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Cutting unemployment is NOT the answer by: Thom Hartmann on 30. December 2013

Cutting unemployment is NOT the answer by: Thom Hartmann on 30. December 2013

One point three million people have lost their unemployment benefits. Americans who have been out of work for six months or longer are suddenly without the vital lifeline that kept them from ending up homeless and hungry. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that extending these benefits will be a priority when Congress returns on January 6th, but some Republicans are already indicating they may try to block an extension.

If those on the Right keep long-term unemployment from being reauthorized, another 850,000 Americans will find themselves without financial support within the next three months. The current unemployment cuts alone may cost our economy as much as 0.4 percent of our GDP, and that number will only get larger as more Americans loose their financial assistance. And, these cuts won’t save taxpayers any money, as our government will have to dramatically increase spending on programs like food stamps and housing assistance as more people have no where else to turn. If Congress doesn’t act fast, more Americans will soon find themselves without any income, and many could wind up on the street.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, without this meager financial assistance, out-of-work Americans will no longer be able to contribute anything to their local economies. That, in turn, can pose a serious risk to our modest economic recovery. Allowing unemployment benefits to expire isn’t just immoral and un-American, it’s also a bad idea for our nation as a whole. We shouldn’t be imposing more austerity – we should be investing in our nation. And, our government should step in as the employer of last resort. If Republicans really want to lower spending on unemployment benefits – the answer is not slashing aid – it’s helping out-of-work Americans find a job.

– See more at: http://www.thomhartmann.com/blog/2013/12/cutting-unemployment-not-answer#sthash.U1YYbiu8.dpuf

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Gil Scott Heron – Blue Collar

An activist, musician and poet.

Gil Scott-Heron (born April 1, 1949) is an American poet, musician, and author known primarily for his late 1960s and early 1970s work as a spoken word soul performer and his collaborative work with musician Brian Jackson. His collaborative efforts with Jackson featured a musical fusion of jazz, blues and soul music, as well as lyrical content concerning social and political issues of the time, delivered in both rapping and melismatic vocal styles by Scott-Heron. The music of these albums, most notably Pieces of a Man and Winter in America in the early 1970s, influenced and helped engender later African-American music genres such as hip hop and neo soul. Scott-Heron’s recording work is often associated with black militant activism and has received much critical acclaim for one of his most well-known compositions “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”. On his influence, Allmusic wrote “Scott-Heron’s unique proto-rap style influenced a generation of hip-hop artists”.

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Animal Cruelty should be punished to those Guilty

Animal Cruelty should be punished to those Guilty

As several major retailers temporarily ban the sale of Angora products in the wake of an undercover video showing alleged animal abuse at Angora farms in China, major clothing retailers Gap Inc. and Zara are holding out.

Update (Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013 at 10:46 a.m.): Inditex, which owns Zara, released a statement on its website saying it will stop placing orders for Angora fur until it can be verified that its farms are in compliance with company requirements.

Update (Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013 at 12:30 p.m.): Gap Inc. announced via Twitter on Wednesday that it will suspend orders of Angora while it “investigat[es] further.”

Previously reported:
Angora fur, valued for being lightweight, warm and silky to the touch, is plucked or shorn from Angora rabbits about once every three months. The fur can be used to make clothing items like sweaters, scarves and ear muffs. China is responsible for most of the world’s Angora production.

In recent weeks, brands including H&M, Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger made the decision to suspend Angora fur production while they ensure it’s done humanely. H&M even took the step of offering to fully refund customers the cost of Angora products they had already purchased, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Executives at H&M and PVH Corp., which owns Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, made their decisions after watching an investigative video (below) supposedly filmed at Angora fur farms in China. The footage @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtAFHyXS31M
which shows rabbits screaming while their hair is torn out by workers, was filmed covertly by animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals at nine unidentified farms in China between June and September. The group then met with H&M and PVH execs to show them the video, PETA spokesperson Shakira Croce told The Huffington Post via email.

It was unclear as of Monday evening whether Gap or Zara execs had seen PETA’s video. Neither company responded to The Huffington Post’s requests for comments about the video and the companies’ Angora products.

Source:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/16/angora-fur-video-gap-zara-peta-rabbits_n_4455100.html

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No Privacy in the Land of the “Free”

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

Edward Snowden is vilified as a “traitor” by politicians of the American political duopoly, and hunted like Public Enemy Number One by the global imperial apparatus. However, for a large proportion of Earthlings, Snowden has made the singular contribution to humanity of the year 2013.

The power of the National Security Agency (NSA) has grown by leaps and bounds ever since the terror attacks which took place on September 11, 2001. The Bush administration wasted no time in dismantling civil liberties and expanding government power through the Patriot Act. Every step he took was supported by both Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress and voices of dissent were too few and far between. Barack Obama made certain to not only keep those powers but to expand them beyond anything that Bush and Dick Cheney had imagined.

”The Obama administration did everything in its power to silence Snowden.”

Not only were individuals targeted but foreign governments as well. Even countries that are America’s allies like Brazil, France and Germany were under the spies’ microscope. The NSA wasn’t content to just spy randomly either. German chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone calls were monitored by the American government. Needless to say this revelation proved problematic for the president. He and Merkel had a heated discussion in which she compared the NSA to the infamous Stasi apparatus in her East German homeland. That moment was surely awkward.

In recent days federal judge Richard J. Leon dealt a bit of a setback to the Obama administration. In a 68-page decision the judge held that the National Security Agency (NSA) policy of keeping metadata on the phone records of every American was “likely” unconstitutional. The judge also stayed his own injunction and gave the government an opportunity to appeal but this decision is pivotal and vindicates Snowden completely.

Ironically it was a conservative activist, Larry Klayman, whose suit was heard by judge Leon. Klayman argues that Obama is not an American citizen among other fringe right wing theories. He has long been a gadfly to Democratic presidents but his standing on the political spectrum shouldn’t be an issue. If Melissa Harris-Perry, Joy Anne Reid and their MSNBC colleagues were as progressive as they claim, they would have brought a suit against the president. Of course that kind of activism and careers in corporate media don’t mix.

Edward Snowden succeeded where Chelsea Manning failed. Manning was caught and has succeeded only because the harsh treatment meted out against him shows the depravity of our government. Snowden has beaten the Bush/Obama administration at its own game and in so doing has given people another reason to be hopeful. That impact alone makes him the Person of the Year.

Source:
http://www.blackagendareport.com/content/freedom-rider-edward-snowden-person-year