August 1, 2015

44% admit they've tried marijuana

Gallup - As Oregon becomes the fourth state to make recreational marijuana use legal, 44% of Americans say they have tried marijuana. This is the highest percentage Gallup has found since it began asking the question in 1969. Back then, a mere 4% admitted to having tried it.

Median wealth by country

1. Australia $193,653
2. Luxembourg $153,967
3. Japan $141,410
4. Italy $123,710
5. Belgium $119,937
6. United Kingdom $115,245
7. Iceland $ 95,685
8. Singapore $ 95,542
9. Switzerland $ 87,137
10. Denmark $ 87,121
11. Austria $ 81,649
12. Canada $ 81,610
13. France $ 81,274
14. Norway $ 79,376
15. Finland $ 73,487
16. New Zealand $ 63,000
17. Netherlands $ 61,880
18. Ireland $ 60,953
19. Qatar $ 57,027
 20. Spain $ 53,292
21. United Arab Emir. $ 47,998
 22. Taiwan $ 45,451
 23. Germany $ 42,222
24. Sweden $ 41,367
25. Cyprus $ 40,535
 26. Kuwait $ 40,346
 27. United States $ 38,786

Read more here: http://bit.ly/1fEyG6f
Occupy Democrats

Rooftop sign for plane passengers arriving in Milwaukee

 Mark Gubin on top of the old theatre that houses his gallery, painted Welcome to Cleveland on the roof, which at times gives pause to aircraft passengers passing overhead preparing to land at Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee.  The studio is located at 2893 S. Delaware in Milwaukee.  

Rules of thumb

Rules of Thumb - The best time to but a new car is the last day of the month because the sales staff want their monthly reports to look good and are more likely to bargain. You can increase your chances of getting a good deal by choosing the youngest salesperson on the floor.  - Scott Parker, data specialist, Beaumont, Texas 

Number of park rangers decline

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility - Figures released by the National Park Service to PEER indicate that in the decade spanning 2005 through 2014, the number of permanent law enforcement rangers in our national parks dropped by nearly 14% (from 1548 to 1322) despite both an increase in the number of park units and a substantial hike in annual visitors, campers and hikers. The drop in seasonal rangers was even steeper. From 2006 (the first year full statistics were available) to 2014 there were nearly 27% (671 to 492) fewer seasonal rangers .

Word

Beyond the futility of armed force, and ultimately more important, is the fact that war in our time inevitably results in the indiscriminate killing of large numbers of people. To put it more bluntly, war is terrorism. That is why a "war on terrorism" is a contradiction in terms. - Howard Zinn

July 31, 2015

Summer Olympic swimmers will race in sewage




Fusion - An investigation by the Associated Press has concluded that the waters of Rio de Janeiro, where the Summer Olympics will be held next year, are chock-full of sewage, and that competing athletes should not be surprised if they get “violently ill” after swimming and boating events.

Brazilian officials have conceded that they won’t fulfill promises made when the country won Olympic bid in 2009. Officials had said they would cut pollution into the notoriously dirty Guanabara Bay by 80 percent ahead of the games, but “it’s not going to happen,” said Rio’s environment secretary in January.

Feds privatizing national parks

Jim Hightower  - While we Americans celebrate the 100th anniversary of our National Park Service, America's so-called "leaders" are aggressively commercializing our parks, converting these jewels of the common good into just another corporate cash cow.

This started with "co-branding" agreements, rationalized by NPS officials as "aligning the economic and historical legacies" of parks with advertisers. In other words, they are selling the Park Service's proud public brand... as well as its soul.

First in line was Coca-Cola. In 2010, the multibillion-dollar colossus became a "Proud Partner" with NPS by making a mere $2.5 million tax-deductible donation. In return, Coke got exclusive rights to use park logos in its ads – and it also was allowed to veto an NPS plan to ban sales of bottled water in the Grand Canyon park. Disposable plastic bottles are that park's biggest source of trash, but Coke owns the Dasani brand of water, so bye-bye ban. Public outrage forced officials to reverse this crass move, but NPS' integrity has yet to recover.

Then this April, the park service abandoned its policy of rejecting any ties to alcohol products when Anheuser-Busch also became a Proud NPS Partner by making a $2.5 million tax-deductible "gift." In turn, its Budweiser brand was given the Statue of Liberty. Not literally, but symbolically – Bud now has the right to plaster Lady Liberty, the iconic symbol of the USA itself, on its cans.

Creeping commercialization of our public parks is not creeping, it's running rampant! For example, take a whiff of this: In return for becoming a Proud Partner, Air Wick was authorized to market a new fragrance collection that it advertises as being "uniquely inspired by America's national parks."

Sanders proposes Medicare for all

Bernie Sanders

Is this guy on drugs?

Vox - The new head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Chuck Rosenberg, on Tuesday said marijuana is "probably" less dangerous than heroin. "If you want me to say that marijuana's not dangerous, I'm not going to say that because I think it is," Rosenberg said, according to US News's Steven Nelson. "Do I think it's as dangerous as heroin? Probably not. I'm not an expert."

The answer is akin to politicians saying they're not scientists when asked if global warming is real. You may not be a scientist or an expert, but there is plenty of data and research out there to let you — a smart, thinking human being — decide what the facts are.

In the case of marijuana versus heroin, the DEA chief didn't need a "probably" in his statement: Marijuana is absolutely safer than heroin. Marijuana's biggest risk is the possibility of dependency, which can cause the drug to take over someone's life to the point that he or she is constantly impaired. Heroin can not only take over someone's life (and at much higher rates than marijuana), but it poses a high risk of overdose death that marijuana does not. Both drugs can also cause accidents, although the research suggests heroin is slightly worse on this front as well.

BTW, this guy went to the John F Kennedy School at Harvard and University of Virginia Law School.

Infrequently asked questions

If Hillary Clinton is such a great candidate for the Democrats why isn't she doing significantly better in the polls than Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders?

Our running average of recent polls has her doing only 2 points better against Bush than Joe Biden and 6 points better than Sanders. She does 7 points better against Walker than Biden or Sanders and 4 points better against Trump than Biden.

Is this the best the Democrats can do?

Scott Walker's economic mismanagement of Wisconsin

In These Times - In 2011, Walker created the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to give businesses taxpayer loans and grants. Within a few years, state auditors published reports spotlighting “concerns with WEDC’s administration and oversight of its economic development programs and its financial management.” Specifically, auditors said “WEDC did not require grant and loan recipients to submit information showing that contractually required jobs were actually created or retained” and also noted that money was handed out “in ways that did not consistently comply” with state law.

Much of the cash flowed to Walker’s political allies. According to a new report by the left-leaning One Wisconsin Institute, 60 percent of the $1.14 billion given out by the WEDC went to firms connected to Walker’s campaign contributors—that includes more than $2.1 million those donors have given Walker’s election campaigns directly.

Had the taxpayer largesse significantly boosted Wisconsin’s economy, perhaps the financial management problems and the allegations of cronyism could be downplayed. But Wisconsin’s economy has suffered under Walker. As Bloomberg News reported, “Wisconsin ranked 33rd among U.S. states in economic health improvement during Walker’s first term” with the state only “a little more than half the 250,000 private-sector jobs that Walker promised during that time.”

Those results, though, have not deterred Walker: His most recent budget proposed to slash $300 million out of higher education funding and spend roughly the same amount to help finance a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks. One of the members of the investor group that owns the NBA team is the national finance co-chairman of Walker’s presidential campaign. Walker pushed the subsidies despite a widely cited 2008 study by researchers at the University of Maryland and University of Alberta, which found the “overwhelming preponderance of evidence” shows “that no tangible economic benefits are generated by these heavily subsidized professional sports facilities.”

Notes from a British documentary on Prince Philip

Guardian - His life didn’t start too badly, in a lovely house on Corfu. But then Philip’s father, the king’s brother, was sentenced to death. The family managed to get out of that one, and out of the country, to Britain, where they were mistrusted and unwelcome – not for the last time for Philip. France next, where Philip’s mother was packed off to a mental institution, though it’s unclear whether there was really anything wrong with her or whether her husband just wanted her out of the way so he could shack up with his mistress, which he did, in Monte Carlo.

So young Philip, who has already done exile and upheaval, is now effectively an orphan. And it gets worse: he is sent to boarding school, in Scotland, and is now being looked after – managed really – by his uncle Louis Mountbatten, who is ferociously ambitious for him, and wants him married to the girl who is going to be queen.

Others don’t, though. They mistrust and dislike Philip, for not being English (specifically for being German), for not having gone to Eton, for not being one of us. It doesn’t matter that he is in the Royal Navy and on our side in the war; his sisters are mostly married to high-ranking Nazis, so he’s at war with his own family. Even when he does, eventually, get the girl, it doesn’t become much easier for him. He has to give up his career, his name, his balls, and spend the rest of his life sulking around two paces behind his missus, swatting away irritants such as the press, “slitty-eyed” foreigners, women, mosquitoes, etc. No wonder he can be a bit tetchy...

MORE

Even anti-pot warrior DARE runs op ed for legalization

Independent, UK - The list of people who think it's sensible to outlaw a drug 114 times less deadly than alcohol is getting shorter and shorter, with even DARE publishing an op-ed calling for marijuana to be legalised.

The staunchly anti-drug organization, which tried to instil fear of psychoactive substances in the minds of teenagers in the 1990s, was forced to admit that regulating cannabis will "actually make everyone safer".

"People like me, and other advocates of marijuana legalisation, are not totally blind to the harms that drugs pose to children," former deputy sheriff Carlis McDerment wrote in a response to a letter in the Columbus Dispatch.

"We just happen to know that legalizing and regulating marijuana will actually make everyone safer."

He also likened banning marijuana to banning stairs, and said that he believes proper regulation would make for safer use of the drug.

"Anyone who suggests we outlaw everything dangerous to children would also have to ban stairs, Tylenol, bleach, forks and outlet sockets and definitely alcohol," he continued.

Word: Iran

William Beeman - I have just returned from a three-week trip in Iran in which I interviewed hundreds of Iranian citizens.... I think many know that I speak fluent, unaccented Persian, so I am able to talk with Iranians of all ages, ethnicities, education and income levels quite easily. 

Basically my conclusions are that most Iranians are very hopeful that the Vienna talks will be successful. They never talk about nuclear energy or nuclear weapons. They only talk about the lifting of sanctions...

Everyone I talked to, without exception wanted the accords to succeed. Many emphasized not the economic benefits but rather the need for "friendship" between the United States and Iran. One elderly Qashqa'i woman put it succinctly: "Why can't we just be friends. Why all this fighting? Who does it help?"

In the United States we have several factors that create opposition to the Vienna talks.

First, Americans do not have an accurate image of Iran. The idea that Iran is a backward, hostile nation with terrorists running around everywhere and women under total oppression is very widespread. I have never seen such a huge gap in perception between fact and reality. This is partly due to nearly 40 years of estrangement. Many Americans think that Iran is a dangerous place, and that if they were to travel there they would be arrested or terrorized...

Because the American public has such a negative view of Iran, politicians have found out that attacking Iran is good for their political ambitions. No politician ever lost a vote by attacking Iran. Saying negative things about Iran draws applause and general public acceptance. Moreover, if a politician says something even mildly positive about Iran, like: We should talk to Iran, they are immediately attacked as anti-Isarael or even anti-Semitic.

However, ... business forces in the United States favor the accords as does the Obama administration, so there is a real difference of opinion in the American system...

Also, I believe that the other members of the P5+1 group will ratify the accords. So even if the United States does not, trade will resume between Iran and Europe. Iran does not need the United States to benefit from success in these accords, but Iranians overwhelmingly want Iran and the U.S. to be friends again, even if conservatives in both Iran and the United States oppose this.

U.S. wages and benefits grew in the spring at the slowest pace in 33 years

Portland Press Herald

Clinton campaign gets "national defense" no fly zone against media

Intercept - The morning after a parks official informed the Hillary Clinton campaign that the New York City mayor’s office could not bar news helicopters from buzzing her official campaign launch event on Roosevelt Island, the Secret Service expressed concerns to the Federal Aviation Administration about aircraft “loitering” over the event, according to emails obtained by The Intercept.

And the Clinton campaign got its way: On the eve of the event held last month, the FAA announced a “national defense airspace” over the island, threatening to shoot down anything airborne that appeared to present an imminent security threat.

FAA The launch rally was the result of weeks of careful planning by veteran aides to Hillary and Bill Clinton. Seeking flight restrictions around the event was among these preparations.

The mayor’s office believed that a no-fly zone could “only be ordered federally for security reasons,” Minard wrote to Chung. “He points out that if a news outlet wanted to cover the event by helicopter, they do not have the power to stop them.”

After receiving this note, Chung emailed an official from the Secret Service, which protects both Clintons for life.

News choppers are not a threat to the public, Chris Dancy, the director of communications for the Helicopter Association International, told The Intercept.

“Newsgathering helicopter pilots do this for a living and it’s something they do very safely,” said Dancy, in crowded airspace, helicopters often be coordinate their movements with air traffic control.

Real Economy; Minorities


Jesse Jackson, Washington Informer - Public-sector jobs are at the heart of the middle class, particularly for African-Americans and Latinos. And they are in steep decline.

One of five African-American adults works in government employment. This is a higher percentage than either white Americans or Latinos. It isn’t surprising. Freed of segregation, African-Americans came into our cities just as manufacturing jobs — the traditional pathway to the middle class — were headed abroad. Government employment offered secure jobs, decent pay and benefits, a chance to buy a home and lift your family.

Women also flocked to public service jobs, which offered greater professional and managerial opportunities.

But in 2008 when the economy collapsed, state budgets were savaged. Tax revenues plummeted; spending needs soared. Deep cutbacks in regular programs followed. No one will be surprised to learn that African Americans lost jobs at a higher rate than whites, often because of seniority.

Now, in the sixth year of the recovery, the economy has inched back, unemployment is down. But employment in the public sector hasn’t bounced back. The new jobs being created pay less and offer less security than the jobs that were lost. And this has devastating effects on the African-American middle class, the very people who have worked hard, played by the rules, and sought to get ahead.

The Economic Policy Institute estimates that since 2007, there are 1.8 million missing jobs in the public sector. Moreover, across the country, conservative Republican governors have assaulted unions and sought to curb collective bargaining, erase teacher tenure, and dramatically cut pensions and other benefits.

The loss of jobs and cutback on wages exacerbated the housing collapse. We’ve learned that banks and other predators targeted black neighborhoods like Prince Georges County in Maryland. They marketed shoddy mortgages, leaving those with good credit paying higher rates than they could have and those with no credit betting it all on the assumption that housing prices would never fall.

Many report on the decline of the middle class, which has fallen backward over the last decade in both median income and wealth. More than 8 of 10 Americans, according to a Pew Poll, now report that it is harder to maintain their standard of living than it was 10 years ago.

And African-Americans and Latinos got hit the hardest. The race gap has widened, not narrowed, in this century. The New York Times reports that 50 percent of African-Americans now are low-income households, along with 43 percent of Latinos — a category that has been growing since 2000.

Getting along with others: Some things that help

From Sam Smith's Great American Political Repair Manual

Be friendly and respectful: In a culturally varied society, it is easy to transmit signals that are misunderstood but, fortunately, kindness, friendliness and respect come across clearly. Make good use of them.

Learn about other cultures: We typically try to resolve inter-cultural tensions without giving people a solid reason for liking one another. Mutual enjoyment and admiration provide the shortest route between two ethnicities. Education is one thing that we know reduces prejudice. Yet for all our talk about diversity, this isn't so easy to come by. We could well spend less time on abstractions of racism and more on the assets of each other's traditions.

We could be teaching, in high school classes and college seminars, the variety of the world as something to explore and enjoy, not just as a problem or an issue. You don't have to teach diversity. Diversity is. You don't have to defend it in lofty liberal rhetoric. Studying humanity's medley is not a moral act; it is simply intelligent.

And you don't have to learn it all in school. France became a haven for black exiles earlier this century in no small part because of French enthusiasm for jazz and African art. Similarly, jazz clubs and concerts were among the few places in segregated America that apartheid was regularly ignored.

Today we are sometimes more hospitable to foreigners than we are to strangers in our own land. One notable exception is the ethnic restaurant. Why? In part because all parties involved get a fair deal out of it. In part because it is enjoyable. In part because it is natural. No one is self-conscious; no one is made to feel uncomfortable. The owner makes a good living; the customers get a good meal.

Diversity within cultures counts as well as that between them: Just because jazz is important to black culture doesn't mean all blacks like jazz. Or that colleges shouldn't recruit black cellists as well as black forwards. Or that just because someone's white, they have to be Anglo-Saxon or a Protestant.

Share power fairly. One of the clearest manifestations of decency is equitable power. In a society wedded to winner-take-all solutions, sharing power can be difficult to achieve. But it's worth trying. One way is to learn from children. Notice how much time they spend on whether the game is "fair." They're on to something.

Find something in common that's more important than what's not: It can be a political goal, a sport, an avocation or a business. I've seen it work in situations as diverse as a project to train church archivists or a kid's team headed for a playoff. The importance of ethnicity is often inversely proportional to what else we have on our minds

Stop being shocked by prejudice. We have attempted to exorcise racism much as Nancy Reagan tried to get rid of drugs, by just saying no. It has worked about as well. Once we recognize the unpleasant persistence of human discrimination, once we give up the notion that it is merely social deviance controllable by sanctions, we will be guided away from puritanical corrective approach towards ones that emphasize techniques of mitigating harm, and towards activities and attitudes that become antibiotics against prejudice.

Get real; When not on the podium or in front of a mike, people in politics talk real talk about real things. Like how you're going win the black vote or carry a Polish ward or not piss off the gays. Elsewhere, when the subject of ethnicity or sex comes up, the discussion often turns disingenuously circuitous or maddeningly abstract. This is one time when the politicians are on the right track. Lay problems and feelings honestly on the table and then deal with them.

Talk about it but not too much:
At a meeting called to discuss racial problems, a black activist said, "I don't want to talk about race unless we are going to do something specific about it." It's not a bad rule for every public discussion of race. Unproductive talk can leave people feeling more helpless and frustrated than when it began.

Diversity includes people you don't like. Even liberals don't talk about this but a truly multi-cultural community will include born-again Christians opposed to abortion, Muslims with highly restrictive views on the role of women, prayer-sayers and atheists, Playboy readers as well as Seventh Day Adventists. Remember that you're not required to express -- or even have -- an opinion about everyone else in the world.

Don't sweat the small stuff. Common sense is a great civil rights tool. Even in a multi-cultural society, loutish sophomores are going to use tasteless language, fundamentalists will sneak in private prayers on public occasions, and eight-year-old boys will grab girls where they shouldn't. Hyper-reaction to such minor phenomena hurt and trivialize the cause of human justice.

Go for the important stuff. One of the reasons the little stuff gets such big play is because of the lack of a clear and meaningful agenda of social justice. People wouldn't be talking so much about who said what to whom and in what tone of voice if there was a serious effort underway, for example, against discrimination in such long-neglected areas such as housing and public transportation.

Try to avoid putting virtues in competition: School busing placed the virtue of integration in direct conflict with the virtue of neighborhood schools. Often such conflicts can be avoided or mitigated by choosing other tactics. For example, why was there so much attention to busing and so little to residential integration?

Lighten up on the lawyers. While of great assistance in securing basic rights, lawyers are not well equipped to deal with complex human relationships. We need to train large numbers of people who can serve as peace-keepers, mediators, and referees.

Timely courage helps:
When anti-Semitic attacks began in Billings MT, the town responded quickly -- getting rid of Nazi symbols and posting paper menorahs in the windows of homes. A little early courage at such times works better than a lot of belated hand wringing.

Attack economic discrimination, too: After every group gets its rights, the powerful among them will discriminate against the weak and the wealthy against the poor. As Saul Alinsky said, "When the poor get power they'll be shits like everyone else." Opposition to affirmative action might have been much less had the programs been based on zip code as well as on race and sex. Martin Luther King Jr. pointed out in 1964 that "the white poor also suffer deprivation and the humiliation of poverty if not of color. They are chained by the weight of discrimination, though its badge of degradation does not mark them. It corrupts their lives, frustrates their opportunities and withers their education."

Stop worrying so much about language.
It provides a warning sign and serves as an inter-cultural safety valve. Paul Kuritz, in an article on ethnic humor in the Maine Progressive, pointed out that "as early as 1907, the English-speaking rabbis and priests of Cleveland united to protest the Irish and Jewish stage comedians. ~ The suppression of crude ethnic humor both accompanied the economic exploitation of the lower-class work force and paralleled the dismissal of the lower classes' tastes as 'offensive' to the newly refined sensibilities of upwardly-mobile second and third generation Americans."

Kuritz, a third-generation Slovak, was arguing that the real problem with a recently fired French-Canadian radio host was not that he had made fun of his own culture but that the full panoply of ethnicity was not also represented on the air. This would have allowed all these groups to experience what anthropologists call a "joking relationship," helping to reduce tensions between potentially antagonistic clans. Said Kuritz, "As a general rule of thumb, an attempt to suppress speech as 'offensive' or 'disempowering' is not a signal to lessen the amount of talk, but to increase the amount."

Be tough on leaders, not on followers: Those with tightly defined ideas about how we should behave often make little distinction between people who merely accept the values of their culture and those who market and manipulate them. It helps to remember that we are all creatures of our cultures and often speak with their voice. This may not be an admirable characteristic but it certainly is a human one. After all, if it weren't for Rush, dittoheads would have nothing to ditto.

Make justice pay off: The modern civil rights movement started with a bus boycott -- and many more economic actions soon followed. Its leaders understood that one of the easiest ways to get people to give up a prejudice is to discover that it's costing them money. That's why you may find more racial mixing at a shopping mall than you will in a nearby church, club or neighborhood.

Recognize that we are all part something else. By dint of exposure to TV alone, it is virtually impossible to live in America and not have absorbed aspects of other cultures. We all, in effect, belong to a part-culture, which is to say that our ethnicity is somewhat defined by its relationship to, and borrowing from, other cultures. There are almost no pure anythings in America anymore. The sooner we accept and enjoy this, the better off we'll be.

Remember that everyone is an ethnic something. There are no unethnic Americans.

Blacks students suspended more frequently

Huffington Post - [A] study, conducted by Pennsylvania State University assistant professor of sociology and criminology David Ramey, analyzed the rates of suspensions, expulsions and police referrals at 59,000 schools across the country. Ramey found that schools with larger populations of black students also had higher rates of suspensions, while schools with more white students had a greater number of kids in programs designed for students with special needs.

Race to the bottom: Worst government agencies

  • NSA
  • Supreme Court
  • CIA
  • FISA Court
  • FBI
  • Homeland Security
  • Pentagon
  • DEA

Word

Say what you will about the Ten Commandments, you must always come back to the pleasant fact that there are only ten of them. - HL Mencken

Standing all day at work may cause health problems

Web MD

Discrimination against LGBT workers

Decades worth of national and local surveys have found that gay and lesbian workers report widespread job bias. In a 2013 Pew Research Center survey of more than 1,000 LGBT adults, 21 percent believed they’d been treated unfairly by an employer because of their identity, and 23 percent said they’d received poor service at a restaurant, hotel, or place of business. Transgender people seem to have it the worst: In a landmark 2011 nationwide survey of 6,450 transgender and gender-nonconforming folks, 90 percent said they had been mistreated at work; 47 percent said they’d been fired, not hired or not promoted; and 19 percent said they’d been denied housing. All of this has a real economic impact: Several studies over the years have found that anywhere from 22 to 64 percent of transgender workers earned less than $25,000 a year, or less than half the national median income.

“They often end up taking discrimination on the chin, because it’s very difficult to get legal recourse,” says Ineke Mushovic, executive director of Movement Advancement Project, an LGBT think tank with a focus on legal rights. “A year and a half ago, we talked to LGBT people in rural areas in states that are politically hostile to them, and they said they went to great lengths not to be out at work. They’d live in towns an hour away so coworkers would not see them at the grocery store with their partner, or they’d take lunch breaks alone.” They chose discretion, because they were likely powerless in the face of bigotry.

* * *

Indiana is one of 29 states in which private-sector antidiscrimination laws exclude sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes alongside race, color, religion, sex or national origin. (Another three states—Wisconsin, New York, and New Hampshire—have laws that include sexual orientation but not gender identity.) That means that discriminating against most LGBT people in those states is legal.

A patchwork of cities and counties across the country—at least 14 in Indiana—have ordinances that offer local-level protection for LGBT people against bias in the workplace, housing, or public accommodations. Similarly, some public employees are protected by executive orders. In Indiana, two gubernatorial orders—signed by Governor Joe Kernan, a Democrat, in 2004 and Mitch Daniels, a Republican, in 2005—protect LGBT state employees. President Obama signed an order last year that protects federal workers. “But if something occurs in the private sector, LGBT people currently have no protection,” says Karen Celestino-Horseman, one of several civil-rights lawyers I consulted in Indiana. The lawyers told me they get calls frequently from gay and trans folks who think they’ve been discriminated against—and usually, they have to turn people away. “There’s just no state law in Indiana” with which to press charges, says Kim Jeselskis. Get a FREE PDF copy of our 150th anniversary issue. Sign Up

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has tried to fill the legal gap. On July 16, the EEOC concluded in a 3-2 vote that discrimination based on sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination and hence violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. (Several circuit courts have ruled otherwise, meaning this may be a legal question the Supreme Court will have to settle someday.) The vote follows by three years a similar EEOC vote in favor of classifying discrimination based on gender identity as a form of sex discrimination—a logic it applied to the case of Mia Macy, who was denied a federal job after she explained that she was planning to transition to living as a woman. EEOC’s defense led to a 2013 Department of Justice ruling in Macy’s favor, requiring that she be offered the job with back-pay and legal costs, and that the workplace implement anti-discrimination policies.

I was struck by how normal of an occurrence discrimination seemed to be in the lives of gay and trans Hoosiers.

Nonetheless, LGBT people are not an explicitly protected class under federal law—as are, say, people with disabilities under the Americans With Disabilities Act—and civil-rights advocates say this reality will leave LGBT workers increasingly vulnerable if the Supreme Court’s marriage-equality ruling spurs a backlash in conservative states. In the past year alone, as marriage equality nationwide seemed increasingly inevitable, state legislatures considered dozens of new anti-LGBT bills.

July 30, 2015

Word: Jimmy Carter on the American oligarchy

THOM HARTMANN: Our Supreme Court has now said, “unlimited money in politics.” It seems like a violation of principles of democracy … your thoughts on that?

JIMMY CARTER: It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it’s just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors and U.S. senators and congressmembers. So now we’ve just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect and sometimes get favors for themselves after the election’s over … The incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody’s who’s already in Congress has a lot more to sell to an avid contributor than somebody’s who’s just a challenger.

HRC went to Trump's weddding

Politico - The wonkish Clinton is the front-runner for the Democrats. The bombastic Trump is the front-runner for the Republicans. What exactly was she doing at his wedding? Why did Trump invite Clinton, who at the time was the junior senator from New York, and why was she there, along with her plus-one, former President Bill Clinton, who didn’t attend the actual ceremony but did arrive for later portions of the opulent soiree?

“As a contributor,” Trump told Politico, referring to checks he’s written to her campaigns as well as the Clintons’ foundation, “I demanded that they be there—they had no choice and that’s what’s wrong with our country. Our country is run by and for donors, special interests and lobbyists, and that is not a good formula for our country’s success. With me, there are no lobbyists and special interests. My only special interest is the United States of America.”

The Clinton campaign didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment.

Her presence at the event, though, could bolster a cynic’s suspicions that today’s politics is a pay-to-play spectacle—less public service, more private riches—and that the Trumps and the Clintons have more in common with each other than they do with, say, Jim Webb or John Kasich.

Clinton sat in the front row of the pews.

Small businesses endorse minimum wage hike

Maine Beacon - More than 150 Maine small businesses announced their public support today for Mainers for Fair Wages’ ballot campaign to raise the state minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020...The list of initial small business endorsers is online here. More information on the campaign is available at www.fairwagemaine.com.

Billy Graham's son wants Muslims stopped from coming to US

Kulture Kritic

Salmon fail to show up in Russian waters

TASS - Fishery companies on Russia’s Far-Eastern island of Sakhalin are puzzled by the absence of salmon fishes on approaches to the island’s shores.

The regional Council of Fishermen has sent a letter to the Acting Governor asking him to organize aerial photography of the eastern coast in order to establish the real situation with the availability of salmon this season, Sergey Senko, the chairman of the Association of Fishing Collective Farms and Enterprises of Sakhalin told TASS.

"A highly complicated situation has taken shape at present," he said. "We had a scientific forecast for big fishing and our enterprise made borrowings and brought in people and what we actually see is the absence of fish."

"July is coming to an end but the Pacific salmon, which the scientists said would get here in the amount of up to 200,000 tons doesn’t show up in any form at present," Senko said. "What should we do in this situation? Pay our productions teams and wait or dissolve them?"

Morning Line

In our moving average Hillary Clinton is in a statistical tie with Bush. .Walker and Rubio are only single digits behind. Biden and Sanderds are statistically tied with Bush and Walker. All three lead Trump by double digits.

In the Review's moving average of polls, Donald Trump is 10 points ahead of Bush among Republicans. Walker is 13 points behind. Everyone else is in single digits.

Clinton has a 41 point lead over Bernie Sanders. Biden is 46 points behind.

Breaking ethnic barriers by telling stories

From Sam Smith's Great American Political Repair Manual, 1993

If we are to rid our minds of stereotypes, something needs to fill the empty space. Nothing works better than the real stories of real people drawn from the anecdotal warehouses that supply many of our deepest values, feelings and philosophy.

If you find your classroom, organization or workplace bogged down in cultural tension and abstract confrontation -- or perhaps feeling the silence that comes from being near one another and not knowing what to say -- why not take a break and let people tell their own stories?

In writing this book, I sat down with a number of people who had crossed the barricades of culture to some good end. I wanted their wisdom but I also wanted their stories, for wisdom seldom comes without a tale.

If I were just to tell you that each had experienced "institutional racism" or had suffered from some sort of "cultural stereotype" you'd probably forget about it before the end of this chapter. Here instead are a few of their stories:

Kyung Kyu Lim is employed by an association of state transportation officials in Washington, DC. He is active with Young Koreans United and has worked in multi-cultural coalitions. He believes that "part of getting Korean-American identity is learning commonalities with other groups." In the early seventies, Kyung Kyu moved from Korea to an African-American community in LA. In high school, through a program ironically called A Better Chance, he ended up with a white host family in suburban Minneapolis where the overwhelmingly white student body made him feel "wretched," with its clannishness, nice cars, and derogatory comments about "boat people."

"I felt myself shrinking," Kyung Kyu recalls.

Things got no better at McCalester College. The prejudice he found there made him feel "smaller and smaller." He tried running away by dropping out and moving to Alaska. That didn't work. Nor did changing schools to University of Connecticut -- not long after he arrived, members of the football team spat upon some Asian students.

Rudy Arredondo
handles civil rights problems for the Department of Agriculture and has worked with Cesar Chavez and for a city health department. He came to Texas from Mexico when he was three. By five he was working in the fields. At six, his mother put him on a bus to go to kindergarten for the first time. As he sat down, the Anglo passengers started screaming at him. He knew no English so he did not realize that the bus was segregated and that he was in the white section. He knew only that strange people were screaming at him in a foreign tongue and he was very scared. At twelve Rudy tried to buy a movie ticket in Lubbock. The clerk pointed to a sign that read, No Niggers, Dogs or Mexicans allowed.

John Callahan is editing the unpublished works of Ralph Ellison. He grew up in the New Haven. At the age of eight -- and a small eight -- he was sent to a parochial school in the formerly Irish turned Italian neighborhood of Fairhaven. There he was greeted by some seemingly friendly (and much bigger) Italian kids who asked him, "Do you know what an Irishman is?" John said he didn't and one of the kids said, "A nigger turned inside out." They pummeled him and one grabbed his Yankees baseball hat, saying of the team's star, 'DiMag belongs to us.'"

Later, when he was 16 and working as a mail clerk for a bank, he overheard a bank officer on the phone. The bank officer was looking out the window, his long legs stretched over a corner of his desk. He was saying, "If the funny little mick doesn't work out, we can always bring in a nigger."

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But Kyung Kyu, Rudy and John also told me a different type of story.

For example, Kyung Kyu remembered that at his elementary school, it was black teachers who helped him through the wrenching experience of being a young stranger in a new land. They also taught him how to handle the kids who taunted him for his poor English -- by saying he was Korean and proud of it.

Kyung Kyu became a community organizer and eventually found his way east and to a MIT program for organizers run by Mel King -- a longtime African-American activist and one-time candidate for mayor of Boston. King became his teacher and guide.

When I talked with Rudy, our conversation turned to Sammie Abbott, an Arab-American and local activist who had led the local anti-freeway crusade in the 60s and who eventually became mayor of Takoma Park, MD. Along the way he taught a Latino organizer and an Anglo-Irish journalist a lot about politics and life. At his memorial service I had said that for Sammie, "a cause was not a career move, not an option purchased on a political future, nor a flirtation of conscience. It was simply the just life's work of a just human." Rudy recalled that "Sam Abbott had preconceived notions about everything. We would have strong arguments." Yet when Sam became mayor, the town meetings would often run late, because he "never used a gavel to shut anyone up."

Someone also crossed the barriers to help John Callahan. Going through -- and dropping out of -- college, John worked for two African-Americans who "taught me a great deal about the hard work of becoming a man." Later still, when John Callahan had become a man and an academic, he wrote an essay about a black novelist. He sent a copy to the writer who responded with a long letter and an offer that they get together if John ever came to New York..

That's how, just before four p.m. one afternoon in 1978, John Callahan found himself ringing the doorbell of Ralph Ellison. "We talked like we were in a Henry James novel," says Callahan. Ellison called him Mr. Callahan and Callahan called him Mr. Ellison. Then, at precisely five minutes of five, Ellison leaned towards Callahan and asked, "John, would you like a drink?"

"Why yes, Mr. Elli -- ah Ralph -- I would." Ellison excused himself and returned with two bottles of whiskey, one bourbon and one Irish. They began to talk again, but no longer as in a Henry James novel and only for the first of many times.

Much later, Ralph Ellison told John's mother that if he and his wife had had a son, they would have liked him to have been like John. Today John Callahan is editing the unfinished works of a black author who found something of himself in an Irish kid from New Haven.

The most important fact about prejudice

From Sam Smith's Great American Political Repair Manual, 1993

The most important fact about prejudice: It's normal. That isn't to say that it's nice, pretty, or desirable. Only that suspicion, distrust, and distaste for outsiders is a deeply human trait. The anthropologist Ruth Benedict wrote that "all primitive tribes agree in recognizing [a] category of the outsiders, those who are not only outside the provisions of the moral code which holds within the limits of one's own people, but who are summarily denied a place anywhere in the human scheme. A great number of the tribal names in common use, Zuñi, Déné, Kiowa . . . are only their native terms for 'the human beings,' that is, themselves. Outside of the closed group there are no human beings."
Many attempts to eradicate racism from our society have been based on the opposite notion -- that those who harbor prejudice towards others are abnormal and social deviants. Further, we often describe these "deviants" only in terms of their overt antipathies -- they are "anti-Semitic" or guilty of "hate." In fact, once you have determined yourself to be human and others less so, you need not hate them any more than you need despise the fish you eat for dinner. This is why those who participate in genocide can do so with such calm -- they have defined their targets as outside of humanity.

What if, instead, we were to start with the unhappy truth that humans have always had a hard time dealing with other peoples, and that much ethnic and sexual antagonism stems not from hate so much as from cultural narcissism? Then our repertoire of solutions might tilt more towards education and mediation and away from being self-righteous multi-cultural missionaries converting yahoos in the wilds of the soul. We could turn towards something more akin to what Andrew Young once described as a sense of "no fault justice." We might begin to consider seriously Martin Luther King's admonition to his colleagues that among their dreams should be that someday their enemies would be their friends.

Jazz break

 

Gallery: Turning a neighborhood into a mural


Artnet -  One Mexican town is quite a bit brighter these days, thanks to a government-sponsored urban renewal project. The Germen Crew, a local youth group known for its street art and graffiti projects, turned 209 homes into one giant canvas for a rainbow-hued mural.

Great moments in research

Wiley Online Library - This study assessed the effectiveness of posting signs for reducing graffiti in three men's restrooms on a college campus using a multiple baseline across settings design. During baseline, graffiti increased almost daily in each of the three settings. Immediately following the intervention, no marks were made on any of the three walls. Results were maintained at 3-month follow-up. A possible explanation for the results is that the signs specified an altruistic contingency.

Graffiti is a common problem on college campuses. Although it is difficult to identify the exact cost of eradicating bath- room graffiti, it is estimated that removing graffiti costs at least $4,000,000,000 annually (Brewer, 1992). Thus, it may be more cost efficient to focus on preventing its occurrence rather than on removing the graffiti, providing alternative sites for writing, or punishing the offender - three strategies that are often used in responding to graffiti (Brewer, 1992). Posting signs in restrooms represents a cost-efficient, simple, and potentially effective method of preventing graffiti. Previous research has indicated that posted signs contributed to a reduced number of cars illegally parked in handicapped spaces (Cope & Allred, 1991), increased participation in a designated driver program (Brigham, Meier, & Goodner, 1995), and increased office paper recycling (Austin, Hatfield, Grindle, & Bailey, 1993). This study sought to extend the literature by investigating the effectiveness of using signs to prompt restroom users to avoid writing or drawing on restroom walls. 

Word

The way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it. - Oscar Wilde

July 29, 2015

Morning Line

In the Review's moving average of polls, Donald Trump is 9 points ahead of Bush among Republicans. Walker is 13 points behind. Everyone else is in single digits.

Among Republicans Walker leads in 4 states, Bush and Trump in 3, Huckabee in 2, Paul and Cruz in 1

Those without health insurance drops

USA Today - Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, says the number of Americans who reported being uninsured dropped 7.9 percentage points by the first quarter of this year. Minorities saw the biggest reductions — with uninsured rates among Latinos, for example, dropping by 11.9 percentage points.

Who Trump wants in his government

Politico - When asked on Sarah Palin’s Mama Grizz Radio’s “The Palin Update” Monday whether he would seek the former Alaska governor’s advice as president or potentially appoint her to an executive-branch position, Trump said, “I’d love that.”

“She’s really somebody who knows what’s happening. She’s a special person. She’s really a special person. And I think people know that and she’s got a following that’s unbelievable,” he continued. (Palin has more than 4 million Facebook followers.)

“I’m looking at some of these candidates, they’re weak, they’re ineffective and to a degree that’s almost hard to believe. And, you know, they like the Sarah Palin kind of strength. You just don’t see very much of it anymore,” Trump mused.

Where Scott Walker gets his foreign policy ideas

Intercept - At an event to formally launch his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker cited a man in the crowd named Kevin Hermening as a formative influence on his foreign policy thinking. Hermening, a former U.S. Marine who was held hostage during the 1979 Iranian revolution, is a longtime friend of Walker, and has been described in press reports as “the face of Walker’s foreign policy.” The governor has repeatedly cited Hermening as a major influence on his worldview, including his opposition to the Obama administration’s recent nuclear deal with Iran.

But Walker’s choice of Hermening as a foreign policy counselor raises serious questions about Walker’s understanding of the issues. Hermening has publicly advocated conducting nuclear strikes against the capital cities of Muslim-majority countries, as well as the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants, particularly those of “Middle Eastern descent” from the United States.

In 2001, Hermening wrote an op-ed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel calling for a response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks that would include “the destruction of the capitals of Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan and Yemen,” unless the governments of those countries unequivocally agreed to help kill Osama bin Laden. “Every military response must be considered, including the use of nuclear weapons,” he wrote. In his commentary Hermening also called upon the United States to erect security fences “along the entire perimeter of the United States,” as well as deport “every illegal alien and immigrant, with a focus on removing those of Middle Eastern descent.”

Fraternal Order of Police get teacher fired for telling about Mumia Abu-Jamal

The Progressive

Small and large publications hold their own in employees

AFP - Newsroom jobs slumped another 10.4 percent to the lowest level since tracking began in 1978. The annual survey by the American Society of News Editors found newsroom employment dropped to 32,900 in 2014 from 36,700 a year earlier.

But the results also showed some gains in large-circulation newspapers and some very small ones.

ASNE found the number of employees at newspapers with daily circulations between 250,000 and 500,000 increased by 13.98 percent.

Those with circulations under 5,000 had a 15.9 percent increase in the number of employees.

But the drop was a whopping 21.58 percent among newspapers with circulations between 100,000 and 250,000.

San Francisco gentrification update

Portside

New TSA chief, longer lines

Washington Post - The new chief of the Transportation Security Administration is planning to retrain officers on monitoring for weapons and contraband and to limit expedited screening as a means of managing long lines, Ron Nixon reports in The New York Times. He writes that officers and their supervisors at airports nationwide have made reducing wait times their main goal, instead of security.

Peter V. Neffenger, a former Coast Guard admiral who took charge this month after the agency flunked a security audit, told Nixon that safety must come before convenience. "Efficiency and getting people through airport security lines cannot be our sole reason that makes you take your eyes off the reason for the mission," he said.

More rigorous screening will make security even more of a hassle for travelers, and inevitably, more of them will miss their flights. Whether it will also make the nation safer from terrorism is an open question. As Wonkblog has previously reported, the limited data available suggests that in response to security at airports, terrorists just carry out their attacks elsewhere, and no lives are saved on the whole.