80 Percent Of U.S. Adults Face Near-Poverty, Unemployment: Survey

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/28/poverty-unemployment-rates_n_3666594.html


WASHINGTON — Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.

Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized U.S. economy, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend.

The findings come as President Barack Obama tries to renew his administration’s emphasis on the economy, saying in recent speeches that his highest priority is to “rebuild ladders of opportunity” and reverse income inequality.

As nonwhites approach a numerical majority in the U.S., one question is how public programs to lift the disadvantaged should be best focused – on the affirmative action that historically has tried to eliminate the racial barriers seen as the major impediment to economic equality, or simply on improving socioeconomic status for all, regardless of race.

Hardship is particularly growing among whites, based on several measures. Pessimism among that racial group about their families’ economic futures has climbed to the highest point since at least 1987. In the most recent AP-GfK poll, 63 percent of whites called the economy “poor.”

“I think it’s going to get worse,” said Irene Salyers, 52, of Buchanan County, Va., a declining coal region in Appalachia. Married and divorced three times, Salyers now helps run a fruit and vegetable stand with her boyfriend but it doesn’t generate much income. They live mostly off government disability checks.

“If you do try to go apply for a job, they’re not hiring people, and they’re not paying that much to even go to work,” she said. Children, she said, have “nothing better to do than to get on drugs.”

While racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to live in poverty, race disparities in the poverty rate have narrowed substantially since the 1970s, census data show. Economic insecurity among whites also is more pervasive than is shown in the government’s poverty data, engulfing more than 76 percent of white adults by the time they turn 60, according to a new economic gauge being published next year by the Oxford University Press.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/28/poverty-unemployment-rates_n_3666594.html

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The Costly Failure of Missile Defense

Why can’t we scrap right wing boondoggles that our total failure like this and the war on drugs?  They declared The War on Poverty a failure after two years and Nixon killed it.  Is it because it was the pet program of St Ronnie, the patron saint of right wing morons?

From The Nation:  http://www.thenation.com/blog/175449/costly-failure-missile-defense#axzz2asT268zb

Bob Dreyfuss
on July 26, 2013

Never mind that no one is firing ICBMs at us. It’s been three decades since Ronald Reagan cooked up his cockamamie plan to shoot down missiles in the sky, and while technology has improved incalculably since then, after countless billions of dollars—according to The  New York Times, it’s $250 billion—the damn things still don’t work.

Last week, following yet another failure, and as if it just occurred to him, the director of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency—yes, it has a whole “agency”—said that he’d look into it:

Following recent testing failures, the director of the Missile Defense Agency told Congress today that he is committed to a full evaluation of the way forward for the nation’s ballistic missile defense system.

Of course, he added, the evaluation will cost money, too.

In a devastating commentary by a Reuters analyst, we learn that the test itself was “rigged” and scripted, that there were no countermeasures (as in real-life war), and that the test itself cost $214 million:

Immediately following the Fourth of July fireworks, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) tried out some fireworks of its own. By trying to hit a missile with a missile they attempted a demonstration of the defensive “shield,” designed to protect the U.S. from North Korean and Iranian nuclear missiles. It turned out to be a dud. As with the two previous attempts, the Ground Based Missile Defense system once again failed. This failure happened despite the fact that the demonstration was essentially rigged: the intercept team knew ahead of time when to expect the incoming missile and all its relevant flight parameters. Such luxury is obviously not available in real-life combat. But even if the $214 million “test” had worked it would not prove much.

Still, Buck McKeon, the Republican chairman of the House Armed Service Committee, wants more testing—more, more, more—and damn the expense. Of course, he blames President Obama for cuts in the program—certainly not the cause of the failure, but a convenient scapegoat. Says McKeon:

Continue reading at:  http://www.thenation.com/blog/175449/costly-failure-missile-defense#axzz2asT268zb

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Why Elites Want to Mask the Suffering of Poor Whites

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/hard-times-usa/why-elites-want-mask-suffering-poor-whites

White elites and opinion leaders are wary of poor white people because they expose the defects of capitalism.

By Chauncey DeVega
August 1, 2013

NBC’s recent story on how 80 percent of Americans will be living at or near the poverty level in their lifetimes was accompanied by the above photo of a “poor white family”.

The heart of the the AP’s report on the (further) economic imperilment of the American people is focused on the rise in “white poverty”, and the struggles faced by the “white working class” in the time of the Great Recession.

Images that feature human beings “work” in communicating political and social meaning because of how the viewer “reads” them. As such, there are stated and unstated assumptions which the person who is “seeing” applies to the “object” of their gaze.

For example, the White Gaze views a photo of a young black man wearing a hoodie and whose pants are sagging and sees a person who exists in a state of criminality, and is a social predator.

A photo of a white man wearing a suit and walking down Wall Street in New York will be seen by the White Gaze as representing a “respectable” person and a “hard worker” living the “American Dream.”

In reality, the former may be on the way to his 3rd job, has never been in prison or arrested, and takes care of his aged parents and siblings. The latter could be a child-molesting murderer and rapist, who is also embezzling millions of dollars from his clients.

White and male–and Whiteness more generally–views itself as benign and harmless. Black and male–and Blackness more generally–is viewed by White American society as dangerous and pathological. The power of images is how they harness and channel assumptions about how various types of personhood find representation in, and are configured by, a broader system of dominance, subordination, privilege, inclusion, exclusion, and hierarchy.

NBC.com’s photo is an example of those processes at work. There we “see” two overweight white women with a young child, and thus make social and political assumptions about gender and class. We see a small home and generalize from that visual about how “poor people” live, and more importantly, “what type of people” they are.

Images also give the viewer permission to empathize or to condemn the subject. Are these “good” people or “bad people?” What is my sense of obligation to them? Does my sense of community extend to people like them?

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/hard-times-usa/why-elites-want-mask-suffering-poor-whites

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Cleared of aiding the enemy, Bradley Manning still faces a lifetime in jail. The very least we owe this heroic man is a debate on US foreign policy

From The Independent UK:  http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/cleared-of-aiding-the-enemy-bradley-manning-still-faces-a-lifetime-in-jail-the-very-least-we-owe-this-heroic-man-is-a-debate-on-us-foreign-policy-8738212.html

Manning revealed the sordid realities of  war that the armchair warriors want sanitised

Owen Jones
Tuesday 30 July 2013

Power has to be relentlessly fought. Without being constantly checked, exposed, harangued, mocked and driven back, it would swiftly devour all the rights that were won at its expense. There is invariably a cost. The powerful know that if those who chip away at their authority are not undermined, or humiliated, or even persecuted, others would be emboldened to strike blows at them, too.

And so it is with Bradley Manning. Although a military judge has found him not guilty of aiding the enemy, the guilty verdicts on other charges will leave him languishing in military custody for much, if not all, of his life: indeed, he faces a sentence of 130 years. Here is the sacrifice he has paid for exposing the secretive actions of a government that claims to act in the name of the US people.

Here’s why. Over a decade ago, the US initiated two calamitous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, with a terrible human cost that is still paid every single day. The then-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan declared that the Iraq invasion was illegal; the country is today still awash with car bombings and gruesome sectarian bloodletting. It was always in the interests of the US elite to keep the consequences of their actions as far away from public consciousness as possible. The justification is that such secrecy is needed to protect the American people from the country’s enemies. “It’s for your own good” is the stock defence of every authoritarian. But the real aim is to stem opposition. Every US hawk still shivers at the photographs of naked Vietnamese children, faces contorted with panic, running with their skin burned after a napalm attack, which helped galvanise the anti-war movement of the 1960s and 70s.

By being responsible for the biggest leak of classified information in US history, Manning revealed the sordid realities of a war that the armchair warriors want sanitised. Like an Apache helicopter, bombing the life out of Iraqi civilians and a Reuters journalist, the corrupted pilots dismissing their victims as “dead bastards”. He found evidence of US-backed death squads and militias operating in Afghanistan. He helped reveal the rampant corruption of the US-backed Tunisian dictatorship, who basked in luxurious homes and extravagant lifestyles while their people suffered grinding poverty, providing ammunition for the revolutionaries who toppled Ben Ali.

Continue reading at:  http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/cleared-of-aiding-the-enemy-bradley-manning-still-faces-a-lifetime-in-jail-the-very-least-we-owe-this-heroic-man-is-a-debate-on-us-foreign-policy-8738212.html

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Noam Chomsky: “Bradley Manning Should Be Regarded as a Hero”

From Truth Out: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/17935-noam-chomsky-on-grittv-bradley-manning-should-be-regarded-as-a-hero

By Laura Flanders
Friday, 02 August 2013

Bradley Manning has just been acquitted of “aiding the enemy” but convicted of numerous violations of the Espionage Act in a verdict that could set dangerous new precedents for whistle-blowers and journalism.

When Laura Flanders spoke to Noam Chomsky last month, he had only praise for Manning. Here’s what he said:

“Bradley Manning should be regarded as a hero. He is doing what an honest, decent citizen should be doing: letting your population know what the government, the people who rule you are doing. They want to keep it secret of course.”

And that’s not all the renowned author and scholar had to say. Among other topics: what we can glean about the secretive new trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (it’s not about trade, says Chomsky); “tiny robots” (Chomsky’s “least favorite, favorite” development); and terrorism: “Obama is running the biggest terrorist operation that exists, maybe in history,” says Chomsky, professor emeritus of linguistics at MIT.

Below is an edited transcript. You can watch the interview in full (and in parts) at GRITtv.org. Truthout contributor and GRITtv host Laura Flanders caught up with Chomsky at the Left Forum in New York in June, immediately after Chomsky delivered a keynote address and held a short private meeting with a representative of the Bolivian government.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/17935-noam-chomsky-on-grittv-bradley-manning-should-be-regarded-as-a-hero

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A Message From Pete Seeger: Musicians United to Protect Bristol Bay

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The Crazy True Story Of How A Handful Of Climate Advocates Painted A Red Town Green

From Think Progress:  http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/07/31/2334471/knoxville-climate-change-conservative-clean-energy-green-red/

By Zack Beauchamp
on July 31, 2013

KNOXVILLE, TN — You might be surprised that the same town that Jeff Foxworthy calls home is a green haven. I’m not talking about the famous comedian. I’m referring to a man who, when not using Foxworthy as his nom de guerre, identified himself as “The Educated Redneck.” I met him while eating dinner at an English pub-themed restaurant in Knoxville’s Old City, where he bought four rounds of drinks for everyone seated at the bar in alarmingly rapid succession. “Are you having a good time?” he asked me (and everyone), in a thick, drunken drawl.

Actually, I was. And not (only) because of Mr. Redneck’s Jack Daniels IV. My visit to Knoxville, on assignment to investigate the surprising blossoming of a clean economy in blood-red East Tennessee, had been going beautifully. It wasn’t just that the Knoxville city government’s push to green the city was impressive, though it was: over the past seven years, Knoxville has reduced the city government carbon footprint by 17 percent, multiplied its solar capacity by 133 times, saved millions per year through an energy efficiency push, and (by one metric) become the fastest-growing metro area for green jobs in the country. And they’re just getting started, with plans to tackle big remaining sources of emissions like urban sprawl and agriculture.

But beyond the concrete policy successes, there’s a deeper, human story about how a town where climate change, formerly a four-letter phrase in this right-leaning region, grew into a watchword. It’s the story of how a twice-arrested labor organizer who made fighting climate change part of her Mayoral platform was given the power to do just that by the silver-spoon oilman that beat her. It’s the story of how a polymath political science professor happened upon a young environmentalist halfway across the country who turned out to be just the person to make Knoxville’s buildings efficient and its power clean. It’s the story of how a city bureaucrat whose project was falling apart got a second chance, and how she used it to cement Knoxville’s green momentum.

Continue reading at:  http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/07/31/2334471/knoxville-climate-change-conservative-clean-energy-green-red/

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Defiant nuns and monks refuse to give up Kentucky land for gas pipeline

From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/08/02/defiant-nuns-and-monks-refuse-to-give-up-kentucky-land-for-gas-pipeline/

By David Ferguson
Friday, August 2, 2013

Two Kentucky Catholic religious orders that collectively own more than 3,000 acres of historic farmland are refusing to give up portions of their lands for a proposed natural-gas pipeline that would channel millions of gallons of pressurized, highly flammable natural-gas liquids through the area. According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, the nuns of the Sisters of Loretto and the monks of the Abbey of Gethsemani have denied surveyors permission to survey the land ahead of the pipeline project and say that they have no interest in helping it along.

“We’ve been on this property since 1824,” said Sister Maria Visse, service coordinator for the Sisters of Loretto. “We feel entrusted with this (land). It’s a gift. It’s not a commodity.”

The energy company that hopes to build the pipeline — Williams Co. of Tulsa, Oklahoma — has repeatedly sent representatives and made requests for permission to survey the land, all of which have been summarily denied. The proposed pipeline would run from gas-drilling facilities in Pennsylvania to the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, impacting 18 counties in Kentucky.

Visse told the Courier that she turned down the Williams Co.’s proposal to use the sisters’ and the monks’ land on the spot and without a second thought.

“This is just short-term money that has very dangerous potential long-term consequences,” Visse said. She worries about the impact of water pollution on the porous limestone bedrock upon which the community resides.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/08/02/defiant-nuns-and-monks-refuse-to-give-up-kentucky-land-for-gas-pipeline/

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