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Archive for November 15th, 2011

Click the link below for the story on the politically corrupting influence of the Koch Brothers.

the Koch Brothers Plan to Win Politically in 2012

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Click on the link below to see an interactive guide to the major connections the Koch Brothers have. For those who don’t know, the Koch Brothers are billionaires that support policies that redistribute income from working people to the rich. They formed and financed the not so grass roots Tea Party, for example. The wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from various Koch Brother sources.

Interactive guide to the Koch Brothers

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Poverty Numbers Up in United States

“Bleak Portrait of Poverty Is Off the Mark, Experts Say,” blared the Friday headline in the New York Times. The traditional strategy for measuring poverty, we were told, did not include the benefits of federal programs like food stamps and tax credits that were helping to keep Americans above the poverty line. A new, “supplemental measure” from the U.S. Census that took such factors into account would reveal that many Americans thought to be living below the poverty line were actually above it — “as much as half of the reported rise in poverty since 2006 disappears,” declared the Times.

On Monday the census unveiled its report, and a first look at the numbers suggests that the Times’ preview was a bit off-base. According to the census’s new interpretation of the numbers, the total number of people living in poverty is higher than the traditional approach indicates.

We can slice the data in all kinds of different ways to account for the change. There are fewer children living in extreme poverty, for example, while a much higher number of seniors have slipped below the poverty line. But the key point explaining the discrepancy between what the Times predicted and the census has revealed is this: The new supplemental measure does not just take into account the positive effects of tax credits and food stamps, it also calculates the negative effects of paying for childcare, out-of-pocket medical costs, geographic differences and a rising overall standard of living. Out-of-pocket medical costs alone outweigh the helpful effects of either the food stamps or the Earned Income Tax Credit programs.

One conclusion is inescapable: The sorry state of healthcare in the United States is driving aging Americans into poverty. As the nation continues to get older, that problem is only going to get worse.

A new report from the Brookings Institution, “The Re-emergence of Concentrated Poverty,” delivers more bad news.

After declining in the 1990s, the population in extreme-poverty neighborhoods — where at least 40 percent of individuals live below the poverty line — rose by one-third from 2000 to 2005–09 … The slower economic growth of the 2000s, followed by the worst downturn in decades, led to increases in neighborhoods of extreme poverty once again throughout the nation, particularly in suburban and small metropolitan communities and in the Midwest.

The growth of high-poverty clusters is distressing, no matter how one strives to recrunch the data. Concentrated poverty breeds on itself — schools deteriorate, businesses move away, crime rises, creating a negative feedback loop that makes it ever more difficult to restart economic growth.

The Brookings report illuminates the changing face of poverty in America. Residents of the new extreme-poverty neighborhoods are more likely to be white and less likely to be Latino than a decade ago. Poverty is increasingly a suburban phenomenon; “new clusters of low-income neighborhoods have emerged beyond the urban core in many of the nation’s largest metro areas.”

Paradoxically, that news might be the most encouraging part of the report. Now that extreme poverty can no longer be “ghettoized,” perhaps there will be a growing political consensus that something needs to be done.

What exactly to do, however, is a knottier question.

It is also unlikely that without fundamental changes in how regions plan for things like land use, zoning, housing, and workforce and economic development that the growth of extreme-poverty neighborhoods and concentrated poverty will abate. With cities and suburbs increasingly sharing in the challenges of concentrated poverty, regional economic development strategies must do more to encourage balanced growth with opportunities for workers up and down the economic ladder. Metropolitan leaders must also actively foster economic integration throughout their regions, and forge stronger connections between poor neighborhoods and areas with better education and job opportunities, so that low-income residents are not left out or left behind in the effort to grow the regional economy.

In an era where large swaths of the population and one major political party believe that government is the problem, not the solution, it’s hard to see how we are going to make progress on progressive zoning and land use issues, not to mention regional economic development strategies. But there’s one thing, at least, that we should know by now, not to do: cut the programs that are currently keeping Americans above the poverty line.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities uses the newly released “supplemental measure” data to further emphasize the value, not just of the safety net as a whole, but of the specific agenda pushed through by President Obama to alleviate the impact of the Great Recession.

Six temporary federal initiatives enacted in 2009 and 2010 to bolster the economy by lifting consumers’ incomes and purchases kept nearly 7 million Americans out of poverty in 2010, under an alternative measure of poverty that takes into account the impact of government benefit programs and taxes. These initiatives — three new or expanded tax credits, two enhancements of unemployment insurance, and an expansion of benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called food stamps) — were part of the 2009 Recovery Act. Congress subsequently extended or expanded some of them.

In other words, without the Obama stimulus, millions more Americans would be under the poverty line.

Click the link below to see a related article.

Tax Cuts for the Rich Create Poverty, Not Jobs.

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Ron Paul is the New Republican Party Presidential Frontrunner

A surprising new poll out of Bloomberg News on Tuesday morning found that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) is not the only Republican to benefit from the seeming demise of other prior frontrunners.

Beating all the odds and the pundits’ expectations, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) has emerged as one of the new frontrunners for the GOP nomination to the presidency, topping even Gingrich and former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney and virtually tying former businessman Herman Cain for the lead.

Click on the link below and read the rest of the story.

Ron Paul the New Republican Party Presidential Leader

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From the New York Times

LAS VEGAS — For much of the presidential election of 2008, Barack Obama’s campaign was Emma Guerrero’s life. She was one of a dozen volunteers who showed up at an Obama campaign office here every night, taking time from her studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, to be part of what she still remembers as the most exciting period of her life.

It was largely because of Ms. Guerrero — and hundreds of other college students like her across the country — that Mr. Obama assembled a formidable machine that helped him roll to victory in 2008, a triumph that included putting Nevada into the Democratic column for the first time in 12 years.

“We did everything,” she said. “We went canvassing. Phone banking. Cleaning the offices. Taking out my bosses’ dry cleaning. Whatever they needed. It was such an amazing time because we all believed and wanted him to get elected.”

Ms. Guerrero said that she did not blame Mr. Obama for the 13.4 percent unemployment rate that has gripped this state, and that she was still likely to vote for him. But as she looks to graduation this June and her job hunt ahead, the emotion she feels is fear, and she cannot imagine having the time or spirit to work for Mr. Obama.

“I don’t think I could do it anymore,” she said. “That campaign was an amazing experience. But I don’t think I’m in the same mind-set anymore. He hasn’t really addressed the young people, and we helped him to get elected.”

Across this state — and in others where young voters were the fuel of the Obama organization, voting for him two to one over John McCain — the enthusiastic engine of the 2008 campaign has run up against the reality of a deadened job market for college students.

Interviews here and across the country suggest that most of his college supporters of 2008 are still inclined to vote for him. But the Obama ground army of 2008 is hardly ready to jump back into the trenches, potentially depriving Mr. Obama of what had been an important force in his victory.

Mr. Obama’s advisers, while acknowledging the shift, said they were confident that the loss of these workers would be negated by an influx of new students who have turned of voting age since 2008. Mr. Obama’s campaign manager, Jim Messina, said there had been eight million voters ages 18 to 21 registered since the last election, most of whom were Democrats.

“Their brothers and sisters started it, and they are going to finish it,” Mr. Messina said Monday. “They are storming into our office. Our volunteer numbers are up from where we thought they would be.”

Yet even Mr. Obama’s supporters say it seems unlikely that the president — given the difficulties of these past three years and the mood of the electorate of all ages — will ever be able to replicate the youthful energy that became such a defining hallmark of his campaign. In the last election, Sandra Allen hosted a group of fellow Brown University students at her home to call voters in North Carolina and Indiana on Election Day, a common practice in the Obama campaign. Mr. Obama won those states to the shock of Republicans.

Asked if she would be doing similar work for Mr. Obama this time, Ms. Allen responded: “Not now. And I will not be streaking across the main green of any campus with hundreds of thrilled people were he to be re-elected next year.”

Ms. Allen graduated last year and, after surveying the job market, decided to take refuge in graduate school to wait things out. “I’m not optimistic,” she said.

Jason Tieg, 22, a student at Brigham Young University-Idaho, voted for Mr. Obama with great enthusiasm in 2008. But now, struggling to find a part-time job to help him through school, he is not even sure he would do that again. “I got a job in July as a custodian on campus, but I lost it again when they needed to cut down.”

“I don’t know if I’ll support him next year,” he said.

It is hard to find a state that more vividly illustrates the danger to Obama from declining enthusiasm among young voters than Nevada. Few parts of the country have been harder hit by this recession, with stubborn double-digit unemployment, an unending wave of mortgage foreclosures and huge numbers of homeless. And there are few states where young voters were so crucial to Mr. Obama’s victory.

Mark Triola, who was president of Young Democrats of Nevada in 2008, said at the time, the Democratic organization at U.N.L.V. was about three times as big as the Republican organization. By last year, he said, they were about equal, a trend that students there say has not changed this year. (For his part, Mr. Triola graduated in the spring and found a job in the communications industry — “ideally probably not what I was looking for, but I don’t have any room to complain given what’s going on,” he said.)

Ian Lovett contributed reporting from Los Angeles, and Kim Palchikoff from Las Vegas.

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Judge issues restraining order against Zuccotti Park evictions

From Rawstory.com

After ordering the eviction of protesters from Zuccotti Park, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday explained that the park would temporarily remain closed due to a court order that restrained the city from closing the park.

A ruling issued by Judge Lucy Billings in the hours after the park evictions said that the city is “prohibited from: “(a) Evicting protesters from Zuccotti Park and/or (b) Enforcing the “rules” published after the occupation began or otherwise preventing protesters from re-entering the park with tents and other property previously utilized.”

At a press conference Tuesday morning, Bloomberg said that protesters had only been “temporarily” asked to leave the park “to reduce the risk of confrontation and to minimize destruction in the surrounding neighborhood.”

“We are now ready to open the park but understand that there is a court order, which we have not yet actually received, enjoining us from enforcing [park owner] Brookfield’s rules,” the mayor explained. “And so the park will remain closed until we can clarify that situation. But I want to stress that our intention was to reopen the park and to let people go in and express their first amendment rights to protest.”

He added that protesters would “not be allowed to use tents, sleeping bags or tarps and going forward, must follow all park rules,” something that seems to contradict the court’s restraining order.

“The final decision to act was mine, and mine alone,” Bloomberg admitted. “Some protesters might use compliance with our laws as a pretext for violence. … There have been reports of businesses being threatened.”

He went on to insist that “no right is absolute, and every right comes with responsibility,” suggesting that the First Amendment “does not allow tents and sleeping bags to take over public space.”

The mayor estimated that there were as many as 200 arrests during the overnight police action.

***Update: National Lawyer Guild vows to fight for protesters’ rights***

“This is a victory for everyone who believes in the First Amendment,” Liberty Park Legal Working Group (LPLWG) attorney Daniel Alterman said of the judge’s restraining order. “We will continue to fight for everyone’s right to continue the occupation.”

“The LPLWG has been fighting to ensure their right to free speech from day one of the occupation. The occupiers right to free speech is based in our most core legal principles and we will be here till the end to fight for those rights.”

Watch this video from CNN, broadcast Nov. 14, 2011.

http://rawreplaymedia.com/fvp/fvp5.8/player.swf

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