His body isn’t even cold yet and the New York times has already put out a shameful article declaring Nelson Mandela to be an “icon of peaceful resistance”. News outlets around the Western world are hurrying to publish obituaries that celebrate his electoral victory while…
The critical first step of waste prevention has been overshadowed by a focus on recycling. Please help to promote a greater awareness of the importance of the “Reduce” part of the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle mantra. For a great overview of how raw materials and products move around the world, see the video The Story of Stuff.
Simplify: Simplify your life as much as possible. Only keep belongings that you use/enjoy on a regular basis. By making the effort to reduce what you own, you will naturally purchase less/create less waste in the future.
Reduce Purchases: In general, think before you buy any product - do you really need it? How did the production of this product impact the environment and what further impacts will there be with the disposal of the product (and associated packaging materials)? When you are thinking about buying something, try the 30-Day Rule — wait 30 days after the first time you decide you want a product to really make your decision. This will eliminate impulse buying.
The Compact: Join or form a Compact in your area - groups all across the globe committing for 12 months to not buy any new products (see lower right sidebar for groups - or join main Yahoo Compact Group).
Replace Disposables: Wherever possible, replace disposable products with reusable ones (i.e., razor, food storage, batteries, ink cartridges (buy refill ink), coffee filters, furnace or air conditioner filters, etc.).
Buy Used: Buy used products whenever possible. Some sources:
Bulk Purchases: Avoid products that are packaged for single use (i.e., drinks, school lunches, candy, cat and dog food, salad mixings, etc.). Instead, buy in bulk and transfer the products to your own reusable containers. Many health food stores have bulk bins where they sell everything from grains to cereal to cleaning products. For additional ideas, read the Precycling information page. Buy Only What You Need: Buy only as much as you know you’ll use for items such as food, cleaning supplies, and paint. Avoid Creating Trash: Avoid creating trash wherever possible: when ordering food, avoid receiving any unnecessary plastic utensils, straws, etc. (ask in advance), buy ice cream in a cone instead of a cup, don’t accept “free” promotional products, buy products with the least amount of packaging, etc. Every little bit of trash avoided does make a difference! Shopping Bags: While shopping, if you only buy a few products skip the shopping bag. For larger purchases, bring your own. Learn about pollution caused by plastics. Junk Mail: For ideas on how to stop junk mail at work and home, check out:
You should by now have heard about the famine developing in the Sahel region of West Africa. Poor harvests and high food prices threaten the lives of some 18 million people. The global price of food is likely to rise still further, as a result of low crop yields in the United States, caused by the worst drought in 50 years. World cereal prices, in response to this disaster, climbed 17% last month.
We have been cautious about attributing such events to climate change: perhaps too cautious. A new paper by James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, shows that there has been a sharp increase in the frequency of extremely hot summers. Between 1951 and 1980 these events affected between 0.1 and 0.2% of the world’s land surface each year. Now, on average, they affect 10%. Hansen explains that “the odds that natural variability created these extremes are minuscule, vanishingly small”. Both the droughts in the Sahel and the US crop failures are likely to be the result of climate change.
But this is not the only sense in which the rich world’s use of fuel is causing the poor to starve. In the United Kingdom, in the rest of the European Union and in the United States, governments have chosen to deploy a cure as bad as the disease. Despite overwhelming evidence of the harm their policy is causing, none of them will change course.
Biofuels are the means by which governments in the rich world avoid hard choices. Rather than raise fuel economy standards as far as technology allows, rather than promoting a shift from driving to public transport, walking and cycling, rather than insisting on better town planning to reduce the need to travel, they have chosen to exchange our wild overconsumption of petroleum for the wild overconsumption of fuel made from crops. No one has to drive less or make a better car: everything remains the same except the source of fuel. The result is a competition between the world’s richest and poorest consumers, a contest between overconsumption and survival. There was never any doubt about which side would win.
I’ve been banging on about this since 2004, and everything I warned of then has happened. The US and the European Union have both set targets and created generous financial incentives for the use of biofuels. The results have been a disaster for people and the planet.
Already, 40% of US corn (maize) production is used to feed cars. The proportion will rise this year as a result of the smaller harvest. Though the market for biodiesel is largely confined to the European Union, it has already captured seven per cent of the world’s output of vegetable oil. The European Commission admits that its target (10% of transport fuels by 2020) will raise world cereal prices by between 3 and 6%. Oxfam estimates that with every 1% increase in the price of food, another 16 million people go hungry.
By 2021, the OECD says, 14% of the world’s maize and other coarse grains, 16% of its vegetable oil and 34% of its sugarcane will be used to make people in the gas guzzling nations feel better about themselves. The demand for biofuel will be met, it reports, partly through an increase in production; partly through a “reduction in human consumption.” The poor will starve so that the rich can drive.
The rich world’s demand for biofuels is already causing a global land grab. ActionAid estimates that European companies have now seized five million hectares of farmland – an area the size of Denmark – in developing countries for industrial biofuel production. Small farmers, growing food for themselves and local markets, have been thrown off their land and destituted. Tropical forests, savannahs and grasslands have been cleared to plant what the industry still calls “green fuels”.
When the impacts of land clearance and the use of nitrogen fertilisers are taken into account, biofuels produce more greenhouse gases than fossil fuels do. The UK, which claims that half the biofuel sold here meets its sustainability criteria, solves this problem by excluding the greenhouse gas emissions caused by changes in land use. Its sustainability criteria are, as a result, worthless.
Even second generation biofuels, made from crop wastes or wood, are an environmental disaster, either extending the cultivated area or removing the straw and stovers which protect the soil from erosion and keep carbon and nutrients in the ground. The combination of first and second generation biofuels – encouraging farmers to plough up grasslands and to leave the soil bare – and hot summers could create the perfect conditions for a new dust bowl.
Our government knows all this. One of its own studies shows that if the European Union stopped producing biofuels, the amount of vegetable oils it exported to world markets would rise by 20% and the amount of wheat by 33%, reducing world prices.
Preparing for the prime minister’s hunger summit on Sunday, the international development department argued that, with a rising population, “the food production system will need to be radically overhauled, not just to produce more food but to produce it sustainably and fairly to ensure that the poorest people have the access to food that they need.” But another government department – transport – boasts on its website that, thanks to its policies, drivers in this country have now used 4.4 billion litres of biofuel. Of this 30% was produced from recycled cooking oil. The rest consists of 3 billion litres of refined energy snatched from the mouths of the people that David Cameron claims to be helping.
Some of those to whom the government is now extending its “nutrition interventions” may have been starved by its own policies. In this and other ways, David Cameron, with the unwitting support of various sporting heroes, is offering charity, not justice. And that is no basis for liberating the poor.
UK students protesting corporate attacks against their rights to education, control over their universities, and freedom of expression were brutally repressed by the British police in cooperation with university officials.
An independent network of over 100 students occupied the headquarters of the University of London at Senate House, demanding that ”the University of London Union (ULU) remain in student hands –democratically run by students – and has its block grant returned, that all outsourced workers at the university are awarded a pension, that the ULU oppose the privatization of student loans, and that thefinancial statements of the University’s academic departments and non-academic services be published so that they can be scrutinized so that the University’s decisions can be properly held to account by the community.”
The following video shows the brutality of the assault by the police forces against students being forcefully evicted from London Senate House. Students shout at cops: “Who killed Mark Duggan? You killed Mark Duggan!”:
A protester posted disturbing imageson youtube, exposing the cops’ brutality against a student who was running away after the police violently broke up the Senate House occupation. Another student was threatened with arrest by an out of control cop threatening: “Swear again and you get nicked!” This graphic video was taken on Malet street:
Aside from the video posted by The Guardian, showing the unprovoked cop punching a student repeatedly,the mainstream media has essentially censored these events. As students organized protests against the police brutality, demanding they be kept away from universities, #copsoffcampus trended 3rd on Twitter in UK.
Students fight back against police harassment and surveillance, explain why they need #copsoffcampus
“Police infiltration, surveillance, elected student leaders banned from political activities on campus, the arrest of students for simple acts of expression like chalking slogans on sidewalks, send a clear and constant message. There can be no reasoned discussion on these issues. There is no longer anything to talk about. Certainly, democracy has absolutely nothing to do with it. The pursuit of knowledge and understanding have been declared nothing but a consumer product, or else a form of technical training to increase overall economic productivity; these are the only way these matters can be discussed; if anyone wishes to gather to object to this, to gather in places of learning to insist that knowledge and understanding are not mere economic goods but something precious and valuable in their own right, they can only do so by permission of those who are telling them otherwise; otherwise, they can expect to be physically attacked.
The university is dead.
The question to ask now is not, how do we bring it back. That’s impossible and quite undesirable. The question is what new forms of genuinely democratic self-organization might rise from its ashes? To even begin to ask this question we must first of all get rid of the police.”
Derek Wall @Anothergreen24m: “The University of London should be renamed the University of shame, freedom to protest, not for a corporate university?”
The Officers of University of London Union issued a statement relating what happened and expressing support for 5 Sussex students who were expelled following protests:
”Occupations are a legitimate form of dissent. When our university exploits our staff, shuts down our student union, and are utterly unaccountable to the students and staff that give it life and make it function, students have no choice but to gain leverage in whatever way they can.
Tonight’s events constitute a significant escalation of the dispute on campuses. At Sussex University, five students have been suspended by their university management for taking part in similar action. We send them our solidarity: sign the petition to defend them by clicking here.
The terms of our dispute are clear. On one side is a university management that is attacking its staff, shutting down student representation, and that systematically colludes with police in order to keep control of its affairs. On the other is an increasingly united campaign of the academic community – in all its forms – committed to reclaiming our university. We are clear which side of the line we fall on. Anyone who thinks that what happened tonight was reasonable is not fit to run a university.”
Demanding #copsoffcampus, students protested again, peacefully, until 15 police vans showed up.
At Russel Square, police were again very aggressive, but students resisted the cops’ assault, organizing a ‘Bookbloc‘ outside the Senate House. They used a “Homage to Catalonia” shield in their defense.
Students arrested, resistance spreads: 11th december, #copsoffcampus National Day of Action
At least 38 protesters were arrested, students and legal observers. The students captured by the police were taken to police stations in remote locations.
UCL Defend Education @UCLanticuts5m: ”38 people arrested at #copsoffcampus being taken to Croydon, Sutton, and Bromley police stations – the furthest away stations the could use. ”
Michael Chessum @michael_chessum8m: ”Arrestees being taken to Croyden, Bromley, Sutton and probably Lewisham. People organising support outside. #copsoffcampus”
“In the past month universities across the country have been subject to unprecedented levels of violence from the police, targeting a resurgent wave of activism against the privatisation of the university system.
The scale of the police’s response has never been witnessed on British universities. Students beaten, strangled, having teeth punched out, dragged across roads, and violently bundled into vans. This cannot be allowed to continue.”
“We stand for an education that is public and democratic, free for all. Campuses should be places for inquiry, critical thinking and dissent. Across the country, students and workers are fighting for that vision.Students and workers united hold all of the legitimate power. We are the people who give our institutions life and make them function. The only power that management ultimately has is police and state violence. They can’t win the argument, but they can – and do – call in the cops, assault and intimidate us. With an agenda of austerity, the authorities are behaving in an ever more violent and repressive way. Our response is to mobilise harder.”
Sheffield Strikes Back, a newly formed broad left group of Sheffield students, have occupied the Arts Tower – the tallest university building in the United Kingdom. „The group, which includes activists from Sheffield Autonomous Students, Revolutionary Socialists Society, Labour Students, Socialist Students and the Living Wage campaign, walked into the lecture hall at about 7:30pm and have now claimed a major lecture theatre and the building foyer.” They released a statement regarding their decision to occupy the building, which is the second tallest in the city:
“Once again, as students of the University of Sheffield we have gone in to occupation in solidarity with those on strike. Our umbrella group, Sheffield Strikes Back, contains members from a variety of organisations – Revolutionary Socialists Society, Sheffield Autonomous Students, Labour Students, the Living Wage Campaign as well as many non-aligned student activists from a wide range of political viewpoints. However, we are unified in our opposition to the mistreatment of University staff by management, both locally and nationally. Our occupation will further disrupt the running of the University on a day when we believe no staff and no students should be crossing a picket line. We invite anyone who agrees to join us in support.”
“The condemnation of liberation movements for resorting to violence or armed struggle is almost invariably superficial, hypocritical, judgmental, and unfair and tends strongly to represent another example of the generalized phenomenon of “blaming the victim.” The violence of the situation, the per-existing oppression suffered by those who eventually strike back, is conveniently ignored. The violence of the oppressed is a form of defensive counter-violence to the violence of conquest and oppression. In no armed national liberation movement I know of in history has this not been the case.”—Jeff Sluka | National Liberation Movements in Global Context (1996)
Big banks eating up taxpayer subsidies isn’t a new story. We heard a lot about the hundreds of billions of dollars doled out to Wall Street in the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). And a May analysis by Bloomberg News estimated that the six largest banks alone had scooped up over $100 billion more in subsidies since 2009.
But a new study finds that we’re also subsidizing their profits by keeping their low-wage workforce out of poverty. Danielle Douglas reports for The Washington Post:
Almost a third of the country’s half-million bank tellers rely on some form of public assistance to get by, according to a report due out Wednesday.
Researchers say taxpayers are doling out nearly $900 million a year to supplement the wages of bank tellers, which amounts to a public subsidy for multibillion-dollar banks. The workers collect $105 million in food stamps, $250 million through the earned income tax credit and $534 million by way of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, according to the University of California at Berkeley’s Labor Center.
The center provided the data to the Committee for Better Banks, a coalition of labor advocacy groups that published the broader study, to be released Wednesday, on the conditions of bank workers in the heart of the financial industry, New York. In the that state alone, 39 percent of tellers and their family members are enrolled in some form of public assistance program, the data show.
“This is the wealthiest and most powerful industry in the world, and it’s substantially subsidized by our tax dollars, money that we could be spending on child care or pre-K,” said Deborah Axt, co-executive director at Make the Road New York, one of four coalition members.
Profits at the nation’s banks topped $141.3 billion last year, with the median chief executive pay hovering around $552,000, according to SNL Financial. In contrast, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics pegs the median annual income of a bank teller at $24,100, or $11.59 an hour.
The disastrous and disgraceful amnesty bill, put forward by Yingluck Shinawatra’s Pheu Thai government in early November stirred up a hornet’s nest of “Yellow-Shirt” buzzing. Thousands of middle-class royalists, led by the notorious Democrat Party, have been demonstrating in an attempt to get rid of the government and all of Thaksin’s influence. They were very upset that the amnesty bill would have allowed Thaksin Shinawatra to return. These are the people who called for and supported the 2006 military coup against Thaksin’s democratically elected government. These are also the people who supported the bloody crackdown on Red Shirt protesters in 2010. Democrat Party strongman Sutep Tueksuban, addressing a crowd of supporters, called for the “restoration of full monarchy rule”.
Those who ordered the cold-blooded murder in 2010, the military generals and the democrat politicians, would also have been given amnesty by Pheu Thai. But only progressive Red Shirts were concerned about letting state killers off the hook once again. Only progressive Red Shirts were concerned that the amnesty did not cover political prisoners like Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, who are in jail for lèse majesté [insulting royalty]. Recently, Pheu Thai Minister “for Censorship” Anudit Nakorntup again threatened those expressing political views on the internet with lèse majesté. He boasted that he had shut down 90,000 web pages. The courts have also ruled that anyone criticising the present royal dynasty or any previous kings dating back 200 years can be guilty of lèse majesté!
The Democrat Party is in a weak position. It and the Yellow Shirts have never been able to do anything without the army. Yet the army is not about to overthrow the Yingluck government right now. A deal between Thaksin and the military was struck in 2011. There are grey areas not covered by the deal and the army cannot control what the “Yellows” say and do, hence the fun and games around the amnesty bill. The question is, what more would the military generals gain from a coup? They already have an agreement that they will not be prosecuted for staging coups or gross human rights abuses. The generals are still in control of the army and their lucrative cash cows like the media and state enterprises. What excuse would they give for a coup and how would they manage to govern in the face of large scale popular opposition?
[T]he principles of pacifist practice must be continuously and comprehensively subjected to the test of whether they, in themselves, are capable of delivering the bottom-line transformation of state-dominated social relations which alone constitutes the revolutionary/liberatory process. Where they are found to be incapable of such delivery, the principles must be broadened or transcended altogether as a means of achieving an adequate praxis.
By this it is not being suggested that nonviolent forms of struggle are or should be abandoned, nor that armed struggle should be the normative standard of revolutionary performance, either practically or conceptually…
What is at issue is not… the replacement of hegemonic pacifism with some “cult of terror.” Instead, it is the realization that, in order to be effective and ultimately successful, any revolutionary movement within advanced capitalist nations must develop the broadest possible range of thinking/action by which to confront the state. This should be conceived not as an array of component forms of struggle but as a continuum of activity stretching from petitions/letter writing and so forth through mass mobilization/demonstrations, onward into the arena of armed self-defense, and still onward through the realm of “offensive” military operations (e.g., elimination of critical governmental/corporate apparatus, etc.). All of this must be apprehended as a holism, as an internally consistent liberatory process… From the basis of this fundamental understanding—and, it may be asserted, only from this basis—can a viable liberatory praxis for North America emerge.
…[A] substantial—even preponderant—measure of nonviolent activity is encompassed within any revolutionary praxis, [but] there is no place for the profession of “principled pacifism” to preclude—much less condemn—the utilization of violence as a legitimate and necessary method of achieving liberation. The dismantling of the false consciousness inherent in the ideology of “nonviolent revolution” is therefore of primary importance in attaining an adequate liberatory praxis.
“[A]s far as belief is concerned, ideological legitimacy is chiefly, though not exclusively, for internal consumption. Its function is really to act as a catalyst for the mind of the group whose interest it sublimates into a justifcatory set of ideals. Outside the interest bound class circle, ideology consists primarily of unchallenged, normally tacit, value orientations which, once translated into the language of purpose, amounts to the ‘manipulation of bias’ in favor of privileged groups.”—J.G. Merquoir (via america-wakiewakie)
Defunding the Control Grid - By literally disconnecting from centralized utility services such as natural gas, electric, municipal water, sewage, etc., one is instantly much freer from the imposition of corporate rule and bureaucratic government. Corporations and government are merging all across the first world through initiatives like Agenda 21, Smart Meters, and urban planning initiatives via local Councils of Governments. Economic collapse, radical environmentalism, and general elitist thought which sees humans as nothing more than manageable resources are being used in tandem to herd people toward a future filled with densely populated, centrally managed cities. Truly independent living is being discouraged (and even criminalized) at every turn, as seen in areas of the California desert where "nuisance abatement teams" have started to dictate parameters for how people live on their private land. This has happened many times throughout history when societies are subjected to a collectivist model. All the more reason to take the steps necessary to go off-grid now in any way possible before such a decision becomes unavailable.
Economic Freedom - True freedom begins by not being a slave to finances. People often make horrible decisions and tolerate unspeakable conditions out of a raw fear not having any better option. A global economic collapse is mathematically guaranteed to happen by nearly every top independent economist, and the warnings are even being issued now by the global banking establishment itself, which only means that any current traditional means of employment remaining will be reduced even further. It is time to learn the skills necessary to be your own boss in whichever endeavor would suit you best. It is a very wise move to make plans to preempt the inevitable collapse by establishing a safe haven, surrounded by like-minded people who can assist in weathering this type of financial storm. This can be done in a myriad of ways. We should be looking to some of the innovative ways that Greek citizens are taking action through barter networks and alternative currencies. Returning to a decentralized model that values local co-ops and alternative markets is not only a lifeboat that can save us, but an essential form of protest against the failing establishment economy. For those with Internet skills, starting a blog or website can be a relatively fast way to generate extra income, or even to attain full economic freedom from nearly anywhere in the world.
Infrastructure Reliability - With general economic collapse, or natural disasters, comes the failing of key infrastructure. One normally doesn’t realize how important water and power are, for example, until one is forced to do without. Most people are ready for a near nervous breakdown after just a day or two without either. And this is nothing compared to a region-wide problem that could last a week or more. It is essential that at the very least to give yourself a solid idea of what such a scenario would look like, then practice overcoming the situation. In so doing, you can identify weak points, areas of lacking skill or preparedness and become motivated to make serious changes to your priorities. Learn key skills such as sourcing and storing clean water, plumbing to create independent water systems, as well electrical knowledge that help you to create truly off-the-grid or backup power such as solar, wind, geothermal, or free energy systems.
Insulation From Civil Unrest - Part of being on the grid entails being physically susceptible to events beyond your control. As we have seen repeatedly in even recent history, urban centers are not the place to be if one wishes to live an independent lifestyle … especially if all of the supposed conveniences that have been sold as reasons to move into the city fail or get shut down. During times of civil unrest, martial law can be declared and easily implemented to control movements of large populations. Natural disasters create massive havoc to residents of city environments. By choosing a sparsely populated area, one can at the very least be given sufficient lead time about problems that are spreading outward from city areas. Naturally, part of truly independent living is being physically fit, prepared, and trained to be your own police force if necessary. This is one of the additional strengths of setting up a safe haven with close friends and family who may have the combined skill-set necessary to alleviate the do-it-yourself approach to everything. Here is a website dedicated to helping people find others who desire to go off-the-grid, as well as those who have land and skills to offer: LandBuddy.
Food and Health Freedom - It is essential that you choose your locale wisely; find a local government that is supportive of food freedom, or encourage your current government to declare food sovereignty, as Sedgwick, Maine did. With the massive increase in health raids, farm raids, and EPA regulations that are strangulating independent food production, the first concern should be where will you be most left alone to pursue your inherent right to pursue health and happiness. After you have identified your location, then learn the best methods for off-the-grid food production, such as permaculture and aquaponics. Lastly, there are clear mental health benefits to being in good physical condition, as well as learning the skills that will lead you to an independent lifestyle. Even according to the much maligned CDC, a mentally healthy individual has positive attributes that include:
The ability to deal successfully with the common stresses of everyday life.
The ability to recognize and use your native talents and skills.
And the ability to contribute to society through your work or your volunteer activities.
Additional common attributes of mentally healthy people include:
The ability to adapt to new surroundings and situations.
The ability to develop and sustain supportive social relationships.
The ability to develop and sustain a strong sense of self-regard and confidence.
The ability to balance work and other responsibilities with leisure activities and other forms of personal downtime.
The ability to recover from personal setbacks.
And the ability to develop and maintain a sense of purpose or “a place in the world.”
When all of these factors are taken into account, less than 20 percent of adults in the U.S. have an excellent or ideal psychological outlook. (Source)It is clear from the above bullet points, that what might seem like a long journey to complete self-reliance, especially for those who have yet to begin, is a truly worthwhile endeavor that will reveal its value every step of the way.
Education - Compulsory education is about one thing and one thing only - indoctrination. Scarcely anyone can identify how the current school system benefits children or society as it is currently structured. Curriculums and teaching methods are grossly outdated, while public schools are becoming more and more like prisons everyday with strict rules and biometric IDs or even RFID chips being forced on children. It’s not a healthy environment for true learning to occur. Even those who excel in the system are not promised success like they used to be. With 53% of recent college grads unemployed and drowning in debt, who could possibly argue that this is still the best path to take? To raise aware children who can think independently, you should considerhomeschooling your kids. For college, there are amazing free classes available online like throughOpenCourseWare, or perhaps consider a trade school or apprenticeship instead. You could even just download a library of how-to videos or lectures and become self taught in what you’re passionate about.
Living With Principle - This means different things for different people, but it is hardly debatable that the negative elements of modern society have become so pervasive and dominant that any person who wishes to live an existence that does no harm to others is in some way compromised. Don’t agree with wars? Your taxes fund them. Don’t agree with GMOs? Nearly impossible to escape them in any modern setting. Don’t agree with criminal banks? Your money enriches them, and the list of compromises goes on. This is not something that one should dwell on in our view, but it is one that should be considered as a major bonus to off-the-grid independent living. By withdrawing financial support from companies, municipalities (or even countries) that do not have your best interests at heart, many who have gone off-the grid report feeling a restorative sense of well being. A life of creativity, production, and caregiving toward family, loved ones, and community without being burdened by moral compromise is the essence of a rewarding life.
“You, who are so-called illegal aliens, must know that no human being is illegal. That is a contradiction in terms. Human beings can be beautiful or more beautiful, they can be fat or skinny, they can be right or wrong, but illegal? How can a human being be illegal?”—Elie Wiesel | No Human Is Illegal (via america-wakiewakie)
“Radical movements" which devote themselves to liberally-sanctioned causes like First Amendment rights, including those which appear temporarily most vibrant and energetic, are ultimately self-coopting and diversionary in terms of real social issues. Their "victories," in and of themselves, tend to reinforce rather than erode the functioning of the status quo.”—Ward Churchill | Pacifism as Pathology (1986)
In 1983, 50 corporations controlled the vast majority of all news media in the U.S. At the time, Ben Bagdikian was called “alarmist” for pointing this out in his book, The Media Monopoly. In his 4th edition, published in 1992, he wrote “in the U.S., fewer than two dozen of these extraordinary creatures own and operate 90% of the mass media” — controlling almost all of America’s newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations, books, records, movies, videos, wire services and photo agencies. He predicted then that eventually this number would fall to about half a dozen companies. This was greeted with skepticism at the time. When the 6th edition of The Media Monopoly was published in 2000, the number had fallen to six. Since then, there have been more mergers and the scope has expanded to include new media like the Internet market.
In 2004, Bagdikian’s revised and expanded book, The New Media Monopoly, shows that only 5 huge corporations — Time Warner, Disney, Murdoch’s News Corporation, Bertelsmann of Germany, and Viacom (formerly CBS) — now control most of the media industry in the U.S. General Electric’s NBC is a close sixth.
“It’s time for people to grow up. Accept that women are sexual beings. Accept that some men like pleasuring women. Accept that women don’t have to just be fucked and say thank you. We are allowed and entitled to enjoy ourselves. It’s time we put our foot down.”—
Evan Rachel Wood, responding to the MPAA’s double standard toward women when it censored a sex scene in her upcoming movie Charlie Countryman.
After seeing the new cut of Charlie Countryman, I would like to share my disappointment with the MPAA, who thought it was necessary to censor a woman’s sexuality once again. The scene where the two main characters make “love” was altered because someone felt that seeing a man give a woman oral sex made people “uncomfortable,” but the scenes in which people are murdered by having their heads blown off remained intact and unaltered.
This is a symptom of a society that wants to shame women and put them down for enjoying sex, especially when (gasp) the man isn’t getting off as well! It’s hard for me to believe that had the roles been reversed it still would have been cut or had the female character been raped it would have been cut.
Especially in urban areas, the waiting list for affordable housing can be a year or more. During that time, poor families either have to make do with substandard or dangerous housing, depend on the hospitality of relatives, or go homeless. (Source: New York Times)
2. Try to make $133 worth of food last a whole month. That’s how much the average food stamp recipient gets each month. Imagine trying to eat well on $4.38 per day. It’s not easy, which is why many impoverished families resort to #3… (Source: Kaiser Family Foundation)
3. Subsist on poor quality food. Not because they want to, but because they can’t afford high-quality, nutritious food. They’re trapped in a food system that subsidizes processed foods, making them artificially cheaper than natural food sources. So the poor are forced to eat bad food — if they’re lucky, that is… (Sources: Washington Post; Journal of Nutrition, March 2008)
4. Skip a meal. One in six Americans are food insecure. Which means (among other things) that they’re sometimes forced to go without eating. (Sources: World Vision, US Department of Agriculture)
5. Work longer and harder than most of us. While it’s popular to think people are poor because they’re lazy (which seems to be the whole point of Ramsey’s post), the poor actually work longer and harder than the rest of us. More than 80 percent of impoverished children have at least one parent who works; 60 percent have at least one parent who works full-time. Overall, the poor work longer hours than the so-called “job creators.” (Source: Poverty and Learning, April 2008)
6. Go to bed 3 hours before their first job starts. Number 15 on Ramsey and Corley’s list was, “44% of [the] wealthy wake up three hours before work starts vs. 3% of [the] poor.” It may be true that most poor people don’t wake up three hours before work starts. But that could be because they’re more likely to work multiple jobs, in which case job #1 means they’re probably just getting to bed three hours before job #2 starts. (Source: Poverty and Learning, April 2008)
7. Try to avoid getting beat up by someone they love. According to some estimates, half of all homeless women in America ran away to escape domestic violence. (Source: National Coalition for the Homeless, 2009)
9. Pay more than their fair share of taxes. Some conservative pundits and politicians like to think the poor don’t pay their fair share, that they are merely “takers.” While it’s true the poor don’t pay as much in federal income tax — usually because they don’t earn enough to qualify — they do pay sales tax, payroll tax, etc. In fact, the bottom 20% of earners pay TWICE as much in taxes (as a share of their income) as do the top 1%. (Source: Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy, January 2013)
10. Fall further behind. Even when poverty is the result of poor decision-making, often it’s someone else’s choices that make the difference. If you experience poverty as a child, you are 3-4 times less likely to graduate high school. If you spend your entire childhood in poverty, you are 5 times less likely to graduate. Which means your future has been all but decided for you. (Sources: World Vision, Children’s Defense Fund, Annie E. Casey Foundation)
11. Raise kids who will be poor. A child’s future earnings are closely correlated to their parents’ earnings. In other words, economic mobility — the idea that you can claw your way out of poverty if you just try hard enough is, more often than not, a myth. (Sources: OECD, Economic Policy Institute)
12. Vote less. And who can blame them? I would be less inclined to vote if I didn’t have easy access to the polls and if I were subjected to draconian voter ID laws that are sold to the public as necessary to suppress nonexistent voter fraud. (Source: The Center for Voting and Democracy)
13. When they do vote… vote pretty much the same as the rest of us. Following their defeat in 2012, conservatives took solace by reasoning that they’d lost to a bunch of “takers,” including the poor, who voted for Democrats because they want free handouts from big government. The reality is a bit more complex. Only a third of low-income voters identify as Democrats, about the same for all Americans, including wealthy voters. (Sources: NPR, Pew Research Center)
15. Live shorter lives. There is a 10-14 year gap in life expectancy between the rich and the poor. In recent years, poor people’s life expectancy has actually declined — in America, the wealthiest nation on the planet. (Source: Health Affairs, 2012)
16. Use drugs and alcohol pretty much the same as (or less than) everyone else. Despite the common picture of inner city crack houses, drug use is pretty evenly spread across income groups. And rich people actually abuse alcohol more than the poor. (Source: Poverty and Learning, April 2008)
17. Receive less in subsidized benefits than corporations. The US government spends around $60 billion on public housing and rental subsidies for low-income families, compared to more than $90 billion on corporate subsidies. Oil companies alone get around $70 billion. And that’s not counting the nearly $60 billion a year in tax breaks corporations enjoy by sheltering profits offshore. Or the $700 billion bailout banks got in 2008. (Source: Think By Numbers)
18. Get themselves off welfare as soon as possible. Despite the odds, the vast majority of beneficiaries leave the welfare rolls within five years. Even in the absence of official welfare-to-work programming, most welfare recipients enroll in some form of vocational training. Why? Because they’re desperate to get off welfare. (Source: US Department of Health and Human Services)
19. Have about the same number of children as everyone else. No, poor people do not have loads of children just so they can stay on welfare. (Source: US Department of Health and Human Services)
20. Accomplish one single goal: stay alive. Poverty in America may not be as dire as poverty in other parts of the world, but many working poor families are nonetheless preoccupied with day-to-day survival. For them, life is not something to be enjoyed so much as endured.
All that stuff Republicans have told you about food stamps creating unhealthy dependency? Nonsense, says a new study by University of California economist Hilary Hoynes. Hoynes and her co-authors looked at the long-term results as the food stamp program was gradually rolled out between 1961 and 1975, and found that:
… access to food stamps in utero and in early childhood leads to significant reductions in metabolic syndrome conditions (obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes) in adulthood and, for women, increases in economic self-sufficiency (increases in educational attainment, earnings, income, and decreases in welfare participation).
That’s a powerful blow right there: Food stamps not only improve outcomes for both women and children, but the improvements for children will lower health care costs over entire lifetimes and the improvements for women strike directly at the heart of the dependency argument. Butthat’s not all. Paul Rosenberg describes two other aspects of Hoynes’ research:
First, she has done previous research establishing short-term benefits — not just for food stamps, but also the for the earned income tax credit — specifically, a reduction in low-birthweight babies, a significant indicator of well-being. […] Second, she has done research into safety net program utilization over the course of economic recession and recovery, research that shows that the current levels of food stamp and other program use are in line with past history, and not a sign of any alleged “explosion” in a “culture of dependency” under Obama, as the right-wing noise machine would have it.
So food stamps improve lives now. They improve lives for years to come, including by reducing the very dependency that Republicans claim to worry about. And, as we’ve said again and again, there are more people on nutrition assistance now because there are fewer jobs. It’s not some big growth of dependency, and the way to fix it is not to kick millions off of food stamps, as congressional Republicans are trying to do, but to create jobs, as congressional Republicans are not trying to do.
Anyone who does not conform is condemned to an economic impotence which is prolonged in the intellectual powerlessness of the eccentric loner. Disconnected from the mainstream, he is easily convinced of inadequacy. Whereas the mechanism of supply and demand is today…
Hunger in Britain has reached the level of a “public health emergency” and the Government may be covering up the extent to which austerity and welfare cuts are adding to the problem, leading experts have said.
In a letter to the British Medical Journal, a group of doctors and senior academics from the Medical Research Council and two leading universities said that the effect of Government policies on vulnerable people’s ability to afford food needed to be “urgently” monitored.
A surge in the number of people requiring emergency food aid, a decrease in the amount of calories consumed by British families, and a doubling of the number of malnutrition cases seen at English hospitals represent “all the signs of a public health emergency that could go unrecognised until it is too late to take preventative action,” they write.
Despite mounting evidence for a growing food poverty crisis in the UK, ministers maintain there is “no robust evidence” of a link between sweeping welfare reforms and a rise in the use of food banks. However, publication of research into the phenomenon, commissioned by the Government itself, has been delayed, amid speculation that the findings may prove “embarrassing” for ministers.
The only “embarrassment” to them will be that they were caught. And there would be no more ways to spin it.
For the second night in a row, activists with a coalition including Rising Tide, 350, All Against the Haul, and members of the Umatilla and Warm Springs tribes attempted to stop the Omega Morgan megaload from leaving as planned.
The load left approximately 45 minutes prior to its permitted departure based on Oregon Department of Transportation.
As of writing, activists are regrouping and monitoring the slow progress of the megaload as it trundles along at a snail’s pace.
This comes after a successful hard blockade yesterday involving two activists locking down to the megaload for over an hour and a half. Yesterday’s blockade prevented the transport of the megaload for an entire day, and activists have pledged to continue sustained and escalating resistance in order to prevent the megaload’s destruction of infrastructure, critical ecosystems, and expansion of the tar sands.
For a play-by-play recap of the December 3rd blockade and a good resource into why action is being taken against megaoads, especially tar sands equipment megaloads, click here