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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
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Journal Archives

Dutch Socialists show major gains ahead of Netherlands elections

(Guardian UK) An untested leftwing party is taking the lead ahead of the Dutch election next month, reflecting resentment over austerity and signalling that one of the eurozone's core northern countries could reject German demands to tighten public deficits.

Polls show the Socialist party could outperform the pro-business Liberal party on 12 September, suggesting it can win between a fifth and a quarter of the seats in parliament.

That would put the Socialist party and its leader, Emile Roemer, in a position to form a coalition where it could influence policy on Europe, despite having no experience of government beyond local level.

The appeal of Roemer, a 50-year-old former teacher, with a toothy smile and a down-to-earth manner, lies in his very ordinariness. He takes his holidays on the Dutch island of Texel, enjoys Italian food and says he's "no bookworm". One of his favourite films is The Silence of the Lambs. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/26/dutch-rookie-party-netherlands-elections

Howard Zinn: "Be Honest About the History of Our Country"

Published on Aug 24, 2012 by democracynow

DemocracyNow.org - The late historian, writer and activist Howard Zinn would have turned 90 years old today. Zinn died of a heart attack at the age of 87 on January 27, 2010. After serving as a bombardier in World War II, Zinn went on to become a lifelong dissident and peace activist. He was active in the civil rights movement and many of the struggles for social justice over the past 50 years. In 1980, Howard Zinn published his classic book, "A People's History of the United States," which would go on to sell more than a million copies and change the way we look at history in America. We air an excerpt of a Zinn interview on Democracy Now! from May 2009, and another from one of his last speeches later that year, just two months before his death.

“The Trend in the Western World Is the Dissolution of Cities”

MEXICO CITY, Aug 23 2012 (IPS) - The prevailing trend in much of “the Western capitalist world is the destruction and dissolution of cities,” which represents a threaten to democracy, “because the city is the place where public freedoms were born,” warns urban planner Jordi Borja in an interview with Tierramérica*.

The current urban planning model confines residents to places that urban transport does not reach, and leaves public spaces abandoned, stressed Borja, a political scientist, sociologist, geographer and director of city management and urban planning at the public Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Open University of Catalonia).

Borja (Barcelona, 1941) lived in exile in France from 1961 to 1968, worked as an adviser for the remodelling of cities like Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago and Bogotá, and is the author of a number of books, including “La ciudad conquistada” (The Conquered City).

Tierramérica spoke with Borja during the International Forum on the Right to Mobility, held this month in the Mexican capital, where he was one of the speakers. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.ipsnews.net/2012/08/qa-the-trend-in-the-western-world-is-the-dissolution-of-cities/

Norway weighing whether to stop collecting repayment on loans to developing world

Aug 27 2012 (IPS) - The Norwegian government has announced it would assess the legitimacy of developing countries’ debt to Norway. In effect it will investigate whether its loans have been useful enough to warrant repayment.

That makes Norway the first nation ever to carry out a creditor’s debt audit. The United Kingdom appears to be following Norway’s example but campaigners are still facing some big hurdles.

Last Wednesday Norwegian Minister of Development Heikki Holmås announced an independent public audit of developing countries’ debt to Norway. The Norwegian government had promised to do so since being elected in 2009, and to work to establish binding guidelines for responsible lending.

“The Norwegian government is bold,” Gina Ekholt, director of SLUG, the Norwegian Coalition for Debt Cancellation, tells IPS. “Something like this has never been done before. It has the potential to change the global creditor society: other countries will start doing the same once everyone agrees this is an acceptable process and a moral obligation. We are proud of the Norwegian government to have made this historical political announcement.” ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.ipsnews.net/2012/08/norway-counts-the-usefulness-of-lending/

New York Times: Intriguing Habitats, and Careful Discussions of Climate Change

from the NYT:

BOSTON — Sitting on an artificial mangrove island in the middle of the ray and shark “touch tank,” Lindsay Jordan, a staff member at the New England Aquarium, explained the rays’ eating habits as children and their parents trailed fingers through the water. “Does anyone know how we touch these animals when we are not at the aquarium?” she asked.

The children’s faces turned up expectantly.

“The ocean absorbs one-third of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions,” Ms. Jordan said, explaining that it upsets the food chain. “When you turn on your car, it affects them.”


Yet many managers are fearful of alienating visitors — and denting ticket sales — with tours or wall labels that dwell bleakly on damaged coral reefs, melting ice caps or dying trees.


At the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Brian Davis, the vice president for education and training, says to this day his institution ensures its guests will not hear the term global warming. Visitors are “very conservative,” he said. “When they hear certain terms, our guests shut down. We’ve seen it happen.” ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/27/science/earth/zoos-and-aquariums-struggle-with-ways-to-discuss-climate-change.html?_r=1&hp

Rightwing Evangelical Gets Play Banned in Wisconsin State Park

from the Progressive:

Rightwing Evangelical Gets Play Banned in Wisconsin State Park
By Matthew Rothschild, August 23, 2012

The forces of intolerance just won another victory in Wisconsin.

A local theater group called SummerStage was scheduled to put on a play at Lapham Peak State Park at the end of August and in September, but the Department of Natural Resources banned it.

The play, written by the Reduced Shakespeare Company almost two decades ago, is called “The Bible: Complete Word of God, Abridged.” It’s very light-hearted fare.

For instance, it has Moses coming down from the mountain, saying, “Children of Israel, I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is I talked Him down to 10. The bad news is adultery is still one of them.” .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.progressive.org/rightwing-evangelical-gets-play-banned-in-wisconsin-state-park

To Republicans, women are simply the sum of their parts

To Republicans, women are simply the sum of their parts
The GOP's adoption of an anti-abortion platform is further indication of a party that has no clue about reproductive life

Ana Marie Cox
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 23 August 2012

There's no doubt that Todd Akin's stunningly misguided understanding of female anatomy, as seen in his claim that raped women can't get pregnant, represented yet another instance of the Republican party's estrangement from science. But the GOP's refusal to grapple with facts goes beyond biology: there's some very basic mathematics that they appear ignorant of as well.

The polling showing just how unpopular the party's official anti-abortion position (adopted by the platform committee this week and identical to the policy that Akin tried to use junk science to support) is as follows: just 20% of Americans believe abortion should be "illegal in all circumstances", compared to 25% who say that it should "always be legal" and the vast majority – 52% – who say that it should be "legal only under certain circumstances".

You can make the party's official position compatible with the more moderate view of the actual Republican candidates only with a kind of magical thinking. This was well put by the party chairman Reince Priebus earlier this week: "This is the platform of the Republican party. It's not the platform of Mitt Romney." Ta da! Pay no attention to the men behind the curtain. Hey, look: there's Ann!

Ann Romney and 14 other women will speak at the Republican national convention (where the platform will be officially adopted) – almost half of the full list of those invited to address the gathering. But those women dress a campaign stage on which actual female elected officials are outnumbered by men about 10 to one, a gender gap that probably doesn't alarm Republican political operatives so much as the equally stark gap that exists in the polls. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/23/republicans-women-simply-sum-parts

A Bold New Labor Call for a ‘Maximum Wage’

from Too Much: A Commentary on Excess and Inequality:

A Bold New Labor Call for a ‘Maximum Wage’
August 25, 2012

The national leader of one of America’s feistiest unions is aiming to expand the economic fairness debate. He’s proposing a cap on incomes at the top that rises only if incomes at the bottom rise first.

By Sam Pizzigati

With Labor Day fast approaching, what better time to reflect about those Americans who earn the least for their labor? These Americans — workers paid the federal minimum wage — are now taking home just $7.25 an hour.

On paper, minimum wage workers are making exactly what they made in July 2009, the last time the minimum wage bumped up. In reality, minimum wage workers are making less today than they made last year — and the year before that — since inflation has eaten away at their incomes.

And if we go back a few decades, today’s raw deal on the minimum wage gets even rawer. Back in 1968, minimum wage workers took home $1.60 an hour. To make that much today, adjusting for inflation, a minimum wage worker would have to be earning $10.55 an hour.

In effect, minimum wage workers today are taking home almost $7,000 less over the course of a year than minimum-wage workers took home in 1968. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://toomuchonline.org/a-bold-new-labor-call-for-a-maximum-wage/

Chris Hedges: The Mirage of Our Lives

from truthdig:

The Mirage of Our Lives

Posted on Aug 27, 2012
By Chris Hedges

“A Hologram for the King”
A book by Dave Eggers
Published by McSweeney’s

Dave Eggers’ gem of a book, “A Hologram for the King,” is a parable about the decadence, fragility and heartlessness of late, decayed corporate capitalism. It is about the small, largely colorless men and women who serve as managers in our suicidal outsourcing of manufacturing jobs and the methodical breaking of labor unions. It is about the lie of globalization, a lie that impoverishes us all to increase corporate profits.

“A Hologram for the King” tells the story of Alan, a lackluster 54-year-old consultant who is desperately trying to snag one final big contract in Saudi Arabia for Reliant, a corporation that is “the largest I.T. supplier in the world,” to save himself from financial ruin. Alan has come to realize that managers like him who made outsourcing possible will be discarded as human refuse now that the process is complete, left to wander like ghosts—or holograms—among the ruins. And Eggers’ novel is a subtle, deft and poignant look at the horrendous toll this corporate process takes on self-esteem, on family, on health, on community and finally on the nation itself. It does so, like parables from Greek tragedy or George Orwell, by finding the perfect story to make a point that is universal.

Eggers, who showcased his talent as a writer of nonfiction in “Zeitoun” about Hurricane Katrina, combines fiction and reporting to create a small masterpiece. The book works because of its authenticity, its close attention to detail and Eggers’ respect for fact. I spent many months as a correspondent in Saudi Arabia where the novel is set. Eggers captures in tight, bullet-like prose the utter decadence, hypocrisy and corruption of the kingdom, as well as its bleak landscape, suffocating heat and soulless glass and concrete office buildings. He is keenly aware that the outward religiosity and piety mask a moral and physical rot that fits seamlessly into the world of globalized capitalism.

Eggers conjures up the bizarre incongruities of Saudi Arabia from his image of a Saudi soldier in a beach chair cooling his bare feet in an inflatable pool next to a Humvee, to a wild embassy party where drunken ex-patriots in their underwear dive into the swimming pool for pills. At one point Alan mistakenly stumbles onto an unfinished floor of a luxury condo where 25 foreign laborers from Malaysia, Pakistan and the Philippines, crammed together as if on a slave ship, are fighting over a discarded cellphone. .........(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/arts_culture/item/the_mirage_of_our_lives_20120827/

BBC: Julian Assange row: Americas give Ecuador partial support

Foreign ministers from the American continent have passed a motion backing the "inviolability of diplomatic missions" amid the row between the UK and Ecuador over Julian Assange.

The Wikileaks founder is in Ecuador's London embassy fighting extradition to Sweden over sexual assault claims.

Ecuador called for the Organisation of American States vote saying the UK had threatened to storm the embassy.

But the resolution was reworded after the UK insisted it had made no threat.

The BBC's Kim Ghattas said the resolution expressed solidarity with Ecuador but, despite a strong plea from Ecuador's foreign minister, Ricardo Patino, there was no reference to any threat against his country's embassy in London. ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19377110

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