U.S. has next to lowest tax rate in developed countries… after Iceland!

Despite what the GOP says about our having the second highest tax rate in the developed world…

From Think Progress

During negotiations regarding raising the nation’s debt limit, congressional Republicans have defended tax loopholes for corporations, claiming that America has a high corporate tax rate that is stifling economic growth and job creation. But the Center for Tax Justice (CTJ) has crunched the most recent data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Office of Management and Budget, and the Census Bureau, and finds that “the U.S. is already one of the least taxed countries for corporations in the developed world.”

As a share of GDP, the U.S. had the second lowest tax rate, behind only Iceland. This statistic flips on its head the often-repeated Republican charge that America has the second highest corporate tax rate in the world (which is only true on paper). In 2009, U.S. corporate taxes had fallen to only 1.3 percent of GDP, from 4 percent in 1965.

Check out the graph!

h/t to Blue Texan’s Early Morning Swim!

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Arctic Bliss (photo: Maia C)

Hospice for the Earth & Its Waters…

The Memory of Water

Nika suggested, ephemerally, that perhaps the kindest
most compassionate thing we could do in these challenging
times would be to provide hospice for the earth and witness
its death. And so, I’ve been contemplating, wondering
if it really is too late for homeopathy as a metaphor
to work as a cure for the Earth… Is it time for hospice.

Most likely, it is too late, since nano-doses depend
upon the memory of water for their effectiveness
and we have ruined so much of the Earth’s waters:
the oceans, rivers, lakes, ponds, wetlands ––even bird baths
—with pollution, acid rain, prescription medicines, landfills
and run-offs, compromising water’s memory and its ability to heal
anything, the earth, ourselves, flora & fauna, or even itself

much less poverty or strife. When you next drink a long cool
glass of water, remember those who have none and know
that one day you may be among them. Know that the Earth
is losing its potable water… that we are at Peak Water.

Remember, too, the once-snow-capped mountains & glaciers
and the current dearth of fresh water they once provided in spring…
to prevent drought and to irrigate crops… to cleanse.

The memory of water is flexible, allowing toxic agents
in even while reacting to them. Yet, water repels the one thing
we believe we need to live that we are sure we cannot live
without – oil – to run our combustion engines.

The History of the Dust-Bowl

Remember, if you can–or re-read the history–of our mid-west
And the dust-bowl era and its poverty and pay tribute or–better yet—
a true homage to those who are reclaiming small family farms.

Fauna & Flora (more…)

Elizabeth Warren Appointment Dangles As Democrats Duck Recess Fight With Republicans

We all could have predicted this would happen…

Michael McAuliffe at HuffPost writes:

WASHINGTON — Republicans in Congress have called out the Democrats for a fight over recess — but there are few signs the Democrats are going to show up.

In a bid to stop President Obama from making Senate-circumventing appointments while Congress is out — most notably Consumer Financial Protection Bureau architect Elizabeth Warren — House Speaker John Boehner is banning his members — and the Senate — from going on holiday.

For one chamber to bar the other from recess is an extraordinary step that has seldom been perpetrated in the history of Congress, yet it is easily done because the Constitution requires each chamber to consent if the other will be out for more than three days.


However, after President Obama and Republicans declared Wednesday the Senate should keep doing work on the stalled debt talks, Senate Democrats said they were re-evaluating whether to allow Senators to go home for the Fourth.

Either way, under the normal rules of Capitol Hill, President Obama will not be able to use his own constitutional power to make recess appointments while there is a nearly unprecedented log jam of nominees waiting in the Senate. And an idle pro forma session seems the plan for the longer August break.

None of that is sitting well with progressives and judicial advocates who think the president and his party could take dramatic steps to shatter the GOP blockade and salvage their vision of government, rather than preserving their own days off.

There is no better candidate than Elizabeth Warren to head up the CFPB. Unfortunately, the Republicans want to tank the economy, so they can show us just how much testosterone they really have.

Republicans: Read this report and then weep! Your ideology is completely wrong.

Via Huffington Post, I found a post at Think Progress which demonstrates that those states that cut spending actually caused:

1 percentage point increase in the unemployment rate

2.1 percent loss of private employment

2.9 percent real economic contraction relative to the national economic trend

chart of states that increase spending vs. those that decrease spending

The chart is from the Think Progess post.

On the other hand, those states that increased funding actually caused the reverse:

0.2 percentage point decrease in the unemployment rate

1.4 percent increase in private employment

0.5 percent real economic growth since the start of the recession

As the report notes, it is not just about public sector employees… those states that decreased funding actually caused an increase in the unemployment rate, including for private sector employees, as well as “a contraction relative to the national economic trend.”

You can read the rest of the report right here!

Of course, it may be that Republicans don’t really care about jobs, but merely use the “jobless recovery” as part of their rhetoric.

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We could all use quite a bit of humor this week… given how much drama we have had to put up with in the news. What is the funniest movie you have ever seen? Do you like the Three Stooges… most women do not, but men seem to like them.

One of my favorite movies is Desk Set (Tracy & Hepburn) in which there are some pretty hilarious scenes, on of them on the rooftop of the broadcasting building where Hepburn works. Tracy gives her a personality test there and Hepburn passes it with flying colors. Another favorite scene occurs in her apartment… after they are both caught in the rain. Another reason that I like this film is that Gig Young, whom Hepburn has been dating for at least seven years, constantly criticizes her intelligence, while asking her to project his budget forecasts. Tracy, on the other hand, pays her many compliments on the beauty of her mind.

I also love Housesitter, with Steven Martin and Goldie Hawn. Goldie Hawn is an inveterate liar in this movie, but she only tells good lies and some of them actually come true. There are some loose ends in this film, but they don’t seem to bother me for some reason. Martin’s character, an architect, had built a house for a woman he had loved since ninth grade… he wraps a big bow around the house and proposes to her, but she refuses him, much to her later regret. He has a one-night stand with Goldie Hawn, who decided to look for the house that he has drawn on a napkin… as her tells her that the woman he proposed to thought the house was too big for her finger.  Hawn moves into the house, meets Martin’s parents and fits into small town life pretty easily…  all hell breaks loose from that point. There is a back story for Hawn, but I won’t spoil that for you. (more…)

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Chicken Tandoori (photo: kspoddar)

For Father’s Day, I’m taking Paul to an Indian restaurant in Media, PA for dinner. He loooooves Indian food. I will eat before we go and maybe have a cup of tea or something while we’re there. Paul’s children all live in California these days, so I’ll be the one helping him to celebrate Father’s Day.

Both of my parents have died since Paul and I have known each other. His father died before I knew him and his mother died a few years ago… she had emphysema. So, we have no parents to celebrate on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. My mother died younger than I am now and my father was 73… he died just before we invaded Iraq. He had been in the Air Force for more than 20 years and I still wonder what he would have thought about that invasion.

Apparently, there was quite a bit of politics involved in getting fathers recognized, as well as mothers.

What are you doing for Father’s Day? Anything special… dinner or brunch? Maybe a movie? We might do that, too, since I have budgeted enough money for both. If we go to a movie, I might eat some butterless popcorn or some raisinettes. What are your plans?

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Last week, RevBev suggested self-care as a topic.. I thought it was a great idea! I have some inexpensive suggestions for keeping your immune system healthy and for keeping your skin in good shape, too.

First, it’s important to remember that your skin is your third kidney… assuming that you already have two kidneys. Otherwise, it might be your second kidney. A great tip for both your lymphatic system and your skin is to buy a long-handled brush with natural bristles. My health food store sells them for about $10-$12. It’s a pretty inexpensive way to keep healthy. No plastic or other unnatural bristles, please! Natural bristles are good for your lymphatic system and help to exfoliate your skin… if you keep your skin exfoliated, it is better able to remove toxins from your body. In addition, if you start at your extremities and brush toward your heart, beginning with your feet and legs, then you will help to activate your lymphatic system, which does not have a pump and needs a bit of help to keep going. Don’t brush away from your heart, as that puts some strain on your blood vessels, as well as on your lymphatic system. Your lymphatic system moves toward your heart before it empties out any toxic wastes from your body. Remember that! And brush toward your heart, beginning with your lower legs and forearms. I like to start with my feet, since they sometimes bother me a bit in the mornings. You can brush straight down on your back, though. This is something you should do before you take a shower or a bath. It removes dry skin and gets your lymphatic system moving. It’s not quite like a cup of coffee, but it does help you to wake up in the morning. More like a cup of tea than coffee.

Last spring, a friend of mine was pretty sick. Her glands were swollen and all kinds of stuff was coming up… so I bought her a long-handled, natural bristled brush… and a bar of chocolate. I figured the antioxidants in the chocolate could not hurt. Later, she told me that one of her daughters wanted one, too, so I picked up another one. They both seem to love using these brushes. I’ve bought brushes for other friends, and family members, too. Following are some links you can check out, but feel free to Google for the “benefits of dry skin brushing.” Don’t read just one or two links… read a bunch of them, since they all have different emphases. (more…)

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elliptical trainer (photo: Vitabc)

I joined a gym a couple of months ago… a Planet Fitness, because they’re pretty inexpensive and because I want to get rid of this extra fat around my belly. It’s not a huge amount, but it’s there and I can feel it and I am not as flexible as I once was.

So far, I have found it pretty difficult to build up enough stamina on the elliptical… so, I use it for a few tenths of a mile and then I switch to the treadmill. For some reason, the elliptical does not give me my heart rate, but the treadmill does. On the treadmill, I can get in about a mile and a half in about 30 minutes, though I would like to do it faster than that. Sometimes, I use the incline, too.

Unfortunately, I spent a lot of time being anemic awhile back and that took a toll on my stamina. So… I’m working to get it back. On the treadmill, I breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth for a longer period of time and that keeps my heart rate at a pretty low level. Of course, I am old enough that I really don’t want to over-work it.

Last week, I tried the stationary bike and traveled about 7 miles on that, but I did not burn very many calories… the elliptical seems to be the key to firming up around the core and burning more calories.

In the meantime, I quit using the elevator on my walk to work and started taking two flights of stairs in one building. However, when I get to my building, I use the elevator, since my office is on the 7th floor, but during the day, I walk up and down a few flights of stairs, in order to get some definition in my calves. One of my friends at work, said that her legs look the way they do, because she uses the elliptical. She’s also using a Shake Weight on her arms. I bought one of those, too, but have not used it enough to get really firm arms yet.

And I’m finding it difficult to give up extra calories, especially early in the day when I am the hungriest. Later on, I don’t need as many calories, but for breakfast and lunch I am usually famished! Perhaps I should eat some eggs in the morning. They might hold me until lunch time. I should probably start eating more salads, but I really prefer my vegetables cooked.

How do the rest of you manage to get rid of extra fat? Or, do you have some other goal for self-improvement? We could check in here in the threads each week with each other and see how we are all doing…

Rick Santorum — the man with the Google problem — is ready to launch his presidential campaign.

Just read about it right here!

Is there anyone in these United States who will actually vote for this man? I cannot believe there will be many…

The third and fourth paragraphs:

Santorum already had announced his presidential ambitions and he has been aggressively campaigning in the early nominating states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. He also has hired veterans of past presidential runs.

Santorum, who lost a bruising re-election bid in 2006, has spent the time since leaving office working at a think tank and speaking to conservative groups.

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A coat of many colors - closed with a shawl pin.

A couple of Saturdays ago, I went with my daughter and son-in-law to the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival…To get a feel for the event, check out my slideshow, I took a lot of pictures for you (and here’s a video from KnittersReview, too).

We had a great time… I bought some hand-dyed yarn for my daughter (reds & purples) and for myself (blues & greens). We ate some food… I had lamb, and I even ate a bit of black cherry ice cream. It was delicious!!!

This was the 38th year for the all-volunteer, free event. There were over forty different breeds of sheep (baa!) on display and, of course, demonstrations of sheep dog skillz.  Lots of workshops available for both farmers and crafters, and hundreds of vendors for shopping. There were demonstrations of spinning, yarn-dyeing and all kinds of other fiber techniques.  And so many competitions, including one titled “Sheep to Shawl.”

One of the show’s highlights is the blade shearing competition, with shearers coming from all over the country.  No electrics, they use hand-powered shears.  It’s the only competition like this in the States.  The winner (Emily  Chamelin) goes on to compete internationally in New Zealand.

It was a pretty full day. By the time we got home, I was positively ready for bed.

The weather was beautiful… warm in the sun, cool in the shade.

You can check out the sheep & wool festival here, if you are curious about the workshops and demonstrations.

How is the weather where you are? It’s been raining here for a week or ten days, at least, and we’re not expecting good weather for several days yet…