Monday Nov 28

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Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India

Using the term mutant in the context of modernity, even if metaphorically, calls for qualifications. Mutations are random changes in genes that can produce new traits in an organism. Genetic changes can arise spontaneously and randomly during the normal genetic processes of replication, or they can be induced by external factors present in the environment (viruses, chemicals, radiation etc). A mutant is a member of a species that is physically different from the typical members of the species, the difference resulting from the new traits arising out of mutation. In the natural world of organisms, then, a mutant can be treated as a deviation from the typical. In the metaphorical usage of this term in the context of modernity, one may ask, which of the modern societies are to be considered as the typical?

Read more: Mutant Modernities: An Excerpt from the Nagarjuna University Lecture given by Ravi Sinha

OAKLAND, CA  (12/5/11) -- When Occupy Seattle called its tent camp “Planton Seattle,” camp organizers were laying a local claim to a set of tactics used for decades by social movements in Mexico, Central America and the Philippines.  And when immigrant janitors marched down to the detention center in San Diego and called their effort Occupy ICE (the initials of the Immigration and Custom Enforcement agency responsible for mass deportations), people from countries with that planton tradition were connecting it to the Occupy movement here.

This shared culture and history offer new possibilities to the Occupy movement for survival and growth at a time when the Federal law enforcement establishment, in cooperation with local police departments and municipal governments, has uprooted many tent encampments.  Different Occupy groups from Wall Street to San Francisco have begun to explore their relationship with immigrant social movements in the U.S., and to look more closely at the actions of the 1% beyond our borders that produces much of the pressure for migration.

Read more: From Planton to Occupy

To understate the obvious: our side in the fight for social and economic justice and full democratic participation by all people isn’t doing well. I would like to use the California budget crisis to ask “Why? Why isn’t there a politically serious, no cuts, improve public services, progressive taxation proposal on the table?”

Easily asked; not as easily answered. The roots of the problem go deep.

The last time there was a serious effort to pass a “no-cuts” tax relief and reform proposal was 1975-1977 when the California Tax Reform Association (CTRA), a Sacramento-based and labor-supported public interest organization, and the Citizens Action League (CAL), a coalition of labor, minority, religious, senior, neighborhood and activist organizations, supported Sen. Nick Petris’ SB 154 – the Tax Justice Act.

Read more: Understanding Our Weakness … and Moving Forward

Today’s NYT article about IRS interest in pursuing gift taxes on contributions from individuals to “advocacy” 501 c/4 organizations, such as Americans for Prosperity or Crossroads GPS, both decidedly conservative, completes the ascent of corporate interests to dominance in our political system. Written by Stephanie Strom, normally the ambulance chaser of journalists focused on nonprofits, this article reports on the surprising news that the IRS is finally considering enforcing a tax it declared in 1982 to apply to contributions from individuals to 501 c/4 advocacy groups like the NRA, NARAL, and the Sierra Club, organizations whose “primary purpose” cannot be electoral, but rather legislative and policy. Non-primary purpose activities CAN support or oppose candidates but must remain below 49% of total expenditures; under recent rulings, this has permitted large anonymous contributions for what are essentially independent expenditure campaigns for or against candidates.

Read more: Better than a trifecta

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