Beaver County Still Battling Poverty Problem

Pickup day at a food pantry

By J.D. Prose
Beaver County Times

Sept 28, 2014 – Pastor Avril Vreen doesn’t need newly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau to tell her that poverty is a problem in Beaver County.

All she had to do was watch two young brothers split a free lunch at her Holy Spirit Fellowship Church in New Brighton this past summer. One of the boys agonized over precisely dividing a slice of bread, “which suggested to me that this child has done it before,” she said.

“Right there, I said, ‘This is more necessary than we thought,’” Vreen said of her church’s summer lunch program that served about 2,500 meals to children this year.

According to data recently released by the Census’ American Community Survey, nearly 20,700 Beaver County residents, or 12.4 percent, live below the poverty line, including 6,700 children. That total number represents about a 33 percent increase from 2007, when the county’s poverty rate was 9.1 percent.

In Allegheny County, nearly 13 percent of its 1.19 million residents, or more than 151,000 people, live below the poverty line while almost 14 percent of Lawrence County residents, about 12,200 people, do.
RELATED: How is the poverty level in Beaver County different from the state average? (Info graphic)

The national poverty rate is 14.5 percent, representing about 45 million Americans, according to

The government’s poverty line is based on annual income. For 2012, the poverty line for a family of four was $23,050 regardless of where the family lives in the United States.

Maj. Richard Lyle, the commander of the Salvation Army in Beaver Falls, said he’s seen the effects of poverty firsthand in the Army’s food pantries and soup kitchens. Five years ago in Beaver Falls the Salvation Army was servicing about 2,000 families a month, but that crept up before making “a significant jump” to about 2,600 18 months ago.

Continue reading Beaver County Still Battling Poverty Problem

Progressive Democrat Rep. Lee Statement on US Bombing Syria

Congresswoman Lee Releases Statement on U.S. Airstrikes in Syria

Written by  Congresswoman Barbara Lee | Press Release

Congresswoman Lee Releases Statement on U.S. Airstrikes in Syria

Oakland, CA – In response to the airstrikes last night in Syria, Congresswoman Lee released this statement:

“I am gravely concerned about the expansion of U.S. airstrikes into Syria and continuation of airstrikes in Iraq.

It is clear we are rapidly becoming more involved in another war in the Middle East.

President Obama has put together a strong international and regional coalition to address the ISIS threat. We must now leverage this regional coalition to achieve the political solution that will end this crisis. Only a political solution that respects the rights of all Iraqis and Syrians will ultimately dismantle ISIS.

I have called and will continue to call for a full congressional debate and vote on any military action, as required by the Constitution. The American people deserve a public debate on all the options to dismantle ISIS, including their costs and consequences to our national security and domestic priorities.

The rapid escalation of another war in the Middle East underscores the danger of the blank check for endless war passed by Congress in 2001. I could not support this blank check for endless war or the 2002 blank check for war in Iraq. I have introduced legislation to repeal the 2001 and 2002 authorizations for the use of military force and continue to build bipartisan support for their repeal.

There is no military solution to the crisis in Iraq and Syria. In fact, continued U.S. military action will result in unintended consequences. We must remember the roots of ISIS – President Bush’s ill-begotten war.

Congress needs to debate the political, economic, diplomatic and regionally-led solutions that will ultimately be the tools for U.S. and regional security.”


Congresswoman Lee is a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committees, the Steering and Policy Committee, is a Senior Democratic Whip, former chair of both the Congressional Black Caucus and Progressive Caucus. She serves as chair of the newly formed Whip’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity.

Obama Launches New Illegal War

“There Is No Military Solution” –

But Obama Launches a New U.S. War in Syria

In response to the initiation of U.S. bombing in Syria, Phyllis Bennis, Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies and of the Transnational Institute, issued the following statement:

23 September 2014

President Obama’s decision to bomb Syria stands in stark violation of international law, the UN Charter, and the requirements of the U.S. Constitution. It contradicts his own commitment, stated a year ago in the UN General Assembly, to reverse Washington’s “perpetual war footing.”


IDLIB, SYRIA - SEPTEMBER 23: Syrian children are on the ruins of a destroyed building as civil defense teams undertake a search and rescue operation among the ruins of it, in a region of Idlib, a northwestern city of Syria, on September 23, 2014. United States of America (USA) have launched air strikes against the targets of terrorist organization ISIL in Idlib, a northwestern city of Syria. (Photo by AA Video/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
IDLIB, SYRIA – SEPTEMBER 23: Syrian children are on the ruins of a destroyed building as civil defense teams undertake a search and rescue operation among the ruins of it, in a region of Idlib, a northwestern city of Syria, on September 23, 2014. United States of America (USA) have launched air strikes against the targets of terrorist organization ISIL in Idlib, a northwestern city of Syria. (Photo by AA Video/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

And it portends disaster for the people of Syria, the region, and much of the world.

The White House stated goal is to destroy the headquarters of the violent and extremist ISIS militia. But you can’t bomb extremism out of existence. The U.S. bombs do not fall on “extremism,” they are falling on Raqqah, a 2,000 year-old Syrian city with a population of more than a quarter of a million people – men, women and children who had no say in the take-over of their city by ISIS. The Pentagon is bombing targets like the post office and the governor’s compound, and the likelihood of large number of civilian casualties as well as devastation of the ancient city, is almost certain.

President Obama was right when he said there is no military solution to the ISIS crisis. Bombing Syria, without Congressional authorization, without United Nations approval, in direct opposition to the stated position of Syria’s government, will only make that crisis worse. It will give ISIS and its allies a new basis for recruitment, it will strengthen the repressive Syrian government, it will undermine Syria’s struggling non-violent opposition movement, and it will further tighten the links between ISIS supporters in Syria and in Iraq.

The bombing should stop immediately, and be replaced with a U.S. policy based on

  • Supporting an intensive new UN-based diplomatic initiative involving all parties in the region
  • Opening direct talks with Iran and Russia based on shared opposition to ISIS – with Iran to jointly push for ending anti-Sunni sectarianism in the Iraqi government, and with Russia to work towards ending the multi-party civil war in Syria
  • Pressuring U.S. allies in the region to stop their governments and people from arming and facilitating the movement of ISIS fighters
  • Shifting the war funds to a massive increase in humanitarian assistance

Nobel Peace Laureate Bombs 7th Muslim Country


Featured photo - Syria Becomes the 7th Predominantly Muslim Country Bombed by 2009 Nobel Peace Laureate

The U.S. today began bombing targets inside Syria, in concert with its lovely and inspiring group of five allied regimes: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Jordan.

That means that Syria becomes the 7th predominantly Muslim country bombed by 2009 Nobel Peace Laureate Barack Obama—after Afghanistan,Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Iraq.

The utter lack of interest in what possible legal authority Obama has to bomb Syria is telling indeed: Empires bomb who they want, when they want, for whatever reason (indeed, recall that Obama bombed Libya evenafter Congress explicitly voted against authorization to use force, and very few people seemed to mind that abject act of lawlessness; constitutional constraints are not for warriors and emperors).

It was just over a year ago that Obama officials were insisting that bombing and attacking Assad was a moral and strategic imperative. Instead, Obama is now bombing Assad’s enemies while politely informing his regime of its targets in advance. It seems irrelevant on whom the U.S. wages war; what matters it that it be at war, always and forever.

Six weeks of bombing hasn’t budged ISIS in Iraq, but it has caused ISIS recruitment to soar. That’s all predictable: the U.S. has known for years that what fuels and strengthens anti-American sentiment (and thus anti-American extremism) is exactly what they keep doing: aggression in that region. If you know that, then they know that. At this point, it’s more rational to say they do all of this not despite triggering those outcomes, butbecause of it. Continuously creating and strengthening enemies is a feature, not a bug. It is what justifies the ongoing greasing of the profitable and power-vesting machine of Endless War.

If there is anyone who actually believes that the point of all of this is a moral crusade to vanquish the evil-doers of ISIS (as the U.S. fights alongside its close Saudi friends), please read Professor As’ad AbuKhalil’s explanation today of how Syria is a multi-tiered proxy war. As the disastrous Libya “intervention” should conclusively and permanently demonstrate, the U.S. does not bomb countries for humanitarian objectives. Humanitarianism isthe pretense, not the purpose.

President Barack Obama makes a speech during the Nobel Peace Prize Concert at Oslo Spektrum on December 11, 2009 in Oslo, Norway

‘Fracking’ Not So Danger-Free After All…Where Are Our Wind Turbines and Solar Arrays?

Fracking Fliud ‘impoundment’ in Washington, PA

Range Resources to pay $4M for violations at Western Pa. Impoundments

By Katie Colaneri

Beaver County Blue via

Sept 18, 2014 – Range Resources will pay a $4.15 million fine for violations at six wastewater impoundments in Washington County. It is the largest penalty the state has imposed on a shale gas driller, the Department of Environmental Protection said Thursday.

The violations include leaks of flowback fluid – the liquid that comes back out of a well after hydraulic fracturing – into soil and groundwater. The DEP said drinking water supplies were not affected. Residents living near Range’s Yeager impoundment in Amwell Township dispute that claim and have filed suit against the company.

The Yeager impoundment is among the five the company has agreed to close as part of a consent agreement reached with the state. Range will also upgrade two others to meet what the DEP calls “next generation” standards.

“This landmark consent order establishes a new, higher benchmark for companies to meet when designing future impoundments, which is an environmental win for Pennsylvania,” said DEP secretary Chris Abruzzo in a press release.

The Texas-based company issued a nearly two-page statement outlining an “update” to its water management plans in Pennsylvania, including “thicker and better engineered liners” and real-time leak detection systems for two impoundments.

“While the company is deeply disappointed that these violations occurred, Range is excited to implement newly established best practices and technologies that have been jointly developed with the DEP over the last several months and years,” the statement reads.

86% Vote for Union at American Airlines

Unions trumpet historic win in American Airlines vote

An American Airlines jet is pictured. | AP Photo

They chose to join with US Airways agents to form a bargaining unit of 14,500 employees. | AP Photo

Reservation agents at Texas-based American Airlines have voted overwhelmingly for union representation, in a move that labor organizers hailed Tuesday as a historic win in the South.

The agents chose to join with US Airways agents to form a bargaining unit of 14,500 employees at the new American Airlines. The two airlines merged this year, taking American’s name.

The combined group of airport and reservation agents will be represented by the Communications Workers of America-Teamsters Association. The CWA called it “the largest labor organizing victory in the South in decades.”

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka also praised the vote, saying it proves that the “future of the U.S. labor movement is alive.”

“It should not be lost on the pundits that most of the nearly 14,500 new union members work in southern states,” Trumka said in a statement. “The right to a voice at work doesn’t have a geographic predisposition, and this victory will energize ongoing organizing efforts in the South.”

Of the 9,000 American Airlines service agents, roughly 86 percent supported the vote for union representation. US Airways agents have been members of the CWA since 2000.

The win came seven months after the United Auto Workers lost a hard-fought unionization vote at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which organizers had hoped would represent a similar Southern milestone. Unions still face tough headwinds nationwide, including a long-term slide in membership and hostile laws passed in once-friendly states like Wisconsin.

Carroll Locklear, a Texas reservation agent, said in a statement released by the CWA that she had been “praying for this day” in her 18 years with American Airlines.

“We have been the odd employees out for so long, because we were the only employees without union representation,” she said. “Gone are the days that management can take what want when they want. This will be a win-win for all of us.”

American Airlines pledged Tuesday to work with the union.

“With today’s election results, union representation for our three largest workgroups is now settled, and we will be working with each of those unions on joint collective bargaining agreements covering the combined employee groups,” airline spokesman Paul Flaningan said.

Read more:

AFL-CIO Pres. Trumka Speech on Labor and Race

Photo: Lesley McSpadden, right, the mother of 18-year-old Michael Brown, watches as Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr., holds up a family picture of himself, his son, top left in photo, and a young child during a news conference, Aug. 11, in Ferguson, Mo. (AP/Jeff Roberson)

The following remarks by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka to the 2014 Missouri AFL-CIO Convention in St. Louis on Sept. 15 were released to the media as prepared for delivery and reprinted here.

september 15 2014

It’s great to be here in St. Louis-and I’m grateful to be here at such a critical time for Missouri, for our nation and for our movement.

This hall is filled with leaders who have done so much to protect working people-all working people-in Missouri. You have built strength through unity-across industries and crafts, across the length and breadth of this state and-this is the hard one in America in 2014-across party lines.

As a labor movement, we once again face concerted attacks by those who have enormous wealth. The far right is trying to divide us in many ways. But here in in America the power and dignity of working people will always win-as long as we stay united.

Now, I’m going to stray from my usual convention speech. I’m going to talk about something that may be difficult and uncomfortable but I believe what I’m going to say needs to be said.

You see, the question of unity brings up a hard subject, a subject all of us know about but few want to acknowledge-race.

I’m talking about race in America, and what that means for our communities our movement, and our nation.

Because the reality is that while a young man named Michael Brown died just a short distance from us in Ferguson from gunshot wounds from a police officer other young men of color have died and will die in similar circumstances in communities all across this country.

It happened here but it could have happened and does happen anywhere in America. Because the reality is we still have racism in America.

Labor’s stake in fighting racism

Now, some people might ask me why our labor movement should be involved in all that has happened since the tragic death of Michael Brown in Ferguson. And I want to answer that question directly: How can we not be involved?

Union members’ lives have been profoundly damaged in ways that cannot be fixed. Lesley McSpadden, Michael Brown’s mother who works in a grocery store, is our sister, an AFL-CIO union member and Darren Wilson, the officer who killed Michael Brown, is a union member too, and he is our brother. Our brother killed our sister’s son, and we do not have to wait for the judgment of prosecutors or courts to tell us how terrible this is.

So I say again how can we not be involved? This tragedy and all the complexities of race and racism are a big part of our very big family as they always have been. A union is like a home. And in any home, good and bad things happen. We have to deal with all of them honestly.

But that’s a philosophy. We can’t leave it at that. We have to look at real life today. We cannot wash our hands of the issues raised by Michael Brown’s death. That does not mean we prejudge the specifics of Michael Brown’s death or deny Officer Darren Wilson or any other officer his or her rights on the job or in the courts.

But it does demand that we clearly and openly discuss the reality of racism in American life. We must take responsibility for the past. Racism is part of our inheritance as Americans. Every city, every state and every region of this country has its own deep history with racism. And so does the labor movement.

But it does demand … that we clearly … and openly discuss the reality of racism in American life … We must take responsibility for the past … Racism is part of our inheritance … as Americans … Every city… every state… and every region of this country … has its own deep history with racism … And so does the labor movement.

Here in St. Louis, in 1917 … powerful corporations replaced white strikers … with

African American workers … recruited from the Mississippi Delta … with offers of wages far higher … than anyone could make sharecropping … In response … the St. Louis labor movement … helped lead a blood bath against the African American community … in East St. Louis … No one knows how many men … women … and children were killed … and how many houses and businesses were burned.

The NAACP estimated up to 200 died … and 6,000 were left homeless … Eugene Debs … the founder of the National Railway Union … called the East St. Louis massacre—and I quote—“a foul blot on the American labor movement.”

It was one of the single most violent events … in the history of American racism … and it scarred this city … our labor movement … and our country.

When I think about an event like that … and there are plenty in our history… all over this great country… and not all of them so long ago… I wonder what those white workers would say … if they could stand where we stand today … What would they say … about the choices to embrace hatred and division … over unity and strength?

What would they say … about corporate bosses playing the race card … over and over and over again … in the years after 1917—breaking unions … crushing hopes and dreams … Yet remember … we are here today … because labor leaders like A. Philip Randolph … and Walter Reuther … showed us there was a better way … not just for our unions, but for our country.

But this not just about leaders of the past… and tragedies of yesterday.

If we in the labor movement truly want to act … as a positive force for change around issues of racism and classism … we have to acknowledge our own shortcomings.

We as a movement have not always done our best to support our brothers and sisters of color who face challenges both on and off the job—challenges that you don’t really understand unless you live them.

The test of our movement’s commitment to our legacy is not whether we post Dr. King’s picture in our union halls… it is do we take up his fight when the going gets tough … when the fight gets real against the evils that still exist today.

When a new immigrant gets mistreated by management because they don’t speak the language… that is our fight.

When an African American worker doesn’t get a promotion or fair pay because of the color of his or her skin… that is our fight. When women are paid less than men for the same work…. that is a fight for every single one of us.

We cannot afford to have “my issues” and “your issue” … we must ALL stand together… and mobilize around our issues.

You see … we have a choice … We can either live our history … Or we can change it.

Now as you may be able to tell … this matter is deeply personal with me … When I sit at my conference table … at the AFL-CIO … I look across the office at a picture of my dad … He’s gone now … but if you’ve lost a parent … you know they never stop talking to you.

My dad was a miner … he helped build the United Mine Workers … he bled for his union … and he went to war for our country in the Pacific … in World War II …

As I worked on this speech …. this is what my dad said to me…. He reminded me of something that happened … when I was maybe five or six … I come from a small coal-mining town … in southwest Pennsylvania called Nemacolin … My best friend back then … was a kid named Tom … and Tommy was African American … There was a park near us … called Shady Grove Park … with a swimming pool … where you had to pay to swim … And one day my dad drove us there to go swimming … We came up to the booth to pay … It was one of those places … where you pull up and pay … for everyone in the car … The guy looks in and sees Tommy in the car … and tells my dad … “That boy can’t swim in here …. You know he can’t.”

My dad never raised his voice … but he said, “You take out for him. We’re going swimming.”

The guy said, “He can’t swim here” … and my dad said … “We’re going swimming.”

Now, I don’t know whether he took out for Tommy or not … but we went in and me and Tommy went through the changing room … and jumped in the pool … It was a hot day … and the pool was packed. … We jumped in … and everywhere we went … it was like there was a circle of open water all around us … When we moved … the circle of clear water moved …Well, we swam until we got tired … and then we got out and dried off … and got something to eat … and that was that.

Later, I asked my dad about the man in the booth … I wanted to know why he didn’t like Tommy … My dad explained that it didn’t have anything to do with Tommy … but with the color of his skin … I protested … I said, that’s not fair. … My dad said … that’s the whole point….So let me come back to what’s happened … specifically in Ferguson … It isn’t fair … and that’s the whole point.

I have a son. He’s not so young anymore … but he’s not so old … I don’t worry about him … I don’t know … but I have a suspicion that … like many of you … and certainly like me at that age … he may not always obey the nation’s traffic laws … So I worry he might wrap himself around a Tree … But I never worry when he goes for a cross country road trip … or a night on the town … that he may be stopped … shot to death by a police officer.

But for millions of mothers and fathers … of young African American men and boys … men just like my son … and boys that were as young as me and my friend Tommy — kids with promising futures in America … it is a constant fear, a constant fear.

And if you don’t feel that fear yourself … I’d just ask you … for a moment … to think about what that.

Think about what it would be like … to watch your kid walk out the door and wonder… with good reason… if it’s the last time you’ll see him alive … Because you know it happens … If you haven’t had a close call yourself, you know people who have … friends … family … neighbors … and people you worship with.

And it doesn’t stop there … Unfortunately teenagers of all races … often experiment with drugs.

But only some of our sons and daughters … are suffering terribly long terms in prisons … for the same nonviolent petty crimes … which we all know many of us did as kids … And you can’t get around the fact … that those who fill our prisons … are disproportionately people of color. Continue reading AFL-CIO Pres. Trumka Speech on Labor and Race

Oct 18: PDA’s ‘Dinner and a Movie’

Join Us for

Dinner and a Movie



“Robert Reich Knows What He’s Talking About” – Daily Show

“Engaging and Passionate” – Wall St. Journal

“Smart, Funny and Articulate” – Los Angeles Times

Inequality for All is an entertaining and serious examination of the economic disparity in America today. President Clinton’s Secretary of Labor explains how the massive consolidation of wealth by a tiny minority threatens the viability of the American workforce and the foundation of democracy itself.

Saturday October 18, 2014

Cash Bar 5:30

Dinner 6:00

Movie 7:00 – 8:30

Serbian Club

2619 Brodhead Rd., Aliquippa, PA

Sponsored by:

PA 12th CD Chapter, Progressive Democrats of America

Buffet Dinner with two meats, vegetables, coffee, dessert

Tickets $22

Call to purchase or reserve tickets: Tina Shannon 724-683-1925

Inequality Rising in USA

September 4, 2014 7:47 pm

Inequality rises in US despite recovery


Inequality in the US rose sharply in the past three years as a recovery in growth failed to turn around one of the defining trends of the modern economy.

According to one of the most definitive sources of data on inequality – the US Federal Reserve’s triennial survey of consumer finances – median family incomes fell 5 per cent from 2010 to 2013.

The boom in the stock market and a recovery in house prices fuelled large gains in the wealth of the richest, with the share held by the top 3 per cent of households rising from 51.8 per cent in 2007 to 54.4 per cent in 2013.

The release of the data is likely to reignite a furious political debate about rising inequality in the US, inflamed earlier this year by Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty-First Century.

Based on in-depth interviews with more than 6,000 families, the SCF is one of the principle sources of data used by researchers on inequality.

According to the survey, real pre-tax incomes fell in every part of the income distribution except the very top, as income was redistributed upwards. Average incomes for the decile of households rose by 10 per cent from $361,500 to $397,500.

Families at the bottom of the income distribution saw continued substantial declines in average real incomes between 2010 and 2013, continuing the trend observed between the 2007 and 2010 surveys– Federal Reserve

Federal Reserve economists said that part of it was a bounce back from falling top incomes due to the financial crisis but not all.

“Families at the bottom of the income distribution saw continued substantial declines in average real incomes between 2010 and 2013, continuing the trend observed between the 2007 and 2010 surveys,” says the report. The survey does not look at after-tax income, which can be more equal because of redistribution.

For wealth, the Fed survey reported a slightly different trend than recent studies saying all gains have gone to the top one per cent – it finds that they are all going to the top three per cent instead.

From the start of the survey in 1989 until today, the share of wealth held by the top 3 per cent has risen from 44.8 per cent to 54.4 per cent; the share held by the next 7 per cent has changed very little; while the share held by the bottom 90 per cent has fallen from 33.2 per cent in 1989 to 24.7 per cent.

An important reason for the rising wealth share of the richest was the surge in asset prices that has seen the S&P 500 rally by more than 100 per cent from its trough to trade above 2,000.

But again, Fed economists said that is not the whole story, noting the falling share of families in the bottom half of the income distribution who own assets.

The Fed said that ownership rates of housing and businesses fell substantially between 2010 and 2013. For families in the bottom 50 per cent, participation in retirement plans kept falling, further reducing their asset ownership.