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June 27 2015 | Brussels | 0 comments
A Few Days Late
photo: Richard Harris

I'm a few days late with my annual Summer Solstice photo. This one taken at 11pm two days ago.
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June 24 2015 | Pitchforks - USA | 0 comments
Nothing But The Facts
photo: Richard Harris

Here's an article by Bernie Sanders:

"Here is the reality of the American economy. Despite an explosion in technology and a huge increase in worker productivity, the middle class of this country continues its 40-year decline. Today, millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages and median family income is almost $5,000 less than it was in 1999.

Meanwhile, the wealthiest people and the largest corporations are doing phenomenally well. Today, 99 percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent, while the top one-tenth of 1 percent own almost as much wealth as the bottom 40 percent. In the last two years, the wealthiest 14 people in this country increased their wealth by $157 billion. That increase is more than is owned by the bottom 130 million Americans -- combined.

Over the last 40 years, the largest corporations in this country have closed thousands of factories in the United States and outsourced millions of American jobs to low-wage countries overseas. That is why we need a new trade policy and why I am opposed to the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership now before Congress.

Large corporations and their lobbyists have created loopholes enabling corporations to avoid an estimated $100 billion a year in taxes by shifting profits to the Cayman Islands and other offshore tax havens. That is why we need real tax reform which demands that the very wealthy and large corporations start paying their fair share of taxes.

Corporate America has mounted vigorous anti-union campaigns, making it harder for workers to collectively bargain for decent wages and benefits. That is why we must make certain that workers are given a fair chance to join a union.

As a result of the Supreme Court's disastrous Citizens United decision, corporations and the very wealthy are now spending billions to elect candidates who will represent their interests. That is why we need a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and move toward public funding of elections.

Instead of putting resources into innovative ways to build their businesses or hire new employees, corporations are pumping 98 percent of their record-breaking profits into buying back their own stock and increasing dividends to benefit their executives and wealthy shareholders at the expense of their workers. It is a major reason why CEOs are now making nearly 300 times what the typical worker makes.

We have got to demand that corporations stop manipulating their shares to reward their executives and billionaire shareholders through the use of stock buybacks.

We also must do a lot more to rebuild the middle class, check corporate greed and make our economy work again for working families.

We need to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next several years. With 70 percent of the economy dependent on consumers buying goods and services, the best way to expand the economy is to raise wages and create good jobs to increase the purchasing power of the American people.

We need to create millions of decent-paying jobs rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure; our roads, bridges, dams, rail, airports, levees and dams.

We need to pass pay equity for women workers. It is not acceptable that women receive 78 cents on the dollar compared to male workers doing the same job.

We need to end the scandal of companies taking advantage of outdated rules to avoid paying overtime to "supervisors" -- often earning less than $30,000 a year -- when they clock 50 or 60 hours a week on the job.

We need to make certain that every worker in this country receives guaranteed paid sick leave and vacation time.

We need to encourage business models that provide employees the tools to purchase their own businesses through Employee Stock Ownership Plans and worker-owned cooperatives. Workers at employer-owned companies are more motivated, productive and satisfied with their jobs.

It is time to say loudly and clearly that corporate greed and the war against the American middle class must end. Enough is enough!"
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June 24 2015 | Art - Belgium | 0 comments
Window Of The Day 98
photo: Richard Harris

On a side street in Mons. Possibly a tribute to Mons 2015 European Capital of Culture.
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June 23 2015 | Brussels | 0 comments
Surviving In The City With A Little Help
photo: Richard Harris

This morning I was on my way to the subway when I noticed a little very roughly constructed house in the middle of one of the basins in the Fishmarket. I saw that there were two gangplanks leading into the water which made me think that someone actually lived there. On my way home I investigated and met the residents: a mother duck and three or four ducklings (you can just make them out in the photo under their mother). Now the question is: which wonderful person did this?
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June 20 2015 | Politics - USA | 1 comment
photo: Richard Harris

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship:

" In all, governments and corporations involved in the arms deals approved by Clinton's State Department have delivered between $54 million and $141 million to the Clinton Foundation as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments to the Clinton family, according to foundation and State Department records.

The Clinton Foundation publishes only a rough range of individual contributors' donations, making a more precise accounting impossible.

The Washington Post reports that among the approximately 200,000 contributors there have also been donations from many other countries and corporations, overseas and domestic business leaders, the odious Blackwater Training Center, and even Rupert Murdoch of celebrity phone hacking fame.

Meredith McGehee, policy director of the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, told David Sirota: "The word was out to these groups that one of the best ways to gain access and influence with the Clintons was to give to this foundation."

We pause here to note: All of these donations were apparently legal, and as others have written, at least we know who was doling out the cash, in contrast to those anonymous sources secretly channeling millions in "dark money" to the chosen candidates of the super rich. In The Atlantic, Lawrence Lessig, campaign finance reform activist and director of Harvard's Safra Center for Ethics put it well:

The question is not whether Hillary Clinton is a criminal. Of course she is not. The question is whether she can carry the mantle of a reformer. Can she really stand above the cesspool that is Washington -- filled not with criminals but with decent people inside a corrupted system trying to do what they think is good -- and say, this system must change.

And does she really see the change that's needed, when for the last 15 years, she has apparently lived a life that seems all but oblivious to exactly Washington's problem.

We see "exactly Washington's problem" in how, during the 1990s, Bill Clinton became the willing agent of Wall Street's push to deregulate, a collaboration that enriched the bankers but eventually cost millions of Americans their homes, jobs, and pensions.

Thanks to documents that came to light last year (one even has a hand-written note attached that reads: "Please eat this paper after you have read this."), we understand more clearly how a small coterie of insiders maneuvered to get President Clinton to support repeal of the New Deal-era Glass-Steagall Act that had long protected depositors from being victimized by bank speculators gambling with their savings. Repeal led to a wave of Wall Street mergers.

As you can read in stories by Dan Roberts in The Guardian and Pam and Russ Martens online, the ringleader of the effort was Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin, who breathlessly persuaded the president to sign the repeal and soon left office to join Citigroup, the bank that turned out to be the primary beneficiary of the deal. When it overreached and collapsed, Citigroup received the largest taxpayer bailout in the history of U.S. finance. Rubin, meanwhile, earned $126 million from the bank over ten years.

According to The New York Times, Rubin "remains a crucial kingmaker in Democratic policy circles" and, as an adviser to the Clintons, "will play an essential role in Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign for president..."..."

Click here for the rest.
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