Teaparty Freaking Out In Orlando This Weekend

Americans for Prosperity, a group founded by the Koch brothers, met in Florida to hear some super-serious thoughts from presidential contenders Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, along with Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry and Rick Scott. No, the discussion was not about the situation in Syria. Don’t be silly.
The topic is their war on Obamacare, because that’s their top priority. Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips began the meeting saying, “Well, good afternoon, fellow freedom fighters.”
That welcome was met with applause from Republicans, all of whom have no new ideas to offer. Wash, rinse, repeat. They gathered to discuss their strategy, but the only thing missing was a strategy.
NPR reports:
While many Americans take time off this weekend, a group of conservative activists are meeting in Florida. Americans for Prosperity, a group that was founded by David and Charles Koch, is holding its annual summit in Orlando. That gathering includes several rising stars among conservatives – Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Texas Senator Ted Cruz. But in terms of issues, NPR’s Greg Allen reports, one seems to stand above all – stopping Obamacare.
In a sickening display each Republican weighed in on deregulation, school voucher programs, Obamacare, but nothing was mentioned about Syria. Nothing was mentioned about what to replace Obamacare with.

Confused Climate denier Ron Johnson denies denying climate change, then denies it

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis) 
An ad campaign targeting climate-denying politicians appears to be having something of an effect. 

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis)  who is under fire, said this: 

“I don’t have a belief one way or the other,” he told the crowd of some 300 Rotarians. “I’m willing to accept the science. I’m willing to accept the facts. What I’m not willing to accept is that until we know conclusively what’s doing it and if any action we take would have any kind of measurable impact, I don’t think we should be spending trillions of dollars unilaterally.” 

The Grist reports: 

"Here’s the thing: If you “don’t have a belief” that humans are changing the climate, then you are a climate denier." 

More here: 


Cornel West calls Al Sharpton ‘the bonafide house negro of the Obama plantation

Dr. Cornel West called Al Sharpton "Obama's house negro." At times I think West says things simply for the shock effect. This is another one of those times. 

"Dr. Cornel West ripped Wednesday’s 50th anniversary commemoration of the March on Washington in his radio show with Tavis Smiley on Friday, lamenting that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. himself would have been rolling in his grave seeing how his “I Have A Dream” speech was honored. 

“You not only got a tame Martin Luther King Jr., but there was a real sense in which who he really was at the end of his life hardly surfaced at all,” West told Smiley. “And we saw, of course, the coronation of the bonafide house negro of the Barack Obama plantation, our dear brother Al Sharpton.” 


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Cornel West calls Al Sharpton ‘the bonafide house negro of the Obama plantation’

Taking Obamacare Obstruction To The Next Level

Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have started a probe — “probe” — of the entities tapped to help enroll people in Obamacare at the local level. And it’s now got Democrats hopping mad.
The leading Democrat on the committee, Henry Waxman, is accusing the Republicans of intimidation and obstruction. But even HHS, which is usually reserved, is criticizing the move as “a blatant and shameful attempt to intimidate groups who will be working to inform Americans about their new health insurance options and help them enroll in coverage, just like Medicare counselors have been doing for years.”
Sahil Kapur reports.

No Insurance Rate Increase

No Rate Increase, Rand Predicts

Contradicting Florida's Office of Insurance Regulation, a study from the RAND Corporation reports that the Affordable Care Act is unlikely to cause a hike in premiums for the individual market in this state or nationally.

The RAND study findings stand in stark contrast to the widely publicized predictions of Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty. On July 30, the Palm Beach Post published a prediction from McCarty that customers in the individual market would see rate increases of 30 to 40 percent for next year. Newspapers across the state picked up the refrain.

McCarty at the time said the premiums would shoot up because insurance carriers will no longer be able to screen out customers who have health risks. The forecast applied only to 5 percent or so of Floridians who bought their own policies, rather than getting them through their workplace or some other source.

But researchers from the well-known, non-partisan Rand Corp. found something quite different when they modeled what will likely happen in Florida, one of 10 states they focused on. 

In Florida and four other states, in an apples-to-apples comparison, "the law causes no change in premiums," the study summary concludes. Among the other states, premiums for the individual or "nongroup" market were forecast to rise in three and go down in two. 

RAND forecast that there would be little or no rise in premiums in the small group market in nine of the 10 states, including Florida. McCarty's staff predicted a hike of 5 to 20 percent in small-group premiums. 

"We conclude that the Affordable Care Act will lead to an increase in insurance coverage and higher enrollment in the nongroup market," the authors wrote. "Our analysis suggests that comparisons of average premiums with and without the Affordable Care Act may overstate the potential for premium increases."

McCarty's analysis, led by Deputy Commissioner Wences Troncoso, forecast an influx of sick people into the nongroup market that would force up costs and premiums. The Rand team predicts that will be offset by an influx of healthy young people, motivated by the law's requirement to get coverage and the subsidies available to those with modest incomes. 

In Florida, the federal online Marketplace will make tax credits available on a sliding scale to individuals and families with incomes between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level. (Families USA has posted an income reference chart, and Kaiser Family Foundation provides a subsidy calculator.) The Marketplace is scheduled to be open Oct. 1 through March 31 for 2014 coverage.

The six researchers who performed the RAND analysis say they think the nongroup market in all 10 states will expand, growing from around 4.3 percent to about 9.5 percent. The small-group market, used mainly by businesses with fewer than 50 workers, will remain stable, they predicted.

They think that while some employers may drop coverage for workers, that will be offset by employers taking advantage of new "SHOP" exchanges. In the 33 states that are letting the federal government create and manage the exchanges, including Florida, the one for small businesses will be delayed for a year.

The study was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It was peer-reviewed. 

READ: U.S. Intelligence Assessment On Syria

More than 1,400 people were killed in a chemical weapons attack in Syria earlier this month, including 426 children, according to an unclassified U.S. intelligence assessment released by the U.S. on Friday.
Read it below:

If you knew this unbelievable fact about McDonald’s CEO, you’d go on strike too

Ahead of Labor Day weekend, yesterday marked the largest strike to ever hit the $200 billion dollar fast food industry. In 60 cities across America, workers walked off the job to protest for higher wages. Workers called on food giants like McDonald’s, Burger King, and KFC to pay them a minimum of $15 per hour and allow them to form a union without intimidation. Of course, McDonald’s insists that it “aims to offer competitive pay and benefits to our employees,” but a National Employment Law Project study found only 2.2 percent of fast food industry jobs are managerial and the average pay for a fast food worker is $8.94 per hour. Salon breaks down where all these protests might lead. 
Did you know that McDonalds's CEO made $8.75 million in 2011. Not surprised? What if I told you that it means he takes home 580 times more money than his average worker? Can you believe that most employees only make $15,080 per year, while the salary of one a fast-food executive is $25,000 per day?
That's what Sally Kohn discovered when she dug up the numbers. What she found is that despite an increase in profits since the 2008 recession, none of that money has trickled down to its workers. In her article for Women in the World's website, she cites a few powerful statistics, like that 88% of the economic-recovery gains since the crash in 2008 lined corporate pockets, where just 1% went to employee's wages.
The fast-food industry doesn't just take advantage of low-income workers, it also operates along gender and racial lines. As Sally Kohn demonstrates in her piece, women of color are disproportionally affected by its exploitative practices.
"People of color make up 32 percent of the total American workforce, but a disproportionate 42 percent of minimum-wage earners. And in the restaurant and fast-food industries, the majority of those workers are women of color — who, studies show, are paid 60 percent less than their male counterparts. Over 13 percent of food-industry workers rely on food stamps to feed their own families, almost double the rate of workers in other industries," Kohn writes. "Millions of food workers are struggling to raise a family while making just $7.25 an hour, or sometimes less," she concludes. 
That's why August 29th National Strike Against Low Pay Day is so necessary. It's imperative that we listen to the voices of the fast-food workers going on strike in more than 60 cities across the nation. If we don't support them, who will?
Share this story, sign the Moveon.org petition asking corporate food chains to pay their employees a living wage and make your voice heard.

For a full analysis, check out Sally Kohn's piece.

For restaurant workers, a struggle to put food on the table (NPR)

Why I’m on strike today: I can’t support myself on $7.85 at Burger King (The Guardian)

15 Websites Saving the Environment by Changing the Food System

Each of these 15 websites deals with major problems in the food system, exploring the complex relationship between food and the environment. Please share this list with friends and family to spread knowledge of how food choices impact the environment. 
This is, however, only a sample of the many great sites that should be checked every day. Which ones would you recommend?
1. Beth Hoffman for Forbes Online – In Forbes Online, Hoffman pays close attention to the role of businesses in affecting food systems, particularly with regard to corporate responsibility, and analyzes their impact. Beyond that, Hoffman also features valuable news and information about the food industry for consumers. 
2. Civil Eats – Civil Eats promotes critical thought about the American food system, advancing the benefits of sustainable agriculture as a way “to build economically and socially just communities.” Drawing on the contributions of over 100 writers, Civil Eats features innovations in food justice, environmental sustainability, and consumer health.
3. Eat Drink Politics – Michele Simon, author of this blog, is a public health lawyer specializing in food industry marketing and lobbying tactics, and is the author of Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back. She writes on topics such as GMO labeling, food marketing strategies, food security, and nutrition.
4. Eatocracy – CNN’s Eatocracy covers a broad range of topics concerning food, including a body of work on food politics that includes human interest pieces on urban agriculture, humane animal treatment, and environmentalism.
5. Food & Water Watch Blog – Food & Water Watch has advocated for safe, accessible, and sustainable food and water since 2005. Their blog covers a wide variety of topics related to this advocacy, featuring opinion pieces, news, and updates on advocacy efforts. The Food & Water Watch blog has over fifty different categories ranging from water privatization to antibiotics.
6. Food For Thought – Tom Philpott is the author of the Food For Thought column on Mother Jones, a progressive online magazine that focuses on major issues in the realms of politics, environment, human rights, and culture. In his column, Philpott provides commentary and analysis on a spectrum of food system concerns, with recent submissions targeting the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for poor slaughterhouse conditions, providing recipes for seasonal ingredients, and promoting new efforts to combat hunger with advanced technology.
7. Fooducate – This independent organization aims to eliminate grocery store label confusion by providing smart phone apps that help to educate the consumer on making the most healthy food purchases possible. Their blog releases daily tips ranging from deciphering marketing tricks at the supermarket to understanding nutrition labels. The blog also discusses public health policy and food-related current events.
8. Grist – Grist is a non-profit e-magazine. In their food section, Grist’s team of journalists parses topics like fair labor practices, meat production, sustainable fish farming, and GM foods.
9. The Guardian’s Sustainable Development – This column focuses on providing news surrounding environmentally sustainable practices of global development. This includes news about energy conservation and waste, environmentally responsible architecture and development, and climate change and food security.
10. Huffington Post Green – The Huffington Post’s Green section provides insight and viewpoints from the progressive community’s foremost thought leaders on an array of environmental topics, including sustainable seafood, energy policy, and conservation efforts worldwide.
11. Jane Black – Black writes about food politics, such as antibiotics use on farm animals, GMOs, food waste, and sustainability. This site hosts her personal blog and links to other writing, including her column for The Washington Post, Smarter Food. 
12. Landscapes for People, Food and Nature – The Landscapes for People, Food, and Nature initiative, of which EcoAgriculture Partners is the secretariat, seeks to research, discuss, and advocate for whole landscape approaches for the rural land base. Whole landscape approaches address a wide range of ecological issues, and the blog also offers a multidisciplinary perspective. The blog highlights innovative research, effective landscape practices, and perspectives of people that are a part of whole landscape approaches.
13. Mark Bittman: On Food – Bittman is The New York Times’ lead food columnist and the author of the bestselling books How to Cook Everything and Vegan Before 6 P.M. (VB6). He writes about food- and agriculture- related policy, nutrition and public health, and other food-related news.
14. The Salt – The Salt is the food blog of National Public Radio (NPR), a national network of public radio affiliates that produce and syndicate award-winning original programs. The Salt combines traditional journalism with the whimsical and humorous style typical of many NPR programs, offering visitors coverage of food-related news alongside features like “SandwichMonday”, which pits the writing staff of panel comedy show Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me against bizarre food items that they must eat and critique.
15. Tree Hugger’s Green Food – Tree Huggers mission is to make sustainability accessible to the public. Its Green Food column focuses on practical methods to reclaim the food system and sustain the environment. It often highlights organizations, programs, and individuals using food as their tool for social and environmental justice.

Report on the Tea Party

Though many in establishment circles within the beltway speak of the Tea Party's demise, the umbrella of Tea Party groups have morphed from loosely organized gatherings into a host of tax-exempt political action committees around the country. From a high-water mark in the 2010 midterms, the Tea Party has continued to hold influence within GOP primaries from local to national elections though perhaps not on a scale it once did.

Report on the Tea Party and 2016 from Policy Mic:

As the Republican Party continues its autopsy of what went wrong in the 2012 elections, many in the party's base continue to have their own ideas about how to right the wrongs of 2012, and come back in 2016. Many in the party believe it will be by expanding their base of existing voters, but the party's base argues that victory can be achieved simply by turning out already-dedicated GOP voters . This is where the Tea Party, long thought to be dead, comes into play. While it is unlikely to have as much impact as it did in the 2010 midterms, the Tea Party is certain to play a pivotal role in the 2016 primary season and general election.

The 2016 Republican primary season is already shaping up to be a crowded field. Among the names of potential candidates, many have achieved power with a certain degree of support from the Tea Party. Potential 2016ers Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker have all gained prominence (or in the case of Scott Walker, who thwarted a recall, retained prominence) with the help of the Tea Party. If the primary season continues with the party infighting seen today, one can expect contentious fiscal and foreign policy issues to be brought up on the debate stage. The Tea Party is currently flexing its muscles in the fight against Obamacare, with Paul, Cruz, and Rubio all pushing to defund it. While defunding Obamacare is the general consensus of the Tea Party, their choice of method for doing so is not going to be an easy one for Cruz and Rubio to overcome should they run. Cruz and Rubio are actively promoting a government shutdown should a continuing resolution (CR) that includes funding for Obamacare be approved by the Senate next month.

Undoubtedly the Tea Party will have a strong voice in the 2016 GOP primaries, maybe stronger than 2012 when it was unable to derail Mitt Romney's "establishment" candidacy.

The real question within the Tea Party is how far it wades into social issues. Originally spawned by the unbridled growth of government and increasing taxation, some in the socially conservative wing have pulled the group into the fray on abortion and gay marriage.

After Hurricane Katrina Lower 9th Ward Residents Still Have Not Returned

   "Basically, the black population was cleansed out of the city and off the voter rolls." 

~ Greg Palast on the shocking untold story of the drowning and subsequent ethnic cleansing of New Orleans, a city which has lost half of its Black population since Hurricane Katrina. 

"King's dream was announced 50 years ago, but eight years ago in New Orleans is when the dream drowned."

Read More....
New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward is showing signs of new life eight years after Hurricane Katrina, the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. But still, only 30 percent of the low-income neighborhood's residents have returned, as opposed to 90 percent in the rest of the city.
Lower 9th Ward resident Joyce Morris is one of them.
About 80 percent of New Orleans was underwater after Katrina hit, and it took Morris nearly six years to rebuild her home using money from the federal "Road Home" program.
"My whole house was underwater. The whole entire house was under water," Morris told Al Jazeera.
While she decided to stay and rebuild, Morris said many of her neighbors left – and have yet to return.
"We're not exaggerating when we say these things … people are scared to come back," she said.
After Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005, more than 1,800 people were killed, and tens of thousands of homes and buildings along the Gulf were destroyed.
Morris' neighborhood was home to about 14,000 people before the hurricane hit; only about 30 percent have returned to the Lower 9th Ward.
"You think about how things used to be – your neighbors up the street. And in many ways we still haven't seen a lot of people," another Lower 9th ward resident, Ben Lemoine, 
"There's people, to this day, I wonder what happened to them, where they are. It's those question marks in your head that sometimes make you a little sad."
Katrina caused one of the largest and most abrupt displacements of people in U.S. history – with an estimated 1.5 million people leaving their homes along the Gulf Coast.
government report on evacuees pointed out that African-American residents were less likely to return to their homes than whites – with 54 percent of African-American evacuees returned compared to 82 percent of white evacuees.
Even though billions of dollars were paid out to victims of Hurricane Katrina, residents in non-white areas were paid less than those living in mostly white communities, according to a 2010 Amnesty International report.
The result has been that relative to other parts of New Orleans, there has been little redevelopment in the Lower 9th Ward since the hurricane.
Though New Orleans regained a majority of its pre-Katrina population, reports show that it is not necessarily being replenished by former residents – an indication that many evacuees were either unable, or unwilling to return, Amnesty said.
One of the obstacles that prevented African-American and low-income residents from returning was a lack of affordable housing. Much of the rental housing in the city was destroyed and never rebuilt – four years after the storm, rents were nearly 40 percent higher than they were before Katrina.

George Zimmerman's Wife Admits Perjury

The wife of George Zimmerman, the Florida man acquitted in the death of Trayvon Martin, pleaded guilty today to perjury charges and apologized for her lie saying "the truth will set you free."
The plea deal allows Shellie Zimmerman to avoid a felony charge.
George Zimmerman was not present during today's proceedings as Judge Marlene Alva asked Shellie Zimmerman if she understood what she was pleading to.
"Yes, your honor," she responded as Alva asked her several questions about the agreement.
Under the negotiated plea deal Shellie Zimmerman can continue pursuing her nursing aspirations because she will not be a convicted felon. She was given 100 hours of community service, one year probation and will have to present an apology letter to the judge she lied to.
George Zimmerman Story in Pictures
In her letter to Judge Kenneth Lester, who was presiding when she committed her perjury, Shellie Zimmerman wrote, "By lying under oath, I let my God down, I let your Honor and the court down, ... and most of all I let myself down."
"I am a Christian and I know the words of the Bible, espcially those of Jesus in the Gospel of John 8:32. I am sorry that I had forgotten this passage and forevermore I promise to remember, 'The truth will set you free.'"
Shellie faced perjury charges after she was accused of lying about her and George Zimmerman's finances during his April 2012 bond hearing.
When asked by prosecutors and Zimmerman's attorneys about their finances, she said they were virtually indigent. However, Zimmerman had raised nearly $200,000 in funds through an online defense fund. Taped jail house recordings later surfaced showing Shellie and George speaking in code about their finances. Those conversations led to Zimmerman's bail being revoked and then bail raised to a $1 million bond.
On April 9, 2012 George Zimmerman launched the website therealgeorgezimmerman.com and within weeks received more than $200,000 in donations to help pay for his mounting legal fees. But during his bond hearing Zimmerman's wife testified that the couple was nearly broke.
Appearing via telephone due to fear for her life, she was asked by her husband's lawyer Mark O'Mara if they add any major financial assets and she said no. She repeated that claim under cross examination.
In a later hearing, prosecutors presented surprise evidence that included at least four jailhouse phone conversations in which George and Shellie Zimmerman were apparently discussing tiny amounts of money, but where allegedly referring to some of the $200,000 into their PayPal account.
At the time of the recordings, Zimmerman had just been recently arrested and charged with second-degree murder in the death of Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old.
The guilty plea came a day after George Zimmerman's attorneys revealed that they want the state of Florida to reimburse up to $300,000 in legal costs for their successful defense in the murder trial.
Zimmerman was acquitted in July of second-degree murder for the 2012 shooting of Martin. Zimmerman claimed he shot Martin in self-defense.
The not guilty verdict triggered protests around the country.
Zimmerman had employed a 10-person legal team, which conducted dozens of depositions, flew in experts, and even ordered up a 3-D animation to be aired toward the end of the trial.
State law requires the reimbursement of all but the most expensive item, which are lawyer's fees, estimated at well over $1 million. The state of Florida reported the trial cost it more than $900,000, much of it for security.
O'Mara said it could take four to six weeks before Zimmerman's team can negotiate the reimbursement with the state.
Zimmerman had largely been living off of donations solicited on his website before and during the trial that he said have dried up.