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US: Alabama Agriculture Department Advances Plan To Replace Immigrant Workers With Prisoners

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ThinkProgress has been reporting on the catastrophic economic consequences of Alabama's harshest-in-the-nation immigration law. Undocumented workers are the backbone of Alabama's agriculture industry, and their exodus has already created a labor shortage in the state. Farmers say crops are rotting in the field and they are in danger of losing their farms by next season.

GOP politicians have crowed that driving immigrants out of the state will reduce unemployment by letting native citizens fill those jobs. But they've quickly discovered that Americans are simply unwilling to do the back-breaking labor of harvesting crops.

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It's Your Choice, Europe: Rebel Against the Banks or Accept Debt-Serfdom

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© wallyworld.blogspot.com
The European debt Bubble has burst, and the repricing of risk and debt cannot be put back in the bottle.

It's really this simple, Europe: either rebel against the banks or accept decades of debt-serfdom. All the millions of words published about the European debt crisis can be distilled down a handful of simple dynamics. Once we understand those, then the choice between resistance and debt-serfdom is revealed as the only choice: the rest of the "options" are illusory.

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US, California: Foreclosure Exposure

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© unknown
Ana Wilson
I can't say I'm surprised at the way the LA Times painted the story of Ana Wilson and her foreclosure nightmare. Scott, the Times on-scene business reporter (yeah, they sent a business reporter), spoke with me at length about the complexities of the nation's foreclosure crisis. Complexities, he said, that made it difficult for him to understand the nuances in cases like Ana's. How could so many people feel entitled to get out of an agreement they signed?

Scott was leaving the Wilson residence as I arrived. I was handed a sort of press release by a fellow activist in the kitchen which outlined the series of events leading up to the eviction of the Wilsons from their South Gate home. It said, in simple terms, that Ana had been born with cerebral palsy, and her family had lived at this residence since 1975. Several years ago, around the same time as the peak of the lending fraud crisis, Ana was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. In 2009, a nice, educated woman in an expensive-looking pantsuit came from Wells Fargo and assured the Wilsons that in order to keep up with her medical costs and their mortgage, the family should refinance their home loan. Their payments would be lower, said the woman, and it was the right thing to do. After all, the pants-suited woman, Tricia, was a professional loan officer from Wells Fargo. If anyone knew when to refinance, it would be Tricia.

Having discussed the foreclosure crisis with business reporters from Fox, the Times, and others, the business reporter angle seems unfaltering: those people should have known better. Entering into a loan agreement you can't afford to pay back is obviously a bad idea -- but how obviously? What each of these reporters fails to recognize -- and report on -- are several things.

Family

US: Fire dept. watches home burn because family didn't pay fee

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© U.S. Army
Firefighters in one Tennessee county watched this week as a family's home burned to the ground, refusing to take action to save the structure because the residents had not paid their yearly $75 fee.

Homeowner Vicky Bell told a reporter with NBC affiliate station Local 6 WPSD that she immediately called 9-1-1 when the fire began, and emergency crews rushed to the scene.

Unfortunately for Bell, once firefighters arrived they realized that the family had not contributed to the department this year, so they stood down - exactly as instructed to by the City of South Fulton's "pay for spray" policy.

Due to budget cuts, residents of rural areas outside the city limits have to pay the city for fire protection, or face potential disaster

Robot

US: Texas mom who shot kids, killed self in standoff was denied food stamps

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© AP/Laredo Morning Times/Cuate Santos
Texas Health and Human Services Office
San Antonio - A Texas woman who for months was unable to qualify for food stamps pulled a gun in a state welfare office and staged a seven-hour standoff with police. The incident ended with her shooting her two children before killing herself, officials said Tuesday.

Authorities identified the mother as 38-year-old Rachelle Grimmer and the children, who remained in critical condition Tuesday, as Ramie and Timothy. The shooting took place at a Texas Department of Heath and Human Services building in the southwest Texas border city of Laredo. Police say about 25 people were inside at the time.

Grimmer, who police say had recently moved to Laredo from Ohio, first applied for food stamps in July but was denied because she didn't turn in enough information, said Texas Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman.

In addition to completing an 18-page application, families seeking state benefits also must provide documents proving their information, such as employment and residency.

Comment: Some time ago there was a paper written, which went along these lines: "..in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare.." The paper, considered the corner stone of American Democracy, appears to have been forgotten. This isn't to make acceptable what this lady has done, but due to the fact that the paper is being, has been undermined, people are becoming more and more desperate for help, especially in the state the Western Worlds economy is in.


Igloo

UK: School turns heating off to 'save planet': Fury as kids shiver on coldest day

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© The Sun
School's cool ... Ansford
A headteacher got a roasting yesterday for turning the school heating OFF on one of the coldest days of the year - to save the planet.

Pupils shivered in coats, hats and scarves as temperatures fell to just 1°C (34°F).

Head Rob Benzie switched off the radiators to show how the secondary school could cut its carbon footprint.

But some staff and parents slammed the "barbaric" plan.

One teacher called it "beyond stupid" and added: "It was absolutely ridiculous.

"I've never worked in such cold. I'm all for saving the planet but this was barbaric.

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Defying the March of Fascism in the Degenerating United States of Euramerica

"In a regular sequence, new 'emergency decrees' appeared every six months, each yet again reducing salaries, pensions, social benefits, and finally even private wages and rates of interest. Each was the logical consequence of the last one, and each time Bruning [German Chancellor 1930-1932], clenching his teeth, imposed the painful logic." From: Defying Hitler: a memoir, by Sebastian Haffner, written in 1939, discovered by his son after his death, published in 2000
European Nazi Flag
© Unknown
The above haunting words were written by Sebastian Haffner in his 1930s memoirs as a young lawyer in Berlin who experienced first-hand the Nazi takeover.

The economic circumstances that Germans were subjected to seem an eerily relevant description of what we are experiencing today. History seems to be repeating itself as we encounter the current repetitive fiscal emergencies and imposition of 'austerity measures' ad-nauseum. If you listen carefully to the emotional, fatalistic language of 'desperate' politicians, you'll hear a not-so-faint echo of the vitriol of the Third Reich's infamous chancellor.

Through Government media agents, we're told "we need to make sacrifices" or the world and everything in it, will implode and die a painful, agonising death. The new 'emergency decrees' of our times all sound necessary in the 'life-raft' manner they are announced. New legislation or amendments are touted as the saviours of global security, fiscal responsibility or financial stability, but the true, freedom-crushing impact of a few carefully chosen, ambiguous words on a legislative manuscript is only fully understood when it is far too late as Haffner carefully explicates.

Stormtrooper

US: San Francisco Police Clear Occupy Camp, 70 Arrested

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© Stephen Lam/Reuters
A demonstrator is arrested during a morning police raid on the Occupy San Francisco encampment at Justin Herman Plaza on Wednesday.
More than 100 police officers gave protesters at the Occupy encampment in San Francisco five minutes to gather belongings before authorities took down about 100 tents and arrested 70 people as the camp was dismantled in an overnight raid.

A few officers remained at daybreak Wednesday as trash crews raked up paper and plastic bottles, removed chairs and other belongings that accumulated at the camp over the past two months and pressure-washed the sidewalks.

Dozens of police cars, fire engines and ambulances surrounded the campsite at Justin Herman Plaza and blocked off the area during the raid, which began shortly after 1 a.m. PT.

Police did not immediately release how many people were in the plaza at the time, but campers put the estimate at 150.

Stormtrooper

US: Police Reportedly Went Undercover at Occupy Los Angeles

Reports suggest police used undercover detectives to infiltrate the Occupy LA camp to find out protesters' intentions
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© Bret Hartman/EPA
Los Angeles police officers remove an Occupy protester from the camp at the City Hall.

Los Angeles police used nearly a dozen undercover detectives to infiltrate the Occupy LA encampment before this week's raid to gather information on the anti-Wall Street protesters' intentions, according to media reports.

None of the officers slept at the camp, but they tried to blend in during the weeks leading up to the raid to learn about plans to resist or use weapons against police, a police source told the Los Angeles Times. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case is ongoing.

The undercover work yielded information that some protesters were preparing bamboo spears and other potentially dangerous weapons in advance of an expected eviction, none of which were used, according to the City News Service, which first reported the story.

Police played down the significance of the undercover work since Occupy meetings were public and easily tracked.

Padlock

US: Blagojevich Gets 14 years in Prison for Corruption

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© scoodersport.com
Rod Blagojevich, the ousted Illinois governor whose three-year battle against criminal charges became a national spectacle, was sentenced to 14 years in prison Wednesday, one of the stiffest penalties imposed for corruption in a state with a history of crooked politics.

Among his 18 convictions is the explosive charge that he tried to leverage his power to appoint someone to President Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat in exchange for campaign cash or land a high-paying job.

Judge James Zagel gave Blagojevich some credit for taking responsibility for his actions - which the former governor did in an address to the court earlier in the day - but said that didn't mitigate his crimes. Zagel also said Blagojevich did some good things for people as governor, but was more concerned about using his powers for himself.

"When it is the governor who goes bad, the fabric of Illinois is torn and disfigured and not easily repaired," Zagel said.

As the judge announced the sentence, Blagojevich hunched forward and his face appeared frozen. Minutes later, his wife, Patti Blagojevich, stood up and fell into her husband's arms. He pulled back to brush tears off her cheek and then rubbed her shoulders.