid going to the ruling Egyptian military a year, this event is a clear violation of U.S. interests in the region. If the U.S. appears to be supporting autocratic regimes at a time where so many are seeking the democratic values the U.S. advocates, the America could possess the image of being on the wrong side of history regarding the Arab Spring.
Full article

Recession 'to return' to Europe, say Economists

A recession in Europe would be disastrous for the U.S. It might lead to a collapse of the overvalued stock market in America. And if it happens in 2012 Obama is finished. And so would all of us:

The vast majority of leading economists polled by the BBC believe recession will return to Europe next year.

One fifth said the eurozone would not exist in its current 17-member form, while the majority put the possibility of a eurozone break-up at 30%-40%.

The poll also found that most economists expect UK interest rates to remain at 0.5% throughout next year.

It was conducted among 34 UK and European economists who regularly advise the Bank of England.

Of the 27 who responded, 25 forecast recession for Europe next year.
Full article

Team Obama Lays out Electoral Map Strategy

Source: LA Times:

The Obama campaign likes to start with the states that John Kerry won in the 2004 election, on the theory that these rock-solid blue states are a lock for the Democratic nominee. Building on the 251 electoral votes that Kerry received, the Obama campaign believes that it can win a second term if any of the following strategies pans out.

The West. The Obama campaign says that one way to get over the top is to win Colorado and Nevada, states that Obama carried in 2008. “We believe if we register more voters, start putting teams in place that can start talking to voters, we can win these states,’’ Messina said.

[...]Beyond.  No one in Obama’s campaign leadership expects him to have an easier time of it in 2012 than in ’08. Unemployment is high, Congress is gridlocked and voters are disillusioned with Washington. Still, anything can happen in an election year, and the Obama campaign hopes to pick up certain states that went Republican in ’08. The most promising is Arizona, Messina said. Arizona is the home state of the 2008 Republican nominee, John McCain, so Obama didn't compete there last time. In this election, though, Arizona may be in play. “There are hundreds of thousands of eligible voters who are unregistered in Arizona,’’ Messina said. “We’re excited about our opportunities there.’’

Sears lists 79 closings, gets Fitch downgrade

White House Domestic Policy Chief Exits

Russia: Nuclear Submarine Fire Finally Out

Suspect confesses to biggest China corruption case

Virus sickens 110,000 in Vietnam, kills 166

Jerry Brown On Occupy Oakland: Governor Vows To Help Prevent Port Shutdown

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Factory Jobs Gain, but Wages Retreat

This isn't the solution to the job problem in America. And the danger is that this will be used as a model for other industries. Not mentioned in this story is benefits and medical insurance. What does that entail? The solution is penalizing companies that outsource while rewarding those that keep jobs at home. We should also negotiate with countries that import into the U.S. products made from cheap labor. American labor should not have to compete with third word wages. Trade is good but it shouldn't be at our expense:

Manufacturers are hiring again in America, softening a long slide in factory employment. But for a new generation of blue-collar workers, even those protected by unions, the price of employment is likely to be lower wages stretching to retirement.

That is particularly true of global manufacturers like General Electric. With labor costs moving down at its appliance factories here, the company is bringing home the production of water heaters as well as some refrigerators, and expanding its work force to do so.

The wages for the new hires, however, are $10 to $15 an hour less than the pay scale for hourly employees already on staff — with the additional concession that the newcomers will not catch up for the foreseeable future. Such union-endorsed contracts are also showing up in the auto industry, at steel and tire companies, and at manufacturers of farm implements and other heavy equipment, according to Gordon Pavy, president of the Labor and Employment Relations Association and, until recently, the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s director of collective bargaining.
Full article

Fox apologizes to Jews for Facebook poll on Jesus

FOX is fond of excoriating Democrats, the left for attacking Christianity and Israel. Here we have something which is as bad as anything they have criticized:

Fox Latin America has apologized for a poll on whether Jews killed Jesus Christ that one of its staffers put on a Facebook page promoting the National Geographic Channel's Christmas special.

The poll asked readers who they think is responsible for the death of Christ: Pontius Pilate, The Jewish People or the High Priests.

The Simon Weisenthal Center in Buenos Aires calls it a defamatory reference to Vatican propaganda that "resulted in the persecution and murder of Jews for two millennia."

The Jewish group says it's outraged that Fox would perpetuate an idea that the Vatican annulled back in 1965.
Full article

Video: Kahlil Byrd Explains What is "Americans Elect"

This organization might be an answer to the corrupt two-party system that is destroying this country. Kahlil Byrd, CEO of Americans was interviewed on the Dylan Ratigan Show. If you haven't heard about Americans Elect please view this video. It might just get you thinking before you waste your vote on the same old sham next November:

Egyptian raids on rights groups draw fire

Egyptian raids on rights groups draw fire - -

Young People More Likely To Favor Socialism Than Capitalism: Pew

Rick Perry: Abortion Okay If Woman's Life At Risk

Didn't Perry attack Romney for his flip-flopping on issues, including abortion? Maybe he's positioning himself for New Hampshire. Or maybe he's seen the light on the abortion issue. It's hard to believe a politician would do something on principal:

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry said Wednesday that he has "always struggled" with his position on abortion and clarified remarks he made a day earlier to indicate he would allow abortion if a woman's life were at risk.

The Texas governor, campaigning hard in the final week ahead of Iowa's lead-off Jan. 3 caucuses, had told a pastor Tuesday that he had undergone a "transformation" on abortion rights after meeting a woman, Rebecca Kissling, who said she was conceived during a rape. She was featured in former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's anti-abortion documentary, "The Gift of Life," and Perry attended its Iowa premier.
Full article

WTC First Responders Face Tough Decision Over 9/11 Health Fund

WTC First Responders Face Tough Decision Over 9/11 Health Fund -

Krauthammer: "Embarrassing Candidates" Making Obama Look Presidential

Krauthammer: "Embarrassing Candidates" Making Obama Look Presidential | RealClearPolitics -

Government of the Rich, by the Rich and for the Rich

But we are going to re-elected most members of Congress. Why? How much more evidence do we need that this government does not represent us. They are laughing at us because they can do whatever they want without repercussions. It's up to you and me. Either we through the bums out or we get what we deserve--more of the same greed, corruption and failure:

According to a study reported Tuesday, nearly half the members of the United States Congress are millionaires. Of the 535 legislators (100 members of the Senate and 435 members of the House of Representatives), at least 250 are millionaires and the median net worth is $913,000.

Sixty-seven senators are millionaires and the median wealth of the body’s 100 members is $2.63 million.

While the Senate has long been known as a millionaires’ club, the transformation of the House is a relatively recent phenomenon. The median net worth of members of the House of Representatives, excluding home equity, has more than doubled over the last 25 years, from $280,000 in 1984 to $725,000 in 2009 in inflation-adjusted dollars. During that same period, the median net worth of an American family fell from $20,600 to $20,500.

[...]The median wealth of members of Congress rose 15 percent from 2004 to 2010, despite the financial collapse that devastated working people and for a time drove down the median wealth even of the financial aristocracy. In part, this was the result of congressional turnover—the incoming “Tea Party” Republicans were on average far better off than the Democrats or “establishment” Republicans they replaced, with a median net worth of $864,000 for the 106 members of the supposedly “populist” freshmen class of 2010.
Full article

Is Obama Really a Democrat? (12-29-11)

This was in Americablog:

Glenn Greenwald has a nice observation in The Guardian that's worth noticing.

His key point — Obama is so far to the right, especially on national security, that no GOP candidate can get to his right and look credible.
 This poll shows the American people think that Obama is liberal...mildly, though:

On a scale of 1 to 5 -- with 1 being very liberal and 5 being very conservative -- respondents rated themselves as a 3.3 ideologically, slightly to the right of center.

They perceive Obama to be a 2.3, to the left of center.

[...]When it comes to the president, Gallup reported, "a majority of Americans, 57%, perceive Obama to be liberal, with 23% describing his views as moderate and 15% as conservative."

[...]Obama's mean ideology rating four years ago was 2.5, essentially the same as now, and he was perceived to be slightly more liberal (with a score of 2.2) immediately before the election. Americans' own ideology ratings in December 2007 (3.2) and October 2008 (3.3) were essentially the same as now, and closer to John McCain's (3.4 in December 2007 and 3.7 in October 2008) than Obama's.
Doesn't quite make the case that Obama is the extreme liberal he is made out to be by the Right. Only 57% think he is liberal. In fact, his 2.5 rating in 2008 is right down the middle, neither left nor right. Might explain his success in the Presidential election that year. Not exactly what Obama's supporters thought they were getting. They thought he was a progressive. He's proven not to be one; far from it.

The President does everything for political reasons. He talks the talk but betrays his words with his actions:
That news was sealed in The Washington Post this week with a story that didn’t see much light of day, published as it was on Christmas Day. The Post reported that politics, not policy, has been largely behind the President’s green jobs program:
Meant to create jobs and cut reliance on foreign oil, Obama’s green-technology program was infused with politics at every level, The Washington Post found in an analysis of thousands of memos, company records and internal e-mails. Political considerations were raised repeatedly by company investors, Energy Department bureaucrats and White House officials.

Ron Paul Praises Occupy Wall Street

Could Ronnie be planning an independent run? Because he certainly not going to help himself with the Republican establishment by praising Occupy. Unless he's delusional and thinks the Occupy movement is following his example by attacking the financial system. Or maybe he's just recognizing that Occupy Wall Street is right. Certainly many of Paul's devoted followers are very sympathetic to OWS:

While campaigning in Iowa on Wednesday, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul praised the Occupy Wall Street movement, comparing it to the Tea Party movement. "In many ways, I identify with both groups," Paul said. Both groups are fed up with problems in Washington and "the two-party-system," Paul said while speaking at an insurance company in Des Moines.

Praising the left-wing Occupy Wall Street movement is an unusual move for a Republican presidential candidate, but Ron Paul is, of course, an unusual Republican presidential candidate. He jumped to first place in the Iowa caucus polls partly because of support from people who aren't Republicans. His comments that members of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street are unhappy with the "two-party system" could fuel speculation that Paul will make a third-party bid of his own--something he has not ruled out.
Full article

No Photo ID Required to Vote in GOP's Iowa Caucus

Great observation. It proves that the photo id issue is for the purpose of suppressing the African-American vote:

For all of their years of claims that massive voter fraud is going on at the polling place, such that Photo ID restrictions are required to ensure the integrity of the vote, you'd think that when Republicans have a chance to run their own elections, they'd be sure to want it to be as "fraud" free as possible.

Nonetheless, despite onerous polling place Photo ID requirements now passed into law in about a dozen states where the GOP controls both the legislative and executive branches, voters will be able to cast their ballot in next Tuesday's "First-in-the-Nation" Republican Iowa Caucuses without bothering to show a Photo ID --- even though the Republican Party itself sets their own rules for voting there.
Full article

Republican campaign hinges less on issues

Republicans don't have a message other than to attack Obama:

Mitt Romney has a 59-point economic plan. Newt Gingrich promises "very big solutions." But to a large and increasing extent, issues aren't driving the fight for the Republican presidential nomination.

With Iowans about to cast the first votes of 2012, issues have declined in importance as a factor in the campaign, according to a recent national opinion survey of Republicans. Instead, the GOP contest reflects an intensifying search by voters for the candidate they believe has the strongest chance of unseating President Obama next November.

That's a departure from some past elections, when policy positions split the party.
Full article

Protesters file for permit to “Occupy Congress” Jan. 17

Protesters file for permit to “Occupy Congress” Jan. 17 - The Buzz - The Washington Post

Muslims upset by NYPD to boycott mayor's breakfast

Man has a problem understanding the rights of citizens in a free society:

Religious leaders upset at police efforts to spy on Muslims plan to skip Mayor Michael Bloomberg's annual year-end interfaith breakfast, saying Bloomberg shouldn't be defending the tactics.

The imams and activists from a variety of faiths said in a letter to Bloomberg that they're disturbed at his response to a series of stories by The Associated Press detailing New York Police Department intelligence-gathering programs that monitored Muslim groups, businesses and houses of worship. Bloomberg has defended the department, saying last week it doesn't take religion into account in its policing.
Full article

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sites Dump Over Support for SOPA

Sites Dump Over Support for SOPA

White House Memo: Obama Gains Reputation as Distant in Washington

White House Memo: Obama Gains Reputation as Distant in Washington

In Solar Power, India Begins Living Up to Its Own Ambitions

In Solar Power, India Begins Living Up to Its Own Ambitions

Can the World's Next Political Revolution Be Predicted By Computers?

Can the World's Next Political Revolution Be Predicted By Computers?

Who will Win the Iowa Caucus? Romney or Paul

We have a good idea what the results of the Iowa Caucus will be on January 3rd. In 2008, Real Clear Politics one week before the Caucus, had Mike Huckabee ahead in their average of polls with 33%. He won the election with 34.4 percent. In second place, Mitt Romney, had 25.2 percent. His RCP poll numbers had him at 27.3 on December 28th, 2007.

The average difference between the poll numbers and the actual result of the Caucus was 2.8 percent. Additionally, the correlation between the 12/28 poll and the January 4th 2008, Caucus was 96. Almost perfect. Using this number we can predict what the candidates will get on January 3rd:

Romney: 19.2 to 24.8
Paul: 19.7 to 25.3
Gingrich: 11.5 to 17.1
Perry: 9 to 14.6
Santorum: 7 to 12.6
Bachmann: 6.2 to 11.8
Huntsman: .5 to 6.1

This means either Romney or Paul will win. Even if Romney does not win he will essentially lock up the nomination by winning New Hampshire. No candidate can win the nomination without either winning Iowa or New Hampshire. Ron Paul is a fluke candidate who presents no threat to Romney even if he wins Iowa.

Freedom Plaza's Occupy Protesters Get National Park Service Permit Extension

A major victory? We'll have to wait and see if this is a strategy to divide and conquer. Don't trust the authorities:

The two-party system will do whatever it takes to destroy OWS. This story points to an overall trend in this country of the government attacking liberties we take for granted:

The protesters who've pitched tents in Freedom Plaza in the nation's capital since October have a permit to extend their stay through the end of February.

National Park Service spokeswoman Carol Johnson says the group originally known as Stop the Machine filed an application for a new permit that runs from Jan. 1 through Feb. 28, and the application was granted.

The group now calls itself Occupy Washington D.C. They are protesting corporate greed and the continued presence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and their current permit expires Dec. 30. There's a similar, larger protest encampment a few blocks away in McPherson Square called Occupy D.C.

Johnson says a permit has also been issued to the National Center for Public Policy Research for a counter-protest from Feb. 12-March 15.
Source: HuffingtonPost

Video: Witness to Homs Massacre

A member of the Syrian opposition talks to AC360's Tom Foreman about the continued uprising in Syria, and the brutal crackdowns in the city of Homs:

Mitt Romney Promises He Won't 'Kill Big Bird' But Will Cut Spending For Public TV

Youth to lead drop in U.S. voter turnout in 2012: study

Cuba Prisoner Release: Over 2,500 Inmates Freed

Cuba Prisoner Release: Over 2,500 Inmates Freed

Twitter Subpoena Reveals Law Enforcement Monitoring OWS Via Social Media

The two-party system will do whatever it takes to destroy OWS. This story points to an overall trend in this country of the government attacking liberties we take for granted:

Twitter has been subpoenaed for information related to Occupy supporters' accounts, proving that law enforcement agencies have been monitoring OWS supporters' activity on social media. The Suffolk County District Attorney's Office in Massachusetts is fed up with being mocked, ridiculed, and criticized by faceless Tweeters, so it's taking matters into its own hands.

Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Benjamin A. Goldberger sent a subpoena on Dec. 14 to Twitter's headquarters in San Francisco requesting information on a number of accounts and hashtags associated with the Occupy Boston protest movement to assist authorities with an "official criminal investigation."

[...]Goldberger's move is just one more step in the lengthy tarring and feathering of the Occupy Wall Street movement's supporters sure to come now that winter has arrived and the media are focused on other matters.

[...]One of the most critical aspects of the brief subpoena is the fact that the #BostonPD hashtag was listed. If the D.A.'s office actually wants the subscription information, IP address and more of every single person who tweeted that hashtag out during the Dewey Square raid, it is asking for information on a vast number of users, thereby infringing on the rights to privacy of at least hundreds of people who were simply exercising their free speech rights. Either that, or the authorities simply don't understand how hashtags work.
Full article

Dylan Ratigan Show: "Real" Unemployment Rate is 20%

Very frightening news on the economy described on Dylan Ratigan program. The so-called recovery from 1997 recession is one of the weakest on record. The economy is still very weak. And not enough jobs are being created; we need to have 30 million. In addition, the European debt crisis is threatening our and the world's economy. It certainly doesn't help that major retailers, K-Mart and Sears are laying off large numbers of employees.

The analyses was given by the a fomer Presidenti advisor, Alan Blinder.

Occupy Wall Street: How Cash Has Corrupted Congress

From the Jeff Smith, The Daily Beast:

It’s always been about the money. Occupy Wall Street chose to set up its 24-hour outpost of political dissent on the doorstep of the finance industry primarily to underscore the simple fact that money has corrupted our political process so completely that the seat of power in the U.S. isn’t even in Washington, D.C. any more. That said, the Capitol continues collecting its cut, as evidenced in this week’s double-barreled dispatches, in the Washington Post and the New York Times, on the exploding wealth gap between our ever-more affluent representatives in Congress and the financially flat-lined citizens they represent.

From its inception, OWS has focused on the concept of legalized bribery, as the continually rising cost of a political campaign—an average of $1.4 million for a successful House run, up fourfold in real dollars since 1976, and nearly $10 million for a Senate seat—has been largely subsidized by wealthy donors, corporations and special interests, in return for legislation that favors their interests. It’s a form of regulatory capture that most first-world democracies outlaw as corruption, but that Americans know as “the way things are,” along with “ask your doctor” pharmaceutical ads and campaigns pitching products directly to young children. The result is an almost total lack of confidence in our elected officials, as reflected by Congress’ almost impossibly low 9 percent approval rating.
Full article

Occupy Wall Street (12-28-11)


    Call 2 #boycott these businesses that support #SOPA:
  • Tweet: @neontommy Neon Tommy
    SPECIAL REPORT| Why a Somalian woman who went to school for accounting is homeless and why @OccupyLA was a relief:
  • Occupy Tulsa
    @OccupyTulsa Occupy Tulsa
    #Occupy Tulsa Help make it happen for Occupy Billboards on #indiegogo… Please RT everyone!

Strikes spread across Yemen as government employees rally against corruption

Looks promising for a revolution in Yemen:

Labor strikes spread through Yemen Wednesday as workers demanded reforms and dismissal of managers over alleged corruption linked to the country’s outgoing president.

Corruption was one of the grievances that ignited mass protests against the rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in February. After months of stalling, Saleh last month signed an agreement to transfer power.

The deal includes immunity for prosecution for the longtime leader, but protesters reject that. They are also demanding that his relatives and associates, also suspected of corruption, be removed from their posts in the government and military and put on trial.
This is why we shouldn't allow the "President" of Yemen into the U.S. It would create all kinds of ill will. The government made that mistake with the Shah of Iran. Look at what that led to:
The White House has not yet formally decided whether to admit Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to the U.S. for medical treatment, but Obama administration officials as recently as last week considered granting Saleh a visa, in part to "get him out of the region," a senior administration official said Tuesday.

One advantage the administration sees in letting Saleh come to the U.S. is that it would remove from Yemen a symbol of the country's repression of its citizens and perhaps smooth the transition to new leadership, the official said.
Full article

Video: Ed Fallon, OccupyIowa, on C-SPAN

Ed Fallon, of Occupy Des Moines, was interviewed on C-SPAN to talk about the "people's caucus." There are 8 minutes in the interview since he was interrupted by a live event involving Newt Gingrich:

US Police Fatalities up 13 percent in 2011 to 173

Government cutbacks a major factor but so are the increase in the number of guns in our society:

Craig Floyd, the group's chairman, blamed the rise on budget cuts to public safety departments. He cited surveys by police groups that showed many cut back on training and delay upgrading equipment, and referenced a Department of Justice report issued in October that said an estimated 10,000 police officers and sheriff's deputies have been laid off within the past year.

"I'm very troubled that these drastic budget cuts have put our officers at a grave risks," he said. "Our officers are facing a more brazen cold-blooded element and fighting a war on terror, and we're giving them less training and less equipment they need to do their jobs safely."

[...]The number of firearms-related fatalities, which have risen 70 percent since 2008, was particularly alarming to analysts. Of the 68 deaths, 14 took place while the officer was attempting an arrest, nine occurred during a domestic disturbance call and five were ambushes, according to the data.
Full article

Russia Scolds United States for Human Rights Abuse

Relations between the U.S. and Russia have deteriorated to dangerous levels. Eventhough Putin is helping move Russia towards dictatorship we need to have good relations with whomever is ruling that country. We don't want to push them into the hands of the Chinese. So it's in our strategic interest to get along with the Russians. This does not mean we remain silent when they violate human rights. But we can't rub Putin's nose in it either. It is foolish U.S. foreign policy since the collapse of the Soviet Union that have contributed to pushing Russia away from the West and democracy and towards oppression. The Obama administration seems intent on making things worse:

 Russia sought to undermine the authority of the United States as a global judge of human rights on Wednesday with Moscow's first report to detail allegations of torture, phone tapping and abuse by the U.S. government.

Criticising the United States for double standards, Russia said President Barack Obama had failed to shut the military prison at Guantanamo Bay and accused the White House of sheltering officials and CIA operatives from prosecution.

The Foreign Ministry's report "On the situation with human rights in a host of world states," follows China's example in highlighting U.S. failings in an attempt to counter U.S. State Department criticism of domestic human rights abuses.
Full article

Gingrich: Ron Paul Worse Than Obama

Sounds like a desperate candidate. Gingrich will do anything to get his way. Any Republican would have to question a candidate who will call a fellow Conservative worse than the hated Obama:

Newt Gingrich has finally found a politician he considers even worse than the president he calls socialist, anti-colonialist and radical. That would be his fellow Republican Ron Paul.

"I think Barack Obama is very destructive to the future of the United States. I think Ron Paul's views are totally outside the mainstream of virtually every decent American," Gingrich said Tuesday in a CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer.

Could he vote for Paul? "No." If it came down to Paul vs. Obama? "You'd have a very hard choice at that point."
Full article

Registered Democrats and Republicans has Plunged 2.5 million since 2008

The American people are sick of both parties. We need choice. Let's start by voting third party. And let's create a people's platform:

Voters are a tough bunch to satisfy these days. The number of people who are registered to vote as Democrat or Republican has plunged by 2.5 million since 2008, according to a new tally. Independent ranks have grown. Still, studies show, most independents still vote overwhelmingly for one party or the other, even if they don't want to admit that in public.

Both parties have been losing members to the independent column since at least the 1960s. Among other reasons, television and suburbanization increasingly have liberated voters from reliance on precinct captains and other party favors.

[...]Yet, I suspect that there's another reason that more people are calling themselves independents these days. They're hoping that someday if there are enough independents, they might create a third party. Maybe. But considering the wide diversity of views held by independents now, their wishes won't be easy for a third party to satisfy either.
Full article

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Taking multi-vitamin pills 'does nothing for our health'

The vitamin supplement industry is one of the big racket. And they are allowed to rip-off the public by a government that is unwilling to regulate them. Who knows how many people are poisoned each year by using what is essentially over the counter drugs. The only time you use supplements is by direction of a doctor:

They  are a daily essential for millions of Britons hoping to ward off ill-health.

But despite the millions of pounds spent on vitamin pills, they do nothing for our health, according to a major study.

Researchers spent more than six years following 8,000 people and found that those taking supplements were just as likely to  have developed cancer or heart disease as those who took an identical-looking dummy pill.

And when they were questioned on how healthy they felt, there was hardly any difference between the two groups.
Full article

Gun sales at record levels, according to FBI background checks

At least the killing business is doing well:g ranges, sportsmen organizations and publishers, has offered a glimpse into the economic impact of the industry.

Firearms industry has returned robust results in the midst of recession.

A recent report by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a trade association for the firearms industry which boasts membership of more than 5,500 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen organizations and publishers, has offered a glimpse into the economic impact of the industry.
But a little reminder of what guns do for us:

  1. Of all firearm-related crime, 86 percent involved handguns.5

    Only one in six Americans own handguns.6

    Unlike manufacturers of other consumer products, the industry that makes handguns is unregulated for health and safety. 
  2. Since 1962, more than one million Americans have died in firearm homicides, suicides, and unintentional shootings. Handguns were used in more than 650,000 of these fatal shootings.7

    In 1997�the most recent year available�there were 89 firearm deaths per day, or a firearm death every 16 minutes.8

    In homes with guns, a member of the household is almost three times as likely to be the victim of a homicide compared to gun-free homes.9
  3. The largest category of firearms fatality is suicide, not homicide. In 1997, 54 percent of all gun deaths were suicides, and 42 percent were homicides.16

    About six out of 10 suicides are committed with firearms.
  4. For every time a gun in the home is used in a self-defense homicide, a gun will be used in�

        1.3 unintentional deaths

        4.6 criminal homicides

        37 suicides22

    In 1997 there were 15,690 homicides.

        Of these, 8,503 were committed with handguns.

        Among handgun homicides, only 193 (2.3 percent) were classified as justifiable homicides by civilians.23

    For every time in 1997 that a civilian used a handgun to kill in self-defense, 43 people lost their lives in handgun homicides alone.
The numbers might have changed since 1997 the fundamentals haven't. Guns are not used for the good of this country but cause terrible harm.

Geologists map ocean floor to study fault near nuclear plant

Geologists map ocean floor to study fault near nuclear plant: Today a research vessel will finish mapping more than four square miles of ocean floor off Avila Beach so geologists can better understand an earthquake fault near Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.
The marine research vessel Bluefin of Seattle has spent nearly most of December towing a sophisticated array of instruments in a grid pattern through the waters of San Luis Obispo Bay.
The result will be a detailed map of the southern end of the Shoreline Fault, which runs northwest from the bay, brushing the coastline just off Diablo Canyon.

Sexual assault reports up at U.S. military academies: report

Sexual assault reports up at U.S. military academies: report: (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Defense said on Tuesday that there was a rise in reports of sexual assault at the nation's military academies in the most recent school year and announced

The Obama Administration Declines to Cite China as a Currency Manipulator

Barack will do what is good for his corporate handlers:

The Obama administration has declined to label China a currency manipulator after seeing recent increases in the value of the yuan compared to the dollar.

The decision will likely anger unions and Democratic lawmakers, who have accused Beijing of artificially holdings down the value of its currency to gain trade advantages. A cheaper yuan makes Chinese goods less expensive when they are shipped to the United States. It also makes U.S. goods more expensive in China.
Full article

SOPA is the End of Us, say Bloggers

This is only the latest attack on our freedoms. It is a war we must win. If it succeeds we will have greater concentration of information by a handful of corporations. Less voices means less democracy or none at all. It is the Internet that has been responsible for many of the revolutions breaking throughout the World. The ruling classes want to put an end to that freedom of expression. Stop SOPA:

The conservative and liberal blogospheres are unifying behind opposition to Congress’s Stop Online Piracy Act, with right-leaning bloggers aruging their very existence could be wiped out if the anti-piracy bill passes.

“If either the U.S. Senate’s Protect IP Act (PIPA) & the U.S. House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) become law, political blogs such as Red Mass Group [conservative] & Blue Mass Group [liberal] will cease to exist,” wrote a blogger at Red Mass Group.

[...]In particular, GoDaddy, a domain registration firm, suffered a spectacularly bad round of PR when it came out in support of the measures. But after a grass-roots campaign to boycott the firm, driven by Reddit, an online community, and others, GoDaddy reversed course and renounced its support.

“Some good news on the SOPA front: Its corporate base of supporters is starting to crumble,” David Dayden wrote at Firedoglake. “GoDaddy is not alone. Scores of law firms are requesting their names be removed from the Judiciary Committee’s official list of SOPA supporters.”

In the blogosphere, the trajectory of the bill seemed set — that it is destined for failure if the pressure of the online community is kept up.
Full article

"Occupy Rigged Elections: A Call for the Second American Revolution in 2012"

Either we fight today for our country or lose it tomorrow. The rulers of America are taking away everything we have. And if we don't fight for what is ours before too long we won't have anything left, including our freedoms:

A great battle is coming. The 2012 elections are our chance to turn the tide back toward real democracy, but we must begin immediately. Only by organizing for a democratic revolution now can we break the hold of corporate criminals over our elections and take real power in 2012, legitimately and nonviolently.

Thanks to Occupy Wall Street and the 99 percent movement, millions of Americans are finally shaking off the depression and torpor of the past decade, heeding the mass-consciousness call to reclaim power from corporatist forces that have hijacked our country, our planet, and our future. We may not all have taken to the streets yet, but we will. Or we'll contribute in other creative, personally liberating ways, pitching in with prison-break fervor to unblock the channels of revolutionary energy.

Despite the jeering of the corporate media, the Occupy movement is not going to fade away, burn out or be crushed like the radical movements of the 60s and 70s. The Occupy movement is going to change the world, because the world itself has arrived at a momentous crossroads where change is inevitable. Occupy is part of an unstoppable transformation - the contractions of a new world desperate to be born, based on a renewal of community, tolerance, justice and deep respect for all life. A sane, resilient world capable of withstanding the ecological, climatic and economic upheavals we can no longer avoid.
Read the rest of this important article from

Andrew Wilkes: OccupytheDream: Why We Must Organize

Great ideas as long as they are not used by Democratic Party for political purposes. The greatest obstacle to building a movement has been the continued naive belief that Barack Obama is going to accomplish all this on his own. Presumably he'll do it in his second term since he hasn't done a damn thing in his first. We'll begin to solve our problems the day we begin to recognize Obama is just politician out for himself:

At this inflection point within American political culture, the people-powered organizing of Occupy Wall Street and related efforts may represent the best chance of making living-wage jobs possible, housing affordable and decent education accessible. Last Thursday, a coalition of Christian clergy joined the effort. Reverends Jamal Bryant and Ben Chavis, along with the Progressive National Baptist Convention, unveiled the #OccupytheDream campaign at the National Press Club. Their aims are straightforward: $100 billion for community investment from Wall Street banks; a moratorium on new foreclosures; and substantially increased investment in Pell Grants. Starting on Martin Luther King day -- Jan. 16, 2012 -- they plan to galvanize faith communities through coordinated actions at regional Federal Reserve Banks. The actions involve bringing crutches, casts and prosthetic devices to the banks, symbolizing how the excess of the financial sector is crippling the fragile recovery of our economy.
Full article

US: Outraged Popular Movement Occupies Iowa Caucus

What we should do is present our people's platform and then demand the politicians/candidates abide by these principles or keep them from getting (re)elected to office:

 The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement on Tuesday will begin in Iowa a popular election assembly, a week before the first GOP primaries.

  The Occupy Iowa Caucus planned a meeting on Tuesday night in Des Moines, the state capital, some days ahead of the Republican party which on January 3 will hold its primaries, the group said on its website.

According to the Occupy Des Moines call, in the celebration also known as the People's Caucus, the organizers will present and discuss complaints made for months by the OWS movement and for 99 percent of the population, said a spokesperson.

Then, instead of indicating a preference for a possible presidential candidate, the participants will declare their support for the group that plans to occupy the venue for the next three days, in a peaceful action.
Full article

Gingrich Supported Romney Health Care Plan in 2006 Newsletter

Gingrich gives Romney a run for his money when it comes to flip-flops:

Newt Gingrich voiced enthusiasm for Mitt Romney's Massachusetts health care law when it was passed five years ago, the same plan he has been denouncing over the past few months as he campaigned for the Republican presidential nomination.

"The health bill that Governor Romney signed into law this month has tremendous potential to effect major change in the American health system," said an April 2006 newsletter published by Gingrich's former consulting company, the Center for Health Transformation.

The two-page "Newt Notes" analysis, found online by The Wall Street Journal even though it no longer appears on the center's website, continued, "We agree entirely with Governor Romney and Massachusetts legislators that our goal should be 100 percent insurance coverage for all Americans."
Full article from FOXNews

Report: "Wealth Gap between" Members of Congress and Americans "Growing Quickly"

Congress might not be solving the nation's problems but at least they are using their time to enrich themselves at our expense. So it isn't just greedy Wall St. bankers and CEOs that are seeing their wealth skyrocket, so are politicians. Which makes since they are all tied together. We think that we are electing leaders to serve us but they are in fact looking out for themselves. Public service has become a country club. And it ain't limited to Congress, Presidents are using their positions to become millionaires. The Clintons and Barack Obama have become millionaires after occupying the White House. The reason they can get away with it is because money rules politics, not ideas or ability. Additionally, someone elected to Congress is essentially in office for life. They are almost guaranteed re-election. So, in other words, they don't give a damn about what you and I think. The politicians know they can get away with it because we don't do anything about it:

Capitol Hill millionaires. That group has grown in recent years to include nearly half of all members of Congress — 250 in all — and the wealth gap between lawmakers and their constituents appears to be growing quickly, even as Congress debates unemployment benefits, possible cuts in food stamps and a “millionaire’s tax.”

[...]Largely insulated from the country’s economic downturn since 2008, members of Congress — many of them among the “1 percenters” denounced by Occupy Wall Street protesters — have gotten much richer even as most of the country has become much poorer in the last six years, according to an analysis by The New York Times based on data from the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit research group.

[...]What is clear is that members of Congress are getting richer compared not only with the average American worker, but also with other very rich Americans.

While the median net worth of members of Congress jumped 15 percent from 2004 to 2010, the net worth of the richest 10 percent of Americans remained essentially flat. For all Americans, median net worth dropped 8 percent during that period, based on inflation-adjusted data from Moody’s Analytics.

Going back further, the median wealth of House members grew some two and a half times between 1984 and 2009 in inflation-adjusted dollars, while the wealth of the average American family has actually declined slightly in that same time period, according to data cited by The Washington Post in an article published Monday on its Web site.
Full article

Obama NDAA OK Draws OccupyMN Protest At Obama Reelection HQ

Gingrich: First Wife Not "Young and Pretty Enough" to Be First Lady

Report: 11 Mass. Convicts Serving Life Sentences To Be Paroled

The criminal justice system in America is farce. Life should mean life.
Report: 11 Mass. Convicts Serving Life Sentences To Be Paroled « CBS Boston

NYPD Blocks Food for Occupy Christmas Celebration

It is fitting. The NYPD has been behaving like scrooges for the last 3 months:

Occupy Wall Street protesters convened for a Christmas celebration in Zuccotti Park in Manhattan yesterday, but when volunteers showed up with bags of cookies and food, New York City police officers prevented them from entering.

An NYPD spokesperson offered no comment on why the volunteers, who instead distributed the food along the sidewalk outside the park, were not allowed in.
Full article

Monday, December 26, 2011

ThinkProgress: Let's Invade the USA then Maybe we Can Rebuild America

Great idea. The U.S. government likes to invade countries and then rebuild them. So why don't we invade the USA to try and do something about a crumbling infrastructure and economy. But instead of using bombs and soldiers, we use bulldozers and workers.

The link to this article includes a list of your representatives in Congress (they should have included President Obama) to where you send the pre-entered suggestion. First, you enter your zip code. Maybe we can give Congress an idea for solving some of the nation's problems. They can't seem to come up with any of their own.

CBS News Video: Occupy Wall Street Inspire World Protest Movement

This report was supposed to be about the top 5 international stories of 2011. It started out as a discussion about how Occupy Wall Street is inspired by Tehrir Square and in turn inspire the protesters in Egypt:

Are You Better Off Today Than You Were Four Years Ago?

The answer is a resounding--no. It's still bad. But would a Republican elected in 2012 be any better? The answer is still--no. Every election cycle we go through this same pointless exercise. The Democrats would say that if we get a majority in both houses of Congress we get things done with President Obama. They wouldn't have to deal with the do-nothing Republicans. Well they had just such a majority in 2009 and the Donkeys failed. The American people did what they do every election now, give the majority back to the other party. When will we wise-up and stop playing musical chairs. It is as clear as it has ever been. The problem is a two-party system that gives us no choice, just the same nonsense masquerading as something different:

 Back in the 1980 presidential race, Republican candidate Ronald Reagan set the modern standard for gauging the economic mood of voters when he defeated incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter by asking the simple question: "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"

In 2012, President Barack Obama will try to win re-election in the face of what is likely to be the highest unemployment rate for any president seeking a second term in 76 years. Not since Franklin Roosevelt won re-election in 1936 has a president faced a worse economic situation. Obama's job approval stands at 46% – below George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Ronald Reagan a year before they were re-elected – and approval of Obama's handling of the economy is a dismal 39%.
Full article

Ron Paul Took Credit For Controversial Newsletters In 1995 Interview (VIDEO)

Oops. Just admit it.

Ron Paul may now be backing away from controversial newsletters published in the 80s and 90s, but he took a different tone in a 1995 interview.

Buzzfeed's Andrew Kaczynski unearthed this video of Paul taking credit for the newsletters.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Romney: If I'm President, All College Grads Will Have A Job

Really?! What was Romney's employment record while Governor of Massachusetts?

Romney: If I'm President, All College Grads Will Have A Job; If Obama Wins, They Won't | ThinkProgress

California Soldier Shot at his Homecoming Party

America is a war zone just Afghanistan. And it's made that way by the proliferation of guns, drugs and a violent culture. Seems to me that we need to win the war at home before we can win any wars abroad:

An Army soldier recovering from injuries suffered in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan has been shot at his homecoming party, and family members say he's paralyzed and in critical condition.

Christopher Sullivan, 22, was shot late Friday while trying to break up a fight between his brother and another man at a San Bernardino, Calif., residence.
Full article

Iran Stoning: Woman To Be Executed For Adultery

This monstrosity of a regime would not have happened had it not been for the U.S. government overthrowing the Iranian democracy in the 1950s. Now they are totally impotent in dealing with the Tehranian rulers:

Authorities in Iran said Sunday they are again moving ahead with plans to execute a woman sentenced to death by stoning on an adultery conviction in a case that sparked an international outcry, but are considering whether to carry out the punishment by hanging instead.

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is already behind bars, serving a 10-year sentence on a separate conviction in the murder of her husband. Amid the international outrage her case generated, Iran in July 2010 suspended plans to carry out her death sentence on the adultery conviction.

On Sunday, a senior judiciary official said experts were studying whether the punishment of stoning could be changed to hanging.
There is some question whether she's guilty at all. This from 2008:
A lawyer for an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning has told a British newspaper she was tortured for two days before confessing on state TV to being an accomplice to her husband's death.

Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani's lawyer told the Guardian on Thursday that his client, a 43-year-old mother of two, was forced to give the interview, which was recorded in Tabriz prison where she has been held for the past four years.

"She was severely beaten up and tortured until she accepted to appear in front of camera. Her 22-year-old son Sajad and her 17-year-old daughter Saeedeh are completely traumatised by watching this programme," lawyer Houtan Kian said on the newspaper's website.

Video: Russia Protests are Reminiscent of 20 Years Ago

Raising the Minimum Wage

Despite the propaganda from free marketeers, raising the minimum wage benefits the economy. It also keeps us from being a third world nation. It is certainly no substitute for the higher paying manufacturing jobs that have been outsourced by companies wanting to take advantage of cheap labor abroad. The problem has been that businesses have tried to get around the raising of the minimum wage by hiring illegal aliens or outsourcing. Therefore the solution to the problem is a government that isn't beholden to the lobbyists of business interests. And that ain't happening with the current two-party system. We must begin the struggle to defeat the anti-labor argument by making the case that a well paid work force fuels the consumption that makes an economy grow. And that's good for business:

When low-wage workers have more money in their pockets, they have little choice but to spend it immediately on basic necessities like groceries, clothing and school supplies. And as demand for goods and services grows, businesses expand and hire; the increased spending resulting from the minimum-wage bumps in eight states on Jan. 1 will lead to an additional $366 million in economic output and create the equivalent of more than 3,000 jobs, according to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute. That's a shot in the arm our economy needs.

The minimum-wage increase is especially important when so many better-paying jobs in sectors like construction, manufacturing and finance have disappeared, and many families are left supporting themselves with lower-paid service-sector jobs. An analysis by the National Employment Law Project finds that while the majority of jobs lost during and after the recession were in mid-wage occupations, roughly three-quarters of the jobs added since job growth resumed are in low-wage occupations.

And things aren't going to improve any time soon: The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that seven of the 10 occupations with the most job growth between 2008 and 2018 will be low-paying positions. While we know our economy will have an increasing number of positions in home health care, food preparation and customer service, these jobs don't have to pay poverty wages. At one time, the manufacturing jobs that we now yearn for were dangerous, low-wage and undesirable. But we turned them into good jobs, with safer work places, higher pay, and a voice for workers.

Eight states will take a step in the right direction on Jan. 1 when they raise minimum wage rates to keep pace with inflation. But while more than 1.4 million workers will see their wages increase Jan. 1, millions more must depend on the stagnant federal minimum wage of just $7.25, or $15,000 a year for full-time work. The American people know this isn't right: A national poll conducted in November found that more than two-thirds of Americans support raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour. It's a deeply popular idea that can help boost the economy while not adding to state or federal budget deficits.
Full article

Feed America's hungry (and their pets), says nonprofit group

Food banks across...

the country kicked into high gear for the holiday season this week in an effort to feed America's hungry people. But a few instead homed in on an often overlooked casualty of hard times -- the family pet.

"It's the forgotten pets that go by the wayside," said Ann King, founder of an Atlanta-based nonprofit group called Save Our Pets Food Bank.

Appalled by tales of pet owners compelled to hand over their cats and dogs to shelters, King formed her organization in 2008 in an effort to provide cash-strapped owners a way to keep their canine and feline friends.

Mentally ill Flood ER as States Cut Services

Shameful. So much for healthcare reform. Well at least we have a payroll tax cut extension for two months. That should solve the problem. Or maybe we should listen to the Conservatives and Tea Partyers. They would say people flooding emergency rooms are lazy good for nothings. It's their fault they don't have a job. Suck it up. They should follow the example of Wall St. bankers. Look how well they're doing. You don't hear them complaining:

Across the country, doctors like Sullivan are facing a spike in psychiatric emergencies - attempted suicide, severe depression, psychosis - as states slash mental health services and the country's worst economic crisis since the Great Depression takes its toll.

This trend is taxing emergency rooms already overburdened by uninsured patients who wait until ailments become acute before seeking treatment.

"These are people without a previous psychiatric history who are coming in and telling us they've lost their jobs, they've lost sometimes their homes, they can't provide for their families, and they are becoming severely depressed," said Dr. Felicia Smith, director of the acute psychiatric service at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
Full article

Saturday, December 24, 2011

United States Once with World's Largest Percentage of College Graduates, Now we Rank 14th

Fareed Zakaria is one of the very few in the mainstream press that not only criticizes what's going on in our society but has solutions:

The answer is pretty clear. Only five years ago, American infrastructure used to be ranked in the top 10 by the World Economic Forum. Now we're 24th. U.S. air infrastructure has gone from 12th in the world to 31st - roads from eighth to 20th.

The drop in human capital is even greater than the drop in physical capital. The United States used to have the world's largest percentage of college graduates. We're now number 14, according to the most recent OECD data, and American students routinely rank toward the bottom of the developed world in international tests.

The situation in science education is more drastic. Even with the increase in college attendance over the past two decades, there were fewer engineering and engineering technologies graduates in 2009 (84,636) than in 1989 (85,002). Research and development spending has risen under Obama, but the basic trend has been downward for two decades. In percentage terms, the federal share of research spending - which funds basic science - is half of what it was in the 1950s.

In other words, the big shift in the United States over the past two decades is not a rise in regulations and taxation but a decline in investment - in physical and human capital. And investment is the crucial locomotive of long-term growth. In our interview, Michael Spence, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, pointed out that the United States got out of the Great Depression because of the spending associated with World War II but also because during the war, the U.S. dramatically reduced its consumption and expanded investments. People spent less; they saved more and bought war bonds. That surge in investment - by people and government - produced a generation of growth after the war.

If we want the next generation of growth, we need a similarly serious strategy of investment.
Full article

Synagogue Welcomes Homeless with Christmas Tree

Christmas isn't about material things. It's spiritual:

Congregation Beth Shalom is continuing its annual practice of placing a Christmas tree inside the Oak Park synagogue to welcome the homeless of various faiths.

The Detroit Free Press reports ( ) Saturday that the synagogue allows clients of the South Oakland Shelter to use its kitchen, classrooms and Youth Lodge through Monday as churches that participate throughout the year in the program are busy with their own activities over the Christmas holiday.
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Will a Reelected President Obama Face More Gridlock in 2013?

The answer is simple: yes. Why would it be any different. Even when the Democrats had a large majority in both House of Congress in 2009 very little got accomplished that we could consider beneficial to the country. As for the "change" we were promised. It doesn't seem like much has changed. The problem is Obama himself. We have a President who is clearly in over his head. He's also not motivated, like Clinton, in principals. It's all about ego and self promotion. His gift is in winning elections. That's it. He sold his soul to get elected in 2008. And his agenda, like his predecessors is pay back the wealthy donors that funded his election victories. That's the name of this corrupt game:

President Obama may have slightly boosted his reelection chances by outmaneuvering the Republicans on the payroll-tax-cut extension. But after a year of Beltway paralysis, that deal simply preserves the status quo for a mere two months—the latest sign of the capital’s utter dysfunction.

So is there any reason to believe that Obama would fare better in a second term?

More of the same is not appealing. Yet for Obama to govern with any degree of success, he would need either a big electoral upset—with Democrats regaining the House and maintaining a nominal hold on the Senate—or a chastened Republican Party, newly open to cooperation and willing to set aside the all-or-nothing brinkmanship that has defined its strategy.

The prospect of four more years of gridlock while Obama looks on from the sidelines will hardly energize voters already disappointed by the president’s performance. For now, Obama is benefiting by standing apart from an institution whose approval rating is 11 percent, but mastering the legislative process is a big part of the job of being president, and while Obama squeezed major legislation through Congress in his first two years, this last year has been a disaster all around.
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Gingrich Fails to Qualify for Va. Primary Ballot

This proves that Gingrich was never a serious threat to win the nomination. He won't win Iowa which would truly end any chance he ever had of challenging Mitt Romney:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has failed to qualify for Virginia’s March 6 Republican primary, a development that complicates his bid to win the GOP presidential nomination.

“After verification, RPV has determined that Newt Gingrich did not submit required 10k signatures and has not qualified for the VA primary,” the Republican Party of Virginia announced early Saturday on its Twitter website.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry also fell short of the 10,000 signatures of registered voters required for a candidate’s name to be on the primary ballot, but former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul will be on the ballot.
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Troops, Protesters Clash in Yemeni Capital

It was naive to believe that the rulers in Yemen would give up power simply because of some toothless agreement. There had to have been more restrictions on the military. There also had to have been the threat of international war crime trials if the the agreements were not adhered to. In addition, the opposition would have to had a promise of some kind of support if the agreement had been ignored by the government:

Yemen's powerful Republican Guard forces opened fire with guns, tear gas and water cannons Saturday at a march by more than 100,000 protesters demanding that the outgoing president be put on trial.

The protesters were attacked as they entered the capital Sanaa after marching for four days from Taiz, a city that has been a major opposition center 170 miles to the south. The first of its kind protest was called the March of Life and aimed to put pressure on the country's new government not to grant Ali Abdullah Saleh immunity from prosecution.

The violence underlined the continuing turmoil in Yemen even after Saleh signed a U.S.- and Saudi-backed deal last month by which he handed his powers to his vice president and committed to step down completely in return for immunity.

Protesters who rallied by the thousands for the past nine months rejected the deal, demanding Saleh be tried for his bloody crackdown on their movement.

At the same time, Saleh has seemed to continue to exercise influence through his relatives and loyalists still in their positions, even after Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi formed a unity government between the opposition and ruling party. Forces loyal to Saleh have defied orders to withdrew from the streets of Sanaa after a deadline was reached Saturday to do so.
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