Saturday Reads: It’s not easy being green…or blue!

Good Morning!

Minx here today and I have some interesting stuff for you to look over. So let’s get down to it…
As I have mentioned before, I have no idea why Obama is so impressed and pushing for a national jobs training program based on the Georgia Works program. It is an awful answer to the unemployment situation we are in. I am sure that any “this jobs program sucks ass” warnings Obama is getting from his “advisers”  is going to get the proper attention anyway.  Georgia Jobs Program Draws Federal Attention – NYTimes.com

Desperate to find a way to get the nation’s long-term unemployed back to work, President Obama and Republican leaders are supporting the expansion of a novel jobs program in Georgia to any other state that wants it.

Whether the program can be replicated on a scale big enough to make a dent in the unemployment rate, though, is far from clear.

Since the recession began, the Georgia program has been held up as a national example, and a close look shows that it has pleased employers and produced steady paychecks for workers. But economists say there is little evidence that participants find work faster. And a lack of promotion, limited oversight and budget constraints have limited the program, Georgia Works, to a tiny portion of the state’s nearly half a million unemployed workers. Only about 120 people have been hired because of it this year.

That such a blip of success has been hailed as a central plank of the president’s jobs plan, and one of the few with consistent bipartisan support, shows just how few viable solutions have emerged for perhaps the nation’s most intractable problem — how to get 14 million unemployed people working again.

Believe me when I tell you, that Georgia not only has a f’d up justice system…this slave labor jobs program doesn’t work either.

Supporters of the effort say that hirings are not the only measure of success. The program keeps the unemployed tethered to a workplace environment. It can provide training — in fact, under federal labor laws that forbid unpaid labor, it is required to, although the state labor department’s own literature refers to it as a “free trial” for employers.

You got that? A free trial…

Unions and labor advocates like the National Employment Law Project have criticized the program as free labor for employers rather than training. The White House has tried to neutralize that complaint by ensuring that under its proposal, called Bridge to Work, the worker would receive the equivalent of minimum wage. States may apply for money to bolster unemployment benefits and to provide stipends for travel and child care, which would come out of a $4 billion federal fund meant to cover that and other re-employment programs in the jobs bill.

But Ross Eisenbrey, the vice president of the liberal Economic Policy Institute, faulted the program for not requiring any investment from employers. “It doesn’t take much to create a situation where employers’ expectations about what they have to pay really diminish and employee expectations about what their employers should give them just go into the toilet,” Mr. Eisenbrey said.

Obama says he will make sure that companies who repeatedly use the program and do not hire people will be barred from the show…personally, I think even with this slight change…the works program still sucks!

Timothy J. Bartik, the senior economist at the W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, said that he saw no problem with trying out programs like Georgia Works, but that wage subsidies would have a greater impact, even if they were more expensive. “As far as I can see, there’s nothing in this that creates jobs,” he said. “It’s mainly reshuffling jobs among the folks that are unemployed.”

Yup, in other words this jobs program appears to be full action and really getting something done…but Georgia Works is nothing but a pile of broccoli on your plate, that you keep playing and moving around the dish with your fork…to make it look like you ate a lot more than you actually did. (But you can’t fool mama…can you?)

And if this is a single mama, I am sure she wouldn’t be able to afford that broccoli anyway….

Cost Of Raising a Child Increases 40 Percent, No Wonder More Women Are In Poverty | Care2 Causes

Feel like it’s getting harder and harder to make ends meet these days, especially if you are raising a family?  It’s not your imagination.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the cost of raising a child have increased dramatically — 40 percent in just the last 10 years.  Everything that is associated with trying to care for a family, be it child care, gas, food costs, medical insurance or even clothing has shown a large increase that by far has outpaced inflation, even as the recession has continued and wages have remained nearly stagnant.

The cost of raising a child for just one year is now nearly $14,000, compared to the just under $10,000 it cost back in the year 2000.  And as that $4000 a year builds up over time, you are looking at a nearly $60,000 increase in spending just to get your child to age 18.

And we aren’t even talking about college.

It’s difficult enough to meet these expenses with two incomes, but for the 25 percent of children who live in single parent households, most of them women, it grows even harder.  Single parent and especially women headed households have a much higher rate of poverty, primarily due to child care costs and lack of other resources that could financially support these families — resources that are being cut daily in the name of state and federal fiscal management.  In fact, 40 percent of households headed by women are currently in poverty.

But of course, who gives a damn about these former fetuses…life begins at fertilization? No…it begins at arousal.

At least there is this news out of Idaho: Woman wins court order against 1972 Idaho abortion law – baltimoresun.com

An Idaho woman prosecuted for terminating her own pregnancy with abortion pills she ordered online won a temporary court order on Friday barring enforcement of the decades-old law under which she was charged.

It is only the beginning of this case, and there is a bit of a hiccup:

But the federal judge in the case also rebuffed her separate bid to block a newly enacted state law that bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy unless there is proof the woman’s life is in danger.

On that issue U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled that Jennie Linn McCormack, 33, lacked legal standing to seek a temporary restraining order against Idaho’s new “fetal pain” abortion law because she was no longer pregnant and could not demonstrate imminent harm from the statute.

Her lawsuit is believed to be the first federal court case challenging any of several late-term abortion bans enacted in Idaho and five other states the past two years, based on controversial medical research suggesting a fetus feels pain starting at 20 weeks of gestation.

(Y’all remember that study that shows the fetal pain claim is bogus…)

Moving on, have you all seen this?  Pope ‘deeply shaken’ in meeting with sex abuse victims in Germany – CNN.com

Pope Benedict XVI met Friday with a group of people who had been sexually abused by clergy in his native Germany, where disenchantment with the Roman Catholic Church has grown in the wake of the scandal.

The meeting, which occurred at a seminary in Erfurt, came on the second day of the pontiff’s four-day visit to his homeland. Besides talking with victims of sexual abuse committed by priests and church personnel, he also met with people “who care for those injured by these crimes,” according to a statement from the Vatican press office.

“Moved and deeply shaken by the sufferings of the victims, the Holy Father expressed his deep compassion and regret over all that was done to them and their families,” the statement added. “He assured the people present that those in positions of responsibility in the church are seriously concerned to deal with all crimes of abuse and are committed to effective measures for the protection of children.”

Words….words….words…. I find it difficult to believe that the Vatican is committed to protecting these children, I think they are more that committed to just transferring abusive priest that prosecuting them.

Here is a recent article from Mac McClelland that came out this past week: Putting the Pope on Trial | Mother Jones

Like most people who went to Catholic school, I have a long list of offenses I feel the church inflicted on me, which is probably partly why I sort of love the idea of an international police force arresting the pope. That’s what a group of victims’-rights advocates is hoping for; last week, Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court against Pope Benedict XVI and three senior Vatican officials.

It sounds like a publicity stunt to charge the pope with crimes against humanity. But the lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights who are handling the case sure sound like they mean business: “The Vatican officials charged in this case are responsible for rape and other sexual violence and for the physical and psychological torture of victims around the world both through command responsibility and through direct cover-up of crimes. They should be brought to trial like any other officials guilty of crimes against humanity.”

There are two issues at hand in this matter, jurisdiction and responsibility.

First, jurisdiction. The court can only prosecute abuses that occur in a country that’s a signatory to the ICC—or abuses that are perpetrated by a national of one of those signatories. Afghanistan, for example, is a signatory to the ICC; the United States is not. But the ICC would have jurisdiction over a crime against humanity committed by, say, an American soldier on Afghan soil. Which is precisely why the United States tried to block the creation of the ICC in the first place. The Vatican is not an ICC signatory, but theoretically, that’s not a deal-breaker. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is an ICC signatory, and one of the cases cited in the Vatican filing took place there. Another case involves a priest from Belgium, which is also a signatory.

As for the responsibility, there is a bit more gray area here.  There is no evidence that the Vatican ordered their priest to sexually abuse children. The ICC may not have the ability to go after those who neglect the abuse and do not try to stop it from happening, or those who cover the abuse up. Mac continues her article by writing:

My hunch is that it’s extremely unlikely this complaint, one of many thousands the ICC has received, is going anywhere. But it is an important step in raising the issue of accountability. Though the ICC is a long, long, long shot for these victims of sex abuse, it is probably more likely than the Vatican to hold the responsible parties accountable. Even priests who abused hundreds of disabled children weren’t punished by the church. And though headlines have been screaming about the priest-rape scandal since I was in grade school, it took the church years to clearly order its bishops to prioritize fighting sexual abuse in their dioceses. As in, it finally issued the directive this May.

She adds this update:

*Thanks to Wronging Rights‘ briliant and actually-trained-and-qualified-to-pontificate-on-legal-issues Kate Cronin-Furman for hollering with the correction. The charges in the case against Jean-Pierre Bemba—some of whose trial I caught in April—she wrote me, “are not that Bemba ordered his guys to commit atrocities in [the Central African Republic], but that he could have prevented them from doing so, and failed to. This is known as command or superior responsibility doctrine. It’s how you convict military commanders for actions taken by their subordinates that they should have prevented.” Not that that, and the fact that the pope is at the top of the church’s hierarchy, should necessarily give these rape victims hope that the ICC will act. It is a “neat idea,” Cronin-Furman says, but concurs that it’s “a stretch.”

Some of you may have noticed the Google sketch today celebrating the 75 birthday of Jim Henson. I grew up with Sesame Street and the muppets when they first hit the PBS airwaves. Some of the segments are ones that I remember so vividly, that even now when I see them, I can remember being a little girl sitting on the shag carpeted floor…watching Kermit interact with another little girl on the TV screen. My sentimental connection to that green frog warms my heart…

I will end with this…the ending of the Muppet Movie, enjoy and I will catch y’all later in the comments.

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6 Comments on “Saturday Reads: It’s not easy being green…or blue!”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    If the fundies keep having their way that “little gleam in the eye” will someday too lead to prosecution.

    If corporations and a tiny grouping of cells have now become “people” with the same rights as a human being, what’s to prevent a law created to ensure that “just thinking about it” could land you in jail?

    Naturally this law would only apply to women.

  2. Minkoff Minx says:

    A few other links for you:

    Satellite Falls to Earth, But We Know Not Where – NYTimes.com

    So they have no clue where this thing landed…

    Left Behind: How Democrats Are Losing The Political Center | The New Republic

    Overall, it’s hard to avoid concluding that the ideological playing-field heading into 2012 is tilted against Democrats. This reality only deepens the strategic dilemma the White House now confronts. The conventional strategy for an incumbent is to secure the base before the general public gets fully engaged and then reach out to the swing voters whose decisions spell the difference between victory and defeat. By contrast, the Obama team spent most of 2011 in what turned out to be a failed effort to win over the Independent voters who deserted Democrats in droves last November, in the process alienating substantial portions of the base. To rekindle the allegiance and enthusiasm of core supporters, the president now finds himself having to draw sharp ideological lines, risking further erosion among Independents and even moderate Democrats. Tellingly, a number of at-risk Democratic senators up for reelection in 2012 have already refused to go along with key elements of the president’s recent proposals.

    Granted, ideology isn’t everything. Political scientists have long observed that Americans are more liberal on particulars than they are in general—ideologically conservative but operationally liberal. (Surveys have shown majority support for most individual elements of the president’s jobs and budget packages.) And the Republicans could undermine their chances by nominating a presidential candidate who is simply too hard-edged conservative for moderates and Independents to stomach.

    In the face of widespread skepticism and disillusion, it will be an uphill battle for Democrats to persuade key voting blocks that government can really make their lives better. But if they fail, the public will continue to equate public spending with waste, the anti-government message will continue to resonate, and Democrats will be in dire straits when heading into what is shaping up as a pivotal election.

    And this last bit:
    Putin Will Seek Second Stint as Russian President in 2012 – NYTimes.com

  3. ralphb says:

    Great column by Anand Giridharadas in the NYT. He’s rapidly becoming my favorite writer.

    The Fraying of a Nation’s Decency

    CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS — Amazon.com, the books-to-diapers-to-machetes Internet superstore, is a perfect snapshot of the American Dream, circa 2011.
    (…)
    In a moment rife with talk of American decline, my Amazon experiences provide fleeting mood boosts. They remind me that, for now at least, this remains the most innovative society on earth.

    And then my bubble burst.

    Thanks to a methodical and haunting piece of journalism in The Morning Call, a newspaper published in Allentown, Pennsylvania, I now know why the boxes reach me so fast and the prices are so low. And what the story revealed about Amazon could be said of the country, too: that on the road to high and glorious things, it somehow let go of decency.
    (…)
    The more I travel, the more I observe that Americans are becoming foreigners to each other. People in Texas speak of people in New York the way certain Sunnis speak of Shiites, and vice versa in New York. Many liberals I know take for granted that anyone conservative is either racist or under-informed. People who run companies like Amazon operate as though it never occurred to them that it could have been them crawling through the aisles. And the people who run labor unions possess little empathy for how difficult and risky and remarkable it is to build something like Amazon.

    What is creeping into the culture is simple dehumanization, a failure to imagine the lives others lead. Fellow citizens become caricatures. People retreat into their own safe realms. And decency, that great American virtue, falls away.