Change.org

Now Cash.org!

And here is the problem with progressives: They (both on the individual and the institutional level) do not support progressive infrastructure. So when you have a staff that needs to get paid, you sell out. You have to, if you want to pay the bills.

Maybe I should become a Republican.

WTF

People seem to have no sense:

HAGERSTOWN, MD. – The highly caffeinated Monster Energy Drink has been cited in five deaths and one non-fatal heart attack, according to reports that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating.


The reports claim that people had adverse reactions after they consumed Monster Energy Drink, which comes in 24-ounce cans and contains 240 milligrams of caffeine, or seven times the amount of the caffeine in a 12-ounce cola.


Although the FDA is investigating the allegations, which date back to 2004, the agency said the reports don’t necessarily prove that the drinks caused the deaths or injuries.

The new precariat

Finally, a place where I belong!

During the Presidential campaign, Americans have heard endless discussions about unemployment. But neither candidate has said much, at least not directly, about precarious employment or about the new precariat – that growing group (some would even say the growing class) of workers in temporary, part-time, and/or contingent work that often doesn’t pay a living wage.


Who is the precariat? According to Guy Standing, the author of The Precariat: the New Dangerous Class, all of us could be. For now, the precariat involves largely women, the young, the disabled, retirees forced back to work, former prisoners, and migrants. It also includes large numbers of formerly middle-class professionals, skilled and semi-skilled people who have been displaced by economic change. While each of these groups has gotten some attention, Standing argues that as a group, the precariat is still “a class in the making,” united by an overwhelming sense of insecurity and vulnerability.


[…] Just how big is the new precariat? It’s difficult to measure, but the Federal Reserve Board of Cleveland suggests that the ‘Great Recession’ has resulted in increases in self-employment, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 35 million people work part time. While the data on how many people have precarious employment is far from definitive, the precariat clearly seems to be large and growing.


That suggests that the new precariat could have a significant impact on the election. Most of them don’t believe that the government or other institutions can do much to ameliorate their situation. Many consider themselves to be small business people. As Arun Gupta and Michelle Fawcett have suggested, “Republicans have turned small business into a catch-all group the way ‘working class’ once served that function for the left.” That suggests that the precariat may be persuaded by campaign rhetoric about taxes and economic development. On the other hand, many see themselves as anti-capitalist, committed to green values and social justice. So will they vote like those who share their educational backgrounds, who are more likely to be politically independent and have socially progressive leanings, thus revealing themselves to be the fallen faction of the middle class? Or do they, like much of the old white working class, vote on the basis of economic aspiration? Or does the precariat now include so many Americans, from diverse backgrounds and in varied situations, that their political views can’t be easily predicted? In 2012 in states like Ohio, the new precariat could determine the presidential election and America’s future.

Liars get tax-exempt status

Watch Big Sky, Big Money, an investigation with Marketplace on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

Of course, we’re surprised. After all, we know these shadowy organizations would never, ever lie about their real agenda, especially when they’re aiming for a legal precedent that will make it easier to reach their political goals. Too bad we don’t have the kind of IRS that will actually enforce the legal distinctions between these groups:

A western nonprofit that played a key role in freeing corporate spending on elections nationwide appears to have misled the IRS when it applied for the tax-exempt status that shields its donors from being publicly disclosed.

Documents obtained by ProPublica and Frontline show that Western Tradition Partnership, now known as American Tradition Partnership, said it would not attempt to sway elections when it asked the IRS to recognize it as a tax-exempt social welfare organization in late 2008.

Shortly before submitting the application, however, Western Tradition Partnership, which bills itself as a “grassroots lobbying” organization dedicated to fighting radical environmentalists, and a related political committee sent out fliers weighing in on candidates for Montana state office. The mailers blitzed districts in Montana days before the Republican primary.

Donny Ferguson, listed as the national director of media of American Tradition Partnership on the group’s website, did not return a call or an email for comment.

Social welfare nonprofits — also called dark money groups because they are not required to identify their donors — have poured tens of millions of dollars into state and federal elections in recent years.
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Hairy

The first step in teaching Chinese women to hate themselves!

When Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB/) brought its Veet hair-removal cream to China in 2005, sales were sluggish. Its prices were considered too high and its product sizes too large. But the biggest problem: Most Chinese women don’t have much body hair, and those who do didn’t worry about it. So the company embraced a new marketing plan. Reckitt Benckiser rolled out ads equating hair-free skin with health, confidence, and “shining glory.” In the process, the company has helped make many Chinese women more conscious of every stray follicle. “It’s not how much hair you have, it’s how much you think you have,” says Aditya Sehgal, the company’s China chief. “If your concern level is high enough, even one hair is too much.

Race to the bottom

Florida has made it very, very difficult to get unemployment benefits:

Scott renamed the program the “Reemployment Assistance Program” and cut the tax that funds the program by $800,000. The funding cuts have led to a logjam in the system as the call volume for the staff whose job it is to help applicants through the process is very high. There are numerous reports of people calling for assistance and never getting any help as calls go unanswered for days. Reporters who attempted to call into the system for help said that automated messages told them that there were hundreds of calls ahead of them in the queue and that the system hung up on them without them ever having talked to a human being. The cuts to the tax that funds the program have led to a massive deficit where the state borrowed $2.7 billion from the federal government to cover shortfalls.


Applicants also complain that the state’s website contains misinformation about the program and that it is difficult to navigate. Failure to complete any portion of the application or skills test results in delays in compensation or outright rejection of access to the program. Frequently, those who face delays or rejection are not even told that they have failed to complete the full process and they can wait weeks without knowing why they are not being paid. The new rules also allow the state to deny compensation to workers for their actions that take place outside of work and have no connection to any job.


The effect of the new rules has been dramatic—hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers have lost compensation that they have earned at a time when they most need it. Florida now has the lowest rate of unemployed citizens who receive jobless benefits, with a mere 15% of eligible Floridians receiving compensation. That rate is much lower than the national rate of 27%. Only one-third of applicants ever receives any money, despite the fact that the program costs taxpayers no money and unemployment compensation is part of the benefits package that employees receive from their employers. Nationally, 29% of first-time applicants are denied compensation. The rate in Florida is more than 50%.


After a complaint was filed by Florida Legal Services and the National Employment Law Project, the United States Labor Department is investigating the new rules to determine whether or not they are illegal and require an undue burden on the jobless.


“This complaint is not challenging Florida’s right to operate an unemployment insurance program that already pays some of the lowest benefits in the country. Rather, this complaint is saying that no state, including Florida, is free to erect procedural barriers that keep otherwise eligible workers from accessing unemployment insurance,” said George Wentworth, senior staff attorney at the National Employment Law Project.

Medicare rule change

This will be a tremendous help to a lot of people:

WASHINGTON — Tens of thousands of people with chronic conditions and disabilities may find it easier to qualify for Medicare coverage of potentially costly home health care, skilled nursing home stays and outpatient therapy under policy changes planned by the Obama administration.

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