• Florida’s Medieval Unwedded Cohabitation Law Punishes Hundreds

    This is archaic, punitive, and barbaric.

    This…, is Florida.

    From policestateusa.com:

    Hundreds of Floridians are being fined and imprisoned for the crime of living with a romantic partner without government permission, thanks to an old-time cohabitation law that is still in effect.

    As stated in Chapter 798 of the Florida Statutes:

    798.02?Lewd and lascivious behavior.—If any man and woman, not being married to each other, lewdly and lasciviously associate and cohabit together, or if any man or woman, married or unmarried, engages in open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior, they shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

    Second-degree misdemeanors in Florida are punished by fines of $500 or up to 60 days in jail.

    The law dates back over a century, crafted by authoritarians bent on using the state as a mechanism for social engineering and population control. The state’s primary means to this end was in forcing citizens to get permission to marry, in the form of marriage licenses. To prevent certain “undesirable” pairings of citizens, the state was empowered to deny couples the right to marry each other.

    Florida resident Sierra Hooper tells Turning Left, “It’s just crazy to me that there is a law for that here … not only can an employer fire you at any time,  you can be arrested as well for who you live with.”

    Welcome to Rick Scott’s “Right to Work” Florida.

    Social engineering, indeed, socialism, at its worst.

    Read more here.



  • Watch: Kill Bill and Everyone Else: Spoofing ISIS

    From Abby Zimet, staff writer at Common Dreams:

    Arguing that "belittlement is your enemy’s greatest fear," several Muslim activists have taken on the risky strategy of using satire as a weapon against the supremely unfunny atrocities of ISIS. Taking to the same social media platforms that ISIS uses to recruit and propaganidize, their campaigns range from mock ISIS Movies – The Hills Have Alis, ISIS Doubtfire, My Best Friend’s 11-Year-Old Daughter’s Wedding, Crouching Caliph Hidden Sheikh, Monsters Inc, No Country for Old Men, Or Young Men, Or Women and Children – and TV shows – Everybody loves Abu Bakr Baghdadi, How I Behead Your Mother – to ads, videos and entire Onion-like news stories.

    Wow.



  • Protests for a Living Wage Commence

    McDonald's protest
    Dozens of people were arrested during a minimum wage protest outside a Detroit McDonald’s. (Credit: Bill Szumanski/WWJ Newsradio 950)

    Low-Wage Workers ‘Movement’ Flexes Its Muscles Nationwide

    Employees of the fast-food industry demand $15 minimum wage and better workplace protections as actions expected in 150 cities across the country

    Fast-food workers are out in force nationwide on Thursday as they participate in a day of action designed to highlight the scourge of low-wages and push a series of demands to combat the persistent poverty endured by those who form the backbone of  the profitable multi-billion dollar industry.

    Led by organizers at FightFor15—and supported in their call by the Service Employees Union International (SEIU), grassroots organizers, and other workers’ rights groups—the fast-food employees say that singular actions that first started in New York City in 2012 and then spread to other cities have now become a national movement. Pushing for a $15 per hour “living wage” for all workers is the central but not sole demand of the workers and those who back them.

    Organizers are expecting worker strikes and solidarity protests in 150 U.S. cities as employees of Burger King, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and other chains demand a dramatic increase to the minimum wage, better workplace protections, and the right to organize and join a union.

    According to NBC News:

    In Kansas City, Missouri, workers are expected to walk out of 60 restaurants. Latoya Caldwell, a Wendy’s worker, is one of dozens of fast food employees in Kansas City who plan to sit down in a city intersection, lock arms and get arrested.

    “We’re a movement now,” Caldwell said on Wednesday before starting a shift at Wendy’s. She and several co-workers said that 25 of the more than 30 non-management employees in their restaurant have pledged to strike. “We know this is going to be a long fight, but we’re going to fight it till we win,” said Caldwell, 31, who is raising four children alone on $7.50 an hour and was living in a homeless shelter until earlier this year.

    The strikers cite frustration about their continued struggle to survive at the bottom of the labor market even as the broader economic news seems positive. “They say the economy is getting better, but we’re still making $7.50,” said Caldwell. “Nobody should work 40 hours a week and find themselves homeless, without enough money to buy them and their kids food, needing public assistance.”

    Early reporting in the day documented actions in Detroit, Chicago, New York, Charlotte, New Orleans and elsewhere.

    In Detroit, protesters protesting outside a McDonald’s early on Thursday were arrested after they locked arms and sat down in the street, blocking local traffic.

    The local CBS news affiliate reports:

    Kaya Moody, a 20-year-old single mother who works at a different McDonald’s location in Detroit, has taken part in several protests and she admits it hasn’t been an easy sell.

    “We always get the ‘Do you really think you deserve $15 an hour as a fast food worker?’ We get that a lot and I just feel like, who doesn’t deserve $15 an hour, you know? It’s a living wage. No one can survive off of $8.15 an hour, it’s almost impossible,” Moody told WWJ’s Ron Dewey.

    The protests have been going on for about two years, but organizers have kept the campaign in the spotlight by switching their tactics every few months. In the past, supporters have showed up at a McDonald’s shareholder meeting and held strikes. The idea of civil disobedience arose in July when 1,300 workers held a convention in Chicago.

    Kendall Fells, an organizing director for Fast Food Forward, said workers in a couple of dozen cities were trained to peacefully engage in civil disobedience ahead of the planned protests.

    Dispatches and photos from other actions are being shared on Twitter under the#StrikeFastFood hashtag:

    #StrikeFastFood Tweets

    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License



  • Phyllis Bennis: Violating International Law in Gaza

    water systems damaged in Gaza
    Numerous water systems and wells have been badly damaged in the airstrikes, limiting the water supply to the people of Gaza. (Photo: flickr / cc / Mohammed Al Baba/Oxfam)

    As Israel’s assault claims the lives of hundreds of Palestinian children, there’s no doubt that it’s a form of collective punishment.

    As Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip rages on, ceasefires come and go. Most last just long enough for Palestinians to dig out the dead from beneath their collapsed houses, get the injured to overcrowded and under-resourced hospitals, and seek enough food and water to last through the next round of airstrikes.

    “There is nothing left but stones,” Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer quoted an old woman saying as she searched desperately through the rubble of what had been her home.

    Casualties are soaring. By late July, Israel had killed more than 1,200 Palestinians, at least 73 percent of them civilians including hundreds of children. Fifty-six Israelis, almost all of them soldiers, have died too.

    July 28 poll shows 86.5 percent of Israelis oppose a ceasefire. Yet we continue to hear that Israelis want peace.

    It’s true that at least some of them do. An Israeli protest in Tel Aviv brought 5,000 people into the street. That’s good — though a far cry from the 400,000 who poured into the streets to protest Israel’s invasion of Lebanon back in 1982.

    And when a young Palestinian teenager was kidnapped and tortured to death — burned alive — in Jerusalem after the bodies of the three kidnapped young Israeli settlers were found, many Israelis tried to distance themselves from the horrific crime. “In our society, the society of Israel, there is no place for such murderers,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed.

    But in fact, there is a place for those who call for murder — at the highest political and military levels of Israeli society.

    Meet Ayelet Shaked, a member of the Knesset — Israel’s parliament. She belongs to Israel Home, a far-right party in Netanyahu’s governing coalition. She issued on Facebook what amounts to a call to commit genocide, by deliberately killing Palestinians, including women, children, and old people.

    “The entire Palestinian people is the enemy,” Shaked posted. “In wars, the enemy is usually an entire people, including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure.”

    The Knesset member went on to say that the mothers of Palestinians killed should follow their dead sons to Hell: “They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”

    Her language reminds me of a chapter in our own history — the genocidal Indian Wars. U.S. military leaders had called on their troops to wipe out all the Native Americans andCol. John Chivington was asked on the eve of the Sand Creek Massacre about killing Cheyenne children. “Kill and scalp all, big and little, nits make lice,” he replied.

    Shaked’s comments also echo the words of an Israeli colonel who testified under oath at the wrongful death trial of Rachel Corrie, a young U.S. peace activist killed by an Israeli soldier driving an armored bulldozer in Gaza. “In a war zone there are no civilians,” said the military officer — who was responsible for training Israeli soldiers to serve in the occupied territories.

    There’s no question that Hamas’ primitive rockets violate international law. They can’t be accurately aimed at military targets. But that doesn’t justify Israel’s violation of its own obligations under international law as the occupying power in Gaza.

    Israel has the region’s strongest military, the only nuclear weapons arsenal in the Middle East, and the unconditional backing of the United States. Its assault on Gaza violates the Geneva Conventions. Israel is imposing collective punishment against all Gazans, attacking hospitals, and using disproportionate force.

    Israeli officials know full well that the best way to protect their citizens is to implement a real ceasefire — a breakthrough that would require opening Gaza’s borders. Some of them also know the best way to keep their citizens safe long term is by ending the occupation altogether. Problem is, not enough of them will admit it.

    U.S. taxpayers also have a stake in this conflict because Washington keeps sending Israel billions of our tax dollars and refuses to push Tel Aviv to stop violating international law.

    For real peace, both of those things must change.

    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

    Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.  Her books include Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A PrimerUnderstanding the U.S.-Iran Crisis: A PrimerEnding the Iraq War: A Primer, and most recently Ending the Us War in Afghanistan: A Primer. If you want to receive her talking points and articles on a regular basis, click here and choose "New Internationalism." You can find her on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/PhyllisBennis



  • The Three False Premises of the Ryan Poverty Plan (TalkPoverty.org)

    Stephen Pimpare at TalkPoverty.org performs a critical analysis of Congressman Paul Ryan’s so-called “poverty plan.”

    You won’t want to miss it:

    So what’s so bad about Paul Ryan’s thinking about poverty?

    First, there’s nothing new in it. He offers block grants, cuts to programs, new work requirements, school vouchers, regulatory repeal, more money to faith-based initiatives, and privatizing social services, presenting us with little more than fresh marketing for tired ideas that — when tried in the past — made people’s lives worse, not better. Even the proposals that might seem promising are badly designed — like his way of expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit.  With the possible exception of his proposals to reduce some mandatory minimum sentences — which advocates of all stripes have been agitating for for decades — it’s old wine in old bottles.  Why should we treat it as newsworthy or innovative?

    There’s a deeper problem with Ryan’s approach beyond the details of his proposal.  The foundation itself is rotten: the project is built upon three fatal, false premises.

    Read the full analysis here at CommonDreams.org



  • NCR: Conservatives Squawk Over Pope’s Tweet on Inequality

    From the National Catholic Reporter:

    Another week, another communications controversy for Pope Francis?

    That’s how it was looking after a three-word tweet from Pope Francis — in Latin — about inequality left some conservatives dazed and confused over Catholic teachings on economics. They were still digesting last week’s news about the pontiff’s call to an Argentine woman that left them wondering whether Rome was going wobbly on the sanctity of marriage.

    The latest dust-up began routinely enough, with a Monday morning post to Francis’ Twitter feed that said: "Iniquitas radix malorum."?

    "Inequality is the root of social evil" is how the English translation ran, and that tracked closely with other language versions.

    Honestly, have these people read the prophet Amos? How about the teachings of Jesus Christ?

    Try Matthew 19:21 -

    Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect,* go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

    Adding that because many of these "conservatives" call themselves Christians.