December 17, 2017

A few things to do

From our overstocked archives

Sam Smith,  2011

Look elsewhere: The first step to avoiding dysfunction is to avoid those enveloped in it. At least for now, put your major energy into specific issues and saving or reforming your state or community. The latter are not only more likely to be refuges of sanity or easier to change if they are not, but it is where every great movement - from the abolitionists to environmentalists – built their base. We need more of what Hakim Bey called temporary autonomous zones – and more attention to creating them.

Even Orwell understood the importance of local freedom. Eric Paul Gros-Dubois of Southern Methodist University described Orwell's underclass this way: "The Proles were the poorest of the groups, but in most regards were the most cheerful and optimistic. The Proles were also the freest of all the groups. Proles could do as they pleased. They could come and go, and talk openly about whatever they felt like without having to worry about the Thought Police. . .[Orwell] also concluded that the hope for the future was contained within this group.". . .

Forget clicktivism: As Micah White put it in the
Guardian:  "Political engagement becomes a matter of clicking a few links. In promoting the illusion that surfing the web can change the world, clicktivism is to activism as McDonalds is to a slow-cooked meal. It may look like food, but the life-giving nutrients are long gone. Exchanging the substance of activism for reformist platitudes that do well in market tests, clicktivists damage every genuine political movement they touch. In expanding their tactics into formerly untrammelled political scenes and niche identities, they unfairly compete with legitimate local organizations who represent an authentic voice of their communities. They are the Wal-Mart of activism: leveraging economies of scale, they colonies emergent political identities and silence underfunded radical voices."

Make real friends and allies: Discover the real people in your community – whether  a community of geography or of interest -  who are trying to do similar things as you. It is easy for two committees in two churches just a few blocks away to be functioning without either knowing what the other is up to. Find new ways to discover your allies. A regular BYO supper for local activists is one approach. A blog that announces what everyone is doing is another. Gatherings where activists get to share their projects is yet another.

Agree on one thing at a time: Organize one issue at a time and build your alliance around that issue. If a gun-toting, abortion hating nun wants to help you save some open space, put her on the committee. You can worry about the other stuff later.

Support those being bashed – Find ways to honor and celebrate those being bashed by the right: unions, blacks, teachers, gays etc. Help defend them when they’re being treated badly. Make local heroes out of those the right wants to suppress.

Build a not-yet-union labor movement -  Yes, this is a bad time for unions, but in part because unions have failed to see the potential for creating non-union labor movements, many of which could morph into unions. You don’t need a union to organize workers. The United Farm Workers got started without one. What if, for example, we were to have shopping mall workers’ associations that workers and their supporters could join?

Help organize a peace movement – Now that the dumbest wars in American history are endangering Social Security, Medicare and other social programs, it may be time to retest the theory that no one can get an anti-war movement going.

Create an alternative or counter culture – What is extraordinary about these bad times is that there is so little in the way of alternatives. So few protestors, no beats, no hippies, no bohemians. The first step in change is an alternative culture and value system which the disenchanted can join. And it must be real, and not a corporatized, cleverly branded imitation of rebellion.

Create and support alternative economic systems including employee ownership, co-ops, state banks, and local currency. 

Get a symbol or two. The symbols we use define not just a cause or its image but can signal our relationship to it. We need something like the 1960s peace symbol, special hand greetings, and color associated with a better America. 

Create an agenda consisting of no more than three to six items that will define the fight for a better land. Things like ending wars, single payer healthcare, and ecological sanity.

Create some music – Music has often been the precursor of change. Even when you can make change you can make music about it. The sound of freedom can precede freedom itself.

Become an existentialist: Existentialism, which has been described as the idea that no one can take your shower for you, is based on the hat trick of passion, integrity and rebellion. It is an understanding that we create ourselves by what we do and say and, in the words of one of their philosophers, that even a condemned man has a choice of how to approach the gallows.  It is not what we believe but how we witness those beliefs that count. Those who think history has left us helpless should recall the abolitionist of 1830, the feminist of 1870, the labor organizer of 1890, or the gay or lesbian writer of 1910. They, like us, did not get to choose their time in history but they, like us, did get to choose what they did with it.

- Put economic issues at the top of the list. Nothing cuts across cultures and ethnicities better than common economic issues. Liberals began losing the game when they gave up priority for them.

- Support issues, not icons. Spend more time on what we should be doing and less on who should be doing it.

- Have fun. It’s a great way to get people to join your cause.

- If you wish to win people’s support, argue with them, encourage them, heal them, teach them but don’t insult them. Raise hell against the big guys but don’t abuse the ordinary citizen. Show them the way, not the door. Today’s liberals repeatedly castigate those they should be recruiting.

- Build communities not clubs. Liberalism used to be street theater. Now it’s a private club. You can’t build a movement with a club.

- Stop federalizing everything. There’s no evidence that it works and people don’t like it. Adopt the principle that government should be carried out at the lowest practical level and you’ll be surprised how many new friends you make.

- Teach. They don’t teach civics or history in schools much anymore so it’s up to progressives to do the job, just like civil rights activists did with their freedom schools.

- Encourage reciprocal liberty: I can’t have my liberty if you don’t have yours. So some get their guns; others get abortion. It’s part of the essential nature of being an American: sharing space with those with whom you don’t agree.

- Help small business. Neither of the two major parties do, so you can make a lot of new friends this way.

- Unrig our elections. End campaign bribery by public financing and make it constitutionally clear that corporations are not persons. Press for instant runoff voting.

- Keep it simple. Remember that the media is not comfortable with complexity.

Finally, we must remember that change does not require a license. It traditionally has come from the unanointed, the unprotected and the unexpected. We need to create thousands of secular congregations, homes for a new America and communities of hope and invention - and then bring our discoveries to others so they can share.

In the end, the only solution to a failed America is a new America. And there's nobody who can do it but us.

The five worst cities for blacks

Study: Police shoot twice a many Americans as generally understood

Portside -An exclusive analysis of data from the 50 largest local police departments in the United States shows that police shoot Americans more than twice as often as previously known.

VICE News examined both fatal and nonfatal incidents to determine that cops in the 50 largest local departments shot at least 3,631 people from 2010 through 2016. That’s more than 500 people a year. On more than 700 other occasions, police fired at citizens and missed. Two-thirds of the people cops fired at survived.

Beginning with the Reagan era, the American economy has transferred income from botton 50% to top 1%

Washington Post - Back in 1980, the bottom 50 percent of wage-earners in the United States earned about 21 percent of all income in the country — nearly twice as much as the share of income (11 percent) earned by the top 1 percent of Americans.

But today, according to a massive new study on global inequality, those numbers have nearly reversed: The bottom 50 percent take in only 13 percent of the income pie, while the top 1 percent grab over 20 percent of the country's income.

Good summary of GOP tax bill

Add Chris Matthews to the list

Washington Examiner - NBC made a separation-related payment years ago to an employee who worked for Chris Matthews after she accused him of sexual harassment, according to a report Saturday.

The unidentified woman, a former assistant producer on his MSNBC show, "Hardball with Chris Matthews," told company executives that Matthews made inappropriate remarks and jokes about her with others present, the Daily Caller reported.

After a review, Matthews received a formal reprimand, but it was determined that his comments towards the woman were only childish and inappropriate and not meant as propositions.

Sources told the outlet that NBC paid the woman $40,000 in a 1999 settlement, but an MSNBC spokesperson disputed the amount, claiming it was lower.

While the woman reportedly left MSNBC and went on to work in other journalism-related jobs, Matthews has remained a fixture at MSNBC, still hosting the "Hardball" show he's had since 1997 and also had hosted another program, "The Chris Matthews Show," from 2002 to 2013.

Matthews has raised eyebrows before, notably during the 2016 campaign when he was caught on a hot mic checking out Melania Trump, wife to President Trump.

"Did you see her walk? Runway walk. My God is that good," Matthews said in May 2016. "I could watch that runway show," he added.

Matthews, now 71 years old, has railed against Trump for making sexist and demeaning comments about women. He is married to Kathleen Matthews, the chair of the Maryland Democratic Party.

Word: The double taxation in the GOP plan

Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers -The draconian effects of this law will last for decades. Consider the impact on public education. Nationally, state income and sales taxes fund 46 percent of public education, and local property taxes contribute an additional 45 percent. Under the Republican plans, nearly 29 million households will no longer be able to deduct these taxes, resulting in double taxation and reduced revenues for localities. This will hit ordinary Americans in their wallets and squeeze funds for public education and other important public services. And while the middle class will no longer be able to deduct state and local taxes, corporations will maintain this deduction.

Most Trump voters don't care if he worked with Russia to win election

Independent, UK- A majority of President Donald Trump's voters surveyed by the left-leaning Public Policy Polling believe he should continue to serve as president even if it's proven that he conspired with Russia to sway the 2016 election.

Just 14 per cent of Trump voters said he should resign in the event that special counsel Robert Mueller or the congressional intelligence committees find that he colluded with Russia. On the other hand, 77 per cent of Trump voters believe he should remain in office if the collusion claims are proven true. When Democrats and independent voters were factored into the results, 37 per cent of respondents said they believed Trump should stay in office if he colluded with Russia.

The survey also found that 52 per cent of respondents believe members of Trump's campaign team worked with Russia to help him clinch the presidency. The results were split along partisan lines: while 86 per cent of those who voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton believe the Trump-Russia allegations, just 13 per cent of Trump voters do.

California fire update

CNN - Thousands of residents in Santa Barbara threatened by the blaze are under mandatory and voluntary evacuations while others lwere allowed back in their homes. The fire is so massive, more than 8,400 firefighters are working around the clock to save lives and contain it. It's bigger than New York City , and has left neighborhoods in piles of soot and concrete as it rapidly moves through the area. ... About $110 million has been spent fighting the massive blaze, fire officials said. It was 40% contained Saturday night. ... Firefighters are up for a challenging day Sunday as high winds are expected to fan the flames. Red-flag warnings are in effect for a large swathe of Southern California through late Sunday, with wind gusts of up to 55 mph expected overnight. ...  So many firefighters: The Thomas Fire is so massive, more than 8,400 firefighters are working around the clock to save lives and contain it. The blaze has charred 267,500 acres, and is now the third-largest wildfire in modern California history.

More renting with roommates

Planetizin  An analysis of American Community Survey data reveals telling trends in rental housing—specifically about the number of renters sharing their homes with roommates or their parents.
The three headlining findings are as follows:
  • 30 percent of working-age adults—aged 23 to 65—live in doubled-up households, up from a low of 21 percent in 2005 and 23 percent in 1990.
  • Adults living with roommates or family members earn 67 cents for every dollar made by adults who live on their own (or with a partner).
  • More than half (54 percent) of young adults aged 23-29 live in doubled-up households, with either roommates or family members.

Trump regime bans Centers for Disease Control from using some words

Washington Post - The Trump administration is prohibiting officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases — including “fetus” and “transgender” — in official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.

Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden terms at a meeting  with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing. The forbidden terms are “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”

In some instances, the analysts were given alternative phrases. Instead of “science-based” or ­“evidence-based,” the suggested phrase is “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,” the person said. In other cases, no replacement words were immediately offered.

Trump regime wants to freeze federal pay

Washington Post - The Trump administration’s consideration of a wage freeze for federal employees is one piece of a renewed multifront Republican push to shrink those workers’ pay, benefits and workforce.

Confidential administration information released last week by Sen. Claire McCaskill (Mo.), the leading Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, revealed an administration proposal to freeze federal salaries in fiscal 2019. That is the third piece in a pattern that includes Trump’s 2018 budget proposal to cut the employer contribution to retirement benefits and the House Republican plan to have retirees pay more out of pocket for their health insurance.

Congress did not approve the last two recommendations, and the pay freeze, which Trump can impose, is not beyond the leaked-document stage. Yet the proposals lurk, likely to reemerge in future budget plans after having long percolated in conservative circles.

Tip to journalists

Reform has been defined as to "make changes in (something, typically a social, political, or economic institution or practice) in order to improve it." To use the term for something as damaging as the GOP tax bill is about as biased as one can be.

December 16, 2017

Trump lie of the day

Image may contain: 2 people, text 

Maine joins fight for net neutrality

Maine Public Broadcasting - Maine Attorney General Janet Mills says her office will join the multistate lawsuit seeking to reverse a recent decision by the Federal Communications Commission to eliminate net neutrality rules. Mills says the suit will be aimed both at the procedure used by the FCC to roll back the 2015 rules, as well as the substance of the rules, which she says set up a toll highway compared to the current freeway approach. “It’s like taking way the pulpit — the soap box — at Hyde Park, saying you can no longer speak, or if you do speak we’re going to charge you. It’s a toll road kind of concept instead of an open highway,” she says. Mills says bogus public comments were filed with the FCC, faulting the agency’s process. She says Maine residents have contacted her to say their names were used without permission. “It’s kind of bizarre and unprecedented that anybody would fake two million names to file comments of a fictitious nature in support of the rollback of any rule in any agency,” she says.

Illegal ICE acts

ICE kept 92 immigrants shackled on a plane for two days in "slave ship" conditions, advocates and detainees say

Trump plans to cut Social Security, Medicare in second term

Share Blue - A Republican congressman has revealed that Donald Trump confessed that he plans to push cuts to Social Security and Medicare “on the first day of his second term.”

The revelation came after the unnamed congressman met with several reporters on Capitol Hill, discussing the underlying plans behind Trump’s long-term thinking, Business Insider reports.

[It echoes] ideas that have been consistently promoted by House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has had the social safety net in his targets for years.

Ryan recently told a radio show host that after shoving through the unpopular tax scam bill, with its carve-outs for the ultra-wealthy, he hopes to attack Medicare and Social Security in the next legislative session.

Washington state to enforce its own net neutrality rules

Spokesman  - Standing with a bipartisan group of lawmakers, tech executives and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, [Washington governor] Inslee said internet service providers that restrict access, block content or charge varying rates to different customers could find themselves facing sanctions from the state. “There are some things worth fighting for,” Inslee said. “This is a free-speech issue as well as a business development issue.”

Report blames pedophile priests on celibacy and confession

UN expert on poverty visits California

Trump regime censors Center for Disease Control

Huffington Post - In an astonishing order, the Trump administration has banned the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using seven words — including “fetus,” “transgender,” “diversity” and “science-based” — in any documents used to prepare the agency’s budget, The Washington Post has reported.

CDC policy analysts were reportedly informed of the forbidden words in a 90-minute meeting in Atlanta on Thursday with senior CDC officials. The other banned words are “vulnerable,” “entitlement” and “evidence-based,” according to the Post, citing an unnamed policy analyst. The meeting was led by a senior member of the CDC’s Office of Financial Services. She didn’t know why the words were forbidden and said she was merely relaying information, the Post reported.

Instead of the words “science-based” or “evidence-based,” analysts were told they could use instead: The “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,” the newspaper reported.

Trump brand makes some more money out of the presidency

Independent, UK - Ivanka Trump has been accused of a "conflict of interest" after her fashion brand opened a shop in New York's Trump Tower.

The company's first retail outlet, which sits behind the building's security checkpoint and armed police guards, sells handbags, shoes and jewellery in the lobby of the New York City skyscraper.

Ivanka Trump merchandise had previously only been sold through wholesale distributors and online. Some retailers stopped stocking the brand as sales plummeted following her father's election.

NFL ratings down 9% amid Trump rants

In first year, Trump deports fewer than Obama did

“Despite President Trump’s tough-on-immigration rhetoric, there have been fewer deportations in his first year as president than there were in any year of Barack Obama’s presidency,” Axios reports. “There were 177,000 fewer deportations this year than in 2009, Obama’s first year in office.”

California issues warnings about cellphones

CBS, California - For the first time ever, the California Department of Public Health has released guidelines about harmful cellphone radiation and how you can avoid it.

Dr. Karen Smith with the California Department Of Public Health said, “We recognize that there are a lot of people in the general public that have some concerns about their cellphones and whether using a cellphone is safe.”

Smith said, “When you sleep, you keep the cellphone at least arm’s length away from your body. And also, not carrying your cellphone in your pocket, having it either in your purse or not carrying it with you.”

The research suggests cellphones could increase our risk for brain cancer and tumors, low sperm count, headaches, as well as impaired memory, hearing, and sleep.

Dr. Joel Moskowitz at UC Berkeley said, “Currently we’re not doing a good job in regulating radiation from these devices. In fact, we’re doing an abysmal job.”

GOP tax bill explained

The CIA's role in starting Google

Quartz - Two decades ago, the US intelligence community worked closely with Silicon Valley in an effort to track citizens in cyberspace. And Google is at the heart of that origin story. Some of the research that led to Google’s ambitious creation was funded and coordinated by a research group established by the intelligence community to find ways to track individuals and groups online.

The intelligence community hoped that the nation’s leading computer scientists could take non-classified information and user data, combine it with what would become known as the internet, and begin to create for-profit, commercial enterprises to suit the needs of both the intelligence community and the public. They hoped to direct the supercomputing revolution from the start in order to make sense of what millions of human beings did inside this digital information network. That collaboration has made a comprehensive public-private mass surveillance state possible today.

The story of the deliberate creation of the modern mass-surveillance state includes elements of Google’s surprising, and largely unknown, origin. It is a somewhat different creation story than the one the public has heard, and explains what Google cofounders Sergey Brin and Larry Page set out to build, and why.


Child poverty rates

No automatic alt text available. 

December 15, 2017

And it gets worse. .. .

A woman is accusing Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Murray of sexually harassing her when she was 18, more than 35 years ago.

Boulder, Colorado, resident and Cheyenne native Tatiana Maxwell posted her allegations against Murray on Facebook on Monday, describing an incident where he wrestled her to the carpet, “opened his pants, lifted up (her) blouse and ejaculated on (her) stomach.”

Maxwell said she’s had the incident on her mind for decades, and had previously only told some close friends and family about what she alleges happened.

Murray firmly denied the incident ever took place in a statement released Thursday morning.

What's in the GOP tax scam

Roy Moore Retires From Politics To Spend More Quality Time With Someone's Kid

The Onion says. . .

CIA saw Putin's instructions to hack election

Daily Beast - When Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., CIA Director John Brennan and FBI Director James B. Comey all went to see Donald Trump together during the presidential transition, they told him conclusively that they had “captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation” to hack the 2016 presidential election, according to a report in The Washington Post. The intel bosses were worried that he would explode but Trump remained calm during the carefully choreographed meeting. “He was affable, courteous, complimentary,” Clapper told the Post. Comey stayed behind afterward to tell the president-elect about the controversial Steele dossier, however, and that private meeting may have been responsible for the animosity that would eventually lead to Trump firing the director of the FBI.

Trump regime deploys troops in three quarters of wold's countries

in These Times - In 2017, U.S. Special Operations forces, including Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets, deployed to 149 countries around the world, according to figures provided to TomDispatch by U.S. Special Operations Command. That’s about 75% of the nations on the planet and represents a jump from the 138 countries that saw such deployments in 2016 under the Obama administration. It’s also a jump of nearly 150% from the last days of George W. Bush’s White House. This record-setting number of deployments comes as American commandos are battling a plethora of terror groups in quasi-wars that stretch from Africa and the Middle East to Asia.

“Most Americans would be amazed to learn that U.S. Special Operations Forces have been deployed to three quarters of the nations on the planet,” observes William Hartung, the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy. “There is little or no transparency as to what they are doing in these countries and whether their efforts are promoting security or provoking further tension and conflict.”

Trump trashes FBI, then speaks at its academy

Huffington Post -= President Donald Trump on Friday told graduates of an FBI training program in Quantico, Virginia, he’s a “loyal champion” of police, days after he attacked the bureau and claimed its “reputation is in tatters.”

“I want you to know that with me as your president, America’s police will have a true friend and loyal champion in the White House, more loyal than anyone else can be,” Trump said. He attacked “anti-police sentiment” and told law enforcers: “The president of the United States has your back, 100 percent.”

Word: Where the Internet came from

Scripting News - The Internet was created by the US government, the Department of Defense, and built out by universities.Taxpayers paid for it. Not Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, etc.

Tllerson backtracks on North Korea

Washington Times -  America’s top diplomat stepped back Friday from his offer of unconditional talks with North Korea, telling world powers the nuclear-armed nation must earn the right to negotiate with the United States.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s declaration before the U.N. Security Council marked a stunning reversal after he proposed discussions with Pyongyang without preconditions earlier this week. That overture was almost immediately rebutted by White House officials.

Still, Tillerson had planned to reiterate his call at a special U.N. ministerial meeting on North Korea at the council Friday morning. His prepared remarks suggested only that North Korea would have to undertake a sustained halt in its threatening behavior before talks could begin. But Tillerson changed the script.

“North Korea must earn its way back to the table,” Tillerson told the foreign ministers. “The pressure campaign must and will continue until denuclearization is achieved. We will in the meantime keep our channels of communication open.”

Skyrocketing taxes for actors and entertainers under GOP scam

Washington Times - A new study by Actors Equity shows working actors, entertainers and production crew may have to self-incorporate to avoid skyrocketing taxes under the new Republican plan, according to a story in The Hollywood Reporter Thursday.

The increase comes from the elimination of the deductions for union dues, agent commissions, classes and travel for those in the middle class, but keeps some of these provisions for “top-earning talent” due to a difference in how they file.

Those in the upper-earnings often form what is called a loan-out corporation, with the actor as an employee. Loan-out corporations will not see a change under the Republican plan.

But those who cannot afford the expense of self-incorporating — requiring attorneys and expensive paperwork to meet government requirements — say they depend on deductions to keep their taxes affordable.

FCC chair stages truly gross video making fun of net neutrality

States to move against FCC

CNET - The Federal Communications Commission may have voted to roll back net neutrality rules, but some state lawmakers and attorneys general say they'll battle the feds to make sure online traffic is treated equally.

Politicians from California, Washington and New York said they'll use a mix of legislative action and legal moves to fight the FCC's repeal of net neutrality regulation, which was voted on earlier in the day.

Scott Wiener, a California state senator, said shortly after the vote that he'll seek legislation requiring net neutrality in the country's most populous state. The Democrat from San Francisco said in a post on Medium he plans formally introduce a bill early next year. 

"California can regulate business practices to require net neutrality, condition state contracts on adhering to net neutrality, and require net neutrality as part of cable franchise agreements, as a condition to using the public right-of-way for internet infrastructure, and in broadband packages," he said. Watch this: Beer helps explain battle brewing over net neutrality 2:10

The Trump regime's fascistic prosecution of inauguration protesters

Trump wants to smash federal regulations going back to the 1960

Washington Post - President Trump vowed Thursday to scale back the scope of federal regulations to the level it stood in 1960, suggesting that he could get there “fairly quickly” by pushing ahead with a deregulatory effort that has wiped dozens of rules off the books since he took office.

The administration eliminated 67 regulations between the time Trump took the oath of office and the end of fiscal 2017, according to the White House’s newly released “Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions,” while proposing just three new rules.

Jazz break

Joe Wlliams
Do Nothin Till You Hear From Me