February 28th, 2011

Killjoy Spin
  • arisma

Drug-Friendly Netherlands to Close 8 Prisons -- Not Enough Crime

For years prohibitionists, including our own Drug Enforcement Administration, have claimed — falsely — that the tolerant marijuana policies of the Netherlands have made that nation a nest of crime and drug abuse. They may have trouble wrapping their little brains around this:

The Dutch government is getting ready to close eight prisons because they don’t have enough criminals to fill them. Officials attribute the shortage of prisoners to a declining crime rate.

Just for fun, let’s compare the Netherlands to California. With a population of 16.6 million, the Dutch prison population is about 12,000. With its population of 36.7 million, California should have a bit more than double the Dutch prison population. California’s actual prison population is 171,000.

So, whose drug policies are keeping the streets safer?


Source

Blowing the Peoples' Money

Here's something to lighten the moods of the Libyan people once their internet connections are fully restored. A video originally made in 2005 by Fashion TV was uploaded to the net last week by Libyan activists.

It shows Gaddafi's sons al-Saadi and Moatessem throwing a ridiculously expensive party for celebrities at the Venice Film Festival (incorrectly-labelled as Vienna on the video title).



Look for appearances by Roman Polanski, Anna Kournikova and Valeria Golino, with a headline performance by 50 Cent.

No doubt the people currently fighting for their lives in Tripoli will have some choice words for the celebs who were happy to schmooze with the regime.

Banned books return to shelves in Egypt and Tunisia

Works by censored authors available again in wake of revolutions



A number of highly political titles censored by the regime of ousted Tunisian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali are now returning to the country's bookshop shelves.

La Regente de Carthage by Nicolas Beau and Catherine Graciet, a critical book about the former president's family, focusing in particular on the role of his wife, Leila, is among those now openly on sale in the country, according to the International Publishers Association.

Alongside it is a previously banned study of the long-serving Tunisian president from whom Ben Ali took over following a 1987 coup: Habib Bourguiba: La Trace et l'Heritage by Michel Camau and Vincent Geisser.

Also now appearing in the country's bookshops are The Assassination of Salah Ben Youssef by Omar Khlifi, a book about the shooting of a former Tunisian minister of justice in Frankfurt in 1961, and works by journalist Toaufik Ben Brik, a prominent critic of Ben Ali's presidency.

Alexis Krikorian, director of the Freedom to Publish programme at the IPA, said the emergence of these and other formerly banned books within Tunisia was "very good news". Whether censorship still existed with regard to new titles was a separate issue, he added, but it was likely that the legal submission procedure, which under the old regime had been misused to block books at their printers, "no longer applies".

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The Guardian has the entire article, which goes on to talk about an upcoming book fair in Tahrir Square in Cairo
Citadel

Democrats poised to introduce legislation to repeal ‘Defense of Marriage Act’

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has announced plans to introduce a bill in the U.S. Congress that would repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the law that defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman for purposes of all federal laws.

Feinstein’s announcement comes on the heels of the Obama administration’s announcement last week that at least one part of DOMA will not be able to pass constitutional muster in federal court, and that the Justice Department will not defend that part of the law in two pending cases in the Second Circuit.

“As a Member of the Judiciary Committee, it is my intention to introduce legislation that will once and for all repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

“My own belief is that when two people love each other and enter the contract of marriage, the Federal government should honor that.

“I opposed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. It was the wrong law then; it is the wrong law now; and it should be repealed.”


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Source.
OMG WTF BBQ
  • homasse

Past medical testing on humans revealed

Past medical testing on humans revealed

Shocking as it may seem, U.S. government doctors once thought it was fine to experiment on disabled people and prison inmates. Such experiments included giving hepatitis to mental patients in Connecticut, squirting a pandemic flu virus up the noses of prisoners in Maryland, and injecting cancer cells into chronically ill people at a New York hospital.

Much of this horrific history is 40 to 80 years old, but it is the backdrop for a meeting in Washington this week by a presidential bioethics commission. The meeting was triggered by the government's apology last fall for federal doctors infecting prisoners and mental patients in Guatemala with syphilis 65 years ago.


U.S. officials also acknowledged there had been dozens of similar experiments in the United States — studies that often involved making healthy people sick.

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--

Well, I'm sickened and horrified.
normal

Massey Official to Pursue New Business Opportunities in Federal Prison

Federal Grand Jury Indicts Massey Energy Official For Lying In W. Va. Mine Probe

Hughie Elbert Stover, the chief of security at Massey Energy Company's Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia, was arrested at his home on Monday and charged with making materially false statements to federal officials and obstructing a federal investigation.

The Justice Department announced Monday that the 60-year-old Stover was indicted by a federal grand jury last week for allegedly providing materially false statements to an FBI special agent and a special investigator for the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).

Stover himself instructed security guards to notify mine personnel whenever inspectors arrived at the mine, according to federal prosecutors. But Stover allegedly falsely told investigators that he would have fired any security guard who provided such advance notice.

The indictment also alleges that Stover instructed a person known to the grand jury to dispose of thousands of pages of security related documents held in the garage of a house known as the "Barracks" near the main security gate at the mine. The indictment said that FBI agents were able to recover the documents

"The conduct charged by the grand jury -- obstruction of justice and false statements to federal investigators -- threatens our effort to find out what happened at Upper Big Branch," said R. Booth Goodwin, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia, in a statement. "With 29 coal miners lost and thousands more waiting for answers about what caused the disaster, this inquiry is simply too important to tolerate any attempt to hinder it. My office will continue to devote every available resource to this most critical of cases."

stovercharges
DW wth?

To Block GSA, Texas High School Shuts Down All Extracurricular Clubs

To Block A Gay-Straight Alliance, Texas High School Shuts Down All Extracurricular Clubs
by Shannon Cuttle

A Corpus Christi, TX school district has responded to a student's request to create a Gay-Straight Alliance -- by shutting down all extracurricular clubs on campus.

Flour Bluff Intermediate School District's move comes after its high school gained national attention by blocking senior Bianca "Nikki" Peet's request to start a GSA
. Hundreds of people have emailed the district on behalf of Peet through a Change.org petition, which was also linked to by the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

Texas A&M's GSA, which has been advocating for Peet, had called for a protest Monday, Feburary 28, 2011.

But Flour Bluff ISD Superintendent Julie Carbajal, in comments to The Daily Caller on Friday, said that there is no chance that district will approve the purposed Gay-Straight Alliance. She also has requested that the student group Fellowship of Christian Athletes meet off campus until they can determine if they are adhering to the 2005 school policy that only student groups tied to curricula are allowed.

By canceling all extra curricular clubs on campus, Flour Bluff ISD hopes to avoid the Equal Access Act -- a federal law, passed in 1984, that requires schools receiving federal funding to offer "fair opportunities for students to form student-led extracurricular groups, regardless of their religious, political and philosophical leanings." The district still maintains that they do not have to follow the Equal Access Law.

Superintendent Carbajal claimed, “We need to be fair and equitable to all," but that is not how supporters of "Nikki" Peet see it.

From a statement from Paul Rodriguez, President of the Texas A&M Corpus Christi Gay Straight Alliance about the Flour Bluff ISD decision yesterday:

"What a sad, sad day in Corpus Christi. Hatred and intolerance prevails in Flour Bluff ISD. Rather than allowing the Gay-Straight Alliance to form at FBHS, Administrators have chosen the alternative route of dis-allowing ALL non-curricular clubs to meet on campus. Not only has this district turned its back on the students who could benefit from a GSA, but now has alienated the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and other non-curricular clubs on campus as well."

Texas A&M had given Flour Bluff ISD two options: approve Bianca "Nikki" Peet's request to form a GSA or disallow all extra curricula clubs at Flour Bluff High School. The group says that it is unfortunate that FBISD cannot -- and will not -- see that a GSA is essential to building that bridge of tolerance and unity amongst its students, and it's now brainstorming other ways to help Peet start her club.

Source
nayallah

Is this the most offensive show on television?


Three groups are taking action against a Spanish-language television talk show, José Luis Sin Censura, that has a history of obscene, violent, anti-gay, and sexist segments purposely used to whip up homophobic and misogynistic sentiments.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the National Hispanic Media Coalition, and the Women's Media Center are all joining together to call attention to José Luis Sin Censura, and to urge the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to investigate the show for violating broadcast television standards. A complaint with the FCC was filed by GLAAD and the National Hispanic Media Coalition, with the Women's Media Center joining the organizations for an online action calling on Julius Genachowski, Chair of the FCC, to investigate José Luis Sin Censura.

GLAAD has a pretty shocking clip reel documenting a number of incidents from the show that raise some major red flags. In over 20 episodes that aired between May 2010-December 2010, GLAAD documented segments on José Luis Sin Censura that used the words "culero" (assf*cker) as well as "maricón," "joto" and "puñal" (fa*got), and also captured segments where audience members were encouraged to shout anti-gay epithets at guests who were LGBT or who were perceived to be LGBT.

"This is certainly not the standard being set by other Spanish-language news and entertainment media, most of which continue to improve in presenting stories of the LGBT community that grow acceptance," said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios. "It is extremely disturbing to see a show like 'José Luis Sin Censura' air this violent language with impunity and without any regard for the safety of our community. At a time when LGBT youth and adults face harassment and violence, it is unacceptable for media to fuel such a climate of intolerance about our community."

The FCC complaint filed by GLAAD and the National Hispanic Media Coalition targets Liberman Broadcasting, as well as the Los Angeles network KRCA, which airs José Luis Sin Censura.

It's also not the first time that José Luis Sin Censura has faced scrutiny for its content. Last year, after episodes where anti-gay epithets flew around fast and furious, GLAAD led protests against the show, which resulted in a number of companies refusing to sponsor José Luis Sin Censura, including KFC, Chevrolet, and Nissan.

Alex Nogales, the President and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, said that he was appalled that Liberman Broadcasting would choose to air this show at all, let alone at a time during the day when lots of children were watching television.

"This program is WAY overboard, and goes far beyond a fleeting moment of expletives or nudity. This is pre-taped, pre-meditated smut, designed to do nothing more than titillate and shock the audience. I have never seen anything like this on English-language television – José Luis makes Jerry Springer look like Mr. Rogers," Nogales said. "I am alarmed that José Luis seems to normalize violence and hate against LGBT people. At a time when so much hate is being directed towards Latinos in this country, we know firsthand that hate and violence have no place in our dialogue."

Want to get the FCC's attention on this? Send them a message here, and extend your support for the work of GLAAD, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, and the Women's Media Center to hold José Luis Sin Censura accountable.
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Anti-gay Christian couple lose foster care case

Court rules against Christian couple who claimed their beliefs on homosexuality should not prevent them becoming foster carers

A Pentecostal Christian couple have lost their high court claim that they were discriminated against by a local authority because they insisted on their right to tell young foster children that homosexuality is morally wrong.

Eunice and Owen Johns, who are in their sixties and have fostered children in the past, claimed they were being discriminated against by Derby city council because of their Christian beliefs, after they told a social worker they could not tell a child a "homosexual lifestyle" was acceptable. The couple had hoped to foster five- to 10-year-olds.

The case was the latest to be brought by conservative evangelicals, led by the Christian Legal Centre, over their supporters' right to discriminate specifically against gay people and not be bound by equality regulations. All the cases have so far been lost.

In a sharply worded judgment, Lord Justice Munby and Justice Beatson dismissed the couple's lawyer's claims as "a travesty of reality".

"No one is asserting that Christians (or, for that matter, Jews or Muslims) are not 'fit and proper' persons to foster or adopt. No one is seeking to de-legitimise Christianity or any other faith or belief. On the contrary, it is fundamental to our law and our way of life that everyone is equal before the law and equal as a human being ... entitled to dignity and respect.

------------------------------

The Guardian has the full article.

I'm pleasantly surprised by this...

(I swear this had tags the first time I submitted this. Stupid LJ :(
The X-Files // Scully Glasses

Iran opposition leaders Mousavi and Karroubi 'arrested'

Iranian opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi and their wives have been taken from their homes by security forces, reports suggest.

Mr Karroubi's son told the BBC he had heard his father had been moved, but did not know where he had been taken.

A website close to Mr Mousavi claims the men have been taken to Heshmatiyeh jail in Tehran. Iran denied the report, a semi-official news agency said.

The incident comes ahead of planned protests to be held on Tuesday.


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Well, shit.

(no subject)

Iran threatens to boycott 2012 London Olympics because of logo

By Cindy Boren
Iran is threatening to boycott the 2012 Olympic Games in London because of the Games' logo.
londonlogo.jpgAccording to an Iranian official, the logo, with its blocky, abstract rendering of "2012," is racist because it appears to spell the word "Zion," a biblical term for Jerusalem, rather than 2012. Bahram Afsharzadeh, the secretary-general of Iran's National Olympic Committee, said via the official IRNA news agency that he sent a letter of complaint to International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge.
"There is no doubt that negligence of the issue from your side may affect the presence of some countries in the games, especially Iran, which abides by commitment to the values and principles," Afsharzadeh said in the letter to Rogge, according to the Associated Press, and urged other Muslim states to protest as well.
The International Olympic Committee and London's organizing committee disagree. "Our response is as follows: The London 2012 logo represents the figure 2012, nothing else," the IOC said.





Source

I think someone needs to take a typography class...

GOP reality check: Obama looking tougher to beat in 2012

 By JONATHAN MARTIN | 2/28/11 4:40 AM EST

Just four months after posting historic election gains, Republicans are experiencing a reality check about 2012: President Barack Obama is going to be a lot tougher to defeat than he looked late last year.

Having gone from despondency in 2008 to euphoria last November, a more sober GOP is wincing in the light of day as they consider just how difficult unseating an incumbent president with a massive warchest is going to be, even with a still-dismal economy.

“I consider him a favorite, albeit a slight favorite,” said former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove. “Republicans underestimate President Obama at their own peril.”

Much of the GOP realism is rooted in a long-standing truism of American politics – that absent a major crisis of confidence, it’s highly difficult to defeat a sitting president.

But aside from the traditional advantages of incumbency, Republicans are also fretting about the strength of Obama’s campaign infrastructure, the potential limitations of their own field and, particularly, the same demographic weaknesses that haunted them in 2008.

The best indicator of the GOP outlook on 2012 may be the shape of the party’s prospective field. Many of the contenders who can afford to sit out a presidential election cycle and wait for an open-seat race – Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush come to mind – seem intent on doing so.

The view among senior Republicans is not that Obama is a sure bet or that the GOP nomination is not worth having. Many are convinced 2012 will be more competitive than 2008 and that the White House can still be won.

But there is an unmistakable sense among Republicans that the breezy predictions of Obama turning out to be the next Jimmy Carter were premature.

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Alexander Burns contributed to this report.



Source.


Uncle V wants you

Anonymous took down Americans for Prosperity's website


From Daily Kos:

From twitter:
#OpWisconsin It's not just you! http://americansforprosperity.org looks down from here. :] #anonymous #wiunion #koch #kochblock #anonops
The Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity astroturf website is now down.  Try and visit and you see:
Now the story from Politicus USA:

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When Anonymous says, "expect us," they aren't kidding.

solidarity wisconsin theinternetishere
penny-sheldon-smirk

Chicago Professor Emerges as ‘The Fake Rahm’.


Daniel Sinker, a Chicago journalism professor and media blogger, finally disclosed today that he is the profanity-laced voice behind the famous, Twitter account for Chicago’s mayor-elect, Rahm Emanuel.

The Twitter account @mayoremanuel became an Internet sensation this past fall, amassing nearly 40,000 followers as it told the story of Chicago’s mayoral election from the view of a candidate who assumed he’d already won. When a state court almost kicked Mr. Emanuel off the ballot because of Chicago’s residency requirement, the fake Mr. Emanuel erupted with four-letter words. When he won election last week with 55% of the vote, the fake Rahm crowd surfed at his own victory party.

Most of the posts would exhaust our supply of dashes.

“The guy is known for being profane, let’s see how profane we can get,” Mr. Sinker told Washington Wire, saying he aimed to “turn the volume of that myth up to f—— epic.”

Mr. Sinker, 36 years old who lives in a northern suburb with his wife and 5-year-old son, insists he does not cuss as much at home or on the job at Columbia College in Chicago. He first revealed his identity to the Atlantic.

Washington Wire had its own suspicions in November that Mr. Sinker, who often weighs in on Windy City politics, was behind the account. (Mr. Sinker’s personal Twitter account was one of @mayoremanuel’s first followers on Twitter.)

But during a November email exchange with Washington Wire, he repeatedly disavowed any association with @mayoremanuel.

“Wish I had something to share – that account is amazing,” Mr. Sinker said during one exchange. When pressed, he responded, “Don’t really have any guesses who it is – just enjoying the ride.”

Washington Wire also asked to meet with @mayoremanuel via Twitter. Using his fake-Rahm persona, Mr. Sinker denied the request in exceptionally earthy language.

So, what does fake-Rahm actually think of real Rahm?

“There’s certainly a lot of people who would do a lot worse job,” Mr. Sinker said. “It was obvious from day one that he was getting elected. Much credit to the real guy, he ran for office, man.”

The real Mr. Emanuel promised a donation of $5,000 to the account author’s favorite charity if he would reveal himself. Mr. Emanuel’s communications director Ben LaBolt said Monday on Twitter that the promise would be kept.

Mr. Sinker said he hadn’t decided where he’d send the money yet.

“I’m exhausted from hiding,” he said, adding he’s got no plans for a another digital impersonation.

Source


[info]jesidres , try to contain yourself, gurl.  ;p

king rad

Cricket Player Comes Out; The Sport Does Not Implode

Steven Davies praises Ashes teammates after coming out



Colleagues and gay rights campaigners have welcomed the decision by Surrey and England cricketer Steven Davies to come out as gay.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic


But campaigners warned that football risked being shown up in failing to create an environment that made it easier for top players to follow the examples of Gareth Thomas in rugby and Davies in cricket in coming out while they were still playing.

Davies, part of England's Ashes-winning squad this winter, said it was a massive relief to be able to talk openly about his sexuality. The 24-year-old wicketkeeper was praised for addressing the issue so early in his career.

"What he has done is remarkable," said John Amaechi, who was born in the US but brought up in Britain and became the first gay former NBA basketball player to speak openly about his sexuality, in February 2007.

"As someone prepared for the shift it makes in the way people perceive you and prepared to be a role model, I think it's truly laudable. To be so young and to do this is a radical and important step.

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source is too distracted by the photo
MISC - moustache

Frostbite and Freedom: Tom Morello on the Battle of Madison

I've played hundreds of protests. I've marched on dozens of picket lines. I've strummed my guitar at innumerable demonstrations. I've been arrested more times than I'm willing to put in print in support of striking workers. But I thought now is the time to take a break. I have a 16-month-old son crawling around on the floor and another baby boy about to be born any day now, so I decided to curtail the traveling, the protesting, the rocking.

And then I turned on the news. For days I had been following the exciting events in Cairo and across the Middle East. But when I turned on the television and saw 100,000 people marching through the streets of MADISON, WISCONSIN to protest an anti-union bill put forward by some schmuck named Governor Walker it caught my attention. I turned to my wife and said, "Honey, our boys are gonna grow up to be union men." She sighed and replied, "The Nightwatchman is needed. You should go."

And so The Nightwatchman went.

A nice lady at the airport looked at my guitar and politely asked, "Why are you going to Madison, young man?" I replied, "Because they're making history in Madison, ma'am. And I don't want to miss it."

So I flew to Chicago with Wayne Kramer (of the legendary MC5) only to find that all the flights to Madison had been cancelled due to a big winter storm. But neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow, nor dark of night can keep The Nightwatchman from his appointed task. My good friend and fellow musician from Libertyville, Illinois, Ike Reilly, picked us up at the airport and together with our small crew of rabble-rousers we began the precarious journey up I-90 through the storm. Cars and trucks were piled up in the ditch along the roadside, but with fortitude and constant reminders from elder statesman Wayne Kramer that "We're in no hurry here. Slow down, brother," we made it safely to Madison.

Upon arrival, we linked up with the Boston band Street Dogs and Tim McIlrath from Rise Against, all sturdy union supporters. We had a great meeting with representatives of the AFL-CIO to make plans for the following day. They have been one of the unions spearheading these historic protests but I sensed that they were somewhat nervous about me staying "on message." Perhaps they had read stories about riots at Rage Against the Machine shows, or maybe because I was decked out head-to-toe in my Industrial Workers of the World gear. Anyway, I was eager to get to the Capitol building and into the action.

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source
normal

Peace, Tolerance and Children are Overrated Anyway...

Israeli Gov’t May Deport Children Attending Tel Aviv School Featured In Oscar Winning Documentary

Yesterday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded its Oscar for Best Documentary, Short Subject to “Strangers No More,” a film about a school in South Tel Aviv that educates children from 48 different countries, many of whom have come to Israel as refugees or because their parents have immigrated for employment. The film’s co-producer and co-director Karen Goodman thanked the school’s children in her acceptance speech:
“Thank you most of all to the exceptional immigrant and refugee children from 48 countries at Tel Aviv’s remarkable Bialik Rogozin school. You’ve shown us that through education, understanding, and tolerance, peace really is possible.”
Yet Mya Guarnieri at the Middle East news website Mondoweiss reports that the Israeli government doesn’t necessarily see it that way. “After a five month delay, which followed a year-long battle over the matter, the deportation of 400 children and their parents is scheduled to begin on Sunday,” Guarnieri reports, “Just a week after a crowd in the US applauded the touching story of foreigners who find a home here in Israel.” Moreover, the Israeli government may deport children from the Bialik Rogozin school, including one of the stars of “Strangers No More”:
Just a week after the Israeli media runs its hip-hip-hooray! reports of the win, the Oz Unit will start rounding such kids up. And one of the children is the 10-year-old star of the film. According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel:
…10-year-old Esther who starred in the movie is facing a probable deportation alongside an estimated 120 pupils from her school. Esther fled from South Africa and arrived in Israel with her father four years ago – thus missing the five-year mark set as a condition to remaining in the country.
Leftist Meretz Party leader Haim Oron called the deportation plan “brutal, random, and regretful” while a former member of the Knesset from the same party called the deportation plan “despicable” and “evil.”

As for the children attending Bialik Rogozin starring in “Strangers No More,” Guarnieri observes, “it seems that ‘strangers’ are strangers to the Israeli government — no matter how tolerant and understanding the children might make the state seem to the world.” (HT: @julespenner)
also made by nervous_girl

Controversial commercial on Legal immigration hits airwaves

Illegal immigration is often a heated topic, but what about legal immigration?

A new ad from "Californians for Population Stabilization" says the government admits more than a million legal immigrants in this country each year and those newcomers are taking American jobs.

"They take good jobs in places like California," the ad says. "No matter how many Californians are out of work or how ill the economy gets, we need to slow immigration until California is working again."

The controversial commercial from CAPS will air on your television starting Monday.

"This is an ad on legal immigration to the United States and our campaign is about opening up more jobs for California workers because California has the highest unemployment rate and Bakersfield has one of the highest" Marilyn DeYoung, CAPS Chairperson, said.

The group said legal immigrants are taking the jobs of Californians. It proposes cutting the number of legal immigrants allowed into the U.S. each year by more than half. But, when many legal immigrants serving our community as doctors, restaurant owners and more, there's no doubt the commercial will provoke some thought.

"People who come here legally and make something of themselves, I think that's good because we have a lot of people in our own land that don't make anything of themselves," Richard Winenke, a legal immigrant from Germany, said.

"They should play it safe on the legal people coming in because they might be legal, but they are probably not interested in our protection," Lilia Gonzalez, who opposes legal immigration, said.

"If they want to come over and start and work legitimately to take care of their families, I say go for it," May Haywood, who supports legal immigration, said.

The commercial will air in Kern County starting Monday. It will air statewide within the next four months.

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Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

The Wisconsin Lie Exposed

The Wisconsin Lie Exposed – Taxpayers Actually Contribute Nothing To Public Employee Pensions

Pulitzer Prize winning tax reporter, David Cay Johnston, has written a brilliant piece for tax.com exposing the truth about who really pays for the pension and benefits for public employees in Wisconsin.

Gov. Scott Walker says he wants state workers covered by collective bargaining agreements to “contribute more” to their pension and health insurance plans. Accepting Gov. Walker’ s assertions as fact, and failing to check, creates the impression that somehow the workers are getting something extra, a gift from taxpayers. They are not. Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin’ s pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers.

Via tax.com

How can this be possible?

Simple. The pension plan is the direct result of deferred compensation- money that employees would have been paid as cash salary but choose, instead, to have placed in the state operated pension fund where the money can be professionally invested (at a lower cost of management) for the future.

Many of us are familiar with the concept of deferred compensation from reading about the latest multi-million dollar deal with some professional athlete. As a means of allowing their ball club to have enough money to operate, lowering their own tax obligations and for other benefits, ball players often defer payment of money they are to be paid to a later date. In the meantime, that money is invested for the ball player’s benefit and then paid over at the time and in the manner agreed to in the contract between the parties.

Does anyone believe that, in the case of the ball player, the deferred money belongs to the club owner rather than the ball player? Is the owner simply providing this money to the athlete as some sort of gift? Of course not. The money is salary to be paid to the ball player, deferred for receipt at a later date.

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Why Koch Industries Is Speaking Out

By CHARLES G. KOCH

Years of tremendous overspending by federal, state and local governments have brought us face-to-face with an economic crisis. Federal spending will total at least $3.8 trillion this year—double what it was 10 years ago. And unlike in 2001, when there was a small federal surplus, this year's projected budget deficit is more than $1.6 trillion.

Several trillions more in debt have been accumulated by state and local governments. States are looking at a combined total of more than $130 billion in budget shortfalls this year. Next year, they will be in even worse shape as most so-called stimulus payments end.

For many years, I, my family and our company have contributed to a variety of intellectual and political causes working to solve these problems. Because of our activism, we've been vilified by various groups. Despite this criticism, we're determined to keep contributing and standing up for those politicians, like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who are taking these challenges seriously.

Both Democrats and Republicans have done a poor job of managing our finances. They've raised debt ceilings, floated bond issues, and delayed tough decisions.

In spite of looming bankruptcy, President Obama and many in Congress have tiptoed around the issue of overspending by suggesting relatively minor cuts in mostly discretionary items. There have been few serious proposals for necessary cuts in military and entitlement programs, even though these account for about three-fourths of all federal spending.

Yes, some House leaders have suggested cutting spending to 2008 levels. But getting back to a balanced budget would mean a return to at least 2003 spending levels—and would still leave us with the problem of paying off our enormous debts.

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