From Yahoo News: http://news.yahoo.com/tea-partys-power-peaked-064500660.html
By Adam Sorensen | Time.com –
Tue, Aug 23, 2011
Host to one of the purest strains of conservatism in the nation (ranked only behind Mississippi and Wyoming by Gallup), Utah is the perfect Tea Party test tube. Its primary system, which relies on a nominating convention where party delegates get a say before candidates go to a popular vote, distills the purest form of activist sentiment. The state was the site of the first Republican incumbent defeat in 2010, when the brewsters toppled three-term Senator Bob Bennett, a watershed moment in an election cycle that saw not only Mike Lee claim victory over the establishment, but Rand Paul, Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell, Carl Paladino, Ken Buck and Joe Miller as well. Utah was ground zero for the whole thing. But on Monday, something surprising happened.
Jason Chaffetz, the Tea-infused two-term Rep. who won his seat in Congress in 2008 by running to the right of incumbent Chris Cannon (endorsed by no less than George W. Bush himself) and who championed the conservative Cut, Cap & Balance fantasy budget, announced he will not challenge veteran Republican Senator Orrin Hatch in a primary next year. (See Souvenirs from the Tea Party.)
Citing a desire to avoid a “multimillion-dollar bloodbath,” Chaffetz broke widely held expectations with his decision not to pursue Hatch. While it’s true that the 77-year-old entrenched Senator has spent the better part of a year scrambling right – he seemed to take note of Bennett’s downfall – and filling a formidable campaign warchest, the nominating convention would have given Chaffetz a decent shot at taking down his opponent without ever facing voters. Besides, being outspent would hardly be novel to Chaffetz, who was up against a six-to-one fundraising disadvantage in ’08, and Tea Party types have rarely shied away from fighting above their weight class. Chaffetz’s decision to pass on a Senate run may be a leading indicator that the Tea Party’s most powerful tool isn’t as sharp as it once was.
Continue reading at: http://news.yahoo.com/tea-partys-power-peaked-064500660.html
August 24, 2011
The National Science Foundation has cleared climatologist and Penn State professor Michael Mann of any misconduct in the “Climate-Gate” controversy, which became a lightning rod for climate change skeptics in 2009.
In a memo Tuesday, the NSF’s Inspector General’s office said that “the research in question was originally completed over 10 years ago. Although the subject’s data is still available and still the focus of significant critical examination, no direct evidence has been presented that indicates the subject fabricated the raw data he used for his research or falsified his results.”
“Lacking any direct evidence of research misconduct,” the review concludes, “as defined under the NSF Research Misconduct Regulation, we are closing this investigation with no further action.”
The investigation centered around thousands of e-mails stolen from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit in Great Britain, that showed scientists discussing how to keep research skeptical of climate change out of peer-review journals, among other things. Conservatives and climate skeptics latched onto the e-mails, using them as evidence that the idea of man-made climate change is not true. The e-mails did not, in fact, undermine the broad consensus that climate change is occurring.
By Sam Stein
August 24, 2011
WASHINGTON — The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is one of the best known and well funded anti-gay marriage advocacy groups in the country. It is also one of the biggest opponents of campaign finance disclosure laws in the country: NOM has repeatedly refused to reveal its donors and has filed multiple lawsuits in an attempt to block and reverse disclosure laws.
Since 2007, NOM has led numerous state-level ballot efforts and campaigns to block marriage equality rulings and to support anti-gay marriage candidates. But as the organization fights against the tide of moving public opinion, it has also begun opposing disclosure provisions for political donors. Since January 2009, NOM has been involved in no less than seven lawsuits in state and federal courts or before state ethics boards to block the disclosure of its donors.
NOM has not just attempted to roll back disclosure laws in the states, it has also purposefully failed to disclose the identities of its donors, often times in violation of the law, triggering state-level investigations, court cases and appeals cases.
“What’s going on here is an attempt to allow national and out-of-state interests to influence elections, ballot measures, and referenda without having to disclose,” said Adam Skaggs, senior council for the Brennan Center for Justice. “They’d rather do the spending in the dark.”
The most recent court decision against NOM came on Aug. 11. NOM violated Maine law by refusing to disclose the donors to its $1.8 million campaign to oppose a 2009 ballot referendum on gay marriage. The Maine Ethics Commission began an investigation into NOM’s donor structure, resulting in the organization filing a retaliatory lawsuit trying to block the commission’s work. The First Circuit Court of Appeals ultimately ruled against NOM.
“These [disclosure] provisions neither erect a barrier to political speech nor limit its quantity,” the appeals court opinion stated. “Rather, they promote the dissemination of information about those who deliver and finance political speech, thereby encouraging efficient operation of the marketplace of ideas.”
By Julia Whitty
Tue Aug. 23, 2011
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) just racked up another black eye from their sustainable seafood program. According to a new paper in Current Biology, nearly one of every five fillets of Chilean sea bass genetically sampled were either not Chilean sea bass, or else not from the only area deemed to have a sustainable fishery—the South Georgia Islands/Shag Rocks fishery.
Here’s what the authors of the Current Biology paper have to say about the Chilean sea bass fishery:
The decline and collapse of many of the world’s fisheries has led to the implementation of social marketing that promotes the consumption of sustainably harvested seafood. Because the success of this strategy depends on supply chain integrity, we investigated the accuracy of eco-labels for Patagonian toothfish, marketed as ‘Chilean sea bass’ (Dissostichus eleginoides), by genetically analyzing retail fish bearing certification labels from the Marine Stewardship Council.
By Igor Volsky
Aug 24, 2011
Potential vice president running mate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) dismissed the importance of programs like Medicare and Social Security during a speechat the Reagan Presidential Library this afternoon, arguing that the initiatives “weakened us as people”:
These programs actually weakened us as a people. You see, almost forever, it was institutions in society that assumed the role of taking care of one another. If someone was sick in your family, you took care of them. If a neighbor met misfortune, you took care of them. You saved for your retirement and your future because you had to. We took these things upon ourselves in our communities, our families, and our homes, and our churches and our synagogues. But all that changed when the government began to assume those responsibilities. All of a sudden, for an increasing number of people in our nation, it was no longer necessary to worry about saving for security because that was the government’s job.
Screw austery programs for the hard working people who create the wealth.
Let’s institute some severe austerity programs on the rich.
The workers are tired of constantly ratcheted up demands of increased productivity at the price of our health and well being.
What good is owning stuff when you are too freaking tired to enjoy it.
We want not just bread but roses too.
The French version with unions and a month long vacation along with say 32 hour weeks for 40 hour pay sounds pretty damned good and just as well.
Americans have been told that austerity measures and shared suffering are the path to economic recovery, but in fact, many fixes could dramatically improve our lives.
By Sarah Jaffe
August 22, 2011
Americans have been sold a big lie on the economy.
We’ve been told, over and over, by politicians in both parties, that in order to have an economic recovery, we’re all going to have to sacrifice. We’re going to have to undergo brutal austerity measures that make our lives demonstrably worse for a while in order to get back to prosperity. We just have to accept wage and benefit cuts, high unemployment, and cutbacks to government services, because that’s the only way we will recover from this crisis.
That’s just not true.
It’s an ideological position contradicting not just leftist economists, but even Republicans. It’s a position that conveniently fits right in with the agenda of Big Business: slash public spending, force wages down, cut benefits, keep workers poor and desperate for any job they can get, and privatize government services and infrastructure for profit.
Worse than that, it won’t work.
In fact, many economists have pointed out policies that would not only strengthen our economy in the long term, but in the short term make our lives actually more pleasant and livable.
Since the pursuit of happiness is actually enshrined in that Constitution conservatives love to tout, we’ve collected five suggestions for improving the economy that would also make our lives better right now.
1. Longer weekends, more vacations.
Annie Leonard pointed out at the New York Times that Americans work longer hours than people in any other industrialized nation. We work nearly nine weeks more than Western Europeans, and we get far fewer vacations.
From Crooks and Liars: http://crooksandliars.com/john-amato/why-raising-retirement-age-fix-social-s
By John Amato
August 24, 2011
““We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace — business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering. … Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me. And I welcome their hatred!”
Ever since FDR gave America the New Deal, the right-wing of this country has been trying to destroy it.
The recurring theme in the recovery plan was Roosevelt’s pledge to help the “forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid.”
The term New Deal was coined during Franklin Roosevelt’s 1932 Democratic presidential nomination acceptance speech, when he said, “I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people.” Roosevelt summarized the New Deal as a “use of the authority of government as an organized form of self-help for all classes and groups and sections of our country.”
FDR was considered a traitor by his rich friends, but he vowed not to be swayed by their hatred. I won’t get into each different program, but he embarked on tremendous deficit spending and Keynesian economics to accomplish this because that’s what the country needed to do recover from the Great Depression. From there many other social programs, civil rights/liberties legislation created along with Medicare and Medicaid which came from LBJ’s The Great Society helped protect the middle class and poor of this country. History taught us this lesson all too well. There were deficit hawks going crazy over this and they later prevailed which then bogged down the economic gains FDR had achieved. Conservatives try to spin our social safety nets into the left wanting some imaginary super rich to pay for the lower 98 percent’s rock and roll lifestyles while we’re cashing our unemployment checks.
Now after the financial meltdown caused by the mortgage scandal, the federal deficit is high and what’s coming out of many of these modern day deficit hawks is that we must raise the retirement age of Social Security and Medicare recipients to help reduce the deficit and save us all. Help, we’re burning! It is a horribly cruel idea for many reasons, but it’s being floated around as a way to get some economic stimulus pumped back into our struggling economy:
Continue reading at: http://crooksandliars.com/john-amato/why-raising-retirement-age-fix-social-sBy John Amato
From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/08/23-5
It was only a matter of time before the “pull down” NAFTA and WTO trade agreements on U.S. wages and jobs would be followed by “pull down” contract demands by U.S. corporations on their unionized workers toward levels of non-unionized laborers.
The most recent illustration of this three-decade reversal of nearly a century of American economic advances for employees is the numerous demands by Verizon.
Here are just a few of the concessions the new Verizon CEO, Lowell McAdam, is insisting upon:
Mr. Lowell McAdam would surely have trouble feeling the pain of his workers who brave the elements storm or shine to afford him a salary of over 1.5 million dollars PER MONTH plus perks and benefits.
Watching Verizon profits soar year after year, noticing Verizon stock rise faster than its competitors, knowing that the company’s top five executives took in over $250 million between them in the last four years, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) took their members on strike on August 7, 2011. “Unfair and unacceptable” was their cry on the picket lines up and down the east coast.
These workers pay their taxes. While the tax lawyers for their bosses have figured out how to turn Verizon into a vast tax escapee. According to the super-accurate Citizens for Tax Justice, Verizon Communications made a total of $32.5 billion dollars in pretax U.S. profits during 2008, 2009, 2010. Far from paying the maximum federal corporate income tax rate of 35 percent on these ample profits, Verizon’s federal income tax was negative $951 million or negative 2.9 percent!
Continue reading at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/08/23-5
The homophobia within Transgender Inc and the Transgender Borg is a major reason for my breaking with both.
That so many in Transgender Inc have started pushing the idea that gay and lesbian people should drop the campaign for marriage equality even though marriage equality would mean an end to the challenging of the marriages of both transsexual and transgender people is another.
The idea that Transgender Folks get to not only colonize post-transsexual folks but demand that gay and lesbian people follow the agenda of Transgender Inc rather than work for something they were working toward before the political identity of transgender came into existence in the mid-1990s is both absurd and very straight as well as androcentric.
Perhaps it is time to drop the “T” from Gay and Lesbian. The Transgenders have brought nothing to the table but demands.
I may have had an operation to change my sex a long time ago but that was then and this is now. I am a lesbian and I don’t need a “T” to be part of Gay and Lesbian. Just as straight post-transsexual women and men don’t necessarily want to be included in with gays and lesbians.
Marriage equality is front and center with me because I am old and I have been with Tina for the last ten years. We are concerned about being able to care for each other in the final years of our lives. We are concerned about what happens to the other when one of us dies first. Too often the remaining partner loses everything, which is devastating enough when one is young but is lethal when one is elderly.
This is why not only access to marriage, even if one has to travel is important along with the federal government recognizing that marriage and that marriage being given the same full faith and credence that say mixed race marriages are required to be given.
From The National Center for Lesbian Rights: http://www.nclrights.org/site/PageServer?pagename=blog_katesBlog082311
I cannot imagine the searing pain of losing a partner. I hope, of course, that I live my whole life never knowing such loss. In our work at NCLR, we have represented a number of men and women living through that almost unbearable tragedy, and in every case, their loss is compounded and the injury magnified by the fact that others or the government treat the couple as legal strangers.
In our 2001 case on behalf of Sharon Smith, the horror was unmatched. Sharon’s partner of seven years, Diane Alexis Whipple, was killed by massive dogs while trying to unlock the door of her San Francisco apartment. Her mauling, the grace and legal vulnerability of Sharon, and the stunning callousness of the dog owners captured headlines around the world, and illustrated a fact unknown to most people: couples in same-sex relationships routinely have our relationships ignored and disregarded by the law.
While Sharon was in the midst of unimaginable grieving, the State of California told her that because she and Alexis were not married, she had no right to hold the dog owners responsible for Alexis’s death. Insult compounded terrifying injury. NCLR represented Sharon in her wrongful death action, and the court ruled that she must be treated as a surviving spouse—a historic victory. But no victory, however historic, could erase either the loss or the added pain of having to fight so hard simply to be recognized as a loving, grieving partner.
Now, 10 years later, we represent Jennifer Tobits. Last September, Jennifer’s wife, Sarah Ellyn Farley, an accomplished and beloved lawyer and friend, died of a rare and aggressive form of cancer. Just four years earlier, the couple had married in Canada. Like Sharon, Jennifer now finds herself having to both grieve the loss of her loving spouse and fight to have their marriage respected and recognized. In this case, however, the insult of invisibility and denial is perpetuated not by the state, but by Ellyn’s own parents.
Ellyn’s parents never accepted their daughter for who she was, and her relationship with them had many ups and downs. They refused to attend Ellyn and Jennifer’s wedding celebration, instructing Ellyn to keep the celebration secret from other family members as well. As an adult, Ellyn’s body still bore visible scars from her father’s beatings of her with a belt—those beatings happened in Ellyn’s adolescence, a time when she was just beginning to express her identity. After she left for college, Ellyn built her life halfway across the country. Although she maintained contact with her parents, she kept them at arms’ length even while she was struggling with cancer. And as her illness grew worse, Ellyn began to fear that her parents would make things hard for Jennifer after she died. In an attempt to pacify her parents, and to protect Jennifer from the bullying Ellyn knew to expect, Ellyn made her parents the beneficiaries of her life insurance policy, worth almost half a million dollars. It turns out Ellyn was correct that her parents would make things difficult, and sadly wrong that they would be mollified by the insurance proceeds.
Continue reading at: http://www.nclrights.org/site/PageServer?pagename=blog_katesBlog082311
From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/08/23-6
WASHINGTON – People do not normally leave their homes, their families, and their communities unless they have no other option. Yet as environmental stresses mount, we can expect to see a growing number of environmental refugees. Rising seas and increasingly devastating storms grab headlines, but expanding deserts, falling water tables, and toxic waste and radiation are also forcing people from their homes.
Advancing deserts are now on the move almost everywhere. The Sahara desert, for example, is expanding in every direction. As it advances northward, it is squeezing the populations of Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria against the Mediterranean coast.
The Sahelian region of Africa – the vast swath of savannah that separates the southern Sahara desert from the tropical rainforests of central Africa – is shrinking as the desert moves southward. As the desert invades Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, from the north, farmers and herders are forced southward, squeezed into a shrinking area of productive land.
A 2006 U.N. conference on desertification in Tunisia projected that by 2020 up to 60 million people could migrate from sub-Saharan Africa to North Africa and Europe.
In Iran, villages abandoned because of spreading deserts or a lack of water number in the thousands. In Brazil, some 250,000 square miles of land are affected by desertification, much of it concentrated in the country’s northeast.
In Mexico, many of the migrants who leave rural communities in arid and semiarid regions of the country each year are doing so because of desertification. Some of these environmental refugees end up in Mexican cities, others cross the northern border into the United States. U.S. analysts estimate that Mexico is forced to abandon 400 square miles of farmland to desertification each year.
Continue reading at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/08/23-6
By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011
Traces of toxic chemicals harmful to the environment and to human health have been detected in products made by 14 top clothing manufacturers, Greenpeace said Tuesday.
Samples of clothing from top brands including Adidas, Uniqlo, Calvin Klein, H&M, Abercrombie & Fitch, Lacoste, Converse and Ralph Lauren were found to be tainted with the chemicals, known as nonylphenol ethoxylates, the watchdog said at the launch of its report “Dirty Laundry 2”.
Greenpeace campaigner Li Yifang said that nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), commonly used as detergents in industries including the production of natural and synthetic textiles, were detected in two-thirds of the samples the group tested.
“NPEs break down to form nonylphenol, which has toxic, persistent and hormone-disrupting properties,” Li told journalists in Beijing.
“It mimics female hormones, alters sexual development and affects reproductive systems.”
Components of NPEs have been implicated in the widespread “feminisation” of male fish in parts of Europe and also in disrupting hormone processes in some mammals, according to the campaign group WWF.
In a petition filed today, Public Citizen urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to require a black box warning — the strongest warning possible — on the drugs’ packaging detailing their side effects and potential to cause dependence among users.
Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, said he hopes stricter warnings will curb unnecessary use of the drugs.
“These drugs have a use, but they’re grossly overused,” Wolfe said. “We hope use will go down when doctors and patients know the risks.”
Some such risks, including bone fractures, infections and heart rhythm abnormalities, are listed in fine print on the drugs’ packaging. But the potential for the drugs to exacerbate acid reflux when patients discontinue use — a relatively recent observation — is not.
“There’s absolutely no warning that these drugs can cause dependence,” Wolfe said, adding that he hopes a black box warning will prompt doctors and patients to consider other, safer options first.
From Robert Reich: http://robertreich.org/post/9142270982
By Robert Reich
Friday, August 19, 2011
Repeat after me: Workers are consumers. Consumers are workers.
We’re slouching toward a double dip, and the stock market is imploding, because consumers – whose spending is 70 percent of the economy – have reached their limit.
It’s not just the jobless who can’t spend. It’s mainly people with jobs. Median wages continue to fall. Weekly wages in July for Americans with jobs were 1.3 percent lower than eight months before.
America’s median earners are now earning less (adjusted for inflation) than they earned ten years ago.
Every CEO of every company that continues to squeeze payrolls (Verizon, are you listening? Ford?) needs to understand they’re shooting themselves in the feet. Where do they expect demand for their products and services to come from?
They’re doing the reverse of what Henry Ford did back in 1914 – paying his workers three times what the typical factory employee earned at the time. The Wall Street Journal called his action “an economic crime” but Ford knew it was a cunning business move. With higher wages, his workers became his customers, snapping up Model-Ts and generating huge profits.
Continue reading at: http://robertreich.org/post/9142270982
From Mother Jones: http://motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2011/08/monsantos-roundup-herbicide-soil-damage
By Tom Philpott
Fri Aug. 19, 2011
August hasn’t been a happy month the for the Monsanto public-relations team. No, I’m not referring to my posts on how Gaza and Mexico don’t need the company’s high-tech seeds—the ones it will supposedly be “feeding the world” with in the not-so-distant future.
Monsanto’s real PR headache involves one of its flagship products very much in the here and now: the herbicide Roundup (chemical name: glyphosate), upon which Monsanto has built a highly profitable empire of “Roundup Ready” genetically modified seeds.
The problem goes beyond the “superweed” phenomenon that I’ve written about recently: the fact that farmers are using so much Roundup, on so much acreage, that weeds are developing resistance to it, forcing farmers to resort to highly toxic “pesticide cocktails.”
What Roundup is doing aboveground may be a stroll through the meadow compared to its effect below. According to USDA scientist Robert Kremer, who spoke at a conference last week, Roundup may also be damaging soil—a sobering thought, given that it’s applied to hundreds of millions of acres of prime farmland in the United States and South America. Here’s a Reuters account of Kremer’s presentation:
The heavy use of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide appears to be causing harmful changes in soil and potentially hindering yields of the genetically modified crops that farmers are cultivating, a US government scientist said on Friday. Repeated use of the chemical glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup herbicide, impacts the root structure of plants, and 15 years of research indicates that the chemical could be causing fungal root disease, said Bob Kremer, a microbiologist with the US Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.
Now, Kremer has been raising these concerns for a couple of years now—and as Tom Laskaway showed in this 2010 Grist article, the USDA has been downplaying them for just as long. Laskaway asked Kremer’s boss at the Agricultural Research Service, Michael Shannon, to comment on Kremer’s research. According to Laskaway, Shannon “admitted that Kremer’s results are valid, but said that the danger they represent pales in comparison to the superweed threat.”
Continue reading at: http://motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2011/08/monsantos-roundup-herbicide-soil-damage
Next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be president of the United States, please pay attention.
From Think Progress: http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2011/08/22/300479/rick-perry-disavows-fed-up/
By Ian Millhiser
Aug 22, 2011
Last November, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) published Fed Up, a 240-page ode to tentherism, which argues that everything from child labor laws to the Clean Air Act to Medicare violates the Constitution. As it turns out, however, claiming that America’s entire social safety net is unconstitutional isn’t a very popular position — so Perry’s now trying to take it all backjust one week into his presidential campaign:
[Perry’s] communications director, Ray Sullivan, said Thursday that he had “never heard” the governor suggest [Social Security] was unconstitutional. Not only that, Mr. Sullivan said, but “Fed Up!” is not meant to reflect the governor’s current views on how to fix the program. […]
In an interview, Mr. Sullivan acknowledged that many passages in Mr. Perry’s “Fed Up!” could dog his presidential campaign. The book, Mr. Sullivan said, “is a look back, not a path forward.” It was written “as a review and critique of 50 years of federal excesses, not in any way as a 2012 campaign blueprint or manifesto,” Mr. Sullivan said.
The campaign’s disavowal of “Fed Up!” is itself very new. On Sunday evening, at Mr. Perry’s first campaign stop in Iowa, a questioner asked the governor to talk about how he would fix the country’s rickety entitlement programs. Mr. Perry shot back: “Have you read my book, ‘Fed Up!’ Get a copy and read it.”
Complete article at: http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2011/08/22/300479/rick-perry-disavows-fed-up/
From CBS News: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20095591-503544.html
August 22, 2011
In his book “Fed Up!” Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry has some harsh words for the “crumbling monument to the failure of the New Deal” known as Social Security.
In the book, released in November 2010, Perry criticizes the program as emblematic of the “entitlement state” created by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt which meant “violently tossing aside any respect for our founding principles of federalism and limited government.”
He casts Social Security as a Ponzi scheme, which he describes as “fraudulent systems designed to take in a lot of money at the front and pay out none in the end.” On Fox News Sunday last November, Perry said the program is so bad that it would “even [make] Mr. Ponzi feel pretty bad if he were still alive.” In an interview with Newsweek around the same time, he said America would be better off without Medicare and Social Security and suggested the programs are unconstitutional.
“I don’t think our founding fathers when they were putting the term ‘general welfare’ in [the Constitution] were thinking about a federally operated program of pensions nor a federally operated program of health care,” he told Newsweek. “What they clearly said was that those were issues that the states need to address. Not the federal government. I stand very clear on that. From my perspective, the states could substantially better operate those programs if that’s what those states decided to do.” In “Fed Up,” Perry called the program a “bad disease” created “at the expense of respect for the Constitution and limited government.”
As Slate points out, Perry added in his book that “if you say Social Security is a failure, as I have just done, you will inherit the wind of political scorn.” But he says politicians should have the “courage” to speak out to keep the country off “the fast track to financial ruin.”
Continue reading at: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20095591-503544.html
By Richard Dawkins
August 23, 2011
Q. Texas governor and GOP candidate Rick Perry, at a campaign event this week, told a boy that evolution is ”just a theory” with “gaps” and that in Texas they teach “both creationism and evolution.” Perry later added “God is how we got here.” According to a 2009 Gallup study , only 38 percent of Americans say they believe in evolution. If a majority of Americans are skeptical or unsure about evolution, should schools teach it as a mere “theory”? Why is evolution so threatening to religion?
A. There is nothing unusual about Governor Rick Perry. Uneducated fools can be found in every country and every period of history, and they are not unknown in high office. What is unusual about today’s Republican party (I disavow the ridiculous ‘GOP’ nickname, because the party of Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt has lately forfeited all claim to be considered ‘grand’) is this: In any other party and in any other country, an individual may occasionally rise to the top in spite of being an uneducated ignoramus. In today’s Republican Party ‘in spite of’ is not the phrase we need. Ignorance and lack of education are positive qualifications, bordering on obligatory. Intellect, knowledge and linguistic mastery are mistrusted by Republican voters, who, when choosing a president, would apparently prefer someone like themselves over someone actually qualified for the job.
Any other organization — a big corporation, say, or a university, or a learned society – -when seeking a new leader, will go to immense trouble over the choice. The CVs of candidates and their portfolios of relevant experience are meticulously scrutinized, their publications are read by a learned committee, references are taken up and scrupulously discussed, the candidates are subjected to rigorous interviews and vetting procedures. Mistakes are still made, but not through lack of serious effort.
The population of the United States is more than 300 million and it includes some of the best and brightest that the human species has to offer, probably more so than any other country in the world. There is surely something wrong with a system for choosing a leader when, given a pool of such talent and a process that occupies more than a year and consumes billions of dollars, what rises to the top of the heap is George W Bush. Or when the likes of Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin can be mentioned as even remote possibilities.
A politician’s attitude to evolution is perhaps not directly important in itself. It can have unfortunate consequences on education and science policy but, compared to Perry’s and the Tea Party’s pronouncements on other topics such as economics, taxation, history and sexual politics, their ignorance of evolutionary science might be overlooked. Except that a politician’s attitude to evolution, however peripheral it might seem, is a surprisingly apposite litmus test of more general inadequacy. This is because unlike, say, string theory where scientific opinion is genuinely divided, there is about the fact of evolution no doubt at all. Evolution is a fact, as securely established as any in science, and he who denies it betrays woeful ignorance and lack of education, which likely extends to other fields as well. Evolution is not some recondite backwater of science, ignorance of which would be pardonable. It is the stunningly simple but elegant explanation of our very existence and the existence of every living creature on the planet. Thanks to Darwin, we now understand why we are here and why we are the way we are. You cannot be ignorant of evolution and be a cultivated and adequate citizen of today.
From World Socialist Web Site: http://wsws.org/articles/2011/aug2011/pers-a23.shtml
By Barry Grey
23 August 2011
The US Federal Reserve Board secretly handed out trillions of dollars in virtually free loans to major American and European banks at the height of the financial crisis between 2007 and 2010, according to an article posted Sunday by Bloomberg News. The article, based on an independent investigation carried out by Bloomberg of previously sealed Federal Reserve documents, is headlined “Wall Street Aristocracy Got $1.2 Trillion in Loans from Fed.”
The amount cited in the headline is somewhat misleading, as it refers only to the highest single-day amount of loans provided by the US central bank under seven emergency programs it launched to cover the bad debts of the Wall Street elite. The $1.2 trillion figure is undoubtedly lower than the total amount in Fed loans disbursed over the course of the programs’ existence, including loans to banks that came to the Fed for money multiple times.
The amounts involved were far greater than the cash injections provided the banks under the US Treasury’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Under that program, the ten biggest US banks received a total of $160 billion in cash, while, according to Bloomberg, they obtained $669 billion in emergency loans from the Fed.
The article quotes Robert Litan, a former Justice Department official who in the 1990s served on a commission investigating the savings and loan crisis “These are whopping numbers,” he said. “You’re talking about the aristocracy of American finance going down the tubes without the federal money.”
The Bloomberg report sheds additional light on the manner in which the American capitalist state, under Bush and then Obama, looted the public treasury to bail out the financial elite, and the colossal scale of the sums involved. Money–taxpayer money, that is–was no object when it came to protecting the wealth of the parasites who triggered the financial crash and economic slump with their Ponzi schemes. Yet when it comes to helping millions of families losing their homes to foreclosure or providing jobs to the unemployed, the universal cry is “There is no money!”
Continue reading at: http://wsws.org/articles/2011/aug2011/pers-a23.shtml