Today's Off Times Square is on Slow Food (and Cheap Tomatoes). ...
... Chris Hedges in TruthDig: "... one of the most important battles in the history of migrant labor is launched by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). If this battle succeeds it will nearly double the wages of the farmworkers who labor in the $600 million tomato-growing industry. A victory over the supermarket chains also would hold out the possibility of significantly alleviating the draconian conditions that permit forced labor, crippling poverty and egregious human rights abuses, including documented cases of slavery, in the nation’s tomato fields. If the CIW campaign—which is designed to pressure supermarket chains including Publix, Trader Joe’s, Wal-Mart, Kroger, and Ahold brands Giant and Stop & Shop to sign the CIW Fair Food Agreement — fails, however, it threatens to roll back the modest gains made by farmworkers." CW: Hedges, in my opinion, often goes over the top. Not this time. If anything, he's downplaying the plight of tomato pickers. Thanks to commenter Janice for the link. The CIW site is here.
** "The Koch Method." How to Make a Billion Dollars: Steal, Cheat & Lie. Asjylyn Loder & David Evans of Bloomberg News: "A Bloomberg Markets investigation has found that Koch Industries -- in addition to being involved in improper payments to win business in Africa, India and the Middle East -- has sold millions of dollars of petrochemical equipment to Iran, a country the U.S. identifies as a sponsor of global terrorism. Internal company documents show that the company made those sales through foreign subsidiaries, thwarting a U.S. trade ban. Koch Industries units have also rigged prices with competitors, lied to regulators and repeatedly run afoul of environmental regulations, resulting in five criminal convictions since 1999 in the U.S. and Canada."
Al Baker & Joseph Goldstein of the New York Times: "As the Occupy Wall Street protests ... lurch into their third week, it is often the white shirts [i.e., police commanders] who lay hands on protesters or initiate arrests. Video recordings of clashes have shown white shirts — lieutenants, captains or inspectors — leading underlings into the fray." ...
... Natasha Lennard, the New York Times stringer arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge Sunday, writes a Times blogpost on "covering the march."
As a freelancer, I did not have an official police press pass. I was, however, fortunate enough to be the first to be processed from my bus, with only a disorderly conduct violation summons, in no small measure because of my editors’ contacting Police Headquarters to ensure my swift release.
... John Cassidy of the New Yorker: New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly's strongarm tactics are turning a peaceful protest into a worldwide news story. And Mayor Michael Bloomberg is inadvertently helping Occupy Wall Street, too. ...
... E. J. Dionne: "This week, progressives will highlight a new effort to pursue the road not taken at a conference convened by the Campaign for America’s Future that opens Monday.... A real left could usefully instruct Americans as to just how moderate the president they elected in 2008 is — and how far to the right conservatives have strayed." The Campaign for America's Future site is here. It looks pretty good -- and pretty progressive.
Paul Krugman: "... given our economy’s desperate need for more jobs, a weaker dollar is very much in our national interest — and we can and should take action against countries that are keeping their currencies undervalued, and thereby standing in the way of a much-needed decline in our trade deficit. That, above all, means China." The Senate "will ... take up legislation that would threaten sanctions against China and other currency manipulators."
Ron Nixon & Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times: "Talk of cutting tax breaks to raise money and reduce the debt has become a mantra in Washington, but it threatens sacred ground: such breaks are a favorite tool among both Republicans and Democrats to reward supporters and economic interests in their home states. The 71,000-page tax code has become loaded with dozens of obscure but economically valuable tax breaks."
Charles Riley of CNN Money: "Raise taxes on the rich, and you'll put the nation's 'job creators' at risk ... is a ubiquitous Republican talking point.... The argument: Many small businesses file taxes under the individual tax code. But while that argument makes for a good bumper sticker, it's a misleading simplification of a complex policy issue.... In sharp contrast to the rhetoric, current data suggests small businesses don't create an outsized number of jobs, very few small business owners fall into the top two tax brackets, and tax cuts for small businesses are ineffective stimulus measures."
Buffett Rule Reagan Rule. Thanks to Pat Garofalo of Think Progress for this gem:
... And speaking of Warren Buffett:
Some Are More Equal than Others. Anna Palmer of Politico: "Reporters and government watchdog groups are up in arms over the secrecy surrounding the [deficit-reduction super]committee ... which has met more frequently in secret than publicly and has rejected calls to disclose its donors and post its documents online. But some of Washington’s highest-paid lobbyists ... say senior staffers have given them readouts from closed-door committee meetings.... Democratic and Republican lobbyists say they continue to get corporate clients with interests before the committee face time with members and staff." CW Note: Palmer writes that "both sides do it," but the only examples she cites are Republican committee members. Thanks to reader Bob M. for the link.
Andy Grimm of the Chicago Tribune: "A Chicago woman's lawsuit over her partner's death at the Indiana State Fairgrounds could have widespread implications for same-sex couples across the nation, legal experts say. Alisha Brennon entered into a civil union with Christina Santiago in June, shortly after civil unions became legal in Illinois. In August, Santiago was one of seven people killed when a storm blew apart an outdoor concert stage in Indianapolis. Brennon has filed three lawsuits seeking damages for the death of her partner. The suits could force courts to decide whether civil unions in one state have legal standing in another." ...
... Ken Starr (yep, that one) in a New York Times op-ed: "Cameras in the courtroom of the United States Supreme Court are long overdue." CW: love it when I agree with Ken Starr.
The annual New Yorker Festival was this weekend, & the New Yorker has blogposts & video excerpts of some of the events here. Here, Danalynn Recer, founder and executive director of the Gulf Region Advocacy Center, discusses the effect of racism on the death penalty:
Gardiner Harris of the New York Times: as more & more nurses are receiving doctorates in nursing, physicians -- in some cases with backing of state legislatures -- are pushing back against allowing nurses to take the title of "doctor." CW: excuse me while I adjust my god-complex meter. People with doctorates in a myriad of other fields are routinely called "doctor." In fact, I can't recall medical doctors objecting when doctors in related fields -- like clinical psychology -- are addressed as "doctor." Why not nurses? Oh, wait. The vast majority of nurses are women.
Noah Bierman of the Boston Globe: "Elizabeth Warren holds a commanding lead over her rivals for next year’s Democratic US Senate nomination [in Massachusetts] and would be in a dead heat with Republican Scott Brown in the 2012 general election, according to a poll released last night."
A Caucus Divided against Itself.... Molly Hooper of The Hill: "GOP lawmakers told The Hill that redistricting pitting incumbents versus incumbents, coupled with the threat of Tea Party primary opponents, has sparked a lot of anxiety among House Republicans."
Right Wing World
Jason Zengerle of New York Magazine profiles Eric Cantor, comparing him to the obnoxious "Leave It to Beaver" character Eddie Haskell. "The House majority leader is trying to stop the U.S. government in its tracks. And so far, he’s doing a pretty effective job."
Rick Perry, BFF of Sleazy Mortgage Lenders. Jack Gillum of the AP: "As Texas governor, Rick Perry spent tens of millions in taxpayer money to lure some of the nation's leading mortgage companies to expand their business in his state.... Just as the largest banks began receiving public cash, they aggressively ramped up risky lending. Within four years, the banks were out of business and homeowners across Texas faced foreclosure. In the end, the state paid $35 million to subsidize it. An Associated Press review ... found that Perry downplayed early warnings of an impending mortgage crisis as alarmist.... As Perry offered $20 million in grants to Countrywide and $15 million to Washington Mutual Inc. — each blamed for having a major role in one of the country's most serious recessions — he took in tens of thousands of their dollars for his gubernatorial campaign."
Romney v. Buffett. Michael Scherer of Time: Mitt "Romney, a wealthy man whose income mostly comes from long-term investments, is exactly the sort of 'millionaire and billionaire' that [President] Obama likes to hold up for scrutiny, since the source of Romney's income allows him to pay a lower percentage of his money to the federal government each year than many middle-class wage earners." Romney has not released his tax returns, but a rough guesstimate is that he & his wife earned about $7.5 million in 2010. The Romneys probably paid about 14 percent of their gross income in taxes; under the "Buffett Rule," they would have paid at a rate of about 30 percent. 'The President's party want to take from some[ [Me!] and give to others [You!],' Romney said in a recent debate.... Romney has tried to cast himself as a defender of the middle class. His economic plan would maintain the 15% capital gains rate for those making more than $200,000 in total income, and eliminate any capital gains tax on those making less than $200,000." CW: pardon my math, but it appears the Buffett Rule would cost the Romneys about $1.2 million for 2010 alone.
The Hill: "The Senate voted Monday to advance legislation pressuring the Chinese government to stop undervaluing its currency, a practice most economists agree is giving the country an unfair trade advantage and is costing the U.S. jobs. The Senate voted 79-19 to end debate on a motion to proceed to the bill.... The strong show of support suggests it could well be approved in the upper chamber by the week’s end. Passage through the House is less clear, however, and GOP leaders have given no indication they will move forward with it." ...
... Roll Call: "House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said today that President Barack Obama’s jobs plan has no chance of passing the GOP-controlled House. Instead, the Virginia Republican said he will push for consideration of a series of proposals that are included in Obama’s package, such as a 3 percent withholding provision for government contractors and approval of free-trade deals with Colombia, South Korea and Panama."
New York Times: "Fannie Mae, the mortgage finance giant, learned as early as 2003 of extensive foreclosure abuses among the law firms it had hired to remove troubled borrowers from their homes. But the company did little to correct the firms’ practices, according to a report issued Tuesday [by the agency's inspector general]. Only after news reports in mid-2010 began to describe the dubious practices ... did Fannie Mae’s overseer start to scrutinize the conduct. The report was critical of that overseer, the Federal Housing Finance Agency...."
New York Times: "The Supreme Court started its new term on Monday with arguments in a difficult and consequential case over California’s attempt to cut Medicaid payment rates."
No, I don’t, because if you look at the overall portfolio ... over all, it’s doing well, and what we always understood was that not every single business is going to succeed in clean energy. -- Barack Obama, on whether or not he regrets the Solyndra clean energy loan ...
... New York Times: "Some White House officials were so concerned last year about the financial health of Solyndra, a solar equipment manufacturer that had received federal loans, that they warned that a presidential trip to the company’s California factory could prove a major embarrassment, newly disclosed e-mails show." ...
... Market Watch: "As the Obama administration continues to take heat for an ill-fated $535 million loan guarantee to the now-bankrupt solar panel maker Solyndra, a Bush administration official [-- Walter Streight Howes, a director in the Department of Energy --] says he would have done the same thing."
President Obama held a Cabinet meeting this morning.
CNN: "South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary will be held on Jan. 21 of next year.... The move is designed to put space between South Carolina and Florida, which bucked national Republican Party rules last week and decided to hold their primary on Jan. 31. The updated calendar is likely to push the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary even earlier into January...."
AP: "Three scientists won the Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday for discoveries about the immune system that opened new avenues for the treatment and prevention of infectious illnesses and cancer. American Bruce Beutler and French scientist Jules Hoffmann shared the 10 million-kronor ($1.5 million) award with Canadian-born Ralph Steinman...." ...
... New York Times Update: Dr. Ralph Steinman died on September 30, hours before the Nobel Committee decided to award him the Prize in Medicine. Although the award cannot be made posthumously, the Committee -- which was unaware of his death -- decided to grant him the award since it had already announced he had won the prize.
Los Angeles Times: "Protesters who have camped outside Los Angeles City Hall since Saturday, inspired by on-going Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in New York, will spend a second night sleeping on the pavement this evening. Loosely organized by a group called Occupy Los Angeles, several hundred people marched and rallied Sunday, holding signs that blasted corporate influence on government. They used Internet sites to mobilize and get attention."
You want to be commander in chief? You can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when it's not politically convenient. We don't believe in standing silent when that happens. -- Barack Obama, on Republican presidential candidates' standing silent while the debate audience booed a gay soldier ...
... President Obama at a Human Rights Council event Saturday night:
... The transcript, as delivered, is here.