03 Mar

Truth Out Today, Wednesday 2 March 2011

How the Rich Soaked the Rest of Us
Richard D. Wolff, Truthout: “Over the last half-century, the richest Americans have shifted the burden of the federal individual income tax off themselves and onto everybody else. The three convenient and accurate Wikipedia graphs below show the details. The first graph compares the official tax rates paid by the top and bottom income earners. Note especially that from the end of the Second World War into the early 1960s, the highest income earners paid a tax rate over 90 percent for many years. Today, the top earners pay a rate of only 35 percent. Note, also, how the gap between the rates paid by the richest and the poorest has narrowed. If we take into account the many loopholes the rich can and do use far more than the poor, the gap narrows even more.”
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Dahr Jamail | Lawsuit Filed Against BP Compensation Czar
Dahr Jamail, Inter Press Service: “A first-of-its-kind lawsuit alleging gross negligence and fraud has been filed in a Florida state court against Kenneth Feinberg, the administrator of the 20-billion-dollar compensation fund for victims of BP’s Gulf oil spill, and the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF). Attorney Brian Donovan of the Donovan Law Group from Tampa filed the complaint against Feinberg, his firm Feinberg Rozen, LLP and the GCCF on behalf of Pinellas Marine Salvage, Inc. and John Mavrogiannis.”
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Libyan Rebels Said to Repulse Mercenary Attack
Kareem Fahim and David D. Kirkpatrick, The New York Times News Service: “In a fierce day-long battle, rebel forces in this strategic oil town successfully repelled an attack on Wednesday by government-aligned mercenaries backed by artillery and war planes, witnesses in the town said. At least five were confirmed dead and 16 wounded in the fighting, the witnesses said, citing firsthand reports from the hospital.”
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Jim Hightower | The Kochs and the Guv Stir Up a Hornets’ Nest
Jim Hightower, Truthout: “Thank you, Scott Walker! And you, too, Charles and David Koch! Thanks for being so ham-handed in pushing your self-serving, virulently anti-union agenda on the schoolteachers, health care workers, park rangers and other public employees of Wisconsin. The Birchite billionaire Koch brothers and Walker, their gubernatorial hatchet man in the Badger State, have unwittingly done a tremendous favor for our country’s progressive movement. Thanks to them, America’s workaday majority has been awakened.”
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News in Brief: Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Westboro Baptist Church, and More …
The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that The Westboro Baptist Church is not violating the First Amendment when they protest military funerals; Supreme Court considers Ashcroft’s liability in terror case; amid protests, Ohio senate committee approves anti-collective bargaining bill; former Goldman Sachs director charged with insider trading; Newt Gingrich set to launch presidential exploratory committee; Pakistan’s sole Christian cabinet member assassinated.
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Michael Moore: People Still Have the Power (Video)

Laura Flanders, GRITtv: “‘This is a movement that is not going to stop,’ says filmmaker Michael Moore of the uprising in Madison, Wisconsin (and across the country – all 50 states held solidarity rallies this weekend). ‘I knew sooner or later people would say they’ve had enough.’ Michael joins Laura in studio for part one of a two-part conversation about the war on working people in America. He notes that it started in 1981 with Reagan’s attack on the air traffic controllers, and it’s mostly targeted the poor, as with Clinton’s welfare reform. But the attacks on middle class families have finally reached a point where people aren’t going to take it anymore.”
Watch the Video

Education Reforms Unveiled by Duncan, Democratic Senators
Barbara Barrett, McClatchy Newspapers: “U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and a group of Democratic senators this morning embraced a slate of education reforms that move away from rigid testing and toward flexibility for local school districts. The recommendations come as Congress prepares to reconsider the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, known as ESEA, which offers a slate of regulations and funding for K-12 education.”
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Robert Scheer | Boeing Boondoggle – Pork Can Fly
Robert Scheer, Truthdig: “‘The gift that keeps on giving’ should have been the headline on the Pentagon’s decision to award Boeing Co. a $35 billion defense contract. Defense of the nation, of course, had nothing to do with it, since the end of the Cold War also ended the need for midair refueling of the nuclear-armed bombers intended to retaliate after a Soviet first strike, a scenario brought to the public eye in the 1964 movie ‘Dr. Strangelove.’ Indeed, at a time when drones seem to be bypassing the need for manned military bombers and fighters of any kind, and when schoolteachers and firefighters are being terminated across the country, the awarding of this long-delayed and always questionable military-industrial-complex scam is simply perverse.”
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How Koch Industries Makes Billions Corrupting Government and Polluting for Free (Part 2)
Lee Fang, ThinkProgress: “In an opinion piece published today responding to his critics, Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch promised to continue to finance anti-government, right-wing front groups. Charles writes that the ‘purpose of business is to efficiently convert resources into products and services that make people’s lives better. But when it comes to Koch’s carcinogenic pollution and carbon emissions, the purpose of Koch’s political giving is to avoid any financial responsibility – no matter who gets hurt.”
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America Waking Up to Value of Unions
Dave Johnson, Campaign for America’s Future: “As Abraham Lincoln famously said, ‘you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.’ When you put enough dots in front of people sooner or later they will connect the dots. And Americans are connecting the dots.”
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This Modern World | It’s a Tea Party World!
Award-winning cartoonist Tom Tomorrow depicts the world according to Tea Partiers, whose idea of reducing the deficit is to avoid raising taxes on the rich and instead target public-sector employees.
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Davis Arrest Throws US Undercover Campaign in Pakistan Into Disarray
Dave Lindorff, This Can’t Be Happening: “The ongoing case of Raymond Davis, the CIA contractor facing murder charges in Lahore for the execution-style slaying of two apparent agents of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, is apparently leading to a roll-back of America’s espionage and Special Operations activities in Pakistan.”
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Could Scott Walker’s virtual blackmailing of the citizens of Wisconsin end up costing Badger State taxpayers millions of dollars?

Quite likely.

As BuzzFlash pointed out in an earlier column, “Walker Whacks Wisconsin Taxpayers With Bill for Wackenhut After Illegally Asserting Powers”, Walker used the time-pressed coercion technique to fire union security guards at the Milwaukee County Court House and two other buildings. As executive director of the county, he bypassed the board to crush the union, claiming a fiscal emergency.

Sound familiar? Well, as we noted (hat tip to Rachel Maddow), an arbitrator has subsequently ruled against Walker. As a result, the taxpayers of Milwaukee will have to pay half a million dollars in back wages to the union security guards, who were ordered reinstated. That’s on top of the money wasted on the union-busting Wackenhut firm, whose Milwaukee supervisor was allegedly a convicted criminal.

Fast forward to 2011 and we have another potential situation of claiming an emergency, taking precipitous ideological action, and the state taxpayers potentially ending up paying the bill as they are doing in Milwaukee County.

Already, at least one Wisconsin labor union has filed a formal complaint against Walker, charging him with refusing to bargain with them, in violation of current law.

Meanwhile, as Ruth Cuniff reports in The Progressive, fear of Walker’s thuggish efforts to enrich wealthy backers at the expense of public workers is driving state employees to retire early at a record pace, causing confusion and disruption in state services.

Walker leaves a trail of bills and chaos in his wake. Unfortunately, the taxpayers will likely have to pay the debt down the road for his high-handed, high-pressure tactics.

Mark Karlin
Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout

Dear Tea Party: You’ve Been Had
Read the Article at BuzzFlash

More Than 20,000 Rally in Ohio for Public Employees
Read the Article at AFL-CIO Blog

Paul Krugman: The Freedom of Taking the Train
Read the Article at The New York Times

Supreme Court Rules That Westboro Baptist Church Has Right to Disrupt Military Funerals
Read the Article at The Associated Press

Wisconsin Corporations Underpay State and Local Taxes by More Than $1.3 Billion Annually
Read the Article at BuzzFlash

Germany’s Unemployment Shrinks Three Times as Fast as Economists Estimated
Read the Article at Bloomberg

Huckabee Implies That Obama Was Raised in Kenya. Say What?
Read the Article at The Associated Press

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