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Monday, March 31, 2014

Voices of Arizona WW2 soldiers live again


American soldiers in front of radio studios tent, Manila Philippines, 1945.
Photo by: Howard Pyle. Part of the Howard Pyle Photograph Collection, Arizona Collection, Arizona State University Libraries.

The voices of 34 Arizona soldiers and nurses who served in the Philippines during the summer of 1945 are heard once again with the release of recently rediscovered J. Howard Pyle radio broadcasts. An NBC radio correspondent, Pyle conducted brief “Hometowner” interviews with Arizona military personnel serving in Manila and Luzon, recording them on large vinyl transcription discs for review by military censors and broadcast on Arizona radio stations.

Military personnel from several outfits including the famous 158th Infantry “Bushmasters” identified themselves and their hometowns, and they spoke briefly about their families and conditions in the Philippines. A list of interviewee names and their hometowns connects individuals to one of the forty audio tracks in the collection.

“We hope the families of these soldiers will take the opportunity to hear their loved ones once again, and all of us will have the chance to remember and appreciate the great sacrifices they made for our country,” said Robert Spindler, curator of the Arizona Collection at the Arizona State University Libraries.

The interviews are part of a larger collection of Howard Pyle audio recordings that are available online. Pyle recounts his arrival at Yokohama with the 11th Airborne Division on Sept. 1, 1945, the first civilian broadcaster to land at Japan after the surrender. Other notable recordings include Pyle’s speech at the 1952 Republican National Convention entitled “What is Right For America,” the address of General Douglas MacArthur at a Special Session of the First Congress of the Philippines, Pyle’s coverage of the 1945 United Nations Conference on International Organization and a 1951 interview with Arizona tribal leaders.

The recordings were recovered from cracking vinyl transcription discs and made accessible by the ASU Libraries with the support of the Luhrs Family Endowment. The J. Howard Pyle Audio Recordings can be heard at the ASU Digital Repository: http://repository.asu.edu/collections/139.

For additional information contact: Robert Spindler, curator, Arizona Collection, Arizona State University Libraries at
480-965-9277 or rob.spindler@asu.edu.

Adelson says no GOP hopeful worth buying


The Borowitz Report


sheldon-adelson-vegas-580.jpg
LAS VEGAS (The Borowitz Report)—The casino billionaire and Republican kingmaker Sheldon Adelson met several 2016 G.O.P. candidates available for purchase over the weekend, but decided to buy none of them, Adelson confirmed today.

After hearing speeches by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and several others who were for sale, Mr. Adelson concluded that none of them are worth owning.

“I don’t want to spend millions on another loser,” said Adelson, who purchased both Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney in 2012.

The casino magnate was scathing in his assessment of the candidates he declined to buy, calling them “a third-rate grab bag of has-beens and dimwits.”

“I guess the Republican Party is thinking, Here comes crazy old Sheldon, he’ll blow his money on the first washed-out wingnut we throw out there,” Adelson said. “Well, 

Photograph: Julie Jacobson/AP

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Climate Change already impacting ‘all continents’ according to new international report

Jeff Spross
Think Progress / News Report
Published: Sunday 30 March 2014

The next big report from an ongoing international effort to nail down the science of climate change will be released on Monday. According to the Guardian, the report’s language concludes that climate change has already “caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans.” 

An early draft was actually leaked in November. The biggest danger it sees is apparently coastal flooding driven by sea level rise — which could shave 10 percent off global economic production by the end of this century, according to previous research. Climate change also threatens widespread damage to marine life and fish populations worldwide, as bothwarming seas and ocean acidification throw off ecosystems’ natural balances.

Much of the report’s language has already been finalized, including a warning that “both warm water coral reef and Arctic ecosystems are already experiencing irreversible regime shifts.” 

The report also sees the potential for droughts, floods, and shifting patterns of rainfall to endanger global food production — again, a finding backed by other studies. Climate change is also cutting down on the globe’s supply of fresh drinking water, and stronger storms pose a danger to human infrastructure.

The latest report is a product of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an international project aimed at providing the world a kind of grand summary and assessment of the known science on climate change. It put out its last big finding — the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) — in 2007. Now the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) is rolling out in a series of stages over the next few months.

The Working Group I report was the first stage, and covered how climate change arises from the basics of physical science. It was released in September of 2013. The report proposed, for the first time, an overall “carbon budget” that humanity cannot exceed if we’re to stay under 2°C of warming — what most scientist consider the safe upper limit. In short, the world can afford to release only 1,000 gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere if it wants to stay under the 2°C threshold, and 531 gigatons have already been emitted as of 2011.

Right now representatives and scientists from around the world are holed up in Yokohama, Japan, finalizing the language for the Working Group II report, which will come out on Monday. It will cover the impacts of climate change, which populations and societies are the most vulnerable, and how governments can adapt. According to the Guardian, almost 500 people must approve the Working Group II language, including 66 experts authors, 57 observers, 271 officials representing 115 countries around the world.

The IPCC’s Working Group III report is scheduled to be released in April, and will coverclimate change mitigation. That will be followed by the final Synthesis Report in October. At that point, the AR5 release will be complete, setting the stage for the next big international meeting in 2015, where the world’s governments hope to develop some sort of coordinated strategy to actually tackle climate change and cut global carbon emissions.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

AZ's switch from red to blue state 'inevitable'

By JOE MARTIN Cronkite News Service 

PHOENIX – Arizona has a national reputation for hard-core conservatism, but it’s inevitable that Democrats will hold sway in the state as the Latino population grows and independent voters surge, a pollster said Saturday.

Jim Haynes, president and CEO of the Phoenix-based Behavior Research Center, said the shift has been slowed thus far by a lack of participation by Latino and independent voters.

“It’s just all the population dynamics point to sooner or later – and I’m going to say later, which is to say maybe a couple of presidential election cycles from now – before Arizona becomes a blue state,” he told those attending the Society of American Business Editors and Writers’ spring conference.

“If more Latinos aren’t voting, if independents keep abdicating, then it’s hard to see Arizona going blue any time soon,” Haynes said. “Having said that, ultimately, again, it’s inevitable.”

Providing a look at Arizona’s politics and demographics, Haynes said that while Latinos historically lean toward Democrats, “one of the most disgusting political spectacles” he has seen is Republicans ceding that voting bloc.

“They’re not doing a thing to reach out to them,” he said. “We know that in terms of basic values, including family values, that there are a lot of areas of logical connectivity between some of the Republican points of view and Latino attitudes.”

As of March 1, independent voters passed Republicans to become Arizona’s largest political bloc. However, Haynes said the rapid increase in independents isn’t having a significant effect because they aren’t showing up to the polls in great numbers, especially for primaries.

“They leave them to the true believers on the Republican side and the Democrat side,” he said. “What you get is more hardening of the arteries, more gridlock, more ‘I’m not going to deal with the clowns on that side of the aisle.’”

In the 2012 primary, he said, the Secretary of State’s Office reported that 8.7 percent of voters were independents, who have to choose a political party’s ballot to participate. In the 2010 general election, 41 percent of independents voted versus 68 percent of Republicans and 56 percent of Democrats.

Haynes said neither political party is doing enough to understand what motivates independent voters.

“We don’t know what would make them vote,” he said. “I can tell you that if I were running the Republican Party or the Democratic Party, at least in Arizona, I’d sure want to know who these people are and what makes them tick.”

Asked about the role of the business community when a political controversy arises such as that over SB 1062, the so-called religious-freedom bill Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed in February, Haynes said the influence of business isn’t what it once was because so few of Arizona’s large employers are based here.

Organizations representing businesses urged Brewer to veto the bill. Among the companies objecting were Intel, which has a large presence in the Valley, and Apple, which has announced plans for a Mesa factory.

“When Apple and Intel and companies like that speak, the leadership of the state is bright enough to know that we desperately need the jobs they can provide,” Haynes said.

Christie's despicable "Blame Bridget" strategy

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. (photo: Carlo Allegri/Reuters)
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. (photo: Carlo Allegri/Reuters)


By Joan Walsh, Salon
28 March 14
  
If you believe an “emotional” and “stupid” jilted woman caused Bridgegate, I’ve got a bridge to sell you

ov. Chris Christie’s million-dollar taxpayer-funded self-exoneration in the Bridgegate scandal certainly found a bad guy — and it’s a gal.

Randy Mastro’s report put the blame squarely on two fired staffers, David Wildstein and deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly. But its treatment of Kelly was mind-blowingly mean, describing her as “emotional,” “erratic” and as a liar; confirming Trenton gossip that she was “personally involved” with chief of staff Bill Stepien, and that Stepien apparently dumped her; alleging that she asked an aide to delete an incriminating email when the investigation began, thus implicating her not only in the plot’s execution but its coverup.

It even recommended that Christie abolish the department Kelly headed and fold it into another office. Mastro stopped just short of suggesting the state torch Kelly’s office and salt the earth it once stood on. That may be what Christie plans to announce at his press conference this afternoon.

Christie’s lawyers’ treatment of Kelly was so shoddy that Stepien, formerly the governor’s former right-hand man, was forced to release a statement denouncing the report’s “gratuitous reference” to his “brief” relationship with Kelly as “a regrettable distraction.”

Blaming the woman goes back to Eve, so it shouldn’t be particularly surprising. But I still find this story bizarre: Why is Christie so determined not only to blame his former allies, but to shame them? He himself called Kelly “stupid” in his two-hour pity-party last January, while he depicted Wildstein as a high-school loser to his student-athlete-president demigod. Now his lawyers have used Stepien to smear Kelly – and that’s pissed off not only Stepien but Kelly’s friends, who took to the New York Times to denounce the report’s heaping dose of sexism in its depiction of Christie’s once fiercely loyal aide.

Mastro’s report maligns Kelly’s competence from the beginning, noting that she was promoted to Stepien’s old job “though she lacked Stepien’s expertise and background.” It even resorts to inaccuracies to heap blame on Kelly, the New York Times reports, accusing her of canceling meetings with Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop after he declined to endorse Christie, when documents show others in the administration canceled the meetings.

Mastro’s report has done the seemingly impossible: It cost Christie the affection of the guys at “Morning Joe,” which has been Christie’s clubhouse throughout the scandal. As Taylor Marsh details (I missed it), Mark Halperin called the attacks on Kelly “sexist and gratuitous,” while Scarborough compared Mastro to “Baghdad Bob.” Of course, they’re still protecting Christie by blaming the sexism on Mastro, when it’s unthinkable that the million-dollar report would have dumped on Kelly without Christie’s say-so.

Knowing Christie’s M.O., if the Mastro report becomes a new liability for him, he’ll probably throw the former prosecutor under the bus with Kelly and Wildstein. But he won’t do it with the textbook misogyny he broke out for Kelly. Christie is delusionally headed to Las Vegas to kiss the ring of Sheldon Adelson at the Republican Jewish Coalition meeting this weekend, still believing he has a chance to run for president in 2016. Good luck courting the women’s vote, Gov. Christie! Bridgegate is turning into Bridgetgate, another story about Christie’s bullying sexism.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Chris Christie's lawyers find him innocent

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. (photo: Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg)
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. (photo: Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg)


By Charles Pierce, Esquire

28 March 14

nd today, with the announcement that his lawyers have cleared Chris Christie, I am reminded of another longtime New Jersey resident...

Of course, I am being dreadfully unfair to intimate that Big Chicken's handpicked investigators might be the equivalent of those binders full of bullshit that gave the world the punchline that is, "Expletive deleted," but, seriously, who are we kidding here? His own taxpayer-funded bag job says that Christie's original alibi about a "traffic study" was bogus.

The taxpayer-funded report released Thursday concludes the September lane closures near the heavily traveled George Washington Bridge were intended to target a local mayor. But there was no evidence found that it was because the mayor wouldn't endorse Christie. The report finds that former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official David Wildstein and ex-Christie aide Bridget Kelly were behind the closures.

So the closures targeted the mayor of Fort Lee for some other mysterious reasons, and Christie's staffers did it entirely on their own, and I am the Tsar of all the Russias.

Big Chicken's going to go on teevee with Diane Sawyer to attempt to rehabilitate himself, and I am sure that he will be a hit, because a lot of very important people are still invested in him to keep them from the realization that the Republican party is insane. The other, independent investigations will grind on anyway.

But Democrats say the report is incomplete because it does not include interviews with people central to the plot, including Bridget Kelly, the former aide who sent the message, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." Assemblyman John Wisniewski, chairman of a legislative panel investigating the lane closings, also raised questions about the objectivity of a report on the governor commissioned by the governor and compiled by an ally. Like Christie, Mastro is a former federal prosecutor. He is a former chief of staff to New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, another former prosecutor who has staunchly defended Christie on talk shows since the scandal broke open in January. Several people in Christie's circle once worked for Giuliani.

That explains more than a little. Alibis deleted.

Film relives Anita Hill's lurid grilling

Years later, Anita Hill still has truth to speak and lessons to teach. (photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Time)
Years later, Anita Hill still has truth to speak and lessons to teach. (photo: Jemal Countess/Getty
Images for Time)

By Dahlia Lithwick, Slate Magazine
23 March 14
 
t’s fair to say that the target audience for the new documentary Anita, which opens Friday in theaters, is not Ginni Thomas.

One of the ways we know this is that the movie, about Anita Hill, opens with the audio of Mrs. Thomas’ bizarre 2010 voice mail message, asking professor Hill to “consider an apology and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband.

So give it some thought. I certainly pray about this and hope one day you will help us understand why you did what you did. OK! Have a good day!"

It’s pretty clear that Frieda Lee Mock, the director, isn’t trying to win over the “little bit slutty and a little bit nutty” crowd, which still maintains that Hill was a deranged fabulist and attention seeker when she testified to Congress that Clarence Thomas, then a Supreme Court nominee, sexually harassed her when he was her boss. As far as Mock is concerned, Anita Hill was truthful back when she was 35, and Anita Hill is truthful now at 57. The only story to tell is how she has fared since the infamous 1991 confirmation hearings that made her a household name. Through the voices of longtime friends, corroborating witnesses, plus Jill Abramson and Jane Mayer, whose 1994 book, Strange Justice, bolstered Hill’s claims, what emerges in Anita is the closing argument the Senate never heard.

Hill has been on something of a media tear this month, promoting the film on The Daily Show, The View, MSNBC, and in several online chats. Hill knows that her name is familiar to those of us who were old enough to be paying attention back in the early ’90s. And she knows she won’t be changing the minds of Thomas partisans. Her target demographic is young people.

I spoke to her yesterday about why she was willing to dredge up that awful fall of 1991, and step back into a spotlight that had been anything but kind to her. In the intervening years, she has received death threats, bomb threats, threats of sexual violence, and a sustained campaign to have her fired from her first teaching job in Oklahoma. All that plus a 7:30 a.m. call from Ginni Thomas. This has been her life. She hadn’t planned on any of it.

In the film Hill says that she once believed she could devote just two years, post-confirmation hearings, to sexual harassment law, and then return to her pet subjects: “Initially,” she tells me, “I thought I would just go back and do what I do: commercial law and contracts. But within months I was getting so many requests that it just felt that there was a sincere effort for people to understand sexual harassment.

It took a lot of letters from people who were asking really sincere questions, and so I gave it two years. And 23 years later … I say to people I do know how to count. There just seem to be so many layers to the problem that we’re still trying to address them.”
Almost every recent interview with Hill begins with an interlocutor observing, in great amazement, that 23 years have elapsed since the hearing. I ask whether that’s because it feels like it’s been longer, or because it feels so recent. She laughs: “Isn’t that odd, though? I think that both are going on. I mean, you look at that panel of men in the Senate and it’s 1991 and yet it looks like 50 or 60 years ago. And yet at the same time, when people look at the footage and they see me, they think, “Was that all? Could it have been 23 years ago? Because all these issues are still with us.” 

Are they still with us? Heck yes. “Look at the mayor of San Diego, or look at Jonathan Martin,” says Hill, referring to alleged serial harasser Bob Filner, now resigned, and the NFL player who was tormented on the job. “These episodes just keep coming up over and over again. We know that in 1991 we started to really understand and to take it seriously. But I think in 2014 we have an opportunity to take it seriously for the young women who are on campuses, and the young women who are in the military. And for the women in workplaces that have not gone addressed.”

We forget that sexual harassment law almost didn’t exist 30 years ago. And yet in some ways we are still such a pack of brutalizing harassers. How is it possible that all these years later, after Sen. Howell Heflin of Alabama, a Democrat, first called Hill a “scorned woman” and Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming, a Republican, referred to all that “sexual harassment crap,” we still have Sandra Fluke? Doesn’t that depress Anita Hill? It depresses me. Do we treat women any better than we did 20 years ago, in the workplace or in public discourse about the workplace?

Hill says there is a difference today: “What I am hoping,” she says, “is that this movie will shed a light on the process of 1991 and people can ask themselves, are our processes any better today? Are our policies more responsive today? And I think they clearly are better because I hear from a lot of women that after 1991 it wasn’t just that women started to file complaints, but they went into their employment arenas and said, ‘This has got to change, we’ve got to let people know what their rights are, we have to stop the culture of our workplaces that support and suborn these behaviors.’ … There is still work to be done. It took a lot of very brave women for us to get here. People say, ‘I thought we’d already fixed that problem.’ No. But we’ve acknowledged it.”

And that’s the most brutal part of the film: reliving the complete and systemic failure to acknowledge what Hill was saying, the failure to take her seriously, the failure to call her corroborating witnesses. In the end, Joe Biden, then-chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and the Democrats who failed her come out looking almost as bad as the Republicans who call her names. One of the most crazy-making aspects of the film is that we are forced to watch 14 white male United States senators persistently refuse to make eye contact with Hill—their eyes roll around the room like Cookie Monster’s—while they grill her for almost nine hours on the lurid details of penis length, large breasts, Long Dong Silver, and the pubic hair in the Coke can.  Over and over, each thinking he is the Perry Mason of Porn. Yet Hill answers, repeatedly, politely, clarifying and explaining that she is not making a formal sexual harassment claim; that she didn’t ask to come forward and testify. She never loses it, even when the viewer desperately wants her to.

It’s not until we arrive at Clarence Thomas’ “high-tech lynching” speech that the room stills. The proceeding is completely under Thomas’ control. The hearing is effectively over. “I had a gender and he had a race,” says Hill at one point in the film. I ask her what that means. “There were people who tried to ignore the fact that I was an African-American woman, and very importantly, there were senators and the people in the country who ignored the fact that in Washington, D.C., particularly in 1991, there was a great deal of entitlement that went along with being a male. … They didn’t take that into account and instead they portrayed him as an African-American who could use the lynching metaphor to his advantage.”

I ask Hill how it felt to bite back her own anger while Thomas gave full vent to his. “I don’t use my anger as a strategy,” she replies. “And I think that’s what he was doing. That was a strategy. I don’t even know how real it was.” She adds: “Of course I get angry. I have processed all of the emotions: hurt, anger, outrage, bewilderment that this could be happening, denying that this could happen. ... Maybe all those different phases of grief. And I do tend to process it privately. That is the nature of who I am. Even if I am seen as a public figure, I can’t put everything out there because people want to see it.

“Being who we are is the only way to effectively convey the truth of our experiences. And processes ought to allow for that,” Hill says. She recalls how, in the movie, Arizona Sen. Dennis DeConcini, a Democrat, says something to the effect of “ ‘well, when women are harassed, they oughta do this and they oughta do that and they oughta get angry and they oughta raise hell.’ But people can’t tell us how we respond to our own problems. They shouldn’t say ‘because she didn’t act the way I would have acted, it must not be true.’ ” She laughs: “You’re supposed to bang on the table! But had I done what DeConcini said, then I would have been caricatured in a different way.”

Hill doesn’t just want to teach young people a (recent) history lesson. She wants them to see, too, how things have turned out just fine for her. The second half of Anita shows Hill in her new life, teaching law at Brandeis, in a long-term relationship, love-bombed by family, and surrounded by young women seeking to learn from her experience. The fact that so few young people have heard of her is staggering. (The trailer opens with a teacher asking a class full of young women if they have heard of Anita Hill. They blink at her.) It’s especially galling in light of what she represented.

The change in the numbers of women in government can be at least partially attributed to the hearings. (In 1991 there were two women in the Senate. In 1992, “the year of the woman,” female politicians enraged by the hearings won four new Senate seats and 24 new House seats.) Hill’s testimony had a huge impact on sexual harassment law, and in the public discourse. Watching the movie Anita made me very angry, but talking to the person Anita gave me some hope that the next generation of women, many of whom don’t even know her name, will be fully visible in the eyes of the law, in part because of her ordeal.

Capitalism is dead


Article image
By Carl Gibson

Capitalism is succeeding exactly like it's supposed to – all the resources and wealth are concentrating into fewer and fewer hands and corporate profits are hitting record highs every quarter. The Dow Jones and S&P 500 are doing better than they've ever done in decades. Worker productivity and Gross Domestic Product has increased at a rapid pace, yet wages are stagnant.

Immediately upon entering adulthood, Americans are forced to compete for increasingly-scarce employment. The purpose of most employment isn't to create value for society or future generations, but to create profits for a scant few executives and shareholders. In order to be competitive enough to gain employment, Americans are expected to take on so much debt for a higher education that most of the income gained in their adult years will be spent paying off that debt.

In return for all their hard work, Americans who aren't executives or shareholders are paid just enough to meet basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter. Under the capitalist system, the majority of life for today's average American before retirement is spent pursuing profits that will never be shared with them. And because capitalists like Pete Peterson and the Koch Brothers are so determined to weaken Social Security in the pursuit of ever-increasing profits, even retirement is unstable.

As a system predicated on the need to grow endlessly and never stagnate, capitalism is doomed to fail. I've written previously on this site about how capitalism is currently in its endgame, similar to the endgame of Monopoly, where one player has accumulated nearly all of the property and money, and all the other players are afraid to make any moves at all, lest they land on the wrong square and are destroyed by debt.

As a direct result of the rise of corporate dominance of government, the profit motive has become the primary motive of operation not just for private businesses, but for government institutions. One example is the Department of Education booking $41.3 billion in profits off of student loans, even though the student loan bubble has surpassed the $1 trillion mark.

Groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council allow capitalists to write laws behind closed doors, then wine and dine state lawmakers to pass those laws in exchange for future campaign contributions from capitalists. Election laws are now set up to benefit capitalists who can anonymously donate millions of dollars to a Super PAC and dominate public airwaves with false advertising, while grassroots candidates without millions on their side are shut out of the public conversation.
Capitalists like General ElectricCitigroup and Monsanto can write legislation with members of Congress that stacks the deck in their favor while overseeing that legislation's passage. Capitalists who own mercenary companies can get paid billions of dollars in defense contracts while pay and benefits for veterans are cut from the budget.

Capitalists like the Koch Brothers can escape accountability through foreign subsidiaries despiteviolating U.S trade laws, and banks like JPMorgan Chase can escape jail time despite frauding millions of homeowners. But homeless people like Gregory Taylor are sentenced to 25 years in jail for stealing bread.

During the Cold War era, if people didn't openly embrace capitalism, they ran the risk of being called a Communist sympathizer and intimidated out of their job. But the tables are turning on capitalism as more and more people become aware of the consequences of capitalism.

In November of 2011, during the height of the Occupy Wall Street movement, conservative messaging specialist Frank Luntz had a meeting with the Republican Governors' Association to teach them how to address the growing populist energy sweeping the country.

"I'm so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I'm frightened to death," Luntz said. "They're having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism."

Luntz's first suggestion to the Republican governors was to stop saying the word "capitalism," as it was believed by many in the country to be "immoral," according to Luntz.

The Occupy movement was seen as a failure because it focused too heavily on critiquing capitalism rather than uniting around a proposed alternative to capitalism or creating viable solutions. But ironically, the nationally-coordinated crackdown on the Occupy movement was one of the best things to happen to the – it dispersed thousands of newly-trained radical organizers from city parks into cities.

Fast food worker strikes have been organized in over 100 cities. Occupy Wall Street's "Strike Debt" project abolished $14.7 million in distressed medical debt and outpaced FEMA in disaster reliefduring Hurricane Sandy. The Occupy movement has gone from occupying city parks to building homes for the homeless, occupying foreclosed homes, and occupying city halls – not as protesters, but as elected officials. Rather than merely critiquing capitalism, the movement is actively contradicting and creating alternatives to it.

What will come after capitalism is uncertain. But what is certain is that there is more than enough wealth in the world to provide basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter to all people. A United Nations study estimated that to end global poverty, provide basic healthcare and education, combat diseases like HIV and malaria, create environmental stability, improve maternal health, address the gap in gender equality and reduce child mortality, developed nations would have to contribute just 0.7 percent of their gross national income over a ten-year period. For the United States, that would cost just $90 billion per year. That amounts to just 8.7 percent of our current military budget.

Despite such an obvious and easy solution, we all know we currently don't have the political leadership to accomplish this, and likely won't anytime soon if we depend solely on the Democratic and Republican parties. A new, populist, explicitly anti-capitalist party must emerge and start organizing at the grassroots level to build power over time. And this new political party must be led by and represent the young, the unemployed, underemployed and misemployed, people of color, people in debt, and everyone else who has been victimized by capitalism.

Capitalism is dead. Long live its replacement.

ABOUT Carl Gibson


Carl Gibson, 25, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary "We're Not Broke," which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Manchester, New Hampshire. You can contact Carl at usuncut@gmail.com, and listen to his online radio talk show, Swag The Dog, at blogtalkradio.com/swag-the-dog.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Republican lies lure susceptible seniors


Dave Johnson


A new Gallup poll shows seniors moving from the Democratic to the Republican party. Why has this happened? 

The poll, headlined “U.S. Seniors Have Realigned With the Republican Party,” says:
U.S seniors – those aged 65 and older – have moved from a reliably Democratic group to a reliably Republican one over the past two decades. From 1992 through 2006, seniors had been solidly Democratic and significantly more Democratic than younger Americans. Over the last seven years, seniors have become less Democratic, and have shown an outright preference for the Republican Party since 2010.
In 1992, 53% of senior citizens, on average, identified as Democrats or said they were independents but leaned Democratic, while 39% identified as Republicans or leaned Republican, resulting in a 14-percentage-point Democratic advantage in seniors’ party affiliation. Last year, 48% of seniors identified as or leaned Republican, and 45% Democratic, a three-point Republican advantage.
Gallup attributes this shift strongly to racial factors, saying that whites in general have shifted to strongly Republicans and non-white seniors remain strongly Democratic.

There may be another factor at work here. Republicans have run two election campaigns now – 2010 and 2012 – falsely claiming that “Democrats have cut Medicare” as a central theme. This was repeated in corporate/billionaire-funded TV ad after corporate/billionaire-funded TV ad, adding up now to hundreds of millions of dollars of exposure of that message. That kind of money buys a lasting impression.

Candidates and officials have to do better at refuting these false claims. But, more importantly, this is more proof that a campaign based on themes touted by so-called “centrist” groups such as Third Way and the Peter G. Peterson empire – that seniors hear as calls for them to sacrifice what little they have while nothing is asked of the wealthy and corporations – just won’t fly. Seniors will side with candidates who are fighting for their economic future and that of their children – and that means fighting for stronger Medicare and Social Security benefits, and an economy that works for working people.

Wal-Mart dead last in supermarket survey

Trader Joe's, Costco top Consumer Reports supermarket chain ratings, Wal-Mart supercenters at bottom


The perfect supermarket would offer the highest quality food at very low prices. It would be squeaky clean and the service would be exemplary.

There is no such store, but according to the latest ratings from Consumer Reports two national chains – Trader Joe’s (87 out of 100) and Costco (84) – are getting very close.

Several regional chains, such as Wegmans (which has the highest overall score of 88) in the East, Publix in the South, and Sprouts in the West are also giving their customers most of what they want.

“Trader Joe’s gets exemplary marks for service and very good marks for perishables. Their prices were considered extraordinary and they’re a very clean store,” said senior projects editor Tod Marks.

Costco got top marks for prices and perishables, but only rated average on service, which makes sense to anyone who shops there.

“Most people don’t expect to get service at a warehouse store, but they’re willing to overlook that to get high-quality merchandise and awesome prices,” Marks said.

The news was not so good for Wal-Mart. The nation’s largest grocery store had the lowest score (67) of the 55 stores in the survey. It got points for price, but low marks for service, quality of the perishables and cleanliness.

“People didn’t dislike Wal-Mart,” Marks said. “Its prices are definitely good and the stores are everywhere.”

Wal-Mart spokesperson Danit Marquardt said the company has “taken significant efforts” over the last several years to ensure the quality of its meat and produce.

Wal-Mart is “more committed than ever to delivering our customers the products, prices and store experiences that exceed their expectations,” she said in a statement.

Sam’s Club, which is owned by Wal-Mart, rated nine points higher than the regular Wal-Mart supercenters. Sam’s Club got much higher marks for food quality and price. It even rated better for service.

“Can you believe that? A warehouse store got better marks for service than a regular store?” Marks said.

The magazine’s ratings are based on a survey of more than 27,000 readers. While most shoppers said they were generally satisfied with their current supermarket, more than half had at least one complaint and almost a third had two or more problems.
 
The top gripes: long lines at checkout because not enough checkout lanes are open, congested aisles, out-of-stock advertised specials and inadequate selection. Nearly half of Wal-Mart shoppers complained about the lack of open checkouts.

Stores that don’t keep their customers happy should expect to see them go elsewhere. One-third of those responding to this survey said they had stopped shopping at a nearby grocery store in the past year. High prices were the main reason, but long waits at checkout, limited selection or poor food quality were other reasons they switched stores.

“This shows that people have choices and they are going to exercise that choice,” Marks said. 

You can read more about the Supermarket Survey on the Consumer Reports website.
Herb Weisbaum is The ConsumerMan. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter or visit The ConsumerMan website.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Drilling into America's non-dental coverage




Terrance Heath

Rich are directly destroying democracy

They need to buy boats, not votes

Leo Gerard