Sunday / March 29, 2015

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Saturday / March 28, 2015

Image result for quotes the jungle upton sinclair

“The great corporation which employed you lied to you, and lied to the whole country—from top to bottom it was nothing but one gigantic lie.” 

― Upton Sinclair, The Jungle

(See “Monsanto”, below.)

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Ingredient In Monsanto Roundup Spray ‘probably carcinogenic’ To Humans

Scan 47

(Daily Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2015. Open source and free to use with link to www.thedailycall.org )

Glyphosate, found in world’s most widely used herbicide, classified as probable carcinogen by cancer research experts.

By Renee Lewis
Al Jazeera America (3/22/15)

The most widely used herbicide in the world, glyphosate, the active ingredient in the Monsanto product Roundup, was classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” in a report released Friday by cancer researchers affiliated with the World Health Organization.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced its assessment of glyphosate after convening a meeting this month of 17 cancer experts from 11 countries. They looked at the available scientific evidence on five different pesticides, including glyphosate, to determine whether to classify them as carcinogens. Carcinogens are substances that can lead to cancer under certain levels of exposure.

Glyphosate caused DNA and chromosomal damage in mammals, and in human and animal cells studied in laboratories, the report said. Studies of workers who had been exposed to the chemical in the U.S. Canada, and Sweden found “increased risks for non-Hodgkin lymphoma that persisted after adjustment for other pesticides,” the report said.

Glyphosate is usually used on crops, including corn and soybeans, that are genetically modified to survive it. The herbicide has been detected in food water, and in the air after it has been sprayed, according to the IARC report. “Its use has increased sharply with the development of genetically modified glyphosate-resistant crop varieties,” the report said.

Monsanto, the agrochemical giant, objected to the findings.

“We don’t know how IARC could reach a conclusion that is such a dramatic departure from the conclusion reached by all regulatory agencies around the globe,” Philip Miller, Monsanto’s vice-president of global regulatory affairs, said in a statement.

WHO’s based its classification of glyphosate on evidence from studies of exposure, mostly agricultural, in the United States, Canada, and Sweden that were published since 2001.

The U.S. government has said the herbicide is considered safe, and the Environmental Protection Agency approved a Monsanto request to increase legal tolerance levels for glyphosate in 2013.

Glyphosate was originally used as a descaling agent to clean out mineral deposits from pipes because of its ability to avidly bind to heavy metals. The chemical bonds to arsenic, cadmium and other heavy metals found in groundwater.

Growing concern

Scientists and farmers elsewhere have raised other concerns over glyphosate and tried to ban its use.

Channa Jayasumana, with Rajarata University of Sri Lanka, published a study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in 2014 on a possible link between glyphosate and chronic kidney disease in farmworkers. His research found that excessive heat and dehydration may weaken the workers’ bodies, making them more susceptible to pesticides and heavy metals, which can lead to kidney disease.

Based on that research, the Sri Lankan government moved to ban glyphosate in spring of 2014. But Monsanto raised objections to the report’s findings, and the ban was lifted. The chemical was, and continues to be, widely used on farms in the country.

The research also suggested a link between glyphosate and a mysterious kidney disease that has killed thousands of farmworkers in Central America. At least 20,000 farm workers have died of chronic kidney disease in Nicaragua in the last two decades, The Guardian reported in February. Researchers who have studied the disease in Central America say that it mainly affects agricultural laborers working under conditions of excessive heat and dehydration, but other factors, including pesticides, may play a role.

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  • Lobbyist Claims Monsanto Roundup Ingredient Glyphosate Safe To Drink, Then Refuses To Drink It —  A lobbyist who has been making the media rounds saying the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer is safe for humans to drink refuses to drink glyphosate when a French TV news host offers him a glass. The clip below is from a forthcoming Special Investigations documentary on the French TV network Canal+.  In it, Dr. Patrick Moore tells the host that glyphosate, an active ingredient in Roundup that was recently linked to cancer by the World Health Organization, is not linked to Argentina’s increasing cancer rate. “You can drink a whole quart of it and it won’t hurt you,” says Moore. “You want to drink some?” asks the host. “We have some here.” … Read the Rest and Link to 45-Second Video
  • HUGE: Monsanto Sued for Dumping Carcinogenic Chemicals Polluting San Diego’s Waters – It seems that Monsanto has been dumping banned, carcinogenic chemicals in the bay, and the city of San Diego isn’t too happy about it. The city of San Diego and the San Diego Unified Port District filed a lawsuit on Monday against the biotech giant Monsanto, accusing the company for polluting the city’s bay for more than 30 years with a carcinogenic chemical that was long ago banned due to its abhorrent affects on human health. The chemicals in question are Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs). According to a report published by Food & Water Watch, the biotech bully is responsible for creating more than 99% of this dangerous chemical. It has been found in the bay’s sediments, the water, and in the tissues of multiple forms of aquatic life including in fish and lobster sampled from the bay … Read the Rest 

     

     

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WI Supreme Court’s Decision Not To Hear Oral Arguments In John Doe Case “Alarming,” Conceals “This Important Litigation From Public View”

By Bruce Vielmetti and Patrick Marley
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (3/27/15)

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Friday it would not hear arguments — in secret or in public — as it considers whether to allow an investigation to continue that has looked into whether Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign illegally worked with conservative groups in recall elections.

“The prospect or oral argument creates severe tension between important and conflicting priorities,” the court wrote, citing the long tradition of open courts and the secrecy of the John Doe.

Instead, the court will decide the matter based on hundreds of pages of briefs that have been filed in the cases, mostly in secret, because the court also rejected a special prosecutor’s argument that the secrecy genie has already largely escaped the bottle.

The investigation has been stalled for more than a year, and the court’s decision is expected to determine whether it can be revived or shut down for good. Its ruling will likely come by this summer, just as the Republican governor ramps up an expected bid for the presidency.

The court also denied the Journal Sentinel’s efforts to intervene in the case. Both decisions were unsigned and released after 5 p.m.

Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson wrote dissenting opinions in each matter.

“The court’s order is long on summarizing the parties’ positions regarding oral argument but short on setting forth the court’s own reasoning for canceling oral argument,” she wrote.

“The court’s failure to provide further justification for its highly unusual decision to cancel oral argument is, in my view, alarming.”

Arguments were slated to be heard April 17 and 20 in what could have been some of the longest arguments before the state’s high court.

Secrecy reigns

Those involved in the cases had been uncertain how to conduct arguments because of the secrecy surrounding the cases. They had suggested the court hold arguments, but not allow the public to attend them. They recommended allowing the public to watch at least part of the proceedings using a delayed tape.

Earlier this month, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel asked to intervene in the cases to argue the public should be able to attend the arguments and review the court documents in the case.

In a lengthy order Friday, the court found that request untimely, noting that the newspaper had not sought to intervene after the Court of Appeals ruled in January 2014 that certain records would remain permanently under seal.

The court said that while the newspaper’s desire to argue that oral arguments be public is now moot, its desire to argue about the process of redacting other documents in the case would “delay by weeks or months” the redactions that are already in progress.

Abrahamson also took issue with the court on decision, saying it “may, unfortunately, signify the court’s intention to dispose of the John Doe cases as a whole in a similarly swift and secretive manner. I cannot join the court in concealing this important litigation from public view.”

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat, launched the probe in 2012 to determine whether Walker’s campaign illegally worked with conservative groups in recall elections in 2011 and 2012. Chisholm was assisted in that probe by two Republican and two Democratic district attorneys from other counties and the state Government Accountability Board, which oversees campaign finance laws.

That investigation was effectively halted more than a year ago, when the judge overseeing it found the activities in question were not illegal. No one has been charged and Walker, his campaign and the conservative groups have said they did nothing wrong.

Much of the otherwise secret probe has become public through media reports and a wave of litigation that resulted in once-sealed documents being filed in state and federal courthouses. Among the information disclosed was Walker’s campaign’s involvement in raising money for the Wisconsin Club for Growth.

Link to Story

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Lakoff: Democratic Strategies Lost Big. Here’s An Alternative.

When significant public resources become owned or controlled by private corporations, the public has lost an essential element of freedom.

 
By George Lakoff (12/9/15)

It is time to shine a light on the strategies used by Democrats, and on the Democratic infrastructure that uses those strategies.

Democratic strategists have been segmenting the electorate and seeking individual self-interest-based issues in each electoral block.  The strategists also keep suggesting a move to right.  This has left no room for the Democrats to have an overriding authentic moral identity that Americans can recognize.

Those strategists form an infrastructure that all Democrats have come to depend on; not just the candidates, but also the elected officials, Democrats in government, and citizens who either do, or might, find progressive policies morally and practically right. The strategic infrastructure includes PR firms, pollsters, consultants, researchers, trainers, communication specialists, speechwriters, and their funders.

Resonating with America

It is an important and powerful infrastructure and we all depend on it. I believe it is vital to separate this infrastructure from the strategies it has been using. I believe the strategies can be greatly improved so as to give a true, deep, and moral picture of what progressive politics is about — one whose content and authenticity will resonate with, and inspire,  a majority of Americans.

I have just published a book about how to do this: The ALL NEW Don’t Think of an Elephant! It is an updated and much expanded version of the original, which introduced the concept of conceptual framing, which is about ideas, not just about slogans. The present book includes what I have learned over the past decade by bringing to bear results in my academic disciple, the Brain and Cognitive Sciences. The book is short, easy-to-read, and inexpensive.

At this point, some details are in order. Here is what is widely done according to present strategies. Not everyone uses all of these, but most are common.
•    Use demographic categories to segment the electorate, categories from the census (race, gender, ethnicity, age, marital status, income, zip code), as well as publicly available party registration.
•    Assume uniformity across the demographic categories. Poll on which issues are “most important,” e.g., for women (or single women), for each minority group, for young people, and so on. This separates the issues from one another and creates “issue silos.” It does not include segmentation for moral worldviews that differ between conservatives and progressives.
•    Assume language is neutral and that the same poll questions will have the same meaning for everyone polled. In reality, language is defined relative to conceptual frames. And the same words can be “contested,” that is, they can have opposite meanings depending on one’s moral values.
•    Assume that people vote on the basis of material self-interest and design different message to appeal to different demographic groups. In reality, poor conservatives will vote against their material interests when they identify with a candidate and his or her values.
•    In polling, apply statistical methods to the answers given in each demographic group. This will impose a “bell curve” in the results. The bell curve will impose a  “middle” in each case.
•    Assume that most voters are in the middle imposed by the bell curve. Move to the middle. If your beliefs are on the left of the “middle,” move to the right to be where most voters are.  You will be helping conservatives, by supporting their beliefs. And you may ne saying things you don;tje
•    Check the polls to see how popular the present Democratic president is; if he is not popular, design you message to dissociate yourself from the president. It will reinforce the unpopularity of the president when members of his own party, as well as the opposition, disown him.
•    Attack your opponents as being “extremists” when they hold views typical of the far right. This will help your opponents as standing uop for what they believe among those of their constituents that share any of those views.
•    Attack you opponents for getting money from rich corporations or individuals. This will help your opponent among Republicans (and some Democrats) who respect the values of the wealthy and successful.
•    Argue against your opponents by quoting them, using their language and negating that language. Negating a frame reinforces the frame, as in the sentence “Don’t think of an elephant!” This practice will mostly reinforce the views of your opponent.

Understand how the brain process morals

Such strategies miss the opportunity to present an overriding moral stand that fits the individual issues, while saying clearly what ideals Democrats stand for as Democrats. There happens to be such an overriding ideal that most Democrats authentically believe in. I work in the brain and cognitive sciences. I study how people think and how language works. The most basic result is that most thought is unconscious — about 98 percent (a reasonable ballpark figure). My job here is to do my best to make the unconscious conscious. Here goes!

All politics is moral. When a politician says to do something, he is implicitly claiming that it is the right thing to do. No political will over say, do what I say because it’s wrong — pure evil! None will ever say, “Do what I say, though it doesn’t matter.” When politicians’ policy prescriptions differ widely, it because their sense of what is right is very different. In short, they have different moral systems. That is true of progressives and conservatives alike. The political proposals conservatives and progressives make are based on different moral systems.

How progressives think

Progressive and conservatives have very different understandings of democracy. For progressives empathy is at the center of the very idea of democracy. Democracy is a governing system in which citizens care about their fellow citizens and work through their government to provide public resources for all. In short, in a democracy, the private depends on the public.

Elisabeth Warren says it out loud. If you have a business it depends on public resources: roads, bridges, the Interstate highway system, sewers, a water supply, airports and air traffic control, the Federal Reserve, a patent office, public education for your employees, public health, the electric grid, the satellite communication system, the internet, and all the government research behind computer science. You can’t run a business without these. Private enterprise depends on the public.

The same is true of individuals, who depend on public resources like clean air, clean water, enough food, safe food and products, public safety, access to education and health care,  housing, employment — as well as those roads, bridges, sewers, satellite communication, electric grid, and so on. And most important — voting in free elections, choosing the government to provide those resources. Private life depends on the public.
What public resources provide is freedom. Most progressive issues are freedom issues.

•    Voting: Without the ability to vote in free elections you are not free.
•    Health: If you get cancer or even break a leg and don’t have health care, you are not free.
•    Education: Without education, you lack the knowledge and skills not just ot earn a decent living, but also to even be aware of the possibilities of life. Without education, you are therefore not free.
•    Women: If you are denied control over your body, you are not free.
•    Marriage: If you are in love and are denied the ability to marry with a publicly declared lifetime commitment, you are not free.
•    Vast income inequality: When the economic gains that most people have worked go not the those who worked for them for go only to the wealthiest of the wealthy, those who did the work — most people — are not free.
•    Race: When you are treated with suspicion and disdain, you are not free.
•    Corporate Control: When corporations control your life for their benefit and not yours, you are not free.
•    Privatization: When significant public resources become owned or controlled by private corporations, the public has lost an essential element of freedom.
And one more, which had a major effect in the 2014 election:
•    Fear: When you are emotionally gripped by fear, you are not free.As FDR pointed out, Freedom From Fear is a vital freedom.  In the 2014 election, conservative played on fear — of Isis and Ebola.Every progressive instinctively knows all this, but very few say it.  Instead, progressives tend to talk not about such values, but instead about facts, policies, and programs.

How conservatives think

Conservatives, on the other hand, have a very different view of democracy. For them democracy is supposed to provide them with the liberty to do what they want, without being responsible for others and without others being responsible for them.  For them, there is only personal responsibility, not social responsibility. Indeed, providing public resources is, to a conservative, immoral, taking away personal responsibility, making people dependent, lazy, unable to take care of themselves. Removing public resources is seen as providing incentives, and individual liberty is seen as the condition in which you can carry out your incentives.

This is very much what conservative morality is about. If you cannot succeed through personal responsibility, you deserve what you get.

But these are not just two equally valid, though opposite, moral systems. Because the private really does depend on the public, because personal responsibility without public resources gets you nowhere, the conservative view of democracy has radically false consequences. It is immoral because it lacks empathy, but it also just plain false.

Get it: We are not rational beings

If Cartesian rationalism were true, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in. If all reason were conscious, and if being human were, by definition, being a rational animal, and if rationality were logic, then the facts would set us all free. But human reason doesn’t work that way. We us embodied brains. , whose neural structures constitute frames and conceptual metaphors.

All thought is physical. We think using the neural systems in our brains. Thought works by frames — neural circuitry that we use to comprehend the world. The sad fact is that we can only understand what our brains allow us to understand. As a result, just pointing out the facts to conservatives cannot work. Facts are crucial, but they make sense primarily relative to their moral importance.

Our hope lies in biconceptualism. Most of us are partly conservative and partly progressive — mostly one but partly the other, so far as issues are concerned. There is no ideology of the moderate. Moderate conservatives have some progressive views, and conversely. Circuitry for both moral systems are present in the biconceptual brain, applying to different issues.

All words are defined with respect to frame-circuits. The more one hears conservative language, the stronger the conservative moral system gets in your brain. The same for progressive language. The more progressives speak in their own language, the stronger their frame circuitry gets in the brains of bi-conceptuals who hear them, who already have a version of that system.

The moral: Progressivism supports freedom. The private depends on the public. If you believe it, say it. Moral ideals matter. Authenticity matters.

A Note on Organization

It takes some training to avoid the common strategy problems, to get insight into what your unconscious beliefs really are, and to learn how to express those beliefs effectively. Democratic strategists, like Republicans, offer trainings. The training should focus on the new, not the old, strategies, and should be more widely offered to citizens who want to speak publicly in their communities.

The 2014 election has spurred this discussion but it goes beyond elections. The American public needs an understanding of what progressive democratic values are, all the time, every day, day after day. This requires both training and some organizing. For details on such an organization, contact The Forward Institute, Scott Wittkopf, Director, about the Wisconsin Freedom Campaign, which is about to start.

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Even More ‘Daily Call’ Free Progressive Cartoons Added To Library

A Man Of His Many Conflicting Words

A Man Of His Many Conflicting Words

 
By Mark L. Taylor
The Daily Call (3/28/15)

The Daily Call library of progressive editorial cartoons has been updated and we’ve even thrown in a few photos and memes to boot. The material is open source and free to use by progressive groups for publications, advertising, handouts, web sites, T-shirts or other creative projects as long as a link to www.thedailycall.org is provided.

There are currently 104 images available for use — including today’s full-color cartoon tribute to Monsanto dietary supplements.

We will add new art and photos as we go along, so check the page regularly. We will be looking at a thematic way to inventory the image library. Right now it is a bit of a hunt, but, really, since you can scroll through the whole collection, not too much of a hassle.

You can access The Daily Call free library of Progressive Cartoons HERE.

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Elizabeth Warren Fires Back After Wall Street Threats

By Lydia O’Connor
The Huffington Post (3/27/15)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has a blunt message for the big Wall Street banksthat may withhold campaign donations to Senate Democrats in hopes of quieting her calls to break up the banks.

“It will not work,” Warren said in a statement emailed to The Huffington Post.

Warren has been a vocal advocate for reigning in big banks that she says wield too much power in Washington after their recklessness triggered the 2008 financial meltdown.

Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America have discussed ways to soften Warren’s strong tone, Reuters reports, and representatives of some have raised the idea of cutting campaign donations to Democrats. Only Citigroup — a frequent target of Warren’s criticism — so far is publicly withholding money from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Cutting donations, Warren said, won’t end her demands.

“They want a showy way to tell Democrats across the country to be scared of speaking out, to be timid about standing up, and to stay away from fighting for what’s right,” Warren wrote. “… I’m not going to stop talking about the unprecedented grasp that Citigroup has on our government’s economic policymaking apparatus … And I’m not going to pretend the work of financial reform is done, when the so-called ‘too big to fail’ banks are even bigger now than they were in 2008.”

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Republican Answer Man: No Problem Too Challenging

Republican Answer to Everything

Republican Answer to Everything

(Daily Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2015. Open source and free to use with link to www.thedailycall.org )
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A Menacing Mix In Antibiotic Resistance: Herbicides, Heavy Metals And Factory Farms

Food animals receive about 80 percent of the antibiotics sold in the U.S.

 
By Lynne Peeples
The Huffington Post (3/24/15)

Two common Big Agriculture production practices — feeding antibiotics to livestock and spraying herbicides on conventional crops — each face condemnation from the environmental community. And there’s been plenty of new fodder in the last week: One study predicted that antibiotic use in livestock will soar by two-thirds globally from 2010 to 2030, and another declared that Monsanto’s popular Roundup herbicide is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

The latest research may merge the herbicide and antibiotic battle lines. The use of common herbicides, such as Roundup, Kamba and 2,4-D, according to a study published on Tuesday, may help drive antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotic-resistant infections take the lives of more than 23,000 Americans every year. The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are among major groups warning of the dire threat posed to public health. Antibiotic resistance stemming from overuse in livestock also is the target of a bill re-introduced in Congress on Tuesday.

Environmental health advocates predict the use of herbicides will continue to rise as farmers plant more genetically modified seeds engineered to survive weedkillers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently approved Enlist seeds, which are designed for use with a mix of 2,4-D and glyphosate, the chief ingredient in Roundup.

In some cases, combinations of herbicides and antibiotics in the new study made bacteria more susceptible to antibiotics, or had no effect. But more often, it had the opposite effect. If the disease-causing bacteria — E. coli and salmonella — were exposed to high enough levels of herbicide, the researchers found that the microbes could survive up to six times more antibiotic than if they hadn’t been exposed to herbicide. They studied five common classes of the drugs: ampicillin, chloramphenicol, ciprofloxacin, kanamycin and tetracycline.

“In a sense, the herbicide is ‘immunizing’ the bacteria to the antibiotic,” said Jack Heinemann, lead author of the study and researcher at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. He noted that the levels of herbicide tested in the study were above legal limits for residues on food, but lower than what’s commonly applied to commercial crops.

The new finding builds on emerging evidence that multiple environmental contaminants may play a role in the rise of antibiotic resistance. Swedish researchers reported in September that antibiotic residues and heavy metals in the environment — even at “infinitesimally low” concentrations — may team up to drive the growth of antibiotic resistance. In addition to metals potentially leaching into the environment from other industries, construction or health care facilities, some farmers use arsenic in animal feed and as a pesticide. Mercury can also contaminate fish meal, while copper is common in swine fodder …

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If You Love the Daily Call How About Giving Us A “Like” On Facebook!

Hey, Daily Call Readers:

The Daily Call has a Facebook page that gets updated regularly. In the past month we have gained almost 100 Facebook “Likes”. The more “Likes” we have the greater promotion we can give to our Facebook page, The Daily Call website and — most importantly — the alternative news, commentary and political cartoons that rarely make it into the lamestream media. (Okay, yeah, I swiped that from Sarah Palin. Hey, even a busted clock is right twice a day!)

The more “Likes” we have the more we can promote and push news and alternative cartoons out onto the web to new readers and activists. It’s time for the people to create their own media and a Facebook “Like” will help The Daily Call be a part of that effort. With the “Likes” we’ve gained in the past month we are now able to promote stories to over 1,200 additional readers. With more “Likes” we can reach even more folks.

So please, give us a Facebook like.

Thank you for your support,

Mark Taylor, Editor

In Solidarity

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Noam Chomsky: Democracy Is A Threat To Any Power System (Video)

To mark The Nation’s 150th anniversary, John Nichols was joined in conversation by the eminent radical intellectual Noam Chomsky at the Tucson Festival of Books in Arizona on March 15. Discussing issues ranging from media accountability and voter participation, to money in politics and income inequality, Chomsky offered insight into the greatest challenges of our time.

 

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Time To Wake UP! Mornings In Blue America

So, as I said at the beginning, the fact that we’re now seeing mornings in blue America — solid job growth both at the national level and in states that have defied the right’s tax-cutting, deregulatory orthodoxy — is a big problem for conservatives.

 
By Paul Krugman
The New York Times (3/27/15)

Two impossible things happened to the U.S. economy over the course of the past year — or at least they were supposed to be impossible, according to the ideology that dominates half our political spectrum. First, remember how Obamacare was supposed to be a gigantic job killer? Well, in the first year of the Affordable Care Act’s full implementation, the U.S. economy as a whole added 3.3 million jobs — the biggest gain since the 1990s. Second, half a million of those jobs were added in California, which has taken the lead in job creation away from Texas.

Were President Obama’s policies the cause of national job growth? Did Jerry Brown — the tax-raising, Obamacare-embracing governor of California — engineer his state’s boom? No, and few liberals would claim otherwise. What we’ve been seeing at both the national and the state level is mainly a natural process of recovery as the economy finally starts to heal from the housing and debt bubbles of the Bush years.

They can’t handle the good news

But recent job growth, nonetheless, has big political implications — implications so disturbing to many on the right that they are in frantic denial, claiming that the recovery is somehow bogus. Why can’t they handle the good news? The answer actually comes on three levels: Obama Derangement Syndrome, or O.D.S.; Reaganolatry; and the confidence con.

Not much need be said about O.D.S. It is, by now, a fixed idea on the right that this president is both evil and incompetent, that everything touched by the atheist Islamic Marxist Kenyan Democrat — mostly that last item — must go terribly wrong. When good news arrives about the budget, or the economy, or Obamacare — which is, by the way, rapidly reducing the number of uninsured while costing much less than expected — it must be denied.

At a deeper level, modern conservative ideology utterly depends on the proposition that conservatives, and only they, possess the secret key to prosperity. As a result, you often have politicians on the right making claims like this one, from Senator Rand Paul: “When is the last time in our country we created millions of jobs? It was under Ronald Reagan.”

Actually, if creating “millions of jobs” means adding two million or more jobs in a given year, we’ve done that 13 times since Reagan left office: eight times under Bill Clinton, twice under George W. Bush, and three times, so far, under Barack Obama. But who’s counting?

Still, don’t liberals have similar delusions? Not really. The economy added 23 million jobs under Clinton, compared with 16 million under Reagan, but there’s nothing on the left comparable to the cult of the Blessed Ronald. That’s because liberals don’t need to claim that their policies will produce spectacular growth. All they need to claim is feasibility: that we can do things like, say, guaranteeing health insurance to everyone without killing the economy. Conservatives, on the other hand, want to block such things and, instead, to cut taxes on the rich and slash aid to the less fortunate. So they must claim both that liberal policies are job killers and that being nice to the rich is a magic elixir.

Which brings us to the last point: the confidence con.

One enduring puzzle of political economy is why business interests so often oppose policies to fight unemployment. After all, boosting the economy with expansionary monetary and fiscal policy is good for profits as well as wages, yet many wealthy individuals and business leaders demand tight money and austerity instead.

As a number of observers have pointed out, however, for big businesses to admit that government policies can create jobs would be to devalue one of their favorite political arguments — the claim that to achieve prosperity politicians must preserve business confidence, among other things, by refraining from any criticism of what businesspeople do.

In the case of the Obama economy, this kind of thinking led to what I like to call the “Ma! He’s looking at me funny!” theory of sluggish recovery. By this I mean the insistence that recovery wasn’t being held back by objective factors like spending cuts and debt overhang, but rather by the corporate elite’s hurt feelings after Mr. Obama suggested that some bankers behaved badly and some executives might be overpaid. Who knew that moguls and tycoons were such sensitive souls? In any case, however, that theory is unsustainable in the face of a recovery that has finally started to deliver big job gains, even if it should have happened sooner.

So, as I said at the beginning, the fact that we’re now seeing mornings in blue America — solid job growth both at the national level and in states that have defied the right’s tax-cutting, deregulatory orthodoxy — is a big problem for conservatives. Although they would never admit it, events have proved their most cherished beliefs wrong.

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DOJ: DEA Agents Had ‘Sex Parties’ With Prostitutes Hired By Drug Cartels

 
 
 
By Sari Horwitz
The Washington Post (3/26/15)

Drug Enforcement Administration agents allegedly had “sex parties” with prostitutes hired by local drug cartels overseas over a period of several years, according to a report released Thursday by the Justice Department’s watchdog.

The report does not specify the country where the parties occurred, but a law enforcement official familiar with the matter identified it as Colombia.

Seven of the 10 DEA agents alleged to have participated in the gatherings — most of which took place at “quarters” leased by the U.S. government — admitted to having attended the parties, the report found. They received suspensions of two to 10 days.

Former police officers in Colombia also alleged that three DEA supervisory special agents were provided money, expensive gifts and weapons from drug cartel members.

“Although some of the DEA agents participating in these parties denied it, the information in the case file suggested they should have known the prostitutes in attendance were paid with cartel funds,” according to the 131-page report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz.

The inspector general conducted its investigation in response to congressional inquiries after allegations arose about the conduct of Secret Service and Drug Enforcement Administration agents in the 2012 prostitution scandal in Cartagena, Colombia, during a trip there by President Obama.

In April 2012, one Secret Service advance agent implicated in the prostitution scandal told investigators that he had met with a prostitute as a result of an informal party that DEA agents hosted with Colombian women, according to officials briefed on the inquiry.

The investigation focuses broadly on the handling of sexual harassment and misconduct allegations at U.S. law enforcement agencies — including the DEA, the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Horowitz said that the investigation was “significantly impacted and unnecessarily delayed” by repeated difficulties his office had in obtaining relevant information from both the FBI and the DEA.

“The Department of Justice takes the issues raised in the Inspector General report seriously and . . . is taking steps to implement policies and procedures to help prevent them from happening in the future,” said Justice Department spokesman Patrick Rodenbush.

He added: “The Department is already working with the law enforcement components to ensure a zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment and misconduct is enforced and that incidents are properly reported. The department is also committed to ensuring the proper preservation and disclosure of electronic communications, including text messages and images.”

The inspector general report also concluded that the DEA, the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service do not fully investigate allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment by their agents despite significant evidence that misconduct has occurred.

At the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service, the internal affairs offices “chose not to investigate” some allegations of sexual misconduct, the report said. DEA’s internal affairs office also did not always fully investigate allegations of solicitation of prostitution.

There were 26 allegations involving DEA agents soliciting prostitutes abroad between 2009 and 2012, the report said.

In one case, a DEA regional director, an acting assistant regional director and a group supervisor failed to report to their superiors repeated allegations of special agents paying prostitutes for sex and “frequenting a brothel while in an overseas posting,” treating the allegations as “local management issues.”

Horowitz said his office was unable to determine the number of times agents sent sexually explicit text messages and images because the Justice Department law enforcement agencies do not have adequate technology to enable them to detect that type of misconduct

In one case, a DEA regional director, an acting assistant regional director and a group supervisor failed to report to their superiors repeated allegations of special agents paying prostitutes for sex and “frequenting a brothel while in an overseas posting,” treating the allegations as “local management issues.”

Horowitz said his office was unable to determine the number of times agents sent sexually explicit text messages and images because the Justice Department law enforcement agencies do not have adequate technology to enable them to detect that type of misconduct.

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TODAY! Progressive Grassroots Festival

SEVENTH ANNUAL WISCONSIN

PROGRESSIVE GRASSROOTS FESTIVAL

Defending Our Democracy – Next Steps

Saturday March 28, 2015

Wisconsin Heights High School, 10173 State Hwy 14, Mazomanie WI 53560

$20 Suggested Donation Includes Lunch

Registration 8:00 to 9:00 a.m.

Raging Grannies

Mike McCabe

Mike Ippolito

The Crisis of Our Age: A Scientific & Political Perspective

10:45am to 11:45am Section One:  DPW Chair Candidate Forum: Jeff Smith, Joe Wineke, Stephen Smith  /How to Protect the Vote Counting Process: Karen McKim /  Income inequality, Why We Should Care:Charles Uphoff, Prof. Stephen Durlauf, David Newby  /  Building a Safer Community: Dave Mahoney  / Global Ecological Collapse Happening Now and the Way Forward:  Michael Ippolito  /  Will You Have Water to Drink? / Pipeline 61: Bill Hayes, Karen Edson

LUNCH 11:45 to 1:15

Solidarity Sing Along

Lunch Speaker: Congressman Mark Pocan, & TBA

1:15pm to 2:15pm Section Two: Planning a Campaign – Things to think about: Douglas Kane & Sen. Kathleen Vinehout  /  Facing the Crisis of Our Age!..Our Future/Our Choice!..A New People Emerge!: Dawn Shegonee, Art Shegonee, Michael Ippolito, Jay McDonough, Anna Caballero-Mengibar /  Advancing the Movement: Mike McCabe  /  The Power of Music: Tom Kastle &  Jonathan Rosenblum  /  Authentic Framing for the Future: Scott Wittkopf  /  Vouchers, Charters, Common Core; Your Changing Schools: Sondy Pope  /  Using Community Action to Bypass the Corruption: Move to Amend: Timm Sager, Paul Lindquist, Jen Miller, Bill Waser /  Winning Through Community Connections:  Nate Timm, Sheila Danielson, Adam Grabski

2:15 to 2:30 Passing

2:30pm to 3:30 pm Section Three:  Winning Through State and Regional Organizing: Kathleen Vinehout,Ernie Wittwer, Nate Timm  / Getting the Message Out Through Letters to the Editors: Bill Dagnon /  The Power of Social Media: Sean Bodie, Beverly Wickstrom, Dana Wachs / Authentic Framing for the Future:Scott Wittkopf  / Feedback From Candidates In Red Districts: George Ferriter  /  The Power of Grassroots Organizing: Marcia Riquelme, Doug Machon, Judy Brey  /  How to Protect the Vote Counting Process: Karen McKim

3:30 to 3:45 Passing

FINAL PRESENTATION

Moving Forward an Update from Senator Kathleen Vinehout

Dinner At the Feed Mill

Social Hour: 5:00 to 6:00

Dinner: 6:00 to 7:00 $20

A Conversation About Healthy People & a Healthy Planet  

Dinner Speakers: Kevin Kane & Michael Ippolito

For More information: 608-220-0139nptimm571@gmail.com

Downloads

Festival Agenda 2015 PDF

7th Annual Festival Flyer PDF

Festival 4up PDF

Wisconsin to Host Huge Grassroots Political Gathering This Weekend
Tim Morrissey, Public News Service – WI

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Dept. Of Much Needed Humor — New Free-Range Slaughterhouse Allows Livestock To Roam Freely On Killing Floor

The Onion (3/11/15)

SIGOURNEY, IA—Describing their company as a humane alternative to standard industrialized packing plants, owners of a new free-range slaughterhouse told reporters Wednesday that they allow their livestock to stay active by openly roaming around on the killing room floor.

According to company officials, the KLJ Packing slaughterhouse refuses to subject its animals to the abuses of cramped and overcrowded chutes, opting instead to let its cows, pigs, chickens, and sheep wander around the machines and butchering tables throughout the 55,000-square-foot kill floor until workers select them for slaughter.

“Rather than cruelly herding our stock onto dark, narrow loading ramps, we believe in letting them move freely across our facility’s spacious, blood-sluicing grated floor,” said KLJ Packing operations manager Eric Judd, adding that the extra room is intended to make the animals as comfortable as possible for the 24 hours between arriving at the plant and being skinned and dismembered for sale. “Before our animals are led into stun boxes, they’re allowed to walk without hindrance among the carcasses suspended from the bleeding rail and the floor’s various viscera piles.”

“It’s important to treat these animals with compassion,” he continued.

Factory sources, who expounded on the many benefits of free-range slaughter floors, confirmed that the company’s cows and sheep have unrestricted movement and boundless space in which to thrash around during the five to 10 seconds after a bolt has gone through their brain, helping to prevent the bruises and abrasions that are associated with packing livestock close together in tight quarters.

Reports indicated that the no-pen policy also allows the livestock to continue the social behaviors essential to their health, noting that chickens are able to maintain the structure of their flocks while weaving between the gutting stands and the various troughs for fat, connective tissue, and meat scraps.

Officials added that the animals’ stress-induced cortisol levels, which tend to spike after their long rides from the farms, are more easily reduced when they are free to roam around at their leisure near the scalding vats used to remove hair from pigs.

“While it is slightly less efficient and more costly for us to insist on letting our animals stretch their legs by walking along rows of circular saws where workers decapitate chickens, we stand by the ethical treatment of our livestock.” Judd said. “However, it’s not just about recognizing a cow’s right to wander freely through the showers of blood pouring from suspended animals’ severed aortas—it’s also about producing a better-tasting product.”

“When you bite into a steak, you can tell whether or not it was given the chance to amble around near its own disemboweled calf,” he added.

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