Friday, April 29, 2005

Marla Ruzicka
1977-2005


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Rest in peace, Marla. Your young life will forever be an example to the world amid its horrors, bloodshed and violence.

Morsels of hope # 1

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The ivory-billed woodpecker, long thought to be extinct, has been spotted in the swamp forests of eastern Arkansas, according to a paper published online Thursday by the journal Science. The discovery comes some 60 years after the last confirmed sighting of the large woodpecker and conservationists hope it will energize efforts to safeguard endangered species and their habitat.

The last reported sighting (or so the legend goes) was in Mexico ca. the 1950's, by a truck driver who claimed to have killed and eaten the bird.

Oh screw it, American Idol is on!

The Economic Policy Institute reports the economic well-being of middle-class families has declined between 2000 and 2003 for three reasons: the generally lousy economy, the Bush tax policies and the cost of health care.

Pre-tax incomes for middle-class families of every type (children, young singles, seniors, single mothers) are down, leaving the typical household with $1,535 less income in 2003 than in 2000, a drop of 3.4 percent.

After taking into account changes in both pre-tax incomes and taxes, the finding remains that most middle-class families lost ground between 2000 and 2003. This is true for married couples with children, elderly couples and young singles, although single mothers did gain 1.9 percent because of the greater refundability of child tax credits.

Family spending on higher insurance co-pays, deductibles and premiums escalated, rising three times faster than income for those married with children, absorbing half the growth of their income.

The Tax Justice Network recently reported the world's richest individuals have placed $11.5 trillion in assets in offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes, a sum 10 times the GDP of Great Britain. The most authoritative study yet done shows that rich people clip $860 billion in coupons a year off this money.

"Governments appear unable, or unwilling, to prevent the rich employing aggressive strategies to minimize their tax liabilities," said the Observer of Britain. We can emphasize the "unwilling" with this administration.

The ratio of CEO pay to average worker pay reached 301-to-one in 2003. The average worker takes home $517 a week, while the average CEO earns $155,796, according to BusinessWeek. In 1982, the ratio was 42-to-one.

-- from Molly Ivins

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Hail to the troublesome minority

"The American system is the most ingenious system of control in world history. With a country so rich in natural resources, talent and labor power the system can afford to distribute just enough wealth to just enough people to limit discontent to a troublesome minority. It is a country so powerful, so big, so pleasing to so many of its' citizens that it can afford to give freedom of dissent to the small number who are not pleased. There is no system of control with more openings, apertures, flexibilities, rewards for the chosen. There is none that disperses its control more complexly through the voting system, the work situation, the church, the family, the school, the mass media - none more successful in mollifying opposition with reforms, isolating people from one another, creating patriotic loyalty."
-- Howard Zinn, from 'A People's History of the United States,' first published 1981