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Archive for the ‘America’ Category

Traded away for a make-believe economy, the real US economy is dead

Posted by kelliasworld on July 18, 2009

By Paul Craig Roberts
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Online Journal link to article

Jul 17, 2009, 00:16

There is no economy left to recover. The US manufacturing economy was lost to offshoring and free trade ideology. It was replaced by a mythical “New Economy.”

The “New Economy” was based on services. Its artificial life was fed by the Federal Reserve’s artificially low interest rates, which produced a real estate bubble, and by “free market” financial deregulation, which unleashed financial gangsters to new heights of debt leverage and fraudulent financial products.

The real economy was traded away for a make-believe economy. When the make-believe economy collapsed, Americans’ wealth in their real estate, pensions, and savings collapsed dramatically while their jobs disappeared.

The debt economy caused Americans to leverage their assets. They refinanced their homes and spent the equity. They maxed out numerous credit cards. They worked as many jobs as they could find. Debt expansion and multiple family incomes kept the economy going.

And now suddenly Americans can’t borrow in order to spend. They are over their heads in debt. Jobs are disappearing. America’s consumer economy, approximately 70 percent of GDP, is dead. Those Americans who still have jobs are saving against the prospect of job loss. Millions are homeless. Some have moved in with family and friends; others are living in tent cities.

Meanwhile the US government’s budget deficit has jumped from $455 billion in 2008 to $2,000 billion this year, with another $2,000 billion on the books for 2010. And President Obama has intensified America’s expensive war of aggression in Afghanistan and initiated a new war in Pakistan.

There is no way for these deficits to be financed except by printing money or by further collapse in stock markets that would drive people out of equity into bonds.

The US government’s budget is 50 percent in the red. That means half of every dollar the federal government spends must be borrowed or printed. Because of the worldwide debacle caused by Wall Street’s financial gangsterism, the world needs its own money and hasn’t $2 trillion annually to lend to Washington.

As dollars are printed, the growing supply adds to the pressure on the dollar’s role as reserve currency. Already America’s largest creditor, China, is admonishing Washington to protect China’s investment in US debt and is lobbying for a new reserve currency to replace the dollar before it collapses. According to various reports, China is spending down its holdings of US dollars by acquiring gold and stocks of raw materials and energy.

The price of one-ounce gold coins is $1,000 despite efforts of the US government to hold down the gold price. How high will this price jump when the rest of the world decides that the bankruptcy of “the world’s only superpower” is at hand?

And what will happen to America’s ability to import not only oil, but also the manufactured goods on which it is import-dependent?

When the oversupplied US dollar loses the reserve currency role, the US will no longer be able to pay for its massive imports of real goods and services with pieces of paper. Overnight, shortages will appear and Americans will be poorer.

Nothing in Presidents Bush and Obama’s economic policy addresses the real issues. Instead, Goldman Sachs was bailed out, more than once. As Eliot Spitzer said, the banks made a “bloody fortune” with US aid.

It was not the millions of now homeless homeowners who were bailed out. It was not the scant remains of American manufacturing — General Motors and Chrysler — that were bailed out. It was the Wall Street banks.

According to Bloomberg.com, Goldman Sachs’ current record earnings from their free or low cost capital supplied by broke American taxpayers has led the firm to decide to boost compensation and benefits by 33 percent. On an annual basis, this comes to compensation of $773,000 per employee.

This should tell even the most dimwitted patriot who “their” government represents.

The worst of the economic crisis has not yet hit. I don’t mean the rest of the real estate crisis that is waiting in the wings. Home prices will fall further when the foreclosed properties currently held off the market are dumped. Store and office closings are adversely impacting the ability of owners of shopping malls and office buildings to make their mortgage payments. Commercial real estate loans were also securitized and turned into derivatives.

The real crisis awaits us. It is the crisis of high unemployment, of stagnant and declining real wages confronted with rising prices from the printing of money to pay the government’s bills and from the dollar’s loss of exchange value. Suddenly, Wal-Mart prices will look like Nieman Marcus prices.

Retirees dependent on state pension systems, which cannot print money, might not be paid, or might be paid with IOUs. They will not even have depreciating money with which to try to pay their bills. Desperate tax authorities will squeeze the remaining life out of the middle class.

Nothing in Obama’s economic policy is directed at saving the US dollar as reserve currency or the livelihoods of the American people. Obama’s policy, like Bush’s before him, is keyed to the enrichment of Goldman Sachs and the armament industries.

Matt Taibbi describes Goldman Sachs as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentless jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.” Look at the Goldman Sachs representatives in the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations. This bankster firm controls the economic policy of the United States.

Little wonder that Goldman Sachs has record earnings while the rest of us grow poorer by the day.

Paul Craig Roberts [email him] was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan’s first term. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He was awarded the Legion of Honor by French President Francois Mitterrand. He is the author of Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider’s Account of Policymaking in Washington; Alienation and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice. Click here for Peter Brimelow’s Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.
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And when high energy costs make it too expensive to get our manufactured goods from slaves in Asia or Central America, then what? –K.R.

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Posted in America, Economics | 8 Comments »

Gov and MSM Articles on Mexican Swine Flu

Posted by kelliasworld on April 26, 2009

Centers for Disease Control

Swine Influenza (Flu)

Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza that regularly cause outbreaks of influenza among pigs. Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans, however, human infections with swine flu do occur, and cases of human-to-human spread of swine flu viruses has been documented. See General Information about Swine Flu.

From December 2005 through February 2009, a total of 12 human infections with swine influenza were reported from 10 states in the United States. Since March 2009, a number of confirmed human cases of a new strain of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection in the U.S. and internationally have been identified. An investigation into these cases is ongoing. For more information see Human Swine Flu Investigation.

General Information about Swine Flu
Questions and answers and guidance for treatment and infection control

Human Swine Flu Investigation April 26, 2009 11:30 ET
Information about the investigation of human swine flu in the U.S.

CDC Health Advisory April 25, 2009, 3:00 EST (03:00 PM EDT)
Investigation and Interim Recommendations: Swine Influenza (H1N1)
Distributed via Health Alert Network
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Note: as of Sunday Morning 4/26, the count is 81 dead 1,000 sickened in Mexico; 0 dead 20 sickened in US — KR
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US DECLARES PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY AS SWINE FLU SPREADS

(CNN) — The United States government declared a public health emergency Sunday as the number of identified cases of swine flu in the nation rose to 20.
A couple kisses through their masks at the Historic Center in Mexico City on Saturday.

The declaration is part of a “standard operating procedure” that will make available additional government resources to combat the virus, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said at the White House.

Additional cases of swine flu are expected to be reported in the coming days, added Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

No one has died in the U.S. from swine flu, officials said Sunday.

In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said eight students at St. Francis Prepatory School in Queens have tested positive for swine flu. More than 100 students at the school were absent with flu-like symptoms last week, he said.

State public health officials in Ohio confirmed one case of swine flu on Sunday. There have been seven confirmed cases in California, two in Kansas, and two in Texas, Besser said.

The World Health Organization advised all countries to be on the lookout for “unusual” outbreaks of flu, after an emergency meeting Saturday as the seriousness of the outbreak became clear.

By Sunday, 81 deaths in Mexico had been deemed “likely linked” to swine flu. Viral testing has confirmed 20 cases, said Dr. Jose A. Cordova Villalobos, Mexico’s health secretary.

In Mexico City, the massive downtown Cathedral of Mexico City was open but Masses were not scheduled. Dozens of worshippers put on masks and went inside the church anyway to pray on their own.

The H1N1 strain of swine flu is usually associated with pigs. When the flu spreads person-to-person, instead of from animals to humans, it can continue to mutate, making it a tougher strain that is harder to treat or fight off.

Symptoms of swine flu include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, coughing, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, according to the CDC. Learn more about swine flu and how to treat it »

President Obama recently returned from a trip to Mexico, but has not shown any signs of flu-like symptoms, the White House said.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the outbreak “is of great concern to the White House,” and Obama is receiving regular briefings on the issue.

“I would tell people it’s certainly not a time to panic,” Gibbs told reporters. “If you’re sick, stay home, get treatment, go see a doctor.” But he added, “The government is taking all the steps it needs to and must do to take the precautions to deal with whatever size and scope we may be facing.”

In New Zealand, officials said 22 students and three teachers back from a three-week-long language trip to Mexico may have been infected with the swine flu virus.

The 25 students and teachers at Auckland’s Rangitoto College returned to New Zealand via Los Angeles on Saturday.

Fourteen have shown flu-like symptoms, with four “more unwell than others,” said Dr. Julia Peters, clinical director of Auckland Regional Public Health Service. It is not clear whether anyone else who was on the plane with them has shown signs of the disease.

Health Minister Tony Ryall said 10 students tested positive for influenza A. The specimens will be sent to WHO to determine whether it is H1N1 swine influenza.

H1N1 influenza is a subset of influenza A. The WHO results are expected back by midweek. The group remains quarantined at home.

“It certainly has not been confirmed that they have swine flu,” said Dr. Craig Thornley of Auckland Regional Public Health Service. “We already have provisional information that some of the group have influenza A. We won’t know if they have the type of influenza A that is swine flu.”

A British Airways crew member developed flu-like symptoms during a flight from Mexico City to London and was tested for swine flu, but the results came back negative.

“I can confirm that the patient doesn’t have swine flu,” said Jonathan Street, a spokesman for Northwick Park Hospital in north London. “We have done all tests, and they all came back negative.”

The flight attendant is back at work, British Airways told CNN.

Britain is not putting travel restrictions in place, according to British Airways and Heathrow airport operator BAA, and the country’s Port Health Authority has no reason for concern over swine flu, BAA said.

The Mexico Tourist Board said Saturday there are no restrictions on travel to the country.

In Israel, doctors are running tests on a man who recently returned from Mexico with light flu symptoms.

U.S. health officials said Friday that some cases of the virus in the United States matched samples of the deadly Mexican virus.

All the patients have recovered or are expected to.

The panic over the virus prompted Canada to issue a travel health notice, saying the public health agency was “tracking clusters of severe respiratory illness with deaths in Mexico.”

South Korea said it will test airline passengers arriving from the United States. Japan will convene a Cabinet meeting Monday to develop measures to block entry of the virus into the country.

The United States has not issued any travel warnings or quarantines.

But US Airways said Saturday it would allow passengers to change plans if they wanted to because of the outbreak.

Airline spokeswoman Michelle Mohr said it was not asking people not to travel to Mexico, but wanted to “give them that flexibility” if “they don’t feel comfortable.”

Gregory Hartl of the World Health Organization said the strain of the virus seen in Mexico is worrisome because it has mutated from older strains.

“Any time that there is a virus which changes … it means perhaps the immunities the human body has built up to deal with influenza might not be adjusted well enough to deal with this new virus,” Hartl said.

Mexico City has closed all of its schools and universities until further notice because of the virus.

CNN’s Saeed Ahmed, Raja Razek, Phillip Warrington, Paul Vercammen and Ted Rowlands contributed to this report.

MORE CASES OF SWINE FLU REPORTED; W.H.O. WARNS OF HEALTH EMERGENCY.

(CNN) — A potentially deadly new strain of the swine flu virus cropped up in more places in the United States and Mexico on Saturday, in what the World Health Organization called “a public health emergency of international concern.”
Women wearing masks wait at a health clinic Saturday in Mexico City.

The most recent reports Saturday afternoon were of two confirmed cases of the virus in Kansas — bringing the number of confirmed U.S. cases to 11.

Those joined nine confirmed cases in Texas and California and an apparent outbreak at a private school in New York City, where officials say eight children likely have the virus.

By Saturday night, health officials in Mexico said 81 deaths there were “likely linked” to the swine flu.

Dr. Jose A. Cordova Villalobos, Mexico’s Secretary of Health, said viral testing has confirmed 20 cases of swine flu across the country.

President Felipe Calderon on Saturday issued an executive decree detailing emergency powers of the Ministry of Health, according to the president’s office.

The order gives the ministry with the authority to isolate sick patients, inspect travelers’ luggage and their vehicles and conduct house inspections, the statement said.

The government also has the authority to prevent public gatherings, shut down public venues and regulate air, sea and overland travel.

The WHO’s Gregory Hartl said the strain of the virus seen in Mexico is worrisome because it has mutated from older strains.

“Any time that there is a virus which changes … it means perhaps the immunities the human body has built up to dealing with influenza might not be adjusted well enough to dealing with this new virus,” Hartl told CNN.

In Mexico, otherwise young and healthy people have been hit by the virus — “one of the pieces of the puzzle that is worrying us,” he said.

Mexico City has closed all of its schools and universities because of the virus, and the country’s National Health Council said all Saturday’s soccer games would be played without public audiences. Video Watch an alarmed Mexico City react with face masks, cancellations »

WHO has sent experts to Mexico at the request of the country’s government, Chan said.

All of the U.S. patients have recovered or are expected to. Two of the border cases were in Texas, near San Antonio, and seven of the cases were in southern California, the CDC said.

More than 1,300 people with flu-like symptoms have been admitted to hospitals in Mexico, and officials are trying to determine how many of those patients have swine flu, the country’s health minister, Cordova said.

U.S. health officials said Friday that some cases of the virus matched samples of the deadly Mexican virus.

On Saturday, New York’s Bureau of Communicable Diseases said preliminary tests from a Queens school suggest that eight out of the nine children tested probably have the swine flu virus.

Dr. Don Weiss said up to 200 students at the school reported feeling ill.

He said the samples will be sent to the CDC in Atlanta, Georgia, to determine the subtype of the strain. The results could be known as early as Sunday.

“What’s concerning about this is, first, that it’s likely swine flu; second is that at this time it is spreading from person to person,” said New York City health Commissioner Thomas Frieden.Video Watch news conference with NYC health department spokesman »

When the flu spreads person to person, instead of from animals to humans, it can continue to mutate, making it a tougher strain that is harder to treat or fight off.

The infected people in Kansas are a man who had recently traveled to Mexico and his wife, officials said. Neither of them was hospitalized, said Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips, director of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The United States had not issued any travel warnings or quarantines by Saturday evening.

The Canadian Public Health Agency had issued a travel health notice, saying, “The Public Health Agency of Canada is tracking clusters of severe respiratory illness with deaths in Mexico.”

Symptoms of swine flu include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, coughing, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, the CDC said.

Besser advised people with flu-like symptoms to stay home from work or school and to see a doctor.

CNN’s Mayra Cuevas, Ann Curley, Caleb Hellerman, Elaine Quijano and Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.

Posted in America, Pandemic, Science, Terrorism | 3 Comments »

Ill From Food? Investigations Vary by State

Posted by kelliasworld on April 20, 2009

New York Times Original Content
April 20, 2009

By GARDINER HARRIS

In just about every major contaminated food scare, Minnesotans become sick by the dozens while few people in Kentucky and other states are counted among the ill.

Contaminated peanuts? Forty-two Minnesotans were reported sick compared with three Kentuckians. Jalapeño peppers last year? Thirty-one in Minnesota and two in Kentucky became ill. The different numbers arise because health officials in Kentucky and many other states fail to investigate many complaints of food-related sickness while those in Minnesota do so diligently, safeguarding not only Minnesotans but much of the rest of the country, as well.

Congress and the Obama administration have said that more inspections and new food production rules are needed to prevent food-related diseases, but far less attention has been paid to fixing the fractured system by which officials detect and stop ongoing outbreaks. Right now, uncovering which foods have been contaminated is left to a patchwork of more than 3,000 federal, state and local health departments that are, for the most part, poorly financed, poorly trained and disconnected, officials said.

The importance of a few epidemiologists in Minnesota demonstrates the problem. If not for the Minnesota Department of Health, the Peanut Corporation of America might still be selling salmonella-laced peanuts, Dole might still be selling contaminated lettuce, and ConAgra might still be selling dangerous Banquet brand pot pies — sickening hundreds or thousands more people.

In these and other cases, epidemiologists from Minnesota pinpointed the causes of food scares while officials in other states were barely aware that their residents were getting sick. From 1990 to 2006, Minnesota health officials uncovered 548 food-related illness outbreaks, while those in Kentucky found 18, according to an analysis of health records.

The surveillance system is vital because even with reforms intended to prevent outbreaks, food-related disease will remain among the most common sources of illness. One-quarter of the nation’s population is sickened every year by contaminated food, 300,000 are hospitalized and 5,000 die, and decades of steady improvements in the safety of the nation’s food supply have ended in recent years.

“The longer it takes you to nail an outbreak, the more people are going to get sick,” said Dr. David Acheson, associate commissioner for foods at the Food and Drug Administration. “And if it’s a pathogen that causes death, the more people are going to die.”

With states cutting back in the face of budget crises, disease surveillance is worsening, several officials said.

“Just $50 million spread over the entire country would make a huge difference,” said Dr. Timothy Jones, the state epidemiologist in Tennessee.

Take the case of Lauren Threlkeld, who went to a Kroger grocery store in Lexington, Ky., in August 2007 and bought a bag of Dole baby spinach contaminated with E. coli O157. She became violently ill with bloody diarrhea and was hospitalized for nearly a week.

When Ms. Threlkeld finally went home to recuperate in Madisonville, Ky., a county health worker called only to verify that she had fallen ill in another county. No one asked about the foods she had eaten or what might have made her so ill, she said. Later efforts by her lawyer pinpointed the source of her illness — far too late to help others avoid similar fates.

Dr. William D. Hacker, the public health commissioner in Kentucky, blamed tight budgets. “We have had a historically poor record of reporting” food-borne illnesses, Dr. Hacker said. “We are working hard to change our culture even with limited resources.”

In Minnesota and a few other states, victims of food-related illnesses tell very different stories. Sarah Kirchner of Belle Plaine, Minn., said health workers called her three separate times and spent hours discussing her children’s diet almost immediately after a laboratory test verified that one had fallen ill with salmonella. Officials in Minnesota traced the outbreak to peanut butter in part because of Ms. Kirchner’s responses.

“There is no question that some states take this far more seriously than others,” Dr. Acheson said.

Even when county and state health departments investigate, their methods often differ so greatly that federal officials have difficulty uncovering patterns. This leads to terrible delays.

“Everybody does things differently, even within many states,” Dr. Acheson said. “It’s a huge challenge.”

Some delay is inevitable. Most people sickened by food do not bother to see a doctor. Many of those who do are not asked to provide a stool sample, and when asked, some refuse.

When patients are willing, laboratories may not be. In Utah, for instance, only 18 of the state’s 1,388 medical laboratories process stool tests, said Dr. Pat Luedtke, director of the Utah public health laboratory. Well-meaning doctors who wish to send stool samples sometimes must pay the postage because insurers often refuse to pay for a test that largely serves a public health function; many doctors do not bother.

By the time public health officials notice that a growing number of such samples carry the same genetic fingerprint — a clear sign that a popular food is contaminated — weeks have passed. By then, victims’ memories of what they ate have faded. So rapid and thorough responses by health officials, a rarity in many states, are crucial.

“I’ve learned in the last few months that the real secret to our success is that we have urgency,” said Dr. Kirk Smith, supervisor of the food-borne diseases unit for the Minnesota Department of Health.

Dr. Acheson of the F.D.A. said federal authorities had been meeting with state health officials to seek ways to improve the surveillance system, including standardizing menu questionnaires and improving response times. But he said more federal financing was crucial.

Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s division of food-borne diseases, said the agency planned immediate investments “to increase the capacity of several health departments.”

Ruth Ann Merrick of Somerset, Ky., said she was still bitter about how her case was handled. She went with friends to a local Chinese restaurant on June 26, 2004. Within 45 minutes, she was vomiting so violently that she passed out and her heart stopped. After her husband performed C.P.R., she was taken to Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital, where she remained in intensive care for four days.

Although four of the eight people in her party were sickened, the state never investigated, she said.

“I thought I was going to die,” Ms. Merrick said.
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Food safety is one of those situations where the Federal government needs to set standards that represent the floor of protection, so that everyone, regardless of where they live, gets a certain level of investigation, transparency and protection. But then the states should be able to provide an even higher standard if they wish. Think that is too much of a problem for the multi-state food distributor? Not if the distributor fulfills the highest standard instead of the lowest. — K.R.

Posted in America, Economics, Food | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Health Care Poll

Posted by kelliasworld on March 29, 2009

Courtesy of Bia Winter and OpEd News

Posted in America, Health Insurance | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Five reasons why Americans won’t resist

Posted by kelliasworld on March 27, 2009

Commentary

By Mickey Z.
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Mar 27, 2009, 00:10

Protest (American, definitely not a verb): Wait for UFPJ or ANSWER to stage a parade (I mean, demonstration) on a weekend afternoon so no one misses work or school or in any way disrupts the flow of commerce. Don’t make a sign; the organizers will make one for you. March in an orderly fashion, be polite to the occupying army (I mean, cops), and be sure to stay in designated free speech zones. Blame the Republicans. Wear costumes. Make puppets. Exclude anarchists. Hold a candlelight vigil. Sign a petition. Chant. Vote for a Democrat and hope for change. Need I continue?

With the stakes never higher than they are now, why aren’t activists ramping up the pressure and looking beyond tactics that are allowed by those in power?

Here are my five guesses:

1. We are trained to believe that nothing major is wrong. Global warming? Economic meltdown? Epidemics of preventable diseases? Slavery, genocide, ecocide? You name it and we’re ready to downplay it. We’re Americans, goddammit, we’ll figure out a way to fix it. When the going gets tough, we’ll call the experts.

2. We are trained to leave it to experts. Rather than worry our little heads over why more than 100 plant and animal species go extinct each day, we rely on experts. Instead of learning what a “collateralized debt obligation” is and how it contributed to the current economic depression, just let the professionals handle the mess. Besides, such delegation frees up much more time to watch TV and update our Facebook pages.

3. We are trained to embrace nonviolence. All the real heroes would never raise a fist in anger: Jesus, MLK, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, etc. Sure, the government and its corporate owners are taking away all our rights and all our money. They’re poisoning our air, water, and food while crafting laws that make prison a looming possibility, but the moment we contemplate anything more than a nonviolent response, we become worse than any of them. Ain’t that right?

4. We feel too damn privileged to risk prison (or worse). The average Gaza resident doesn’t have the luxury of wondering if their resistance could result in arrest and thus perhaps ruin their reputation. The average American? Well, that’s a different story. I can’t defy insane laws designed to squash protest. I might get arrested and that means close proximity to all those scary criminals and it also means hurting my chances of landing a good job and maybe even losing all my respectable friends. I mean, I’m an activist and all but that’s asking way too much. Who do you think I am, Mandela?

5. We’re fuckin’ cowards. Our acquiescence in a disturbingly broad range of areas — access to health care, tolerance for voting irregularities, directly funding the Israeli war machine, stomaching the groupthink behind saluting a flag, etc. etc. etc. — appears to have no limits. Americans love to talk the talk about being fearless and tough but when ordered to remove our shoes before going through airport security, it’s “yes sir” all the way.

We know things have passed the proverbial tipping point and that immediate action is 100 percent needed and justified, but we’re far too spineless to do anything that might get us in trouble. Somehow, it’s more terrifying for any of us to face down a cop than it is to contemplate the total destruction of our earthly ecosystem.

If it’s true that action expresses priorities, we American activists aren’t overly concerned about the future.

We now return to our regularly scheduled slate of left-wing articles . . .
Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net .

——–
I think the last effective demonstration in America was Seattle ’99. when the meeting of the World Trade Organization was shut down, and mainstream America finally found out what the WTO was. Yes, these permitted weekend parades, planned months in advance to commemorate an anniversary like the invasion of Iraq, just seem to be so much theater of the absurd. — K.R.

Posted in America, First Amendment | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

More info about H.R. 875 – ‘Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009’

Posted by kelliasworld on March 26, 2009

Since my readers have shown great interest in this bill, here are a few more sources of information.

Read the bill through the Thomas resource of the Library of Congress.

Download a PDF of H.R. 875.

It is a long bill. Here are some tips on what to look for if you don’t have time to read it all. This article also suggests actions you can take.

Find out how to contact your representative at House.gov

BTW, in the Senate, it is called S. 425. Check the status of the Senate bill on Thomas.

Posted in America, Environment, Food | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

President Obama: Hypocrite and Hater on Single Payer Health Care

Posted by kelliasworld on March 26, 2009

Original Article

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
“…the Obama Administration’s emerging health care plan is expected to be based upon a model that has failed multiple times, most recently in Massachusetts”

Obama likes to say that the insurance industry employs tens or hundreds of thousands, and we cannot just displace them. That’s hating. But his advisers know perfectly well that single payer health care insurance would create 2.6 million new jobs, after allowing for the 440,000 insurance company jobs it would do away with a fact detailed in the groundbreaking report issued earlier this year by the National Nurses Organizing Committee. Instead, in the spirit of a dishonest hater, Obama has tried to ban from public forums any discussion of the single payer health care option, despite the fact that it has massive support among the people who voted for him. That is hypocrisy.

When the Obama campaign asked for house meetings across the nation on health care, the option suggested most often was indeed single payer. So you didn’t hear much of anything about the outcomes of those meetings. If that’s not dishonest hating on single payer health care it’s hard to imagine what is.

Instead, the Obama Administration’s emerging health care plan is expected to be based upon a model that has failed multiple times, most recently in Massachusetts, which includes “individual mandates” requiring people above a certain income level to purchase private insurance or face a fine, and provides some kind of care at subsidized rates to those with the lowest incomes. A recent study by physicians at Harvard Medical School meticulously exposes the predictable failure of the Massachusetts Plan live up to any of its promises, and explains succinctly why no “individual mandate” which subsidizes private insurance companies should be a model for any national health care plan.

It’s called “Massachusetts’ Plan” A Failed Model for Health Care Reform”, and you can find it online here. In it, Drs. Rachel Narden, David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler, all of Harvard Medical School deliver a withering assessment of the plan’s failure, and explain why it must not be a model for any national health care plan worthy of the name.

These are the key features of the Massachusetts Plan upon which Obama’s health care plan is modeled.

1. Subsidized private insurance is made available for the poorest at reduced or no cost through a state agency.
2. Unsubsidized private insurance at controlled costs was to be made available for those who made a little more.
3. As with automobile insurance, those not qualifying for subsidized insurance would be fined ($912 a year in 2008, $1,068 in 2009, collected with your state income tax) for failing to purchase insurance.
4. Employers were required to pay $295 a year for each employee they didn’t give health insurance to.
5. To control costs, funds to pay for the program were taken from the existing pool that previously financed “safety net” care for the poor and uninsured, leaving many with fewer options and less care than was available before the “reform.”

But the subsidized health insurance policies available to the poor in Massachusetts often covered fewer services than they were already receiving under previously existing conditions, and the greater the “income” of these poor people, the lower the subsidy and higher the deductibles. Under the Massachusetts Plan, the subsidies vanish altogether when one makes 300% of the ridiculously low Federal Poverty Level — about $31,000 per year.

Despite the fines for persons who fail to buy health insurance under the so-called “individual mandate” plans, many remain uninsured because coverage is simply not affordable.
“…the reform law specifically exempts uninsured families from fines if no affordable private plan is available. About 79,000 Massachusetts uninsured residents received this exemption in 2007, which excused them from fines, but left them uninsured.

“The private insurance plans available through the Commonwealth Choice program can be extremely expensive. According to the Connector website (accessed December 29, 2008 at http://www.mahealthconnector.org) the cheapest plan available to a middle-income 56-year-old now costs $4,872 annually in premiums alone. However, if the policy holder becomes sick, (s)he must pay an additional $2,000 deductible before insurance kicks in. Thereafter the policy holder pays 20% co-insurance (i.e. 20% of all medical bills) up to a maximum of $3,000 annually ($9,872 in total annual costs including premium, deductible and co-insurance). A need for uncovered services (e.g. physical therapy visits beyond the number covered) would drive out-of pocket costs even higher. It is not surprising that many of the state’s uninsured have declined such coverage.”

How can someone making $31,000 a year pay $90 a week in premiums alone, plus $20% of all medical bills up to $3,000 if they get sick? Is calling this “reform” even the least bit honest? Or is it hypocrisy?
The study makes the point again and again that access to health insurance is not the same as access to health care. A full third of every health care dollar is already diverted to private insurance companies. The Massachusetts Plan, and the emerging Obama Plan seem intended to preserve this cut for private insurers, even at the expense of needed care. “…(T)he new inssurance policies that replced the (previous) free care system require co-payments for office visits and prescriptions, which are difficult for many low income patients to pay…” says the study, hence patients suffering from HIV-AIDS and other chronic conditions have had to reduce doctor visits or skip their meds due to the high co-payments that the “reform” required.

The report outlines how the advocates of these private insurance industry endorsed versions of health care reform have lied in state after state where this has been tried — in Oregon, Maine, Vermont, Tennessee and elsewhere. We encourage our readers to download and read it, at only 18 pages, as an antidote to whatever form of “individual mandate” health plan is finally proposed by the Obama Administration.

Plans of this type have not lowered overall health care costs, either. They provide no incentive to tone down the over-reliance on expensive techniques and specialists, and produce more primary care physicians, the doctors who provide day to day, person to person coverage. Obama’s offer to “let’s computerize medical records” as a cost-saving procedure sounds nice, but falls flat. Most of the unnecessary paperwork is between care givers, hospitals and insurers with a vested interest in saying no to this or that treatment, test, or medicine.

During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama declared we should judge his first term by whether, under his leadership, the nation finally enacted national health care system that takes care of everybody and lowers the cost of health care. Now we are in the middle of a completely foreseeable economic crisis caused in part by many of the people who are advising the president. Single payer health care has come to the fore as a viable means to create 2.6 million new jobs, a proposal that Obama’s advisors neither address nor discuss.

Sixty days into his presidency, the clock is ticking. Lofty rhetoric and lawyerly evasions are giving way to actual policies, many of them deeply disappointing to the people who campaigned and voted for this president. It looks like national health care for everybody is a dream, that if left up to this president and his advisers, will be deferred again. The question is, should we leave it up to them at all?

Bruce Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He is based in Atlanta GA and can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.
________
We can’t displace all the people who work in the health insurance industry? Sure we can. If businesses weren’t burdened with health insurance costs, maybe they could afford to hire the displaced workers. If not, let those workers RETRAIN, like so many other workers in other industries have been told to do. What is so sacred about the jobs in the health insurance industry? Nothing. Because it’s not the secretaries, data entry clerks and other day-to-day workers Obama really cares about. It’s the fat cat executives with hefty salaries whom he is trying to protect.

As for the argument that people have to buy auto insurance so they should also have to buy health insurance, I say that there are alternatives to driving. If you cannot afford auto insurance, you can take the bus, or train, or bike, or walk, or get a ride from another driver. The alternative to unaffordable health insurance is uninsurance, possibly a fine if you live in Massachusetts, and no care, or lack of timely care, if you are trying to not incur the bills. If an emergency occurs and you are forced to incur the bills, you then face a year or more of financial stress, harassment, collections and ruined credit. — K.R.

Posted in America, Economics, Health Insurance, Obama | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Tomgram: Robert Eshelman, The Other War on Workers

Posted by kelliasworld on March 20, 2009

Original Article on Tom Dispatch

posted 2009-03-19 11:07:12

A.I.G. is, of course, back in the news — and how! Not that it was ever too far off the radar screen. Having received yet one more massive infusion of federal tax dollars, as everyone from here to hell now knows, the insurance giant handed out yet another round of lucrative bonuses. Over the last year, company management has doled out about $1 billion in such payments, roughly half to employees in the financial products subsidiary that concocted the type of high-risk, highly-leveraged deals in derivatives which helped send the company, and Wall Street, and most of the rest of us into steep decline last year.

Bonuses went to 418 employees, 73 “retention bonuses” of $1 million or more each to members of that subsidiary (including 11 who have left the firm) to help “unravel” the deals they created. How’s that for an A.I.G. mea culpa to the taxpayers and the newly unemployed who officially “own” 80% of the company (which might well be 80% of next to nothing)?

Meanwhile, there’s been a drumbeat of headlines about mass layoffs of public employees. In California, more than 26,000 public school teachers were given notice last Friday that they might not have jobs next year. An additional 15,000 school bus drivers, janitors, and administrators might be in the same boat. Unions turned members out across the state for “Pink Slip Friday” protests.

In Michigan, Pontiac’s school board voted to lay off every one of the district’s more than 600 employees. In both cases, officials claim that not all those who received notices will, in fact, be laid off, yet such notifications speak to the enormity of the problem that local and state governments face. Nobody, of course, asks schoolteachers and bus drivers to stay on (with lucrative bonuses) to unravel the crises they created. Oh, maybe that’s because, unlike A.I.G.’s traders, they didn’t do anything wrong.

The insurance giant isn’t the only company feeling its oats in bad times, however. As journalist Robert Eshelman suggests below, while mass layoffs are grabbing headlines — and for good reason — businesses may have opened up a new front in the war on labor, hiding behind horrific economic news the way an advancing army might use a smoke screen.

How big is the problem? Well, we just don’t know. As newspapers continue to disappear or scale back — the Washington Post recently did in its stand-alone business section — the reporters that remain on the economic beat may not be paying enough attention to a war against workers that lurks just below the surface of the headlines. Tom

The Secret War Against American Workers
The Unemployment Story No One Notices
By Robert S. Eshelman

Juanita Borden, 39 and jobless, patiently waits as her r�sum� methodically works its way, line by line, through a fax machine at a state-run job center in downtown Philadelphia. Lying open before her on a round conference table is a neatly organized folder. “This is my r�sum� and everywhere I’ve been faxing to. This is how I keep track of what day I’ve sent them on, so I can call and check back,” she says, leafing through pages of fax cover sheets. “I usually give five business days before I inquire whether or not they’ve received it and whether or not they’re interested.”

Juanita was fired last October, when her employer found out that her driver’s license — a job requirement — had expired. “It was only a matter of twenty-six dollars. I was under the impression that it expired in November of ’08, but it was actually November of ’07, and because I hadn’t been driving I wasn’t aware of it.” The one occasion on which she was required to drive, though, she couldn’t, and that was all her employer needed to fire her for failing to fulfill her employment responsibilities. She has since renewed her license and says with an air of futility, “I’d like to have my job back if they would give it to me.”

She hasn’t been asked back and, despite her persistent efforts, she hasn’t received a single call from a prospective employer either. “The good thing,” she says, remaining remarkably buoyant despite her misfortune, “is that usually when I interview I get the job. So… I’m hoping for an interview soon.” Until then, her carefully managed folder serves as a small measure of control over an otherwise steady drift into poverty and homelessness.

Juanita isn’t the only one at this job center on the precipice of acute need. And she isn’t alone in relating a story about being fired for what would seem to many a frivolous reason. Chris Topher, 25 and making his first visit here, was axed in March of last year. The telecommunications company he had been working for sent him packing when, as he tells it, he installed cable equipment a customer hadn’t ordered. It didn’t matter that the mistake was on the work order Chris was given. “It was the best job I had since I graduated high school and I’ve had a few: Turnpike Commission, working in a Senator’s office. I’ve had some nice jobs, but that one, I enjoyed it the most.”

And there was good reason to enjoy it. Chris pulled down $1,200-1,300 every two weeks in addition to receiving a full benefits package. He thought of contesting his termination, but at the time it looked like a long, uphill battle that he wasn’t eager to take on. It’s a fight that, in hindsight, he thinks he could have won and that his employer probably knew he would win as well. “And that’s why I believe I was approved by my employer for unemployment,” he says.

Under unemployment eligibility requirements, an employer must certify whether an employee committed a “fault” on the job and was therefore terminated. If an employer indicates that no fault was committed and the employee meets several other requirements, including being physically able to work, states grant an unemployment claim. In other words, Chris’s former employer granted him a small concession, while otherwise turning his life upside down amid the worst job market since 1983.

“Unemployment is the pits pretty much,” says Chris, whose unemployment compensation is significantly less than half what he made as a cable installer. Still, he’s better off than Juanita, who has applied for unemployment twice and been denied both times. She is now appealing, but her employer is conceding nothing. In a recent arbitration hearing, Juanita says, her former supervisor claimed that, if she had only told them about her expired license, they would have allowed her renewal time. If only.

Now, Juanita lives with her brother and his wife, but they, too, have financial problems. “My brother is working part time and it’s driving him crazy, because it’s causing money problems between him and his wife,” she explains. “And with me being there,” she hesitates, “…it’s a little constrained.”

Ratcheting Up the Fear

The mainstream media has generally sketched a picture of a labor market in which, under the pressure of an economic meltdown, workers succumb to two types of downsizing. In one, a fierce recession forces businesses, desperate to cut costs in terrible times, to lay off workers. They, in turn, face grim prospects for gainful employment elsewhere. In a kinder, gentler version of the same, employers, desperate to cut costs in terrible times, offer — or sometimes force workers to take — “furloughs,” salary cuts, union give-backs, four-day work weeks, or un-paid holidays rather than axing large numbers of them.

In this case, tough as it may be, workers benefit, retaining at least some of their income, while businesses wait out the recession. In both cases, businesses are largely depicted as unenthusiastic dispensers of pink-slips. Managers and bosses are just facing up to an unpalatable reality and unavoidable pressures imposed on them by the worst economic moment in recent memory.

A visit to a job center is hardly a scientific survey. The experiences of Juanita and Chris, along with those of other unemployed people I spent time with while in Philadelphia, may be purely anecdotal evidence. But they do raise questions about a subject of no small importance, and it’s not one you’re likely to read about in your daily paper — not yet anyway. If a deepening recession weighs down and threatens businesses, some of those businesses are undoubtedly also making convenient use of the times to do things they might have wanted to do, but were unable to do in better conditions.

In some cases, under the guise of “recession” pressure, they may be waging a secret war against their own workers, using even the most innocuous transgressions of work-place rules as the trigger for firings — and so, of course, putting the fear of god into those who remain. In this way, company payrolls are not only being reduced by mass layoffs, but workers are being squeezed for ever greater productivity in return for lower wages, worse hours, and less benefits. The weapon of choice is the specter of unemployment, a kind of death by a thousand (or a million) cuts.

Companies stand to gain a lot these days from such small-scale but decisive actions. After all, they reap a double benefit. Not only do they pare down the size of their payroll, often without needing — as in Juanita’s case — to consent to unemployment compensation, but they also contribute to a climate of intensifying fear. Workers who remain on the job are now not only on edge about lay-offs or scaled-back hours, but also know that a late return from a bathroom or lunch break might mean being shown the door, becoming another member of the legions of unemployed — now at 12.5 million and rising fast.

This dynamic is, of course, hardly new. Countless critics of working conditions have written about it since the dawn of the industrial age. But at the moment, even as the latest unemployment figures make screaming headlines, this is a subject that seldom comes up. Consider, though, that in December, Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, settled 63 outstanding class-action lawsuits that alleged massive wage and hours violations. Fearing termination, Wal-Mart workers, according to their testimony in the lawsuits, labored through lunch breaks and past their scheduled hours for just above minimum wage pay, with little hope of getting enough hours to qualify for the company’s health benefits.

As a condition of the settlement, Wal-Mart will pay out as much as $640 million to those workers. If corporations were able to exert such coercive power when the unemployment rate was around 5%, what can they do in a job market in which 14.8% of the population can’t find adequate work?

In fact, the world’s largest retailer is one of the few American corporations doing well in dark times. While retail sales slid almost everywhere, the company’s same-store sales went up 5.1% in February (when compared with February 2008 sales). Yet, in that same month, it announced a move to “realign its corporate structure and reduce costs.” It cut 700 to 800 jobs at its Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club home offices, in effect acting no differently than any of the companies being battered by the deepening recession.

Free-Firing Zone

Rodney Green, a soft-spoken 52-year-old, comes to the job center three times a week to search on-line job listings. He describes his decades-long drift from full-time employee with benefits to marginalized temp-worker with no benefits and, finally, to the category of unemployed for an extended period.

From the late 1970s until the early 1990s, he worked for Bell Telecommunications, where he earned a good salary and full benefits. Since Bell laid him off, he’s worked periodically as a forklift operator for various companies, getting temporary placements through an employment agency. Most recently, he earned $12 an hour working for a deli meat and artisanal cheese producer. No benefits were provided. A year’s work, he explained, would mean a week’s vacation, “but they don’t keep you that long. They lay you off or rotate you into another job before then.”

Today, as he’s discovered, even such temp jobs are becoming scarce. “In the eighties, it wasn’t as bad as it is now,” he comments from the unemployment heartland of what, in 2009, is a deeply de-industrialized Philadelphia. “The city had jobs, but then the jobs moved to the suburbs. Now they’re moving overseas. Back then, say, you applied for a job, maybe fifty others applied, too. Today, that same job, you’re going to have hundreds — I mean, a thousand for that one job. It’s hard. It’s depressing.”

For the past year and a half, Rodney has been collecting unemployment periodically, and in that time, he hasn’t landed a single interview. Recently, because the Bush administration finally acquiesced to grassroots and Congressional pressure to lengthen unemployment benefits, he received a thirteen-week extension, providing him a little cushion (unlike equally interview-less Juanita). “That helped me a lot. Times are hard right now. I hear there are over four million people collecting unemployment. That’s kind of high.”

If Juanita and Chris are casualties of the intensified war of attrition businesses are quietly waging on workers, Rodney represents a deeper unraveling of jobs and job security, thanks to a globalized economy in which the hard-pressed workers in this country are pitted against cheaper labor pools in Latin America, South Asia, China, and even the American South. In such a job environment, what is one to do?

Someone I interviewed prior to my job center visit described her reaction when she heard that her company had recently closed a plant in the Midwest: “The first thing I thought, and I felt bad for thinking it,” she recalled, somewhat sheepishly, “was that means more work for us — at least for the time being.”

Her comment speaks volumes, as does her request not to be identified. Who needs union busters, patrolling shop-stewards, or legions of high-paid lawyers fighting wage and hours claims when a worker is so anxious about job security that she responds positively to the laying off of those she imagines as potential competitors? When employees police their own behavior for fear of the axe — monitoring their time checking email or using the bathroom — bad times distinctly have an upside for management.

In this job environment, it’s easy to turn not just on others, but on yourself. Reflecting on what she will do without a job and unemployment benefits, Juanita wonders if the problem isn’t the economy, but the choices she made in life. “I left home when I was sixteen and lived in my own places, had my children, and got married,” she says nervously, continually folding and refolding a local newspaper. “I should have gone to school and did a lot more things to make myself more marketable earlier in life. Now I’m left having to start over again.”

A look at corporate opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), whose passage in Congress is a central demand of organized labor, offers a glimpse of how persistently companies seek to disadvantage their workers. EFCA would allow workers to form a union when a majority of them sign union cards in a given workplace. “Card check,” as it is frequently called, enables them to organize unions without the need for an election. In a November column surveying the business elite’s response to the Act, Wall Street Journal op-ed columnist Thomas Frank wrote: “Card check is about power. Management has it, workers don’t, and business doesn’t want that to change.”

In Frank’s estimation, the current struggle over EFCA is the latest incarnation of a constantly evolving struggle between workers and employers. For the under- or unemployed crowding into this center in Philadelphia, the current recession isn’t a time-out from the normal struggle, it’s more like a new open season for corporate attacks on them.

Right now, for Juanita, Chris, and others at this center, there are actually two wars going on, and only one of them seems to have caught the attention of labor and business reporters. The headlines about the first read: Desperate Companies Forced to Cut Jobs. But many here seem to be experiencing a second war in which businesses are using bad times to act in ways they couldn’t in the best of times.

Shouldn’t reporters be heading out in search of this one-sided, covert struggle? Isn’t it time for the second business war of our moment to make a few headlines of its own?

Robert S. Eshelman is an independent journalist and audio host at TomDispatch.com. His articles have appeared in the Nation, In These Times, and Abu Dhabi’s the National. He can be emailed at robertseshelman@gmail.com.

Copyright 2009 Robert S. Eshelman

Posted in America, Economics | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Freedom Rider: White Christian Terrorists With Nuclear Materials Ignored?

Posted by kelliasworld on March 19, 2009

Original article associated artwork and video at Black Agenda Report

“Homeland security” seems to mean keeping the United States secure against threats from everyone except the White Right. In the Maine home of a rich acolyte of Hitler police found all the ingredients to make a “dirty bomb,” including “bomb-grade hydrogen peroxide, uranium, thorium (also radioactive), lithium metal, thermite, aluminum powder, beryllium (radiation booster), boron, black iron oxide and magnesium ribbon.” The possible WMD-maker was especially upset about Barack Obama’s election as president. White terrorists don’t make the news because ”the media and the nation’s political leadership remain committed to keeping quiet about their existence.”

“Cummings had all the ingredients needed to make a ‘dirty bomb.’”

If radioactive material was found in the home of a Muslim from a Middle Eastern nation, you would hear about it, a lot. On the other hand, when a Hitler-admiring white American millionaire purchases radioactive material from an American company, you don’t hear much about it at all.

James G. Cummings was a trust fund baby living in Maine before he was shot to death by his wife in December 2008. After the killing, police discovered containers filled with “bomb-grade hydrogen peroxide, uranium, thorium (also radioactive), lithium metal, thermite, aluminum powder, beryllium (radiation booster), boron, black iron oxide and magnesium ribbon.” In other words, Cummings had all the ingredients needed to make a “dirty bomb,” a conventional explosive containing radioactive materials.

Cummings spoke openly of admiring Hitler and claimed to possess Nazi memorabilia previously owned by his idol. His wife reported that he had been in contact with white supremacist groups, was “very upset about the election of Barrack Osama” and “mixed chemicals in the sink.” Cummings was also in possession of easily obtained literature that explains how to build dirty bombs.

The dearth of news about a man who had the materials and the know-how needed to produce a dirty bomb is outrageous but not at all surprising. In 2003 a white supremacist terror group was apprehended in Tyler, Texas in possession of more than 100 cyanide bombs. The FBI discovered this group only because a package filled with fake identification was mailed to the wrong address. While the Bush re-election effort kept Americans in a state of fear with dubious red, yellow and orange alerts, dumb luck prevented an actual terror plot from being hatched.
“Police discovered containers filled with “bomb-grade material.”

The Tyler group went unmentioned and unnoticed by the national corporate media. There was no analysis, no commentary from “terror expert” pundits on their activities, and no calls for congressional investigation.

The Cummings case is not an isolated one. Last July, a man named James Adkisson walked into a Unitarian Universalist church in Tennessee and shot two congregants to death before being subdued and arrested. He left a letter meant to be a suicide note and made clear that he targeted the denomination because of its political beliefs.

“Liberals are a pest like termites. Millions of them. Each little bite contributes to the downfall of this great nation. The only way we can rid ourselves of this evil is to kill them in the streets. Kill them where they gather. I’d like to encourage other like minded people to do what I’ve done. If life ain’t worth living anymore don’t just kill yourselves, do something for your country before you go. Go kill liberals!” Adkission also added, “How is a white woman having a niger baby progress” and “I’m protesting the DNC running such a radical leftist candidate. Osama Hussein OBama, yo mama. No experience, no brains, a joke. Dangerous to America. Hell, he looks like Curious George!”

The Adkisson political murders were not the last either. In February 2009 two Chilean exchange students were shot to death in Florida by Dannie Baker. Baker volunteered for the Bush-Cheney campaigns in 2000 and 2004 but later sent threatening letters to local Republican officials. “The Washington D.C. Dictators have already confessed to rigging elections in our States for their recruiting dictators to overthrow us with foreign illegals here, and have allowed them to kill and run for office in the States to extend their influence into our States.”

In another email Baker complained about plans to “. . . give our homeland to foriegn states and their representatives here in America. Lets exacute them and reinstate a legal government that will do something for us.” The emails were reported to local police but Baker’s threats were never investigated.
“Every day right wing talk radio and television hosts give credence to their belief that they have a right to kill because they are white and angry.”

The Baker and Adkisson cases are usually explained away as isolated cases of untreated mentally ill people that require no further explanation. These individuals are very sick, but they are given permission to hate and to act on their hatred. Every day right wing talk radio and television hosts give credence to their belief that they have a right to kill because they are white and angry. Adkisson specifically mentioned wanting to kill people deemed as enemies in conservative reporter Bernard Goldberg’s book, “100 People Who Are Screwing Up America.”

Glenn Beck, is a right wing talk radio who said who said he wanted to kill Michael Moore and Dennis Kucinich but CNN gave him a television show anyway. After the ascendancy of Barrack Osama and the Democratic party, Beck fell out of favor with CNN but was then given yet another forum for his views on Fox news where he remains unrepentant in promoting his hate speech. After a recent shooting rampage in Alabama resulted in ten deaths, Beck said that he understood the motives of the murderer and blamed feelings of political alienation for the killings.

Glenn Beck: Yada yada yada. And every time they do speak out, they’re shut down by political correctness. How do you not have those people turn into that guy?

Bill O’Reilly: Well, look, nobody, even if they’re frustrated, is going to hurt another human being unless they’re mentally ill. I think.

Beck: I think pushed to the wall, you don’t think people get pushed to the wall?[italics mine]

It isn’t clear if the exchange was a staged good cop/bad cop routine, or if Bill O’Reilly is actually the voice of reason and sanity in comparison to Beck. Beck apparently thinks that feeling “pushed to the wall” by unspecified disenfranchisement is a license to kill. Most importantly, Beck has an audience in the millions and his every utterance encourages would be terrorists.
“Native born white Americans are hatching plots, big and small.”

There are new Timothy McVeighs in development right now. McVeigh was nearly forgotten after the September 11th attacks, but he should be remembered because he had as Adkisson says “like minded” supporters. While foreign born Muslims are under constant suspicion of plotting terror, native born white Americans are hatching plots, big and small, on a regular basis.

The national corporate media ignored the threat posed by the McVeighs of the nation until the attack on the federal building in Oklahoma City. Make no mistake, there are still people in this country who have been taught that being white and disgruntled means that they can do anything, including take the lives of others. The media and the nation’s political leadership also remain committed to keeping quiet about their existence. One day our luck will run out, and another Oklahoma City bombing will take place. When it happens the media will claim ignorance and say that they had no idea such people existed. They already know the answers to their feigned tortured questions, but as is so often the case, they have made a choice to keep us in the dark.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.Com.
____________
And they dare to call progressives “radicals”! Fomenting violence is neither patriotic, nor responsible journalism. Fox News and any other media organization that supports people like Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh should be considered terrorist organizations.–K.R.

Posted in America, Media, Terrorism | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Commentary: Cheney says U.S. can torture but can’t heal

Posted by kelliasworld on March 18, 2009

By Paul Begala
CNN Contributor
Original article at CNNPolitics.com

Editor’s note: Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor, was a political consultant for Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign in 1992 and was counselor to Clinton in the White House.
Paul Begala says Cheney is hypocritical when he says he fears massive government expansion under Obama.

Paul Begala says Cheney is hypocritical when he says he fears massive government expansion under Obama.

(CNN) — Dick Cheney has finally found the limits of government power.

In his interview with CNN’s John King — his first television interview since leaving the vice presidency — Cheney revealed a view of federal power that is incoherent and hypocritical.

According to recently released legal memos from the Bush-Cheney administration, the former vice president believes that the federal government can ignore the First Amendment and suppress free speech and freedom of the press as part of its “war on terror.”

An October 23, 2001, memo from Justice Department lawyers John C. Yoo and Robert J. Delahunty said, “First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully.”

Former Vice President Cheney also believes, according to these same memos, that the federal government can send troops to burst into the homes of American citizens without a search warrant, despite the Fourth Amendment’s protection against such unreasonable searches. He believes that the federal government has the right to arrest an American citizen on American soil and hold him in prison without charges. He believes that the federal government can listen in on your phone conversations without a court order.

Cheney believes that the federal government can ignore the Geneva Conventions, binding treaties largely written by the United States, signed by the president and ratified by the Senate. He believes that the federal government can commit torture, despite laws and treaties making torture a crime.

As the Washington Post reported, “Starting in January, 2002, Cheney turned his attention to the practical business of crushing a captive’s will to resist. The vice president’s office played a central role in shattering limits on coercion of prisoners in U.S. custody, commissioning and defending legal opinions that the Bush administration has since portrayed as the initiatives, months later, of lower-ranking officials.”

The newspaper said, “Cheney and his allies … did not originate every idea to rewrite or reinterpret the law, but fresh accounts from participants show that they translated muscular theories, from Yoo and others, into the operational language of government.”

In fact, Yoo has said the federal government has the power to grab your young son and crush his private parts if the president thinks that will help the “war on terror.”

Think I’m kidding? Here’s the verbatim exchange from a debate between Yoo and Notre Dame professor Doug Cassel:

Cassel: If the president deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?

Yoo: No treaty …

Cassel: Also no law by Congress — that is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo …

Yoo: I think it depends on why the president thinks he needs to do that.

Wow. That is a sick, twisted, sadistic world view. It is also a breathtakingly expansive view of federal power over citizens. Indeed, the position of Cheney and his allies seems to be that the federal government has limitless power over people. If the government can censor the free press, restrict free speech, listen in on your private conversations, burst into your home, take you away, hold you in prison without charges and torture you, it raises an interesting question: What on Earth does Dick Cheney think the federal government can’t do?

Thanks to John King, we now know: Cheney believes that the government cannot help with health care, improve education or wean America off Middle East oil. I’m not kidding.

Cheney, whose authoritarian impulses run deep, is suddenly worried that the federal government might become too powerful under President Obama.

“I worry a lot,” he told King, “that they’re using the current set of economic difficulties to try to justify a massive expansion in the government, and much more authority for the government over the private sector. I don’t think that’s good. I don’t think that’s going to solve the problem.”

Set aside the, umm, irony of a guy who is alive, thank God, because of government-provided health care opposing health care for taxpaying Americans. And set aside the hypocrisy of the Bush-Cheney Medicare prescription drug entitlement, the greatest expansion of the federal role in health care since President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Focus instead on Cheney’s alarmist rhetoric: “a massive expansion in the government”, “much more authority for the government.” Cheney is comfortable with a government that has the authority to torture, imprison, censor and kill. Just not a government that has the capacity and compassion to write a health insurance policy or take on Big Oil.

I write this only hours after King’s interview with Cheney, and yet I believe it will live in history. Right there, in his own words, Cheney gives historians a candid explication of his world view: that government may claim dictatorial powers when he and his ilk are in charge, but when we the people call on our government to act to address recession, illness and ignorance (made worse by Cheney’s policies) well, then we’ve reached Cheney’s boundaries of the government’s power.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Paul Begala.
_____
But I agree with him. And in this commentary, Begala has basically defined the difference between progressives and conservatives, especially those of the neocon variety. Cheney’s ilk cannot possibly see the government has a “force” (for want of the better word) for social good, when they see its main purpose as conquest, destruction, and authoritarian control. –K.R.

Posted in America, Dick Cheney, Torture, War | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »