Michigan Blacks Lose the Vote, but Democrats Don’t Notice

Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report

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 Interview with Glen Ford of Black Agenda report who will be speaking in Hartford Thurs, 7/17  at 7:30 at the Urban Hope Refuge Church 136 Westland St., Hartford .  He and Stanley Heller talk about Detroit and Michigan as a whole where “administrators” run black majority cities, effectively disenfranchising blacks.   They also touch on Hartford and Newark and the sad state of the black leadership class.  This interview on You Tube on our channel EcoUp1.

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Mixed News on Jobs

Some things were better than expected, but overall things are weak. Jobs increased by 288,000, but E-pop, the number employed as a percent of the working population only went up 0.1 percent to 59.0, lots below the 63% before the Great Recession. A similar measure, the participation rate was 62.8%, unchanged for the last three months.

The number who have given up looking for work actually went up by 111,000. People forced to go on part time work increased by 275,000.

To pieces of definite good news, the jobless rate for Blacks is down 0.8 percent and the number of long term unemployed (27 weeks and over) is down by 300,000

Wages went up a few cents an hour since May. Over the year they went up two and a half  percent slightly more than prices. Wages have been flat for decades for working people.

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The Biggest Lesson from the Hobby Lobby Case

The Hobby Lobby case shows the twisted logic that is driving the Supreme Court judges.  People can claim religious beliefs (based on God or gods) that they say prevent them from doing this or that and the Court throws out common sense laws like the law that a big company has to provide certain minimum health insurance.  It was outlandish to read that Mr. Hobby Lobby approved certain kinds of birth control and not others so he didn’t want to pay for the required health care plan.  He was listened to seriously because he’s “spiritual”.  If,  however,  a teenager said that out of conscience he didn’t want to participate in registering for the draft because of the horrendous results of U.S. wars he would be barred from financial aid, all federal jobs and in theory could be fined $250,000.   If I decided not to pay taxes because I was sickened by the fences at the Mexico border and all the migrants who die each year trying to get to the U.S. my deep moral convictions would get me nothing other than a jail term.

An article in the New York Times today  criticizes another part of the judges’ logic.  All this concern about the owner’s religious preferences is based on the curious idea that the health insurance that the owners buy for their employees is given out of the kindness of their hearts.   Actually it’s been long understood that the benefits go to the workers because they are accepting less in wages in order to get those benefits.  Logically its the workers ideas about benefits, not the bosses that should matter.       Continue reading

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Petition: Break the “Redskins” Stalemate with a Media Boycott

Owner Dan Snyder has said he won’t change the racist name of the Washington football team. One thing that could help change his mind is a campaign to get the Washington Post and all media to refuse to mention the team or its activities. If there were no reporting of games, no feature stories, no listing in box scores, no mention of schedules, and no interviews with top players there eventually would be a drop in attendance at games, a decline in TV viewing and a fall-off in merchandise revenue. Advertisers would start to complain.

Read the whole article at Indian Country Today Media Network by clicking here.

Go directly to the petition by clicking here.

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Kiss Goodbye to Your Group Insurance

The prediction is that within six years almost all group insurance plans paid for by a company, city or state will be history.  Instead employees will be pushed onto the exchanges of Obamacare and the employers will kick in a share of the cost.

Michael Thompson of S&P Capital IQ writes,  as “many as 90 percent could end their current insurance benefits and move to public or private exchanges by 2020.”  He’s not alone.  Ezekiel Emanuel, a former Obama Administration official, says the same thing in his book “Reinventing American Health Care”.

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California Judge Deals Massive Blow to Teacher Job Security

June 11.  In a stunning decision a Superior Court judge struck down teacher job security (called “tenure”) and layoff rights in California calling them “unconstitutional”.   Claiming to base his decision on the view that all students deserve an equal education he says these job rights protections are so ironclad in California that incompetent teachers can’t be fired.   Judge Rolf M. Treu further claims the incompetents are more often than not put in minority school districts and this is another reason to strike down the laws.  Click here for  the judge’s full decision.

I taught in Connecticut for forty years (Social Studies and Computer Education) and was a lobbyist for the CT State Federation of Teachers (AFT) for a year in the CT legislature.  I know a bit about issues of job security.

Judge Treu states as a point of fact that there is “no dispute” that there are grossly ineffective teachers in California. I would bet my bottom dollar that there is a very big dispute over how many such teachers there are and whether they’re being dealt with properly.  The judge merely quotes a study that estimates the number of “grossly

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Obama Climate Plan is Not Nearly Enough

June 5.  The NYC climate march in September becomes ever more important.  While the president has finally taken climate action  it won’t achieve UN goals and  prevent catastrophe.  Interview with Chris Williams: 

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 We need a huge turnout for the Sept. 21 NYC climate march and we have to work to make “System Change, Not Climate Change” a key part of the effort.  Chris Williams is the author of “Ecology and Socialism: Solutions to Capitalist Ecological Crisis”

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NYT Says Treaty Would Give the 1% “Dangerous” Power

by Dan Fischer

As a surprisingly honest New York Times editorial shows, the 1 percent has been shaping trade policy to transfer money and power to the wealthy. “Big corporations” are “shaping the American position” on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and its US-European counterpart TAFTA, according to Sunday’s editorial titled “This Time, Get Global Trade Right”. The Times warns that the bargaining process gives corporations a “dangerous” and “lopsided” influence, and “companies are using trade agreements to get special benefits”.

Given the Times’ loyalty to the 1 percent, the editors’ stern warning suggests that the ongoing trade discussions must be especially undemocratic. After all, the Times has repeatedly supported business-friendly policies in the past, from NAFTA to the collapsed Free Trade Area of the Americas. Just this past December, the editors strongly praised the TPP, a proposed trade agreement between the US, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Singapore, New Zealand, Chile, Peru and Brunei. If passed, the agreement would govern 40 percent of the world economy.

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You Can See the Gas Flares From Space

April 11.  The oil boom in North Dakota is so hot that drillers just burn away millions of cubic feet of natural gas every day.  The picture above is an actual NASA photo of the section of the state which is home to the Bakken shale oil field. The lights, for the most part, are the flares, some of which are 30 feet high.

Natural gas is mostly methane.  When flared it releases carbon dioxide and some methane.  Methane is  is about 20 time worse than carbon dioxide in its greenhouse effects (though it doesn’t last as long as CO2 in the atmosphere).

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Nixon “I am not a crook”, Sharpton “I am not a rat”

April 11.  Al Sharpton has risen to the top ranks of Obama advisers.  It was he who last year staged the ultra-tame tribute to the epic 1963 March on Washington.  He has his own daily TV show on the MSNBC (Love-the-Democrats-24/7) channel.  Tonight his “National Action Network” will host President Obama, and Attorney General Eric Holder.  Sharpton is at the pinnacle of influence with the 1% due to his ability to channel black anger into harmless paths.

This week, however, a website revealed that Sharpton has been an FBI informer in the ’80′s after having been threatened with arrest and then “flipped”.  The website is “The Smoking Gun” (TSG) and its findings have been taken seriously by The New York Times, USA Today and other media.

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My Math Says 37 Million Still Without Health Insurance

Obama is crowing about the success of his health care plan saying more people signed up on his health care exchanges than predicted.  The number is over seven million.  Now not all of those who sign up will actually make payments and get insured. Experience shows the number to be 80%.  So figure 5.6 million.

Add to that 2.4 million who have gotten insurance through extended Medicaid in the Obamacare plan (through January) and 2.2 million young adults added to their parents plan and 500,000 who signed up for insurance without using the exchange. (see two week old Fact Check article here for figures in these paragraphs.)

So the total number is 10.7 million, or to be a little generous 11 million more people with health insurance. Bully!

The problem is according to census data in 2012 there were 48 million without health insurance.  That means roughly 37 million are without health insurance.

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Climate Change Kills Off 1/3 of Human Race

April 2.  No, this is not a prediction of the ICPP on what will happen over the next few centuries.  It already happened.  In the 1600’s climate cooling caused a number of weather disasters which led to famines and war and wiped out about a third of humanity. Kingdoms that had lasted for centuries collapsed and men fought for a new order.  That’s from a 900 page book that came out last year by historian Geoffrey Parker called Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century, I heard an interview with him on WBAI this morning on the program “Against the Grain”.

Climate cooling in the 17th century was surely not man-made.  Parker says it had to do with a unique lack of sunspots, more frequent volcanic eruptions and changes to El-Nino.  The temperature dropped worldwide one to two degrees Celsius.

There were different reactions among the rulers of the world.  The main one was to deny anything was going wrong and to try to drown rebellions in blood.  Others saw the problem as sin against God.  Their solution was to burn witches and murder gays.  Some societies realized something special was going on in the climate and that the state had to take action.  Mogul India cut back on its building program (no second Taj Mahal) and fed many of the starving.

The best response was in Tokugawa Japan.  Their ruler decided there was in a real emergency and took action.  For instance no one could use rice for anything except eating (no saki wine).  Invitations to go to war were actually rejected.  The Chinese asked for help against the Manchus in vain.  The Dutch proposed a joint Dutch-Japanese invasion of the Philippines and this was rejected, too.  This approach was successful and Japan’s population doubled or tripled by 1700.

Obviously there’s a lesson here as our climate starts to heat up.  Climate catastrophe is going to cause more war.  Some say it’s already happened recently, giving Syria as the big example.  An expert on the Bill Moyers TV show talked about years of drought in Syria.  “75 percent of farmers in the northeast suffered total crop failure”. Millions left their homes and the Assad government did not handle the crisis.  The result was a social powder keg and finally an explosion.

More on Parker’s book here and here.

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The Job Fair from Hell

March 17.  You know how a company will put out an extravagant ad for job seekers even though they have just a few jobs to offer.  Or they may have no jobs at all and want to build up a cache of applications “just in case”.  The Nigerian government did this in spades over the weekend inviting 65,000 people to apply for 5,000 positions.  They told job seekers to come to a giant stadium in Abuja.  The stadium held only 60,000.  Once it was filled desperate job seekers tried to force their way, in.  (There are 41 million unemployed in Nigeria.)   The result was panic and a stampede and at least seven deaths.

Interior Minister Abba Moro said the unemployed workers were responsible.  He said they “lost their lives through their impatience”.

Nigeria has enormous amounts of oil and the “growth” figures for the economy are supposedly  6%.  This has not amounted to many jobs.

On the other hand Nigerian Folorunsho Alakija is the richest woman in the world.  ”She returned to Nigeria shortly afterwards [1980's] to start Supreme Stitches, a premium Nigerian fashion label that catered exclusively to upscale clientele, including Maryam Babangida, the wife of Nigeria’s former military President Ibrahim Babangida. Leveraging on this proximity to power, she acquired an oil prospecting license – the basis of her enormous fortune today.”

 

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Andrew Jackson Cancelled and How History Books Fail

This article by Stanley Heller published on Indian Country Today got over 1,700 shares.

art work of cancelled andrew jackson stamps

While going to a program at the Yale University Art Gallery auditorium I came across a wall full of pictures of cancelled Andrew Jackson stamps. They had been blown up to five or six inches square, but a few were around a foot square. They were very heavily cancelled. Ha, I thought, a political statement about “Old Hickory”.

But I was wrong. The artist had come across a collection of a student’s stamps and was fascinated with the variety of cancellation marks. At least that was what I was told at the information desk.

I prefer my fantasy, that Yale was featuring an exhibit showing disrespect for Andrew Jackson—slaveholder, imperialist, constitution defiler, Indian killer and seventh U.S. president.

To continue click here

 

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Some Thoughts and Several Links on the Ukraine

For sure the U.S. and Russian 1% are each trying to see how much they can steal in the Ukraine.  The U.S. has spent billions to convince the Ukrainians that the European Union is paradise (Ask the Greeks or the Spaniards about the EU heaven).  The Ukrainian fascists are very powerful and were a big part of the shock troops who overthrew the elected president (who along with his family was busy enriching himself).   On the other hand the Putin regime and his billionaire buddies are no friend of the Ukrainians.  Stories about threats to the Russian base and the Crimea or threats to Russian speaking Ukrainian are just excuses for old fashioned Russian great power grasping.

On the other hand let’s not pretend that all that has happened is just a U.S. conspiracy.   Things were awful in the Ukraine.  Years of free market reforms let to permanent depression.  Corruption at the top was legend.  Huge crowds of people put up with freezing temperatures in the Maidan for months demanding change.   True, the change most of them wanted was the EU fantasy, but President Yanukovich was in no position to warn them of this as he had given the population a diet of cut-backs for years on advice of the great sages of capitalism while he lived in luxury.

A message for the U.S. 1%: Why are you looking down your noses at Russia?  Putin is what you wanted, not a reformed democratic Soviet Union, but an empire torn to pieces, replaced by aggressive no holds barred robber baron capitalism.  Putin and his friends are what you drooled for.

What follows are important or interesting articles about the Ukraine with my comments

Start at the bottom.  Newest articles on top.

Excellent Analysis from Joanne Landy and Thomas Harrison of the CPD  5/20

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What I Wrote to James Hansen

Dear Dr. Hansen:

You’ve asked for comment on your draft paper “Renewable Energy, Nuclear Power and Galileo: Do Scientists Have a Duty to Expose Popular Misconceptions?“

I think your explanation of the gravity of the problem is fine, but I think the paper is unconvincing when it calls for expansion of nuclear power through fast reactors.  I also disagree on what to do with the money raised by a carbon tax.

1. Consider the Monju fast breeder reactor near Kyoto, Japan.  It was built 20 years ago, cost around $10 billion and has produced about 1 hour of electricity in all those years.  There was an accident in 1995 when there was a massive leak of the sodium coolant and then a major fire.  This is a real problem with the fast breeders because they can’t use water for coolant and must use very dangerous materials like liquid sodium.  As of a few days ago the Japanese government announced that it most likely won’t ever use the plant  to generate power at all, but would use it for “research”

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I Don’t Want to Alarm You, But 100,000 Bats Fell Out of the Sky

Feb. 25. Just noticed this Jan. 10 article, but it hit 50 degrees in Pilbara  region of Australia on that day. This may not seem to be a big deal to those of us in the northeast U.S. who would kill for a day at 50 degrees Farenheit, but the Australian temperature was in Centigrade. So in our terms it was really 122! That’s very nearly the highest temperature ever recorded in that continent.

Several thousand miles to the east in Queensland bats were dying because of the heat. An estimate is that 100,000 have fell out of the sky to their deaths. “Residents near Athol Terrace lookout in Boonah said they have been agonizing over the smell of dead bats for four days.”

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Americans #1 Worry? Jobs.

Feb. 19.   The government numbers and press releases sound good.  The “Unemployment Rate” slowly but steadily has been going down, now to just 6.6%.  So everything should be hunky-dory, right?  Funny thing though the public thinks unemployment is the most important problem facing the country today.  That’s the finding of the Gallop poll taken earlier in February.

The lack of jobs was thought to be the #1 worry by 23% with another 20% saying problems with the economy was #2.  Lack of confidence in government leaders was #3.

Gee, does the average person know something the politicians don’t?

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Has the Natural Gas “Climate Saving” Bubble Burst?

Feb. 17.  In his State of the Union, the president said the U.S. had cut carbon emissions “over the last eight years” more than any other country in the world.  Carbon emissions for 2004-2012 fell from 5.853 billion metric tons to 5.490 billion metric tons.  We were on the right track! Or were we?

In 2013 U.S. carbon pollution went up, by 2%.  The Washington Post got this from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The reason the Washington Post said was because the “shale fracking boom had pushed natural gas prices to unsustainably low levels.”  Prices of natural gas went up a lot and many companies switched back to coal.

How could they go back to coal?  Well, electric power companies can just throw their most dangerous garbage (carbon dioxide) into the air when they burn it  and never have to pay to clean it up.  There is no nation carbon tax so why not go back to coal?  All that matters is profit, right?  Climate worries are for sissies.

Now here’s an interesting tidbid from the same Washington Post article.  “The EIA is only counting carbon-dioxide emissions from energy sources like coal, natural gas, and oil. This makes up about 84 percent of all of America’s greenhouse-gas emissions. But it leaves out other potent, heat-trapping gases like methane, which can leak out of natural gas operations, landfills, and farms.”

So we don’t even know if they Obama claim about 2004-2012 was true.

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ESOP Has No Pop, WSDE Means We Run the Company

Feb. 17. Tomas Edsall wrote a piece in the NYT about what is now an old idea on how to reduce inequality and get workers more enthusiastic in the companies they work for, ESOP, an Employee Stock Ownership Plan. It’s been a law for 50 years giving companies tax breaks if they formally give their workers stock in the company. Some 12,000 companies do so.

Ronald Reagan loved the idea. It’s supposed to make workers love the company and become more “productive”. Supposedly it makes every man(/woman) a capitalist, and is a “win/win” situation.

Sorry, just because you own some stock you’re not a capitalist. You’d have to make most of your living taking advantage of workers to be in that class. You wouldn’t say that Bob Cratchit was a capitalist just because Scrooge used some of the company profits to give Cratchit a goose on Christmas.

An ESOP may give you back a little bit of the money the boss has gouged out of you, but that’s it. You’re not the partial boss of an ESOP. They have rules that keep you out of the running of the company. That’s for “professionals”. As Robert Shaffer of Appalachia said in his comment posted to Edsall’s article, “ESOP participants do not have any say when the company decides to move its operations out of this country. They may not even tell you until the day it happens. Been there, done that, have the T-shirt.”
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