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At Davos, Why Is No One Talking About the Poor?


At Davos, Why Is No One Talking About the Poor?
By Roya Wolverson | @royaclare | January 28, 2012

I first learned about the World Economic Forum at Davos as a greenhorn in college. At the time, I was knee-deep in coursework on economic development, a field that extols the social and economic virtues of tending to the world’s poor.

I was somewhere between Amartya’s Sen‘s 1999 Nobel Prize-winning book Development as Freedom, a cult sensation among wonky Ivy Leaguers and 20-something granolas bound for the Peace Corps, and Joseph Stiglitz‘s 2002 bestseller Globalization and Its Discontents, when I first dreamed of going to Davos to take part in the lofty mission of “solving the world’s problems.”

(LIST: The Heavy Hitters of Davos 2012)

Those were the years when globalization really earned its bad rap. And as a result, a counter movement, rooted in aspirations of global equity and social good, began to take hold. Anti-globalization protests so disrupted the WEF in 2001 that its organizers had to relocate the event to New York the following year. The anti-globalization movement even erected its own conference, the World Social Forum, in Porto Alegre, Brazil, to serve as a populist counterweight to the elite Davos powwow. By 2002, Porto Alegre had drawn in 50,000 people, triple the number from the previous year. Even the Economist conceded that, in light of popular backlash, the march toward globalization could yet be reversed:

The economic history of the twentieth century is full of reminders that the move towards globalisation is not inevitable. War in 1914 brought an end to a period of economic openness and integration unparalleled even today. The 1930s were more painful than necessary precisely because of beggar-thy-neighbour policies adopted in the wake of the Depression. It is not impossible that governments today will turn their backs on open trade and capital flows. Many of those in Porto Alegre would welcome such a policy reversal.
In WEF-like circles, the biggest opponents of globalization then were the defenders of the world’s poor, who cited a growing gap between the fortunes of Western economies and those of the developing world. As the Economist noted:

Read more: http://business.time.com/2012/01/28/at-davos-why-is-no-one-talking-about-the-poor/#ixzz1km9HTv5T

As long as Oakland police trample on people's rights, the NLG will continue to hold them accountable

For as long as Oakland police trample on people's rights, the Guild will continue seeking to hold them accountable.


NLGSF Asks Federal Court to Certify Class Action by Oscar Grant Protesters

January 26, 2012

As OPD comes under increasing scrutiny, the NLG seeks an end to ongoing baseless arrests and incarceration of demonstrators.

In a filing today, a team of National Lawyers Guild attorneys asks the federal court to allow a law enforcement misconduct lawsuit against the Oakland Police and Alameda County Sheriff to proceed as a class action. The four named plaintiffs, including one NLG Legal Observer, seek to represent a class of 150 people who were arrested en masse on November 5, 2010, the day that former police officer Johannes Mehserle was sentenced.

The proposed class action, Spalding et al. v. Oakland, No. C11-2867 TEH, challenges the 2010 mass misdemeanor arrests and the prolonged detention of arrestees in the Alameda County Jails. The case is being heard by U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson as a related case to the ongoing proceedings in the lawsuits brought by victims of the “Riders” OPD gang. Earlier this week, in response to the Department’s glacial pace in completing the reform process agreed on in the 2003 Riders settlement, Judge Henderson stripped decision-making power from OPD, placing the Department under greatly increased oversight by monitors and bringing it one step closer to federal receivership. Last week, the monitor expressed particular concern over the OPD response to Occupy Oakland.

“The Spalding case is more important than ever, because OPD and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office are continuing these same abuses with regard to Occupy Oakland,” commented Michael Flynn, San Francisco Bay Area NLG Chapter President. “Over the past month and a half, the OPD has engaged in a campaign of brutal harassment, making repeated arrests of Occupy Oakland protesters on pretexts, and causing them to be held for days, only to be released without charges.”

“California law requires most misdemeanor arrestees to be released with a citation, but in Alameda County, even very minor charges often result in extended periods of time in jail,” explained Rachel Lederman, one of the lead attorneys on the Spalding case. “The Mehserle sentencing demonstrators were herded by police into a residential block and trapped there, along with neighborhood residents. Then they were all detained for 18-24 hours. There was no lawful basis for the mass arrest, and none of the 150 class members were ever charged with a crime.”


Regaining Common Sense (The Occupied Wall Street Journal)


Regaining Common Sense
Frances A. Chiu 27 January, 2012

275 Years Later, the Power of Tom Paine

Although Glenn Beck, Herman Cain and the Tea Party would have us believe that Tom Paine was one of them—a man who supposedly stood for “small government”—this could not be further from the truth. On the eve of Paine’s 275th birthday, on January 29, let’s restore some common sense here: Paine was a progressive to the core. He was one of the first to decry the aristocracy and landed elites of his day—the 1%—while emphasizing the welfare of the masses. True government, as he saw it, ought to be “a delegation of power for the common benefit of society,” founded on the “RES-PUBLICA, the public affairs, or public good,” not the “cavillings of a few interested men.”

By writing in a manner that was easily accessible to the literate and illiterate alike, Paine brought politics to the 99% with Common Sense (1776) and other formative texts. He dared to urge a complete break from Britain when others were still trying to compromise with George III and his Parliament. And he was among the first to question hereditary government; acknowledge women’s rights; support the abolition of slavery and challenge disparities in pay while advocating labor organizing rights. A former corset maker, teacher and excise officer, Paine knew there was something wrong when bishops earned 1,000 times as much as hardworking parish priests—just like we know there’s something wrong when CEOs earn 1,000 times as much as their employees. And he knew there was something wrong when the young were being sent to jails and the elderly forced to continue working, just like know there is something wrong when numerous urban and rural youth continue to wind up in prison while Boomers and the elderly face prospects of deferred retirement.

Interestingly but not surprisingly, Paine was treated like many future left-wing dissidents and radicals. He was burned in effigy by rowdy mobs throughout his native England and sentenced for sedition for his criticism of monarchies and feudal privileges in Rights of Man (1791). In fact, it’s worth noting that the mobs who did so were paid by wealthy nobles and powerful members of the government, not unlike Tea Party mobs who are funded by the Koch brothers and others. As they say, plus ça change.

Yet regardless of the unpopularity of his views, especially after the publication of his controversial Age of Reason (1794-5), Paine never flinched. Unlike many of our Founding Fathers, and would-be liberals today, Paine was not preoccupied with money or the trappings of wealth. He was proud of his little house in New Rochelle, New York, with its collection of farm animals and functional pots and pans. Paine donated nearly all of his considerable earnings from Common Sense and Rights of Man to the Continental Army and British radical organizations struggling as they fought for a new nation. Not least, he enjoyed hanging out in pubs and taverns, where he conversed with ordinary working men. Paine was a man who talked the talk and walked the walk all the way to the finish line.


Newt’s & the neo-Confederate wing of the GOP's no-win political appeal

http://politics.salon.com/2012/01/26/newts_no_win_political_appeal/Thursday, Jan 26, 2012 12:09 PM 12:53:38 EST

Newt’s no-win political appeal
The neo-Confederate wing of the GOP cares more about humiliating Obama than about beating him in November

Look, nobody’s third wife is going to be first lady. In the privacy of the voting booth, American women won’t stand for it. Regardless of how flawlessly the bejeweled Callista enacts the role of pious matron, she remains the embodiment of the Trophy Wife — younger, more adoring, unencumbered by children, a climber on the make. In effect, a successful Monica Lewinsky, although unlike Bill Clinton’s paramour, Callista was no kid.

Even Ann Coulter knows that. Having placed an early bet on Mitt Romney, the GOP’s vestal virgin pronounced herself shocked to hear South Carolina Republicans accepting “Democratic” arguments excusing Newt Gingrich’s serial adultery. On “Fox & Friends,” Coulter said, “I promise you, if Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum had cheated on two wives — that we know, the ‘open marriage’ thing is the only thing he contests, we know he cheated on two wives — I wouldn’t support Mitt Romney.”

Ah, but there were deeper passions at play in South Carolina. So let’s switch metaphors. Judging by the whooping and hollering of the CNN debate audience, the GOP’s neo-Confederate wing wishes for nothing less than an electoral replay of Pickett’s charge — the doomed infantry attack at Gettysburg most historians believe marked the beginning of the end of the Civil War. A sizable proportion of South Carolinians have yearned for a rematch ever since.


State of Our Food and Water: President Obama’s Energy Plan Trades Water for Energy


January 25, 2012
10:51 AM
CONTACT: Food & Water Watch

Darcey Rakestraw, 202-683-2467; [email protected]

State of Our Food and Water: President Obama’s Energy Plan Trades Water for Energy

Statement by Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch

WASHINGTON - January 25 - “The president’s energy vision is troubling for our water resources. His speech touted the development of so-called ‘clean energy,’ but it may as well have been written by the oil and gas industry. His plan to open up more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources and to support shale gas development trades clean water for energy.

“President Obama should not confuse offshore oil and onshore shale gas development for clean energy. Although gas companies should absolutely be made to disclose the chemicals they use simply disclosing chemicals does not prevent shale gas development from harming our essential water resources. To keep water safe and rural communities strong, we should ban fracking.

“Furthermore, the oil and gas industry’s job claims for shale gas development are grossly overestimated due to methodological flaws and reliance on economic modeling, rather than looking at the actual number of jobs created in communities with fracking. The only certainty about the expansion of the destructive oil and gas fracking is that it will bring profits to the multinational oil and gas companies. President Obama should look at the facts on how many jobs the oil and gas industry creates rather than writing federal energy policy based on the claims of the industry.

“When it comes to food, the President claimed he will not back down from making sure that our food is safe. But recent actions by his Administration make that claim hard to believe. Just last week, the USDA announced its plan to deregulate the poultry industry by eliminating government inspectors and shifting to privatized inspection in many poultry plants. This is the opposite of making sure consumers are protected from unsafe food.”

Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.

Dystopia: Corporate Rule Breeding 'Global Class War'


Published on Wednesday, January 25, 2012 by Common Dreams

Dystopia: Corporate Rule Breeding 'Global Class War'
- Common Dreams staff

The World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, normally an opportunity for the global elite to congratulate one another on their continued dominance of world economic matters and policy victories, has been unable this year to ignore the growing popular movements that have risen to challenge many of the forum's fundamental prescriptions for growth and economic stability.


Further proving that the forum has taken a more pessimistic tone this year is the title of one of today's sessions, 'Seeds of Dystopia,' which mirrors the WEF's Global Risks 2012 Report, released earlier this month. Among those who share the financial worries of a continued economic slump and predict further social and political upheaval, is Nouriel Roubini. An economist and co-author of the book Crisis Economics -- and also known as Dr. Doom for some of his (accurate) predictions of past economic events (read 'meltdowns') -- Roubini spoke on today's panel. The Business Insider delineates some of Roubini's key points:

Roubini & Co. Scare The Crap Out Of Davos
'Social unrest, Roubini says, is tied directly to economic uncertainty'

•What is connecting everyone in the world these days is economic and financial insecurity, the rise of income and wealth inequality, challenges from poverty, unemployment effects of financial crisis.
•Freakouts about debt loads, moreover, are leading to budget cuts — which, in Europe, at least, are making the recession worse.
•225 million people worldwide are unemployed
•1 in 3 people on the planet are poor or unemployed
•1% of the world's families own 40% of the wealth
•Wages as a percent of GDP are at an all-time low
•Corporate profits as a percent of GDP are at an all-time high
•Current policies will lead to explosions
•This inequality is "Great Gatsby revisited"
•We're in a "vicious circle"... fiscal austerity to solve debt problem is making everything worse


No Arab Spring without women


No Arab Spring without women
By Najat Al-Saeid

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Under the banner of “No Spring without Women,” a Lebanese feminist organisation has organized a march in Beirut, as part of the 5th New Arab Woman Forum. The slogan of the march is “Sawa Sawa”, which in this context means “Let’s walk together, let’s make it together”, calling for a Spring that includes both men and women. Before getting the invitation to this march, my mind was already preoccupied with the future of Arab women after the revolutions and how women’s status might be impacted in each of the Arab countries. My concern is: can there be Arab union or organisation to sustain Arab women’s status in the post-revolution era?

Women in the Arab world have suffered in the revolutions, but the question now is, what will the outcome of all this suffering and sacrifice be? To date, the revolutions have not resulted in any improvement in women’s status. In Egypt, there are now voices saying that women should leave the revolution to men, and during a demonstration on International Women’s Day in March, men jeered at the women marching, telling them to go home and feed their babies.

On Dec. 21, 2011, women marched from Tahrir Square through the city, outraged by the image of a young woman kicked by troops and dragged along the ground. What’s more, there are no women on the committee that has been tasked with drafting the new constitution, though many are qualified to be. Since the revolution, the women’s quota in parliament has been abolished, which means there will be fewer women and their presence will barely make a difference.

Tunisian women have not suffered from the same abuses, but their legal position has not changed since the revolution. Tunisian women are trying to preserve their rights instead of winning new ones. One large party only, the Democratic Modernist Pole, has promised to install a woman as its leader.


The Washington-Wall Street Revolving Door Just Keeps Spinning Along, by Bill Moyers & M. Winship


Published on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 by Common Dreams

The Washington-Wall Street Revolving Door Just Keeps Spinning Along

by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

We’ve already made our choice for the best headline of the year, so far:

"Citigroup Replaces JPMorgan as White House Chief of Staff."

When we saw it on the website Gawker.com we had to smile -- but the smile didn’t last long. There’s simply too much truth in that headline; it says a lot about how Wall Street and Washington have colluded to create the winner-take-all economy that rewards the very few at the expense of everyone else

The story behind it is that Jack Lew is President Obama’s new chief of staff -- arguably the most powerful office in the White House that isn’t shaped like an oval. He used to work for the giant banking conglomerate Citigroup. His predecessor as chief of staff is Bill Daley, who used to work at the giant banking conglomerate JPMorgan Chase, where he was maestro of the bank’s global lobbying and chief liaison to the White House.

Daley replaced Obama’s first chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who once worked as a rainmaker for the investment bank now known as Wasserstein & Company, where in less than three years he was paid a reported eighteen and a half million dollars.

The new guy, Jack Lew – said by those who know to be a skilled and principled public servant – ran hedge funds and private equity at Citigroup, which means he’s a member of the Wall Street gang, too. His last job was as head of President Obama’s Office of Management and Budget, where he replaced Peter Orzag, who now works as vice chairman for global banking at – hold onto your deposit slip -- Citigroup.


Gingrich's Death Penalty for Pot


Gingrich's Death Penalty for Pot
Tuesday, 24 January 2012 08:47

In 1996, when he was in Congress, Newt Gingrich proposed to amend the Controlled Substances Act to include a provision for the death penalty for anyone who brings two ounces of marijuana or other drugs into the country.

Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson slams Gingrich, who's running for the Republican presidential nomination. "Some of Speaker Gingrich’s ideas over the years are nothing short of scary," says Johnson. "The War on Drugs is a failure, and bold steps are in order to align drug policy with reality and humanity. But Newt Gingrich’s notion of bold is not what we need."

About H.R. 4170 (Drug Import Death Penalty Act of 1996), Johnson notes: "Anyone coming home to the U.S. and caught carrying enough marijuana (two ounces) to distribute would be sentenced to life imprisonment with no parole - or if caught twice, would be sentenced to death."

Gingrich recently defended this position when he stated: "We need to think through a strategy that makes it radically less likely that we're going to have drugs in this country. Places like Singapore have been the most successful at doing that. They've been very draconian. And they have communicated with great intention that they intend to stop drugs from coming into their country."


Oklahoma GOP Introduces Bill That Attacks Evolution And Climate Change


GOP Introduces Bill That Attacks Evolution And Climate Change
January 22, 2012
By Stephen D. Foster Jr.

Republicans in Oklahoma have introduced the sixth anti-evolution bill of 2012. Introduced by State GOP Senator Josh Brecheen, SB 1742 would force the state board of education to assist school staffs in promoting “critical thinking, logical analysis, open and objective discussion of scientific theories including, but not limited to, evolution, the origin of life, global warming, and human cloning” and says that teachers “may use supplemental textbooks and instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner.”

In other words, this bill is covertly requiring the state board of education to encourage schools to teach opposing views of climate change and evolution even though those opposing views have no scientific facts to stand on. The bill claims that it isn’t promoting a religious doctrine, but the problem is that the bill is modeled after the 2008 Louisiana bill that requires schools to teach creationism. SB 1742 also allows teachers to use alternate book materials in addition to the regular textbook, which means teachers could theoretically bring a Bible to school and call it a “supplemental textbook.” Besides, there are no scientific theories that debunk evolution and climate change. Both theories are widely accepted by nearly all scientists. That leaves pseudo-science theories like creationism as the only choice for schools to utilize as an opposing theory. The bill for some reason also declares an emergency of some kind which I can only assume is the emergency being declared by religious groups on the right who think Christianity is being discriminated against.

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