By Natasha Lennard
New York Times
August 19, 2011
From inside Mary Lee Ward’s small and sparsely
furnished living room in Bedford-Stuyvesant, it sounded
Friday as if a block party was in full swing in the
street below. Cars and trucks honked their horns
melodically as they passed and almost 200 voices could
be heard cheering and chanting.
But this was no street party; it was not yet 9 a.m. and
the crowd outside was there as a line of defense.
Ms. Ward – a tiny, soft-spoken 82-year-old – faced
forcible eviction by a marshal on Friday morning
because of a subprime mortgage she bought in 1995. And
so neighbors, friends, housing advocates and supporters
had formed a thick human wall outside Ms. Ward’s small
gray house on Tompkins Avenue in Brooklyn.
Shortly after 9:30, the local state assemblywoman,
Annette Robinson, emerged from the house with news.
“The marshal will not be taking action today,” Ms.
Robinson said over a bullhorn as Ms. Ward stood by her
side. Ms. Robinson vowed to negotiate with the deed
holder to keep Ms. Ward in her home.
A COMMUNITY PRESENTATION
WEDNESDAY AUGUST 17TH at 7:00 PM
CHIPPEWA EVANGELICAL FREE CHURCH
239 BRAUN ROAD, BEAVER FALLS, PA 15010
Carolyn Knapp and Carol French own working dairy farms in Bradford County, PA. Both have signed gas leases for their property and have experienced the impacts of heavy drilling activity in their community. They have devoted large amounts of time learning about the hydraulic fracturing process and the overall impact it has on the community. They will provide a perspective on fracking that is not being provided by the gas companies. Questions will be taken after their presentation.
Chippewa Evangelical Free Church is not a sponsor and does not endorse the speakers for this event. Chippewa Evangelical Free Church maintains neutrality on the issue of Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling. CEFC is only providing a meeting place and is neither for nor against gas drilling.
Some Unions to Skip 2012 Democratic Convention
By SAM HANANEL
Aug 12, 2011 – WASHINGTON (AP) — About a dozen trade unions plan to sit out the 2012 Democratic convention because they’re angry that it’s being held in a right-to-work state and frustrated that Democrats haven’t done enough to create jobs.
The move could pose a larger problem for President Barack Obama next year if an increasingly dispirited base of labor activists becomes so discouraged that it doesn’t get the rank-and-file to the polls in the usual strong numbers.
The unions — all part of the AFL-CIO’s building and construction trades unit — told party officials this week they are gravely disappointed that labor was not consulted before Democrats settled on Charlotte, N.C., where there are no unionized hotels.
"We find it troubling that the party so closely associated with basic human rights would choose a state with the lowest unionization rate in the country due to regressive policies aimed at diluting the power of workers," Mark Ayers, president of the building trades unit, wrote in a letter to Democratic Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
It’s time for a Main Street Contract for the American People. National Nurses United has embarked on a campaign to reverse national priorities and policies that have placed the interests of Wall Street over the crisis facing American families today. The goal is to chart a new contract for the American people — for a better life today and a more secure future for our children and future generations. www.mainstreetcontract.org
Local CWA Union Rep Angered by Verizon Claims
By Megan J. Miller
August 8, 2011 – BEAVER — A local representative of the Communication Workers of America union said Verizon workers were forced to go on strike after the communications giant “put outrageous demands” on them in contract negotiations.
Thousands of Verizon landline employees across several states were striking Monday after talks broke down between the company and the workers’ unions, the CWA and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
Michael Rossi, president of the CWA chapter that includes about 250 workers in Beaver County, as well as the Sewickley area and parts of Lawrence and Mercer counties, told The Times that he was angered by a statement released by the company that accused the unions of walking away from the table “instead of continuing to work through the issues.”
The company’s demands include freezing pensions and requiring workers to contribute more to their health insurance premiums, above the 7 percent that Rossi said they now pay.
The proposed changes in benefits over time and holiday pay would cost union members approximately $20,000 per year, he estimated.
“(Verizon) made over $20 billion over the last 4 years,” Rossi said, categorizing the company’s demands as “another attack on the middle class.”
Verizon, for its part, pointed out that its landline business has significantly declined as wireless usage grows and said in a news release that its contract terms reflect “today’s economic realities in our wireline business.”
By Jasiri X and Paradise Gray
According to the New Pittsburgh Courier, “The average homicide victim in 2010 was a 33–year-old Black male with four prior arrests, most likely shot on the North Side, in the Hill District or the East End with a 9mm semi-automatic pistol in the early morning hours of a Saturday in July. The average shooter was a 29-year-old Black male with four prior arrests. The motive was likely retaliation. And according to the clearance-rate data, there is a 46 percent chance that he is still at large.”
This is why we decided to dedicate our latest video to the problem of violence in our community.
“City of Steel” was filmed on Pittsburgh’s Northside at, Northview Heights housing project, Allegheny County General Hospital, Zone No.1 Police Station, Union Dale Cemetery, and the newly reopened state prison, SCI Pittsburgh.
“City of Steel” was produced by Rel!g!on and directed by Paradise Gray.
This is the third video, in the four video series entitled “The Pittsburgh Press”, which was made possible by a generous Seed Award from the Sprout Fund.
By Moriah Balingit
Aug 8, 2011 – Drivers, mechanics and service workers with the Beaver County Transit Authority voted to strike Sunday shortly after overwhelmingly rejecting a proposed contract that they felt did not sufficiently address their issues with forced overtime.
The 50 or so workers, represented by Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1743, will not walk out on the job until they get authorization from the union’s international heads and then will face a waiting period, said Local 1743 President Diane Stambaugh.
Ms. Stambaugh said the Beaver Authority forces drivers to stay on beyond their scheduled shifts regularly and disciplines them if they refuse. Under the proposed contract, employees would be allowed to refuse two forced overtime shifts, a quarter and would have disciplinary marks removed from their records after 33 months instead of 36 months.
Drivers, she said, "have no life."
"They can’t make plans to do anything," she said.
Employees want more flexibility to refuse overtime and want less stringent penalties when they do, Ms. Stambaugh said, adding that she believes the authority relies too much on forced overtime when it needs to hire more drivers.
"If they would hire more people, we wouldn’t have this [overtime] problem," she said.
The union’s contract expired Dec. 31.
Officials with the Beaver County Transit Authority could not be reached for comment.
Blue Dogs: The Democrats TEA Party?
In Arizona a clear divide can be found in the Democratic Party and this state can be used as a microcosm of what is going on nationwide.
Blue dogs vs Progressives.
Before the 2010 election, the two progressives, Raul Grijalva who is also the co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus, and Ed Pastor guaranteed a decade of rule under Arizona 8-seat US Congress.
Of the three self-proclaimed “Blue Dog Democrats,” who coincidentally just happen to also be the non-minorities:
- Kirkpatrick got beat big time despite spending millions and having the incumbent advantage, and squandered DCCC money to become a one-term loser.
- Harry Mitchell is out after just two terms.
- Gabrielle Giffords was the only winner, barely pulling off a ticket to her third term by beating a newbie by less than 2 points, which may have been due to Jesse Kelly’s dumb move of ignoring the importance of advertising in Cochise county.
Only the Progressive Democrats have lasted a decade, and Giffords barely pulled off a win against a neophyte by less than 2 points. Table from Wikipedia.
Should one be proud of being a Blue Dog?
A brief history of Blue Dogs from Time magazine:
When the Democrats lost Congress in 1994, some Representatives blamed the defeat on a party they felt had shifted too far to the left. These disgruntled Democrats decided to form a coalition to stand against their more liberal party members.
They held meetings in the office of former Louisiana Representative Billy Tauzin, who reportedly had one of Cajun artist George Rodrigues’ famous Blue Dog paintings hanging on his wall. The Blue Dog Coalition’s website also lists as an inspiration the 1928 term Yellow Dog, used to refer to a Southern Democrat who was more likely to vote for a dog than for a Republican. Instead of being blinded by party loyalty, this new group complained that it had been “choked blue” by its own party.
Originally comprising just 23 members, mostly from Southern states, the Blue Dogs supported the Republicans’ Contract with America, complained that the Clinton White House was too liberal and called for a balanced federal budget.
In case you have forgotten, the new GOP leader 1994 and the Contract with America was due to Newt Gingrich, and Blue Dogs felt that President Clinton was too liberal and sided with Gingrich instead.
Something to be proud of?
The Time article also adds that “Blue Dogs tend to come from conservative areas of the country, where voters see them as a nonthreatening alternative to Republicans.”
It’s a thin red line between love and hate…
Blue Dogs will continue to lose
With the exception of Giffords, who as any reader can agree is in a special category due to recent events, the rest of the Blue Dogs will continue to lose and continue to not regain the seats they lost, such as Ann Kirkpatrick in CD1.
Why vote for a Democrat who feels they are being “choked blue” by liberals when you can vote for a conservative?
Why vote for a weak Blue Dog Democrat when you can just vote Republican?
If you really don’t want any reform for immigration, why vote for Kirkpatrick, who failed to vote for the DREAM Act, when you can just vote for the TEA Party?
If you are conservative, the Blue Dogs are no match for the TEA Party… but if you are a Democrat or a liberal, the question becomes:
Why vote for the Blue Dog when a Progressive is running?
Progressives will remain true to Democratic principles, while Blue Dogs venture out into GOP territory. Consider the issue of environmental racism, where mines are being built in spite of opposition from the Native Americans who live next to the mines and have to deal with the pollution and exploitation that will take place, just for non-American mining corporations to make off with our country’s natural resources.
A bill to clear the way for development of North America’s largest copper mine, near Superior, was approved Wednesday by a deeply divided House Natural Resources Committee.
The party-line vote by the committee was 26-19, with Republicans supporting the federal land swap needed to facilitate the Resolution Copper Mining project and Democrats opposing it.
Wednesday’s vote pitted U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., the bill’s main sponsor, against Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz. Both Arizonans serve on the Natural Resources Committee. The mine would be in Gosar’s 1st Congressional District.
Paul Gosar is TEA Party, Raul Grijalva is Progressive. Republican vs. Democrat.
But why is Grijalva opposed and does he have alternatives?
Grijalva said the bill threatens sacred Apache lands and could shrink the region’s already-scarce water supply. The Democratic congressman, who blocked the bill from passage in the previous Congress, acknowledged he is fighting a losing battle now that Republicans have the House majority.
“They’ve got a clear path to get it done,” Grijalva said. “I hope we don’t end up in a position where we have buyer’s remorse later on.”
Grijalva offered four amendments to Gosar’s bill, but they were all defeated. The amendments included requirements that Superior residents be given preference for mine jobs over out-of-state residents and that the U.S. Geological Survey assess the impact of the mine on the region’s water resources before the land swap can be completed.
By Carl Davidson
People sometimes either groan or laugh when they hear the term ‘dialectics,’ a word which some people use to bamboozle others into thinking they know something when they don’t.
But here’s a great ‘laughing out loud’ example inspired by a few lines for Mike Hall’s current post on the AFL-CIO blog today, Aug. 2:
“The 4,000 furloughed Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) workers and 90,000 workers on airport construction projects stalled by the Republican shutdown of the FAA are worrying about how they will pay their bills in the coming weeks.
“But the only worry House Republicans have is how they are going to spend their six-week summer vacation. House Republicans leaders adjourned the House last night until Sept. 7 without taking action on reauthorizing an FAA bill so the agency—shutdown since July 22—could reopen and construction funds move down the pipeline again.”
So here’s a great example of Republican ‘dialectics’, their ‘Jobs Plan’ of turning real jobs into their opposites, non-jobs. It’s easy to laugh at, if it didn’t mean so much suffering for so many working-class families. I suppose we could say there’s a ‘unity of opposite’ there, too.
One thing that burns me up more than GOP nonsense, though, are many of the mainstream media pundits who don’t have any idea on how to ask a decent follow-up question. When our right wing lawmakers (and their White House allies) go on at length about cutting this and slashing that, taking money from low-income and middle-income workers and giving it to the super-rich, there always comes a point where they assert, ‘and this will create jobs!.’
Back in my youth I taught logic for a year at the University of Nebraska. Full disclosure here: I actually appreciate real dialectics, and other rules of argument. But one point I often made to my students: An assertion is not an argument.
Now why can’t our media pundits say, ‘Wait a minute here, Congressman (or other policy wonk). You’re cutting both spending and jobs, reducing overall demand. Then you assert this creates jobs? Can you tell us exactly how that works? Especially when it’s mainly demand that creates jobs? An assertion is not an argument.”
If I heard it just once on CNN, it would make my day.
My logic course back in 1965 was for incoming freshman. Wouldn’t it be great if news anchors could at least reach that level, even if it’s too much to expect of Congress and the White House? All the more reason we have to rely on our own labor-oriented blogs and news services. We know how to make use of decent dialectics, and put a spotlight on the foolish versions of our adversaries.