14 Dec

Truth Out Today, Wednesday 14 December 2011

On the News With Thom Hartmann: House Republicans Pass Earmarked Payroll Tax Cut Extension, and More
In today’s On the News segment: The Pennsylvania governor slashes the police budget, China imposes an automobile tariff on US cars, the Environmental Protection Agency confirms the toxicity of coal ash, and more.
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Richard D. Wolff | Lehman Brothers: Financially and Morally Bankrupt
Richard D. Wolff, The Guardian UK: “Consider the irony: governments today impose austerity on the rest of us because ‘the markets’ demand no less to keep credit flowing to those governments. Behind this dubious abstraction – ‘the markets’ – hide the chief lenders to governments. Those are the same global banks that received the government bailouts paid for by massive government borrowing since 2007. ‘Thieves,’ mutter the Occupy Wall Street folk – and who can blame them?”
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UN Durban Climate Talks: An Agreement to Try to Agree
Rinaldo Brutoco and Madeleine Austin, Truthout: “Last week’s UN climate change meeting in Durban, South Africa, closed with an agreement to try to agree on a new treaty limiting carbon emissions, to go into effect in 2020. But by then it will be too late (if it isn’t already) to prevent an atmospheric temperature rise of more than 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) above pre-Industrial Revolution levels – the threshold for ‘potentially dangerous’ runaway climate change.”
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Holder Signals Tough Review of New State Laws on Voting
Charlie Savage, The New York Times News Service: “Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. … signaled that the Justice Department would be aggressive in reviewing new voting laws that civil rights advocates say will dampen minority participation in next year’s elections … Mr. Holder urged Americans to ‘call on our political parties to resist the temptation to suppress certain votes in the hope of attaining electoral success and, instead, achieve success by appealing to more voters.'”
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Forensic Analysis Finds Venango County, PA, E-Voting System “Remotely Accessed” on “Multiple Occasions” by Unknown Computer
Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog: “According to a report from an independent forensic audit of the Venango County, PA, touch-screen voting system … someone used a computer that was not a part of county’s election network to remotely access the central election tabulator computer, illegally, ‘on multiple occasions.’ Despite the disturbing report … we may never get to learn who did it or why, if Venango’s County Commissioners, a local judge, and the nation’s largest e-voting company have their way.”
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Gingrich’s Tax Plan Would Cause Perpetual Trillion Dollar Deficits, Triple the Debt by 2024
Seth Hanlon, ThinkProgress: “Gingrich’s plan would violate basic notions of fairness by requiring middle-class families to pay higher tax rates than millionaires. But that’s not all that’s wrong with it. Gingrich’s plan is by far the most fiscally reckless plan to be released by a major 2012 contender. The magnitude of the tax cuts he is proposing to the wealthy and corporations would drive the debt to unprecedented and dangerous levels even if federal spending is cut drastically.”
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Not a Revolution?
Richard Lichtman, Truthout: “We have succeeded in establishing … that the current distribution of wealth, and the power it provides, is clearly a maldistribution … No, it is not a revolution. Is it even a significant reform? It is too early to say. It intends … to transcend the structures of capitalist exploitation. It does not yet know how to proceed to this new place, but it knows well enough the place it intends to leave behind.”
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Robert Reich | Newt’s Tax Plan, and Why His Polls Rise the More Outrageous He Becomes
Robert Reich, Robert Reich’s Blog: “Newt Gingrich has done it again. With his new tax plan he has raised the bar from irresponsibility to recklessness … First off, Newt’s plan increases the federal budget deficit by about $850 billion – in a single year! … Most of this explosion of debt in Newt’s plan occurs because he slashes taxes. But not just anyone’s taxes. The lion’s share of Newt’s tax cuts benefit the very, very rich.”
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Is the Use of the Military Designed for the Occupy Movement?
Kevin Zeese, “A radical change in law to allow the use of the military inside the United States, against U.S. citizens and residents, and to allow their indefinite military detention based merely on suspicion of being engaged in hostilities against the U.S is being rushed through Congress. At the request of the White House, language that exempted American citizens and legal residents from indefinite military detention was removed from the bill.”
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Surviving the Second Gilded Age
Henry A. Giroux, Truthout: “It has become difficult to not recognize that we are firmly in the grip of a second Gilded Age. Not only is this return obvious in the homage – if not hysteria – that marks a return to the dream worlds of consumption, commodification and a survival-of-the-fittest ethic, but also in the actions of right-wing politicians who want to initiate policies that take the country back to the late 19th century.”
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Thinking Outside the Cage
Denise Kelly, Truthout: “One of every five Americans watches birds, and their activities contribute $36 billion to the US economy annually … Almost a third of the world’s 330 parrot species are threatened with extinction due to pressures from collecting for the pet trade, combined with habitat loss … We are a bird-loving nation. Surely, it’s time we start replacing the demand for birds as ‘pets’ with a demand for preserving the species in the wild.”
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Matt Stoller: How the Federal Reserve Fights
Matt Stoller, Naked Capitalism: “Bloomberg released a story on the actions of the Federal Reserve as the lender of last resort during the crisis and the extent of that lending. It revealed lending and guarantees of roughly $8 trillion, and estimated government-granted profit garnered by the big banks of $13 billion. More disturbing were inconsistent statements by Bernanke publicly claiming he was lending only to sound institutions when the Fed’s internal assessments of those same banks showed otherwise.”
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I Ain’t Got No Home: (Re)learning the Value of Place and Occupying a Sustainable Future
Tina Lynn Evans, New Clear Vision: “The primacy of place in the movement reminds us that, when people are denied access to the primary productivity of the land and the seas, they are relegated to a status of enforced dependency on an abstract marketplace primarily constructed to serve the interests of the rich and the powerful. The Movement’s emphasis on space also reminds us that we cannot live entirely within the realm of the abstract idea of the marketplace.”
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Obama Seeks to Resume Aid to Repressive Dictatorship in Uzbekistan
Stephen Zunes, Truthout: “The US Senate Appropriations Committee has voted to waive Bush-era human rights restrictions on military aid to the Islam Karimov dictatorship in Uzbekistan, one of the most brutal and repressive regimes on the planet. The lifting of the restrictions … is before the full Senate and appears to have bipartisan support. The Obama administration has indicated that it intends to provide taxpayer-funded military assistance to Uzbekistan once the legislation passes both houses of Congress.”
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Mitt Romney, when governor of Massachusetts, showed how literally blind Americans are to the lie of “no new taxes.”

And he did that by attempting to levy a “user fee” on being blind.

No, we are not making this up.

According to a report on NPR,

When Mitt Romney was Massachusetts governor in 2003 and faced with a $3 billion state budget deficit, he didn’t want to raise taxes since that would prevent him in the future from claiming he hadn’t raised taxes.

So he proposed new or increased fees, including a $10 licensing fee on the blind so a sight-impaired person could receive a state certificate of blindness.

Perhaps the biggest scam of the Grover Norquist “no new taxes” fervor is that the refusal of Republicans on the Hill to raise federal taxes leads to an increase in local and state taxes, including property taxes that heavily affect home-owning GOP voters in the suburbs.

More significantly, as Romney showed when governor, the “no new taxes” mantra at the federal level has a ripple effect. This results in “progressive” taxes that people pay based on income being replaced, in part, with regressive taxes and fees at the state level, including his proposed levy for being blind.

An Associated Press (AP) article from 2007 noted:

Bob Hachey, president of Bay State Council of the Blind, said that while the fees were relatively modest, they could have made life harder on blind individuals on fixed incomes. He said Romney’s penchant for fees even earned him a nickname.

“We renamed him ‘Fee-Fee.’ He was so unwilling to raise taxes that he was wanting to put all these fees in place instead,” Hachey said.

The AP detailed the “user-fee-as-flat-tax” strategy:

Romney and Democratic lawmakers ended up approving hundreds of millions in higher fees and fines, making it more expensive to use an ice skating rink, register a boat, take the bar exam, get a duplicate driver’s license, file a court case, install underground storage tanks, sell cigarettes or alcohol, comply with air quality rules and transport hazardous waste.

A survey of states by the National Conference of State Legislatures found Massachusetts led the nation during Romney’s first year, raising fees and fines by $501 million.

You’d have to be blind to believe that the GOP can promise the benefits of democracy without an equitable taxation system.

Whoops, but being blind is itself “taxable” according to Romney.

Mark Karlin
Editor BuzzFlash at Truthout

Ohio GOP Voter Suppression Law on Hold, Will Face Referendum in 2012 Due to Pro-Democracy Activism
Read the Article at BuzzFlash

Congress’ Shameful Treatment of the Nation’s Long-Term Unemployed
Read the Article at The Seattle Times

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Helps ALEC Undercut Public Education
Read the Article at BuzzFlash

Rush Limbaugh’s Ratings Have Fallen 30 Percent in the Last Six Months
Read the Article at Business Insider

Wealth Inequality Hasn’t Grown? Check the Facts
Read the Article at BuzzFlash

Report: Child Homelessness Up 33 Percent in Three Years
Read the Article at USA Today

Ask Newt Gingrich
Read the Article at BuzzFlash

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