Category Archives: United States

Seattle socialist council member Kshama Sawant wants to give city employees May Day off

sawant always screaming

Socialist Sawant…always screaming about something.

Of course, it’s a “right.”

Update: The day off was granted. From MyNorthwest.com:

Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant urged her peers to give city employees the option to take May Day off. They obliged Monday afternoon by unanimously voting to make it official.

From MyNorthwest.com: Seattle councilmember Kshama Sawant is urging her peers to give city employees the option to take May Day off.

On Monday afternoon, Sawant will introduce a resolution proclaiming that city workers have the “right to take the day off on May 1, 2017, without retaliation.” The resolution also asks that city departments inform non-emergency workers that they have the right to request the day off to attend the “celebrations.”

“I urge councilmembers to approve this May Day resolution, which explicitly recognizes the right of city workers to take the day off and provides protection to city workers who may otherwise worry about retaliation,” a statement from Sawant says. “May Day has historically been an important day of action for worker and immigrant rights. It’s especially significant this year, with immigrants, working people, labor unions, women, and the LGBTQ community under attack from Donald Trump. If Seattle is truly a Sanctuary City that supports immigrants and working people, then it should lead the way by enabling City employees to stand in solidarity with immigrants and all workers on May 1.

“Further, I call on everyone who opposes Trump’s bigoted, anti-worker agenda to participate in peaceful May Day activities, particularly the official May 1 Action Coalition march. Join our growing Resist Trump Coalition to actively organize and build the fightback against the billionaire class.”

Prior to a vote on the resolution, Sawant is calling for a rally at City Hall around 1:30 p.m. The resolution will be voted on during the 2 p.m. city council meeting.

Every year on May 1, a workers’ rights march is held in Seattle as part of International Workers’ Day. The march, attended by thousands, is typically peaceful. Other marches, unrelated to the workers’ march during the day, typically occur in the evening and into the night. Those have become known for antagonism, violence, and damage.

According to the Seattle Times, Sawant’s resolution notes that a state law gives public employees in Washington state the right to request two unpaid holidays per year for a reason of faith or conscience or an organized religious activity.

The law says an employee must be allowed to take off the days he or she wants unless the employee’s absence would impose an undue hardship on the employer, or the employee is necessary to maintain public safety.

DCG

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Bill Nye becomes science warrior in Netflix series

bill nye

It’s Hollyweird…a faux scientist can become a real one in the land of make believe.

From CNN: Can Bill Nye really save the world? Probably not by preaching to the choir, which doesn’t make his half-hour Netflix show “Bill Nye Saves the World” any less noteworthy as a breezy blow struck on behalf of science, despite a few structural miscalculations.

The title alone speaks volumes: Premiering more than 20 years after “Bill Nye the Science Guy” started on PBS, the new series is pitched primarily toward adults, casting the bow-tie-wearing Nye as an advocate and science warrior, trying to beat back the anti-scientific thought and quackery that’s prevalent, especially within the political sphere.

Nye turns his attention to a different topic in each installment. They include the need to vaccinate children, the reality of climate change (inevitably) and applying a “Quack-O-Meter” to alternative medicines.

The episodes feature the host engaging in low-key, roundtable discussions with experts, and also taped pieces — dispatching a correspondent to India, for example, to document the success vaccination has registered there in preventing polio. Nye’s explanations are clear, simple and often funny, capitalizing on a sort-of nerd-chic personality that’s well suited to the program’s micro-budget, including perhaps the world’s tiniest studio audience.

The producers, however, apparently felt pressure to up the ante on entertainment value, and rather unfortunately chose to add what amount to little comedy sketches to illustrate their points. Those segments range from celebrity cameos (Zach Braff drops by to rail about the climate) to having different actors portray various diseases, modeling T-shirts with names like “POLIO” and “INFLUENZA.”

These vignettes are harmlessly goofy but also wholly unnecessary, feeling like a form of pandering in a series that seeks to arm its audience with greater scientific knowledge.

Like astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Nye has a lot to offer at this moment in time, when there’s such a strong, politically motivated culture of science denial. His eagerness to deliver straight talk on these matters — from asking whether vaccinations should be mandatory to lambasting the U.S. for failing to lead on climate change — will surely feel like a tonic to those share his concerns.

While “Bill Nye Saves the World” is a relatively modest enterprise by Netflix’s standards, it is, overall, an admirable addition to its lineup. If it’s not quite a rescue mission, Nye appears to have taken to heart the concept of trying to provide a small beacon of light rather than just cursing the darkness.

DCG

Illinois dems aim high with minimum wage proposals

robot

The future of Illinois…

Despite this proposal stalling, I guess this is one way the demorats can prove they aren’t out of touch with their supporters.

From MyFoxChicago (AP): Amid a national push by unions and worker advocates for a $15 minimum wage, Illinois Democrats hope to pass an ambitious hike during the spring legislative session, despite a warning from Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner that he opposes an increase of any kind.

The proposal would lift the state’s minimum wage from its current $8.25 to $15 over the next five years, a more accelerated leap than previous adjustments in Illinois. It also would constitute a larger jump than increases toward $15 approved last year in New York and California, where the rates had been $9 and $10, respectively.

But, as with previous efforts in Illinois, the measure is likely to be tied up in the state’s electoral politics.

Sponsors of the legislation acknowledge Rauner’s opposition but have signaled they want to force him to act on the measure ahead of next year’s gubernatorial election, in which he already faces half a dozen Democratic challengers.

“We will get a really good opportunity to see where the governor stands,” said Rep. Will Guzzardi, a Chicago Democrat sponsoring the wage bill in the House. “Does he side with the 2.3 million people in this state who need a raise now or does he side with the big corporations?”

In the past, Rauner has said he supported minor increases in the minimum wage. But he told the audience at a business forum on April 13 that requiring employers to raise pay is out of the question. “That’s not gonna happen,” Rauner said. “Companies will just leave.”

Democrats say they have considerable support for the $15-per-hour measure in the House, and expect a floor vote in May. The Senate is also considering two minimum wage bills, one similar to Guzzardi’s and a less ambitious one that would raise the wage to $11 by 2021.

In 2014, Democrats placed an advisory referendum on the Illinois ballot asking voters whether they supported a minimum wage increase in an effort to motivate their base to go to the polls. The referendum secured 67% of the vote in the same election that Rauner won his first term in office. During the campaign, Rauner was criticized by his rival, former Gov. Pat Quinn, for statements supporting a reduction of the minimum wage.

Illinois has raised its minimum wage above the federal floor, currently $7.25 per hour, twice in recent history – first in 2003 and again in 2006 to $8.25, where it’s remained since 2011. That leaves Illinois with a lower rate than 20 others nationwide, but above every state it borders.

Business leaders claim increasing the rate puts Illinois at a competitive disadvantage, driving companies across state lines or forcing them to reduce staff. Labor unions and other allies of the national “Fight for $15” campaign contend raising the minimum wage boosts the economy by putting more money into pockets of low-wage workers, decreasing reliance on government assistance.

Advocates say anything less than $15 falls far short of the cost of living for millions of Illinoisans. They point to research including a 2016 report from the University of Illinois that shows at least 34 percent of Illinois workers earn less than $15 an hour, many of them while helping to support a family.

The report projects an increase to $15 would result in just a 0.78 percent employment decline while yielding an extra $2.4 billion in tax revenue.

Robert Bruno, a professor of labor relations at the university who co-authored the report, said research on previous increases indicates companies are able to recoup additional labor costs by raising prices a few cents on the dollar and benefit from enhanced worker productivity and purchasing power.

Some business organizations, including the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, oppose any increase above federal levels. Others, like the Illinois Restaurant Association, are willing to consider a more incremental adjustment – something some economics experts also recommend, warning against potential job loss resulting from more substantial leaps.

Sen. Kimberly Lightford of Maywood, the Democrat sponsoring both Senate proposals, has been advocating for a higher rate since 1999 when she first proposed what became Illinois’ 2003 increase. She said if the federal minimum had risen with inflation since its peak in 1968, it would be $11 today. “I cannot sit back and allow millions of working people to receive no wage increase at all because it could not be the $15,” she said.

The bills are HB198, SB1738 and SB2.

DCG

After losing 2016 election, Democrats are defecting to Communist Party USA

People’s World, the bilingual news site of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), reports on April 19, 2017, that CPUSA “has been receiving membership requests ever since Donald Trump was elected President.”

Emile Schepers, CPUSA’s International Secretary and an anthropologist by profession who was born in South Africa, told Granma International that “Although the phantom of the McCarthy era still looms across the U.S., there is growing interest in communist ideas. The global financial crisis affected many people and left the sense that today’s youth are worse off than their parents. Neither recent Democratic nor Republican administrations have been able to resolve the serious problems affecting the majority of the country’s citizens. Although the United States is in no way experiencing a pre-revolutionary situation in the communist sense, capitalism is showing terminal signs worldwide.”

What Schepers neglected to say is that Marxist intellectuals have been insisting that “capitalism is showing terminal signs worldwide” for more than a century.

But how to explain the 2016 U.S. election that voted uber capitalist Donald Trump as president?

Schepers attributes that to an “ideological manipulation” that unleashed a right-wing upsurge because “popular discontent doesn’t always take a progressive route.” Even in his current home state of Virginia, not only the wealthy, but also many poor whites with “false class consciousness” voted for Trump. Schepers blames Americans’ “false class consciousness” on the corporate mass media and “local news stations in the interior of the country [that] only broadcast preachers announcing the end of the world.”

Schepers is convinced that if Bernie Sanders had been Trump’s opponent, Sanders would have won — the same avowed socialist Sanders who is a millionaire with three homes, including a $600,000 lakefront estate purchased just five days after the 2016 Democratic National Convention that selected Hillary Clinton as the party’s presidential candidate.

Schepers admits that the great challenge for CPUSA continues to be organizing American workers and trade unions.

CPUSA stopped offering its own candidate in US presidential elections years ago. Instead, CPUSA has endorsed Democratic Party presidential candidates in every election since 1988, beginning with Michael Dukakis to Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The CPUSA opposes U.S. militarism and supports the Palestinian cause, the Cuban Revolution and more recently the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela — the same corrupt regime that mismanaged and destroyed the Venezuelan economy, and ignores and suppresses the tens of thousands of Venezuelans who protest and march against the government. Way to go, CPUSA!

Unlike Emile Schepers, the Democrats who have gone over to the Communist Party USA at least are honest, as the Democrat Party long ago had morphed into the communist party in all but in name. See:

~Eowyn

Obama IRS targeted for audit 1 in 10 donors to conservative groups

Under Obama, conservative Americans suddenly found themselves living not in the U.S.A., but in the (former) Soviet Union.

In 2013-14, news came that the all-powerful Internal Revenue Service of the Obama administration was singling out for scrutiny conservative groups that had applied for non-profit status. See:

But what actually happened is even worse. It turns out Obama’s IRS targeted for audit:

  1. Not just conservative groups that had applied for non-profit 501(c)(4) status, but also conservative groups that already were 501(c)(4)s.
  2. Not just conservative groups, but also individual conservative Americans.

(1) Obama IRS targeted all right-wing groups

In February 2014, then-Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee Dave Camp (R-MI) stated that:

“Additionally, we now know that the IRS targeted not only right-leaning applicants, but also right-leaning groups that were already operating as 501(c)(4)s.  At Washington, DC’s direction, dozens of groups operating as 501(c)(4)s were flagged for IRS surveillance, including monitoring of the groups’ activities, websites and any other publicly available information. Of these groups, 83 percent were right-leaning. And of the groups the IRS selected for audit, 100 percent were right-leaning.

The right-leaning groups that were targeted included the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Leadership Institute, a 501(c)(3) that trains young conservative activists. The group’s president, Morton Blackwell, told Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) the audit had cost his organization more than $50,000 and hundreds of man-hours. As part of the investigation, the Leadership Institute was required to produce 23,430 pages of documents and answer far-ranging questions about its interns and other miscellaneous topics.

(2) Obama IRS targeted conservative individuals

On July 22, 2015, the D.C. citizens’ watchdog group Judicial Watch announced that it obtained documents from IRS which confirm the IRS had used donor lists to conservative tax-exempt organizations (such as the aforementioned Leadership Institute) to target those donors for audits. The IRS produced the records in a Freedom of Information lawsuit by Judicial Watch seeking documents about selection of individuals for audits, based upon application information and donor lists submitted by Tea Party and other 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organizations (Judicial Watch v. Internal Revenue Service (No. 1:15-cv-00220)).

One of the damning documents is an exchange of letters between then-Democrat Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman:

  • In his letter to Shulman of September 28, 2010, Baucus wrote: “I request that you and your agency survey major 501(c)(4), (c)(5) and (c)(6) organizations.…”
  • Shulman replied in a letter dated February 17, 2011: “In the work plan of the Exempt Organizations Division, we announced that beginning in FY2011, we are increasing our focus on section 501(c)(4), (5) and (6) organizations.”

Note: Sen. Roy Blunt wrote that Douglas Shulman was cleared to visit the White House more than 100 times during his four years as Obama’s IRS commissioner. In contrast, Shulman’s predecessor, Mark Everson, says he was cleared to visit the Bush White House just once during his four years as IRS commissioner.

After receiving Sen. Baucus’s letter, the IRS considered the issue of auditing donors to 501(c)(4) organizations, alleging that a 35% gift tax would be due on donations in excess of $13,000, which required the IRS audit the donors.

But the 35% gift tax was really just a ruse because a gift tax on contributions to 501(c)(4)’s was considered by most to be a dead letter since the IRS had never enforced the rule after the Supreme Court ruled that such taxes violated the First Amendment. In fact, the IRS had not enforced the gift tax since 1982.

The documents show that individual donors to Crossroads GPS, associated with Republican Karl Rove, were specifically referenced by IRS officials in the context of the gift tax audit. IRS attorney Lorraine Gardner emailed a 501(c)(4) donor list to former Branch Chief in the IRS’ Office of the Chief Counsel James Hogan. Later, this information was shared with IRS Estate Gift and Policy Manager Lisa Piehl.

In September 2014, another Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit forced the release of documents detailing that the IRS sought, obtained and maintained the names of donors to Tea Party and other conservative groups. IRS officials acknowledged in these documents that “such information was not needed.” The documents also show that the donor names were being used for a “secret research project.

At a May 7, 2014 hearing, the House Ways and Means Committee announced    that, after scores of conservative groups provided donor information “to the IRS, nearly one in ten donors were subject to audit.” In 2011, as many as five donors to the conservative 501(c)(4) organization Freedom’s Watch were audited, according to the Wall Street Journal. Bradley Blakeman, Freedom’s Watch’s former president, said he was “personally targeted” by the IRS.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said:

These documents that we had to force out of the IRS prove that the agency used donor lists to audit supporters of organizations engaged in First Amendment-protected lawful political speech. And the snarky comments about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the obsession with Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS show that the IRS was targeting critics of the Obama administration. President Obama may want to continue to lie about his IRS scandal. These documents tell the truth – his IRS hated conservatives and was willing to illegally tax and audit citizens to shut down opposition to Barack Obama’s policies and reelection.

See also:

~Eowyn

Not a conspiracy theory: U.S. government has engaged in weather modification since 1953

A recent article in New York Times Magazine of April 18, 2017, asks if it’s O.K. “to tinker with the environment to fight climate change”.

Tinkering with the environment is another way of saying “weather modification“.

The NYT article by Jon Gertner describes Harvard professor David Keith’s proposal of a continuous “solar engineering” project to slow down global warming, at a cost of $1 billion a year, by flying ten Gulfstream jets around the world, spraying 25,000 tons of liquid sulphur gas. The gas will condense into airborne particles that scatter sunlight and so reduce global warming. Keith argues such a project is technologically feasible, but is concerned, as he puts it, about “the ethics about messing with nature.”

Chemtrails over Barcelona, Spain

What neither Keith nor reporter Gertner seems to know (or pretend they don’t know) is that the U.S. government has been engaged in “tinkering with the environment” or weather modification since 1953, as revealed in a recently uncovered 784-page U.S. Senate report, Weather Modification: Programs, Problems, Policy, and Potential (U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington: May 1978).

Here are some highlights from that report:

(1) The U.S. government has been doing weather modification since 1953 (p. v of Weather Modification):

In a letter addressed to Dr. Norman A. Beckman, Acting Director, Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress, Sen. James B. Pearson wrote: “weather modification projects have been operational for nearly 25 years and have been shown to have significant potential for preventing, diverting, moderating, or ameliorating the adverse effects of such weather related disasters and hazards”. Pearson’s “greatest concern” is “regarding the lack of a coordinated Federal weather modification policy and a coordinated and comprehensive program for weather modification research and development.” It is that concern that prompted Sen. Pearson to ask the Congressional Research Service to prepare the Weather Modification: Programs, Problems, Policy, and Potential report.

Note: James Pearson was a U.S. senator (R-Kansas) from 1962 to 1978. He introduced and sponsored senate bill S.3383 “National Weather Modification Policy Act”. Written into Public Law 94-490 on October 13, 1976, S.3383 authorized a member of the cabinet to “negotiate an International agreement concerning the peaceful uses of weather modification”.

(2) Definition of weather modification (from “Summary and Conclusions,” p. xix):

“Weather modification is generally considered to be the deliberate effort to improve atmospheric conditions for beneficial human purposes—to augment water supplies through enhanced precipitation or to reduce economic losses, property damages, and deaths through mitigation of adverse effects of hail, lightning, fog, and severe storms.”

(3) Modern, scientific methods of weather modification (from “Summary and Conclusions,” pp. xix-xx):

  • The modern period in weather modification began in 1946 with cloud seeding using dry ice, then silver iodide.
  • Beginning in the 1950s, there were projects to alter severe storm effects. Commercial weather modifiers also began.
  • By 1978 when the Senate report was published, weather modification included cold fog clearing; “primitive” efforts to abate severe storms and hurricanes; increase winter snowpack by seeding clouds in the mountains on the U.S. west coast and in Israel to enhance precipitation by as much as 15% over “natural” rainfall; opening holes (via seeding) in wintertime cloud layers in northeast U.S. so as to increase sunshine and decrease energy consumption; and experiments to suppress lightning by seeding thunderstorms.

(4) U.S. government involvement in weather modification (from “Summary and Conclusions,” pp. xxi-xxvi):

  • “For over 30 years both legislative and executive branches of the Federal Government have been involved in a number of aspects of weather modification.”
  • Since 1947, more than 110 weather modification bills and resolutions have been introduced in Congress — for research support, operations, grants, policy studies, regulations, liabilities, activity reporting, international concerns, and using weather modification as a weapon. Some of the bills became laws.
  • Total funding for Federal weather modification research reached a high point of $20 million in fiscal year 1976, falling to $17 million in fiscal year 1978.
  • While each federal government agency conducts its own weather modification research, the National Science Foundation is the lead agency. The NSF and the Departments of Interior and Commerce account for the largest weather modification programs.
  • State governments, universities, private institutions and commercial entities (e.g., airlines) also conduct their own weather modification projects, mostly to increase precipitation, suppression of hail or dispersal of fog.

(5) Global warming from human behaviors that may inadvertently cause weather modification (from “Summary and Conclusions,” pp. xxi):

“Modification processes may also be initiated or triggered inadvertently rather than purposefully, and the possibility exists that society may be changing the climate through its own actions by pushing on certain leverage points. Inadvertently, man is already causing measurable variations on the local scale. Artificial climatic effects have been observed and documented on local and regional scales, particularly in and downwind of heavily populated industrial areas where waste heat, particulate pollution and altered ground surface characteristics are primarily responsible for the perceived climate modification. The climate in and near large cities, for example, is warmer, the daily range of temperature is less, and annual precipitation is greater than if the cities had never been built. Although not verifiable at present, the time may not be far off when human activities will result in measurable large-scale changes in weather and climate of more than passing significance. It is important to appreciate the fact that the role of man at this global level is still controversial, and existing models of the general circulation are not yet capable of testing the effects in a conclusive manner. Nevertheless, a growing fraction of current evidence does point to the possibility of unprecedented impact on the global climate by human activities ….”

(6) Weather modification is international (from “Summary and Conclusions,” pp. xxvii):

  • While the U.S. is the leader in weather modification research and operations, other countries conduct weather modification as well, but not all governments report that they do.
  • The largest country outside of U.S. was the Soviet Union.
  • Other major weather modification countries are Canada, Israel, Mexico, China.

(7) Weather modification is controversial and has opposition (from “Summary and Conclusions,” pp. xxvii):

“Weather modification is often controversial, and both formal and informal opposition groups have been organized in various sections of the country. Reasons for such opposition are varied and are based on both real and perceived adverse consequences from weather modification. Sometimes with little or no rational basis there are charges by these groups that otherwise unexplained and usually unpleasant weather-related events are linked to cloud seeding. There are also cases where some farmers are economically disadvantaged through receiving more, or less than optimum rainfall for their particular crops, when artificial inducement of such conditions may have indeed been planned to benefit those growing different crops with different moisture requirements.

(8) Weather modification as a weapon of war (from “Summary and Conclusions,” pp. xix, xxviii):

  • “Not all weather modification activities, however, have been or can be designed to benefit everyone, and some intentional operations have been used, or are perceived to have been used, as a weapon of war to impede the mobility or tactical readiness of an enemy.”
  • The U.S. used weather modification as a weapon of war in Vietnam: “attempts were made to impede traffic by increasing rainfall during the monsoon season.”
  • Expect weather warfare between nations in the future.
  • There have been international efforts to ensure peaceful use of weather modification.
  • “Because atmospheric processes operate independent of national borders, weather modification is inherently of international concern…. Whereas domestic weather modification law is confused
    and unsettled, international law in this area is barely in the formative stage. In time, ramifications of weather modification may lead to major international controversy.

(9) Weather modification will have unintended ecological effects (from “Summary and Conclusions,” pp.xxix-xxx):

“Economically significant weather modification activities will have an eventual ecological effect, though appearance of that effect may be hidden or delayed…. Deliberate weather modification, such as precipitation augmentation, is likely to have a greater ecological impact in semi-arid regions than in humid ones.”

Dane Wigington of geoengineeringwatch.org asks:

How big does the climate engineering elephant in the room need to be before it can no longer be hidden in plain site? How much more historical proof do we need of the ongoing climate engineering/weather warfare before the denial of the masses crumbles? When will populations around the globe bring to justice all those responsible for the ongoing and rapidly worsening worldwide weather warfare assault?

And so, the next time you’re mocked and called a “conspiracy theorist” because you bring up chemtrails or HAARP or California’s peculiar historic 100-year drought, show them this post. They are the ones in denial, not us.

See also:

~Eowyn

Obama meets with at-risk youth ahead of Chicago speech

obama

I’m back. You got a prob with dat?

31 people shot in your home town over the weekend. Five died. But hey, “optimistic!”

Once a community organizer, always a community organizer.

From ABC News: Former President Barack Obama met Sunday with at-risk young men and boys in his hometown of Chicago before his first major post-presidency speech.

The former president spent time at a roundtable with youth from the organization Chicago Create Real Economic Destiny located in the Roseland/Pullman neighborhood in South Side Chicago where Obama started as a community organizer at age 25.

The CRED program provides job skills and employment opportunities for at-risk young adults.

Spokesman Kevin Lewis says Obama listened to the young men’s stories and shared some of the challenges that he faced growing up. Obama “was optimistic about their potential to positively contribute to their communities and support their families because of the services provided in the program,” Lewis said.

The program was founded by Obama’s education secretary, Arne Duncan, who also attended the meeting.

“The president and Mrs. Obama look forward to working with similar organizations through the Obama Foundation and the My Brother’s Keeper initiative that are already committed to bringing much needed expansion of opportunities in Chicago neighborhoods,” Lewis said.

Obama will speak Monday to young community leaders and organizers at the University of Chicago, where his presidential library is planned.

Obama’s first public engagement comes as President Donald Trump nears his 100-day mark in office.

DCG