3 October 2015


0800 by Jeff Hess

mass shootings

The Oregon school shooting is evidence that the US response to gun violence ‘has become routine’, Barack Obama says. The data compiled by the crowd-sourced site Mass Shooting Tracker reveals an even more shocking human toll: there is a mass shooting—defined as four or more people shot in one incident—nearly every day. —The Guardian.

30 September 2015


1600 by Jeff Hess

frank jackson 150930

Hasn’t the time come for the Plain Dealer to start asking the tough questions of Mayor Frank Jackson? Really tough questions.

The guy the paper has told us to vote for to keep in office.

Columnist Mark Naymik groused that City Council hasn’t been putting the pressure on Jackson. They’re boring. Does he read his paper?

Naymik, a former colleague at the old Free Times, should know that the politicians get unruly when they see they can get ink. In other words, they’ll get hot when the paper gives them encouragement.

I’ve noticed no attempt to build up an opponent for Jackson.

The Plain Dealer long has not given Mayor Frank Jackson the kind of kick in the butt he so richly deserves.

He has been the worse mayor in the last 50 years of my experience.

Yet, the PD—unfortunately, the main source of civic information available—allows him to continue his “it is what it is” nonsensical form of governing. So it never will change. There is no “It is NOT what it should be.”

I last noted Jackson’s lack of concern about the shooting deaths of two children. He got up enough emotion to call them “innocents.”

He has shown no leadership with the police force. Indeed, the opposite.

His inaction at every level is mind-boggling, from the water department to now the airport as one after another debacle becomes public.

Yes, the PD reports these but never seems to have anyone—including Naymik—who adds them up and says, “Hey, what’s going on here.”

It is clear that Jackson never punishes anyone who does badly so why worry, as a city employee, about not doing your job? Nothing is going to happen because “it is what it is.”

And you keep hearing from various private outlets that Jackson feels he should run again. Is this true?

Jackson even fakes his State of the City addresses. He has invented the lazy way to do this, seemingly acceptable to the newspaper, the City Club and certainly the powers that be in town. (They get what they want). Ask me some questions, he says, then answers them with the same “it is what it is” nonsense, usually repeating at least twice his words.

Poverty goes up. Population goes down. Murders go up. The state of children’s health goes down. Police infractions go up. So do city payments to those abused.

Jackson himself rates Jackson poorly. I wrote some time ago:

“Sadly, not that much has changed in 50 years,” said Mayor Frank Jackson, the city’s third black mayor. “We are still addressing aging infrastructure, poverty and issues on the police department.

Actually, a lot has changed.

As Jackson also noted, “You can look at the skyline and see new stadiums and building everywhere, but what you don’t see is the 40-year-old pipeline.” Or, I might add again, the impoverished neighborhoods where little changes.”

Naymik is right about one thing. Someone should be sounding the alarm.

He works for the first and foremost outlet that should clearly let its voice be heard.

We have a mayor who needs to GO!

It’s time citizens should be marching on city hall.

By Roldo Bartimole…

29 September 2015


0700 by Jeff Hess

MacArthur fellow genius Ta-Nehisi Coates set the bar for the discussion of reparations in 2014 when The Atlantic published his cover story: The Case for Reparations.

On the eve of his first official visit to former British colony Jamaica, British Prime Minister David Cameron faces calls for his government to pay billion in reparations to the Caribean nation.

Rowena Mason, writing in Jamaica calls for Britain to pay billions of pounds in reparations for slavery for The Guardian, reports:

David Cameron is facing calls for Britain to pay billions of pounds in reparations for slavery ahead of his first official visit to Jamaica on Tuesday.

Downing Street said the prime minister does not believe reparations or apologies for slavery are the right approach, but the issue is set to overshadow his trade trip to the island, where he will address the Jamaican parliament.

Ahead of his trip, Sir Hilary Beckles, chair of the Caricom Reparations Commission, has led calls for Cameron to start talks on making amends for slavery and referenced the prime minister’s ancestral links to the trade in the 1700s through his cousin six times removed, General Sir James Duff.

In an open letter in the Jamaica Observer, the academic wrote: “You are a grandson of the Jamaican soil who has been privileged and enriched by your forebears’ sins of the enslavement of our ancestors … You are, Sir, a prized product of this land and the bonanza benefits reaped by your family and inherited by you continue to bind us together like birds of a feather.

“We ask not for handouts or any such acts of indecent submission. We merely ask that you acknowledge responsibility for your share of this situation and move to contribute in a joint programme of rehabilitation and renewal. The continuing suffering of our people, Sir, is as much your nation’s duty to alleviate as it is ours to resolve in steadfast acts of self-responsibility.”

We have no problem in the United States with seizing ill-gotten profits. I know the question is far more complicated than I state here, but how is demanding reparations from slavery morally any different?

29 September 2015


0600 by Jeff Hess

Senator Ted Kennedy served the people of Massachusetts for nearly half a century. He also served the people of the United States and the world. After a thankfully brief flirtation with Republican Scott Brown, voters in Massachusetts found a worthy successor to Kennedy in Elizabeth Warren.

Sunday Senator Warren spoke at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in Boston. At the core of her speech was the message of 2015: Black Lives Matter.

Fifty years [after the 1950s/1960s civil rights struggle], violence against African Americans has not disappeared. Consider law enforcement. The vast majority of police officers sign up so they can protect their communities. They are part of an honorable profession that takes risks every day to keep us safe. We know that. But we also know—and say—the names of those whose lives have been treated with callous indifference. Sandra Bland. Freddie Gray. Michael Brown. We’ve seen sickening videos of unarmed, black Americans cut down by bullets, choked to death while gasping for air – their lives ended by those who are sworn to protect them. Peaceful, unarmed protestors have been beaten. Journalists have been jailed. And, in some cities, white vigilantes with weapons freely walk the streets. And it’s not just about law enforcement either. Just look to the terrorism this summer at Emanuel AME Church. We must be honest: Fifty years after John Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke out, violence against African Americans has not disappeared.

And what about voting rights? Two years ago, five conservative justices on the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, opening the floodgates ever wider for measures designed to suppress minority voting. Today, the specific tools of oppression have changed-voter ID laws, racial gerrymandering, and mass disfranchisement through a criminal justice system that disproportionately incarcerates black citizens. The tools have changed, but black voters are still deliberately cut out of the political process.

Violence. Voting. And what about economic injustice? Research shows that the legal changes in the civil rights era created new employment and housing opportunities. In the 1960s and the 1970s, African-American men and women began to close the wage gap with white workers, giving millions of black families hope that they might build real wealth.

But then, Republicans’ trickle-down economic theory arrived. Just as this country was taking the first steps toward economic justice, the Republicans pushed a theory that meant helping the richest people and the most powerful corporations get richer and more powerful. I’ll just do one statistic on this: From 1980 to 2012, GDP continued to rise, but how much of the income growth went to the 90 percent of America—everyone outside the top 10 percent—black, white, Latino? None. Zero. Nothing. 100 percent of all the new income produced in this country over the past 30 years has gone to the top ten percent.

Today, 90 percent of Americans see no real wage growth. For African-Americans, who were so far behind earlier in the 20th Century, this means that since the 1980s they have been hit particularly hard. In January of this year, African-American unemployment was 10.3 percent—more than twice the rate of white unemployment. And, after beginning to make progress during the civil rights era to close the wealth gap between black and white families, in the 1980s the wealth gap exploded, so that from 1984 to 2009, the wealth gap between black and white families tripled.

The remedy for these racial and economic injustices lies in the vote. This, repeats Warren, is the reason Republicans are so focused on narrowing the franchise and preventing another 2008 catastrophe for those who falsely believe that our country is a White, Christian nation.

Two years ago the Supreme Court eviscerated critical parts of the Voting Rights Act. Congress could easily fix this, and Democrats in the Senate have called for restoration of voting rights. Now it is time for Republicans to step up to support a restoration of the Voting Rights Act—or to stand before the American people and explain why they have abandoned America’s most cherished liberty, the right to vote.

And while we’re at it, we need to update the rules around voting. Voting should be simple. Voter registration should be automatic. Get a driver’s license, get registered automatically. Nonviolent, law-abiding citizens should not lose the right to vote because of a prior conviction. Election Day should be a holiday, so no one has to choose between a paycheck and a vote. Early voting and vote by mail would give fast food and retail workers who don’t get holidays day off a chance to proudly cast their votes. The hidden discrimination that comes with purging voter rolls and short-staffing polling places must stop. The right to vote remains essential to protect all other rights, and no candidate for president or for any other elected office—Republican or Democrat—should be elected if they will not pledge to support full, meaningful voting rights.

Republicans no more want want a free and informed electorate than court-room attorneys want a fair and impartial jury. We the people, however, require free and informed voters because without them the game is rigged.

Warren concluded this way:

Back in March, I met an elderly man at the First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. We were having coffee and donuts in the church basement before the service started. He told me that more than 50 years earlier—in May of 1961—he had spent 11 hours in that same basement, along with hundreds of people, while a mob outside threatened to burn down the church because it was a sanctuary for civil rights workers. Dr. King called Attorney General Bobby Kennedy, desperately asking for help. The Attorney General promised to send the Army, but the closest military base was several hours away. So the members of the church and the civil rights workers waited in the sweltering basement, crowded together, listening to the mob outside and hoping the U.S. Army would arrive in time.

After the church service, I asked Congressman John Lewis about that night. He had been right there in that church back in 1961 while the mob gathered outside. He had been in the room during the calls to the Attorney General. I asked if he had been afraid that the Army wouldn’t make it in time. He said that he was “never, ever afraid. You come to that point where you lose all sense of fear.” And then he said something I’ll never forget. He said that his parents didn’t want him to get involved in civil rights. They didn’t want him to “cause trouble.” But he had done it anyway. He told me: “Sometimes it is important to cause necessary trouble.”

The first civil rights battles were hard fought. But they established that Black Lives Matter. That Black Citizens Matter. That Black Families Matter. Half a century later, we have made real progress, but we have not made ENOUGH progress. As Senator Kennedy said in his first floor speech, “This is not a political issue. It is a moral issue, to be resolved through political means.” So it comes to us to continue the fight, to make, as John Lewis said, the “necessary trouble” until we can truly say that in America, every citizen enjoys the conditions of freedom.

In his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Dr. King wrote: We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

We need to stop the delays here.

29 September 2015


0500 by Jeff Hess

As for pitching climate action as a way to protect America’s high-consumerist way of life—that is either dishonest or delusional because a way of life based on the promise of infinite growth cannot be protected, least of all exported to every corner of the globe. p. 58

[W]hat the moderates constantly trying to reframe as something more palatable are really asking is this: How can we create change so that the people responsible for the crisis do not feel threatened by the solution? How, they ask, do you reassure members of a panicked megalomaniacal elite that they are still masters of the universe, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary?

The answer is: you don’t. You make sure you have enough people on your side to change the balance of power and take on those responsible knowing that true populist movements always draw from both the left and the right. And rather than twisting yourself into knots trying to appease a lethal worldview, you set out to deliberately strengthen those values (egalitarian and communitarian as the cultural cognition studies cited here describe them) that are currently being vindicated, rather than refuted by the laws of nature. p. 58

From This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein


Found in my electronic chapbook.

29 September 2015


0400 by Jeff Hess

I can’t remember a time in my life when I was bored. Boredom is simply not a concept I emotionally understand. Yet, hardly a school day passes when I do not hear one of my students lament some permutation of the phrase: I’m so bored. Gayatri Devi, writing in Boredom is not a problem to be solved. It’s the last privilege of a free mind for The Guardian, can relate:

I live and teach in small-town Pennsylvania, and some of my students from bigger cities tell me that they always go home on Fridays because they are bored here.

You know the best antidote to boredom, I asked them? They looked at me expectantly, smartphones dangling from their hands. Think, I told them. Thinking is the best antidote to boredom. I am not kidding, kids. Thinking is the best antidote to boredom. Tell yourself, I am bored. Think about that. Isn’t that interesting? They looked at me incredulously. Thinking is not how they were brought up to handle boredom.

The last thing many students want to do is think. They want to be entertained. Entertainment, however, only masks the problem. Devi recommends instead that students:

So lean in to boredom, into that intense experience of time untouched by beauty, pleasure, comfort and all other temporal salubrious sensations. Observe it, how your mind responds to boredom, what you feel and think when you get bored. This form of metathinking can help you overcome your boredom, and learn about yourself and the world in the process. If meditating on nothing is too hard at the outset, at the very least you can imitate William Wordsworth and let that host of golden daffodils flash upon your inward eye: emotions recollected in tranquility—that is, reflection—can fill empty hours while teaching you, slowly, how to sit and just be in the present.

Blaise Pascal nailed the problem when he wrote (as Oliver Burkeman echoed earlier this year): All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.

28 September 2015


0430 by Jeff Hess

I continue to believe, regardless of how awesome Elizabeth Warren is, that she will wield more power, bring about greater change, as a Senator than she might in the White House.

28 September 2015


0400 by Jeff Hess

The Heritage Foundation is hawking reports, as are the Cato Institute and the Ayn Rand Institute. The climate denial movement—far from an organic convergence of skeptical scientists—is entirely a creature of the ideological network on display here, the very one that deserves the bulk of credit for redrawing the global ideological map over the last four decades. p. 38

Many of these institutions were created in the late. 1960s and early 1970s, when U.S. business elites feared that public opinion was turning dangerously against capitalism and toward, if not socialism, then an aggressive Keynesianism. In response, they launched a counterrevolution, a richly funded intellectual movement that argued that greed and the limited pursuit of profit was nothing to apologize for and offered the greatest hope for human emancipation that the world had ever known. Under this liberationist banner, they fought for such policies as tax cuts, free trade deals, for the auctioning off of core state assets from phones to energy to water—the package known in most of the world as neoliberalism. p. 38-9

From This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein


Found in my electronic chapbook.

28 September 2015


0330 by Jeff Hess

tom peters 150928

27 September 2015


1600 by Jeff Hess

The evidence is striking. Among the segment of the U.S. population that displays the strongest hierarchical views, only 11 percent rate climate change as a high risk, compared with 69 percent of the segment displaying egalitarian views.

Yale law professor Dan Kahan, the lead author on this study, attributes the tight correlation between worldview and acceptance of climate science to cultural cognition, the process by which all of us—regardless of political leanings—filter new information in ways that will protect our preferred vision of the good society. If new information seems to confirm that vision, we welcome it and integrate it easily. If it poses a threat to our belief system, then our brain immediately gets to work producing intellectual antibodies designed to repel the unwelcome invasion. p. 36-7

They deny reality, in other words, because the implications of that reality are, quite simply, unthinkable. p. 43

The bottom line is that we are all inclined to denial when the truth is too costly—whether emotionally, intellectually or financially. As Upton Sinclair famously observed: It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it. p. 46

From This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein


Found in my electronic chapbook.

27 September 2015


0500 by Jeff Hess

zen pencisl fear

26 September 2015


0700 by Jeff Hess

Matt Taibbi writes in Why Do We Care Whose Side the Pope Is On? for Rolling Stone

People have such impassioned political fights over the pope because everyone wants the endorsement of the guy closest to God. But what if he’s not closer to God, and is just a guy in a funny hat? Doesn’t that make all this fuss and controversy ridiculous? It seems strange that it’s the year 2015, and we still can’t say that out loud.

I think the better question is why does anyone think there is a god to be closer to?

26 September 2015


0500 by Jeff Hess

I have been the target of the occasional troll and I confess that a few have bothered me greatly. From now on I have the perfect antidote: Jimmy Kimmel’s Mean Tweets Live!

26 September 2015


0400 by Jeff Hess

Chris Lehmann, writing in John Boehner left because Republicans’ true faith is incompatible with governing for The Guardian, observes:

The real significance of Boehner’s surprise announcement of his resignation, though, is that the content-challenged grandstanding of the government shutdown is no longer simply a tactic to let off steam, or to enhance a given House member’s fundraising numbers among the right-wing base; it is the Republican party’s model of governance, tout court. The American right has demonstrated that again and again over a decades-long campaign to gain control of political institutions with the express aim of dramatizing the inefficiency, corruption, and profligacy of the very idea of government. It’s akin to seeing a child smash an X-Box controller into a wall, over and over again, and then proceed to wail over the mangled wreckage that the breakdown was entirely due to a design flaw.

From where does this infantile rage arise? Well, Nock’s 80-year-old manifesto is a good place to look.

It is unfortunately none too well understood that, just as the State has no money of its own, so it has no power of its own. All the power it has is what society gives it, plus what it confiscates from time to time on one pretext or another; there is no other source from which State power can be drawn. Therefore every assumption of State power, whether by gift or seizure, leaves society with so much less power. There is never, nor can there be, any strengthening of State power without a corresponding and roughly equivalent depletion of social power.

Do we need to hire Supernanny to take over Congress the nursery?

26 September 2015


0300 by Jeff Hess

first dog vw

Yet another reason to not drive Adolf Hitler’s people’s car.

25 September 2015


1100 by Jeff Hess

John Galbreath (left) and Carl Stokes (right)

John Galbreath (left) and Carl Stokes (right)

I had a talk with a friend recently who happened to mention that the Cleveland City Planning department years ago was busily preparing the city’s new downtown master plan in the late 1950s.

It was a useless plan costing $100,000.

He laughed because he said that meanwhile another city official was planning what was actually to become the plan for downtown.

It would make the official city planner’s plan null and void even before it was published.

The truth is that neither city official really was producing a plan that the city would actually use to revamp downtown. Or try to.

A business/civic group was doing the plan that would be used, though not well.

Therein lays the truth about power and who runs this city and any other.

Not your elected officials. So voting often is much of a charade.

Eric Grubb was the planning director. My knowledgeable friend—who became a city official himself later—felt that James Lister, urban renewal Continue Reading »

25 September 2015


0500 by Jeff Hess

When we look back at 2015 I doubt we will think of favorable comparisons to 1789, 1848 or 1917, but I do think the “R” word will be included.

Patrick Wintour and Nicholas Watt deliver something on this topic in this morning’s long-read for The Guardian in: The Corbyn earthquake—how Labour was shaken to its foundations.

This should be your reading priority today.

The summer of 2015 will be remembered as a moment when something wholly unexpected happened in British politics—and a 115-year-old political party was transformed in three short months.

All that was required to push that transformation was for a single person to stand.

At that time, nobody in Corbyn’s fledgling campaign—including the candidate himself—would have believed that he would go on to win the leadership contest by a huge majority three months later. Their most pressing concern at the start of June was getting him on the ballot, and then trying not to finish last. But the man dismissed by many as an irrelevant loner on the political margins would soon deliver what the former lord chancellor Lord Falconer described this week as “an earthquake”.

If they are feeling the shake in England, we are feeling the Bern here in the United States.

“The rallies took on a life of their own,” Lewis recalled. He sensed an almost religious fervour at some of the events, including one in his hometown of Norwich in early August. “I’m an atheist and I’m acutely aware of the hard-headedness of politics, I know the religious element won’t win elections, but it can help. Jeremy is Jeremy: he isn’t a rock star politician, he doesn’t have the looks, he doesn’t wear slick clothes, but in a way he is an antihero. He’s genuine, authentic and he just seems to have resonated with people.”

If I were a conspiracy theorist—I’m not, Abbie Hoffman set me straight on that point back in the early ’80s—I’d think that Jeremy and Bernie were in some cabal.

One campaign manager now admits that none of this desperate wrangling did any good. “The fact was Jeremy Corbyn did a very good job in turning his campaign into a referendum on politics. His team understood the anti-politics feeling out there—and we looked suited and booted. We looked like the Westminster bubble on stage.”

By the time Corbyn wrapped up his campaign on 8 September in Nuneaton—the marginal seat that had come to symbolise Labour’s failure in the general election—his victory was unstoppable.

Anytime someone in politics use the world unstoppable, I shudder. I sent Bernie another $100 this morning, in advance of the end-of-month accounting deadline for reporting, because I’m not going accept the battle is over until its over, on election day. Bernie is no Molly.

25 September 2015


0400 by Jeff Hess

[Update on 25 September—After Beheading 100 People This Year, Saudi Arabia Joins U.N. Human Rights Council With U.S. Support.]

[Update on 24 September—Add The Jewish Voice to the mix with this headline:

Saudi Arabia to Select Experts for UN Human Rights Council]

[Update on 23 September—More stories about the appointment of Faisal bin Hassan Trad are showing up:

Why Is Saudi Arabia Heading the U.N. Human Rights Council?
Anger as Saudi gets key United Nations rights post
U.N. Criticized for ‘Scandalous’ Appointment of Saudi to Human Rights Panel*
Saudi Arabia appointed to chair UN Human Rights Council
Selection of Saudia Arabia to head United Nations human rights panel sparks anger
*This story made Breitbart heads explode I’m sure.]

Yesterday I posted about the United Nations deciding to appoint Faisal bin Hassan Trad as the chair of a panel of five ambassadors, known as the Consultative Group, which oversee the U.N.’s Human Rights Council. For the first time since I began using a Google Alert to track stories about imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi back in April, more than a couple headlines showed up in my inbox:

UN appointing Saudi official to top human rights job is inhuman;
U.N. Watchdog Slams ‘Scandalous’ Choice of Saudi Arabia to Head Human Rights Panel;
United Nations Criticized For Choosing Saudi Arabia To Head Human Rights Panel;
“States which are based on religion confine their people in the circle of faith and fear”;
Fury after Saudi Arabia ‘chosen to head key UN human rights panel’; and
Saudi UN Human Rights Panel appointment shows money, Politics trump justice.

This is good news. The question must be asked however, will the outrage continue beyond today or is this just a blip of outrage?

25 September 2015


0300 by Jeff Hess

If you tell a lie enough times, people will begin to accept the lie as truth. There are many such lies floating around—humans only use 10 percent of their brains, leaps to mind—but this morning I’m thinking about another, one not started by, but most certainly given a mainstream push by, President John F. Kennedy: In the Chinese language, the word “crisis” is composed of two characters, one representing danger and the other, opportunity.

That’s factually wrong. Enough motivational speakers, however, have repeated the president’s words enough times that in the more than 50 years since, generations have taken the message to heart and taken every crisis, no matter how horrific, as an opportunity and brought us to Disaster Capitalism.

Stephen W. Thrasher, writing in Disaster capitalism is a permanent state of life for too many Americans for The Guardian tell us:

In her 2007 book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Naomi Klein defined “disaster capitalism” as “orchestrated raids on the public sphere in the wake of catastrophic events, combined with the treatment of disasters as exciting marketing opportunities”. She was riffing on neoconservatives using Hurricane Katrina as an excuse for a New Orleans land grab. She witnessed the same phenomenon in the 2004 Asian Tsunami and in the aftermath of the US invasion of Iraq.

The concept of public plunder after disaster has been embraced in similar linguistic terms by Democrats and Republicans alike. Condoleezza Rice famously called 9/11 an “enormous opportunity”, and indeed it was a profitable one, for war contractors anyway. Similarly, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel once said: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before”. Emanuel was good to his word. While American workers lost their jobs, lost their homes and even took their own lives as a result of the 2008 financial meltdown, the Obama White House instituted financial “reforms” that arrested no Wall Street executives, and left even Forbes predicting “ten reasons why there will be another systematic financial crisis”.

In New York City, Thrasher continues:

The New York Post, no bastion of bleeding heart liberalism, reported on Monday that “Hundreds of full-time city workers are homeless”. These are people who clean our trash and make our city, the heart of American capitalism, safe and livable, including for those who plunder the globe from Wall Street. These are men and women, living in shelters and out of their cars, who have government jobs—the kind of workers conservatives love to paint as greedy, gluttonous pigs.

When a full time government worker can’t “find four walls and a roof to call his own” in the city he serves, we are living in a perpetual state of disaster capitalism.

Now hundreds in a city of millions can seem insignificant, but this crisis is systemic and I do see an opporutnity here, an opporutnity to ogranize and ensure that this situation, in both the public and private sectors, does not continue.

Bernie Sanders has this to say on the topic:

Millions of Americans are working for totally inadequate wages. We must ensure that no full-time worker lives in poverty. The current federal minimum wage is starvation pay and must become a living wage. We must increase it to $15 an hour over the next several years.

We must also establish equal pay for women. It’s unconscionable that women earn less than men for performing the same work.

Millions of American employees have been working 50 or 60 hours a week while receiving no overtime pay. That is why Bernie has been encouraging the Obama Administration to ensure that more workers receive overtime pay protection. The Administration’s new rule extending that protection to everyone making less than $947 a week is a step in the right direction. It is a win for our economy and for our workers.

Lastly, we must support and strengthen the labor movement to ensure that workers have a say in their own economic futures. That’s why Bernie has been a strong supporter of the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for workers to organize and bargain collectively.

This last, support of the Employee Free Choice Act, is vital. Only when workers organize to bargain collectively, can the rampant pillage of the American middle class be fought.

24 September 2015


0400 by Jeff Hess

The moral standing of the federal and various state governments of the United States on matters of execution are iffy at best—beheading is cleaner and less painful than strapping someone to a horizontal cross and then pumping poisons into their body in a manner that causes pain for more than 30 minutes before they finally die—but that does not give the citizens of the United States, or any country for that matter, a pass on continued barbarity of the Royal House of Saud and Saudi Arabia.

Glenn Greenwald, in U.S. State Department “Welcomes” News That Saudi Arabia Will Head U.N. Human Rights Panel for The//Intercept writes”

Last week’s announcement that Saudi Arabia—easily one of the world’s most brutally repressive regimes—was chosen to head a U.N. Human Rights Council panel provoked indignation around the world. That reaction was triggered for obvious reasons. Not only has Saudi Arabia executed more than 100 people already this year, mostly by beheading (a rate of 1 execution every two days), and not only is it serially flogging dissidents, but it is reaching new levels of tyrannical depravity as it is about to behead and then crucify the 21-year-old son of a prominent regime critic, Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who was convicted at the age of 17 of engaging in demonstrations against the government.

Most of the world may be horrified at the selection of Saudi Arabia to head a key U.N. human rights panel, but the U.S. State Department most certainly is not. Quite the contrary: its officials seem quite pleased about the news.

Here’s the exchange.

MR. TONER: Right. I mean, we’ve talked about our concerns about some of the capital punishment cases in Saudi Arabia in our Human Rights Report, but I don’t have any more to add to it.


QUESTION: Well, how about a reaction to them heading the council?

MR. TONER: Again, I don’t have any comment, don’t have any reaction to it. I mean, frankly, it’s—we would welcome it. We’re close allies [Emphasis Glenn Greenwald]. If we—

QUESTION: Do you think that they’re an appropriate choice given—I mean, how many pages is—does Saudi Arabia get in the Human Rights Report annually?

Making friends and allies of monsters is, of course, nothing new for the United States, but no one gets to be surprised when they learn that people hate us, not for our freedom, but for friends.


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