Friday, February 28, 2014

The Urgency of Venezuela, Tom Hayden

by Tom Hayden
It's difficult to grasp the facts behind the murky fog of Venezuelan crisis. Based more or less on intuitions, but also credible documents, some blame most of the crisis on the CIA. Some national security types, abhorring populism, claim that the Venezuela state is consolidating dictatorial power precisely by winning so many elections! Others, while friendly to Venezuela, blame the Caracas government for failing to address the problems of violent crime and economic malaise.
President Barack Obama may or may not know what various US operatives are doing. We have seen evidence of a "state within the state" before, going back as far as the CIA's operations against Cuba. In Obama's time, the president correctly named the 2009 coup in Honduras a "coup", and then seemed powerless to prevent it. At his first Summit of the Americas, a friendly Obama shook the hand of Hugo Chavez before Obama's top adviser tried to sabotage the warming of relations. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Michelle Rhee and Senator Calderon

Lest we forget. 
Students First pushed for a bill to add student test scores to teachers' performance evaluations earlier this year, but Senate Bill 441 died in its first committee.
The bill was carried by Sen. Ron Calderon, the Montebello Democrat whose office was raided this summer by the FBI. A sealed FBI affidavit made public by Al Jazeera America alleges Calderon accepted $88,000 in bribes from a hospital executive and an undercover agent posing as a movie studio owner.
In 2012, StudentsFirst pitched a bill in California that sought to remove seniority as a factor in teacher layoff procedures, instead basing layoffs largely on job performance, according to a confidential draft The Bee obtained last year. The bill also would have changed the teacher evaluation system so that at least half the ratings were based on student test scores.
Calderon's brother, Charles Calderon, who was an assemblyman at the time, said he was interested in introducing the bill, but ran out of time during the 2012 session.
StudentsFirst poured more than $1 million into legislative races in 2012, including support for Ian Calderon — the son of Charles Calderon and nephew of Ron Calderon — as well as Assembly candidatesCheryl Brown and Brian Johnson. All are Democrats who faced opponents backed by the California Teachers Association.
Ian Calderon and Brown won their races and now serve in the state Assembly.

Read more here:

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Dog Whistle Politics: How Politicians Use Coded Racism

Who Is Not Paying Their Taxes ?

Corporate tax avoidance
The top 10 corporate tax avoiders happen to be tech companies:
11.  Microsoft, $76.4 billion
2. IBM, $44.4 billion
3. Cisco Systems, $41.3 billion
4. Apple, $40.4 billion
5. Hewlett-Packard, $33.4 billion
6. Google, $33.3 billion
7. Oracle, $26.2 billion
8. Dell, $19.0 billion
9. Intel, $17.5 billion 

1. 10. Qualcomm, $16.4 billion 

Source: Bloomberg, August 2013
Note: when they don't pay their taxes, you and I have to pay more. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

What happened to the stimulus ? Krugman

The Stimulus Tragedy   FEB. 20, 2014

Paul Krugman

Five years have passed since President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — the “stimulus” — into law. With the passage of time, it has become clear that the act did a vast amount of good. It helped end the economy’s plunge; it created or saved millions of jobs; it left behind an important legacy of public and private investment.

It was also a political disaster. And the consequences of that political disaster — the perception that stimulus failed — have haunted economic policy ever since.

Let’s start with the good the stimulus did.

The case for stimulus was that we were suffering from a huge shortfall in overall spending, and that the hit to the economy from the financial crisis and the bursting of the housing bubble was so severe that the Federal Reserve, which normally fights recessions by cutting short-term interest rates, couldn’t overcome this slump on its own. The idea, then, was to provide a temporary boost both by having the government directly spend more and by using tax cuts and public aid to boost family incomes, inducing more private spending.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Ukraine- lets get some perspective

Raza Educators Conference -Sacramento

And many more workshops.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland says Washington has spent $5 billion trying to subvert Ukraine -- Puppet Masters --

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland says Washington has spent $5 billion trying to subvert Ukraine -- Puppet Masters --

US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe, Nuland said: "Since the declaration of Ukrainian independence in 1991, the United States supported the Ukrainians in the development of democratic institutions and skills in promoting civil society and a good form of government - all that is necessary to achieve the objectives of Ukraine's European. We have invested more than 5 billion dollars to help Ukraine to achieve these and other goals." Nuland said the United States will continue to "promote Ukraine to the future it deserves." 

Tax Breaks and Living Wage Struggles

Protests Over Twitter Tax Breaks as Anger Rises in Inequality Valley, California  By Joseph Mayton
The city of San Francisco is running a deficit, urging its government workers to put more of their personal earnings into health care costs for themselves and their families. But this deficit, workers argue, could be overcome if major technology companies in the area weren’t given the immense tax breaks they currently receive.
Across the Bay Area, and especially as one heads south from San Francisco, labor activists and others are gearing up for what could become the next hotspot of American activism: making wealthy tech giants pay their share.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Organizing in the New Economy Forum

 The objective of this event is to bring workers and activists together to hear from speakers and openly discuss building union power in today’s economy. As you know, the nature of work in America is changing rapidly. CEO and executive compensation is skyrocketing, while the middle class is shrinking and suffering from layoffs, unemployment, and stagnant wages. This level of income inequality in the United States has not been seen since 1928, and union membership has fallen to below 1920s’ levels. More than ever, working people need the collective voice and bargaining rights that unions provide. A strong and organized labor force is the best defense against poverty and inhumane working conditions, which is why I am partnering with SEIU-USWW and the Sacramento Activist School to host this timely forum.
Opening Remarks Assemblymember Roger Dickinson
Organizing in the New Economy Lino Pedres
Income Inequality Dr. Duane Campbell
State of Our Unions Fred Ross, Jr.
Immigration Reform Alma Lopez

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Look Who Spent the Most on Lobbying in Sacramento

Western States Petroleum Association Spent Most on Lobbying in 2013

by Dan Bacher 

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the most powerful corporate lobbying organization in Sacramento, spent over $4.67 million, more than any other interest group, while lobbying state government in 2013, according to data released by the Secretary State's Office and compiled by the Capitol Morning Report. 

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association and former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called marine protected areas in Southern California, led the successful campaign last year by the oil industry to defeat all one bill to ban or regulate the environmentally destructive practice of fracking last year. 

The oil industry added last minute amendments to Senator Fran Pavley's already weak legislation to regulate fracking in California, Senate Bill 4, last September, making an already bad bill even worse. Governor Jerry Brown signed the legislation, dubbed by environmentalists the "green light for fracking" bill, on September 20. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Global Protests Against Fast Track

Global Protest Against Fast Track
Cassandra Waters

Last week, diverse organizations from across North America came together to discuss the human impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on its 20th anniversary. The multi-sectoral Trinational Forum, hosted in Mexico City Jan. 28–31, was an opportunity for activists focused on labor, the environment, mining, farming, consumers, women, land and human rights to share their experiences under the NAFTA model, weigh the losses against the benefits and articulate a new vision for increased cooperation and action to achieve equitable growth and shared prosperity. On the last day, some 65,000 people marched in Mexico City to demand an end to policies that benefit corporations and elite investors at the expense of communities. Simultaneous protests were also held in more than 50 cities in Canada and the United States.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Enough already, Fraud Ridden Banks are Not Our Only Option

Enough is Enough: Fraud-ridden Banks are not LA’s Only Option

By Ellen Brown
“Epic in scale, unprecedented in world history. 
That is how William K. Black, professor of law and economics and former bank fraud investigator, describes the frauds in which JPMorgan Chase (JPM) has now been implicated. They involve more than a dozen felonies, including bid-rigging on municipal bond debt; colluding to rig interest rates on hundreds of trillions of dollars in mortgages, derivatives and other contracts; exposing investors to excessive risk; failing to disclose known risks, including those in the Bernie Madoff scandal; and engaging in multiple forms of mortgage fraud.
So why, asks Chicago Alderwoman Leslie Hairston, are we still doing business with them? She plans to introduce a city council ordinance deleting JPM from the city’s list of designated municipal depositories. As quoted in the January 14th Chicago Sun-Times:
The bank has violated the city code by making admissions of dishonesty and deceit in the way they dealt with their investors in the mortgage securities and Bernie Madoff Ponzi scandals. . . . We use this code against city contractors and all the small companies, why wouldn’t we use this against one of the largest banks in the world?
A similar move has been recommended for the City of Los Angeles by L.A. City Councilman Gil Cedillo. But in a January 19th editorial titled “There’s No Profit in L A. Bashing JPMorgan Chase,” the L.A. Times editorial board warned against pulling the city’s money out of JPM and other mega-banks – even though the city attorney is suing them for allegedly causing an epidemic of foreclosures in minority neighborhoods.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Peter, Paul & Mary - If I Had A Hammer - 1963 - Newport Folk Festival, F...

thank you Pete Seeger. 

State and Feds drained Northern California Reservoirs

by Dan Bacher 
The Bureau of Reclamation and Department of Water Resources systematically drained northern California reservoirs last summer, resulting in low flows and endangering salmon and steelhead in the Sacramento, Feather and American rivers, while filling water banks and Southern California reservoirs. 

Last summer, high water releases down the Sacramento, Feather and American rivers left Shasta, Oroville and Folsom reservoirs at dangerously low levels. Shasta is at 36 percent of capacity and 54 percent of average; Oroville, 36 percent of capacity and 54 percent of average; and Folsom, 17 percent of capacity and 34 percent of average. 
Castaic Lake as of Friday, January 31, 2014.

Yet Pyramid Lake in Southern California is at 98 percent of capacity and 105 percent of average, while Castaic Reservoir is 86 percent of capacity and 105 percent of average. 

The state and federal water agencies exported massive quantities of water to agribusiness interests and Southern California water agencies, endangering local water supplies and fish populations as the ecosystem continues to collapse.

Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, explained how the water was mismanaged. 

“We entered 2013 with Shasta, Oroville and Folsom reservoirs at 115 percent, 113 percent, and 121 percent of historical average storage. In April, they were still at 101 percent, 108 percent and 96 percent of average," said Jennings. 

"With no rainfall and little snowpack, the Department of Water Resources and the Bureau (of Reclamation) notified their contractors that water deliveries would be reduced. But they didn’t reduce deliveries. Instead, they actually exported 835,000 acre-feet more water than they said they would be able to deliver," said Jennings