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Archive for September 2010

Income Gap More Like an Abyss

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Evidently most Americans- including the quite wealthy and the working poor-  consider themselves “middle class”

Income Gap More Like an Abyss    www.ourfuture.org

Income gap widest on record. AP: “The top-earning 20 percent of Americans – those making more than $100,000 each year – received 49.4 percent of all income generated in the U.S., compared with the 3.4 percent earned by those below the poverty line, according to newly released census figures. That ratio of 14.5-to-1 was an increase from 13.6 in 2008 and nearly double a low of 7.69 in 1968.”

Off The Charts’ Chuck Marr puts the income gap in even starker terms: “This great income shift means the average middle-income American family had about $9,000 less after-tax income in 2007, and an average household in the top 1 percent had $741,000 more, than they would have had if the 1979 income distribution had remained … Each year the average millionaire gets about $125,000 from the Bush tax cuts, according to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. Now seems to be a good time to say enough is enough.”

Slate’s Timothy Noah explains why the public is not more upset about the income gap: “Why aren’t the bottom 99 percent marching in the street? One possible answer is sheer ignorance … Americans’ ignorance about wealth (and, probably, income) distribution is encouraging in the sense that it offers hope that most voters might opt for government policies more conducive to equality if only they knew how unequal things were … the United States may possess a shrinking middle class, but the number of its citizens who consider themselves middle class (because they can’t face that they’re rich) may actually be growing.”

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Written by laudyms

September 28, 2010 at 9:29 am

Covert spying on Americans becomes overt intimidation

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(from a larger article The Latest on the Police State Front at Sibel Edmond’s Blog )

FBI Files on Investigations of Iowa City Peace Activists Made Public

David Goodner, a former member of the University of Iowa’s Antiwar Committee, submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for files associated with an FBI surveillance of groups in Iowa City prior to the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn. What he discovered was the investigation was far more extensive than previously known. Now, Goodner has turned over the files he received from the FBI exclusively to The Iowa Independent for publication.

As the documents show, the investigation into activities of peace groups in Iowa City involved staking out homes, secretly photographing and video taping members, digging through garbage and even planting a mole to spy on the peace activists up close.  Known as the Wild Rose Rebellion, the protesters were described by the FBI as an “anarchist collective.” In an interview with The Des Moines Register, the FBI defended its actions.

Weysan Dun, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Omaha field office, which oversees Iowa and Nebraska, said in a statement that every investigative technique that was employed was authorized under guidelines established by the U.S. attorney general “and was deemed necessary to resolve the allegations.” …

Dun said the Iowa City investigation was warranted because of allegations that certain people were possibly going to engage in criminal activities to disrupt the national conventions of one or both major political parties.

The group’s plans were to help organize nonviolent acts of civil disobedience, such as street blockades, at the 2008 RNC convention. In an interview Monday with progressive radio host Ed Fallon, Goodner said the FBI investigation didn’t make sense.

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And here is the second related article:

Midlands FBI spying under scrutiny

In August 2003, two FBI agents watched over an Omaha rally organized by peace activist Frank Cordaro, a former Catholic priest.The agents observed no criminal activity at the rally but still sent notes on those in attendance to local military and law enforcement officials so they could plan security measures for a conference on U.S. nuclear policy at Offutt Air Force Base, according to a Justice Department report.

Also, FBI files reveal that agents, working under the direction of the bureau’s Omaha field office, secretly monitored the activities of Iowa City protest groups before the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.

“I learned early in my peace and justice career to assume the government knows what’s going on,” said Cordaro, who has spent a total of about five years in jail for trespassing on Offutt property. When the FBI was monitoring him, Cordaro was planning a protest against nuclear weapons at the Offutt conference.

Now the FBI, including its Omaha office, is under intense scrutiny for investigations that revive memories of the bureau’s Vietnam-era intrigue.

Unsealed agency documents and a report from the Justice Department detail the FBI’s broad investigations of protest groups in Nebraska, Iowa and other parts of the country based on its authority to look into allegations and threats of domestic and international terrorism.

“In several cases there was little indication of any possible federal crimes,” Inspector General Glenn A. Fine said in his report, which detailed similar investigations the agency conducted around the country. “In some cases, the FBI classified some investigations relating to nonviolent civil disobedience under its ‘Acts of Terrorism’ classification.”

A domestic terrorism designation can have a large impact, the inspector general said, because people who are subjects of such probes are normally placed on watch lists and their travels and interactions with law enforcement may be tracked.

The FBI investigated whether the Iowa activists were part of a national network of radicals who wanted to disrupt the GOP convention in Minnesota and the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. The records show that the investigation lasted from roughly March to December in 2008.

During that time, authorities went through activists’ garbage and their cell phone and motor vehicle records.

Okay, you can read the rest here.

And finally, here is a hard-hitting recent news article for those who don’t consider the two above alarm-worthy:

FBI Raids: An End to ‘Covert’ Spying on Antiwar Groups?

Earlier this week the Justice Department revealed that the FBI had been using false claims of “counter-terror” operations to justify covert spying operations against antiwar groups in Pittsburgh and elsewhere across the country. As officials downplayed the report the matter seemed to be just another in a growing list of Bush era abuses of power, about which little is ever said.

Then this morning FBI agents and SWAT teams started kicking doors in across Minneapolis, across Chicago, across the rest of America. The target: antiwar activists of various stripes, but particularly those likely to be involved in antiwar protests at the next Democratic National Convention.

It seems the era of “covert” FBI spying has come to an end, and not in the good way like you’d hope. Rather it seems to have moved with surprising alacrity from behind the shadows and become an overt program of intimidation and surveillance of what is left of America’s antiwar movement. Read more ?

Two Party Charade Threatens Liberty

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Will Liberty Continue To Have A Home In America?

I found this article above which is freely sprinkled with Christian references at another site. Even so, the author Chuck Baldwin seems more concerned about liberty than dogmatism and at another part of his site clearly distinguishes Neocons as “hiding amongst our supposedly conservative politicians.”  In the Liberty piece he writes: “I think it is safe to say that many Americans today are not only unwilling to fight for their own liberty (and I am not talking about fighting unconstitutional, unprovoked wars in the Middle East), they do not even seem to be able to discern what true liberty is.”

Extreme pro-life attitudes aside, it is very interesting that “fringe” parties agree on reasonable policies while the so-called mainstream parties conversely agree on perpetual war, corporate domination, and perks for the few.  The Dems are just the wimpy wing of the GOP.

From the Wikipedia article about him http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuck_Baldwin :

On September 10 [2008], [Ron] Paul held a National Press Club conference at which [Constitution Party candidate] Baldwin , Green Party nominee Cynthia McKinney, and independent candidate Ralph Nader all agreed on four principles—quickly ending the Iraq war, protecting privacy and civil liberties, stopping increases in the national debt, and investigating the Federal Reserve—and on their opposition to the Democratic and Republican parties ignoring these issues.[36]

Now that corporate contributions to electioneering are unlimited and non-transparent, politics will only get more ridiculous. It’s time to forge an alliance between freedom lovers and produce a real choice instead of this tedious (and dangerous) two-party charade which offers no choice at all.