Thursday, March 28, 2013

One Race, and It’s Human

One Graphic, 10,000 Words: Skin and Sun

The distribution of skin color and the amount of sunlight


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Progressive 'Back to Work' Budget Wins Praise for Anti-Austerity Approach

'A reminder that we don’t need to cut teachers and school lunches when we can eliminate wasteful giveaways to fossil fuel corporations.'  Watch Rep. Keith Ellison introduce the budget here:

By Jon Queally
Progressive America Rising via

March 14, 2013 - In the midst of ongoing hysteria about a 'non-existent deficit crisis' in Washington, the Congressional Progressive Caucus on Wednesday unveiled an alternative approach to destructive austerity economics by releasing their 'Back to Work Budget' plan for 2014.

Pushing back specifically on the dominant talking point of inside-the-Beltway elites, the budget challenges the idea that cutting programs, reducing corporate tax rates, and slashing investments is a pathway to economic prosperity. Its proponents argue the US does not have "a deficit crisis"—as those pushing for steep cuts suggest—but rather, "a jobs crisis."

Presented by CPC co-chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva and Keith Ellison and backed by members of the caucus' Budget Task force—Reps. Jim McDermott, Jan Schakowsky, Barbara Lee and Mark Pocan—the plan describes how smart investments, not deep cuts to key programs, would create almost 7 million jobs over the first year of its implementation.

“Americans face a choice,” Grijalva and Ellison said. “We can either cut Medicare benefits to pay for more tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, or we can close outdated tax loopholes and invest in jobs. We choose investment.”

They continue:

    The Back to Work Budget invests in America’s future because the best way to reduce our long-term deficit is to put America back to work. In the first year alone, we create nearly 7 million American jobs and increase GDP by 5.7%. We reduce unemployment to near 5% in three years with a jobs plan that includes repairing our nation’s roads and bridges, and putting the teachers, cops and firefighters who have borne the brunt of our economic downturn back to work. We reduce the deficit by $4.4 trillion by closing tax loopholes and asking the wealthy to pay a fair share. We repeal the arbitrary sequester and the Budget Control Act that are damaging the economy, and strengthen Medicare and Medicaid, which provide high quality, low-cost medical coverage to millions of Americans when they need it most. This is what the country voted for in November. It’s time we side with America’s middle class and invest in their future.

Received as a breath of fresh air of economic sanity, the plan was praised by a variety of individuals and groups.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Light Footprints: The Future of American Military Intervention

Following is an EXECUTIVE SUMMARY of a longer think-piece outlining a new Pentagon policy for the future. It is worth studying by the peace and justice movement, so we know what’s on the rise. The full 44-page document can be downloaded HERE.

By Major Fernando M. Luján, USA

Center for a New American Security

Looming budget cuts, ground forces worn down by years of repeated deployments, and a range of ever evolving security challenges from Mali to Libya and Yemen are quickly making “light footprint” military interventions a central part of American strategy.

Instead of “nation building” with large, traditional military formations, civilian policy- makers are increasingly opting for a combination of air power, special operators, intelligence agents, indigenous armed groups and contractors, often leveraging relationships with allies and enabling partner militaries to take more active roles. Despite the relative appeal of these less costly forms of military intervention, the light footprint is no panacea. Like any policy option, the strategy has risks, costs and benefits that make it ideally suited for certain security challenges and disastrous for others. Moreover, recent media coverage of drone strikes and SEAL raids may also distort public perceptions, creating a “bin Laden effect” – the notion of military action as sterile, instantaneous and pinprick accurate. Yet for these smaller-scale interventions to be an effective instrument of national policy, civilian and military leaders at all levels should make a concerted effort to understand not only their strategic uses and limitations, but also the ways the current defense bureaucracy can undermine their success.

Drones and commando raids are the 'tip of the iceberg.'

Surgical strikes are only the most visible (and extreme) part of a deeper, longer- term strategy that takes many years to develop, cannot be grown after a crisis and relies heavily on human intelligence networks, the training of indigenous forces and close collaboration with civilian diplomats and development workers. While direct, unilateral action can be very effective in the short term, it is best when undertaken sparingly and judiciously, balanced with civilian- led initiatives such as political reconciliation, reintegration or influence campaigns, and phased out over time by efforts undertaken by local police or military units. These indigenous partners are the strategic lynchpin and the only means of producing lasting security outcomes.


Friday, March 1, 2013

Jobs Legislation for Our Time

The 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act

Rep Keith Ellison, John Nichols and Rep. John Conyers

By Bill Barclay
Progressive America Rising via DSA's New Ground

In May 2010, Rep John Conyers introduced a bill entitled "The 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act." The bill was little noticed at the time but, today, after another 7 months of dismal jobs reports -- we have actually lost ground during 2010, creating fewer jobs than the growth of the labor force -- there is renewed interest in this legislation by a range of progressive groups.

The Democratic Socialists of America has made mobilization around the Act a national priority; Progressive Democrats of America is developing a similar effort, as are both the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism and the National Jobs for All Coalition . What follows is a summary of the major elements of the Act and why it is one that anyone concerned about the economy should support.

The 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act includes (i) funding for jobs; (ii) allocation of monies raised by the funding mechanism; (iii) job creation targets (who and what types of jobs); (iv) mechanisms for implementing the Act; and (v) a definition of the economic situations under which the Act would come into effect. I will take these topics one at a time. I will also briefly suggest what a political mobilization effort around the Act could look like.

Funding the 21st Century Jobs Program

Unlike many job creation proposals, the act is deficit neutral: It raises the money to pay for the jobs to be created. Funding for the Act is provided by a tax on the trading of financial assets (FTT). This levy is on trading of stocks, bonds (debt) and currencies -- both the actual financial asset and any derivative product based on the asset, e.g., futures or options, which provides a claim to the returns to holding the actual stock, bond or currency.


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