Global Newswire

Who Gets to Decide What a City Can Do with Broadband Internet?

While our local municipal boradband was sold off under questionable circumstances with hardly a whimper, the decision was made in part because of the weak hand local governments hold in bringing efficient, low cost services to residents. It was a decision we will come to regret.

Unfortunately, Congressional Republicans and some states want to control local affairs

by Jay Walljasper

“(W)ithout power and independence, a town may contain good subjects, but it can have no active citizens.”  That was the conclusion of Alexis de Tocqueville after touring a youthful American Republic in the early 1830s, as recorded in his classic Democracy in America. Today we are engaged in a renewed debate about the authority of governments closest to the people.

On July 16, by a vote of 223-200 the House of Representatives voted to strip the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of the authority to allow communities the right to determine their broadband futures.  Republicans voted 221-4 in favor.

States with Higher Minimum Wage Boast Faster Job Growth

- Lauren McCauley, Commondreams staff writer

Workers in New York City rally to raise the minimum wage. (Photo: All-nite Images/ cc/ Flickr)

Adding fuel to the growing populist call for a higher minimum wage and throwing water on the conservative argument that fair pay will threaten employment, new data released Friday shows that states with higher wages are gaining more jobs.

Why Big Business Loves Desperate Workers

And how a strong social safety net can make us all more free

by Stephen Pimpare

We don’t think enough about the economic functions of social welfare policy, or about the relationship between the safety net and labor markets, and this hinders our ability to make sense of why some people fight so hard against programs that aid poor and low-income people: We mistake them for anti-welfare ideologues, and dismiss them as cruel or ignorant, but there’s an economic logic to their activism, one that’s revealed if we look at the relationship between welfare and work from both the employee’s and the employer’s perspective. Let me explain.

Imagine that we have two workers, worker K and worker O, each with two young children.

Worker K is laid off when the company “downsizes.” K is nervous, but has some savings, is eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits, Medicaid, food stamps (SNAP), and TANF, has access to free local day care, and lives in a Section 8 apartment, with their monthly rent tied to their income.

Landslide Burys Prohibition, New Poll: Over 60% of Americans Support Retail Marijuana Sales in Colorado

by Paul Armentano

DENVER, CO — More than six out of ten Americans – including majorities of self-identified Democrats, Independents, and Republicans – support the regulation and retail sale of marijuana in Colorado, according to the findings of a nationwide HuffPost.com/YouGov poll released Tuesday.

Colorado voters in 2012 approved a statewide initiative legalizing the personal consumption and cultivation of the plant. The measure also allows for the state-licensed commercial production and retail sales of cannabis to those over the age of 21. Commercial cannabis sales began on January 1st of this year. To date, these sales have generated nearly $11 million in tax revenue.

The Union vs. Corporate Showdown Has Officially Begun

by Shamus Cooke

The attack on the U.S. labor movement just sharpened with the Harris vs. Quinn Supreme Court decision, aimed at the heart of concentrated union power — public sector unions. When you add in the Obama-led assault on public school teachers unions and the Koch brother-funded “Right to Work” laws, the labor movement appears to be facing imminent ruin.  

How to Inspire Millions More People to Bike

by Jay Walljasper

You can see big changes happening across North America as communities from Fairbanks to St. Petersburg transform their streets into appealing places for people, not just cars and trucks.

“Over the past five years we’re seeing an infrastructure revolution, a rethinking of our streets to accommodate more users—busways, public plazas, space for pedestrians and, of course, bike lanes,” says David Vega-Barachowitz of the National Association of City Transportation Officials. “More protected bike lanes is one of the most important parts of this.”

Protected bike lanes separate people on bikes from rushing traffic with concrete curbs, plastic bollards or other means— and sometimes offer additional safety measures such as special bike traffic lights and painted crossings at intersections.  Protected bike lanes help riders feel less exposed to danger, and are also appreciated by drivers and pedestrians, who know where to expect bicycles. Streets work better when everyone has a clearly defined space. 

Arsonists Posing as Firemen: How GOP Sabotages Government for Fun and Profit

by John Atcheson

Across the board, Republicans have been sabotaging government by a variety of measures, then pointing to the resulting  – and inevitable – governmental failures to reinforce their Ayn Rand fantasy of government as inept and the private sector as the solution to all our problems. 

Doubt that? Well, it appears that they will spend more money investigating the Benghazi "scandal" than the Veterans Administration debacle.

Meanwhile, the Democrats stand back and mumble lame protestations under their breath, being careful not to anger the corporatists and fat cats at whose trough they feed.  And the press?  Pulleez.  They are the corporatists. 

None of this is new, as far as a generally accepted meme, but what’s not getting much play, are how the specific problems Republicans are shouting themselves into a frothing frenzy about at the moment have been engineered by them.

Let’s look at the top five, and one emerging issue.

Unpatriotic US Corporations Becoming Hot Political Issue That Unites Right and Left

by Ralph Nader

CEO Greg Wasson of the giant Walgreen drugstore chain may be thinking of other things than patriotism this 4th of July. He confirmed last month that, to save on taxes, he and his Board of Directors may be renouncing the company's U.S. citizenship and moving its incorporation to Switzerland or some nearby tax haven.

Were Mr. Wasson to quit America, where the company rose to great profits and where it receives one quarter of its annual $72 billion in sales from Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements, he would be grossly underestimating the reaction of many Americans.

Following intentions by corporate welfare kings Pfizer and Medtronic to quit their native country to get further tax escapes, Walgreen is unique in that it has 8000 pharmacies -- convenience stores well situated for citizen picketing.

Imagine the signs:

"Walgreen Goes For the Green Instead of the Red, White and Blue."

Or "Walgreen: Where's Your Patriotism?"

Revealed: 'Collect It All' NSA Targets Those Seeking Web Privacy

'Merely visiting privacy-related websites is enough for a user's IP address to be logged into an NSA database,' says new report.

- Jon Queally, Commondreams staff writer

(Image: via Boing Boing)

Internet users who use online privacy tools or read certain websites may themselves become targets of NSA surveillance, according to a new investigation by public broadcasting outlets in Germany published on Thursday.

The Hobby Lobby Lesson: We Need To Fight For Single-Payer Health Care

by Emily DeVito

(Credit: flickr / cc / National Nurses United)

Here is the clearest, and scariest, implication of the Supreme Court’s Monday ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Inc.: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – “Obamacare” – is fatally flawed. It is clear we now need a public, single-payer health care system – because the Supreme Court can no longer protect us.

The fact that Hobby Lobby Inc. actually had a legal standing to bring this case to court in order to contest providing comprehensive health care to their 18,000 employees should prove that a key feature of the Affordable Care Act is unsound: It relies too heavily on private entities to deliver a public good – health care.

Supreme Court Deals a Blow to Illinois Home Care Workers

by Samantha Winslow

The Supreme Court in Harris v. Quinn has struck down agency fees for Illinois's home care union, finding the workers to be only "quasi-public employees." Home care workers provide in-home care to elderly and disabled clients. Above, members occupied a Washington state agency office in 2012 to protest cuts to services for their clients. (Photo: SEIU Healthcare 775NW)

 

Why Do We Hate the Poor?

by Kim Redigan

Today, families in Detroit, living under an emergency manager imposed by a governor committed to privatizing every inch of the state, are having their water shut off.  A few days ago, the United Nations, at the behest of local activists, issued a statement on the shutoffs.

This is what it’s come to  –  appealing to an international body to uphold the basic human right to water.

The situation in Detroit is, of course, a result of systemic injustices deeply rooted in racism, injustices that have been analyzed by minds far better than mine.

No, the question I ask is not academic.

 I am honestly trying to understand the hatred that is reserved for the poor in this country, hatred as deep and noxious as a tar sands trail.

Report: Militarization of Police Turning Communities into 'War Zones'

SWAT raids disproportionately affecting people of color

- Lauren McCauley, Commondreams staff writer
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/06/24-4

The city of Manchester, NH parading around their special armored SWAT vehicle. (Photo: Manchester City Library/ CC/ Flickr)

The rapid militarization of American police forces is turning our communities into "war zones" with tactics of war used disproportionately against people of color, charged a new report by the ACLU on Tuesday. 

Neutrality Begins At Home: What U.S. Mayors Can Do Right Now to Support a Neutral Internet

by April Glaser and Corynne McSherry

Photo: Free Press/ cc/ Flickr

This weekend at the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting in Dallas, some mayors will take a strong stand in support of net neutrality. According to an op-ed by Mayors Ed Lee of San Francisco and Ed Murray of Seattle, the city leaders are unveiling a resolution calling on the FCC to preserve an open Internet.

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