• Category Archives Ethics
  • Palestine: A Land Forgotten; Isreal: The One Forgetting

    Peace in Palestine!

    Palestine.

    How much thought have you given Palestine recently?

    We live in a country (USA! USA!) where celebrity news trumps news of the suffering in the world. News of the starving in the world. News of those still facing genocide. Still facing abuse. Still lacking basic human rights.

    And we thrive to news of celebrity arrests, as if they matter one damn.

    At all.

    Had lunch with a now old friend, my friend is very young (comparable to my scalp line), but very, very wise.

    And very empathetic.

    My friend just returned from a half-month trip to Israel and Palestine (notice I’m naming them separately, as the two separate states the are, should be, shall be, Insha’Allah.

    God willing, that is.

    I will share with you in this space some of the amazing, alarming, and jaw-dropping things I learned from my friend today.

    Israel, the state (not all Israelis, not all Jews), but Israel is persecuting the Palestinians.

    And this must be stopped.

    Did you know, for example, that Israel controls all water and electricity into Palestinian regions?

    And, did you know, that Israel frequentlly cuts off all water and electricity if one Palestinian “misbehaves?”

    Did you know that it is illegal for an Israeli to enter Palestine? Did you know that, on average, Israel demolishes four Palestinian home a day?

    Did you know that Israel will not do trash pick-up in any region inhabited by Muslims, whether in the Old City, or Palestine?

    Did you know that the Israeli government then uses that reality to refer to the Palestinians as filthy, dirty animals?

    In short, did you know that Israel, to put it mildly, discriminates against the Palestinians, that the officials of the Israeli state refer to all Palestinians as “terrorists.”

    Did you know that, at the Dome of the Rock, Israeli soldiers guard the entrance, allowing only a certain number of Muslims to enter each day to pray?

    And did you know that Palestinians just want to live?

    To own property?

    To build homes (which is illegal now)?

    To be human?

    Thank you to my friend.

    More to follow.

    Insha’Allah.



  • NYTimes: Third-Quarter U.S. Growth at 4.1% Rate in New Estimate. Good News?

    Underemployment BLS June 2013
    Source: BLS

    The economy is improving, and has been for years under President Obama.

    It’s just been sluggish, and there are plenty of people out of work still. There are even more who are underemployed (above graphic is from June 2013). According to Forbes, the "official" underemployment rate does not count discouraged workers who have settled for part-time jobs, or have just given up. These people, properly tracked under what’s called the "U-6" rate, showed underemployment at 14.3% in June 2013.

    So, what exactly are we to infer from the revised estimate, reported today by the New York Times, that third quarter estimates for the economy showed 4.3% growth? The NYTimes reports:

    The United States economy grew at an astonishing 4.1 percent annual rate, the federal government said Friday in its third and final revision of gross domestic product for the third quarter.

    The rate was the fastest in almost two years.

    The Commerce Department said business spending was stronger than it originally thought, leading to the revision up from 3.6 percent. Economists had expected the final estimate of growth to be unchanged from that 3.6 percent.

    According to the Times, the growth rate for quarter two was 2.5%.

    So, this is good news, right?

    Not so certain, given the underemployment rate and other factors. Those of us in the middle and lower are making less, therefore spending less.

    Consider the rise in companies buying back their own shares of stock, to the tune of $211 billion.

    Enter Robert Reich from December 17, via Facebook (emphasis added):

    A big reason why CEOs are about to rake in big year-end bonuses even though their sales are lousy (after all, America’s vast middle class and poor aren’t earning enough to buy much) is CEOs been using their companies’ cash, plus whatever they can borrow at rock-bottom interest rates engineered by the Fed, to buy back their own shares of stock. This maneuver raises the price of the remaining shares, thereby giving the CEOs – whose pay is tied to share prices – huge rewards. This year, the 30 companies listed on the Dow Jones industrial average authorized $211 billion in buybacks, lifting the Dow (and CEO pay) to record heights.

    This $211 billion could have gone instead to American workers in the form of higher wages – which would have come back to companies in the form of higher sales. McDonald’s, for example, spent $6 billion on share repurchases and dividends last year, the equivalent of $14,286 per restaurant worker employed by the company.

    It’s a vicious cycle as long as CEO incentives are directed toward raising share prices rather than sales, and as long as the economy is organized around the stock market rather than good jobs.

    Since many of our pensions were shifted to the stock market via crapshoot 401Ks, we have learned that the stock market is not a safe environment for our retirement funds to exist. Know anyone who was unable to retire because his or her 401K lost half its value or more — just when that person was planning to exit the work force?

    I do. Too many, in fact.

    So, yes, a 4.1% growth in the economy is good news. However, as long as the corporations are defining growth based on the stock market as opposed to job growth, most of us in America will have to wait — and work — for a paradigm shift in the outlooks of corporations.

    Or, we will have to fight for it, just like we did in the early 20th century.

    Let’s begin by organizing the Service Industry.

    More on that to come.



  • Get Rid of Corporate Rule! Direct TV Parody Compilation

    Get rid of corporate rule!

    The full campaign spoofing the Direct TV commercials, produced by Acronym TV for Move To Amend. All six spots, each about 30 seconds, are included here in this single video. 

    Written by Lee Camp and Dennis Trainor, Jr, and Directed by Trainor, these spots aim to hijack a popular meme to shine a seriously unserious light on the issues of corporate personhood and money as free speech. 

    Move to Amend is a coalition of hundreds of organizations and tens of thousands of individuals committed to social and economic justice, ending corporate rule, and building a vibrant democracy that is genuinely accountable to the people, not corporate interests.

    We are calling for an amendment to the US Constitution to unequivocally state that inalienable rights belong to human beings only, and that money is not a form of protected free speech under the First Amendment and can be regulated in political campaigns.

    Over 300,00 people have signed the Move To Amend statement that states:
    We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and other related cases, and move to amend our Constitution to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights. 

    Links to each video as a stand-alone piece are below. We encourage you to share these far and wide.

    Move To Amend, Direct TV Parody Campaign:
    Don’t Be A Naked Hulk http://bit.ly/1eMqmeQ
    Don’t Do Interpretive Street Corner Dance http://bit.ly/IKi65g
    Don’t Miss The Supermodel Love Letter http://bit.ly/19fbNwm
    Don’t Get Ducked Taped To A Chair In The Yardhttp://bit.ly/1g3IG7b
    Don’t Do Cats http://bit.ly/1bdJL8P
    Don’t Be A Loser With No One At Your Birthdayhttp://bit.ly/18YCOI2

    Move To Amend’s Direct TV Parody Compilation
    Written by Lee Camp and Dennis Trainor, Jr
    Directed by Dennis Trainor, Jr.
    Editing, graphics, keying and color correction by AJ Russo
    Associate Producer Christopher Webb
    Costumes Lara de Bruijn

    Corporate personhood, Supreme court, Super Bowl Ad, Super Bowl parody ad, Super Bowl spoof commercial, Douche waffle, Douche Waffles, Money free speech, corporations are not people, corporate personhood, Lee camp, Dennis Trainor Jr, Acronym TV, parody, satire, comedy, spoof, Direct TV, Move To Amend, Amend the constitution, Legalize Democracy, End Corporate Rule.



  • Obama Continues to Kick Ass as POTUS: U.S. Says Navy SEAL Team Captures Shabab Leader in Somalia

    From the NYTimes:

    A Navy SEAL team targeted a senior leader of the Shabab militant group in a raid on his seaside villa in the Somali town of Baraawe on Saturday, American officials said, in response to a deadly attack on a Nairobi shopping mall for which the group had claimed responsibility.

    The SEAL team stealthily approached the beachfront house by sea, firing on the unidentified target in a predawn gunbattle that was the most significant raid by American troops on Somali soil since commandos killed Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a Qaeda mastermind, near the same town four years ago.

    The Shabab leader was believed to have been killed in the firefight, but the SEALS were forced to withdraw before that could be confirmed, a senior American official said. Such operations by American forces are rare because they carry a high risk, and indicate that the target was considered a high priority. Baraawe, a small port town south of Mogadishu, the Somali capital, is known as a gathering place for the Shabab’s foreign fighters.

    Read more here.



  • Quash the Teabaggers! Reclaim America!

    The following is from Congresswoman Robin Kelly:

    This morning at 12:01am, Congressional Republicans shut down the government.

    Millions of Americans are going to suffer — seniors, veterans, students, businesses, and workers — while those responsible for the shutdown get paid.

    Democrats in Congress need to hear that the public is on their side in this fight and we need them to stand strong.

    Click here to call Rep. Robin Kelly and tell her to stand strong against Tea Party demands.

    This shutdown will end in one of two ways:

    1. Democrats will cave and cut vital programs like Social Security or
    2. Republicans will cave to immense public pressure. 

    Flooding Democrats’ offices with phone calls will make sure it’s not option 1. We’re also running online ads targeting Republican Speaker John Boehner to make sure he feels extra pressure back home. 

    Can you call Rep. Kelly and tell her that the American people need Democrats to stand strong? Click here.

    Thanks for being a bold progressive. 

    From Turning Left:

    Thank you, thank you all, for being bold progressives!

    Stay true, and reclaim America from the Tea Baggers!



  • Oak Park Plays Annual Shell Game with Property Taxes

    Here’s the “big news” from Oak Park:

    Orland Park trustees on Monday night approved rebating a portion of the village’s property tax paid by homeowners this year.

    A total of $2.2 million is being earmarked for the program, with applications being accepted this fall. Postcards with application instructions will go out in late October or early November.

    Read more here

    Okay, here’s my problem with this.

    Rebating $2.2 million means that Oak Park levied $2.2 million too much.

    OR, let’s assume for the moment that they were levying exactly what they thought they would need, even on a conservative estimate.

    Why? why?

    Why not use the current $2.2 million surplus to “buy down” the levy for next year, so Oak Park residents don’t have to pay so much out-of-pocket, and then wait so long for this so-called “rebate?”

    That’s what Park Forest, and other wise municipalities, do, year after year after year after year.

    Sending a “tax rebate” and then levying more than you need, so that you can send a “tax rebate,” well, that’s just bad politics and a dishonest shell game.

    If you aske me.



  • I Don’t Trust the Government with All This

    Wow.

    This has been going on for quite some time.

    I don’t trust the government with all this.

    Not. At. All.

    From the New York Times:

    The National Security Agency is winning its long-running secret war on encryption, using supercomputers, technical trickery, court orders and behind-the-scenes persuasion to undermine the major tools protecting the privacy of everyday communications in the Internet age, according to newly disclosed documents.

    The agency has circumvented or cracked much of the encryption, or digital scrambling, that guards global commerce and banking systems, protects sensitive data like trade secrets and medical records, and automatically secures the e-mails, Web searches, Internet chats and phone calls of Americans and others around the world, the documents show.

    Read more here.



  • Suffer the Soccer Children: Crestwood Mayor Lou Presta is a Real Piece of Work

    Village of Crestwood
    First the water, now the vindictive mayor.

    It wasn’t too long ago we were all saying, "If you go to Crestwood, don’t drink the water."

    Now?

    "If you go to Crestwood, beware the mayor."

    Especially if you play soccer.

    Play soccer in a league that has been in existence for more than 40 years.

    A league that is its own not-for-profit (NPF).

    Do you get that?

    An independent corporation.

    In existence for more than 40 years.

    Feel so, so very sorry for this Illinois village, stuck with a mayor hell-bent on stepping on children for political gain, clawing his way to the headlines, making a name for himself as a perpetrator of political vendetta.

    The mayor wants to see the books.

    The mayor wants a cut of the pie.

    The mayor has a political vendetta.

    Suffer the children.

    Here’s some background from Phil Kadner’s recent contribution to the Southtown Star, Kadner: Mayor picks fight with soccer club.

    I like and enjoy reading Phil Kadner. Please make a point of reading him.

    Ahem. Yes. The background, from Phil Kadner:

    At issue are the soccer fields just south of 138th Street and Lavergne Avenue, which are on ComEd land overlooked by high-tension towers.

    According to soccer club board members, 32 years ago former Mayor Chester Stranczek agreed to let the club use the property rent-free after the village signed an agreement with the utility company for use of its easement.

    Volunteers with the soccer club leveled the land by hand, raised money to construct a $22,000 fence and gate, more money to buy soccer goals and an additional $13,000 to build a garage to house equipment.

    The village cuts the grass on the field. But, for 20 years, the field has been in use by the not-for-profit Crestwood Soccer Club, composed of "more than 500 children signed up for its fall season; about 70 percent Crestwood residents and the rest from the surrounding suburbs," according to Kadner.

    Seventy percent is an amazing figure for a club, and political suicide for anyone to mess with. Especially a 20-year agreement.

    But why should that stop Lou Presta?

    There are 40 recreation teams and five travel teams in the club.

    That’s amazing.

    So why, pray tell, is the mayor, Louis Presta, messing with this fine organization, and the 500+ children (70% from Crestwood) who are members?

    First, Crestwood Trustee John Toscas is president of the not-for-profit (NFP) Soccer Club.

    And Toscas, it appears, is not a strong-enough supporter of the mayor.

    The proposed solution?

    Again, from Phil Kadner:

    A proposed village ordinance would create a new seven-member parks commission appointed by the mayor, and create a new position of director of parks and recreation.

    Presta told me the position would be filled by a current village employee at no increase in salary.

    But the ordinance says compensation for the director “shall be established by the board of trustees annually.”

    Get this straight.

    Crestwood does not own the land. ComEd owns the land. Kids play under high tension wires. ComEd leases the land to Crestwood.

    Now Presta wants to call that land a park.

    A village park.

    Even though Crestwood does not own the land.

    And there’s more, and it’s about money:

    Not only that, Presta indicated he wants the soccer club to share the money it raises with the rest of the village’s recreational programs.

    “Some recreation programs make money and some don’t,” Presta said. “I believe the money should be spread around so that those that make money can help support those that don’t to provide opportunities to everyone.

    Of course. So this private corporation must now open its books to the village.

    And pay, pay, pay.

    Because Lou Presta, mayor of Crestwood, is a real piece of work.

    A real, real piece of work.

    Please read Phil Kadner’s entire column here.