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Bill Moyers: The great American class war

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com.

Class War
© Unknown
Bill Moyers on Class War in America
If you've heard the phrase "class war" in twenty-first-century America, the odds are that it's been a curse spat from the mouths of Republican warriors castigating Democrats for engaging in high crimes and misdemeanors like trying to tax the rich. Back in 2011, for example, President Obama's modest proposal of a "millionaire tax" was typically labeled "class warfare" and he was accused by Congressman Paul Ryan, among others, of heading down the "class warfare path." Similarly, in 2012, Mitt Romney and other Republican presidential hopefuls blasted the president for encouraging "class warfare" by attacking entrepreneurial success. In the face of such charges, Democrats invariably go on the defensive, denying that they are in any way inciters of class warfare. In the meantime, unions and the poor are blasted by the same right-wing crew for having the devastatingly bad taste to act in a manner that supposedly might lead to such conflict.

In our own time, to adapt a classic line slightly, how the mighty have risen! And that story could be told in terms of the fate of the phrase "class war," which deserves its Stephen Colbert or Jon Stewart moment. After all, for at least a century, it was a commonplace in an all-American lexicon in which "class struggle," "working class," and "plutocrat" were typical everyday words and it was used not to indict those on the bottom but the rich of whatever gilded age we were passing into or out of. It was essentially purged from the national vocabulary in the economic good times (and rabidly anti-communist years) after World War II, only to resurface with the Republican resurgence of the 1980s as a way to dismiss anyone challenging those who controlled ever more of the wealth and power in America.

It was a phrase, that is, impounded by Republicans in the name of, and in the defense of, those who were already impounding so much else in American life. All you have to do is take a look at recent figures on income and wealth inequality, on where the money's really going in this society, to recognize the truth of Warren Buffet's famed comment: "There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning."

Recently, Bill Moyers (who needs no introduction) gave a speech at the Brennan Center in New York City in which he laid out what class warfare really means in this society. The first appearance of the host of Moyers & Company at TomDispatch is a full-throated call to save what's left of American democracy from - another of those banned words that should come back into use - the plutocrats. Tom

Bug

Sex abuse victim accused of being a drug-abusing murderer and Catholic-hating bigot

Bill Donohue
© na
Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights defamed a man who says he is a victim of priestly sex abuse as a drug-abusing murderer and a Catholic-hating bigot, the man claims in court.

Jon David Couzens Jr. sued The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, its President William Donohue, the KC Catholic League, KC Catholic League President Joe McLiney and KC Catholic League Capacity Secretary James O'Laughlin, in Jackson County Circuit Court.

Couzens claims Donohue defamed him in statements responding to the Kansas City Star's three-part series on priestly abuse, written by Judy Thomas in December 2011.

The series centered around Couzens' claims - and subsequent lawsuit against the KC Diocese, Msgr. Thomas O'Brien and Fr. Isaac True - that he and three other altar boys, one of whom committed suicide, were sexually abused in the early 1980s.

"Thomas' entire soap-opera yarn concerns the allegations of Jon David Couzens," Donohue said in a statement posted on the Catholic League's website.

"He says that a priest molested him and three other altar boys back in the early 1980s. But why should we believe a man who only now is coming forward with his tale - he never told a single soul - especially given the fact that he has been implicated in a murder? Thomas never told readers that on the night Mark Trader was murdered about a dozen years ago, Couzens got into a fight with him over a botched drug deal, and although another man was convicted, on appeal it was alleged that Couzens and two other men had 'motive to commit the murder and the opportunity to do so.' This is public record, so why the cover up?"

Comment: Typical psychopathic behavior of blaming the victim. It seems that this is not the first time the Catholic Leagues William Donohue has let his mask slip.

Catholic group claims children raped by priests were 'homosexual' participants, not victims

Catholic League's Bill Donohue: 'Being gay' actually 'a bonus for humans'


Heart - Black

Protest kiss is 'sexual violence'

Image
A young protester who planted a kiss on a riot policeman's visor has been reported in Italy for sexual violence and insulting a public official.

Nina De Chiffre, 20, was photographed kissing the helmeted riot officer at a demonstration against a new high-speed train line between Italy and France last month.

The kiss was initially seen as a gesture of peace in the often violent protests. However, Ms De Chiffre later said on Facebook that she intended to mock the police, whom she called "disgusting pigs".

The police union said it had filed a criminal complaint. "If it was a policeman who kissed a demonstrator, the Third World War would break out," said Franco Maccari, leader of the union.


Comment: Oh really? If police at protests started kissing demonstrators the police would join the protestors and the psychopaths in power would be in BIG trouble!


Yoda

Meet Uruguay's president José Mujica: A human leader in a world ruled by psychopaths

Image
© Mario Goldman/AFP/Getty Images
José Mujica, the Uruguayan president, at his house in Montevideo.
If anyone could claim to be leading by example in an age of austerity, it is José Mujica, Uruguay's president, who has forsworn a state palace in favour of a farmhouse, donates the vast bulk of his salary to social projects, flies economy class and drives an old Volkswagen Beetle.

But the former guerrilla fighter is clearly disgruntled by those who tag him "the world's poorest president" and - much as he would like others to adopt a more sober lifestyle - the 78-year-old has been in politics long enough to recognise the folly of claiming to be a model for anyone.

"If I asked people to live as I live, they would kill me," Mujica said during an interview in his small but cosy one-bedroom home set amid chrysanthemum fields outside Montevideo.

The president is a former member of the Tupamaros guerrilla group, which was notorious in the early 1970s for bank robberies, kidnappings and distributing stolen food and money among the poor. He was shot by police six times and spent 14 years in a military prison, much of it in dungeon-like conditions.

Sherlock

Suspicious death of Lynne Spalding: British woman's body discovered in locked stairwell of San Francisco General Hospital

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British patient Lynne Spalding found dead in stairwell of US hospital 17 days after going missing

The Independent, UK - 10 October 2013
A British woman has been found dead in the stairwell of a US hospital where she went missing as a patient more than two weeks ago.

Lynne Spalding, 57, was being treated for an infection at San Francisco General Hospital after she arrived in a thin and frail condition on 19 September.

Her body was only found 17 days later, after a member of the hospital's engineering staff ran a routine check on a rarely-used external stairwell.

Officials say they are now investigating how Ms Spalding got out to the stairs unnoticed, with the door she used normally alarmed and locked from the outside. [...]

Ms Spalding was first reported missing from her room two days after she arrived for treatment. Just before she disappeared she was described as being in a fair and improving condition, although appearing disorientated, the BBC reported at the time.

Beaker

2 hurt in explosions, fire at yet another chemical plant, this time in Chicago

Chicago chemical plant explosion
© NBC Chicago
Two people were injured in a chemical plant explosion in Blue Island.

Two workers were injured in an explosion and fire at a south suburban chemical plant Friday.

Smoke billowed from Blue Island Phenol in Alsip for several hours because of a chemical leak. The cause is still under investigation, fire officials said.

"I could see some vapor," plant manager Bill Moffatt said. "I turned around to go to my office to get my coat and hard hat and other personal protective equipment. As I was walking back to my office there was a concussion. ... We have a suspended ceiling in the office building, and some of the tiles fell out."

The chemicals involved in the fire - which demolished one building and damaged a second - were propane, propylene and benzene, Alsip fire Chief Tom Styczynski said.

Family

EU High Court makes landmark ruling on homosexual workers' rights in civil partnerships

EU flag gays

Decision means employers across the EU have to grant the same employee benefits to workers in a civil partnership as their married colleagues.
The European Union's Court of Justice has ruled that homosexual couples in a civil partnership must be granted the same employee benefits as their married colleagues.

The move comes after Frederic Hay, a bank worker in France who entered into a civil partnership, was refused benefits - including paid leave and a salary bonus - which were awarded to his colleagues when they married.

Hay initially challenged his employer's position in the French courts. Then the highest appeal court in the country, the Court of Cassatio, asked the EU's Court of Justice whether the difference in treatment for persons who have entered into civil partnerships constituted discrimination.

The EU Court of Justice concluded that a refusal to grant the same benefits to employees in civil partnerships as those in marriages, constituted direct discrimination based on sexual orientation.

French law and the bank's collective bargaining agreement have changed since Hay brought his case.

The landmark decision means employers across the EU have to grant the same employee benefits to workers in a civil partnership as their married colleagues.

Question

Seattle tunnel project blocked by mystery object


The Transportation Department and contractors building a highway tunnel under downtown Seattle are trying to identify the mystery object that has blocked their tunnel boring machine - but probably won't know for sure until Friday.

The machine called Bertha ran into something last week and was shut down Saturday about 1,000 feet from the start. The $80 million machine is designed to break up boulders, so there's speculation about what it hit.

Engineers are considering drilling down 60 feet to the object as one of the ways to break up or remove the obstruction. A large crane equipped with a drill bit was brought to the site Wednesday morning.

Experts estimate it will take until Friday to identify the obstruction.

The nearly two-mile tunnel is supposed to be completed by the end of 2015, creating a four-lane replacement for the Alaskan Way Viaduct on Highway 99.

But already it has experienced at least three delays - one caused by union picketing over work assignments, another by a sinkhole near Jackson Street and now the mystery object.

Heart - Black

US guards 'did nothing' to stop adult prisoners from raping juveniles

jail
© Reuters / Jessica Rinaldi
Michigan prison officials needlessly housed juvenile inmates with adult convicts, where the guards then ignored allegations that the young inmates were sexually abused and essentially used as currency inside the facility, according to a new lawsuit.

Brought forth by seven unnamed juvenile prisoners, the case hinges on the idea that the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) has consistently failed to keep prisoners under the age of 18 apart from the more hardened adult inmates. It alleges that at least two of the plaintiffs were repeatedly raped because their older cellmates were selling access to the younger ones. It goes on to implicate corrections officers for allowing the rape to continue.

"MDOC staff was aware of the assaults and aware that male adult prisoners were paying John Doe 5's cellmate access for access to John Doe 5 for purposes of sexually assaulting him," the suit claims.

Deborah LeBelle, an attorney based in Ann Arbor, told MLive.com that she was aware of the suit when it was initially filed in October, but decided to bring it back to light because of the seriousness of the allegations. When the suit was re-filed, it was classified as a violation of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, a Michigan law that forbids differential treatment based on religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status.

Info

Firm that employed fake interpreter for deaf at Mandela memorial service has 'vanished'


A South African deputy minister said Thursday that the man who turned out to be faking sign language as an interpreter for the deaf during Tuesday's memorial event for Nelson Mandela did not speak English very well and worked for a company that has "vanished into thin air."

Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, deputy minister of women, children and people with disabilities said at a news conference at the state-owned South African Broadcasting Co.: "I don't think he comes from the streets. He comes from a school for the deaf."
The interpreter, Thamsanqa Jantjie, who stood on stage beside the world's most powerful leaders, including President Obama, earlier told the Johannesburg Star that he was schizophrenic and hearing voices but said he had no choice but to remain on stage and motion with his arms.

Bogopane-Zulu suggested that even if he does know sign language, Jantjie's English-language skills still weren't adequate, especially for an internationally broadcast event with hundreds of visiting dignitaries from South Africa and abroad.

"For you to be able to interpret, you must understand the language that's being spoken at the podium," she said. "He is Xhosa-speaking as his first language; the English was a bit too much for him. So, yes, he could not translate from English to sign language."