A new video from MoveOn.org features a daughter asking her mother to do what she can to ensure senators keep dangerous guns out of schools by passing the Assault Weapons Ban. This is part of MoveOn.org members' gun violence prevention campaign, which advocates background checks, limits on high-capacity magazines, and a ban on assault weapons.
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- Afghan President Hamid Karzai
- Afghan detainees
- Bill Moyers
- Corporate Profits
- Donald Sutherland
- Feeding America
- Gun Control
- Howard G. Buffet
- Hunger in America 2014
- Invest an Acre
- Kind Hearted Woman
- Map the Meal Gap
- Mayors Against Illegal Guns
- Minimum Wage
- North Dakota
- Oglala Sioux
- President Barack Obama
- Robin Charboneau
- Robin Poor Bear
- Sandy Hook Elementary School
- Shane Koyczan
- Silicon Valley
- Social Security
- Spirit Lake Reservation
- To This Day
- United States
- Veteran's benefits
- Working Poor Families Project
- assault weapons ban
- background checks
- basic needs
- chained CPI
- disabled veterans
- domestic violence
- electric shocks
- family portrait
- gun law reform
- gun violence
- high capacity magazines
- high-capacity magazines
- hunger in america
- ignorant politics
- income disparity
- low wages
- record highs
- secret prisons
- senator bernie sanders
- senior citizens
- sexual abuse
- tax codes
- tax havens
- tent cities
- united nations
- working families
The unprecedented level of economic inequality in America is undeniable. In an extended essay, Bill Moyers shares examples of the striking extremes of wealth and poverty across the country, including a video report on California’s Silicon Valley. There, Facebook, Google, and Apple are minting millionaires, while the area’s homeless -- who’ve grown 20 percent in the last two years -- are living in tent cities at their virtual doorsteps.
“A petty, narcissistic, pridefully ignorant politics has come to dominate and paralyze our government,” says Bill, “while millions of people keep falling through the gaping hole that has turned us into the United States of Inequality.”
Full transcript below the fold.
Earlier this week, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) joined a large coalition of groups representing organized labor, seniors, veterans, women and progressives in delivering over 2 million petition signatures to the White House demanding no cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and disabled veterans' benefits.
In his speech, Bernie said:
“Our job in the coming weeks and months… is to rally tens of millions of people who understand that in this country the middle class (and) working families are hurting, and we’re not going to balance the budget on their backs.”
“Anybody in the Congress who believes in cutting these … benefits … may well not be returning to Washington.”
President Obama's budget, released Wednesday, would cut benefits for Social Security recipients and disabled veterans through a so-called "chained consumer price index"(Chained CPI). This proposed change in how cost of living adjustments are calculated would mean that if you're 65 years old today, you would lose more than $650 a year when you reach 75 and more than $1,000 a year when you reach 85.
The proposed change would also affect more than 3.2 million veterans receiving disability benefits. Veterans who started receiving disability benefits at age 30 would have their benefits reduced by $1,425 at age 45, $2,341 at age 55 and $3,231 at age 65. Benefits for more than 350,000 surviving spouses and children would also be cut.
If you haven't yet done so, contact your members of Congress and tell them not to touch Social Security.
[Mature content, viewer discretion advised.]
How do you go on?
The five-hour film, aired in two parts on PBS April 1 and 2, focuses on Robin Charboneau, a member of the Oglala Sioux tribe in North Dakota. A single mother struggling to raise her two children on the Spirit Lake Nation reservation, Charboneau faces daunting odds living in a community plagued by poverty, alcoholism, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and a systemic unwillingness to address its own worst problems.
Charboneau’s path is made no easier by her own troubled childhood. From the age of 3 she was brutally assaulted by family members, then placed in a foster home at 13. Alcoholism, depression, and troubled relationships with abusive men, including her ex-husband, marked her young adulthood. The couple’s custody battles over their children -- daughter Darian, now 17, and son Anthony, 14 -- frame much of Sutherland’s story, which he began filming in 2008, following Charboneau as she fled the reservation and tried to establish an independent life for herself and her kids.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns released a new television ad Thursday that features family members of four victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting last December, and calls on leaders to remember their loved ones and prevent others from experiencing the toll of gun violence by taking real action to pass commonsense gun law reforms.
The ad features the families of two first-grade students, and two teachers killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook, out of the total 20 children and six adult staffers killed that day. The family members in the ad are Neil Heslin, father of first-grader Jesse Lewis; Chris and Lynn McDonnell, parents of first-grader Grace McDonnell; Jillian Soto, sister of teacher Vicky Soto; and Terri and Gilles Rousseau, parents of teacher Lauren Rousseau.
"I want to prevent any other family from having to go through what we're going through," Chris McDonnell says in the ad.
"Don't let the memory of Newtown fade without doing something real," adds Terri Rousseau.
The ad says that "Connecticut can save lives" and calls for comprehensive background checks, a limit on high-capacity magazines and an assault weapons ban.
The heart wrenching ad is the first to include family members of the Sandy Hook victims in a call for universal background checks for gun sales, which will be a component of the gun control legislation being introduced in the Senate. The ads will air on cable and broadcast television in the Hartford, Connecticut area. and specifically target the state's legislature to enact better gun violence prevention.
"My experiences with violence in schools still echo throughout my life but standing to face the problem has helped me in immeasurable ways."
To This Day Project is a project based on a spoken word poem written by Shane Koyczan called “To This Day”, to further explore the profound and lasting impact that bullying can have on an individual.
Schools and families are in desperate need of proper tools to confront this problem. We can give them a starting point… A message that will have a far reaching and long lasting effect in confronting bullying.
Animators and motion artists brought their unique styles to 20 second segments that will thread into one fluid voice.
This collaborative volunteer effort will demonstrate what a community of caring individuals are capable of when they come together.
More than 10 percent of working families were below the poverty line in 2011, and nearly a third weren't earning double the poverty threshold. The number of low-income working families in the U.S. has increased to 10.4 million in 2011, up from 10.2 million in 2010. The total number of people in low-income working families is now 47.5 million, and 23.5 million of those family members are children, a new report from the Working Poor Families Project finds.
This means that nearly one-third, 32 percent, of all working families may not earn enough money to meet their most basic needs.
Fox News pundits and Mitt Romney's of the world take note:
"There is a common misconception—magnified during the recent presidential election—that low-income families are “takers” who do not work, instead relying on government assistance to meet their needs. But in 2011, more than 7 in 10 low-income families and of all poor families were working. They simply didn’t earn enough money to pay for basic living expenses."
Inequality is also increasing, as higher-income families receive a larger share of income relative to families at the bottom of the income distribution.
The wealthiest twenty-percent of working families "took home nearly half (48%) of all income, while those in the bottom 20 percent received less than 5 percent of the economic pie."
It's the same old refrain, the rich are getting richer, while the poor are getting poorer...and growing in numbers.
Life should not be this difficult for hard-working people. Our economy may be improving for some, but with over 47 million people completely left out of that recovery, we remain a broken nation.
A new U.N. report claims that widespread torture and abuse of detainees continues at Afghan police and intelligence facilities. Earlier this month President Hamid Karzai said that all detainees held by the U.S. and its allies would be transferred to Afghan custody. But the new allegations of torture could make such a transfer illegal. The 100-page report, that was released on Monday, was based on several hundred interviews and about half of the interviewed detainees and former detainees alleged torture or abuse. In 2011, a similar report caused the U.S. to halt transfers of detainees to nine Afghan facilities.
More than half of the 635 detainees questioned by U.N. investigators in the 12 months ending in October were ill-treated or tortured, including being subjected to severe beatings or electric shocks, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said.
The allegations, which the Afghan government calls "exaggerated," are likely to complicate discussions about the handling of detainees, a source of debate between the United States and Afghanistan as the countries prepare for the departure of most foreign troops next year.
Many of the suspected fighters who end up in Afghan custody are captured by U.S. and allied troops. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led force said it has suspended the transfer of detainees to the facilities identified in the U.N. report and is working with Afghan authorities to address abuses.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has frequently maintained that the handling of detainees is a question of national sovereignty. During discussions with President Obama this month, he reiterated his demand that all Afghan prisoners be turned over to Afghan authorities.
Torture decreased at some facilities after the U.N. issued a report in 2011, and transfers of detainees to Afghan authorities were halted, but again increased after transfers resumed, according to the new report.
In all, 14 methods of abuse were documented. The report said evidence of torture occurred most frequently at facilities in the southern province of Kandahar, the heartland of the Taliban insurgency.
U.N. investigators received what they described as credible reports about the disappearance of 81 people who were arrested by Kandahar police between September 2011 and October 2012. They were also told about the reported existence of several unofficial detention sites and said some detainees held by intelligence officials were hidden from international observers — allegations denied by the intelligence agency.
Of the prisoners interviewed, 105 were children under international law, and a large majority of these juvenile prisoners had been tortured. Only a very small portion of prisoners had been in Afghan army or Afghan local police custody, but they also reported torture by those forces.
"A majority of NDS and ANP [Afghan National Police] officials do not accept that torture is ineffective and counter-productive as a tool to obtain strategically valuable and actionable intelligence to fight terrorism and conflict-related activities, let alone a serious crime under Afghan and international law," the report said.
A day after President Obama called for broad new gun laws, the White House published on its YouTube channel videos of four children reading their own letters about guns.
The videos are part of what the White House promises will be an all-out effort by Mr. Obama’s administration to pass his gun proposals, drawing on the emotional reactions to the school shootings in Newtown, Conn.
Of course the videos have generated criticism from conservatives -- yet it's our children who are dying at younger ages than their counterparts in 16 other nations according to a recent study from the National Academy of Sciences -- and one of the most glaring reasons for this is children in the US are 20 times more likely to be killed by a gun.
The children in these videos are worried enough about the gun violence that they have written letters to Obama, they wanted to be heard, and they damn well deserve to be heard. So let's hear more:
In “A letter from Hinna,” Hinna Zeejah, 8, reads aloud what she wrote to Mr. Obama in the wake of the shootings.
“Mr. President, can we do something which will stop all of these terrible problems,” she says. “Can we stop using guns? I think if they are no guns on the street, no one could get hurt. Bullets don’t have eyes. It can hurt anyone.”
In another video, titled, “A letter from Julia,” Julia Stokes, 11, tells Mr. Obama that guns should be “very hard for people to buy.”
“The only thing they do is harm or kill,” Julia said. “I know that laws have to be passed by Congress, but I beg you to try very hard to make guns not allowed.”
This 2-minute story is about a powerful new solution that will help feed starving people in every city, town and village in America as told by Howard G. Buffett, Eva Longoria, Bono and Ben Afflect. This is a message funded by the Howard G. Buffett foundation and directed specifically to the world's most productive, hard-working men and women -- America's farmers.
In a recent Parade magazine article, Buffet (Son of Warren Buffet) was asked what made him turn his attention from global hunger to hunger in America:
"Before, I never understood how difficult things were in this country, and how they were getting worse. In America, hunger is hidden; people are ashamed of it. I was in Tucson at a food distribution [center] and noticed a woman walk in with three kids. She looked around and then walked back out. I later found out it was the first time she had ever asked for help, and she was embarrassed."
"Last year I attended a Thanksgiving dinner at Harris Elementary School right here in Decatur, where I learned that 92 percent of the kids are on free or reduced-cost lunches. I spoke with some parents who told me that school lunch is the best meal their kids get all day. That shocked me because the school sits in a community that has the largest food-processing facility in the world for corn and the second largest for soybeans; 1,500 to 2,000 train cars roll out of those plants and through these kids' neighborhoods every day. The irony of that is unbelievable."
"In this country, the number of people who are living on the edge, who exist paycheck to paycheck, who have been foreclosed on, has exploded. If you're choosing between medicine or food, between school supplies for your kids or food, between paying the electric bill or food, those are tough choices—and they happen every day. Yet I have hope, because the single biggest difference between fighting global hunger and fighting hunger in this country is that I don't believe we can get global hunger down to zero. There will always be conflicts and infrastructure challenges [abroad]. But there's no reason we cannot put hunger out of business in America."
Here are the ways Howard Buffett is trying to achieve his goal of putting hunger out of business in America:
Map the Meal Gap: Feeding America first published the Map the Meal Gap project in early 2011, with the generous support of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and The Nielsen Company, to learn more about the face of hunger at the local level. In August, 2011, with the support of the ConAgra Foods Foundation, child food insecurity data was added to the project.
At the link you can interact with their map, which reflects data from 2009 and 2010, to begin learning how the residents in your community are struggling with hunger and what the anticipated needs will be to meet future goals. There is a donation link, a food bank locator, a "Tell Congress" take action link and further information about the project.
2014 Hunger in America Study: Hunger in America, also known as the Hunger Study, is the largest study of charitable food assistance in America. Hunger in America 2014 is the most recent in a series of Hunger Studies, which are conducted every four years. Feeding America is the primary sponsor of this study, with generous funding from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.
The purpose of the Hunger in America 2014 study is two-fold. First, it will collect information on the current work of the Feeding America network of food banks. This includes talking to agencies that get food and grocery items from food banks (agency survey) and from the clients they serve (client survey). The information collected from this study will help Feeding America, and its network of food banks, to better understand the agencies they work with to provide hunger relief. Second, it will also identify issues faced by both the agencies and the clients they serve. Findings from this study will give Feeding America the information they need to fight hunger in America for the next several years. Feeding America will use the data to advocate for government assistance such as TEFAP, CSFP, and SNAP. The findings will also support fundraising efforts by helping to educate donors and the public about the scope of services provided by food banks.
Invest an Acre :The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Feeding America and Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) has established Invest An Acre, an innovative partnership that engages U.S. farmers in helping provide food to their neighbors.
Through Invest An Acre, farmers are able to invest the proceeds from one acre or more of their crops in Feeding America to support their local food bank. This is the first effort to mobilize farmers on a national scale to support hunger relief.
Feeding America is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, providing food assistance to people in every county through a network of more than 200 food banks.
The Howard G. Buffett Foundation brings resources to support this vital work by creating an opportunity for every U.S. farmer doing business with ADM to invest a portion of proceeds at the point of sale, either when the farmer signs a contract or delivers the crop.
ADM is one of the largest agricultural processors in the world. It operates the world’s premier crop origination and transportation network, connecting crops and markets in more than 75 countries. ADM transforms oilseeds, corn, wheat and cocoa into products for food, animal feed, industrial and energy uses.
Feeding America has 53 food banks operating in communities near ADM locations.
The Howard G. Buffett Foundation is underwriting all Feeding America costs as well as a public awareness campaign. ADM is managing the accounting and transactions with farmers and the local food banks. All of the proceeds from Invest An Acre will go towards helping the hungry in the local community.