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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,621

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A Tar Heel Rebellion Against Conservatism

from truthdig:

A Tar Heel Rebellion Against Conservatism

Posted on Oct 9, 2014
By E.J. Dionne, Jr.

BURLINGTON, N.C.—The clergy gathered in the second-floor conference room at the First Baptist Church here were pondering whether this midterm election might be different from other midterm elections.

The five African-American pastors and bishops represented diverse theological traditions, but all were profoundly unhappy over what North Carolina’s ultra-conservative state government in Raleigh had done to reduce access to the ballot box, cut education spending, and turn back money to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

The irony, said the Rev. Dray Bland, pastor of First Baptist on Apple—the street location distinguishes it from the predominantly white First Baptist Church downtown—is that measures designed to make it harder for voters to cast ballots may actually inspire a larger number to do so.

“While many in Raleigh thought they could suppress the vote through these new voter laws, they may increase turnout by rallying the vote,” Bland said. “The apathy we might have had has turned into action.” ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/a_tar_heel_rebellion_against_conservatism_20141009

The Rise of the New, Liberal Islamophobia

from truthdig:

The Rise of the New, Liberal Islamophobia

Posted on Oct 9, 2014
By Sonali Kolhatkar

The recent television kerfuffle involving “Real Time” host Bill Maher and guest Sam Harris over whether Muslims are bad people because their religion is, in the words of Harris, “the mother lode of bad ideas,” is symbolic of the new American Islamophobia.

Muslim-bashing has become a popular sport several times over the last decade and a half, most notably in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks; after the election of Barack Obama; over the proposal for the so-called Ground Zero mosque; and now with the rise of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. But this time, it’s not just members of the extreme right, such as Rep. Michele Bachmann and presidential wannabe Herman Cain, equating Islam with terrorism.

Maher, one of the bastions of liberal ideology, is the source of the latest strain of anti-Muslim racism, along with his cohort Harris, a neuroscientist and author whose bigotry was superbly exposed by Chris Hedges in his 2008 book, “I Don’t Believe in Atheists.”

Historian and academic Reza Aslan’s brilliant response to Maher on CNN laid bare Maher’s poor logic in equating the actions of extremists with nearly a quarter of the world’s population who identify as Muslim. But Maher’s sentiments aren’t just dissonant with reality; they lend a liberal veneer to Islamophobia, which in turn casts as increasingly legitimate the ongoing government targeting and public venom aimed at American Muslims. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_rise_of_the_new_liberal_islamophobia_20141009

Chris Hedges Describes The Global Corporate Coup D'Etat - Sept 23, 2014

Amy Goodman: Texas Strips Women of Their Health and Rights

from truthdig:

By Amy Goodman

SAN ANTONIO—In Texas, how far women have come can be measured by how far they have to go. Scores of medical facilities have been shuttered in Texas, stranding almost a million women hundreds of miles from a health-care facility that they might need. The reason? These facilities provide, among other services, safe, legal abortions. Last week, the U.S. Appeals Court for the 5th Circuit affirmed Texas state restrictions on abortion access, closing 13 more clinics overnight. Overall, 80 percent of Texas abortion clinics have closed since the law went into effect.

Imagine the headline: “A Federal appeals court in Texas has ruled that 80 percent of gun stores in Texas must close.” Self-proclaimed patriots in Texas would be up in arms. But in the Lone Star State, not all rights are created equal. A woman’s right to choose, her right to terminate a pregnancy, her right to privacy, was settled by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973, more than 40 years ago, in its landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.

The Texas Legislature, along with Gov. Rick Perry and Attorney General (and current Republican candidate for governor) Greg Abbott, imposed laws in 2013 creating two significant barriers to the operation of clinics in Texas that perform abortions: First, doctors in the clinics were required to have admitting privileges in nearby hospitals. Second, a series of architectural standards were devised, applicable only to abortion clinics, mandating massive renovations to facilities in order to stay open.

Pro-choice activists call these regulations “TRAP laws,” for “Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers.” The nonpartisan Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that focuses on reproductive-health issues, reported recently that “26 states have laws or policies that regulate abortion providers and go beyond what is necessary to ensure patients’ safety; all apply to clinics that perform surgical abortion.” .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/texas_strips_women_of_their_health_and_rights_20141008

China Replaces U.S. as World’s Largest Economy, IMF Reports

via truthdig:

Has the era of American economic hegemony finally come to an end?

According to a new IMF report, China has now surpassed the U.S as the world’s largest economy.

The data show that China’s share of the global economy, adjusted for cost of living, is now slightly bigger than that of the United States. China’s gross domestic product is worth $17.6 trillion, when adjusted, compared with $17.4 trillion for the U.S. This was calculated by examining gross domestic product (GDP) alongside cost of living, or purchasing power parity (PPP).

Although this announcement signals an inevitable global shift, the U.S. continues to dominate in other important aspects. In terms of overall size (not adjusted for PPP), the U.S. economy still dwarfs China’s, at $17.4 trillion to $10.4 trillion. ............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/china_replaces_us_as_worlds_largest_economy_reports_imf_20141008

Unhappy Customer: Comcast Told My Employer About Complaint, Got Me Fired

When you complain to your cable company, you certainly don’t expect that the cable company will then contact your employer and discuss your complaint. But that’s exactly what happened to one former Comcast customer who says he was fired after the cable company called a partner at his accounting firm.


Conal began subscribing to Comcast service in early 2013 after he says he was sold a 9-month promotional pricing offer. But from the start, there were issues with his service, as he was being charged for set-top boxes that had yet to be activated. Additionally, someone at Comcast billing had misspelled Conal’s last name, meaning some of his bills were not being delivered.

He says he met with a Comcast rep in May 2013 about the billing issues and promised they would all be sorted out, but things only got worse.

A few months later, the promotional discount shrunk and Conal’s monthly bill increased by $20, in addition to still being charged for unactivated devices in his house. Comcast also twice charged him an additional $7 for a second modem he did not have.



Remember how we briefly mentioned above that Conal worked for a large, prestigious accounting firm? Comcast certainly noticed that fact, especially since that firm is one that does business with Comcast. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://consumerist.com/2014/10/06/unhappy-customer-comcast-told-my-employer-about-complaint-got-me-fired/

Is Obama worse than Nixon on Harassing Journalists? Committee to Protect Journalists Petition

Is Obama worse than Nixon on Harassing Journalists? Committee to Protect Journalists Petition
By contributors | Oct. 8, 2014

Electronic Frontier Foundation
p>A free press has always been an essential part of any democracy. That’s why repressive governments insist on state control over media. That’s why the very first addition to the Constitution, the First Amendment, protects freedom of speech.

And that’s why EFF is joining over 60 organizations supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists’ (CPJ) #RightToReport petition. The petition calls on the Obama Administration to:

1. Issue a presidential policy directive prohibiting the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organizations
2. Limit aggressive prosecutions that ensnare journalists and intimidate whistleblowers
3. Prevent the harassment of journalists at the U.S. border

The petition has been signed by intrepid journalists such as Christiane Amanpour of CNN, Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept, and Spencer Ackerman of the Guardian. It has also garnered the support of advocacy organizations like the ACLU and EFF, media giants like Associated Press, as well as international signatories like the Bahrain Press Association. This diverse group agrees: it is urgent that journalists be able to do their jobs without fear of being targeted by the government.

Many of the individual and organizational signatories have experienced the very harassment the petition aims to address—especially those involved in national security reporting. Laura Poitras, documentary filmmaker and staff at The Intercept, has been stopped at the border nearly 40 times. Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda was detained at the Heathrow airport for nine hours. Journalist James Risen is currently in legal proceedings for refusing to reveal a confidential source. And the NSA “hacked into Al Jazeera’s internal communications system.” These are only a few of the stories about the kind of intimidation and harassment reporters face today. .........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.juancole.com/2014/10/harassing-journalists-committee.html

Health Insurers Are Spending Millions to Defeat California’s Proposition 45

from truthdig:

Health Insurers Are Spending Millions to Defeat California’s Proposition 45

Posted on Oct 7, 2014
By Bill Boyarsky

From the start, even fans recognized that one of Obamacare’s great weaknesses was its failure to regulate insurance rates. Washington orders you to buy insurance, but can’t police how insurance companies raise your rates, a decision that made the Affordable Care Act a big moneymaker for the insurance industry.

Now, determined to preserve and increase profits, the industry is waging a fierce and expensive battle against a ballot initiative in California that would regulate insurance premiums. The vote in November has national significance. California, according to the Insurance Journal, is the largest insurance market in the country and what happens there politically and economically can be felt elsewhere in the country. Certainly, the fate of the measure, Proposition 45, is likely to have a great impact on consumer advocates’ efforts to improve Obamacare.

The failure to impose nationwide regulation was a result of the messy deals and compromises that accompanied the Affordable Care Act’s perilous journey through Congress.

Advocates of decent health care favored government health insurance. When insurance industry opposition killed that plan, called “single-payer,” those fighting for a strong health care system fell back on the “public option,” basically a government-run health insurance agency that would compete with private companies and keep rates down. That failed too. So finally, consumer advocates, battered by defeats, proposed federal regulation of rates. But that didn’t go anywhere either. Thus rate regulation was left in the hands of the states. In all, 35 of them do it, with their efforts ranging from good to weak. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/health_insurers_are_spending_millions_to_defeat_prop_45_20141007

Michael Bloomberg meddles in the Michigan gubernatorial race

LANSING, MI — Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is giving another assist to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican running for re-election against Democrat Mark Schauer.

Bloomberg’s Independence USA political action committee is starting to air pro-Snyder “issue advertisements” in the run-up to the November 4 general election.

The full size and scope of the ad buy is unclear — the treasurer has not yet responded to a request for comment — but it is believed to be significant. Public records show the Super PAC is running spots on broadcast television stations beginning this week in the Detroit market.

Bloomberg, a former Democrat who won elected office as a Republican and independent, held a fundraiser for Snyder in New York earlier this year and personally gave a maximum $6,800 to the governor’s re-election campaign. ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.mlive.com/lansing-news/index.ssf/2014/10/michael_bloomberg_pac_backing.html#incart_river

World Versus Bank: The Return of the World Bank and the People's Resistance

World Versus Bank: The Return of the World Bank and the People's Resistance

Monday, 06 October 2014 10:13
By Martin Kirk and Alnoor Ladha, Truthout | Op-Ed

If one was to do some superficial digging on the World Bank, you may get the impression that the Bank is a pure "development" organization, working exclusively in the interest of the public to reduce poverty and inequality. Indeed, the Bank's tagline is, "A world without poverty." But dig just a little deeper and the contours of a deep and extreme ideology become apparent. The World Bank reveals itself not as an altruistic benefactor of the world's poor so much as a link in the chain between Wall Street and the global south - a link the primary purpose of which is to facilitate profit for elite interests, through a long established pattern of wealth extraction.

The World Bank is very well funded and vastly powerful. With money it makes trading on Wall Street and through donations from rich country governments, it distributes about $30 billion each year, mostly in loans, to less rich countries, ostensibly to promote economic development. But it has a pretty checkered history, and one that has attracted legions of critics over the years, including a broad range of economists, governments and large NGOs, but most persistently grassroots and community groups whose lives it directly affects. And now, after a decade or so of relative calm during which the Bank seemed to get some measure of control back over its public image, criticism is again mounting.

It's a criticism that runs deep, to the very core of the Bank's purpose and guiding ideology, and it is being voiced all over the world, from the farmlands and cities of India, Latin America and Africa to the doorstep of the Bank's headquarters in Washington, DC.

Doing Business

Right now, at the center of the controversy are the Bank's Doing Business (DB) rankings. These come in the form of an annual report that ranks 189 countries according to how "business friendly" Bank officials think they are. In recent years, these rankings have assumed the position of a flagship program, that, in the Bank's own estimation have, "served as an incomparable catalyst for business reforms initiatives." They work on two fronts: First, they tell investment-hungry governments what a World Bank endorsed "business friendly environment" looks like, thereby setting the parameters of what form economic development must take. Secondly, and the reason governments pay attention, is that they then influence the flow of massive amounts of capital, from private and corporate investments to foreign aid to the Bank's own enormous portfolio.

This is where the Bank's extreme ideology comes in. Because it believes that absolutely all economic activity is positive, regardless of whom it benefits (a classic feature of a neoliberal "trickle down economics" belief system), and that being connected to mammoth global - therefore inevitably corporate - supply chains is the silver bullet for developing countries, their focus is on making legal and regulatory environments friendly to multinational business - particularly large monoculture agribusinesses. And as mounting evidence shows, far from stimulating equitable development, this "one size fits all" approach results in the enrichment of elites - both local and global - at the expense of small farms and business, particularly the family farms that currently feed 80 percent of the global south. There are any number of examples, from Guatemala to Sierra Leone to the Philippines, where the sort of "reforms" the Doing Business rankings promote have acted as a catalyst for massive industrial land grabs and the dispossession and forced eviction of countless small-scale farmers. ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/26643-world-versus-bank-the-return-of-the-world-bank-and-the-people-s-resistance

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