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Truthout: August 9, 2011

Truthout: August 9, 2011

On the News With Thom Hartmann: Judgment Day in Wisconsin, and More
In today's On the News segment: Today is judgment day in Wisconsin with six Republican state senators who supported Gov. Scott Walker's anti-union efforts now fighting for their political lives in the biggest recall election ever held in this country, investors brace themselves for another turbulent day on Wall Street, violent riots continued for the third straight day across London and a number of other British cities, Japanese government willingly let thousands of its own citizens be exposed to dangerous levels of radiation, the question of personhood is going to be debated in Montana, James McMillan - the figurehead of New York's "The Rent Is Too Damn High" political party is being evicted from his Manhattan apartment because his rent is too damn low.
Watch the Video and Read the Transcript

Britain Recalls Parliament as Unrest Spreads
Alan Cowell, The New York Times News Service: "Prime Minister David Cameron pledged on Tuesday to flood the streets of London with 10,000 extra police officers and said Parliament would be recalled in emergency session after rioting and looting spread across and beyond London for a third night in what the police called the worst unrest in memory. At the same time, the police said they had launched a murder inquiry after a 26-year-old man, who was not identified by name, was shot and killed in a car in Croydon, south of London, late Monday as rioters torched and looted buildings - the first known fatality since the unrest began in another part of the city on Saturday."
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On Eve of Recall, Walker Booed at Wisconsin State Fair
Tanya Somanader, ThinkProgress: "Today, Wisconsin voters will head to the polls for the special recall elections of six Republican state senators who supported Gov. Scott Walker's (R) anti-union bill that stripped public workers of collective bargaining rights. While Walker can tread the recall backlash until January of 2012, Wisconsinites are forcing him to face the music now. Last week, Wisconsin kicked off its 10-day state fair. It's traditional for the governor to herald the fair's opening day. But when Walker took the stage Thursday, he was met with a hail of boos and protests signs. 'This is the one place where all across the state where people can actually come together,' he tried to shout over the crowd. 'At least most people can.' As he walked off stage, the crowd chanted 'Recall Walker.'"
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Paul Krugman | Capitulation, Not Compromise, Led to a Debt Deal
Paul Krugman, Krugman & Co.: "What would I have done? That's the question President Obama's kinda-sorta defenders keep asking; it's supposed to be a conversation-stopper. But the answer is clear: I would have made a statement declaring that giving in to this kind of blackmail would constitute a violation of my oath of office, and that my lawyers, on careful reflection, have determined that there are several legal options that allow me to ignore this extortionate demand. Now, the Obama people say that this wasn't actually an option. Well, I hate to say this, but I don't believe them."
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Secretive Corporate-Legislative Group ALEC Holds Annual Meeting to Rewrite State Laws
Amy Goodman, Democracy NOW!: "Hundreds of state legislators from all 50 states have gathered in New Orleans for the annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council, known as ALEC. Critics say the Washington-based organization plays a key role in helping corporations secretly draft model pro-business legislation that has been used by state lawmakers across the country. Unlike many other organizations, ALEC's membership includes both state lawmakers and corporate executives who gather behind closed doors to discuss and vote on model legislation. In recent months, ALEC has come under increasing scrutiny for its role in drafting bills to attack workers' rights, roll back environmental regulations, privatize education, deregulate major industries, and passing voter ID laws."
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Cliff Schecter | Washington's Three-Ring Circus
Cliff Schecter, Truthout: "It shouldn't be surprising to those of us who physically restrain our gag reflex and endeavor to observe or participate in the American political spectacle that a trending topic on Twitter this past weekend was the combination of a four-letter word, the word 'you' and 'Washington.' For a long time now, what goes on in the Beltway has ceased to serve the interests of the vast majority of Americans, in that, shockingly, most of us don't have weekly passes to the Creation Museum or attend performances at the David H. Koch Theatre while monocle clad and porting brandy snifters. But the current disaster, over an artificially created 'debt ceiling' (an artifact of World War I) that's been a non-event in the past, is pushing our political culture toward what was previously reserved only for Barnum and Bailey."
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Thom Hartmann | Unequal Uses for the Bill of Rights
Thom Hartmann, Berrett-Koehler Publishers: "'Of the cases in this court in which the Fourteenth Amendment was applied during its first fifty years after its adoption, less than one half of one percent invoked it in protection of the Negro race, and more than fifty percent asked that its benefits be extended to corporations.' - Justice Hugo Black, 1938. The statistic in this chapter's epigraph is sobering indeed. It says corporations sought protection under the Fourteenth Amendment a hundred times more often than did the people it was intended to protect. And this is not a victimless shift - there have been real and substantial consequences. In the years following the Santa Clara decision and the cases that referred to it, companies have used their personhood rights in an amazing variety of ways. What follows in this chapter is a small selection."
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Interior Secretary Tells Alaskans Obama Backs Drilling
Sean Cockerham, Anchorage Daily News: "Interior Secretary Ken Salazar came to Anchorage on Monday and said the Obama administration supports more oil drilling in Alaska, potentially including offshore Arctic development. Salazar joined Alaska Sen. Mark Begich and Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed for a meeting with Alaska business people and said the president's feeling toward Arctic offshore drilling is 'Let's take a look at what's up there and see what it is we can develop.'"
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We Are Wisconsin, and We're Already Winners
Isaiah J. Poole, Campaign for America's Future: "This morning Wisconsin voters will stream to the polls in a historic recall election that pits defenders of working people against six incumbents who backed a right-wing legislative assault on workers. It is not too late to give those working-class fighters a massive outpouring of last-minute support to counter the torrent of right-wing cash that is buying millions of dollars' worth of attack ads and robo-calls in defense of the Republican state Senate incumbents. Through the 'Call Out The Vote' campaign by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America, and the 'virtual phone bank' set up by the Wisconsin Democratic Party, anyone with a telephone can persuade voters to go to the polls and elect middle-class champions to replace the incumbents who backed an all-out assault on the state's working people."
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Barbara Ehrenreich: On Turning Poverty Into an American Crime
Barbara Ehrenreich, TomDispatch: "I completed the manuscript for 'Nickel and Dimed' in a time of seemingly boundless prosperity.... The big question, 10 years later, is whether things have improved or worsened for those in the bottom third of the income distribution, the people who clean hotel rooms, work in warehouses, wash dishes in restaurants, care for the very young and very old, and keep the shelves stocked in our stores. The short answer is that things have gotten much worse, especially since the economic downturn that began in 2008."
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Stepping Out of Afghanistan's Shadows
James Gundun, The Trench: "Like rotating blades hitting the dirt, propaganda spin from Afghanistan's traumatic Chinook crash has destructively spiraled into US policy. The 30 US troops inside the helicopter, presumably a Special Operations-employed MH-47G Chinook, morphed into masked heroes overnight, their personal lives immediately reduced to political campaigning. To both US policy-makers and the Taliban, Wardak's wreckage is a symbol of their 'success' and the need to 'fight on.' A stalemate, in other words."
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Truthout Contributor Jeffrey Kaye Discusses Guantanamo Water Torture and Rumsfeld's Denials (Video)
Jeffrey Kaye, RTAmerica: "A new report published by Truthout last week suggests that there may be much more to interrogation techniques and where they were used. This includes a little known testimony by former Guantanamo detainee Murat Kurnaz before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, where he described not waterboarding, but a form of water treatment. Jeffrey Kaye, the Truthout contributor who authored the groundbreaking report, discusses."
Watch the Video

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TRUTHOUT'S BUZZFLASH DAILY HEADLINES

The demand economy has collapsed for the vast majority of Americans. Jobs have been lost, wages have stagnated and the buying power of all but the wealthy dramatically reduced.

But if you are super-rich, according to an August 4 New York Times article, you "are (almost) spending like it's 2006: luxury goods are flying off the shelves, even with the economy staggering."

If you want to walk in the shoes of the ultra-wealthy, it will cost you a few weeks' wages (if you are lucky enough to have a job). According to The Times, "In 2008, for example, the most expensive Louboutin item that Saks sold was a $1,575 pair of suede boots. Now, it is a $2,495 pair of suede boots that are thigh-high."

While most of America struggles with the basic costs of living, even delaying medical care because of high health insurance deductibles (for those who have medical insurance), the rich are on a luxury item buying rampage. According to the Times:

Luxury goods stores, which fared much worse than other retailers in the recession, are more than recovering - they are zooming. Many high-end businesses are even able to mark up, rather than discount, items to attract customers who equate quality with price....

The luxury category has posted 10 consecutive months of sales increases compared with the year earlier, even as overall consumer spending on categories like furniture and electronics has been tepid, according to the research service MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse. In July, the luxury segment had an 11.6 percent increase, the biggest monthly gain in more than a year.

With the ongoing DC subsidies of the most affluent Americans through tax cuts, America has moved closer to the class and income gaps that characterize third-world nations.

To paraphrase an old Nancy Sinatra song, "These $2,495 boots are made for walking, and one of these days these boots are going to walk all over you."

They already are.

Mark Karlin
Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout

New York Times Editorial: It's Time for President Obama to Get Serious About Job Growth
Read the Article at The New York Times

Gallup: US Employers Hold Back on Job Creation
Read the Article at Gallup

White House Adviser Blames Tea Party for Downgrade
Read the Article at The Associated Press

US Spends Six Times More on Defense Than China, Iran and North Korea Combined
Read the Article at ThinkProgress

Union Decline Accounts for Much of the Rise in Wage Inequality
Read the Article at Newswise

The State of the Murdoch Empire and Its Mob-Like Structure
Read the Article at Adweek

The Abortion That Romney Doesn't Talk About Anymore
Read the Article at Salon

Click here for more BuzzFlash headlines

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