* CHICAGO OFFICIALS DENY PERMIT FOR MAY 20 NATO PROTEST MARCH
By David Heinzmann, Chicago Tribune
After approving a parade permit for a group protesting the G-8 and NATO summits in Chicago, the city has denied an identical application by the same group seeking to move their parade one day later in the wake of the White House’s decision to move the G-8 conference.
The demonstrators asked to move their march from Saturday, May 19, after word came that the G-8 meeting scheduled to start that day had been moved by President Barack Obama to Camp David. The protesters filed a permit that was identical to the one the city approved for Saturday, except the date of protest was moved to Sunday, May 20, when the NATO meeting is set to start.
But this time the city rejected the request, citing a lack of police officers as well as other security and logistics complications from the very summit the demonstrators are seeking to protest. […]
* RAHM NEW TRIER TOAST CRASH 2012
At a recent event, Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanual, received an award from New Trier High School. Protesters took the opportunity to toast his ‘accomplishments’ of closing health clinics, schools, eliminating jobs and ignoring the poor, denying resources to schools, including 160 schools without libraries / librarians. In a demonstration of his own blatant hypocrisy, Rahm hollowly defended the protesters by citing the First Amendment. This event was attended by about 250 people and raised $68,000.00. The cost of attendance was $150.00 per plate.
* 5 FREEDOM-KILLING TACTICS POLICE WILL USE TO CRACK DOWN ON PROTESTS IN 2012
By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet
The First Amendment right to assemble and protest is going to get a black eye in 2012—as it has every time there has been an upsurge in America’s social justice movements.
Already in city after city, protesters and civil rights lawyers are troubled by proposed and newly enacted anti-protest rules, many of which are likely to be found unconstitutional if they have their day in court. In the meantime mayors, police and in some cases federal agencies are making detailed plans to thwart protests at local and national events.
In many cities, ordinances aimed at Occupy protesters are emerging to restrict protests and anything resembling camping on sidewalks, streets and parks. New fees are being drawn up to discourage large demonstrations. Anti-leafleting and postering rules are also muzzling people trying to spread the word about events. And all of that is being shepherded with a new pretext for using paramilitary tactics, replacing last year’s “health and safety” excuse for sweeping away Occupy sites with the rationale of protecting “national security” in a presidential election year. […]
* IS VOTING A SOLUTION?
By Dennis Loo, OpEdNews
Is the solution more democracy and how do elections fit into that picture since this session’s title is “Is Voting a Solution?” “How do we get there from here?” would be another way of putting this question.
A basic disagreement exists within the Left between those who argue that elections are important for the Left to participate in — usually lesser evilism – and those who argue that elections are not the avenue for the Left. I belong in the latter camp and devote a chapter to this question and related issues that I discuss in depth – democratic theory in particular – in my book Globalization and the Demolition of Society. In that chapter I critique key tenets of democratic theory and show why the failure of democracy to be realized in actual practice is not a matter of a good theory that somehow isn’t being lived up to in practice. The problem is not a disengaged citizenry, an overly powerful corporate world, or a media that is not independent enough. Instead the problem grows out of the “shortcomings of democratic theory itself and the underlying material conditions that produce democratic theory and that make representative democracies a sham for real popular participation” (p. 259).
I’m going to focus on just two areas in my remarks because of the limits of time.
1) Putting energy, even if it’s secondary to what you mainly do, into elections to support the so-called lesser evil or even a great candidate from a third party, is a serious mistake and based on an incorrect understanding of how political power is actually exercised, which brings me to my second point,
2) Elections do not determine public policy in this system. […]
* GOP FRESHMAN, BIG-BUCKS DONORS HOBNOB AT RESORT
By Sharyl Attkisson, CBS
There are 468 congressional campaigns going on right now.
That means a lot of serious fundraising.
Much of it is behind closed doors, except on a recent weekend at a South Florida resort, where CBS News got an inside look at what goes on behind the scenes.
It was the first Campaign 2012 fundraiser for a group of freshmen Republicans. All face tough, well-financed races against Democrats, and need to come up with big dollars to buy TV time. They get that by wooing special interests willing to pay a lot of money for special access.
In 2010, many freshmen Republicans were swept into Congress on the promise of doing things differently.
But fast-forward to 2012, and the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Fla. — an exclusive seaside resort and home to 54 holes of championship golf and a private marina full of luxury yachts.
That’s where we caught up with a select group of Republican freshmen, engaged in business as usual. But they didn’t come alone. They invited big campaign donors and lobbyists to join them – for a price. And we secretly sent our cameras along for a unique inside look at their first joint fundraiser, where special interests got the kind of access ordinary Americans can only dream of: on the golf course; over drinks at the resort bar; at a private beach lagoon. […]
* REDISCOVERING POVERTY
By Barbara Ehrenreich, Asia Times
It has been exactly 50 years since Americans, or at least the non-poor among them, “discovered” poverty, thanks to Michael Harrington’s engaging book The Other America. If this discovery now seems a little overstated, like Christopher Columbus’s “discovery” of America, it was because the poor, according to Harrington, were so “hidden” and “invisible” that it took a crusading left-wing journalist to ferret them out.
Harrington’s book jolted a nation that then prided itself on its classlessness and even fretted about the spirit-sapping effects of “too much affluence”. He estimated that one-quarter of the population lived in poverty – inner-city blacks, Appalachian whites, farm workers, and elderly Americans among them. We could no longer boast, as president Richard Nixon had done in his “kitchen debate” with Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev in Moscow just three years earlier, about the splendors of US capitalism.
At the same time that it delivered its gut punch, The Other America also offered a view of poverty that seemed designed to comfort the already comfortable. The poor were different from the rest of us, it argued, radically different, and not just in the sense that they were deprived, disadvantaged, poorly housed, or poorly fed. They felt different, too, thought differently, and pursued lifestyles characterized by shortsightedness and intemperance. Harrington wrote, “There is … a language of the poor, a psychology of the poor, a world view of the poor. To be impoverished is to be an internal alien, to grow up in a culture that is radically different from the one that dominates the society.”
Fifty years later, a new discovery of poverty is long overdue. This time, we’ll have to take account not only of stereotypical skid-row residents and Appalachians, but of foreclosed-upon suburbanites, laid-off tech workers, and America’s ever-growing army of the “working poor”. And if we look closely enough, we’ll have to conclude that poverty is not, after all, a cultural aberration or a character flaw. Poverty is a shortage of money.The ruse – if you could call it that – worked. Michael Harrington wasn’t red-baited into obscurity. In fact, his book became a best-seller and an inspiration for president Lyndon Johnson’s “war on poverty”. But he had fatally botched the “discovery” of poverty. What affluent Americans found in his book, and in all the crude conservative diatribes that followed it, was not the poor, but a flattering new way to think about themselves – disciplined, law-abiding, sober and focused. In other words, not poor.
* AMERICA’S ‘INEXCUSABLE’ INDIFFERENCE TO EXTREME POVERTY — FRANCES FOX PIVEN SPEAKS
By Lauren Feeney, AlterNet
An interview with Frances Fox Piven, a political scientist and activist whose writings on poverty, welfare rights, and protest movements have infuriated the Right.
Frances Fox Piven is a political scientist and activist who has been writing about poverty, welfare rights and protest movements for nearly half a century. The Nation, where Piven has been a long-time contributor, calls her “legendary.” Recently, Piven has become well known to another audience. Since Glenn Beckplaced her at the root of one of his famous chalkboard graphs, accusing her of plotting to “intentionally collapse our economic system,” Piven has been covered throughout the conservative blogosphere. We talked to Piven about rising inequality, poverty, and the condition of the safety net, as well as her sudden and un-intentioned notoriety. […]
* THIS WEEK IN THE WAR ON WORKERS: RICH KIDS GET TO GO TO COLLEGE, POOR KIDS DON’T
By Laura Clawson, Daily Kos
In our supposed meritocracy, it isn’t a surprise that kids from high-income families are more likely to graduate from college than kids from low-income families. But, while test scores from eighth grade math are nowhere near the only measure of student merit, it does say a little something about that meritocracy that high-income kids with low eighth grade math scores graduate from college at the same rate as low-income kids with high eighth grade math scores. […]
* GRADING THE NATION: HOW ACCOUNTABLE IS YOUR STATE?
By Caitlin Ginley, Center for Public Integrity
The tales are sadly familiar to even the most casual observer of state politics.
In Georgia, more than 650 government employees accepted gifts from vendors doing business with the state in 2007 and 2008, clearly violating state ethics law. The last time the state issued a penalty on a vendor was 1999.
A North Carolina legislator sponsored and voted on a bill to loosen regulations on billboard construction, even though he co-owned five billboards in the state. When the ethics commission reviewed the case, it found no conflict; after all, the panel reasoned, the legislation would benefit all billboard owners in the state — not just the lawmaker who pushed for the bill.
Tennessee established its ethics commission six years ago, but has yet to issue a single ethics penalty. It’s almost impossible to know whether the oversight is effectively working, because complaints are not made available to the public.
A West Virginia governor borrowed a car from his local dealership to take it for a “test drive.” He kept the car for four years, during which the dealership won millions in state contracts. […]
READ and INTERACTIVE CHART @ http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2012/03/19/eight-states-get-f-for-corruption.html
* NEW TOXIC SLUDGE PR AND LOBBYING EFFORT GETS UNDERWAY
By Sara Jerving, PR Watch
A trade association known for using the terms “compost,” “organic,” and “biosolids” to describe sewage sludge is investing in a new public relations campaign to influence policymakers and the public. The US Composting Council (USCC), which was founded by the disposable diaper industry, will be expanding its long-standing efforts to “rebrand” sewage sludge, which is increasingly disposed of on agriculture crops and through garden centers without telling the public that their food is being grown in medical, industrial, and human waste.
Earlier this year, the USCC announced that it hired a PR firm, Colehour + Cohen, to help with the rebranding efforts and that it will also be increasing lobbying efforts.
The word “compost” traditionally has applied to vegetable material and scraps gardeners and farmers collect to re-use on crops and gardens. The USCC uses the term “compost” on an industrial scale to include sewage sludge, as well as other commercial and municipal waste.
The spreading of sewage sludge — which contains numerous toxic substances — on farm fields and gardens has come under increasing fire by citizens concerned about the potential health consequences of this practice. Although the industry claims the practice is cheap and safe, a previous U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) survey concluded that all sewage sludge contains toxic and hazardous materials, including endocrine disruptors.
As documented in “Toxic Sludge is Good for You,” a book by the founder of the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), John Stauber, the sewage sludge industry has attempted to re-brand sewage sludge as “biosolids” since the 1990s. The EPA embraced the new term, and in 1992 used the term “biosolids” for the first time in new regulations that reclassified certain kinds of sewage sludge that were previously designated as hazardous waste, as “Class A” fertilizer. […]
* BREAKING DOWN THE MORTGAGE SETTLEMENT: HOW FAR DOES $26 BILLION GO?
By Cora Currier, ProPublica
The big bank settlement over mortgage servicing abuses was finalized last week, detailing the agreement’s actual terms.
Bank of America, Citigroup, Ally Financial (formerly GMAC) and JPMorgan Chase are on the hook for billions, which will be divvied up among penalties paid to the federal and state governments, direct payments to homeowners wrongfully foreclosed upon, and credits to the banks for providing “consumer relief.” (Read the government’s complaint and the banks’ consent judgment.)
Here’s a breakdown of key settlement numbers, showing where the money is going and how much help it will really provide for homeowners.
750,000: foreclosed homeowners expected to qualify.
$2,000: estimated average payout.
3.8 million: total foreclosures between 2008 and 2011. […]