Government Debt Is Not The Problem

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By Dean Baker for Counter Punch – Deficit fears are impoverishing our kids. The people complaining about budget deficits fundamentally misrepresent how the economy works and the problems it faces. A deficit is a problem when it creates too much demand, exceeding the economy’s ability to supply goods and services. In this situation, a deficit is likely to lead to higher interest rates and inflation, which reduce investment. Less investment means less productivity growth, which means we will be less wealthy in the future. Ever since the 2007–09 recession, the problem has been the opposite: too little demand. Millions of workers have gone unemployed because there was not enough demand for their labor. In a weak economy, companies invest less. In a period of weak demand, it is virtually costless for the government to spend in areas that will not only employ people but also increase long-term productivity and spending on infrastructure, research and development and such areas as quality preschool, which pays enormous long-term dividends. Deficit fears prevented the government from spending the money needed to bring the economy back to full employment. That was costly in the short term because it meant millions of workers went unemployed, but it was also very costly in the long term.

NY's Fracking Ban Was Supposed To Set A Precedent -- But Gov. Cuomo Is Going Back On His Word

Anti-fracking protesters gather outside of the auditorium before New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gives his fourth State of the State address on January 8, 2014, in Albany, New York. (Photo: Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

By Ellen Cantarow and Dennis Higgins for Truthout – New York banned high-volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking) two years ago, in a victory for persistent anti-fracking activists and a potential precedent for other states. Now, however, the state is poised to begin operating a power plant that will make fracking infrastructure fully operational throughout the state, completely undermining the ban. The $900 million power plant planned by Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) in Orange County, New York, requires permits for only two short pipelines before it may begin operating. CPV will be among the largest of New York’s nearly 500 gas- and oil-fired power plants. Like more than half of currently proposed electricity generation in the state, this power plant will burn fracked gas from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale. Opponents charge that the plant is not needed and serves only to further push a warming world to the tipping point of climate-change catastrophe. On October 8, 2015, speaking with former Vice President Al Gore, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent in the next 13 years, but climate scientists and engineers tell us CPV will emit 7 million tons of carbon-dioxide-equivalent pollution annually and add a full 10 percent from power generation to the state’s current greenhouse gas inventory.

New Book Explores How Protesters—And Governments—Use Internet Tactics

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By Wendy Grossman for ARS Technica – In February 2003, the largest demonstration in Britain’s history saw two million people march across London to protest the approaching Iraq War. Dozens of other cities across the world saw similar events, and yet. Why did politicians feel safe ignoring the millions who participated in those marches—yet stand down after the protests against the proposed intellectual property laws SOPA and PIPA? Why did Occupy apparently vanish while the Tea Party has embedded itself into US national electoral politics? How much did Facebook really have to do with the Arab Spring? How—and this is the central question technosociologist Zeynep Tufecki considers in her new book, Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest—do digital media change the reality and effectiveness of social protest? Over the quarter-century since the Internet went mainstream, much has been written and argued about digital technologies’ ability to transform disparate individuals into a movement. Dismissives argue that social media-fueled movements are too fragile and their participants too uncommitted to achieve much.

Venezuela Opposition Plans Alternative Government, Calls For Foreign Invasion

Opposition supporters shout as they burn tires during a protest to demand a referendum to remove President Nicolas Maduro in San Cristobal, Venezuela, May 18, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

By Marco Teruggi for Tele Sur – The problem of the Venezuelan right is to have proposed an objective without the correlation of necessary forces. Although in reality the decision was not Venezuelan, but a U.S. decision, where the strategic and operational level of the current actions resides. I see no correlation because, to be brief, a government can’t be ousted without either the weight of the popular classes or the Bolivarian National Armed Forces, FANB. And today, close to ninety days since the beginning this cycle, they still do not have any of those two variables. It does not mean that they have abandoned their policy towards these two dimensions. In the case of the working classes, already convinced that they can not add to their political call to remove the government, the opposition has decided to hit them even harder with economic suffocation. Scenes from the recent burning of a food store, where 60 tons of goods were decimated, exemplify their actions. They seek to sharpen the material conditions that open the doors to the looting that they organize with their own gangs. Regarding the FANB, they have opted for several movements at a time. One has been the systematic armed attack, both on the main base of Caracas (La Carlota), and on barracks and battalions in different parts of the country.

Political Myth-Making And State Legitimacy

The U.S. Capitol is reflected in a puddle next to the Capitol Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C., Oct. 15, 2013. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Images

By Gerald Sussman for Counter Punch – First off, it is quite evident that the United States, which for years has been losing internal state legitimacy, is in crisis. (It’s already lost external state legitimacy, the Trump brand reportedly now distrusted by three-fourths of the world.) This means that a majority of American citizens no longer believe that the political and economic elites are working in the public interest. Once this happens, to cite Humpty Dumpty: “all the king’s horses [the police and military apparatuses] and all the king’s men [loyal state officials and publicity agents] couldn’t put Humpty [state legitimacy] together again.” Short of implementing explicit police state controls over a rebellious public, which appears unnecessary in the present somatic corporate state, the ruling class must resort to intensified and unending propaganda (state and commercial). This is exactly what PR guru Edward Bernays had proposed in his book by that title in 1928. We’re well into that propaganda society, with continuous mass distraction and censorship of authentic alternative news sources – all directed toward maintaining a public order of complacency, spectatorship, and establishment-orchestrated political consensus.

Meeting Needs Of Homeless Youth: Public Schools Are Doing What Government Won't Do Directly

Food is served to students at Public School 397 in New York, November 21, 2013. (Photo: Joshua Bright / The New York Times)

By Eleanor J. Bader for Truthout – Dr. Art McCoy, superintendent of schools in Jennings, Missouri, is a humble man. But when he speaks of his school district as “a lighthouse for informed practices that respond to the needs of homeless and low-income kids,” his pride is obvious. As a leader of the movement pushing public schools to address the overlapping emotional and material needs of impoverished students, Jennings is a model — stepping in to provide food, shelter, health care and consolation to students who need it. Not surprisingly, school districts throughout the US are looking to Jennings for inspiration, especially since federal and state governments have done very little to assist this population. Jennings is adjacent to Ferguson, the small city that was catapulted to prominence in August 2014 after police murdered 18-year-old Michael Brown. Each of Jennings’ eight public schools — with an enrollment of 2,600 students, most of them poor and 160 of them homeless — have “comfort rooms”: private spaces where students can meet with counselors and address the obstacles they’re facing. “The biggest issues for our students are domestic violence and the death of a loved one,” McCoy states. “About 2,000 of our 2,600 enrolled students see school-based therapists each academic year to address the multiple traumas in their lives.”

Trump Nominates New FERC Commissioners

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Washington, DC – The Hill reports that the Trump administration announced on Monday its two Republican nominees, Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson, f0r the vacant seats in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). If confirmed, the FERC would once again have a quorum and would be able to resume rubber stamping its backlog of fossil fuel project permits. A coalition of around 160 local, state, regional and national organizations is calling upon the Senate to reject both nominations announced yesterday by President Donald Trump to be Commissioners of FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. “FERC has been abusing communities for decades, abusing their power and authority in ways that undermines the rights of both people and the states. While biased FERC Commissioners with industry ties is nothing new, Donald Trump’s picks, if confirmed by the Senate, would take us to a whole new and dangerous level of conflict and bias.

The Government Smearing Of Israel’s Critics

Members of Congress rush to greet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he leaves the House chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 3, 2015, after lobbying Congress to kill a peace plan with Iran at all costs. (AP Photo)

By Lawrence Davidson for Mint Press News – “Back in the day,” which in this case was Feb. 8, 2007, the U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism adopted a “working definition” of anti-Semitism which included the following point: It is anti-Semitic to “deny the Jewish people their right to self-determination (e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor).” This “working definition” has proved to have staying power. Thus, the U.S. Congress has used the State Department document in devising its Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2016, and in December of 2016, the British government adopted an almost identical “working definition,” which listed the same alleged act of denial – the one that links the Jewish people’s “right of self-determination” with the “claim that the existence of Israel is a racist endeavor” as an example of “contemporary anti-Semitism.”The whole definition, including the quoted sentence, was not original with the State Department. It was originally “written collaboratively by a small group of non-governmental organizations” which remained unnamed.

Convicted For Protesting Jeff Sessions Is No Laughing Matter

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By Tighe Barry. In the recent past, frivolous charges like these would have been thrown out of court. But, Trump and his cronies in the Justice Department are going out of their way to crackdown on dissent, especially in the form of nonviolent protest. Republican officials are jumping on Trump’s bigoted bandwagon to restrict liberties at the local, state and national level. We see laws being passed in over a dozen states to make protesting a crime, while at the same time, North Dakota has passed a law where running over a protester is not a crime. We see state laws being passed to criminalize campaigns that support Palestinian rights. We see that over 200 people who protested Trump’s inauguration have been prosecuted and charged with ridiculous offenses, such as felony rioting charges. We should see our Justice Department prosecuting real criminals, like those responsible for war, not convicting people for laughing in Congress. Unless we rise up and demand our first amendment right to dissent, then the joke will be on the American people. And that is no laughing matter.

Trump Declares Today “Loyalty Day” To Remind Americans To Never Question Government

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By Claire Bernish for Activist Post – President Trump has declared today, May 1, Loyalty Day, a day also dedicated to international workers’ rights, in what sounds on first impact to be an Orwellian holiday dedicated to love of one’s country — with all the mandatory overtones one would expect, given the current divisive climate present in the United States. May 1, the president declared, should be a day “for the reaffirmation of loyalty” to the United States; and that fealty to this nation — obedient citizens are encouraged to display the Stars and Stripes — should usurp any recognition in unison with some 80 or so other countries of the struggles faced by workers around the world. For as frighteningly nationalistic as the name implies, Loyalty Day is not Trump’s brainchild. In fact, once Loyalty Day garnered congressional approval in 1958, the oppressively patriotic holiday has been officially proclaimed by every president from Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1959 through Barack Obama — Trump just carried on its pretext “intended to replace” International Workers’ Day.

How The Government Is Turning Emerging Activists Into Felons

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By Natasha Lennard for Esquire – Alsip only knew one other person at the protest march that day. The political science graduate student from the University of Chicago had met her partner in November, when the two had joined the camps at Standing Rock opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline. When they heard about calls to protest Donald J. Trump’s inauguration in D.C. on January 20th under the banner “Disrupt J20,” they felt they had to be there. “I identify as an anarchist, and I’ve been an activist for women’s and queer rights since the 8th grade,” Alsip told me over the phone from Chicago. Alsip is among 214 defendants facing felony riot charges, up to a decade in prison and a $25,000 fine for their participation in the anti-capitalist, anti-fascist march, which ended with a mass arrest on the morning of Inauguration Day. As far as the student understands, the evidence against her amounts to little more than proof of her presence at the unruly protest, as indicated by her arrest. Like the vast majority of her co-defendants, Alsip didn’t break or throw anything. Now she lives in shock over the steep price she and her fellow protesters might pay as the new administration and police forces set the tone for how they will deal with the spike in organized dissent.

The Feuding Kleptocrats

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By Chris Hedges for Truth Dig – They ineptly have set themselves on fire over Obamacare, but this misstep will do little to halt the drive to, as Stephen Bannon promises, carry out the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” Donald Trump’s appointees are busy diminishing or dismantling the agencies they were named to lead and the programs they are supposed to administer. That is why they were selected. Rex Tillerson at the State Department, Steven Mnuchin at the Treasury Department, Scott Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency, Rick Perry at the Department of Energy, Tom Price at Health and Human Services, Ben Carson at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Betsy DeVos at the Department of Education…

Civil Servants Unofficial Twitter Resistance

This photo shows a Twitter post from the National Park Service's Redwoods National Park account. | AP Photo

By Nancy Scola for Politico – Trump has yet to tweet a response to all the needling. But his team may be realizing months too late that it’s up against a foe it didn’t reckon with. Donald Trump may be a master of combat on Twitter, but he’s suddenly run into a growing digital uprising — anonymous federal workers who are using social media to tweak the president even as his agencies crack down on information-sharing. This Twitter rebellion, apparently centered at the National Park Service, is winning cheers from liberal activists who seize on every 140-character outburst for signs of anti-Trump resistance.

State Denies Lease Needed To Build Big Longview Coal Export Terminal

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By Joel Connelly for Seattle PI – The state of Washington will not allow its aquatic lands along the Columbia River to be used in a major coal export terminal, a decision announced late Tuesday by outgoing State Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark. The decision by Goldmark deals a serious blow to the Millennium Bulk Terminals project, which has already experienced the bankruptcy filing of its parent firm Arch Coal. It is the latest of several blows to the fossil fuel industry in the Northwest. The lands commissioner turned down a request by Northwest Alloys, a subsidiary of Alcoa, to sublease state-owned aquatic lands to Millennium.

To Stop Police Murders, Block Ability Of The State To Govern

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By Staff of It’s Going Down – 1,152. That’s the total amount of people that were killed by American law enforcement in 2016. Every day over the last several years, on average, over 3 people are being killed by the police in this country. Sadly enough, at the time of this writing, a total of 12 people have already been killed by police in 2017, continuing this deadly average. The amount of people actually physically harmed by police, to say nothing of the millions who are left with mental scars, extorted through fines and tickets, killed as bystanders in high speed chases, or who have been sexually assaulted, is of course much higher.