“We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.”—First OFFICIAL Release from OCCUPY WALL STREET
Anyone with eyes open knows that the gangsterism of Wall Street — financial institutions generally — has caused severe damage to the people of the United States (and the world). And should also know that it has been doing so increasingly for over 30 years, as their power in the economy has radically increased, and with it their political power. That has set in motion a vicious cycle that has concentrated immense wealth, and with it political power, in a tiny sector of the population, a fraction of 1%, while the rest increasingly become what is sometimes called “a precariat” — seeking to survive in a precarious existence. They also carry out these ugly activities with almost complete impunity — not only too big to fail, but also “too big to jail.”
The courageous and honorable protests underway in Wall Street should serve to bring this calamity to public attention, and to lead to dedicated efforts to overcome it and set the society on a more healthy course.
If, by now, you haven’t read the incredible public response from NPR regarding the intentional decision to ignore the Occupy Wall Street protests now in their second week, prepare to be repulsed even if you automatically deride liberal protests as dumb hippies who need a bath or less piercings:
We asked the newsroom to explain their editorial decision. Executive editor for news Dick Meyer came back: “The recent protests on Wall Street did not involve large numbers of people, prominent people, a great disruption or an especially clear objective.”
Haha, right. Because the fucking Tea Party protests with their “more media than protesters” and the great disruption of several Hoverounds crowding the snack cart and the “especially clear objective” of birthers and Paultards and racists and gun nuts and apocalyptic Jesus freaks and Glenn Beck fanatics was really compelling and newsworthy, right?
By comparing levels of carbon in the lungs of five healthy bicycle commuters to the levels of five healthy pedestrian commuters, the researchers found a large disparity. The bicycle commuters had 2.3 times more black carbon in their lungs. They claim that the probability of this happening by chance is less than one percent.
The SWAT team came to Culosi’s house because another Fairfax County detective, David Baucum, overheard him and some friends wagering on a college football game at a bar. “To Sal, betting a few bills on the Redskins was a stress reliever, done among friends,” a friend of Culosi’s told me shortly after his death. “None of us single, successful professionals ever thought that betting 50 bucks or so on the Virginia/Virginia Tech football game was a crime worthy of investigation.” Baucum apparently did. After overhearing the wagering, Baucum befriended Culosi. During the next several months he talked Culosi into raising the stakes of what Culosi thought were friendly wagers. Eventually Culosi and Baucum bet more than $2,000 in a single day, enough under Virginia law for police to charge Culosi with running a gambling operation. That’s when they brought in the SWAT team.
On the night of January 24, 2006, Baucum called Culosi and arranged a time to drop by to collect his winnings. When Culosi, barefoot and clad in a T-shirt and jeans, stepped out of his house to meet the man he thought was a friend, the SWAT team moved in. Moments later, Bullock, who had had been on duty since 4 a.m. and hadn’t slept in 17 hours, killed him. Culosi’s last words: “Dude, what are you doing?”
“In fact, though Paul ducks the entire week of Porcfest (but somehow manages to have piles of his T-shirts there), Gary returns for a second night and spends three hours wandering the campground. The only group he approaches directly is sitting under a tent at a picnic table with RON PAUL MEETUP signs. Then he moves south to the part of the campground dominated by the anarchists, who are separated from the Libertarians by a swing set—and who, by definition, aren’t even going to vote. But Gary doesn’t want to just blow them off. He ends up in a long conversation with a guy named “Puke” and another dude in a red hoodie who wants to tell the presidential candidate how he became “the sovereign king of myself.” Gary listens as the 20-year-old tells him how he doesn’t pay taxes and drives without a license. “I understand how you feel, but listen, son…” And gently but firmly points out that those things could get him arrested. “That wouldn’t be good for you.”—Gary Johnson: Is This the Sanest Man Running for President?
“I approached the group encircling him after his inspiringly boring talk fingering my business card, seriously considering offering my help to his incipient campaign, until at the last moment I came to my senses and remembered that I hate politics. Still, I was tempted. Gary Johnson almost seduced me into volunteering to change my life by his apparent inability to bullshit, by persuasively conveying the impression that politics is a distasteful vocation and he really would rather be scaling Annapurna, but that people with the ability to make government work better have an obligation to try, so he tries.”—Gary Johnson: The authenticity of awkwardness | The Economist
The vulgar new flavor has turned something as innocent as ice cream into something repulsive,” read a statement released by One Million Moms, a division of the Mississippi-based American Family Association. “Not exactly what you want a child asking for at the supermarket.”
“9:21 PM — Using YouTube somehow, Fox News has ascertained that the people watching this debate ALL believe anyone making a million dollars is officially rich. And a majority of these people say it’s $500,000 household income, we think. It is hard to tell exactly because the people on Fox News are all millionaires, and they are paid to make numbers and math very confusing so that the poor people watching Fox News think the rich people on Fox News are somehow “on their side.”—Wonkette - Liveblogging the GOP Fox News Strap-On Death Match Debate #54
“Lawrence Russell Brewer, who was executed Wednesday for the hate crime slaying of James Byrd Jr. more than a decade ago, asked for two chicken fried steaks, a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, fried okra, a pound of barbecue, three fajitas, a meat lover’s pizza, a pint of ice cream and a slab of peanut butter fudge with crushed peanuts. Prison officials said Brewer didn’t eat any of it.”—
Moneybags Mitt Romney, a man who has by one estimate about as many dollars as there are adult humans in the United States, is trying desperately to woo his way into ordinary conservative voters’ reluctant panties with outlandish claims that he is somehow “one of them” instead of just the guy who “owns them,” but he fails at this because his pick-up lines are just awkward. Mittens told a group of town hall attendees that he is part of the “80 to 90 percent of us” who belong to the middle class, which is demonstrably neither the portion of people who are middle class in the United States nor the part of it that Mitt Romney belongs to. Mitt, he’s so smooth!
A pair of House Democrats introduced legislation Tuesday to overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling that freed corporations to spend unlimited money on elections.
Sponsored by Reps. John Conyers (Mich.), senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, and Donna Edwards (D-Md.), the proposal would amend the Constitution to empower Congress and the states to limit corporate spending on political activities.
“Last year, the Supreme Court overturned decades of law and declared open season on our democracy,” Conyers said in a news release. “It is individual voters who should determine the future of this nation, not corporate money.”
Former Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer, who was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Thursday, had a simple but unusual request when White House staffers talked to him a few days ago, reports CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante. Meyer said he would like to have a beer with the president. Great idea- right? And how could the president refuse? So it happened. Mr. Obama and the war hero hung out together on the patio outside the Oval Office. Wondering what brand they were drinking? Are you ready? It was the White House’s own brew, made with equipment the Obamas bought with their own money — the first beer ever made at the White House, according to historians. It is White House Honey Ale. It was the first beer served at the Super Bowl party. A very small batch 90-100 bottles all consumed that day. The White House chefs have been brewing since, a little at a time. There was some for St. Patrick’s Day, another batch in June, and the beer served to Sgt. Meyer.
I have a hard time believing that no one else has ever brewed beer at the White House.
he Defense Department is expecting “business as usual” tomorrow when the 1993 Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy is formally repealed and gays and lesbians can serve openly in the armed forces. Officials will acknowledge the end of the ban at a 2 p.m. press conference tomorrow, Stars and Stripes’ Leo Shane reports, and finish updating regulations barring dismissal of or discrimination against gay servicemembers and the “collection of any data related to troops’ sexual orientation.” But the government will otherwise remain mum on what many have described as “one of the most dramatic personnel changes in U.S. military history.”
Gay and lesbian servicemembers are also anticipating a low-key affair. A recent survey from Outserve — a group representing active duty gay soldiers — found that “nearly 80 percent are already out to military co-workers, with about half of those deciding to publicly acknowledge their sexual orientation in the weeks leading up to repeal.”
We’ve seen this result before, but here’s some confirmation from a recent CBS poll. If you ask Democrats if their politicians should stick to their guns come hell or high water, virtually no one thinks that’s a good idea. Compromise reigns supreme. Ask Republicans, and you get a very sizeable chunk who are ready to die for every hill — and, undoubtedly, ready to punish any politicians who aren’t. I’m not sure that a single poll question can explain Washington all by itself, but if there is one, this is it. Republicans are scared of their base; Democrats aren’t.
As the Obama administration announced plans for hundreds of billions of dollars more in domestic budget cuts, it late last week solicited bids for the construction of a massive new prison in Bagram, Afghanistan. Posted on the aptly named FedBizOps.Gov website which it uses to announce new privatized spending projects, the administration unveiled plans for “the construction of Detention Facility in Parwan (DFIP), Bagram, Afghanistan” which includes “detainee housing capability for approximately 2000 detainees.” It will also feature “guard towers, administrative facility and Vehicle/Personnel Access Control Gates, security surveillance and restricted access systems.” The announcement provided: “the estimated cost of the project is between $25,000,000 to $100,000,000.” In the U.S., prisons are so wildly overcrowded that courts are ordering them to release inmates en masse because conditions are so inhumane as to be unconstitutional (today, the FBI documented that a drug arrest occurs in the U.S. once every 19 seconds, but as everyone knows, only insane extremists and frivolous potheads advocate an end to that war).
In the U.S., budgetary constraints are so severe that entire grades are being eliminated, the use of street lights restricted, and the most basic services abolished for the nation’s neediest. But the U.S. proposes to spend up to $100 million on a sprawling new prison in Afghanistan.
Budgetary madness to the side, this is going to be yet another addition to what Human Rights First recently documented is the oppressive, due-process-free prison regime the U.S. continues to maintain around the world.
Recall how many people insisted that the killing of Osama bin Laden would lead to a drawdown in the War on Terror generally and the war in Afghanistan specifically. Since then — in just four months since bin Laden’s corpse was dumped into the ocean — the U.S. has done the following: renewed the Patriot Act for four years with no reforms; significantly escalated drone attacks in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan;tried to assassinate U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki with no due process;indicted a 24-year-old Muslim for ”material support for Terrorism” for uploading an anti-American YouTube clip after he talked to the son of a Terrorist leader; pressured Iraq to keep U.S. troops in that country;argued that it has the virtually unlimited right to kill anyone it wants anywhere in the world; and now finalized plans to build a sprawling new prison in Afghanistan. If that’s winding things down, I sure would hate to see what a redoubling of the American commitment to Endless War looks like.
President Obama on Monday will call for a new minimum tax rate for individuals making more than $1 million a year to ensure that they pay at least the same percentage of their earnings as middle-income taxpayers, according to administration officials.
With a special joint Congressional committee starting work to reach a bipartisan budget deal by late November, the proposal adds a new and populist feature to Mr. Obama’s effort to raise the political pressure on Republicans to agree to higher revenues from the wealthy in return for Democrats’ support of future cuts from Medicare andMedicaid.
Mr. Obama, in a bit of political salesmanship, will call his proposal the “Buffett Rule,” in a reference to Warren E. Buffett, the billionaire investor who has complained repeatedly that the richest Americans generally pay a smaller share of their income in federal taxes than do middle-income workers, because investment gains are taxed at a lower rate than wages.
The millionaires’ tax is among several changes Mr. Obama will propose in urging Congress to overhaul the federal income tax code next year, both to raise revenues for reducing deficits and to make the tax system simpler and fairer, said the administration officials, who agreed to speak in advance of the president’s announcement on the condition of anonymity.
The millionaires’ rate would affect only 0.3 percent of taxpayers, they said. That would be fewer than 450,000; 144 million returns were filed for 2010.