September 13, 2013 archive

Sep 13

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Sep 13

AFL-CIO gives transgender equality a big push



The AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor federation, amended its constitution on Monday by adding a provision banning discrimination based on gender identity or expression.  The AFL-CIO delegates have been at their annual convention in Los Angeles.

Several constituent unions had already added similar wording to their policies.  

Very exciting.  Labor has really been stepping up, and the AFL-CIO has been stepping up.

–Mara Keisling,  executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality

The labor movement has long been a leader on full inclusion in the workplace.  This important addition to the governing document of the largest federation of labor unions is a historic and important step forward to ensuring that every American has an equal shot at employment and equal benefits.

–Fred Saenz, vice-president of the Human Rights Campaign

HRC and NCTE are part of Americans for Workplace Opportunity, which is a national coalition pressing Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would protect LGBT workers from bias in employment.

Sep 13

Cartnoon

Sep 13

On This Day In History September 13

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

September 13 is the 256th day of the year (257th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 109 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1814, Francis Scot Key pens Star-Spangled Banner

The Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem of the United States of America. The lyrics come from “Defence of Fort McHenry”, a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet, Francis Scott Key, after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy ships in Chesapeake Bay during the Battle of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812.

The poem was set to the tune of a popular British drinking song, written by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society, a men’s social club in London. “The Anacreontic Song” (or “To Anacreon in Heaven”), with various lyrics, was already popular in the United States. Set to Key’s poem and renamed “The Star-Spangled Banner“, it would soon become a well-known American patriotic song. With a range of one and a half octaves, it is known for being difficult to sing. Although the song has four stanzas, only the first is commonly sung today, with the fourth (“O thus be it ever when free men shall stand…”) added on more formal occasions. In the fourth stanza, Key urged the adoption of “In God is our Trust” as the national motto (“And this be our motto: In God is our Trust”). The United States adopted the motto “In God We Trust” by law in 1956.

The Star-Spangled Banner” was recognized for official use by the Navy in 1889 and the President in 1916, and was made the national anthem by a congressional resolution on March 3, 1931 (46 Stat. 1508, codified at 36 U.S.C. § 301), which was signed by President Herbert Hoover.

Before 1931, other songs served as the hymns of American officialdom. “Hail, Columbia” served this purpose at official functions for most of the 19th century. “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee“, whose melody was derived from the British national anthem, also served as a de facto anthem before the adoption of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Following the War of 1812 and subsequent American wars, other songs would emerge to compete for popularity at public events, among them “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Sep 13

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning


Cowlick

Sep 13

Late Night Karaoke

Sep 13

There Is A Season

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace…

It’s been more than 50 years since he wrote it, and 2 more years it’ll be 50 years since they released it.

The lyrics are taken almost verbatim from the Book of Ecclesiastes.

Handwritten lyrics to the song were among the documents donated to New York University by the Communist Party USA in March 2007.

45% of the royalties for the song are donated to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions because, in Seeger’s own words, “[in addition to the music] I did write six words“.

Sep 13

Syria: Exceptional Drumming for War

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

In his speech to the nation on the possible use of military force in Syria, President Barack Obama spent most of the fifteen minutes justifying his banging the drums for war. Describing the images of people dying from exposure to an chemical weapon and citing unconfirmed casualty numbers, was a repulsive ploy to appeal to the emotions of the American people. Bombing and killing more people for humanitarian reasons is an oxymoron.

The president’s speech was a confusing mixture of claims that the action was a matter of national security but a paragraph later stating the opposite as his reason to take the issue to congress. He also made the statement that the US was the “anchor of global security” and looked upon as the enforcer of international agreements but then says “America is not the world’s policeman.” He mentions the danger of al Qaeda gaining strength in the chaos but failed to mention that the US is arming the Syrian rebels many of whom are members of al Qaeda and even more extremist Islamic groups.

After this rambling garbled message, Pres. Obama finally got around to mentioning diplomacy as an option and the Assad government’s offer to surrender its chemical weapons to international control and finally asked congress to table the resolution for the use of force.

However, it seemed as if Mr. Obama was already throwing in the towel on diplomacy through the UN before a resolution is even on the table.

In today’s New York Times, Russian President Vladimir Putin writes an op-ed opposing an American strike against Syria. In his plea for caution, Mr. Putin said he felt the need to speak directly to the “American people and their political leaders” citing “insufficient communication between our societies.” He noted the strong opposition worldwide and the possible consequences from the potential strike.

A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.

Mr. Putin went on to argue that this fight is not about democracy stating that neither side is a champion for democratic rule and that arming the Syrian rebels is also arming US designated terrorist organizations, Al Nusra Front, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Calling this an internal conflict  and ” one of the bloodiest in the world,” he didn’t mention that Russia was supplying the Syrian government with weapons and would continue to do so.

What have not heard from Mr. Obama, Mr. Putin, pundits or any world leaders is a plea for a cease fire. They all have bemoaned how difficult it will be to secure the stockpile of Syrian weapons during an armed conflict but no one has brokered the idea of a “white flag” while the process is taking place. Of course that would mean the rebels would have to present a unified front and there are few that believe that’s possible. Also no one is asking that the rebel forces surrender whatever chemical weapons they might have simply because the White House and the media is refusing to acknowledge even the idea that they might be in possession of them, as has been revealed by communications from Iran.

America is not a neutral actor in this conflict and neither is Russia. As Mr. Putin noted, “we must stop using the language of force and return to the path of civilized diplomatic and political settlement.”  Both sides need to own up to reality and stop banging the war drums. They need to learn to stop talking past each other and listen.

Sep 13

IRS: Income Gap Greatest Since 1920

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

A recent analysis of IRS data on income and wealth in the United States found that the gap  between the richest 1 percent and the rest of America is the widest it’s been since the 1920’s.

The top 1 percent of U.S. earners collected 19.3 percent of household income in 2012, their largest share in Internal Revenue Service figures going back a century.

U.S. income inequality has been growing for almost three decades. But until last year, the top 1 percent’s share of pre-tax income had not yet surpassed the 18.7 percent it reached in 1927, according to an analysis of IRS figures dating to 1913 by economists at the University of California, Berkeley, the Paris School of Economics and Oxford University.

One of them, Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley, said the incomes of the richest Americans might have surged last year in part because they cashed in stock holdings to avoid higher capital gains taxes that took effect in January.

That soaring stock market means nothing to 99% of Americans, it just proves the rich are getting richer.

According to DSWright at the FDL News Desk, we may rapidly be approaching the bursting of another bubble:

But what’s worse is that the 1% hit a consumption limit – they can only buy so many cars, meals, homes – so the only way they can benefit from their wealth is to invest in financial assets which inflates those assets into bubbles. Then the bubbles pop, and in theory, they should eat the losses. But what we all know, or should know by now, is that the 1% refuses to eat the losses and instead use what is left of their wealth to buy favors in Washington to make them whole at your expense. It is a pretty awful system, especially if you are in the 99%.

And now due to the destruction of the labor movement, wages have frozen and even more income from production is going to the top 1% who are re-inflating the financial markets and having a great time doing so as the corporate profits to wages ratio is massive. This while America continues to have record unemployment and underemployment.

The 99% do not have a seat at the economic table as Washington ignores their needs and bends over backwards to help the 1% campaign contributor class. And when you aren’t at the table you are on the menu.

Freelance writer Sasha Abramsky joined Democracy Now! hosts Amy Goodman and Juan González to discuss his new book “The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives.” and ther reocrd breaking income inequality in the US.



Transcript can be read here