Minnesota Republican: ‘I watched Minneapolis get destroyed’ by integration

Fucking Klu Kluxer.

From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/04/01/minnesota-republican-i-watched-minneapolis-get-destroyed-by-integration/

By Muriel Kane
Friday, April 1st, 2011

As Minnesota’s state senate debates a public school funding bill that would remove funding from integration programs in the major cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul and Duluth and shift it to a statewide literacy drive, one freshman Republican has been particularly blunt in his opinions.

“I watched Minneapolis get destroyed,” Sen. Dan Hall stated on Thursday, “so I not only didn’t want my kids in the school system, I took them out of Minneapolis because they ruined our neighborhoods with integration and [de]segregation.”

“My best friends are minority, they think integration in foolish,” Hall insisted. “It’s a ploy to get more money. … It’s disrespectful to tell my friends, my minority friends that they can’t make it without extra special help.”

Continue reading:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/04/01/minnesota-republican-i-watched-minneapolis-get-destroyed-by-integration/

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‘This Is Not America’: SWAT Team Evicts Grandmother, Community Fights Back

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/van-jones/this-is-not-america-swat-_b_843708.html

Van Jones and Marianne Manilov
Posted: 04/ 1/11

Day after day, the media and government ignore an ongoing national tragedy: a tsunami of foreclosures is still sweeping millions of Americans out of their homes. As many as three million American families this year will hear a terrifying knock on the door: a law enforcement officer will tell them to get out, because a bank won’t work out a fair deal and allow them to stay.

But one remarkable grandmother this month refused to go quietly.

And her brave example — including her willingness to stand up, along with her neighbors, to a SWAT team — finally got elected officials to intervene.

A modern day Rosa Parks, her courage may well spark a national movement.

Grandmother and longtime Rochester resident Catherine Lennon was evicted from her home on March 28.

It was a moving scene captured on the video below.

Continue reading at:   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/van-jones/this-is-not-america-swat-_b_843708.html

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Friday Night Fun and Culture

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AB 433 to Allow Updated Birth Certificates for Transgender Californians

From The San Francisco Bay Times: http://www.sfbaytimes.com/?sec=article&article_id=14853

By Dennis McMillan
Published: March 31, 2011

A bill that would alleviate the confusion, anxiety, and even danger that transgender people face when they have identity documents that do not reflect who they are, passed the Assembly Judiciary committee in a 7-5 vote.  Authored by Assembly member Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), sponsored by Equality California and co-sponsored by the Transgender Law Center, the Vital Statistics Modernization Act (AB 433), would streamline current law and clarify that eligible petitioners living or born in California can submit a gender change petition in any jurisdiction in the State of California.

The bill would also allow people who were born in or who live in California to use a simplified process that requires medical certification from an attending physician that the individual has undergone “clinically appropriate treatment” to obtain a new birth certificate to reflect their gender.

“For transgender people, recognition of our gender is a matter of basic human dignity,” Transgender Law Center Executive Director Masen Davis told “Bay Times.” He continued, “California law allows people to change their birth certificates; however, the current law contains out-dated procedural barriers that make this process onerous and confusing for transgender people. AB 433, The Vital Statistics Modernization Act, if passed, would allow transgender Californians to use a straightforward process that conforms to the standards set by the United States Department of State for gender changes on passports.”

“The process for transgender individuals to get a birth certificate that accurately reflects their gender is confusing and complicated,” said Geoff Kors, Equality California executive director. “AB 433 would streamline the existing process for petitioning for a court order recognizing a change of gender and obtaining an updated birth certificate.” He said the legislation would also guarantee that these determinations will be made by licensed physicians, not the government, and would bring state law in line with federal standards while also alleviating confusion and misinterpretation.

This change aligns California’s standards to the standards set by the United States Department of State for gender changes on passports.

Complete article at:  http://www.sfbaytimes.com/?sec=article&article_id=14853


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More Americans Back Unions Than Governors in State Disputes

From Gallup Polls: http://www.gallup.com/poll/146921/Americans-Back-Unions-Governors-State-Disputes.aspx

Nearly 8 in 10 adults in union households are following the issue closely

by Lydia Saad

April 1, 2011
PRINCETON, NJ — With political battles over state budgets and collective bargaining still playing out to varying degrees in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Maine, and several other states, 48% of Americans say they agree more with the unions in these disputes, while 39% agree more with the governors. Thirteen percent favor neither side or have no opinion.

With Whom Do Americans Agree More -- Governors or State Employee Unions -- in State Disputes? March 2011

Complete article at:  http://www.gallup.com/poll/146921/Americans-Back-Unions-Governors-State-Disputes.aspx

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Botox, Bingeing, Bullying and Breast-Ironing: We Must Stop the War on Women’s Bodies

Silicone pumping falls in this category.

From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/health/150453/botox%2C_bingeing%2C_bullying_and_breast-ironing%3A_we_must_stop_the_war_on_women%27s_bodies/

In a globalized world, we must fight toxic body culture by “becoming what we have never seen”–rewriting the paradigm of health and self-acceptance.

By Courtney E. Martin
March 31, 2011

When most people hear the words “body image,” the demographic that comes to mind is young, white, wealthy, American women with self-esteem issues. When “body image” is covered on television, it is most often positioned as solely about eating disorders, and further, the most extreme forms; Entertainment Tonight boosts ratings with their anorexic twins profile and HBO’s documentary THIN focuses almost exclusively on the upper-middle class kind of insecurity that takes root in adolescence and sends many girls down a path of self-hatred.

But the true battle against bodies in our highly toxic culture conjures a far more diverse and vast picture. Imagine this global collage: a fat, black kid in rural Mississippi is bullied for his body weight, not just by peers, but doctors, coaches, and health teachers who have been stirred up by the “obesity epidemic” coverage; a young girl in Argentina who would wear the American equivalent of a size 10, can’t find any clothes that fit because they still won’t carry a range of sizes despite legislation requiring that they do; a young Bengali woman’s belly grows swollen with an American couple’s baby as she tries to earn some extra money for her own family.

As an international body-focused movement takes form, we must re-imagine who it is that we’re fighting for. It’s not just rich, white girls with eating disorders—though we’re fighting for them, too—it’s women worldwide who are suffering from what Susie Orbach calls “corporeal colonialism.” In our increasingly globalized world, where corporate conglomerates produce the majority of both the products we buy and the media we read, we are all stuck together in this sticky, toxic web of disembodiment.

Those who care about real change must move forward with a common vision of who we are fighting for and, most importantly, with. We are fighting for ourselves, of course, but we are also fighting for and with the next generation. We are fighting for and with the 8-year-old girl in the UK who recently reportedly got Botox injections. We are fighting for and with the children of parents who have thrown away hard-earned money on bogus and dangerous diets to the tune of $40 billion each year; many of these kids want to break the cycle. We are fighting for and with the little girl in Cameroon whose breasts are ironed.

As Dr. Sayantani DasGupta recently wrote for Feministing.com: “Toxic body culture isn’t a white woman’s issue. It’s not even a woman’s issue—it’s all our concern. But only if a discussion of advertising happens within an understanding of consumerism, if beauty standards are discussed alongside able-ism or the oppressions of gender and sexuality binaries, if local embodiment politics is contextualized within broader global forces.” In other words, unless the movement is broad and intersectional, inclusive and genuinely diverse, we will be replicating many of the invisibilities that we are fighting so hard against.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/health/150453/botox%2C_bingeing%2C_bullying_and_breast-ironing%3A_we_must_stop_the_war_on_women%27s_bodies/

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March to stop the freeloaders

From The Hill: http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/economy-a-budget/153255-march-to-stop-the-freeloaders

By Leo W. Gerard

The nation’s greedy corporations and insatiable wealthy are fattening themselves on workers. There’s no trickle down. It’s the opposite; the rich have been sucking the economic lifeblood from the middle class for decades.

When reckless Wall Street banksters get taxpayer-funded bailouts, billionaires get tax breaks and gigantic corporations like GE and Bank of America pay absolutely no federal income taxes, they’re getting for free the very public services that enable them to make massive profits in this country – the courts, the roads, the trade regulators, the patent enforcement.

The middle class doesn’t get those big time special deals and loopholes. Workers pay their taxes. As a result, it’s workers footing the bill for the government services that enrich the rich. Greedy corporations, their CEOs and the right-wing politicians they buy with tens of millions in campaign cash are freeloaders.

It’s time workers stood up to the freeloaders. Join Monday’s We Are One rallies. These demonstrations across the country by religious groups, social justice organizations and labor unions will illustrate that the middle class is mad as hell and not going to take trickster economics anymore.

It’s time for greedy corporations and the insatiable rich to pay their fair share. It’s time to stop cuts to the government programs most treasured by and vital to the middle class and the vulnerable in this country – education, public transportation, Social Security.

Continue reading at:  http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/economy-a-budget/153255-march-to-stop-the-freeloaders

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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Recommended Actions to Improve the Health and Well-Being of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Communities

From The Department of Health and Human Services: http://www.hhs.gov/secretary/about/lgbthealth.html

Below is a summary of the efforts taken by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, as well as recommendations for future action. The recommendations were developed in response to the Presidential Memorandum on Hospital Visitation, which, in addition to addressing the rights of patients to designate visitors regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, directed the Secretary to explore additional steps HHS could take to improve the lives of LGBT people.

For too long, LGBT people have been denied the compassionate services they deserve. That is now changing. HHS continues to make significant progress toward protecting the rights of every American to access quality care, recognizing that diverse populations have distinctive needs. Safeguarding the health and well-being of all Americans requires a commitment to treating all people with respect while being sensitive to their differences.

Summary of Actions

  • Equal Employment Opportunity Policy – In March 2011, Secretary Sebelius updated HHS’s equal employment opportunity policy, which already prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation, to explicitly protect against unfair treatment of employees and applicants for employment based on gender identity and genetic information.
  • Non-discrimination Policy – On April 1, 2011, the Secretary issued a new policy explicitly requiring HHS employees to serve all individuals who are eligible for the Department’s programs without regard to any non-merit factor, including race, national origin, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability (physical or mental), age, status as a parent, or genetic information.
  • Hospital Visitation – The President’s Memorandum on Hospital Visitation directed HHS to initiate rulemaking to ensure that hospitals receiving Medicare or Medicaid payments respect the rights of patients to designate visitors, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other non-clinical factor. On November 17, 2010, HHS issued the final rule affirming those rights.
  • Advance Directives – The Presidential Memorandum also called for new guidelines to facilitate hospitals’ compliance with existing regulations allowing patients to designate who they want to make medical decisions on their behalf through advance directives. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is on track to issue these guidelines in the coming months.
  • Internal LGBT Coordinating Committee – To ensure effective coordination of LGBT-related policies and the consideration of LGBT concerns throughout HHS’s activities, Secretary Sebelius established an internal committee of senior representatives from each operating and staff division of the Department and named Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Health Howard Koh, and Acting Assistant Secretary for Children and Families David Hansell to co-chair this committee. The committee will produce an annual report on the Department’s key accomplishments and upcoming initiatives.
  • Institute of Medicine Study on LGBT Health – The National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded a study by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to identify research gaps and opportunities related to LGBT health and outline a research agenda. The results of this study, announced on March 31, 2011, will assist HHS in enhancing its research efforts.
  • Healthy People 2020 – Every ten years, HHS develops national, science-based objectives for promoting health and preventing disease for the following decade. In 2010, for the first time, a formal workgroup was formed to examine the scientific literature and propose objectives regarding LGBT health. This initiative is part of HHS’s overall effort to strengthen LGBT data.
  • National HIV/AIDS Strategy – On July 13, 2010, Secretary Sebelius joined the President and Jeffrey Crowley, director of the Office of National AIDS Strategy, in announcing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, a rigorous effort to increase access to care and lower the number of new HIV cases in the United States by 25 percent within the next five years. The strategy seeks to reduce HIV-related health disparities with a specific focus on high-risk populations, including LGBT populations.
  • The Affordable Care Act – The health care law is helping to improve access to care for all Americans, including individuals in the LGBT community. Studies have shown that health disparities related to sexual orientation and gender identity are due in part to lower rates of health insurance coverage and a lack of cultural competency in the health care system. As HHS implements the Affordable Care Act, it will pay close attention to the unique health needs of LGBT populations and continue to include LGBT health experts on Affordable Care Act and other advisory boards, as appropriate.
  • Tobacco Control – The 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act authorizes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate the content, marketing, and sale of tobacco products. These efforts, combined with tobacco cessation initiatives across HHS, have the potential to save millions of lives, particularly among high-risk populations, including LGBT populations. On November 10, 2010, HHS released a Department-wide strategic action plan to reduce tobacco use. To address higher smoking rates among LGBT individuals, this plan emphasizes the need for more research, and calls for the increased development of evidence-based, population-specific treatments and interventions. HHS will continue to work toward meeting these needs.
  • Aging Services – In 2010, HHS funded the nation’s first national technical assistance resource center to support public and private organizations serving the unique needs of LGBT older adults. HHS also published a toolkit for providing respectful and inclusive services for diverse communities, including LGBT populations.
  • Anti-Bullying Efforts – Last year, HHS collaborated with five other departments – Education, Agriculture, Defense, Interior, and Justice – to establish a federal task force on bullying. HHS also announced an unprecedented, cross-departmental National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention with a wide range of public and private partners to coordinate suicide prevention efforts, particularly among at-risk groups, such as LGBT youth. On March 10, Secretary Sebelius participated in the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention to further highlight the importance of making schools and communities safe for all students. HHS also launched a new website – www.StopBullying.gov – which contains a specific section for LGBT youth. Additionally, the Secretary recorded a video, It Gets Better, at www.ItGetsBetter.org, encouraging young people to reach out for help to overcome bullying by their peers.
  • Improvements in Foster and Adoptive Care – To help address barriers to permanency and well-being for LGBT foster youth, who are disproportionately represented in the foster care population, HHS recently awarded a \ 3.3 million grant to theLos Angeles Gay & Lesbian Community Services Center. This is one of the largest federal grants ever awarded to an organization primarily serving LGBT individuals. HHS’s Administration for Children and Families also applied an existing cooperative agreement toward the development of respite care and support group models for LGBT parents to strengthen and support foster and adoptive placements. This grant will help reduce the barriers encountered by prospective and current foster and adoptive parents who are LGBT.
  • Runaway and Homeless Youth Services – In contrast to previous years, HHS now requires that all organizations serving runaway and homeless youth be equipped to serve LGBT youth, who represent a disproportionate segment of this population. HHS also allows homeless and runaway youth providers to apply for funds to primarily serve LGBT youth. Moreover, HHS has begun the process of improving data collection among homeless and runaway LGBT youth through the Runaway Homeless Youth Information Management System.

Future Recommended Actions

HHS is moving forward with the following actions. HHS will continue to work in close coordination with LGBT community advocates in improving services and responding to the needs of these populations.

  1. Later this year, HealthCare.gov, HHS’s innovative new on-line tool called for by the Affordable Care Act, will provide additional information of specific relevance to LGBT populations. In particular, the website will allow LGBT consumers to identify health insurance policies available to them that include coverage of domestic partners.
  2. HHS will conduct outreach to organizations that serve LGBT communities to make them aware of available funding opportunities and, in Funding Opportunity Announcements, highlight programs that may particularly benefit LGBT populations.
  3. The Department will continue to work toward increasing the number of federally-funded health and demographic surveys that collect and report sexual orientation and gender identity data, consistent with the President’s support for evidence-based policies. In collaboration with other agencies throughout HHS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is leading an effort to develop and test questions on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health is also reviewing existing LGBT data and will generate baselines and targets addressing LGBT health disparities through the Healthy People 2020 initiative. This process will include meetings with LGBT data experts and stakeholders to provide transparency and opportunities for input.
  1. HHS will continue to evaluate ways its programs can ensure equal treatment of LGBT families. For example, HHS will advise states and tribes that federal law allows them to treat LGBT couples similarly to non-LGBT couples with respect to human services benefit programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and child care. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will also notify states of their ability to provide same-sex domestic partners of long-term care Medicaid beneficiaries the same treatment as opposite-sex spouses in the contexts of estate recovery, imposition of liens, and transfer of assets. This includes not seizing or imposing a lien on the home of a deceased beneficiary if the same-sex domestic partner still resides in the home. It also includes allowing Medicaid beneficiaries needing long-term care to transfer the title of a home to a same-sex domestic partner, allowing the partner to remain in the home.
  1. HHS will encourage new and existing health profession training programs, including behavioral health (e.g. mental health, substance abuse, and HIV) programs, to include LGBT cultural competency curricula. The lack of culturally competent providers is a significant barrier to quality health care for many LGBT people, particularly those who identify as transgender. HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration will also convene professional groups that represent LGBT health providers and students to identify challenges and opportunities for training LGBT providers and to isolate strategies geared toward increasing culturally competent care for LGBT patients. In consultation with LGBT communities, HHS will develop cultural competency goals and promote the use of cultural competency curricula inclusive of LGBT populations in future grants guidance. Moreover, to improve the capacity of practitioners in addressing behavioral health needs, HHS’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will utilize existing federal and national training and technical assistance networks to support the adoption of behavioral health training materials.
  1. HHS will provide guidance on the array of training and technical assistance available to state child welfare agencies to support LGBT youth, caregivers, and foster and adoptive parents.

HHS will continue to address discrimination, harassment, and violence against all individuals, including LGBT individuals, through domestic violence and other violence prevention programs. This includes recognizing LGBT populations as underserved communities in 2011 and 2012 Funding Opportunity Announcements under the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program and, where appropriate, identifying LGBT populations as target populations for population-specific grants. HHS will integrate an even stronger component focusing on LGBT youth in all anti-bullying initiatives and continue working with the White House, Departments of Education, Agriculture, Defense, Interior, and Justice to ensure that states, schools, and the general public are aware of the resources available.

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Irish actors Support Belong To’s Stand Up! Campaign

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National Tea Party Rally Draws Tens of People

Maybe it is a sign the AstroTurf Tea Baggers  have shot their wad but  today a National Rally only managed to draw a few dozen people.

New Movement in town.  The real hard working Americans are attending pro-labor, pro-union and pro-teacher rallies across the Nation in hundreds of thousands.  One Rally in Madison Wisconsin at the end of February drew an estimated hundred thousand plus people to stand in the cold and snow.

The real mystery is why are the Tea Baggers getting any coverage at all?

The mighty juggernaut of hard working Americans, who are tired of being screwed by government giving huge tax breaks to billionaires as well as huge hand outs to tax dodging corporations that out source our jobs, is  a real grass roots movement.

One that aims to take back the country and restore the real American values of fairness and equality, the right to decent jobs and laws that protect us from corporate predators.

From Media Matters for America: http://mediamatters.org/blog/201104010008

Does A Tea Party Rally Attracting “Dozens” Qualify As News?

April 01, 2011 10:19 am ET by Eric Boehlert

Or put another way, is there any limit to how small or poorly attended a Tea Party rally can be before the press finally stops showering the right-wing movement with coverage? Based on the avalanche of reporting that yesterday’s minuscule Tea Party rally in Washington, D.C., generated, the answer appears to be, no.

Just how sparse was the Tea Party crowd? A Bloomberg dispatch tactfully noted the rally attracted “dozens” of supporters.


I realize the fact that many high-profile members of Congress were scheduled speak at the Thursday rally meant it was going to be covered regardless, that there was an automatic news hook in place regardless of the Tea Party turnout.

But still, it’s long past time that reporters and pundits started telling the truth about the incredibly shrinking Tea Party movement in America. And it’s time members of the press corps asked themselves why they continue to cover Tea Party events that draw “dozens.”  (I guarantee you that if Media Matters promoted a rally in the nation’s capital and invited members of Congress to speak, there would be a hell of a lot more than “dozens” of supporters. I can also guarantee you most news organizations would not cover the event.)

Remember, this is supposed to be a grassroots movement, which means one of the newsworthy angles is that so many Americans are supposedly getting involved in the Tea Party initiative. But if the party calls for a major Washington, D.C., rally and promises to have members of  Congress addressing the crowd, but only “dozens” show up? That in and of itself is news. (i.e. What’s become of the Tea Party?)

Continue reading at:  http://mediamatters.org/blog/201104010008

From The Hill: http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/153295-reid-jabs-tea-party-there-were-tens-of-them-at-dc-rally

Reid jabs Tea Party: ‘There were tens of them’ at DC rally

By Jordan Fabian – 04/01/11 11:52 AM ET

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Friday ridiculed the size of the crowd at a Tea Party rally on Capitol Hill for deep spending cuts.

No more than a couple of hundred activists showed up for the Washington demonstration, many fewer than past Tea Party rallies in the nation’s capital.

“There were tens of them here yesterday. That’s a chosen word, tens of them,” Reid said on a conference call with reporters. Reid and his fellow Senate Democrats have repeatedly taken aim at the Tea Party and conservative freshman House Republicans, saying they are rooting for a government shutdown amid negotiations over a proposal to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year.

Continue reading:  http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/153295-reid-jabs-tea-party-there-were-tens-of-them-at-dc-rally

A”couple of hundred” is an extremely generous estimate given  the tendency for the press to double the size of right wing rallies and half the size of left wing ones.

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Mike Huckabee Says He Wants Americans To Be Indoctrinated At Gunpoint

From Alternet: http://blogs.alternet.org/speakeasy/2011/03/30/mike-huckabee-says-he-wants-americans-to-be-indoctrinated-at-gunpoint/

B. E. Wilson
March 30, 2011

Did Mike Huckabee just flush his presidential aspirations down the proverbial toilet? Well, if American mainstream media has an ounce of journalistic gumption remaining the answer most certainly would be “yes”. Huckabee has just been caught on video, at a Christian supremacist conference, stating that Americans should be forcibly indoctrinated at gunpoint. The organization which hosted the “Rediscover God In America” conference, United in Purpose, has edited Huckabee’s comment from footage of his speech, but not before People For The American Way’s Kyle Mantyla captured the unedited footage, in which Mike Huckabee states, “I almost wish that there would be, like, a simultaneous telecast, and all Americans would be forced–forced at gunpoint no less–to listen to every David Barton message, and I think our country would be better for it. I wish it’d happen.”

David Barton is the leading promoter of a brand of falsified American history altered to support the claim that America was founded as a Christian, rather than a secular, nation. As Chris Rodda, who has authored an entire book debunking Barton’s brand of pseudo-history, writes,

I was quite surprised… to come across a video clip from this conference on the People for the American Way (PFAW) Right Wing Watch blog with the headline “Huckabee: Americans Should Be Forced, At Gunpoint, To Learn From David Barton.” I had watched Huckabee’s speech. How on earth could I have missed a statement like that? Well, I didn’t. It had been edited out of the webcast that I had watched.

Kyle Mantyla over at PFAW’s Right Wing Watch had recorded Huckabee’s speech when it was streamed live on Thursday, and posted the ‘forced at gunpoint’ clip on Friday. By Saturday, when I watched the webcast on the United in Purpose website, that part of Huckabee’s speech had been edited out.

Continue reading at:  http://blogs.alternet.org/speakeasy/2011/03/30/mike-huckabee-says-he-wants-americans-to-be-indoctrinated-at-gunpoint/

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Obama’s Fatal Corporate Addiction

From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/03/30

by Robert Scheer
March 30, 2011

If it had been revealed that Jeffrey Immelt once hired an undocumented nanny, or defaulted on his mortgage, he would be forced to resign as head of President Barack Obama’s “Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.” But the fact that General Electric, where Immelt is CEO, didn’t pay taxes on its $14.5 billion profit last year—and indeed is asking for a $3.2 billion tax rebate—has not produced a word of criticism from the president, who in January praised Immelt as a business leader who “understands what it takes for America to compete in the global economy.”

What it takes, evidently, is shifting profit and jobs abroad: Only one out of three GE workers is now based in the U.S., and almost two-thirds of the company’s profit is sheltered in its foreign operations. Thanks to changes in the tax law engineered when another avowedly pro-business Democrat, Bill Clinton, was president, U.S. multinational financial companies can avoid taxes on their international scams. And financial scams are what GE excelled in for decades, when GE Capital, its financial unit, which specialized in credit card, consumer loan and housing mortgage debt, accounted for most of GE’s profits.

That’s right, GE, along with General Motors with its toxic GMAC financial unit, came to look more like an investment bank than a traditional industrial manufacturing giant that once propelled this economy and ultimately it ran into the same sort of difficulties as the Wall Street hustlers. As The New York Times’ David Kocieniewski, who broke the GE profit story, put it: “Because its lending division, GE Capital, has provided more than half of the company’s profit in some recent years, many Wall Street analysts view G.E. not as a manufacturer but as an unregulated lender that also makes dishwashers and M.R.I. machines.”

Maximizing corporate profits at the taxpayer’s expense is what top CEOs are good at, and after all it was Immelt who presided over GE when it got so heavily into the subprime mortgage business that it needed a government bailout to avoid bankruptcy. This was before Obama made him a trusted adviser.

Continue reading at:   http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/03/30

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Last witch trial re-investigated

Belfast Telegraph: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/last-witch-trial-reinvestigated-15131771.html

30 March 2011

The intriguing tale of Ireland’s last witch trial has been re-investigated ahead of the 300th anniversary of a case in which eight Co Antrim women were found guilty of possessing a teenage girl.

The story of the Islandmagee witches has generated little historical re-examination in the last three centuries.

But Dr Andrew Sneddon from the University of Ulster intends to change that with a reappraisal of the trial, which took place 300 years ago this week..

After being convicted at a court in Carrickfergus, the eight Presbyterian women were sentenced to a year in prison and each put in the public stocks four times on market day.

In his forthcoming book – Witchcraft and Magic in Ireland, 1586-1946 – the history lecturer contends that their alleged victim, 18-year-old Mary Dunbar, made the whole thing up.

“My research is based on a wide variety of contemporary documentation, including witness statements, letters and eye-witness accounts,” he said. “It suggests that Mary Dunbar’s symptoms of bewitchment were that of demonic possession: fits, swearing, throwing bibles, vomiting household objects, and trances.”

The academic claims she faked these episodes to break free from the tight social restraints put on her at the time and to become a local celebrity.

Who Says It’s Not About Destroying Unions, Bringing Back Child Labor and Screwing Workin People?

From Truth Dig: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/who_says_its_not_about_destroying_unions_20110331/

By Stanley Kutler
Mar 31, 2011

The centennial commemoration of the Triangle Shirtwaist Co. fire in New York City, with the loss of 146 young women trapped in a factory that had blatantly ignored the meager safety legislation of the time, paradoxically raises the question of whether we are doomed to forget the past. The sight in 1911 of people leaping to their deaths from nine stories up made an indelible impression upon Frances Perkins, later Franklin D. Roosevelt’s secretary of labor. As secretary of the National Consumers League, Perkins led the drive for reform. She later recalled that “the Triangle fire was a torch that lighted up the whole industrial scene.” Certainly, the tragedy spurred the growth of labor unions, and progressive work and safety legislation designed to protect and advance the rights of working people.

For those with a historical animus against the organization and advancement of labor, the current strife in Wisconsin and other states offers a happy prospect for the resurrection of a dismal past of exploitation and the re-creation of a downtrodden working class. In Maine, the Republican governor ordered the removal of a mural depicting Maine’s labor history, as well as the renaming of the Frances Perkins Meeting Room in the state’s Labor Department building. Gov. Paul LePage, who supports a right-to-work bill, apparently heard some complaints from a few business organizations. In ordering the removal, the governor said he feared the mural “sends a message that we’re one-sided.” Perhaps on a national level, the Republicans will further rewrite history and remove Perkins’ name from the U.S. Department of Labor building in Washington.

Champions of Wisconsin’s progressive tradition—and much of what is called the “Wisconsin Idea”—are now reeling as the governor and Legislature seem determined to overthrow the past. Whether in polite country club conversation or in the angry voices of barroom exchanges, we have an atavistic, ugly strain of hostility toward public workers, and even the idea of unions, that arouses some of our most divisive political dialogue. U.S. House Republicans, by way of example, have proposed legislation that would deny food stamps to the children or relatives of any worker who strikes. Real budget hawks, those people.

Yet where and when have any candidates for public office declared and advocated such hostility and promised to destroy unions? Neither Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker nor his dutiful followers in the Legislature ever, ever openly called for the actions they are now taking. Theirs was a stealth campaign, one of calculated deceit.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/who_says_its_not_about_destroying_unions_20110331/

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/03/31-13

Battle Over Censorship of Maine Murals Part of a Larger Struggle for Basic Rights and Justice

by Peter Dreier
Thursday, March 31, 2011

Maine Gov. Paul LePage and Fox broadcaster Glenn Beck not only share right-wing political views, but they both fancy themselves art critics. Two years ago Beck went on a rampage attacking murals on New York City buildings, including Rockefeller Plaza, for depicting “communist” propaganda. Now Gov. LePage is following in Beck’s footsteps, ordering the removal of a 36-foot, 11-panel mural by Maine artist Judy Taylor from the foyer of the Maine Department of Labor in Augusta because, he claimed, it is “too one-sided”, pro-union, and anti-business.

Who could have predicted that a mural in Maine would become the latest battleground in the war of ideas, money, and power triggered by America’s right wing forces, including the Tea Party, Fox News, the Republican Party, and big business?

The Right’s escalating attack on workers, unions, government, and the middle class is taking some strange twists and turns, and triggering a backlash that seems to have finally energized progressive forces. From the huge protest rally in downtown Los Angeles last Saturday, to the ongoing protests in Wisconsin and Ohio, to the attempt to stop a stealth Tea Party-backed candidate (Sean Baggett) from winning a School Board race in Pasadena, California, there’s evidence that the Right, full of hubris, has gone too far. Polls show, for example, that most Americans firmly reject the Wisconsin Governor’s decision to kill collective bargaining rights of the state’s public sector employees.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/03/31-13

Maine GOP Gov. Paul LePage Stole Candy From Children, Wants To Undo Child Labor Laws

By Alex Seitz-Wald
Mar 17th, 2011

At an event in Lewiston, ME last night, the state’s tea party governor Paul LePage (R) told a crowd of French-Canadian-Americans that when he was 12 years old, he used to hide out in the French-Canadian part of town and steal Halloween candy from children. “Isn’t that awful? And now I’m governor of Maine,” LePage said with a laugh.

But now that LePage is governor, he’s still targeting children. A bill sponsored by state Sen. Debra Plowman (R) and “backed by” LePage would roll back the state’s child labor laws, with the pretext of giving kids more liberty to work. “We have no other restrictions on any other things they do,” Plowman explained. “They can watch TV 32 hours-a-week.”

Her original bill would have removed all protections on the number of hours 16 and 17 year olds could work during the school week, and allow them to work until 11 PM. Maine’s current child labor law — which allows only 20 hours per week during the school year — was passed with bipartisan consensus because educators warned that their students were falling asleep in class due to long work hours and their grades were suffering. But industry groups that employ teens want more:

The bill, filed by Sen. Debra Plowman, R-Hampden, was supported by industry groups including the Maine Restaurant Association and the Maine Innkeepers Association during a public hearing Wednesday in front of the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee. […]

[The Restaurant Association’s Dick] Grotton said Maine’s law “penalized” employers.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/03/31-13

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AT&T’s secret f*cking loophole: If you want out of an Internet contract, just curse

From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/03/31/att-secret-fcking-loophole-if-you-want-out-of-an-internet-contract-just-curse/

By Stephen C. Webster
Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Update (below): AT&T responds, and doesn’t deny it

With telecom giant AT&T rolling out limitations and additional fees on how much information its Internet users can access, it seems the company is bracing for an influx of anger.

In a little-noticed contract tweak recently, AT&T customer service representatives have been empowered to cancel the contract of any customers who behave in an abusive manner towards them.

In other words, when those top two percent of users get massive bandwidth bills at the end of May, and they call in with full-bore nerd rage, AT&T will have an easy solution: cut them off entirely, and waive the cancellation fee.

But in perhaps an unintended consequence of this move, that would also allow disgruntled users to wriggle out of their contract with what The L.A. Times called “some strategic cussing.”

Raw Story put that to an AT&T spokesman, in the same language reflected above. While they disagreed with “the premise” of this story, they did not refute it. After AT&T promised a more detailed response, Raw Story held this report for a day, but no word had arrived at time of publication.

AT&T claims its top 2 percent of users are responsible for about 20 percent of the traffic on their network, but they add that most users don’t get anywhere near the coming-soon bandwidth cap of 150 gigabytes per month. Still, it’s unclear why their bandwidth caps are necessary if, as they say, most users are topping out at around 10-20 gigabytes.

The bandwidth cap would impose a $10 fee for every 50 gigabytes over the limit. A more expensive 250 gigabyte subscription was also in the works. Users who go over their information limit will have their first three violations will be waived, the company said.

Continue reading at:   http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/03/31/att-secret-fcking-loophole-if-you-want-out-of-an-internet-contract-just-curse/

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Demonstrators clash with police in Piccadilly at Anti-Cuts Rally

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