Friday, May 25, 2007

Friday Links - Happy Memorial Day Weekend

Here's a long-weekend's worth of links. Have a safe Memorial Day weekend, and please take time to think about the women and men in uniform across the globe, and what you can do to bring them home.

  • Although there is disappointment among progressives about the Iraq supplemental bill that gave Bush his money for Iraq without any accountability, America's lowest-paid workers did win a $2.10 raise Thursday, as Congress approved the first increase in the federal minimum wage in almost a decade. So congratulations to the Democrats, without whom this progress would not have happened.

  • The House approved legislation Wedneday to upgrade and expand the nation's network of health care and benefit outreach centers for military veterans, one of seven veteran-related bills that the House approved to provide millions more dollars in benefits. Republicans and everyone with a yellow ribbon on your SUV (redundant, I know) take note: This is what's actually called supporting the troops.

  • New Jersey senators pushed forward a plan that would make New Jersey the third state offering paid leave for family members needing time off work to care for a sick relative or new child, but not without protests from (who else) businesses.

  • NYT Editorial: With their credibility on the line, House Democrats did the right thing yesterday by mandating disclosure of the lobbying industry’s power to purchase Capitol influence with richly bundled campaign donations to pliable lawmakers.

  • On April 12, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed the OPEN Government Act, sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). The bill would improve the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by reducing delays in releasing government records requested under FOIA by creating incentives for public officials to comply with the law. The House passed a similar measure earlier this year but the bill was blocked from reaching the Senate floor for a vote yesterday. A Republican senator called the Minority Leader's office and objected to a vote on the bill, but asked for anonymity and did not publicly state the reason for the hold. This is not the first time a secret hold has been used to block open government legislation from reaching the floor. In Aug. 2006, GOP Senator Ted Stevens (AK) put a hold on a bill to create a searchable public database of all federal grants and contracts. So we ask: What do Republicans have to hide? Why are they against open government?

  • A biting editorial from the Christian Science Monitor on NBA star Lebron James's refusal to sign a letter condemning China's activities in Darfur. "James said he didn't have enough information about the issue to take a stand. We can choose to take him at his word, of course – or we can follow the money. James has a $90 million deal with Nike, which has huge business interests in China."

  • Following complaints by a government watchdog group, the Air Force and the Army partially distanced themselves yesterday from a three-day evangelical Christian event this weekend at a Georgia theme park.

  • Congressional investigators yesterday disclosed that Sallie Mae executives met with Bush administration budget officials in December, less than two months before the company chairman sold $18.3 million of Sallie Mae stock. Three days after the sale, President Bush unveiled a budget that included unexpectedly large cuts to lending subsidies, after which the company's shares plummeted. Insider trading scandal, anyone?

  • Surprise, surprise. Lower income consumers are most hurt by rising fuel prices.

  • Manufacturing industry lobbyist Michael Baroody withdrew his nomination to head the Consumer Product Safety Commission Wednesday amid strong opposition from some Senate Democrats and criticism from consumer groups.

Alternative Energy Daily News - May 25, 2007

  • Solar power should become a mainstream energy choice in three or four years as companies raise output of a key ingredient used in solar panels and as China emerges as a producer of them.

  • The California Energy Commission voted on Wednesday to set a greenhouse gas emissions standard for municipally owned electric utilities as the state moves ahead to attack global warming and climate change.

  • Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal joined representatives of nearly a dozen states Tuesday who urged federal regulators to allow them to impose tougher carbon dioxide pollution standards on automobiles.

  • Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders are urging President George W. Bush and Congress to take action against global warming, declaring that the changing climate is a "moral and spiritual issue."

  • Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday it will start selling two vehicles that can run entirely on ethanol in Brazil.

  • A group of Norwegian lawmakers are drafting a proposal that would eventually lead to a ban on the sale of gasoline-only fueled cars by 2015 or 2020.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Gentrification Tax?

Here's a strange post for someone who has been having trouble posting, but it is certainly progressive...

Just in case you care about live music (especially in NYC, extra especially on the Lower East Side), check out this interview on of a really talented guy, Marc Ribot, who has a unique take (amongst others) on what is happening to "culture" in NYC (and across the country).

The idea mentioned of a "gentrification tax" may seem bizarre to some, but the future of progressive democracy and maintaining a non-cookie-cutter society for just about everything will inspire many similar (what I call) "balancing" bills/rules/laws/taxes that keep in mind the need to maintain what is sacred and works (culturally) while still promoting growth (economically). Just another (less violent) example of how you can't force your own version of democracy on someone or something - you have to work with what exists to create a new version that meets (almost) everyone's needs.

Alternative Energy Daily News - May 23,2007

  • New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday that the city's signature yellow taxi cabs would all be using hybrid energy within five years, reducing air pollution and helping to combat climate change.

  • With a 52-5 vote in the Senate Monday, Illinois became only the second state to enact legislation requiring green cleaning in schools.

  • An open-access paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that worldwide CO2 emissions increased between 2000 and 2004 at a rate that is nearly three times the rate of increase of the 1990s.

  • An old steel mill retools to produce clean energy.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tuesday Links

  • Congratulations to Shelby County, TN. After months spent discussing the matter, the 13-member County County Commission split down party lines yesterday, with Democrats prevailing, to approve a living wage. Workers will be paid at least $10 an hour with benefits or $12 without, similar to what has been approved by the Memphis City Council.

  • As the costs for fixing the state's troubled corrections system rocket higher, California is headed for a dubious milestone -- for the first time the state will spend more on incarcerating inmates than on educating students in its public universities.

  • A New York Times editorial: As more and more workers who inhaled the dust at ground zero fall ill, it has become increasingly clear that much of the problem can be traced to the Giuliani administration’s failure to insist that all emergency personnel and construction workers at the site wear respirators.

  • Pregnancy discrimination is on the rise: EEOC seeing more complaints, filing more suits on behalf of affected women.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Impeach Gonzales Movement Picks Up Steam

Robert Greenwald’s Brave New Foundation is airing a new online video that calls for the House Judiciary Committee to begin impeachment proceedings against Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

You can sign the petition and watch the video here.

Update: Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Artur Davis (D-Ala.) introduced a resolution in the House today urging President Bush to fire Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Monday Links

  • Shrugging off a possible veto from President Bush, the House demanded that the administration develop a plan to transfer detainees from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

  • Bush trying to pack another unqualified business crony into his adminsitration - Senate Democrats urged President Bush to withdraw his nomination of a top lobbyist from the National Association of Manufacturers to lead the Consumer Product Safety Commission, saying the candidate was unqualified and the appointment posed insurmountable conflicts of interest.

  • A bipartisan group of senators is pushing legislation that would force the CIA to release an inspector general's report on the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The agency is the only federal office involved in counterterrorism operations that has not made at least a version of its internal 9/11 investigation public.

  • It's bad enough that the federal government has yet to take the threat of global warming seriously, but it borders on malfeasance for it to block the efforts of states such as California and Connecticut that are trying to protect the public's health and welfare. So say Republican Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rep. Jodi Rell (R-CT).