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Chernynkaya On March - 4 - 2011

 

13 is a Prime Number; the 13 Archimedean Solids; the Chemical Element Aluminum has an atomic number of 13; the sacred cord of Druids has thirteen segments; there are thirteen lunations in the year; the thirteen gates of the Human body of the woman: 2 eyes, 2 ears, 2 nostrils, the mouth, 2 breasts, the navel, the anus, the urethra and the vagina; the card deck includes 13 hearts, 13 spades, 13 squares, 13 clubs; and the Chinese abacus consists of 13 columns of beads.

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TAKE ACTION

 

Dear Social Justice Warrior,

This past Saturday, Other 98% members across the country joined forces with US Uncut to make corporate tax dodgers pay up.

We targeted Bank of America, a firm which in spite of receiving $45 Billion in tax payer bailout funds in 2008 and 2009, and billions in profits, has paid no taxes in the last two years.

Our message was simple: “We paid our taxes. Why haven’t you?” We did actions in 50 cities, shut down two branches with creative nonviolent direct action, and got covered by MSNBC, Fox News, The Nation, Yes! Magazine and The Guardian.

Egypt, Wisconsin, and now, well, Everywhere. Americans coming together to fight for our rights. And this is only the beginning. 

Yours in solidarity,

Andrew Boyd, The Other 98%

Find The Other 98% on the web at http://other98.com

We are honored and psyched to be an official partner with US Uncut, and just wanted to share the good news.

Please check out USuncut.org, and get involved in this dynamic new movement.


 

Tell Sen. Feinstein: Support the Social Security Protection Act of 2011.

Dear MoveOn member,

We could be on the verge of losing in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin 14—the brave Democratic state senators who left the state to stop the Republican attacks on workers—are under increasing pressure to return to Wisconsin.

Governor Walker is even threatening to lay off thousands of state workers to blackmail Democrats into coming back.1 And as soon as just one Democratic senator returns, Republicans will be able to jam through their terrible bill.

Unfortunately, over the last 24 hours there have been credible reports from blogs and local news reporters that this is imminent. These senators have been away from their homes and families for almost two weeks now, at great personal cost. Their bravery has made this whole fight possible, and it can’t be easy. That’s why we need to show them that they have the support of millions of progressives nationwide—and that as long as they stay strong, we’ll stand with them.

Will you add your name to our emergency statement of support? We’ll deliver your signatures and comments electronically, throughout the day, to the senators or their staffs, so they can see how much support they have.

Click here to add your name

 

Stop Transportation Cuts

The recently approved House budget decimated transportation programs with deep cuts to New Starts, the program that funds nearly all new transit construction across the country, as well as high-speed rail, Amtrak and a new program (TIGER) that rewards innovative local projects that improve congestion, clean the air or make streets safer and more walkable. Our senators now have a chance to stop these damaging cuts from going through, but they have less than two weeks to act and they need to hear from you.

Contact your senators today and remind them that millions of Americans rely on these programs to get around and expect them to focus on retaining the best job-producing programs in the budget. We’re counting on them to step up and prevent these damaging cuts to transportation.

 

BUDGET


Study: Public Sees Both Parties Cutting Deficits The Wrong Way

What if the American people declared that they think the best way to fix the deficit is to cut defense spending and hike taxes on the rich, and no high level politician in either party cared?

In an ingenious study of public opinion where a representative sample of Americans, asked how they would reduce their deficit, were presented with actual budget numbers and worked their way through a series of tradeoffs.

(Try it yourself.)

Here’s the study:

Public Proposes Federal Budget Dramatically Different Than House or White House

An innovative study has found that when a representative sample of the American public was presented the federal budget, they proposed changes far different from those the Obama administration or the Republican-led House have proposed.

The biggest difference in spending is that the public favored deep cuts in defense spending, while the administration and the House propose modest increases. However, the public also favored more spending on job training, education, and pollution control than did either the administration or the House. On average the public made a net reduction of $146 billion–far more than either the administration or the House called for.

While there were some partisan differences in the magnitude of spending changes, in two out of three cases average Republicans, Democrats and independents agreed on which items should be cut or increased.

The public also showed readiness to increase taxes by an average of $292 billion–again, far more than either the administration or the House.

“Clearly both the administration and the Republican-led House are out of step with the public’s values and priorities in regard to the budget,” comments Steven Kull, director of the Program for Public Consultation (PPC), which conducted the study. PPC is a joint program of the Center on Policy Attitudes and the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland. Unlike in conventional polls, PPC consults with the public by presenting respondents with information on policy issues and a range of options to address them. In this case respondents were presented the discretionary budget, with descriptions of each program, and allowed to make changes.

More>>>

 

WHITE HOUSE TO HOST BUDGET TALKS….

And as Steve Benen points out, it would be nice if we had a better idea what Dems are for in these negotiations.

Friday afternoon, House Republican leaders came up with a plan to keep the government open for two more weeks, and Senate Democrats said they could live with it. It passed the House on Tuesday, passed the Senate Wednesday morning, and President Obama signed it into law yesterday afternoon.

That, of course, gave Washington a new deadline: pass funding for the fiscal year by March 18 — two weeks from tomorrow — or the government shuts down.

With that in mind, the White House, which hasn’t played much of a role in the process thus far, is poised to start hosting negotiations.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will convene a meeting of Congressional leaders of both parties in the Capitol Thursday afternoon in an effort to find a way out of a spending dispute that has the entire government operating under a stop-gap budget.

The White House announced that what could be the first of several sessions of talks would be held at 4 p.m. Also taking part from the Obama administration will be Chief of Staff William Daley and Jacob Lew, the budget director. President Obama called for the negotiations on Wednesday.

Keep in mind, as recently as 24 hours ago, GOP leaders refused to say whether they’d attend. As far as Republicans were concerned, the brutal cuts approved by the House represents one part of the debate, and they wouldn’t come to the table until Senate Dems presented their comparable plan.

But that never made much sense. The Republican argument, in a nutshell, has been, “We’ll talk after we’ve seen an unwritten Democratic plan we know we won’t like.”

But when GOP officials complain that they have no idea what Democrats actually want from this process, they’re not wrong. Indeed, no one does.

Ezra Klein had a good post on this earlier.

“In a more normal world, the Democratic position would be that we’re staring down 9 percent unemployment and it’s too early for any fiscal contraction whatsoever. But that’s not their position, at least not publicly. They want to make spending cuts, but somewhat less than the Republicans do. They want to protect investments for the future, but they haven’t offered any benchmarks for how much investment we should be doing.”


White House proposes $6.5 billion more in spending cuts

The White House proposed Thursday to trim an additional $6.5 billion from federal programs this year as Vice President Biden opened talks with congressional leaders aimed at funding the government through Sept. 30 and averting a shutdown. With another deadline looming in two weeks, Biden carried the offer to Capitol Hill. …The White House proposal falls far short of the $61 billion the House voted last month to slash from current funding levels. But senior administration officials characterized it as an opening bid in a process that is likely to stretch on for days.

 

GOP Budget Could Hobble Obama Environment Policy

The House already passed its bill to fund the federal government for the rest of this year, and it doesn’t just cut EPA programs — it also steamrolls the Obama administration’s environmental policy.

“I can attest to you that this greenhouse gas registry will destroy jobs in Kansas. ” – Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS)

The House bill would slash the EPA budget by nearly a third — more than any other agency. It would stop the agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions, and it would gut many other programs that prevent air and water pollution and enforce environmental laws.

Senate Democrats say the bill drafted by House Republicans would hobble the EPA.

 

Screwing the States

Matt Yglesias:

“Had an argument with my 70+ YO folks the other day about the budget and in frustration I offered the following:

Strip the Federal Budget of all direct payments to States. That means highway dollars, medicaid, school funding, bloc grants, etc… The whole lot of them. Wouldn’t there be a huge savings? It plays right into the GOP’s ongoing love for States Rights and forces each State to address how they will serve their constituents. Being the political left leaner that I am, it seems like a winner to me.

What am I missing?”

On the level of pure politics, I think nothing’s missing here. Reduced federal aid to the states is one of the few budget cuts that polls well. People don’t seem to understand how this works and think that state aid money is just used to serve lavish meals at the governor’s mansion or something, so they don’t realize that cutbacks would lead to unpopular cuts in K-12 education, Medicaid, etc. What’s more, this idea would put every single incumbent governor and state legislator in a horrible political position, and today incumbents are overwhelmingly Republicans, so again this is a winner.

The only real problem with this idea is that it’s a terrible idea. If we stop spending money on Medicaid benefits for poor people in Alabama, Jeff Sessions is still going to get treatment when he’s sick. So will Jeff Sessions’ donors and his voting base. That the Alabamians who need Medicaid are consistently outvoted by a richer, older, and whiter set of Alabamians is an unfortunate fact of life but it doesn’t change the fact that punishing poor people for the sins of Senator Sessions doesn’t really achieve anything.

 

ECONOMY

REPORT: Six Ways Conservatives Encourage And Abet Corporate Tax Dodging

Of course, corporations could not get away with this behavior if policymakers actually set and enforced rules that prevented it. But conservatives in Congress have gone to great lengths to allow tax avoidance to continue. Here are six ways in which conservatives aid and abet corporate tax avoidance:

PROTECTING OFFSHORE DEFERRAL: The Obama administration and Senate Democrats last year proposed ending the practice of allowing corporations to claim domestic tax credits for profits they earn overseas while deferring tax payments on those profits. Republicans blocked the bill in the Senate. Corporations use offshore deferral to lower their effective tax rate by 20 points or more.

SLASHING THE IRS BUDGET: In their proposed spending plan for the rest of the fiscal year, House Republicans suggested cutting the Internal Revenue Services’s budget by $600 million, even though “every dollar the Internal Revenue Service spends for audits, liens and seizing property from tax cheats brings in more than $10.” IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said that a $600 million cut in this year’s budget “would result in the IRS collecting $4 billion less” through tax enforcement programs.

PUSHING FREE TRADE WITH TAX HAVENS: Republicans in Congress have been pushing for rapid, uncritical ratifying of a free-trade pact with Panama, even though Panama has a notorious reputation as a tax haven. Before advancing the agreement, the Obama administration is pushing for “implementation of a tax information exchange agreement the two countries signed last year to address tax haven concerns.”

ENACTING REPATRIATION HOLIDAYS: When corporations bring money they earn overseas back to the United States, they are required to pay the full statutory corporate tax rate. But in 2005, they were allowed to bring money back at a drastically lower rate (delivering a windfall to executives and none of the expected economic benefits). Both Republicans in Congress and conservative activists are pushing for yet another repatriation holiday.

ENDORSING TAXPAYER GIVEAWAYS: House Republicans (joined by 13 Democrats) voted unanimously this week to preserve big oil subsidies worth billions of dollars a year, even as Big Oil companies continue to reap record profits. In fact, Republicans have continually protected billions in annual giveaways to Big Oil, allowing those corporate giants to pay nothing into the federal treasury.

PUBLICLY DEFENDING THE DODGERS: Both House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) have said that widespread corporate tax evasion is a good reason to lower the statutory corporate tax rate. When asked by ThinkProgress if it was fair that Bank of America pays no federal corporate taxes, former governor and 2012 GOP presidential contender Tim Pawlenty replied “the corporate tax rate in America is too high.”

For more information, read today’s Progress Report, “Making Corporations Pay Their Fair Share.”

 


Spurred by Private Hiring, Job Growth Gathers Steam (but there are caveats)

While February’s number represented the fastest growth in nearly a year, it was partly the result of a bounce back from unusually depressed hiring in January, when major snowstorms shuttered offices and factories around the country. Taken together, the job growth for the first two months of 2011 has not been much better than it was last fall.

Still, economists say they are hopeful that the pace will soon pick up, assuming higher global energy and food prices do not derail the recovery.

“Economic recoveries can be like a snowball rolling down a hill, in that it takes time to get some momentum,” said John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics.

[…]

Economists say the unemployment rate may rise temporarily in the next few months, as stronger job growth lures some discouraged workers back into the labor force. Right now the share of working-age population that is actively involved in the work force — that is, either in a job or actively looking for one — is at 64.2 percent. That is the lowest labor force participation rate in 25 years, an indication that many Americans are waiting for hiring to get better before resuming the job hunt.

[…]

A broader measure of unemployment, which includes people working part-time because they could not find full-time jobs and those so discouraged that they have given up searching, was 15.9 percent in February, down from 16.1 percent in January.

[…]

Rising prices for energy and food also remain a risk to job growth, economists say, as they leave less money for consumers and businesses to spend on other purchases that could potentially spur hiring. Light sweet crude oil was trading for $103 a barrel on Friday morning, a rise of nearly $5 since the week began.

Even when the weather distortions have passed, many economists forecast that job growth later this year will pick up to about 150,000 or 200,000 a month. While this of course would be a welcome development compared with the modest growth in January and the bloodletting during the recession, it still is not fast enough to recover much of the ground lost during the recession.

More>>>

 

GOP wrestles with strong jobs report

In terms of recent political memory, this is about as good as it gets. The Bureau of Labor Statistics today reports that the unemployment rate fell again, finally, last month — by a scant 0.1 percent, but at least 8.9 percent sounds better than 9 percent. It’s the lowest since April 2009. Over the past three months, things have gotten better, faster, than at any time in more than a quarter century.

[…]

In pure political terms, this progress leaves Republicans hard-pressed to say they’ve achieved it, since they’re still negotiating budget cuts with the White House. For last month’s report, we showed House Majority Leader Eric Cantor tweeting that too many people were out of work and that Republicans are all about jobs. Today, Mr. Cantor says they’re “removing barriers to economic growth” by repealing “Obamacare,” especially a provision both sides agree should go, and by cutting spending.

This also makes the case harder for the steep budget cuts Republicans want — the cuts financial analysts warn will choke off very real signs of recovery. Do you really want to frighten the horses with a plan that might cost 700,000 jobs, or even 200,000? Apparently they do. “On #jobs report: The path to prosperity lies in liberating our economy from excess spending, regulation, debt,” Speaker John Boehner tweets this morning. (UPDATE: Mr. Boehner’s personal account became a tweet storm. “Drop in unemployment rate is a credit to the hard work of the American people & their success in stopping the tax hikes last yr,” he writes. H/T @CarlaBond)

Mr. Boehner, meet Steve Benen’s bikini-no-more graph of private-sector job growth.

(The red is for private sector jobs under President Bush, the blue for President Obama.)

 

 

Rick Scott Can Reject High-Speed Rail Funds: Florida Supreme Court

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced Friday that $2.4 billion in high-speed rail funding intended for Florida will be sent to other states after the state Supreme Court upheld Gov. Rick Scott’s decision to reject the money.

The Republican governor’s decision effectively kills the Tampa-Orlando route.

 


Obama officials, attorneys general closer to possible deal with banks in foreclosure mess

Senior Obama administration officials, newly joined by state attorneys general, were on the brink Thursday of finalizing major elements of a possible settlement with large U.S. banks accused of flawed and fraudulent foreclosure practices, sources familiar with the discussions said. But absent from this otherwise united government front, which is preparing to submit a proposed settlement to financial firms within days, is the regulator of the nation’s largest banks, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The OCC has raised concerns that the firms might be required to pay too large a fine — $20 billion or more

 

Senators send letter to White House on foreclosures

A bipartisan group of 18 senators called on top Obama administration officials this week to improve federal foreclosure programs, a different track than House Republicans who proposed pulling the plug on foreclosure efforts entirely Thursday.

 

 

Even moderate Democrats are pledging to oppose Social Security cuts.

 

ENVIRONMENT


EPA: Proposed House budget cuts would harm public health

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson told a Senate committee Wednesday that a proposal to cut a third of the agency’s budget would gut a plan to reduce carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act and undermine efforts to limit water pollution in areas such as the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Jackson said the House Republicans’ plan to cut more than $3 billion from the EPA would have a major impact. ‘Big polluters would flout legal restrictions on dumping contaminants into the air, into rivers, and onto the ground,’ she said.

 

MEDIA

 

Clinton Lauds Virtues Of Al Jazeera: ‘It’s Real News’

Her remarks are a marked shift from the hostility expressed toward Al Jazeera by many conservatives, as well as some officials under former President Bush.

“Viewership of Al Jazeera is going up in the United States because it’s real news,” Clinton said Thursday.

“You may not agree with it, but you feel like you’re getting real news around the clock instead of a million commercials and, you know, arguments between talking heads, and the kind of stuff that we do on our news,” Clinton said. “Which, you know, is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners.”

 

UPDATED: Fox Completely Fabricates Report That TSA Will Screen Passengers’ DNA

Media rewards “serious” governors who cut, cut, cut

E.J. Dionne:

If you want to get national attention as a governor these days, don’t try to be innovative about solving the problems you were elected to deal with – in education, transportation and health care. No, if you want ink and television time, just cut and cut and cut some more.

Almost no one in the national media is noticing governors who say the reasonable thing: that state budget deficits, caused largely by drops in revenue in the economic downturn, can’t be solved by cuts or tax increases alone.

There is nothing courageous about an ideological governor hacking away at programs that partisans of his philosophy, including campaign contributors, want eliminated. That’s staying in your comfort zone.

The brave ones are governors such as Jerry Brown in California, Dan Malloy in Connecticut, Pat Quinn in Illinois, Mark Dayton in Minnesota and Neil Abercrombie in Hawaii. They are declaring that you have to cut programs, even when your own side likes them, and raise taxes, which nobody likes much at all. Rhode Island’s Lincoln Chafee has warned of possible tax increases too.

[…]

What states are doing to ease their fiscal agonies will only slow down our fragile economic recovery, and may stop it altogether. The last thing we need right now are state and local governments draining jobs and money from the economy, yet that is what they are being forced to do.

As the last three monthly reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed, an economy that created a net 317,000 private-sector jobs lost 70,000 state and local government jobs. Cutbacks are dead weight on the recovery.

In a more rational political climate, President Obama would have resurrected the lovely old Republican idea of federal revenue sharing. Washington should have continued replenishing state budgets for two more years, until we were certain the economic storms had passed. Instead, anything that might be called “stimulus” – “S” is now a scarlet letter in politics – was rejected out of hand.

More>>>

 

Jon Stewart Calls Out Fox News’ Hypocrisy Comparing Teachers, Wall Street (VIDEO)

 

MILITARY

 

Solution: How the Government Can Stop Doing Business With Risky Contractors

It is very hard for the federal government to have a successful criminal or civil prosecution of their contractors and it is the hardest to do with the Department of Defense (DoD). The DoD has a very close working relationship with their contractors and often fights any government prosecutions by lack of cooperation. (See my past Truthout article on this problem.)

Introduction: The Pentagon’s Contractor Fraud Findings

In January, the DoD created a stir when it released its Report to Congress on Contracting Fraud, which examined the extent to which the Pentagon awarded contracts to companies that defrauded the government. The report found that, from Fiscal Year 2007 to Fiscal Year (FY) 2009, the DoD awarded almost $270 billion in contracts to 91 contractors found liable in civil fraud cases, and $682 million to 30 contractors convicted of criminal fraud. It also found that companies barred from federal contracting continued to receive millions of taxpayer dollars in contracts.

What was most astonishing about the report was its relatively unconcerned tone. The report did not recommend any significant reforms, concluding that “existing remedies with respect to contractor wrongdoing are sufficient.”

Some people begged to differ. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), who ordered the report through a provision he added to last year’s defense spending bill, released a public statement in which he urged the DoD to adopt a more “vigorous” approach to dealing with contractor fraud.

Meanwhile, this interesting tidbit appeared near the beginning of the report:

Because there is no central repository for this data, the Department faced a number of challenges in developing this report.

Much more>>>

 


How to Read Gates’ Shift on the Wars

What’s Behind the Change?

I’ll acknowledge that Gates may have come to his newfound skepticism about these ground wars honestly, sincerely distraught by the continued loss of life as the bloody conflicts grind on with no real end in sight.

Yet, I would venture to suggest that – more likely – the timing of Gates’s conversion can be pinned on two other factors, a typically windsock reaction to recent polling on Afghanistan and an attempt to burnish his future wise-man reputation:

–U.S. public opinion has swung dramatically against the war in Afghanistan, with some polls showing that as many as 86 percent of Democrats and 61 percent of Republicans want a speedier U.S. pullout from the war.

–Gates has announced he will retire in the coming months. By abandoning his post on the bridge of the sinking pro-war ship now, Gates will let the next secretary of defense take the blame when the U.S. does not “prevail” in Afghanistan. Gates can point to his echoing of MacArthur’s warning.

I base this assessment, in part, on having observed Gates very closely in the early 1970s when I headed the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch at CIA and had supervisory responsibilities for Gates.

More>>>


 

POLITICS

 

What Happens When Pretending to Be Crazy Is a Career Strategy

By Paul Krugman:

I have said this before, but it’s worth repeating: a large segment of the population in the United States is completely impervious to rational argument and the presentation of evidence. In our country, learned ignorance is on the rise.

Take, for example, an interesting online exchange between Australian economist John Quiggin and Jonathan Chait, a senior editor at The New Republic, with regard to right-wing agnotology — that is, culturally induced ignorance or doubt — in the United States.

[…]

Mr. Quiggin suggests that right-wingers aren’t really birthers in their hearts; it’s just that affirming birtherism is a badge of belonging, a shibboleth in the original biblical sense — “an affirmation that marks the speaker as a member of their community or tribe,” as Mr. Quiggin wrote on Feb. 17.

“Asserting a belief that would be too absurd to countenance for anyone outside a given tribal/ideological group makes for a good political shibboleth,” he added.

Mr. Chait counters that many conservatives in the United States believe that the liberal elite media is hiding the truth. But through their access to Fox News and like-minded media organizations, conservatives believe they have learned things the brainwashed masses don’t know.

“They believe that Fox News is not just a network that counteracts the biased liberal media, or even a network that reports the stories that the liberal media ignore, but the vehicle for Truth,” Mr. Chait wrote later the same day.

My view is that Mr. Quiggin is correct as far as right-wing politicians are concerned: for the most part they know that President Obama was born here, that he is not a socialist, that a public health insurance program would not require the setting up of death panels, and so on. However, many politicians feel compelled to pretend to be crazy as a career move.

But I think Mr. Chait is right about the broader right-wing movement. I see it all the time with regard to my economics statistics: when I point out that inflation remains fairly low, or that the Federal Reserve is not literally printing money, people accuse me of using falsified data or say that I am cherry-picking the figures. This is a symptom of epistemic closure in conservative thought: if the facts don’t support certain prejudices, that’s because “they” are hiding the truth, which true believers know.

Just don’t get me started on climate change.

Backstory: The Rumor That Won’t Go Away

More>>>

 

Gingrich Isn’t Running—He’s just raising money. (VIDEO)

 

SCOTUS

 

Sarah Palin’s bizarre view of the First Amendment

She blasts the Supreme Court’s 8-1 ruling in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church

Tweeted Palin in response to the ruling:

Common sense & decency absent as wacko “church” allowed hate msgs spewed@ soldiers’ funerals but we can’t invoke God’s name in public square

The second part of Palin’s tweet — the bit about invoking God — centers on the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and is really a separate issue. The ruling today on Westboro was in a classic free speech case.

[…]

Palin made a similar remark last year when defending Dr. Laura, who retired after she faced intense criticism for using the N-word on her radio show. Palin tweeted then:

Dr.Laura:don’t retreat…reload! (Steps aside bc her 1st Amend.rights ceased 2exist thx 2activists trying 2silence”isn’t American,not fair”)

And then:

Dr.Laura=even more powerful & effective w/out the shackles, so watch out Constitutional obstructionists. And b thankful 4 her voice,America!

Again, Palin seemed to be equating what was (in her opinion) unfair criticism as somehow an infringement on First Amendment rights. The government, of course, had no role in forcing Dr. Laura to retire following her controversial remarks.

So to review: Under Palin’s interpretation of the First Amendment, criticism of public figures threatens free speech, but peaceful protests she doesn’t like should be banned.

 

When Free Speech Feels Wrong

Should emotions have played a greater role in the Supreme Court’s Westboro Baptist Church decision?

Read the opposing opinions>>>

 

UNIONS

 

Looks like the Ohio House won’t just slam the union-busting bill through.

Republicans in the Ohio House say they’ll have “extensive hearings” on controversial legislation changing the state’s collective bargaining laws — despite rumors that final action on Senate Bill 5 could come as soon as next week.

Caucus spokesman Mike Dittoe said Speaker Bill Batchelder and GOP leadership plan to take the time necessary to review the legislation as passed this week by the Ohio Senate.

“Given that there were substantive changes to the bill in the last 48-72 hours, I think that the Speaker wants a chance to sit down with everyone and discuss what those changes were,” Dittoe said, adding, “I think it will be a very thoughtful process.”

 

Thousands Protest the Firing of Providence Teachers

About 1,500 people took to the streets outside City Hall in Providence, Rhode Island, yesterday to protest the city’s decision to fire all of its public schoolteachers due to a $100 million deficit, according to NPR. Providence Mayor Angel Taveras said he chose to fire the teachers instead of laying them off to ensure that teachers the city cannot afford will not make it back on the payroll, but union activists say the decision was simply a political one designed to silence the teachers

 

WEDGE ISSUES


Public Support for Gay Marriage Grows Steadily.

From the Pew Research Center for People and the Press:

The survey finds a continuing rise in support for same-sex marriage since 2009. Currently, 45% say they favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally while 46% are opposed. In Pew Research surveys conducted in 2010, 42% favored and 48% opposed gay marriage and in 2009, just 37% backed same-sex marriage while 54% were opposed.

Over the same period, there has been movement toward a liberal position on abortion. In 2009, for the first time in many years, the public was evenly divided over whether abortion should be legal or illegal in all or most cases. But support for legal abortion has recovered and now stands at about the same level as in 2008 (55% then, 54% today).

Independents have become more supportive of both gay marriage and legal abortion since 2009. Roughly half of independents (51%) now favor same-sex marriage, up from 37% in 2009. And 58% of independents say that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared with 47% in Pew Research Center surveys two years ago.

 

The Gray-Haired White Guys Deciding Your Reproductive Fate

The other big federal anti-abortion take out their wrath on exactly the same low-income population. The “Protect Life Act,” proposed by Representative Joe Pitts would prevent women from using their own money to purchase private health insurance that includes abortion coverage. Some women will always be able to afford abortions, even if they can’t get a policy that covers them. But a huge portion of the 15 million uninsured women who stand to gain health insurance through the new health care law would struggle to pay for an abortion on their own, as they’d have to if this bill passes. A quarter of single mothers stand to gain health coverage through the new law, as do three-quarters of women who are either “poor” or “near poor” and almost four-in-ten Latinas, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Meanwhile, Mike Pence’s various efforts to defund Planned Parenthood also target the same women of color, who make up the majority of the 3 million Americans the organization serves. Ditto for his broader effort to zero out federal Title X dollars. Guess who relies on the clinics that receive these family planning funds?

What will happen to these women? Hundreds of thousands will likely go on to have unwanted pregnancies—and unwanted children. Planned Parenthood helped prevent 973,000 unintended pregnancies, which would have resulted in 433,000 unplanned births and 406,000 abortions in 2008, according to its most recent statistics. Some women will delay early abortions for later, more expensive and riskier procedures. And some may join the minority of women already taking matters into their own hands.

 

Texas approves bill requiring sonogram before abortion

 

AND IN OTHER NEWS…

 

Is Bernie Madoff a Sociopath? We asked a psychiatrist

What are the distinguishing features of sociopathy?

First of all, this is something that starts young. The diagnosis, as it stands now, wants you to have some signs of it by age 15. Then there’s this list [of symptoms] that has to do with not conforming to norms, not respecting legal behaviors, repeated deceitfulness, impulsivity, poor planning ability, irritability, aggression, disregard for the safety of others, inconsistent work behavior, irresponsibility, not honoring financial obligations. And then there’s the big one: lack of remorse, indifference, rationalization about people you’ve harmed or mistreated. If we think of some essence of the disease, that has something to do with it — people who just don’t seem to have a conscience, who don’t feel guilt. That’s what we’d like to be the sociopath or psychopath.

[…]

There’s an inherent problem with asking a sociopath if he’s a sociopath. That’s not to say that Madoff is a sociopath, but let’s imagine for the moment that he is. Sociopaths, on the whole, make their living by being good at fooling people. When we imagine that Madoff is a sociopath, we’re imaging that he is someone in whom people don’t detect that very easily. The testimony that he feels remorse and so on would have to be taken on that basis. It’s said that doctors are not very good at diagnosing sociopaths and that in treating them they often get their hopes up. They see signs of progress and they testify to the court that a person is now better and the person goes out and does something again.

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

Nobody stands taller than those willing to stand corrected.  ~William Safire

Written by Chernynkaya

I am an artist and have lived in Los Angeles all of my life, except for a brief hippie period when I lived in SF. I am currently (semi-unwillingly) retired, but have had several careers.

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  1. KillgoreTrout says:

    “Viewership of Al Jazeera is going up in the United States because it’s real news,” Clinton said Thursday.
    “You may not agree with it, but you feel like you’re getting real news around the clock instead of a million commercials and, you know, arguments between talking heads, and the kind of stuff that we do on our news,” Clinton said. “Which, you know, is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners.”

    This is exactly what Jon Stewart was talking about in his rally speech which many, many people misunderstood completely and accused him of making a, “false equivilency.”
    Stewart said this at the end of his speech. I paraphrase, “The news media is like a giant magnifying glass. Now we can use this magnifying glass to view the issues more clearly, or we can use it to set ants on fire.”

    • cyrano1 says:

      Spot on Killgore! I was actually quite surprised that Clinton, disregarding potential political fallout, made these very pointed and accurate observations. Even my lib friends are somewhat astonished when I tell them I’ve stayed glued to Al Jazeera since the Egyptian crisis, and will continue watching simply due to their intelligent newscasters who actually deliver real content. I think most Americans still believe it’s a West-hating Arab propaganda machine starring ranting ideologues -- which it most definitely is not. Instead delivers a surprisingly in-depth global overview!! Al Jazeera along with BBC and CBC, and PBS actually deliver. All of them, in my view, report more accurately than our locals about events unfolding in our own country.

      Why did Lawrence O’donnell spend half of his broadcast earlier this week on covering Charlie Sheen? Sagging ratings? Isn’t the common factor of content-filled broadcast news the fact that they’re non profit? No commercials, full of content, and free of corporate bias.

  2. Abbyrose86 says:

    Ok…so I took that little test and MY deficit…is -23.9 billion.

    I did that by getting rid of a lot of waste in corporate subsidies, a small tax hike on those making over $250 and a massive tax hike on millionaires and above, as well as to corporations and those who inherit big estates and a carbon tax, and I like that crisis fee to banks.

    I added to housing programs, energy conservation programs, education, transportation and vet’s benefits.

    HMM….how could that be…how could actually RAISING aid to the actual citizens and providing money for infrastructure and other investments AND raising taxes on the wealthy….cause NO deficit?

    Interesting.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      I solved the deficit and had an extra $13.2 B Cut military in half, raised taxes on upper earners, imposed estate taxes and increased corporate tax rates. Plus, I was spending like a drunken sailor on education, social programs and environment. Easy

  3. Abbyrose86 says:

    Cher, after a long day at school, your daily summary was top on my list!

    Thanks for not disappointing! :)

  4. jkkFL says:

    Cher,
    If you don’t stop giving us so much Great info- I am NEVER going to catch up with you!
    To date, I am 1 1/2 days behind and falling fast :)
    Thank you for all your hard work, and valuable information.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Jkk-- I beg you--don’t read it all! Your housework will suffer; your hair will become disheveled, your dog will pee on the floor and you might suffer from hypothermia as the evening gets chilly and you sit, shivering at your computer unaware of the falling temp. Believe me-- I know! ;-) (But I am sincerely happy you read it.)

      • jkkFL says:

        HEY! stop peeking in my windows!
        Oh wait, I don’t have a dog, I have cats..
        I love all the info, I read it all the way thru, then I come back later and start tracking thru the links.
        Lucky for me they are archived, or that Would drive me crazy.
        Smiley

  5. BigDogMom says:

    Woo Hoo! I have a budget surplus of $278.1B and SS deficit is at 87%…maybe they should send me to DC! :lol:

  6. SequimBob2 says:

    Cher: What a great compilation! I really enjoyed reading this post. Thanks for all the work. I know it doesn’t just ‘happen.’

    I particularly liked the article on “risky contractors.” There used to be literally hundreds of major prime contractors (those capable of delivering major weapon systems and subsystems), but industry consolidation has lead to so few major aerospace primes that there is no real competition and it often seems that the Government works for the major primes — rather than the other way around.

    Presently Lockheed, Boeing, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon are the top five. Lockheed and Boeing in particular have tremendous political clout and are so large and involved in so many programs that the Government has very little leverage. Leverage by Boeing and Lockheed over elected officials… Well, that’s another story.

    Bob

  7. ADONAI says:

    Bernie Madoff HAS to be a sociopath.

    Manipulative and Conning

    Grandiose Sense of Self

    Pathological Lying

    Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt

    Lack of Realistic Life Plan/Parasitic Lifestyle

  8. KQuark says:

    Great summary again Cher. It’s must reading for me.

    A story just came out that Britain is going to supply military advisors to Qaddafi’s opposition. ugh… has Brittan become the new leader in neoconservatism under the Tories?

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/03/04/952581/-Britain-sending-advisers-to-anti-Gaddafi-forces-in-Libya-Death-toll-rising-in-liberation-war

    Andrew Sullivan had an interesting take on how the president handles one of the main communication aspects of his presidency.

    What I find refreshing about Obama is precisely his understanding that, even if he were in some way responsible for enabling the Arab 1848, he knows it would be counter-productive to say so. Yes, he made a speech in Cairo calling for more democracy a year or so before the uprising. More important, his very election and outreach to the Muslim world detoxified the West’s image in the Arab world in a way that probably helped the next generation to be less distracted by the usual anti-Western, anti-Semitic, anti-Israel rhetoric and more focused on their own governments’ responsibility for the backwardness and stagnation of the region. (He has failed in one area only in this respect: saving Israel from its slow suicide. But one suspects he is biding his time in exactly the same way. Only when Israelis realize he is right will his vision come to fruition. Right now, they prefer fear to hope.)

    What’s striking about Obama is his willingness not to take credit, not to constantly mouth off every news cycle, not to “guide” forces that need to reach their own conclusion first. Part of this restraint comes from the huge damage the previous administration did to America’s hard and soft power -- by demonstrating hard power’s profound limits in Iraq and Afghanistan and wrecking the West’s moral standing by embracing torture. But part is also in his nature.

    No sudden moves. He waits until those he needs to engage have played their hand. Then he moves.

    And not before.

    Unlike many I still have the Bush years etched in my memory as well. Bush took credit for everything good that ever happened regardless of how little he had to do with it. For example today you would see Bush touting the modest jobs growth as the unequivocal turning point of the jobs recession. Hell we see Boehner doing just that.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      I’m gratified that you appreciate it, KQ! And that piece from Sullivan is very insightful. This statement seems to sum up Obama’s style and his methodology perfectly (plus, Israel is committing suicide, tragically):

      (He has failed in one area only in this respect: saving Israel from its slow suicide. But one suspects he is biding his time in exactly the same way. Only when Israelis realize he is right will his vision come to fruition. Right now, they prefer fear to hope.)

      BTW, don’t know if you caught it, but Andrew is leaving the Atlantic--for that trash, The Daily Beast!


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