Holly Near Performs “Gentle Angry People” at March For Women’s Lives

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Suddenly Death Panels want to Screw the Working People by Raising the Age of Medicare Eligibility to 67

First Reagan started fucking Social Security by raiding it to cover tax cuts for the rich.

Then successive Republicans followed the same practice of borrowing money from the Social Security Trust Fund so they could put money in the pockets of the undeserving rich in the form of tax cuts, tax rebates and write-offs.

Now they want to fuck the hard working American People by raising the age at which we can collect Social Security or get Medicare.  Never mind the fact that people over fifty are among the under-employed and unemployed with no health insurance at a time when we are starting to desperately need health care for a wide variety of age related health issues including cancer, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension.

It is almost as though the Republicans have Death Panels establishing plans to euthanize the elderly working class people.

I about choked on my coffee this morning while reading the paper, when I saw the following story:

BTW:  We could save a shit load of money by ending Faith Based Initiatives and closing a bunch of overseas military bases.

Medicare Could Save $7.6B by Raising Eligibility Age to 67

From Media Health Leaders: http://www.healthleadersmedia.com/content/HEP-264299/Medicare-Could-Save-76B-by-Raising-Eligibility-Age-to-67

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media,
March 29, 2011

Raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 in 2014 would generate about $7.6 billion in net savings to the federal government, but it would add $5.6 billion in out-of-pocket costs for 65- and 66-year-olds, and $4.5 billion in employer retiree healthcare costs, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study.

The study – Raising the Age of Medicare Eligibility: A Fresh Look Following Implementation of Health Reform – examines the potential changes suggested in several deficit reduction plans.

The study also estimates that raising the Medicare eligibility age would raise premiums by 3% for those who remain on Medicare and for those who get coverage through health reform’s new insurance exchanges. The study assumes both full implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the higher eligibility age in 2014.

Among the estimated five million affected 65- and 66-year-olds, about three in four would pay an average of $2,400 more for their healthcare in 2014 than they would have paid if covered under Medicare, the study said. Nearly one in four are expected to have lower out-of-pocket spending, mainly due to the ACA’s coverage expansions through Medicaid and the premium tax credits available to low- and middle-income Americans.

“Raising Medicare’s age of eligibility would obviously reduce Medicare spending, but would also shift costs onto seniors and employers, and increase costs elsewhere on the federal ledger,” said Kaiser Family Foundation Vice President Tricia Neuman. “This analysis drives home the tough policy choices that lie ahead when Washington gets serious about reducing the federal deficit.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.healthleadersmedia.com/content/HEP-264299/Medicare-Could-Save-76B-by-Raising-Eligibility-Age-to-67

How come tough choices on balancing the budget all ways seem to involve suffering on the part of the working class.  For once I’d like to see some serious sacrifice on the part of the rich.

I’m sick and tired of Class War being a one sided fucking affair.

Class War! Not just for the rich anymore…

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Anti-Choice Religious Bloc Began With Tax Battle

It is important to remember that the Religious Right is not only anti-choice, but misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic and racist.

It is religious in the same way the KKK’s cross burnings are religious.

But even more insidious is how it not only pays no taxes but is subsidized by American Tax payers including atheists like me who would never give a dime to fund any sort of religious institution or charity.

Consider the following articles:

Anti-Choice Religious Bloc Began With Tax Battle

From Women’s E-News: http://www.womensenews.org/story/our-history/110318/anti-choice-religious-bloc-began-tax-battle

By Carol Roye

WeNews commentator

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The religious right’s righteous condemnation of abortion began with anti-integration, anti-taxation efforts in the 1970s, says Carol Roye. Along the way it turned into the current assault on the needs of women and children.

(WOMENSENEWS)–The torrent of moral rhetoric that accompanies the current spate of anti-abortion bills would make you think that conservative Christians have never looked on abortion as anything short of evil.

Think again.

In 1971 (two years before the Supreme Court constitutionally protected a woman’s right to abortion in Roe v. Wade) the Southern Baptist Convention–which wound up becoming synonymous with the religious right and its anti-choice movement–issued a resolution that might surprise you.

It called for legalizing abortion in cases of “rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.”

The group was responding to grim statistics. Every year several hundred women (many of them already mothers) died from botched abortions and thousands more were seriously injured attempting to end their unwanted pregnancies. The Southern Baptists were taking a moral stand in order to protect women and their families.

Abortion wasn’t a concern for the Christian right until the mid-1970s.

Jerry Falwell, the founder of the Moral Majority, did not preach a sermon on abortion until 1978.

The bedrock issue for evangelical Christians had always been simple–preserving the separation between church and state. Since colonial days, Baptists in America had insisted on this, believing that the Kingdom of God and the world of government each function better when kept apart. That’s a far cry from today, when religious activists are doing all they can to control public health policy.

To understand how outlawing abortion became such a central cause, a brief history of the period can be cribbed from the book “With God On Our Side” by William Martin.

First Mobilized in the 1970s

The Christian right first mobilized in the 1970s in response to a tax issue tied to white Southern Christian groups’ antipathy to school desegregation.

After school integration became federal law, white Christian academies were formed in the South, in part to circumvent the law, enabling white parents to send their children to all-white religious schools.

During the Carter administration the IRS said these academies should be denied tax-exempt status because they did not conform to the law on school integration.

To fight back, some fundamentalist and evangelical groups came together.

This represented a joining of quite different sects. Fundamentalists believe that the Bible is the literal, true word of God. Evangelicals, on the other hand, have shades of gray in their belief system, allowing for a more nuanced approach to some scientific issues, such as climate change and evolution.

But in fighting for tax-exempt status for their all-white religious schools, important factions of the groups united to form the religious right.

They became very adept at raising money to advocate for their cause, and they became powerful. The IRS ultimately relented and allowed them to keep their tax exemption.

Continue reading at:  http://www.womensenews.org/story/our-history/110318/anti-choice-religious-bloc-began-tax-battle

Lately cutting aid to students, especially in the form of Pell Grants has become a big deal.

One would think that since conservative Christian groups are among the most vocal advocates of these cuts they would not be lining up at the trough to feed like greedy little piglets, but this is not the case.

Liberty tops state in federal aid for its students

From the Lynchburg News and Advance: http://www2.newsadvance.com/news/2011/mar/27/liberty-tops-state-federal-aid-its-students-ar-929147/

Online enrollment spurs big increase in assistance

By Liz Barry
Published: March 27, 2011

Liberty University students received approximately $445 million in federal financial aid money last fiscal year, according to U.S. Department of Education data, making LU the top recipient in Virginia.


The rapid growth of Liberty’s online program has fueled the increased reliance on federal aid dollars, said Robert Ritz, LU’s executive director of financial aid.

Last year, Liberty enrolled about 52,000 online students, plus another 12,000 through its residential programs.

“It has ballooned,” said Ritz of Liberty’s financial aid volume. “In some categories, I’ve seen us rank no. 3 nationally, or in the top ten. It’s because of our size and the growth.”

In the span of a year, Liberty’s experienced about a 56 percent spike in federal student aid, from $284 million in 2008-2009 to $445 million in 2009-2010, according to Department of Education data compiled by The News & Advance.  (LU calculates the total aid at $432 million and $277 million, still a 56 percent increase.)

The $445 million included $385.9 million in student loans. The rest came in the form of grants and other student aid like work-study.

Contributing to the rise were the faltering economy, the federal stimulus program and the government’s expansion of the Pell grant program, Ritz said. Last year, Liberty received upwards of $55 million in Pell money, ranking 28th in the nation and no. 1 in Virginia. The Pell program serves the country’s neediest students.

In some financial aid programs, Liberty was a top ten recipient nationwide.

For example, LU was the eighth highest recipient of Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) money last year, topping more than 4,000 other colleges and universities.

One of two major federal loan programs, FFEL allowed students to borrow government-backed money from banks and other lenders. Liberty was the lone Evangelical Christian school on a top-ten list dominated by for-profit institutions. Other top recipients were the University of Phoenix and Kaplan University.

For Ritz — a financial aid veteran who got his start at a small Bible college — Liberty’s use of federal financial aid does not run counter to the university’s conservative values. Liberty does not receive the federal money directly, Ritz said, but through students, who use it to pay for tuition, room and board and other expenses.

Complete article at:  http://www2.newsadvance.com/news/2011/mar/27/liberty-tops-state-federal-aid-its-students-ar-929147/

Why are tax payers dollars being used to fund church based education?  what ever happened to the wall of separation articulated by the founding fathers?

Something similar is happening with the right wing attempts to discredit and defund Planned Parenthood, which does far more than provide abortion services and is often the only low cost medical provider offering health care services to women that include such matters as cancer screening.

At the same time the right wing is  pushing for funding of “Abortion alternative” aka Crisis Pregnancy Centers, which offer little or no qualified health care and which function to disseminate right wing religious propaganda and misinformation.

Repeated studies have shown that Sex Education that provides honest wide ranging sex education and frank discussion cuts down on unplanned pregnancies, STDs and lessens sexual ignorance regarding not only heterosexual issues but LGBT/T issues.

The right wing has argued that legitimate Sex Education infringes on the rights of “religious people” and should not be funded.

At the same time they push for faith based Abstinence Only programs which have been shown to result in greater numbers of unplanned pregnancies and abortions and greater numbers of STDs.

Perhaps it is time for us to look into the cost savings benefits of defunding all these failed faith based programs.

At the same time perhaps all faith based programs should be held to the same Civil Rights Standards of Compliance and Non-Discrimination that secular institutions are held to.

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Women of Wal-Mart Deserve their Day in Court: Retail Giant is Not Too Big to Sue

NOW Press Release:

For Immediate Release
Contact: Lisa Bennett, 202-628-8669, ext. 123

March 29, 2011

Today the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Wal-Mart v. Dukes — the largest employment class-action suit in U.S. history. The retail giant did not ask the high court to review the actual charges that Wal-Mart routinely discriminated against its women employees. Instead, the company’s challenge seeks to halt the case, which represents more than 1.5 million women, before it even gets to trial.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld certification of the class-action suit three times, most recently in April 2010. But Wal-Mart argues that each employee should be forced to file their complaints on an individual basis because a group this large couldn’t possibly have enough in common to constitute a class.

“Just like the banks that were too big to fail, Wal-Mart’s lawyers are claiming the company is too big to sue!” exclaims NOW President Terry O’Neill. “The reason there are so many women in the suit is because Wal-Mart’s discrimination has been widespread and persistent. And now the captains of this ship want to be let off the hook because so many women were affected? Well, guess what: When you’re the biggest employer in the nation and the richest company in the world, and you get that way by paying unfair wages, you should expect to find yourself on the wrong end of a massive lawsuit one day. It comes with the territory, so Wal-Mart should stop trying to con its way out of court.”

NOW named Wal-Mart a “Merchant of Shame” in 2002 for its notorious employment practices and workplace environment. Chapter activists held educational pickets outside Wal-Mart stores nationwide, handing out fliers explaining the facts about Wal-Mart’s discriminatory ways.

Those shameful facts include: women earning nearly a quarter less, on average, than men, despite greater average seniority and higher performance ratings; women concentrated in lower-paying hourly jobs and being paid less even when they held the same jobs as men; women receiving raises at a slower rate than men, thus expanding the pay gap; women waiting longer for promotions and serving in management in proportions dramatically lower than the retailer’s competitors.

“For years, the Wal-Mart empire has been built upon miserly wages that were even more pitiful for women,” says O’Neill. “The Wal-Mart executives who have profited from these practices should have the guts to face in court the women they cheated. They know that if they succeed in breaking up this class, most of the women will be unable to proceed on their own or in smaller groups.”

O’Neill concludes: “I hope the Roberts Supreme Court will set aside its usual pro-business stance to grant these women, as a class, the day in court they so richly deserve.”


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Living Stealth, off the Grid or Think You Are? Lose the Cell

I’m amazed at how easy we make it for people to know everything about us.

It’s one thing if you Blog or are willfully public about who you are and what you think.

It is something else if you think you are being clever with aliases etc except for belonging to social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and  Twitter.

It doesn’t dawn on many people that there is a record of those books you bought from Amazon or Barnes and Noble, the food you bought at the market and where you made your last cell phone call from.

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/26/business/media/26privacy.html?_r=2&ref=business

It’s Tracking Your Every Move and You May Not Even Know

Published: March 26, 2011

A favorite pastime of Internet users is to share their location: services like Google Latitude can inform friends when you are nearby; another, Foursquare, has turned reporting these updates into a game.

But as a German Green party politician, Malte Spitz, recently learned, we are already continually being tracked whether we volunteer to be or not. Cellphone companies do not typically divulge how much information they collect, so Mr. Spitz went to court to find out exactly what his cellphone company, Deutsche Telekom, knew about his whereabouts.

The results were astounding. In a six-month period — from Aug 31, 2009, to Feb. 28, 2010, Deutsche Telekom had recorded and saved his longitude and latitude coordinates more than 35,000 times. It traced him from a train on the way to Erlangen at the start through to that last night, when he was home in Berlin.

Mr. Spitz has provided a rare glimpse — an unprecedented one, privacy experts say — of what is being collected as we walk around with our phones. Unlike many online services and Web sites that must send “cookies” to a user’s computer to try to link its traffic to a specific person, cellphone companies simply have to sit back and hit “record.”

“We are all walking around with little tags, and our tag has a phone number associated with it, who we called and what we do with the phone,” said Sarah E. Williams, an expert on graphic information at Columbia University’s architecture school. “We don’t even know we are giving up that data.”

Tracking a customer’s whereabouts is part and parcel of what phone companies do for a living. Every seven seconds or so, the phone company of someone with a working cellphone is determining the nearest tower, so as to most efficiently route calls. And for billing reasons, they track where the call is coming from and how long it has lasted.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/26/business/media/26privacy.html?_r=2&ref=business

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Stolen Wages and Death Sentences: Stories from the Wal-Mart Worker Tour

From In These Times: http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/7127/locked_doors_stolen_wages_and_death_sentences_stories_from_the_wal-mar/

By Kari Lydersen
Mar 29, 2011

Cynthia Murray and Robert Hines Jr. thought they had seen unfair treatment and bad working conditions at the Maryland Wal-Mart store and Chicago-area Wal-Mart warehouse where they worked, respectively. But they were floored to learn recently of the conditions workers in Bangladesh and other developing countries endure in the factories that produce goods for Wal-Mart.

On the inaugural day of the national “Sweatshop, Warehouse, Walmart: A Worker Truth Tour” in Chicago on Monday, Murray and Hines listened to Kalpona Akter explain how she is facing a potential death sentence or life in prison on criminal charges filed against her and several other organizers with the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS), which has fought to improve pay and conditions in garment factories including subcontractors for Wal-Mart.

SweatFree Communities and other groups are asking Wal-Mart to demand the Bangladeshi government drop the charges, which include inciting workers to riot, illegally strike and cause property damage. Akter was arrested and spent a month in jail in August, where she was repeatedly interrogated and allegedly tortured. “They would ask the same questions hundreds, thousands of times,” she recalled during a lunch at the Jobs with Justice headquarters before an event in Chicago Monday afternoon.

There are 3.4 million garment workers in Bangladesh employed at 4,200 factories, supplying clothing for nearly every major store in the U.S. Uprisings by garment workers are common, happening every few days in recent years, according to government statistics, and hundreds of garment workers are injured and some killed each year in such uprisings.

The government vigorously defends the industry with violence and repression. Extra-judicial killings of activists or government critics are common in Bangladesh, often known as “cross-fire” since authorities set up situations where detainees are killed supposedly in shoot-outs with their supporters. Akter said many garment worker activists and their families have been threatened with “cross-fire” killing.

Continue reading at:  http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/7127/locked_doors_stolen_wages_and_death_sentences_stories_from_the_wal-mar/

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Catholic bishops don’t want to give housing to lgbts

From Godless Monsters and Headless Bullieshttp://holybulliesandheadlessmonsters.blogspot.com/2011/03/cathlic-bishops-dont-want-to-give.html

and Pam’s House Blend: http://www.pamshouseblend.com/diary/18939/catholic-bishops-dont-want-to-give-housing-to-gays-and-lesbians

by: Alvin McEwen
Tue Mar 29, 2011
Reposted with permission
Some on the right tell us that lgbt equality will trump people’s right to express their religious beliefs. In some cases maybe that’s not a bad idea, such as the following:

U.S. Catholic bishops are urging federal housing officials not to adopt proposed rules that would bar groups that receive federal funds from discriminating against gays, lesbians or transgender persons in housing programs.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development said the new rules, proposed on Jan. 24, would “ensure equal access” to programs that help the elderly, sick, and impoverished find stable housing.

Citing recent studies, HUD said gays and lesbians face discrimination in the private housing market, and one in five transgender persons reports homelessness due to bias.

“In considering the mounting evidence of violence and discrimination against LGBT persons, the department is concerned that its own programs may not be fully open to LGBT individuals and families,” HUD said in January.

Lawyers for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops say the new rules would force some religious groups to compromise their beliefs or quit HUD housing programs.

“Faith-based and other organizations should retain the freedom they have always had to make housing placements in a manner consistent with their religious beliefs, including when it concerns a cohabiting couple, be it an unmarried heterosexual couple or a homosexual couple,” said Anthony Picarello and Michael Moses, lawyers for the bishops conference.

The lawyers’ remarks came in a letter to HUD as part of a public comment period that ended Friday (March 25). A spokeswoman for HUD could not be reached immediately for comment about when the new policy would take effect.

So in other word, these Catholic bishops would let people homeless rather than give housing to someone who may be an lgbt if that person is in a relationship but can’t get married due to the anti-gay marriage laws. That doesn’t strike me as very Christian.

The irony of the situation is that Jesus – whom these bishops claim to serve – was born in a manger because his parents were turn away from the inn on the night of his birth. Apparently there was no room.

Years later there is still no room, but this time it’s in the hearts of those who claim to serve Him. There is no room for love or basic kindness.

Is this what Christianity has become? A selfish precept in which those needing love and support take a backseat to egos?  HUD is the last thing these bishops should worry about if they continue to be show such hatred and callousness in God’s name.

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