Defeated Rep. Mark Critz to Work as Energy Lobbyist

Former One Term Congressman Mark Critz Joins Astroturfed Energy Firm

February 26, 2013



When will the revolving door in politics stop spinning?  No one may never know, but in the mean time, former Congressman Mark Critz just became the latest corporate democrat to sell out and become a lobbyist.  Mr. Critz has found a job with EIS Solutions, a “grassroots (according to PoliticsPA) energy lobbying firm”.  According to Politics PA, he’ll be a Senior VP in right smack in the middle Shale Country – or Johnstown, PA.   Here’s an excerpt from the article.

 “As a former Member of Congress and district director for Congressman John Murtha, Mark Critz has the experience and relationships at the local level to help difficult projects get approval,” EIS Solutions President Wade Haerle said. “Mark knows how to navigate local politics and governmental bureaucracies at the state and federal levels and will be an asset to clients seeking to build local support for energy related projects in the coal and natural gas industries.”

“It was an honor to serve the people of Western Pennsylvania in Congress where I had the opportunity fight for jobs and economic development,” Critz said in a company press release. “Development of our energy resources is vital to growing our regional economy and making our nation independent of foreign sources of energy. I look forward to working to make sure that our region develops these resources in a safe, responsible manner while working to grow our economy and meet our energy needs.”

What Politics PA fails to mention is that Mark Critz was fairly generous with the natural gas industry in PA.  While in the House, his voting record energy issues included him voting “yea” on the: “No More Solyndra Act,” “Stop the War On Coal Act,” extending the Keystone XL Pipeline, and to amend the Clean Water Act.     Over the past year I had a couple of twitter battles with Critz and one time he stated something along the lines that solar energy production is worse for the environment than fracking for natural gas.  So it looks like that this is a match made in heaven for the “democrat.”  Mr. Gibson also fails to mention that this “grassroots” effort that Critz is joining an astroturfed – an energy funded – lobbying group.

Continue reading Defeated Rep. Mark Critz to Work as Energy Lobbyist

Pitt Students in Solidarity with Garment Workers


University of Pittsburgh heats up over sweatshops

By Alex Zimmerman

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Feb. 24, 2013 – When Joe Thomas dropped off a letter signed by 25 student organizations at University of Pittsburgh chancellor Mark Nordenberg’s office, he thought he’d get a response.

When he didn’t get one, he helped persuade 24 more student organizations — including Pitt’s student government board — to drop off letters themselves.

"We were dropping off letters just about every day," Mr. Thomas said.

The letters ask Pitt to affiliate with the Worker Rights Consortium, an independent monitoring organization that works with 180 universities across the country to investigate factories where university-licensed apparel is manufactured.

Continue reading Pitt Students in Solidarity with Garment Workers

The Minimum Wage Would Be $21.72 An Hour If It Rose With Productivity Since 1968


Activists are mobilizing around President Obama’s call to raise the minimum wage to $9.00, and polling shows that Americans across the political spectrum agree with such a policy.

But here’s an interesting fact about what the minimum wage could be instead. The Center for Economic and Policy Research’s John Dewitt looked at what the minimum wage would be if it simply rose with productivity — that is, if workers were actually paid for the increasing amount of output — since 1968, and found that it would be almost 3 times what it is now:

Since 1968, however, productivity growth has far outpaced the minimum wage. If the minimum wage had continued to move with average productivity after1968, it would have reached $21.72 per hour in 2012 – a rate well above the average production worker wage. If minimum-wage workers received only half of the productivity gains over the period, the federal minimum would be $15.34.

Even Obama’s modest plan to raise the minimum wage is expected to face intense opposition from Big Business and its lobbyists.

US Capitalism Redistributing Wealth ‘Upward’

Nine Economic Facts That Will Make Your Head Spin

By Lynn Stuart Parramore
Beaver County Blue via

Feb 18, 2013  |  How much will you need for medical expenses in retirement? What does it cost to keep 2.5 million Americans behind bars? Here are a few facts and figures that might surprise you.

1. Recovery for the rich, recession for the rest.

Economic recovery is in rather limited supply, it seems. Research by economist Emmanuel Saez shows that the top 1 percent has enjoyed income growth of over 11 percent [3] since the official end of the recession. The other 99 percent hasn’t fared so well, seeing a 0.4 percent decline in income.

The top 10 percent of earners hauled in 46.5 percent of all income in 2011, the highest proportion since 1917 – and that doesn’t even include money earned from investments. The wealthy have benefitted from favorable tax status and the rise in stock prices, while the rest have been hit with a continuing unemployment crisis that has kept wages down. Saez believes this trend will continue in 2013.

2. Half of us are poor or barely scraping by.

The latest Census Bureau data shows that one in two Americans currently falls into either the “low income” category or is living in poverty. Low-income is defined as those earning between 100 and 199 percent of the poverty level. Adjusted for inflation, the earnings for the bottom 20 percent of families have dropped from $16,788 in 1979 to just under $15,000. Earnings for the next 20 percent have been stuck at $37,000.

States in the South and West had the highest proportion of low-income families, including Arizona, New Mexico and South Carolina, where politicians are eagerly shredding the social safety net.

Continue reading US Capitalism Redistributing Wealth ‘Upward’

Why We Like Elizabeth Warren!

Elizabeth Warren Grills Banking Regulators at First Hearing

By Rachel Rose Hatman

Yahoo News

Democrats eager to see consumer champion Elizabeth Warren take Wall Street’s biggest banks to task got their wish on Thursday when the newly elected Democratic senator made her debut at a Senate Banking Committee hearing.

"What I’d like to know is tell me a little bit about the last few times you’ve taken the biggest financial institutions on Wall Street all the way to a trial," the Massachusetts lawmaker said to applause, speaking to the federal regulators gathered for a hearing on Wall Street reform.

No witnesses spoke up.

Warren raised her eyebrows. "Anybody?" she asked.

Thomas Curry, head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, spoke up: "We’ve actually had a fair number of consent orders. We do not have to bring people to a trial…"

"I appreciate that you say you don’t have to bring them to trial," Warren said. "My question is, when did you bring them to trial?"

"We have not had to do it as a practical matter to achieve our supervisory goals," Curry said.

Warren moved on to the rest of the panel, knowing full well that none of the regulators present have brought a Wall Street bank to trial.

"I’m really concerned that ‘too big to fail’ has become ‘too big for trial,’" Warren later said.

Warren ousted Republican Sen. Scott Brown in November in a hard-fought campaign. She was President Barack Obama’s first pick in 2011 to head up the government’s newly established Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an entity the former Harvard University law professor and attorney helped create. But Republicans in Washington essentially killed her nomination, citing her record of taking on big banks and Wall Street. That opposition helped boost Warren’s reputation and led Democrats nationwide to embrace her decision to run for U.S. Senate.

Pittsburgh Pays for G20 First Amendment Violations

Pitt student humiliated by G20 police
Pitt student humiliated by G20 police

Pittsburgh settles final G-20 arrest lawsuit

February 14, 2013 5:10 pm

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By Molly Born and Lexi Belculfine / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The final lawsuit against the city of Pittsburgh stemming from the G-20 Summit of world leaders has been settled for $400,000, the American Civil Liberties Union announced today.

The city has agreed to pay the money to settle the claims of 13 people who said the mass arrests during the G-20 in 2009 violated their civil rights.

The city previously paid $88,000 to settle the claims of 11 of the 25 original plaintiffs who said their rights to peacefully assemble and to be free from unlawful arrest were violated when police dissolved a rally at Schenley Plaza on the University of Pittsburgh campus on the last day of the G-20.

Sound weapons used in Pittsburgh neighborhoods
Sound weapons used in Pittsburgh neighborhoods

One person withdrew their claim, associate city solicitor John Doherty said.

Today’s settlement brought the total sum in this suit to $488,000 — half the total paid in all G-20 settlements, he said.

The city bought a $10 million police professional liability policy, which has a $25,000 deductible per claim and a premium of $1.5 million, he said.

The city has paid six deductibles, five for $25,000, and one for about $22,500, Mr. Doherty said.

Street Heat over Mass Transit in the Harrisburg Statehouse

Transit supporters rally for more state funding

By Mark Shade

Beaver county Blue via

HARRISBURG, Feb 12 — Gov. Tom Corbett is talking about hundreds of millions of dollars in new transportation spending in his proposed 2013-14 budget, but transit proponents don’t like what they’re hearing and many of them took the bus to tell him about it Monday.

Molly Nichols, a volunteer with Pittsburghers for Public Transit, told about 200 transit operators and customers from her city, Philadelphia, Harrisburg and elsewhere that people have a right to public transit.

“Bus lines and transit lines are our lifelines,” Nichols said in between the chants she led. “We use them to get to school, to work, to the doctor’s office, to churches, to shops … and current transit service is not efficient or affordable for our residents.”

She said public transportation operators are facing a severe funding crisis that needs more attention from the governor and lawmakers. Continue reading Street Heat over Mass Transit in the Harrisburg Statehouse

Usurious Credit and Debt as Our Prison Cages

Breaking the Chains of Debt Peonage

By Chris Hedges

Feb 3, 2013 – The corporate state has made it clear there will be no more Occupy encampments.

The corporate state is seeking through the persistent harassment of activists and the passage of draconian laws such as Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act—and we will be in court next Wednesday to fight the Obama administration’s appeal of the Southern District Court of New York’s ruling declaring Section 1021 unconstitutional—to shut down all legitimate dissent.

The corporate state is counting, most importantly, on its system of debt peonage to keep citizens—especially the 30 million people who make up the working poor—from joining our revolt.

Workers who are unable to meet their debts, who are victimized by constantly rising interest rates that can climb to as high as 30 percent on credit cards, are far more likely to remain submissive and compliant.

Debt peonage is and always has been a form of political control. Native Americans, forced by the U.S. government onto tribal agencies, were required to buy their goods, usually on credit, at agency stores. Coal miners in southern West Virginia and Kentucky were paid in scrip by the coal companies and kept in perpetual debt servitude by the company store. African-Americans in the cotton fields in the South were forced to borrow during the agricultural season from their white landlords for their seed and farm equipment, creating a life of perpetual debt. It soon becomes impossible to escape the mounting interest rates that necessitate new borrowing.

Continue reading Usurious Credit and Debt as Our Prison Cages

Climate Deniers Get $120 million Secret Funding

Secret funding helped build vast network of climate denial thinktanks

Anonymous billionaires donated $120m to more than 100 anti-climate groups working to discredit climate change science .

Funding climate deniersnn :  Americans For Prosperity

Climate sceptic groups are mobilising against Obama’s efforts to act on climate change in his second term. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Conservative billionaires used a secretive funding route to channel nearly $120m (£77m) to more than 100 groups casting doubt about the science behind climate change, the Guardian has learned.

The funds, doled out between 2002 and 2010, helped build a vast network of thinktanks and activist groups working to a single purpose: to redefine climate change from neutral scientific fact to a highly polarising “wedge issue” for hardcore conservatives.

The millions were routed through two trusts, Donors Trust and the Donors Capital Fund, operating out of a generic town house in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington DC. Donors Capital caters to those making donations of $1m or more. Continue reading Climate Deniers Get $120 million Secret Funding

Arrests at Patriot Coal Bankruptcy Protest

10 arrested as coal miners, supporters protest in St. Louis over Patriot bankruptcy case

Published February 13, 2013

Associated Press

  • ac9e8c37538e6a05290f6a706700bf41.jpg

    Members of the United Mine Workers of America take part in a protest outside the of headquarters of Peabody Energy, one of the companies the union accuses of orchestrating business deals that bankrupted Patriot Coal, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, in St. Louis. Ten people were arrested during the protest of bankruptcy proceedings that the union says jeopardizes pension and health care benefits for some 20,000 retirees and dependents. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) (The Associated Press)

  • 38df7782538f6a05290f6a70670090ad.jpg

    Members of the United Mine Workers of America wait to be arrested by police during protest outside the of headquarters of Peabody Energy, one of the companies the union accuses of orchestrating business deals that bankrupted Patriot Coal, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, in St. Louis. Ten people were arrested during the protest of bankruptcy proceedings that the union says jeopardizes pension and health care benefits for some 20,000 retirees and dependents. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) (The Associated Press)

    Continue reading Arrests at Patriot Coal Bankruptcy Protest