Understanding network neutrality →

(Source: azspot)

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Top Eight Books Every Intelligent Person Should Read →
  1. The Bible (eBook) - “to learn that it’s easier to be told by others what to think and believe than it is to think for yourself.”

  2. The System of the World by Isaac Newton (eBook) – “to learn that the universe is a knowable place.”

  3. On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (eBookAudio Book) - “to learn of our kinship with all other life on Earth.”

  4. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (eBookAudio Book) – “to learn, among other satirical lessons, that most of the time humans are Yahoos.”

  5. The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (eBookAudio Book) – “to learn how the power of rational thought is the primary source of freedom in the world.”

  6. The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (eBookAudio Book) - “to learn that capitalism is an economy of greed, a force of nature unto itself.”

  7. The Art of War by Sun Tsu (eBookAudio Book) - “to learn that the act of killing fellow humans can be raised to an art.”

  8. The Prince by Machiavelli (eBookAudio Book) - “to learn that people not in power will do all they can to acquire it, and people in power will do all they can to keep it.”

(Source: azspot)

Coal Miners Say They Were Surveilled, Harassed After Making Safety Complaints →
Rights Only for the Right People →

……..
Those Americans might think twice before exercising their right to protest the right-wing’s war on their rights. That’s because at least four states want to revoke the basic rights of assembly and protest for workers who happen to belong to unions.

This is not even Boston Tea Party stuff where protesters trespassed and destroyed property. This is walking in circles with signs at the front gate of an employer – including the entrances to corporations that lock out workers who are willing to labor under the terms of an expired collective bargaining agreement but whose offer to continue working was rebuffed by bosses.

Right wingers in Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi and Michigan all put forward bills that would outlaw picketing at a private residence and demonstrations interfering with the entrance to a place of employment.

Federal law already prohibits protesters from blocking entrances. This would add “interfering.” And this would prevent union workers from demonstrating at the home of a CEO.

It might be a little annoying to a CEO if some workers marched in a circle with signs outside his mansion, but making protests personal is an American tradition as old as the Boston Tea Party, when the “Sons of Liberty” violently demonstrated at the homes of British colonial officials.

The right to protest was so important to the founding fathers that they protected it in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  But right-wing lawmakers in Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi and Michigan want to take that right from members of labor unions.

Republican Jeremy Durham introduced the bill in Tennessee and explained that he felt he had to restrict the civil liberties of union members to prevent workers from organizing and collectively bargaining for better pay and benefits in his state. Here’s what he said: “Tennessee unions quietly added 31,000 members in 2013, representing the largest percentage increase in union membership in the country. I just feel like if that’s such a growing part of our economy that we need to take some preemptive measures.”

s3.amazonaws.com/dk-production/images/2541/large/ClassWarfare_Jensequitur.gif?1343868504 →
Harry Reid doubles down on Koch criticism →

"What is going on with these two brothers who made billions of dollars last year in an attempt to buy our democracy is [dis]honest, deceptive, false and unfair. Just because you have huge amounts of money you should not be able to run these false, misleading ads by the hundreds of millions of dollars. They hide behind all kinds of entities," Reid said. "It’s not just their front organization, Americans For Prosperity. But they give money to all kinds of organizations, lots of money. You see, when you make billions of dollars a year you can be as immoral and dishonest as your money will allow you to be. It’s too bad that they’re trying to buy America and it’s time that the American people spoke out against this terrible dishonesty of these two brothers, who are about as un-American as anyone that I can imagine."

Democrats are recognizing a salient fact: people don’t like the idea that a couple of billionaire brothers think they can buy a government. So they’re specifically running against that big money and the Koch brothers. They’re responding to the ads the Kochs are running in Michigan by pointing out that they are trying to buy a Senate seat. Which is exactly what they’re trying to do.

Extreme Poverty Has Been Used to Divide and Terrify Working People for Centuries →

Most of the world is now in the grip of hyper-capitalism, what we call neoliberalism. This new system has brought us careening economic instabilities, worsening ecological disasters, brutal wars, a depleted public sector and poverty in the affluent global north, and the prospect of mass famine in the global south.

It seems high time to think about alternatives to the capitalist behemoth. I don’t know whether we will ultimately call the new ways of organizing our society “socialist,” but the values that have inspired movements for socialism in the past should inform our search. Those values include a society with sharply reduced inequalities in both material circumstances and social status. Socialist movements also aspire to lessen the grinding toil now imposed on those who work for wages. They dream of an inclusive culture. They fight for democratic practices and policies in which influence is widely shared. And they believe in eliminating the pervasive terror in everyday life that is produced by the exigencies of capitalist markets and the arbitrary power of the state regimes that support those markets.

No matter how successful the new society is in equalizing earnings and assets, however, we will have to be concerned about the potential for poverty and hard times. This might result from exogenous shocks, such as a drought or earthquakes, or from internal economic disorganization, including the instabilities produced by efforts to transform our institutions. Moreover, there will always be people who are not well suited to the work that is available because of their physical health or personal disorganization.

How our society treats these people is of great importance. Morally, it is important because it is unnecessary and cruel for an affluent society to impose impoverishment and humiliation on some of its members. It is less often recognized that the treatment of the poor has a large bearing on the well-being of the entire society.

(Source: azspot)

thegreenurbanist:

think-progress:

An oil spill has shut down 65 miles of the Mississippi River.

“This isn’t the first time the Mississippi River has experienced an oil spill due to a barge crash. Last year, a barge carrying 80,000 gallons of oil crashed into a rail bridge, spilling oil and causing a sheen as far as three miles from the crash site. That spill closed the Mississippi River for eight miles in each direction. In February 2012, an oil barge crashed into a construction bridge, spilling less than 10,000 gallons of oil into the river. In 2008, according to the AP, a major spill occurred on the Mississippi, when a barge broke in half after a collision and spilled 283,000 gallons of oil into the river, closing it for six days.”

thegreenurbanist:

think-progress:

An oil spill has shut down 65 miles of the Mississippi River.

This isn’t the first time the Mississippi River has experienced an oil spill due to a barge crash. Last year, a barge carrying 80,000 gallons of oil crashed into a rail bridge, spilling oil and causing a sheen as far as three miles from the crash site. That spill closed the Mississippi River for eight miles in each direction. In February 2012, an oil barge crashed into a construction bridge, spilling less than 10,000 gallons of oil into the river. In 2008, according to the AP, a major spill occurred on the Mississippi, when a barge broke in half after a collision and spilled 283,000 gallons of oil into the river, closing it for six days.”

(via randomactsofchaos)

"For decades we have been taught to believe in capitalism and neo-liberalism. We have been told that there will always be poor people and we must accept that. We’ve been told that wealth trickles down and that we should all compete to achieve the “American Dream.” We’ve thought that in order to achieve that dream we must go into debt. And we’ve believed that the people in power should be trusted to make decisions for us, that we didn’t have the capacity to make them. All of that is changing and being turned in its head. Awareness is growing that we can do things differently. People are actively confronting the old ways through both resistance and the creation of new approaches or the re-emergence of older methods. One area is the recognition that there are alternatives to debt-based economies. This is not a new idea. There were debt jubilees in ancient history."
"The American Army pilot Hugh Thompson had moral courage. He landed his helicopter between a platoon of U.S. soldiers and 10 terrified Vietnamese civilians during the My Lai massacre. He ordered his gunner to fire his M60 machine gun on the advancing U.S. soldiers if they began to shoot the villagers. And for this act of moral courage, Thompson, like Snowden, was hounded and reviled. Moral courage always looks like this. It is always defined by the state as treason—the Army attempted to cover up the massacre and court-martial Thompson. It is the courage to act and to speak the truth. Thompson had it. Daniel Ellsberg had it. Martin Luther King had it. What those in authority once said about them they say today about Snowden."
The Pension Heist: How politicians raid retirement funds to enrich their corporate masters | PandoDaily →

How politicians raid retirement funds to enrich their corporate masters

Let’s say that as a condition of your employment, your company agreed to pay you a set retirement benefit from its retirement fund, with the implied understanding that the company would make the necessary annual contributions to keep that fund solvent. How would you feel when you later discovered your employer wasn’t actually making those annual contributions? Instead there is a severe cash shortfall. More specifically, how would you feel if your employer cited that shortfall – the one it created – as justification to slash your retirement benefits — the ones you were originally promised?

If executives pled poverty to justify their failure to make the contributions, perhaps you might forgive them. But what if you found out they weren’t actually saving the money they were supposed to be setting aside for your retirement?  What if you found out that those poverty-pleading executives were instead handing your retirement money over to their cronies? Would you be angry?

Of course you would be. So you will surely understand why a whole lot of workers will be enraged if they read a damning new study by the nonpartisan Good Jobs First. It buttresses earlier reporting by myself and Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi about pension funds being raided to finance lucrative subsidies to the richest of the rich.

In the cases documented by Good Jobs First, the employers are the politicians who run state governments, and the employees are teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other public workers. Over the years, the politicians have been violating the spirit of contracts with their employees by refusing to make the necessary contributions to their employees’ retirement funds.* They have justified this fiscal irresponsibility by suggesting that state and local governments are so strapped for cash that there are no resources available to make the required pension contributions.

But that’s where the Good Jobs First report comes in. Looking at 10 states that have considered pension benefit cuts, the analysis shows that politicians aren’t saving the money they should be putting into retirement systems, they are not investing it in core state services, and they most certainly are not behaving as if their states are strapped for cash. Instead, in many of the states that haven’t been consistently making their actuarially required contributions to pension plans, politicians are taking money that should be going to retirees and instead spending the cash on subsidies to the same corporate class that disproportionately funds politicians’ election campaigns. Indeed, as the report shows, “In all 10 states, the total annual cost of corporate subsidies, tax breaks and loopholes exceeds the total current annual pension costs for the main public pension plans administered by the states.”

The specific examples illustrate the bait and switch:

In Louisiana, for example, politicians claim the annual $348 million pension contribution the state should be making is unaffordable. They then cite this assumption to call for cuts to public workers’  guaranteed retirement income. Yet, at the same time, those same politicians support corporate welfare in the form of subsidies, tax breaks, and loopholes that cost the state five times that amount every single year.

Same thing in Florida, where lawmakers at once insist the $905 million annual pension contribution is unaffordable, all while they spend four times that much on subsidies, tax breaks, and loopholes to corporations.

Two of the country’s most corrupt states – Illinois and New Jersey – provide the most powerful examples.

In Illinois, Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn just signed legislation to slash state workers’ pension benefits even though the state spends $500 million more every year on corporate subsidies than it needed to contribute to its pension system. In recent years, those subsidies have included everything from a $275 million giveaway to Sears to a $117 million handout to Google. Meanwhile in Chicago, Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel is expected to propose similar cuts to municipal employees’ retirement benefits. Yet Emanuel, fresh off pleading poverty to shutter schools, is championing a $300 million spending spree on corporate subsidies, including a massive giveaway to a private university for the construction of a basketball arena. That’s just one part of his city’s notorious and burgeoning “shadow budget,” the mayor’s secret slush fund of taxpayer money designated for corporate subsidies.

"I Don't Want to Create a Paper Trail": Inside the Secret Apple-Google Pact →

Whether waxing poetic about net neutrality or defending the merits of outsourcing, Silicon Valley execs love to talk about how a free market breeds innovation. So it might come as a surprise that some of those execs were engaged in a secret pact not to recruit one another’s employees—in other words, to game the labor market. The potentially illegal deals suppressed salaries across the sector by a whopping $3 billion, claims a class-action lawsuit scheduled for a May trial in San Jose, and were done to juice the bottom lines of some of the nation’s most profitable companies.

AOL Cuts 401k Benefits, Blames Sick Babies →
David Simon: There Was A Class War And The Poor People Lost →