NORTON META TAG

11 April 2014

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Fines Bank of America $772 Million For Credit Card Scams 9APR14

republicans and tea-baggers fought against it, third way democrats stood on the sidelines and watched the struggle, but Elizabeth Warren led the American people to victory and the CFPB / Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was established and funded to protect us from wall street and the bank-financial cabal. Here is a victory to celebrate and another reason to support Bold Progressives in the 2014 midterm elections!
Check out this video Elizabeth Warren Challenges Treasury Secretary Lew on Too Big To Fail
  ericlewis0
Bank of America Logo
From The New York Times:
Bank of America has been ordered to pay roughly $772 million in refunds to customers and fines to federal regulators to settle allegations that the bank used deceptive marketing and billing practices involving credit card products. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said that Bank of America “illegally charged” its customers for credit monitoring and credit reporting services that were not received.
As part of a consent order with the agency announced on Wednesday, the bank was ordered to give refunds to more than a million customers who purchased these add-on products for their credit cards.
The bank must also pay a $20 million fine to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and $25 million to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
http://dealbook.nytimes.com/...
The bank was doing some outrageous stuff - if you told a telemarketer that yes, you'd like to "find out more" about some insurance product, they went and signed you up for it! Customers were also told that the first 30 days of a service were free! Except they were charged.
It quickly becomes obvious why the too-big-to-fail banks tried so hard to kill the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in its crib.
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/04/09/1290922/-Consumer-Financial-Protection-Bureau-Fines-Bank-of-America-722-Million-For-Credit-Card-Scams?detail=email

She lost her life because Rick Scott refused to expand Medicaid in Florida & The perils of Florida’s refusal to expand Medicaid 9APR14

CHARLENE DILL'S death is on Florida repiglican tea-bagger Gov rick scott. Charlene Dill did not have to die, but she was sentenced to death by the Florida state legislatures refusal to expand Medicaid. She is a victim of a repiglican / tea-bagger health care death panel. I just wonder if any of these people to took the deliberate steps to make sure Charlene Dill was not able to get Medicaid, health care, feel any guilt about her death? Does the Christian community in Florida, those who elected rick scott, feel any sorrow, any remorse? I just wonder.....
turkmen

Charlene Dill didn’t have to die. That's how this article from Orlando Weekly starts about a young mother of three who died while selling vacuums door to door. On that day, in order to make enough money to survive, she made two last-minute appointments. At one of those appointments, in Kissimmee, Charlene collapsed and died on a stranger’s floor.
Dill, estranged from her husband, was raising three children aged 3, 7 and 9 by herself. Charlene was supposed to bring her three children over to the South Orlando home of her best friend, Kathleen Voss Woolrich. The two had cultivated a close friendship since 2008; they shared all the resources that they had, from debit-card PINs to transportation to baby-sitting and house keys. They helped one another out, forming a safety net where there wasn’t one already.
Dill’s death was not unpredictable, nor was it unpreventable. She had a documented heart condition for which she took medication. But she also happened to be one of the people who fall within the gap created by the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed states to opt out of Medicaid expansion, which was a key part of the Affordable Care Act’s intention to make health care available to everyone. In the ensuing two years, 23 states have refused to expand Medicaid, including Florida, which rejected $51 billion from the federal government over the period of a decade to overhaul its Medicaid program to include people like Dill and Woolrich – people who work, but do not make enough money to qualify for the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies. They, like many, are victims of a political war – one that puts the lives and health of up to 17,000 U.S. residents and 2,000 Floridians annually in jeopardy, all in the name of rebelling against President Barack Obama’s health care plan.
Dill had been bumped off Medicaid because she was making too much money – an estimated $9,000 a year – and had yet to be able to afford a divorce, which might have bettered her chances.
According to the DCF website, parents are only eligible if their income is less than or equal to 19 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. The Federal Poverty Level for a household of four in 2014 is $23,850. Charlene Dill would have missed that mark if she made more than $4,531.50. Medicaid expansion would have raised that percentage of FPL to 138 percent, or $32,913, and would also have included non-parents in a household of just one that made less than $16,104.
Coincidentally, Kathleen Voss Woolrich found out she lost her Medicaid benefits on April 2 after driving all the way from Conway to Kissimmee to see a doctor that would accept Medicaid – on a day off from canvassing for the ACA.
Charlene's best friend, Kathleen Voss Woolrich has spent the better part of 2014 canvassing for the Service Employees International Union and for Planned Parenthood in an effort to educate people about Medicaid expansion and to enroll residents of poor neighborhoods into the Affordable Care Act’s medical-care exchanges. During the course of her work, she saw women with tumors that had yet to be treated, many chronic conditions affecting people living in the gap, and sometimes she found herself having to be the bearer of bad news. March 21 was her day off. She was looking forward to getting away from the politics. “I was off. Spring break was going to start for me and her kids,” she says.
“Going into election season, basically we have the spirit and the memory and the mantra of Charlene Dill. We need to make sure that there are no more Charlene Dills that are victims of this system,” says SEIU's Monica Russo. “That’s our mandate. Charlene Dill goes on. Make sure that her legacy is alive.” Please read the full article on their website: http://orlandoweekly.com/...
Update: Kossack Eileen B provided a link that was setup by her best friend Kathleen Voss Woolrich to pay for Charlene's funeral expenses last month.
And a picture of Charlene with her three beautiful kids:

Originally posted to turkmen on Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 04:38 PM EDT.

Also republished by North & Central Florida Kossacks, DKos Florida, and Obamacare Saves Lives

ow_20140409_cover

The perils of Florida’s refusal to expand Medicaid

Charlene Dill is one of an estimated 2,000 people who expected to face dire health issues due to lack of access to care

Charlene Dill didn’t have to die.
On March 21, Dill was supposed to bring her three children over to the South Orlando home of her best friend, Kathleen Voss Woolrich. The two had cultivated a close friendship since 2008; they shared all the resources that they had, from debit-card PINs to transportation to baby-sitting and house keys. They helped one another out, forming a safety net where there wasn’t one already. They “hustled,” as Woolrich describes it, picking up short-term work, going out to any event they could get free tickets to, living the high life on the low-down, cleaning houses for friends to afford tampons and shampoo. They were the working poor, and they existed in the shadows of the economic recovery that has yet to reach many average people.
So on March 21, when Dill never showed up with her three kids (who often came over to play with her 9-year-old daughter, Zahra), Woolrich was surprised she didn’t even get a phone call from Dill. She shot her a text message – something along the lines of “Thanks for ditching me, LOL” – not knowing what had actually happened. Dill, who was estranged from her husband and raising three children aged 3, 7 and 9 by herself, had picked up yet another odd job. She was selling vacuums on a commission basis for Rainbow Vacuums. On that day, in order to make enough money to survive, she made two last-minute appointments. At one of those appointments, in Kissimmee, she collapsed and died on a stranger’s floor.
Dill’s death was not unpredictable, nor was it unpreventable. She had a documented heart condition for which she took medication. But she also happened to be one of the people who fall within the gap created by the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed states to opt out of Medicaid expansion, which was a key part of the Affordable Care Act’s intention to make health care available to everyone. In the ensuing two years, 23 states have refused to expand Medicaid, including Florida, which rejected $51 billion from the federal government over the period of a decade to overhaul its Medicaid program to include people like Dill and Woolrich – people who work, but do not make enough money to qualify for the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies. They, like many, are victims of a political war – one that puts the lives and health of up to 17,000 U.S. residents and 2,000 Floridians annually in jeopardy, all in the name of rebelling against President Barack Obama’s health care plan.
Woolrich has spent the better part of 2014 canvassing for the Service Employees International Union and for Planned Parenthood in an effort to educate people about Medicaid expansion and to enroll residents of poor neighborhoods into the Affordable Care Act’s medical-care exchanges. During the course of her work, she saw women with tumors that had yet to be treated, many chronic conditions affecting people living in the gap, and sometimes she found herself having to be the bearer of bad news. March 21 was her day off. She was looking forward to getting away from the politics. “I was off. Spring break was going to start for me and her kids,” she says.
Woolrich was aware that Dill was trying to get refills on her medication but not that she had become ill. Dill had been bumped off Medicaid because she was making too much money – an estimated $9,000 a year – and had yet to be able to afford a divorce, which might have bettered her chances. A message to Woolrich from a distant relative confirmed that Dill would not be showing up that Friday because she had passed away, but even that might not have happened if Dill’s cell phone hadn’t lit up while she lay prostrate on that Kissimmee floor. The people to whom Dill was peddling vacuums noticed the phone and called her relatives, says Woolrich, telling them, “There’s a girl lying on our floor. We don’t know who she is.”
These are the people in the coverage gap – the unknowns, the single mothers, the not-quite-retired – the unnamed 750,000 Floridians who are suffering while legislators in Tallahassee refuse to address the issue in this year’s legislative session, which ends on May 2. The working poor – who used to be the middle class – are on a crash course with disaster for no logical reason. Charlene Dill, at the age of 32, didn’t have to die.
On April 1, President Obama held a press conference to announce the remarkable success of the Affordable Care Act, despite early indications that the website hosting the federal health care exchange was going to be an obstacle to signing up. Seven million people enrolled in the program, surpassing the expectations of the Congressional Budget Office – and those of most Republicans who oppose the program. In reality, more than double that number have been positively affected by the ACA’s enactment. Those who were automatically enrolled in Medicaid in the states that accepted the federal government’s funding for the program – 100 percent for the first three years, then 90 percent for the fourth year – are not even included in that number. Florida, it should be noted, was second in the number of enrollees through March 31, even without the Medicaid expansion.
In the Sunshine State, 440,000 people signed up on the health care exchange, while 125,000 were judged to be eligible for Medicaid. Florida, with its retirees and low-wage workers, is on the demand side of health care.
“We are No. 2, plus we have a federal exchange,” SEIU state council president Monica Russo says. “I find that quite a statement. Floridians need health care. I think [Republicans] can campaign all they want against health care, but at the end of the day, what are they going to do? Rip health care out of their hands?”
The ACA issue has frustrated the Florida Legislature and governor’s office since the inception of the plan. Attorney General Pam Bondi – following in the footsteps of her predecessor Bill McCollum – actively litigated against the constitutionality of a health care “mandate” along with other Republican states, before those complaints were silenced by that 2012 Supreme Court ruling. Gov. Rick Scott came out in advance of last year’s legislative session with tepid support for accepting Medicaid expansion in light of his mother’s death and the fact that, as he said, nobody should be without health care.

Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, attempted to support a compromise within his party to accept the federal funds of $51 billion via an ancillary system, but the more arch arguments in the State House – via House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel – shut any compromise down.
Now the governor refuses to even address the issue. It is an election year, after all.
Republicans have indicated that they do not intend to address Medicaid expansion during this year’s session, and no hearings have been scheduled, but that hasn’t stopped advocates from trying to press the issue, if only in remembrance of Dill. Just one week after her death, Woolrich traveled to Tallahassee with a coalition of groups – including SEIU, teachers and health care workers – to present their case in the Capitol rotunda.
“She worked really hard to provide for her kids,” Woolrich said from the lectern, surrounded by supporters holding up Dill’s picture. “She did baby-sitting, cleaned houses, collected cans for recycling and took them to recycling centers and got money for it, and sold vacuum cleaners. Whatever it took. But Charlene had health problems. She had pulmonary stenosis, sepsis from tooth decay, fibromyalgia and a lot of other health issues from these conditions. When she separated from her husband in 2009, that was last time she had reliable health insurance.”
Woolrich actually walked Dill through the process of the ACA online calculator and they found that she was in the gap. As recently as last October, Woolrich used online crowd-funding sources to help Dill get the medication she needed. Her heart condition had complicated all three of her pregnancies, and sometimes the hustle to survive wasn’t enough to make life bearable.
“People like Charlene are dying,” Russo says. “The thing is, the resources are there to pay for it. That’s what’s so mind-boggling about this situation. The money is there; it’s on the table.”
As a result, House Democrats – including local state Rep. Joe Saunders, D-Orlando – are holding the expansion as a trump card in advancing this year’s $75 billion budget proposal. On April 3, Saunders released a statement justifying his no vote on the budget.
“Millions of dollars in revenue were left on the table that could have been generated by closing the online sales-tax loophole which has overwhelming support from the business community, both parties and, maybe most importantly, for a second year in a row we’ve left billions of dollars out which would give over a million people access to health care and create 60,000 jobs,” he said. “This budget does important things for many people, but it is a plan that unnecessarily leaves too many people out.”
And while there have been reports of House Minority Leader Perry Thurston Jr., D-Fort Lauderdale, pressuring Democrats to fall in a similar line, the budget has nonetheless received measurable bipartisan support, mostly because of pork and election optics. Despite appearances – like that cited by SEIU’s Russo, who praised the minority leader’s hard-line stance, saying, “That’s leadership. ‘You’re not going to have our votes’” – Thurston’s mandate doesn’t amount to much.
I think there will probably be members in our caucus who think that this budget does more and that they have some basis for voting for it,” Thurston said last week, according to the News Service of Florida.
The political pressure for Medicaid expansion reaches far higher than the mahogany desks of Tallahassee, though. U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, D-Florida, has been actively pursuing a compromise for Medicaid expansion in Florida behind the scenes in Tallahassee.
“An idea is to involve public hospitals, which serve many of the state’s low-income or indigent patients, in providing some of their revenue in place of state funding for Medicaid expansion,” he wrote in a statement. “Tragically, the failure to expand Medicaid means that some people will die earlier due to a lack of proper medical treatment,” he said via email in response to questions for this story.
Congressman Alan Grayson, who received significant criticism for his “Die Quickly” placard, which he released in reaction to Republican obstruction of the ACA, replied more specifically to the case.
“Charlene’s sad and unnecessary death illustrates what I have said all along: For the 1 million of Floridians who cannot afford health care coverage, the Republican health care plan is simply this: ‘Don’t get sick,’” Grayson says. “If you do get sick, and if you cannot afford coverage, the GOP has nothing for you but prayer. The Republicans have no answers, no alternatives, no ideas, no safety nets, no sympathy, no empathy and no compassion. Just these three words: ‘Don’t get sick.’ The GOP’s refusal to expand Medicaid, at no cost to Florida, has put the GOP’s appalling disregard for human life on full display. As far as they’re concerned, if you’re not a fetus, you’re on your own. The Republicans would literally rather watch people like Charlene die than give them the care that they need to stay healthy and alive. It’s disgusting and sadistic.”
Grayson entered Woolrich’s account of Dill’s death – which she published online – into the Congressional Record, even having a representative deliver the document at Dill’s funeral, which was, again, crowd-funded by Woolrich on GoFundMe.com. Woolrich raised $4,000 in less than a week to pay for the funeral.
“I memorialized Charlene’s life and death in the Congressional Record, because the Republicans want to pretend that none of this is happening. That Charlene didn’t die as a result of their callous neglect – that no Floridians will die as a result of their willful refusal to expand Medicaid at no cost,” Grayson says. “But I’m not going to let them forget. I’m not going to let them pretend. This is not a game; this is very real. This is life and death.”
The politics of the issue, and of Dill’s death, don’t necessarily bleed into the practicalities of Medicaid.
“As you know, and just to clarify, as an executive state agency, we administer directives from the governor’s office,” regional managing director for the Department of Children and Families for Central Florida Bill D’Aiuto says. “I think, as you know, the Legislature decided not to expand Medicaid.”
DCF actually handles the eligibility side of the Medicaid conundrum in Florida, while the Agency for Health Care Administration handles the distribution of benefits. D’Aiuto, in typical administrative fashion, has no real opinion on the prospect of expanding the Medicaid plan and can only speculate as to whether the state office discussed what costs that might bring to the agency (currently suffering in public relations for various foster care travesties). But the Medicaid eligibility issue is difficult to pin down, beyond the fact that, at least currently, only mothers with kids are welcome into the system.
According to the DCF website, parents are only eligible if their income is less than or equal to 19 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. The Federal Poverty Level for a household of four in 2014 is $23,850. Charlene Dill would have missed that mark if she made more than $4,531.50. Medicaid expansion would have raised that percentage of FPL to 138 percent, or $32,913, and would also have included non-parents in a household of just one that made less than $16,104.
Coincidentally, Kathleen Voss Woolrich found out she lost her Medicaid benefits on April 2 after driving all the way from Conway to Kissimmee to see a doctor that would accept Medicaid – again, on a day off from canvassing for the ACA. She was bumped into the “Share of Cost” program via DCF.
The program operates with a deductible of sorts – you are given a monthly share-of-cost dollar figure that’s tabulated based on your income. If your medical needs for the month meet or exceed that figure, Medicaid then kicks in and pays the bill. If not, you pay your own bills. From the website: “Your share of cost is $800. You go to the hospital on May 10 and send us the bill for $1,000. You have met the share of cost and are Medicaid eligible from May 10 through May 31. Medicaid will pay the $1,000 medical bill. This is only an example.”
D’Aiuto gives a similar example and says that there is no reimbursement should you accidentally pay your bill. And in order for Medicaid benefits to kick in, you have to spend a lot of money (or at least owe a lot of money) before you have any coverage at all. Woolrich says her doctor – who charged her for her visit and gave her the required prescriptions for the autoimmune disorder for which she is often hospitalized; prescriptions she couldn’t afford to fill until she met her $491 share of cost – asked, “Why don’t you just go to the emergency room?”
Which is exactly why people like the SEIU’s Monica Russo, along with most medical-care associations and interests who are busy covering the unpaid hospital costs of the indigent and poor, are adamant about pursuing expansion for the Medicaid program. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has made it clear to the Legislature and the governor that there is still time to opt in, should they be so compelled. And, in an election year, they just might.
“Going into election season, basically we have the spirit and the memory and the mantra of Charlene Dill. We need to make sure that there are no more Charlene Dills that are victims of this system,” Russo says. “That’s our mandate. Charlene Dill goes on. Make sure that her legacy is alive.”




 

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/04/09/1290831/-She-lost-her-life-because-Rick-Scott-refused-to-expand-Medicaid-in-Florida?detail=email 

 http://orlandoweekly.com/news/the-perils-of-florida-s-refusal-to-expand-medicaid-1.1665144

TX-Gov: Abbott (R) Advisor Charles Murray, "No evidence that women are significant thinkers" 9APR14

IT'S during campaigns like Texas republican / tea-bagger greg abbott's that I really miss Molly Ivins'  quick wit and wonderful sense of humor. He is a fool, advised by fools like libertarian charles murray, and is the perfect candidate for the rich and powerful and all the corporate interest financing him because he has no qualms about taking their money for doing what he's told. Texas, are you seriously considering election this immoral, corrupt ass? Really???
poopdogcomedy
video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQh0bQ8_BR4
http://www.rawstory.com/...
WASHINGTON - FEBRUARY 9:  Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott speaks to reporters during a break in a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Energy and Power Subcommittee on Capitol Hill February 9, 2011 in Washington, DC.  The committee held the hearing to discuss The Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 and its effect on the Clean Air Act's regulation of greenhouse gases. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)
An adviser to Greg Abbott, the Republican candidate for Texas governor, said this week that he had found no “evidence” to prove that any woman had been a “significant original thinker in any of the world’s great philosophical traditions.” In audio obtained by the Burnt Orange Report, American Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray can be heard explaining to an audience at the University of Texas that his views on women had not changed since a 2005 paper, in which he asserted that one or “maybe” two women had played significant roles in the field of philosophy.
When a woman at the event on Tuesday asked Murray if he still believed what he wrote, Murray quipped, “Who do you have in mind?”
Murray argued that in “certain traditions” like literature, women had been at the “peak of accomplishment.” But he said that he could only recall one important female philosopher, “and she was not a significant thinker in the estimation of historians of philosophy.”
“So, yeah, I still stick with that,” he insisted. “Until somebody gives me evidence to the contrary, I’ll stick with that statement.” - Raw Story, 4/9/14
Murray really hasn't been good for Abbott's campaign: http://www.burntorangereport.com/...
Abbott hasn't exactly figured out how to deal with his women problems. He has so far avoided talking about the gender pay gap in his Attorney General's office and a video by the Wendy Davis Campaign suggests he abruptly canceled an April 7th press conference to avoid questions about his education plan in which Murray is cited. Abbott used Murray's work to present his plan for Texas to lead the country in education outcomes. Murray describes himself as "a libertarian, and libertarians don't do solutions. We're not good at them." Murray then proceeded to tell this room full of college students that a "mediocre" k- 12 education at "a mediocre school" was "not that bad."
Murray's AEI believes the pay gap is a "myth" and says making it a political issue will discourage the hiring of women. They also say the gap is a results of "many women prefer[ing] to stay home with their children," and that "women often choose fields of study, such as sociology, liberal arts or psychology, that pay less in the labor market." Ultimately they say that, "once education, marital status and occupations are considered, the 'gender wage gap' all but disappears."
Of course the real conversation about equal pay has always been predicated on equal work, which AEI seems to imply women must not be doing.
The main topic of discussion though was Murray's new book "Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010." He said he only used white males between 30-49 as his data set to prove that class and not race was the main factor in America's cultural decline. He believes it started in the 60's of course, right about the time of the Civil Rights movement that was being celebrated just across campus at the LBJ Library.
Murray happened to be speaking on campus during the Civil Rights Summit, which is -- to say the least -- ironic. He has been identified as a "White Nationalist" by the Southern Poverty Law Center for his views on race and gender. He opened by saying that he "had a different view of equality" and that by the definition of some he was indeed a "racist and a sexist," and said probably "any other 'ist'" that is out there. - Burnt Orange Report, 4/9/14
So how has Abbott been dealing with Murray?  Running away from the press: http://www.politicususa.com/...
So the press arrived to an empty room in Dallas yesterday for a scheduled press conference with the Republican gubernatorial candidate, only to discover that Greg Abbott had suddenly canceled it, according to the Davis campaign. The Wendy Davis (D-TX) campaign caught it all on tape:
http://youtu.be/2qNtMo2IjRw
Had Mr. Abbott shown his face, he would have had to answer why he thought a guy who believes “mens brains are larger than women’s” was a good choice as inspiration for an education program.
Abbott would have had to explain why he thinks pre-K should only be for a select few. In case you missed that dog whistle, page 2 of his pre-K plan explains that destiny is predetermined by background (so American!): “Family background has the most decisive effect on student achievement, contributing to a large performance gap between children from economically disadvantaged families and those from middle-class homes.”
Yeah. Southern Poverty Law Center is not impressed, they say that Murray uses “racist pseudoscience and misleading statistics to argue that social inequality is caused by the genetic inferiority of the black and Latino communities, women and the poor.” In case it’s not clear yet where this is going, DOG WHISTLE WELFARE STATE, “Murray advocates the total elimination of the welfare state, affirmative action and the Department of Education, arguing that public policy cannot overcome the innate deficiencies that cause unequal social and educational outcomes.” - Politicus USA, 4/8/14
Yeah, good call there Abbott.  But Abbott is resorting to tying Davis to Obama but Davis isn't going to be running away from him: http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/...
“ObamaCare’s Three Musketeers – President Obama, Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Nancy Pelosi – are convening at a swanky Houston fundraiser tonight; will Sen. Davis be joining her big government allies?” said Abbott campaign spokesman Matt Hirsch. “Last month Sen. Davis said she would welcome President Obama to Texas, so we assume she wouldn’t miss it.” Reid actually isn’t coming, though his name was on the original invite for a joint DSCC/DCCC fund-raiser. Pelosi arrived in Houston with Obama a little while ago.
As for Davis, the Democratic nominee for governor, her campaign tells us she isn’t ducking Obama at all. She’ll be at his speech Thursday at the LBJ library civil rights summit in Austin. - Dallas Morning News, 4/9/14
Davis will be at former President Bill Clinton’s speech and a dinner at the LBJ summit tonight.  Lets help Davis fight back against sexists and racists like Abbott and Murray.  Click here to get involved and donate to Davis' campaign:
http://www.wendydavistexas.com/

Originally posted to pdogcomedy on Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 09:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, TexKos-Messing with Texas with Nothing but Love for Texans, and Dallas Kossacks

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/04/10/1290863/-TX-Gov-Abbott-R-Advisor-Charles-Murray-No-evidence-that-women-are-significant-thinkers?detail=email 

POLITICAL MOJO Does the Heartbleed Bug Mean You Should Stay Off the Internet? 11APR14

POLITICAL MOJO FROM DAVID CORN, KEVIN DRUM, AND THE NEWS TEAM

MOTHER JONES
April 11, 2014

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By Mother Jones Staff
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By Mariah Blake
In the years since Maj. Nidal Hasan opened fire in a crowded medical center, leaving 13 people dead and 32 wounded, survivors have struggled to obtain medical care, psychiatric treatment, and financial benefits. "Five years later, we're still fighting," retired Staff Sgt. Shawn Manning says. "Every time we get our hopes up, we run into another road block." [READ MORE]


THIS WEEK'S NEWS ROUNDUP
Should you be changing your Facebook password right now? Here are seven things you need to know about the Heartbleed bug. 
Stephen Colbert is replacing the retiring David Letterman as host of Late Show. So we compiled his best—and worst—political moments
Remember when the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act? What happened next in these eight states will not shock you. 




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Overworked America: 12 Charts That Will Make Your Blood Boil JUL/AUG11 and TODAY!!!!

THE rich are getting richer and the rest of us wallow in the economic stagnation they have legislated through the republican, tea-bagger and third way democratic politicians they control with their campaign contributions and promises of jobs once their minions leave office. Our slide to a Third World plutocracy continues. This was first published in JUL/AUG 2011, the situation remains the samday, unfortunately. The only way to change our economic situation is to elect Bold Progressives to local, state and national offices.....

Why "efficiency" and "productivity" really mean more profits for corporations and less sanity for you.


Want more rage? We've got 11 charts that show how the superrich spoil it for the rest of us.
In the past 20 years, the US economy has grown nearly 60 percent. This huge increase in productivity is partly due to automation, the internet, and other improvements in efficiency. But it's also the result of Americans working harder—often without a big boost to their bottom lines. Oh, and meanwhile, corporate profits are up 20 percent. (Also read our essay on the great speedup and harrowing first-person tales of overwork.)

You have nothing to lose but your gains

Productivity has surged, but income and wages have stagnated for most Americans. If the median household income had kept pace with the economy since 1970, it would now be nearly $92,000, not $50,000.

Growth is back...

...But jobs aren't

Sorry, not hiring

The sectors that have contributed the most to the country's overall economic growth have lagged when it comes to creating jobs.

The wage freeze

Increase in real value of the minimum wage since 1990: 21%
Increase in cost of living since 1990: 67%
One year's earnings at the minimum wage: $15,080
Income required for a single worker to have real economic security: $30,000

Working 9 to 7

For Americans as a whole, the length of a typical workweek hasn't changed much in years. But for many middle-class workers, job obligations are creeping into free time and family time. For low-income workers, hours have declined due to a shrinking job market, causing underemployment.

Labor pains

Median yearly earnings of:
Union workers: $47,684
Non-union workers: $37,284

Dude, Where's My Job?

More and more, US multinationals are laying off workers at home and hiring overseas.

Proud to be an American

The US is part of a very small club of nations that don't require...


Digital overtime

A survey of employed email users finds:
22% are expected to respond to work email when they're not at work.
50% check work email on the weekends.
46% check work email on sick days.
34% check work email while on vacation.

The second shift

Working moms pick up more child care and household duties than working dads—about 80 minutes more every day. Meanwhile, dads enjoy nearly 50 more minutes of watching TV and other leisure activities on a daily basis.

Chore wars

Thanks, guys—you're pitching in more than twice as much as you did in the '70s. But women still get stuck with the majority of work around the house.

 http://www.motherjones.com//politics/2011/06/speedup-americans-working-harder-charts

THESE REPS & SENATORS WANT CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM, AND ARE BEING TARGETED BY THE RICH AND CORPORATE AMERICA FOR DEFEAT 11APR14



I don't always agree with these politicians, that is natural in a democracy. BUT I take offense that they have been targeted for defeat by the rich, by corporate America, by the evil of the koch brothers, sheldon adelson, and their republican / tea-bagger minions because they actively support campaign finance reform. Take a look at this list and if you can contribute to any of these candidates please click the link.

Help us fight back
Not everyone in Congress supports campaign finance reform. Calling for meaningful reform means putting a target on your own back -- now, special interests and right-wing billionaires know exactly who to come after.
Help fight back against what’s sure to be an onslaught of money in the 2014 election. Whatever you can chip in today, you’ll be making a powerful statement in favor of campaign finance reform.













   

https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/1404mccutcheon?refcode=dailykos

U.S.Campaign Finance "With the people, for the people, by the people, I crack up when I hear it; I say, with the handful, for the handful, by the handful, 'cause that's what really happens." -Fannie Lou Hamer 10APR14



 

voice of the day

"With the people, for the people, by the people, I crack up when I hear it; I say, with the handful, for the handful, by the handful, 'cause that's what really happens."
-Fannie Lou Hamer

Support campaign finance reform now

Echoing the Citizens United case, the Supreme Court’s recent decision in McCutcheon v. FEC promises to flood our democratic process with even more money. Sign the petition below to demand meaningful campaign finance reform now.
All Members of both political parties:

We have passed laws to reform the campaign finance system in the past, and we can do so again.

Whether it’s comprehensive campaign finance reform or a constitutional amendment, I urge you to take immediate action to protect the voices of all Americans by reversing the effects of Citizens United and McCutcheon.

Our democracy is not for sale.

WE can never give up the fight to overturn the recent Supreme Court decisions on campaign finance. This country doesn't belong to the rich and powerful, it belongs to all of us. We must keep up the pressure on all our elected officials at the local, state and national levels to pass campaign finance reform or a constitutional amendment. While you may be tired of this issue, tired of the petitions and e mails, and may even be thinking the wealthy and corporate America are to powerful to win this fight we can not give up. Please sign this latest petition....

Please sign the petition from Daily Kos and a coalition of Democratic members of Congress demanding comprehensive campaign finance reform or a constitutional amendment in response to Citizens United and the new McCutcheon Supreme Court decision. Click here to add your name.

The Supreme Court’s new, horrifying McCutcheon decision—so soon after Citizens United—promises to flood our democratic process with even more money.

The Koch Brothers can now write a check to every Republican in the country. And that’s really scary.

But we need to remember that we have passed laws to reform the campaign finance system in the past, and we can do it again. Our work begins today.

Join Daily Kos and a coalition of Democratic members of Congress to sign the petition “our democracy is not for sale”—and pledge to support campaign finance reform now.

Keep fighting,
Paul Hogarth, Daily Kos

Another Pro-Life Issue 10APR14

HERE is this weeks e mail newsletter from Sojourners....
verse of the day

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.

- John 15:12-15

voice of the day

"In the Spirit which draws us into honest engagement with one another, including those who may be very different from us in various ways, God calls us to wake up and learn how to love and respect one another, period."

- I. Carter Heyward
 



Another Pro-Life Issue





Get a FREE trial issue of Sojourners

Donate Today!
Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the closest American prelate to Pope Francis, took nine other bishops to the Mexican-American border for three days of listening to the stories of people who are suffering from America’s horribly broken immigration system. The bishops celebrated a dramatic mass with hundreds of Mexicans, taking communion through slats in the security fence, and laid a wreath at the border commemorating the estimated 6000 people who have died trying to cross.
“We can no longer tolerate the suffering caused by a broken system,” the Cardinal said. “The suffering and death must end.”
When asked how important immigration reform now is to the Catholic Church, O’Malley replied, “It’s another pro-life issue.”
Indeed it is.
Immigration reform is not just an economic issue — although it plays a big role in attracting and retaining talented people who will contribute to our economy. Common-sense immigration reform — as the Cardinal affirmed — is part of a consistent ethic in which all of life is treated as sacred. This includes issues such as abortion, but extends to anything that promotes human flourishing and protects human rights. A consistent life ethic keeps families intact and protects the voiceless. ...
READ THE FULL COLUMN HERE.
Jim Wallis is president of Sojourners. His book, On God's Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn’t Learned About Serving the Common Good, is now available. Watch the Story of the Common Good HERE. Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis.





ON THE GOD'S POLITICS BLOG
View the latest articles from the God's Politics blog »

Remembering That Out of Death Comes Life
by Nikole Lim

Editor's note: The "On Pilgrimage" series features the stories that impacted artist Nikole Limme the most during a pilgrimage to Uganda and Rwanda. The juxtaposition of these stories, themes, and values are conveyed both in narrative and visual storytelling, with each series released weekly starting April 7, 2014, the day the genocide began 20 years ago.
 

Christianity's Most Common and Subtle Sin
by Stephen Mattson

Christianity's most common and subtle sin is … rationalization. Essentially, rationalizing is a way of making excusesCreating logical, plausible, and valid explanations to justify our sinful actions — or inactions — is easy. We do it all the time because instead of being obviously and visibly wrong, it's covert, motivated by fear, doubt, shame, and guilt, and mixed with what we assume is intellect and reason — in reality it's a form of spiritual escapism. How Conservative Evangelicals Misunderstand Millennials
by Brandan Robertson

News broke recently that Christian relief organization World Vision lost more than 10,000 child sponsorships from people who disagreed with the organization's policy change on hiring people in legal same-sex marriages. To many who watched this controversy unfold, this is an utter travesty. It seems simply unfathomable that anyone who claims to follow Christ could justify removing support from the impoverished children that they know by name because they disagreed with the organization's hiring policy. I am trying my best to be a committed follower of Jesus, and I have been handed a picture of God that I'm discovering is radically inconsistent with the scriptural, historical, orthodox image of God revealed in Jesus Christ. The same could be said, I am confident, of most millennial evangelicals who are, in fact moving away from the version of faith that they inherited in their youth. The Tribes of Rob Bell, Mark Driscoll, John Piper ... and Jesus
by Stephen Mattson

Christianity consists of thousands of tribes, cliques, and communities — each with different theologies, traditions, and doctrinal beliefs. Within a Westernized society obsessed with celebrity, entertainment, popularity, conflict, and money, it can be easy for Christian groups and communities to clash with each other. For the modern church, much of its recent legacy has involved conflict, division, and controversy. Christians have developed a love-hate relationship with theologians, pastors, and church leaders — and it's dividing the church. Many Christians see their faith journeys as a series of either/or situations and decisions — this is bad. Because as much as we want things to be clear, concise, and black-and-white, reality is complex and messy.

10 April 2014

SCOTLAND DECIDES 2014, AN UPDATE 10APR14

MY mother's maiden name is Irvine, her clan is the Irvines of Drum. So we have a keen interest in the vote in Scotland this September. I hope the Scots vote for independence and rid themselves of English rule once and forever! 
 When God had finished creating Scotland, He looked down on it with great satisfaction. Finally he called the Archangel Gabriel to have a look. "Just see," said God. "This is the best yet. Splendid mountains, beautiful scenery, brave men, fine women, nice cool weather. And I've given them beautiful music and a special drink called whisky. Try some."
Gabriel took an appreciative sip. "Excellent," he said. "But haven't you perhaps been too kind to them? Won't they be spoiled by all these things? Should there not be some drawback?"
"Just wait till you see the neighbours they're getting," said God.
Pro-independence supporters, seen here at a September rally in Edinburgh, say many Scots still see the English as colonial empire-builders.

After 300 Years Of Marriage, Scotland Contemplates U.K. Divorce

Pro-independence campaigners attend a rally In Edinburgh, Scotland, in September.
Pro-independence campaigners attend a rally In Edinburgh, Scotland, in September.
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Scotland has been part of the United Kingdom for more than 300 years. This fall, that could change. In mid-September, a referendum on independence will determine whether Scotland breaks off from England, Northern Ireland and Wales to become a sovereign nation.
Scotland's largest city, Glasgow, is ground zero in this debate. The East End of this city is poor and run down, with some of the worst health figures in Europe. Men here are expected to live into only their mid-50s, some 30 years less than in wealthy areas.
"You can just look around and see. Everybody's in the same boat. We're all broke!" Connie Hendry says with a cackle. She's smoking a cigarette outside her mother-in-law's greasy spoon cafe. Customers are scarce. Forty years ago, Hendry says, the area was "packing. You couldn't have moved down here at one point. But now it's dead."
She works in a part of town called the Barras, an old market that sells low-cost items like knockoff DVDs and used clothing. For the hawkers and their occasional customers, the key question is whether an independent Scotland will improve their lives.
There is intense disagreement.
"Better with the devil you know!" cries Robert McKinnon from his stall where he sells socks.
His buddy Roger McKinnon couldn't disagree more, insisting, "London is sucking the life out of the rest of the United Kingdom!"
Warnings From London
London is about 300 miles away, and for independence supporters, London is the villain in this drama. "Yes" voters see a conservative government that doesn't represent Scotland's more liberal population.
Officials in London have issued dire warnings that an independent Scotland would lose the pound, the BBC and membership in the European Union. Big business finds that scary.

Related NPR Stories

In a much tidier part of town, Stuart Patrick runs the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce. His group has not yet taken a formal position on the independence referendum, but Patrick says he gets lobbied every day.
"At least the existing framework is well-known," he says, sitting at a table in his office. "So in that respect, there is a degree of pressure on the proponent of the change."
While business has a huge influence on politics in America, Patrick explains that it's a little different here.
"The Scots are not necessarily people who are easily told how to vote," he says. "And if you come out too vigorously saying, 'If you know what's good for you, you'll do X or Y,' Scots have a tendency to say, 'Aye, right. Nah, I'm not listening.' "
The Cookie Vote
Outside of a hotel downtown, a man in a kilt plays the bagpipes for a wedding. A short walk away, the National Piping Centre sells waterproof bagpipe cases. A few blocks in the other direction, shops make and sell custom kilts.
Pro-independence supporters, seen here at a September rally in Edinburgh, say many Scots still see the English as colonial empire-builders.
Pro-independence supporters, seen here at a September rally in Edinburgh, say many Scots still see the English as colonial empire-builders.
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
This is not ironic kitsch. The Scots take their heritage very seriously. In Glasgow, haggis is no joke. It's part of the hotel breakfast buffet.
The people of Scotland have a strong sense of national pride, history and identity. That sentiment informs many "yes" votes, and it's manifest at the Riverhill Coffee Bar, a sliver of a cafe with a vibrant blue facade where manager Kirstie Gilmore recently decided to do a sort of experiment with a Scottish sandwich cookie called an empire biscuit.
"We actually done empire biscuits with yes and no, like a ballot," she explains.
At first, the independence cookies outsold the unity ones. Then Gilmore started to wonder whether customers were just choosing the blue "yes" icing over the red "no" color.
"So we had to kind of mix it up with the second batch, so we did some red yeses and blue nos."
Even after the switch, the yes cakes won. But the chef, Kenny Harkin, is in the no camp.
"I just think standing alone isn't necessarily the way forward," he says. "I think unity is what we need."
Two of the baristas would've bought the yes cookies, largely for nationalistic rather than economic reasons.
"I'm not saying that English culture's negative, drinking tea and crumpets," barista Gerard Loughrey says dismissively.
His co-worker Mikie Lee Dale describes the cultural difference in even starker terms, explaining that many Scots still see the English as colonial empire-builders, acting like "the masters who've conquered the world and who therefore own that world."
Polls show that most Scots favor the Better Together campaign's unity position.
Polls show that most Scots favor the Better Together campaign's unity position.
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Polls Show Voters Favor Unity
The unity campaign is very aware of this perception. Communications director Rob Shorthouse is Scottish born and bred.
In Scotland, "we don't talk about — I'm a citizen of the United Kingdom, or I'm British," says Shorthouse. "No, we all identify ourselves as Scots. And that's common across yes voters and no voters."
The Better Together campaign staff are somewhat incongruously crammed into a beautiful old building that used to house Glasgow's Society of Lady Artists. There's an ornate ceiling and a fireplace as tall as a grown man. There are also flimsy cubicle walls, laptops and energy drinks.
Shorthouse says his campaign has the majority of Scottish people on its side.
"We're having this referendum not because of a large groundswell of public demonstrations and opinion forcing this on the government," he says. "The government [has] decided that this is what they want, because it's a longstanding policy of theirs."
He means Scotland's government. The Scottish National Party unexpectedly won the elections here in 2011. That opened the door for this vote, fulfilling a centuries-old dream of Scottish nationalists.
"Scotland has never voted on whether or not it wishes to be part of the United Kingdom," says Blair Jenkins, chief executive of the Yes Scotland campaign for independence. "There's no doubt as a healthy democratic process, just the opportunity of voting on this is huge."
Jenkins accuses his opponents of a roadblock strategy, calling Better Together "Project Fear."
"I think the strategy of the people who want a 'no' vote is to say, however attractive this road is, you can't go down that road because here are all the obstacles," Jenkins says, referring to threats to take away the pound, EU membership and more. "And I think the people resent the notion that there seems to be an attempt to force them to vote in a particular way.
If that resentment exists, it doesn't seem to be reflected in the polls. The latest survey shows support for unity well above 50 percent. Support for independence is in the low 30s, with around 10 percent undecided.
Mark Shephard is a political scientist at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. He has studied other independence referendums around the world and says, "In the majority of cases, as you approach the referendum date, people tend to gravitate to the status quo — the 'better the devil you know' kind of position."
So it's an uphill climb for the yes team. But Shephard says even if they lose, and Scotland remains in the U.K., this debate may dramatically reshape the dynamic within the United Kingdom. That suggests September's vote will have major repercussions for Scotland, no matter the outcome.

Scots will vote in September as to whether or not Scotland should separate from the UK.

Last updated: 04 Mar 2014 13:08



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In just over six months, Scotland will vote on separating from the rest of Great Britain.
On Tuesday, Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond will once again outline the pro-independence case.
An opinion poll in the last week suggested 61 per cent of people in England want Scotland to remain part of the UK.
Scotland will vote on the separation in September.
Al Jazeera's Nadim Baba reports from London.

Stand-alone Scotland

England and Scotland, two ageing spouses tolerating one another, but ultimately are they better together or apart?

Last updated: 15 Dec 2013 10:37



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Julie returns to Scotland to find no perceived anti-English sentiment like she had been expecting [Layla Neal]
In 2014, the people of Scotland will be asked whether they want to become an independent sovereign state. It is not often that a 300-year-old union is broken, so the vote will have ramifications far beyond a land of five million people.
Scots are a passionate, emotional bunch. I should know I'm one of them. Even though I now live in the south of England, I'm proud to call myself a Scot and excited by our national qualities of courage, warmth, ingenuity and our warrior spirits.
That is not to say that I'm not proud of being British too - it's just the Scottish strands of my DNA shout loudest.

Come the vote, how much will Scots consider the economic pros and cons of an independent Scotland? I think they are more likely to vote on the basis of frustration at being the poorest oil-bearing country in the world and because, frankly, they consider the English to be a miserable, snotty band of southerners.
Kilmacolm is a little village just outside Glasgow where I grew up and discovered what it means to be Scottish - from the work ethic and extreme friendliness I acquired at Pierry's cafe and deli to the Scottish country dance I learned with friends. But does this identity mean that I want to separate from my family and friends who live in the south?
Channelling Wallace
For thousands of years kings and queens of Scotland sent their people to fight in the name of a free Scotland. That history is everywhere and was brought to life by the film Braveheart, with its portrayal of Scottish hero William Wallace. It may have been Hollywood's interpretation of the story, but it pulled at my heartstrings nonetheless.
The major thing about Indian independence was Gandhi going on hunger strike to bring the British Raj down. You can hardly see Alex Salmond going on hunger strike can you?
Vladimir McTavish, otherwise known as Paul Sneddon, Scottish comedian
A monument to Wallace near Stirling Bridge now serves as a permanent reminder that 300 years ago England underestimated the Scots' determination for sovereignty.
Will they now be brave enough to undertake the adventure of independence, I ask historian Tom Devine.
When I first came home, I expected to find a country focusing on myths and history, Braveheart and Mel Gibson. But, actually, the debate seems to be more about a desire to assert a new political identity than anti-English sentiment.
"You've got to watch the term brave," he tells me. "This is about the future of them and their families. You've got to think about this prudently. This is not a melodrama, it's a political exercise."
Blair Jenkins, who heads the Yes Scotland campaign, tries to describe the mood: "There's an appetite right around the country. People like me who've no previous connection with any political campaign or any political party but who do feel this is a once in a lifetime historical opportunity to put Scotland on a different course ..."
"I think there's a huge strand in Scottish culture that people just don't take themselves seriously and they don't take the country seriously. I mean knowing how patriotic Scottish people are they really have a huge sense of sending up their own culture."

Struggle and strife

But this hardly paints a picture of the kind of struggle and strife behind other independence movements.

"Other countries have gone to extremes to find independence," says Scottish comedian Paul Sneddon, who also goes by the stage name Vladimir McTavish. "America had to fight a war, Ireland had to fight a war, one of the major things about Indian independence was Gandhi going on hunger strike to bring the British Raj down. You can hardly see Alex Salmond [Scotland's first minister and the leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP)] going on hunger strike can you?"
A healthy sense of the ridiculous is always good, but even if Scots aren't engaged, the rest of the world is. And I hope Scots realise the ramifications this vote could have for others, like the Catalans who look to Scotland as a vision of what could be.

"It's a genuine beacon for others to say 'if Scotland can do it, why can't we do it'?" says socialist Rob McAlpine.
But there are some who believe independence is inevitable, McAlpine built his eco-house outside Scotland's political capital, his views, like his home, might be considered utopian.
"I think there's an awful lot of people looking on saying you know I want change, and certainly the degree of interest I've had internationally is enormous."He says: "I'm not worried about [divisiveness]. In the Scottish context there is very, very little element of ethnic nationalism.
Head over heart

Although I am beginning to see the advantages of independence, if Scottish history tells me anything it is 'beware'.
Scottish culture such as dancing and traditional foods helped Julie form a clear Scottish identity [Layla Neal]
And, while there is no doubt that history will rub off on many a Scot when it comes to the vote, I have personally always been head over heart when it comes to decisions like this.

Back in 1997 I had the opportunity to vote for a Scottish parliament. I was working as a trainee journalist at the time and kept meeting politicians who seemed, to me, like a boorish and backward lot. I voted against but, fortunately for them, my vote didn't affect the outcome and on May 12, 1999, the Scottish parliament was reconvened.
Donald Dewar became Scotland’s first minister, and the Scottish parliament had power over education, healthcare and economic development. And there was more - guaranteed funding from Westminster, based on the formula devised by their top financial adviser, Lord Barnett. Last year Scotland’s share was a massive $54bn.
Some Scots feel their nation benefits from the Barnett formula, pointing to the oft-cited $2,900 a year more everyone in Scotland receives from the British government for public services. But, much like the Loch Ness monster, this is a myth. Scotland does not, in fact, receive a net subsidy, although this one misleading belief is regularly used to support the union by those who fear Scotland will be unable to stay in the black without the UK.
Alex Salmond has no such worries, which may have a little something to do with future North Sea oil revenues currently estimated at $2.4 trillion.
He tells me: "We’ve never claimed there’ll be free taps on whiskey, oil and water, but what we do claim is this is a country with immense human and natural resources which can be a highly successful country and a much fairer society. The best and most successful countries are the most just socially."
Glasgow is Scotland’s economic power house, but with pockets of deprivation so severe the life expectancy is actually better in parts of Iraq or the Gaza Strip, more people here are out of work than in the rest of the UK and more people die here prematurely of heart disease than anywhere else in the world.
Julie Macdonald, Al Jazeera correspondent
But after spending a morning with the first minister, I'm still not convinced. Their economic policies seem a bit half-baked to me.

And in Glasgow, where the massive gap between Scotland's rich and poor is at its worst, this concerns me. Like successive British governments, it is a problem the Scottish government has been unable to crack.
Glasgow is Scotland's economic power house, but it has pockets of depravation so severe that life expectancy is actually better in parts of Iraq or the Gaza Strip. More Glaswegians are out of work than anywhere else in the UK, and more die prematurely of heart disease than anywhere else in the world.
Patrick Harvie from the Scottish Green Party is convinced independence offers an opportunity to put things right.Glasgow's problems are Scotland's problems, so how do you govern a country that has such disparity in wealth?
"If what you'd see when you look out of your window is society more or less as you'd like it, if you're comfortable with the level of poverty and inequality, you'll probably vote for the status quo," he says. "But ... Scotland's got the opportunity to be the model of a small, independent, peaceful, democratic society like many others in northern Europe and I think that's a far more inspiring future for our society than the status quo from Westminster."
When I listen to him, this vision of a stand-alone Scotland seems not just possible but preferable. Still it is money worries that plague me. And, travelling to the coastal town of Peterhead, I realise that every Scottish industry has become a pawn in this political game.
John Stephen, a skipper on a fishing trawler, shares some of my fears. "My personal view of independence is it's going to be a disaster for the fishing industry because the SNP has said it's going to take us to Europe," he says. "Now ... the Tories have already stated that if they win the UK election they'll give us the vote to come out of Europe. I think it would be better for Scotland to remain in the UK and part of Britain. It would be better for the fishing industry."
Black gold
But the real money coming out of the North Sea is in the form of oil. It is Scotland's black gold and is right at the heart of nationalist optimism.
An independent Scotland's financial future depends on the vast reserves of North Sea oil [Layla Neal]
An independent Scotland's financial future depends on the vast reserves of North Sea oil keeping it in the black.
Aberdeen is Scotland's oil boom town. The European Union buys 60 percent of its oil from this part of Scotland, and it is where I spent my university years, being taught by Scotland's leading oil expert, Alexander Kemp. He has his concerns about the volatility of oil revenues and says: "In terms of a governments budget it would be wise not to be very reliant on oil revenues for normal budget purposes."
Even if oil prices were stable there's still the question of how much North Sea oil an independent Scotland would control. An agreement would have to be reached with the rest of the UK, but there could still be another midge in the ointment - the Shetland Isles.
It takes a twelve-and-a-half hour boat trip to reach Scotland’s remotest corner. The 22,000 residents of the Shetland Isles have a very different sense of community and identity. They look towards the east and Scandinavia for a sense of belonging, and that gives the islanders a very unique perspective on the question of independence - and they claim that a quarter of Scotland's oil is theirs.
The East Shetland oil basin is one of Europe's largest oil fields and one of the big questions will be: who owns it? Tavish Scott, the Shetland Isle's member of parliament, tells me: "If you're a Shetlander, your argument is we're part of this, we're part of this debate and we want an interest in it because our interest in the petro-economy is very much not just about now but over the next 40 years .... Alex Salmond makes the argument [that] people best served to make decisions about Scotland are the people who live in Scotland. Well the same argument absolutely applies to Shetland."
Negotiating oil revenues with Shetland will not be the only economic challenge awaiting an independent Scotland. It will also have to accommodate a rise in some of its most significant financial outlays. One of those will be how Scotland defends itself, and that is a particularly thorny issue in Faslane, which is home to several nuclear submarines armed with Trident missiles. Although based in Scotland, the nuclear deterrent is vitally important to the defence of Britain.
Scotland the Brave - Extra
But, if the nationalists get their way, this rural corner of Scotland will be nuclear free. And defence expert Phillips O'Brien foresees difficulties.
"There's a bit of a myth about independence that independence gives you authority and power," he says. "Actually what independence gives you is responsibility. You can't as an independent country decide to do whatever you want. No country, not even the United States, can do whatever it decides to do at any time. Those warheads are extremely vital, not just for Scotland or the UK, they're important within world politics, they’re important in European Union politics."
Scotland the Brave?
Polls indicate that most Scots either don't want independence or are unsure. I feel that Scots' hearts just aren't in this vision of a stand-alone Scotland. For me it's not a question of could Scotland go it alone. Absolutely it could, but should it? If you ask me, my answer would be, not right now.
More power for Scotland without absolute divorce makes the most sense to me and that is something David Cameron, the British prime minister, has hinted could be on the cards. But that's not the question being asked.
So should Scotland be an independent nation? That question is academic because socially it already is.

This is not the Scotland of my birth. It is a country more sure of itself than ever.
But is it ready to be Scotland the Brave? If not next September, it is a question that will be asked again because, like 300 years of history, it refuses to be swept away.

Scotland's quiet revolution

As Scotland braces for its independence referendum, Julie MacDonald asks if a 300-year-old union is at breaking point.

Last updated: 15 Dec 2013 10:39



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Will next year's referendum on Scottish independence signal the end of a 300-year-old marriage? [GALLO/GETTY]
As I wrote my pitch for an episode of Al Jazeera Correspondent about the bid for Scottish independence, the Arab Spring was unfolding. Revolutions were taking place before our eyes in the most bloody and terrifying of ways. In Syria more than 60,000 people had lost their lives in the battle for change; in Egypt, a democratically-elected government would be thrust aside and many would risk their lives on Cairo's streets to have their say in the struggle for power.
I found myself drawn to the story of my own nation and its search for a new identity. But in Scotland, there are no violent protests, no thousand-strong marches on parliament.

There are, however, jubilant parades full of Scottish flags and faces painted blue and white. There are thousands of volunteers knocking on doors asking people to vote 'yes' in order to give Scotland a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to choose a different path to its neighbours. They may not be lining up outside the Scottish parliament, at the risk of getting shot, but for those who believe in a stand-alone Scotland, this is a profound moment in the country's story and they see themselves very much as 'fighting for change'.

But the opposition is fierce, and, according to polls, most people want to stay in the union, while there are many more again who are indifferent to the question or undecided. The 'no' campaign has been accused of dumping scare stories in the press suggesting that life will become more expensive and the economy will suffer. But, just as the hopes of those who want independence are real, so, too, are the fears of those who do not want change.

For my friends and colleagues from Egypt, Libya and Syria, the bid for independence is perplexing. They ask me why it is such a quiet revolution and why Scots do not fight for what they want.

But what do Scots want?

Well, this is where it gets tricky.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) won by a landslide in the last election. But a vote for the SNP is not a vote for independence.

Alex Salmond, Scotland's first minister, explained to me that his party's recent success can be attributed to it focusing on being the party of good governance. Many of the Scots who voted for them wanted good governance, not an independent nation.

Nonetheless, the first minister made a promise that he would raise the question of independence and now, whether Scots like it or not, they will have to nail their colours to the mast.
A marriage of convenience
If Scotland gains independence, new legislation will have to pass to state who owns the North Sea oil [GALLO/GETTY]
Scotland and England have been locked in a marriage of convenience for more than 300 years. It is, in the words of historian Tom Devine, a mutable "stretch to fit" union. Over the years it has moulded and changed according to the needs of each nation.

But, as I embarked upon my journey across the land where I was born, I wanted to know if that union had now reached breaking point and, if so, why?

At the start of this process I was unsure where I stood on the matter. But as I heard from all sides of the debate, it became clear just how many challenges breaking up a nation poses. There are the not inconsiderable matters of arming the country, divvying up the national debt, choosing a currency and, of course, building a thriving economy.

This is a debate that cannot be summed up in sound bites. There is no guidebook to conducting a national divorce.
If Scotland does choose to go its own way, there will undoubtedly be a mass of practicalities to handle. Just deciding how to divide the licensing of the North Sea oil could require the invention of a whole new strand of law. Are the politicians who could be responsible for shaping a brave new Scotland really up to the task?
Well Scotland has been here before, like in 1979 when Scots voted in favour of having a devolved government only for Westminster to deny them their wish by declaring that at least 40 percent of the total electorate had to vote in favour for it to pass. And with the uncast votes of the deceased who had not been removed from the electoral roll and others unable to vote counted as a 'no', political trickery had its way.
Then in 1997, another referendum beckoned Scots to the polls. I was a trainee journalist at the time and, unimpressed by the seemingly boorish bunch of Scottish politicians I was interviewing, voted no. Luckily for Scotland, my vote was in the minority and a Scottish parliament was born - in charge at last of healthcare, economic development and education.
Scotland the Brave - Extra
Consequently, as I discovered while travelling home this summer, a much more self-confident nation has emerged. With it, one Scottish politician in particular has put the question of independence firmly back on the table.
Depending on who you talk to, Alex Salmond is either the villain or hero in Scotland's current political narrative. He made a promise to the Scottish people when they elected his SNP to power that he would bring about a referendum. And he has, albeit with one major glitch: the SNP was forced to agree to a straight 'yes-no' question on the ballot paper, ruling out a third, and to many more preferable, option on increased powers for Edinburgh.
Depending on your political affiliation, Salmond has either set himself and the quest for a 'new Scotland' up for a humiliating defeat next September or is playing a political long game that will ultimately deliver independence. As with all things political, the truth is probably somewhere in between.

Those who support him paint a picture of an astute politician. They say that by demanding an option he knew would be unacceptable to the Unionists, he has painted Scottish Labour, his only real Scottish rivals, as anti-devolution. And, having spent a morning with him back in July, I would be inclined to agree. This is, after all, a man who lost a good few elections before he hit on the Scottish sweet spot - that the best people to make decisions for Scotland are the people who live there. This one simple phrase changed the direction of the SNP and its fortunes. Realising that they could never reach the average Scot with talk of independence alone, the SNP sought to show the broader electorate that it could deliver good governance. Independence could come later.
They think it's all over ...
The SNP's Alex Salmond has form in making the impossible happen, but can he do the same in next year's referendum? [EPA]
So, if the vote matters so much, why aren't Scots engaged?

The newspapers say it matters, and the British and international media is fascinated. But as we travelled the length and breadth of Scotland, the word 'independence' was met with a collective groan.

Partly it is because breaking up a union, although not unprecedented, is complicated, and many Scots have put their hands firmly over their ears. They are sceptical about the political grandstanding or are searching for simpler answers to these big questions.

For some, though, Scotland, which has grown in confidence culturally and politically over the past 30 years, is already a separate nation, and they don't see the need for more power and responsibility. I came to understand that the question of whether Scotland should be an independent nation is largely academic - it already is.

Socially and culturally it has always been separate from the rest of the UK. And, quietly and consistently since the Scottish parliament was re-convened in 1999, it has grown apart from its neighbours. So at the heart of this vote is a search for a new political direction, one that more closely matches the beliefs of the Scottish people. Even if Scots vote 'no', the centre-right approach of the politicians in Westminster will continue to force Scots to question their marriage with the UK.
Whether or not we like it, Scotland is growing out of the Union, and it would be dangerous for politicians north or south of the border not to give considerable thought to an eventual break-up. But, worryingly, this is a shift the Unionists seem not to have grasped as they prematurely congratulate themselves on a victory in next year's referendum.

Unionist confidence has been shored up by US statistician and election forecaster Nate Silver, who is famed for correctly predicting the results of past US elections and told an audience in Edinburgh that the 'yes' vote could not win. But even before his speech, Unionist malaise was evident as we tried to track down members of the 'no' campaign to participate in our film. Many of them simply told us 'no' - it was too inconvenient, they were on holiday, the party line had not been firmed up; the excuses came thick and fast.
Eventually, Alastair Darling, the former chancellor of the exchequer, agreed to a 10 minute interview on the lawn of the Scottish parliament. When I asked him why the 'no' campaign were so difficult to get hold of, while the 'yes' campaign fell over themselves to participate in the film, he mused "they've got more work to do perhaps".
But those who do not want independence are worried by the minimal visibility of the 'no' campaign in comparison with that of the 'yes', who have been canvassing and door knocking with enthusiasm, holding rallies full of flag-waving supporters and have even opened a walk-in office on the purposefully chosen Hope Street.
The 'no' campaign would be wise not to underestimate their opponents, and here's why: In 2011, at this point in the parliamentary elections, the SNP was more than 10 points behind. But Salmond went on to win by a landslide. He, and his party, have form in making the impossible happen.

An Independent Scotland would be good for the world

A year from today, Scotland will be in a position to become the master of its destiny, potentially gaining independence.

Last Modified: 18 Sep 2013 13:29
Humza Yousaf

Humza Yousaf has served as the Scottish National Party Member of the Scottish Parliament for Glasgow since 2011, he is currently the Minister for External Affairs and International Development.



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"Independence is an opportunity for Scotland to show leadership, helping to bring closer to reality the peaceful world," writes Humza Yousaf [Reuters]
Today (18 September), people in Scotland are exactly one year away from the all important day when our citizens will vote on the future direction of their country. Gaining control of how Scotland will engage with the wider world is an important consequence of that vote.
For me, an independent Scotland is not - and never will be - an end in itself. It is about Scots gaining the powers that all independent nations throughout the world take for granted: powers which will enable the creation of jobs, encourage sustainable economic growth, secure social justice, tackle inequality and promote fairness at home and abroad. 
Independence will mean Scotland being able to develop policies that are determined by the people of Scotland, which reflect our values. It will mean being able to take a different approach to the UK, where this is the right decision for Scotland. Scotland has much to offer as an active global citizen.
An independent Scotland should include specific provisions on how and when our armed forces would be able to take part in military interventions, in line with international law. After the calamitous and destructive invasion of Iraq, never again should Scottish soldiers be sent to a war
Independence will enable Scotland to add a progressive voice to global issues promoting peace, equality and fairness. Upon independence, we will make clear that Scotland is a country that is committed to international law, respects and promotes human rights, democratic values, equality and good governance.
Meaning of the independence 
That is why we have already suggested that the written constitution we envisage for an independent Scotland should include specific provisions on how and when our armed forces would be able to take part in military interventions, in line with international law. After the calamitous and destructive invasion of Iraq, never again should Scottish soldiers be sent to a war we do not agree with as a nation and which does not carry a legal mandate.
Independence is an opportunity for Scotland to become the type of country its population knows it can be. It is also an opportunity for Scotland to show leadership, helping to bring closer to reality the peaceful world we all want to see. 
From civic society, including Churches, faith groups and peace activists, right through to your ordinary man and woman, the opposition to nuclear weapons in Scotland is overwhelming. However, despite this opposition, weapons of mass destruction continue to be imposed upon Scotland by the UK Government – only twenty miles from our largest population centre in Glasgow.
From day one after a successful vote for independence, we will begin negotiations with the UK Government to safely and securely remove nuclear weapons from our soil as soon as possible. Furthermore, we have committed to enshrine within our nation’s written constitution our fundamental opposition to Scotland ever having nuclear weapons in the future. By doing so, we will play our part towards a safer and more peaceful global society by showing leadership to others so we can realise the dream of a nuclear weapons free world.
Giving to the world
Scotland has contributed much to the world over the centuries through some very notable figures. From the father of modern economics Adam Smith to the great philosopher of the Scottish and European Enlightenment David Hume, all the way through to famous explorers and humanitarians such as Dr David Livingston, to inventors such as Alexander Graham Bell and John Logie Baird – we have cast an important footprint on the world.
However, Scotland’s rich tradition of innovation and invention is not consigned to the pages of history. We continue to lead the world in many fields and with independence would look to share our expertise in a way that benefits the world’s poorest and most vulnerable.
For example, in international development, Scotland is the first country in the world to have initiated a Climate Justice Fund. This fund recognises that the developed world contributes the most to the effects of climate change yet it is those in the developing world who suffer the most. We further recognise that this is not a matter of aid or charity but justice and therefore seeks to redress this imbalance through expertise Scotland has in fields such as water sanitisation.
An independent Scotland would have a unique proposition to offer the world in relation to climate change and energy; and we would innovate through our approach to international development and international aid.
With full control over international development through independence we will also ensure that Scotland plays her part as a good global citizen that fulfils her international obligations.
The UK has delayed – for over 40 years – achievement of the UN target that developed countries spend 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI) on official development assistance.  This has long been met by Northern European countries such as Sweden, Norway and Denmark, which continue to lead the way.  In an independent Scotland we will right that wrong and have committed to enshrine this target in law, with an aspiration to move to one per cent of GNI over time.
In a world that is often riddled with instability having another stable, progressive voice committed to international law and consensus will only help advance the cause of peace in the global arena. 
All of this achieved through a democratic, peaceful means without a single drop of blood being spilled and engaging with all the diverse communities that make up our rich tapestry in Scotland.
Engraved on the mace of the Scottish Parliament are the values of compassion, wisdom, justice and integrity, as an independent nation those values will also guide us in the choices we make - the choice not to get involved in illegal wars, the choice to tackle climate change, the choice to tackle global poverty, the choice to rid our shores of nuclear weapons forever.
This is an exciting time for Scotland; I hope the rest of the world will watch with interest as our story unfolds over this coming year and join with us as we build a better Scotland, a nation that values our enduring alliances and friendships around the world in the spirit of peace, progress and equality.
Humza Yousaf has served as the Scottish National Party Member of the Scottish Parliament for Glasgow since 2011, he is currently the Minister for External Affairs and International Development. 

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.
http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2014/03/18/289410520/after-300-years-of-marriage-scotland-contemplates-uk-divorce 
 http://www.aljazeera.com/video/europe/2014/03/scottish-independence-debate-amps-up-201434103256716458.html

http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/aljazeeracorrespondent/2013/11/stand-alone-scotland-20131117125914526175.html 

http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/aljazeeracorrespondent/2013/11/scotland-quiet-revolution-20131121125828761310.html 

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/09/2013917123358158109.html