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plannedA few items.

Though (Laura) Browder’s arrest was a daycare issue, it is part of a larger problem. Women make up nearly 50 percent of America’s workforce and 40 percent of household breadwinners, yet they have few of the protections mothers in other rich countries enjoy. America is the only country in the developed world that doesn’t offer guaranteed paid paternity or maternity leave to workers. Only 12 percent of U.S. workers reportedly have such coverage, but it is usually a benefit provided through employer insurance.
At least seven in 10 mothers with children younger than 18 were in the workforce in 2012, according to the Pew Research Center. Yet, America is quite hostile toward its working mothers. Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director of, says part of the problem is that most policymakers can’t relate to the issues moms face. More than 80 percent of the 114th Congress is male, a figure Rowe-Finkbeiner says explains why lawmakers don’t see childcare access as an urgent issue.

The most glaring hypocrisy of most of the people in the anti-choice movement is how the whole “culture of life” philosophy stops at the moment of delivery. That’s glaringly apparent in the latest attacks on Planned Parenthood for “selling baby parts,” or in actuality facilitating the donation of fetal tissue from abortions, when the patient requests it, for medical research. That medical research is increasingly jeopardized as Planned Parenthood and other groups curtail their role in donations…
So all the non-fetus people out there who are sufferers and potential sufferers of the numerous diseases researchers are using fetal tissue to combat—Parkinsons, macular degeneration, various cancers, spinal cord injuries, and AIDS and Ebola. Your life and your health doesn’t count. Not any more than the life of the woman whose body is nothing more than a vessel for sacred fetuses. Same goes for the millions of people who didn’t get hepatitis A, German measles, chicken pox, and rabies because they got vaccinated—vaccines developed with fetal tissue.
(Daily Kos)

There’s a map here that shows how average distance to abortion providers has been increasing as clinics are shut down.


sanders“This is really about how you put the numbers together to secure the nomination. As some of you might recall, in 2008 I got a lot of votes but I didn’t get enough delegates. And so I think it’s understandable that my focus is going to be on delegates as well as votes this time.” Hillary Clinton 8-28-15


At the Democratic National Committee meeting in Minneapolis last Friday, senior Clinton campaign officials told the media that Hillary has already secured one-fifth of the pledges needed to win the party’s nomination — some 440 “super-delegates” — which includes current and former elected officials, committee officeholders, and other party dignitaries.


At the time, I thought: ‘So it looks like Bernie Sanders is going to have an uphill battle for the nomination.’ Of course, we already knew that. But then my daughter called to ask if I thought Sanders had a real chance of beating Hillary. I explained a little bit about how machine-politics works and how Clinton has a lot of friends and allies who owe her favors, who have cut deals, etc. There are a helluva lot of Clintonites out there with a lot of muscle.


“Dad, I think you might be wrong.”


Some background is in order. My daughter is thirty-one. We’ve been talking politics for more than fifteen years. In my family, we bleed politics through generations. She has never once told me in all those years that she thinks I’m wrong.


“How so?” I asked her, somewhat unsettled.


“Everyone I know under the age of thirty-five is supporting Bernie Sanders.”


More background: my daughter grew up in Minnesota, she took undergraduate degrees in northern California, and now lives and works in Portland, Maine. She is gregarious and has lots of friends across the country. Not to mention that for her generation social media connections are simply second nature. When she says everyone, she means lots of people she’s connected to in one way or another. “Everyone?” I asked her. “Everyone,” she told me.


I did a quick review in my head of what little empirical data I could muster about the Sanders supporters I’d seen. At the Minnesotans For Bernie kick-off meeting, I remembered noticing that at least half the attendees were under 40. (The graying of the DFL is an issue that has nagged me for some time). Photos from the Sanders rally in South Minneapolis show attendees were clearly weighted toward the young. Other photos and web clips I’ve reviewed since our conversation show a lot of under-40 folks in attendance at town halls, rally’s, etc.


“That’s very interesting,” I said, a conversational signal to say more.


“Dad, what you have to understand is that we’re the ones working minimum wage jobs for our livelihoods. Everyone I know who works for minimum-wage is working at least a job-and-a-half. Nobody can live on $7.50 an hour working just 40 hours. I work two-and-a-half jobs. (True). And I get paid decent money. (Also true). I know people in their thirties who are still working at McDonalds. And if you’re like me and have a good job that requires an advanced degree, you’ve got crushing school debt. We’re the ones who are being told Social Security and Medicare won’t be there for us. We’re the ones who are putting off having children, or deciding not to even have children. We’re the ones who are being told we can’t expect to have the same living standards as our parents. We’re even being told that our generation might be the first one in history whose average life-span will go down! Everyone I know is disgusted by the status quo in Washington and says they’re sick of it. We’re voting for Bernie Sanders.”


In other words, I thought, she’s talking about a generational mandate for change — which could make 2016 a transformational election year. In a transformational election, the old regime is turned out and a new regime is installed. Both Hillary and the super-delegates she touts represent the old regime. And while she may be able to count as many as 440 super-delegates firmly in her pocket (doubtful), usually pledges of support only count for the first ballot. If she fails to capture a majority vote on the first ballot, she could see significant support fall away on the second and any subsequent ballots.


While it’s too early to tell whether a generational insurgency among millennials is forming or not — after all, we are talking about a generation that failed to show up at the polls in 2010 and mostly failed to show up in 2012 — there is clear evidence that it might be. Last July, YouGov released the results of a poll that showed Sanders’ support among voters 18-29 is statistically equal to Clinton and only a few points behind in the 30-44 age group. Where support for Sanders drops off significantly is among older voters ages 45 and up. But it appears that Clinton’s support in those upper age brackets is as much about name-recognition as anything else. In other words, Sanders has room to grow his support among the older crowd as he elucidates his policies and garners momentum, while Clinton is clearly failing to inspire younger voters. It’s worth mentioning that millennials haven’t been conditioned by media to fear the socialist boogeyman the way the older generation has.


If millennials are truly weary enough, disgusted enough, with the failure of government to deal effectively with the issues that directly affect their lives — including pocketbook issues and even whether they choose to have children or not — then a generational insurgency could be in embryo. The old regime of a two-party struggle for ideological supremacy — which has created government shut-downs, gridlock, and the lowest approval ratings in history — will be displaced. A new regime and political order will replace it. If 2016 in fact proves to be a transformational election year, it will favor the dark horse candidate from either party. Voter sentiment on both sides of the aisle seems to favor political outsiders at the moment.


Recent polls show Sanders ahead in New Hampshire and within striking range in Iowa. A one-two punch in the early primaries could send Hillary reeling into Super Tuesday with her campaign bleeding both momentum and support in the crucial months just ahead of the national convention. Hillary Clinton and the machine-democrats who support her may be looking at two prime movers of electoral politics in 2016 that neither she nor they can control: a left-wing insurgency (which I predicted in Part Two and which has since proved out) and a generational mandate for change.


Bernie Sanders has a foot firmly planted in both. That alone could be energy enough to win him the nomination and to propel him into the White House. It really all comes down to whether millennials show up.
Comments below fold.


mccollumRep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) is showing some serious integrity, here.

In a letter to the State Department officials (two weeks ago), the Minnesota Representative said that the deaths of Nadim Nowarah and Mohamed Odeh, in May of 2014, demonstrated the “brutal system of occupation that devalues and dehumanises Palestinian children.”
The two Palestinian youths, aged 16 and 17, were killed when Israeli troops assaulted a peaceful protest outside the West Bank city of Ramallah during the Nakba Day, an annual commemoration of Palestinian forceful displacement by Zionist in 1948…
McCollum urged State Department officials to determine whether the killing of the teens was in violation of the Leahy Act.
The Leahy Act is a US human rights law that prohibits the State and Defence departments from providing military assistance to foreign military units that violate human rights with impunity.
(Mint Press News)

This has more detail. She’s not talking about summarily cutting off all U.S. military aid to Israel, though arguably people should be.

A viable Palestine/Israel two-state solution will not, in and of itself, immediately fix all that ails the Middle East. But it is far and away the foremost element, and there is little chance of things really improving without it. (Economic benefits would also be massive.) But there are those whose paranoid megalomania seems to render them unable to conceive of “solutions” that don’t involve mass slaughter, or at least the ever-present threat thereof. Such people have no business in governance, but far too many have often been there.

One key element of neocoward “thinking” on Iran is being overlooked. Currently, neocons are guaranteed to go down in the history books in a very, very negative light. As they see it, the great minds of their time – namely, themselves – deserve far better, and if millions, including thousands of U.S. troops, are killed in Iran, it’s a price well worth paying, in order to ensure that future generations are taught to regard the likes of Dick Cheney and Bill Kristol with suitable reverence.(In their demented, megalomaniacal heads, of course a war with Iran will ultimately be a glorious triumph. Just like Iraq.) Words fail me, in trying to really get across what loathsome, despicable failures as human beings we’re dealing with, here.
Comment below fold.

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Wild rice harvesting with an added purpose

by Dan Burns on August 31, 2015 · 0 comments

ricing000694JPGActually, two added purposes, both laudable. One is Native Americans’ efforts to assert their treaty rights, and another is to block land use for inappropriate, to say the least, endeavors like tar sands oil pipelines.

When Ojibwe tribal members (last Thursday) harvest rice outside reservation boundaries without a required permit, it will mark the latest chapter in Minnesota’s long history of treaty conflicts.
This time, however, the fight may go far beyond fish and wild rice.
Tribes believe the 1855 treaty they plan to put to the test today gives them the right to hunt, fish and gather in a large area of northern Minnesota. They argue those rights should also give them a say in any land use decisions that might affect natural resources — on or off reservation land.
That would include decisions about proposed oil pipelines in northern Minnesota, which they’re trying to stop.

On Thursday, rice gatherers were handed, pretty much at the last minute, a DNR permit that they didn’t want and don’t believe that they need. On Friday, they pushed it a little harder, and there were reports that could lead to citations.

Tar sands production is currently under a lot of downward pressure. Which is good, but there’s no reason to believe that Enbridge will halt its plans. Accomplishing that will take more.


Make America White Again

by Invenium Viam on August 29, 2015 · 0 comments

The Donald“Hopefully, he’s going to sit there and say, ‘When I become elected president, what we’re going to do is we’re going to make the border a vacation spot, it’s going to cost you $25 for a permit, and then you get $50 for every confirmed kill,’ ” said Jim Sherota, 53, who works for a landscaping company. “That’d be one nice thing.” Alan Blinder, New York Times, August 21, 2015


While beltway pundits continue to argue about the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency, and whether he has a real shot at the nomination, I’m convinced that his campaign is both legitimate and likely to win the nomination.


And while beltway pundits continue to be shocked — shocked! — at Trump’s broad appeal across the electorate, as well as his Teflon®-coated non-stick exterior for surviving statements that would’ve sunk any other GOP candidate you care to mention, I was convinced early on that Trump had tapped into a rich vein of voter discontent that crosses demographic lines including party, region, religion, political affiliation, and others.


However, I needed to wait for affirmation.


What is now clear is that Trump has tapped into the closeted racism of the American public, which does in fact cut across many demographic groups.


He has pierced a deep vein of powerful conviction among millions of Americans that white culture and white supremacy has been a prime mover in what made America great and that white supremacy is key to “making America great again.”


At the same time, Trump’s newly found constituency suffers from deep misgivings about this nation’s future. The demographic trends towards a pluralistic society revealed in the 2010 census, with the Hispanic population nearly doubling in the 2000-2010 decade from 27.3 million to 50.5 million — now equalling about 16 percent of the total population — produced a shockwave in Republicans circles, as did the earlier election of a black president in 2008. More recently, the announcement last July that the Latino population in California now exceeds the white population, making California the first fully pluralistic state in the nation with no ethnic majority, has amplified fears among Trump’s followers that America’s white majority will soon simply be another among several ethnic minorities. Finally, the Black Lives Matter movement has added to their sense of confusion and disequilibrium. Why are those blacks acting up again?


Trump has tapped into the clandestine feelings of millions of Americans that the country was stronger and better off with a pre-eminent white majority and white power structure. They believe that an America trending toward ethnic pluralism is an America in decline. Brilliantly, he has named his constituency of closeted racists the “silent majority,” which accords with a cherished belief among those folk that most other people think the way they do, but are unwilling to show it and get labeled racist.


The first clue as to the nature of his popularity came on the heels of The Donald’s® campaign announcement, when he denounced the Mexican government and denigrated the Mexican people. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. […] They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with them. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”


Newspapers across the country condemned that statement and political pundits declared his candidacy DOA.


But the pundits were wrong. Not only did Trump’s campaign dodge a case of SIDS, it took off. Within days he was leading in the polls and wearing a baseball cap with the words “Make America Great Again.” That dog-whistle statement is simply a transparent rendering of “Make America White Again.”





by gregladen on August 29, 2015 · 1 comment

FrankenTrump-590x369The Republican Party and its handlers, including the right wing talk radio jocks such as Rush Limbaugh, and the bought-and-paid-for media such as FOX news, did not create the Tea Party. Michele Bachmann and a few others did that.* But once the Tea Party got going, mainstream conservative Republicans, including and especially leaders in Congress, went right to bed with it. The Tea Party gave Republican strategists an easy way to garner votes and support. This was especially easy to do because America decided to elect an African American president. Make no mistake. The Tea Party is pro-white, anti-everybody-else, and having an African American Democrat as president made defining issues and shaping rhetoric trivially easy.
It is a mistake to think that the Tea Party comes with a set of positions on various issues. It does not. Yes, the Tea Party tends to be libertarian, conservative, and so on and so forth, but really, it is philosophically inconstant and mostly reactionary. This has been demonstrated over and over again, as President Obama embraced various issues that were previously held by prominent Republicans, and those policies were immediately opposed. Because they were the policies of the Black President. The merit of a policy had nothing to do with opposition against it. They were President Obama’s issues, therefore the Tea Party was against them. And since the Republican Party was so rapt with the Tea Party, the GOP was against them.
This worked well. It gave the Republicans massive victories in a gerrymandered Congress. It meant that absurd excuses for leaders won elections, or if they did not, lost by only a few percentage points, when they should have been largely ignored by the populace.

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clowncarI once lived in Wisconsin, and it seems like a whole different state. After living a while in Minnesota, it seemed that the states would be indistinguishable without a map (or a sports rivalry). No longer. It would be exaggerated to blame it all on Scott Walker. After all, there had to be muck there for him to crawl out of.
Though was Walker was definitely muck-covered early on. Back in 1998, when few people besides conservative legislators and corporate funders had heard of ALEC, Walker carried a “truth in sentencing” bill to lengthen prison sentences:

Walker’s longstanding association with the group dates back to his first days as a state legislator in the early 1990s. One of the very first high-profile bills Walker was associated with during his time as a state legislator was a 1998 tough-on-crime ‘truth in sentencing’ bill that caused Wisconsin’s prison population to balloon.

At the time, Walker claimed original authorship of the law. But it wasn’t really his bill; ALEC’s policy shop wrote it at the behest of two ALEC funders: the Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group, formerly called Wackenhut. Soon after Gov. Tommy Thompson signed it into law, Walker introduced a second piece of legislation to open the state’s soon-to-grow prison system up to the two private prison companies.
At the time, Walker never publicly mentioned ALEC’s role in this legislation. State corrections officials say he never mentioned it privately either.



Oil-Fields-19a-Belridge-California-USA-2003Big Oil’s profits are down, because of low crude prices. I’m having trouble even typing this, what with barely being able to see through the copious, bitter tears that I’m weeping about that. But I’m able to note that it’s American consumers in general who could well have reason to cry, if a plan to lift the decades-old ban on exporting American crude gets much further. In addition to other very serious matters.

Since 1975, the U.S. has restricted the export of crude oil in the name of energy security, and somehow that dirty protectionism even managed to make it through the Reagan era. But perhaps no longer. Republicans in Congress are pushing to allow oil companies to export crude to overseas refineries, and they could put the issue to a vote as soon as next month.
Ending the crude oil export ban would represent one of the largest tweaks in U.S. energy policy in decades, and, from an environmental perspective, not a positive one.
On Friday, the Center for American Progress (CAP) released an analysis pleading for congressional consideration of the broader risks at play, especially as they relate to the environment. The authors argue that the policy change would lead to more oil drilling in the U.S., resulting in an increase in annual carbon and methane emissions, the loss of open lands and wildlife habitats, and risks related to production and transportation like increased prevalence of crude oil train derailment and air quality problems for those living near drilling operations. This is to say nothing of the need to keep fossil fuels in the ground if we’re to fight off climate change.

According to Bloomberg, this is still a little short of Senate votes, and they may not be looking to touch it any time soon anyway. I wouldn’t count on that. It’s also unclear, at this time, what President Obama would do with this if it gets that far.
Once they learn about it, poll respondents of all ideologies are horrified. (On top of all the taxpayer-funded government giveaways they already wallow in, now they want this?!) Which makes it unsurprising that my online search this morning showed minimal coverage of the issue in major corporate media. So I suppose that it’s up to us to do what we can to get the word out.
Comment below fold.

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Osama bin Laden 1; Railroads 0

by gregladen on August 25, 2015 · 0 comments

train-derailment-bakken-west-virginia-aerial-view_us-coast-guardThe terrorists have defeated the railroads, and by extension, the people. Well, not totally defeated, but they won a small but important battle.
We have a problem with the wholesale removal of petroleum from the Bakken oil fields, and the shipping of that relatively dangerous liquid mainly to the east coast on trains, with hundreds of tanker cars rolling down a small selection of tracks every day. I see them all the time as they go through my neighborhood. These trains derail now and then, and sometimes those derailments are pretty messy, life threatening, and even fatal.
There has been some effort in Minnesota to get the train companies to upgrade their disaster plans, which is important because about 300,000 Minnesotans live in the larger (one half mile) disaster zone that flanks these track. A smaller number, but not insignificant, live in the blast zone, the place where if a couple of train cars actually exploded you would be within the blast area. For the last couple of years, my son was at a daycare right in that blast zone. I quickly add that the chance of being blasted by an oil train is very small, because the tracks are in total thousands of miles long, derailments are rare(ish), and the affected areas can be measured in city blocks. So a blast from a Bakken oil train may be thought of as roughly like a large air liner crash, or may be two or three times larger than that, in terms of damage on the ground.
But yes, the trains derail at a seemingly large rate.
Now, here is where the terrorists come in. And by terrorists I specifically mean Osama bin (no relation) Laden, or his ghost, and that gang of crazies that took down the world trade center in New York. When that happened, we became afraid of terrorism, and everyone who could use that fear for personal gain has since exploited it. I’m pretty sure that the rise of the police state in America has been because of, facilitated by, and hastened due to this event. For years the American people let the security forces and related government agencies do pretty much whatever they wanted. The Patriot Act, you may or may not know, is a version of a law that conservatives have been pushing in the US for decades, a draconian law that gives great power to investigative and police agencies. That law never got very far in Congress until 9/11. Then, thanks to Osama bin Laden, it seemed like everyone wanted it. Only now, years later, are we seriously considering rolling it back (and to some extent acting on that consideration).
So now, the railroads have been forced to come up with a disaster plan related to the oil shipments. And they did. But for the most part they won’t let anyone see it. Why? Because, according to one railroad official, “… to put it out in the public domain is like giving terrorists a road map on how to do something bad.”
What does he mean exactly? As far as I can tell, the disaster plan pinpoints specific scenarios that would be especially bad. These scenarios, if they fell into the hands of terrorists, would allow said terrorists to terrorize more effectively.
I’m sure this is true. But I’m also sure this is not a reason to keep the plans secret. There are three reasons, in my view, that the plans should be totally available for public review.
1) If you want to know what the worst case scenarios for a rail tanker disaster are, don’t read this report. It is easier to get out a map, maybe use some GIS software if you have it, and correlate localities where the train tracks cross over bridges, cross major water sources, and go through dense population areas. A high bridge through an urban area over an important river, for instance. This is not hard. Indeed, I call on all social studies teachers with an attitude (and most of the good ones have an attitude) to make this a regular project in one of your classes. Have the students try to think like terrorists and identify the best way to terrorize using oil trains. The reason to do this is to point out how dumb the railroads are being.
2) Secret plans are plans that can be exploited or misused by those who make them. We will see security measures taken that, for example, limit public access to information unrelated to oil trains, with the terroristic threat used as an excuse. I’m sure this has already happened. It will continue to happen. It is how the police state works.
3) The plans can be better. How do I know this? Because all plans can be better. That’s how plans work. How can you make the plans better? Scrutiny. How do you get scrutiny? Don’t make the plans secret.
MPR news has a pretty good writeup on this situation here. MPR is fairly annoyed at the secrecy, as they should be, but frankly I’d like to see this and other news agencies, as well as the state legislators involved, and everyone else, more fired up. We should all be working harder against the police state.
I want to end with this: I like trains, and you should too. Trains are among the most efficient ways to move stuff across the landscape. Those of us concerned with things like climate change should be all for trains. Ultimately, I think we can increase the use of trains to move goods and people, and at the same time take the trains off fossil carbon. They are already mostly electric, using liquid fuel to run generators. That liquid fuel could be made, largely, from renewable biodiesel and a bit of grown biodiesel, and more of the trains can probably go all electric. But this secrecy thing is not OK.



miningI’ve actually got several recent items, here, related one way or another to plans for sulfide mining in Minnesota. And the latter two are very important in their own right.

For more than a decade, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have informed the public that potential contaminants from PolyMet’s proposed NorthMet mine, near Hoyt Lakes, would flow south into the St. Louis River watershed.
It was a key issue for many environmentalists, who have been primarily focused on protecting water quality within the popular Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, located to the north of the proposed mine.
But documents obtained by the Timberjay through a Minnesota Government Data Practices Act request reveal that the lead agencies that have overseen the preparation of the environmental impact statement may well be wrong.
According to a June 18, 2015, letter from the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC), one of the cooperating agencies on the decades-long study, Barr Engineering, the PolyMet contractor that actually ran the water flow model used in the study, made fundamental miscalculations, rendering the results of this key element of the environmental study invalid. Barr works as a consultant for PolyMet, yet the lead agencies have relied heavily on its technical work throughout the environmental review process.

A couple of Range legislators talked tough, about upcoming contract negotiations involving iron mineworkers. There’s no reason to believe sulfide mining operations will be geared toward fairly compensating the people who do the actual work, any more than the big taconite/steel companies appear prepared to be.