Honey, I Got a Year’s Worth of Tuna Fish

From The New York Times:   http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/06/magazine/coupon-clipping-as-the-key-to-economic-rebirth.html

Coupon Clipping as the Key to Economic Rebirth

Published: May 3, 2012

Forty-five minutes before midnight on a wintry Tuesday evening, Cathy Yoder and Monica Knight, a pair of 30-something Boise women who run a popular coupon blog called Fabulessly Frugal, strode with purpose through the parking lot of their local Albertsons supermarket. It was the third and final night of “doubles” at Albertsons. This biweekly happening, during which the store issues coupons that double the value of manufacturers’ coupons, is to dedicated coupon clippers what the full moon was to Druids. Yoder and Knight, who are Mormon and have nine children between them (Yoder: seven; Knight: two) had spent the day working on their blog and then taught a three-hour couponing class — all without a drop of forbidden caffeine. Yet with the supermarket in sight, they grew visibly jazzed, like Vegas high rollers entering a casino. “We’ll have it all to ourselves, and we’ll know all the cashiers,” Knight said.

Within minutes, Knight — a part-time dental hygienist with glossy, nearly waist-length blond hair and enviable white teeth — had discovered a sale on StarKist tuna fish. “Oh, Cathy, the tuna’s a dollar right now!” she said, as she stood before a shelf containing shiny blue plastic pouches of chunk-light tuna. A bulging nylon binder, which she had seated like a toddler in the front of her cart, held six StarKist coupons for 50 cents off; paired with Albertsons coupons, they were worth a dollar each, the same price as the tuna. “So it’s free right now,” she continued. “And we haven’t even blogged about it!”

For “couponers,” as they call themselves, free product is the holy grail. Freebies are obtained by combining various promotions in ways that can seem laborious and arcane to the civilian shopper: waiting for items to go on sale and then using coupons to buy them; “stacking” manufacturers’ coupons with store coupons; shopping during “double coupon” days; or receiving, post-purchase, a “catalina” — a coupon from a company called Catalina Marketing that can be redeemed on a future transaction. These little papers, which are spit out by a mini-printer that sits near the register and look like run-of-the-mill receipts, usually meet an unceremonious end in the graveyards of shoppers’ pockets and purses, but couponers regard them as cash.

Rather than thrilling to Knight’s news about the free tuna pouches, Yoder, who has reddish-brown layered hair and hazel eyes, went pale. “My coupons are at home,” she said. She is not a thundering person in general — her affect is as soft and subdued as Knight’s is right-angled and intense — but now, upset, her voice was so faint as to be almost inaudible.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/06/magazine/coupon-clipping-as-the-key-to-economic-rebirth.html

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Nebraska AG: Cities can’t extend anti-discrimination protection to gay, transgender people

From The Washington Post:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/nebraska-ag-cities-cant-extend-anti-discrimination-protection-to-gay-transgender-people/2012/05/04/gIQA5GUv1T_story.html

By Associated Press
May 4, 2012

OMAHA, Neb. — Nebraska cities can’t adopt ordinances protecting people from discrimination for being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender because the state’s anti-discrimination laws don’t extend to sexual orientation, the state attorney general’s office said in a legal opinion issued Friday.

Voters can approve changes to city charters to extend protections to groups not covered by state law, but local governments lack the authority, the opinion said.

“Nebraska statutes do not authorize political subdivisions in Nebraska, including municipalities, to expand protected classifications beyond the scope of the civil rights classifications created in state statute,” Attorney General Jon Bruning said in a statement after the release.

The opinion, which critics predicted would get shot down in court, was issued in response to a request by conservative state Sen. Beau McCoy, of Omaha, who introduced legislation this year that would have barred counties and cities from adopting anti-discrimination ordinances that go beyond statewide rules. The bill didn’t advance out of committee.

McCoy said the opinion frees him of having to introduce the measure again next year.

Continue reading at:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/nebraska-ag-cities-cant-extend-anti-discrimination-protection-to-gay-transgender-people/2012/05/04/gIQA5GUv1T_story.html

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2 arrested in Britain on charges of genital mutilation

From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/05/04/2-arrested-in-britain-on-charges-of-genital-mutilation/

By Agence France-Presse
Friday, May 4, 2012

Two people were arrested in Britain’s second city of Birmingham on Friday after a media report that medics and alternative practitioners had offered to perform female genital mutilation.

West Midlands Police said they had arrested two men aged 55 and 61 on suspicion of offences under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003, which forbids the cutting of a girl’s genitalia unless medically necessary.

The arrests related to articles published in The Sunday Times newspaper on April 22, police said in a statement.

“We are still in the very early stages of this investigation but I hope this morning’s action sends out a clear message about how seriously we are taking these allegations,” said Detective Inspector Caroline Marsh of West Midlands Police’s public protection unit.

“Female genital mutilation is a serious assault against young girls and while it is perceived by parents not to be an act of hate, it is harmful, it is child abuse and it is unlawful.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/05/04/2-arrested-in-britain-on-charges-of-genital-mutilation/

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Accurately Describing the Bible Is Not Oppression

From Slate:  http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2012/05/03/the_flip_out_over_dan_savage_is_part_of_a_larger_agenda_to_silence_pro_gay_discourse_.html

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The manufactured outrage over Dan Savage’s remarks about the Bible that inspired what appears to be a staged walkout at a high school journalism conference may appear on its surface mostly to be a last stand of the anti-gay movement to regain ground by attacking one of the most compelling pro-gay activists in the country. And it is, but winning the immediate battle is really only the tip of the iceberg of what the right is trying to accomplish with this feigned outrage and claims that Savage is a “bully” because he accurately recounted what is in the Bible. It’s an attempt to redefine acceptable discourse so that statement of uncomfortable facts is considered off-limits, and, in fact, is redefined as “bigotry.” Unfortunately, some people are taking the bait, such as Jay Michaelson writing for the Daily Beast, in a tone that made it clear he would prefer to write from a prone position on his fainting couch, smelling salts strapped to his laptop. See, Michaelson is incredibly concerned that criticizing Christian teachings on homosexuality is bad for the gays.

Michaelson would be easy to write off as a concern troll, but to make things worse, he speaks a falsehood about Savage’s remarks. He says Savage’s remarks “represented a notable gay leader affirming that one must choose between sexuality and religion, between God and gay.” This is demonstrably untrue. In fact, if you actually read Savage’s remarks, he said the opposite:

We can learn to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about gay people. The same way, the same way we have learned to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming, about menstruation, about virginity, about masturbation. We ignore bullshit in the Bible about all sorts of things.

What Savage was clearly saying was that it’s homophobes who are presenting a false dilemma with their claims that you have to denounce homosexuality to be a Christian. He was pointing out that it’s easy to reconcile pro-gay sentiment and Christianity by just doing what Christians are already doing when it comes to shellfish and slavery, which is preferring their own moral judgment over the Bible. So either Michaelson is lying about what Savage said, or he didn’t bother to read the comments he’s denouncing, or he has poor reading comprehension.

Continue reading at:  http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2012/05/03/the_flip_out_over_dan_savage_is_part_of_a_larger_agenda_to_silence_pro_gay_discourse_.html

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What happens when oil becomes unaffordable?

From The Globe and Mail Canada:  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/commentary/jeff-rubins-smaller-world/what-happens-when-oil-becomes-unaffordable/article2419284/

Jeff Rubin
Wednesday, May 2, 2012

When the first OPEC oil shock hit in the 1970s, President Nixon responded by lowering the national speed limit to 55 miles per hour in a bid to conserve energy. But speed limits aren’t the only thing that can change when oil prices go up. Right now, we’re seeing that rising crude prices can influence much more than just how fast you can drive your car. High oil prices change the speed at which your economy can grow.

Just as people require food, economies require energy. The relationship is straightforward: economic growth is a function of energy consumption. With national economies around the world once again forced to pay more than $100 (U.S.) for every barrel of oil consumed, a critical question must be asked — what happens when the world’s most important source of energy becomes unaffordable?

A glance at the latest GDP numbers is already telling us the answer. Economic growth has downshifted into a much lower gear nearly everywhere you look. Europe is struggling to keep its head above water, North America is stagnating and even the hard-charging economies of the BRIC nations are starting to groan under the weight of high energy prices.

When the price of oil (CL-FT98.59-3.95-3.85%) goes up, something has to give. Right now, the European Monetary Union looks to be the most imminent casualty. How much longer will Greece slavishly heed the demands of its creditors and impose punishing austerity measures with the only result being the continuing implosion of its economy? Will Spain be able to tighten its belt any further when a quarter of its labour force is already unemployed? The answers seem obvious. Without economic growth, neither country can service its debt. And growth just isn’t in the cards. The ground beneath the European Monetary Union has never been shakier. And as the Euro trembles, the stage is being set for a return of the drachma, escudo, peseta, Irish pound, and lira.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/commentary/jeff-rubins-smaller-world/what-happens-when-oil-becomes-unaffordable/article2419284/

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GOP’s Violence Against Women Act Would Open Up Undocumented Victims To More Abuse

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/04/violence-against-women-act-gop-undocumented-abuse_n_1478125.html


WASHINGTON — The House Republican version of the new Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) would dramatically roll back confidentiality protections for abused immigrant women, make it more difficult for undocumented witnesses to work with law enforcement officials, and eliminate a pathway to citizenship for witnesses who cooperate with police on criminal cases.

The provisions are tucked into a bill that reauthorizes the act, and have received scant media attention. But the legislation is picking up steam in the House. The bill, officially sponsored by freshman Rep. Sandy Adams (R-Fla.), has the backing of the full House leadership, and is headed for a vote in the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act is typically a bipartisan affair lacking in contention. This year, however, Republicans are pressing for significant changes that would weaken protections for victims of domestic violence, arguing that the current law is being taken advantage of by undocumented immigrants looking for legal citizenship.

The author of the rollback, Adams, was herself a victim of domestic violence, which House Republicans hope will inoculate it from attacks by groups who work with abused immigrant women.

In 1994, VAWA addressed a problem faced by abused immigrant women who are married to citizens or legal residents. In some cases, husbands would use their control over their victims’ immigration status as a tool of abuse, refusing to sign the proper paperwork or threatening to revoke it. The act created a “self-petitioning” process that allows such women to confidentially apply for protected immigration status on their own. Protections for immigrant women have been strengthened in subsequent reauthorizations of the bill.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/04/violence-against-women-act-gop-undocumented-abuse_n_1478125.html

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Social Security Is Not Going Broke

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/05/05

by David Cay Johnston
Published on Saturday, May 5, 2012 by Reuters

Which federal program took in more than it spent last year, added $95 billion to its surplus and lifted 20 million Americans of all ages out of poverty?

Why, Social Security, of course, which ended 2011 with a $2.7 trillion surplus.

That surplus is almost twice the $1.4 trillion collected in personal and corporate income taxes last year. And it is projected to go on growing until 2021, the year the youngest Baby Boomers turn 67 and qualify for full old-age benefits.

So why all the talk about Social Security “going broke?” That theme filled the news after release of the latest annual report of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds, as Social Security is formally called.

The reason is that the people who want to kill Social Security have for years worked hard to persuade the young that the Social Security taxes they pay to support today’s gray hairs will do nothing for them when their own hair turns gray.

That narrative has become the conventional wisdom because it is easily reduced to a headline or sound bite. The facts, which require more nuance and detail, show that, with a few fixes, Social Security can be safe for as long as we want.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/05/05

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Paul Krugman says GOP economic policies are “medieval” — Freeland File

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Colorado One Step Closer to Civil Unions

From The Advocate:  http://www.advocate.com/politics/marriage-equality/2012/05/04/colorado-one-step-closer-civil-unions

BY Editors
May 04 2012

A Republican-controlled House committee approved the bill one week after the state Senate moved forward on it.

Sunnivie Brydum filed this report on Colorado’s civil unions bill from Denver:

On Thursday, Colorado’s Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee approved a civil unions bill, one week after the state Senate moved forward on the legislation extending rights to unmarried couples.

In a bipartisan 6-5 vote, the committee voted to send the bill to the Finance Committee before a House floor vote. Outgoing representative B.J. Nikkel, a Republican, cast the deciding vote in favor of the legislation, which died along a party-line vote in the same committee last year.

Nikkel voted against last year’s civil union legislation but said Thursday’s hearing changed her mind.

“I’ve thought about it a lot, and I think it’s the right thing to do,” Nikkel said after the vote. “I simply believe in going with the legal rights that I think these folks ought to have. As I’ve said in the past, we’re all Coloradans — they’re Coloradans too — and I believe that they deserve to have some of the legal rights that the rest of us have.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.advocate.com/politics/marriage-equality/2012/05/04/colorado-one-step-closer-civil-unions

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The real job creators

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2012/05/04/the_real_job_creators/singleton/

Consumers, not the wealthy, are the key to an economic rebound, and GOP austerity is shackling them

Friday, May 4, 2012

Republicans have made it official: “The wealthy” must be called “the job creators” in any debate about tax policy. Democrats are playing their own word games: Centrists insist the 2012 campaign shouldn’t focus on “income inequality,” or whether the worst concentration of riches since the Great Depression might have to do with what Paul Krugman has taken to calling the Lesser Depression. “Income inequality” is a downer, the centrists say; better to talk about “growth” and “prosperity.”

But it’s becoming increasingly clear that growth and prosperity are threatened by the declining share of income going to the non-wealthy over the last 35 years.

Friday’s disappointing jobs report confirms that “the job creators” should be fired, since they only created 115,000 new jobs in April, which isn’t even enough to employ new entrants to the workforce. And while the unemployment rate ticked down from 8.2 to 8.1 percent, that’s only because more unemployed people gave up and left the labor market entirely. Romney advisor Eric Fehrnstrom (Mr. Etch-A-Sketch) blames President Obama, and he even pretends his candidate cares that “people are so discouraged they are dropping out of the workforce all together.”

Let’s get one thing straight: Even with this anemic recovery, the economy under Obama has replaced all of the jobs lost under the Bush administration. NBC’s Chuck Todd deserves kudos for noting to Fehrnstrom Friday that British austerity policies have sent that nation into a double-dip recession – and that Mitt Romney supports the same policies. Fehrnstrom performed the standard Romney pivot – whatever you’re asked, insist on talking about the U.S. economy only – brushing off Todd’s question about how Romney would improve the economy more than Obama has, with his “cut, cap and balance” austerity policies that have failed elsewhere.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2012/05/04/the_real_job_creators/singleton/

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New Jobs Slow; Unemployment Drops as Work Force Shrinks

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/05/business/economy/us-added-only-115000-jobs-in-april-rate-is-8-1.html

Published: May 4, 2012

The nation’s employers are creating jobs at less than half the pace they were when this year began, according to a government report released Friday.

The addition of just 115,000 jobs in April was disappointing, but economists urged no panic just yet. Maybe the unusually warm winter had encouraged companies to do their spring hiring a little early, they offered in one of several theories. Maybe high gas prices, now falling, temporarily discouraged job growth. Better yet, maybe this latest report understates how many jobs were added, since the initial estimates for earlier months have been revised upward.

But no matter which hopeful explanation you choose, America’s 13.7 million jobless workers still look pretty discouraged.

Many economists had been predicting that strong job growth early this year would persuade many people sitting on the sidelines to re-enter the job market.

Instead, for reasons that are unclear, workers continue to peel off the labor force. An estimated 342,000 Americans dropped out of the job market altogether in April. That is why the unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent from 8.2 percent — not because more workers found jobs, but because so many people left the work force.

It’s just one month of data, and the survey numbers are not precise. Still, the figures fit into a longer-term trend.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/05/business/economy/us-added-only-115000-jobs-in-april-rate-is-8-1.html

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