Yesterday went up to 97 degrees Fahrenheit with a feels like 107 heat index. The heat index is supposed to hit 110 today. We got a reprieve finally when a storm blew down from the north with rain and kicked us into the high 70s.
I need to get my central air repaired and was planning on doing it last month but I have had nearly 6 years of an unwanted guest and it does no good for me to fix anything so I’ve been operating on a very small window unit in the guest room for the entire back of the house. I’m just exhausted so need to get this up before the intense heat kicks in again. I’ll probably be in a cold bath reading something or another.
Reports that low-wage employers were having trouble filling open jobs sent Republican policymakers into a tizzy and led at least 25 Republican governors — and one Democratic governor — to announce plans to cut off expanded unemployment benefits early. Chipotle said that it would increase prices by about 4 percent to cover the cost of higher wages, prompting the National Republican Congressional Committee to issue a blistering response: “Democrats’ socialist stimulus bill caused a labor shortage, and now burrito lovers everywhere are footing the bill.” The Trumpist outlet The Federalist complained, “Restaurants have had to bribe current and prospective workers with fatter paychecks to lure them off their backsides and back to work.”
But it’s not just the right. The financial press, the cable news squawkers and even many on the center-left greet news of labor shortages and price increases with an alarm they rarely bring to the ongoing agonies of poverty or low-wage toil.
I actually tweeted one of my deplorable senators when he started at it. Got a nice number of retweets too
Hello. I'm an economist. That's simply not true and it twists reality. In order to get people back to work, they need places for their children, they need to be able to get there, they need to know it's going to be stable. That amount is not enough to keep workers out of mkt.
— Dr. Kat PhD. … not your kiddo, buddy (@Dakinikat) June 12, 2021
Back to Klein:
This is the conversation about poverty that we don’t like to have: We discuss the poor as a pity or a blight, but we rarely admit that America’s high rate of poverty is a policy choice, and there are reasons we choose it over and over again. We typically frame those reasons as questions of fairness (“Why should I have to pay for someone else’s laziness?”) or tough-minded paternalism (“Work is good for people, and if they can live on the dole, they would”). But there’s more to it than that.
It is true, of course, that some might use a guaranteed income to play video games or melt into Netflix. But why are they the center of this conversation? We know full well that America is full of hardworking people who are kept poor by very low wages and harsh circumstance. We know many who want a job can’t find one, and many of the jobs people can find are cruel in ways that would appall anyone sitting comfortably behind a desk. We know the absence of child care and affordable housing and decent public transit makes work, to say nothing of advancement, impossible for many. We know people lose jobs they value because of mental illness or physical disability or other factors beyond their control. We are not so naïve as to believe near-poverty and joblessness to be a comfortable condition or an attractive choice.
Most Americans don’t think of themselves as benefiting from the poverty of others, and I don’t think objections to a guaranteed income would manifest as arguments in favor of impoverishment. Instead, we would see much of what we’re seeing now, only magnified: Fears of inflation, lectures about how the government is subsidizing indolence, paeans to the character-building qualities of low-wage labor, worries that the economy will be strangled by taxes or deficits, anger that Uber and Lyft rides have gotten more expensive, sympathy for the struggling employers who can’t fill open roles rather than for the workers who had good reason not to take those jobs. These would reflect not America’s love of poverty but opposition to the inconveniences that would accompany its elimination.
Nor would these costs be merely imagined. Inflation would be a real risk, as prices often rise when wages rise, and some small businesses would shutter if they had to pay their workers more. There are services many of us enjoy now that would become rarer or costlier if workers had more bargaining power. We’d see more investments in automation and possibly in outsourcing. The truth of our politics lies in the risks we refuse to accept, and it is rising worker power, not continued poverty, that we treat as intolerable. You can see it happening right now, driven by policies far smaller and with effects far more modest than a guaranteed income.
Olive Trees With Yellow Sky And Sun VINCENT VAN GOGH, 1889
I have a friend who is the walking anecdotal evidence on “shoe-leather costs” and how they relate to risks in job searches. She had an off-and-on job as a concierge at a small hotel during the panic and had to rely on unemployment for obvious reasons. Another neighbor had a long-term job with a big hotel here and they basically paid to retire him early which may or may not have been a good deal but a year ago the risks of being out of a job were quite hard to predict. They’re both out on the street. He’s about my age and she’s in her 40s and on her own.
So, she gets this great job offer at a start-up hotel operation in the Garden District in a historic building about a month ago. She was on the payroll as they were training everyone and getting ready to open which they did about 10 days ago. She quit her not-so-stable job for one that appeared to look like a great opportunity. Well, about 2 days of open hotel, the owners realized they’d be overly optimistic on business and they downsized. That’s business-speak for leaving your employees to the wolves.
She has a job interview today. But, look at her now. She has two jobs from which she is unlikely to get references and look sketchy in terms of time on the job on a resume. She’s trying to get back on UI because once again, she’s out of work. It’s risky and hard work to find a reliable, well-paying job these days. Low wages are built into the business model since we’ve been in an employer’s job market. Well, if all it takes is giving people a certain level of money to pressure low-wage payers to pony up, then call me a Marxist.
Remember the business owner in Seattle that just paid everyone what would be needed to live in Seattle? Here are his comments about the little ticket to ride Jeff Bezos just bought.
We're giving Blue Origin a $10 billion bailout so its owner (who is worth $194 billion) can sell tickets to space for $28 million.
Another, the weather is hell story comes from me last night working at this desk and waiting for Amazon to deliver my two packages of socks. I noticed the storm coming in and that the parish had just shut down the causeway because of 65 mph winds. I ran out to meet my driver–a young black woman–who was frantically trying to get the last of the packages delivered around 8 pm. Yes, I left my desk. I wanted her to know they had just shut down the causeway and what she might get caught up in. She didn’t know the causeway had closed but she said all of us were trying to tell them it was going to get bad but they kept telling us to get that last package out. I said please be safe and rain through the misty rain to the desk where I am underpaid and overworked while being way overeducated. The first question I had was why did those other workers in that other state turn down a union. The only place I ever worked as a college instructor that actually paid fairly was solidly unionized and bargained for wages and would get a complaint into the NLB if the negotiations were crap.
The Senator up there is also whining that everyone is being mean to the oil and gas company. I sure hope he is here melting in the “unusual” heat we have going on with everyone else. Maybe he’d like to work a while with the guys trying to clean out the drains before the next “unusually active” hurricane season gets on with it. He needs to hang with those folks working outside to give his Doctor Senator Ass a chance to learn about heat exhaustion.
He’s also against equal pay for equal work and any kind of law that stops racial discrimination or anything else that has nothing to do with getting a job done. All of these things prove that we don’t have the kinds of perfect job markets because according to classical economics (i.e. capitalism) we should all be paid according to our productivity. Sex and Racial discrimination shouldn’t exist but they do which requires some kind of intervention to make the market right. So, the guy hates functional markets. What else can I deduce from his prattle?
Anyway, thanks for coming to my Ted Talk and reading my rant. I’m probably going a bit crazy from the heat and I still have to work today. My employer isn’t interested in my AC issues just that it makes me unfit for service.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
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Photo taken by Lynda Woolard at the NOLA March for Women (scowling dakinikat in background)
Things–unpleasant and dangerous–are beginning to happen that shows we’ve been taken over by the Alt Right and the horrifying historical meaning of “America First”. It’s not just in the speeches any more. Some of today’s executive orders are horrifying and signal to the world we’re a really hostile presence for every one. It makes no difference if you’ve been our friends, allies, or enemies. We’re an agent of chaos on a level heretofore unknown.
Frankly, I believe an economic crisis is on its way sooner than I thought possible. There are several actions that look distinctly like acts of war. The winners for this move are China and Australia if you want to know where to invest your money. Trump is ending free trade. BTW, nutter Bernie is ecstatic. I really don’t think they understand the concept of trade at all.
This will not create US jobs. If anything, it will take away the jobs of those who work for firms that export US goods. As an economist, I cannot stress enough how devastating this will be to the US economy, our geopolitical and geoeconomic standing in the region, and our relations with other nations. Isolationism has never been–historically–a good thing. Additionally, it will not save or re-create US jobs destroyed by technology. For example, it’s only a matter of years before there will be no need for long haul truck drivers. We’re already learning to be our own grocery checkers.
I think the deplorables are going to really be hammered on all of this as well as the rest of working people. What’s needed are unions to offset the self-dealing of Senior Management and excessive dividend programs.
President Donald Trump abruptly ended the decades-old U.S. tilt toward free trade by signing an executive order to withdraw from an Asia-Pacific accord that was never ratified and promising to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“Great thing for the American worker, what we just did,” Trump said on Monday after signing an order withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership accord with 11 other nations. He didn’t sign any actions to direct a renegotiation of the Nafta accord with Mexico and Canada, yet he said on Sunday he would begin talks with the two leaders on modifying the pact.
“We’ve been talking about this a long time,” Trump said
Marching on Saturday with the 3 – 5 million others dampened my despair. I’m still extremely afraid of this insanity. But, it was so wonderful to know so many of us reject his delusions and aspire to create a more perfect union. We are a gumbo. We are a patchwork quilt. We are a jazz riff. We are so much more than Trump’s Narcissism can comprehend, respect, grasp, grok, appreciate, love … please enjoy my pictures of the NOLA March for Women and one other I got caught in by my friend Lynda Woolard who is–in turn–the red head in the photo shown second. I’m scowling at the southern sun just to the right of the Vulva up top.
“We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs,” Mr Trump said in his short, nationalistic speech on Inauguration Day. “Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.”
The TPP withdrawal order was one of three actions taken by the President in his third full day in office. He also ordered a freeze in government hiring and re-imposed a ban on providing federal money to international groups that provide abortions.
Mr Trump has criticised international free trade deals for rewarding companies to outsource work and has attributed the loss of US manufacturing to foreign labour.
The man is insane and has no idea of what he speaks. Seriously, we’re headed to Depression. It’s the 30s all over again.
From the WSJ: U.S. Eyes Michael Flynn’s Links to Russia,Counterintelligence agents have investigated communications by President Trump’s national security adviser, including phone calls to Russian ambassador in late December
A group including former White House ethics attorneys will file a lawsuit on Monday accusing President Donald Trump of allowing his businesses to accept payments from foreign governments, in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
The lawsuit, brought by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, will allege that the Constitution’s emoluments clause forbids payments to Trump’s businesses. It will seek a court order forbidding Trump from accepting such payments, said Deepak Gupta, one of the lawyers working on the case.
Trump does business with countries like China, India, Indonesia and the Philippines, the group noted in a statement.
“When Trump the president sits down to negotiate trade deals with these countries, the American people will have no way of knowing whether he will also be thinking about the profits of Trump the businessman,”
I don’t pretend that I detest the Right Wing and the ideals they champion. That disgust I feel towards Republicans primarily comes from their stance on choice and their War on Women. But…when I see some of the other crap that is coming from the mouths of GOP Representatives and GOP “surrogates” and DINOs, I have to laugh and shake my head and say out loud, “What the fuck?”
Take the three things I have mentioned in the title of this post…here’s a summary of my WTF opinions for you.
First off, the Wife Beating 101 course in being taught by non-other than recent Romney campaign BFF Pat Robertson. Not that this asshole has ever said anything outright misogynistic, racist, hateful shit before (snark)…but this latest comment so soon after appearing with the Republican Nominee for PRESIDENT has to be addressed by Romney, or at least called out by the MSM, for christ’s sakes.
For example, today on the 700 Club’s “Bring It On” segment where viewers ask Robertson questions, one man wondered how he should go about repairing his marriage with a wife who “insults” him and once tried to attack him.
“Well, you could become a Muslim and you could beat her,” Robertson responded. “This man’s got to stand up to her and he can’t let her get away with this stuff,” Robertson continued, “I don’t think we condone wife-beating these days but something has got to be done.”
Reacting to a letter from a viewer who said he’s lost his self confidence due to his wife insulting him, Robertson said Monday: “Well, you could become a Muslim and you could beat her.” He then turned to his female co-host, who seemed to balk at the offhanded remark, and asked: “You don’t want to go to Saudi Arabia?”
“I think this man’s got to stand up to her,” Robertson continued. “He can’t let her get away with this stuff. And, uh, you know, I don’t know… I don’t think we condone wife beating these days, but something’s got to be done to make her…”
“Not physically,” Robertson’s co-host injected. “But I mean, why would she not want to talk through their problems? That’s so…”
The televangelist cut her off. “She is just totally, well, she’s rebellious,” Robertson said. “Chances are she was rebellious with her father and mother, she’s a rebellious child and she doesn’t want to submit to any authority. And she probably had temper tantrums when she was a kid, you know, the little girl, ‘I hate you, I hate you,’ and she wants to slap her father. Well, that’s the same kinda thing.”
“She’s transferred the father now,” he continued. “I hate to say everything’s gotta be some kind of psychological counseling, but that’s the problem. She does not understand authority. When she was growing up, nobody made her behave, and now you’ve got a 13-year-old in a 30-year-old woman’s body. Now, what do you do with that? Well, you can’t divorce her according to scripture. So I say, move to Saudi Arabia.”
Of course, Romney must condone the diarrhea that flows with such force from Roberson’s mouth…but it ain’t like Pat hasn’t spewed before.
In another relationship advice segment from July, Robertson recommended a man “dump” his Muslim girlfriend, calling it “Christ-like” because the Bible prohibits religious inter-marriage. He justified that by saying that Jesus didn’t want Christians to be “nice and friendly” all the time.
You know, here in Banjoville…we have our fair share of Christians who aren’t “Nice and Friendly.” They are outright assholes and since Pat Robertson is obviously a “approved” Romney supporter and surrogate, it seems to me that Mormons can be just as “not” nice and friendly as Christians can. Hypocrisy and hate brought to you by the religious right.
Tea party favorite Rep. Allen West (R-FL) is slamming President Barack Obama for using the word “Forward” as his campaign slogan, insisting that it is an “old Soviet Union, Marxist-Socialist theme.”
“This is about whether we continue to be a republic governed by the Constitution,” West told a Republican Jewish Coalition rally in Boca Raton, Florida on Sunday. “Or will we become a liberal-progressive, bureaucratic, welfare nanny state, which is exactly what the other side wants?”
He continued: “They want to bring out an old Soviet Union, Marxist-Socialist theme for their campaign called ‘Forward’. I have to ask you one simple question. Where is the Soviet Union today?”
After the Obama campaign unveiled its campaign slogan in April, conservative outlets like The Washington Times and Breitbart.com warned that the word had a ties to Marxism.
Well, if there was one “old Soviet Union, Marxist-Socialist” themed “thing” out there…it’s gotta be public transportation. But as that link to C&L pointed out…
“The Obama campaign apparently didn’t look backwards into history when selecting its new campaign slogan — or maybe they did,” Fox Business host Lou Dobbs said at the time. “That’s because ‘Forward’ has a very long history with Marxists and socialists and communists.”
“Forward” is also the motto of Wisconsin, where Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan serves as a congressman.
Across mainstream media and through the megaphone of city government, Chicago public school teachers have been consistently demonized and criticized for everything from self-serving greed, to negligence of their duties, and lack of care and respect for students.
Mayor Emanuel and his hand-picked school board—stacked with millionaires and former charter administrators—along with CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard, have continued to use their dominion over the school system to apply a corporate model of school reform to the Chicago Public Schools.
This type of “reform” has allowed private operators to take control of public schools, undermine the teachers union, close and turn around neighborhood schools rather than invest in them, and over-test students rather than provide them a comprehensive and nurturing education.
Meanwhile the Chicago Teachers Union, numbering nearly 30,000 members, is demanding that CPS cease this drift toward putting control of schools in private hands, and provide the necessary conditions for effective and equal public education—putting the needs of students ahead of corporate and government powerbrokers.
That anyone would be against what these teachers are fighting for is beyond me. (That goes along with my “WTF” attitude to the GOP and their anti-union platform.) However…I do feel that this particular issue in Chicago is key…showing that my disgust does not adhere to party lines. I am equally painting Democrat and Obama supporter/surrogate Rahm Emanuel with my “What the fuck?” brush here. Romney Tries to Bait Obama Over Chicago Teachers Union Strike | FDL News Desk
Mitt Romney is clearly trying to pick a fight over the Chicago Teachers Union strike, and force Barack Obama into making a statement on the issue that will wedge him between his base’s beliefs and his policy preferences, which in this case stand at odds with one another.
I am disappointed by the decision of the Chicago Teachers Union to turn its back on not only a city negotiating in good faith but also the hundreds of thousands of children relying on the city’s public schools to provide them a safe place to receive a strong education. Teachers unions have too often made plain that their interests conflict with those of our children, and today we are seeing one of the clearest examples yet. President Obama has chosen his side in this fight, sending his Vice President last year to assure the nation’s largest teachers union that ‘you should have no doubt about my affection for you and the President’s commitment to you.’ I choose to side with the parents and students depending on public schools to give them the skills to succeed, and my plan for education reform will do exactly that.
The problem with this statement is that the preferences of the teachers and the children are in concert. Larger class sizes in schools without air conditioning have led to classes being taught in 96-degree heat. The 20% longer school day and increased class size and workload on teachers, without renumeration (the 16% proposed increase over four years is less than the 20% increase in class time, especially when you account for inflation), does not serve teachers or students who get less one-on-one face time and dedicated learning opportunities. And because of the revamped teacher evaluation system, based largely on standardized testing, the mostly minority students in Chicago will get taught toward a test biased against them and unable to provide them with the skills needed to survive in a 21st-century job market.
And I completely agree with David Dayen here on this point:
The more important part of this is Romney trying to pick a fight with the President, by putting him squarely on the side of teachers unions, and drawing a false contrast where Romney sides with “parents and students.” He cites a speech given by Vice President Biden at the American Federation of Teachers conference. However, it’s completely unclear where President Obama, were he to weigh in on the CTU strike, would come down. His former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is on the side opposite the union. His DNC convention featured a screening of the right-wing, anti-union film “Won’t Back Down.” His Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, used to be the head of the Chicago Public Schools, and is seen as a leading reformer. His education policy has consistently favored the kind of reform policies that the unions in this case are trying to stop, including charter schools, teacher evaluations based on student testing (though in recent years he has rejected “teaching to the test), longer school days and turnarounds for “failing” schools.
Romney wants to bait Obama into a response to change the subject on an election slipping away from him. He figures that someone will get angered no matter how Obama chooses to respond, seeing as the union/reform split is a contentious one inside the Democratic coalition.
And here I have to agree on the narrow point that I would like a response from the President. I would like to know exactly where he stands on the right to strike, on the idea of teachers being paid commensurate with their time in the classroom, on class sizes and teaching to the test and funneling money meant for public schools into charters. I think it would be quite illuminating.
Yeah, where does Obama stand on this one? I know he is being silent…but it only goes to prove that anyone in politics these day deserve to be questioned…you know…accountability for both Romney and Obama when it comes to their supporters, endorsers and surrogates. I think that when you have silence from both candidates when it comes to the Robertsons, Allens and Emanuels it only proves one thing, they must agree with the opinions of their supporters…and to that I say, “What the Fuck?”
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Hopefully you have woken up to a glorious June morning…wherever you may be. Here in Banjoland, we are expecting rain, which I wish would just hurry up and get here…hearing that rumbling in the distance and feeling the hot humid air outside is getting to be a real drag.
I don’t want to lie to you, this morning’s reads are not lighthearted, there is just too much madness going on in other parts of the world.
Like the distant sounds of thunder, I can feel the pounding of despair in my chest, and not being a loner…I guess I have to share it with you.
If any doubt was left about the power of big money in our politics, the Wisconsin election destroyed it. Charles and David Koch goosed Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign with $10 million through their front group Americans for Prosperity, $1 million through the Republican Governors Association, and more from members of the “million-dollar donor club” of financial titans that meet regularly at Koch-hosted secret summits. Meanwhile, the official campaign of Democratic opponent Tom Barrett raised about $4 million. Is it any wonder that Walker climbed steadily in the polls and ultimately won?
I know that is not news for our readers…but I wanted to connect the horse’s name with the FAIL we saw in Wisconsin.
Euro zone finance ministers agreed on Saturday to lend Spain up to 100 billion euros ($125 billion) to shore up its teetering banks and Madrid said it would specify precisely how much it needs once independent audits report in just over a week.
After a 2 1/2-hour conference call of the 17 finance ministers, which several sources described as heated, the Eurogroup and Madrid said the amount of the bailout would be sufficiently large to banish any doubts.
“The loan amount must cover estimated capital requirements with an additional safety margin, estimated as summing up to 100 billion euros in total,” a Eurogroup statement said.
Egyptian women have been vocal protesters against the post-Mubarak regime, despite continuing sexual harassment at marches and gatherings. Photograph: Amel Pain/EPA
A mob of hundreds of men assaulted women holding a march demanding an end to sexual harassment in Cairo, as attackers overwhelmed male supporters and molested several of the marchers in Tahrir Square.
Some victims said it appeared to have been an organised attempt to drive women out of demonstrations and trample the pro-democracy protest movement.
Earlier in the week, an Associated Press reporter witnessed around 200 men assault a woman who eventually fainted before others came to her aid.
Friday’s march demanded an end to all sexual assaults. Around 50 women participated, surrounded by a larger group of male supporters who joined hands to form a protective ring around them. The protesters carried posters and chanted. After the marchers entered a crowded corner of the square, a group of men waded into the women, heckling them and groping them. The attackers chased the the marchers as they tried to flee. Several women were cornered against railings and groped, according to reports. Eventually, the women found refuge in a nearby building.
“After what I saw and heard today I am furious at so many things.” wrote Sally Zohney, one of the event’s organisers on Twitter.
You remember the image of the woman being stomped on by men back in December? If I say two words, my guess is you will remember…blue bra.
In a defining image of state violence against women, soldiers dispersing a protest in December were captured on video stripping a woman’s top off and stomping on her chest, as other troops pulled her by the arms across the ground. That incident prompted a march by 10,000 women through Cairo.
In contrast, the small size of Friday’s march could reflect the fear felt by women in the square.
“Women activists are at the core of the revolution,” said Ahmed Hawary, who attended Friday’s protest. “They are the courage of this movement. If you break them, you break the spirit of the revolution.”
The unexpected appearance of Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister in the runoff of Egypt’s first post-revolutionary presidential race owes much to support from business tycoons and other backers of the old regime.
The candidate, Ahmed Shafiq, 70, gained enormous popularity during the final stretch of the race by appealing to weary Egyptians’ desire for a return to the stability of the old Egypt. But even some supporters acknowledge that he also drew on money and expertise from a vast network of Mubarak’s former supporters, whose National Democratic Party is now banned.
…Shafiq finished second in the first round of balloting and faces the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi in a presidential runoff next weekend. A victory by Shafiq would be seen as a defeat by many who took part in the wintertime revolution last year that ousted Mubarak.
What kind of revolution is it when the other choice is just as depressing, I am talking about the Muslim Brotherhood:
The Muslim Brotherhood and its political party, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), have condemned the resurrection of the National Women’s Council (NWC) in recent months, arguing that it has no legitimacy in the current political dynamic facing Egypt.
However, the governmental council’s chief Mervat Tallawy, has again lashed back against the conservative Islamic group, accusing it of attempting to undermine women’s rights, including divorce and custody rights.
The Brotherhood has fought back, arguing that the council is a remnant of the Hosni Mubarak era and should be disbanded.
“They are trying to take away rights that women attained in compliance with Islamic sharia,” said Mervat Tallawy, head of the National Council for Women, in comments published by Reuters news agency, adding that criticism of the council was an attempt to erode female rights.
The Brotherhood said in response on its website that the institution was “a weapon of the former regime to break up and destroy families.”
“They do not want a national institution for women,” Tallawy told Reuters in an interview. “They have said that the international (women’s) agreements are imperialistic and part of a foreign agenda.”
At the hastily arranged meeting, Brotherhood representatives promised to meet the demands of Maher and other revolutionary figures in exchange for their endorsement of Mohammed Morsi, the Brotherhood candidate running against Shafik, Maher said. But when he asked for specifics, the negotiations collapsed in what has become an intractable problem for the Brotherhood: It still has not won the endorsement of its candidate from largely secular revolutionaries, even though they loathe the idea that Shafik, Mubarak’s last prime minister, could win.
The back-and-forth negotiations have come to define the period between last month’s first-round balloting and this week’s run-off. Political parties have called their followers into the streets in hopes of recreating the sense of unity that led to the fall of the Mubarak regime. But the elections and the taste of political power has made it difficult, if not impossible, for the parties to unite enough to ensure that a Mubarak holdover doesn’t retake the presidency, this time in a democratic election spurred by their movement.
The disparate revolutionary groups cannot agree on who speaks for them and what they want. And the Brotherhood cannot agree on what it needs to do to win the revolutionary vote.
Bullet-pocked homes and bloodstained walls. Shell casings littering the ground in a ghost town still smoldering from the onslaught.
A United Nations observer team on Friday finally reached the site of Syria’s latest apparent massacre, a now-abandoned farming village where opposition activists accuse pro-government forces of killing dozens of civilians this week in an artillery bombardment and grisly door-to-door executions.
“Young children, infants, my brother, his wife and seven children … all dead,” said a grieving man in a video distributed by the U.N. “I will show you the blood. They burned his house.”
Bullets and shrapnel shells smashed into homes in the Syrian capital overnight, as troops battled rebels in the streets, in the heaviest fighting yet in Damascus. The violence marked an increased boldness among rebels in taking their fight against the regime of President Bashar Assad to the center of his power.
For nearly 12 hours of fighting that lasted into the early hours Saturday, rebels armed mainly with assault rifles fought Syrian forces. U.N. observers said rebels fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the local power plant, damaging parts of it and charring six buses, according to video the observers took of the scene.
Syrian forces showed the regime’s willingness to unleash elevated force in the capital: at least three tank shells slammed into residential areas in the central Damascus neighborhood of Qaboun, an activist said. Intense exchanges of assault-rifle fire marked the clash, according to residents and amateur videos.
At least 42 civilians were killed in violence around the country outside Damascus on Saturday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based activist group. Among them were 20, including nine women and children, who died in heavy, pre-dawn shelling in the southern city of Daraa, where the uprising against Assad began in March 2011. The group’s figures could not be independently confirmed.
In a Daraa mosque, a father stood over his son killed in the shelling, swaddled in a blanket.
“I will become a suicide bomber!” the father shouted in grief, according to an amateur video of the scene.
Later Saturday, tens of thousands of Daraa residents buried the slain from the shelling. They sang, danced and paraded the dead in coffins around a large square, giving the mass funeral the appearance of a mass wedding party, according to footage of the scene.
These people are going through unbelievable trauma and fear, and it is taking it’s toll on the survivors.
“The heart of this revolt is the poor, jobless youth in the countryside. But that is gathering strength in other places, in Aleppo, in Damascus and even the Kurdish regions,” said Syria expert Joshua Landis.
“The psychological state of the people, after watching these massacres, is so far advanced. People are ready to do whatever it takes. They are frightened; it could come next to them.”
Back in the village where the latest massacre occured…
Saturday, U.N. observers in Syria ostensibly to monitor the cease-fire issued the first independent video images from the scene of the reported massacre in Mazraat al-Qubair.
The video, taken in the U.N. visit a day earlier, showed blood splashed on a wall pockmarked with bullet holes and soaking a nearby mattress. A shell punched through one wall of a house. Another home was burnt on the inside with dried blood was splashed on floors.
One man wearing a red-and-white checked scarf to cover his face, pointed at a 2008 calendar adorning a wall, bearing the photo of a lightly-bearded, handsome man.
“This is the martyr,” the resident, sobbing. He sat on the floor, amid strewn colorful blankets, heaving with tears.
It was not immediately clear if he was a resident of the village or related to the man in the photograph.
“They killed children,” said another unidentified resident. “My brother, his wife and their seven children, the oldest was in the sixth grade. They burnt down his house.”
After the observers’ visit, U.N. spokeswoman Sausan Ghosheh said the scene held evidence of a “horrific crime” and that the team could smell the stench of burned corpses and saw body parts strewn around the now deserted village, once home to about 160 people.
She said residents’ accounts of the mass killing were “conflicting,” and that the team was still cross checking the names of the missing and dead with those supplied by nearby villagers.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned the Security Council on Thursday that a full-blown civil war in Syria was “imminent,” while international mediator Kofi Annan said it was time to step up the pressure on Damascus to halt the violence.
“The Syrian people are bleeding,” Ban told reporters after addressing the Security Council. “They are angry. They want peace and dignity. Above all, they all want action.”
“The danger of a civil war is imminent and real,” he said, adding that “terrorists are exploiting the chaos.”
The international deadlock over Syria has, in a dreadful way, provided balm for old grievances in this city. After years of fuming about Western-led campaigns to force leaders from power, Russia has seized the opportunity to make its point heard.
This time, its protests cannot be set aside as they were when NATO began airstrikes in Libya or when Western-led coalitions undertook military assaults in Iraq and Serbia. Instead, the international community has come to Russia’s doorstep.
On Friday, a top State Department official visited Moscow, presumably seeking to persuade the Kremlin to reconsider its stance and contribute to an effort to engineer a transition from the rule of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, a longtime Russian ally. In remarks after the meeting, Russia’s top negotiator was implacable, telling a reporter that Moscow’s position was “a matter of principle.”
Russia has growing concerns about the conflict in Syria, but it will continue to oppose the outside use of force, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.
“The situation in Syria is becoming more alarming,” Mr. Lavrov told a news conference Saturday, during which he pushed Russia’s proposal for an international conference on the crisis. “An impression is being created that Syria is on the verge of a full-scale civil conflict.”
It appears that a couple of Russian citizens where involved in some of the violence last week.
He said two recent attacks had put Russians in the capital, Damascus, in danger: a bus carrying Russian specialists came under fire Saturday, and a grenade attack took place Friday on a building where Russians live. There were no injuries, he said.
Despite growing concerns that the situation may be spinning out of control, Russia, as a member of the United Nations Security Council, “will not sanction the use of force,” he said. Russia has previously blocked proposed U.N. resolutions to impose sanctions on President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Lavrov said Russia’s resistance to intervention is “not because we are protecting Assad and his regime, but because we know that Syria is a complicated multi-confessional state, and because we know that some of those calling for military intervention want to ruin this and turn Syria into a battleground for domination in the Islamic world.”
Well, that should be enough to get the party started…
This week Prince celebrated his 54th birthday…and since he is one of my top 5 favorite musicians, I have to share it with you. Happy 54th Birthday, Prince
Happy Birthday, Prince!
Like the little black dress and kissing in the rain (under an umbrella, lest we muss our hair), his Royal Badness is ageless, timeless and eternally sexy.
As he continues to tour and sell out arena across the land join us in a collective “ow-ah!” to celebrate The Beautiful One’s 54th year!
Many of ALEC’s corporate sponsors have quit funding the organization which seeks to remove oversight and regulation of all kinds of industry, privatize public services and goods, and deprive minority communities and women of basic voting rights and civil rights. They seek tort reform that would limit corporate exposure to liability from unsafe products and practices. They like to remove laws providing consumer protection and information. They are not nonpartisan and are responsible for some of the most heinous, radical legislation of the last few years. Woe to those of you whose governors or legislators belong to this organization for you will live in a world with very little protection from big money and big business and your tax dollars will be used to line their coffers.
The American Legislative Exchange Council describes itself as a nonpartisan champion of free markets. But if you spend some time at an ALEC conference (Bloomberg Businessweek did, for an article last year) you will be hard-pressed to find many Democrats. And when the entire conference meets for lunch, you will hear from the podium nothing that would seem out of place in a press release from Eric Cantor’s office. Last year in New Orleans, for example, Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisana, told an ALEC annual meeting, “Defeating the president is crucial to defending our economy,” and “Obama has been a disaster.” I didn’t hear anyone boo. What I did hear was the sound of fevered applause when the conference played a videotaped greeting from Ronald Reagan.
I’m not saying it’s wrong to feverishly applaud Ronald Reagan. I am saying that only in the most thinly defensible, legalistic sense can ALEC call itself “nonpartisan.” And the council doesn’t really support free markets, either. It supports the companies that fund it. This is an important distinction, because the corporations that donate to ALEC aren’t doing so to protect markets. They’re protecting favored tax treatments and pushing regulations that lock in their market positions. As best as we were able to determine in reporting our piece last year, corporations propose bills at the state level and then push them up to ALEC, which has both corporate and legislative members. ALEC pushes the legislative members to the foreground, stamps the bills as “model legislation,” and then the corporations push them back out to other state legislatures. This may not be the case with all ALEC legislation, but it certainly was with the bill we followed.
So ALEC is not what it says it is. That’s not extraordinary: Few advocacy groups are what they say they are. In ALEC’s case, however, the fingers-crossed-behind-its-back description of itself is definitional. If the American Legislative Exchange Council operated with complete openness, it couldn’t operate at all. ALEC has attracted a wide and wealthy range of supporters precisely because it does its real work in a black box. Membership lists are secret. The origins of the model bills are secret. Deliberations and votes on model bills are secret. The model bills themselves are secret. The council has designed its entire structure to disguise industry-backed legislation as grassroots work from state legislators. If this becomes clear to everyone, there’s no reason for corporations to use it. And that is exactly what has been happening.
Minority advocacy groups have been most active in the fight against ALEC. ALEC is responsible for the legislation that requires specific picture ids to vote and they are responsible for the Stand Your Ground Laws. Both of these issues have been front and center in Civil Rights Groups. The Trayvon Martin case is important in two key ways. First, it is bringing to light the institutional racism implicit in the criminal system. Second, it has exposed the role of ALEC in sneaking through legislature in states that most voters do not support or like. The vigilante-empowering Stand Your Ground laws are now seeing daylight.
The tension in corporate boardrooms over the case is the latest example of the pitfalls companies can sometimes face when they donate to political and lobbying groups, even those that seem safely below the radar of public consciousness.
The ALEC controversy is now sparking a broader debate about corporate participation in politics and the polarized state of political discourse. At a minimum, it has strengthened calls for companies to develop clear policies explaining their spending.
“I would caution companies to be very aware of where their money is going,” says Nell Minow, director of GMI Ratings, which provides corporate governance information to investors, corporate auditors and regulatory agencies. “Companies are going to realize they can take a real reputational hit with this kind of affiliation.”
She and others recall the tempest that erupted in 2010 around Target after the company donated to a nonprofit group supporting a Minnesota gubernatorial candidate who was known for opposing gay rights initiatives.
Legislators in Arizona continue to advance extremist legislation inspired by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and its out-of-state corporate backers, according to a new analysis by People For the American Way Foundation, Common Cause, the Center for Media and Democracy and Progress Now. This report shines a new light on the Arizona Legislature’s unprecedented ties to the secretive organization, which recently drew nationwide fire for its role in implementing radical policies across the country like “Shoot First” laws and voter suppression laws, and anti-worker measures. ALEC’s extreme agenda has recently led companies such as Pepsi, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Wendy’s, KRAFT and Intuit to withdraw from the organization. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Monday also withdrew its support from ALEC.
The comprehensive report found that Arizona’s large concentration of ALEC-member legislators, working hand-in-hand with the corporate leaders who make up ALEC’s membership, are continuing to endorse special interest legislation that harms ordinary people by limiting consumers’ rights, privatizing education and dismantling unions.
The report, ALEC in Arizona: The Voice of Corporate Special Interests in the Halls of Arizona’s Legislature, updated for the Fiftieth Legislature, second regular session is available here.
“Recent polling shows that Arizonans are appalled by the out-of-touch and extremist agenda at their State Legislature. This report shows that agenda is no accident,” said John Loredo, a member of Arizona Working Families and a former Arizona House Minority Leader. “Unfortunately, Arizona has one of the highest concentrations of ALEC legislators in the country, and that makes us a petri dish for anti-worker legislation and a host of other bad ideas.”
“ALEC-member legislators are unabashedly continuing to push legislation straight from corporate headquarters to Arizona’s lawbooks,” said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President at People For the American Way Foundation. “Well-heeled special interests are circumventing the democratic system and bypassing Arizona’s citizens, who can’t match the level of access that ALEC provides. As a result, Arizonans are facing an endless assault from laws that serve the interests of the rich and powerful instead of everyday people.”
$375,858 received from Koch foundations 2005-2010 [Total Koch foundation grants 1997-2010: $708,858]
American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is one-stop shopping for state elected officials interested in perusing the wares of an array of Koch-funded opposition organizations including IER, ACCF, Mercatus and other sources. ALEC has successfully peddled corporate-written legislation to numerous states attacking the Kyoto Protocol, undermining climate science education in schools and numerous other anti-environmental legislation. ALEC has close ties to Koch Industries, which helped bail the organization out of financial troubles with a half-million dollar grant.
ALEC publishes its own materials as well, including a “Climate Change Overview for State Legislators” which downplays the science and risks of global warming and exaggerates the costs of addressing it. The Overview was written by Daniel Simmons, who moved from ALEC to become AEA’s Director of State Affairs. Simmons was at the Mercatus Institute before ALEC and is a graduate of the George Mason University School of Law.
ALEC’s most ambitious and strategic push toward privatizing education came in 2007, through a publication called School Choice and State Constitutions, which proposed a list of programs tailored to each state. That year Georgia passed a version of ALEC’s Special Needs Scholarship Program Act. Most disability organizations strongly oppose special education vouchers—and decades of evidence suggest that such students are better off receiving additional support in public schools. Nonetheless, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Florida, Utah and Indiana have passed versions of their own. Louisiana also passed a version of ALEC’s Parental Choice Scholarship Program Act (renaming it Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence), along with ALEC’s Family Education Tax Credit Program (renamed Tax Deductions for Tuition), which has also been passed by Arizona and Indiana. ALEC’s so-called Great Schools Tax Credit Program Act has been passed by Arizona, Indiana and Oklahoma.
ALEC’s 2010 Report Card on American Education called on members and allies to “Transform the system, don’t tweak it,” likening the group’s current legislative strategy to a game of whack-a-mole: introduce so many pieces of model legislation that there is “no way the person with the mallet [teachers’ unions] can get them all.” ALEC’s agenda includes:
§ Introducing market factors into teaching, through bills like the National Teacher Certification Fairness Act.
§ Privatizing education through vouchers, charters and tax incentives, especially through the Parental Choice Scholarship Program Act and Special Needs Scholarship Program Act, whose many spinoffs encourage the creation of private schools for specific populations: children with autism, children in military families, etc.
§ Increasing student testing and reporting, through more “accountability,” as seen in the Education Accountability Act, Longitudinal Student Growth Act, One-to-One Reading Improvement Act and the Resolution Supporting the Principles of No Child Left Behind.
§ Chipping away at local school districts and school boards, through its 2009 Innovation Schools and School Districts Act and more. Proposals like the Public School Financial Transparency Act and School Board Freedom to Contract Act would allow school districts to outsource auxiliary services.
ALEC is also invested in influencing the educational curriculum. Its 2010 Founding Principles Act would require high school students to take “a semester-long course on the philosophical understandings and the founders’ principles.”
Perhaps the Brookings Institute states the mission most clearly: “Taken seriously, choice is not a system-preserving reform. It is a revolutionary reform that introduces a new system of public education.”
The passage of radical public school defunding in Louisiana is leading to a recall Jindal effort. We’ve already had some of this type of reform in New Orleans and it’s clearly not working well at all unless you count teacher union busting and lowering teacher salaries progress. Here are some of the things we will now be suffering in Louisiana. I personally am opposed to the state funding religious indoctrination hiding under the guise of education. These laws funnel public money into any thing that deems itself a school, it seems.
A vast expansion of charter schools, an overhaul of teacher tenure and establishment of a statewide program to pay private school tuition with public dollars moved within one step of final passage Thursday, as the Louisiana Senate Education Committee endorsed the headliner components of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s education agenda without changes or dissent.
I know this thread wanders around through many topics but the number of right wing bills pressured cooked into law by ALEC and their toadies is just as wandering and perverse. Check out the site and be aware of which politicians supposedly representing the people of your state that are ALEC cronies. The movement to get corporations to defund the organization should be paramount. Ordinary Americans have already lost a lot to their agenda. It’s time to stop them. Put pressure on organizations to join in the effort. Let’s defang this beast together.
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The Sky Dancing banner headline uses a snippet from a work by artist Tashi Mannox called 'Rainbow Study'. The work is described as a" study of typical Tibetan rainbow clouds, that feature in Thanka painting, temple decoration and silk brocades". dakinikat was immediately drawn to the image when trying to find stylized Tibetan Clouds to represent Sky Dancing. It is probably because Tashi's practice is similar to her own. His updated take on the clouds that fill the collection of traditional thankas is quite special.
You can find his work at his website by clicking on his logo below. He is also a calligraphy artist that uses important vajrayana syllables. We encourage you to visit his on line studio.