By Michael Parenti
There is a “mystery” we must explain: How is it that as corporate investments and foreign aid and international loans to poor countries have increased dramatically throughout the world over the last half century, so has poverty? The number of people living in poverty is growing at a faster rate than the world’s population. What do we make of this?
Over the last half century, U.S. industries and banks (and other western corporations) have invested heavily in those poorer regions of Asia, Africa, and Latin America known as the “Third World.” The transnationals are attracted by the rich natural resources, the high return that comes from low-paid labor, and the nearly complete absence of taxes, environmental regulations, worker benefits, and occupational safety costs.
The U.S. government has subsidized this flight of capital by granting corporations tax concessions on their overseas investments, and even paying some of their relocation expenses---much to the outrage of labor unions here at home who see their jobs evaporating.
The transnationals push out local businesses in the Third World and preempt their markets. American agribusiness cartels, heavily subsidized by U.S. taxpayers, dump surplus products in other countries at below cost and undersell local farmers. As Christopher Cook describes it in his Diet for a Dead Planet, they expropriate the best land in these countries for cash-crop exports, usually monoculture crops requiring large amounts of pesticides, leaving less and less acreage for the hundreds of varieties of organically grown foods that feed the local populations.
By displacing local populations from their lands and robbing them of their self-sufficiency, corporations create overcrowded labor markets of desperate people who are forced into shanty towns to toil for poverty wages (when they can get work), often in violation of the countries’ own minimum wage laws.
Read more @ Common Dreams.org.
at 2/17/2007 Posted by Sunny Badger
NOW let's see how much taxes would be without Sewer, Water,
Police and Roads.
I think a district like this would be an ideal place for a new PRISON to house all the uneducated future inmates.
Here's the NY Times story on Pat Flynn and the schooless school district.
Below is a view of Mr. Flynn's neighborhood. Do you suppose they get city, water and sewer up there? Do you suppose those roads a built and maintained with private funding? What happens when the brush starts on fire? Will they be calling the tax-funded fire department or get a neighborhood bucket brigade starting at the neighbor's pool?
at 2/17/2007 Posted by Andy Rand
In all the howling about tax cuts for the rich, it good to see that at least one state has figured how to do tax cuts in a way the directly helps the poor. Arkansas will be cutting the sales tax on unprepared groceries in half. Maybe if groups pushing for taxes cuts would be a little more all-inclusive campaigns, their message might gain the attention of a more diverse voter demographic.
Effective July 1, groceries, not prepared foods, will be taxed at three percent, not six percent. The cut is expected to save each household $50 per year per person, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The measure is projected to reduce state revenues by $122 million, according to the state Department of Finance and Administration.
This is good news for Arkansas for a number of reasons. First of all, working folks need a tax break and food is a necessity of life. We have to eat.
...One of the more interesting aspects of that campaign is that we had the support of both the far left and the far right. The John Birch Society backed us because they liked the idea of cutting taxes and both organized labor and ACORN supported us because they believed, and rightly so, the measure would help poor folks and working families.
Read more @: The Nashville (Arkansas) News.
ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is the nation's largest community organization of low- and moderate-income families, working together for social justice and stronger communities. Since 1970, ACORN has grown to more than 220,000 member families, organized in 850 neighborhood chapters in over 100 cities across the U.S. and in cities in Canada, the Dominican Republic and Peru.
The John Birch Society based in Appleton, Wisconsin, the society describes itself as "a membership-based organization dedicated to restoring and preserving freedom under the United States Constitution." It says that members come from all walks of life and are active in all 50 states via local chapters. Its mission is to achieve "Less Government, More Responsibility, and — With God's Help — a Better World."
at 2/16/2007 Posted by EastWing
Washington. Nothing is moving north or south. Suddenly a man knocks on his window. The driver rolls down his window and asks, "What happened?" "What's
"The Republicans have kidnapped Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Jesse
Jackson, Al Sharpton, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer and John
Kerry. They are asking for a $10 million ransom. Otherwise, they are
going to douse them with gasoline and set them on fire. We are going
from car to car, taking up a collection."
The driver asks, "On average how much is everyone giving?"
"About a gallon."
(Admin's note: This story, submitted by a local Republican, emphasizes the only solutions the Republicans have for any of our problems require oil.)
at 2/16/2007 Posted by EastWing
UNITED NATIONS — The United States and Britain ranked as the worst places to be a child, according to a UNICEF study of more than 20 developed nations released Wednesday. The Netherlands was the best, it says, followed by Sweden and Denmark.
UNICEF's Innocenti Research Center in Italy ranked the countries in six categories: material well-being, health, education, relationships, behaviors and risks, and young people's own sense of happiness.
The finding that children in the richest countries are not necessarily the best-off surprised many, said the director of the study, Marta Santos Pais. The Czech Republic, for example, ranked above countries with a higher per capita income, such as Austria, France, the United States and Britain, in part because of a more equitable distribution of wealth and higher relative investment in education and public health.
Read more @ LA Times.
at 2/16/2007 Posted by Sunny Badger
Thursday, February 15 2007
Back in the day, when I was growing up, ant farms were all the rage. I could watch them for hours. Sometimes, I would mark specific ants with paint to track them on their daily lives. Or occasionally, I'd add an interesting outside stimulus — like a grasshopper.
The image comes to mind because I couldn't help thinking about my old ant farm as I watched lawmakers scurrying in Washington over the past two weeks. It was a rare opportunity to see how the newly empowered Democrats would deal with their own grasshopper, otherwise known as the minimum wage bill.
As you may recall, the House leadership made raising the federal minimum wage a top priority. It's a juicy issue that plays to one of their core constituencies, labor unions. But like the grasshopper, it has been far more difficult to pin down, thanks to good old-fashioned politicking. And, in the end, it's become a case study of how good intentions often go awry in Washington.
Once Congress reconvened, the House moved quickly to pass a clean bill that simply raised the wage by $2 to $7.15 an hour. It's been 10 years since it last changed, so it was long overdue. In fact, in several surveys most small business owners were unconcerned about the increase because they typically pay their employees more than that already.
Read more@ All Business.com.
at 2/16/2007 Posted by Sunny Badger
at 2/15/2007 Posted by EastWing
NEW YORK: Sleeping a little over half an hour in the middle of the day may reduce the risk of death from heart disease, particularly in healthy young men, say researchers.
Naps - known as siesta - are often taken early afternoon after a midday meal. Such a period of sleep is a common tradition in hot countries.
Dimitrios Trichopoulos from the Harvard School of Public Health and other researchers looked at 23,681 men and women aged between 20 and 86 who did not have a history of heart disease or any other severe condition, reported the online edition of BBC News.
The six-year Greek study took into account ill health, age, and whether people were physically active. Participants were also asked if they took midday naps and how often, and were asked about dietary habits and physical activity.
Read more after you nap...
at 2/13/2007 Posted by JPN
In Patrick Healy's recent front-page New York Times article on the state of the Clintons' marriage, Healy noted that a "tabloid photograph" of former President Bill Clinton "was enough to fuel coverage in the gossip pages." Media Matters does not endorse the decision by elite media figures to take their cues from tabloids, but if they do so, we expect them to be consistent. As it happens, the cover of the May 29 edition of the Globe magazine contains a headline about another high-profile political couple: "BUSH MARRIAGE BREAKUP! EXCLUSIVE! SEPARATE LIVES IN THE WHITE HOUSE."
Read the shocking details!!!!
George and Laura Bush have Seperate Beds! Do we have a "liberal" press, or a bunch of Gossip Mongers!!!!
George Bush and Laura Bush sleep in separate beds and Laura calls Bush a drunk...Advises him he needs serious help! ... Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton have love triangles....Frist likes to play doctor...
Today's headlines brought to you courtesy of the corporate media and former 'liberal' press: NYT, WAPO, and The GLOBE.
Read more @ Progressive U.
at 2/13/2007 Posted by Sunny Badger
The Space Review interview with the 1972 Hudson High School graduate and author of numerous fiction and non-fiction books.
by Dwayne A. Day
Monday, February 12, 2007
Michael Cassutt is a writer who has worked in several genres over the years. He is perhaps best known in science fiction circles as a television writer, penning episodes for shows such as Farscape, Stargate SG-1, and the late, lamented American version of Max Headroom (which was brought to us live, from “20 minutes into the future…”). He has also written several near-future science fiction books, set in the current space program. These include Tango Midnight, Missing Man, and Red Moon, about a murder investigation in the Russian space program during the height of the Moon race.
But to those interested in space history, Cassutt is known as the author of several non-fiction books, including: Deke! the biography of Deke Slayton (1992), a biography of General Tom Stafford, and all three editions of Who’s Who in Space (1987, 1993 and 1998), a reference guide to the important people, as well as astronauts, involved in the world’s major space programs.
During a recent trip to Los Angeles I was able to meet up with Cassutt, who talked about several of his projects. This prompted me to follow up with this interview via e-mail.
The Space Review: Where did you grow up? What influenced you as a kid?
Television and sports were the twin pillars of my interests until about age 11, when I discovered science fiction and spaceflight.
Mchael Cassutt: I was born in Owatonna, Minnesota, because my father was then teaching in a small town nearby. Spent a few years as a teacher’s brat in various other obscure locations—my favorite (and the site of my first memories) being Kiester, MN. But my hometown, where we moved in 1958, was Hudson, Wisconsin, a wonderful mix of small town and suburbia located on the St. Croix River about 15 miles from downtown St. Paul, Minnesota.
Learned more about the work of Michael Cassutt.
Kitty claws at the purse strings...
"I've never seen a budget like this," said Rep. Kitty Rhoades, co-chair of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee and a nine-year veteran lawmaker. "Evidently, the governor believes taxpayers can pay more now than they've ever before. Call it whatever you want, it's still going to be coming out of your pocketbook."
Doyle wants to raise the cigarette tax by $1.25 per pack, increase the vehicle registration and driver's license fees, and relax the property tax cap thereby providing great flexibility for communities to have more options to deal with revenue challenges.
Read more @ St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Admissions process guarantees individual review for every applicant
MADISON – College admissions processes at University of Wisconsin System campuses will follow a single, updated policy approved unanimously by the Board of Regents on Friday (Feb. 9).
The policy states that academic achievements are the most important factors in admissions decisions. It preserves long-standing, minimum academic requirements, and consolidates several previous UW System admissions policies, some of which were first approved more than 30 years ago.
Under the policy, UW campuses are to admit students who are likely to succeed at the university, and who will both benefit from and contribute to the educational environment.
The Dixie Chicks are Nashville refugees for reasons of politics and personality -- but the trio found redemption at the 49th annual Grammy Awards with five awards, including song, record and album of the year.
By US Rep. Ron Kind
Growing up in western Wisconsin, and every day as a congressman, I have witnessed the incredible work ethic of America’s farmers. For generations, they have labored their lands not only to feed their families and ours, but to fuel the economy of our state and nation.
Farmers in Wisconsin and across America have created and maintained an agricultural wealth in this country that is unparalleled. And now, as technology gives rise to new markets for our agriculture products — such as ethanol and other biofuels — the potential for our nation’s farmers has never been greater. In light of the unprecedented success of our producers and the tremendous opportunity for growth in the industry, we must now re-examine the way agriculture is supported in America.
St. Croix Economic Development Corp: Lobbying officials say legislators often neglect border counties
After a decade of steady economic and population growth, a lobbying group representing three St. Croix Valley counties will go to Madison this week to remind Wisconsin lawmakers that they are an important — not remote — region of the state.
About 45 business, civic, education and elected officials will meet with Gov. Jim Doyle, state commerce officials and as many lawmakers as possible during the second annual United St. Croix Valley Legislative Days.
Rep. Ron Kind (D-La Crosse) said the United States is "in desperate need of a new direction, not an escalation, in Iraq."
Doyle wants to let local governments raise their property tax levies more because state government can't offer them significant new cash, Fitzgerald said.State Rep. Kitty Rhoades, R-Hudson, co-chairman of the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee, said the GOP will work to cut back Doyle's proposal."Somebody is going to have to be the defensive line," she said.
Doyle told the Wisconsin State Journal that his budget would expand 4-year-old kindergarten classes."I believe really strongly in good early childhood development and I think everybody who is involved in education understands how important it is for kids to get off to a good start," he said in an interview with the Madison newspaper.
Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, R-River Falls, along with Sen. Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee, and others, are sponsoring a resolution to ban governors from creating new sentences by vetoing parts of two or more sentences in spending bills.
Harsdorf calls this practice the "Frankenstein" veto. That's because in the last budget, Doyle stitched together a few dozen words and figures among more than 800 words to create a monstrous law. It resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in higher spending that the Legislature never approved.
"The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law, they were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendment to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General."
Opening paragraph of Harrison Bergeron
A short story by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
In the book Welcome to the Monkey House
I checked this book out of the library to reread this short story, after reading a post at ontheborderline.net about the requirement of having equal cheer leading represented at boys' and girls' sporting events. Below is an interesting take on that story...
See: Dennis Prager Commentary: Left Supports More Liberty Is A Fallacy
"High school cheerleaders must now cheer for girls' teams as often as for boys' teams thanks to federal education officials' interpretations of Title IX, the civil rights law that mandates equal playing fields for both sexes. According to The New York Times, almost no one directly involved wants this - not the cheerleaders, not the fans, not the boys' teams, and not even the girls' teams. But it doesn't matter: The law coerces cheerleaders to cheer at girls' games."
Recently I read a story about Miracle Field, an organization that helps develop community baseball fields designed for handicapped children. It's an interesting idea that makes me say "Why not!"
By Sarah Lemagie, Star Tribune: Disabled children might get ball field
"Lakeville volunteers are raising money for a baseball field designed for handicapped youth."
I wonder what it would be like if all boys and girls learned to play together -- regardless or ability or disability? What if the point of games were to have fun and learn to work together -- despite our obvious differences? What if we lived in a world that tried to bring everybody together in the spirit of cooperation in work, play and community live?
Just a thought...
at 2/11/2007 Posted by JPN
Michigan: Private school bomb threat
Classes resume at Plymouth private school after bomb threat
CANTON TOWNSHIP -- A handwritten bomb threat found on the floor this morning caused about 500 students at Plymouth Christian Academy to spend more than an hour in a nearby church while police searched their classrooms.
Georgia: Private school bomb threat
"As for discipline and uniforms, did the students that called in the bomb threat have their uniforms on when they made the call?"
New York: Private school students protest
The eighth-graders, dressed in combat fatigues, marched from their school on East 96th Street to the military recruitment center in Times Square. The Martin Luther King Jr. Day march is an annual tradition at the small private school.
"We are taking MLK's stance against the Vietnam War and using it as a symbol for what is going on today," said 14-year-old Brandon George.
Toronto: Sexual assault at private school
Toronto private school looks to improve security after girl, 7, attacked
Parents and officials at a local private school were struggling to come to grips Wednesday with the sexual assault of a seven-year-old student inside a school washroom — and how to ensure such an attack never happens again.
Teen arrested at private school
A 13-year-old student at St. Sebastian’s School was arrested Wednesday, Jan. 24, on a charge of assault with a dangerous weapon – a box cutter – according to police.
Private school teacher acquitted of sexual assault
Mr. Hanson was charged in October 2005 with one count of indecent assault and one count of gross indecency and was suspended with pay by the private school.
Private school educator jailed for sex crimes with students
Private-school employee from Pownal, Maine, charged with risk of injury to a minor and second-degree sexual assault of a juvenile male at Eagle Hill School in Greenwich, Conn. In July 2006, she was sentenced to 18 months prison.
Private School Teacher Charged With Unlawful Sex
A Redwood City private school teacher is in custody on $175,000 bail for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student, the San Mateo County district attorney's office reports.