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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Wars criminally callous amidst want: Misery manufactured, exacerbated, MADE IN USA

Sinister cycles: self-inflicted crises: endless aggression, endless suffering
Re-reporting, commentary by 
Carolyn Bennett

s  officials in the U.S. Executive and Legislative branches aided and abetted by the Judiciary commit one after another and simultaneous wars abroad and pressures and provokes sundry factions into more wars and conflict, they also continue to destroy the foundations, the promise and potential of the United States and its people.

Federal Washington robs children, America's future ─ all the while endorsing bought elections and  taking other kickbacks ─  to enrich industries of war, surveillance, torture, and incarceration.

Over the past five years, 14.3 percent or 42.7 million people in the United States of America languished at below-poverty-level incomes [2007-2011 American Community Survey].

Some groups showed poverty rates more than 10 percentage points worse than the national 14.3 percent poverty rate:

Native American Indian and Alaska Native (27.0 percent);

African (or black) - American (25.8 percent)

Hispanic-American: (23.2 percent), about nine percentage points higher than the overall U.S. poverty rate.

Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders showing rates above overall national average: (17.6 percent)

White- identified American poverty rates:  (11.6 percent)
Asian-identified American poverty rates: (11.7 percent)
(Both poverty rates lower than the overall poverty rate and not statistically differentiated from each other).

U.S. Asian population: poverty rates were higher for Vietnamese (14.7 percent) and Koreans (15.0 percent) and lower for Filipinos (5.8 percent)

U.S. Asians: nine states had poverty rates below 10 percent (Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Virginia and South Carolina).

U.S. Hispanics: national poverty rates ranged from a low of 16.2 percent for Cubans to a high of 26.3 percent for Dominicans.

Particular Native American Poverty rates: American Indians and Alaska Natives (Rapid City, S.D.): (50.9 percent)

…around three times the rate in Anchorage, Alaska (16.6 percent), about 30 percent or greater in five other cities most populated by this group (Gallup, N.M.; Minneapolis; Rapid City, S.D.; Shiprock, N.M.; Tucson, Ariz.; and Zuni Pueblo, N.M.) [American Community Survey data collected from 2007 to 2011 by the U.S. Census Bureau.]

Nine states had poverty rates of about 30 percent or more for American Indians and Alaska Natives: Arizona, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah.

HUNGER affects all Americans but it slaughters some communities. This is brutal all round, for American and all peoples of the world. Yet Americans, while complaining and blaming, keep supporting the same, mostly corrupt creatures to lead from their ivory- towered/K-Street/DuPont Circle Federal Washington.

ore than one in seven Americans receives what’s not nearly enough yet what officials in Washington are trying to take away: help from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP. The one-in-seven percentage (15.2 percent) is comparable to the percentage of the American workforce affected by unemployment or underemployment (14.4 percent in January 2013), according to U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics U-6 Measure. 

Moreover, three in ten Americans are eligible but are never served by SNAP.

March 20113: SNAP national participation increased by 168,888 people over this month to

47,727,052 people

Rise from March 2012: 1.3 million people

Forty (40) U.S. states and the District of Columbia experienced increases in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly named federal Food Stamp Program) caseloads between January 2012 and January 2013. The six states registering over-the-year percentage increases of eight percentage points or higher were Illinois, Wyoming, Hawaii, Florida, New Jersey, Louisiana.

The five states where SNAP was reportedly making huge differences in the economic well-being and health, the largest percentage-point difference in lifting households above 101 percent of the poverty level, were: New York (33.5), Vermont (26), Rhode Island (25.1), Massachusetts (23), and Alaska (19.4). [FRAC reported U.S. Census Bureau and USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS)]

The SNAP/Food Stamp Program is the largest nutrition assistance program administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Its goal: “to alleviate hunger and malnutrition … by increasing food purchasing power for all eligible households who apply for participation” as stated in the Food Stamp Act of 1977 as amended (P.L. 108-269).  The program provides monthly benefits to eligible low-income families, which can be used to purchase food. Through Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) systems replacing paper coupons, the use of a benefits card similar to a bank card, USDA reports, all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico now use EBT systems.

very 5 years, the SNAP/Food Stamp program is reauthorized by the U.S. Congress as part of the Farm Bill. Re-authorization establishes who is eligible for SNAP/Food Stamps and addresses
program access, benefit levels, and other matters.

Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) President Jim Weill said in a press release yesterday, “As the Farm Bill moves to the floor of the House of Representatives this week

Congress must acknowledge that any cut to SNAP means less food in the cupboards and refrigerators of the hungriest people in America – including children, seniors, working families, unemployed workers, and people with disabilities.…

Congresswoman Barbara Lee
Some Members of Congress initiated a “SNAP CHALLENGE.”

Nearly thirty members of the U.S. House of Representatives joined Congresswoman Barbara Lee in committing to living on the food budget of an average SNAP recipient: $4.50 a day to challenge a proposed $20 billion-cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the 2014 Farm Bill. Some Members made statements.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13)
“The more than $20 billion in proposed cuts to SNAP are unconscionable and unacceptable. When I was a young, single mother, I was on public assistance, and I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for the vital lifeline that the American people extended to me. SNAP is the difference between food on the table and a child going to bed hungry. I’m so encouraged by all my colleagues who are joining me for the SNAP Challenge, and I encourage folks from across the country to get engaged and join the chorus voicing opposition to these outrageous cuts.” 

 Congressman Joseph Crowley (NY-14)
“As we consider the Farm Bill, Congress should be taking steps to strengthen the food stamp program, not destroy it. For millions of New Yorkers, this assistance means the difference between putting food on the table and going to bed hungry. I’ll be participating in the Food Stamp Challenge, keeping my spending on meals to under the average food stamp benefit, to highlight just how hard it is to stretch these dollars and how deeper cuts being proposed by the Republican majority will literally take food away from families.”

Congressman Jim McGovern (MA-2)  
“Cutting $20.5 billion from the SNAP program, as the House Farm Bill would do, is wrong-headed, mean-spirited and cruel.  I would hope that the members of the House who support those cuts would take the SNAP Challenge, and walk in the shoes – if only for a few days – of the Americans who struggle to feed their families.”

Congressman Sander Levin (MI-09)
“Far too many Americans continue to struggle just to feed themselves and their families. And yet House Republicans have proposed $20 billion in cuts to food stamps, which help the neediest among us. Participating in this challenge will provide me some insight into the struggle so many Americans face and I hope will highlight why we should not cut the program.”

Congressman Keith Ellison (MN-05)
“Food assistance fulfills a promise we make to each other: if you fall on hard times, your neighbors, friends, and fellow Americans will help you get a meal. These families live in our communities and their children are our kids’ classmates.  Nearly half of all Minnesotans who receive food assistance are children.  Eight in ten of them live below the poverty line, meaning they are from families. It's time we strengthened, not cut, food assistance.”

Congressman John Conyers (MI-13)
“My colleagues claim that these devastating cuts are needed to reduce the federal debt. However, every major deficit reduction package signed into law over the last thirty years has always been negotiated according to the principle of not increasing poverty or inequality.” 

 Congressman Marc Veasey (TX-33)
“According to the Center for Public Policy Priorities, Texas has the 9th highest food hardship rate in the country. This is why I support programs like SNAP which serves more than 1.6 million Texas households. The SNAP program provides a vital lifeline to combat childhood obesity, provides nutritious eating options for disadvantaged households, and ensures we eliminate the nation’s food deserts.”

Congressman Jared Huffman (CA-02)
“SNAP is a lifeline for millions of Americans families who cannot afford to eat without this modest assistance. That’s why the proposal by House Republican Leadership to slash funding for SNAP is so unconscionable.… We need Congress to understand what these cruel austerity measures mean on a personal level rather than a generic statistical sample, which is why I’m taking the SNAP Challenge next week and trying to live off of the average SNAP recipient’s $4.50 a day.”

Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-6)
 “Today almost 50 million Americans live with the insecurity of never knowing if they will be able to afford their next meal.  For these Americans, the SNAP program is a lifeline that ensures children have enough food to grow, that underpaid and underemployed workers have the means to feed their families, and that seniors don’t have to choose between food and medicine.  Incomprehensibly, House Republican leadership’s answer to these families is to propose a staggering $20 billion cut from the SNAP program.  Feeding a family on SNAP is difficult as it is, it would become virtually impossible if these cuts are implemented.  That is why I am taking the SNAP Challenge to promote awareness for hunger and highlight the importance of this critical program.” 

 Congressman Jim Langevin (RI-02)
“In the wealthiest nation in human history, it is unconscionable that every American cannot afford life’s basic necessities. I am proud join my colleagues participating in the SNAP challenge. Every member of Congress should know what it’s like to live on $4.50 per day, to know the pain of going to bed hungry, and to understand the full gravity of the decisions we make. When you take food off of the plates of hungry children, you have a moral obligation to understand the consequences.”

 Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-21)
“Despite our recent economic gains, many low-income and middle class families are still struggling to get by. At a time when hunger is on the rise, and nearly half of all Americans are living in poverty or just a paycheck away from it, the notion that nutritional assistance belongs on the chopping block is outrageous. The Food Stamp Challenge gives members of Congress the opportunity to experience for themselves the reality that SNAP is not an overly extravagant program, but a modest safeguard that protects millions of Americans from hunger.”

Congressman Mark Pocan (WI-2)
“Sometimes the best way to understand another person’s challenges is to spend some time walking in their shoes. While I will live on $4.50 a day for seven days, we cannot forget that millions of families survive on this and less every day, every week, for months at a time.… For these Americans, millions of whom are children, SNAP is an indispensable lifeline. We need to protect this critical program from the Republicans’ reckless cuts that would leave millions without adequate resources to feed themselves and their families.”

Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05)
“With these deep cuts to nutrition programs being proposed, it’s important for elected officials to recognize the hardship millions of Americans face every day as they attempt to feed their families.  By living off such a limited budget, I hope to gain a better understanding of how difficult it is for many of my constituents to avoid hunger and try to meet nutritional needs.”

Congresswoman Robin Kelly (IL-02)
“As a longtime supporter of food pantries and hunger prevention, I am outraged by the proposed $20 billion cut to SNAP. This cut would be devastating to the more than 2 million Illinois residents who rely on SNAP benefits just to put food on the table.  I am participating in the challenge to stand in solidarity with my constituents who depend on SNAP and to call attention to the need to fight these irresponsible cuts.”

Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-1)
“I’m humbled to be joining so many of my colleagues in the SNAP challenge. The SNAP program provides crucial support to families in New Mexico and across the country who continue to struggle to make ends meet. … Even with SNAP benefits, it’s a challenge to satisfy the nutritional needs of an individual or a family. But without these benefits, just getting by would be absolutely impossible for the one in five New Mexicans who rely on SNAP for basic nutrition and economic security. Although it’s going to be difficult to eat on just $4.50 a day, I cannot imagine what life must be like for families who have to go through this exercise week after week or even month after month.”

Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04)
“I think a lot of people have a misperception that being on food stamps is somehow a gravy train … but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s hard to find nutritional food on such a limited budget, and I know I won’t be able to eat three meals a day on the food I purchased for the challenge. Taking the challenge not only highlights hunger in our country, it also gives me a better understanding of the daily reality of millions of Americans and just how limited their nutrition options are.” 

 Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01)
“It is critically important to raise awareness and stand up for the millions of families, children and seniors across the country who rely on nutrition assistance programs by ensuring our safety net is adequately funded. Participating in this SNAP challenge is a way to highlight the struggle many people and working families are facing today and to call attention of the need for these life-saving programs.”

List of Members of the U.S. House of Representatives participating in the “SNAP Challenge” (latest update:  June 12, 2013)

1.      Congressman John Carney (D, DE)
2.      Congressman Matthew Cartwright (D, PA-17)
3.      Congressman Joe Crowley (D, NY-14)
4.      Congressman John Conyers (D, MI-13)
5.      Congressman Peter DeFazio (D, OR-04)
6.      Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA-01)
7.      Congressman Theodore Deutch (D, FL-21)
8.      Congressman Keith Ellison (D, MN-05)
9.      Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (D, NM-01)
10.  Congressman Hank Johnson (D, GA-04)
11.  Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-DC)
12.  Congressman Jared Huffman (D, CA-02)
13.  Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D, IL-02)
14.  Congressman Daniel Kildee (D, MI-05)
15.  Congresswoman Ann Kuster (D, NH-02)
16.  Congressman James Langevin (D, RI-02)
17.  Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D, CA-13)
18.  Congressman Sander Levin (D, MI-09)
19.  Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D, CA-06)
20.  Congressman Jim McGovern (D, MA-02)
21.  Congressman Richard Nolan (D, MN-08)
22.  Congressman Beto O'Rourke (D, TX-16)
23.  Congressman Donald Payne, Jr. (D, NJ-10)
24.  Congressman Mark Pocan (D, WI-02)
25.  Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D, IL-09)
26.  Congressman Marc Veasey (D, TX-33)
27.  Congressman Melvin Watt (D, NC-12)

It is a known fact that if you neglect your own, you will do far worse to those you consider not “your own” kind. And so it is that the gated and guarded and otherwise “protected” officials in the United States of America commit vast and sustained destruction (drone attacks) over here and over there. 

U.S. foreign policy meets U.S. domestic policy. America’s domestic policy is our foreign policy; the misery we inflict abroad is the misery we inflict at home ─ all MADE IN THE USA.

Sources and notes

“American Indian and Alaska Native Poverty Rate About 50 Percent in Rapid City, S.D., and About 30 Percent in Five Other Cities, Census Bureau Reports,” press release, February 20, 2013,  http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/american_community_survey_acs/cb13-29.html

FRAC (Food Research and Action Center)

“FRAC reports on hunger in the United States”
SNAP Participation Increases in March 2013 - Caseloads Reflect Economic Need
SNAP Participation Continues Decline in February 2013 - Caseloads Reflect Economic Need
SNAP Participation Increases in December 2012 - Fluctuations Reflect Economic Need as Well as Disaster Aid
SNAP Participation Increases in November 2012 - Jump Reflects Disaster Benefits for Hurricane Sandy Victims
SNAP Participation Drops in October 2012 - Over-Month-Decline Reflect End of Temporary Hurricane Isaac Relief
SNAP Participation Inched Up Slightly in July 2012 - Caseload Growth Linked to Economic Hardship
More than 46.6 Million Americans Participated in SNAP in June 2012 - Caseload Growth Linked to Economic Hardship


“FRAC Applauds New Proposed Legislation to Strengthen SNAP Benefits ─ by Contrast, House Agriculture Committee Bill Would Leave Millions of Americans with Empty Cupboards” (Statement attributable to FRAC President Jim Weill)

Press Release lead: June 17, 2013 – Washington, D.C. – As the Farm Bill moves to the floor of the House of Representatives this week, Congress must acknowledge that any cut to SNAP means less food in the cupboards and refrigerators of the hungriest people in America – including children, seniors, working families, unemployed workers, and people with disabilities.…”

Update: legislation sponsors: Congressman Deutch with Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA), Jim Langevin (D-RI), Gwen Moore (D-WI), John Lewis (D-GA), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Gene Green (D-TX), Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Danny Davis (D-IL), Maxine Waters (D-CA),Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Corrine Brown (D-FL), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Dina Titus (D-NV), Steven Horsford (D-NV), Filemon Vela (D-TX), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Greg Meeks (D-NY), John Conyers (D-MI), Bobby Rush (D-IL), Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Pete Gallego (D-TX).


“Hunger in the United States,” says FRAC, “is a problem that can be cured.

The nonprofit, according to its website, “pursues a comprehensive national, state and local strategy ─

…conducting research to document the extent of hunger, its impact, and effective solutions;

…seeking improved federal, state and local public policies that will reduce hunger and under-nutrition;

 …monitoring the implementation of laws and serves as a watchdog of programs;

providing and coordinating, training, technical assistance and support on nutrition and anti-poverty issues to a nationwide network of advocates, service providers, food banks, program administrators and participants, and policymakers; and

…conducting public information campaigns to help promote changes in attitude and policies

Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) “works with hundreds of national, state and local nonprofit organizations, public agencies, corporations and labor organizations to address hunger, food insecurity, and their root cause ─ poverty.” http://frac.org/about/


“Over Two Dozen Members of Congress Protest SNAP Cuts, Live on Food Budget of $4.50/day” (Press June 14, 2013, Representative Barbara Lee, Follow Barbara Lee on Facebook and Twitter at @RepBarbaraLee. To learn more, visit lee.house.gov.)



Bennett's books are available in New York State independent bookstores: Lift Bridge Bookshop: www.liftbridgebooks.com [Brockport, NY]; Sundance Books: http://www.sundancebooks.com/main.html [Geneseo, NY]; Mood Makers Books: www.moodmakersbooks.com [City of Rochester, NY]; Dog Ears Bookstore and Literary Arts Center: www.enlightenthedog.org/ [Buffalo, NY]; Burlingham Books – ‘Your Local Chapter’: http://burlinghambooks.com/ [Perry, NY 14530]; The Bookworm: http://www.eabookworm.com/ [East Aurora, NY] • See also: World Pulse: Global Issues through the eyes of Women: http://www.worldpulse.com/ http://www.worldpulse.com/pulsewire http://www.facebook.com/#!/bennetts2ndstudy


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