Archive for National


Water Is A Human Right

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Don’t mess with Maureen Taylor.

Scroll to 1:08:40. “This monstrous thing that’s going on in Detroit … beyond demonic … You gotta leave here changed! … Water is a human right.”

Seems we got their attention:

Detroit suspended its aggressive policy of cutting off water to customers with unpaid bills on Monday, the latest response to a controversy that has prompted large protests and caught the attention of the judge overseeing the city’s bankruptcy.

The city said there will be no shutoffs for the next 15 days. The disclosure was made in bankruptcy court where Judge Steven Rhodes is overseeing the nation’s largest ever municipal bankruptcy. He has been encouraging Detroit to come up with alternatives to shutting off water for thousands of homes and businesses.

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Still recovering from an electrifying conference in Detroit. Wanted to post this.

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Rev. William Barber from the Forward Together movement spoke for an hour on Thursday night and wowed the Netroots Nation audience. It was many people’s first exposure to Rev. Barber, and it was all anyone could talk about on Friday morning. And least one person said it was the best speech they had ever heard live.

Barber drew energy from the crowd. He talked at one point about how, to get out of the wilderness, you don’t go down into the valley. There are snakes down there! Instead, he said, you make for the ridge tops.

From his telling, there is a climatic effect, an elevation above which snakes don’t go. Our politics, Barber said, have got to “rise above the snake line.” By the next morning, you could buy Rise above the snake line buttons in the exhibit hall with the coiled Tea Party snake below the line on the lower half.

He seemed to be enjoying himself, and was much lighter on his feet by the end of this speech even bouncing a little bit.

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People At Risk, Water A Weapon

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Michigan has Rick Snyder. North Carolina has Pat McCrory. Here in Detroit for Netroots Nation, it is clear that Michigan is facing some of the same issues with GOP governance as North Carolina. The Koch brothers’ influence is palpable to these people. And where North Carolina has Art Pope, Michigan has the DeVos family.

With twenty percent of the world’s fresh water in the Great Lakes and flowing past our hotel, Detroit faces water privatization. It was not lost on those in Asheville that when Michigan’s governor appointed an emergency manager for Detroit — superseding local democracy and local governance — about the first public asset that went on the auction block was its water and sewer.

Sound familiar?

Over and over again this weekend, stories being told at Netroots echo what we are experiencing in North Carolina. The same destructive agenda is being acted out across the country. Other states are worse off, having enacted budgets like Gov. Sam Brownback’s in Kansas ahead of Pat McCrory’s in North Carolina. But the results will be the same in the Old North State. We are only now seeing the leading edge.

As we sit here, a panel of local activists is discussing the privatization of Detroit’s water system and Michigan’s public schools. In actions described by activist Maureen Taylor as “beyond demonic,” thousands of poor residents are having their water cut off in Detroit. Some going without running water for over a year. Mothers with children. The United Nations

It is not encouraging to see how widespread the assault is on public institutions, but it is good to know we are not alone in the fight.


Unions Work For You

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Sitting here waiting for VP Biden to show up to speak. They’re scrolling some of the sponsors on the video screens, including AFSCME. Thought I’d re-run this. Just for fun.

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Categories : Action, National
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Check back for the addresses listed below and here.

Live streaming video by Ustream

Thursday, July 17, 2014 Keynotes

3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Keynote featuring Vice President Joe Biden
7:15 to 9 p.m. Opening keynote featuring Rev. Barber

Friday, July 18, 2014

10 to 10:45 a.m. Morning keynote featuring Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Categories : Action, Democrats, National, News
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Obamacare Refuses To Fail

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Paul Krugman observes the ever-changing predictions of the Affordable Care Act’s imminent demise.

First nobody but the sick would sign up, so we’d have a death spiral. Then it was “OK, a lot of people have signed up, but they won’t pay — and anyway, even more people have lost coverage.”

As uninsured rates take a nosedive, naysayers are going to have to line up some more reasons the act is failing, Krugman suggests.

And no, it’s not just an improving economy. An improving economy doesn’t explain the differences in state that implemented the exchanges and those that didn’t.

What he doesn’t mention is that signups are only one, slim metric of success. Gallup reports that few report that the law has helped them so far and the the law remains fairly unpopular (both polls late May) even as Americans are generally satisfied with the health system in the country.

Go figure.

Categories : Health Care, National
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Before becoming Ronald Reagan’s vice-president, George H.W. Bush called trickle down theory voodoo economics. He was wrong about that. Zombie economics is more accurate. Trickle down won’t die and stay dead.

“Private wealth creation requires huge investments in commonwealth,” David Cay Johnston told Chris Hayes last night on “All In.” Tax cut after tax cut — primarily favoring the entrepreneurial class — were sold on the premise that they would spur investment and hiring by the entrepreneurial class and lift all boats, as it were. Those tax cuts have instead cut into public investments over the last decade-plus, costing the average family a lot of money, says Johnston.

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Categories : Economy, Labor
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We Are Amused

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Makes you want to jump up and shout, “I’m Spartacus!” doesn’t it?

James Protzman (of BlueNC) posts this at Daily Kos. Worth repeating in its entirety:

I am now a corporation

by James Protzman

UPDATE: All of this is absolutely true.

Yesterday, July 6, 2014, We were reborn as a Limited Liability Corporation called James Alexander Protzman, Inc. (DBA, James, Inc.). It’s very exciting and We are giddy with glee about the possibilities.

The process was simple, though not inexpensive. For less than $200 using an online filing, We were able to purchase this sacred status in only five minutes. Now We have all the rights of other corporations, which as We all know, is the fastest growing front for freedom in America. In any case, We now have many more rights than “regular” people, even though We are also still a regular person, too. We think of it as dual citizenship with benefits. And We get to use the royal “we”!

Our corporate agenda is a work in progress, and We would appreciate any input and guidance you may have. One thing We are considering, for example, is filing for office here in North Carolina, perhaps for governor. We already have one unincorporated corporation in that top spot, Pat McCrory (Duke Energy), so the precedent is well on its way to being cemented in stone.

One established part of Our corporate agenda is the promotion of world peace. We object to the burden of paying taxes to fund the US war machine, which violate Our religious beliefs. We will be filing suit shortly, based on the Hobby Lobby ruling.

Corporate welfare also goes against Our religion, which is ironic since We are a corporation. More litigation to come here.

We have been a corporation for only one day, but We can already feel that change is in the air. And please be advised that our corporation has already lawyered up. We are in a position to take you to the cleaners for any perceived threat to our religious freedom.

Of course, We have not yet chosen a religion, having not yet completed our scenario modeling and crisis simulation planning. But We will in due course. As soon as We understand which denominations confer the greatest competitive advantage, We will be making an announcement. Early evidence suggests that something in the poly-theistic domain could be promising. We are especially interested in the maximum number of paid holidays.

Speaking of pay, We believe that working for our corporation is a privilege. Pay and benefits are out of the question.

If you have other suggestions to help shape Our corporate agenda, please share them. For those who wish to invest, an IPO is in the works. We are also looking to establish a board of directors with special experience in frivolous litigation and off-shore investing.

These are exciting times, no?

Categories : National, Satire
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Feeling Violated?

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They see London.
They see France.
Baby pics you sent your aunt.

The Washington Post reports today,

Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by theNational Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post.

Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.

Love letters and baby pictures of innocent bystanders, Edward Snowden told the Post, of no intelligence value today, continue to be stored by the NSA. As late as May, the NSA had denied Snowden had access to FISA content.

Many other files, described as useless by the analysts but nonetheless retained, have a startlingly intimate, even voyeuristic quality. They tell stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes. The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded nevertheless.

As a piping engineer, work searches including terms such as nipple (threaded pipe nipple), diaphragm (valve type), or just “pipe” can get your account flagged by an overzealous corporate “nanny watch” program scanning for drug- or sex-related searches. Joking about anything terrorist-related in an airport can get you hauled aside and questioned. Heaven help you if you comment on any Middle East-related news in an email to the wrong person.

Ah, freedom.

Categories : International, Privacy
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I have long been wary of the fetish among the business and political classes for efficiency. It’s a frequent rationale for bureaucratic decisions that seem to come at the expense of living, breathing people.

A Good Read

Thomas Frank (“What’s the Matter with Kansas?”) speaks with Barry Lynn at Salon on the reemergence of monopolies in America. Lynn describes how, rather than overturning laws on the books for decades, the Reagan administration changed the way the laws regulating monopolies were enforced.

Yes, that was what was so brilliant about what they did. The Department of Justice establishes guidelines that detail how regulators plan to interpret certain types of laws. So the Reagan people did not aim to change the antimonopoly laws themselves, because that would have sparked a real uproar. Instead they said they planned merely to change the guidelines that determine how the regulators and judiciary are supposed to interpret the law.

The Justice Dept. went from raising its eyebrows in the 1960s at mergers that concentrated a few percent of a market to waving though deals involving 80-90% of it.

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