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Undernews: October 1, 2011

Column – Undernews

When they telling you that you’re rebelling against them in the wrong way, you’re winning United Steelworkers support protest List of credit unions for when you’re ready to leave your greedy bank Protests spread across the country BBC update Wall …

Undernews: October 1, 2011

Since 1964, the news while there’s still time to do something about it

THE PROGRESSIVE REVIEW

Occupying Wall Street

FRIDAY DEMONSTRATION

When they telling you that you’re rebelling against them in the wrong way, you’re winning

United Steelworkers support protest

List of credit unions for when you’re ready to leave your greedy bank

Protests spread across the country

BBC update

Wall Street readies attack on Elizabeth Warren

AFL-CIO chief lends support

Guardian report

Sit in at Boston Bank of America

Teamsters support protest
Major NYC protest Oct 5
List of demands
How to send food and supplies to protesters
Occupations across U.S.

Pocket paradigms

People who complain about progressives are like the man from Virginia who went to college on the GI Bill and bought his first house with a VA loan. When a hurricane struck he got federal disaster aid. When he got sick he was treated at a veteran’s hospital. When he was laid off he received unemployment insurance and then got a SBA loan to start his own business. His bank funds were protected under federal deposit insurance laws. Now he’s retired and on social security and Medicare. The other day, however, he got so mad that he climbed into his car, drove the federal interstate to the railroad station, took Amtrak to Washington and went to Capitol Hill to ask his congressman to get the government off his back. – Sam Smith

NYTimes still mocking Wall Street protestors (but then it also supported the Vietnam war)

NY Times – The hodgepodge Lower Manhattan encampment known as Occupy Wall Street has no appointed leaders, no expiration date for its rabble-rousing stay and still-evolving goals and demands. Yet its two weeks of noisy occupation has lured a sturdily faithful and fervent constituency willing to express discontentment with what they feel is an inequitable financial system until, well, whenever.

When they tell you that you’re rebelling against them in the wrong way, you’re winning

Sam Smith – When the media started lambasting the Occupy Wall Street crowd for not conducting their revolt in the right way, I felt a rare surge of optimism. I couldn’t recall the media engaged in this particular form of insincerity since the 1960s, when, among other things, an establishment reporter on Meet the Press detailed why the anti-war movement wasn’t doing its job right. I remember thinking that was a little like a drunk in a bar instructing someone on how to give up alcohol. The reason this sort of absurdity is a good sign is because it indicates a recognition on the part of the establishment that they may be losing the substantive battle and are turning in desperation instead to matters of style. To assume that one’s opponents will take sartorial advice from you is one more sign that you’ve been hanging around the elite too long.

Gawker – The Occupy Wall Street protesters ¬ who the New York Times and other such venues had told me were too vague, too in need of glitzy PowerPoint presentations with concrete goals, too poorly dressed, too busy playing drums, too hypocritical because they used “computers” and other modern products, too middle-class, and in general too gross to sustain any interest for more than a few days, therefore making it not worth doing ¬ have persevered long enough to convince veteran reinforcements to join them next week. Interesting!

A hitherto dormant establishment of New York labor and community groups signed on to the protest today and announced they’d join the dirty fucking spoiled computer-wielding scumbucket hippie monsters in a solidarity march next Wednesday. Crain’s explains why they’ve now decided to rush to Occupy Wall Street’s side ¬ they were being shown up, basically:
Some of the biggest players in organized labor are actively involved in planning for Wednesday’s demonstration, either directly or through coalitions that they are a part of. The United Federation of Teachers, 32BJ SEIU, 1199 SEIU, Workers United and Transport Workers Union Local 100 are all expected to participate. The Working Families Party is helping to organize the protest and MoveOn.org is expected to mobilize its extensive online regional networks to drum up support for the effort.

“We’re getting involved because the crisis was caused by the excesses of Wall Street and the consequences have fallen hardest on workers,” a spokesman for TWU Local 100 said.

Community groups like Make the Road New York, the Coalition for the Homeless, the Alliance for Quality Education and Community Voices Heard are also organizing for Wednesday’s action, and the labor/community coalitions United New York and Strong Economy For All are pitching in as well.

List of credit unions for when you’re ready to leave your greedy bank

From Daily Kos:

CREDIT UNION LISTINGS
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
Washington, D.C.
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

OTHERS
Navy Federal Credit Union
Guam
Puerto Rico
U.S. Virgin Islands

Republicans who hate everyone but themselves slash the budget

Think Progress – House Republicans yesterday released their draft budget proposal for labor, health, and human service, which in one fell swoop revives the assault on all their favorite bugaboos, including Planned Parenthood, National Public Radio, the National Labor Relations Board, and President Obama’s health care reform law. The GOP also targeted heat subsidies that prevent low-income families from freezing in the winter, and slashed education funding by $2.4 billion. The bill also eliminates the Administration’s “Race to the Top” education reform program and reduces eligibility for Pell Grants for low-income college students.

Perhaps most surprisingly for a party that claims to be focused on job creation, the GOP budget reduces funding for job training programs that give the unemployed the skills they need to find work in an ailing economy:

Beatles helped the civil rights movement

BBC – The Beatles showed their support for the US civil rights movement by refusing to play in front of segregated audiences, a contract shows. Signed by manager Brian Epstein, it specifies that The Beatles “not be required to perform in front of a segregated audience”. The agreement also guarantees the band payment of $40,000

What’s really happening to Medicare?

An excerpt of the best analysis of proposed Medicare cuts we’ve seen

Maggie Mahar, Health Beat – President Obama’s newest proposal for reducing the federal deficit would slice Medicare reimbursements to drug-makers, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, home health services and teaching hospitals. Using figures from the non-partisan and highly respected Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, these are groups that Medicare often overpays. Some skilled nursing facilities turn an 18 percent profit on Medicare patients while reimbursements to home health agencies have consistently and substantially exceeded costs.

By and large, these recommendations make sense, and could help throw a spotlight on excesses in Medicare spending. But I very much doubt that either Congress or the Super Committee charged with addressing the deficit will embrace the President’s proposals in these areas. The lobbies that represent drug-makers, our most prestigious academic medical centers and three health care industries that have been taken over by for-profit companies (skilled nursing facilities, rehab centers and home health service agencies) can write the checks that help swing elections.

President Obama’s plan also targets future retirees, asking them to shoulder a larger share of Medicare’s costs. Specifically, starting in 2017. . .

In the aggregate, these changes are, as the President has said, “modest.” But the impact on individual low-income and middle-income individuals could threaten their access to care. The problem is that as of 2009, Medicare households were already spending an average of $4,620 on health care, more than twice what non-Medicare households spent, according to the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation.

Medicare beneficiaries are projected to lay out as much as a quarter of their income on health care in 2020, up from around a sixth now. “Some have the impression that seniors are quite wealthy and could afford more premiums,” says Tricia Neuman, director of the Medicare Policy Project at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “The numbers tell a different story.”

Median income for women over 65 now stands at roughly $15,000. Half earn less. That $15,000 includes income from all sources: Social Security, wages, self-employment, pensions, government assistance, and investment income. As of 2010, the Current Population Survey shows that households headed by someone over 65 reported $31,400 in joint income.

Even relatively affluent seniors are hardly rich. Singles over 65 who earn as little as $33,000 rank among the wealthiest 20 percent. . . .

At one time, the notion of shifting Medicare costs to seniors was considered a third-rail proposal. But these days, conservatives have stoked the intergenerational wars, and many younger Americans resent the “entitlements” that their elders receive, especially because deficit hawks assure them that after spending a lifetime supporting wizened boomers, they will never receive a penny of Social Security or Medicare themselves.

Thus, even a Democratic President is willing to open the door to more cost-sharing. Unfortunately, experience shows that cost-shifting tends to lead to more cost-shifting¬once an initial barrier is overcome, it’s just so easy to continue. At what point will Medicare become unaffordable for middle-class seniors? At what point will wealthier Americans who are asked to pay climbing premiums rebel, and decide to drop out of all or part of the program?

Yet when compared to more Draconian solutions¬such as giving 80-year-olds vouchers and letting them fend for themselves in a for-profit insurance market¬President Obama’s recommendations seem mild. This may explain why many progressives appear willing to accept what I see as another step on a slippery slope that, ultimately, could destroy Medicare.

We are the 99%

Today’s theological question

Word

Those on the streets around Wall Street are the physical embodiment of hope. They know that hope has a cost, that it is not easy or comfortable, that it requires self-sacrifice and discomfort and finally faith. They sleep on concrete every night. Their clothes are soiled. They have eaten more bagels and peanut butter than they ever thought possible. They have tasted fear, been beaten, gone to jail, been blinded by pepper spray, cried, hugged each other, laughed, sung, talked too long in general assemblies, seen their chants drift upward to the office towers above them, wondered if it is worth it, if anyone cares, if they will win. But as long as they remain steadfast they point the way out of the corporate labyrinth. This is what it means to be alive. They are the best among us. -Chris Hedges

Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Wednesday that he would be willing to pay for drug tests for the Florida lawmakers who voted to drug test welfare recipients. “Interestingly, the governor’s pee-in-the-cup mandate doesn’t apply to the one bunch that whizzes away more tax dollars than anyone else . . . I say line up all 160 of ‘em for a patriotic whiz-fest at the Capitol clinic. You think more than 2.5 percent might test positive? Let’s find out. And I’ll pay for it out of my own pocket. Seriously.”

Recovered history

Tip to mainstream media that can’t figure out what OccupyWallSt is all about

What Perry aides are up to

Contradictions in sworn statements about Rick Perry’s fundraising for his 2006 reelection bid raise questions about whether aides to the Texas governor… gave false or misleading testimony under oath. At issue were the circumstances surrounding a $1 million contribution to the campaign, and whether the Republican Governors’ Association, which paid out the funds, was used as a conduit to camouflage their true origin.

Internet sightings (on Google+)

Ben Walen – Despite all the people who are claiming they are on the move from FB to G+, this place still looks like a ghost town to me.

Dan Thul – It’s all about the similes/metaphors. Google+ is a post-apocalyptic wasteland after the zombies ate the last of the survivors, rebuilt their own zombie civilization then got wiped out by some hostile alien species that hated zombies for some reason.

The abuse of testing in Chicago schools

From testimony before a Chicago Board of Education meeting

Good morning. My name is Sharon Schmidt. I am the editor of Substance, the Chicago newspaper that covers public education. I am a step-parent of a Chicago public high school graduate. My husband and I have two children who attend a Chicago public elementary school. I am a high school teacher and the chairperson of the Chicago Teachers Union testing committee. . .

CPS is administering an excessive number of tests. Not only are you using the federal and state required tests, ACCESS for English Language Learners, the multi-test ISAT, the EXPLORE, PLAN, ACT and Work Keys (which you administer to high school students several times each year) there are other series of tests you administer multiple times a year to students, from pre-K through 12th grade. The Kindergarten Readiness Test, mClass math, DIBELS, Scantron Performance Series are common from pre-K through 9th grade, but in some schools you administer even more, such as benchmark assessments, KLT, MAP, Riverside Achieve Data, Step, and additional area-created, 5-week assessments. Our students are bombarded with tests, multiple times a year. . . .

“You’re experimenting with our children, administering test after test, obsessively gathering data. But our children are not lab mice or test tube specimen. Extracting data hurts them. Each test takes away from academic, social, and emotional learning that they should be getting in school. The tests stifle their curiosity and love of learning. Then you harm our children with your overemphasis on test scores (which are just comparisons with other children) giving our children two odious choices: “I’m better than others,” or “I’m worse than others.” Of course your testing experiment hits our most disadvantaged students the hardest. You test our poorest students in segregated schools the most.”

Word

Those on the streets around Wall Street are the physical embodiment of hope. They know that hope has a cost, that it is not easy or comfortable, that it requires self-sacrifice and discomfort and finally faith. They sleep on concrete every night. Their clothes are soiled. They have eaten more bagels and peanut butter than they ever thought possible. They have tasted fear, been beaten, gone to jail, been blinded by pepper spray, cried, hugged each other, laughed, sung, talked too long in general assemblies, seen their chants drift upward to the office towers above them, wondered if it is worth it, if anyone cares, if they will win. But as long as they remain steadfast they point the way out of the corporate labyrinth. This is what it means to be alive. They are the best among us. – Chris Hedges

Obama thinks he has the right to kill you if he wants

Glenn Greenwald, Salon – It was first reported in January of last year that the Obama administration had compiled a hit list of American citizens whom the President had ordered assassinated without any due process, and one of those Americans was Anwar al-Awlaki. No effort was made to indict him for any crimes (despite a report last October that the Obama administration was “considering” indicting him). Despite substantial doubt among Yemen experts about whether he even has any operational role in Al Qaeda, no evidence (as opposed to unverified government accusations) was presented of his guilt. When Awlaki’s father sought a court order barring Obama from killing his son, the DOJ argued, among other things, that such decisions were “state secrets” and thus beyond the scrutiny of the courts. He was simply ordered killed by the President: his judge, jury and executioner. When Awlaki’s inclusion on President Obama’s hit list was confirmed, The New York Times noted that “it is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing.”

After several unsuccessful efforts to assassinate its own citizen, the U.S. succeeded today (and it was the U.S.). It almost certainly was able to find and kill Awlaki with the help of its long-time close friend President Saleh, who took a little time off from murdering his own citizens to help the U.S. murder its. The U.S. thus transformed someone who was, at best, a marginal figure into a martyr, and again showed its true face to the world. The government and media search for The Next bin Laden has undoubtedly already commenced.

Revisiting “Silent Spring”

Tim Radford, Guardian, UK – In 1962,, already dying of cancer, [Rachel Carson] published Silent Spring. If you had to choose one text by one person as the cornerstone of the conservation movement, the signal for politically savvy environmental activism, and the beacon of worldwide lay awareness of ecological systems, Silent Spring would be most people’s clear choice. Its impact was immediate, far-reaching and ultimately life-enhancing: it earned her a posthumous presidential medal and put her face on the 17 cent US postage stamp. It also earned her sustained vitriolic assault from the chemical industry and a claim from a former US Secretary of Agriculture that (because she was unmarried) she was “probably a communist”: this, in a McCarthyite world, was almost the ultimate in character assassination. . . .

Why I remember “Silent Spring”

Sam Smith

Next year it will have been fifty years since the publication of “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson. To me this is far than an historical marker. I came to environmentalism not thanks to the depth of redemption nor the sincerity of conversion but through simple genetic happenstance. My parents started an organic beef farm in Maine in the late 1950s and some years before the publication of Silent Spring successfully sued the Central Maine Power Company for using pesticides to clear the brush away from their electric lines. As a result of that suit, to this day the power company may not spray anyone’s property in Maine who requests that it not do so. I was at my parents’ home when my father – a lawyer himself – contacted six of the top lawyers in the state to see if they would take the case. All six were on retainers from the Central Maine Power Company and said no. Thus it was that the town lawyer, Paul Powers, won the case.

I grew up thinking the Holy Trinity was Adel Davis, Robert Rodale and Louis Bromfield and while, as a callow teenager, I refused to drink carrot juice and would sometimes accuse my parents of being agricultural Christian Scientists, it all eventually took hold. After all, it is hard not to become environmentally conscious when one’s mother reacts to the appearance in her house of a simple can of insect repellent as though it were a pipe bomb.

The farm, Wolfe’s Neck Farm, is now a non-profit operation visited by a couple of thousand children every year and runs a day camp for about 400 more, along with its agricultural activities. I am the only member of the board who has, over the years, been both chair and spread manure on the fields, which I can assure you is of a sort much preferable to the metaphorical variety that occupied me while covering Washington.

PS: Years later, I found in my mother’s copy of Bromfield’s Malibar Farm two magazine clippings, reviews of Bromfield’s and Carson’s books, both published in the New Yorker. The discovery brought a wave of optimism. After all, if a magazine in the world’s largest city could have understood what was happening to the land so early, there’s still hope for all of us.

What Perry aides are up to

Contradictions in sworn statements about Rick Perry’s fundraising for his 2006 reelection bid raise questions about whether aides to the Texas governor… gave false or misleading testimony under oath. At issue were the circumstances surrounding a $1 million contribution to the campaign, and whether the Republican Governors’ Association, which paid out the funds, was used as a conduit to camouflage their true origin.

Internet sightings (on Google+)

Ben Walen – Despite all the people who are claiming they are on the move from FB to G+, this place still looks like a ghost town to me.

Dan Thul – It’s all about the similes/metaphors. Google+ is a post-apocalyptic wasteland after the zombies ate the last of the survivors, rebuilt their own zombie civilization then got wiped out by some hostile alien species that hated zombies for some reason.

Headline of the day

Welfare Poor Aren’t Big Druggies, But Boeing Workers Sure Are!

A reason to stay away from Washington state

The state will soon keep tabs on everyone who buys over-the-counter cold medicine. Consumers’ personal information will be stored in an electronic database that will also send real-time alerts to police. One the change takes effect, any time you buy an over-the-counter cold medicine, the state Department of Health will store your personal information in an electronic database.

The men behind America’s economic meltdown

Robert Scheer, Huffington Post – Bernanke, along with then-New York Fed President Timothy Geithner, helped implement the Bush strategy of saving the banks in the hope that their rising tide would lift our little boats. That remained the strategy when President Obama rewarded Geithner for having saved AIG and Citigroup by naming him treasury secretary in the incoming government.

With the Geithner appointment, and the even more disturbing selection of Lawrence Summers to be his top economic adviser, Obama sealed his own fate as president. By turning to those disciples of Clinton-era Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, a prime enabler of Wall Street greed, the new president fatally betrayed his promise of hope.

If you still need confirmation of just how decisive a betrayal those appointments were, check out Ron Suskind’s new book, “Confidence Men,” a devastating insider account of the Obama White House that clearly identifies as the source of this president’s failure “Rubin’s B-Team,” Summers and Geithner, “two men whose actions had contributed to the very financial disaster they were hired to solve.” Suskind quotes then-Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., one of the few who dared stand up to the Wall Street lobbyists, as telling Obama, “I don’t understand how you could do this; you’ve picked the wrong people!”

Of course the Democrats from the Clinton era don’t bear all of the responsibility for the radical deregulation of the financial industry that ended the sensible restraints on greed installed by Franklin Roosevelt in response to the Great Depression. Indeed, the inspiration came from Republicans led by Phil Gramm, the then-senator from Texas who as head of the Banking Committee authored the legislation that Wall Street lobbyists had long pushed unsuccessfully.

The mayhem they wrought and the subsequent big-money rewards to Rubin and Gramm do not seem to have shocked this president or the leading contenders for the Republican presidential nomination. Rubin became chairman of Citigroup and was rewarded with $120 million while he guided the bank to the edge of bankruptcy. Gramm went to a leading position at the Swiss-based UBS, the continually troubled institution now in the midst of its latest scandal, involving fraudulent trading. In addition to a $45 billion direct TARP bailout, Citigroup got $99.5 billion, and Gramm’s UBS $77.2 billion from a $1.2 trillion secret Fed loan fund.

Gramm and Rubin were partners in what should be considered the crime of the century, speaking in moral and not legal terms since, as regards the financial world, the bad guys get to write the laws. Thanks to their efforts, which allowed the creation of the “too-big-to-fail banks” and a totally unregulated derivatives market in toxic home mortgage securities, we entered the Great Recession, but neither of its authors has ever been held seriously accountable for the enormous suffering he caused.

On the contrary, Gramm and Rubin’s “just free Wall Street to do its thing” ideology still dominates the economic policies of both major political parties. Rubin’s acolytes have controlled the Obama administration’s economic strategy of saving Wall Street by betraying Main Street, and Gramm, who recently endorsed his former student at Texas A&M, Rick Perry, for president, remains the free-market-mayhem guru for Republicans. On Election Day, whoever wins, we lose.

With the Geithner appointment, and the even more disturbing selection of Lawrence Summers to be his top economic adviser, Obama sealed his own fate as president. By turning to those disciples of Clinton-era Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, a prime enabler of Wall Street greed, the new president fatally betrayed his promise of hope. . .

Of course the Democrats from the Clinton era don’t bear all of the responsibility for the radical deregulation of the financial industry that ended the sensible restraints on greed installed by Franklin Roosevelt in response to the Great Depression. Indeed, the inspiration came from Republicans led by Phil Gramm, the then-senator from Texas who as head of the Banking Committee authored the legislation that Wall Street lobbyists had long pushed unsuccessfully.

The mayhem they wrought and the subsequent big-money rewards to Rubin and Gramm do not seem to have shocked this president or the leading contenders for the Republican presidential nomination. Rubin became chairman of Citigroup and was rewarded with $120 million while he guided the bank to the edge of bankruptcy. Gramm went to a leading position at the Swiss-based UBS, the continually troubled institution now in the midst of its latest scandal, involving fraudulent trading. In addition to a $45 billion direct TARP bailout, Citigroup got $99.5 billion, and Gramm’s UBS $77.2 billion from a $1.2 trillion secret Fed loan fund. . .

Gramm and Rubin’s “just free Wall Street to do its thing” ideology still dominates the economic policies of both major political parties. Rubin’s acolytes have controlled the Obama administration’s economic strategy of saving Wall Street by betraying Main Street, and Gramm, who recently endorsed his former student at Texas A&M, Rick Perry, for president, remains the free-market-mayhem guru for Republicans.

Morning Line: the Obamacare bomb

The best thing that Democrats should do now is to admit that they screwed up with Obamacare, separate out the good parts and then promise to revisit the bad ones, including the unconstitutional individual mandate and the sections that have 26 states upset enough to go to court. All ideology aside, the bill was one of the worst of the past half century in its needless complexity, lack of political wisdom, and unanticipated consequences. It will be a major loser for the Dems next year. A bunch of process psychopaths, technocrats, overlawyers and data demons are to blame, and for the Democrats to waste time defending the measure in its entirety is major masochism.

Already there are signs of the bill’s inability to cure the nation’s healthcare problems, things like companies dumping health plans and the cost of individual health policies rising. Add to that the states’ unhappiness with an expanding Medicaid and federal intereference in their state workers’ health plans and you have a major political problem that would be foolish just to try to talk your way out of.

The best recovery – before a Supreme Court decision that settles the matter anyway – is for Democrats to promise to review the contentious parts and do just that – beginning now. An honest, if belated, compromise could save them a lot of votes.

GOP senator talks up war with Pakistan

Unsilent Generation – South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a leading figure on the Senate Armed Services Committee, talked openly on “Fox News Sunday” about the possibility of war with Pakistan. As usual, it was couched in terms like “elevate our response” and “put all options on the table”–but he was clearly referring to military action.

“The sovereign nation of Pakistan is engaging in hostile acts against the United States and our ally Afghanistan that must cease,” Graham said. “I will leave it up to the experts, but if the experts believe that we need to elevate our response, they will have a lot of bipartisan support on Capitol Hill.”

“They’re killing American soldiers,” he continued. “If they continue to embrace terrorism as a part of their national strategy, we’re going to have to put all options on the table, including defending our troops.”

Why the Kochs Want to Make Chris Christie President

Adele M. Stan, AlterNet – When Texas Gov. Rick Perry, currently the frontrunner in the Republican presidential nomination contest, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made a pilgrimage in June to a Colorado gathering of wealthy right-wing donors convened by billionaires Charles and David Koch, one man clearly impressed the brothers much more than the other.

Introducing Christie, who delivered the keynote address to the Koch Industries gathering, David Koch gushed. “With his enormous success in reforming New Jersey, some day we might see him on a larger stage where, God knows, he is desperately needed,” said Koch, according to secretly recorded audio files of the event obtained by Brad Friedman of the Brad Blog. . .

With a talent for bluster, Christie blew into office in 2009 on a narrow victory, and set about to right New Jersey’s budget woes on the backs of public employees — cutting the state’s funding for municipal public safety costs and its contribution to local education budgets, while instituting a cap on the property taxes imposed by municipalities. He suggested that municipalities opt out of the civil service system altogether. And he demanded a rollback of an unfunded increase in the pension payouts to retired state employees, as well as a raise in the retirement age.

He’s best known, however, for his battle with the teachers’ unions, and the hand badly played by local labor leaders who never expected the governor to take the battle to YouTube, in videos of combative town hall meetings, in suburbs that lay beyond the state capital of Trenton, in which teachers were made to look unreasonably demanding in an economy that was spiraling downward. Christie’s cuts ultimately resulted in the layoffs of some 10,000 teachers in the nation’s most densely populated state. But Christie’s bullying manner against the teachers and their unions played brilliantly to the rage felt by middle-class whites who felt they were getting a raw deal in a bad economy, when compared with public-sector workers.

Word: Dissin’ dissent

Glenn Greenwald, Salon – Some of this anti-protest posturing is just the all-too-familiar New-Republicish eagerness to prove one’s own Seriousness by castigating anyone to the left of, say, Dianne Feinstein or John Kerry; for such individuals, multi-term, pro-Iraq-War Democratic Senator-plutocrats define the outermost left-wing limit of respectability. Also at play is the jingoistic notion that street protests are valid in Those Bad Countries but not in free, democratic America.

A significant aspect of this progressive disdain is grounded in the belief that the only valid form of political activism is support for Democratic Party candidates, and a corresponding desire to undermine anything that distracts from that goal. Indeed, the loyalists of both parties have an interest in marginalizing anything that might serve as a vehicle for activism outside of fealty to one of the two parties (Fox News’ firing of Glenn Beck was almost certainly motivated by his frequent deviation from the GOP party-line orthodoxy which Fox exists to foster).

The very idea that one can effectively battle Wall Street’s corruption and control by working for the Democratic Party is absurd on its face: Wall Street’s favorite candidate in 2008 was Barack Obama, whose administration — led by a Wall Street White House Chief of Staff and Wall-Street-subservient Treasury Secretary and filled to the brim with Goldman Sachs officials — is now working hard to protect bankers from meaningful accountability; one of Wall Street’s most faithful servants is Chuck Schumer, the money man of the Democratic Party; and the second-ranking Senate Democrat acknowledged — when Democrats controlled the Congress — that the owners of Congress are bankers. . .

Pocket paradigms

You meet alot of process people in Washington. They’re like vehicles without a drive belt. They make a lot of noise; they just can’t go anywhere. Getting things done is now a radical act. Then there are the virtual people. They only exist as images of themselves. Talking to one of them is like watching a bad cable show without a zapper. Some scientists believe that at the rate things are going, process people and virtual people will eventually evolve into species reproductively incompatible with the rest of us. There are already reports of process people and real people mating and producing only sterile offspring ~ a sort of mule that understands all the main policy points. – Sam Smith

Teens using confoms less

LA Weekly – A majority of teenagers are now having sex sans protection, according to a survey publicized by the International Planned Parenthood Foundation.

Teenagers having sex without condoms rose from 38 percent in 2009 to 53 percent in 2011.

Jennifer Woodside of Planned Parenthood:

.. Too many young people either lack good knowledge about sexual health, do not feel empowered enough to ask for contraception or have not learned the skills to negotiate contraceptive use with their partners to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies or STIs (sexually transmitted infections).

The study found similar results in Europe and Asia. In France non -condom-using teens went from about 1 in 5 in 2009 to 2 out of 5 today. Oui. More than three out of five Thai teens go al fresco nowadays.

Top 100 banned or challenged books of the past decade

1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
9. ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series), by Myracle, Lauren
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
11. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
12. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
13. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
15. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
16. Forever, by Judy Blume
17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
18. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
19. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
20. King and King, by Linda de Haan
21. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
22. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
23. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
24. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
25. Killing Mr. Griffen, by Lois Duncan
26. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
27. My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier
28. Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
29. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
30. We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
31. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
32. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
33. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
34. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
35. Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
36. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
37. It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris
38. Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles
39. Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
40. Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank
41. Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
42. The Fighting Ground, by Avi
43. Blubber, by Judy Blume
44. Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
45. Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly
46. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
47. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby, by George Beard
48. Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez
49. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
50. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
51. Daughters of Eve, by Lois Duncan
52. The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
53. You Hear Me?, by Betsy Franco
54. The Facts Speak for Themselves, by Brock Cole
55. Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green
56. When Dad Killed Mom, by Julius Lester
57. Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause
58. Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going
59. Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
60. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
61. Draw Me A Star, by Eric Carle
62. The Stupids (series), by Harry Allard
63. The Terrorist, by Caroline B. Cooney
64. Mick Harte Was Here, by Barbara Park
65. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
66. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor
67. A Time to Kill, by John Grisham
68. Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
69. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
70. Harris and Me, by Gary Paulsen
71. Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park
72. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
73. What’s Happening to My Body Book, by Lynda Madaras
74. The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
75. Anastasia (series), by Lois Lowry
76. A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
77. Crazy: A Novel, by Benjamin Lebert
78. The Joy of Gay Sex, by Dr. Charles Silverstein
79. The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss
80. A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
81. Black Boy, by Richard Wright
82. Deal With It!, by Esther Drill
83. Detour for Emmy, by Marilyn Reynolds
84. So Far From the Bamboo Grove, by Yoko Watkins
85. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, by Chris Crutcher
86. Cut, by Patricia McCormick
87. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
88. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
89. Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissenger
90. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle
91. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
92. The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
93. Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard
94. Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine
95. Shade’s Children, by Garth Nix
96. Grendel, by John Gardner
97. The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
98. I Saw Esau, by Iona Opte
99. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
100. America: A Novel, by E.R. Frank

Furthermore. . .

List of things confiscated from people visiting the British parliament

A report from the overseer of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which bailed out banks in 2008, says the banks sped up their repayment schedules, and the U.S. Treasury Department let them, because both sides just wanted to be done with the whole thing already — with at least Bank of America admitting because they wanted to pay executives more.

Minneapolis best biking town

Interesting background on Herman Cain

Rick Santorum got (as opposed to earned) $239k from Fox News for his appearances on the network

From 1947 to 1979 family income of the bottom 20% went up 116% and those in the top 20% went up 99%. . . Between 1980 and 2009, the bottom 20% went up 15% while the top 20% went up 95%

It’s a scary indicator of our times to find a group like Al Qaeda producing a magazine like something the Mad Men might have come up with. It even quotes Colin Powell and Tom Friedman and tells Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to knock off the crap about Bush causing 9/11 (taking credit away from the bin Laden crowd). . . “So we may ask the question: why would Iran ascribe to such a ridiculous belief that stands in the face of all logic and evidence?”

Illinois cops abuse man for filming their arrest

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