Saturday, March 09, 2024

Arundahti Roy: The Gaza strip has been turned into a concentration camp

Let's start with Arundhati Roy (ZNET):

The richest, most powerful countries in the western world, those who believe themselves to be the keepers of the flame of the modern world’s commitment to democracy and human rights, are openly financing and applauding Israel’s genocide in Gaza. The Gaza strip has been turned into a concentration camp. Those who have not already been killed are being starved to death. Almost the entire population of Gaza has been displaced. Their homes, hospitals, universities, museums, infrastructure of every kind has been reduced to rubble. Their children have been murdered. Their past has been vaporised. Their future is hard to see.

Even though the highest court in the world believes that almost every indicator seems to meet the legal definition of genocide, IDF soldiers continue to put out their mocking “victory videos” celebrating what almost look like fiendish rituals. They believe that there is no power in the world that will hold them to account. But they are wrong. They and their children’s children will be haunted by what they have done. They will have to live with the loathing and the abhorrence the world feels for them. And hopefully one day everybody – on all sides of this conflict – who has committed war crimes will be tried and punished for them, keeping in mind that there is no equivalence between crimes committed while resisting Apartheid and Occupation, and crimes committed while enforcing them.

Racism is of course the keystone of any act of genocide. The rhetoric of the highest officials of the Israeli state has, ever since Israel came into existence, dehumanised Palestinians and likened them to vermin and insects, just like the Nazis once dehumanised Jews. It is as though that evil serum never went away and is now only being recirculated. The “Never” has been excised from that powerful slogan “Never Again”. And we are left only with “Again”.

Never Again.



 CNN's Abeer Salman and Mohammed Tawfeeq report:

At least eight people were killed in an Israeli airstrike on buildings in central Gaza on Saturday afternoon local time, according to health officials at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital and witnesses on the ground.

Several witnesses told CNN on Saturday that the airstrike hit residential buildings in Nuseirat in central Gaza.

A video obtained by CNN from the hospital shows at least four of the dead being brought from the area to the facility — including two children, who were found dead after being pulled out from under rubble.

There was never any effort -- before or after the ICJ warning -- on the part of the Israeli government to mitigate casualties.  There was never any effort and there was any remorse.  A brutal and corrupt government killing civilians and getting away with it.  

Just like they get away with lying constantly -- or at least get away with it for a little while.  They lied to destroy UNRWA and to bring about starvation in Gaza.  Menelaos Hadjicostis (AP) reports that Sweden has decided to begin funding UNRWA again and that "Sweden's funding decision followed similar ones by the European Union and Canada as the U.N. agency known as UNRWA warns that it could collapse and leave Gaza's already desperate population of more than 2 million people with even less medical and other assistance."  As Arwa Mahdawi (GUARDIAN) declares, "I want to state the following as clearly and unequivocally as possible: Israel, with the help of the US, is deliberating starving the population of Gaza to death."

Instead of demanding Israel stop blocking food from getting it, Joe Biden wants to build a floating aid landing.  Eduardo Cuevas (USA TODAY) reports, "U.S. military personnel are scrambling to build a temporary floating dock off Gaza to help distribute food and other aid to Palestinians by way of the sea, a new route for supplies after months of Israel's intense restrictions on aid delivered by land. President Joe Biden announced the assistance to Gaza during his State of the Union Thursday night, as Army personnel were already pulling plans and equipment together." Meghann Myers (MILITARY TIMES) adds, "Over the next 60 days, roughly 1,000 troops will deploy to the Mediterranean Sea to build a floating platform where cargo ships can offload aid onto smaller military vessels, which will transfer them to a causeway attached to the beach, where trucks can pick it up and distribute it within Gaza, Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters."  And Tiffany Wertheimer (BBC News)  notes, "The support ship, General Frank S Besson, set sail from a military base in the state of Virginia on Saturday."  NBC NEWS has video of the operation hereALJAZEERA reports,  "The executive director of the US arm of the medical charity Doctors Without Borders, Avril Benoit, in a statement criticised the US plan as a 'glaring distraction from the real problem: Israel’s indiscriminate and disproportionate military campaign and punishing siege'."

Gaza remains under assault. Day 155 of  the assault in the wave that began in October.  Binoy Kampmark (DISSIDENT VOICE) points out, "Bloodletting as form; murder as fashion.  The ongoing campaign in Gaza by Israel’s Defence Forces continues without stalling and restriction.  But the burgeoning number of corpses is starting to become a challenge for the propaganda outlets:  How to justify it?  Fortunately for Israel, the United States, its unqualified defender, is happy to provide cover for murder covered in the sheath of self-defence."   CNN has explained, "The Gaza Strip is 'the most dangerous place' in the world to be a child, according to the executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund."  ABC NEWS quotes UNICEF's December 9th statement, ""The Gaza Strip is the most dangerous place in the world to be a child. Scores of children are reportedly being killed and injured on a daily basis. Entire neighborhoods, where children used to play and go to school have been turned into stacks of rubble, with no life in them."  NBC NEWS notes, "Strong majorities of all voters in the U.S. disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of foreign policy and the Israel-Hamas war, according to the latest national NBC News poll. The erosion is most pronounced among Democrats, a majority of whom believe Israel has gone too far in its military action in Gaza."  The slaughter continues.  It has displaced over 1 million people per the US Congressional Research Service.  Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) points out, "Academics and legal experts around the world, including Holocaust scholars, have condemned the six-week Israeli assault of Gaza as genocide."   The death toll of Palestinians in Gaza is grows higher and higher.  United Nations Women noted, "More than 1.9 million people -- 85 per cent of the total population of Gaza -- have been displaced, including what UN Women estimates to be nearly 1 million women and girls. The entire population of Gaza -- roughly 2.2 million people -- are in crisis levels of acute food insecurity or worse."  THE NATIONAL notes, "About 31,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza since the war began in October.  Another 72,524 have been wounded."  Months ago,  AP  noted, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  February 7th, Jeremy Scahill explained on DEMOCRACY NOW! that "there’s an estimated 7,000 or 8,000 Palestinians missing, many of them in graves that are the rubble of their former home."  February 5th, the United Nations' Phillipe Lazzarini Tweeted:

And the area itself?  Isabele Debre (AP) reveals, "Israel’s military offensive has turned much of northern Gaza into an uninhabitable moonscape. Whole neighborhoods have been erased. Homes, schools and hospitals have been blasted by airstrikes and scorched by tank fire. Some buildings are still standing, but most are battered shells."  Kieron Monks (I NEWS) reports, "More than 40 per cent of the buildings in northern Gaza have been damaged or destroyed, according to a new study of satellite imagery by US researchers Jamon Van Den Hoek from Oregon State University and Corey Scher at the City University of New York. The UN gave a figure of 45 per cent of housing destroyed or damaged across the strip in less than six weeks. The rate of destruction is among the highest of any conflict since the Second World War."   

Protests took place around the world today.  ALJAZEERA reports:

Tens of thousands of pro-Palestine supporters marched in central London calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

Demonstrators waved Palestinian flags and carried banners reading, “Stop the war on Gaza”, as they marched from Hyde Park Corner to the US Embassy.

Ben Jamal, the director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said it was the 10th national march and was “unprecedented” in recent UK political history to see “this many people marching for this length of time”.

Singer Charlotte Church said she joined the protest to “show solidarity with the people of Palestine for all that they are suffering through”.

“We’re all here because we cannot bear what we’re witnessing. We cannot bear to see civilians – children, women – slaughtered. And so we are here because our hearts are so full of love for the Palestinian people,” Church said.

At least 63 people have been arrested in a pro-Palestinian protest in New York today, police said."  In Canada, THE OTTAWA CITIZEN reports:

Thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched on Parliament Hill on Saturday in one of the largest such rallies in Ottawa since the Israeli invasion of Gaza began in October.

Braving rain and a biting late-winter wind, the group marched up Wellington Street behind a banner that said “End the Genocide in Gaza.” Waving the ubiquitous green, red, white and black Palestinian flag and banging drums, the group demanded an arms embargo and political sanctions on Israel and an immediate reinstatement of funding to the UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Work Agency.

Protests took place in Israel as well.  CNN’s Lauren Izso, Eyad Kourdi, Mohammed Tawfeeq and Jennifer Z. Deaton report:

Thousands of protesters gathered again on Saturday in Israeli cities — including Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and the coastal town of Caesarea — to demand a general election and the removal of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from government.

In Tel Aviv's Democracy Square, protesters chanted: "We will not stop until Bibi (Netanyahu) is arrested!"

"No to a government of terrorists!" one sign read.
"You are the leader; you are the guilty one!" other protesters chanted.


The following sites updated:


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Rep. Takano Invites California Veteran, PACT Act Recipient to be his Guest for the State of the Union

March 07, 2024

Rep. Takano Invites California Veteran, PACT Act Recipient to be his Guest for the State of the Union

Washington, D.C. Congressman Mark Takano (D-Calif.), author of the PACT Act, announced his guest for the State of the Union:

“I am proud to invite Juan Carlos Lopez-Mendoza to be my guest at the State of the Union. He is a California veteran and an immigrant, who served as an airborne infantryman in a NATO unit during the early 1990s. He served as a gay man under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and left because of the policy. He originally dismissed health issues related to his service, but eventually sought care thanks to being enrolled in the Affordable Care Act exchange.  

“His doctor told him about the care he could receive at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Before the Honoring our PACT Act, Juan was receiving 30% disability. After completing a toxic-exposure screening and applying for PACT Act benefits, Juan now receives 100% disability, which has made a significant change in his life.

“We expect President Biden to talk about the PACT Act during his speech tonight and potentially mention the new accelerated VA healthcare enrollment that began this week. The President mentioned that he wanted this to happen during his speech on Veterans Day last year, and it is now a reality for millions of veterans. 

“That is who our President is and exemplifies what Democrats will do for veterans. We will deliver for veterans any way we can.”

Watch more about Mr. Lopez-Mendoza's story.

Juan Carlos Lopez-Mendoza said:

“I am honored to be at the U.S. Capitol with my husband today. I am one of the many veterans who have seen their benefits increase because of the landmark PACT Act that was authored by Congressman Mark Takano and was signed into law by President Joe Biden. I am excited to hear from the President about his accomplishments and vision for our nation — and know he will keep putting country ahead of politics.”


Ashford & Simpson - Somebody Told A Lie

Congresswoman Bush Secures $13.7M for St. Louis Local Community Projects

 March 06, 2024

Congresswoman Bush Secures $13.7M for St. Louis Local Community Projects


Bush joined House Democrats in voting to pass government spending bills

With this funding, Bush will have delivered over $40 million in Community Project Funding for Missouri’s First District


Washington, D.C. (Mar. 6, 2024)—Today, Congresswoman Cori Bush (MO-01) secured $13,736,573 in Community Project Funding for Missouri’s First District as part of the 2024 appropriations cycle. This funding provides direct investments in homelessness prevention, public health, youth engagement, environmental justice, and economic revitalization projects across St. Louis. With this funding, Congresswoman Bush will have successfully delivered over $40 million in Community Project Funding for Missouri’s First District throughout her tenure in Congress.

“Our local grassroots organizations, nonprofits, and municipal governments are doing the work to improve and save lives in St. Louis. I am proud to have fought for and delivered over $13.7 million in federal funding this year that will go directly to the people who are doing meaningful work to make a difference in our communities,” said Congresswoman Cori Bush. “These investments will help create jobs, prevent homelessness, support our youth, repair infrastructure, and strengthen our communities. Over the course of the last three years, we’ve delivered over $40 million in direct investments to St. Louis to support lifesaving and essential programs across Missouri’s First District.

In addition to securing community project funding, Congresswoman Bush worked with her House Democratic colleagues to successfully block harmful policies proposed by the GOP in these spending bills, including a nationwide abortion ban and disinvestments in climate change prevention. Instead, this 2024 funding bill will help keep Missouri’s First District safe, fight inflation, and boost the economy.

This legislation passed through the House of Representatives, and is expected to be passed in the Senate and signed into law by President Biden. A detailed summary of the spending package is available HERE.

Rep. Bush championed funding for 14 projects that will directly benefit Missouri’s 1st District. These projects include:

  • $1,108,000 for the River Des Peres, MO
  • $850,000 for the Bright Futures: Youth In Need Project for Youth Homelessness Prevention, North St. Louis County
  • $850,000 for the DOORWAYS, in the City of St. Louis, Energy Efficiency and Accessibility Renovation of the Cooper House Assistive Living Facility for People Living with HIV Unable to Live Independently Project
  • $500,000 for the Easter Seals Midwest Employment and Disability Services Workforce Training Center
  • $3,000,000 for the Epworth Emergency Shelter and Food Pantry Rehabilitation Project
  • $466,000 for the Gateway180 Family Emergency Shelter Weatherization & Safety Project - St. Louis, MO
  • $850,000 for the Healthy Food, Healthy Community Renovation Project
  • $500,000 for the Jurnee Foundation Glasgow Village Affordable Housing
  • $500,000 for the LCRA MET Center Capital Upgrades for Workforce Development
  • $900,000 for the Perpetual Care Group Home for Veterans Independent Veterans Community Project
  • $850,000 for the R&R Marketplace Economic Development and Revitalization Project, City of Dellwood, St. Louis County, Missouri
  • $1,666,279 for the St. Louis Housing Authority (SLHA) Clinton-Peabody Redevelopment
  • $1,000,000 for the Urban Strategies - Murphy Park Housing and Site Improvements
  • $696,294 for the Youth and Family Center Facility Improvement Project

Last year, Congresswoman Bush secured $18.4 million in community project funding for St. Louis. During her tenure, Congresswoman Bush has delivered over $40 million in these direct investments to local projects.


Fontella Bass and Bobby McClure " Don't Mess with a Good Thing" 1965

Tlaib Introduces Living Wage for Musicians Act


Tlaib Introduces Living Wage for Musicians Act

Mar 06, 2024
Justice for All

MOTOWN – Today, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (MI-12) and Congressman Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), founder of the Congressional Hip Hop Task Force, introduced the Living Wage for Musicians Act. Reps. Tlaib and Bowman previously introduced a resolution calling for economic justice and fairness in streaming. This legislation was created in partnership with United Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW) and local and national artists who have been directly impacted by the lack of oversight in the music industry.

The Living Wage for Musicians Act would create a new streaming royalty, with the aim to compensate artists and musicians more fairly at a penny per stream when their music plays on streaming services. Currently, musicians make tiny fractions of a penny per stream, while streaming has grown to represent 84% of recorded music industry revenue in the U.S. Spotify, the world’s largest streaming service, pays rights-holders an average per-stream royalty of $0.003, which means it takes artists more than 800,000 monthly streams to equal a full-time $15/hour job.

“Detroit is one of the music capitals of the world, and our artists here have changed the music industry and our culture in so many incredible ways,” said Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. “It’s only right that the people who create the music we love get their fair share, so that they can thrive, not just survive.”

“I’m very grateful for Rashida’s work to bring overdue changes to the music industry that restore equity and a sense of value for musicians all over,” said Detroit artist and WDET radio host Shigeto. “Artists have been taken advantage of since the inception of digital streaming. The Living Wage for Musicians Act gives voice to independent musicians and could potentially change a lot of artists’ lives by giving them a sustainable revenue stream.”

The popularity of streaming services has forever changed how people consume music and upended the economics of the industry in the process, creating a system of winners and losers that under compensates tens of thousands of recording artists and musicians for their art and labor. The Digital Service Providers (DSPs) such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon have seen massive growth in value, and the major record labels such as Universal, Warner, and Sony have seen returns to record profits.

The Living Wage for Musicians Act would tax providers’ non-subscription revenues and add a small fee to the price of music streaming subscriptions. DSPs like Spotify offering interactive music streaming services would pass their taxed revenues and royalties to a non-profit collection and distribution fund, that would in turn pay artists in proportion to their monthly streams. The bill includes a maximum payout per track, per month, in order to generate more sustainable income for a broader and more diverse set of artists beyond the world’s most popular performers.

“There is a lot of talk in the industry about how to ‘fix’ streaming – but the streaming platforms and major labels have already had their say for more than a decade, and they have failed musicians,” said UMAW organizer and musician Damon Krukowski. “The Living Wage for Musicians Act presents a new, artist-centered solution to make streaming work for the many and not just the few. We need to return value to recordings by injecting more money into the system, and we need to pay artists and musicians directly for streaming their work.”

By creating a fund that directly compensates recording artists and musicians, the bill will allow vastly more artists to achieve a living wage from music, enabling them to pay rent, raise a family, buy a home, and invest in their future. Recording artists also employ many other professionals in the music industry, all of whom are suffering from the current lack of financial return from streaming: producers, arrangers, sound engineers, mastering engineers, recording studios, non-featured performers and others will all benefit from these direct payments to recording musicians. The additional income musicians receive will allow them to professionally record more music, tour more extensively, create more merchandise, and make themselves more available to fans. The bill raises the standard of living for these workers which will reverberate beyond just the music industry by injecting more money into our local economies.

“Streaming services wouldn’t exist without the brilliant work of artists who choose to share their music with these platforms,” said Congressman Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D. (NY-16). “Streaming services make billions of dollars a year off the hard work of musicians, but those creators make less than a penny every time we stream their songs. It is unconscionable that in order to buy a cup of coffee, an artist needs someone to stream their song over a thousand times. Artists and musicians across the country deserve to be paid for their work. I represent the Bronx, the birthplace of Hip Hop, where music is the foundation of our communities. They all deserve to be paid fairly for their incredible and transformative art. The music industry can and should work for everyone, especially up and coming and independent artists who use streaming to share their work with the world. Ensuring streaming services pay their artists a fair wage is just a first step to ensure the artists in our communities can pay their bills while following their passion.”

The full text of the bill is available here.


NANCY SINATRA - Sugar Town 1967


Baldwin Brings Home Over $211 Million for Dozens of Wisconsin Projects


Baldwin Brings Home Over $211 Million for Dozens of Wisconsin Projects

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced she successfully secured more than $211 million for community-driven projects in the bipartisan Fiscal Year 2024 government funding package that passed the Senate today and now heads to the President’s desk.

“Delivering for Wisconsin communities, families, and businesses has always been my priority. I’m proud to bring home direct support to help keep our communities safe, stand behind our service members, and grow our agricultural economy,” said Senator Baldwin. “These projects, whether its building more affordable housing, expanding access to childcare, or investing in our law enforcement, will address the specific needs of many different communities and help us build a stronger, safer, more resilient state.”

The Fiscal Year 2024 legislation includes funding for Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies; Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies; Energy and Water Development; Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies; and Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies.


U.S. Army Corps: $120,000,000 for the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP) for the Upper Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway, which aims to improve the capacity and efficiency of the navigation system through updated lock and dam infrastructure and smaller-scale infrastructure designed to further improve the advantages of towboat and barge transportation.

Western Wisconsin

Impact Seven: $4,000,000 to support the Housing Opportunity and Mobile Education project that will create affordable apartments in conjunction with on-site training in advanced manufacturing for low-income and underemployed residents in Hayward, Ladysmith, Minong and Hurley, Wisconsin.

Western Wisconsin Health Expansion: $1,000,000 to expand the hospital’s labor and delivery room and construct a birthing and medical-surgical room in Baldwin, Wisconsin.

City of River Falls: $1,401,000 to renovate the Fire Station.

County of Burnett: $950,000 for public safety radio system.

Monroe County: $951,961 to extend infrastructure for the next full cell construction at the landfill. This project would increase the landfill life for an additional five years.

La Crosse County: $1,000,000 for Hillview Community Services Center, a community services hub to provide housing for unsheltered people and affordable childcare, with a focus on veterans.

Dairyland Power Cooperative: $2,028,000 for electric vehicle charging station with solar battery and storage.

Village of Viola: $1,412,000 for installation of solar and battery storage to support energy resilience.

City of Hillsboro: $500,000 for water and sewer investigation and rehabilitation.

Wisconsin Department of Transportation: $10,000,000 for the Chippewa Valley Corridor reconstruction in Eau Claire County.

Southeast Wisconsin

Urban Ecology Center (UEC): $2,000,000 to undertake infrastructure upgrades at its facilities in Washington Park.

Milwaukee County: $2,000,000 for the development and support of affordable housing projects throughout Milwaukee County.

Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha: $1,000,000 for facility expansion.

Kenosha Area Business Alliance: $1,200,000 to support construction of affordable housing as part of the Kenosha Uptown Lofts project.

City of Milwaukee: $500,000 to support construction of public infrastructure to support economic development opportunities for manufacturing development in Milwaukee's Menomonee Valley.

City of Milwaukee: $963,000 to support the Milwaukee Police Department’s initiative to update its current radio system infrastructure, which is reaching the end of its manufacturer-supported lifecycle. The update will improve radio interoperability with surrounding cities and counties, which is critical to responding to crime and collaborating across southeastern Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Department of Transportation: $3,800,000 for the Watertown Bridge Replacement project to replace the Cole Memorial Bridge structure over the Rock River.

Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District: $3,000,000 for sewer infrastructure and reduction of overflow risks.

Town of Farmington: $350,000 for a wastewater lift station.

City of Elkhorn: $3,300,000 to install a water treatment system to address arsenic, radium, ammonia, iron and manganese contamination.

City of Waukesha: $1,000,000 for a computer aided dispatch and record management system for 911 Dispatch, Police, and Fire that will enhance the City’s ability to respond to emergencies in the community.

Sojourner Family Peace Center: $537,000 to support work of the Domestic Violence High Risk Team, a multidisciplinary team that includes advocates, Milwaukee Police Department, Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, the State of Wisconsin Department of Corrections, and representatives from suburban law enforcement agencies to efficiently identify and staff domestic violence cases at the highest risk for lethality in order to make individualized recommendations to maximize the safety for survivors and accountability for offenders.

Wisconsin Air National Guard: $7,100,000 for construction of an indoor small arms range for use by the 128th Refueling Wing at General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee.

Wisconsin Air National Guard: $4,250,000 for construction of an underground pipeline to support fuel delivery to the 128th Refueling Wing at General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee.

South Central Wisconsin

The River Food Pantry: $3,000,000 to support construction of a new food pantry facility with the capacity to annually serve over 13,000 people from low-income and underserved communities throughout Dane County.

City of Richland Center: $2,500,000 to extend water and sewer infrastructure to Richland Hospital.

The Center for Black Excellence: $2,500,000 to support planning and construction of the Center for Black Excellence & Culture in Madison, providing space dedicated to Black enterprise, art, history, performance and culture.

Village of Rock Springs: $600,000 to implement an economic recovery project, which includes transportation improvements to support a business district.

Boys & Girls Club of Janesville: $500,000 for construction of a new facility for the Boys & Girls Club.

University of Wisconsin-Madison: $1,000,000 to improve agriculture research facilities.

Village of Windsor: $500,000 for the DeForest Windsor Fire and EMS District.

City of Lancaster: $1,125,000 to renovate the Fire and EMS Station.

Green County Family YMCA: $1,000,000 to support facility expansion construction to include new childcare and youth development centers, health living center, community kitchen, fitness classrooms and programming spaces for seniors and youth.

Village of Loganville: $750,000 for main street sewer and water upgrade during reconstruction of State Trunk Highway 23.

Northeastern Wisconsin

Green Bay-Austin Straubel International Airport (GRB): $5,000,000 for airport infrastructure, including improvements for passenger boarding bridges.

Village of Wausaukee: $1,600,000 to support development of affordable housing.

Greater Fox Cities Area Habitat for Humanity: $500,000 to support construction of single-family affordable homes.

City of Manitowoc: $625,000 to support construction of affordable senior independent living residences.

Door County: $3,900,000 for public safety radio system.

Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office: $990,000 for ice rescue boats needed for rescues of individuals in distress on the recreational lakes and waterways of Winnebago County.

City of Oconto: $160,000 for mobile radios for the Police and Fire Rescue Department.

Northern Wisconsin

St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity: $500,000 to support construction of affordable workforce housing in Pierce County.

Bayfield County: $1,000,000 to support development of affordable workforce housing.

Waadookodaading Ojibwe Language Institute (WOLI) Revitalization Center: $5,000,000 to establish a language revitalization center to house full-time pre-k to grade 12 Ojibwe immersion education in Hayward, Wisconsin.

Lac du Flambeau Tribe: $290,000 for equipment for the tribal fish hatchery.


Village of Rothschild: $3,300,000 to remove PFAS from drinking water.

Portage County: $505,000 for security cameras to support digital data retention.


Diana Ross & The Supremes - In And Out Of Love [TeleRitmo - 1968]

Senator Murray Announces State of the Union Guest: Kayla Smith, Former Idaho Resident Who Received Lifesaving Abortion Care in Seattle and Now Resides in Washington State


Senator Murray Announces State of the Union Guest: Kayla Smith, Former Idaho Resident Who Received Lifesaving Abortion Care in Seattle and Now Resides in Washington State

Facing a dangerous, doomed pregnancy and unable to get desperately-needed abortion care in Idaho, Kayla Smith traveled to Washington state for lifesaving abortion care at UW Medical Center and now resides in Washington state

More on Kayla’s story from This American Life; Idaho Capital Sun; KTVB: ‘I don’t wish this on anyone:’ Idaho couple travels out of state for abortion

ICYMI: Murray Hosts Abortion Rights Briefing Ahead of Roe v. Wade Anniversary: “We Will Not Let Anyone Turn Away”

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), President Pro Tempore, announced that she will be bringing Kayla Smith of Central Washington as her guest this year to President Biden’s State of the Union Address on March 7th. Kayla Smith was living in Nampa, Idaho in 2022—married, with a two-year old and pregnant again—when at 19 weeks, she went in for a routine ultrasound scan and learned that her baby, whom she and her husband had already named Brooks, had serious and fatal fetal anomalies, including inoperable heart defects. In addition to the awful knowledge that their baby was highly unlikely to survive, Kayla and her husband James were also worried about Kayla’s health should she continue the pregnancy—Kayla developed preeclampsia when pregnant with her first child, was hospitalized with neurological issues, and had an induction at 33 weeks. Idaho’s abortion bans contain no exceptions for fatal fetal abnormalities or to preserve the health of the pregnant patient—only to prevent death, although physicians have said it is unclear under the law when that exception would apply.

Unable to receive care under Idaho’s draconian abortion bans, at 21 weeks, Kayla and her husband traveled to Seattle, Washington to get an early induction of labor in Seattle at UW Medical Center—care they were barred from obtaining in Idaho. The trip cost thousands of dollars, requiring them to take out a personal loan and obtain financial assistance from friends and family. Two of the maternal-fetal medicine providers Kayla saw while living in Nampa have since left the state because of Idaho’s abortion laws—one of them, Dr. Kylie Cooper, has spoken out about how Idaho’s abortion bans turned her life as a physician upside-down and forced her to leave the state.

In 2023, Kayla and her family left Idaho and moved to Washington state, where they now reside—their decision to move was based in large part because they wanted to grow their family in a state nearby where basic reproductive health care was legal and protected.

“When I was 18 weeks pregnant with my second child, the anatomy scan revealed our son Brooks had several fatal fetal anomalies. With Roe overturned and Idaho’s trigger law going into effect just days before finding out about our son’s condition, we were forced to seek help outside of Idaho,” said Kayla Smith. “I grew up in Washington and felt safest coming back to get care here. My husband and I have since welcomed another little girl into our family and now currently reside in Washington. We felt strongly about raising our girls in a state where they would have bodily autonomy. I am honored to have been given the opportunity to sit alongside Senator Murray at the State of the Union address and continue to share not only my story, but the story of so many other women who have unfortunately been forced to flee their home state for abortion care.”

“Kayla Smith knows better than anyone the cruelty of Republicans’ anti-abortion agenda, and the chaos and anguish Republicans are creating for families in states where abortion is banned—because she’s lived it,” said Senator Murray. “We have to speak up at every opportunity and continue doing everything in our power to shine a light on the horrific consequences of Republican abortion bans that have ripped away a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions. Since the Dobbs decision, Washington’s status as a safe harbor state where abortion is legal and protected has meant our state has absorbed a major uptick in out-of-state patients forced to travel for abortion care—patients like Kayla. Kayla’s bravery in coming forward to speak out and tell her story—while at the same time fighting Idaho’s abortion ban—is inspiring, and I look forward to having her by my side at the State of the Union Address.”

“When it comes to abortion, women will not be silent and we will not be ignored,” Murray continued. “Everyone in America needs to know what happened to Kayla—and they need to understand that what happened to her in Idaho could happen to any woman in any state if Republicans succeed in passing their national abortion ban, which Donald Trump has made clear he supports. President Biden and Vice President Harris have done more to fight for abortion rights than any other administration, because they understand that women must be able to make decisions about their pregnancies without Republican politicians getting in the way. That is a message I look forward to hearing from President Biden at this year’s State of the Union Address as we continue to fight back against Republican attacks on women’s rights and work to restore the right to abortion nationwide.”

Kayla Smith is currently a plaintiff in the Adkins v. State of Idaho case challenging Idaho’s extreme abortion ban, which was filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights in September 2023. Specifically, the case seeks to clarify and expand the medical exceptions to Idaho’s two abortion bans to ensure physicians can provide abortion care to preserve a pregnant person’s health and safety, including in cases of fatal fetal diagnoses. The medical exception to Idaho’s near-total ban permits abortion only to prevent death, and its six-week ban similarly has a narrow medical exception. Clarifying the laws’ medical exceptions would allow physicians to provide life-saving care without waiting for patients to be near death. The lawsuit also seeks to clarify and expand the exceptions under the two bans to ensure physicians can provide abortion care to preserve a pregnant person’s health, including when the pregnant person has received a fatal fetal diagnosis. The Center for Reproductive Rights filed the case on behalf of seven plaintiffs: four women (including Kayla) who were denied medically necessary abortion care in their home state; two Idaho physicians who provide obstetrical care; and a professional membership organization consisting of Idaho physicians, medical residents and medical students.

Senator Murray, a senior member and former Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, is a longtime leader in the fight to protect and expand access to reproductive health care and has led Congressional efforts to fight back against the Supreme Court’s disastrous decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Senator Murray has worked tirelessly to shine a light on the cruelty and chaos of Republicans’ anti-abortion laws and has made clear that she will be a firewall against Republicans’ continued attacks on women’s rights, including as a lead negotiator on annual government funding bills in her role as Chair of the Appropriations Committee. In January, Senator Murray led Senate Democrats in hosting a briefing on the State of Abortion Rights across America, where senators heard powerful testimony about the devastating harm of Republican abortion bans.

Senator Murray has introduced more than a dozen pieces of legislation to protect reproductive rights from further attacks, protect providers, and help ensure women get the care they need and repeatedly sought unanimous consent to pass common-sense bills to protect women’s fundamental freedoms; she also co-leads the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would restore the right to abortion nationwide, and has been leading Congressional efforts to make over-the-counter birth control affordable and protect access to mifepristone.


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"No Labels": Gotta Give Credit To Bold Scammers


"No Labels": Gotta Give Credit To Bold Scammers

"Bi-partisanship" Is The Problem, Not The Solution

[Yes, it’s been awhile. Because of this. Hoping to be better at keeping this going. I’ve been trying to finish the below for…way too long]

You have to give credit to an audacious scam. By “audacious” I mean that the perpetrators of a scam, in their grab for money and power, so thoroughly disrespect their target audience that they merrily go about exploiting people because, ultimately, the end game masks a fraud.

In a nutshell, that is “No Labels”. Now that these jokers today have said they intend to pursue a presidential ticket—without knowing who the candidate might be—I want to offer a different take.

Big picture: The scam of “No Labels”, and the policies it claims to embrace, is embedded in the single idea that animates its very existence and its endless bloviating:


The “No Labels” plea for the balm of “bi-partisanship” is not just misplaced as a solution.

It’s worse than that.

It’s a lie.

It misleads—intentionally, on the part of some—people from understanding the true nature of the endless crisis people feel, especially in their pocketbooks.

The elite conversation, fueled by people who don’t bother reading and traffic, instead, in gossip (those folks were once called “journalists”), conflate yelling at each other and generally acting like children with the policy shortcomings we face.

And, presto, the solution being offered is: to be nicer to each other and make deals. In other words, “bi-partisanship”.

The system is not broken because of a lack of “bi-partisanship.”

The opposite—the system is broken BECAUSE of “bi-partisanship”.

This is not a jeremiad against the idea of building alternative parties to the two dominant parties in elections. I was, in fact, at the founding of the now-dead Labor Party in Cleveland in 1996, as a delegate and supporter (the reasons for the death of the Labor Party are, perhaps, a topic for another day). Alternative parties, with all the pluses and minuses embedded in today’s system, are worth the discussion—at the right strategic time (I’ll write some other time more deeply about whether this is the right strategic time—short answer for today: No!)

A warning: If you are looking for a convincing argument that either the Democratic or Republican Party is hurt more by the No Labels scam, you’d best go elsewhere: I’m not here to make that argument, which is roughly 95 percent of the focus of the media-driven debate on this scammy group; no one really knows the answer to that question, today, based on polling (which is useless so far from the November 2024 election). And it’s less interesting.

So, what should we think about here?

“Bi-partisanship” is precisely what has spelled disaster for millions of working class people—because “bi-partisanship” has accepted the theft by corporations of half a century of increased productivity by workers, witness the poverty-level $7.25-an-hour federal minimum wage that should be at least $25-an-hour.

“Bi-partisanship” is exactly what has caused the climate change crisis we face—because bi-partisanship embraces the idea of the “free market” as Godthe very economic system that has blessed the raping of the planet and brought the ecosystem we live in to its knees.

“Bi-partisanship” is the Holy Grail of a foreign policy stretching back decades—because bi-partisanship has signed off on endless war, bloated Pentagon budgets, the destruction of vast parts of communities across the globe and, most important, the death of (and this is not numeric hyperbole) millions of women, children and men.

“Bi-partisanship”, if we understand its policy implications, is at the root of the anger people feel across the political spectrum. You can only envision the idea of “bi-partisanship” if you also embrace the so-called “free market” system. The search for “bi-partisanship” is a thing because all sides accept the outlines of capitalism and some of the fraudulent ideas baked into the system for decades. And it is that economic system that screws people, even if a lot of folks find it easier to lash out at targets like immigrants.

“Bi-partisanship” is a key belief system embedded in the corrosive idea of American Exceptionalism—which is bleated, as a requirement, from the podiums by politicians of both major parties.

While the noise of superficial arguing, amplified on Twitter and other vapid platforms, consumes the chattering classes, in reality, every single day, there is a grand consensus that flows from the idea of “bi-partisanship” and doesn’t draw much real critique from those who practice “bi-partisanship”.

The consenus:

  • Tax cuts are good, especially if tax cuts help “small business” and “the middle class”;

  • CEOs are the “job creators”, the source of economic prosperity and are bright people who should be treated with over-the-top respect;

  • The “free market” is American Exceptionalism’s gift to the world;

  • American Exceptionalism is the justification for spreading “democracy” across the globe, backed up by an armed-to-the-teeth nation boasting escalating war budgets (you remember how much money we got from the post Cold War “peace dividend”… yeah, right, me either);

  • If you are unemployed it’s mostly your fault (for being “unskilled” or lazy) so unemployment benefits should be kept meager to make sure you get your ass back to work and don’t sit on your couch eating bon-bons;

  • “Free trade” is forward looking and good, while “protectionism” is backwards and bad;

  • and…the list goes on and on.

Bi-partisanship kills or sickens or bankrupts millions of people every year. The crash of health care “reform” in the 1990s was a victory for “bi-partisanship”—because “bi-partisanship” values the “free market” and protecting the drug and insurance industries (which shower millions of dollars in campaign contributions on Congress). Even the Affordable Care Act, which passed on a straight-party line vote had a tinge of ideological bi-partisanship because, while the ACA covered millions of uninsured people, it left much of the price-gouging, greed-driven system untouched.

With that in mind, let’s first consider what “No Labels” is offering. From its website:

No Labels is an organization of Democrats, Republicans, and independents working to bring American leaders together to solve problems.

And, similarly:

We are a national movement of commonsense Americans pushing our leaders together to solve our country's biggest problems.

So, the scam starts with the buzz words. The first thing one does in a fraud is use poll-tested deceptive advertising, slogans, and buzz words.

Cue “commonsense”.

Because to oppose “commonsense” is to be unreasonable or irrational.

That messaging continues in the policy booklet, which, natch, is entitled... “Common Sense”. It is a superficial, blandly written tract, chock full of mind-numbing garbage. But, I’ve actually read the damn thing—so you don’t have to (this is the burden I accept to earn your attention). At the end of this dreary task, I thought of the wonderful observation by Molly Ivins: “Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous.” And that’s basically this entire booklet in a nutshell.

To be kind to readers, and because you get the drift, I’ll choose just three choice nuggets from the booklet’s “Ideas” (and, honestly, I’m really stretching to call these “ideas” as opposed to warmed-over pablum).

Idea #2: The Sky is falling on Social Security:

“In reality, Social Security, the program that almost 67 million Americans depend on, is nearing fiscal insolvency.”


But the longer Washington waits to fix Social Security, the harder it will be to do so and the more likely it becomes that Americans will get hit with punishing tax increases, significant benefit cuts, or both.

Oh, and here’s a real howler:

The government trustees who manage Social Security project that the program’s trust fund will be exhausted within a decade because America won’t have enough taxpayers paying benefits to a growing group of retirees. [bold emphasis added]


There is no Social Security crisis. And it is *not* coming close to economic insolvency. Hogwash.

This has been a myth spread by a small group of Wall Street-connected people, amplified by a “bi-partisan” clutch of people in Congress, who want to privatize Social Security so they can rip everyone off and pocket even more obscene profits beyond what the banks, private equity firms and financiers are already ringing up.

In the worse case scenario—meaning, Congress did nothing (more on that in a moment)—Social Security would still pay out 80 percent of its benefits for decades, according to the Social Security trustees. Not an ideal situation for the millions of seniors who, but for Social Security, would face crushing poverty.

But, that isn’t insolvency.

In 2010, Barack Obama created the “bi-partisan” National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, also known in short-hand as the “Deficit Commission” but more accurately described by many of us, including yours truly, as the Catfood Commission.

Because we knew that the end result of this idiotic endeavor cuts to Social Security and Medicare would be on the menu, all in the name of “bi-partisan fiscal responsibility” to address the “deficit and debt” crisis—which, as I wrote in this book a decade ago (the updated edition came out in 2013), was, and still is, a manufactured, non-existent crisis.

But, for the sake of “bi-partisanship”, if the Commission’s recommendations became law, seniors would go hungry because Social Security checks would be smaller (in real terms) or die because they couldn’t afford health care costs.

The “bi-partisanship” sheen of this ridiculous exercise was supposedly to be found in the personage of the co-chairs, a wing-nut Republican Alan Simpson and a business mouthpiece, Democrat Erskine Bowles.

At the time, Bowles sat on the boards of General Motors and Morgan Stanley, and was also a member of the Business Council, which lobbied for business interests and was particularly aggressive in trying to scuttle any significant Wall Street reform. During the Clinton era, Bowles was the co-architect of a scheme to partly turn over Social Security to the private sector (read: Wall Street). His sidekick in the plan was Bruce Reed, who, no surprise, was hired as the Catfood Commission’s staff director.  And, by the way, can you imagine, if Bowles et. al. had been successful back in the Clinton days? What would have happened to those Social Security funds if the funds had found their way into the grubby hands of the geniuses at Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Citibank and Bernie Madoff? Bye-bye.

Alan Simpson’s views on the deficit “crisis” were well-known, as was his fondness for Social Security. It wasn’t just his most talked-about description of Social Security as “a milk cow with 310 million tits.” For years, he had a mission to turn Social Security money over to Wall Street. In 1994, as a member of Bill Clinton’s Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform, he pushed for benefit cuts and partial privatization.

The only saving grace in 2010? To adopt the Obama Commission’s cuts required a 3/4 “bi-partisan” super majority. I’ve said in the past that progressives have a lot of legit beefs with Nancy Pelosi, in her role as a leader of the Democratic Party at the time. But, on this Commission nonsense alone, at least she had the gumption to say back then, in opposition to the president from her own party, that cuts to Social Security or Medicare would pass over her dead body, or words to that effect.

Now, we absolutely know how to massively increase Social Security funds and *increase* benefits: remove the cap on the annual income subject to the Social Security tax, which is now at $168,800, and force rich people to pay into the system; a millionaire stops paying into Social Security after the first two months of the year.

“Idea #5”

Our leaders must take action to get health-care costs under control to give all Americans access to quality health care and reduce our debt.”

There’s a reason that in that entire “idea” a national health care system—Medicare For All—is never mentioned even though it’s the only system that would not only save lives but cut by as much as half the amount of GDP spent on the current corrupt system: the founding chairman of this “No Labels” shakedown is none other than Joe Lieberman. Throughout his tenure in the U.S. Senate, he was one of the biggest recipients of drug and insurance industry political cash; his wife worked for two large corporate lobbying firms, handling their Big PHARMA and Big Insurance matters.

Idea #17: More Bombs, Please!

Today, most Americans understand there is growing danger in the world and, like Reagan and Roosevelt, believe in the importance of American military power. They want Washington to invest more in the military so we will be prepared to fight a two-front war against Russia and China if that is necessary, even as we all hope it never is.


“So America undoubtedly needs to spend more to protect our security in a dangerous world, but we need to do so with much less waste and with zero corruption.”

Aha! Context: the current 2024 fiscal year budget for the Pentagon is $886 billion, if last year’s spending caps agreement holds. And if the president’s additional requests for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan pass (not a sure thing), the Pentagon would spend $953 billion in 2024.

We are within shouting distance of a one trillion Pentagon budget—and the only challenge, according to No Labels, is that we continue to enrich defense contractors and arm this nation to the teeth and seed more conflict and death across the globe as long as there is no “waste” or “corruption”. And not a single thought, or caveat is offered, that perhaps the whole Pentagon endeavor—the entire premise behind the national security state—is waste and corruption.

Upshot: we need to work hard to kill the idea of “bi-partisanship” so the people, who know at a gut level that the system is screwing each person, can be given a very clear view about a path forward.

Message Jonathan Tasini

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