Archive | August 4, 2011

Wall Street Assault on Working Families

Wall Street Assault on Working Families


What can turn the tide for working people?

By Ben Becker


For weeks, Democrats and Republicans have debated about whether to stab poor and working people in the back or in the chest. With their deal, President Obama and the Democratic Party have agreed with the Republicans that yes, stabbing working people in the chest will do just fine.

Now they expect workers to applaud them for having worked together and struck a deal to supposedly avert economic disaster. So try to ignore that piercing pain and suffering over the next months and years—they thank you for your sacrifice.

This deal is no “compromise.” It is a bipartisan attack launched by the White House and its allies in Congress on behalf of the banks and corporations against the living standards of workers: $917 billion in spending cuts, with no tax increases on the wealthy. The immediate targets will be education, housing, health care, transportation, environmental protection, and an assortment of social programs and services that are already stretched thin.

In November, a bipartisan commission will be tasked with coming up with $1.5 trillion more in “deficit reduction.” While technically this could include tax increases on the rich and closing their tax loopholes, the corporate media is already referring to such tax changes as doubtful. The “deficit reduction” will come in the form of more cuts.

And if they can’t agree on what to cut, then that too will trigger automatic cuts!

Medicare and Social Security will be spared in the short-term, but the last few weeks of ruling-class debate has shown these are hardly “untouchable” programs. The Democrats were willing to put them on the table this time, and with enough pressure from Wall Street, they will do so again. They will be “negotiable” as soon as November.

Of course, the whole Social Security system could be put on sound economic footing with a few rudimentary tax measures. Right now, employees pay 4.2 percent of their wages into Social Security. But this is capped at $106,800 in wages, so someone who makes $10 million contributes the same amount as someone who makes $106,800. Workers pay 4.2 percent, whereas such millionaires do not even pay 1 percent. A reasonable first step would be to remove that cap, but neither the Democrats nor the Republicans would dare suggest it.

Cuts in defense spending?

The Democrats will advertise that the new bill cuts defense spending by $350 billion, and could cut it by an additional $500 billion if the Republicans don’t play nice in the next round of negotiations. The White House calls this “shared sacrifice.”

But hold on. Cutting $350 billion over 10 years from the Department of Defense would only be a 5 percent cut. The Defense department budget is nearly four times the size of the Health, Education and Housing budgets combined. Unlike Defense, such departments will be devastated. The possible defense spending cut would have no impact on the endless wars and criminal occupations, which have cost so much in financial terms and human lives.

In fact, the bill speaks not of cutting “defense spending” but “security spending,” which includes the Department of Veterans Affairs. Instead of scaling back the forces of war, repression and domestic surveillance, these “security” cuts may easily be aimed at veterans’ health care and retirement benefits.

Is this really a democracy?

Both Republicans and Democrats have falsely claimed that they have an electoral mandate to cut public spending. They have used all of their collective political will to make this cutback program a reality.

In fact, if this were a real democracy, the government would have gone after the Wall Street thieves and parasites who everyone knows plunged the country into crisis. Instead, they were bailed out to the tune of several trillion dollars.

The public has time and again identified jobs as the most pressing economic problem. If this were a real democracy, the government would use society’s vast wealth to respond to the people’s most pressing needs. But for the capitalist parties, it is no “emergency” or “catastrophe” that there are 44 million people below the poverty line (and that is with a ridiculously underestimated poverty level of $22,350 for a family of four).

The number of people without health care has risen to 52 million. There is no emergency bill for the millions of families facing eviction and foreclosure every year. From just 2005 to 2009, Latino households lost 66 percent and Black households lost 53 percent of their so-called “wealth.”

Based on demographic changes, the country’s elderly population is set to become disproportionately larger than it is today. At the same time, pensions have been systematically eliminated, and 401k plans have taken monumental losses. Social Security—referred to as “supplemental income”—is usually not enough to get by on. In a real democracy, the politicians would be discussing how to expand Social Security payments, not cut them.

What can working people do?

This bipartisan agreement disproves once and for all the notion that the right-wing tide in this country can be reversed, or meaningful reforms won, through electoral politics. Neither the re-election of Obama nor the election of a Democratic Congress will transform a thing.

As a first step, community organizations and labor unions should call for 1 million poor and working people to march on Washington. There should be mass marches and sit-ins on Wall Street and in State Capitols across the country.

Join the ANSWER Coalition in the Jobs, Not War contingent of the August 13 Millions March in Harlem demonstration.


Related Topics:

Demonstrations in Wisconsin Over the Worker’s Rights

Wisconsin Police Join the Mass Protest

Silencing American Trade Unions

Global Economic Crisis Bailouts in Context

More Redundancies and More Meddling on the Horizon

While U.S. Falls Apart 5.8mn Israelis Get $100bn

Open Letter to Barack Obama

The Truth Behind These Phony Wars

Wall Street: Inside Job

The Deserving Poor!

Living off the Grid: How Ridiculous Can the U.K. Get!

Democracy the Insolvent Phantom of Tomorrow!?

Iceland Walks Away from the International Banking System

The Colour Revolutions

Biofuels Increasing Food Prices

Ramadhan Reflections: I Am Just Too Busy Right Now‏

I Am Just Too Busy Right Now‏


Text Summary:


As we continue to reflect upon mercy, let us think about the way that we choose to live each day. Many times, we get so busy being caught up in “stuff” and lose sight that we are missing the essence of why we have been created. Does the way you live your life make a difference to you and those around you?

In our high schools and universities, some of us were active in our MSA’s, we were active helping and trying to find ways to give back. Then we get married and we get “busy”, or we start working and we get “busy”.  When people ask us for help, when we know of situations in which there is a need, our response becomes, “I am too busy”. Even if we don’t say it out loud, we say it to convince ourselves that this is the case. Soon, we don’t do much of anything because we’ve become so absorbed in our own lives that we forget the purpose of life itself. We also forget that one day we will have to give account for our time and how we used it.  Other times, we fill our time with activities and events that have no benefit to us at all.

Have you stopped to consider, “What does God want me to do in my life?”, “How am I supposed to use my life to show mercy to others?”

Think of all the mercy that you have been blessed with in your own life.

“Which of the mercies of your Lord will you deny?” If we begin to count the mercy with which we have been blessed, there are so many that we would not be able to finish count. Our sight, hearing, taste, ability to feel, to learn, to have an education, to have a family, to breathe….the list goes on and on.

So when someone asks you to help or your heart tells you that you should really do something in a particular case perhaps you should re-evaluate, “I’m busy” as a response. You didn’t get to where you are without God’s mercy…how then can you turn away sharing that mercy with others? How can you want and/or expect God’s mercy for yourself when you ignore showing mercy to those of His creation who need it.

The prophet peace be upon him said that, S/He is not a Muslim…the one who goes to sleep with their stomach filled and their neighbour goes to sleep hungry. In fact, we know from how he lived his life that he would often give up things he needed to help those who were less fortunate. What do you and I do? Something for us to reflect on.

Today, let us remember that we have a responsibility to show mercy to those around us in our thoughts, words and actions.

Related Topics:

Ramadhan Reflections: Do My Prayers Benefit Me?

Ramadan Reflections- We begin with Mercy‏

Pre-Ramadhan Reflections

Keep Ramadhan Simple!

Ramadhan 2011


Letter to the Self #30 Remember Me

Letter to the Self #29 Forgiveness

Letter to Self # 28: Those We Ignore
Letter to the Self # 27: Destination or the Journey!
Letter to the Self # 26: Change
Letters to the Self #25: Window of Opportunity
Letters to the Self #24: More Than You Think You Are Able
Letters to the Self #23: Submission
Letter to the Self #22: Do You Have Trust Issues?
Letter to the Self #21: Possessions
Letter to the Self #20: Sacred Spaces
Letter to the Self # 19: The Big “I”
Letter to the Self # 18: Insecurities
Letter to the Self # 17: Backbiting
Letter to the Self # 16: Knowledge or Just Information?
Letter to the Self # 15: Beyond the Limited Self
Letter to the Self # 14: A Better Way
Letter to the Self # 13: The Spoken Word
Letter to the Self # 12: A Blessing or a Curse?
Letter to the Self # 11: Purpose

Letter to the Self #10: Let’s Partey
Letter to the Self #9: Looking Good
Letter to the Self #8: Worship
Letter to the Self #7: Rights of the Body
Letter to the Self#6: Time
Letter to the Self #5: Gratitude
Letter to the Self #4: Laziness

The Growing Problem of Pregnancy Stroke

The Growing Problem of Pregnancy Stroke


By Hwaa Irfan


For reasons that have yet to be ascertained, more and more young expectant mothers have been experiencing pregnancy stroke in the U.S.

In a recently published study of a national database of 5 to 8 million discharges the rates of strokes from 1994-1995 and 2006-2007 in women who were pregnant was reviewed. Between 1884 – 2007 from 4,085 – 6,293 annually registering a 54% increase of hospitalized cases.

The reasons identified so far by the medical researchers are pre-stroke factors: high blood pressure, and obesity according to a recent study in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association. However, other experts refer to any factor that affects changes in hormonal levels including oral contraceptives.

A 1996 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine tracked patients aged 15 – 44 in Washington D.C. who were discharged from 1988 – 1991. Of those women, there were 17 cerebral infarctions, 14 intracerebral haemorrhages in pregnancy stroke related cases. There were also 175 cerebral infarctions and 48 intracerebral haemorrhages in non-pregnancy stroke related cases. Cerebral infarction is a disturbance in the blood vessels that supply the brain, and intracerebral haemorrhage is haemorrhaging in the brain tissues. They found that the risk of cerebral infarction increased by 8.7% in postpartum period, and 28.3% for intracerebral haemorrhaging with a risk of 8.1% per 1000 pregnancies.

In the above study it was found that  intracerebral haemorrhaging was most common amongst women who had had induced abortion or who experienced a stillbirth, with the natural and induced abortions occurring before the stroke. However, focusing on the stillbirths, foetal death happened before or at the time of the stroke with the stroke taking place before delivery. However, the conclusion was that it was the postpartum state rather than pregnancy itself that was the risk factor for cerebral infarction and, intracerebral hemorrhage

In a Danish study of the same age group of 497 females who had cerebral thromboembolic attacks the risk factor of oral contraceptives was factored in. Of these women, 13 were pregnant with an additional randomly selected 1370 females as a control.

A 1997 U.K., study by the Department of Clinical Neurosciences of the Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust, it was found that out of 3300 births pregnancy-related stroke was likely to occur in every 9 months to 2 years. In other words, at that time pregnancy stroke was considered rare, however, they also found that thromboembolism was more likely to occur postpartum, and was the leading cause of maternal death. Intracerebral haemorrhage only occurred in 9 out of 100 000 deliveries, and again with the highest risk occurring postpartum. Referring to a Swedish study of 650,000 women in an 8-year period it was found that ischemic and intracerebral haemorrhaging occurred 2 days before or 1 day after delivery increasing postpartum. It was also found that pregnancy stroke occurred more amongst

  • black women
  • Over 35
  • Those with no pre-natal care
  • 3 – 12 times higher amongst caesarean births
  • Those with diabetes
  • Those with Sickle cell anemia
  • Those with Lupus
  • Those with Thrombophilia
  • Those with pre-eclampsia
  • Those who smoke
  • Those with heart disease.

The same study showed that most venous events occurred in the puerperium. A large Swedish cohort of more than 650 000 women with more than 1 million deliveries in an 8-year time period concluded that the greatest risk of ischemic and haemorrhagic cerebral events was in the 2 days before and 1 day after delivery, with an increased, but declining risk over the subsequent 6-week postpartum period.

At the La Rabata Teaching Hospital in Tunisia, pregnancy stroke accounted for 12% of maternal deaths as defined by a retrospective analysis of 88 patients from 1996 – 2009. Fifty four women were identified as experiencing pregnancy stroke and of those 30 suffered ischemic stroke, and 24 with intracranial haemorrhaging. The cause of ischemic stroke was identified as pre-eclampsia, deficiency of protein C, and venal thrombosis in 11 patients. Nine patients were identified with valvular heart disease with a history of stroke in 4 patients. The maternal deaths were 19 of which 8 had cerebral infarction, and 11 had intracranial haemorrhaging. Nationwide, maternal deaths are 35%.

What to Do

A stroke can happened suddenly with the following symptoms:

  • Dizziness followed by nausea
  • Vomiting followed by fatigue
  • Headache/convulsion
  • Coma
  • One-sided paralysis
  • Fever
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Rapid pulse

All the underlying factors that contribute to a stroke point to the importance of having a healthy lifestyle. This means spending less time sitting and more time being physically active bodies are designed for physical and not a sedentary lifestyle. Even if one does not feel at liberty to go and for long walks due to the level of security and safety in one’s locality, activities within the home which have been placed under remote control should be reviewed. Of course there are additional activities like dance, yoga, swimming, and exercise that one can take time out to do, but naturally physically active creates a normal physically active lifestyle.

Then of course there is diet, which should include a variety of fresh, unprocessed foods from grains, to vegetables, pulses, nuts, berries and natural homemade drinks that do not come in a can. It has already been identified that the Western diet which is essentially processed ready-made foods is the main culprit behind the global rise in obesity, which along with the remote control highlights how our lives were never meant to be ‘convenient.’

Calcium – regulates circulatory diseases as an alkaline that counters acidity in the blood, and debris that may accumulate and block arterial walls.

Potassiumacts as an antidote against

Hawthorn Berries – boosts circulation, regulates high blood pressure and strengthens the blood vessels, reduces blood clots, and lowers bad cholesterol. Bought/picked fresh they can be added to the morning breakfast, muesli, fruit salads, or eaten as snacks.

Carrots – reduces risk of stroke when it forms parts of a  daily diet

Spinach – shares in common with dark green vegetables, and orange coloured vegetables and fruits beta carotene also reduces the risk of stroke when it forms a part of the daily diet.

The process of birthing  for many women has become a traumatic experience in hospital, and may be a contributory factor in pregnancy strokes yet unidentified. For years, those who can find alternative, more therapeutic methods of delivery do so in order to enjoy the experience, and increase bonding with their newborn child.  Another factor is that because the female energy has become so suppressed over decades that a woman may ‘detach’ herself from her body through a process of objectification. Pregnancy though natural, may introduce a woman to her body in away totally unexpected, which makes practices like yoga, movement, and forms of dance like oriental dancing an important tool in re-establishing an equilibrium between a woman’s ‘ideal self’, and her ‘true self.’ By re-establishing this balance, a woman will experience less gender-related illnesses, and more hormonal balance.


Kittner, J. S. et al. Pregnancy and the Risk Of Stroke.” N Engl J Med. 1996 September 12; 335(11): 768–774.

Lakhdar, R et al. “Etiology and Outcome of Stroke in Pregnancy.”

O’Brien, C.A.D. “Pregnancy and Neurology: Stroke and Pregnancy.” J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2008;79:240-245 doi:10.1136/jnnp.2007.116939

“Stroke Risk Rising Among Pregnant Women in Alarming Rate: Study.”

Related Topics:

Unhappy Mother’s Day for 1,000s…

Giving Birth Naturally 

GM Foods and Fertility

Fasting and Pregnancy

The Menstrual Bloodline

African-American Women and Childbirth

There’s Nothing Superior to Mother’s Milk

Denied the Right to Conceive

The Power of Love: Four Women

Bill Gates and Population Control