Happy Thanksgiving

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Anderson I AM: Trans People Speak

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Renate I AM: Trans People Speak

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From The White House: Transgender Day of Remembrance

From Whitehouse.gov:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/11/20/transgender-day-remembrance?utm_source=wh.gov&utm_medium=shorturl&utm_campaign=shorturl

Posted by Gautam Raghavan
on November 20, 2012

Earlier today, a group of transgender community advocates met with White House staff to mark Transgender Day of Remembrance and discuss ways in which we can work together to ensure dignity, equality, and justice for all people.

Throughout America and around the world, many transgender people face bullying, harassment, discrimination, and violence.  Far too often, we hear shocking and tragic stories about transgender people who have been assaulted and even killed because of their gender identity or expression.  The Obama Administration is committed to preventing violence against all people, including all members of the LGBT community, and this meeting was an important opportunity to explore ways to make our communities and neighborhoods safer.

At the meeting, community leaders highlighted a range of issues and concerns of importance to transgender people.  In the months and years ahead, we look forward to working to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all transgender people.

As we mark Transgender Day of Remembrance and reflect upon the lives that have been lost to violence and injustice, let us all recommit ourselves to ensuring dignity, equality, and justice for all people.

Gautam Raghavan is an Associate Director in the Office of Public Engagement.

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Pushed Through The Cracks: Transgender Lives And Deaths On The Day Of Remembrance

From Think Progress:  http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2012/11/20/1219131/pushed-through-the-cracks-transgender-lives-and-deaths-on-the-day-of-remembrance/

By Kellan Baker
on Nov 20, 2012

The list seems endless.

Deoni Jones, age 23. Stabbed to death in Washington, DC.
Agnes Torres, age 35. Decapitated and thrown in a ditch in Atlixco, Mexico.
Anil Aayiramthengu, age 39. Throat slit in Thangassery, India.
Thapelo Makutle, age 24. Throat slit and mutilated in Kuruman, South Africa.
Barbarita Alemán, age 21. Shot to death in Colonia San Martín, Honduras.
Secil Dilşeker, age 46. Throat slit in Antalya, Turkey.
Sirena Paola, age 44. Beaten to death in Maicao, Colombia.
January Marie Lapuz, age 26. Stabbed to death in New Westminster, Canada.
Rayza Morais Costa, age 18. Bound and shot to death in Belém, Brazil.
Cassandra Zapata, age 39. Strangled to death and burned in Rouen, France.

November 20th is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, when we remember these names among those of the hundreds of other transgender people who were murdered in 2012. According to the Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide project, murder took the lives of more than 1,080 transgender people in 56 countries between 2008 and 2012. This number is only the tip of the iceberg, as it includes only the handful of cases that garner media attention.

As the trans scholar and advocate Susan Stryker puts it, many people have difficulty recognizing the humanity of another person if they cannot recognize that person’s gender. As a result, trans people in countries around the world frequently encounter extreme prejudice, harassment, and even murderous violence based simply on who they are.

There have been many different ways throughout history and across cultures of conceptualizing gender and describing the process of negotiating socially determined gender boundaries. Over the last century, the term ‘transgender’ has evolved as a popular umbrella term for people whose gender identity — their internal sense of being a man, a woman, or another gender — or gender expression is different from that typically associated with their birth sex. Some people claim a trans identity, while others are identified as trans on the basis of social definitions of masculine and feminine.

Trans people, like any group of people, come from a wide range of backgrounds. They live in cities and rural areas; are young, elderly, and middle-aged; began to live as their true gender when they were children, young adults, or much later in life; and live in families of all varieties. Trans people, and the communities they live in, are diverse in terms of factors such as race, income, and sexual orientation.

While violence can affect trans people from any background, its patterns are anything but random. The overwhelming majority of the lost trans lives that we honor on the Transgender Day of Remembrance are transgender women of color. Some were immigrants. Many struggled to make a living through sex work and were attacked by clients and police alike. Most were poor. In life and in death, their names and histories hover on the edge of invisibility in societies that accorded them few safe places to call their own.

Continue reading at: http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2012/11/20/1219131/pushed-through-the-cracks-transgender-lives-and-deaths-on-the-day-of-remembrance/

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Elsevier’s James Wright Publishes Walter Schumm’s Anti-Gay Junk Science To Defend Regnerus

From The New Civil Rights Movement:  http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/5-elseviers/news/2012/11/19/54067

by Scott Rose on
November 19, 2012

Reposted with Permission

The June, 2012 issue of the Elsevier journal Social Science Research contained a scientifically invalid “study” on gay parents’ child outcomes, carried out by Mark Regnerus.

Funded by the NOM-linked Witherspoon Institute, the commissioned hit job has become a staple of anti-gay hate groups’ propaganda.

Regnerus falsely claimed to have proven correlations between gay parents and bad child outcomes. The “scientist” has since confessed that he “does not know about” the sexual orientation of his study respondents’ parents.

 Social Science Research editor James Wright published the Regnerus study without benefit of valid peer review, for which reason many scholars are calling for the Regnerus study to be retracted and for James Wright to be removed from his position. (To read some of the calls for retraction of the Regnerus study, see herehere and here).

In response to the criticism for having published Regnerus without valid peer review, editor James Wright published — in his November issue — a non-peer-reviewed defense of Regnerus by Walter Schumm, a Kansas State University sociologist who was a paid consultant on the Regnerus study. A link to the Schumm article was rapidly crosss-posted to the stand-alone site that Regnerus’s anti-gay funders created for promoting the Regnerus study.

Schumm purports to show that all aspects of Regnerus’s heavily-criticized study methodology have been used in other studies, a documented falsehood.

Schumm does not address the most devastating of the criticisms made of Regnerus. Furthermore, Schumm states as fact things that he does not actually know to be fact.

Schumm has a history of distorting the scientific record in order to demonize homosexuals, all the more reason that Elsevier’s James Wright should not have published a non-peer-reviewed contribution from him.

Social Science Research previously had a reputation as a peer-reviewed journal, which Wright, Schumm, Regnerus and his funders are illicitly exploiting to promote non-peer-reviewed work as being scientifically legitimate.

Typically, when anti-gay-hate groups publish their promotions of these Regnerus-study-related materials, they state that the materials were published in “a peer reviewed journal.” In his November issue, Wright published Regnerus’s own non-peer-reviewed article of “Additional Analyses.” Wright presents these articles in publication, as though they had been peer reviewed. It can no longer truthfully be said that “Social Science Research” is a peer reviewed journal.

Schumm provided “expert” testimony for “In Re: Gill,” the landmark case that ended the ban on gay parent adoption in Florida.

In her decision, Judge Cindy S. Lederman noted that Schumm “integrates his religious and ideological beliefs into his research. In an article he published in the Journal of Psychology and Theology he wrote, “With respect to the integration of faith and research, I have been trying to use statistics to highlight the truth of the Scripture.”

In his “expert” testimony, Schumm claimed to show — through reanalyses of others’ work — that gay parents correlate to bad child outcomes, precisely Regnerus’s false “finding.”

Addressing Schumm’s tactics in his reanalyses, Judge Lederman wrote that Schumm “suggests that his reanalyses, mostly unpublished, should be accepted over the analyses of well respected researchers in peer reviewed journals. Dr. Schumm admitted that he applies statistical standards that depart from conventions in the field. In fact, Dr. Cochran and Dr. Lamb testified that Dr. Schumm’s statistical re-analyses contained a number of fundamental errors.”

Judge Lederman further noted Schumm’s “objection to allowing homosexuals in the military due to the ease with which they can have oral sex and his belief that, since homosexuals violate one social norm, they are likely to also violate military rules.”

In October, 2010, Schumm addressed the Manhattan, Kansas Human Rights Board, arguing against a proposed expansion of the anti-discrimination ordinance, to include sexual orientation and gender expression. Schumm claimed to have reanalyzed a prior study and to have found that while gay teens do suffer discrimination, the anti-gay discrimination — (so Schumm actually alleged at a government meeting) — had no connection to gay teens’ elevated suicide risk. Commission Meeting minutes note that Schumm “stated if this ordinance is approved, do we really want to establish a social approval of this in our society.”

During the 1990s, Schumm served as a “Family Impact Panel Member and Statistical Analyst” as part of the family impact policy initiative for then-Congressman Sam Brownback, one of the most malicious political gay-bashers in the United States.

Schumm has a long association with the discredited anti-gay pseudoscientist Paul Cameron. He is on the editorial board of Cameron’s fatuously-named Empirical Journal of Same-Sex Sexual Behavior. A typical article from that publication alleges that the Nazi Party was a homosexual movement. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch noted that as a journal editor, Schumm published a Cameron article claiming to prove that homosexuality is a mental illness, and likening homosexuality to alcoholism and drug addiction.

Schumm has an extensive additional record of presenting anti-gay hate speech under the false guise of “scientific” research.

The non-peer-reviewed Schumm article that Elsevier’s James Wright published in defense of Regnerus repeats the documented falsehood that Regnerus designed and carried out his study independently of his funders’ anti-gay-rights political goals for it. Brad Wilcox, Director of the Witherspoon Institute program that organized the Regnerus study in 2010, collaborated with Regnerus on study design, and later on data collection, data analysis and interpretation.

Among the invalidating aspects of Regnerus’s study is that he correlated bad child outcomes to gay parents even for those of his study subjects who had not lived with a parent while the parent was having a same-sex relationship.

To clarify; some of Regnerus’s study respondents did say that they lived with the parent who had a same-sex relationship. The specific complaint at issue now is that even for those of his study subjects who had not ever lived with a parent while the parent was having a same-sex relationship, Regnerus’s correlated the “bad” child outcomes to gay parents.

Schumm’s defense of Regnerus ignores that particular demonizing defect in Regnerus’s methodology.

Both Wright and Schumm were sent e-mails, asking how many studies they can name — other than Regnerus’s — in which bad child outcomes for children who did not live with gay parents are correlated to gay parents.

Neither Schumm nor Wright responded.

New York City-based novelist and freelance writer Scott Rose’s LGBT-interest by-line has appeared on Advocate.com, PoliticusUSA.com, The New York Blade, Queerty.com, Girlfriends and in numerous additional venues. Among his other interests are the arts, boating and yachting, wine and food, travel, poker and dogs. His “Mr. David Cooper’s Happy Suicide” is about a New York City advertising executive assigned to a condom account.

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Ending the Drug War: No Laughing Matter

From In These Times:  http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/14197/ending_the_drug_war_the_next_serious_step_through_the_haze_of_comedy

Colorado may have legalized marijuana last week, but the fate of the state’s Drug War depends on the Feds.

BY David Sirota
November 16, 2012

What’s next? Amid all the munchie-themed jokes from reporters, political elites and late-night comedians, this remains the overarching question after Coloradans voted overwhelmingly to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana in the same way alcohol is already legalized, regulated and taxed. Since those anti-Drug-War principles are now enshrined in Colorado’s constitution, only the feds can stop the Rocky Mountain state—if they so choose. But will they? And should they even be able to?

The answer to the former is maybe. Barack Obama campaigned for president pledging to respect state marijuana laws and his Justice Department in 2009 issued a memo reiterating that promise. But by 2011, the same Justice Department countermanded that directive and authorized a federal crackdown. Now, with the results of the 2012 election, Colorado’s Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper has been forced into the awkward position of fighting off the feds in defense of a state constitutional amendment he tried to defeat.

Because of Hickenlooper’s cynical contradictions–the beer mogul opposed pot legalization after making millions selling the more hazardous drug called alcoholhe is not trusted by those pushing for a more rational narcotics policy. That distrust only intensified after the election. Instead of acknowledging the seriousness of a Drug War that is unduly arresting thousands, and that often disproportionately targets minorities, Hickenlooper reacted to the ballot measure’s passage with his own infantile attempt at comedy.

“Don’t break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly,” he snickered.

Not surprisingly, proponents of the pot initiative, which passed with more votes than either Obama or Hickenlooper have ever received in Colorado, weren’t laughing with the governor. They suspect Hickenlooper’s recent consultations with the Obama administration over the new law are a devious concession. Specifically, they argue that Hickenlooper even asking the White House for permission to proceedrather than simply moving forward on behalf of his state’s voterscould be a deliberate attempt to solidify the precedent of federal preemption before courts cite the 10th amendment to invalidate that authority.

Continue reading at:  http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/14197/ending_the_drug_war_the_next_serious_step_through_the_haze_of_comedy

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Is the IRS Failing to Uphold the Separation of Church and State?

From Care2:   http://www.care2.com/causes/is-the-irs-failing-to-uphold-the-separation-of-church-and-state.html

by November 19, 2012

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is suing the IRS because it says the IRS has suspended auditing thousands of churches and is failing to enforce a ban on church electioneering.

The suit, filed Wednesday with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, claims that there is evidence the IRS is not doing enough to prevent churches and religious institutions from directly and “blatantly” engaging in political messaging which, the suit says, is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and, interestingly, of the FFRF’s equal protection rights.

As evidence for this, the FFRF points to remarks made by Russel Renwicks of the IRS’ Tax-Exempt and Government Entities division, wherein Renwicks said the IRS has suspended tax audits of churches.

“We are holding any potential church audits in abeyance,” Renwicks is quoted as saying by Bloomberg in an October piece. The piece goes on to clarify that there may be a “few” cases of “egregious” electioneering but “even those are in abeyance until IRS finalizes rules.”

An IRS spokesperson has since said that Renwicks misspoke.

“The IRS continues to run a balanced program that follows up on potential non-compliance, while ensuring the appropriate oversight and review to determine that compliance activities are necessary and appropriate,” said spokesman Dean Patterson.

The FFRF says it is unconvinced and is prepared to prove that the IRS may not have audited churches since 2009. It points to a number of very recent cases to further support the suit.

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Austerity: A Violation of Human Rights?

From The Nation:  http://www.thenation.com/blog/171364/austerity-violation-human-rights#

Laura Flanders
on November 20, 2012

Have you ever wished there was a set of standards by which budgets could be assessed that didn’t have to do with deficit hawks and stimulus sparrows pecking each other’s eyes out in the constricted ring of corporate opinion?

A noble little park opened in New York City last month: Four Freedoms Park. In the coverage of the Louis Kahn structure (which seems to rise like a ship out of Manhattan’s East River), remarkably little was made of the title. From Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s address to Congress in 1941, “the Four Freedoms” are core requirements for humane political and economic existence:

“For there is nothing mysterious about the foundations of a healthy and strong democracy,” said Roosevelt. “The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic systems are simple. They are: Equality of opportunity for youth and for others. Jobs for those who can work. Security for those who need it. The ending of special privilege for the few. The preservation of civil liberties for all. The enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living.”

The “four freedoms” FDR named (which would eventually be incorporated into what became the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), were freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear. The last of those FDR defined as “a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world.”

Watching the carnage in the Middle East and anticipating the arms-bonanza that is sure to follow it’s hard not to wince. CNN’s coverage alone, with its feverish fascination with Israel’s purported missile-defense prowess, is sure to result in yet a new boom for the death merchants in that country and ours.

But human rights standards aren’t only for international actors, says economist Radhika Balakrishnan. We could do with some good human rights lawyers in the budget debate in Washington. Balakrishnan is the director of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University. She is also co-editor of Economic Policy and Human Rights: Holding Governments to Account.

Continue reading at:  http://www.thenation.com/blog/171364/austerity-violation-human-rights#

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Being Poor and Stuff

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-rice/poverty-election_b_2150138.html?utm_hp_ref=politics


President Obama’s recent re-election sent many people on the right scrambling to find explanations for an event they found unfathomable. Echoing Mitt Romney’s comments about the forty-seven percent of voters who feel they are entitled to food, housing, and “you name it,” Bill O’Reilly lamented on election night that too many Americans want “stuff” and “things.” Romney, himself, doubled-down on his earlier comment when he explained his loss by saying that the majority of voters wanted “gifts” and believed that President Obama would deliver those gifts to them.

This is not a new theme for conservatives, and it colors they way that they think about class in America. On my blog, Ranking America, I’ve posted a variety of rankings dealing with poverty in the U.S. In 2009 I posted one showing that the United States had the third highest rate of poverty among thirty member nations of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and in 2010 I posted another showing that the U.S. had the fourth highest rate of child poverty in the OECD.

One of my more recent rankings, taken from UNICEF, shows that the U.S. has the second highest rate of child poverty among thirty-five economically advanced countries. This particular entry sparked an exchange of comments among a number of readers and was “liked” on Facebook nearly 400 times.

For their study, UNICEF defined “child poverty” as children living in households whose income was lower than 50 percent of the country’s median income. It turns out that in the U.S., nearly one in four children live in such households. The question that some readers asked was whether or not the metric used by UNICEF accurately described how poverty is experienced in the U.S.

It’s not uncommon to hear some people to shrug off poverty in the U.S. by saying that poor Americans just don’t appreciate how good they’ve got it. For example, Victor Davis Hanson, has suggested that the fact that because someone who is poor may have “water that is as hot as the rich man’s” and “a cell phone that is not inferior to the zillionaire’s,” it somehow follows that that person really can’t be very poor.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-rice/poverty-election_b_2150138.html?utm_hp_ref=politics

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Occupy Walmart: Workers Plan Black Friday Protests

From The Nation:  http://www.thenation.com/blog/171382/occupy-walmart-workers-plan-black-friday-protests#

Allison Kilkenny
on November 20, 2012

Walmart workers are planning to mark Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and one of the biggest shopping days of the year, with pickets outside of stores and warehouses across the country.

Former and current employees of the giant corporation describe systemic abuse and harassment by management at Walmart stores and warehouses. When asked about their demands, many workers talk about the desire for management to respect and listen to the workers. OUR Walmart, a protest group seeking justice and accountability from Walmart, also wants to see the minimum wage raised to $13 an hour and for full-time jobs to made available to “associates” who want them. Other demands include a dependable, predictable work schedule, affordable healthcare, no discrimination and wages that ensure no Walmart worker has to rely on government assistance to survive.

Walmart is one of the biggest recipients of government subsidies, receiving tax breaks, free land, cash grants and other forms of public assistance, in addition to paying some of its workers so little that they also turn to the federal government for programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

However, even Walmart employees who make better wages complain about abuse on the job. An employee at a Walmart distribution center in Gas City, Indiana, initially decided to work at the big-box chain because his job pays almost $20 an hour, and he couldn’t find another job that paid that well in his area. The worker, who asked to remain anonymous because he’s afraid of being fired for going public with his complaints, says that Walmart has the attitude that because they pay workers well the employees are “required to be their slaves.”

His job is to load heavy boxes, sometimes weighing up to seventy pounds, onto pallets stacked six feet tall in a freezer that has a temperature of minus-twenty degrees. He is also given very short time limits for each pallet to be completed, so he normally ends up running down aisles with heavy boxes to make his rate.

One day, he cut a fairly large gash in his leg by scraping one of the wooden pallets and his leg started bleeding. When he asked his manager for a bandage, he was told that if he were given one one, they’d have to write him up for not being careful enough on the job. Instead, he worked all day with an open wound because he was afraid that one more write-up could get him fired.

Continue reading at:  http://www.thenation.com/blog/171382/occupy-walmart-workers-plan-black-friday-protests#

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Walmart does damage control as Black Friday protests approach

From Daily Kos:  http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/11/20/1163454/-Walmart-does-damage-control-as-Black-Friday-protests-approach

Laura Clawson
Tue Nov 20, 2012

Walmart is in damage control mode as Black Friday approaches, bringing with it planned protests across the country. Vice President of Communications David Tovar went on CNN to unload all the company’s ridiculous claims about how well Walmart treats its workers and how just a few bad apples put up to making trouble by the union are the source of all this terrible publicity, only to meet some tough questioning by host Carol Costello.

COSTELLO: The wage gap in this country continues to grow ever wider. you know, we hear from economists all the time, we need a strong middle class to make our overall economy stronger. Is it Walmart’s responsibility to make sure that its employees can support a strong middle-class lifestyle?TOVAR: We’re working hard every day to provide more opportunities for associates. […]

COSTELLO: But if a lot of them are making $15,000 a year, you can’t live a strong middle-class lifestyle on that. You just can’t. […]

TOVAR: Our average rate is about $12.40 an hour far a full time associate. We also offer comprehensive benefit packages as low as $17 a pay period, which is very affordable and we also pay quarterly bonuses, which is something that not a lot of retailers do…. And we know that they appreciate that, they also get a 10 percent discount card. So you have to factor in all of those things when you’re looking for how we’re helping associates.

But you don’t get to be a vice president of communications for Walmart without knowing how to keep to your talking points and lie with a smile on your face. Costello did a good job following up with Tovar, but I’m left with a few more questions.

In the interview, Tovar claimed that a majority of Walmart workers are employed full-time, which is interesting since Walmart has always refused to say how many of its workers are full-time. Does Tovar’s claim on CNN mean Walmart will be releasing numbers that can be verified?

Continue reading at: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/11/20/1163454/-Walmart-does-damage-control-as-Black-Friday-protests-approach

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Will We Survive the Future Economic Dust Bowl?

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Something’s Very Wrong When Only the Rich get Richer

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/economy/somethings-very-wrong-when-only-rich-get-richer

The poor have struggled mightily while our rich have become phenomenally flush. But middle-income Americans haven’t been able to jump off the treadmill either.

By Sam Pizzigati
November 19, 2012

We’ve all heard plenty of chatter over recent years about the widening gap “between rich and poor.” But what about the gap between rich and middle? This divide seldom ever gets much media play, an inattention that makes no sense. The gap between America’s high-income and middle-income households, after all, has been growing almost as fast as the gap between rich and poor.

The latest evidence: a new income inequality study from two of Washington’s most respected research groups, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities and the Economic Policy Institute.

These two groups have been tracking U.S. income disparities, on a state-by-state basis, for years now, and they publish their findings in a report series they’ve titled  Pulling Apart . The  latest Pulling Apart , released just last week, takes our inequality story through our new century’s first decade.

The core story hasn’t changed much. The gap between America’s poorest 20 percent and America’s most affluent 20 percent continues to stretch out.

In the three-year span from 2008 through 2010, in 15 different states, our most affluent 20 percent averaged over eight times the income of our poorest 20 percent. Back in the late 1970s, the new  Pulling Apart  points out, not one single state had a top-to-bottom ratio that ran over eight times.

Overall, after adjusting for inflation, the nation’s richest fifth of households have seen their incomes rise an average $2,550 each year since the late 1970s. Average incomes in the nation’s bottom fifth have increased a mere $1,330 for the entire last three decades.

And incomes for the households in America’s middle fifth? In all 50 states, the gap between top 20 and middle 20 percent has widened “significantly.” The gap between middle 20 percent and top 5 percent has widened even more.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/economy/somethings-very-wrong-when-only-rich-get-richer

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All Hail the Sweet Potato

From The New York Times:  http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/20/all-hail-the-sweet-potato/

Mark Bittman
November 20, 2012

For more than 30 consecutive Thanksgivings — including this one— I’ve written about turkey in all of its guises. Occasionally I’ve protested, pleading with editors that although the bird in its wild form may be traditional and is indisputably indigenous, whether the one you buy is free-range, wild, natural, organic, pumped up with antibiotics or even injected with “butter,” it’s just about the worst piece of meat you can roast.

At the hands of all but the most experienced, careful or lucky cooks, the more than 700 million pounds of turkey we’ll buy this week will wind up with breast meat that’s cottony-dry and leg meat that is underdone, tough, stringy or all three. And although a friend of mine claims that this is how people like it — “it’s exactly how our grandmothers did it, and it’s what we grew up with,” he says — I believe this explains why we waste an estimated $282 million worth of turkey each year, enough to feed each food-insecure American with 11 servings.

It’s not entirely the turkey’s fault; when you think about it, few holidays are really culinary [1], and in general Thanksgiving is a celebratory feast that has little to do with the harvest or the brilliance of the food but rather family and memories and, usually, obligations.

But rather than get too cynical, allow me to celebrate another symbol of Thanksgiving, another native of the Americas, one that can be, should be and is a staple for millions year-round, one that is under appreciated even on a holiday that celebrates it, one that’s been overcooked, canned, smothered in marshmallows and otherwise abused: the sweet potato.

I am not suggesting that you substitute the sweet potato for the turkey as the centerpiece on your Thanksgiving table, though you could do worse. I am merely saying that the sweet potato deserves more attention and even a bit of praise.

If you bake a sweet potato properly — in its skin, with a few holes poked in it (they’ve been known to explode, in a messy but not dangerous sense) — you will get a combination of textures that no other food can offer, and with no added ingredients: sweet stickiness, from the caramelizing liquid that oozes from the inside out; a little bit of crunchy chewiness, from the parts of the skin that this liquid helps brown; a soft, velvety yet slightly leathery skin, perfectly edible; and, of course, the meltingly tender, ultra-luxurious flesh, which can range from creamy white to familiar orange to deep red and even purple, and is perhaps best enjoyed with a sprinkle of salt.

Continue reading at:  http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/20/all-hail-the-sweet-potato/

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