Clear The Air: Scented Candles, Air Fresheners Can Be Irritating

I can’t even walk down the super market aisles that they have these room fresheners and scented candles on without gasping for air.

The same goes for many perfumes.

Many of these perfumes are worse than cigarette smoke when it comes to triggering a reaction.

From NPR: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/11/07/142107203/clear-the-air-scented-candles-air-fresheners-can-be-irritating?sc=fb&cc=fp

by Scott Hensley
November 8, 2011

Mary, a 46-year-old flight attendant, had a persistent runny nose that was sometimes so bad she had trouble doing her job.

She’d tried antihistamines, nasal sprays and “allergy drops” prescribed by a specialist. None of them helped.

Then she saw Dr. Stanley Fineman, an allergist, who found Mary wasn’t allergic to the usual household suspects — dust mites, animal dander, pollen and molds. Instead, she turned out to be sensitive to air fresheners she’d been using at home and exposed to in hotels. She’s not alone.

Fineman, the president-elect of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, told Mary’s story over the weekend at the annual meeting of the medical group to highlight an increasingly common problem. “I’ve been seeing more and more people coming in to my office who have allergy-type symptoms that are triggered by these air freshener-type products,” Fineman told Shots in an interview before the talk.

Patients complain about congestion, sniffles or a runny nose, he said. Headaches or sinus pressure are other typical symptoms.

It can be tough for patients and their doctors to figure out the cause.

One reason is that the sources of irritating chemicals are so ubiquitous. Plug-in air fresheners, sprays and scented candles seem to be everywhere. And the volatile organic compounds, key irritants in those products, can also come from building materials and furnishings, such as a new carpet.

About 19 percent of the population reported health effects from air fresheners, according to data cited by Fineman. For people with asthma, the figure was more than one-third.

Continue reading at:  http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/11/07/142107203/clear-the-air-scented-candles-air-fresheners-can-be-irritating?sc=fb&cc=fp

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American economy deliberately allowed to fail?

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The 1% are the very best destroyers of wealth the world has ever seen

From Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/nov/07/one-per-cent-wealth-destroyers

Our common treasury in the last 30 years has been captured by industrial psychopaths. That’s why we’re nearly bankrupt

guardian.co.uk, Monday 7 November 2011

If wealth was the inevitable result of hard work and enterprise, every woman in Africa would be a millionaire. The claims that the ultra-rich 1% make for themselves – that they are possessed of unique intelligence or creativity or drive – are examples of the self-attribution fallacy. This means crediting yourself with outcomes for which you weren’t responsible. Many of those who are rich today got there because they were able to capture certain jobs. This capture owes less to talent and intelligence than to a combination of the ruthless exploitation of others and accidents of birth, as such jobs are taken disproportionately by people born in certain places and into certain classes.

The findings of the psychologist Daniel Kahneman, winner of a Nobel economics prize, are devastating to the beliefs that financial high-fliers entertain about themselves. He discovered that their apparent success is a cognitive illusion. For example, he studied the results achieved by 25 wealth advisers across eight years. He found that the consistency of their performance was zero. “The results resembled what you would expect from a dice-rolling contest, not a game of skill.” Those who received the biggest bonuses had simply got lucky.

Such results have been widely replicated. They show that traders and fund managers throughout Wall Street receive their massive remuneration for doing no better than would a chimpanzee flipping a coin. When Kahneman tried to point this out, they blanked him. “The illusion of skill … is deeply ingrained in their culture.”

So much for the financial sector and its super-educated analysts. As for other kinds of business, you tell me. Is your boss possessed of judgment, vision and management skills superior to those of anyone else in the firm, or did he or she get there through bluff, bullshit and bullying?

In a study published by the journal Psychology, Crime and Law, Belinda Board and Katarina Fritzon tested 39 senior managers and chief executives from leading British businesses. They compared the results to the same tests on patients at Broadmoor special hospital, where people who have been convicted of serious crimes are incarcerated. On certain indicators of psychopathy, the bosses’s scores either matched or exceeded those of the patients. In fact, on these criteria, they beat even the subset of patients who had been diagnosed with psychopathic personality disorders.

The psychopathic traits on which the bosses scored so highly, Board and Fritzon point out, closely resemble the characteristics that companies look for. Those who have these traits often possess great skill in flattering and manipulating powerful people. Egocentricity, a strong sense of entitlement, a readiness to exploit others and a lack of empathy and conscience are also unlikely to damage their prospects in many corporations.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/nov/07/one-per-cent-wealth-destroyers

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Michigan’s Children Speak Out Against Republican Pro-Bullying Legislation

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Net Neutrality Is Under Attack… Again

From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/al-franken/net-neutrality-is-under-a_b_1082225.html

Sen.
Posted: 11/8/11

This week, the free and open Internet millions of Americans have come to depend on is under attack.

In a procedural move, Senate Republicans are trying to overturn the rules that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) put in place late last year to help protect net neutrality — the simple idea that all content and applications on the Internet should be treated the same, regardless of who owns the content or the website. The House already pushed through this dangerous legislation, which would effectively turn control of the Internet over to a handful of very powerful corporations.

I sincerely hope the Senate doesn’t follow suit, and I’m doing everything I can to make sure this terrible legislation never reaches the President’s desk.

While millions of Americans have become familiar with the concept of net neutrality, it’s important that we’re all on the same page. Net neutrality isn’t a government takeover of the Internet, as many of my Republican colleagues have alleged. It isn’t even a change from what we have now. Net neutrality has been in place since the very beginning of the Internet.

This isn’t a radical concept — it’s what each and every one of us experiences every time we use the Internet. Right now, an e-mail from a friend arrives in your inbox just as quickly and reliably as an advertisement from Amazon.com. Consumers can go online and make a reservation at a small fishing lodge in Ely, Minnesota just as quickly as they can at the Hilton.

But many Republicans want to change that so that the large corporations they represent can increase their profit margins at the expense of small businesses and consumers.

To illustrate why net neutrality is so critical to innovation on the web, I like to tell the story of a small online startup that launched in 2005 above a pizzeria in San Francisco. It had a product that now seems simple: it allowed people to upload videos so others could stream them. It was called YouTube — you may have heard of it.

At the time, Google had a similar product — Google Video — but it wasn’t as easy to use, so consumers took their business to YouTube. The site took off and, less than two years after it launched, YouTube was purchased by Google for $1.6 billion. Not a bad payday.

But it wouldn’t have been possible without net neutrality. If Google had been able to pay Comcast and other large Internet service providers to prioritize its data — and make YouTube’s videos load more slowly — YouTube wouldn’t have stood a chance. Google’s inferior product would have won.

Last year, the FCC took action to protect net neutrality, establishing a set of rules designed to preserve the status quo — the rules under which YouTube and thousands of other start-ups flourished. While those rules didn’t do nearly as much as I would have liked to protect consumers, encourage innovation, and keep the Internet fully free, they at least laid a foundation to preserve the basic principles of net neutrality.

These are the rules Republicans in the House have already voted to overturn. This week, my Republican colleagues in the Senate will attempt to short circuit the legislative process by forcing a procedural vote and ignoring the FCC’s expertise on this issue. They hope to abolish net neutrality and give their supporters in big telecom what they want: an unfair advantage over small businesses and bigger profits at the expense of consumers.

I’ve said that net neutrality is the most important free speech issue of our time. It’s true. If Republicans have their way, large corporations won’t just have the loudest voices in the room. They’ll be able to effectively silence everyone else.

Every small business they’d prefer not to compete with. Every blogger who publishes something they don’t like.

We have to stop them.

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The Story of Stuff – Consumption

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Health Tab for Climate Change: $14 Billion

From Mother Jones: http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2011/11/health-tab-climate-change-14-billion

By Kate Sheppard
Tue Nov. 8, 2011

Climate change-related disasters caused $14 billion in health costs in first decade of the 2000s, according to a new paper published this week in the journal Health Affairs. The paper looks at six case studies of weather events in the US, all of the type predicted to increase or grow more severe as climate change progresses, like hurricanes, floods, and heat waves. It then determines the cost of disease, injury, and death related to those events.

Each individual event can be pricey. Ozone pollution in the US over the period of 2000 to 2002 cost $6.5 billion in emergency room visits, missed days at work or school, or early deaths (a particular concern for the elderly and people with preexisting respiratory conditions). The California heat wave in 2006, during which record temperatures were recorded all over the state over a two-week period, cost $5.4 billion. A lot of those costs came from hospitalizations and ER visits for problems like dehydration and heat stroke.

Sure, going to the hospital is pricey. But dying isn’t free, either. The researchers used the EPA’s value of a statistical life—a rough estimate of how each individual life costs—of $7.9 million.

$14 billion is a pretty big number for just 10 years. But that’s only looking at a handful of specific incidents. There are also costs associated with climate change that don’t stem from extreme events—things like increased problems related to asthma or allergies, or even problems like kidney stones, as we reported last year.

 “Health has been unfortunately absent and not at the front and center in the discussion of what climate change is all about,” Kim Knowlton, a senior scientist in the health and environment program at the Natural Resources Defense Council and the lead author on the paper, told Mother Jones. “It really is a problem with a human face. I think this work draws out dimension that hasn’t been drawn out previously.”
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Connecting the Dots: Egg-as-Person Initiatives, Sexual Harassment Charges All Reflect Disregard for Women

From RH Reality Check:  http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2011/11/08/it-is-all-connected

by Andy Kopsa
November 8, 2011

Today Mississippi votes on, and if all indications are correct, may pass the so-called ‘personhood’ amendment today, declaring a fertilized egg is a person. Mississippi is just the latest canvas on which religious fanaticism is trumping science and a woman’s right to choose.  Where misinformation about human sexuality and reproduction are used as tools to marginalize women to the point of mere baby vessel whose rights are up to popular vote. I am watching my rights being dismantled by an institutionalized patriarchy buoyed by the religious right and political opportunists.  I don’t live in Mississippi but what happens in state legislatures grows like a cancer across the US – I am affected; every woman is.

Personhood (and all anti-choice efforts) emerge from politically entrenched religious zealots and political opportunists, quite often these operatives are men; men who generate a willing group of women followers to cast their efforts as somehow pro-woman. Men like Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, Chris Slattery of Expectant Mother Care, Troy Newman of Operation Rescue and of course, Les Riley, the man behind Prop 26 in Mississippi.

Religious zealots form a symbiotic relationship with politicians to pass draconian legislation sacrificing the rights of women.  The zealots get to walk away having successfully implemented a cog in their overall attempt to implement a Christian worldview system of governing on the US securely placing men in the headship roll and subjugating women. The politicians in return get tons of fundraising cash and a committed group of one-issue voters that can propel them into office.

As Mississippi votes on a woman’s right to her own body, Herman Cain is promising to set the record straight regarding the numerous allegations of sexual harassment coming up from his past. While the Cain campaign tweets about Gloria Allred in a condescending male voice, the right wing media blames the victim, and a liberal media is busy determining whether Cain remains electable or not, we are all missing the point.

Our public discourse, by and large, discuses women and issues affecting women as if women themselves are removed from the equation. That we are somehow having a high-level think-off on the rationality of a bill that establishes the contents of a woman’s body as not her own, that the GOP front runner can run his hand up a woman’s leg and pull her head toward his crotch and make a killing in fundraising – and keep is position in the polls – as a result.  Instead of focusing on women taking a beating in this country, the discussion deteriorates into who said what, political polls and Howard Stern’s producer commanding audience at various press conferences. Cain is, by some accounts, being accused by up to seven women of sexual harassment and now with the public statement of Sharon Bailek, possibly sexual assault. Instead of the Cain scandal being called what it is – a potential criminal situation and a case study in the abuse of male power – pundits busy themselves arguing whether or not, Cain will be able to weather this political storm.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2011/11/08/it-is-all-connected

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Reefer Madness: The Feds Seem Intent on Destroying Medical Pot

From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/story/152997/reefer_madness%3A_the_feds_seem_intent_on_destroying_medical_pot_/

This year, federal authorities have done almost everything in their power to undermine state regulation of medical marijuana. It is time Obama implement his original policy.

By Ethan Nadelmann
November 7, 2011

Marijuana is now legal under state law for medical purposes in 16 states and the District of Columbia, encompassing nearly one-third of the American population. More than 1,000 dispensaries provide medical marijuana; many are well regulated by state and local law and pay substantial taxes. But though more than 70 percent of Americans support legalizing medical marijuana, any use of marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

When he ran for president, Barack Obama defended the medical use of marijuana and said that he would not use Justice Department resources to override state laws on the issue. He appeared to make good on this commitment in October 2009, when the Justice Department directed federal prosecutors not to focus their efforts on “individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.”

But over the past year, federal authorities appear to have done everything in their power to undermine state and local regulation of medical marijuana and to create uncertainty, fear and confusion among those in the industry. The president needs to reassert himself to ensure that his original policy is implemented.

The Treasury Department has forced banks to close accounts of medical marijuana businesses operating legally under state law. The Internal Revenue Service has required dispensary owners to pay punitive taxes required of no other businesses. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives recently ruled that state-sanctioned medical marijuana patients can not purchase firearms.

United States attorneys have also sent letters to local officials, coinciding with the adoption or implementation of state medical marijuana regulatory legislation, stressing their authority to prosecute all marijuana offenses. Prosecutors have threatened to seize the property of landlords and put them behind bars for renting to marijuana dispensaries. The United States attorney in San Diego, Laura E. Duffy, has promised to start targeting media outlets that run dispensaries’ ads.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/story/152997/reefer_madness%3A_the_feds_seem_intent_on_destroying_medical_pot_/

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The Tyranny of “Sexy”

How hard can it be to find a pair of plain simple actually made of cotton real denim jeans for women that have deep usable pockets that will hold car keys and cell phone etc.

Tina put up the following piece on her Blog  the other day: Why can’t I find a pair of REAL DENIM Blue Jeans

I pretty much hate fucking spandex and I absolutely hate the thin-assed chintzy  pseudo denim they are trying to pass off today.

I’d rather have a two or three pairs of real denim Levis or Lees with the same stitching and deep pockets one finds on guy jeans.

Funny thing is I could get real jeans made for women including plus-size women as recently as four or five years ago.

I know this for a fact as I have those jeans in my closet.  It isn’t like something I imagined.  I am in fact trying to find the same size and brand line as actual jeans in my closet.

The price naturally has gone up because the Wall Street Pigs are never satisfied and will bleed us until we are bled out.

But fuckshitpiss.  I order a replacement for something that was once upon a time made in America, of real denim and cost far less and these pigs send me something made out of thin blue pseudo denim with spandex for that sexy 64 year old look.  With pockets too shallow to hold my keys or cell phone.  (Which BTY is a slim clam shell Samsung not some pocket computer Android/iPhone)

At this point I’m going to recommend Naomi Klein’s “No Logo”.

Branding… The idea of selling an image of a product instead of an actual product.

It goes deeper than not being able to find women’s jeans made out of actual denim, with pockets that you can put shit in, that aren’t filled with thigh hugging sexy spandex.

It is about being programmed to think the thoughts these fucking corporations want you to think in order to get you to buy the lowest quality shit they can peddle and go into debt slavery in order to buy it.

I used to understand this stuff.  I used to be a hippie and have a bullshit detector that alerted me to corporations trying to get me to buy garbage.

Yeah, hanging out with other sisters who were in to fashion and looking “sexy” fucked with both my values and my bullshit detector.  But I still had a tendency to snap back into awareness.

One day in the early 1970s, I was already post-op I was looking at make-up in San Francisco’s Macy’s.  This good looking blond hippie guy, a passer-by whispered to me.  “Buying make-up won’t give you better orgasms.”  I shot back that “Buying make-up was my orgasm.”  But afterwards I thought about what a total asshole I was and how he was right.

I moved to West Hollywood and became a denizen of Sunset Strip.  Lead guitars, lead vocalists, cocaine, “ludes and Stevie Nicks Sunset Strip clothes.

But I found my way back through stopping the pills and powder, thought hanging out at the Women’s Building.

I came to realize the hippie guy who whispered that comment to me had given me one of the greatest pieces of wisdom imaginable.

Buying stuff you are told makes you sexy doesn’t make you sexy it just makes you a consumer of stuff the corporations tell you will make you sexy.

I remember a period in the 1970s when the “natural look” was in.  I thought great, I haven’t worn a bra in years and when I bother my make-up routine takes like 30 seconds to toss on some blush and shadow.  Except the corporations idea of the “natural look” required all sorts of expensive make up and barely there underwear.

The corporate idea of vintage clothing involved “inspired by new clothes” that cost a fortune and not shopping at thrift stores or even hip vintage clothes stores.

Over the last thirty years or so I have notices how image has become more important than the actual products.

Our lives as wage slaves are so fucking boring that now these corporations sell us the idea that their products equal independence, glamor, excitement.  An ersatz reality as devoid of actual feeling as anything dreamed up by Phillip K. Dick for one of his novels.

“Brave New World” meets, “1984” meets “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”

Instead of buying jeans you are buying an imaginary lifestyle.  The product doesn’t matter.

Face it you aren’t going to look like the model in the magazine if you buy those jeans, you aren’t going to have the life that model has because the model doesn’t actually look like that in reality and unless the model is part of an elite few most likely the model does not live the way she or he is shown as living in the photograph.  Remember the photograph of the model was probably Photoshopped to death.

The economy is based on you working like a slave and buying stuff of little value, then going out and buying more stuff.  They will sell it to you below actual cost because when you use a credit card they make some 15 to 38 percent on top of the sale price through the financing.

Want to start a revolution?

Stop consuming so much crap.  Demand and only buy things that meet your personal standards of quality.  Say no to buying image instead of product.

Screw Logos.

Is an actual Louis Vuitton bag really worth ten to twenty times what a knock off bag goes for.  Who are you actually hurting?  Forget the bullshit lies they tell you.  The sweatshop worker who made the Louie Vuitton and then two days later made the “counterfeit” go paid the same for making both, hell chances are that “counterfeit” was simply a bag that failed the Q/A process.

Better yet screw the Louis Vuitton all together.  Get a ripstop messenger bag that costs thirty bucks and lasts forever.

I have a magic number for cars.  It is the most important thing about any car I might think about purchasing.  It isn’t the zero to sixty.  The magic number is currently 40 as in miles per gallon highway.  A car is a device to get me from here to there in reasonable comfort.  While I have an eye for  certain esthetics cars are not sexy.  Cars are gender free.  Having a big fast powerful car causes neither men nor women to have better orgasms.

I am not driving the car on a race course.  While there are a few days a year when having four wheel drive might be nice having a Humvee or one of those huge Jeeps looks stupid.

Corporations have taken the sex out of sexy.  Sexy is the image without the reality.  The logo and brand without the reality of the product.

Maybe it is time to repurpose the  1960s slogan of “Turn on, Tune in, Drop out”  Perhaps to day it would be better to “Turn off, Tune Out, Unplug , Start reading and thinking instead.

Perhaps it is time to start deprogramming ourselves from the tyranny of advertising using ideas such as sexy to sell us crap.

Time to get back to basics and consume fewer products and when we do buy something demand quality instead of a fucking logo.

John Leguizamo for Americans for Marriage Equality

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Frances Fox Piven, The War on the Home Front

From Tom Dispatch:  http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175463/tomgram%3A_frances_fox_piven%2C_the_war_on_the_home_front/

Posted by Frances Fox Piven
November 6, 2011.

It was a beautiful, sunlit fall morning when the patrol, many in camouflage jackets, no more than 40 of them in all, headed directly into enemy territory.  Their ranks included one sailor in uniform, three women, and a small child named Viva in a stroller.  Except for Viva, all of them were vets, a few from the Vietnam era but most from our more recent wars.

As they headed for Wall Street, several carried signs that said, “I am still serving my country,” and one read, “How is the war economy working for you?”  Many wore Iraq Veterans Against the War t-shirts under their camo jackets, and there was one other thing that made this demonstration unlike any seen in these last Occupy Wall Street weeks: there wasn’t a police officer, police car, or barricade in sight.  As they headed out across a well-trafficked street, not a cop was there to yell at them to get back on the curb.

In the wake of the wounding of Scott Olsen in the police assault on Occupy Oakland last week, that’s what it means to be a veteran marching on Zuccotti Park.  Scott Kimbell (Iraq, 2005-2006), who led the patrol, later told me: “Cops are in a difficult position with vets.  Some of them were in the military and are sympathetic and they know that the community will not support what happened to Scott Olsen.”  Just before Broad Street, a line of waiting police on scooters picked up the marchers, for once feeling more like an escort than a gang of armed avengers, while media types and photographers swarmed in the street without police reprimand.

Suddenly, the patrol swiveled right and marched directly into the financial heart of the planet through a set of barricades. (“Who opened up the barrier there?” shouted a policeman.)  It was aiming directly at a line of mounted police blocking the way.  In front of them, the march halted.  With a smart “Left face!” the platoon turned to the Stock Exchange and began to call out in unison, “We are veterans!  We are the 99%!  We swore to protect the Constitution of the United States of America!  We are here to support the Occupy Movement!”

Then, the horses parted like the Red Sea, like a wave of emotion sweeping ahead of us, and the vets marched on triumphantly toward Zuccotti Park as a military cadence rang out (“…corporate profits on the rise, but soldiers have to bleed and die!  Sound off, one, two…”)

The platoon came to attention in front of Trinity Church for a moment of silence for “our friend Scott Olsen,” after which it circled the encampment at Zuccotti Park to cheers and cries of “Welcome Home!” from the protesters there.  (One of the occupiers shouted to the skies: “Hey, police, the military’s here and they’re on our side!”)  And if you don’t think all of it was stirring, then you have the heart of a banker.

Continue reading at:  http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175463/tomgram%3A_frances_fox_piven%2C_the_war_on_the_home_front/

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Hartmann: Blood Sucking Leeches vs Single Payer

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Occupy Cross-Roads: What Will Happen If OWS Loses Its Park?

From Common Dreams:   http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/11/07-1

Mic Check: You Say You Want a Revolution?…

by Danny Schechter
Published on Monday, November 7, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

The tarps are flapping and the tents are not bringing much warmth.

The harsh winds of Winter are lashing the encampment at Zucotti Park, or as many would prefer. “Liberty Plaza,” the symbol of a wannabe revolution against the status quote and powercrats of the American oligarchy.

The hard real-world contradictions of urban life have bumped up against the idyllic hopes of the occupiers as all the urban crises that our society has ignored and neglected surface in that half acre of hope.

There are man/woman handlers and gladhanders, doers and dopers, ragers and even rapists and so many poor with no where else to go. There are cops on the outside (and many on the inside) who plan for and hope for the worse.

This fight is not just the 99 percent against the 1 % because, truth be told, this movement has so far only motivated a minority of the conscious and has yet to reach a majority of the beleaguered and oppressed.

When I joined a march last Saturday, one occupier seemed to recognize this reality with a home-made sign, that read “I am part of the 1% of the 99 % that is protesting, Where are the rest of us?”

Polls showing broad public support are not enough. Public opinion can be fickle and easily manipulated.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/11/07-1

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Hartmann: Conversations with Great Minds – Dick Gregory

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The Globalization of Protest

From Project Syndicate: http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/stiglitz144/English


2011-11-04

The Globalization of Protest

NEW YORK – The protest movement that began in Tunisia in January, subsequently spreading to Egypt, and then to Spain, has now become global, with the protests engulfing Wall Street and cities across America. Globalization and modern technology now enables social movements to transcend borders as rapidly as ideas can. And social protest has found fertile ground everywhere: a sense that the “system” has failed, and the conviction that even in a democracy, the electoral process will not set things right – at least not without strong pressure from the street.

In May, I went to the site of the Tunisian protests; in July, I talked to Spain’s indignados; from there, I went to meet the young Egyptian revolutionaries in Cairo’s Tahrir Square; and, a few weeks ago, I talked with Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York. There is a common theme, expressed by the OWS movement in a simple phrase: “We are the 99%.”

That slogan echoes the title of an article that I recently published, entitled “Of the 1%, for the 1%, and by the 1%,” describing the enormous increase in inequality in the United States: 1% of the population controls more than 40% of the wealth and receives more than 20% of the income. And those in this rarefied stratum often are rewarded so richly not because they have contributed more to society – bonuses and bailouts neatly gutted that justification for inequality – but because they are, to put it bluntly, successful (and sometimes corrupt) rent-seekers.

This is not to deny that some of the 1% have contributed a great deal. Indeed, the social benefits of many real innovations (as opposed to the novel financial “products” that ended up unleashing havoc on the world economy) typically far exceed what their innovators receive.

But, around the world, political influence and anti-competitive practices (often sustained through politics) have been central to the increase in economic inequality. And tax systems in which a billionaire like Warren Buffett pays less tax (as a percentage of his income) than his secretary, or in which speculators, who helped to bring down the global economy, are taxed at lower rates than those who work for their income, have reinforced the trend.

Continue reading at:  http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/stiglitz144/English

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Danny Glover Tremendous Speech @ Occupy Oakland

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The MF Global collapse, the Democratic Party and Wall Street

From The World Socialist Web Site: http://wsws.org/articles/2011/nov2011/pers-n08.shtml

By Barry Grey
8 November 2011

The collapse last week of US broker-dealer MF Global has put the spotlight on the parasitic speculation and outright criminality that are at the heart of the US financial system. It has also provided a text book example of the corrupt and incestuous relationship between the American financial aristocracy and both the political system in general and the Democratic Party in particular.

Facing a run on its holdings, a collapse in its stock, and credit downgrades of its debt to junk status, the Wall Street investment firm with $41 billion in assets filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on October 31.

A last ditch bid to find a buyer for MF Global fell through when regulators discovered that $633 million in clients’ money had gone missing. It is suspected that the company, headed by former Goldman Sachs CEO and one-time Democratic senator and governor of New Jersey Jon Corzine, moved money out of client accounts in an attempt to meet margin calls from its creditors. It is a crime for a firm to use clients’ money to trade on its own account, let alone to pay off its debts.

Multiple investigations have been launched by federal financial regulators, along with criminal probes by the FBI and the US attorney for Manhattan. Last Friday, after having hired a prominent criminal lawyer, Corzine resigned his post as chairman and CEO of MF Global.

The collapse of the firm, the eighth biggest bankruptcy in US history, was the first major corporate failure resulting from the European debt crisis. It demonstrates that nothing has been done since the Wall Street crash three years ago to rein in the speculative activities of financial firms. The same practices that led to the global recession continue unabated.

Several months after taking control of the firm in March of 2010, Corzine began making enormous bets with borrowed funds that the sovereign debt of countries such as Spain and Italy would not collapse. He placed a single bet of $6.3 billion—six times MF Global’s capital—on risky European state bonds, driving his firm’s leverage (its assets to capital) to a ratio of 40 to 1.

Continue reading at: http://wsws.org/articles/2011/nov2011/pers-n08.shtml

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Why the Most Important Fish We Need to Save Is One You’ve Never Heard Of

From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/food/152978/why_the_most_important_fish_we_need_to_save_is_one_you%27ve_never_heard_of/

You don’t hear about menhaden because they don’t show up in fish markets or on dinner menus, but they’re in everything.

By Jill Richardson
November 6, 2011

Menhaden might be the most important fish you’ve never heard of. As far back as the 1860s, the U.S. caught more tons of menhaden than any other fish — and in many years, more menhaden than the combined commercial catch of all other finned fish put together. You don’t hear about them because they don’t show up in fish markets or on dinner menus. Rather, they go into animal feed, cosmetics, health food supplements, linoleum, lubricants, margarine, soap, insecticide, and paint.

As you might guess, catching so much of one species of fish takes a toll not only on the population of that one species, but on marine ecology as a whole. Thus, this week, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), the body that regulates fishing on the Atlantic coast from Maine to Florida, will vote Wednesday, November 9 on whether to protect menhaden.

Just as Michael Pollan makes the case that Americans eat mostly corn, eating it indirectly in processed foods and corn-fed animal products, more than a century ago, ichthyologist G. Brown Goode said that people who dine on Atlantic saltwater fish eat “nothing but menhaden.” H. Bruce Franklin, author of The Most Important Fish in the Sea: Menhaden, says Goode exaggerated only slightly, as “menhaden are crucial to the diet of Atlantic tuna, cod, haddock, halibut, mackerel, bluefish, weakfish, striped bass, swordfish, king mackerel, summer flounder, [and] drum” — to name a few. Marine birds, whales and porpoises also find menhaden delectable.

But Franklin also notes that menhaden’s place in the diet of predatory fish and other marine species is only half of the foundational role it plays in the food chain, and beyond that, in the ecosystem as a whole. Menhaden is the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coast’s main consumer of phytoplankton — that is, microscopic plant matter like algae. By filter-feeding on phytoplankton at the rate of four gallons of water per minute for an adult fish, these fish integrate matter that other species cannot eat into the marine food chain. They also clean the water, allowing sunlight to penetrate so that plants can grow, providing oxygen to all who live in the ocean. Thus, they help clean up the runoff of fertilizer, animal manure and other sources of nitrogen that makes its way into the ocean, preventing or mitigating the dead zones that would otherwise result from it.

Franklin traces extractive use of menhaden back to the first British settlers in New England. Menhaden was the fish that Tisquantum (“Squanto”) showed the pilgrims to bury in the soil when planting corn to add fertility to the soil. The Puritans viewed the traditional indigenous polyculture of planting beans and corn together as primitive, and instead planted monocultures of corn, ultimately exhausting the soil. Thus began the traditional American practice of removing as many menhaden from the sea as technology allowed us to take in order to fertilize America’s depleted soils and later for other uses.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/food/152978/why_the_most_important_fish_we_need_to_save_is_one_you%27ve_never_heard_of/

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France announces massive austerity measures

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