Jan. 26th, 2010 03:33 pm
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Melissa Harris-Lacewell: Citizenship is a Long-Term Game

In the wake of what some called the worst week for democracy since Bush v. Gore, with the Democrats seeming to give up after losing one Senate seat and the Supreme Court allowing unlimited corporate influence on elections, we turn to Melissa Harris-Lacewell, Princeton professor, Nation contributor, and author of Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought for some clarification–and consolation.
Harris-Lacewell offers some thoughts on why it’s lazy and dangerous to refer to political opponents as crazy, on the way the health care reform process has provided a valuable civics lesson, and how political campaigns are beholden to money.

Though as I listen I think it may be problematic in its use of the terms "crazy" and "mad". Am I right?

Raj Patel has spent a lot of time studying the way resources are distributed among people, and he’s watched spiraling inequality leave many people with nothing while concentrating wealth in the hands of the few. From the food system, which he studied in Stuffed and Starved, to the bank bonuses still being handed out, he argues that something has to change.
In his new book, The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy, Patel lays out some solutions. He joins Laura in studio to talk about consumerism, labor, violence against women, and the way we need to think about happiness.

ETA: Raj Patel's voice is hitting my British accent kink. And my intelligence kink. AHEM. Back to the point.
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Always Coca-Cola - India (VIDEO)
June 2006
As a principal sponsor of FIFA, Coca-Cola is keen to trade in on the World Cup's image of fair play and good sportsmanship. But many believe its business practices make a mockery of this reputation.

For thirsty fans at the World Cup, there's only one choice of soft drink available. Whether it's Coke, Sprite or Bonaqua, all the brands on sale belong to coca-cola. Many of theses drinks are produced in India, where Coca-Cola's business practices have elicited widespread condemnation. "The coca cola factory ruined my life," despairs one farmer. Producing 0.33L of coke requires 1L of water. In some villages near cola factories, water levels have dropped by 60m. Harvests have fallen by more than 40% because there is not enough water to irrigate fields. But Coca-Cola denies all responsibility. "We are not the problem", states spokesman Rajiv Singh. "There are simply too many people living here who are wasteful with water." Coca-cola also stands accused of pollution and union busting. Many workers in their factories receive around 50 cents for a 12 hour shift. They have no unions and sometimes receive no compensation for injuries sustained. As Bhagwab Das Yadav states: "All we want is for coca cola to respect India's labour laws

From India

Campaign to Hold Coca-Cola Accountable

Coca-Cola Crisis in India

Communities across India are under assault from Coca-Cola practices in the country. A pattern has emerged as a result of Coca-Cola's bottling operations in India.
  • Communities across India living around Coca-Cola's bottling plants are experiencing severe water shortages, directly as a result of Coca-Cola's massive extraction of water from the common groundwater resource. The wells have run dry and the hand water pumps do not work any more. Studies, including one by the Central Ground Water Board in India, have confirmed the significant depletion of the water table.
  • When the water is extracted from the common groundwater resource by digging deeper, the water smells and tastes strange. Coca-Cola has been indiscriminately discharging its waste water into the fields around its plant and sometimes into rivers, including the Ganges, in the area. The result has been that the groundwater has been polluted as well as the soil. Public health authorities have posted signs around wells and hand pumps advising the community that the water is unfit for human consumption.
  • In two communities, Plachimada and Mehdiganj, Coca-Cola was distributing its solid waste to farmers in the area as "fertilizer". Tests conducted by the BBC found cadmium and lead in the waste, effectively making the waste toxic waste. Coca-Cola stopped the practice of distributing its toxic waste only when ordered to do so by the state government.
  • Tests conducted by a variety of agencies, including the government of India, confirmed that Coca-Cola products contained high levels of pesticides, and as a result, the Parliament of India has banned the sale of Coca-Cola in its cafeteria. However, Coca-Cola not only continues to sell drinks laced with poisons in India (that could never be sold in the US and EU), it is also introducing new products in the Indian market. And as if selling drinks with DDT and other pesticides to Indians was not enough, one of Coca-Cola's latest bottling facilities to open in India, in Ballia, is located in an area with a severe contamination of arsenic in its groundwater.

Read more... )

WTF Monday.

Jun. 9th, 2009 12:01 am
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Massacre in Peru in the name of Free Trade

Today brings news from Peru of a massacre of indigenous people who were protesting policies set in place based on the Peru Free Trade Agreement with the United States. Remember, Obama was actually FOR the Peru FTA.

What were the protesters opposing?
People have been protesting against a government - a government policy that ignores indigenous peoples, that sees the Amazon as being unproductive and sees indigenous people as, essentially, a waste of space. What the government wants to do is open up the Amazon to private investment - they see the future of development there to be biofuel plantations, oil drilling, mining, forestry, and large corporate investments and indigenous people are just getting in the way. So what the government did when it was given powers in the context of the free trade agreement was issue a series of laws that never went through Congress, that were never consulted with indigenous people, that basically restructure land rights, taking away land from indigenous people and allow rainforest to be reclassified as agricultural land - opening a legal loophole for biofuel companies to move in with plantations, for oil companies and mining companies to be able to work in the area without the troublesome part of having to negotiate or speak to the local communities for using their lands.
About how the Peru Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. fit into this..
Unfortunately, the process of the implementation of this free trade agreement - the president was given executive powers to pass laws to implement the free trade agreement. Using that excuse, the government passed these laws that take away indigenous rights and [present] a threat to the Amazon rainforest. The government here has been standing up and saying it can't repeal the laws because they are necessary for the free trade agreement and the development of Peru, and they are positioning the indigenous people as being against Free Trade and development and using the Free Trade Agreement as an excuse for passing these laws that undermine the indigenous rights.

Result? Around 2500 protestors attacked by 500 police {warning:graphic photos] with tear gas and live bullets. Some police killed in self-defense.

Eyes on Trade has got some good stuff on the perniciousness of those blasted Free Trade Agreements.


President Obama has appointed Alexia Kelley, executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG), to head the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the Department of Health and Human Services. Kelley is a leading proponent of "common ground" abortion reduction -- only CACG's common ground is at odds with that of Obama. While the administration favors reducing the need for abortion by reducing unintended pregnancies, Kelley has made clear that she seeks instead to reduce access to abortion. That is an extremely disturbing development, especially coming this week in the wake of George Tiller's assassination.

Under George W. Bush, the faith-based centers didn't play a policy role. But Obama has expanded the faith-based project to include a policy side, and one of its chief goals is to reduce the need for abortion. I have opposed this, because reproductive health is a public health, not a religious issue. Also problematic: It is counterproductive for Obama to appoint someone who disagrees with the administration's stance. Obama finds himself now in the difficult position of having elevated the importance of religion to making policy, and having appointed a religious figure whose opinions on policy conflict with his.

Kelley and CACG have made clear they are committed to Catholic doctrine on abortion and birth control. CACG has supported the Pregnant Women's Support Act, aimed at stigmatizing abortion and making it less accessible. In discussing legislation on reducing the need for abortion, Kelley has written that various pieces of legislation concerned with women's health "are not all perfect; some include contraception -- which the Church opposes." Never mind that more than 90 percent of American Catholics use it anyway.

As Catholics for Choice points out in its press release criticizing the pick, "the Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for providing and expanding access to key sexual and reproductive health services. As such, we need those working in HHS to rely on evidence-based methods to reduce the need for abortion. We need them to believe in men's and women's capacity to make moral decisions about their own lives. Unfortunately, as seen from her work at CACG, Ms. Kelley does not fit the bill." MORE

see alsoTrojans and Horses

Re: a good health care bill?

Read this: Musing over Morning Coffee: the Public Option, this: Your (Very Special Edition) Health reform Roundup, this: How Canada got Universal Health Care AKA the story of the man voted the Greatest Canadian, Going Dutch: How I learned to love the European Welfare State, Health Care Reform: The Cost of Failure, FAIR Reports: Media quarantine on discussion of single payer health care. ANd just read this for good measure:Child Well-Being Index Foretells Hard Time For Kids

And fervently hope that this is a lie
Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican on the Finance Committee, recalled how Mr. Obama made a personal pledge of bipartisanship when he and Senator Max Baucus of Montana, the committee’s Democratic chairman, joined the president for a private lunch at the White House last month.
“I said, ‘Yeah, it’s a problem,’ ” Mr. Grassley said of the public plan, “and he said something along the lines of, ‘If I get 85 percent of what I want with a bipartisan vote, or 100 percent with 51 votes, all Democrat, I’d rather have it be bipartisan.’ ”

Also: WTF???? Just. What. the. FUCK???? Obama’s Pick to Lead Afghan War Linked to Abuse of Prisoners & Secret Assassination Unit Headdesk. Headdesk. HEADDESK!!!! Whatever happened to the Office of Urban Policy?
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Going To Hell In A Local Rather Than An Express Handbasket

The unemployment figures for may show a loss of 345,000 jobs and a 9.4% unemployment rate. You can plot this on a graph and make it look preferable to the previous six months of extreme losses, and it is. But Felix Salmon notes:

Remember the stress tests? The baseline scenario had unemployment in 2009 at 8.4%, rising to 8.9% under the more adverse scenario. Well, we’re only up to May, and already it’s at 9.4%.

To be clear, the adverse scenario in the stress test was supposed to be the worst things could possibly get. If we've blown past that, the banks will face more losses and write-downs than suggested by the adverse scenario. More people out of work means more foreclosures, less consumer spending, higher deficits, etc. This is but one of the ways where the banksters are making themselves out to be healthier than they are.MORE

The Democratic Industrial Complex

If big business's old legislative strategy was centered on relentless opposition to progressive initiatives--an approach that continues in areas like EFCA--the new strategy is to subvert legislation through co-optation, as in healthcare and cap and trade. By converting themselves, ostensibly, from opponents to "partners," corporate lobbies are trying to have it both ways: to block reforms while changing overt power struggles over the future of the economy into seemingly cooperative negotiations. At these negotiations, to use the president's favorite phrase, "everyone has a seat at the table"--except, the lobbyists get by far the best seats. (Alinsky didn't have much patience for this approach. "This liberal cliché about reconciliation of opposing forces is a load of crap," he once said. "When one side gets enough power, then the other side gets reconciled to it.")

These efforts at co-optation are aided by our natural inclination toward narrative and fable. It is pretty irresistible to view politics through the lens of heroes and villains. Palin is a character; the ABA is just an acronym


Despite all the hype about the Obama campaign's tremendous online fundraising, the fact is that it also collected unprecedented massive amounts of corporate cash, as did all the campaigns. And that corporate cash is represented by lobbyists who are so much a part of the fabric of the political system that they function as staff members in the congress and kitchen cabinet in the administration. (Indeed, one of the most interesting tidbits of information I heard was that despite the fact that there are many progressive committee chairmen, they are almost all pretty conservative on the issues their committees oversee. Now why would that be do you suppose?)MORE

Supporting the Public Plan AKA Example No. One

The insurance lobby has had multiple tactics for stopping the public option idea, which they despise because they know if regular folks have choice to go to a public option, insurance companies won't have the same ability to treat their customers like garbage when they get sick. The first tactic was just to try to kill the public option outright, and the good news is that they appear to have failed at that. This so-called trigger proposal is the second tactic: the idea is to write a "trigger" that will allow for a public option only under certain conditions, but write the legislation so that those conditions would never get met in the real world. It's a classic DC tactic, right up there with calling for a commission to study something. Olympia Snowe is carrying the insurance industry water on their trigger proposal, proposing triggers that would only get tripped in some fairyland none of us have ever visited.

The great thing for the insurance companies in a tactic like this is that it gives "centrist" Senators (centrist in Washington, DC usually means those who have taken massive amounts of campaign contributions from the affected industry) an excuse to help the insurance industry while looking like they are open to the public option that their constituents have been demanding.
Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress have gotten some good things done so far, and are building real momentum in getting us moving in the right direction on health care. But if conservative Democrats force the adoption of the trigger, it will destroy Democratic unity and doom health care reform, because progressives will start attacking Democrats rather than insurance companies. We really are at a critical moment.WHat to do?

And this would be why I don't deal much with the corporate media:
Sweet Beat

This story
about Richard Wolffe's coverage of the Obama campaign is more than a little bit snotty and frankly not surprising. I knew he was writing a campaign book about Obama and his coverage of the candidate reflected his need for access --- and his access. He was clearly not objective, but then neither was Fox News. It all came out fairnbalanced, village style.

But this is just sickening:
Wolffe also continues to write and report for Tina Brown’s Daily Beast, and to offer his opinions on MSNBC, which identifies him as a political analyst, though he said he won’t talk about issues related to the firm’s clients.

And he suggested he’s not that different from other reporters in an era in which the business and the profession of journalism have gotten closer and closer.

“The idea that journalists are somehow not engaged in corporate activities is not really in touch with what’s going on. Every conversation with journalists is about business models and advertisers,” he said, recalling that, on the day after the 2008 election, Newsweek sent him to Detroit to deliver a speech to advertisers.

“You tell me where the line is between business and journalism,” he said.


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California going to hell in a handbasket: Obama calmly ignoring

Sotomayer, Prop 8 hegemony and the Courts

Pakistan Apocalypse: Don't Believe the Hype!

JUAN COLE: You know, in the past two years, the Pakistani public has demanded an end to a military dictatorship. On the grounds that it was violating the rule of law. They demanded free and fair parliamentary elections. They accomplished them. They voted the largest party they put in is the left of center or centrist secular party. They then went to the streets to demand the reinstatement of the secular civil Supreme Court. And you've had, really, hundreds of thousands of people involved in this movement for the restoration of democracy and the restoration of the rule of law. If this had happened any other place in the world, it would be reported in Washington as a good news story. Here, we've been told that it's a crisis. That it's a sign of instability and nuclear armed nation. I don't understand that.


BILL MOYERS: Who are the Taliban and what do they want? What are their goals?

JUAN COLE: What we're calling the Taliban, it's actually a misnomer. There are, like, five different groups that we're swooping up and calling the Taliban. The Taliban, properly speaking, are seminary students. They were those refugee boys, many of them orphans, who went through the seminaries or Madrassas in northern Pakistan back in the nineties. And then who emerged as a fighting force. Then you have the old war lords who had fought with the Soviet Union, and were allied with the United States. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Jalaluddin Haqqani, they have formed insurgent groups to fight the Americans now. Because they had fought the Soviet occupation, they now see an American occupation, so they've turned on the United States. They were former allies.

So we're calling them Taliban. And then you have a lot of probably disorganized villagers whose poppy crops, for instance, were burned. And they're angry. So they'll hit a NATO or American checkpoint. So we're scooping all of this up. And then the groups in northern Pakistan who are yet another group. And we're calling it all Taliban.MORE

Full Interview here

The North-West Frontier Province is 10 percent of the Pakistan population. That's where this stuff is happening. And most of it is actually happening not in the Province itself, but in the Federally Administrated Tribal Regions. Which are kind of like our Indian reservations. Only 3.5 million people live there. It's the size of, like, New Hampshire. Pakistan is a country as big as California, Oregon and Washington rolled up in one, with a population of 165 million. So to take this threat, which is a threat locally, to the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas, to parts of the North-West Frontier Province, and to magnify it and to say, "Whoa, the Pakistani government is six months from falling, the Taliban is going to get their hands on nuclear weapons." The kinds of things that are being said in Washington, are just fantastical and some kind of science fiction film. How would these guys, with the Kalashnikov machine guns, take over a country that has an army of 550 thousand? Which has tanks and artillery and fighter jets? How would they even know here the nuclear weapons are? In Pakistan, I just quoted you the Gallup Poll. People don't like Taliban, for the most part.

Obama Nominates Superfund Polluter Lawyer To Run DOJ Environment Division

Let's cut Social Security to pay for banker bailouts!You are about to be hit by another wave of disinformation about how Social Security is going broke and needs reforming (meaning, your benefits must be cut). It's not true.
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Educating ourselves into Oblivion

It's simply not enough to prepare students for a job: We need to prepare them for life, while challenging them to think beyond the confines of their often parochial and provincial upbringings. (As a child of the working class from a provincial background, I speak from experience.) And here's one compelling lesson all of us, students and teachers alike, need to relearn constantly: If you view education in purely instrumental terms as a way to a higher-paying job—if it's merely a mechanism for mass customization within a marketplace of ephemeral consumer goods—you've effectively given a free pass to the prevailing machinery of power and those who run it.

Three Realities of Higher Ed

What do torture, a major recession, and two debilitating wars have to do with our educational system? My guess: plenty. These are the three most immediate realities of a system that fails to challenge, or even critique, authority in any meaningful way. They are bills that are now long overdue thanks, in part, to that system's technocratic bias and pedagogical shortfalls—thanks, that is, to what we are taught to see and not see, regard and disregard, value and dismiss.

Over the last two decades, higher education, like the housing market, enjoyed its own growth bubble, characterized by rising enrollments, fancier high-tech facilities, and ballooning endowments. Americans invested heavily in these derivative products as part of an educational surge that may prove at least as expensive and one-dimensional as our military surges in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As usual, the humanities were allowed to wither. Don't know much about history? Go ahead and authorize waterboarding, even though the U.S. prosecuted it as a war crime after World War II. Don't know much about geography? Go ahead and send our troops into mountainous Afghanistan, that "graveyard of empires," and allow them to be swallowed up by the terrain as they fight a seemingly endless war.

Perhaps I'm biased because I teach history, but here's a fact to consider: Unless a cadet at the Air Force Academy (where I once taught) decides to major in the subject, he or she is never required to take a U.S. history course. Cadets are, however, required to take a mind-boggling array of required courses in various engineering and scientific disciplines as well as calculus. Or civilians, chew on this: At the Pennsylvania College of Technology, where I currently teach, of the roughly 6,600 students currently enrolled, only 30 took a course this semester on U.S. history since the Civil War, and only three were programmatically required to do so.

We don't have to worry about our college graduates forgetting the lessons of history—not when they never learned them to begin with.MORE

Do you know how fucking scary that last part is?
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Walmart Workers Fight For Change

Walmart pulls in billions every year but barely pays its workers a living wage. Not only that but they've aggressively resisted efforts among workers to unionize. Walmart's slogan is Save Money, Live Better. As Vikki Gill, a former Walmart store manager in Illinois says, the company is saving money and living better at the associate's expense. In this documentary from Walmart Workers for Change, employees discuss their fight for a living wage, union representation, and decent benefits. Walmart's union busting tactics are notorious but Union Federation Change to Win has been turning up the heat lately and says efforts to unionize are underway at over 100 stores.

EFCA Democratic ‘fence-riders’ increase as Chamber Courts opposition in Senate

What Obama has done for labour in his first 100 days

The Unemployed and US Society

Heather Boushey of the Center For American Progress on the current economic crisis and how mass unemployment will change the way we live. This time around, men are losing jobs at a much faster rate than women--four out of five in fact. Boushey says that means that millions of families are making due on much less than they were before. Thus focusing on pay equity issues and making sure women are getting a fair days pay is more important than ever. The gap between men and women's unemployment, Boushey says, has never been higher.
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via: crooks and liars

Via Sirota, this is just depressing. I don't see how green jobs can revitalize the economy if they don't stay here:
The US firms have offshored 22,000 green technology jobs to India since January 1, 2009, Doug Brown, co-author of the influential 2009 Green Outsourcing Report, informed TNIE.
“We see the (green job offshoring) trend increasing as the US and the UK outsourcing buyers are seeking lower cost in labour and energy consumption. There are few suppliers who match credentials and outcomes of Indian firms,” he said.
The annual industry study by Brown-Wilson Group, which surveyed 4,000 global firms, was released last week.
The report lists Patni, HCL, WNS, Wipro, Mastech and Tech Mahindra among important Indian green vendors who are benefiting from the offshoring wave.
Among the non-Indian firms, Xerox, Accenture, IBM Global, CSC, Capgemini, Oracle, HP/ ED S, Aramark, SITEL and Perot lead the list.
As most of these firms run large delivery centres in India, the boom in their green offshoring business is expected to further create jobs in India.
Noting an interesting irony, the authors of the report say, “In the US, green stimulus plan is creating low-wage installation and construction jobs.” But, in India, which is usually associated with cheap and low-skill work, “…New green jobs include higher dollar engineers, strategic business management and support technicians charged with designing innovative environmental friendly solutions,” they add.
Green offshoring is creating demand for sustainability engineers, marketing and business development executives, data center management engineers, utilities and electric engineers and quality specialists in India, Brown informed TNIE.
Soaring energy cost and regulatory pressure have put pressure on firms in the US and Europe to embrace green technologies. Most of outsourcing buyers seek impeccable green credentials in their suppliers before handing over work, the report says.

And the above is why DFH's were calling for trade reform. Which Obama and many a new Democrat are happily ignoring. *shrug*
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So. Cramdown Legislation. Senator Dick Durbin introduced legislation that would :

Under the provision, a judge would be able to lower the principal of homeowner’s mortgage and the interest rate and extend the terms of the mortgage, a process known as a “cramdown.” Judges are already allowed to do this for vacation rentals but not a borrower’s primary residence.

12 democrats joined with the Republican Senators in voting it down
- 12 Democrats (listed here) voted against allowing bankruptcy judges to compel banks to renegotiate mortgage terms so as to prevent homeowners from being foreclosed on and thrown out of their homes.
- Bankruptcy judges currently have this "cramdown" power to renegotiate mortgage terms on vacation homes and investment properties.
- Vacation homes and investment properties are disproportionately owned by very rich people.
QUESTION 1: Out of the hundreds of professional "journalists" who work in Washington, can someone - anyone - please ask these 12 Democratic senators why they believe it is perfectly fine for bankruptcy judges to cram down mortgages for very rich people's vacation homes and investment properties, but not mortgages for regular people's homes? IMHO, this is the most important question, especially because none of these 12 Democratic senators are sponsoring legislation to repeal the law that gives judges cram down power to help rich people.

Firedoglake's Jane Hamsher tells us how the lobbyists did it:with taxpayers money from TARP

The House passed the badly needed Credit Card Holders Bill of Rights yesterday, but they passed cramdown, too. We successfully fought off the efforts of the Mortgage Bankers Association, the American Bankers Association and other lobbyists to work through Ellen Tauscher and the New Democrats to tank it, but that just means the banks shifted their focus to the Senate, where they were wholly successful. And they plan to do the same thing for the Credit Card Holders Bill of Rights.MORE

See also Who are the Mortgage Banker Association (and what have they done with our country?)

Mortgage Bankers Celebrate Victory

Interesting articles: How Corporate Personhood Threatens Democracy

Morning Feature: Shoot, Ready, Aim ... at Corporate 'Persons' Part One

Installing a Conscience in Corporate 'Persons' Part Two

Sacling Down Corporate 'Persons' Part Three
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Blacks and immigrants: from ‘either-or’ to ‘both-and’

While tea-baggers dominated the headlines over the past few weeks, another movement was quietly working to weave together communities that some want to see pitted against each other. The Black Immigration Network, a coalition led by the Black Alliance for Just Immigration; Which Way Forward; and the Third World Coalition of the American Friends Service Committee, recently announced itself as “the first national network concerned about immigration issues and racial equity issues surrounding both African Americans and immigrants of African descent.”
By bringing visibility to the shared interests of “native born” Black Americans and Blacks as immigrants, the Network counters the factionalism that have stymied strategic alliances in the past. The mission statement of Which Way Forward, a project of the Chicago-based Center for New Community, declares:

“While we recognize that throughout the history of the United States there have existed tensions between the African American community and immigrant communities, Which Way Forward rejects that any past, present or future frictions between ‘Blacks and Latinos’ or ‘Blacks and immigrants’ grant permission to ignore our responsibility in building an America free from political, economic and social discrimination based on race.”
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What exactly does Obama's budget do? With 1,000 jobs being lost every hour and a tax system that favors the wealthy, our guests discuss what’s in the new budget and the limits to progressive reform.
David Cay Johnston former New York Times reporter and the author of Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense, Irasema Garza president of Legal Momentum, and Joel Berg Executive Director of New York City Coalition Against Hunger and the author of All You Can Eat: How Hungry is America? discuss the budget battle.
Chris Bowers of Open Left on the netroots and Obama’s budget. Did they make a difference? And why healthcare will be at the heart of upcoming deliberations.
A report from Warehouse Workers in California organizing for living wages and fair treatment. Finally, the senate race that may at last be coming to an end. Part II of the Uptake’s documentary on Franken v. Coleman.
Thanks to the Uptake for video in tonight’s show.

Obama’s War: Is It Any Different?

It's a persistent notion: we're not like them, we're better, we're different.

As you heard on this program, it's the insidious notion from which genocides are made.

It also lies at the heart of what the Rev. James Lawson called the plantation capitalism on which our economy's based. The idea that some are expendable, that some are less human, that we are simply different, is wrapped up in our Afghanistan policy too.

The US, for example, since 9-11, seems to have believed that lives lost here in 9-11 were worth avenging even at a cost many times that of other people's lives. Each year that the combat mission continues, more Afghan civilians are caught in the combat. The US tried a troop surge in 2007 -- the number of US and NATO troops was increased by 45 percent. More civilians were killed than in the previous four years combined. MORE

In his new book, Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror, Columbia University Professor Mahmood Mamdani argues that the use of the word genocide is as political as ever and strategic ignorance about the history and current day politics of post-colonial Africa is just as great. Mamdani discusses the crisis in Darfur, the nature of Save Darfur advocacy, and what he sees as a dangerous collusion of colonialism and Anti-Terror rhetoric. Then, just in time for tax season, Robert Gates has reminded us just how much money we spend of foreign wars. Tax resisters, however, say that you don’t have to fund the imperial budget. Andy Heaslet of the Peace Economy Project, Ed Hedemann author of War Tax Resistance: A Guide To Withholding Your Support From the Military, and Robert Weissman editor of the Multinational Monitor and Co-Director of Essential Action discuss what you can do with your money and why it doesn’t have to end up as part of the defense budget.
Finally, part I of the Uptake’s documentary on the Al Franken/Norm Coleman senate race.
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Wall Street controls America

Two must-read articles came my way today detailing how the financial industry has successfully engineered a coup of the government, holding it hostage for its every whim.
First, here’s Marcy Wheeler detailing how the same banks who took taxpayer money are now forcing the automakers to accept draconian bankruptcy terms.
Then read Glenn Greenwald’s lacerating account of the revolving door between lucrative corporate consulting and high-level administration posts that Larry Summers and Tim Geithner are benefiting from.MORE

Chrysler’s Two Options: What JP Morgan’s Insistence on Bankruptcy Will Mean

Yesterday, I pointed to a WSJ report that JP Morgan wants to force Chrysler into bankruptcy rather than make the concessions necessary for a Fiat merger.
There was some uncertainty about what those two different scenarios really mean--and therefore what the impact of JP Morgan's intransigence might be. So this is an attempt to lay out what those scenarios are. Details on these two scenarios come from the viability plan Chrysler submitted on February 17, though some of its assumptions are optimistic and both the VEBA numbers and the secured debt numbers are out-of-date.
The bottom line, though, is this: If Chrysler goes into bankruptcy, it will likely mean 210,000 extra lost jobs and the loss of healthcare for up to 700,000 UAW retirees.MORe

How JP Morgan Chase Intends to profit Off the 300,000 people that it is forcing to lose their jobs

As I pointed out Saturday and yesterday, JP Morgan Chase is reportedly pushing Chrysler into bankruptcy. And as I explained yesterday, that will mean 300,000 people will lose their jobs. So who will be left to bank with Chase in Michigan, you might ask, after JP Morgan Chase forces so many people out of work?
Well, as klynn pointed out, JP Morgan Chase has figured out a way to profit off all the unemployed people it is creating in Michigan. Chase, you see, provides Michigan's unemployment insurance debit cards.
And the services can end up being pretty expensive for beneficiaries. Here's what Chase charges (and will be able to charge those that it causes to lose their job) for use of their debit card.
More than two withdrawals in a 2-week pay period: $1.50 each
Non-Chase withdrawals: $1.50 each
More than one bank teller withdrawal in a pay period: $4.00 each
Transaction denied for insufficient funds at POS, ATM, or teller: $1.50 each
More than one ATM balance inquiry in a pay period: $1.00 for each
Statement delivered by regular mail: 95¢ per statement

It appears that the bankers investment in our politicians are paying handsome dividends...
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We the People - Insourcing - 13 Oct 08 - Part 1

More than five million Americans now receive a pay cheque from a foreign firm. We the People travels to a former US manufacturing town to see how 'insourcing' is changing the face of one small community.

We the People - Insourcing - 13 Oct 08 - Part 2

We the People - America's Mission? - 27 Oct 08 - Part 1

Both John McCain and Barack Obama have tapped into the idea of US exceptionalism - the idea that America has a special mission and responsibility for humanity - during their presidential campaigns. It is an idea whose origins lie with the Puritan Pilgrims, America's first settlers. We the People travels to a recreation of the pilgrim's first settlement in the US to explore the impact exceptionalism is having on the presidential race.

We the People - America's Mission? - 27 Oct 08 - Part 2

The arrogance in the last two videos is breathtaking. The Pew Research Center guy is also being very disingenuous.
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Free Higher Education: A GI Bill for Everybody

What if education were available without tuition charges to every resident meeting admissions criteria, as a right, at any public, post-secondary educational institution in the United States? Is this idea feasible? Is there potential public support for it? What would be its likely effects if implemented? What would such a commitment cost? How could those costs be met? These questions are not on the radar screen of American public discourse today. In fact, they are virtually unthinkable in the current consensus that sets the boundaries of acceptable policy debate.

Yet paying for higher education is a major concern for most Americans. In 2000, polls indicated that respondents included education, along with the economy, as one of the two highest priority issues in choosing a presidential candidate. Although much of this expressed concern is centered on the quality of pre-collegiate schooling, Americans are also worried about access to post-secondary education. Legitimately so, for post-secondary education is increasingly a prerequisite for effective labor force participation, for any hope of a relatively secure, decent job. If that is the case, shouldn't society have an obligation to provide universal access to such an essential social good? Why should we accept a putative consensus that preempts consideration of an issue so important to so many Americans?

Universal access to higher education is not entirely unprecedented in recent American history. The most dramatic approximation to it was the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, popularly known as the GI Bill, under which a generation of Second World War veterans received what was usually full tuition support and stipends (up to nearly $12,000 per year in 1994 dollars) to attend post-secondary educational institutions. By 1952, the federal government had spent $7 billion (nearly $39 billion in 1994 dollars) on sending veterans to college. This amounted to 1.3 percent of total federal expenditures ($521.8 billion) during that period. A 1988 report by a congressional subcommittee on education and health estimated that 40 percent of those who attended college under the GI Bill would not otherwise have done so. The report also found that each dollar spent educating that 40 percent produced a $6.90 return (more than $267 billion in 1994 dollars) in national output due to extra education and increased federal tax revenues from the extra income the beneficiaries earned.MORE

why auto industry and student loans are intertwined. see La Lubu's comment in particular.
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via: [ profile] quinacridones

Is anyone listening?

In which automakers are punished and Bank CEOs are coddled

Me, I'm just flabbergasted by today's news. All those things Obama's saying to Detroit, a city of working people left devastated, about sacrifice and restructuring - why isn't he saying them to Wall Street, too?
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama on Monday will reject requests for almost $22 billion in new taxpayer bailout money for General Motors Corp. and Chrysler, saying the car makers have failed to take steps to ensure their viability.
[...] A senior administration official, briefing reporters late Sunday night on the condition of anonymity in order to speak freely, said Obama will call for more sacrifice from carmakers, their investors and automotive unions.
Billionaire bankers (and their investors) walk away from the table with their pockets stuffed with taxpayer cash while members of the auto workers union are told they'll have to sacrifice even more - in this case, the Obama administration wants the companies to get rid of "old liabilities" - i.e. retiree pensions. (You know, while bankers complain about having to sell the house in the Hamptons.)
No, Obama's not talking about the insolvent banks. He's talking about Detroit. Could he make it any more obvious that the wealthy are a protected class?
"If they're not willing to make the changes and the restructurings that are necessary, then I'm not willing to have taxpayer money chase after bad money."
Funny, that's just how I feel about Citibank!MORE

Yeah. And the automakers have taken in all together less than 50 billion of our dollars, while the banks are in the hundreds of billions. Fuck you very much, Obama
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via: promethus 6

Family Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America (Hardcover)

In "Family Properties," she explains that it was not poverty that made black Chicagoans vulnerable to the likes of Jay Goran, because in 1960 two-thirds of the city's whites and 63 percent of its black residents had comparably modest incomes. Rather, she contends, the blame belongs squarely on "the racially biased credit policies of the nation's banking industry" and particularly the pre-1965 Federal Housing Administration.

Following procedures in effect since the 1930s, appraisers rated properties using a color scheme: green for all-white areas, blue and yellow for areas with some foreigners or Jews, and red for areas with black residents. "The FHA's appraisal policies," Satter writes, "meant that blacks were excluded by definition from most mortgage loans" and that "the presence of a single black family usually led to mortgage redlining" of an entire neighborhood. Non-commercial purchasers (white as well as black) found themselves unable to obtain loans in those locations. Speculators like Goran pressed frightened white homeowners to sell, then quickly "flipped" the houses to families like the Boltons, who had no alternative method for buying a home.


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