Taking a page out of the Bernie Sanders playbook, Governor Andrew Cuomo, with Bernie Sanders standing by his side, proposed free university tuition in New York state for residents making less than $125,000 a year. New York on the east coast and California on the west are taking the lead in preserving and advancing progressive values in the Trump era which will probably see conservative values extolled at the Federal level. But Democrats like Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren and others will do all they can to block Republican efforts to shred the safety net for poor and middle Americans. Meanwhile, state and local governments in progressive states will do all they can to advance the cause of values that benefit average Americans. [Read more…]
Restocking the Swamp
Trump’s new pick for Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, his top campaign fundraiser, was a Goldman Sachs executive. Mnuchin spent 17 years working at Goldman Sachs where he became a partner. He also worked for hedge fund manager George Soros, founded a hedge fund of his own and was the lead investor in IndyMac, a failed subprime lender that turned into a “foreclosure machine” during the housing crisis.
As the financial crisis worsened, Mnuchin was looking to make a profit off of homeowners who couldn’t pay their mortgages. In 2009, he got together with a group of billionaire investors and bought a failed California-based bank, IndyMac, which had been taken over by the FDIC after its portfolio went bust. Mnuchin and his partners bought IndyMac on the condition that the FDIC agree to pay future losses above a certain threshold. They renamed the bank OneWest Bank and, after running it for six years, they sold it last year for a profit, estimated at close to $1.5 billion. [Read more…]
The Safety Net Will Soon be in Shreds
The Trump administration will take over in a couple weeks. Essential benefits for tens of millions of low-and moderate-income Americans are in danger of being phased out or canceled immediately. These include the Affordable Care Act, the Medicaid health-insurance program for the poor and further reduction of already squeezed funding for scores of other important programs serving the most vulnerable Americans such as rental vouchers for low-income families, programs to fight homelessness, job training, funding for poor school districts, Head Start for young children and Pell grants to help low-income students afford college.
Republicans are all about cutting non-defense discretionary spending, and that means any program that helps the poor and middle class. After Trump showers tax cuts on the rich and corporations, the Republican Congress will attempt to balance the budget on the backs of the poor. It’s what they’ve been trying to do for years, but Obama stood in their way. Now they have a green light. In the House GOP’s most recent budget plan, 62 percent of a stunning $6 trillion in budget cuts over 10 years would come from programs to help the poor. [Read more…]
Earthquake Capital of US
We have written previously about the fact that Oklahoma is now the earthquake capital of the US. It seems forcing all the waste products from fracking down deep wells has disturbed the earth enough to cause a lot of earthquakes there. In addition to jolting the nerves of Oklahomans, it is destroying their property. In 2014, there were over twice as many earthquakes recorded in Oklahoma as in California, making Oklahoma the most seismically active state in the contiguous United States by a substantial margin.
Residents of the town of Pawnee, which has suffered the most earthquakes, have filed a class action lawsuit against 27 energy companies. The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of money for property damage plus emotional distress. The lawsuit claims that companies are showing “reckless disregard for public or private safety.” [Read more…]
A Secy of Labor Who Doesn’t Believe in the Minimum Wage
By John Lawrence
Trump has chosen fast food executive Andrew Puzder as Secretary of Labor. Puzder is chief executive of CKE Restaurants, the corporation that owns Hardee’s and Carls Jr fast food chains. The corporation has 3300 locations in 42 states and 28 countries. Puzder has advocated replacing human beings with machines in fast food restaurants.
Puzder also is against the minimum wage altogether, let alone raising it to $15 an hour. He sees his job as executive of CKE as driving down the cost of labor and this means lowering the minimum wage and replacing workers with automated machines. [Read more…]
They Just Increase Amount of Poison We’re Exposed To
The controversy over genetically modified crops has focused on whether or not they were safe to eat. We have to ask ourselves what was the purpose for genetically modifying them in the first place. That was so they could be sprayed with Monsanto’s Roundup and they wouldn’t die. Only the weeds would die. But this leaves the crops, mainly corn and soybeans, with a nice coating of poison. It won’t kill them, but it might kill you.
The next promise of the chemical corporations was that the use of GMO sprayed with weed killers would lead to a significant increase in crop yields, but that hasn’t happened either. The promise was that GMOs would “feed the world”. Monsanto and others pointed to the fact that the world’s population was increasing so we needed a far more abundant food supply, and the only way to get there was by means of GMOs liberally sprayed with RoundUp, the main ingredient of which is glyphosate. [Read more…]
His Supporters Have Been Snookered!
In a 60 Minutes interview with Leslie Stahl, Trump back pedaled on his major campaign promises and a lot else. When asked what his sit-down with President Obama was like he replied, “I found him [President Obama] to be terrific. I found him to be– very smart and very nice. Great sense of humor, as much as you can have a sense of humor talking about tough subjects, but we were talking about some pretty tough subjects.” So no more questions about his legitimacy to be President? No more wondering whether he was born in Kenya? I guess not now that he, Trump, is a member of the club.
The interview went on: [Read more…]
A Hacker’s Wet Dream
By John Lawrence
Hackers are licking their chops over the latest push by high tech corporations including San Diego’s Qualcomm to create an Internet of Things in which everything is hooked up to the internet: your refrigerator, your thermostat, your security system, your car. It will be a hacker’s paradise. Already hackers have carried out a distributed denial of service (DDoS) taking Netflix, Twitter, Paypal and other major websites off the air. Hackers were able to direct an overwhelming amount of traffic to a company by the name of Dyn which acts as a switching hub for internet traffic.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is driven by corporate needs to find a new way to keep revenues flowing now that cell phones and computers seem to have reached their maximum growth capacity. So why not promote an internet in which all your household appliances are online? That way you can use your cell phone to set your thermostat, check on your refrigerator to see if you should pick up milk on the way home, check your cameras to see if the FedEx guy left a package etc. [Read more…]
Trump Astounded and Shocked Democrats — and Even His Own Pollsters
Hillary was a shoo-in.. or at least that’s what everyone thought. Hillary had a blue firewall and many paths to 270 electoral votes. Donald had a bunch of heavy lifting including an almost impossible flipping of one or two blue states.
Whaaa hoppened?! What happened was that angry, white rural voters went for the guy that was against free trade (much as Bernie Sanders was) and promised to bring their rust belt jobs back from China and other Asiatic places. You had only to look at the state by state maps to see solid red in rural areas even in blue states with the only blue being in the big cities.
It wasn’t enough for Hillary to win even though she came close, and unmistakably the popular vote by more than two million. According to an article by the New York Times, this 1.5 percentage point surpasses margins by Al Gore, Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy . [Read more…]
You Can’t Make This Stuff Up, Folks!
The American Egg Board, which is overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, put out a hit on an eggless mayonnaise start-up which had come up with a product called Just Mayo which contains no eggs. Perceiving this as a threat to the egg industry and the thousands of chickens it represents, Egg Board members exchanged emails asking, “Can we pool our money and put a hit on him?”
This was in reference to the founder of the eggless mayonnaise company, Josh Tetrick. They also suggested that “old buddies from Brooklyn pay him a visit.” Evidently, the $7 billion egg industry saw the vegan start-up as a threat to its profits, and was determined to stop it in its tracks at all costs. The Board’s president, Joanne Ivy, sent an email to her organization’s public relations consultants at Edelman. “It would be a good idea if Edelman looked at this product as a crisis and major threat to the future of the egg product business,” she wrote. [Read more…]
Oil Corporation Tramps on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights
Finally, there is an alliance of a major ethnic group – US Indians – and environmentalists who are taking a stand to prevent the furtherance of fossil fuel interests. Bill McKibben of 350.org says we must stop now insofar as building more fossil fuel infrastructure, which is what a pipeline represents, if we are to have a hope and a prayer of saving the planet from the effects of global warming. [Read more…]
Lyricist for “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”
E.Y. Yip Harburg (1896-1981) was born Isidore Hochberg on New York’s lower east side of Russian immigrant parents. His nickname, Yipsel, was later shortened to Yip. Unlike many of his contemporary songwriters like George and Ira Gershwin, with whom he was friends, Yip grew up in poverty and never forgot it.
He was known as “the social conscience of Broadway”. He wrote the words to over 600 songs including all the lyrics for the 1939 production “Over the Rainbow” starring Judy Garland. The music was composed by his collaborator, Harold Arlen. He wrote the words for the classic anthem of the depression, “Brother Can You Spare a Dime.” [Read more…]
The Business of America is No Longer Business – It’s Finance
The rich today are making money not from making things, but by manipulating money. This is being done in such a way that it is driving the inequality process. It is ruining the middle class while exporting their jobs. The tax structure of the US engineered by Ronald Reagan, Alan Greenspan and their Republican followers has incentivized the creation of great wealth in a few hands while driving the majority of people into poverty.
So-called trickle down economics has only spurted up. While the rich have many ways of escaping paying taxes, middle class people are stuck paying them to a larger and larger extent. The government needs money to operate, and, if the rich don’t pay their fair share, the middle class has to make up for it. US tax policy makes sure that it does. [Read more…]
Keep It In the Ground
Bill McKibben of 350.org said recently, “If our goal is to keep the Earth’s temperature from rising more than two degrees Celsius—the upper limit identified by the nations of the world—how much more new digging and drilling can we do? Here’s the answer: zero.”
The goal of keeping earth’s temperature rise below 2 degrees C is already in danger even with the coal mines, oil wells and pipelines currently in operation and assuming there will be no new ones. That means that we shouldn’t be doing any more digging or drilling. It all has to stop – now – if the earth is to survive. [Read more…]
Oklahoma Now Earthquake Capitol of US
The chickens are coming home to roost. A state that has thrived from oil wells is now being destroyed by them. The practice of forcing waste water from oil drilling down other wells has made Oklahoma the earthquake capital of the US.
Between 1978 and 2008 Oklahoma averaged about two magnitude 3 or above earthquakes per year. Then in 2014 the total zoomed up to 585, 3+ magnitude earthquakes, more than the number of 3.0+ magnitude earthquakes from the previous 30 years combined. In 2014, there were over twice as many earthquakes recorded in Oklahoma as in California, making Oklahoma the most seismically active state in the contiguous United States by a substantial margin. [Read more…]
The Measure Doesn’t Do Enough to Get Cars Off the Road
In a nutshell, Measure A is a something-for-everybody approach that doesn’t do enough to concentrate on climate change. A full on effort to get cars off the road and people onto public transit would do much more. That means more trolley and light rail lines paralleling major freeways.
When congestion is bad enough and transit gets better, at some point, commuters will switch to transit as long as it becomes more convenient. That should be SANDAG’s goal. And let’s address the issue of getting truck traffic off the road. Rail service should be encouraged. [Read more…]
This is Part 2 of Buddhist Economics: Economics As If People Mattered.
The Buddhist approach is that consumption is merely a means to human well-being. The aim should be to attain a maximum of well-being with a minimum of consumption. It would also be considered salutary to produce much of what is needed for human well-being by one’s own hands rather than being a total participant in the cash economy. This is anathema to capitalist economists and bankers who thrive on interest from bank loans in order that consumers can purchase more stuff on borrowed money and go into more debt.
Without debt based economics, Wall Street would be out of business and GDP would be lowered because GDP only measures cash transactions not self-subsistent production. Consumption represents 70% of US GDP. Western economics considers consumption to be the end all of economic activity. Buddhist economics considers economic activity to be that which is necessary for liberation of the spirit and for the provision of the right amount of goods and services without gorging on them. [Read more…]
Economics Should Be About People, Not Wall Street
In Buddhist economics there is the concept of “right livelihood.” Work is considered an essential component of human life just as play and leisure. Work of a craftsmanlike nature, work which is satisfying–not work that is stultifying, of an assembly-line nature. Work that nourishes the soul; this kind of work results in right livelihood.
By the same token, there is “right consumption.” This is as contrasted with the unlimited consumption advanced Western societies and pushed on their citizens through advertising and other means in order to have economic “growth” and to increase GDP. [Read more…]
Noam Chomsky advocates voting for Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party in states that are securely Democratic, and voting for Hillary in swing states where every vote counts. This makes a lot of sense because it’s one way, maybe the only way, to build a third party in this country.
Due to our antiquated voting system, a third party can never be successful. However, it could conceivably replace one of the two present day mainstream parties at some point.
Jill Stein stands for a lot of the things that Bernie and other Progressives stand for. But even if, by some stretch of the imagination, she were to be elected in November, she would still face a Republican Congress. Hillary is right when she seeks to tone down Bernie’s rhetoric and make more modest claims. [Read more…]
Is there a balanced way to live so that chemicals released by the brain, which produce feelings of well being and happiness, can happen without addiction to drugs or exercise?
For some these endorphins seem to naturally produce ‘enough good feeling’ without their having to do anything more. For some the ‘happiness gene’ seems to be turned on at all times regardless of what happens in the events of their lives.
For others there is a deficiency that leads to a tendency for them to become alcoholics or drug addicts. A person’s natural energy level seems to have something to do with it. High energy people need to release that energy in non-sedentary pursuits or mitigate the effects of it like so-called ADHD with drugs. [Read more…]
Americans are using drugs of various kinds at an increasing rate. Of course drugs have been around for a long time, since the beginning of time in fact. In 5000 BC the Sumerians used opium. The earliest record of alcohol production was in Egypt in 3500 BC. Tea in China was used in 3000 BC. Humans have used various substances to manipulate and alter their mood levels for millennia.
Food, sex, and exercise addiction are not considered to be included in drug addiction although they work in a similar way to release chemicals in the brain that then flood the body and produce pleasurable sensations. Food addiction can have the most undesirable consequences including obesity. Addiction to work, workaholism, on the other hand, can have very desirable consequences including increased financial well being although it may wreak a toll on human relationships. [Read more…]
Housing is Not a Human Right in the US
By John Lawrence
Why does homelessness persist in the world’s richest nation? The simple answer is that having a roof over one’s head is not a human right in this society. Fortunate people, those with a home and a car and other assets will not vote to give others what they possess even on the most basic level. Article 25 of the 1948 United Nations Declaration of Human Rights states:
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
If You Don’t Want American Fascism, You Must Vote Democratic
In a great speech at the Democratic convention, President Obama made his case about why we need to elect Hillary Clinton the next President and that we should also elect Democrats “up and down the ticket.” That is very important because Obama himself only had a chance to get his agenda implemented when there was a Democratic filibuster-proof Congress.
Do you remember the high drama surrounding the supermajority that the Democrats supposedly had in 2008 after Obama was elected? Senator Ted Kennedy was ill with brain cancer. His vote was the much needed 60th vote for filibuster-proofness. But he was too sick to vote.
Eventually, Republican Scott Brown was elected to Kennedy’s seat, and Democratic control of Congress ceased because from then on, the Republicans filibustered literally everything. Obama was left to spin his wheels trying to get them to play nice and compromise. It didn’t work, and Obama wasted his time. [Read more…]
Last year was the hottest year ever globally — or it was until 2016 got off to a sweltering start. NASA announced that the first six months of this year have been the hottest since 1880, which is when people started keeping reliable records. In June 2016 the average earth temperature was 1.62 degrees hotter than the average June temperature for the 20th century.
The Arctic has seen sky high temperatures this year with the result of record low sea ice levels. The Alaskan town of Deadhorse just 50 miles from the Arctic coast set a record temperature of 85º F.
The drought and blistering heat, some 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, have made it impossible for farmers to tend their crops. Towns on India’s eastern side have been hit with record-setting temperatures — 119.3 degrees in the town of Titlagarh, Orissa, which is the highest temperature ever recorded in that state during April. [Read more…]
The UCSD campus is again tense. In the wake of the anxiety and anger created by the Regents’ decisions last November, the battle concerning the rehiring of Dr. Herbert Marcuse is adding new fuel to the already strained administration-student and university-community relationships.
Contrary to what most people think, at this point it is not the student dissidents that are seeking campus confrontations, but the extreme Right, particularly in San Diego. Thus, Governor Reagan has been consistently quoted in the press as saying that “the time for a confrontation on the campuses is here.” He, his government and his right wing allies have consistently acted to bring that confrontation about in order to be able to implement repressive measures with the goal of stifling the student movement. [Read more…]