What's going on in your world?
What's going on in your world?
Who are the 99 Percent Spring? From their website:
We are at a crossroads as a country. We have a choice to make. Greater wealth for a few or opportunity for many. Tax breaks for the richest or a fair shot for the rest of us. A government that can be bought by the highest bidder, or a democracy that is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people.
The choice is in our hands. This spring, we will act on that choice and rise up in the tradition of our forefathers and foremothers. We will not be complicit with the suffering in our families for another year. We will prepare ourselves for sustained non-violent direct action.
From April 9-15 we will gather across America, 100,000 strong, in homes, places of worship, campuses and the streets to join together in the work of reclaiming our country. We will organize trainings to:
Tell the story of our economy: how we got here, who’s responsible, what a different future could look like, and what we can do about it
Learn the history of non-violent direct action, and
Get into action on our own campaigns to win change.
This spring we rise! We will reshape our country with our own hands and feet, bodies and hearts. We will take non-violent action in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi to forge a new destiny one block, one neighborhood, one city, one state at a time.
We know great change is possible. We inherit a history of everyday people standing up for their own dignity, freedom, and self-determination, shaping our direction as a country. The seamstress in Alabama who launched a bus boycott. The farmers in New England and Virginia who imagined we could be a free nation. The workers in Flint, Michigan who occupied their plant to win collective bargaining rights. The farmworkers in California who liberated our fields. The women in New York who dreamed they could one day speak with equal voice. The mother who stood up in Love Canal to stop the poisoning of her community. And the students who risked their lives during Freedom Summer to register voters.
In the last year alone we watched the teachers and fire fighters of Wisconsin stand for the rights of workers. And we joined those who Occupied Wall Street, inspiring us to stand with the 99%.
We will rise this spring, because we DO hold these truths to be self evident—that all men and women are created equal, that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear argument on the central issue in the challenges to the Affordable Care Act, whether the individual mandate which requires almost all Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a fine is constitutional. Exemptions are allowed for persons unable to afford to purchase insurance.
A survey of Supreme Court clerks and lawyers found that most of them expect that at least the central portions of President Obama’s health-care law will stand inspection by the justices. Only 35 percent of insiders surveyed thought it likely that the highest court in the land would nix the individual mandate. According to the roundup, even those who had clerked for the court’s conservative justices said that the chances they’d uphold the mandate topped 50 percent.
The most sweeping provisions of the Affordable Care Act don't take effect until 2014, when in the state of Michigan alone, another 500,000 people become eligible for Medicaid.
One month after Trayvon Martin's murder, thousands rally in Sanford for justice as thousands more join them in cities across the country.
In communities big and small, people wore hooded sweatshirts -- hoodies -- and carried Skittles and iced tea -- just as Martin had done on the night of his death -- as they called for Zimmerman's arrest, legislative changes and an end to racial profiling.
They included throngs of people who marched on streets in front of the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta, decrying a "stand your ground" law in that state -- as in Florida -- that allows people to use force in self-defense.
More than 2,100 miles away in San Francisco, others held up signs reading, "We demand justice."
Similar scenes played out in Iowa City, Iowa; Houston; Detroit; Philadelphia; and places in between.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, presented Sanford's city commission with a petition he claimed had been signed by 2 million people who urged that the shooter be detained.
In Washington, D.C., a march to the Justice Department ended with the delivery of printout of an online petition with over half a million signatures demanding action.
A new poll shows that 67 percent of white Americans and 86 percent of nonwhites believe Martin’s shooter, 28-year-old George Zimmerman, should be arrested.
A full list of participating cities in Monday's Day of Action for Trayvon in online here.
Trayvon's parents will be in D.C. today as Congress prepares to hold a hearing on racial profiling. Protesters have planned a march to the White House to coincide with the hearing.
If you'd like to sign the petition started by Trayvon's parents, you can do that online here.
Video of the rally, and performance at House of the Lord church
Sunday night in Brooklyn, New York hosted by Kevin Powell, Akila Worksongs,
MoveOn.org & ColorofChange.org.
"A Song for Trayvon" written and performed by Jasiri X.
(Based on "No Church in the Wild" by Jay-Z & Kanye West)
Lyrics below the fold.
The Service Employees International Union is campaigning to increase retirement security and pushing back against right-wing myths about the true costs of public employee pensions in the wake of more than a year of direct attacks on those pensions by Republicans in the states.
The mission on retirement security:
After working hard and playing by the rules, working people should be able to retire with dignity and security. This is a fundamental part of the American Dream. But the Wall Street-induced housing crisis and stock market crash jeopardized this dream for countless public and private sector workers.
SEIU is promoting three basic policies towards making sure this happens. The first is protecting Social Security by eliminating the cap on taxes for the wealthy, which would extend the funding for the program for many years to come. The second and third parts of the plan deals with private and public pensions:
Our efforts to help deliver retirement security to all include exploring new models for private sector retirement plans that allow workers to set aside wages through a vehicle that provides guaranteed retirement income, as well as strengthening the rules for existing multi-employer and single-employer defined benefit funds to protect their participants.
Recent attacks on public pensions and subsequent statewide pension "reforms" jeopardize the retirement security of millions of teachers, police officers, bus drivers, nurses and other public sector workers, many of whom do not receive Social Security. We are committed to addressing this issue with comprehensive solutions. In the last two years alone, public employee unions have negotiated pension solutions that have saved the taxpayers nearly $600 million in California. Our efforts include safeguarding against all forms of cheating or abuse, and ensuring everybody pays their fair share, and all pension fund trustees, staff and service providers adhere to the highest ethical and fiduciary standards, devoid of conflicts of interest.
SEIU also issued a fact sheet that takes on a number of the right-wing myths that are being spread in an attempt to build support for cutting public pensions. The key points:
Those interested in staying informed about SEIU's campaign for retirement security can sign up for updates on their web site.
Activists take on Corbett's cuts in February
Working America, an affiliate organization of the AFL-CIO, is taking action against Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) and his cuts to public education. Corbett has significantly reduced the education budget, while giving away money to his corporate cronies:
Corbett and his allies sold the cuts as “fiscal responsibility” and “shared sacrifice” – tough decisions he needed to make to balance the budget. But the sacrifice is very much felt on one side: $860 million cut from public education last year, and deep cuts to everything from services for the disabled to unemployment insurance.
Meanwhile, with whom are students, teachers, the disabled, and the working poor “sharing” these sacrifices? The Delaware tax loophole, which allows Pennsylvania corporations to pay taxes in nearby Delaware, caused the Commonwealth to lose $493 million – money that could be invested in schools support the most vulnerable. That loophole has remained untouched by the Corbett Administration, as have other corporate giveaways.
Working America gathered stories of the pain Corbett's cuts have caused, including stories like this one from LaTonya Greene, mother and waitress:
This state budget has crushed education in PA, and we can’t afford for that to happen again this year. My six year-old son was in full-day kindergarten last school year, and he learned a lot. My daughter is in kindergarten now, but it was cut to half-day due to the budget cuts. She’s not learning, and I’m afraid she may have to repeat it.
My two year-old son entered an early childhood education program in September, but because of state budget cuts, it closed in November. To make things worse, some after-school programs here have been cut as well.
The government claims the state broke, but many corporations and gas companies here are getting richer, and not paying taxes. This is being done at the expense of our children’s education.
We need to make sure that our politicians know that we value education and want to see it funded in the state budget. Our elected officials need to put our kids over corporate profits, and finally require corporations to pay their fair share of taxes.
(CBS News) FRANKSVILLE, Wis. - In directing what appeared to be a new level of vitriol toward Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum on Sunday described his rival as "the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama." Santorum later, however, bristled at the notion that he was referring to anything other than Romney's position on health care.
After a rally at the South Hills Country Club here, Santorum asked Republicans to "pick any other Republican in the country" than GOP presidential front-runner Romney, based on issues that make the former Massachusetts governor "uniquely disqualified" to run against Obama.
Reporters swarmed him for clarification, only to have Santorum testily reply that it was unreasonable to take his comment outside the context of health care.
"I would say, as for, on the issue of health care, yes, that's what I was talking about - Obamacare, as you heard me say," he said. "That's what I said. I didn't say anything different than that. That's exactly what I said."
Minutes later, Jeff Zeleny of The New York Times followed up with a question about his outburst, to which Santorum asked, "What speech did you listen to? Stop lying."
Pressed further, Santorum clarified that he meant Romney was the worst candidate "to run against Barack Obama on the issue of health care, because he fashioned the blueprint. I've been saying it in every speech. Quit distorting our words. If I see it [in print], it's bullshit. C'mon man, what are you doing?"
Never a good sign when a candidate starts firing expletives at reporters with the television cameras in full view. Santorum has been in politics for twenty years and knows better than this. The pressure of a campaign on it's death march (lack of interest, coupled with running on financial fumes) seems to have finally gotten to him.
Two Goldman Sachs "clients" take a look at themselves after Greg Smith's New York Times op-ed in this musical puppet number. A parody of the Oscar-winning song "Man or Muppet" rewritten by author and law professor Frank Partnoy.
The one percent have become even wealthier than previously thought -- if you can imagine that -- especially the "super rich," who got richer faster than the "merely rich."
The rest of us, well, there's just not much left for us as usual.
NEW statistics show an ever-more-startling divergence between the fortunes of the wealthy and everybody else — and the desperate need to address this wrenching problem. Even in a country that sometimes seems inured to income inequality, these takeaways are truly stunning.
In 2010, as the nation continued to recover from the recession, a dizzying 93 percent of the additional income created in the country that year, compared to 2009 — $288 billion — went to the top 1 percent of taxpayers, those with at least $352,000 in income. That delivered an average single-year pay increase of 11.6 percent to each of these households.
Still more astonishing was the extent to which the super rich got rich faster than the merely rich. In 2010, 37 percent of these additional earnings went to just the top 0.01 percent, a teaspoon-size collection of about 15,000 households with average incomes of $23.8 million. These fortunate few saw their incomes rise by 21.5 percent.
The bottom 99 percent received a microscopic $80 increase in pay per person in 2010, after adjusting for inflation. The top 1 percent, whose average income is $1,019,089, had an 11.6 percent increase in income.
A comparison between the Clinton era (Remember all the jobs, the prosperity...*sigh.*), the Bush "recovery," *cough* and today is even more sobering:
As a result, the top 1 percent has done progressively better in each economic recovery of the past two decades. In the Clinton era expansion, 45 percent of the total income gains went to the top 1 percent; in the Bush recovery, the figure was 65 percent; now it is 93 percent.
The Wall Street executive continues by blasting House Republicans and their "unsavory stew" of highly regressive tax cuts, and large, unspecified reductions in discretionary spending. The GOP just isn't catching on.