In this week's address, President Obama highlighted the action he took this week to reward hard work by strengthening overtime pay protections. As part of this year of action, the President has ordered the Secretary of Labor to modernize our country's overtime rules to ensure that millions of American workers are paid a fair wage for a hard day's work.
While our economy is moving forward, the middle class and those fighting to get into it are still struggling and too many Americans are working harder than ever just to keep up, let alone get ahead. So, in consultation with workers and business, the Obama administration will update and simplify the rules to reward hard work and responsibility.
Today is the anniversary of Lorraine Hansberry's drama, A Raisin in the Sun, which opened at the Barrymore Theatre in New York City on March 11th, 1959. Hansberry's "Raisin" was the first play written by a black woman to be performed on the Broadway stage.
Hansberry, who was born May 19, 1930 in Chicago, died young, at age 35, on January 12, 1965, from pancreatic cancer. She was eulogized by many at her funeral in Harlem and the song "To Be Young, Gifted and Black" sung by Nina Simone, who was a close friend was composed in her memory.
On Monday, 28 senators are planning on staying up all night talking about climate change, an effort that aims to "wake up Congress" about the seriousness of the issue.
The "talkathon" will start after Senate's last votes Monday and is expected to last until Tuesday at 9 a.m. It was organized by the Climate Action Task Force, a group launched in January whose goal is to take an aggressive stance on climate change in Congress. Twenty-six Democrats and two independents have committed to attend the talkathon and are planning to tweet throughout the night using the hashtag #Up4Climate.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), one of the members of the task force who will be participating in the talkathon, said the goal of the all-nighter was "to break the pattern of the Senate and show the interest of at least 20 senators who will be participating through the night."
The scientists have done their work: We now better understand the human causes of climate change and we understand its profound and accelerating impact. Unfortunately, too many policy makers deny the evidence, or refuse to cross political lines to solve the problem. But it is time that we wake up and act on climate change.
We have taken some steps in the right direction. This past summer, President Obama announced his Climate Action Plan to cut carbon pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency has begun creating new carbon emission standards for future power plants. The Department of Energy is working on ground-breaking energy technologies, and the Department of Transportation is studying transportation planning to address future risks and vulnerabilities from extreme weather and climate change. The Transportation Department is also addressing vehicle fuel efficiency which is saving vehicle owners and operators billions of dollars a year. While these are all positive changes, it should concern us all that they are not nearly enough to address the problem at hand. Congress needs to lift its blinders and wake up to this problem by enacting legislation that prioritizes renewable energy development, supports energy efficient technologies, and taxes carbon pollution.
Some of you here know me and are familiar with my interest in development and gender equality in Democratic Republic of the Congo. You have extended kind comments and interest in diaries I've written about HEAL Africa in the past, and expressed interest in new projects I stumble across. Well, today I want to tell you about something new and wonderful. I also have an action item for you at the end.
First, I want you to meet Judy Anderson. Here, she is being interviewed at Clinton Global Initiative while she was director at the US based HEAL Africa, which she and her husband Dick founded:
Judy is a talented facilitator. She has been working with national leaders, vulnerable people, and communities to find real solutions so people in Congo can build a better life. She grew up in Congo, and has been focused on helping groups address health, leadership, gender equality, economic growth, and conflict resolution for most of her adult life. Her focus and commitment recently lead her and Dick to found a new non-profit organization called ACT for Congo.
ACT's website is under construction and the tax status is still pending, but Judy is hard at work supporting real change. I think this organization is a genuine treasure. Following lessons learned by Robert Chambers (see Rural Development: Putting the Last First or Whose Reality Counts: Putting the First Last) and Paulo Freire, her goal is to find a way to support effective development projects in Congo that are run by proven Congolese community leaders and grassroots organizers. She partners with credible organizations who are doing effective work and demonstrating measurable, positive change in DRC communities.
International relief organizations have their role in helping countries ravaged by famine, upheaval, and war, but they execute temporary projects with finite goals. External relief does not often create any lasting positive change. Lasting change in Congo has to come from the people of Congo.
A series of tubes filled with enormous amounts of material
Fresh from the shores of Nonsensia:
"The left is making a big mistake here. What they're offering people is a full stomach and an empty soul. The American people want more than that. This reminds me of a story I heard from Eloise Anderson. She serves in the cabinet of my buddy, Governor Scott Walker. She once met a young boy from a very poor family, and every day at school, he would get a free lunch from a government program. He told Eloise he didn't want a free lunch. He wanted his own lunch, one in a brown-paper bag just like the other kids. He wanted one, he said, because he knew a kid with a brown-paper bag had someone who cared for him. This is what the left does not understand."
-Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, March 6, 2014
Okay, fine. Some kid would rather have his parents pack him a lunch than get it for free at school. Most kids would also rather have their parents drive them to school and drop them off than ride the bus. But just as not every child has a parent who can drive them to school, not every kid has parents who can afford to give them lunches every day. That's why "the left" supports things like school buses and free and reduced-price school lunches. Because a free bus ride and a free lunch may not be the best possible way to transport and feed children, but it's better than nothing.
Ryan's plan is to reduce funding for the school lunch program. So more kids will have empty stomachs, but their souls will be full.
Here at The Fact Checker, we often deal with situations in which people misspeak. We certainly don't try to place gotcha. But this is a different order of magnitude. Anderson, in congressional testimony, represented that she spoke to this child-and then ripped the tale out of its original context. That's certainly worthy of Four Pinocchios.
But what about Ryan? Should he get a pass because he heard this from a witness before Congress? It really depends on the circumstances. In this case, he referenced the story in a major speech. The burden always falls on the speaker and we believe politicians need to check the facts in any prepared remarks.
In this case, apparently, the story was too good to check. But a simple inquiry would have determined that the person telling the story actually is an advocate for the federal programs that Ryan now claims leaves people with "a full stomach and an empty soul." So he also earns Four Pinocchios.
Every time I walk onto the campus where I teach, at SUNY New Paltz, I pass the Sojourner Truth Library. The library was named for her in 1971, and houses a large collection of her papers and articles. I love to enter the library to view the mural , created by artist Rikki Asher, and 13 graduate students.
When I drive through Ulster County New York, where I live, I'm often reminded that Isabella Baumfree, born around 1787, who later took the name of "Sojourner Truth" in 1843, was enslaved here, along with many other black women and men. Slavery in New York began in 1626, when NY was still New Netherland.
For Texas tea partiers, Tuesday's primary might just be a grim day. Tea party candidates running in federal elections this cycle have struggled to get a foothold in the Lone Star state as the movement turns five.
The best example of the fizzle is one-time conservative favorite Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX), who's run such an incompetent campaign against Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) that even other tea party groups have turned against him.
Maybe arming fetuses is not as popular as Stockman thought it would be?
WASHINGTON: Several hundred die-hard Tea Party activists Thursday found themselves sandwiched between a much larger convention of chiropractors and the annual fly-in lobbying convention of the National Treasury Employees Union.
Held at a Washington Hyatt, the fifth anniversary event for the Tea Party Patriots was a far cry from the halcyon days of 2009 when tens of thousands of conservatives descended on Washington for a Tea Party rally.
But more than sheer numbers was missing from Thursday's event: The day lacked either a single leader or issue to rally around. While Obamacare may have birthed the movement, it no longer motivates the Tea Party, if Thursday's lineup was any evidence.[...]
Bachmann used her off the cuff speech to hit everything from the rise of China to the budget. Bachmann, who will retire at the end of this year, even warned the movement to not "take your marbles and go home" simply because of their 2012 electoral defeat.
Rep. Steve King, one of the early adopters of the Tea Party mantle, took a more philosophical approach, arguing the movement is about securing the fundamentals of Western culture like "liberty" and "free markets." [...]
Indeed, the only thread that ran through the day was the idea that the Tea Party can still wield power in the next election. At one point a Tea Party Patriots official took the stage to announce the group had raised more than $1.1 million over the last 10 days, announcing, "Let's show those establishment people and the permanent political class we mean business and we don't need their money, 'cause we gots our own!"
Bachmann's calls for the gavel of Harry Reid got polite applause, but the biggest cheers - and the fact that Republicans should be most concerned about - came when Rep. Tim Huelskamp called for the forcible end to Speaker John Boehner's leadership.
In his weekly address, President Obama said he took action this week to launch new manufacturing hubs and expand a competition to fund transformative infrastructure projects. Both are policies aimed at expanding economic opportunity for all by creating jobs and ensuring the long-term strength of the American economy. Congress can boost this effort by passing a bipartisan proposal to create a nationwide network of high-tech manufacturing hubs and taking steps to invest in our nation's infrastructure - rebuilding our transportation system, creating new construction jobs, and better connecting Americans to economic opportunities.
After a week of national backlash, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) has vetoed SB 1062, which would have allowed religious beliefs to be used to justify discrimination against LGBT people and others. Explaining her veto, Brewer said, "I call them like I see them despite the cheers or boos from the crowd." She added that the bill does not address a specific concern and that she knows of no examples of how religious liberty has been under attack.
Opposition to the bill came from individuals and companies across the country, including the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee, Apple, and Mitt Romney. Many other states have introduced similar bills, some specifying that businesses could refuse services to marrying same-sex couples, but most have stalled or died, particularly those introduced this week during the backlash against Arizona.
What explains Fox's sudden cold feet now that several states are acting to deal with the manufactured threat to religious liberty that Fox News helped create?
To hear people like Fox's Kelly and Tantaros explain it, laws like Arizona's SB 1062 simply went a little too far. These laws would be acceptable if they only affected businesses directly involved in the marriage and wedding industry, but giving all business owners a license to discriminate against gay customers too closely resembles Jim Crow legislation.[...]
The distinction between marriage-related services and general services used by gay couples is convenient, but it doesn't stand up under closer scrutiny.
For one, Fox News has aggressively promoted the idea that requiring equal treatment of gay people in non-marital contexts also infringes on businesses' religious liberty. [...]
... many of the network's personalities are waking up to the harsh reality that their words have consequences. They're in the uncomfortable position of to decide between disowning the right-wing talking points they helped promote or siding with measures that even they admit look a lot like pro-segregation laws.
I'm sick and tired of reading comments loaded with right-wing memes and myths.
Every time we try to deal with discussing racist murderers, whether its Micheal Dunn or George Zimmerman, and his defenders, someone steps into the conversation and brings up the tired trope of "black-on-black crime" as a tried and true method of derailing the conversation away from racism, Stand Your Ground laws as they affect black people, and racially biased jurors and prosecutors who don't deliver justice-for us.
I see these unrelated stats thrown around willy-nilly, and not just on Fox.
This stuff is to be expected from Faux News, or folks over at Breitbart's site.
In Georgia, the state Department of Revenue's Motor Vehicle Division approved of a new specialty license plate design that features the Confederate battle flag. Under state law, all license plate proposals are submitted to the Motor Vehicle division to screen out insensitive or offensive license plate designs.
[The design], proposed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, features a more prominent Confederate battle flag across the background, the emblem of the SOCV on the left side, and a dedication to the organization in a banner across the lower-center of the plate.
Maynard Eaton, spokesman for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, called the display "reprehensible" and added "we don't have license plates saying 'Black Power'."
So I guess that glorifying a rebellion that led to the deaths of about a half a million Americans and honoring "confederate veterans" who fought to continue the enslavement of an entire race of human beings is not insensitive at all!!
Or perhaps it is only "insensitive" if you are a member of the race of human beings who were enslaved.
Of course, this honoring stuff is part of Georgia's Southern heritage and has nothing at all to do with the actual war, why it was fought, and the racism that the flag has symbolized since the 1860s.
So if the "Sons of Nazi German Soldiers" wanted to have a license plate with a swastika, would that be okay? Surely those sons should have a chance to celebrate their heritage.
Or how about this: "Sons of the Guys Who Burned Atlanta" with an American flag and a logo showing screaming white people looking at their plantations on fire.
In this week's address, President Obama says this is a year of action, and he will do everything he can to restore opportunity for all. The President already lifted the wages for federal contract workers, and he calls on the American people to tell Congress to finish the job by boosting the federal minimum wage for all workers to $10.10 and give America a raise.
Seventy-one years ago Sophie Scholl and her brother Hans were arrested at the University of Munich for dropping leaflets protesting the evils of the Third Reich.
Sophie, Hans, their friend Christoph Probst, and several others were members of the White Rose, a group Hans and three fellow medical students founded to declare opposition to the Hitler regime and to rally the resistance movement.
Sophie, Hans, and Christoph knew they faced certain death if they were discovered. The story of these incredible young people (Sophie was only 21 at the time of her death) is not widely known in the United States, but in Germany their contribution to freedom is recognized and respected.
There are people who still don't "get it" about why black and brown folks, and our allies don't think Michael Dunn getting convicted of attempted assault on a car, but not for murdering Jordan Davis was "justice".
There are people telling us we should be satisfied with Angela Corey, the prosecutor, and the jury, who did manage to convict Dunn for attempted murder of the teenaged passengers of the car who are alive.
Well...we are angry. We are not satisfied. The twitterstorm that erupted after the verdict is still raging at #DangerousBlackKids
On November 4, 2014, Wisconsinites will have the opportunity to take back our state and undo a terrible mistake made in November 2010.
Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice? WI won't be fooled again.
In a low-turnout midterm election, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker (R-Talk Radio) was elected governor of Wisconsin. He ran with money from national Republicans - including the Koch brother's Americans For Prosperity (AFP) - and ideas from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), quietly promising his donors that he would do their bidding and destroy unions (and the family supporting jobs they represent), despoil our natural resources (and sell what's left to the highest bidder), and defund our educational systems (and use that money to pay for tax breaks to the wealthiest): all things that Wisconsinites would never have consented to had they known.
This week, President Obama took action to lift more workers' wages by requiring that federal contractors pay their employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour. In this week's address, he highlights that executive action and calls on Congress to pass a bill to raise the federal minimum wage for all workers.
"As I have said, the real rationale of today's opinion, whatever disappearing trail of its legalistic argle-bargle one chooses to follow, is that DOMA is motivated by 'bare . . . desire to harm' couples in same-sex marriages. How easy it is, indeed how inevitable, to reach the same conclusion with regard to state laws denying same-sex couples marital status."
A federal judge ruled Thursday that Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, making it the first state in the South to have its voter-approved prohibition overturned.
U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen issued a stay of her order while it is appealed, meaning that gay couples in Virginia will still not be able to marry until the case is ultimately resolved. Both sides believe the case won't be settled until the Supreme Court decides to hear it or one like it.
Allen's ruling makes Virginia the second state in the South to issue a ruling recognizing the legality of gay marriages.
"Through its decision today, the court has upheld the principles of equality upon which this nation was founded," the plaintiffs' lead co-counsel, Theodore B. Olson, said in a statement.
The Virginia Attorney General's Office took the unusual step of not defending the law because it believes the ban violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. In her ruling, Wright Allen agreed.
On Wednesday, a federal judge with deep ties to the Republican Party became the first in the South to rule in favor of gay marriage, offering the best proof yet that the balance in the nation's long and contentious clash over how to define marriage has been tipped irrevocably in favor of gay rights.
The brief but remarkable ruling by U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn, a former lawyer for Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell who was put on the bench 22 years ago by President George H.W. Bush, invalidates a key part of Kentucky's ban on gay marriage, and requires the state to recognize as valid same-sex unions sealed elsewhere.[...]
Borrowing heavily from Kennedy's reasoning in last year's decision, and in plain language aimed directly at the many voters in Kentucky who still oppose gay marriage, Heyburn found gay marriage laws are illegal for the simplest of reasons. At worst, he ruled, they are aimed at hurting gays and at best, are based on religious convictions that can't pass constitutional muster.
"Kentucky's laws treat gay and lesbian persons differently in a way that demeans them," wrote Heyburn. Since none of the reasons put forward to justify that treatment can withstand constitutional scrutiny, he ruled that the laws are invalid.
(photo of some of my fellow travelers from the bus)
I traveled down to Raleigh, NC for the Moral March on Saturday Feb. 8th with a bus load (and two vans) of folks, organized by the Kairos Center, Poverty Initiative, at Union Theological Seminary.
We left at around 6:30 AM on Friday for the 10 plus hour drive south. It was a wonderfully diverse group - black, white, brown, red and yellow, young, old, straight and LBGT. There were union organizers, members of Picture the Homeless, Domestic Workers United, Occupy Faith NYC , seminary students, and more.
On the bus we each introduced ourselves and said a little bit about why we were going and who were the people who we felt had lifted us and inspired us to be there that day.
People shared the names of teachers, mentors, movement activists, and their parents.
We sang together.
I am not a photographer. My seatmate on the bus, Resa Jones is, and you can see her inspiring photos in her stream.
I took snapshots with my cheap Cannon, and wanted to share them with you today.
When we arrived in Raleigh, our first stop was at Community UCC church of Raleigh where a dinner was waiting for us.
Then we headed over to a mass meeting and worship service at Abundant Life Christian Center, to hear some rousing speeches, and song. Then back on the bus to the Martin Street Baptist Church, where we would unroll our bedrolls to sleep that night.
The next morning we gathered at Shaw University for a rally at 9:30 AM.
And then we marched.
The crowd grew and grew, and there was no way to tell how many of us were there, but later USA Today said we were 80 to 100 thousand!
You can see the size of the crowd in this video, which shows the marchers, and you can hear the end of Dr. Rev. William Barber's speech.
When I remembered I had a camera, I got it out and snapped pics of the signs people were carrying, which reflect the breadth of the coalition that was gathered there.
Follow me below the fold, and I'll let the pictures continue telling the story.
"Walmart U.S.'s relentless focus on costs does seem to have taken some toll on in-store conditions and stock levels," the note says in regards to understaffing. "[O]ur store visits over the last six months show a repeating pattern of stocking issues in many departments in the store." When products aren't on the shelves, that means Walmart can't sell them, depressing overall sales. And if the shelves are empty and the lines are long, there may not be a reason for consumers to frequent the stores.[...]
The research report also points out that the labor struggles that have ignited around its poor practices have come with a cost, noting, "Today, Wal-Mart spends a good deal of time and money in hopes of easing Washington scrutiny, bolstering its corporate image and assuaging labor groups." [...]
Walmart says it pays full-time workers $12.78 an hour, on average, but other reports put average pay just over $8 an hour. Costco, on the other hand, pays workers nearly $22 an hour on average. Its sales are up 6 percent over last year.
Psstt!! Walmart!!! Spend some of that money to pay a living wage instead of fighting the regulators and maybe you will gain some goodwill (and business) from that. Just a thought.
The commander of an Iraqi militant group accidentally killed 22 members of his unit Monday who were training to become suicide bombers after he conducted a demonstration with live explosives, the New York Times reported.
The Sunni militants belonged to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS, according the Times. They have been engaged in fighting with the Iraqi government army and conducted suicide bombings throughout the country.[...]
An Iraqi army official described the commander as a "prolific recruiter," adding that he was "able to kill the bad guys for once".
If you haven't seen this report from Bill Moyers, on what is going on in North Carolina, take some time out, look at it and pass it on.
"State of Conflict: North Carolina" offers a documentary report from a state that votes both blue and red and sometimes purple (Romney carried it by a whisker in 2012, Obama by an eyelash in 2008). Now, however, Republicans hold the governor's mansion and both houses of the legislature and they are steering North Carolina far to the right: slashing taxes on corporations and the wealthy, providing vouchers to private schools, cutting unemployment benefits, refusing to expand Medicaid and rolling back electoral reforms, including voting rights.
Last summer, Pope succeeded, opening North Carolina's highest court to the highest bidders.
Katie bar the door - except that no matter which door we're talking about, Art Pope has the key to it. And possibly to the future.
Take the firepower of the rich, pour in heaps of dark money loosed by the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, add generous doses of fervent ideology, and presto: the battle for American politics and governance is joined. And every state becomes North Carolina, including yours.
We can stop this.
Saturday, February 8th, 2014 people of good will and commitment to addressing injustice are gathering in Raleigh NC to raise their voices in protest.
This is one of the broadest based coalitions of progressive people being forged today.
I grew up with dreams and fantasies of fencing and swashbuckling, duels and derring do. As a child my dad played a musketeer in the cast of Cyrano de Bergerac on Broadway, starring Puerto Rican actor Jose Ferrer, and one of my cherished mementos is his dueling foil.
I buried my nose in the works of the black French author Alexandre Dumas, and in my head the three Musketeers were black. Little did I know at the time, that Dumas had modeled his Count of Monte Cristo on his father, Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie, better known as Thomas-Alexandre Dumas.