articles on protest and politics

4 Sep

Heywoud Broun

American Newspaper Guild

The reason for giving this sketchy biography was because of a quote I found by Heywood Broun from May, 1936. His thoughts were on what must have seemed even then the unavoidable war in Europe and the rise of the fascists in Italy and Germany.

“I am quite ready to admit that the word Fascism has been used very loosely. Sometimes we call a man a Fascist simply because we dislike him, for one reason or another. And so I’ll try to be pretty literal in outlining some of the evidence which I see as the actual danger of Fascism in America. First of all, we need a definition.

Fascism is a dictatorship from the extreme Right, or to put it a little more closely into our local idiom, a government which is run by a small group of large industrialists and financial lords. Of course, if you want to go back into recent history) the influence of big business has always been present in our federal government. But there have been some checks on its control. I am going to ask latitude to insist that we might have Fascism even though we maintained the pretense of democratic machinery. The mere presence of a Supreme Court, a House of Representatives, a Senate and a President would not be sufficient protection against the utter centralization of power in the hands of a few men who might hold no office at all.

Even in the case of Hitler, many shrewd observers feel that he is no more than a front man and that his power is derived from the large munitions and steel barons of Germany. … Now one of the first steps which Fascism must take in any land in order to capture power is to disrupt and destroy the labor movement. … I think it is not unfair to say that any business man in America, or public leader, who goes out to break unions, is laying foundations for Fascism.”
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Score another victory for RootsAction.org and our allies. 49,763 of us signed the petition at StarsEarnStripes.org protesting NBC’s war-is-fun “reality” show co-hosted by former general Wesley Clark.

Activists in New York have held a weekly protest and delivered the petitions. The bad press has been voluminous, while the viewership has plummeted. It’s safe to say there’sScore another victory for RootsAction.org and our allies. 49,763 of us signed the petition at StarsEarnStripes.org protesting NBC’s war-is-fun “reality” show co-hosted by former general Wesley Clark.

Activists in New York have held a weekly protest and delivered the petitions. The bad press has been voluminous, while the viewership has plummeted. It’s safe to say there’s no immediate future for this show. It ends tonight.

TV viewers may be spared Wesley Clark for a while as he’s been dropped by both NBC and DNC. Turned down in his offer to speak at the Democratic National Convention, Clark will speak at another event in Charlotte tonight.

But even with the former NATO commander out of sight, the warfare state drags on.

Take this moment to ask the DNC to drop its support for war and war preparation.

This year people are celebrating Woody Guthrie’s 100th birthday. One of his less-known songs is “I’ve Got to Know.” — The RootsAction.org team

P.S. Our small staff is supported by contributions from people like you; your donations are greatly appreciated.

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This Labor Day, as politicians make speeches recognizing the contributions of American workers, they will also try to convince voters that their vision for restoring the middle class is best.

Voters know the state of the economy. We know that the middle class is eroding. We know that what is happening now is the result of decades of policies that favor the rich and corporations.

This November presents a choice between President Obama and other candidates who stand with working people, and candidates like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, who back a platform that destroys public services and envisions a future in which the rich and big corporations get even richer.

Right-wing Republicans across this country share a common record of campaigning against working people. We saw it last year in Wisconsin, where busting unions became a policy objective. We saw it earlier this year in Alabama, when Republicans passed one of the country’s most outrageous anti-immigrant bills instead of focusing on the state’s job crisis and faltering education system. And today, we are seeing it in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and every other state where right-wing legislatures passed voter identification laws in an attempt to keep low-income people, youth and communities of color from the polls.

It is meaningless for elected leaders to deliver empty rhetoric about working people’s contribution on Labor Day — or any day — without using their power in Washington to create an economy that works for all.

Let us know how you can help us win for the 99% in November.

In Solidarity,

Mary Kay Henry
President, Service Employees International Union

P.S. SEIU will be fighting for the 99% Agenda at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. all this week. Click here to sign up for updates from the Convention.

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Published on Tuesday, August 28, 2012 by Common Dreams

Meteorologists Adjust Official Stance: Human Activity Causing Climate Change

New language removes ambiguity from group’s previous statements on global warming and extreme weather

– Common Dreams staff
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Earth First! Blockades Florida’s Dirtiest Power Plant on the Heels of Romney’s RNC Acceptance Speech

APOLLO BEACH, FL – August 31 – In the climax of the 2012 Republican National Convention, protestors with Earth First! on Thursday blocked access roads to TECO’s Big Bend coal plant on the eastern shore of Tampa Bay. The environmental action group is citing corporate influence in politics and ecological impacts of fossil fuel dependency as reasons for the disruption.

This year’s RNC was funded by an estimated $55 million in corporate pay-offs, with corporations including the Tampa based-TECO Energy, along with Chevron, Duke Energy and Exxon Mobil.

According to a report by Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) last year, Florida is among the dirtiest states in power plant pollution. NRDC found TECO’s Big Bend plant to be in the state’s, “top three most polluting smoke stacks.”

Earth First! activists chose their protest in order to highlight Mitt Romney’s plan to expand what the group calls the “energy empire” which favors the interest of big donors in oil, gas and coal industries.

Romney’s top energy policy advisor is the wealthiest oilman in the country and according to data analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics, Romney has already raised more from mining interests than Bush or McCain raised from these industries in their entire campaigns.

Locally, TECO’s Big Bend plant has a long history of pollution. Along with being declared Florida’s number one dirtiest power plant by Florida Consumer Action Network, they were also documented discharging waste into Cobia Bay in Apollo Beach in years past.

But that’s not all. TECO has been called one of the nation’s worst offenders when it comes to mountaintop removal coal mining. In coal mining regions of the Appalachian Mountains, TECO has ruined entire communities to maximize their profits. Kentucky coalfield resident Doug Justice worked in the coal mines for 22 years and said “I have never seen an outfit treat a community the way TECO Coal has done us.”

In response to the devastation from floods caused be TECO’s mining in 2002, Granville Burke of Letcher County, Kentucky, had this to say: “I wish TECO had never started mining above our home. Protection for families like ours is supposed to come from the state and federal regulatory agencies, but instead they look the other way as coal companies destroy entire communities for the sake of profit.”

“Dirty energy becomes dirty politics. We can’t afford to stand by and watch it anymore. We have to fight back.” Said Rachel Kijewski, an organizer with the Earth First! movement in Florida.

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Corporations: Yes, We’re Moving Abroad to Get Lower Tax Rates

– Common Dreams staff

U.S. corporations are continuing tax dodging practices to boost their profits by the millions by reincorporating abroad, an article The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday shows.

(photo: d*unit / Flickr) John D. McKinnon and Scott Thurm describe how 10 companies have moved or have announced plans to move their incorporation address oversees since 2009 in an effort to lower their effective tax rate.

Alexander Cutler, chief executive of Eaton, a Cleveland-based company that has reincorporated in Ireland, said, “We have too high a domestic rate and we have a thoroughly uncompetitive international tax regime.” The move is saving the company $160 million a year.

Another company that moved is Ensco, now saving more than $100 million a year in tax dodging.

Yet while companies complain of a burdensome corporate tax rate of 35% and say that was a motivating factor behind their reincorporation oversees, very few companies actually pay that rate.

A Reuters report from May describing the Eaton reincorporation lays this out as well:

The top U.S. corporate tax rate is 35 percent, the highest in the world, though few companies actually pay that much due to abundant loopholes that lower their effective rates.

The Eaton-Cooper deal comes as the U.S. Congress inches toward a broad corporate tax code overhaul. The deal could add momentum to that effort, with Republicans arguing that high U.S. tax rates can drive companies to drastic measures.

In what could be a painful drain on the Treasury over time, at least seven U.S. companies in recent months have chosen through acquisition or merger to renounce their U.S. corporate citizenship by relocating to Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland or other lower-tax countries.

“There have been more of these in the last two months than in the five years before,” said Bob Willens, an independent tax analyst and publisher of The Willens Report.

The Eaton-Cooper deal will lead to $160 million in annual tax savings for the combined company, even though Eaton in practice already pays far less than 35 percent. That is thanks to its foreign subsidiaries, many of which are already in low-tax countries such as Luxembourg and the Cayman Islands.

In fact, many companies are paying a negative tax rate, as data from Citizens for Tax Justice show.

While there has been talk of the deficit at the Republican National Convention going on now in Tampa, there has been no talk of the impact closing corporate tax loopholes would have on the deficit.

“These big, profitable corporations are continuing to shift their tax burden onto average Americans,” said Citizens for Tax Justice director Bob McIntyre. “This isn’t fair to the rest of us, it makes no economic sense, and it’s part of the reason our government is running huge budget deficits.”

“Getting rid of corporate tax subsidies that cause such widespread tax avoidance ought to be a key part of any deficit-reduction program,” said McIntyre. “As a bonus, revenue-raising corporate tax reform would make it much easier to fund the investments we need to improve education and repair our crumbling roads and bridges — things that would actually help businesses and our economy grow.”
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Published on Friday, August 31, 2012 by The Sacramento Bee

Raising Minimum Wage Can Yank Millions Out of Poverty and Jump-Start Economy

by Mark Weisbrot

The federal minimum wage is just $7.25 an hour and hasn’t been raised in three years. But a raise is much more overdue than that. If we look at the minimum wage 44 years ago, and simply adjust it for inflation, it would be more than $10 today.

This is another ugly symptom of what has gone wrong in America over the last 35 to 40 years. From 1979 to 2007, about 60 percent of the income gains have gone to the now infamous 1 percent at the top, with the majority of those gains going to the top 0.1 percent – people who made, on average, $5.6 million per year.

But some of the worst effects of giving more to those who have the most have affected people toward the bottom of the income ladder, and there is no excuse for it.

Productivity – the amount that a worker produces in an hour – has more than doubled over the last 44 years. When the minimum wage doesn’t rise, or falls in terms of its purchasing power, it means that these millions of low-income workers are not sharing in the gains from improved technology, knowledge and organization.

There is currently legislation before Congress to raise the federal minimum wage from its current $7.25 an hour to $9.80, over three years. After that it would be indexed to inflation.

Contrary to prevailing myths about who would benefit from a proposed increase in the minimum wage, 88 percent of the 28 million workers affected are not teenagers.

As the Economic Policy Institute has shown, the majority are full-time workers, and on average they earn about half of their families’ income. And 28 percent of the nation’s 76 million children would have a parent who would benefit from the raise.

Another oversize myth promoted by the fast-food industry and other low-wage employers is that raising the minimum wage hurts workers by increasing unemployment. Although it is theoretically possible to raise minimum wages enough to cause employers to hire fewer workers, there is hardly any indication from economic research that the proposed increase in the minimum wage would have this effect.

Employment in the overall economy depends on aggregate demand or spending, which is determined – especially in our currently weak economy – by macroeconomic policy, including the Federal Reserve, and fiscal policy.

And raising the minimum wage doesn’t only cut into profits, it also increases demand in the economy by moving income to workers who spend more than those who receive profit.

The EPI estimated that the proposed increase in the minimum wage would actually increase employment.

In Brazil, the minimum wage was raised by 60 percent in real terms by the country’s most popular president, Lula da Silva – a former metal worker and union leader – as Brazil’s economy moved toward record low levels of unemployment. Across South America, other governments including Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela have significantly reduced inequality while increasing economic growth.

What a shame that the hemisphere’s richest country, where it would be so much easier to lift-up the working poor, has moved in the opposite direction.

It means that the U.S. political system is actually more corrupt and less democratic in very important ways than those of our developing country neighbors to the south.

The vast majority of Americans would favor an increase in the minimum wage, as well as restoring the rights of labor to organize unions. But our financial elite have a veto over what we want to vote for, in large part because of our system of legalized bribery – aka, the financing of political candidates’ elections.

Raising the minimum wage is about the minimum that we could do to reverse America’s retreat from civilization at home.

© 2012 McClatchy Tribune Services

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