Bryce Covert

News Report

Since he began his minimum wage challenge on Sunday, former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, now president of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, has had eggs and toast, a bowl of cereal with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and a banana. On Monday, he came to work with a bologna and cheese sandwich and a banana. “I’m not sure what I’m going to have for supper,” he told ThinkProgress. This is not a typical menu for him. But given that he can only spend $77 a week while he’s taking the challenge, which asks lawmakers to live on a typical full-time minimum wage minus average taxes and housing expenses for a week, he has to “be sensitive about everything that I buy.” Eggs are fairly cheap, he reasoned, and “I have found out that bananas don’t cost a whole lot, so I stocked up on bananas.” He hasn’t eaten any other fruits or salads because they’re too expensive. For the remaining five days of his challenge, “I don’t think I’ll be eating very healthy,” he said. “Bologna’s a lot cheaper than ham. I’ve been eating quit a bit of bread.” He’s also had to give up some pleasures. “I was walking by a nice restaurant last night near my apartment and people were sitting outside and eating nice food and drinking,” he said. “I was thinking, ‘You know what would be nice? To have a cold beer.’ But you know, I didn’t. Ordinarily I would, but if you don’t have much money there’s a lot of things you can’t do.” And some things have come up that are more dire than skipped beer. He came down with a cold but was lucky enough to find Tylenol and Afrin nasal spray in his cabinet already. “I don’t think I would have been able to buy that Afrin nasal spray” on the challenge, he noted. “I never think about what medicine costs if i need it… But some people have to think constantly about how they spend their money, and their quality of life is quite different than mine.” Strickland will be joined by some current lawmakers this week, including Democratic Reps. Jan Schakowsky (IL), Tim Ryan (OH), and Keith Ellison (MN), to mark the fact that Thursday will represent five years since the last minimum wage increase, leaving it at $7.25 an hour. And Brad Woodhouse, president of Americans United for Change, the group that is organizing the Live the Wage challenge, said on a press call that they want more to join in, particularly Republicans. “We’re asking you to live the wage John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, and others who insist the minimum wage is adequate or we don’t need a minimum wage at all,” he said. The hope is that those who take the challenge get a taste of what life is like on a low wage, even if it’s temporary and they can go back to their normal lifestyles after a week. “I think it’s important for those of us in these leadership positions that get elected by our constituents to represent their views from time to time to take a challenge such as this,” Rep. Ryan said on the call, ...

Landmark Decision Approves Seismic Airgun Testing for Oil & Gas Drilling Off Atlantic Coast
EcoWatch
News Report

In a landmark decision last week, the federal government approved seismic exploration for oil and gas drilling on the Atlantic coast. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will allow extensive seismic airgun testing off the Mid- and South Atlantic coasts. Seismic testing could cause major impacts to marine wildlife and the ocean ecosystem, and pave the way for offshore drilling off the Atlantic coast. “Seismic airgun testing will cause catastrophic impacts to the marine ecosystem, including injury or death to hundreds of thousands of whales and dolphins,” said Surfrider Foundation in a statement. “It will also set the stage for offshore drilling off the Atlantic coast, a dirty and dangerous practice that threatens the health of our oceans and coastal communities. The Surfrider Foundation, including our 25 local chapters from Maine to Florida, is deeply dismayed by the federal government’s decision and will continue to fight the expansion of drilling off the Atlantic coast.” This announcement follows years of intense debate, with 15 public forums and many public comment periods. Tens of thousands of people have expressed opposition to the proposal and urged the government to cancel plans for seismic testing in the Atlantic. “The use of seismic airguns is the first step to expanding dirty and dangerous offshore drilling to the Atlantic Ocean, bringing us one step closer to another disaster like the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill,” Oceana said in a blog post. “During this process, our government will jeopardize the health of large numbers of dolphins and whales as well as commercial and recreational fisheries, tourism, and coastal recreation—putting more than 730,000 jobs in the blast zone at risk.” Watch this recently released documentary by Oceana, Drill, Spill, Repeat?, that highlights the dangers of offshore drilling to marine life, human health and local economies. This film shows how people and industries impacted by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster are still facing daily struggles.

Sarah Jaffe
Op-Ed

Can you name the worst job you’ve ever had? For Cliff Martin, that’s not an easy question. All three of his current jobs — delivering newspapers, delivering magazines and working as a janitor — are strong contenders. Taken together, they pay so poorly that the 20-year-old Northfield, Minnesota, native relies on MNsure, the state Medicaid plan, for healthcare and lives at home with his father to save money. But what if Martin’s bosses had to fork over a fee to the state for paying him so badly? That money, in turn, could be used to help support Martin and his fellow low-wage workers in a variety of ways, from direct subsidies for food and housing to social programs such as Medicaid or public transportation. TakeAction Minnesota, a network that promotes economic and racial justice in the state, wants to make that fee a reality. It’s developing the framework for a bill that it hopes will be introduced in 2015 by state legislators who have worked with the network in the past. As conceived, the “bad business fee” legislation would require companies to disclose how many of their employees are receiving public assistance from the state or federal government. Companies would then pay a fine based on the de facto subsidies they receive by externalizing labor costs onto taxpayers. TakeAction Minnesota’s plan is one prong of a larger national effort. As progressive organizations grapple with how to turn years of public outrage over income inequality into policies for structural change, a network of labor and community organizing groups has seized upon the bad business fee as a solution that might take off. Vampire businesses Just how much money are low-wage businesses draining from local, state and federal coffers? A study released in April by Americans for Tax Fairness, a coalition of more than 400 organizations that advocate progressive tax reform, estimated that Wal-Mart alone costs taxpayers $6.2 billion annually in public assistance. That report draws from a 2013 study by the Democratic staff of the US House Committee on Education and the Workforce, which estimated that Wal-Mart cost taxpayers, on average, between $3,015 and $5,815 per worker. For a hypothetical 300-person Wal-Mart Supercenter in Wisconsin, that added up to as much as $1.75 million in public subsidies per year. Those taxpayer dollars come in the form of joint federal-state programs such as Medicaid and the School Breakfast Program, as well as federal ones such as the National School Lunch Program, the Section 8 Housing Program, the Earned Income Tax, Low Income Home Energy Assistance and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps). Americans for Tax Fairness used the House Democrats’ study to extrapolate Wal-Mart’s public-assistance burden on each state. In Minnesota, for example, where Wal-Mart has 20,997 employees, the public burden totaled $92.7 million per year. That’s $92.7 million Wal-Mart isn’t paying in wages or benefits, but that instead is being borne by taxpayers — taxpayers who, of course, include Wal-Mart workers. The study also notes that ...

The Waste of War
Jeffrey D. Sachs
Op-Ed

Karl Marx famously wrote that history repeats itself, “the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.” Yet when we look around nowadays, we can’t help but wonder whether tragedy will be followed by yet more tragedy. Here we are, at the centenary of the outbreak of World War I, and we find ourselves surrounded by cascading violence, duplicity, and cynicism of the very sort that brought the world to disaster in 1914. And the world regions involved then are involved again. WWI began with a mindset, one based on the belief that military means could resolve pressing social and political issues in Central Europe. A century earlier, the German military theorist Carl von Clausewitz had written that war is “a continuation of political intercourse carried on with other means.” Enough politicians in 1914 agreed. Yet WWI proved Clausewitz tragically wrong for modern times. War in the industrial age is tragedy, disaster, and devastation; it solves no political problems. War is a continuation not of politics, but of political failure. WWI ended four imperial regimes: the Prussian (Hohenzollern) dynasty, the Russian (Romanov) dynasty, the Turkish (Ottoman) dynasty, and the Austro-Hungarian (Habsburg) dynasty. The war not only caused millions of deaths; it also left a legacy of revolution, state bankruptcy, protectionism, and financial collapse that set the stage for Hitler’s rise, World War II, and the Cold War. We are still reeling today. Territory that was once within the multi-ethnic, multi-state, multi-religious Ottoman Empire is again engulfed in conflict and war, stretching from Libya to Palestine-Israel, Syria, and Iraq. The Balkan region remains sullen and politically divided, with Bosnia and Herzegovina unable to institute an effective central government and Serbia deeply jolted by the 1999 NATO bombing and the contentious independence of Kosovo in 2008, over its bitter opposition. The former Russian Empire is in growing turmoil as well, a kind of delayed reaction to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, with Russia attacking Ukraine and violence continuing to erupt in Georgia, Moldova, and elsewhere. In East Asia, tensions between China and Japan – echoes of the last century – are a growing danger. As was the case a century ago, vain and ignorant leaders are pushing into battle without clear purpose or realistic prospects for resolution of the underlying political, economic, social, or ecological factors that are creating the tensions in the first place. The approach of too many governments is to shoot first, think later. Take the US. Its basic strategy has been to send troops, drones, or bombers to any place that would threaten America’s access to oil, harbors Islamic fundamentalists, or otherwise creates problems – say, piracy off the coast of Somalia – for US interests. Hence, US troops, the CIA, drone missiles, or US-backed armies are engaged in fighting across a ...

Chris Hedges
Op-Ed

On June 30 I was at the First Church in Jamaica Plain, Unitarian Universalist, which had turned its hall over to Michael Milligan, traveling the country performing his one-man play about a husband and wife trapped in our dysfunctional health care system. I arrived early at the stone church, whose present structure was erected in 1853, to help set up the chairs and clear the stage. The minister, the Rev. Terry Burke, who was a classmate of mine at Harvard Divinity School, officially retired that day after 31 years as a minister at the church. Burke, a non-smoker, has been diagnosed with lung cancer, and his doctors have told him he has six to 12 months to live. He applied for Social Security disability and was denied. He consulted a lawyer. He well might spend his last months struggling to get the disability system to pay for the chemotherapy that sustains his life. Michael Milligan confronted the callousness of our health care system when he cared for a friend with a serious illness. His play “Mercy Killers,” which he has performed nearly 200 times, chronicles the struggle with insurance companies, drug companies and hospitals that profit from medical distress and then discard terminally ill people when they no longer can pay. The hourlong drama, set in the wake of the 2007-2008 financial crisis, occurs in a police station where Joe, an auto mechanic originally from West Virginia, speaks to an unseen investigator. [To see samples from the play, click here.] “Mercy Killers” opens with Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” playing. The song soon morphs into the sound of sirens. Joe explains how he attempted to care for his terminally ill wife, Jane, amid crushing psychological and financial pressures that put him half a million dollars in debt. His neighbors, he tells the police interrogator, held a bake sale to help out and raised $163. Joe, who buys into the credo of the tea party and quotes Rush Limbaugh, is forced to set his ideology of individualism and self-reliance against a health care system—as well as a banking system that sold him a mortgage with an interest rate that rose—designed to feed corporate profit rather than care for the ill or protect the consumer. Milligan’s high-octane performance is raw with grief, rage and incomprehension. The stark set—a chair, a bright light and a table—highlights Joe’s loneliness, inadequacy and abandonment. And by the end of the play, a for-profit health care system that is responsible for more than 60 percent of all U.S. bankruptcies is no longer just a matter of statistics. Its reality is felt like the blast of a furnace. Joe tells the investigator: “So, they gotta find the right cocktail—combination, pump a dozen liters of antibiotic through her. Goes on for months. They’re the ones who got her sick, and now they’re billing us tens of thousands’a dollars for their fuckup. That’s exactly when they let us know the insurance doesn’t want to pay. I call. And they tell me her policy’s been revoked. So I ask if it’s one of those pre-existing condition things. They say no. They got lotsa ways to cut people off. Apparently they sent us a, a fucking form, man, requesting some information about “Jane’s recent employment history.” And because we didn’t respond to it in a “timely fashion” they decided to cancel her policy. We were off the radar those couple months in the trailer park. Mail’s not too reliable, what with the rugrats and meth heads, not to mention the post office got gutted with service cuts. But the Insurance, they don’t give a shit about any that. Truth is, they’re lookin’ for any reason to cut bait, ya know? Somethin’ like breast cancer, that triggers an alarm over there, they run her through their equation, see if there’s any way they can cut her loose before she ...

VOICES FOR CHANGE

Will the Blabbermouths Wake Democrats Up?
Froma Harrop
"

It is often said, believed and undoubtedly right that the Republicans' ace in midterm elections is apathetic Democrats not showing up at the polls. But that once predictable waltz into November is threatened by blabbermouths of the right's seeking self-aggrandizement by hurling darts at the sleeping Democratic bear.  It's not that they don't know better. It's that their fame and fortune rests not on electing Republicans but on ...

" ::
The Actor and the Minister
Chris Hedges
"

On June 30 I was at the First Church in Jamaica Plain, Unitarian Universalist, which had turned its hall over to Michael Milligan, traveling the country performing his one-man play about a husband and wife trapped in our dysfunctional health care system. I arrived early at the stone church, whose present structure was erected in 1853, to help set up the chairs and clear the stage. The minister, the Rev. Terry Burke, who was a classmate of mine at Harvard Divinity School, officially ...

" ::
Are Solar Roadways Next on Our Clean Energy Horizon?
Christina Sarich
"

Do you remember the last time you stepped out on some hot asphalt or concrete on a sweltering summer day? You likely felt a tinge of the intense energy of the sun compacted into the over 4 million miles of roads that stretch across the United States. The US transportation system is vast, and it could just be ready for an enormous green facelift utilizing solar technologies.This doesn’t include the ...

" ::
Are Solar Roadways Next on Our Clean Energy Horizon?
Christina Sarich
"

Do you remember the last time you stepped out on some hot asphalt or concrete on a sweltering summer day? You likely felt a tinge of the intense energy of the sun compacted into the over 4 million miles of roads that stretch across the United States. The US transportation system is vast, and it could just be ready for an enormous green facelift utilizing solar technologies. This doesn’t ...

" ::
Are Solar Roadways Next on Our Clean Energy Horizon?
Christina Sarich
"

Do you remember the last time you stepped out on some hot asphalt or concrete on a sweltering summer day? You likely felt a tinge of the intense energy of the sun compacted into the over 4 million miles of roads that stretch across the United States. The US transportation system is vast, and it could just be ready for an enormous green facelift utilizing solar technologies. This doesn’t ...

" ::
Rand Paul to Rick Perry: Why Send US Troops to an Iraq that Won’t Defend Itself?
Juan Cole
"

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, apparently considering another run for president ...

" ::
Requiem for the American Century
Tom Engelhardt
"

First Paragraphs on Turning 70 in the American Century That Was* Seventy-three years ago, on February 17, 1941, as a second devastating global war approached, Henry Luce, the publisher of Time and Life magazines, called on his countrymen to “create the first great American Century.”  Luce died in ...

" ::
Biotech Bullying: French Government Withdraws from Long-Term GMO Study
Christina Sarich
"

Has the biotech industry successfully scared another government silly, so much so that they are unwilling to carry out true scientific research on the long-term damage that GMOs could cause animals, people, and the environment? With the latest formal withdrawal of the CRIIGEN organization from a previously ...

" ::
Bad Blood Between Israel and Palestine Boils Over
Ashley Curtin
"

Bad blood between Israel and Palestine has boiled over and violence imprisons the Gaza Strip, creating an intense conflict with further risk of escalation. After 10 days of both sea and air attacks on the Gaza Strip along with failed attempts by Egypt to form a truce between the two countries, Israel launched a Gaza land offensive on Thursday, which sent ground forces into the most densely-populated area of Palestine. But with land attacks already devastating the ...

" ::
The Political Objective and Strategic Goal of Nonviolent Actions
Robert J. Burrowes
"

All nonviolent struggles are conducted simultaneously in the political and

" ::
US Empire Reaches Breaking Point; Time to End It
Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers
Op-Ed

FROM AROUND THE WEB

Wall Street

GOP sabotage and bureaucratic foot-dragging have combined to prevent full implementation of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law.

Obamacare

A federal judge has thrown out a U.S. Senator’s legal challenge to a part of President Barack Obama's healthcare law.

Corporate Tax

Corporations get enormous benefits, like limited liability, that regular “persons” do not.

Food Health

While the movement is an upward trend, it might play a significant role on the environment.

Religion

Young Americans are tired of “partisan crap.”

Israeli/Palestinian Peace Process

This is the third time the hospital has been under attack since the Israel land offense started.

Ukraine News

Reports say remains of 196 victims of jet disaster loaded on to train, with destination said to be a rebel-held town.

Immigration

Central American leaders are asking President Obama to support a regional development and security plan to stem the tide of illegal child migrants to the United States.

Organic Food

Just because food is labeled organic doesn’t mean it’s what you’re expecting.

Religion

Hundreds of families reported to have left Iraqi city Mosul after group said they must convert, leave, pay tax or die.

Gun Rights

Single-shot handguns have been banned in California.

Politics

Due to the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision, unlimited money is pouring into politics.

Politics

Rick Scott will attend a $10,000 per person fundraiser at the home of a deep pocketed donor who just happens to make millions on incarcerations.

Plane Crash

It was determined that many leading AIDS research experts were among the many killed on a Malaysia jet that crashed in Ukraine after allegedly being shot down.

Gaza Strip

The death toll in Gaza is unacceptable and it’s time mainstream media talks honestly about it.

FROM THE BLOGS

The world can be a disheartening place. You turn on the news and hear about the economic turmoil in...
Online classes have become omnipresent in college course catalogs, allowing students to learn from...
You’re an HR professional, which means you’re charged with putting together employment offer...
Before 2008, real estate was the way to make great profits. Between 2008 and 2014, the stock market...
Part I - Rationalizations With the Israelis once more inflicting collective punishment in Gaza (a...
Remember the film Jaws? Remember how the whole town was affected by the presence of the predatory...
What would a psychiatrist call this? Delusions of grandeur? US Secretary of State John Kerry, July...
Part I - Dogmatists in the Justice System Scattered throughout the ranks of U.S. federal...
For many, Australia is all about Melbourne, The Great Barrier Reef and Sydney. While these are...
There you are, ready for a business pow-wow, in front of a glittering, glimmering office complex,...
If you run a small business that doesn’t mean that you can’t think big. In fact, when you think...
Tea Party politicians don’t like people who are out of work. In Congress and in campaigns they...
After flying from San Diego to Texas, a group of Central American immigrant families were met with...
As scientific studies improve, new and effective solutions are being devised to provide consumers...
Growing concerns about the global shortage of highly skilled cybersecurity professionals have been...