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Hometown: Xenia, OH
Member since: Tue Sep 19, 2006, 04:46 PM
Number of posts: 17,569

Journal Archives

CAP: The Top 10 Solutions to Cut Poverty and Grow the Middle Class

Center for American Progress

With flat incomes and inequality stuck at historically high levels, one might assume that chronic economic insecurity and an off-kilter economy are the new normal and that nothing can be done to fix it. But there is nothing normal or inevitable about elevated poverty levels and stagnant incomes. They are the direct result of policy choices that put wealth and income into the hands of a few at the expense of growing a strong middle class.

1. Create jobs

The best pathway out of poverty is a well-paying job. To get back to prerecession employment levels, we must create 5.6 million new jobs. At the current pace, however, we will not get there until July 2018. To kick-start job growth, the federal government should invest in job-creation strategies such as rebuilding our infrastructure; developing renewable energy sources; renovating abandoned housing; and making other common-sense investments that create jobs, revitalize neighborhoods, and boost our national economy. We should also build on proven models of subsidized employment to help the long-term unemployed and other disadvantaged workers re-enter the labor force.

2. Raise the minimum wage
In the late 1960s, a full-time worker earning the minimum wage could lift a family of three out of poverty. Had the minimum wage back then been indexed to inflation, it would be $10.86 per hour today, compared to the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour and indexing it to inflation—as President Barack Obama and several members of Congress have called for—would lift more than 4 million Americans out of poverty. Nearly one in five children would see their parent get a raise. Recent action taken by cities and states—such as Seattle, Washington; California; Connecticut; and New Jersey—shows that boosting the minimum wage reduces poverty and increases wages.

4. Support pay equity
With female full-time workers earning just 78 cents for every $1 earned by men
, action must be taken to ensure equal pay for equal work. Closing the gender wage gap would cut poverty in half for working women and their families and add nearly half a trillion dollars to the nation’s gross domestic product. Passing the Paycheck Fairness Act to hold employers accountable for discriminatory salary practices would be a key first step.

5. Provide paid leave and paid sick days
The United States is the only developed country in the world without paid family and medical leave and paid sick days
, making it very difficult for millions of American families to balance work and family without having to sacrifice needed income. Paid leave is an important anti-poverty policy, as having a child is one of the leading causes of economic hardship. Additionally, nearly 4 in 10 private-sector workers—and 7 in 10 low-wage workers—do not have a single paid sick day, putting them in the impossible position of having to forgo needed income, or even their job, in order to care for a sick child. The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, or FAMILY Act, would provide paid leave protection to workers who need to take time off due to their own illness, the illness of a family member, or the birth of a child. And the Healthy Families Act would enable workers to earn up to seven job-protected sick days per year.


U.N. Investigators Cite Atrocities in Syria (both sides, of course)

As Western and regional powers prepared to step up the fight against Sunni militants of the Islamic State, United Nations investigators presented details Tuesday of more atrocities committed by Islamic extremists and the government in Syria, warning that there could be no battlefield solution to the “madness” in the civil war there.

In addition to the killing of two American journalists, James Foley and Steven J. Sotloff, and a British aid worker, David Cawthorne Haines, the Islamic State “has continued to subject scores of Syrians to the same fate in public squares in the north and east of the country,” Mr. Pinheiro told the council, describing the terror of communities in large swaths of Syria that it controls.

Despite the extremes of violence committed by Islamic militants, Mr. Pinheiro said, the Syrian government “remains responsible for the majority of the civilian casualties, killing and maiming scores of civilians daily,” describing killing “from a distance” by shelling and aerial bombardment and “up close at checkpoints and in its interrogation rooms.”

Mr. Pinheiro recalled that the panel had repeatedly urged the United Nations Security Council and influential states to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court and to push for a political settlement. Their inaction “nourished the violence” consuming Syria, he told the Human Rights Council. “Its most recent beneficiary is ISIS,” he said, using an acronym for the Islamic State.


The UN Human Rights Council must feel obligated to continue to investigate and publish the continuing human rights abuses in Syria. For the most part, the world seems not to care or only be interested in protecting one side or the other.

It is no wonder that the Syrian refugee problem is the most serious since WWII.

Ethnic Ukrainians are a majority in every eastern province other than Crimea. Polls don't support

the idea that any part of eastern Ukraine should separate from the country.



Those election monitors from Europe's far-right are back. This time in St Petersburg.

They did such a fine job in Crimea that they are back for an encore.

Russian daily Novaya Gazeta reports that far-right EU parties sent monitors to local elections in St Petersburg this weekend. The monitors, many of whom blessed the Crimea referendum in March, came from Austria, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Italy, and Poland. They said the St Peterbsurg vote was fair despite NGO complaints.


These election observers from far-right political parties in Europe are certainly popular with the Russian government. If they don't mind foreigners coming to observe their elections, there are more objective and experienced election observers including those at the Carter Center's Democracy Program.

Perhaps folks are a little too liberal at times in St Petersburg, so trustworthy election monitors were needed for the vote.

The new Putinism: Nationalism fused with conservative Christianity

Vladimir Putin meets with Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill

Two recent stories offer a revealing -- and, to some, unsettling -- view of Russian President Vladimir Putin's emerging state ideology. The new Putinism, you might call it, seems to be a fusion of two older Russian ideas: nationalism, sometimes with an anti-Western tinge, and conservative interpretations of Orthodox Christianity. Both stories portray the coalescing, Kremlin-pushed ideology as a response to rising dissent and, more broadly, an effort to fill an ideological vacuum that has to some extent remained since the collapse of the Soviet Union two decades ago.

The Financial Times' Charles Clover chronicles the new ideology's emergence in the typically vibrant city of St. Petersburg, "long regarded as Russia's liberal window to the west" but now "the testing ground for a new wave of conservative, Orthodox church-going, pro-Kremlin patriotism that has gripped much of Russian officialdom." Clover cites recent censorship of classic Russian works by Vladimir Nabokov and Sergei Rachmaninoff, as well as new law that forbids "yelping" and "stomping" at night, possibly aimed at curbing protests.

Through the previous 12 years of his hegemony, Mr. Putin observed a balance between liberals and conservatives in the ranks of the elite, catering to each group in an effort to play one off against the other.

Today, that balance appears to have been jettisoned after liberals deserted him, with protesters taking to the streets last December and high-ranking figures – such as his finance minister – joining the dissenters.

The Kremlin has turned to the more conservative elements of society. More rural, older and less educated, they respond well to Mr Putin’s nationalist and slightly paranoid rhetoric as defender of the Orthodox faith from blasphemers and protector of the nation against foreign plots.


Good point. Norwegians have the freedom of movement, trade and work within Europe that

citizens of EU countries have because Norway belongs to the European Free Trade Association and the Schengen Agreement. And they don't have the obligations that the French or English or Swedes have towards the Moldovas of the continent.

Of course, Norway is very generous with foreign aid anyway but that is a voluntary thing not something mandated by the EU.


Perhaps Yanukovich made a wise choice but he was reversing a campaign pledge. People cared.

From my understanding of the deals on offer, I can understand that Yanukovich may thought that Russia's offer was better for Ukraine. Russia had made it clear that there was a big downside if Ukraine chose a trade deal with the EU and Russia terms were indeed more favorable, at least in the short terms - which is all politicians care about.

The real problem he had was that he had campaigned for president on a platform of seeking closer integration with Europe rather than with Russia. Did he really mean that during the campaign or was he just saying something that he thought people wanted to hear? (He would not be the first politician to say something that he did not believe just to get elected.)

He had every 'right' to change his mind about a policy he had campaigned on, just as Obama and all politicians and political leaders seems to think they have. Of course, citizens had every right to express their discontent about his policy reversal, just as our voters do. Either voters felt more deeply about the issue than Mr. Yanukovich understood or he simply did not do a good job of explaining why the Russian offer was superior and he was reversing his previous pledge.

The massive crowds of protesters were not just Western-backed protesters unless you assume that Ukrainians don't care enough about their country to protest political decision they don't agree with. They protested in Kiev throughout a Ukrainian winter - which is not an endeavor for the faint of heart.

And they did not stage a coup. Mr. Yanukovich did not have to leave but chose to do so and flee to Russia with his money. (Perhaps coincidentally, his departure for Russia provided the pretext for the chain of events that led to Russian annexing Crimea. Funny how that worked out.) He still controlled the army and security forces, including the Berkut, when he left. The demonstrators had none of the tanks, mortars, artillery, anti-aircraft missiles and other military equipment that the separatists in eastern Ukraine have. He was in no danger and could still be in Kiev governing until December elections which is what he had agreed to do.

Who would issue loans? Any country looking for a good investment. China eg. We are indebted to China, why not Ukraine?

In December 2013:

China has already given Ukraine $10 billion in loans, Reuters reported, citing Volodymyr Fesenko of Ukraine’s Penta think-tank.

Although Russia has repeatedly warned Kiev it will end trade benefits if it signs an association deal with the EU, Ukraine remains caught between Russia and the EU. Ukraine will send delegations to both the EU and Moscow “to restore economic trade relations,” Prime Minister Azarov said Tuesday.


Ukraine has borrowed $10 billion from China as of last December. They weren't getting any more.

In February 2014:

China sues Ukraine for breach of US$3b loan-for-grain agreement

China is seeking compensation of US$3 billion from Ukraine for the breach of a loans-for-grain contract signed in 2012, Russian media reported yesterday


It looks to me like China was not likely to loan Ukraine any more money. So it probably came down to Russia or the EU/IMF.

Equalizing salaries across the globe (more equality) would be a good thing. Lowering them would not.

I don't think there are many liberals who support LESS equality in global salaries. (That sounds like a republican/conservative goal.) We want our standard of living to improve even if poorer countries improve faster and eventually catch up with us.

Most of the income gains in the past 25 years have gone to the bottom 70% and the top 5% on the global income scale. Those who have suffered have been the bottom 5% and the 80-90 percentile in income.

There should be a way to reign in the top 5% with their exponential increase in income and redistribute it to the bottom 5% and the 80-90% people. (The folks in the 10%-70% range have had even greater percentage increases in their income than the top 5% has had.) We should be able to do this without jeopardizing the progress made by the lowest 2/3 of the world's population.

The key to help the American middle class while those of poorer countries rise. It can be done as evidenced by many progressive countries with progressive taxes, good safety net, strong unions and effective regulation. These countries have much stronger middle classes than we do. It takes smart legislation on taxes, union, regulation and the safety net. Without such legislation (and we are nowhere near passing anything of the sort), our middle class will continue to suffer.

Amnesty International: Ukraine: Mounting evidence of war crimes and Russian involvement

Ukrainian militia and separatist forces are responsible for war crimes, Amnesty International said today. The organisation accused Russia of fuelling separatist crimes as it revealed satellite images indicating a build-up of Russian armour and artillery in eastern Ukraine.

Despite a fragile cease-fire, the situation on the ground remains fraught with danger and Amnesty International calls on all parties, including Russia, to stop violations of the laws of war. “All sides in this conflict have shown disregard for civilian lives and are blatantly violating their international obligations,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, who travels to Kyiv and Moscow in the coming days.

“Our evidence shows that Russia is fuelling the conflict, both through direct interference and by supporting the separatists in the East. Russia must stop the steady flow of weapons and other support to an insurgent force heavily implicated in gross human rights violations.”

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied any involvement in the fighting in Ukraine, but satellite imagery and testimony gathered by the Amnesty International provide compelling evidence that the fighting has burgeoned into what Amnesty International now considers an international armed conflict.


Finally something more than the "he (Russia) said, she (Ukraine) said", along with the "No we are not doing that and you can't prove that we are" denials from both sides, that we usually get.

Here's my response to your 4 points.

1. The neocon push for a regime change in Ukraine under the auspices of the CIA is successful with cookies and right wing militia etc.

Cookies? Right wing militia? Let's just say that the Ukrainian military has dealt with much, much better armed and much more numerous militia in eastern Ukraine. I suspect they would have been able to handle security had Yanukovych decided to stay put and let them do their job.

On February 20 the chairman of the Supreme Council of Crimea Vladimir Konstantinov traveled to Moscow where he announced that the Autonomous Republic of Crimea will secede from Ukraine if there would change of power.

On February 21 President Yanukovich signed an agreement to remain as president until elections were held in December. He has full control of the military and security forces. A few hours later he decides to take his money and run - to Russia. There's the "change in power" that Putin and Konstantinov were looking for 24 hours earlier. Within a month Russia has annexed Crimea.

2. Russia, not wanting to lose the bases in crimea, annexes it as a logical reaction - whether you like it or not.

In 2010 the Kharkiv Pact was "a treaty between Ukraine and Russia whereby the Russian lease on naval facilities in Crimea would be extended beyond 2017 by 25 years (to 2042) with an additional 5 year renewal option (to 2047) in exchange for a multiyear discounted contract to provide Ukraine with Russian natural gas."

There was no threat to Russia's bases in Crimea. That is a pretext.

Now Russia has a better deal. They have the bases forever and they don't have to provide Ukraine with the discounted natural gas that was their part of the agreement.

If Japan decides the it no longer wants to renew the lease on the US base in Okinawa, the US has no right to invade Okinawa to prevent the loss of an important naval base.

3. Russia, in order to destabilize the CIA installed government in Ukraine creates unrest.

"We certainly agree that Russia in order to destabilize ... creates unrest."

If it is a "CIA installed government" in Kiev, Russia had better arrest Yanukovich for cooperating with a CIA plot. If he had not left and gone to Russia - asylum in exchange for Crimea? - he would still be in office and the country would be preparing for elections in December. Of course, Crimea would still be part of Ukraine so I can see the downside for Russia if Yanukovych had not decided that life would be better in Russia.

4. There is a propaganda war trying to discredit Russia at every step.

There are propaganda wars discrediting the government in Kiev, the separatists in the East, the Russian government, the US government, European governments and everyone else.

I don't excuse excuse the actions of any government or group simply because someone else is spouting propaganda about them.

The NGO's report may be accurate. It may not. Any government does not have the right to classify an NGO as a 'foreign agent' just because it releases information that the government would like to keep hidden. If the information they release is inaccurate, counter it with the facts. Don't try to silence them.

Politifact: Contrary to claims, the United States did not spend $5 billion to incite the rebellion

in Ukraine.

(In the December 2013 speech) She (Nuland) described how American taxpayer money has supported Ukraine’s democratic development despite the country’s challenges.

"Since Ukraine's independence in 1991, the United States has supported Ukrainians as they build democratic skills and institutions, as they promote civic participation and good governance, all of which are preconditions for Ukraine to achieve its European aspirations," she said. "We have invested over $5 billion to assist Ukraine in these and other goals that will ensure a secure and prosperous and democratic Ukraine."

Our ruling

Contrary to claims, the United States did not spend $5 billion to incite the rebellion in Ukraine.

That’s a distorted understanding of remarks given by a State Department official. She was referring to money spent on democracy-building programs in Ukraine since it broke off from the Soviet Union in 1991.

We rate the claim Pants on Fire.


The $5 billion was spent over 22 years in Ukraine as it has in many countries. It did not spend $5 just to "engineering a coup in Ukraine that overthrew the elected democratic government".
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