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ALEC watch

Kids eating rat poison is “an acceptable risk.” This is how these weasels think!

Occupy Houses

Watch live streaming video from owsnyc at livestream.com

Occupy groups around the country today are occupying housing to prevent foreclosures and evictions. Watch the live stream!

Today’s the Day!

OCCUPY WALL STREET joins up with Take Back the Land (seen in ‘Capitalism:
A Love Story’) and other great organizations in a new program
of direct actions to thwart foreclosures

‘I’m Not the Only One in This Boat’
“The banks got all this money from us and they didn’t modify anybody’s loan?
What are they doing with all this money all this time? … If we’re all in this
together we need to start bailing water together.” – Bobby Hull,
57-year-old Minneapolis plasterer foreclosed
on by Banksters of America

DO SOMETHING:
Occupy Our Homes
Find local events and throw your body upon the gears of the
foreclosure machine and make it stop

UPDATES: @OccupyOurHomes | #OccupyOurHomes

Target women: Women eat right!

These are so funny:

Start choppin’

Here’s a little lunchtime music from Dinsosaur Jr.:

Killing zygotes

Oh noes, we can’t have that! Jessica Valenti:

On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration will announce whether it will approve making Plan B (the brand name for emergency contraception or the morning after pill) available for purchase on drugstore shelves – that’s right, next to the condoms and pregnancy tests. Reproductive justice advocates I’ve spoken to over the last few days all think the same thing: they’re going to approve it. I sure hope so.

Kirsten Moore, for example, President & CEO of Reproductive Health Technologies Project, says “While FDA has toyed with women’s health before, all signs point to them doing the right thing at last and letting the science dictate their policy decisions.”

I’m pretty damn optimistic too. The FDA has a lot of embarrassing history to make up for surrounding Plan B. This would be a step away from their ideologically driven past toward the drug, a progressive pro-science move that could restore a bit of that tarnished reputation.

Obviously, if the FDA does pull the trigger – conservatives are going to lose their collective shits.

Heh

Now, Susan Collins knows better. She knows the GOP only cares about protecting their big donors, but she’s found a fiendishly clever way to stick their noses in it and look like a bipartisan hero. Good for her!

Oh what a tangled web

Of government and profit we weave…

Reporting from Washington— The chief of the Homeland Security Department’s drone aircraft program is facing an ethics investigation for joining the board of directors of the largest industry group promoting the use of unmanned aircraft, officials said Monday.

The internal affairs office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection is reviewing whether Tom Faller, director of unmanned aircraft systems operations, violated internal rules when he took an unpaid position as a board member of the Assn. for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International on Aug. 16.

Faller oversees eight Predator B surveillance drones that are chiefly used to help search for illegal immigrants and drug smugglers on the northern and southwestern borders.

In some cases, the drones also have been used to assist the Drug Enforcement Administration and other law enforcement agencies in criminal investigations, and to survey damage after floods and other natural disasters.

After inquiries from the Los Angeles Times last month, Faller notified the group on Nov. 23 that he was resigning from the board, said Melanie Hinton, a spokeswoman for the drone group. She said Faller did not attend any board meetings.

“Internal affairs is reviewing issues related to an employee’s outside associations,” Joanne Ferreira, a Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman, said Monday in response to questions about Faller. “We are unable to comment on any ongoing investigation.”

Facts

Much like the media it purports to oversee, PolitiFact occasionally gets caught in the “he said, she said” trap and completely blows it. This is one of those times, as Think Progress points out:

PolitiFact has just announced its finalists for 2011′s Lie of the Year. Oddly, the year’s most significant policy claim — theDemocrats’ charge that the Paul Ryan budget will end Medicare — made the list, even though it’s 100 percent true!

Here is why: Ryan’s plan ends traditional fee-for-service program and forces seniors to ultimately enroll in private coverage.Under his proposal, beginning in 2022, people turning 65 will receive a pre-determined “premium support” payment to purchase private coverage. The insurers will offer a basic package of benefits, but traditional Medicare — the program that President Lyndon Johnson enacted in 1965 — will literally stop enrolling new beneficiaries. Rather than paying health care providers directly — and using its market clout to secure better bargains and other efficiencies for enrollees — the government would now pay multiple private health insurers pre-determined amounts per beneficiary to act as middle men between patients and providers.

It will no longer guarantee seniors a defined package of benefits, but will instead only offer a defined contribution towards their health care costs. As the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of Ryan’s proposal explains, “the payment for 65-year-olds in 2022 is specified to be $8,000, on average, which is approximately the same dollar amount as projected net federal spending per capita for 65-year-olds in traditional Medicare.” However every subsequent year, as health care costs increase, the government’s contribution “would grow at a slower rate,” inflation, and the age of the enrollee. By 2030, under the proposal, the premium support would “only cover 32 percent of a typical 65-year-old’s total health care spending” and would decrease every subsequent year.

PolitiFact concedes that this is, in fact, “a huge change to the current program.” But it’s more than that. Capping costs to beneficiaries, closing the traditional fee-for-service program, and forcing seniors to enroll in new private coverage, ends Medicare by eliminating everything that has defined the program for the last 46 years

Police work

Stripping an Occupy protester down to her underwear in Melbourne, Australia.

Testing 1, 2, 3…

This really goes to the heart of the morally bankrupt education “reform” movement. Pushed more by corporate interests and right-wing foundations than the needs of the students, standardized tests set impossibly high standards that relatively few students — or teachers — can reach. That’s why Marion Brady, a teacher, administrator, curriculum designer and author, forwarded this shockingly informative piece to the education page of the Washington Post:

A longtime friend on the school board of one of the largest school systems in America did something that few public servants are willing to do. He took versions of his state’s high-stakes standardized math and reading tests for 10th graders, and said he’d make his scores public.

By any reasonable measure, my friend is a success. His now-grown kids are well-educated. He has a big house in a good part of town. Paid-for condo in the Caribbean. Influential friends. Lots of frequent flyer miles. Enough time of his own to give serious attention to his school board responsibilities. The margins of his electoral wins and his good relationships with administrators and teachers testify to his openness to dialogue and willingness to listen.

He called me the morning he took the test to say he was sure he hadn’t done well, but had to wait for the results. A couple of days ago, realizing that local school board members don’t seem to be playing much of a role in the current “reform” brouhaha, I asked him what he now thought about the tests he’d taken.

“I won’t beat around the bush,” he wrote in an email. “The math section had 60 questions. I knew the answers to none of them, but managed to guess ten out of the 60 correctly. On the reading test, I got 62% . In our system, that’s a “D”, and would get me a mandatory assignment to a double block of reading instruction.

He continued, “It seems to me something is seriously wrong. I have a bachelor of science degree, two masters degrees, and 15 credit hours toward a doctorate.

“I help oversee an organization with 22,000 employees and a $3 billion operations and capital budget, and am able to make sense of complex data related to those responsibilities.
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