Be INFORMED

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Help Japan: Millions Without Water

  You all know that Japan had a double-whammy on Friday with an 8.9 earthquake followed by a tsunami. If that wasn’t bad enough, a nuclear power plant has suffered an explosion.

UPDATE

   On Sunday MSNBC TV has reported that millions of people have no water and that many have no power. Also, a nuclear reactor is going through a slow meltdown and some 300,000 have been evacuated in the area.

   Donate some cash to any of the following organizations if you can.

  Links provided by Yahoo

GLOBALGIVING: Established a fund to disburse donations to organizations providing relief and emergency services to victims of the earthquake and tsunami. Donate here.

SAVE THE CHILDREN: Mobilizing to provide immediate humanitarian relief in the shape of emergency health care and provision of non-food items and shelter. Donate here.

SALVATION ARMY: The Salvation Army has been in Japan since 1895 and is currently providing emergency assistance to those in need. Donate here.

AMERICARES: Emergency team is on full alert, mobilizing resources and dispatching an emergency response manager to the region. Donate here.

CONVOY OF HOPE: Disaster Response team established connection with in-country partners who have been impacted by the damage and are identifying the needs and areas where Convoy of Hope may be of the greatest assistance. Donate here.

INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL CORPS
: Putting together relief teams, as well as supplies, and are in contact with partners in Japan and other affected countries to assess needs and coordinate our activities. Donate here.

SHELTER BOX: The first team is mobilizing to head to Japan and begin the response effort. Donate here

Protests Against The Banks

  Posted @ Common Dreams

Published on Thursday, March 10, 2011 by Grit TV

New Wave of Protests Fighting Banksters

by Laura Flanders

It was tax day in 2009 that saw the first Tea Party protests, and the FOX-led media firestorm that's followed has made it seem as though the Tea Party's the only game in town if you want to complain about bailouts.
This year, though, as tax day approaches, a new wave of protest is sweeping the country.  On February 26th, inspired by the UK, US Uncut actions took place at Bank of America branches around the country—and all 50 states held solidarity rallies to support Wisconsin's protesters.

Taxpayers connected with National People's Action and other community-based groups occupied a Bank of America, protested the Attorneys General and the Republican congressional leaders this week. and as James Mumm of National People's Action noted on GRITtv yesterday, this one actually represents the majority.  And diversity.

Compare the coverage with what followed every Tea Party outburst and you'd weep.

In February 2009, when one CNBC correspondent spoke out from the floor of the stock exchange against taxpayers' help to beleaguered mortgage holders, Rick Santelli's "rant" went viral thanks to web-based front groups of the corporate-funded right. Tax day protests a couple of months later were covered live on FOX and by June's health care meetings, even a single wild-eyed ranter could snag prime time attention, on every show, on every network.

This time the attention's critical. The Empire Justice Center is predicting a “tsunami” of foreclosures coming, and Bank of America is refusing to write down mortgage debt. Republicans in Congress want to eliminate the Home Affordable Modification Program, which helps people keep their homes and Democrats are flagging in their support.

How big do protests have to be for money media to pick them up? We don't know, but we know it's out of all proportion when the critique goes against the super rich. Luckily the action's picking up. Now, will media spotlight? We in the independent media will do our best to keep up. But we're going to need your help.
The Other 98%
US Uncut
Move to Amend
National People's Action

                      © 2011 Grit TV

Laura Flanders

The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv and editor of At The Tea Party, out now from OR Books. GRITtv broadcasts weekdays on DISH Network and DIRECTv, on cable, and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Follow GRITtv or GRITlaura on Twitter and be GRITtv's friend on Facebook.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday Funnies

  To much dumb shit this week to even comment about.

Craig Ferguson:

"Julianne Moore is going to play Sarah Palin in a new HBO movie. Julianne said, 'But I know nothing about politics,' and the producers said, 'Perfect!'"

"In New Orleans tonight the streets are awash in necklaces. If only you could have waited a few weeks, Lindsay Lohan."

Conan O'Brien :

"In a new interview, Newt Ginrich says he cheated on two of his wives because he was too consumed with love for his country. Yeah, apparently he misunderstood the phrase, 'Please rise for the pledge of allegiance.'"

"Today residents of L.A. are voting on a tax on anything sold in a medical marijuana dispensary. If the measure passes the city could be solvent within 45 minutes."

Stephen King: The Rich Should Pay More Taxes

    Author Stephen King had a bit to say a few days ago about why the rich should pay more in taxes and he also touched on the union-busting that is going on around the country.

Calls For General Strike In Wisconsin? Not So Fast…

    ….unless the striker wishes to become unemployed.

Page 64

SECTION 198. 111.06 (1) (c) - Secret Ballot has been stripped.

Updated by Patience John at Wed Mar 9, 2011, 11:37:45 PM

Page 81

111.70 (4) (L) Strikes prohibited. Except as authorized under par. (cm) 5. and 15    6. c., nothing Nothing contained in this subchapter constitutes a grant of the right 16    to strike by any municipal employee or labor organization, and such strikes are 17    hereby expressly prohibited.

Right to Strike Repealed.

Updated by Patience John at Wed Mar 9, 2011, 11:39:55 PM

Also Page 81

111.70 (4) (mb) Prohibited subjects of bargaining; general municipal employees.

Here's the big one:

Page 112:

230.34 (1) (ax) 1. Notwithstanding pars. (a), (am), and (ar), during a state of emergency declared by the governor under s. 323.10, an appointing authority may discharge any employee who does any of the following:

b. Participates in a strike, work stoppage, sit−down, stay−in, slowdown, or other concerted activities to interrupt the operations or services of state government, including specifically participation in purported mass resignations or sick calls.         MORE HERE...

   If the Wisconsin public workers do strike then they will be terminated.

 

Friday Funnies ( Part 1 )

   So much material to cover via video and the usual written jokes, that I am doing this on Friday in 2 parts.

   We start off with Bill Maher’s take on Newt Gingrich and his hypocrisy. Afterwards, some of the better Wisconsin protests signs.

Newt Rules

 

via BuzzFeed

via BuzzFeed

 

via BuzzFeed

via BuzzFeed

 

We're Going To Destroy A Bank

  Original Article           Fri Mar 11, 2011

          by Stranded Wind

Ladies and Gentlemen,

    M & I Bank of Wisconsin has committed an unpardonable offense. This bank took bailout funds and thanks to the magic of Citizens United our own tax dollars flowed through their executives hands into the coffers of Scott Walker's gubernatorial campaign. We haven't dug deeply yet, but I think when we do we're going to find that we no longer have Russ Feingold's voice in the Senate because of this as well.

   The mainstream media isn't covering it, but I'd like to show you a few images of what poetic justice looks like .



   What these pictures show are six hundred ordinary citizens descending on the M&I branch near the Wisconsin Capitol after learning of their purchase of the gubernatorial election last November. Two firefighters with old school ideas about saving had over $600,000 between the two of them and they demanded cashier's checks on the spot.

   Not everyone has the purchase price of a couple of homes sitting in the bank, but if the 60% of Wisconsin that's sick to death of Scott Walker's behavior simply go close their accounts the bank will crash and they'll have stripped him of the funds he needs to fight the recall next January.

   A couple of people have the documentation and my money is on @Karoli over at Crooks & Liars getting the job done first. I'll come back and post the first good piece I see. I'm trying to get this out and keep it tidy - look in one of the comments and I'll provide some of the links the researchers sent me, so those inclined to do their own digging can get started.

   You know what really chaps my ass here? All week we've been seeing Tea Party trolls saying "It's not fair that public employees take our tax dollars and use them in elections."

   On behalf of all of us who work for a living, unlike those fools with their misspelled signs being bussed around by Koch Brothers I'd like to say ...

 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Michigan Taliban’s Future Plans

   In case you missed it, Michigan Taliban leader Rick Snyder wants to be able to declare emergencies with the idea of having selected managers run the cities and towns in the state.

   OH, but there is so much more to it. Listen

  The communist American Taliban are on the move and they are trying to not only strip you of civil rights, but, any rights that you think that you may still have.

    Snyder and the rest of the brood are attempting to turn Michigan into a Russian Federation type state.

The Banking Mortgage Scandal Almost Complete ( With Help From The Feds )

    A prime example of the United States government laying in bed with the Banks.

   Cross-posted from DailyKos

Thu Mar 10, 2011

The Federal Reserve Finds No Wrongful Foreclosures by the Banks - the Coup is Complete.    by Badabing

This is simply too stunning to even believe, especially in light of the fact that all 50 US State Attorney's are now in the process of playing 'let's make a deal of a measly $20 billion dollars with the Banks' to pay off those homeowners who were illegally foreclosed upon. 

Ben Bernanke, you are a liar and crook and you and your pals should be subjected to a public stockade whereby you are put on display for the next several months with home owners, who have been literally screwed by the Banks, the illicit Foreclosure Mills et., al, as your 'guards,' that will keep a huge supply of rotted vegetables to be thrown at you daily.  After said punishment, you should be subjected to the same treatment Bradly Manning is currently experiencing.

The 'month' long so called investigation by Ben and his pals is a joke.  Worse than that it simply sanctions the Banks to 'keep on fleecing while the fleecing is good.'  Take a good look people because this is corruption with a capital 'C.'

A months-long investigation into abusive mortgage practices by the Federal Reserve found no wrongful foreclosures, members of the Fed's Consumer Advisory Council said Thursday.  During a public meeting attended by Fed chairman Ben Bernanke and other regulators, consumer advocates on the panel criticized federal bank regulators for narrowly defining what constitutes a "wrongful foreclosure." At least one member of the panel voiced concerns that the public would not take the Fed's findings of improper practices seriously, since the wide-ranging review did not find a single homeowner who was wrongfully foreclosed upon.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

Ya think?  OMG, one member of this panel is basically saying:  Geeze guys, I don't think their gonna by this.  Un-fucking believable. 

Keep in mind this panel's way of doing a report:  despite the fact that there have been approximately 4.2 million homes foreclosed upon since The Great Heist of 2008, the panel picked out (randomly, and I doubt that too) 500 of the foreclosures, to base their decision on. 

The Fed's report will only further the disagreements between bank regulators, whose top priority is ensuring the safety and soundness of the banking system, and law enforcement officials, who are concerned with reportedly widespread violations of state and federal bankruptcy and consumer protection laws during foreclosures.

Last year, foreclosure notices were filed on more than 3 million properties, according to data provider Realtytrac. More than one million homes were repossesed, a record. More than 11 million Americans currently owe more than their home is worth, according to CoreLogic, a real estate data provider.  "That homeowners were delinquent has never been our contention," Rangan said. "Our contention is that many of these foreclosures were avoidable."  Rangan said the report found numerous flaws in banks' procedures and internal mortgage operations, and that the Fed directed the firms to fix those problems. One firm was found to be using Microsoft DOS, an outdated computer operating system, to handle home mortgages, Rangan said. DOS was popular in the 1980s.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

Why am I getting 'that feeling,' that this decision by the Federal Reserve is a prelude to making certain the MERS becomes a Federal Law, so as to let the 50 US Attorney's off the hook, and so that the Banks can 'Federalize' the destruction of basic property rights and contractual laws in our nation? 

Countless homeowners are also pinning their hopes on the slim chance of a mortgage refinance or negotiation, reasoning that they will be able to get back on their financial feet if given a lower monthly payment or a short respite from payments. Unfortunately, these options are not panning out for most people, as evidenced by the steady increase in mortgage filings — an estimated 4.2 million homes are now being foreclosed upon or will be in the near future, with about 4 million more expected by the end of 2012. This is, of course, on top of the more than 6 million homes already foreclosed upon.

Federal Government Programs — Too Little, Too Late?

The federal government has acted to try to turn an economic corner, though critics say that their efforts are too little, too late. Making Home Affordable (MAH), the Obama administration’s highly publicized loan modification program, has sadly helped less than 500,000 homeowners modify unmanageable mortgages and still keep their homes. Another government program, the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program (HAMP), offers assistance to people who simply cannot continue to make payments and are seeking a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure to find a faster resolution to their pressing financial programs.

http://knowledgebase.findlaw.com/...

As William K. Black points out:

    The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s financial recordkeeping regulations (31 CFR 103.18) require federally supervised banking organizations to file a SAR when they detect a known or suspected violation of federal law meeting applicable reporting criteria.

Collectively, banks make massive numbers of SARS filings with regard to mortgage fraud, over 67,000 annually, but a mere 10 institutions file 72% of those referrals. The typical nonprime lender deliberately violates its legal requirement to file a criminal referral when it discovers mortgage fraud even though that practice would be irrational for an honest lender. The federal regulatory agencies have not taken any effective action against these pervasive violation of their rules despite an “epidemic” of mortgage fraud that drove the ongoing financial crises.

http://4closurefraud.org/...

Mark this day on your calendars people, because this is the day, March 10, 2011, when the coup d'etat set forth to completely destroy the housing market in our nation, and fully give the Banks the rubber stamp of approval for more economic terrorism.

Just picture Bernanke dressed in a flight suit and helmet on the US Titanic with a huge MISSION ACCOMPLISHED sign behind him.

I'm disgusted beyond reason.  Good thing we've got a Democrat in the White House.

Ms. B.

Updated by Badabing at Thu Mar 10, 2011, 03:09:15 PM

UPDATE:  This story is now huge, it is the top headline on Huffington Post, whereas it was just an article when originally posted for you guys here.  There are already over 1,000 comments on Huffington, and let me tell you people are steamed and really, really enraged at the Federal Reserve for yet another power grab that is nothing more than corruption. 

Originally posted to Badabing on Thu Mar 10, 2011

Wisconsin Taliban Bill On Way To Courts…

    ….and part of the legal challenges to the Taliban’s assault on the state will take some time to wind through the system.

      David Dayen explains the challenges.

  • Legal challenges. There are going to be a number of legal challenges to this bill. It will not be implemented right away. There’s the near-term challenge of how the bill got passed tonight. It was done in a way that may have violated open meetings laws, by not allowing 24 hours notice for a public meeting of the conference committee. There are other statutes about collective bargaining that may be brought up in court and fought. And there’s the issue of the bill having a fiscal impact. Scott Walker spent three weeks claiming that collective bargaining was a fiscal issue, and then the legislature just passed the bill as “non-fiscal.” Courts will have to wade through a lot of this, and it’s sure to go up to the state Supreme Court. Which brings us to…
  • Supreme Court fight. The matchup between David Prosser (R) and JoAnn Kloppenberg (D) for the state Supreme Court on April 5 just got very interesting. It’s a statewide vote, and the balance of power on the state Supreme Court is at stake. Right now there are 4 Republicans and 3 Democrats on the court, but one of those Republicans is Prosser. Expect lots of organizing and millions of dollars poured into this election, which is much like a political election, with debates and everything. If Democrats win, the legality of what took place tonight may be put in greater question.

    Look forward to tons of cash pouring into the Taliban coffers because the state has an election with a seat on the state Supreme Court coming up, which is leaning toward the Republican Taliban Party who have 4 GOP’ers compared to the 3 Democrats on the bench.

 

Newt Gingrich Had Affairs Because Of His “ Passion For The Country”…

    … and it is a good thing that he got tossed from office before the Newt could have a few more affairs with the country.

Don't just wonder some days about how stupid Republicans think the American public is?  And isn't it scary to think that they could be right?  Today's example is Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House who resigned in disgrace in 1999, serial adulterer while hiding behind a rhetorical shield of family values and anti-woman polices. 

He f..ked the nation in his contract ON America. But his passion for the country made cheat on his wives.  So he says now.        TomP

  In case the Christians forget just how religious Mr. Newt is/was, we have Wikipedia to help refresh your memory.

Gingrich has been married three times. In 1962, he married Jackie Battley, his former high school geometry teacher, when he was 19 years old and she was 26.[88][89] They had two daughters.

In the spring of 1980, Gingrich left Battley after having an affair with Marianne Ginther.[90][91] A

According to Battley, Gingrich visited her while she was in the hospital recovering from cancer surgery to discuss the details of their divorce. However, Gingrich disputes the account.[70] Six months after the divorce was final, Gingrich wed Ginther in 1981.[92][93]

In the mid-1990s, Gingrich began an affair with House of Representatives staffer Callista Bisek, who is 23 years his junior; they continued their affair during the Lewinsky scandal.[94]

In 2000, Gingrich married Bisek shortly after his divorce from second wife Ginther. He and Callista currently live in McLean, Virginia.[95]

Gingrich has two daughters from his first marriage. Kathy Gingrich Lubbers is president of Gingrich Communications,[96] and Jackie Gingrich Cushman is an author, whose books include 5 Principles for a Successful Life, co-authored with Newt Gingrich.[97]

    That’s Newt Gingrich, American Taliban member.

Hey, Wisconsin Taliban

   Since the Walker Taliban unit in Wisconsin have decided to ignore the majority of the voters in the state and kill off the collective bargaining rights of public workers under the guise of saving money and creating jobs, should the citizens of the state expect to see some of those 250,000 promised jobs begin to start appearing today, along with bigger paychecks in the next few months? Don’t hold your breath because it ain’t gonna happen.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Wisconsin Senate Taliban Strips Workers of Collective Bargaining Rights

Wisconsin's Taliban chief Scott Walker and his Taliban sidekicks in the state Senate voted just a short time ago to take away collective bargaining rights from public workers. the Taliban voted 18-1 for this assault on Wisconsin public workers.

The Senate requires a quorum to take up any measures that spend money. But Republicans on Wednesday split from the legislation the proposal to curtail union rights,and a special conference committee of state lawmakers approved that bill a short time later. The lone Democrat present on the conference committee, Rep. Tony Barca, shouted that the surprise meeting was a violation of the state's open meetings law but Republicans voted over his objections. The Senate then convened within minutes and passed it without discussion or debate. Spectators in the gallery screamed "You are cowards."
for whatever reason the damned link will not show. I'll try to correct this as soon as is possible.

Vivian Schiller: NPR CEO Resigned Wednesday...

... after a video was released showing a fundraiser making basically true comments about conservatives, Teabaggers, and Juan Williams, a former NPR political analyst.

CSMonitor

In a wide-ranging conversation during the video sting, Mr. Schiller appeared to belittle “uneducated Americans” who adhere unthinkingly to a conservative party line. He also characterized tea party activists as “seriously, seriously racist” and bemoaned the dearth of “educated, so-called elites” in the political debate.

Only in American can one tell the truth and then be punished/fired for doing so unless you are a politician.

A Bit More On The Michigan Taliban Saga…

   … and their plans to raise some taxes, on the poor and elderly.

SaveOurEITC.com

Some members of the Michigan Legislature are proposing to raise taxes on nearly 800,000 lower-income working families and their children by $330 million, while supporting a massive $1.5 billion tax cut for businesses. Under the proposal, 85 percent of Michigan’s 300,000 businesses will end up paying no taxes at all – regardless of how much they make, or how many state and local services they require.

These lawmakers want to pay for a business tax cut by eliminating the Earned Income Tax Credit, which returns an average of $432 to families, most with children.

Michigan is joining together to oppose higher taxes on the working poor.

   The group also notes that there is a bill the Congress that would make Michigan a “right to work “ state. Yes, the Michigan chapter of the American Taliban would like to see the state become like most of the southern states which would then have all of those future promised jobs paying out minimum wage rates while making the citizenry poorer, and giving the employers even more tax breaks.

American Taliban Member Rick Snyder…

   …of Michigan has gone off the deep end, and that is putting it mildly.

Rick_Snyder

If you have been reading the news over just the past few days alone, or watching the news shows online or on television, then you know about the republican governors American Taliban and their assault on not only the public workers, but also on what is basically your voting rights. The list goes on and on and on but I wish to focus on one of governor Snyder’s communist idea’s to help rob the people of the state while he enriches his corporate masters. Naturally, this schmucks ideas are not at all popular with real Americans who work ( ? ) and live from one check to the next.

   We will let Rachel Maddow fill you in on this clowns idea to give himself  a status of dictator in case he has to declare a state emergency.

American Taliban Governor Snyder

     Rise up everybody!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Governor Walker’s Political Career Is D.O.A.

       Watching the Republicans in the state of Wisconsin squirm is a very nice thing to see. I would hope that this is just the beginning of more of the same to come in the rest of the United States, as it should. Americans everywhere should send Wisconsin Taliban lead Scott Walker a nice thank-you note for being an ass and for letting the citizens of the country get a first hand look at just how much the Republican Taliban Party hates and despises the middle and lower classes of America. The protests need to go from a few states to ALL of the United States.

   That being said.

Original Article

Tue Mar 08, 2011      Walker is going down hard, going down fast

by MadisonProgressive

Scott Walker stinks of failure.  He doesn't have the roots in either the national or state Republican party to survive this.  The stench of desperation is all over him and the Republicans are starting to run the opposite way.

Scott Walker's career in dead on arrival.  Not only can't he deliver, he has so energized the Democratic Party here that we can easily reclaim the state.  He has become a toxic liability to the Republicans.  If John Boehner was a stronger leader (and stop drunk crying all the time) he would put an end to this farce now because it's destroying the narrative he's trying to keep going, i.e. Obama has to be stopped.

Scott Walker is talking to his idiot friends in Waukesha and that's it.  He doesn't realize that there's a whole lot of Republican voters and senators who feel no loyalty to him.  Some of these senators are now scared for their political future.  They are getting so much push back that they don't know how to handle.

The Fabulous Fourteen should not, can not return home until most of this horrific bill is off the table.  Walker is trying to aggravate power in a way that would make Daley blush.  He wants his hand in everything so he can dismantle it.  We are stopping him.  He is finished. Walker, just like the cheese, will stand alone.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Unilever Recalls Peanut Butter

    The Unilever Company has issued a recall for its flagship peanut butter brand “ Skippy “ due to some jars which may be contaminated with salmonella. Two varieties are affected in the recall, those being the Skippy reduced-fat  creamy and the reduced-fat chunky peanut butter.

CSMonitor

Sixteen states are affected by the recall: Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

   So kiddies, if you live in one of the above states check your  Skippy UPC code or the date stamped on the lid.

UPC codes:  048001006812 or 048001006782

Used-By-Dates:  MAY1612LR1, MAY1712LR1, MAY1812LR1, MAY1912LR1, MAY2012LR1. or MAY2112LR1

   Happy Hunting!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

The American Taliban

  This is just a preview/test post of what I have been working on for the past few weeks. I’ll have much to say about the Conservative’s who wish to mess up the average citizens living standards. Included in this group, which I call “ The American Taliban “ are not only all of the conservative movement, but many from the Democrat Party as well as from big business. All of the major players who are stealing our jobs, our wages, and our rights as people of the United States will be included. Plan on seeing the Wall Street crowd along with the Bankers who ripped you and I off.

   Right now, I am gathering pictures of the American Taliban members as well as more information, so you will be seeing various pics throughout the next few days as I size them to fit this space.

    What you see below will not necessarily be what you see when the chapters are completed.

john-boehner

John Boehner, current leader of the American Taliban ( R ) controlled House majority.

 

Rick Scott

   Rick Scott, current Florida Taliban leader posing as the states Governor. It is rumored that Florida is where all of the Taliban members train before going national in the political arena, much like the Al Qaeda airplane pilots did before 9/11.

    Scott is a special Taliban leader having experience running a company which was A+ at ripping off the taxpayers by way of overbilling the federal government. Scott more than likely holds the record for pleading the 5th Amendment some 75 times when dragged into hearings over his participation in this scam.

    Scott will be the first Florida governor to drag the state of Florida down to 4th world status, a first for anyone governing a state in America. I will note that Arizona is not so far behind.

The Republican Scare Machine

   You and I have been hearing over the past few weeks about the communist Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s ongoing attempt to bust the public-workers unions because of the state deficit which he and the state assembly created with some tax cuts that they created for businesses. We have heard all of the media take by American media, but what about the thoughts from overseas?

Watching America

Le Figaro, France
Republicans: The Red
Scare Is Back


By Jean-S├ębastien Stehli
Machiavelli could never have imagined this.
Translated By Zachary Hebert
23 February 2011

Edited by Patricia Simoni

France - Le Figaro - Original Article (French)
The United States and the USSR were at odds for 45 years, but during that time, the two superpowers had many things in common. Today, the USSR is no more, and we suddenly are witnessing a strange phenomenon. The dream of American conservatives is to create an oligarchical system similar to the one that ruled over Russia: power for a few, deconstruction of regulation, and privatization of all that could be sold. That is the ideal of the GOP and its tea party allies. The Wisconsin story, seen as that of a courageous governor’s refusal to accept the shameful advances of unions, at a time when the entire country has to tighten its belt, is a huge farce and an untruth. Here’s an explanation.
For over a week, Wisconsin’s civil servants, professors among them, have been on strike. The state’s governor, Scott Walker, wants to increase the percentage of civil servants’ salaries that goes toward their retirement pensions and to increase their contributions to their health insurance premiums, two propositions that do not at all please the unions, but which were accepted. But the governor, who is close to the tea party moment, wishes to limit unions’ negotiation power and obligate them to accept a system in which employees would annually vote to say whether to continue to be union members.
In reality, what is going on in Wisconsin has nothing to do with the official reasons invoked by the governor and his supporters. As Nobel Prize for economics winner, Paul Krugman, highlights, what Scott Walker is “trying to do is to make Wisconsin — and eventually, America — less of a functioning democracy and more of a third-world-style oligarchy.” The hypocrisy is flagrant: Although the governor admits that it is necessary to reduce the deficit, he is trying to pass tax cuts for a portion of the population (always the same one), which does nothing but exacerbate the deficit.
The governor, elected six weeks ago — thanks to the financial help of the super-conservative millionaire Koch brothers, financiers of the tea party, in the hope that the movement would abolish pollution regulation — simply wants to erase the unions and, above all, their ability to speak on behalf of the employees of an industry. Above all, the unions that do not think like he does, because he is not as hot-headed toward the unions that are closer to the Republicans.
The political system that Scott Walker and his allies want is not American democracy, in which the rule is one person, one vote. The political system admitted by the new GOP darling is one in which some powerful entities have all the rights. The irony is that those who, like the tea party, claim to speak on behalf of the scorned people, wish to eliminate the power that truly speaks on behalf of the poorest and the middle class: the unions — whether or not unions should be agreed with is a different issue.
Another irony, this one a little crueler, brought up by Paul Krugman: It is precisely this oligarchy that, in pushing for more and more deregulation, has provoked the very financial crisis that America is facing today; it was not the unions. And now, the oligarchy is using the pretext of the crisis in order to eliminate the modest forces of opposition that continue to be against such a form of government. Machiavelli could never have imagined this.

CLICK HERE FOR ORIGINAL VERSION

GOP Senators try to block stricter rules for for-profit colleges

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Sat Mar 05, 2011      by  Joan McCarter for Daily Kos

A handful of extremely right-wing Senators are trying to block implementation of rules designed to curtail deceptive marketing and recruiting by for-profit colleges. Senators Jim Risch (ID), Tom Coburn (OK), Jim DeMint (SC), Ron Johnson (WI), and Mike Lee (UT) are all seemingly fine with taxpayer dollars, in the form of federal student loans, lining the pockets of these profiting colleges that aren't delivering on education. For example:

Bridgepoint Education Inc., a publicly-traded for-profit company based in San Diego, with online and traditional programs that have grown quickly in recent years.

Bridgepoint . . . experienced a 167 percent increase in profit in 2009, from $81 million in 2008 to $216 million in 2009, according to HELP Committee data. But between 2008 and 2009, more than 60 percent of its bachelor’s degree students withdrew by the summer of 2010....

On Feb. 4, the Education Department released new data showing that for-profit students account for nearly half of all student loan defaults, even though they account for less than 15 percent of students nationwide. The department has also published data showing that some for-profit schools overcharge students and offer inadequate training, leaving them burdened with heavy debt and unable to get jobs after graduation.

Here's what that looks like:

student loan defaults

And here's what it means, from James Kwak at The Baseline Scenario.

Though increased enrollment appears to imply increased opportunity, many students are in higher risk of drop-out and loan default when choosing a for-profit college. The for-profit education sector is in large part to blame for the sharp rise in student loan defaults, accounting for almost half of total defaulters. In the graph [above], the Department of Education has concluded that despite only having 12% of total enrollments, for-profit schools disproportionally account for 48% of total student debt defaults. Since for-profits are so effective in securing Federal loans and grants for their students, this means that the schools are in essence receiving an indirect subsidy from the government and taxpayers, while leaving students in the red.

While an increasing number of students enroll in for-profits and take on large amounts of student debt, they also increase their risk of drop-out. A report published last year by the Education Trust shows how devastating dropout rates are, with only 22% of students enrolled at for-profit four-year universities graduating within six years, as compared to 55% and 65% at public and private non-profit universities, respectively. Many students enrolling in these institutions are left without credentials and burdened with debt, yet the schools are able to retain their profits made from students’ tuition.

The high rates of both drop-outs and defaults in these colleges should be enough for responsible lawmakers to demand some accountability—as the Department of Education has done with these rules. Responsible lawmakers, obviously, are not part of the teahadist wing of the GOP, which doesn't want to pay public school teachers, but has no problem with public money subsidizing the ripping off of millions of American college students for the private good of a few. Same old GOP story.