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Fault Lines: The Top 1%

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The richest 1% of US Americans earn nearly a quarter of the country’s income and control an astonishing 40% of its wealth. Inequality in the US is more extreme than it’s been in almost a century — and the gap between the super rich and the poor and middle class people has widened drastically over the last 30 years.

Meanwhile, in Washington, a bitter partisan debate over how to cut deficit spending and reduce the US’ 14.3 trillion dollar debt is underway. As low and middle class wages stagnate and unemployment remains above 9%, Republicans and Democrats are tussling over whether to slash funding for the medical and retirement programs that are the backbone of the US’s social safety net, and whether to raise taxes — or to cut them further.

The budget debate and the economy are the battleground on which the 2012 presidential election race will be fought. And the United States has never seemed so divided — both politically and economically.

How did the gap grow so wide, and so quickly? And how are the convictions, campaign contributions and charitable donations of the top 1% impacting the other 99% of Americans? Fault Lines investigates the gap between the rich and the rest.

This episode of Fault Lines first aired on Al Jazeera English on August 2, 2011 at 0930 GMT.

Written by tonybaldwin

August 2, 2011 at 8:30 pm

To Pres. Obama and Sec. Clinton, re: Egypt

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Dear Mr. President,

I voted for you, just to be for sure, and hold you in high esteem.
Nonetheless, I am confused and disappointed in your reactions to Egyptian protests.

The Egyptian people have voiced their decision. It can not be made more clear that the Egyptian people do not feel that FORMER Pres. Mubarak represents their interests, and have, effectively, fired him. They do not want him to hang on until September and run an election, or have any hand in a transition. They do not trust him to run an election. After all, he has won every election for 30 years, while stepping on their freedoms.

I implore you, and Sec. Clinton, whom I also hold in high regard, to acknowledge the Egyptian people’s clearly expressed decision!
Do NOT make a fool of the US the World over by insisting in this ridiculous notion that he can somehow be trusted to work in some form of transition. He must step down now. That is painfully clear. That is what the Egyptian people want.

We, as a freedom-loving people, must support the decision of the Egyptian people! We can no longer speak of Mr. Mubarak as their president.
Your predecessor made us a fool in foreign eyes. Your election as our leader restored some faith in the American People in the eyes of many foreigners. Do not squander that faith. Show the world that WE AMERICANS ARE A FREEDOM-LOVING PEOPLE, and WE SUPPORT the FREEDOM of the Egyptian people, that WE respect their right to decide their destiny, and their decision to remove Mr. Mubarak.

Tony Baldwin

Written by tonybaldwin

January 30, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Posted in human rights, international, news

Tagged with

ATA Conference 2011 comes to Boston!

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Written by tonybaldwin

January 19, 2011 at 7:02 am

Six Brazilian States left without communications to outside world!

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Six States in Brazil were without telephone or internet connectivity from December 21, to December 29 due to a fire (?!). I can find no information on this matter in any major news source, but a friend who lives there assures me of the veracity of this information. It seems rather odd that so many people would be cut-off from the outside world, and nobody knows anything about it.
As soon as I have more information from my friend, I will post it.
Probably I will just come back and edit this post.
In the meantime, if YOU know anything about this matter, please contact me or comment here.

OKAY, Updates. 2011/01/01 – 9:45 am EST
Happy New Year!
Now, the fire was in the Telephone Plant in Itaigara area of Salvador, Bahia, apparently, and on December 21, starting in the battery room (I don’t know what that is).
I’m trying to figure out how this could causes outages in 6 states, when Itaigara is on a peninsular extension of the land surrounding the Baia de Todos os Santos (All Saints Bay). I suppose there are technical aspects beyond my comprehension involved, since I’m not a telephony technician.  In any case, I CAN, now, find information, but only in Portuguese.

The Brazilian telecom company, Oi, in some areas is distributing, temporarily and for free, 3G mini-modems and emergency phone devices, a a bandaid until the appropriate sutures can be applied. If you can read Português-Brasileiro, there’s more information here (pdf file) regarding the distribution of these temporary solutions, and a list of area codes affected.
Additionally, this pdf notice indicates that they are projecting that broadband internet services should be completely restored to all Oi customers by January 20. Both pdf files are from the company, Oi, itself, and in Brazilian Portuguese, of course.

With this information, I was able to conduct a search for “incêndio, Itaigara, Brasil” and found numerous articles about the fire.

fire at Oi

Os Homens chegam! Firemen respond to blaze at Brazilian telecom, OI, in Salvador, Bahia

“Um incêncio no bairro do Itaigara, na manhã desta terça-feira (21), atingiu a Central Telefônica da Empresa de Telecomunicações OI, em Salvador. Segundo testemunhas, o fogo teria começado na sala de baterias da empresa.

Por conta do incidente, parte dos serviços disponibilizados pela empresa, como telefonia celular e conexão à internet, estão interrompidos. Usuários da telefonia em Aracaju também registraram problemas no sistema.” ( article)

A fire in the neighborhood of Itaigara, this Wednesday morning (12/21) affected the Telephone Plant of the Telecommunications Company, OI, in Salvador. According to witnesses, the fire had begun in the company’s battery room.

Due to the fire, part of the services provided by the company, such as cell phone and internet connection, are interrupted. Telephone customers in Aracaju also reported problems in the system. (translation provided by

The article goes on to explain that even the local emergency reporting system (there it is 190, as opposed to our 911) was interrupted and that locals would have to use the Police Department’s full phone numbers (9996-1880 or 9626-8887) to reach emergency services.

Another article (pt-br) indicates that R$70 million (seventy million Brazilian Reals) in damages were caused.

According to this article, two children, aged 2 and 6 years, were victims of the fire. I can find no other reports of casualties.

This article (pt-br) indicates that the government (Procon, arm of the State of Bahia’s Secretary of Justice, Citizenship and Human Rights) is investigating, and ordered the company to inform customers of projected resolution.

All articles I can find on this matter are in Brazilian Portuguese, so far (Bom que posso ler português, ne! Good thing that I can read Portuguese, eh!).   Not one seems to indicate the full magnitude of the outage, how many people were without services, nor how many have, so far, had service restored.

Written by tonybaldwin

December 31, 2010 at 11:58 am

Posted in international, news

Tagged with , , , , , , ,

The Story of Stuff

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This is brilliant.

I especially like these three words: stewardship, resourcefulness, thrift.  Something to think about.  I would add “responsibility” and “sustainability”.

Also available in other languages:

Written by tonybaldwin

November 23, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Child Trafficking and Women in Poverty

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Written by tonybaldwin

November 21, 2010 at 5:36 pm


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Abolish Modern Slavery

But…slavery is a thing of the past, no?


Today, it is estimated that 27 million people live enslaved.

There are more slaves today than at any prior time in human history.

Trafficking in persons is SLAVERY, invovling victims who are forced, defrauded, or coerced into labor or sexual exploitation

The trafficking of humans it the 2nd MOST LUCRATIVE CRIME IN THE WORLD.

Approximately 80% of people trafficked are female.  Of these, HALF ARE GIRLS (minors).

About 100,000 U.S. children are forcefully engaged in prostitution or pornography every year.

Astonishingly, in the first 48 hours of being on the street, 1 IN 3 CHILDREN ARE FORCED INTO PROSTITUTION.

Between 15,000 and 17,000 people are trafficked into the U.S. each year.

About half are forced to participate in commercial sexual exploitation.


How can I learn more, and be part of the solution?

Follow any of the links below:
146Task Force
AbolishSlavery Coalition
CASTTrafficked Women
Stopthe Traffic
iStop Traffic
Stop Human Traffic
Freethe Slaves
TheHome Foundation
Beyond Borders
FightSlavery Now

Abolish Slavery

Written by tonybaldwin

November 21, 2010 at 2:46 pm