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.

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Pakistanis Claims Civilian Deaths in U.S. Drone Strike

Pakistanis Claims Civilian Deaths in U.S. Drone Strike

Conflicting reports have emerged of the toll from Thursday’s drone strike on an Islamic school in Pakistan. Anonymous officials say the dead were five members of the Taliban-linked Haqqani network. But Pakistani opposition leader Imran Khan said the attack killed civilians, including children.

Imran Khan: “Four children have been killed. We will release their names. We will even get the pictures.”

Reporter: “But they were students?”

Imran Khan: “Students, we don’t know as yet. Four children have been killed, and two teachers have been killed in this. And there have been several people wounded badly. We want a clear — a clear pronouncement by the American government that there will not be any more drone attacks in Pakistan.”

Khan has vowed to block NATO supply routes until the U.S. pledges to halt drone attacks. The strike in the district of Hangu was believed to be the first outside of Pakistan’s tribal regions.



Coalition of Concerned African Americans Marches on the White House

Coalition of Concerned African Americans Marches on the White House

A contingent of African Americans concerned about the War on Drugs and Mass Incarceration marched this week on the Obama White House, demanding that attention be paid to the devastation taking place in “Dark Ghettos” across America. Dr. Ron Daniels, Rev. Jesse Jackson and others came together to speak on the issue of mass incarceration and the impact that it’s had on the black community.

Thus far, the Obama Administration has been relatively silent on the incarceration problem. Two years ago, the president pushed forward with the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced the crack-to-powder disparity from 100-to-1 to 18-to-1. But some say that this is not enough. Darrell Padgett, a former inmate who studied law and wrote legal documents requesting his own release, says that many of his friends behind bars aren’t able to benefit from the Fair Sentencing Act, largely because the legal standards are too difficult for them to meet, or they can’t afford the representation necessary to secure their release.

Padgett also speaks candidly about the torture that he and other inmates regularly endure for doing things as simple as learning too much about the law. According to Padgett, when he began studying the law and working on his own case, his legal books went missing and he was sent to solitary confinement.

In the middle of the night, I was awaken by a gang of prison guards. The guards instructed me to get dressed and to back out of the prison cell with my hands behind my back. Immediately, I knew this was a “set-up.” So I inquired. I was informed that I was being placed in solitary confinement because the investigative services of the prison had information that I was planning to murder a prison guard. With allegations of such magnitude, I realized that I could be hidden in solitary confinement for years.

That possibility became real to me after I was placed in a prison cell where a prisoner had been strapped to a concrete slab in the same way that it is alleged that Jesus was nailed to a cross.

America incarcerates more of its citizens than any country in the world. African Americans are disproportionately impacted by the disparity. Incarceration is linked to juvenile delinquency of the children of inmates, the spread of disease, poverty, urban violence and a whole host of issues. The coalition is seeking to confront the matter directly and are asking that President Obama lead the way.