Opinion Blog-OPINIONS OF POSTERS-NOT OF WGN

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We’re Still Here

 

Yes we can cause a lot of trouble if you send our children to fight and to die
Or poison the food or try to delude us with ads that blatantly lie
Our children have minds meant for learning 
If there is a god, then god lives in them 
Books are not meant for burning  
What is it you feel that you must condemn?
But no matter how hard you push us around, there is something around the bend

We're still here 
Choosing love over fear  
When the lines are drawn we’re still here
We’re still here making it perfectly clear 
When the lines are drawn we’re still here

No matter how much you love to hate us, and fear is driving a stake in your heart
As long as the stars shine bright in the sky then love will keep doing its part
Yes, you may try to stop the music 
But music has wings and flies over the walls
It’s there when we dance and when we romance 
It’s there when the dictator falls
But no matter how hard you push us around, there’s one thing you need to recall

Sometimes we get sad and discouraged 
As old friends die and dreams slip from our grasp
But much as we treasure our memories, we don’t live in the past
Years can bring us grey hair and wrinkles 
And wisdom as well, I hasten to say
With walkers and canes we are standing 
Between young people and harm’s way
And your job just got harder today
Because

We're still here    
Choosing love over fear
When the lines are drawn we’re still here
We’re still here, making it perfectly clear
When the lines are drawn we’re still here
When the lines are drawn we’re still here

Lyrics by Holly Near Music by Holly Near and John Bucchino / © Hereford Music

 

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Two Explosions - Two Responses

NORTHAMPTON, MA — Two days separated the explosions at the Boston Marathon and West Texas. On April 15, two homemade bombs went off in Copley Square, killing three people and wounding more than 180. On April 17 a mushroom cloud rose over the West Fertilizer factory, killing 15 people, wounding over 200, destroying 60 houses and evacuating a community.

The responses? After the tragedy in Boston, President Obama offered his prayers and said “any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.” Thousands of police, state troopers and FBI swarmed over the Boston area to track down the Tsarnaev brothers, killing the older brother and capturing the younger, who is now in federal prison. Despite the fact that the Tsarnaevs were refugees from the former Soviet Union and their case had nothing to do with the present immigration debate, Republicans threaten to block the pending immigration compromise as a result of their actions. There has been a spate of anti-Muslim acts of violence nationally and every day the national airwaves, cyberspace and newspapers are filled with further attack details, speculation about motives and proposals to prevent further such acts of terrorism.

The carnage of West, Texas, slipped quietly off those same pages and airwaves. President Obama offered only his prayers, not the full weight of justice. No discussion on the front page of the New York Times of catching the criminals, no SWAT teams or house-to-house searches, no blaming government officials for dropping the investigative ball that would have prevented this horror. And yet, it certainly could have been prevented.

According to Reuters, the West Fertilizer Plant was the site of improper storage of more than 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate. This is 1,350 times the amount that would require a facility to self-report its stockpile to the Department of Homeland Security. Ammonium nitrate is a fertilizer used around the world, and is safe if handled properly. However, it is highly explosive when ignited, as it was by Timothy McVeigh in the Oklahoma City bombing.

In fact, West Fertilizer had not been fully inspected by any agency since 2006, when a neighbor complained to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality about a strong ammonia smell coming from the plant. That same year the EPA fined the company $2,300 for failing to update a risk management plan.

The explosion resulted from a workplace catastrophe and the main agency responsible for protecting the workers there (and thereby the community), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, should have identified and removed the risk. But when was the last OSHA inspection? According to the Christian Science Monitor, in 1985, more than 25 years ago, multiple “serious” violations of federal safety requirements were detected, for which the company paid a grand total of $30 in fines.

Why the yawning disparity between the two responses? The deaths, injuries and destruction of West Fertilizer are a corporate crime. Our government and our media have different standards for individual and corporate crimes.

In 2010, 4,500 men and women died in the workplace, more than the number of U.S. soldiers who died in the entire Iraq war. Another 50,000 workers die annually from chronic diseases contracted in the workplace. Yet the only agency that protects them — us — has always been understaffed, so that a plant like West Fertilizer can expect to be inspected by OSHA only once every 67 years. The 2,200 inspectors at both federal and state level cover 7.5 million workplaces employing more than 130 million workers. That’s one inspector for every 58,000 workers. And the fines, if ever paid, are a pittance.

Now, enter the federal sequester. The agency will have to cut its $565 million budget by 8.2 percent, which the White House predicted would mean 1,200 fewer workplace inspections.

The Boston Marathon bombing made every one of us think hard about our own security. But West, Texas, reminds us real security is a complex and expensive process that results from government investment in environmental and workplace safety and health, access to necessities for all our people, particularly the most vulnerable, and ensuring that there are not different standards of justice for different types of deadly and preventable violence.

I will be joining Northampton city councilors, students, educators, workers and advocates for the poor on the steps of Northampton City Hall May 17 at 3:45 p.m. to demand a “Budget for All.” We need comprehensive security for our communities.

Marty Nathan, M.D., of Northampton, MA, is assistant professor of medicine at Tufts University in Boston, and a family practitioner at Baystate Brightwood Health Center in Springfield, MA

The above was op-ed by Dr. Marty Nathan in the Friday, May 3, 2013, issue of the Daily Hampshire Gazette. It was sent by Buzz Davis.

 
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The USA - Going Pell-mell on the Wrong Path!

What would happen if the FBI used its tremendous resources to investigate and prosecute the criminals on Wall Street, in banks and in big business?  How about closing down the Mafia?

Chasing possible terrorists, searching elderly air travelers and chasing immigrants crossing our southern boarder has become an expensive, never ending, full employment program for certain federal agencies.

Yet the massive crimes related to mortgages and illegally setting high interest rates that have ruined our economy and financially damaged most American families and municipalities are not fully investigated and prosecuted.  The Justice Department says the banks are too big to prosecute.  Instead, the feds loan Wall Streeters and bankers trillions of dollars.

President Bush's illegal wars, torture and wiretapping are not prosecuted.   The Administration says, "We must look forward, not backward."  All the death, misery and expense he caused are swept under the rug.  And Obama continues the wars.

Anyone paying attention knows that kamikaze pilots in WWII and suicide bombers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan cannot be stopped.  Men wishing to die killing innocent people will do so regardless of what is done.

We cannot encourage people living in dictatorships to try democracy by sticking a gun in their face.  We don't promote peace by terrorizing and killing innocent civilians with drones or midnight home raids.  We only create hatred.

America is on the wrong path leading to the destruction of our future.  No one is forcing us down this path - we are shoving ourselves.

We must stop, think, and turn around.

We need public jobs to put the unemployed to work in our schools and communities.  We must stop illegal wars, cut the military, raise taxes on the super-rich and corporations, close tax loopholes and start working harder for peace than we do war.

We must invest in ourselves - not in far off lands run by criminal war lords who hate us.  We must realize USA politicians and CEO's are not smart enough to run Washington, D.C. much less the world.

At home in the United States and WI we need prosperity - not austerity budgets.

Internationally, we must work with the United Nations and other countries to ask, "How we can work together to promote a more sustainable world, with less hunger, better health care and education, clean air and water and more freedom for all?"

Buzz Davis, member Veterans for Peace, Stoughton, WI

Davis is a former VISTA volunteer, Army officer who served in S. Korea during Vietnam, elected official, union organizer and a retired state government planner and senior activist.    [email protected]

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Mining for Iron County's Freedom

Check out the latest episode of Civil Discourse! A local podcast out of Madison. In this episode we talk about a pending lawsuit against a mine in Iron County, which could include Walker's controversial mine. Be sure to subscribe on Itunes and tell your friends!
http://civildiscourse.podomatic.com/entry/2013-08-25T16_15_48-07_00

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Unhappy with Wisconsin economy

Are you unhappy with the reports of Wisconsin's lagging behind the rest of the midwestern states and the nation as a whole?  I am too.  I learned from the blog, Waukesha Wonk, that new research by the Institute for Wisconsin’s Future indicates that recent economic policies have slowed our state’s recovery.

Here are three reasons why this is so:

1.  A new rail terminal in Madison and high-speed railroad tracks through Wisconsin were supposed to open this summer.  A factory in Milwaukee was supposed to build the railroad cars for the new system and others like it throughout the United States.  But, because our governor turned down the hundreds of millions of federal dollars that would have made these things happen, there is no new terminal, there are no new tracks, and the railroad car company closed down and moved elsewhere.

2.  In the current governor's first year, fifteen thousand five hundred jobs were lost in Wisconsin state and local governments due to his and the Republican state legislature's actions.  It was the second largest loss of public sector jobs in the United States in 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The public sector workers in Wisconsin who kept their jobs lost about eight percent of their spendable income, due to new requirements that they pay larger percentages of the costs of their health insurance and retirement contributions.  Those workers would have spent most of that income at local retailers' businesses: grocery stores, hardware stores, and such.  That’s nearly a billion dollars a year lost to local Wisconsin retail businesses.

3.  Wisconsin's unemployment rate remains around seven percent.  Meanwhile, just across the border, Minneapolis-St. Paul has an unemployment rate of only five percent. 

Progressive commentator Ruth Conniff wrote in Isthmus (7/18/13), "...any business owner can tell you that consumer demand...drives business growth and job creation."  In order to stimulate consumer demand, we must put money in the pockets of consumers.  Jobs like the ones we lost, the ones that were downgraded, and the ones we DIDN'T get in Wisconsin are what put money in the pockets of consumers.  Money in the pockets of consumers gets spent.  The governor has made some wrong assumptions and some wrong decisions about how to get the Wisconsin economy rolling again.

Meanwhile, what do we get in Wisconsin?  An old-fashioned, open-pit, low-grade iron ore mine way Up North.

Modern infrastructure, built and operated by local employees, public and private sector jobs, income spent at hometown businesses: these are the kinds of things we need to get our economy moving again.  Our current Republican state government has made wrong assumptions about what makes an economy go.  Want to know the solution to this problem?  Next time, vote Democrat.

Sincerely,

John Scepanski

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Affordable Care Act resource

Are your not-so-progressive friends giving you a hard time about the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act -- "obamacare" ?  Go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/healthreform for some real good scoop.  Or, better yet, refer them there ... if they'll go.
 
The Myths & Facts click is especially valuable.

                  

                                          John

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Capitol Singers Actions a Walker Diversion?

 

FYI, I posted this message on the Lisa Mux's WaukeshaWonk.com blog in response to a comment there, speculating that the crackdown on the Singers in the Capitol Rotunda might be a clever diversion by the supporters of the Governor Walker administration.

Lisa, you bring up a very important point here. We must grab back the news media with better substance. Not to say that the Singers are not substantive and important. We all hail them as icons. Still, we must (to be cliché-ed about it) “keep our eyes on the prize” and “our noses to the grindstones.” We must elect Democrats and to do so we must continue to spread the progressive message among the grassroots. John Scepanski, DeForest Area Progressives

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Assault on Women's Rights

In this episode, Sen. Peter Bear and Eric discuss the recent assault on women's rights in Wisconsin. The Legislature is focused on abortion legislation while the state's economy is failing. 

http://civildiscourse.podomatic.com/entry/2013-06-23T14_56_06-07_00

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Here They Come Again

and_again.jpg 

Unfortunately, everytime they vote on this, it costs the taxpayers money!

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The American in Russia

gulag.jpg

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