Posted by: JanF | April 22, 2014

An Earth Day Wake-up Call

It has been depressing lately, reading about the penny-wise pound-foolish despoiling of our earth for short term profits and jobs that will disappear in a few years. West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin … the list goes on. Maybe we need an Earth Day wake-up call to remind us of what is important.

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Posted by: JanF | March 23, 2014

Four years ago, this happened

On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. For over 60 years, Democrats had been trying to pass a law that finally and firmly declared that health care was a right and not a privilege.

This historic piece of legislation was possible because we had Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress and a Democratic president.

It is why Elections Matter … and why all the rest is noise.
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Posted by: JanF | March 20, 2014

Springing into Spring … No Kidding!

Today at 16:57 UTC (11:57pm RPT), the Spring Equinox occurred.

An equinox occurs twice a year (around 20 March and 22 September), when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun, the center of the Sun being in the same plane as the Earth’s equator. The name “equinox” is derived from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night), because around the equinox, night and day are about equal length.

The amount of daylight and darkness became equal over the past few days (on March 18, near here) and soon daylight will extend ever deeper into the evening and the early morning hours.

Spring is about hope and new beginnings and the sheer joy of being outdoors in the light and the warmth. Here is some kidding around as we celebrate this year’s Spring Equinox.

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Posted by: JanF | February 17, 2014

It’s time WI started paying attention

On November 4, 2014, Wisconsinites will have the opportunity to take back our state and undo a terrible mistake made in November 2010.

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.

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Posted by: JanF | February 3, 2014

The Plight of the Affluent-Americans

On Saturday morning, I read a sobering first person account at Think Progress about “The Bone-Chilling, Heart-Wrenching Process Of Counting The Nation’s Homeless”:

It was 1 a.m., three hours since I’d last felt my toes, and the four of us stood over a man who may have been dead.

“Are you okay under there?” Catherine asked the pile of blankets tucked away in a building alcove on the corner of 23rd and I St. NW in Washington, D.C. It was the type of spot where most pedestrians wouldn’t even know a homeless person was there.

He didn’t move. She asked again. No answer. She repeated a third time. Nothing.

The three of us held our breath, looking to her for some simple explanation why this wasn’t what it seemed. Maybe he was ignoring us. After all, we were uninvited guests to his makeshift home in the middle of the night.

Maybe he had some secret way of handling five-degree temperatures, even when others might freeze to death.

I wondered, along with the author, about what kind of nation we were that 610,042 people are homeless on any given night in America, some in the worst possible physical conditions.

But nothing prepared me for my reaction to an Op-Ed piece in the Miami Herald by Leonard Pitts, the reminder of those who have, perhaps, too many homes.

Grab a tissue …

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Posted by: JanF | February 2, 2014

Spring is in the air …

At the beginning of February, when the earth appears frozen and lifeless, there are stirrings below the surface and above us in the sky. The light is returning; today there is nearly an hour more daylight than there was on the Winter Solstice.

Mid-January through mid-February is when the Great Horned Owls start breeding and nesting. While the rest of us look out at the wintry landscape here in North Central Blogistan and wait for spring, the owls are already beginning their nesting year.

(Don’t forget to hover …)

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr spent a lifetime fighting for working people: for a recognition of the dignity of labor, demanding a living wage to lift all people out of poverty. His cause has become our cause in 2014 as Democrats are fighting for minimum wage increases and our president echoes the words of Dr. King: “… let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full time should have to live in poverty.”

In March, 1968, Dr. King was in Memphis to lend support to the striking sanitation workers. They were striking for better wages and working conditions:

On 1 February 1968, two Memphis garbage collectors, Echol Cole and Robert Walker, were crushed to death by a malfunctioning truck. Twelve days later, frustrated by the city’s response to the latest event in a long pattern of neglect and abuse of its black employees, 1,300 black men from the Memphis Department of Public Works went on strike. Sanitation workers, led by garbage-collector-turned-union-organizer, T. O. Jones, and supported by the president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Jerry Wurf, demanded recognition of their union, better safety standards, and a decent wage.[...]

King himself arrived on 18 March to address a crowd of about 25,000 – the largest indoor gathering the civil rights movement had ever seen.

(From ThinkProgress)

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Posted by: JanF | January 19, 2014

Elections Matter: What Happened in 2010?

The results of the last midterm congressional election, in 2010, were termed a “shellacking” by President Barack Obama. Some pundits said it was “not as bad as it could have been”, and also pointed to the 1994 midterm election when another first-term Democratic president lost control of Congress. That was little comfort for those of us who wanted to see President Obama’s agenda (our agenda) advanced.

The Democratic Party lost 63 seats in the House of Representatives, the biggest midterm loss since 1938 and the largest seat exchange since 1948. John “Big Gavel” Boehner became Speaker of the House and progress towards implementing the president’s agenda came to a screeching halt. The 112th Congress passed less legislation than the Do Nothing Congress that Harry Truman ran against in 1948. (The current Congress, the 113th is on pace to do even less).

The Congress that the 112th replaced, the 111th Congress was one of the most productive in recent history. Fifty years after President Harry S Truman first talked about universal health care, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Democratic majorities gave us the Affordable Care Act of 2010. That legislation affects the lives of every American by putting in place a structure to allow purchasing health insurance that is not just affordable but which provides minimum standards for coverage and does not punish policy holders for getting sick.

The “problem” with passing the Affordable Care Act was that in 2010 it put a big target on the backs of many Democrats who had been elected in the wave election of 2006. That year, another midterm election year, Democrats and other sentient beings were motivated to vote in order to create a firewall against the abuses of the Bush Administration. Democrats picked up 31 seats … and the majority … making Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives.

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Posted by: JanF | January 13, 2014

Repealing the Weekend

In Wisconsin, the state whose progressive forebears championed labor rights, a move is afoot to “allow” workers to work 7 days a week.

This is being touted by the Republicans as a “win-win”: businesses don’t have to hire more workers, just add hours! And workers can make more money! What could possibly go wrong? Businesses would never coerce workers into working more hours, they lurves their workers!!!

In 1938, President Roosevelt signed into law the Fair Labor Standards Act:

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (abbreviated as FLSA; also referred to as the Wages and Hours Bill) is a federal statute of the United States. The FLSA introduced a maximum 44-hour seven-day workweek, established a national minimum wage, guaranteed “time-and-a-half” for overtime in certain jobs, and prohibited most employment of minors in “oppressive child labor”, a term that is defined in the statute. It applies to employees engaged in interstate commerce or employed by an enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce, unless the employer can claim an exemption from coverage.

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West Virginia Declares State Of Emergency After Coal Chemical Contaminates Drinking Water

Residents of nine counties in West Virginia have been told not to use or drink their water after a chemical used by the coal industry spilled into the Elk River on Thursday. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency as more than 100,000 customers, or 300,000 people, are without safe drinking water.

“Don’t make baby formula,” said West Virginia American Water Company president Jeff McIntyre. “Don’t brush your teeth. Don’t shower. Toilet flushing only.”

The chemical, 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol (MCHM), is used to wash coal of impurities and spilled from a tank at Freedom Industries into the river. While the amount of MCHM that spilled wasn’t immediately known, West Virginia American Water has been conducting water quality testing every hour. According to Laura Jordan, a spokesperson with the water company, they believe the chemical is leaking at ground level and “there is a possibility this leak has been going on for sometime before it was discovered Thursday,” WSAZ reported.

First, why on earth was a chemical capable of doing that much damage within a 100 miles of a water source much less in a tank next to the river?

Second, no one knows how long it has been leaking? Do you just wait for people to get sick and die before you “look into it”?

Third, “Freedom Industries”? Hello, fake name alert!! Good luck trying to find these guys to pay for cleanup.

In America, the costs of free enterprise run amok are always borne by the citizens. When will we finally say “that cost is too high”?

That last question, by the way, is addressed to everyone in America, not just West Virginians.

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