Watchdog group blasts Congress: Affirming ‘In God We Trust’ won’t create jobs

Because we have to pander to ignorant right wing morons who believe in imaginary invisible sky gods…

From Raw Story:

By Eric W. Dolan
Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The watchdog group Americans United for Separation of Church and State on Tuesday accused Congress of wasting time by voting on a resolution to affirm the phrase “In God We Trust” as the nation’s official motto.

“The American people want action on jobs and the economy, yet this Congress continues to waste time pandering to the Religious Right,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “This meaningless, purely symbolic vote won’t create one job, help one family struggling to pay its mortgage or rebuild one piece of infrastructure.”

“I think we know by now that this Congress likes God. Can we move on?” he added.

 The House of Representatives easily passed the resolution by a vote of 396 to 9 on Tuesday.

Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA), the founder and chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, sponsored the legislation. It would encourage the public display of the motto in all public buildings, public schools and government institutions.

Forbes said he introduced the bill in January because he was troubled by a pattern of omitting God from the nation’s heritage.

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Going to Pot Songs Celebrating the Mind Expanding Weed

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General Strike in Oakland

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The People versus the Police

From Project Syndicate:

By Naomi Wolf

The People versus the Police

NEW YORK – America’s politicians, it seems, have had their fill of democracy. Across the country, police, acting under orders from local officials, are breaking up protest encampments set up by supporters of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement – sometimes with shocking and utterly gratuitous violence.

In the worst incident so far, hundreds of police, dressed in riot gear, surrounded Occupy Oakland’s encampment and fired rubber bullets (which can be fatal), flash grenades, and tear-gas canisters – with some officers taking aim directly at demonstrators. The Occupy Oakland Twitter feed read like a report from Cairo’s Tahrir Square: “they are surrounding us”; “hundreds and hundreds of police”; “there are armored vehicles and Hummers.” There were 170 arrests.

My own recent arrest, while obeying the terms of a permit and standing peacefully on a street in lower Manhattan, brought the reality of this crackdown close to home. America is waking up to what was built while it slept: private companies have hired away its police (JPMorgan Chase gave $4.6 million to the New York City Police Foundation); the federal Department of Homeland Security has given small municipal police forces military-grade weapons systems; citizens’ rights to freedom of speech and assembly have been stealthily undermined by opaque permit requirements.

Suddenly, America looks like the rest of the furious, protesting, not-completely-free world. Indeed, most commentators have not fully grasped that a world war is occurring. But it is unlike any previous war in human history: for the first time, people around the world are not identifying and organizing themselves along national or religious lines, but rather in terms of a global consciousness and demands for a peaceful life, a sustainable future, economic justice, and basic democracy. Their enemy is a global “corporatocracy” that has purchased governments and legislatures, created its own armed enforcers, engaged in systemic economic fraud, and plundered treasuries and ecosystems.

Around the world, peaceful protesters are being demonized for being disruptive. But democracy is disruptive. Martin Luther King, Jr., argued that peaceful disruption of “business as usual” is healthy, because it exposes buried injustice, which can then be addressed. Protesters ideally should dedicate themselves to disciplined, nonviolent disruption in this spirit – especially disruption of traffic. This serves to keep provocateurs at bay, while highlighting the unjust militarization of the police response.

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Why YOU should join the worldwide Occupy Wall Street movement

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Catholic Bishops’ ‘Marriage Guy’ Says Satan Makes People Gay

File this under Reasons not to believe in religion or god and did they really fucking say that.

From Right Wing Watch:

Submitted by Peter Montgomery
October 31, 2011

Daniel Avila is the self-described “marriage guy” for the Catholic bishops.  More formally, he is the policy advisor for marriage and family to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage. He thinks people are gay because Satan was messing around with them while they were in their mothers’ wombs. God, he says, has nothing to do with it.

Therefore, whenever natural causes disturb otherwise typical biological development, leading to the personally unchosen beginnings of same-sex attraction, the ultimate responsibility, on a theological level, is and should be imputed to the evil one, not God.

Writing in The Pilot, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston, Avila cites one scientist’s theory that homosexual orientation is the result of fluctuations in maternal hormones. To that thesis, he adds a gigantic leap: the devil must be doing it.

In other words, the scientific evidence of how same-sex attraction most likely may be created provides a credible basis for a spiritual explanation that indicts the devil. Any time natural disasters occur, we as people of faith look back to Scripture’s account of those angels who rebelled and fell from grace. In their anger against God, these malcontents prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. They continue to do all they can to mar, distort and destroy God’s handiwork.
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Occupy Oakland Calls for a November 2 General Strike

From The Nation:

November 1, 2011  

The details are familiar to many by now.

On October 10, hundreds of members of Occupy Oakland descended on downtown to take over Frank Ogawa Plaza. Twelve days later, occupiers marched through the city in their first action. Then, in the pre-dawn hours of October 25, Oakland police—aided by officers from seventeen other agencies—raided the camp, employing tear gas and flash-bang grenades. That afternoon a protest rally and march was held, leading to a violent nighttime confrontation with the police in which Scott Olsen, an Iraq war veteran, was hit in the head with a projectile and suffered a skull fracture. The following night an overflow crowd filled the plaza, with nearly 1,500 voting to hold a general strike on November 2. In the words of a widely circulated flyer, “All banks and corporations must close down for the day or we will march on them.”

To review: in less than two weeks, Occupy Oakland went from its first public action to calling for a city-wide general strike. That’s one hell of an escalation. In my previous life as a community organizer, our campaigns were launched with the understanding that they would be long, drawn-out affairs—weeks of door-knocking, the initial meeting, our first collective action—with the butcher paper taped to the walls measuring the progression in months.

So what accounts for the breathtaking speed of the events in Oakland? The sketchy record of the Oakland Police certainly deserves some credit, especially with the injured Olsen and the video footage showing an officer tossing a flash-bang grenade into a crowd of people trying to help him. And then there’s Mayor Jean Quan, who has also been a key if unwitting ally. Absent during the raid, she has attempted to explain her shifting positions with remarkable incoherence, and was recently booed when attempting to speak at a general assembly. At meetings of Occupy Oakland, many of the people I spoke with watched the unfolding occupation with sympathy—but just watched. It took the raid, the images of tear gas clouds and a bloodied Scott Olsen to get them into the streets. As Saul Alinsky wrote, all action is in the reaction. A former organizer, Quan will not soon forget that axiom.

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Peculiar Perry, with Matt Taibbi – Countdown with Keith Olbermann

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Occupy Playlist: Original Songs From Zuccotti Park

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GOLDMAN SUX? Giant Squid Strikes Again at Occupy Wall Street’s Credit Union

From Greg Palast:

Goldman Sachs Intensifies Threat on Credit Union

By Greg Palast
Palast is the author of Vultures’ Picnic: in Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Carnivores, out on November 14.
October 31, 2011

What have I done?  There’s one angry squid out there.

Last week, Democracy Now! and The Guardian ran our story about Goldman Sachs yanking financial support from a community credit union for honoring one of its largest customers.  The customer:  Occupy Wall Street.

Our report so enraged Goldman that, within days, it doubled down on its attack on the little community bank.

Goldman had already demanded the return of its $5,000 payment to the Lower East Side Peoples Federal Credit Union.  Now, sources say, the trillion-dollar Wall Street mega-bank sent the following message to the not-for-profit community bank:  “You will never get a dime from any bank ever again.”

About those “dimes” Goldman is taking away: They come from you and me, the taxpayers who put up billions into the Troubled Asset Recovery Plan (TARP), usually known as the Bank Bail-Out Fund.

For Goldman to suck its $10 billion from the TARP trough, Goldman had to change from investment bank to commercial bank. This change makes Goldman subject to the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and requires it by law to pay back a notable portion in funds for low-income communities, abandoned by the big banks.

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No Country for Old People

From In These Times:

America’s healthcare crisis hits minority seniors—and things are getting worse.

BY Michelle Chen
October 31, 2011

Melvinteen Daniels may have been in the autumn of her life, but it shouldn’t have ended the way it did. At a county-run Pennsylvania nursing home, she perished from neglect, her body ravaged by malnourishment and blood infection, according to court documents. Her skin was marred by a pressure ulcer that had grown to about 11-inches wide.

Last summer, a federal appeals court judge allowed Daniels’ family to go forward with a civil lawsuit, which was, like thousands of other nursing home neglect cases, settled out of court. But the Daniels case was unusual for its legal rationale: by invoking an obscure civil rights statute in the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, the suit uniquely linked the concept of civil rights with the care of the elderly. Daniels’ death foreshadows a coming crisis in the healthcare system: As a massive number of older Americans — the “gray wave” — are absorbed into long-term care programs, can the system deliver what our elders need and deserve at the most vulnerable stage in their lives?

By 2030, the baby boom will be hurtling toward a senior bust. Nearly one in every five Americans will be sixty-five or older, up from about 13 percent in 2009, resulting in national demographics similar to those that currently exist in Florida. Despite the soaring need for long-term care that such an aging population is likely to entail — a 2008 study project about half a million new nursing home beds would be needed by 2020 — the number of nursing home beds has actually shrunk by 5 percent over the past decade. And as the system confronts a cohort of old people of unprecedented racial and ethnic diversity, it is likely that it is elderly people of color who will suffer disproportionately from these constraints.

Amid the structural challenges of the impending “gray wave,” newly emboldened Republican lawmakers want to gut the Medicare and Medicaid systems that support nursing homes and other long-term care services. Such cuts are likely to result in even greater racial and class inequities in long-term care.

As the budget standoff escalated in Washington this summer, keystone health programs — despite their vital role as social safety nets in a weak economy — became a whipping post for deficit hawks, particularly in light of the political uproar and budgetary pressures surrounding the new healthcare reform legislation. Now that both parties are embroiled in a race to cut the deficit, supposedly to shore up the country’s long-term finances, both Medicare and Medicaid have been hauled onto the table in the political horse trade. Some possible “cost-saving” measures include converting Medicaid to a flat-funded block grant program or restricting Medicare coverage based on the patient’s income. In the bipartisan deficit-slashing frenzy, healthcare cuts might also be compounded by the downsizing of Social Security and other federal programs that millions of poor and elderly rely on for survival.

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The Occupiers’ Responsive Chord

From Robert Reich:

By Robert Reich
Monday, October 31, 2011

A combination of police crackdowns and bad weather are testing the young Occupy movement. But rumors of its demise are premature, to say the least. Although numbers are hard to come by, anecdotal evidence suggests the movement is growing.

As importantly, the movement has already changed the public debate in America.

Consider, for example, last week’s Congressional Budget Office report on widening disparities of income in America. It was hardly news – it’s already well known that the top 1 percent now gets 20 percent of the nation’s income, up from 9 percent in the late 1970s.

But it’s the first time such news made the front page of the nation’s major newspapers.

Why? Because for the first time in more than half a century, a broad cross-section of the American public is talking about the concentration of income, wealth, and political power at the top.

Score a big one for the Occupiers.

Even more startling is the change in public opinion. Not since the 1930s has a majority of Americans called for redistribution of income or wealth. But according to a recent New York Times/CBS News poll, an astounding 66 percent of Americans said the nation’s wealth should be more evenly distributed.

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Denver: ‘Cops pepper-spray protesters, fire rubber bullets’

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The Skinny on Farm Subsidies and Obesity

From Other Words:

To make real, lasting improvements in our food system, we have to get to the root of the problem.

  By Wenonah Hauter and Carmen Rita Nevarez 
October 31, 2011

Obesity has reached epic proportions in the United States and its price tag is soaring.

With one-third of adults and more than 12 million children and adolescents obese, the direct and indirect medical costs of this scourge total as much as $147 billion a year.

The nation’s increasingly poor diet, packed with processed and fast foods, is driving this epidemic. This is leading many media commentators to blame government subsidy payments to farmers who grow crops like corn and soybeans. But this just isn’t true.

While it’s convenient to blame America’s ever-expanding waistlines on subsidies, a recent paper from our organizations shows that blame actually lies squarely with the corporations that lobbied for the end of good policies that once kept prices and production in check.

Now, with the federal budget deficit developing some alarming bulges of its own, Congress says it’s putting the budget on a diet. Direct payments to farmers that grow commodity crops like corn and soybeans are on the cutting board.

Some public health and environmental advocates believe that simply spending the government dollars on apples and broccoli instead of commodity crops would make the country healthier. But it’s not that simple.

To make real, lasting improvements in our food system, we have to get to the root of the problem. That means tackling the overproduction of corn, soybeans, and other commodity crops, the out-of-control marketing of junk food, inadequate access to healthy food in many communities, and consolidation in the food industry.

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Freak US snowstorm kills eleven and leaves millions without power

From The Guardian UK:

States of emergency declared as record snowfall wreaks havoc from Maryland to Maine

Agencies, Monday 31 October

More than 3.2m homes and businesses across the north-east US have been left without power after a freak snowstorm killed at least 11 people and disrupted transport across the region.

From Maryland to Maine, officials said it would take days to restore electricity, even though the snowfall ended on Sunday.

The storm smashed record snowfall totals for October and worsened as it moved north. Communities in western Massachusetts were among the hardest hit. Snowfall topped 68.6cm (27in) in Plainfield, and 66cm in nearby Windsor.

States of emergency were declared in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and parts of New York.

Roads and railways were blocked and flights cancelled, with passengers on a JetBlue flight stuck on a plane in Hartford, Connecticut, for more than seven hours on Saturday.

More than 800,000 customers were without electricity in Connecticut alone – shattering the record set in August by Hurricane Irene. Massachusetts and New Jersey each suffered more than 600,000 power cuts. Parts of Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, New York, Maine, Maryland and Vermont also were without power.

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We Shall Be Ashamed No More in Silence – Rise Up

From Michael Moore:

By Donna Smith
October 30th, 2011
Donna Smith, American SiCKO, is a national single-payer healthcare advocate and community organizer with the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee

Those who launched the Occupy Wall Street movement that has now blossomed into the occupations around the nation have many to thank for their inspiration.  Those brave souls who were and are a part of the Arab Spring, the hundreds of thousands who marched and rallied in Madison, Wisconsin, in the late winter and spring, and the nurses of National Nurses United who marched on Wall Street in June as well as the folks from Adbusters all could lay claim to their parts in the origin of OWS.

Filmmaker Michael Moore certainly has helped document some of OWS’ issues in his life’s work from “Roger & Me,” “The Big One,” “Fahrenheit 9/11,” “Bowling for Columbine,” and “SiCKO,” all the way forward to “Capitalism:  A Love Story.”  He and a few others who have substantial personal resources from which to draw have shared their energy and their celebrity with the OWS movement, and that celebrity attention has been necessary to the spread of the movement even if seemingly and simultaneously antithetical.

OWS is about everyone – as equals – being critical in our society and our world rather than just the bankers and the wealthy or currently powerful as controllers of the fate of all humankind and the planet.  No one life is more valuable than another yet having a celebrity engaged in order to draw out the media has helped grow this movement.  Having a controversial figure like Moore engaged has sweetened the pot for the media hungry to portray OWS in a way that sells and builds an audience.  And from my perspective as one who knows, Moore is in it for the right reasons.

It’s a pivotal time.  And the origins of the OWS movement are not nearly as difficult to trace as predicting its longer term impact.

It was late this past Friday evening when in one instant I fully integrated in my own heart and mind what has been true for me and millions of others in the working class – and what we have been forced to accept as true.    I happened upon an older gentleman who was an office cleaner as he finished his work for the day.  He appeared to be in his late 60s, though being working class and working harder physical; jobs without access to decent healthcare and other human needs tends to age us a bit faster, so he might have been younger.  He was a tiny fellow.

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It’s the 1% Doctrine, Stupid

From Common Dreams:

The Failure of the “I Got Mine – and Yours, Too” Theory of Governance, And What’s Next?

Published on Monday, October 31, 2011 by

As week seven of Occupy Wall Street dawns, much of the media and the establishment continue to act as if everything about the protests were an ineffable mystery.

Well, it’s really not that mysterious. To paraphrase James Carville yet again, it’s the 1% Doctrine, Stupid.

When 75% of the people support raising taxes on the rich, but their elected “representatives” won’t represent them, what else can people do, but take their grievances to the streets?  And this is no isolated case: on issue after issue, elected “representatives” are ignoring the people’s wishes, choosing to represent the ultra-rich and corporations instead.

When government gives banks and Wall Street some $12.8 trillion  of the taxpayer’s hard-earned money in direct funds, guarantees and near zero interest loans, and the fat cats turn around and spend it on bonuses and high-risk investments rather than fixing the real economy for the 99% who have been affected, don’t ask why people are angry.  Especially when not a single bankster or speculator has been busted for a plethora of real crimes, while people lose their homes to improperly documented foreclosures.

When the one-percenters and their bought-and-paid-for government pass a faux financial reform bill that doesn’t actually change the way things are done in the Banks’ boardrooms or on Wall Street and people take to the streets, how can that be a mystery?

And yes, that means you, too, Clinton, Obama and the Democratic Party.  Your abject collusion with the one-percenters, while spouting populist rhetoric every four years, is in some ways more worthy of disdain than the Republicans’ outright embrace of the 1% Doctrine.

When the Supreme Court is dominated by corporatists and makes corporate- friendly rulings like Citizens’ United, assuring that government can be bought by the highest bidder, it should come as no great mystery when people take to the streets.

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How Elizabeth Warren Used Adam Smith Against the Right

From Truth Out:

by: Brian T. Thorn
Monday 31 October 2011

Since Elizabeth Warren declared her intentions to challenge Scott Brown on his Senatorial re-election bid, she has become increasingly vocal – not an uncommon strategy for a blossoming politician. What was uncommon, however, was what she chose to say, or more specifically, whom she chose to reference at a recent gathering of supporters.

“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own – nobody. You built a factory out there – good for you. But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to a market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea. God bless! Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

Despite its refreshing honesty, this might not seem like a radical position from a Democratic candidate until you consider its inspiration: Adam Smith.

Yes, that Adam Smith – beloved by laissez-faire capitalists for his economic metaphor, the invisible hand. From his 1776 work “An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations”:

“The woolen-coat, for example … is the produce of the joint labor of a great multitude of workmen. The shepherd, the sorter of the wool, the wool-comber or carder, the dyer, the scribbler, the spinner, the weaver, the fuller, the dresser, with many others, must all join their different arts in order to complete even this homely production. How many merchants and carriers, besides, must have been employed in transporting the materials from some of those workmen to others who often live in a very distant part of the country! How much commerce and navigation in particular, how many ship-builders, sailors, sail-makers, rope-makers, must have been employed in order to bring together the different drugs made use of by the dyer, which often come from the remotest corners of the world!”(1)

There is a clear connection between the two passages. Both explain the cooperation required of businesses to build and sustain a functioning economy, cooperation with both government and workers. Both explain the importance of economic community.

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Greece throws euro bailout into fresh crisis

From The Guardian UK:

Prime minister stuns fellow leaders with proposal that his country should hold referendum on landmark debt deal

and in Athens, Monday 31 October 2011

The Greek prime minister, George Papandreou, stunned Europe‘s leaders on Monday after he proposed that his country should hold a referendum on the landmark European debt deal reached last week.

A Greek vote against the deal could scupper weeks of negotiations over how to rescue the country’s economy and prevent a debt crisis to match the Lehman Brothers crash of three years ago.

Stock markets, which have rallied in recent weeks after a sustainable deal looked more likely, reacted immediately to the news with a sell-off of shares. In New York, the Dow Jones index of leading companies fell sharply as Papandreou’s plan was revealed. The euro fell 2% against the dollar and the US Volatility index – the so-called “index of fear” – climbed 22%, its biggest one-day rise since mid-August.

Papandreou gave no date or other details of the proposed referendum, though the interior minister, Haris Kastinidis, said it would most likely be in January.

Last week, under intense pressure from global leaders fearful of the repercussions of Europe’s mounting debt crisis, eurozone members agreed to cut Athens’s debts by 50% and provide €130bn (£112bn) in additional rescue loans to supplement a bailout fund put together with the International Monetary Fund last year.

Greeks have already registered their dislike for the package. Polling has shown that 60% thought it was bad for the country, making the referendum a high stakes gamble for the socialist government.

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