During today’s Fox News Sunday panel, Juan Williams and Chris Wallace had a significant disagreement about the influence of the 99 Percent Movement, with Wallace using his power as moderator to cut Williams off from defending the protesters. When Williams pointed out that Occupy Wall Street makes the Republican presidential candidates look like the “protectors of the super rich,” Wallace suggested the movement can’t be seen “as a plus” anymore because people are “fed up” with the “violence in the streets”:
WILLIAMS: The Republicans, in this time of Occupy Wall Street, are the protectors of the super rich.
WALLACE: I’m not sure if we should talk about Occupy Wall Street as a plus anymore…
WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think we should!
WALLACE: Really? With all the violence in the streets? You really think that most of the American people?
WILLIAMS: You know what? You are getting distracted, and you’re getting distracted by people who are crazy?
WALLACE: I think I’m in touch with what most people are thinking, which is they’re getting fed up with it.
Wallace then prevented Williams from finishing his point that most Americans identify with the problems of economic inequality that the 99 Percent Movement represents. Watch it:
Isolated incidents of violence by fringe elements should not obscure the legitimate and salient messages raised by the 99 Percent Movement about income inequality and corporate money’s influence in politics. Moreover, Wallace’s dismissal of the movement completely ignore the countless instances of unprovoked police violence against protesters, which has been far more prevalent.
Fox has doggedly smeared the Occupy protests, even attempting to connect the movement to a man recently charged with attempting to assassinate President Obama.
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Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain declared Saturday that he would "overturn" the Supreme Court if they legalized same sex marriage.
During a debate at the First Federated Church in Des Moines, Iowa, National Organization for Marriage (NOM) president Brian Brown asked the Republican candidates what they would do if the Supreme Court ruled that that Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) -- a law that bans federal marriage equality -- was unconstitutional.
"If the Perry case or a DOMA case gets to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court were to overturn DOMA or to find a -- quote -- unquote -- constitutional -- a U.S. Constitutional right to same sex marriage, if you were president, what would you do?" Brown asked.
"I would lead the charge to overturn the Supreme Court if they overturned DOMA," Cain insisted. "Whether that was new legislation coming out of the Congress like Rep. [Michele] Bachmann said. The United States Congress is supposed to pass laws so if they did overturn DOMA, that charge, I would lead to reverse that."
What social or psychological dysfunctions led UC-Davis police lieutenant John Pike to brutally assault some sitting, non-threatening protestors with chemical pepper spray?[...]
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Pretending to be poor is a lot of work. That's both because being poor is a lot of work and because, the more distance between a person and poverty, the less their life is organized in a way that accommodates pretending.
Conducting the thought experiment of poverty, or some selected piece of poverty, is a not uncommon way to try to convey, to oneself or to readers or listeners, the appalling reality behind the statistics?like the 46.2 million people living in poverty in the United States in 2010.
There's Barbara Ehrenreich's classic Nickel and Dimed, in which Ehrenreich spent a month living in each of three places, to see if she could make ends meet at the jobs she could get without her graduate degree, professional-writer credentials and employment history. Writing in 2001, the scenario she posed was of a single mother leaving welfare; how would such a woman survive in the labor and housing market? Making the attempt?three times?without children, with her health, and with whatever intangible benefits being middle-class might carry, Ehrenreich worked as a waitress, a hotel housekeeper, a "Merry Maid," a nursing home dietary aide and a Walmart employee. Even without lavish expenditures, she found that there was no way to make ends meet with only one job at a time, but that working two jobs made it harder to manage the commute necessary to get a cheap place to live, or simply that finding two jobs with hours that would never overlap was a struggle.
There's the fantastic online game Spent. Created by the Urban Ministries of Durham, Spent walks you through a month as a low-wage worker, offering you dilemma after dilemma, detailing the realities behind them and not letting you pretend that there are perfect choices. In Spent, you have a kid, and even if you can pretend you could go to work sick, refuse any pleasure, eat ramen noodles?could you say no to sports or a gifted and talented class for your child? Spent makes clear that your answer to each question might have a backlash just a little down the road. And it uses Facebook to integrate the moments when, in real life, you might need to ask a friend for help. Still, when Spent asks you to go grocery shopping, it can be a lot easier to tell yourself that sure, you could live on ramen noodles and beans than it would be to actually live on those things day in and day out.
That's where the food stamp challenge comes in. In the food stamp challenge, you try to do all of your eating?for days or a week or, if you're really crazy, longer?on the average food stamp budget. If it's not enough, there's no fooling yourself. You're hungry, for real, even if food is the only area of your life where you are?temporarily?on a poverty budget. Members of Congress and religious leaders are encouraged to take the food stamp challenge; for lawmakers, it can make clear the stakes of what they are voting on when they vote to add or cut funding from the program.
For Rabbi Steve Gutow:
?All I think about is food and food,? he said, his voice trailing longingly over the phone as he spoke from his apartment in New York City. [...]
People on rigid budgets are limited not only by what they can eat but also by what they can do, Gutow said. ?It feels a bit like you?re imprisoned,? he said. A lot of mental energy is spent thinking about food, when it could be spent on something else, he said. ?You can?t be all you can be.?
Four days into the challenge, Gutow started to feel like he did at the same point during the 2007 challenge: ?dead in the senses.? No one should live like that, he said.
For Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA):
?I thought about food constantly,? she said in a conference call. ?I still yearn for a good cup of coffee. When I would see someone walking around with their coffee cups around the Capitol, I just had this envy.?
Speier said her diet consisted mostly of hard-boiled eggs and tuna. For her last meal, she packed some leftover tuna casserole for her plane ride from Washington to San Francisco.
One of the things the food stamp challenge lays bare is the degree to which it's not just about getting enough food and not just about getting the right nutrients. It's about your most basic assumptions of what a day of food looks like, of what compromises are acceptable to make. Speier posted a YouTube video of another woman preparing to do the food stamp challenge going through the first items in her cart: a red pepper and a yellow one, a head of what looked like red leaf lettuce, tomatoes, a jalapeno pepper a nub of fresh ginger, an avocado, a box of spaghetti. She acknowledges that she doesn't yet have a protein, that she's going to be hungry. Well, yeah.
Here's a woman who is taking on the challenge, and she's starting off the attempt with close to a week's worth of vegetables on my buy-what-you-want, money-is-no-object plan. And not cheap vegetables?red peppers and avocados are not exactly the great deals of the produce section.
I felt competitive, I admit it. And that shamed me, because, well, what a damn thing to be competitive over, and because here's a woman whose attempt at a cheap diet looks a lot like the level of vegetable-eating I am proud to have achieved in adulthood, and she's trying something I've never given any real thought to doing myself.
The truth is I'm not sure what I really think about the utility of doing this. I mean, Nickel and Dimed and Spent are important challenges to anyone who thinks poverty is easy and they could succeed without any difficult tradeoffs. I think if you're a member of Congress and you find yourself tempted to vote to cut nutritional assistance, you should be required to spend a week eating on the budget you're proposing to cut. But the people who need to do these things never do, and does it make a difference if the people who already believe benefits should be higher, the safety net should be stronger, and the economy should work for working people live on a food stamp budget and confirm that yes, it sucks, and no, no one should have to live that way? I'm honestly torn. But as punishment for my flash of stupid, arrogant competitiveness, I decided to give it a shot. That story comes next week.
?? We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the[...]
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"What is this?" the young Safeway cashier asked me as he pulled an item off the conveyor belt, held it up to eye level, and examined it carefully.
"It's an organic red pepper," I said. "The regular red peppers looked like frankenfood."
"I know, those things are huge!" he replied. "I was just surprised to see a normal-looking red pepper."
How awful did the regular red peppers look? So giant and sickly that I'd already snapped a cell phone picture of them:
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Just a random post on the one week anniversary of Katie Roiphe’s NYT essay on sexual harassment. Thank you, Katie, I got more hits refuting you than on any single thing I’ve ever written. Send me more.
I want to take a stand in defense of good humor and fun at work. It’s great to be part of a crew when you’re all pulling in the same direction. Letting bullies pick on a few people who are low on the totem pole is divisive and not fun.
A friend told me about her office and what they did to a guy I’ll call Bob. When Bob went on vacation, his co-workers taped down his stapler and everything else on his desk with double-stick, even the pens. The next time Bob went on vacation they made little paper rings, so all his office supplies appeared to be levitating.
This is creative. If you must harass, avoid cliches and think up something original.
Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy This story puts the 1% in perspective, but also how dangerous the national Occupy movement is seen to be to insiders and establishment players. The plans by a connected lobbying[...]
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When the Census Bureau this month released a new measure of poverty, meant to better count disposable income, it began altering the portrait of national need. Perhaps the most startling differences between the old measure and the new involves data the government has not yet published, showing 51 million people with incomes less than 50 percent above the poverty line. That number of Americans is 76 percent higher than the official account, published in September. All told, that places 100 million people ? one in three Americans ? either in poverty or in the fretful zone just above it.
After a lost decade of flat wages and the worst downturn since the Great Depression, the findings can be thought of as putting numbers to the bleak national mood ? quantifying the expressions of unease erupting in protests and political swings. They convey levels of economic stress sharply felt but until now hard to measure.
The Census Bureau, which published the poverty data two weeks ago, produced the analysis of those with somewhat higher income at the request of The New York Times. The size of the near-poor population took even the bureau?s number crunchers by surprise.
?These numbers are higher than we anticipated,? said Trudi J. Renwick, the bureau?s chief poverty statistician. ?There are more people struggling than the official numbers show.?
Outside the bureau, skeptics of the new measure warned that the phrase ?near poor? ? a common term, but not one the government officially uses ? may suggest more hardship than most families in this income level experience. A family of four can fall into this range, adjusted for regional living costs, with an income of up to $25,500 in rural North Dakota or $51,000 in Silicon Valley.
But most economists called the new measure better than the old, and many said the findings, while disturbing, comported with what was previously known about stagnant wages.
?It?s very consistent with everything we?ve been hearing in the last few years about families? struggle, earnings not keeping up for the bottom half,? said Sheila Zedlewski, a researcher at the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan economic and social research group.
JR: In one District west of Fort Worth, “the share of groundwater used by frackers was 40% in the first half of 2011, up from 25% in 2010.”
In case anyone missed it, Texas had a big drought last summer — the worst one year drought in the state?s history [see "Worst Texas Drought in Centuries]. Lakes dried, animals were slaughtered, cities imposed lawn watering restrictions, the governor prayed for rain. About the only part of the state unaffected were the wind turbines of West Texas, spinning merrily along and oblivious to near-apocalyptic conditions.
Droughts end, and places recover. Unless they don?t.
Talk has been circulating among the doom-and-gloom sector of the Left of Texas as a failed state. It?s easy to dismiss as a tit-for-tat, revenge for Texas? talk of secession. Until one looks hard at the water.
The state?s water shortage is structural, warns the Texas Water Development Board. Currently the state needs 18 million acre-feet of water, and it has 17 million acre-feet available to it. Aquifers deplete. Population grows. By 2060, the state is expected to need 22 million acre-feet but only have 15.3 million acre-feet available to it. Because some dry places simply can?t have water piped, the total shortfall is projected to be 8.3 million acre-feet. Roughly, the state will have 2 gallons of water available to it for every 3 gallons it needs.
Houston, we have a problem.
Currently, 18 cities are high priority -they?ll either run out of water within 6 months unless the rains come, or they don?t know how much water they have. Texas’ water supply for the future is uncertain, and the health of Galveston Bay, home of the state?s most commercially productive estuary, is in jeopardy. Last week, voters approved one of two water-related measures on the ballot – a water bond to build dams, but that?s no short term solution for a state whose wildfire ?season? is now over one year old.In the meantime, the state is blithely planning multiple power projects to meet projected population growth – 9 coal plants in planning stages will be added to the 19 -20 coal-fired power plants already in the state.
Most electricity power plants require large amounts of water. How large? Short answer: a lot, but no one knows. Medium answer: thirsty power plants threaten watersheds, and Texas’ coal plants are among the nation’s thirstiest.
Coal-fired plants alone account for 67 percent of freshwater withdrawals by the power sector and for 65 percent of the water completely consumed by it, the report said. Newer plants include air-cooling or ?dry cooling? technologies, but so many plants rely on water-cooling that they accounted for 41 percent of the withdrawals of freshwater in the United States in 2005, according to the United States Geological Survey.
In more detail, a Union of Concerned Scientists report on freshwater use by power sources begins by noting the impact on drought-stricken Texas:
As of late summer 2011, Texas had suffered the driest 10 months since record keeping began in 1895 (LCRA 2011). Some rivers, such as the Brazos, actually dried up (ClimateWatch 2011). The dry weather came with brutal heat: seven cities recorded at least 80 days above 100°F (Dolce and Erdman 2011). With air conditioners straining to keep up, the state?s demand for electricity shattered records as well, topping 68,000 megawatts in early August (ERCOT 2011).An energy-water collision wasn?t far behind. One plant had to curtail nighttime operations because the drought had reduced the amount of cool water available to bring down the temperature of water discharged from the plant (O?Grady 2011; Sounder 2011). In East Texas, other plant owners had to bring in water from other rivers so they could continue to operate and meet demand for electricity. If the drought were to persist into the following year, operators of the electricity grid warned, power cuts on the scale of thousands of megawatts are possible (O?Grady 2011).
State planners have begun to notice the water-intensive nature of coal plants. The White Stallion coal plant, near Bay City south of Houston, planned to take water from an estuary rich in oyster and shrimp nurseries. Even after promising to switch to a less water-intensive dry-cooling plan, the project has been opposed by farmers who don?t have water to sell. This week, the Lower Colorado River Authority rejected a water contract that would have given White Stallion a 25,000 acre-feet/year water permit. Citizens of Sweetwater in west Texas were outraged upon hearing that the city was secretly negotiating sale of water rights for a so-called clean coal project.
Texas will stay thirsty [see State Climatologist: ?It?s Likely Much of Texas Will Still Be in Severe Drought? Next August, With Worse Water Shortages].
A structural water shortage is a permanent water shortage that can only be solved by a drastic change — less agriculture, less people, more water from somewhere else (dams? desalination? Oklahoma?). More coal plants sucking more water from rivers and estuaries is not part of a sane water policy. Some alternatives to coal-fired electricity are just as water-intensive.
Natural gas power plants are frugal users of water, but extraction of natural gas through fracking uses billions of gallons of water. Fortunately, one electricity source uses virtually no water and is plentiful throughout west Texas.
? RL Miller is an attorney and environment blogger with Climate Hawks. This piece was originally published at Daily Kos and was reprinted with permission by the author.
JR: Fracking does use a staggering amount of water. Here are two recent stories:
Fracking, which employs high-pressure jets of water to fracture rock and release natural gas, accounts for a fast-growing share of water use in some of the driest parts of Texas. Though the overall affect of fracking on reservoirs and rivers in Fort Worth’s Barnett Shale zone is dwarfed by agriculture and homeowners, its local impacts can be severe. For example, in the Upper Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (UTGCD) west of Fort Worth, the share of groundwater used by frackers was 40 percent in the first half of 2011, up from 25 percent in 2010.
“Obviously, that’s a pretty heavy draw on an aquifer when we’re in the midst of a drought,” says Bob Patterson, UTGCD’s general manager. In his water district, 40 to 50 wells have run dry and many municipalities have declared stage two or stage three drought conditions, which involve severe restrictions on residential outdoor water use. But natural gas drillers can still pump as much water from the district as they want….
Critics of fracking claim the industry actually uses far more water than it lets on. Because water used in the fracking process becomes contaminated with hydrocarbons and other toxins, frackers typically sequester it deep underground, removing that wastewater permanently from the hydrologic cycle. Unlike the water used for irrigation or daily living, it doesn’t reenter rivers, aquifers, or the atmosphere. “Fracking water is typically not recycled,” says Paul Hudak, a hydrologist with the University of North Texas. “It’s not really economical.”