Thursday, May 16, 2013
Friend and fellow blogger, Jihaan Karjeker, just published her review of the new Star Trek Into Darkness movie. Click over to her Oh My Stars blog and read her review. Go ahead and bookmark her site and like her FaceBook page, too.
Star Trek Into Darkness trailer - Release Date: May 17th, 2013
NBC News: Bill Briggs, NBC News contributor ~ The U.S. food supply is under unprecedented siege from a blitz of man-made hazards, meaning some of your favorite treats someday may vanish from your plate, experts say.
Warmer and moister air ringing much of the planet – punctuated by droughts in other locales – is threatening the prime ingredients in many daily meals, including the maple syrup on your morning pancakes and the salmon on your evening grill as well as the wine in your glass and the chocolate on your dessert tray, according to four recent studies.
[Corn from last year's harvest lies in a wet field on Iowa farms,while fields remain too wet to plant this year's crop]. The USDA's weekly crop progress report showed that just 12 percent of the nation's cornfields have been sown. [Like your Cheetos and Doritos, while you got'em!]
At the same time, an unappetizing bacterial outbreak in Florida citrus droves, largely affecting orange trees, is causing fruit to turn bitter. Elsewhere, unappealing fungi strains are curtailing certain coffee yields and devastating some banana plantations, researchers report.
Now, mix in the atmospheric misfortunes sapping two mainstays of American farming — corn and cows. Heavier than normal spring rains have put the corn crop far behind schedule: Only 28 percent of corn fields have been planted this year compared with 85 percent at this time in 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Meanwhile, drought in the Southeastern plains and a poor hay yield have culled the U.S. cattle and calf herd [especially in Texas] to its lowest level since 1952, propelling the wholesale price of a USDA cut of choice beef to a new high on May 3 — $201.68 per 100 pounds, eclipsing the old mark of $201.18 from October 2003, the USDA reports.
“We are in the midst of dramatic assault on the security of the food supply,” said Dr. Robert S. Lawrence, director of the Center for a Livable Future, part of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The group promotes ecological research into the nexus of diet, food production, environment and human health.
Read the full Bill Briggs article @ NBC News:
Some downplay and deny the there is organized climate change denial in U.S. politics. But what the deniers have accomplished in this country is unique in the world, going far beyond the spread of disinformation. They have convinced more than half of America that there is no climate change and that there is no consensus among scientists that global warming is happening. They have also allowed fossil fuel interests to “capture” almost an entire political party.
National Journal: “The GOP is stampeding toward an absolutist rejection of climate science that appears unmatched among major political parties around the globe, even conservative ones.”Riley E. Dunlap, a sociology professor at Oklahoma State, and Aaron M. McCright of Michigan State call it the “climate change denial machine” in their book chapter, “Organized Climate Change Denial,” for the Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society.
More than 97% of 4,000 international scientific papers analyzed in a peer-reviewed study, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, were found to acknowledge human-caused global warming. [Full text PDF (501 KB) - Video]
A recent Yale study found that only 42 percent of Americans believe that most scientists think global warming is happening. A full 33 percent of respondents are convinced that there remains "widespread disagreement" among scientists on this question. Among the 10,000 individual climate scientists worldwide who have expressed a position on human caused global warming in peer-reviewed literature, 98.4 percent endorsed the consensus that humanity dumping CO2 into the atmosphere continue to accelerate global warming and climate change.
In a note, the authors explain: The actions of those who consistently seek to deny the seriousness of climate change make the terms “denial” and “denier” more accurate than “skepticism” and “skeptic,” particularly since all scientists tend to be skeptics.
On page 147 of their book the authors chart key components of the climate change denial machine that together work to feed the American public misinformation that climate science is “all one contrived phony mess," as Texas Gov. Perry puts it.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
by Michael Handley
Human civilization has pushed atmospheric CO2 levels to near 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in human existence. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) revised its May 9, 2013 reading at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii, saying it remained fractions of a point below the level of 400 ppm, at 399.89 ppm.
The last time concentrations of Earth's main greenhouse gas reached this mark, during the Pliocene era 5.3 to 2.6 million years ago, the planet was about 3.6 to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit warmer. The Arctic was 14°F warmer allowing horses and camels to graze in lush savannas that grew at those ancient high latitudes. The Arctic and West Antarctic ice sheets did not exist and sea levels during the mid-Pliocine were about 82 feet higher than today — levels that today would inundate major cities around the world!
Today, Arctic sea ice is melting much, much faster than even the best climate models had projected. The reason is most likely for faster loss of arctic ice is unmodeled amplifying feed backs in the CO2 cycles, plus recent Paleoclimate research suggests CO2 may have at least twice the effect on global temperatures than currently projected by computer models. “Future warming likely to be on high side of climate projections,” according to a November paper in Science. On our current emissions path, CO2 levels will continue to rise to as much as 650–970 ppm by the year 2100 -- levels last seen when the Earth was and average 29°F hotter and dinosaurs walked the earth. A 29°F rise in temperature would melt all the ice on earth, even in Antarctica, increasing sea levels by 250 feet over just decades.
More than 97% of 4,000 international scientific papers analyzed in peer-reviewed study, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, were found to acknowledge human-caused global warming. [Full text PDF (501 KB) - Video]
A new study led by Clark University and involving the University Colorado Boulder found that all glacial regions lost mass from 2003 to 2009, with the biggest ice losses occurring in Arctic Canada, Alaska, coastal Greenland, the southern Andes and the Himalayas. The glaciers outside of the Greenland and Antarctic sheets lost an average of roughly 260 billion metric tons of ice annually during the study period. "Because the global glacier ice mass is relatively small in comparison with the huge ice sheets covering Greenland and Antarctica, people tend to not worry about it," said CU-Boulder Professor Tad Pfeffer, a study co-author. But Greenland's inland ice sheet is now beginning to melt, too. Greenland's ice sheet saw melting across nearly all of its surface last summer due to higher than normal temperatures.
Based on research by NASA astro-biologist and paleontologist Professor Peter Ward and a group of respected American climatologists, the Earth Under Water video is an eye-opening documentary.
This BBC documentary uses scientific evidence past and present, archive footage, location photography and CGI to explore the terrifying consequences should the atmosphere's CO2 levels treble over the next 100 to 300 years, as predicted.
Step by step, the BBC documentary paints a chilling picture of the world as the sea levels rise, unraveling the science behind this cataclysm, revealing when it could strike and what its impact would be on humanity. The film also questions experts and politicians about what measures can be taken now to stop the current rise of CO2 emissions, and explores how extreme engineering will buy us time. But the message of this film is stark, spelling out in graphic detail the Earth's apocalyptic future that we have been avoiding.
A nanny God, who will with a miracle grant us amnesty from our folly -- that's not aligned with either history or the text of the Bible," Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) declared in a Senate floor speech after an unnamed senator said God would protect the Earth from climate change. Listen to his full speech on the Senate floor.
“I was recently at a Senate hearing where I heard a member of our Senate community say, ‘God won’t allow us to ruin our planet,’” said Sen. Whitehouse in a Senate floor speech on climate change Wednesday. “Maybe that is why we do nothing.” "If we believe in an all-powerful God, then we must then believe that God gave us this earth, and we must in turn believe that God gave us its laws of gravity, of chemistry, of physics." "We must also believe that God gave us our human powers of intellect and reason. He gives us these powers so that we his children can learn and understand earth's natural laws." "We learn these natural laws, and we apply them to build and create, and we prosper." “So why then, when we ignore his plain, natural laws, when we ignore the obvious conclusions to be drawn by our God-given intellect and reason, why then would God, the tidy-up God, drop in and spare us?” “Why would he allow an innocent child to burn its hand when it touches the hot stove but protect us from this lesson? Why would he allow a badly engineered bridge or building to fall, killing innocent people, but protect us from this mistake?” “We are warned in the Bible not to plow iniquity, not to eat the fruit of lies.” “Where in the Bible are we assured of safety if we do? I see no assurances of that.” ~ Whitehouse said.
by Michael Handley
In the coming decades, climate change will lead to more frequent and more intense Midwest heat waves while degrading air and water quality and threatening public health. Intense rainstorms and floods will become more common, and existing risks to the Great Lakes will be exacerbated.
Those are some of the conclusions contained in the Midwest chapter of a draft report released early this year by the federal government that assesses the key impacts of climate change on every region in the country and analyzes its likely effects on human health, water, energy, transportation, agriculture, forests, ecosystems and biodiversity.
The weekly report of the U.S. Drought Monitor released for May 7, 2013 didn't show much improvement for a profoundly parched Texas.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has watched first hand the ravages of a warming climate, first as Texas agriculture commissioner, then as governor.
However, Perry and Republicans in the state legislature argue that climate science is a made up liberal lie. Perry said it's “all one contrived phony mess that is falling apart under its own weight” in his book, Fed Up.
Republicans dismiss worsening killer droughts and record heat seen in 1996, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011, with July 2011 Texas’ hottest in history, so far. Last year, Texas suffered through another historic dry spell . Large sections of the state continue to experience long-term exceptional or extreme drought. These prolonged, dry conditions put a strain on water supplies for all uses.
Texas has only received 68 percent of its normal rainfall, and reservoirs are at their lowest levels since 1990. The state temperature has increased on average by about 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1970s, and so that impacts drought through evaporation and loss of water from the ground and reservoirs.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Citizen Journalism is when private individuals do essentially what professional journalists do - report and comment on the news. That news reporting and commentary can take many forms, including regular podcast programs to discuss issues of interest to a listening audience. The emergence of social media based broadcast channels is what has made citizen journalism possible. The Internet and smart mobile devices, like iPhones and iPods, allows average people the ability to broadcast information globally. That was a power once reserved for only the very largest media corporations and news agencies.
Listen to the The Intellectual Saviors podcast "Tear Down This Myth." [01:33:50] The hosts discuss modern conservatism's legendary champion Ronald Reagan and his policies - starting at 30 min mark.
The Intellectual Saviors are high-minded progressives who use their intellectual powers for good, even if they weren't asked. With logic and reason as their guide, they enlighten the masses with their blatantly honest progressive opinions, often using earthy and even vulgar language, to produce weekly podcast programs.
The Intellectual Saviors' next podcast will discuss the "media propaganda machine."
A few other podcast programs you might enjoy:
Friday, April 19, 2013
Texas has the highest share of uninsured residents in the United States — about 29 percent of its adult population is uninsured — which costs Texans billions of dollars worth of uncompensated hospital care every year. Texas Tribune: The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) will help 2.6 million Texans get health care insurance.
Nearly 2.6 million Texans could qualify for tax credits to purchase health insurance in 2014, according to a report released Thursday by Families USA, a nonprofit that advocates for health care consumers.You can see the report for Texas here, and for other states here.
The tax credits will be offered through the health insurance exchange — an Orbitz-style online marketplace for health insurance — that the federal government plans to launch as part of the Affordable Care Act in October. Beginning in January, families with an income of up to 400 percent of the federal poverty line, between $47,100 and $94,200 for a family of four, will be eligible for a tax credit subsidy to purchase insurance through the exchange. The tax credits will be offered on a sliding scale, so that lower-income families will receive larger credits.
“These are typically the families where folks are working, sometimes more than one job,” U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, said of the report. “Regardless of where you are on the political spectrum, I think that’s something we can all support.”
Nearly 5.8 million Texans — nearly a quarter of the state’s population — are uninsured. The Health and Human Services commission estimates the tax credits offered through the health insurance exchange and other provisions in the Affordable Care Act will lower that rate to 16 percent. If Texas also expanded Medicaid — an unlikely scenario given Gov. Rick Perry’s opposition — the uninsured rate could be lowered to 12 percent. Perry says that Medicaid is a broken system and has called the Medicaid expansion of federal health reform “fiscal coercion.”
“Given the large number of people in Texas that are uninsured, many of whom are poor, this is an extraordinary opportunity,” said Ron Pollock, executive director of Families USA. He said it was “short-sighted” for the state’s leadership to oppose Medicaid expansion, as it would bring billions of federal dollars to the state, and increase job opportunities.
In Texas, Medicaid expansion would mean adding an estimated 2 million residents to Medicaid, for whom the federal government would cover 100% of that extra cost for the first three years, and then 90% after 2019. That would bring to the state an additional $13 billion a year, totaling roughly $100 billion before the end of the decade.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) doubled down earlier this month in his opposition to expanding Medicaid under Affordable Care Act, even though opposing it could cost Texas $90 billion. At a press conference Perry argued expanding the health insurance program for the poor would make Texas “hostage” to the federal government. “It would benefit no one in our state to see their taxes skyrocket and our economy crushed as our budget crumbled under the weight of oppressive Medicaid costs,” Perry said at the state capitol. Perry was flanked at the press conference by top Texas Republicans, including rising conservative star Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. John Cornyn.
Republicans will, if they again gain full control of the federal government, repeal the Affordable Care Act, convert Medicare into a private insurance voucher program, and turn Medicaid into a severely underfunded state block grant program. The Republican controlled U.S. House has voted 33 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act over the last three years and has passed multiple budget bills to convert Medicare into a private insurance voucher program.
Obamacare is dead in Texas, right? Think again.
The fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, on Wednesday (April 17) is bringing increased attention to the thousands of facilities nationwide that store or manufacture fertilizer, especially ammonium nitrate, an explosive chemical often used in agricultural fertilizers. [LiveScience.com: Infographic: Why Fertilizer Is Dangerous]
Ammonium nitrate is believed to be the cause of the fireball that was seen about two hours after the blaze started on Wednesday (April 17) evening. In February, Adair Grain (the owner of the West Fertilizer Co. fertilizer plant) informed the Texas Department of Health Services that it was storing up to 270 tons of ammonium nitrate at the facility.
The West, Texas, plant is just one of about 6,000 facilities scattered across the country — located in residential neighborhoods, small towns and urban areas — that manufacture, store or sell ammonium nitrate products, a spokeswoman for the Fertilizer Institute, an industry trade group, told NBC.
And most county and municipal zoning regulations don't prevent these facilities from being located near schools, hospitals, homes or other businesses. The nursing home and school damaged by the explosion in West were built several years after the fertilizer plant began operating about 50 years ago.
The explosion in West is not an isolated incident. In 2011, a chemical plant explosion in nearby Waxahachie forced the evacuation of about 1,000 residents, according to the Dallas Morning News, including people living in houses that were just 100 feet (30 meters) away.
Around the world, ammonium nitrate has been implicated in dozens of deadly explosions in recent years, including the deadliest industrial accident in U.S. history when almost 600 people died in Texas City, Texas, after two ships carrying the chemical exploded in 1947.
The West, Texas, explosion points to the need for stricter regulation of plants that manufacture, store and use large quantities of hazardous chemicals.
Modern conservatives ignore the failures of their generally accepted conservative principles, like deregulation, as enacted over the last several decades. Republicans claim that eliminating government regulations will unleash business and create jobs. We did deregulate, but it didn’t create jobs. It did, however, create a worsening of our environment. Deregulation also created the worst financial disaster since the great depression.
Tommy Muska, the mayor of West, Texas, said Thursday that 35 to 40 people are believed to be dead in a massive fertilizer plant explosion, “because they are unaccounted for and still missing.” Sen. John Cornyn, in statements on Friday, said 60 people remain unaccounted for in the small Central Texas town. Two hundred people were injured in the powerful blast.
Among those who are missing and believed dead include as many as six firefighters and four emergency medical technicians.
The explosion occurred Wednesday night, heavily damaging or destroying buildings within a half-mile radius and causing broken windows and other damage to structures up to double that distance. The factory exploded Wednesday with the force of a 2.1-magnitude earthquake.
The West Fertilizer Company has not been inspected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration since 1985. “Texas relies on federal investigators, and has not made its own investment at the state level to inspect facilities, to make sure they are complying with federal safety standards,” said Alex Winslow, executive director of Texas Watch, a non-partisan group that is a corporate accountability group in the state. “We believe, and have supported in the past, efforts to beef up state inspections to compliment the federal inspections.”The West Fertilizer Company had informed a state agency in February that it was storing up to 270 tons of ammonium nitrate – the highly explosive chemical compound used in the domestic terror attack on the Oklahoma City federal building. The Oklahoma truck bomb used just two tons of ammonium nitrate to destroy or damage 324 buildings within a sixteen-block radius, destroy or burn 86 cars, and shatter glass in 258 nearby downtown buildings.
Since 2006, only six fertilizer plants in Texas were inspected; West Fertilizer Company was not among them. The explosion is a spotlight to lax inspection standards in Texas. Under the leadership of Governor Rick Perry, who has been visiting states like Illinois and California to woo businesses to Texas, the state has advertised its low taxes and “predictable regulations” as part of its allure, begging the question whether the state’s “business friendly climate” has taken a step too far away from safety.
“Loose regulations” in Texas may be a nice pitch for out-of-state business, however, in 2010 the state accounted for 10% of all workplace-related fatalities in the country. In 2011, Texas had the second-highest number of fatality investigations from OSHA (California was first), in 2010, Texas led the nation in Latino worker fatalities.
West Fertilizer Company in particular hadn’t been inspected by any government agency in five years. In a report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the West Fertilizer Company stated that the “the worst possible scenario” for a fire or explosion would be a “10-minute release of ammonia gas that would kill or injure no one.” The second-worst scenario, according to the report, would be a leak from a broken hose that would cause no injuries. West Fertilizer Company's risk management plan, filed with the Environmental Protection Agency in 2011, made no mention of ammonium nitrate storage.
At times the plant had up to 54,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia available at the facility. This particular compound, according to the report, is at risk for explosion when it is inside a container.
It's not clear whether the ammonium nitrate, which was not initially reported as being present at the site in the wake of Wednesday's massive blast, was responsible for the explosion, or whether volunteer firefighters battling a fire at the facility knew of its presence. Under state law, hazardous chemicals must be disclosed to the community fire department and to the county emergency planning agency, in addition to the state. News reports on Thursday focused on tanks of anhydrous ammonia –a less volatile fertilizer.
Adair Grain, doing business as West Fertilizer Co., told the Texas Department of Health Services on Feb. 26 that it was storing up to 540,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate, along with up to 110,000 pounds of the liquid ammonia, according to the disclosure report. (Read the document provided by the state.) The company's disclosure was first reported Thursday evening by The Los Angeles Times.
The West Fertilizer Co. stored 1,350 times the amount of ammonium nitrate that would normally trigger safety oversight by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Fertilizer plants and storage facilities must report to the DHS when they hold 400 lb or more of the explosive chemical. Filings to the Texas Department of State Health Services listing 270 tons of ammonium nitrate in storage were not shared with DHS by West Fertilizer Co. or any Texas state government agency. Gov. Perry is on record promoting Texas' lack of business regulation statutes and enforcement as a selling point for businesses to relocate to Texas.
Ammonium Nitrate is an explosive that is also useful for fertilizer. It has not been used much as a military explosive in its simple form since WWII, but when mixed with other explosives it is encountered frequently in military explosives. Ammonium Nitrate mixed with fuel oil is typically the explosive of choice in the mining industry.
In the video below, Rachel Maddow reviews the history of ammonium nitrate as an explosive and then as a fertilizer and reports the latest details of the fertilizer plant explosion that ripped through the town of West, Texas.
Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday declared McLennan County, Texas - home to West, the small community devastated by the fertilizer plant explosion - a disaster area and announced that he asked President Barack Obama for a federal disaster declaration as well.
Federal disaster assistance available under a major disaster declaration falls into three general categories:
- Individual Assistance - aid to individuals, families and business owners;
- Public Assistance - aid to public (and certain private non-profit) entities for certain emergency services and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged public facilities;
- Hazard Mitigation Assistance - funding for measures designed to reduce future losses to public and private property. In the event of a major disaster declaration, the county is eligible to apply for assistance under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.
All three of them -- Cornyn and Cruz and Flores -- voted against the bill that delivered federal disaster aid to victims of Hurricane Sandy call that aid “pork” and “wasteful spending.” ~ PoliticusUSA.com
More -> Texas Is Anti-EPA and Their Citizens Have Paid With Their Lives
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Plano, TX – Women Organizing Women Democrats (WOW Dems), a new North Texas-based organization, announces their kickoff meeting on Thursday, April 18th @ 6:45 p.m. The first official meeting of WOW Dems will be held at Harrington Library, 1501 18th St., Plano TX 75074. This event is not sponsored by the Plano Public Library System or the City of Plano.
Thursday April 18, 2013
After the business meeting, there will be a panel discussion on Legislative Advocacy. Panel members will include Denise Rodriguez of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas and Jeanne Rubin of Equality Texas. The panelists will discuss legislative issues that affect their individual organizations, their unique involvement in the legislative process, and the process in general followed by an audience Q&A.
After the program concludes, refreshments will be served and guests will have the opportunity to join WOW Dems.
To learn more about WOW Dems, contact Amy Lawrence, President at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, March 18, 2013
Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism's newest annual report on health of American journalism shows a continued erosion of news gathering reporting resources in the traditional news media industry.
As the influence of traditional news media wains, Pew finds that those in politics, government, business and others are increasingly more adept at using digital media channels to directly broadcast information into the public arena and to inject their messaging into the traditional media's news narratives.
As traditional news outlets have continually cut news-gathering staff and cut budgets for reporters to find and investigate news leads, reports increasing follow and report on what news-makers themselves broadcast online.
Sunday, March 3, 2013
Military veterans who put their lives on the line for our country are threatened by cuts to Texas' Hazlewood Act veterans education program.
Texas' institutions of higher education are now telling veterans that they and their children place an unbearable "burden" on the state's public universities and colleges by using their eduction benefit.
The Hazlewood Act is a Texas law providing veterans with tuition and fee exemptions to public universities and colleges of up to 150 hours.
The law was first enacted in the 1920s to assist soldiers who fought in World War I. It evolved and expanded in ensuing years, reflecting the state's tradition of strong commitment to its veterans. The law was eventually named after state Sen. Grady Hazlewood of Amarillo because he championed a major amendment to the law in 1943. Texas lawmakers passed the Hazlewood Legacy Act in 2009, allowing veterans to pass along any unused portion of the 150 hours of free tuition to their children.
Thousands of additional combat veterans returning from the wars in Iraq, and now Afghanistan, have substantially increased college and university enrollments of veterans, or their children under the Hazlewood program.
In the last three years, the number of students receiving some form of Hazlewood benefit has ballooned by 129 percent. Institutions had to forgo $24 million in tuition and fees in fiscal year 2009, but by fiscal year 2011, the total statewide had grown to $72 million. Enrollments under the program are likely to further increase as the U.S. brings troops home from Afghanistan.
The costs of providing free college tuition and fees for veterans and their children is emerging as a looming budget issue for the 2013 Legislative Session due to the more than $1 billion in higher education budget cuts made during the 2011 Legislative Session.
University and college officials are telling Texas lawmakers that the costs of providing the free tuition and fees to veterans has become an untenable unfunded mandate on their institutions due to funding cuts and increased Hazlewood program enrollments.
The budget-writing House Appropriations Committee is beginning to address the education portion of the Texas 2014-2015 biennium budget. But Republican Texas lawmakers are so far unwilling to reverse their 2011 budget cuts and adequately fund the educational needs of all Texans, including Texas' veterans.
University and college officials are telling the Legislature they must either increase higher education funding or make cuts to the Hazlewood Act veterans education program.
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Yesterday, Governor Rick Perry gave his 7th State of the State address outlining his priorities for the state of Texas. Left out of the list of Republican priorities that Perry outlined in his
45-minute address are the legislative priorities being pressed by
Democrats in the Texas Senate and House.
Progress Texas recently published a brief on the major issues concerning Texans and the 83rd Texas Legislature - clicking on the links take you straight to that issue:
- Budget and Taxes: Investing in Our Future
- Expanding Medicaid: 231,000 Jobs by 2016
- The Battle to Save Public Schools
- Family Planning Cuts Run Deep
- Water for a Rainy Day
- LGBT and the Fight for Equality
- The Voting Rights Act Still Matters
One House Democrat said the governor painted an unrealistic picture of the state. "Not sure what parallel universe Gov. Perry is living in, but it's not the same one as the people in my district," said Rep. Naomi Gonzalez, D-El Paso. "We need to restore money to education and health care."
Two years ago, Perry declared there would be "no sacred cows" immune to deep budget cuts as the state struggled with a $27 billion budget deficit amid an economy still feeling the effects of The Great Recession. Lawmakers responded by passing deep cuts across-the-board, including slashing $5.4 billion from public schools and billions more from state Health and Human Services programs. (Gov. Rick Perry's State of the State Speech - 2011)
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Politico: National Democrats are taking steps to create a large-scale independent group aimed at turning traditionally conservative Texas into a prime electoral battleground, crafting a new initiative to identify and mobilize progressive voters in the rapidly-changing state, strategists familiar with the plans told POLITICO.
The organization, dubbed “Battleground Texas,” plans to engage the state’s rapidly growing Latino population, as well as African-American voters and other Democratic-leaning constituencies that have been underrepresented at the ballot box in recent cycles. Two sources said the contemplated budget would run into the tens of millions of dollars over several years - a project Democrats hope has enough heft to help turn what has long been an electoral pipe dream into reality.
At the center of the effort is Jeremy Bird, formerly the national field director for President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, who was in Austin last week to confer with local Democrats about the project.
In a statement to POLITICO, Bird said the group would be “a grass-roots organization that will make Texas a battleground state by treating it like one.”
“With its diversity and size, Texas should always be a battleground state where local elections are vigorously contested and anyone who wants to be our commander in chief has to compete and show they reflect Texas values.
Yet for far too long, the state’s political leaders, both in Austin and in Washington, D.C., have failed to stand for Texans,” said Bird, who recently founded a consulting firm, 270 Strategies. “Over the next several years, Battleground Texas will focus on expanding the electorate by registering more voters — and as importantly, by mobilizing Texans who are already registered voters but who have not been engaged in the democratic process.”
Read the full story @ Politico
In his Inaugural Address, Pres. Barack Obama's gave an unapologetic defense of America's social safety net program and refuted Paul Ryan's often repeated charge that Social Security recipients are "takers not makers." In interviews on conservative media channels this week, Paul Ryan questioned the President's choice of rhetorical devices as a "straw-man" and denied ever making the "takers vs. makers" claim. But by weaving together comments Paul Ryan made on the presidential election trail last year about entitlements and "takers vs. makers," as well as citing the former VP nominee's own experience with government assistance, Stewart cheekily "proves" in the final seconds of his commentary that Obama plagiarized Ryan in his inauguration speech.
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."Many younger Americans, who were not alive to witness or do not know of the events at places called at Stonewall, Selma, and Seneca Falls, may not fully appreciate the President’s references to those places.
"Today we continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth. The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a Republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed."
“We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths — that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.”
Seneca Falls — The Seneca Falls Convention—held on July 19-20, 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York—was a gathering organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton in conjunction with a group of radical Quakers displeased with the state of women’s rights in the United States. The event is widely considered to be the start of the women’s rights movement in the United States.
Selma — A series of three protest marches that took place during the month of March, 1965 in Selma, Alabama, that forever altered the public’s perception of the Civil Rights movement, mobilized President Lyndon Johnson and quickly led to the introduction and passage of the Voting Rights Act.
Stonewall — The event that is widely regarded as “the opening shot” in the gay rights movement in the United States took place early in the morning of June 28, 1969 at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar located in the Greenwich Village section of New York City.
Click here to read the details of events at those places @ Forbes.
by Michael Handley
Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. On January 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision, Roe v. Wade, recognizing the constitutional right to privacy and a woman’s right to make her own reproductive health care decisions. At the time Roe was decided, most states severely restricted or banned the practice of abortion.
Seven in ten Americans support the historic Roe decision, according to just out NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll and a recent Pew Research study found that 63 percent of Americans support the Roe decision.
The decision ruled unconstitutional a Texas state law that banned abortions except to save the life of the mother. The Court ruled that the states were forbidden from outlawing or regulating any aspect of abortion performed during the first trimester of pregnancy, could only enact abortion regulations reasonably related to maternal health in the second and third trimesters, and could enact abortion laws protecting the life of the fetus only in the third trimester. Even then, an exception had to be made to protect the life of the mother.
Monday, January 21, 2013
President Obama's inauguration speech centered on a declaration of our country's progressive values and historic journey toward a more just society that includes women's rights, racial equality, gay rights, and immigrant rights — progressive values that Obama campaigned on to win the 2012 Presidential election.
"Our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts," Obama declared. "Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law."
"Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote."
"Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country."
As the former Republican vice presidential candidate and Ayn Rand aficionado Paul Ryan sat listening, Obama delivered a strong rebuke to the Ayn Radian theories that inspires conservative movement's ideology about society's "takers" and "makers":
"The commitments we make to each other – through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security – these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great."
Pres. Obama offered a strong a defense of the New Deal programs that protect the poor and elderly from disaster--through government spending:
"But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future. For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn."
Pres. Obama delivered a strong statement about the threat of climate change – that America must lead the transition to renewable energy, because "failure to do so would betray our children and future generations."
There was the hopeful statement that "enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war."
Pres. Obama offered a poignant vision of a progressive possibility: "We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else."
President Obama’s reelection was the electoral equivalent of a progressive exclamation point. Obama not only won 8 of the original 10 battleground states (winning: CO, FL, IA, NH, NM, NV, OH, VA; losing: IN and NC), but also earned a whopping 332 electoral votes. Beyond the headlines, consider for a moment the underlying dynamics of this win: Democrats have now won the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. Democrats topped Republicans by 1.2 million votes cast for House candidates in 2012 — meaning that the American people preferred progressive Democrats over Republicans by nearly a full percentage point of the total vote. In the popular presidential vote Pres. Obama received 65,899,660 (51.1%) votes to Romney's 60,929,152 (47.2%) votes.
Clearly, America is a center left nation!
Prepared text for Pres. Obama's second inaugural speech: