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Time to Go on the Offensive to Improve, Not Just Save Social Security and Medicare

 

The wind has suddenly been knocked out of sails of those critics of Social Security and Medicare in Washington -- Republican and Democrat -- who have for years been warning direly that the two programs were going bust. Suddenly their favored “rescue” plans for these crucial programs -- turning to a stingier way of calculating the annual inflation adjustment, raising the retirement age, and even reducing benefits for Social Security, and cutting benefits for Medicare -- don’t make sense to anyone.

Thanks to an improved jobs picture, a marked slowdown in health care cost inflation and other factors, the latest annual Trustees Report from the Social Security Administration paints a picture of a much improved situation. As things stand now, this report says the Trust Fund that was built up, starting back in the early 1980s, to cover the anticipated increase in benefit payments to the wave of Baby Boomer retirees, will not be exhausted until 2033, which happens to be about the time that the last Baby Boomers born in 1964 will be retiring, and when the wave of 78 million Boomer retirees will be starting to shrink as early boomers born in the late 1940s and 1950s begin to die off (the oldest Boomers, born in 1946, will be 87 in 2033).

The Medicare Trust Fund, too, is looking much better. As recently as last year, it was being projected to run out in 2026, but now it looks like it will still have a positive balance in 2030.

What this means is that actually shoring up these two programs so that they will be fully funded and able to pay full retirement benefits to retirees and health benefits to all those on Medicare, should be much easier than and less painful to all concerned than the voices of doom in Washington have been threatening.

For example, just eliminating the cap on income subject to the Social Security payroll tax, currently set at 6.2% for employers and 6.2% for employees, but only on the first $113,400 of income, so that all income becomes subject to the tax, including the income of millionaires and billionaires, would fully fund the program way out past 2075, when the last Baby Boomer have long moved on to that great Woodstock in the sky.

We need a new mass movement and new marches on Washington to improve Social Security and MedicareWe need a new mass movement and new marches on Washington to improve Social Security and Medicare

 

Barbecuing the Palestinians

Once it was Nazis Leveling the Warsaw Ghetto, Now it’s Israel’s IDF Leveling Gaza

 

About six years ago, as part of his Bar Mitzvah, my son Jed did a project on the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, producing his own graphic novel about the underground fighters who used courage, creativity and the city’s sewer system to, in some small way, offer resistance to the murderous program of the Nazis to exterminate Poland’s Jews.

In the course of his research, Jed interviewed a friend of my father’s, a Polish man who had been a teenager in Warsaw during World War II. He told my son how one day, as he was riding the streetcar to a job, the tram came to a halt near the wall of the ghetto. Everyone was told they had to get out. Standing there in a crowd outside the wall, he saw vast amounts of smoke and heard an enormous amount of gun and cannon fire, and bombs exploding. Asking what was happening, he said he was told by a Polish woman near him, “They’re barbecuing the Jews!”

It was, it turned out, the final catastrophic leveling of the Warsaw Ghetto that he was witnessing, and this man recalled, still in horror at the memory, that people had gathered from all over the city to watch it happen, like going to a fireworks display.

Now we’re seeing the same phenomenon in Israel, as the Israeli Defense Force enters its second week of bombing and invading the walled-in ghetto of Gaza, where some 1.8 million Palestinian men, women and children have been trapped for years with nowhere to go to escape the bombs, rockets, cannon fire and IDF snipers.

And like the horrific case of the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto, here too we have a small-scale, improbable, resistance being put up by fighters who use home-made rockets, small arms and a network of tunnels to challenge their much better armed attackers. We also have people -- ironically this time it’s Jewish citizens of Israel -- dragging lounge chairs and refreshments out to hillsides in the evening to watch the fireworks as the IDF’s tanks, bombers and ships off the coast of Gaza pulverize this huge ghetto that is fully under Israeli control.

As the New York Times reported in an article about the Israeli spectator sport of watching the leveling of Gaza, where by July 22 nearly 600 Palestinian, including over 100 children, had been killed by Israeli weapons, this was nothing new. Similar crowds gathered, equipped with comfortable seating and refreshments, during the prior bloody assault on Gaza in 2008-9 in which between 1160 and 1400 Palestinians were reportedly killed.

Israelis as spectators, enjoy the IDF assault on the Gaza ghetto (l), and a view of the damage from one IDF attack (r)Israelis as spectators, enjoy the IDF assault on the Gaza ghetto (l), and a view of the damage from one IDF attack (r)

 

Kerry, Kerry pants on fire!

If You Believed the US Secretary of State’s Poison Gas Lie, You’ll Love His Latest One

 

If the best the US can do to pin the blame for the Malaysia Flight 17 downing on Russia is to have Secretary of State John Kerry say that “circumstantial evidence” points to Moscow being behind it, we can be pretty certain it was not Russia at all.

Kerry’s credibility on such matters has been in the toilet since last August when he claimed during last year’s furor and push for war against Syria’s Basher al Assad that he had seen “clear and compelling evidence” that the Syrian government had used poison gas against its own people. That “evidence” turned out (clearly with Kerry’s knowledge) to have been ginned up, falsified and staged, and in the end it was evident that Syria had not been the guilty party. Had Kerry and the White House succeeded in duping the world and the American people the way President George W. Bush and VP Dick Cheney succeeded in duping them about Iraq’s “WMDs,” an armada of US planes and ships already in position around Syria would have begun a massive aerial bombardment of Syria sparking a whole new war in the Middle East, even as Iraq was already in the throes of a civil war.

Fortunately, John Kerry’s and the accommodating US corporate media’s lies that time were exposed, and that bloody catastrophe was averted.

Now, undeterred by that first attempt at a full-blown campaign of lies, Kerry and the Obama White House are at it again, trying to falsify a casus belli against Russia by blaming Moscow for the downing of a civilian airliner that killed 298 people.

The problem for Kerry and Washington’s warmongers is that the story they’re selling is ludicrous.

Ukraine's military has hundreds of Buk anti-aircraft missiles and dozens of mobile launchers like these seen in a Kiev paradeUkraine's military has a hundred or so Buk anti-aircraft missiles and dozens of mobile launchers like these seen in a Kiev parade

 

'Strident' reporting at the Times

Already Abused by Cop, DA and Court, Occupy Protester Now Trashed by NY’s Leading Paper

 

When a journalist in a news article refers to a woman as “strident,” you know what you’re reading is a hit piece, not a dispassionate report, and that’s what the New York Times offered up to readers in today’s piece about a court appearance yesterday by Occupy Wall Street activist Cecily McMillan.

The Times reporter, Monique O. Madan, as a professional journalist, surely knows that the meaning of “strident” is, as the Oxford English Dictionary says, “loud, harsh and grating” and that it implies the slanted presentation of a point of view in an “unpleasantly forceful way.” If she somehow didn’t know this, her editors certainly do, and yet they were okay with her disparaging and loaded word choice.

Supposedly Madan was writing a news report on McMillan’s appearance in a Manhattan criminal court on a misdemeanor charge of “obstructing governmental administration.” This related to an incident in 2013 in which she allegedly advised two people being ordered to show their identification to a Transit Police officer in the Union Square subway station that they did not have to comply.

Madan referred to McMillan as a “cause célèbre” because of her earlier arrest at a March 2012 rally in lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park commemorating the months-long Occupy Wall Street action that had begun six months earlier in September, 2011. McMillan, in that earlier arrest, had been charged with second degree felony assault of a police officer and, following a trial earlier this year, was convicted and sentenced to three months in jail at Rikers Island plus five year’s probation.

Not mentioned by the reporter was the reality that McMillan’s fame and notoriety is deserved (she received thousands of letters of support from around the world, and even a supportive jailhouse visit by two recently freed members of the celebrated Russian protest rock group Pussy Riot). Not only was McMillan grotesquely overcharged by Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, Jr. She was also treated by both prosecutor and judge throughout the trial as though she were a dangerous menace, not even being granted bail after the verdict was rendered and she was awaiting her sentence hearing (a courtesy routinely granted to first offenders and to the powerful and well-to-do). The reporter might also have noted that, once convicted, McMillan’s incredibly short felony sentence (the charge carried a maximum term of seven years!) and her subsequent release from jail after serving just under two months’ time at Rikers, probably rank among the shortest punishments for someone convicted of “felony assault” of a cop in the history of US jurisprudence.

Photo of Cecily McMillan showing the bruises and abrasions on her right breast caused by an officer's grabbing her from behindPhoto of Cecily McMillan showing the bruises and abrasions on her right breast caused by an officer's grabbing her from behind

 

Honduras and the US Border

Bleedback of a US Imperial Wound

 

In Spanish, the word hondura means “depth; profundity.” The related word hondo means “deep, low; bottom.” Hondon means “dell, glen, deep hole.” An example given in my dictionary is meterse en honduras, “to go beyond one’s depth.”

I imagine some gold-seeking Spanish conquistador in the 16th century passing through the isthmus and, with a bit of cruel wit, calling the place where he stood The Hole. Sort of like when I was in the Army, Fort Hood, Texas, was known as “the asshole of the world.” In Honduras, my imaginary conquistador no doubt left a lieutenant with troops enough to turn the residents into slaves before he moved his entourage on to the more appealing Costa Rica.

Honduras is the saddest basket case in the Western Hemisphere, and the behemoth to the north has done everything in its power to keep poor Honduras in the basket case category. Technically, Honduras is a sovereign nation; but in reality it is a vassal state of the United States. Maybe more like a flea-ridden junkyard dog resigned to being kicked.

The US Border Patrol at work and children who want to liveThe US Border Patrol at work and children who want to live
 

In 1935, two-time Medal of Honor winner and retired Marine General Smedley Butler famously wrote the following in an essay for the socialist magazine Common Sense:
 

I spent 33 years and four months in active military service, and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. ... I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. ... Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents. 

Yet another step toward a police state

FaceBook Experiments with Manipulating Your Mind

How does the news on the Internet make you feel?

What sounds like a frivolous question, the kind you might be asked in a bar after a few drinks, is actually a profound and powerful one. If the Internet's content can affect your feelings, the manipulation of that content can exert powerful social control.

So for a week in 2012, Facebook, in collaboration with Cornell University and the University of California at San Francisco, set out to explore that possibility. It edited the content seen by a select 689,000 of its users, overloading its news feed content with positive news for some users and negative news for others and then studied their posts in reaction without their knowledge.

Just what are they testing? (courtesy TechnewspediaJust what are they testing? (courtesy Technewspedia).

As a result, Facebook learned a lot. According to an abstract of the study, "for people who had positive content reduced in their News Feed, a larger percentage of words in people's status updates were negative and a smaller percentage were positive. When negativity was reduced, the opposite pattern occurred."

And, when news about the study broke last week, Facebook confronted an immediate and powerful push-back from horrified activists and users (and now a couple of governments) who raised some significant questions. Does a company have the right to use its customers as test subjects without their knowledge? Is it ever ethical to change news feed content for any reason?

But the more important issue sits behind those questions. Facebook obviously thought this was okay; it does research on users all the time. And its hunch about the outcome proved correct. So what does it mean when one of the largest information companies on earth, the centerpiece of many people's information experience, practices how to program people through lies?

New Wasichu, Crossing

Announcing a new book by Gary Lindorff

 

New Wasichu, Crossing: Our Story is Just Beginning.
 

A Silent Spring for the new century? Gary Lindorff’s new book, New Wasichu, Crossing: Our Story is Just Beginning is, on one level, a bold attempt to disturb the silence of denial that has muted our ability to reverse Schweitzer’s curse quoted by Rachel Carson right at the threshold of her prophetic narrative: “Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall. He will end by destroying the earth.” Perhaps if we had heeded Rachel Carson’s shot over bow of Western post-industrial “progress” we would not be where we are now. Silent Spring is one of those books that you don’t necessarily have to read anymore because it is in our bones, just like the strontium 90 that was falling with the rain back when Carson was writing. But what good did it do? Maybe that still remains to be seen. .
 
………………………………………………………………………………………………
 

Hello TCBH! readers. I am pleased to announce the publication of a book I have been writing for the last 3 years, spanning the deaths of both of my parents, a period of time fraught with disturbing change and upheaval across the board. I am no longer young but that’s not a bad thing. My heart is strong and, dare I say, wiser. I have read that a heart that reacts unpredictably (or spontaneously) to the emotional climate it finds itself in is a healthy heart. Our heart is not just a pump, it is the organ that gets us through the maze of multiple realities that has become our world. Sure, I use my brain but I have come to depend upon my heart for everything, especially since the head (our heads) seems to be running out of ideas.

New Wasichu, Crossing: Our Story is Just Beginning, is the distillation of several decades of experience, study and practice in three over-lapping fields of access to certain wellsprings of creativity and transformation: Jungian Psychology, Native American wisdom traditions and shamanism. What is offered here is a way through the ominous darkness of our times. In this work I braid together a colorful, carefully researched, sometimes autobiographical narrative-lifeline that will guide the reader ever deeper into a landscape of dreams, intentionality, revelation and real answers to the problems that we face as human beings. Chapter by chapter the path to the future becomes less metaphorical and more substantial and walkable.

The writing explores certain archetypal themes. One such theme is crossing for spiritual survival. At the same time the reader is equipped to orient him- or herself by a new (or older than old) set of coordinates, facilitating participation in an epic crossing to something more human and more sustainable. Another recurrent theme is the return of the doppelganger or our soulful double, which, it turns out, embodies the template of the undamaged self.
The author and his book (Click on image to go to Amazon page)The author and his book (Click on image to go to Amazon page)

The latest 'ThisCantBeHappening!' Show on PRN.fm

An Interview with Charles M. Young

 

Journalist Charles M. Young talks with Dave Lindorff, host of PRN.fm's new program 'This Can't Be Happening!" about the Occupy Wall Street Movement, New York's last mayor, Michael Bloomberg, the NYPD vs. the LAPD, music & politics, getting groined by Hunter Thompson and interviewing Noam Chomsky.

You can hear the podcast of Wednesday evening's show by clicking on the image below:

Hear Dave Lindorff on 'This Can't Be Happening!' every Wednesday at 5 pm Eastern Time on PRN.fm or on the web at www.PRN.fmHear Dave Lindorff on 'This Can't Be Happening!' every Wednesday at 5 pm Eastern Time on PRN.fm or on the web at www.PRN.fm

Even in Los Angeles

Gentle Things

 

            In brutish, crass, profanity-spitting L.A., in developer-ravaged $2500-a-month “elegant density” L.A., in have-and-have-not ethnically separated L.A., in get-out-of-my-way-asshole, hit-and-run texting-and-primping-while-driving L.A. . . .

            Gentle things still happen.

            She sat at the front table at Papa Cristo’s, the Greek place at Pico and Normandie in the so-called Byzantine-Latino Quarter. Across the street from St. Sofia’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral and St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, or, more appropriately considering that masses come with mariachis, Iglesia Santo Tomas Apostol.

            “This is excellent!” she said, and, really, it was amazing she could say anything at all, let alone in a clear, commanding voice. The withered and dry autumn leaves on the sycamore trees in the neighborhood were stronger. This was, to be indelicate, a corpse that hadn’t gotten around to officially dying. Stick limbs, prune skin, sunken cheeks. Talk about frailty, thy name is woman. . .

            “Okay, Babe,” said her companion, a young guy with brown curls pulled back in a pony tail. “I’ve got you.” And he steadied her as he removed her walker, and then helped her ease into a wooden chair at one of Papa Cristo’s wobbly tables. She didn’t seem comfortable.

            “Does your butt hurt?” said her companion.

            What butt, I wondered. Nothing there but bones.

Esther Cicconi, lifetime Communist and icon of LA's left fringe, says 'hello, not goodbye'Esther Cicconi, lifetime Communist and icon of LA's left fringe, says 'hello, not goodbye'

Hey Kids! News that's nutritious and hardhitting, delivered right to your phone

ThisCantBeHappening! is Finally Ready for the Small Screen

 

Great News! After three years stuck on computer screens, ThisCantBeHappening! has been refigured to both load faster, and to be viewed on smartphone screens.

Now you don't have to wait until you are at your computer to get the latest honest take on the most important news. You can just go to your iPhone or Android phone and check us out.

If you're not a subscriber, send us your email (we have a secure list, except of course for the NSA, over which we have no control, sadly, and will never share or sell your information). You'll get an email (no attachments ever), with a link to click that will bring you straight to the latest story posted.

ThisCantBeHappening! It IS happening.
Here's our new look on smartphonesHere's our new look on smartphones

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This is the video tape of Davis in Lahore police custody


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Watch live streaming video from globalrevolution at livestream.com

Live Stream of the Occupation of Wall Street! The Revolution will be filmed after all! (Courtesy of Globalrevolution)
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Fightin' Cock FlyerFightin' Cock Flyer

Listen as Chuck, John, Dave and Linn Join Prairie Radical Mike Caddell of the Fightin' Cock Flyer on Radio Free Kansas

Here's the link to prairie radio radical Mike Caddell's Radio Free Kansas program, where you can hear the podcast of the whole group interview that was conducted on Saturday, May 8.

Also, listen to Dave Lindorff on Chris Cook's Gorilla Radio on CFEV Radio in Victoria, Canada.

Donate $50 to ThisCantBeHappening.net and get a free signed copy, postage paid, of Dave's classic tome The Case for Impeachment (St. Martin's Press, 2006). Just click on the cover image to go to the Paypal payment page, make your payment, and send a note to Dave calling his attention to the payment, and giving your mail address and the name you want the inscription addressed to.

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by Dr. Radut