Want to Cut the Deficit? Restore Fair Taxes on Corporations and the Wealthy

From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/03/25-13

by Deborah Burger
Published on Friday, March 25, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

If the deficit hawks in Congress are serious about righting our economic ship and reducing deficits in the federal budget and many state capitols, it would we worth listening to the voices rising from the streets suggesting a very different solution than more cuts in safety net programs, education, pensions, and worker’s rights.Greed at the upper echelons of our society is bankrupting our governments at every level. “Suggesting corporations and the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share,” writes Deborah Burger, “usually earns one the reproof of advocating class warfare. But class warfare when practiced by the elites is apparently perfectly acceptable. The average CEO who was paid $27 for every dollar earned by an employer 25 years ago – during which wages have mostly fallen or stagnated – now gets a ratio of about $275 to $1.”

This is not a budget fight, it’s a fight for the future of an America in which everyone should be able to retire in dignity, not worry about whether they can go to the doctor when they get sick, or whether there will still be schools for their kids.

How will we pay for it? By increasing the revenues from those who can most afford it, not by punishing those who have the least. By requiring corporations and the wealthiest individuals to pay their fair share, and stop blaming working people for an economic crisis created by Wall Street and exploited by their politician acolytes.

We’ve all heard the arguments. Pass more corporate tax breaks because that’s what makes the economy grow. Except it doesn’t.

Corporate profits per employee are at record levels. At $1.6 trillion, third quarter 2009 corporate profits were the highest ever recorded. Yet official unemployment still hovers near 9 percent, and the real jobless number is probably double that. Whatever big corporations are doing with their record profits, they are not hiring more workers.

Or the argument that our 35 percent corporate tax rate is one of the highest in the world. Except few if any major corporations pay anywhere near that amount. Half of foreign companies and about 42 percent of U.S. companies paid no U.S. income taxes for two or more years from 1998 to 2005, according to a recent Government Accounting Office study.

How do they accomplish this? Pages of corporate tax loopholes that render the supposed tax rate meaningless, loopholes not available to the average working family.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/03/25-13

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NYC mayor booed at Triangle fire commemoration

To quote my least favorite Black Panther, Eldridge Cleaver, “You are either part of the solution or part of the problem.”

Mayor Bloomberg and all of his rich contemporaries are part of the problem and the problem is they have too much of the wealth and power and the people have too little of it.  They declared class war on the hard working American people while simultaneously  enslaving us and picking our pockets.

Organized labor and the right to both collective bargaining and the power of the strike are among the necessities to help return some power to the hands of the hard working and unemployed/under-employed people of America.

We built this country with our sweat and muscles while the rich elite sat on their asses reaping the profits of our labors.  The poor of this country are the ones who die in the wars this country wages to further the interests of the rich.

From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/03/25/nyc-mayor-booed-at-triangle-fire-commemoration/

By Muriel Kane
Friday, March 25th, 2011

NEW YORK — New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was loudly booed Friday at a speech commemorating the deaths a century ago of 146 people in a
factory fire that then led to major labor law reforms across the United States.

Bloomberg was one of the principal speakers at the ceremonies in Manhattan at the site of the 1911 blaze at what was then the Triangle Waist Company.

The mayor told the crowd that the fire, which became a symbol of the unregulated sweatshop conditions endured by employees, galvanized politicians to transform workplace conditions.

“You have a right to live and work in dignity and earn the chance to advance in life,” Bloomberg said. “They made reforms that helped turn America’s ideals into realities.”

However Bloomberg’s speech, carried live on NY1 television, was interrupted repeatedly by loud booing.

The mayor, in his third term, has run into stiff opposition from public sector unions to his budget cuts and attempts to reform what he says is an unaffordable public pension system.

The Triangle fire is a touchstone for labor groups and the centenary is drawing special attention because of an ongoing dispute in Wisconsin between the Republican governor and public unions.

Continue Reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/03/25/nyc-mayor-booed-at-triangle-fire-commemoration/

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Taliban Christian, Bryan Fischer: Muslims Have No First Amendment Rights

Dang I just love it when Nazis pick up the Bible, wrap themselves in a flag and take a shit on the Constitution.  Tells me just who the real un-American is.  I’m so sick of these right wing pukes getting treated like they have some sort of claim on my flag and my country that I’m ready to start advocating repealing their citizenship.

Yes siree, this is America love it and the principles on which it stands or get your fucking Nazi ass out.  You want a fucking theocracy move to Iran.  You’ll fit right in, they hate women and LGBT/T people there just like you do and they have the same sort of contempt for American values you have.

From Talking Points Memo: http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/03/bryan_fischer_muslims_have_no_first_amendment_righ.php

Jillian Rayfield
March 24, 2011

Bryan Fischer, the “Director of Issues Analysis” for the social conservative group the American Family Association (identified as and labeled a hate group by The Southern Poverty Law Center), says that when it comes to Islam, the First Amendment is a privilege, not a right. “Islam has no fundamental First Amendment claims, for the simple reason that it was not written to protect the religion of Islam,” Fischer wrote today.

“The First Amendment was written by the Founders to protect the free exercise of Christianity. They were making no effort to give special protections to Islam. Quite the contrary,” Fischer wrote on his Renew America blog.

He continued:

Islam has no fundamental First Amendment claims, for the simple reason that it was not written to protect the religion of Islam. Islam is entitled only to the religious liberty we extend to it out of courtesy. While there certainly ought to be a presumption of religious liberty for non-Christian religious traditions in America, the Founders were not writing a suicide pact when they wrote the First Amendment.

Continue reading at:  http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/03/bryan_fischer_muslims_have_no_first_amendment_righ.php

Catholic Contradictions

I do not disguise my contempt and dislike of the Catholic Church.  I hate with the intensity only those victimized by its poison can hate it.  I hate it for its misogyny as well as its homophobia and transphobia.  I hate it for the emotional (but not sexual abuse) inflicted upon me as a child.  I hate it for counseling my mother to remain in an abusive relationship.

I despise it for its history of genocide and its cozy relationships with dictators and torturers.

This week I came across the following:  Home Depot Pushes Homosexual Sin to Children.  It is at a site run by “The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property” a lay Catholic organization that seems closely related to the strangely obsessive cult, Opus Dei. It seems to have ties with or take some of its marching orders from the American Family Association, which has been labeled a Hate Group by The Southern Poverty Law Center.

Quoted from their site:

According to news reports from the American Family Association

•  In the 2010 annual homosexual pride festival of Central Pennsylvania, Home Depot had workshops geared towards children

•  An “OK Gay Daddy” hosted The Home Depot workshop for children

•  At the same festival, Home Depot employees marched children down the homosexual parade route

•  The Home Depot mascot joined a homosexual parade in Chicago

Again, according to the American Family Association, Home Depot signed on as a major sponsor of the 2010 Southern Maine Homosexual Pride event. But there’s more.

The Home Depot was also a vendor at the 2010 Southern Maine Homosexual Pride event and even held craft workshops for children amid activities where they were exposed to transvestites, cross-dressers, and homosexual activists.

Home Depot has also sponsored and participated in the 2010 Boston Homosexual Pride parade.

It’s time to tell The Home Depot that God-fearing Americans are extremely shocked with this blatant pushing of homosexual sin to children.

Perhaps Hillary Clinton was right on multiple levels.  Perhaps there is a vast right wing conspiracy that is threatening to engulf our nation, destroying everything America stands for and replace it with an ultra right wing Christo-Nazi Theocracy and Corporate fascist state.

The more I delve into this the more intertwined these connections seem.

Now For the Contradiction

One would think that if one lived in cathedrals made with such fancy and expensive glass windows one would be more careful at hurling lies and stones at so many people.

Particularly since so many of the priests, those men in the medieval dresses, seem so obsessed with raping children.

From what I have read it is somewhat of a tradition.

So  Taliban Catholics are getting hard-ons over the idea that Home Depot might actually be treating us with respect, since rich or poor LGBT/T people are at least 10% of the population.  Plus we are as much a part of the demographic that repairs and maintains their own living spaces as anyone else, perhaps more given our tendency to gentrify the neighborhoods we make our communities in.

At the same time there appears to be a real threat to children that they are ignoring.

Those pedophilic men in medieval dresses who they treat as messengers of invisible, undetectable magic sky daddy.

From BBC News US and Canada: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-12868046

US Jesuits agree to school sex abuse pay-out

25 March 2011

An order of US Catholic priests has agreed to pay $166.1m (£103.3m) to hundreds of Native Americans sexually abused by priests at its schools.

The former students at Jesuit schools in five states of the north-western US said they were abused from the 1940s through the 1990s.

Under a settlement, the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province, will also apologise to the victims.

The order had argued paying out abuse claims would cause it to go bankrupt.

“It’s a day of reckoning and justice,” Clarita Vargas, who said she and two sisters were abused by a priest at a Jesuit-run school for Native American children in the state of Washington, told the Associated Press.

“My spirit was wounded, and this makes it feel better.”

The province ran schools in the states of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.

Most of the alleged victims were Native American. Much of the alleged abuse occurred on Native reservations and in remote villages, where the order was accused of dumping problem priests.

“No amount of money can bring back a lost childhood, a destroyed culture or a shattered faith,” lawyer Blaine Tamaki, who represented about 90 victims in the case, said in a statement.

The pay-out is one of the largest to date in a series of sex abuse scandals involving the Catholic Church.

As Linda Ellerbee used to sign off with: “And so it goes…”

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Friday Night Fun and Culture

We have tickets to see John Hammond tonight over in Fort Worth but Tina came down with a cold last week and I have it this week.  It would be rude as hell to go and disrupt a small show in an intimate venue with a bunch of coughing and sneezing so today we decided to shine it on.

So tonight some geezer folk.

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Bringing order out of chaos – a modest proposal

From The Hill’s Congress Blogs: http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/civil-rights/151643-bringing-order-out-of-chaos-a-modest-proposal

By Joann Prinzivalli

Reposted with permission of author

In New York State, I am legally female for most purposes for which a driver’s license is useful, but male for those purposes for which a birth certificate is used.  I’m a woman, in a legal marriage entered into under New York law with another woman, though it took three hours to get a marriage license from the New York City Clerk. We file jointly for income taxes, since federal DOMA shouldn’t apply to us. Some states might apply their super-DOMAs to us.

In Texas (a wrongful death action), Florida (a child custody matter) and Kansas (an estate proceeding), legally female transgender women and a legally male transgender man who had valid marriage licenses saw their marriages invalidated by courts.  In three states (Ohio, Tennessee, and Idaho), transgender people can’t ever get their birth certificates corrected – and in those states, it’s likely that same-sex marriage is already legal for some couples, much as it has been legal in parts of Texas since 1999.

Federally, I can get a passport as female today, but if I had to change my sex designation for social security after October 2002, I couldn’t.

The reason for all this chaos? For transgender people, there are different, confusing and contradictory rules in play for defining who is male, and who is female, and for what purpose.

Medical science has come a long way from the 1960’s, when transgender people were viewed by the scientific establishment as delusional members of their original assigned sex.  Today, competent medical authorities recognize that transgender people develop in the womb with brains that follow one sex blueprint, and genital duct systems that follow the other, based on certain genetic predispositions, and that the proper assignment of a sex designation should not require surgical intervention. Indeed, that initial sex on a transgender individual’s birth certificate is itself properly seen as an error in fact, rather than a matter of historical accuracy.

The law usually limps behind the science, changing in a crazy patchwork as courts and legislatures in some jurisdictions become more enlightened, while others become mired in pseudo-science mixed with misinterpretations of religious texts.

Transgender people as a class are perhaps the most disadvantaged and discriminated-against class of people in the United States, according to the recently compiled study, Injustice at Every Turn, published by a group of organizations during the 2011 Creating Change Conference.

While the current lawsuits challenging birth certificate regulations in New York City represent one approach toward improving one small aspect of the situation, a combined federal and state legislative approach could go far toward making the rules more consistent across the board.

A few years ago, the British Parliament adopted a Gender Recognition Act which provided a path for transgender people to correct their identity documentation.  In the United States, the passport rules adopted by the State Department in 2010 represent the current medical understanding of transgender people, placing the designation of sex in the hands of the individual and her or his physician.

Social Security, immigration, the military and other federal agencies have outdated regulations that require revision.  A civil rights law clarification to include transgender people under the definition of sex would insure more consistency in future federal court decisions.

While the Americans with Disabilities Act appears to exclude transgender people, there is an exception to the statutory exclusion if the gender issue is biologically based – and the modern medical understanding of brain development indicates that this is indeed the case.

In addition to cleaning up federal laws, regulations and policies that deal with transgender people, a Model Gender Recognition Statute, one that treats transgender people fairly, should be drafted by a national commission on uniform laws, and recommended to the states for adoption, much as the Uniform Commercial Code and other state statutes have created some uniformity across state lines for commercial transactions.

It may require a statutory and regulatory approach, as well as a litigation approach, on federal, state and even municipal levels, to bring an eventual semblance of order out of the chaos at the edges of sex and gender differences. It will take time, but it is long past time to get the law in line with the science.

Joann Prinzivalli is a lawyer, a transgender woman,  the state director of the New York Transgender Rights Organization, and one of the plaintiffs in the current group of lawsuits challenging New York City’s birth certificate regulations.

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Vigil Held for N.Y. Hate Crime Victim

From The Advocate: http://advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2011/03/25/Vigil_Held_for_NY_Hate_Crime_Victim/

By Advocate.com Editors

March 25, 2011

A memorial service was held Thursday evening in Queens for Anthony Collao, the teenager beaten to death with a pipe by attackers who thought he was gay.

Friends, family members and officials gathered in Woodhaven at the scene of the brutal attack to remember Collao, who was 18. He died last week from injuries sustained when a group of teens chased and beat him outside a party hosted by two gay teens. Collao was not gay but the group was yelling antigay slurs.

According to NBC New York, “Police have arrested five suspects thus far in connection with the deadly attack on Collao, who passed away after he was taken off life support. At least one of the suspects is a juvenile. All were charged with manslaughter and assault as hate crimes.”

Speakers at the candlelit vigil included City Council speaker Christine Quinn, the victim’s younger sister Karen Collao, and Diego Sucuzhanay. His brother Jose died from a beating in Brooklyn where attackers perceived him to be gay in 2008.

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Anti-marriage equality rally overwhelmed by student counter-protest

From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/03/24/anti-marriage-equality-rally-overwhelmed-by-student-counter-protest/

By Eric W. Dolan
Thursday, March 24th, 2011

A rally in opposition to same sex marriage was out-flanked by hundreds of students Wednesday after marching onto the campus of Brown University in Rhode Island.

About 15 members of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property held a rally at the campus. They wore black and red uniforms and played bagpipes to garner attention.

The Catholic American group claims to have 120,000 active members, volunteers and donors. It said same sex marriage was harmful and must be opposed.

The Brown Daily Herald reported that the rally quickly attracted the attention of local Brown University students, who organized a counter-protest using Facebook, text messages, and emails. The students carried makeshift signs and handed out rainbow flags and pins.

One student told the Herald that the protest had drawn so many supporters of same sex marriage that it looked like the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property was leading a gay pride parade.

Complete story at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/03/24/anti-marriage-equality-rally-overwhelmed-by-student-counter-protest/

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Indiana Prosecutor Encouraged ‘False Flag’ Assault On Walker To Discredit Wisconsin Unions

The Right Wing in this country has been running this ploy for a hundred and fifty years.  The Bomb thrown that set off The Hay Market Square Massacre was thrown by a police agent.

From Talking Points Memo: http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/03/indiana-prosecutor-encouraged-false-flag-assault-on-walker-to-discredit-wisconsin-unions.php?ref=fpa

Eric Kleefeld
March 24, 2011

A deputy prosector in Johnson County, Indiana, has resigned his job after it was revealed that in February, during the large protests in Wisconsin over Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-public employee union bill, he e-mailed Walker’s office and recommended that they conduct a “false flag operation” — to fake an assault or assassination attempt on Walker in order to discredit the unions and protesters.

As Wisconsin Watch, a project of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism reports, Carlos Lam initially denied that he had sent the e-mail, which was part of the tens of thousands of e-mails released in an open-records settlement the Walker administration reached with the local paper the Isthmus and the Associated Press.

When contacted by Wisconsin Watch, Lam had initially denied sending the e-mail, claiming that he had been the victim of identity theft, and said he did not support the criminal activities described in the e-mail: , “I think he’s trying to do what he has to do to get his budget balanced. But jeez, that’s taking it a little bit to the extreme.”

However, Lam admitted late in the afternoon that he did send the e-mail, and resigned his job.

From the report:

Continue reading at:  http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/03/indiana-prosecutor-encouraged-false-flag-assault-on-walker-to-discredit-wisconsin-unions.php?ref=fpa

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US Uncut’s Tax-Dodging Protests Go Global

From The Nation: http://www.thenation.com/blog/159411/us-uncuts-tax-dodging-protests-go-global

March 23, 2011

The founder of US Uncut is ready to take the movement to the next level. Carl Gibson tells me he wants to help shape a simple piece of legislation to end overseas tax havens. Of course, his would not be the first attempt made at such an endeavor. In 2008, Carl Levin [1] crafted the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act, legislation then-Senator Obama threw his support behind, and which has, like most bills that make sense, been floating in purgatory ever since.

Reportedly, Senator Levin’s chief investigator, Bob Roach, will present updates on the status of STHA during a session called “US Congressional Offshore Initiatives” at the 9th Annual OffshoreAlert Conference [2] in—why not?—South Beach, Florida April 4-6.

But in the meantime, Gibson, working in concert with the Roosevelt Institute’s Cornell chapter, is drafting a streamlined version of an anti–tax haven bill focusing on a clear message. “Mainly, that we’re losing out on upwards of $100 billion every year in lost revenue because of corporate tax dodging and overseas tax havens,” he says.

He hopes to have the bill ready by Tax Day [April 18 this year]. “This will be legislation that makes it illegal for corporations to move income earned within the United States offshore through corporate tax loopholes, so it would close loopholes and it would also force these companies who already have billions overseas to bring that money back to the United States and pay taxes on it.”

I bring up the UK’s attempt at a “super law [3]” to close all tax loopholes. The General Anti-Avoidance Rule (GAAR) would ban the exploitation of any tax loophole, legislation that would be quite the stick in the craw for teams of corporate lawyers charged with the full-time endeavor of scouring laws to help big businesses avoid paying their fair share in taxes. The UK government is still considering the rule, complete with a provision that might guarantee non-prosecution [4] for full disclosure. It’s unclear how aggressive the final law would be, considering the UK government estimates it would generate about £1 billion [5] in extra revenue each year, yet Tax Research UK reports that corporate tax-dodging bleeds £16 billion [6] (PDF) per annum from the country.

I ask Gibson if he’s considered adding such a general loophole ban to his legislation. “That would be ideal,” he says, “especially Bank of America, who has 115 oversees subsidiaries. They’ve got more money and lawyers than God. Those guys are really good at what they do, so I’m sure they can probably find future loopholes.”

He’s under no illusions that this will be a smooth journey. “I know that legislation changing the tax code is never going to be passed through easily, but I think if you narrow it down to a narrower focus where it only affects multibillion-dollar, faceless corporations who are clearly evading taxes, I think that could be something that—if not something both parties can agree on—certainly one party will find very, very hard to fight.”

Continue reading at:   http://www.thenation.com/blog/159411/us-uncuts-tax-dodging-protests-go-global

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Yet Another Reason to Boycott Target: Target Sues San Diego Gay Rights Group

From NPR: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=134845091

by The Associated Press

SAN DIEGO March 25, 2011, 10:19 am ET

Target Corp. is suing a San Diego pro-gay marriage group to get it to stop canvassing outside its San Diego County stores, alleging its activists are driving away customers.

Rights advocates say the trial between Target and Canvass For A Cause that begins Friday could further strain relations with the gay and lesbian community after controversy over its $150,000 donation to a business group backing a Minnesota Republican candidate opposed to gay marriage.

Minnesota-based Target insists it remains committed to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and its lawsuit has nothing to do with the political agenda of the organization.

“Our legal action was in no way related to the cause of the organization and was done so to be consistent with our long-standing policy of providing a distraction-free shopping experience by not permitting solicitors at our stores,” the company said in a statement sent to The Associated Press.

Target says it has taken similar action against a number of organizations representing a variety of causes. It alleges in the lawsuit that the San Diego group’s activists harass customers by cornering them near its stores’ front entrances and debating with them about their views on gay marriage.

The group says it canvasses at shopping malls, college campus and stores like Target to collect signatures and donations in support of gay marriage.

The corporation says at least eight Target stores in the area have reported receiving more than a dozen complaints daily since canvassers started working outside their stores in October 2010. Target says the activists have refused to leave when asked politely and shown the company’s policy prohibiting “expressive activity” on its property.

Continue reading at:  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=134845091

Behind Michigan’s “Financial Martial Law”: Corporations and Right-Wing Billionaires

From Mother Jones: http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/03/michigan-snyder-mackinac-center

The think tank that inspired Gov. Rick Snyder’s controversial bill is bankrolled by some of the same donors that funded Wisconsin’s attack on unions.

— By Andy Kroll

Wed Mar. 23, 2011

Last week, Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder signed into law a fiercely contested bill giving unelected “emergency financial managers” unprecedented power to shred union contracts, privatize city services, and consolidate or dissolve local governments, all in the name of saving struggling cities and school districts. Dubbed “financial martial law” by one approving state GOP lawmaker and “disaster capitalism” by critics, Snyder and his bill have become a target for Wisconsin-like protests. Several thousand demonstrators marched on the Michigan Capitol in the days before Snyder signed the bill. But gone unmentioned is a little-known Michigan think tank that for years has been pushing for the most controversial provisions in Snyder’s bill—and that’s bankrolled by some of the same right-wing millionaires and billionaires that backed Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his anti-union legislation.

Since 2005, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy has urged reforms to Michigan law giving more power and protection to emergency financial managers, state-appointed officials who parachute into ailing cities or school districts and employ drastic measures to fix budgets on the brink of collapse. In January, the free-market-loving center published four recommendations, including granting emergency managers the power to override elected officials (such as a mayor or school board member) and toss out union contracts. All four ended up in Snyder’s legislation.

“The Mackinac Center has been tied at the hip with the Republican Party establishment for years,” says Doug Pratt, public affairs director at the Michigan Education Association. “It goes to their funding sources; it goes to their ideology.”

Continue reading at: http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/03/michigan-snyder-mackinac-center

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