Posts tagged politics

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War after war the media paints the conflict as a specific race/religion/community attacking another. This perpetuates distrust and hate against anyone we see as ‘other.’ The media fails to illuminate the real political power struggles of the elite few who are using the strategic murder of innocents to increase their power and wealth. Question all you hear, and please, don’t let them ever make you hate your loving neighbor.

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poliscrutiny101:

Please be sure to SHARE this one! “On Tuesday, Cruz filed an amendment to the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014 (S. 2363) to force the federal government to sell off a significant portion of the country’s most prized lands in the West. Th…e amendment would prohibit the federal government from owning more than 50 percent of any land within one state, and requires the government to transfer the excess land to the states or sell it to the highest bidder. Federal lands make up one-fifth of the nation’s landmass and over 50 percent of the land Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Alaska. Under Cruz’s proposal, these states, which are home to some of the country’s most beloved national parks, forests, wildlife areas and iconic natural resources, would be forced to either pass the costs of managing these lands along to state taxpayers or, more likely, give them away or sell them off for mining, drilling, and logging.”
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/07/10/3458798/ted-cruz-auction-off-public-lands/

For anyone who’s still not up to speed on Ted Cruz.

poliscrutiny101:

Please be sure to SHARE this one!
“On Tuesday, Cruz filed an amendment to the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014 (S. 2363) to force the federal government to sell off a significant portion of the country’s most prized lands in the West. The amendment would prohibit the federal government from owning more than 50 percent of any land within one state, and requires the government to transfer the excess land to the states or sell it to the highest bidder.
Federal lands make up one-fifth of the nation’s landmass and over 50 percent of the land Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Alaska. Under Cruz’s proposal, these states, which are home to some of the country’s most beloved national parks, forests, wildlife areas and iconic natural resources, would be forced to either pass the costs of managing these lands along to state taxpayers or, more likely, give them away or sell them off for mining, drilling, and logging.”

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/07/10/3458798/ted-cruz-auction-off-public-lands/

For anyone who’s still not up to speed on Ted Cruz.

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Where Does $2 Trillion in Subsidies for the Wealthiest Hide in Plain Sight?

Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, Chief Economist at the Roosevelt Institute, takes a hard look at subsidies for investment income in a new white paper on tax reform. Stiglitz advocates taxing capital gains and dividends at the same rates as ordinary income. Under current law, the federal government will deliver an estimated $1.34 trillion in subsidies to investors over the next 10 years in the form of reduced tax rates for capital gains and dividends. Sixty-eight percent of that money will go to the top 1 percent. Stiglitz argues that there is “no justification for taxing those who work hard to earn a living at a higher rate than those who derive their income from speculation.” Stiglitz would also eliminate an expensive, but little-known, provision called “step-up in basis,” which subsidizes inherited wealth. By taking a step-up in basis, heirs selling inherited assets only have to pay taxes on the capital gain that took place since they received the asset – gains that accrued during the previous owner’s lifetime are never subject to income taxes. This tax break will cost about $644 billion over 10 years, with 21 percent of that subsidy going to the top 1 percent. For the wealthiest families, the benefits are staggering: 55 percent of the wealth in estates worth over $100 million is in the form of unrealized capital gains, meaning that these families will never pay income taxes on the majority of their earnings since the heirs will benefit from step-up in basis.

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Israel can't win this or any future conflicts by bombing Gaza

A popular colloquial definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Israel launched military campaigns in 2008 and 2012, purportedly to eliminate Hamas’ rocket-launching capabilities from the Gaza Strip. Obviously, the campaigns failed: Hamas is again unleashing a barrage of rockets and Israel is again bombarding Gaza. Israel cannot win this war, primarily because it is fighting only the symptoms of the conflict with the Palestinians — rocket launching — not the underlying causes, which are the Gaza blockade and the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.

The range of Hamas’ rockets was about 50 miles in 2012, reaching cities such as Ashdod. Today, some rockets have traveled nearly 100 miles, targeting Tel Aviv and even Haifa. Hamas launched more than 800 rockets in the first six days — more than it did in 21 days in 2008. Israel has launched more than 1,300 airstrikes on Gaza in those first six days.

Seventeen members of the extended family of Tayseer Batsh, the Hamas police chief, were killed by one such airstrike — the largest number from one family in a single attack in the three conflicts. We don’t know how long the current conflict will last, but it could prove more punishing this time.

The heavy bombardment of Gaza only deepens the Israelis’ problem rather than solving it. Over the last 47 years, Israel has systematically created one of the worst humanitarian disasters in the world in the Gaza Strip. The more targets Israel destroys, the more frustration grows among the Gazans. The surviving relatives, neighbors and friends of those killed, and the rest of Gazan society, are more exasperated than ever by the Israeli blockade. Increased frustration within a besieged Gaza is what pushed things to the edge in the first place.

It is delusional to assume that when the current battle ends, both parties will return to their communities to resume normal lives. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has created two meanings of normality. The 40,000 Israeli reservists who were called up this time will, for the most part, go back to their jobs and homes when the fighting ends. But Gazans, 39% of whom are unemployed, will go back to their “normal” lives under the brutal conditions of the Gaza blockade and be at the mercy of Israel’s rules about what type and quantity of food and other basics are allowed into Gaza. The Palestinians in the West Bank will go back to their daily humiliation of roadblocks and expanding Israeli settlements at the expense of their livelihoods.

In fact, the two sides are more equal under the conditions of war than those of peace; although the Israelis are much stronger militarily and inflict more damage, both sides feel the effects of being under attack. But when the fighting ends, the Palestinians’ version of normality gives them every incentive to defy Israeli roadblocks and blockades. When the choice for Gazans is either accepting the blockade and life in what some have called the largest open-air prison in the world or fighting back, no sane person would consider anything other than the latter option.

To prevent another tragic war in the future, things must change. Palestinians mainly need two things: dignity and bread. Israel must end the occupation in general and the Gaza blockade in particular. The mistake of the 2008 and 2012 mediation efforts was that they produced cease-fires that allowed the Israelis to go back to business as usual — but left the Gaza blockade intact and perpetuated untenable conditions, which led to further and bloodier fighting.

4 Notes

Some things people should know about Israel and Palestine. You can see the big versions here: Palestine, Israel Deaths, Borders IsraeliID, Gaza water

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Before Shooting in Iraq, a Warning on Blackwater

No surprise to anyone paying attention. If anyone thinks outsourcing war to private contractors is a good idea, they can take a look.

WASHINGTON — Just weeks before Blackwater guards fatally shot 17 civilians at Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007 [one being a 9 year old child], the State Department began investigating the security contractor’s operations in Iraq. But the inquiry was abandoned after Blackwater’s top manager there issued a threat: “that he could kill” the government’s chief investigator and “no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq,” according to department reports.

American Embassy officials in Baghdad sided with Blackwater rather than the State Department investigators as a dispute over the probe escalated in August 2007, the previously undisclosed documents show. The officials told the investigators that they had disrupted the embassy’s relationship with the security contractor and ordered them to leave the country, according to the reports.

After returning to Washington, the chief investigator wrote a scathing report to State Department officials documenting misconduct by Blackwater employees and warning that lax oversight of the company, which had a contract worth more than $1 billion to protect American diplomats, had created “an environment full of liability and negligence.”

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Anyone who’s thinking of joining the military has to watch this video. The truth from a special forces veteran of 8 US conflicts.

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The Post Office Should Just Become a Bank

As luck would have it, yesterday a new government report detailed an innovation that would preserve one of the largest job creators in the country, save billions of dollars specifically for the poor, and develop the very ladders of opportunity that Obama has championed as of late. What’s more, this could apparently be accomplished without Congressional action, but merely through existing executive prerogatives.

What’s the policy? Letting the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) offer basic banking services to customers, like savings accounts, debit cards and even simple loans. The idea has been kicked around policy circles for years, but now it has a crucial new adherent: the USPS Inspector General, who endorsed the initiative in a comprehensive white paper.

The Inspector General, who conducted the study with the help of a team of experts in international postal banking as well as a former executive from Merrill Lynch, correctly frames the proposal not as a challenge to mega-banks, but as a way to deliver needed amenities to the nearly 68 million Americans—over one-quarter of U.S. households—who have limited or no access to financial services. Instead of banks, these mostly low-income individuals use check-cashing stores, pawnshops, payday lenders, and other unscrupulous financial services providers who gouged their customers to the tune of $89 billion in interest and fees in 2012, according to the IG report. Post offices could deliver the same services at a 90 percent discount, saving the average underserved household over $2,000 a year and still providing the USPS with $8.9 billion in new annual profits, significantly improving its troubled balance sheet. The report calls simple financial services “the single best new opportunity for the posts to earn additional revenue.”

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The Racist Housing Policy That Made Your Neighborhood

Institutional racism at it’s finest.

One of the most heinous of these policies was introduced by the creation of the Federal Housing Administration in 1934, and lasted until 1968. Otherwise celebrated for making homeownership accessible to white people by guaranteeing their loans, the FHA explicitly refused to back loans to black people or even other people who lived near black people. As TNC puts it, “Redlining destroyed the possibility of investment wherever black people lived.”

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So here’s Vice doing a better job reporting on the Afghan handover by US forces than fhe entirety of TV media. I will be coming to Vice for my war reporting from now on- I hope they keep this up. The first real feeling for the situation on the ground I ever had with these wars. Give these guys all the news Emmys- they are the only ones who deserve it.

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"We kill people based on metadata"- NSA

"An article by David Cole at the NY Review of Books lays out why we should care as much about the collection of metadata as we do about the collection of the data itself. At a recent debate, General Michael Hayden, who formerly led both the NSA and the CIA, told Cole, ‘we kill people based on metadata.’

The statement is stark and descriptive: metadata isn’t just part of the investigation. Sometimes it’s the entire investigation. Cole talks about the USA Freedom Act, legislation that would limit the NSA’s data collection powers if it passes. The bill contains several good steps in securing the privacy of citizens and restoring due process. But Cole says it ‘only skims the surface.’

He writes, ‘It does not address, for example, the NSA’s guerilla-like tactics of inserting vulnerabilities into computer software and drivers, to be exploited later to surreptitiously intercept private communications. It also focuses exclusively on reining in the NSA’s direct spying on Americans. … In the Internet era, it is increasingly common that everyone’s communications cross national boundaries.

That makes all of us vulnerable, for when the government collects data in bulk from people it believes are foreign nationals, it is almost certain to sweep up lots of communications in which Americans are involved.’ He concludes, ‘[T]he biggest mistake any of us could make would be to conclude that this bill solves the problem.’”

Quote above via slashdot- article via NY Books

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