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Photos From The Massive Progressive Protest You Didn’t Hear About This Weekend | Think Progress

Somewhere between 80 to 100,000 people from 32 states turned out to protest four years of drastic state Republican initiatives in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Saturday.

The “Moral March on Raleigh,” organized by Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ) and the North Carolina NAACP, marched from Shaw University to the state capitol to push back against the “immoral and unconstitutional policies” of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory during the 2013 NC General Assembly session. Since North Carolina Republicans took over both legislative chambers in 2010, legislators have eliminated a host of programs and raised taxes on the bottom 80 percentrepealed a tax credit for 900,000 working families, enforced voter suppression effortsblocked Medicaid coverage, cut pre-Kindergarten funding, cut federal unemployment benefits, and gave itself the authority to intervene in abortion lawsuits.

Activists have gathered at weekly protests, called ‘Moral Mondays,’ in North Carolina…

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SALMA YAQOOB confronts Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith on poverty, austerity & and the government’s labelling of those on benefits as “scroungers” | BBC Question Time, 12 June 2014

"My full-time job is actually mental health. I have seen myself, how people have become suicidal. I have had to counsel people who have lost their loved ones who said they did not want to be a burden on their own families because the support has been taken away. These are very, very real issues. And it’s [cuts to benefits] being done in the name of austerity. We’ve had this drive of people being called scroungers when actually half of the people on benefits are pensioners, our pensioners in this country are not scroungers. 60% of people on benefits are in work, but the wages are not paying enough to feed their families.

Yet I’m sitting next to Iain Duncan Smith, who quite happily labels poor people as scroungers, when you claim £39 for a breakfast, like you can’t afford your own breakfast, when you live on your wife’s estate, and have taken £1.5 million of taxpayers money. That’s what I call scroungers, that’s what I call shirkers.”

So glad that Yaqoob said this. Like so many, I’ve been disgusted by the vilification of poor people under the current British government, and the political impunity the Lib/Cons have enjoyed as they wage their war on the British welfare system and the people it used to assist. Lord knows, back in 2012 that was basically all my tumblr was about

I’m elated that Yaqoob says what she came to say despite being interrupted by three different white men in under two minutes. See how they flail about trying to shut her down? Trying, and failing to close ranks. Their language intends to belittle her intelligence, accuracy and question her political maturity. “What a lot of nonsense” says Iain Duncan Smith again and again, as she backs him into a corner. The dimwit David Dimbleby, whose sole public function is to maintain the status quo, (in a very gentlemanly fashion) orders Yaqoob to answer the question. Surely a person with his journalistic experience knows that politicians reframe the question they’re asked and give the answer they came to give? It’s alright when white men with party backing/influence/money do this very thing, but apparently not when Yaqoob does. I’m sure the question was boring anyway. 

But she doesn’t let them to dismiss her! I cannot count the number of times I’ve been talked over and talked down to by white British men. My statements informed by education, research or experience are interrogated, picked apart, evengoogled when similar statements by a white man would be accepted as truths. Apparently, women of colour’s speech is always awaiting verification. I love that Yaqoob refused to succumb to all those familiar silencing tactics, and so quickly articulated a powerful case against austerity.  

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Four Years of Greek Austerity in Forty Pictures

This coming May will mark four years since the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund took control of the Greek economy. Although massively important, it’s an anniversary not many people are going to celebrate.

As more of a memento than a celebration, photographer Dimitris Michalakis has put together a selection of 40 photographs that he’s taken over the past four years. The series depicts the social impact of austerity in Greece, and serves as a snapshot into almost half a decade dominated by headlines about social polarity, debt, and economic crisis.

More photos

The $8 billion cut will impact more than 850,000 low-income families in the next decade. These families will see their food assistance reduced by an average of $90 per month. That’s on top of a $5 billion cut that hit the program in November.

The National Council of La Raza says the $8 billion cut to the food stamps program will “exacerbate hunger” for many Latino families. It estimates that 17 percent of the more than 47 million Americans who benefit from food stamps are Latinos.

“It is an especially important lifeline for Latinos, since Latino children make up about two-fifths of all children living with hunger in this nation,” NCLR said Tuesday of the SNAP program.

Bust the budget! Thousands of Australians protest Abbott’s austerity | US Uncut

85,000 people from across Australia marched against austerity on Sunday in the nation’s largest economic protest in 30 years, but the media refuses to cover them. SHARE to break corporate media’s blackout of this historic uprising. 

Prime Minister Tony Abott’s budget includes cuts to schools, disability care, unemployment benefits, and also raises the pension age. Demonstrators want to stop him from transforming Australia’s economy into the US model with record high corporate profits, repressed wages, and rampant inequality.

Tens of thousands of people marched through central London on Saturday afternoon in protest at austerity measures introduced by the coalition government. The demonstrators gathered before the Houses of Parliament, where they were addressed by speakers, including comedians Russell Brand and Mark Steel.

An estimated 50,000 people marched from the BBC’s New Broadcasting House in central London to Westminster. This protest is going largely ignored by the media.

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/jun/21/protest-march-austerity-london-russell-brand-peoples-assembly

Facing austerity cuts, students & faculty occupy Univ. of Southern Maine
March 22, 2014

Faculty and students launched an occupation of a Maine university building Friday to demand a halt to mass faculty layoffs and department slashes that they say are part of the austerity cuts devastating public education nation-wide.

Over 100 people launched a late-morning occupation of the hallway outside the Portland office of the University of Southern Maine provost Michael Stevenson — the hallway that faculty passed through Friday on their way to receive lay-off letters.

People sat on the floor and leaned against walls as chants and even songs broke out amid discussions about “next steps” for holding the university accountable. “We’re using this as a space to organize,” said Meaghan LaSala, student in Women and Gender Studies, in an interview with Common Dreams.

Occasionally, laid-off faculty addressed the crowd in emotionally-charged statements just moments before or after receiving notice.

Meanwhile, at a nearby university event for gubernatorial candidate Michael Michaud, students took to the microphone to speak out against budget cuts.

"I’m staying here as long as it takes," Jules Purnell, junior in Women and Gender Studies, told Common Dreams while occupying the hallway. “We’re in a scarcity economy, and we are all terrified right now, but we have to think about solutions.”

Protesters said 11 to 15 full-time faculty members at the university were handed letters on Friday notifying them that they were being “retrenched” or forced out of their jobs, and USM President Theo Kalikow and Provost Stevenson announced plans to lay off more faculty and staff and eliminate four programs: American and New England studies, geosciences, arts and humanities at the school’s Lewiston-Auburn College facility, and recreation and leisure studies.

Wendy Chapkis, professor in Sociology and Gender and Women’s Studies who participated in the occupation, told Common Dreams that the lay-offs hit faculty of color the hardest. “We’ve been agitating for years for the university to hire women of color,” said Chapkis. “Now they are laying off dozens of faculty members, starting with the most recent hires. Out of the 8 people I know who were laid off, three of them are minority faculty.”

John Eric Baugher, associate professor in sociology who received a lay-off notice Friday after 9 years at USM, told Common Dreams that “university management is pressuring senior faculty to retire to save the jobs of younger faculty” — in what he said amounts to “emotional blackmail.”

"This is potentially precedent-setting," he warned. "There are colleges and universities across the country modeling themselves on the corporate world. If they can get rid of fully tenured, salaried faculty, what will this mean for other universities?"

Administrators have sought to place the blame on a tuition freeze and a multi-million dollar shortfall as the state of Maine, under Governor Paul Lepage, flat-lines funding for the Maine university system. Students say they are fighting for more state and federal funding for USM and demanding that universities facing cuts “chop from the top” rather than force students and workers to bear the brunt of austerity.

"A lot of students here are non-traditional and come here as workers and parents," said LaSala. "By instating these cuts they are saying that students in southern Maine have no right to a diverse education. We want our human right to education. This is happening across the country."

recent report by public policy organization Demos finds that, across the U.S., states used the 2008 recession to justify austerity cuts to higher education funding, and universities are increasingly turning to business models based on rising tuition rates. “In less than a generation, our nation’s higher education system has become a debt-for-diploma system—more than seven out of 10 college seniors now borrow to pay for college and graduate with an average debt of $29,400,” reads a summary of the report.

Yet, students and faculty expressed hope that growing movements can buck what they say is a war on public education. “We need to believe in each other, because we are each other’s only hope,” wrote Purnell in a statement circulated at the protest. “If we are committed to one another and making lasting change, we can do this.”

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The school of 450 students only had a nurse one day a week. Poverty kills. Capitalism kills. We will not be able to ‪#‎BringBackOurChildren‬ who die from budget cuts and inequality.

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A 7-year-old student died suddenly after becoming ill at a city public school, district officials said. There was no nurse at Jackson Elementary School at the time the child became ill, spokesman Fernando Gallard said. The school has a nurse every Thursday and every other Friday.

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Detroit, Michigan: Hundreds rally outside bankruptcy court to protest austerity plan, April 1, 2014.

Photos by Kris Hamel

Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr is offering the court a “Plan of Adjustment.” . This austerity plan asks the more than 20,000 city retirees to take a 34 percent cut in their pensions if they reject the plan, or a 26 percent cut if they accept the plan.

On April 1, Detroiters will rally outside the bankruptcy court and let their objections be heard in the streets. Union members, active employees, retirees, residents and community activists are expected. Some of the collected objections will be turned in to the court at that time.

The deadline for objections to the austerity plan of adjustment has been extended to April 28. They may be delivered in person or by U.S. mail to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Judge Steven Rhodes, c/o Clerk of the Court, 231 W. Lafayette St., Detroit, MI 48226. If done by letter, please reference case no. 13-53846 on your objection. A downloadable “People’s Objection” instructions and form can also be found at detroitdebtmoratorium.org.

An objector is not required to live or work in the city of Detroit to file. According to Moratorium NOW! organizers, the banks’ austerity plan for Detroit retirees and residents is a test case for the rest of the country and must be stopped.

Air Force Grounds Its Lockheed F-35s After Fire | Bloomberg 

The U.S. Air Force today grounded its fleet of F-35 fighter jets made by Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) as a safety precaution after a fire on one of the planes forced an aborted takeoff.

The temporary suspension of flight operations applies to the Air Force’s 45 “A model” planes. The Defense Department didn’t direct a halt to tests of the Marine Corps and Navy versions of the jet, known as the Joint Strike Fighter.

The grounding was the latest setback for the F-35, the costliest U.S. weapons system, which is being built even as it’s still being developed. The order was issued after an emergency at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida on June 23, when a fire in the rear of one plane forced the pilot to abort a takeoff.

“As a precautionary measure, the Air Force has decided to temporarily suspend all F-35A operations until it is determined that flights can resume safely,” the Air Force said in a statement. “This is not an uncommon practice following a mishap. It ensures the safety of our crews and our aircraft so we can determine there is no fleet-wide issue that needs to be addressed.”

The cause of the Eglin incident remains under investigation, Army Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters today.

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Poorest areas in Britain hit 16 TIMES harder by budget cuts than richest areas

The 10 most deprived councils are down an average of £782.10 per household since 2010. At the other end of the scale, the 10 least deprived councils have lost just £48.

The logical conclusion, the Tories don’t believe they can ever win these seats, so they use them as pawns to sacrifice at will. They did this with Scotland over the Poll Tax, and Liverpool after the Toxteth riots.

Conservatives don’t serve the nation, they serve themselves.

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#22M UPDATE: Midnight in #Madrid 

"Right now there are 2 million people running like they are being hunted through the streets of downtown Madrid." 

ACTUALIZACIÓN: Medianoche en Madrid 

"Ahora mismo hay dos millones de personas corriendo, huyendo como en una caceria por las calles del centro de Madrid."

#MarchasDignidad22M

Live Blog: http://revolution-news.com/spains-marches-dignity-reach-madrid/

Long article but good stuff on Canadian health care. I cut out some of the history to save space, but you should check out the whole thing if you’re not familiar with the historical development of the national health care system.

Canada’s universal public health care system is a political football in American politics. Liberals cite it as a model, while conservatives use it is an example of government inefficiency that leads to substandard care and, even worse, death panels.

Liberals do have a stronger argument. Canada’s single-payer system has obvious advantages over its private-heavy American counterpart. There are lower administrative costs. A catastrophic illness will not result in bankruptcy for low- and middle-income households. Regardless of class, people generally get the care they need.

But the successes of the single-payer are habitually overstated — not because of outsized government involvement, but because public provision isn’t generous or expansive enough. Gaps have always existed in Canada’s system, and despite 90-plus percent public support, there’s been a slow-but-determined chipping away at the social program.

Universal health care in Canada may now be part of the national identity, but it was not inevitable. Constitutionally, health care falls under provincial jurisdiction. The federal government, however, is free to supplement its funding. This has led to many periodic clashes between the provinces — whose largest budget item is health care — and the federal government, without which a universal health system with certain minimum standards would be impossible.

[…]

But this history, which has taken on a hagiographic cast in Canada, omits the gaps in the system.

There was strong opposition during its creation, and conservative forces have continued to push for greater private involvement in health care as Canada restructures itself along neoliberal lines. As inequality has increased, the gaps have grown wider.

The two largest holes in Canada’s health care system are the lack of universal coverage for dental care and the inadequate defraying of optical and prescription drug costs. As of 2012, an estimated one in five Canadians — disproportionately women, the unemployed, and freelancers — did not have the supplementary private health insurance that foots the bill for these services.

While employer-offered supplementary coverage was once ubiquitous, the rise of precarious work has helped produce this two-tier system. And though First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples are eligible for public health coverage that other Canadians lack, colonialism and racism have contributed to lower health outcomes.

Canada has undergone a rightward shift over the past couple decades. Transfers to the provinces for health and social programs were slashed in the 1990s (though they increased modestly in the early 2000s during a time of budget surpluses). What was supposed to be 50 percent federal government funding for health care became 10 percent during the austere 1990s, and 20 percent in the early 2000s.

Now, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government is threatening to cut health expenditures again. A ten-year health accord between the federal government and the provinces expired on April 1. The federal government chose not to renew it, instead announcing that health care outlays will increase 6 percent per annum until 2017; subsequently, it will be tied to the rate of economic growth with a minimum annual increase of 3 percent. In the first ten years of the formula, this amounts to a $36 billion cut in provincial funding — wholly inadequate given Canada’s demographic shifts.

Provinces with older populations will be hit the hardest. Given the prevailing neoliberal logic, they will turn to more private delivery of services. It’s a strategic move to introduce the profit motive by structurally engineering the conditions for it.

The Harper government imposed further austerity when it acceded to the European Union’s demands on drug patents during negotiations over the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

Canada’s pharmaceutical costs are the second highest in the OECD. (The US, of course, is first.) A full $11 billion could be saved through a pharmacare program. Instead, CETA will cost Canadians anywhere from $850 million to over $1.6 billion per year in higher drug costs, likely exacerbating the already-inequitable access to medication.

Then there is the Harper government’s almost sociopathic decision to cut refugee health care. Refugees from countries the Canadian government do not classify as dangerous will not receive comprehensive health care. The shrinking of coverage has been aimed at refugees like the Roma from Hungary. Although a recent court ruling deemed the cuts cruel and unusual and thus illegal, the government is vowing to appeal.

Canada finds itself in a vicious cycle. The often long wait times for elective and non-emergency surgery are played up by the press. Government deficits are adduced to justify a greater private role in health care delivery. Then amid the deficit hysteria, some provinces quietly drop coverage for certain services.

Universal health care is not just being eroded via underfunding. The federal government has been unwilling to enforce the Canada Health Act, which makes funding contingent on meeting certain standards. The lax regulatory environment has led to a proliferation of private clinics across Canada and inequitable access to some medical services.

Abortion access is also being curtailed. In July, a nonprofit women’s health clinic in New Brunswick was forced to close its doors after the provincial government refused to fund it.

Though there is no law regulating abortion in Canada, all provinces have varying restrictions on government-funded abortions. Women seeking an abortion have to meet a particularly high bar in New Brunswick. There, abortions are only covered when: performed before the sixteen-week mark, carried out by an obstetrician or gynecologist in a hospital, and after two doctors have signed off on the procedure.

Prince Edward Island (PEI) is even worse. The province doesn’t have a single medical facility that can perform abortions. This has led to instances in which women have harmed themselves because they didn’t have abortion access. Pro-choice activists have long argued these regional variations violate the Canada Health Act. Still, PEI Premier Robert Ghiz said this spring, “I believe the status quo is working.” He can get away with such comments and policy positions because the federal government has never intervened to ensure equitable access.

Finally, some physicians are using the courts to try to marketize Canada’s heavily public delivery model. The case of Dr. Brian Day in British Columbia (BC) could be the most serious legal challenge ever to single-payer. Day contends that patients should be able to access and pay for medical treatment without the wait times found in the public system. However, to really understand Day’s motivations, one needs to take into account that in 2012, the BC Ministry of Health found that his for-profit clinic was double billing — that is, sending a bill to both the patient and the provincial health plan.

Single-payer activists in the US have much to learn from the Canadian experience.

First, as far away as victory may seem, it doesn’t mean that one can demobilize upon achieving it. The only reason the overwhelmingly popular Canadian system is experiencing retrenchment is because of mass disengagement. Popular social welfare programs have long been under attack in the US as well. Even the Affordable Care Act, which extends coverage mostly by shoring up the private insurance system, was excoriated, and will continue to be excoriated. Winning single-payer will require people in the streets, before and after the bill-signing ceremony.

Second, universal in theory doesn’t mean universal in practice. There are still inequalities in health in Canada based on one’s economic position. The US is even more unequal. That’s why fighting for things like dental coverage and cheaper prescription drugs is so important.

The third lesson is to keep expanding. Even if certain services become universally covered, keeping the pressure to extend coverage is essential. Though there have been some calls from Canadian progressive organizations for a prescription drug program, there is very little pressure to do so. As long as the system is unable to cover more services, it is easier to undermine.

A fourth takeaway: a federal enforcement mechanism is needed. Given the inequities in Canada’s health care system, there is little choice but to fight for a national solution. That doesn’t mean that fighting for equality of access at the state or local level should be ignored, especially when it comes to abortion access. But a federal commitment to universality is essential.

Finally, look beyond the hospital and doctor’s office. Canada doesn’t do as much as it should when it comes to preventative health care. Politicians in Canada are certainly not talking about the social determinants of health. Poverty and inequality put pressure on the health system. They affect quality of life and impel more people to seek health care. A truly efficient health care system is one that works in tandem with strong anti-poverty programs.

Winning single-payer in the US would be an enormous achievement, one that would both reflect and require a shifting balance of power. While the US couldn’t and shouldn’t blindly ape another nation’s health care system, the Canadian case remains instructive.

It shows a single-payer system is feasible, desirable, and, above all, perpetually incomplete.

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