Oh great. Now the housing crisis can’t be solved. And the tech folks are afraid to talk in public


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Climate Battles: Here Comes the Sun: America’s Solar Boom, in Charts

By Tim McDonnell

This post first appeared at Mother Jones.

Nov. 11, 2014 – Last week, an energy analyst at Deutsche Bank came to a startling conclusion: By 2016, solar power will be as cheap or cheaper than electricity from the conventional grid in every state except three. That’s without any changes to existing policy. In other words, we’re only a few years away from the point where, in most of the United States, there will be no economic reason not to go solar. If you care about slowing climate change or just moving toward cleaner energy, that is a huge deal.

And solar energy is already going gangbusters. In the past decade, the amount of solar power produced in the United States has leaped 139,000 percent. A number of factors are behind the boom: Cheaper panels and a raft of local and state incentives, plus a federal tax credit that shaves 30 percent off the cost of upgrading.

Still, solar is a bit player, providing less than half of 1 percent of the energy produced in the United States. But its potential is massive — it could power the entire country 100 times over.

So what’s the holdup? A few obstacles: pushback from old-energy diehards, competition with other efficient energy sources, and the challenges of power storage and transmission. But with solar in the Southwest already at “grid parity” — meaning it costs the same or less as electricity from conventional sources — Wall Street is starting to see solar as a sound bet. As a recent Citigroup investment report put it, “Our viewpoint is that solar is here to stay.”

Some numbers that tell the story:

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All CCDS Members & Friends: Join Solidarity with Ferguson Actions

(Sarah Jane Rhee, loveandstrugglephotos.com)

 

Whether Darren Wilson Is Indicted or Not, the Entire System Is Guilty

An indictment of the Ferguson police officer who killed Michael Brown would not prove that black lives matter in America.

By Mariame Kaba

In These Times

Nov. 17, 2014 – I am not against indicting killer cops. I just know that indictments won’t and can’t end oppressive policing which is rooted in anti-blackness, social control and containment.

Everyone I know is on edge. Will a grand jury in St. Louis indict or not? How will residents of Ferguson react if (as many expect) the grand jury advises against an indictment of Darren Wilson, the officer who killed Mike Brown? What will be the response of the St. Louis and Ferguson police? Photos of MRAPs and boarded up businesses proliferate on social media. Articles suggest that St. Louis police have been recently stockpiling riot gear and military grade weapons. It’s war, but that’s not new. Everyone is holding their breath.

On the other hand, what’s next if the grand jury does decide that Wilson should stand trial? So much psychic, emotional, and spiritual energy is focused on a successful indictment. I imagine the sighs of relief. I anticipate the countless social media posts crying out “justice!” I imagine that many exhausted protesters will decide that their work is done. I fear a return to our seductive slumber and to complacency.

I’m not invested in indicting Darren Wilson though I understand its (symbolic) import to many people, most especially Mike Brown’s family and friends. Vincent Warren of the Center on Constitutional Rights speaks for many, I think, when he writes:

Without accountability, there can be no rule of law. If Wilson is not indicted, or is under-indicted, the clear message is that it is open season on people of color, that St. Louis has declared that Darren Wilson is not a criminal but that the people who live under the thumbs of the Darren Wilsons of this country are. It would say to the cry that “Black lives matter” that, no, in fact, they do not.

I understand the sentiment that Warren expresses. Yet I don’t believe that an indictment of Wilson would be evidence that black lives do in fact matter to anyone other than black people.

Bay Area Nurses Strike Over Patient Care

Big Hospitals Get Tax Breaks for Community Benefits — But Don’t Earn Them

Kaiser nurses strike over patient care -- as Kaiser shortchanges care for low-income people

Kaiser nurses strike over patient care — as Kaiser shortchanges care for low-income people

Editor’s note: As Kaiser nurses walk the picket lines (we will be reporting more on the strike later this week) it’s worth noting that these “nonprofit” hospitals aren’t all about the public good.

By Anna Challet

New American Media

NOVEMBER 13, 2014 — Not-for-profit hospitals, like Kaiser in San Francisco, receive tax breaks in exchange for providing benefits to their communities — services like charity care for people who are uninsured. But are the not-for-profit hospitals in California providing enough of these services to earn their tax breaks?

Not by a long shot, according to a new study by The Greenlining Institute.

According to the study, not-for-profit hospitals in the state take in over twice as much money in tax breaks as they spend on community benefits. And an investigation into the community benefit spending of three large hospitals in San Francisco – Kaiser, St. Mary’s Medical Center and California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) – revealed shoddy data reporting on where the money is going.

“It’s an unfair exchange. Hospitals receive about $3.2 billion in tax breaks because of their not-for-profit status, but from what we can see at the state level, there’s only about $1.4 billion going back into the community through their community benefits,” says Carla Saporta, Greenlining’s health policy director and one of the study’s authors.

Signs of the Times… Really?

Jon Stewart comments on the latest right wing absurdity…

From Michael Brown to Assata Shakur, the Racist State of America Persists

Protesters confront police following George Zimmerman's acquittal for the killing of Trayvon Martin.

Protesters confront police officers following George Zimmerman’s acquittal for the killing of Trayvon Martin. Photograph: Zhao Hanrong/Xinhua Press/Corbis

Those who resist are treated like terrorists – as in Ferguson this year, and as I and other black activists were in the 60s and 70s

By Angela Davis

The Guardian, UK

Nov. 1, 2014 – Although racist state violence has been a consistent theme in the history of people of African descent in North America, it has become especially noteworthy during the administration of the first African-American president, whose very election was widely interpreted as heralding the advent of a new, postracial era.

The sheer persistence of police killings of black youth contradicts the assumption that these are isolated aberrations. Trayvon Martin in Florida and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, are only the most widely known of the countless numbers of black people killed by police or vigilantes during the Obama administration. And they, in turn, represent an unbroken stream of racist violence, both official and extra-legal, from slave patrols and the Ku Klux Klan, to contemporary profiling practices and present-day vigilantes.

More than three decades ago Assata Shakur was granted political asylum by Cuba, where she has since lived, studied and worked as a productive member of society. Assata was falsely charged on numerous occasions in the United States during the early 1970s and vilified by the media. It represented her in sexist terms as “the mother hen” of the Black Liberation Army, which in turn was portrayed as a group with insatiably violent proclivities. Placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, she was charged with armed robbery, bank robbery, kidnap, murder, and attempted murder of a policeman. Although she faced 10 separate legal proceedings, and had already been pronounced guilty by the media, all except one of these trials – the case resulting from her capture – concluded in acquittal, hung jury, or dismissal. Under highly questionable circumstances, she was finally convicted of being an accomplice to the murder of a New Jersey state trooper.

Four decades after the original campaign against her, the FBI decided to demonise her once more. Last year, on the 40th anniversary of the New Jersey turnpike shoot-out during which state trooper Werner Foerster was killed, Assata was ceremoniously added to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Terrorist list. To many, this move by the FBI was bizarre and incomprehensible, leading to the obvious question: what interest would the FBI have in designating a 66-year-old black woman, who has lived quietly in Cuba for the last three and a half decades, as one of the most dangerous terrorists in the world – sharing space on the list with individuals whose alleged actions have provoked military assaults on Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria?

A partial – perhaps even determining – answer to this question may be discovered in the broadening of the reach of the definition of “terror”, spatially as well as temporally. Following the apartheid South African government’s designation of Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress as “terrorists”, the term was abundantly applied to US black liberation activists during the late 1960s and early 70s.

In Travesty of Justice, Rasmea Odeh Found Guilty Despite History of Israeli Torture

Supporters of community activist Rasmea Odeh hold up signs. (Photo via Samidoun.ca)

Supporters of community activist Rasmea Odeh hold up signs. (Photo via Samidoun.ca)

Thanks to Mondoweiss Editors

The following statement was issued by the Rasmea Defense Committee:

In a travesty of justice, Rasmea Odeh today was found guilty of one count of Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization.  For over a year, Rasmea, her supporters, and her legal team have been battling this unjust government prosecution, saying from the start that the immigration charge was nothing but a pretext to attack this icon of the Palestine liberation movement.  And although there is real anger and disappointment in the jury’s verdict, it was known as early as October 27th that she would not get a full and fair trial.

On that day, Judge Gershwin Drain made a number of rulings that made her defense virtually impossible.  The government’s indictment stated that she had unlawfully gained U.S. citizenship because she had allegedly answered a number of questions falsely on her visa application in 1995 and her naturalization application in 2004.  She had been in this country as a lawful permanent resident for almost 20 years, and a citizen for over nine, when she was arrested on October 22nd, 2013.

The main basis for the arrest a year ago was that she had allegedly falsely answered “No” to a question asking whether she had ever been arrested or imprisoned.  The government claimed that she failed to disclose that she had been convicted by the Israelis of participating in bombings in 1969.  This conviction in a military court was the result of a false confession made after she was viciously tortured and raped by Israeli military authorities for weeks.  There is no due process in Israeli military courts, which “convict” over 99% of Palestinians who come before them, and “evidence” from these should not be accepted in a court in the U.S.

But Judge Drain did allow the conviction in Israel to be entered into evidence; and even though he suggested that Rasmea’s assertion that she faced torture and sexual abuse at the hands of her Israeli captors was “credible,” he still ruled that it could not be brought up in the course of her trial.  So her attorneys had to scrap plans to call to the stand an expert witness, clinical psychologist Dr. Mary Fabri, who has decades of experience working with torture survivors, to testify that the allegedly false answers on the immigration forms were the result of Rasmea’s chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The judge also rejected Rasmea’s selective prosecution motion, even though it was clear that the case against her grew out of the investigation of 23 anti-war and Palestinian community organizers in Chicago and Minneapolis, who were subpoenaed to a federal grand jury in 2010.  Make no mistake.

The Fog that Blinded the 2014 Electorate

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by: Rick Nagin

People’s World, November 7 2014

assets/Uploads/_resampled/CroppedImage6060-Nagin2.jpgThere were local and geographical peculiarities, but when an election was as uniformly one-sided as this one was, deeper explanations are required. In the most general sense it can be said that the electorate does not yet recognize or understand that the enemy they face is right wing extremism; that this is the fundamental source of the insecurity they feel as their living standards and democratic rights are besieged. It is the Republicans, not the Democrats, who have blocked programs to create jobs, raise wages, strengthen unions, who have cut taxes on the rich and shifted the burden to working people, who have slashed funds for education, health care and local government services, who have launched an unprecedented assault on the right to vote, on the rights of women, on equality for gay people, on immigration reform and on defending humanity from a climate catastrophe.

All this begs the question as to why the people were not able perceive the mortal danger from the right. The answer to this, I believe, was the ability of the right to unleash unprecedented resources to roll out a dense fog, as thick as pea soup that covered the South, blanketed the Midwest and reached even into the far recesses of New England, a fog that terrified, blinded and paralyzed the Democrats and had them running for cover. It was the fog of racism.

The demonization of President Barack Obama and, by extension, the Democrats who "voted with him," has been building for years in the nether world of right wing hate talk radio and Fox News and was unleashed full force in this election. Since it is forbidden to mention racism in polite company, the corporate media referred to the GOP strategy as the "nationalization" of the election. Tom Cotton, GOP candidate for senator in Arkansas, avoided state issues but used Obama’s name 79 times in his televised debate with Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor.

The most notorious use of this tactic, as well as the classic capitulation of the liberal Democrats was in Kentucky where Allison Lundergan Grimes responded to Mitch McConnell’s relentless race baiting by first saying she was a "Clinton" (i.e. not an Obama) Democrat," then by protesting in a debate that "Obama is not on the ballot" and finally by refusing to say whether she had voted for Obama in the presidential election.

A Few Quick Thoughts on the November 4th Election

By Bill Fletcher, Jr

http://billfletcherjr.com

(1) There is almost always a low turnout during a midterm election and the party which controls the White House tends to lose.  This is definitely true but should not let us off the hook.

(2) The Democratic base largely stayed home except in certain important races, such as in North Carolina.  I think that we have to face the reality that the base that would be expected to vote Democratic was dis-spirited.  It is not just the ads that the Republicans ran.  The Obama administration has not led in a progressive direction.  There are certainly some major accomplishments, but there had been great expectations by many that after the 2012 election he would come out swinging.  I never had such expectations, but many people did.  Instead the administration continued to be stuck in various crises but also was not articulating a clear direction.  The Republicans were able to make Obama out to be the problem despite certain important facts, e.g., the economy has improved; troops had been pulled out of Iraq.

(3) Though the economy has improved, the condition for the average working person has not.  Yes, unemployment is down but we are still dealing with structural unemployment that is weighing on everyone.  The damage from the foreclosure crisis is far from over.  And the rich are the ones who are benefiting from the improved economy.   To turn any of this around masses of working people need to be organized to fight for a division of the wealth.  Yes, that means building and supporting labor unions.  But when the President does not make that a clarion call–except when speaking with union members–he has no answer to the public that is asking for their share.

NYC Workers Target Walmart in $15 Hourly Wage Fight

By Pat Fry

Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism

Oct 18, 2014 – The fight for a $15 minimum hourly wage escalated in the streets of New York City Oct 17 with several hundred union and community allies demanding the right to organize and a living wage.

The two largest retail workers’ unions joined forces in support of organizing drives at Walmart, a campaign supported by the UFCW and Zara’s, a national women’s clothing store chain, where workers are organizing a union of the RWDSU.

The march in midtown Manhattan stopped at Zara’s across from Bloomingdale’s Dept Store whose workers are represented by RWDSU and delivered petitions to management in support of the union campaign.

The protesters then marched to the Park Avenue address of Alice Walton, heiress to the Walmart fortune – worth an estimated $35 billion. In front of Walton’s posh penthouse building, protesters chanted, “Alice, Alice, You Can’t Hide – We Can See Your Greedy Side.”

A delegation attempted to deliver 1,600 signatures on a petition in support of Walmart workers. Then in planned civil disobedience several workers and supporters sat in the street until they were taken away by police.

The campaign now is gearing up for another Black Friday protest at Walmart stores around the country on Nov. 28, the biggest shopping day of the year “to hold Walmart and the Walton family publicly accountable for their poor treatment of Walmart workers!”