Saturday, December 02, 2006

Some Saturday Links

  • The Economist echoes our theory that the GOP is imprisoning itself in the South, while the Democratic Party expands nationally.
  • I'm no expert on what Jesus would do, but I'm pretty sure that he wouldn't be pushing Congress to cut funding for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, like some Christian conservatives want to do. They're mad because they're not getting enough money. Waah.
  • The third biodiesel plant in Memphis opened this past week, as Memphis Biofuels opened one of the nation's largest biodiesel plants on Thursday right in the heart of the inner-city community of Orange Mound. Congratulations to the city of Memphis for getting to the forefront of what we believe will inevitably be a renewable energy revolution.

Alternative Energy News - December 2, 2006

  • Leading experts predict that U.S. policy goal of 25% renewable production capacity by 2025 could potentially double.

  • Tamarack Energy and Mascoma Corporation will collaborate on the joint development of cellulosic ethanol facilities in New York, as well as follow-on opportunities in Pennsylvania and New England states, leveraging wood mills and other production facilities.

  • While plug-in hybrids and hydrogen fuel cells are likely one day to help cut US gasoline consumption, major fuel savings can be achieved now if automakers put existing technologies to work under one hood.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Help Emeryville, CA Hotel Workers

In November 2005, Emeryville, CA voters passed Measure C, a living wage law for hotel workers. The measure guarantees workers a living wage, reasonable workload limits, and job security when hotels change management. Emeryville’s hotel workers, who ­are mostly immigrant women of color facing low wages, large work quotas, and a lack of job security, hoped that Measure C would finally bring them fair pay and respect on the job.

The Woodfin Suites has failed to comply with the measure’s wage and workload standards, and in August, its employees began a public campaign urging the hotel to follow the ordinance. In apparent retaliation, Woodfin managers announced plans to fire approximately 30 employees, claiming that they have found problems with the workers’ Social Security numbers. On October 18th, 24 Woodfin employees filed a class action lawsuit seeking back pay and a temporary restraining order prohibiting the hotel from terminating plaintiffs.

The Woodfin employees have received broad community support when they began standing up for their rights under Measure C. Fifty clergy and faith leaders from across the state have signed a letter urging Woodfin CEO Samuel Hardage to follow his conscience and assure workers that they will not be fired. Over 20 community and labor organizations have sent letters to Woodfin, while numerous political leaders have also sent letters of support, including State Senate President Don Perata, State Assemblywomen Loni Hancock and Wilma Chan, Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson, and the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee.

Sign the letter to CEO Samuel Hardage here, letting him know that the workers at his hotel deserve their due under the new living wage law in Emeryville.

Clinton Foundation Brokers Deal For Cheap AIDS Drugs For Kids

As we noted yesterday, Friday is World AIDS Day. President Bill Clinton's Foundation provided a bit of momentum going into the day's events when it announced that it had brokered a deal with two Indian drug companies to make AIDS drugs designed for children available to 62 developing countries at an average price less than half that of the lowest current price.

By assuring the drugmakers a volume of sales high enough to justify the lower prices, Clinton enabled the companies to provide these drugs to the pediatric market, which until now has been seen as too unprofitable.

Major kudos to President Clinton, Cipla, Ranbaxy Laboratories, and everyone else who made this deal possible. These are the kinds of steps that developed (and developing) countries can take to try and stem the tide of AIDS worldwide. By understanding that drug companies cannot give their product away, but at the same time making these companies understand the vital importance of providing affordable drugs, Clinton has shown us a model for how the public and private sectors can work together to solve this terrible problem.

Illinois Passes Increase In State Minimum Wage

Congratulations to the 308,000 workers who received a raise today, as the Illinois State House of Representatives passed a $1/hour increase in the state's minimum wage yesterday. The bill will now goes to the state Senate, which is expected to approve it and send it to Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich, who will then immediately sign it into law.

"The House passed the bill 74-43, with most of the support coming from Democrats and most of the opposition coming from Republicans."

What a surprise! Republicans citing misleading statistics, or using outlandish certanties like "This vote will absolutely eliminate thousands of jobs across this state," to argue against helping lower and middle-class Americans. Really tough to believe.

Although Democrats plan to raise the federal minimum wage as soon as they officially take power in January 2007, it is nice to see states taking matters into their own hands.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Alternative Energy News - November 29, 2006

  • Members of Congress, corporate CEOs, government agency officials and representatives from prominent industry associations are converging on Capitol Hill today to discuss the next step in policy implementation and forecast how much renewable energy will contribute to U.S. energy supplies -- by 2010, 2020, 2030, 2040 and 2050.

  • Portland, ME-based Oakhurst Dairy switches fleet to B20 biodiesel, now has largest private biodiesel fleet in New England.

  • Home builders thinking green.

  • The Rincon Community Hospital at Civano will be the first “green” health-care facility in the state of Arizona, with the UA’s architecture school teaming with Tucson Medical Center to create an energy-efficient, sustainable building.

December 1 - World AIDS Day

The issue of AIDS is not something that we have focused on at all in the three months since we launched The Angry Progressives. However, it is obviously a huge problem both here in America and worldwide. It has economic, racial, and religious undertones and affects everyday Americans more than we know.

This Friday December 1 is World AIDS Day. People around the world will be gathering together to take action against AIDS in a variety of ways. Locally, Planned Parenthood branches across the country will be giving free HIV testing and counseling.

AIDS is a problem that is so large, and so complex, that often it seems like it would be better to move on to something smaller and easier to deal with. However, aside from donating millions of dollars to research for a cure, there are incremental things we as citizens can do to prevent the spread of the disease. We'll be delving into that issue, and how it affects other progressive causes, in the future.

Connecticut State GOP Flips to Dems - More Coming?

As we discussed in the immediate aftermath of the midterm elections, Republicans are very much in danger of becoming a permanent minoritty party in the Northeast. One factor we didn't take into account, however, was the prospect of New England GOP members flipping to the Democratic Party. Last week, Connecticut State House Republican Diana Urban switched parties, further reducing their number to 44 of 151 seats.

As the dwindling number of Northeastern Republican legislators, at both the federal and local level, realize that their party no longer represents what they stand for, I believe this will become a growing trend. We'll be keeping an eye out for more flips.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Alternative Energy News - November 28, 2006

  • Starting in 2007, massive, predictable waves off the coast of Oregon will help light homes and businesses along the West Coast.

  • North Dakota pumped for E-85.

  • The EPA argues that climate change requires a global solution, not federal regulations. The Supreme Court weighs in this week.

Glenn Beck is a *$#@!*&

Do you remember the guy growing up who never got any attention and now he is an ego-maniac and has his own radio and tv show? Well, just in case you forgot, here is what he has sunk to at holiday time.

Also, don't forget all the other horrible right-wing conservative hate-spewing show hosts and commentators as the holidays approach since the truth they speak is SO entertaining and insightful.
Maybe the Angry Progressives should have a radio show to counter some of the right-wing anger and hate and also sell t-shirts!

My Big Republican Government

If you listen to wannabe Repub Pres candidate Newt then you might start to think that everything that is America might be taken away from us out of fear. Sure, we want to protect our cities from danger, but we must ask ourselves exactly what constitutes a dangerous city. Just imagine if even a small percentage of the resources spent in Iraq went to helping America's cities get out of social and economic poverty or disaster (as dreamed in this song).

The main point to take away (especially after an election of campaigning for the exact opposite) is that the Republican version of government in our country is now in fact actually bigger than the stereotypical version of Democrat-run US government (aka the supposed crap of tax and spend).
We should never forget that when you budget, you make choices and prioritize. No matter what you spend, you spend because you need to provide services and protection to your constituents. Today, the argument is no longer about which side of the aisle is for small or big government because to fight a war on terror (which, YES, Democrats do want to do) and also meet the demands of keeping the rep of the most powerful nation going, you will have to spend in one way or another. The answer to smart spending lies in the strategy or ways in which you use your dollars - with the way Iraq is going, who do you think is spending and prioritizing more wisely?

Monday, November 27, 2006

"Building on Faith: Making Poverty Housing History"

Next month NBC will air an important new one-hour documentary called "Building on Faith: Making Poverty Housing History." The program, hosted by journalist Linda Ellerbee, will feature former presidential candidates John Edwards and Jack Kemp and will show how safe and secure homes are vital to building a just and functional society.

However, not all NBC affiliates plan to air the special. Please call your local NBC affiliate and ask for the program director. Then ask IF and WHEN they plan to air "Building on Faith: Making Poverty Housing History." With your encouragement, stations that are not committed to airing the special may add it to their lineup for December 10 or later.

One third of American families now spend at least 30% of their income on housing, which is officially "unaffordable." Worse yet, the National Low Income Housing Coalition reports that "there is not a single place in the whole country if you're a full-time, minimum-wage worker, where you can afford the rent on a one-bedroom rental unit."

Your call can make a difference, ensuring that people in your community see this special.

Illinois on Verge of Increasing State Minimum Wage

Illinois has historically been on the cutting edge of progressive initiatives. The state already has a minimum wage higher than that mandated federally; however, it has not been raised since 2003. The state Senate has already passed a $1/hour increase, so it is now up to the state House to bring the minimum wage legislation to the floor for a vote. An increase would mean a direct raise next year for 308,000 people in Illinois.

If you live in the state of Illinois, call your state Representative and urge him or her to bring the minimum wage bill to the floor for a vote.

Memphis Expands Living Wage

Memphis isn't what you would call the most progressive city in the country. However, strides are being made thanks to groups like the MidSouth Interfaith Network for Economic Justice. After having already approved living wages for all full-time city workers, and then extending it to part-time and temporary city employees as well, the City Council further expanded its coverage to employees of businesses that contract with the city to provide services.

If this kind of thing can pass in a city like Memphis, progressive groups across the country should be making it a top priority.

Alternative Energy News - November 27, 2006

  • 75% of Americans want Washington and Detroit to impose 40-MPG fuel efficiency standard.

  • Growing consumer demand and advances in the manufacturing process have created more environmentally friendly alternatives to volatile organic chemicals.

  • The greening of Santa Monica, CA.

  • Thanks to a law that just went into effect in New York, schools are now required to use environmentally sensitive cleaning and maintenance supplies.