Poverty Is Not an Accident

Poverty Is Not an Accident
Nelson Mandela

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

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Hunger among Older Americans Spikes Nearly 80 Percent Since 2001

AARP Foundation report finds 1 in 11 Americans 50-plus at risk of hunger

Nearly 9 million Americans 50 and older face the risk of hunger, according to new research commissioned by AARP Foundation.  The report, produced by James P. Ziliak of the University of Kentucky and Craig Gundersen of the University found more than nine percent of older Americans were at risk of hunger in 2009—a 79 percent increase since 2001.
The report, “Food Insecurity among Older Adults,” is the first of its kind to examine this issue among people age 50 to 59—the youngest of the baby boomers.  Because they are typically too young for Social Security and Medicare and too old to qualify for programs designed for families with children, this age group can be hit particularly hard in bad economic times.  In 2009, 4.9 million 50- to 59-year-olds were at risk of hunger, representing a staggering 38 percent increase over 2007.
“For the first time, we have a fuller picture of hunger risk among all Americans 50-plus,” said AARP Foundation President Jo Ann Jenkins.  “But sadly, it’s far more bleak than before.  The recession has taken an especially large toll on older people—especially those in the middle class.” Jenkins noted that between 2007 and 2009 the most dramatic increase in food insecurity was among those with annual incomes above twice the poverty line. [The 2011 federal poverty guideline is $10,890 for a single person and $22,350 for a family of four.]
She announced the new research Aug. 30 at the Meals On Wheels Association of America (MOWAA) annual conference in Chicago.  The AARP Foundation report builds on earlier research commissioned by MOWAA to examine hunger among people 60 and older.  AARP Foundation is working with hunger relief organizations like MOWAA and Feeding America to combat the growing problem of hunger among older Americans.
The Gunderson-Ziliak research found other disturbing trends:
  • The risk of hunger for African Americans and Hispanics age 50-59 was twice that of whites over the years studied.
  • Hunger risk is notably higher among those residing in the South.
o   The top 10 states with the highest rates of food insecurity among those 50-59 are Mississippi (13.79%); New Mexico (12.37 %); Arizona (12.08%); Texas (11.33%); South Carolina (11.27%); Alabama (11.07 percent); North Carolina (10.75%); Oregon (10.57%); Missouri (10.56%); and Ohio (10.41%).
o   Among people age 60+, the 10 states with the highest rate of food insecurity are Mississippi (12.45%); New Mexico (10.01%); Texas (9.67%); South Carolina (9.66%); Arkansas (9.61%); Georgia (8.74%); Louisiana (8.32%); Alabama (8.03%); Tennessee (7.97%) and Oklahoma (6.66%).
o   People age 50-59 who are at risk of hunger are 10 percent more likely to be disabled than people in the 40-49 or the 60+ groups.
AARP Foundation’s Drive to End Hunger campaign is a national, multifaceted effort to raise awareness about older adult hunger in America and help raise funds to end it. Through Drive to End Hunger, AARP Foundation has donated more than 3 million meals in 2011 to Feeding America food banks across the country.  The Foundation also recently announced a grant making program to fund innovative solutions to the problem of hunger among people age 50+.
 “This report underscores the urgency of our work and the efforts of organizations like Meals On Wheels,” said Jenkins. “No one in this country—of any age—should go hungry.  With compassion and collaboration, we can solve this problem.”
For more information about hunger among older Americans, please visit www.drivetoendhunger.org.  Details about AARP Foundation’s Hunger Innovation Grants Program are available at www.aarp.org/hungergrants.

Meet The New American Sweatshop

Uploaded by on Aug 29, 2011

Find out more: http://mycuentame.org/carwash
Discuss: http://facebook.com/cuentame

We need your help in exposing this travesty. Have you seen similar conditions at your local carwash? Post it today @ http://mycuentame.org/carwash

Carwash workers across the country are routinely abused, intimidated and exploited. They are the face of the new American sweatshop.

Don't turn a blind eye to the abuse and the exploitation. Carwash workers, routinely subjected to health and safety hazards, often end up with severe kidney damage, respiratory problems and nerve deterioration. You can stop this

man, I had no idea this crap was going on! I'm in New Mexico. I used to pass car washes and see the workers. They all looked so tired and preoccupied, and I couldn't figure out why. I thought: how neat: to earn your living, wet and cool in New Mexico. Living in the War Zone, I'd heard immigrants coaching each other to avoid them, but nobody elaborated. Another sweat shop: the laundry business. Oh, how those women suffer!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Chicken Little, Hurricane Irene and Global Warming

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I'm gonna say it and nobody's gonna like it. I can't stand Goodman, just because of this Chicken Little the sky is falling posture. She's exploiting a natural disaster (probably disappointed there wasn't more damage, so she could say, "I told you so." This one hurricane is not good evidence of global warming; it's a very weak argument and makes those of us who are using solid, scientific arguments, climate prognostication data and rational argument to argue that global warming is not only imminent, but happening right now appear to be hysterical hand-wringers with a hidden agenda. Global warming is real. And it is happening, right this second. We need to educate ourselves, not just be manipulated by emotional arguments and opportunistic polemics. RIGHT THIS MINUTE, candidates are running for President of this country who scoff at science, who believe in "creationism," who don't understand anything about reality. If the "left" uses the exact, same emotional tactics as the right has used, we'll plummet farther and faster into this looming, new Dark Ages and I, for one, despair for our chances of survival.


*Countdown with Keith Olbermann - Bernie Sanders: Taxing the rich will p...

Published on Aug 26, 2011 by

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders expounds on his call for legislation that would apply the Social Security payroll tax to all incomes over a quarter of a million dollars. Doing so, Sanders told Keith, would ensure Social Security benefits for another 75 years.

In a speech to the United Steel Worker's Conference last week Sanders defended the program's solvency saying, "Social Security can pay out every benefit owed to every eligible American for the next 25 years. Social Security has not contributed one penny to the deficit. And I will be damned if they're going to cut Social Security."

Tune in Weeknights at 8:00/7:00c on Current TV

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Everything Must Go!

No idea how I stumbled on, and subscribed to, you. Maybe through a Rebellious Pixels recommendation? Anyway, looks like you have fun, editing heavy stuff into a very fresh, eye candy format. Must say, the juxtaposition between Black Panther history, while BIko tries to tear parts of Grandpa's head off was hilarious. I can't wait to watch more of your stuff!

. Insurrectionist Brits
2. Syrian Resilience
3. Social Media Censorship
4. B.A.R.T.!
5. Shooting Sheriffs Saturday
6. Where is My Mind?
7. Anarchist Panther Ashanti Alston


Nonprofits & Activism

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Atheists HH Giveaway #29 Aug. 28, 2011

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Uploaded by on Aug 28, 2011
We helped a lot of folks in need today! Here's giveaway #29. Please check out: http://www.AtheistsHelpingtheHomeless.org We need donations! :o)

A J.A.M. Production

Sunday, August 28, 2011

makes cents

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Smile or Die

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this is ABSOLUTELY terrifying! And I, as a low-income person with disabilities have been CHRONICALLY abused by people who believe this load of manure. And it doesn't matter if they're "conservatives," who think I'm being punished by g*d, or "liberals," who think it's my "karma!" NOBODY wants to look at TRUTH: we are being socially manipulated into guilt, docility and an endless and fruitless struggle to "keep up with the Joneses:" an "American dream" that does not now, nor ever, existed. It is a pseudo-religon and pseudo-religion is the pseudo-opium of the masses. This is brilliant. I need to study her. Thanks.

Em, I just went out for a smoke. I sat there thinking of the DECADES' worth of friendships I've had to abort over this positive thinking shit. I thought about the guilt I felt: what if they're right?

What if I "chose" to be born to parents who beat, terrorized and molested me? What if I'm really not trying hard enough? What did I do to cause so much suffering and pain in my life . . .

 I know I was "programmed" to hate myself by the messages that I didn't deserve to live, that I was stupid & ugly, that I wasn't worth the lead to shoot me with. And then, there was the church, sexism, demands I conform to a school system that's run like a prison, Madison Avenue, this "new age" crap that's invaded every social movement I've ever associated with.

 I thought about Oprah. I thought about Maya Angelou. I thought about the feminist and Queer rights movements, the Native American movement..... I can't go ANYWHERE without being barraged with this poison!

 All the while, to give myself credit, I've resisted. I didn't know how to articulate what my gut and intuition were telling me, most of the time, but I KNEW it was all bullshit and that it wouldn't be easy to resist the habituated self-blame, but that I HAVE to, or I'll hate myself, literally, to death.

I think I'm a pretty thoughtful and insightful person, relative to what I see around me, anyway. I think I understand social oppression and exploitation. But there's always this gap between what I see and what my reality is. And this stuff is that gap.

People excuse their apathy and lack of compassion with this crap. So, I've unconsciously absorbed the messages that I deserve what happens to me, because, somehow, I've created it!

What kind of hubris is this, to think human beings create tsunamis, earthquakes, disabilities, cancer.... God, I remember the early days of the AIDS crisis: these poor guys, trying to use "positive thinking" to CURE THEMSELVES of a VIRUS! This means they were BLAMING THEMSELVES for BEING SICK!

Hearing this has really lifted a veil for me. On the one hand, I'm in deep grief over the lost time, my inability to have articulated this earlier: maybe I could have saved some friendships or been a positive voice in this conversation. As it was, it's been all I could do, just to survive. Hearing this has been so liberating. I think this is a worse manipulation of my native self than Madison Avenue body image crap, or sexism. In fact, I think those, and racism, ablism, ageism, homophobila, etc. are ALL JUST SYMPTOMS of this "positive thinking" mind control.

Just last night on YouTube, I saw a tape by a Black woman, using the Bible to explain why g*d wanted Blacks to be slaves! A BLACK WOMAN! Quoting the white man's bible to justify slavery in the USA!

Anyway, this has been so liberating for me. I feel so free of such a BURDEN. I mean, it's been a physical restriction on my life. My body feels different now: relaxed, strong, at peace.

You've referred to the Course in Miracles, New Age, etc. as being promoted by CIA operatives. Can you please cite some sources? I'm going to investigate this myself. I remember, under Nixon, the FBI infiltrating feminist, civil rights, Queer rights, etc. groups. I remember how we all turned on each other, suspicious of one another. And RIGHT AFTER that broke us all into factions and splinters, along came A Course in Miracles, to finish us all off!

Uploaded by on Mar 17, 2010

Em, some of this happened to me, during exactly the same years, as my father, who'd had high security clearance at Oakridge Tennessee, working on the A-bomb, was now working, ostensibly, at 3M in Camarillo, California, in something SO top secret, I was nearly arrested for going to the reception area, TWENTY YEARS LATER, to ask if I could have some information or talk with his co-workers. I was told he was a sound engineer (he did win the 1st Oscar ever given for sound in '54, when Mom was pregnant with me), and that he was working on recoding equipment for the space program (I've always assumed Cold War satellites). He met Mom, a hill person from a small town in KY, at Oakridge and brought her to Calif, where I was born. I have HUGE gaps in my childhood memories. My genitals are mutilated. I have post traumatic stress. I was repeatedly drugged and tested, told I wasn't "behaving right" and needed "treatment." Weird things happened at our house. I was not used to blackmail important men via underage sex, I don't think. But every aspect of my life was controlled from wake to sleep. I, too, am incapable of bearing a living child. I wonder if they did this to me.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

FL. Gov. Rick Scott invested in drug testing

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Shortly before he was inaugurated, Scott's lawyers met with attorneys at the Florida Commission on Ethics. Subsequently, they moved his Solantic holdings into a revocable trust in his wife's name, making her the controlling investor in the privately held company. No public records were created from the ethics meeting.
During the election campaign, he had estimated the worth of his Solantic holdings at $62 million. Jacksonville-based Solantic has 32 clinics statewide, including two in Palm Beach County, and plans rapid growth and an eventual initial public offering, according to company documents.Gov. Rick Scott's drug testing policy stirs suspicion

Gov. Rick Scott's drug testing policy stirs suspicion

98 Percent of Welfare Applicants Pass Drug Test

Here's the Tribune's assessment of how much the state will pay:
Cost of the tests averages about $30. Assuming that 1,000 to 1,500 applicants take the test every month, the state will owe about $28,800-$43,200 monthly in reimbursements to those who test drug-free.
That compares with roughly $32,200-$48,200 the state may save on one month’s worth of rejected applicants.
Net savings to the state: $3,400 to $5,000 annually on one month’s worth of rejected applicants. Over 12 months, the money saved on all rejected applicants would add up to $40,800 to $60,000 for a program that state analysts have predicted will cost $178 million this fiscal year.


MLK: “Question The Capitalistic Economy”

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  • King Died Supporting A Public Sector Union’s Strike: In King’s final sermon, he called upon the people of Memphis to join together in support of the Memphis sanitation worker’s AFSCME-led strike. “Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness,” King preached. “when we have our march, you need to be there. If it means leaving work, if it means leaving school — be there.”
  • King Compared Poverty To “Cannibalism” And Called For It’s “Direct And Immediate Abolition”: King believed that poverty “is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization.” He called for America to abolish poverty by guaranteeing “white and Negro alike” a minimum income.
  • King Called War Funding A “Demonic Sucking Tube” Undermining Poverty Programs: King opposed the Vietnam war in no small part because it diverted precious resources away from anti-poverty programs. “A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor — both black and white — through the poverty program. . . . Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube.”
  • King Said Poverty Made Him “Question The Capitalistic Economy”: King called for a radical restructuring of America’s economic system. “And one day we must ask the question, ‘Why are there forty million poor people in America?’ And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. . . . You see, my friends, when you deal with this, you begin to ask the question, ‘Who owns the oil?’ You begin to ask the question, ‘Who owns the iron ore?’ You begin to ask the question, ‘Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that is two thirds water?’”

Allen West Whitewashes MLK’s Legacy Into Conserative ‘Individual Responsibility’ Message

Corporate Warfare

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Sundance" dabbles in the mundane and mediocre

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Oh, shit! I just pissed off the contestant on this stupid reality show, because I reviewed it on Hulu! It's a STUPID SHOW and a waste of "Sundance's" resources! jesus, she thought up a straining spaghetti bowl, for crap's sakes! She didn't cure cancer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! bite me
Quirky is where everyday people turn their product ideas into reality. Follow hopeful inventors from pitch to prototype as Quirky's expert team transforms their sparks of inspiration into objects of desire. It's the new way to connect and create.

why is this on "Sundance?"
From "Huge Gamble, Huge Reward," Season 1, Episode 1.
  • It's a typical "reality" format: over-produced with quick cuts of irrelevant street scenes, Ritalin sound tracks, over-enthusiastic dude with annoying voice, everything too treble, too bright, too perky. There's no depth of discussion re: science, marketing, manufacturing. Surely, the factories in China aren't exactly green, Mr. Redford, nor interested in human rights.The over-priced spaghetti bowl obviously leaks: he had her pour water in with bowl open and it was sitting on the table ith a tray under it, to catch leaks. It's steel and it's wet all the time? OK. Anyway, I didn't really learn anything about product development. Mostly, I learned about the Quirky owner's ego. And exactly how much is that kid getting for that power strip, hmmm? Just as cheesy as network tv. Why is this on "Sundance?" To fill dead air. 
    She complains

    It's a review, not a personal attack, gees. I'm not interested in watching anymore; I gave my reasons. Last I heard, constructive criticism of artistic content was still allowed in the USA. This show uses the same editorial formats as all reality tv. It's not very innovative, thought-provoking, informative or, frankly, interesting. I gave the 1st episode a chance and watched the whole thing. I won't watch another. I thought "Sundance" was about more substantive issues. I was wrong. I frequently am these days. Hell, I voted for Change and Hope and got a ten-year war in Afghanistan, Michelle-organic-garden-buddies-with-Walmart and 20,000 US troops, ready to crack down on US citizens, if we start protesting economic collapse, so there'll be no walking like an Egyptian/"Anonymous" style revolutions in the US; it'd piss off the CEOs and stock holders. So, what do I know? By the way: that bowl should be in various sizes and sold as sets, to be used for vegetables, straining canning and, my favorite idea for brewing tea, from one cup to one gallon. And it could be made of affordable materials. There's a recession going on. Most of us don't need art; we need multi-purpose tools to save time, energy and space. Congratulations on your bowl.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How to Setup a Small Solar (Photovoltaic) Power Generator

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Setup a Small Solar (Photovoltaic) Power Generator
The goal of this article is to show how to set up a small solar power generator. While there are a lot of decisions you can make, this particular howto focuses on small-scale solar generation (<1kWh/day), and simplifies it so that just about anyone can set up a functioning system. However, beware that compromises in efficiency, safety, and code adherence may be made for the sake of simplicity.


  1. 1
    Decide how much power you need. To do so, determine which electronic devices you would like to use, then find out how much power they use. Most devices have wattage ratings, which can then be multiplied by the number of hours of use to produce "Watt-hours" (Wh), which is a unit of power consumption. For example, if you intend to use a 15W device for 2 hours a day, that's 15W x 2h = 30Wh. Note, however, that ratings are usually higher than the actual power consumption. To determine how much a device actually draws, you can use a meter like the Kill-a-Watt. Once you have all the Watt-hours, add them up. If the total exceeds 1000Wh (or 1 Kilowatt-hour), this Howto may not be suitable for you.
  2. 2
    Determine how much unobstructed sunlight you receive in the location you intend to set up solar panels. Unobstructed literally means that there are no shadows. If a tree, neighboring building, or anything else casts a shadow in that particular spot, don't count the time during which a shadow exists. So, if you get 12 hours of sunlight, but the sun is beyond the fence for 2 hours in the morning, then behind a tree for an hour at noon, then shadowed by your neighbor's barn for 2 hours before sunset, you only get to count 7 hours. Note also that days are shorter in Winter. If you intent to use your set up in Winter, use your Winter hours.
  3. 3
    Divide your total power consumption from Step 1 by the number of hours you came up with in Step 2. If you decide you need 600Wh and that you get 6h of sunlight, that's 600Wh / 6h = 100W. This is the amount of power you need to generate per hour of sunlight to meet your needs. To be safe, multiply that by at least 2 or more. This is to account for the fact that solar panels only generate their rated output when pointed directly at the sun, and if your solar panels are fixed, they won't be facing directly at the sun most of the time. After various inefficiencies, you may lose another 20% or more of the power generated. If you expect regular and sustained cloud coverage, you may need to multiply by 5 or more (or simply reduce consumption to live within your means).
  4. 4
    Buy solar panels. Broadly speaking, there are 3 types of solar panels (strictly speaking, photovoltaic cells): amorphous silicon, polycrystalline, and monocrystalline. Amorphous silicon panels are relatively inexpensive, relatively unaffected by small shadows, but are very inefficient in terms of space (for the same power rating, amorphous silicon panels will be larger and heavier). Polycrystalline panels are more efficient, cheaper than monocrystalline, but also less efficient. Monocrystalline panels are the most efficient, but also the most expensive. Output from mono- and polycrystalline panels can be halved or less by even a tiny shadow because of the way individual cells are wired. Mono- and poly-crystalline panels can be purchased these days for as little as $3-5/Watt. Consider "B-grade" panels which are significantly cheaper, yet come with reasonable warranties. While some people want their panels to last 25 years, the reality is that the cost of PV cells are coming down so rapidly that replacing or augmenting your panels in another 5-10 years may actually be cheaper than paying more now for ones that last longer. If the solar panels are more expensive than your budget allows, consider lowering your power consumption. Turning off or forgoing some devices won't kill you (and if it will, this Howto is not for you).
  5. 5
    Calculate the amount of battery capacity you need. To do this, take the power consumption estimated in Step 1, then double it, because only about half the batteries' capacity should be considered usable to avoid over-discharge. Then, multiply by the number of days' reserve you would like. For instance, if you want to use 600Wh, you need 1200Wh (or 1.2kWh) of capacity, so if you had 3.6kWh, you'll be good for a few days even if the sun disappears (though you may have other problems at that point). Since most batteries have capacities in Amp-hours, it may be best to convert Wh to Ah. To do so, divide the capacity you calculated by the battery's voltage, so 3600Wh / 12V = 300Ah (divide by 6 for 6V batteries).
  6. 6
    Buy batteries. While normal car batteries will work (for a while), it is best to use "deep-cycle" batteries, which are generally marketed for use in RVs and boats. Some people prefer 6V golf cart batteries, which are designed to withstand repeated deep discharges. If using 6V batteries, connect two in series (positive terminal of one connects to negative of the other), then connect pairs in parallel (positive of one pair with positive of the other pair, negative with negative). If your budget allows, you may consider AGM batteries, which can take more "abuse", but also cost 2-3x what lead acid batteries cost. Make sure the Ah ratings of all batteries added together is higher than the capacity you calculated in the previous step. If using multiple batteries, make sure to get multiples of the same battery, and to get them all new (or reconditioned) at the same time. Mixing different capacity, model, or age batteries can shorten all of their lifespans.
  7. 7
    Buy a charge controller. Charge controllers can cost as little as $10 or over $100. The most important thing is to actually use a charge controller. If you hook up solar panels directly to some batteries, the batteries will charge for a while, but they could quickly be ruined. Whichever charge controller you get needs to support the amount of current your solar panels produce. Most charge controllers are rated in Amps, so divide the Watt rating of your solar panels by 12V (e.g. 200W / 12V ~= 17A). Find a charge controller with a rating higher than your theoretical estimate. This will give you a safety margin, as well as some headroom for growth in the future. Beyond that, exactly which charge controller to buy is basically a trade-off between cost vs efficiency and battery-life. The more expensive charge controllers will use different charging algorithms best suited to the type of battery you have. They also may compensate for temperature to better protect your batteries.
  8. 8
    If you plan on running devices off of AC power (i.e. use normal wall plugs), you will also need an inverter. There are broadly two types of inverters: modified sine wave and pure sine wave. Pure sine wave inverters give you power that is closer to city power, but these inverters tend to be more expensive ($150+ for a 600W inverter). Modified sine wave inverters can be much cheaper ($30+ for a 400W inverter), but some devices may not work, or work well with them. Note also that inverters have 80-90% efficiency, which means you lose some power in the DC to AC conversion. However, if you've followed all previous steps as recommended, your set-up should have the excess capacity to absorb this inefficiency.


USA becomes Food Stamp Nation but is it sustainable?

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USA becomes Food Stamp Nation but is it sustainable?

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Genna Saucedo supervises cashiers at a Wal-Mart in Pico Rivera, California, but her wages aren't enough to feed herself and her 12-year-old son.
Saucedo, who earns $9.70 an hour for about 26 hours a week and lives with her mother, is one of the many Americans who survive because of government handouts in what has rapidly become a food stamp nation.
Altogether, there are now almost 46 million people in the United States on food stamps, roughly 15 percent of the population. That's an increase of 74 percent since 2007, just before the financial crisis and a deep recession led to mass job losses.
At the same time, the cost doubled to reach $68 billion in 2010 -- more than a third of the amount the U.S. government received in corporate income tax last year -- which means the program has started to attract the attention of some Republican lawmakers looking for ways to cut the nation's budget deficit.
While there are clearly some cases of abuse by people who claim food stamps but don't really need them, for many Americans like Saucedo there is little current alternative if they are to put food on the table while paying rent and utility bills.
"It's kind of sad that even though I'm working that I need to have government assistance. I have asked them to please put me on full-time so I can have benefits," said the 32-year-old.
She's worked at Wal-Mart for nine months, and applied for food stamps as soon as her probation ended. She said plenty of her colleagues are in the same situation.
So are her customers. Bill Simon, head of Wal-Mart's U.S. operations, told a conference call last Tuesday that the company had seen an increase in the number of shoppers relying on government assistance for food.
About forty percent of food stamp recipients are, like Saucedo, in households in which at least one member of the family earns wages. Many more could be eligible: the government estimates one in three who could be on the program are not.
"If they're working, they often think they can't get help. But people can't support their families on $10, $11, $12 an hour jobs, especially when you add transport, clothes, rent." said Carolyn McLaughlin, executive director of BronxWorks, a social services organization in New York.
The maximum amount a family of four can receive in food stamps is $668 a month. They can only be used to buy food -- though not hot food -- and for plants and seeds to grow food.
Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all made efforts to raise awareness about the program and remove the stigma associated with it.
In 2004, paper coupons were replaced with cards similar to debit cards onto which benefits can be loaded. In 2008 they were renamed Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits though most people still call them food stamps.
Despite the bipartisan support for the program in the past, some of the recent political rhetoric has food stamp advocates worried.
Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich last year derided Democrats as "the party of food stamps". And Republican leaders in the House of Representatives propose changing the program so that the funding is through a "block grant" to the states, rather than allowing it to grow automatically when needed due to an emergency, such as a natural disaster or economic crisis.
In some parts of the country, shoppers using food stamps have almost become the norm. In May 2011, a third of all people in Alabama were on food stamps -- though part of that was because of emergency assistance after communities were destroyed by a series of destructive tornadoes. Washington D.C., Mississippi, New Mexico, Oregon and Tennessee all had about a fifth of their population on food stamps that month.
"Food stamps have traditionally been insulated from politics," said Parke Wilde, professor of U.S. food policy at Tufts University. "But as you look over the current fiscally conservative proposals, the question is, has something fundamentally changed?"
Over the past 20 years, the characteristics of the program's recipients have changed. In 1989, a higher percentage were on benefits than working, but as of 2009 a higher percentage had earned income.
"SNAP is increasingly work support," said Ed Bolen, an analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
And that's only likely to get worse: So far in the recovery, jobs growth has been concentrated in lower-wage occupations, with minimal growth in middle-income wages as many higher-paid blue collar jobs have disappeared.
And 6 percent of the 72.9 million Americans paid by the hour received wages at or below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour in 2010. That's up from 4.9 percent in 2009, and 3 percent in 2002, according to government data.
Bolen said just based on income, minimum wage single parents are almost always eligible for food stamps.
"This becomes an implicit subsidy for low-wage jobs and in terms of incentives for higher wage job creation that really is not a good thing," said Arindrajit Dube, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, whose research shows raising the minimum wage would spur economic activity.
Until a couple of weeks ago Tashawna Green, 21, from Queens Village, New York, worked 25 hours a week at an $8.08 hourly rate at retailer Target. She is on food stamps, and says a good number of her former colleagues are too.
"It's a good thing that the government helps, but if employers paid enough and gave enough hours, then we wouldn't need to be on food stamps," said Green, who has a six-year-old daughter.
Of course, with an unemployment rate over 9 percent, some argue that those with any job at all are lucky.
Millions of Americans whose unemployment benefits have expired have to exist only on food stamps and other government aid, such as Medicaid healthcare support. [nN1E7660K4]
And even with unemployment benefits, said Jessica King, 25, from Portland, Oregon, her family juggles bills to ensure the electricity stays on. They are also selling some belongings on Craigslist to raise funds.
King's husband Stephen, 30, an electronics assembly worker, lost his job two months ago when she was seven months pregnant with their second child. It was the third time he has been laid off since 2008.
She said she was reluctant, initially, to go on food stamps.
"I felt the way our national debt was going I didn't want to be part of the problem," said King, who used to work as a cook at a faith-based non-profit organization.
"But I didn't know what else to do and I got to a point where I swallowed my pride and decided to do what was best for my daughter."
(additional reporting by Jessica Wohl in Chicago, editing by Martin Howell in New York)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Backyard aquaponics: DIY system to farm fish with vegetables

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Uploaded by on Aug 22, 2011

Rob Torcellini bought a $700 greenhouse kit to grow more vegetables in his backyard. Then he added fish to get rid of a mosquito problem and before long he was a committed aquaponic gardener. Now his 10 by 12 foot greenhouse is filled with not only vegetables, but fish. And the best part is: the poo from that fish is what fertilizes his garden. Aquaponics combines fish farming (aquaculture) with the practice of raising plants in water (hydroponics). It's organic by definition: instead of using chemical fertilizers, plants are fertilized by the fish poo (and pesticides/herbicides can't be introduced to kill pests because they could harm the fish). Since the plants don't need dirt, aquaponics allows gardeners to produce more food in less space. And in addition to the vegetables they can grow, most aquaponics gardeners cultivate edible fish as well. In this video, Rob shows us the aquaponics greenhouse in his Connecticut backyard, that he built mostly from scavenged parts, as well as his DIY indoor system where he's growing lettuce under a grow light.
Bigelow Brook Farm: www.bigelowbrook.com
Original story on faircompanies:

Saturday, August 20, 2011

No Kid Hungry, huh?

So, I'm watching a film on Hulu, when this public service announcement comes on.

So, I went to the website. They're sponsored by agribusiness, INCLUDING WHOLE FOODS aka "Whole Paycheck!"

... and it gets better: not only are your tax dollars write-offs to this, and not only are you supposed to bake cookies to "end hunger," your STATE tax dollars will be used to BUY FOODS FROM THESE COMPANIES, to "end child hunger." Pretty sweet deal, huh?

We believe that no child in America should go hungry.
Help Us Make No Kid Hungry A Reality.

Jeff Bridges, National Spokesperson,
and Founder, End Hunger Network
Learn more about Jeff's work fighting hunger »

The No Kid Hungry Pledge

I believe that no child in America should go hungry. By pledging today, I add my voice to the national movement of people committed to ending childhood hunger in America by 2015.
I pledge to do more than I ever thought I could to help children gain access to the healthy food they need to grow and thrive.
I will help make the invisible hunger visible for my neighbors, my family, and our local, state, and national leaders.
By uniting my voice with thousands of others, I believe that we can make No Kid Hungry a reality.

Why a pledge?

Because it's going to take lots of us to solve childhood hunger. We need to create an army of supporters who are committed to stamping out hunger once and for all. By adding your name, you are joining a movement of people united to put an end to childhood hunger. And your signature is just the first step.
Once you've taken the Pledge, you'll become part of our No Kid Hungry community. We'll provide you with real, meaningful ways that you can make a difference in your area.

Why Now?

Our nation has the food and programs in place to end childhood hunger, but consider what we are up against: The stigmas and embarrassment that surround hunger, the challenges presented by access to healthy food, and the struggle to connect children with the resources they need to thrive.
For 25 years, Share Our Strength has been confronting hunger head-on to break down these barriers. Together, with your support, we can put an end to childhood hunger. Will you join us in the No Kid Hungry campaign?

And the policies of agribusiness have nothing, I suppose, to do with this problem? ok.

Our Partners

Our No Kid Hungry partners are true leaders in the movement to end childhood hunger in America. We rely on their generosity and creativity to raise awareness and funds for the No Kid Hungry Campaign.

Core Partners

No Kid Hungry Partners

Hover on a logo below to learn more about how by supporting these companies, you can help make No Kid Hungry a reality.