Gaza is a tough place; it’s tiny, overcrowded and besieged. But the people are kind. The food is delicious, and the beach, though filthy, allows us to pretend that we’re free. The sunset at sea is a spectacular scene, despite the Israeli warships dotting the landscape. Take a stroll down the street, and you’ll meet vendors, mostly young children hawking their wares. Take a taxi, and by the time you get off, you’ll be exchanging phone numbers with your newest friend, the taxi driver.
Our markets are complete chaos, an experience for all five senses. Rush hour is when school children, dressed in UNRWA uniforms or Barcelona and Real Madrid t-shirts, finish classes and flood the streets on their way back home. It is when I realize how young Gaza’s population is. Night is as lively a time as daytime. Smoke shisha at a beach or downtown café or chill with the family. The people in Gaza, too, are humans.
But this isn’t the scene in Gaza anymore. The streets are deserted, and so is the beach. Schools have become makeshift shelters crammed with displaced people fleeing death to a supposedly safer place. The beautiful noise of life has been replaced by a horrid one of death. Drones are humming overhead, and jet fighters are roaring.
There is always shelling at a distance. Distance, however, is relative. It could be so close that your windows will be blown out as you scream your heart out. Only then will you realize you have just escaped a narrow death. But someone else must have inevitably died. This could happen numerous times a day before you force yourself to sleep in the dark in a safe corner of your house to the sound of falling bombs and missiles, in the hope that none of these missiles will know its way to you.
The people in Gaza are living through yet another Israeli assault, the third such assault in six years, with nowhere to flee. As missiles hit civilian houses, entire families are obliterated. How else could one possibly characterize the killing oftwenty-five members from one family in one strike, or the killing of another eighteen members from another family in just another strike? How can one describe the arbitrary and indiscriminate shelling of one of the most crowded and impoverished areas in Gaza City with endless barrages of missiles and mortar shells all night long while preventing ambulances and civil defense forces from entering the area to rescue and evacuate the victims?
“This image best describes what is happening in Gaza. Gaza is the world’s largest open-air prison. Even calling the action against Palestinians in Gaza a war seems lacking in description. A war implies some equality in combat. What is happening in Gaza is a massacre by one of the world’s most powerful armies, abetted by the silence of western nations.”
(Via Being Latino @ Facebook)
Updates on my Bill Maher appearance, the Arizona execution, direct actions in Seattle and in New England (market basket stores), Derek Jeter tickets, and Chinese meat scandal. Major discussions of Obama’s low polls, the changing meaning of socialism, and differences between private profit and social well-being. Response to listeners on auto and beef industries, credit unions, and bullies.
In the wake of the US voting no to a resolution drafted by the United Nations to investigate Israeli war crimes, headlines like this dominate far-right media. It is a testament to the sort of crazy bubble they live in.
How Capitalism is Cheating Young Americans
By Paul Buchheit
Our country’s wealthy white once-idealistic baby boomer generation has cheated those of you entering the working world. A small percentage of us have taken almost all the new wealth since the recession. Our Silicon Valley CEOs have placated you with overpriced technological toys that are the result of decades of American productivity, but which have mainly profited the elite members of their industries.
Although none of us in the older generations can speak for you, we can help you research the facts. And the facts are painfully clear.
1. You Have Very Little Savings to Pay Your Massive Debts
A recent report claims that median net worth for the millennial generation (18 to 35 years old) has risen from $9,000 to $32,000 since 2007, and that their median income is $47,000.
Most other sources disagree. A report from the Russell Sage Foundation concludes that all American households have lost wealth since 2007. Other evidence shows that about 90% of us lost wealth in the past five years, while the richest - and generally older - 5% made millions. Median income, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is only about $35,000 for 25- to 34-year-olds, and just $25,000 for 20- to 24-year-olds.
Debt is apparently the difference, and the unrelenting burden, for college-educated young people. Based on Pew research, college-educated student debtors have twice as much debt as income. And they have only one-seventh the net worth of college-educated adults who have no student debt obligations.
2. You’re Being Cheated out of the Opportunity to Begin Your Own Households
As you were entering the working world after the recession, almost 60 percent of the new jobs were low-income ($7.69 to $13.83 per hour). The number of college grads working for minimum wage doubled in just five years.
As a result, many of you are forced to live with your parents. In just one generation, the percentage of stay-at-home young adults has risen from 11 percent to almost 24 percent. And more disturbingly, student homelessness increased by 10 percent in just one year.
3. Corporations are Hoarding Money that Could Pay for Your Jobs
Corporations more than doubled their profits and halved their taxes from 2000 to 2012.
What have they been doing with all that money? Hoarding it, mostly. David Cay Johnston estimated that in 2013 American businesses held almost $7.9 trillion of liquid assets worldwide. And here’s a bigger insult: According to the Wall Street Journal, for some of our largest corporations over 75 percent of the cash owned by foreign subsidiaries is kept “at U.S. banks, held in U.S. dollars or parked in U.S. government and corporate securities.”
So they’re using taxpayer money to protect the assets that they’re avoiding taxes on.
Corporations are also spending trillions of dollars on stock buybacks, which use potential research and development money to pump up the prices of executive stock options. Apple, one of the buyback leaders, and the nation’s biggest tax avoider, defended its outsourcing, saying ”We shouldn’t be criticized for using Chinese workers. The U.S. has stopped producing people with the skills we need.”
Meanwhile, corporations continue to cut jobs, with the computer industry among the worst offenders at the start of 2014.Microsoft just announced the deepest cuts in the firm’s 39-year history. AT&T has reduced its workforce by 22 percent in the last seven years. Verizon is shutting down customer service centers. Apple has a more efficient way of undermining workers, earning$400,000 profit per employee while paying most of their store workers $12 to $14 per hour.
4. The Business Media Mocks You
With supreme condescension, the media looks down at a struggling class of young Americans and proclaims:
—-The good news is that information technology provides the iPod/Facebook generation with the means to find work and create careers.. —Michael Barone, the Washington Examiner
—-A lot of people…can still earn a good living now by building their own branded reputations.. —Thomas Friedman, the New York Times
—-The ability to so take photographs makes [people] richer. —Forbes
To the out-of-touch super-rich capitalists, those of you in the newest working generation thrive on social networking, good reputations, and picture-taking. A nice lifestyle, as long as you don’t have to support yourselves or your families.
This article was published at NationofChange at: http://www.nationofchange.org/how-capitalism-cheating-young-americans-1406555447. All rights are reserved.
#1 There are more than 2.4 million people behind bars in America as you read this article.
#2 Since 1980, the number of people incarcerated in U.S. prisons has quadrupled.
#3 The incarceration rate in the United States is more than 4 times higher than the incarceration rate in the UK and more than 6 times higher than the incarceration rate in Canada.
#4 Approximately 12 million people cycle through local jails in the U.S. each and every year.
#5 Overall, the United States has the largest prison population and the highest incarceration rate in the entire world.
#6 Approximately one out of every four prisoners on the entire planet are in U.S. prisons, but the United States only accounts for about five percent of the total global population.
#7 The state of Maryland (total population 5.9 million) has more people in prison than Iraq (total population 31.9 million).
#8 The state of Ohio (total population 11.6 million) has more people in prison than Pakistan (total population 192.1 million).
#9 Incredibly, 41 percent of all young people in America have been arrested by the time they turn 23.
#10 Between 1990 and 2009 the number of Americans in private prisons increased by about 1600 percent.
#11 At this point, private prison companies operate more than 50 percent of all “youth correctional facilities” in this nation.
#12 There are more African-Americans under “correctional supervision” right now than were in slavery in the United States in 1850.
#13 Approximately 90 percent of those being held in prisons in the United States are men.
#14 The incarceration rate for African-American men is more than 6 times higher than it is for white men.
#15 An astounding 37.2 percent of African-American men from age 20 to age 34 with less than a high school education were incarcerated in 2008.
#16 Police in New York City conducted nearly 700,000 “stop-and-frisk searches” in 2011 alone.
#17 The “SWATification” of America has gotten completely and totally out of control. Back in 1980, there were only about 3,000 SWAT raids in the United States for the entire year. Today, there aremore than 80,000 SWAT raids in the United States every single year.
#18 Illegal immigrants make up approximately 30 percent of the total population in our federal, state and local prisons.
#19 The average “minimum security” inmate in federal prison costs U.S. taxpayers $21,000 a year.
#20 The average “maximum security” inmate in federal prison costs U.S. taxpayers $33,000 a year.
#21 Overall, it costs more than 60 billion dollars a year to keep all of these people locked up.
The BBC is now a direct mouthpiece for the IDF, apparently.
23 Petty Crimes That Have Landed People in Prison for Life Without Parole | Mother Jones
As of last year, according to a report released today by the American Civil Liberties Union, more than 3,200 people were serving life in prison without parole for nonviolent crimes. A close examination of these cases by the ACLU reveals just how petty some of these offenses are. People got life for, among other things…
- Possessing a crack pipe
- Possessing a bottle cap containing a trace amount of heroin (too minute to be weighed)
- Having traces of cocaine in clothes pockets that were invisible to the naked eye but detected in lab tests
- Having a single crack rock at home
- Possessing 32 grams of marijuana (worth about $380 in California) with intent to distribute
- Passing out several grams of LSD at a Grateful Dead show
- Acting as a go-between in the sale of $10 worth of marijuana to an undercover cop
- Selling a single crack rock
- Verbally negotiating another man’s sale of two small pieces of fake crack to an undercover cop
- Having a stash of over-the-counter decongestant pillsthat could be used to make methamphetamine
- Attempting to cash a stolen check
- Possessing stolen scrap metal (the offender was a junk dealer)—10 valves and one elbow pipe
- Possessing stolen wrenches
- Siphoning gasoline from a truck
- Stealing tools from a shed and a welding machine from a front yard
- Shoplifting three belts from a department store
- Shoplifting several digital cameras
- Shoplifting two jerseys from an athletic store
- Taking a television, circular saw, and power converter from a vacant house
- Breaking into a closed liquor store in the middle of the night
- Making a drunken threat to a police officer while handcuffed in the back of a patrol car
- Being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm
- Taking an abusive stepfather’s gun from their shared home
These are not typically first offenses, but nor are they isolated cases. The vast majority (83 percent) of life sentences examined by the ACLU were mandatory, meaning that the presiding judge had no choice but to sentence the defendant to a life behind bars. Mandatory sentences often result from repeat offender laws and draconian sentencing rules such as these federal standards for drug convictions:
The data examined by the ACLU comes from the federal prison system and nine state penal systems that responded to open-records requests. This means the true number of nonviolent offenders serving life without parole is higher.
What’s clear, based on the ACLU’s data, is that many nonviolent criminals have been caught up in a dramatic spike in life-without-parole sentences.
The Turkish humanitarian relief organisation (IHH) is currently organising a “Freedom Flotilla II” which will carry humanitarian aid to the besieged Gaza Strip, IHH chairman Bulent Yildrim said Thursday.
In statements to Gulf Online, Yildrim said that his organisation has embarked on legal procedures and paperwork required to obtain a permit for the trip. As soon as a final permit is issued, the IHH along with other international organisations will immediately set up the convoy.
The chairman of IHH, a major organiser of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla I, said that Turkish army troops will accompany the ships to protect it from any potential attack, pointing out that his organisation demanded the government to provide protection for them as Turkish citizens.
Maze Keheil, the president of the European Campaign for Lifting the Siege on Gaza, confirmed his campaign’s intention to take part in the new flotilla, as it did in first one in 2010.
The death toll in Gaza has passed 1,000, Palestinian medical officials say, 19 days after Israel launched an offensive against Hamas militants.
It comes amid a 12-hour humanitarian truce, which Gaza residents have been using to gather essential supplies and retrieve bodies buried under rubble.
Forty-two Israelis have also been killed since the Israel-Hamas conflict began on 8 July.
International talks urging a longer truce were held in Paris on Saturday.
Israeli officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, raised the possibility of extending the ceasefire by four hours.
However, there is no official statement. Israel’s security cabinet will meet on Saturday evening.
A Hamas spokesperson in Gaza said the group was examining the possibility of an extension, but no decision had been made, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.
(Read Full Text) (Photo Credit: AFP)
Pharmaceutical gazillionaire Dennis M. Jones “was struck by an intriguing coincidence" upon upgrading his 151-foot yacht to a 164-foot, custom-built yacht named the D’Natalin IV, the Times reports. That coincidence? That the D’Natalin IV’s $34 million price tag was roughly equivalent to the $34 million he’d given to charity since 2000.
Which got him thinking: $34 million on curing disease and helping the homeless, $34 million on “high gloss raised panel walnut cabinetry and inlay stone floors" for a floating mansion. What’s the difference, really?
No, really, that’s the thought process that went through Jones’s mind, according to the Times.
Could the purchase of a superyacht be more than an act of self-indulgence? Could it provide something as significant, Mr. Jones wondered, as the financial aid he has given to children, homeless people, drug addicts and groups that promote education and entrepreneurship?
The answer to all of those questions, of course, is “hell no, are you crazy?” (In fact, studies have shown the exact opposite — that high-end luxuries like yachts and sports cars actually perpetuate inequality.) But that didn’t stop Jones from rationalizing his Scrooge McDuck lifestyle as an act of charity. He even called in the CEO of Christensen Yachts, which built the boat, to testify about how truly meaningful his order had been to the once-struggling company.
“It costs $170,000 a month in crew, insurance, moorage, fuel and the crew buying all their things for the boat,” said the CEO. “It’s a constant cash flow machine for the local economy whenever one of those things pulls in.” A friend of Jones’s added, “I’d call it ‘fire hose economics’ because the money left his account that fast.” And Jones himself chimed in with some self-congratulations: “The [yacht-maker] is up and running better because of us.”
“Mr. Jones said he wanted to encourage other wealthy people to think about how their opulent lifestyles could provide jobs just as their charity helps people in need,” the Times said.
Truly, Jones should be cheered for his selfless act of buying a big-ass boat. Perhaps a Nobel Peace Prize is in order for Kim and Kanye’s wedding, too?