Saturday, May 15, 2010

In CA, Schwarzenegger Completely Abandons The Poor

We all know that Governor Paterson has been fighting with the Assembly and the Senate to make paycuts, increase various taxes and cut programs here and there. As bad as the budget crisis is here in New York, the situation is far more grievous in the Golden State. While the Legislature in Sacramento is quite liberal, the Governor, or more aptly, the Gover-nator is not and his solution to the budget deficit is akin to a sledgehammer for those that are barely getting by.

From RawStory:

Schwarzenegger's budget proposals would see spending cuts of 12.4 billion dollars and include the elimination of California's welfare-to-work program and virtually all child care for low income families.

"California no longer has low-hanging fruits," Schwarzenegger said in Sacramento. "We have to take the ladder away from the tree and shake the whole tree. We must make very difficult decisions."

Schwarzenegger said his spending cuts would eliminate 60 percent of funding for community mental health. Low income families would also lose access to state-subsidized day care for children, the governor added.

Schwarzenegger's grammatical problems pale in comparison to his apathy for the millions of Californians that live in poverty. He also talks of shaking the tree in search of fruit, but ignores the truly hard decision to roll back tax cuts that have been given to corporations and wealthy individuals throughout his tenure and from decades past. Californians must remind Arnold that the poor have been spit upon plenty by corporate America already, the government must not continue the same despicable practice.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Gulf: Much Worse Than You Can Ever Imagine

As bad as you can imagine this oil spill is, the reality is much worse. This helicopter view starts to give the viewer a glimpse into what is going on, but nothing like that of what this environmentalist describes to us while filming the devastation.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thank God For Al Franken

When I was at Air America Radio in 2006, I knew Al Franken was serious about running for Senate when he moved his show back to his home state of Minnesota. Rumors had turned into a serious candidacy and a hard fought campaign. In 2008, Al Franken beat incumbent Norm Coleman in Minnesota's U.S. Senate race. In 2009 after many long, litigious months, Franken was sworn into office. And in 2010 the former comedy man continues to impress, especially with his latest legislative victory recorded today.

From Yahoo News:

An amendment from Democratic Senator Al Franken would set up a government clearinghouse to assign debt rating duties to agencies, including the Big Three: Moody's Corp, Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings.

That could ease pressures the agencies face to assign overly rosy ratings to debt instruments issued by firms that hire the agencies, backers of the Franken amendment said.

"There is a staggering conflict of interest facing the credit rating industry," Franken said on the Senate floor.

The Franken plan could bring more competition to ratings, said Bill Bergman, an analyst with Morningstar Inc.

Chris Dodd, known for his financial cred around the Senate, did not support this amendment coming to pass. He's not exactly a picture of cherubic goodness in D.C. if you know what I mean. Senator Dodd aside, this is a huge victory those who hold credit cards and a big defeat for those that rip off consumers and work (generally at the top) in the industry. Once the bill passes, and if the amendment remains intact, Congress' attempt at financial reform will have at least one victory written within. Congrats to Senator Franken for pushing this through, err or in Republican-speak, ramming it down our throats!

NYC Council Takes Action Against Arizona For Legislative Bigotry

California and various cities within were a few of the first government entities to condemn Arizona for the highly controversial SB1070. In the few weeks since the racial profiling law passed, the outrage against the bill has been fierce across the nation and even the world.

Meanwhile, supporters contend that this is in response to rising crime (not true) and that racism has nothing to do with the legislation (if so, explain this other racist legislation Arizona passed). Regardless of Arizona's claims of innocence, Americans outside the Copper State realize the totalitarian and apartheid-like movement within and are rapidly creating distance between those that value immigrants and those that do not. Thankfully that will now include the mecca of America's immigrants, New York City.

From WNBC:

The City Council announced a resolution Wednesday calling for a boycott of the state of Arizona--a reaction to the recent law that allows police officers the right to ask residents to provide immigration documentation.

Two major potential targets for the boycott include U.S. Airways, which is based in Arizona, and Major League Baseball, which is holding its 2011 All-Star Game in Arizona.

The move was introduced by Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez and co-sponsored by Council Members Margaret Chin, daniel Dromm, Robert Jackson, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Rosie Mendez, Jumaane Williams, and the Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio.

If Arizona wants to (further) marginalize an entire ethnicity within their state, they will pay a heavy price for it and now New York City has placed itself on the right side of this debate. Hopefully this will continue to propel the movement against Arizona and their legislature, putting an increasing load of economic pressure and shame until they realize just how wrong that bill was.

Elena Kagan: For And Against

As the debate heats up over Barack Obama's choice to replace Supreme Court Justice Stevens, here are two interviews with Lawrence Lessig and Glenn Greenwald. The former argues for her nomination, the latter against. Check them out here:

Cenk Uyugr with Lawrence Lessig:

Cenk then talks with Glenn Greenwald:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Paterson And The Assembly At It Again....

We are now in the middle of May and the Legislature continues to disappoint New York in failing to produce a budget that will actually balance. While legislators are mandated to go without pay, some are going the extra mile in that regard and are furloughing their own staff. Over at the Governor's office, the antics are being turned up higher and higher.

From The Daily Politics:

At least a dozen members of the state Assembly marched out of conference and
are, as you read this, in the Red Room outside the governor's office in the
state Capitol.

They say want to talk budget -- now.

"We are now
waiting in his conference room area... They allege that he’s here somewhere, and
so we are waiting an opportunity to talk about the about the budget impasse,"
Assemblywoman Deborah Glick told me by cell phone.

And of course right after that, the Governor went right back to the press to claim that he was in the right and that it's the Assembly that is stalling. What it all means basically is that the politicians get to talk, the press gets copy and New Yorkers get.....absolutely nothing, unless of course you count frustration as a tangible item.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Round-Up Reality: Mother Nature Always Wins Out

Monsanto has made a killing patenting and forcibly selling their Round-Up resistant seeds to farmers across the country and around the world. In an effort to get more crops out of an acre, the Monsanto GMOs promised to relieve farmers from tilling their crops and saying goodbye to weeds forever. The only problem was that engineers and executives at Monsanto and other GMO companies forgot that as much as they wanted to play god, it was never going to work out that way in the end. All it did was make mother nature mad.

From The NY Times:

Now, Roundup-resistant weeds like horseweed and giant ragweed are forcing farmers to go back to more expensive techniques that they had long ago abandoned.

Mr. Anderson, the farmer, is wrestling with a particularly tenacious species of glyphosate-resistant pest called Palmer amaranth, or pigweed, whose resistant form began seriously infesting farms in western Tennessee only last year.

Pigweed can grow three inches a day and reach seven feet or more, choking out crops; it is so sturdy that it can damage harvesting equipment. In an attempt to kill the pest before it becomes that big, Mr. Anderson and his neighbors are plowing their fields and mixing herbicides into the soil.

These developments have irritated our nations farmers to say the least. What that means to companies like Monsanto is that prices are going to come down, way down. Sadly though in the decade or two that it took the genetic engineering company to dominate the market, agriculture has rapidly devolved into producing just a few crops, primarily corn and soybeans. Even worse, the profits Monsanto made were mostly hoisted on the backs of farmers from Iowa to Bangalore.

Monday, May 10, 2010

"Furlough You Governor!"

Governor Paterson took a ton of heat from state workers today in Albany for his idea to furlough them in order to partially cover the gaping budget deficit. Needless to say, these people were pissed that their paychecks were being axed before the governor even considered hitting up the wealthiest New Yorkers. You know, those people who took advantage of the rest of us and suffered no consequences for it.

New Jersey's Radioactive Water Supply Is No Joking Matter

Making jokes about New Jersey comes as naturally to New Yorkers as giving tourists purposefully misleading directions (not that I've done that of course). Radioactive water in Southern New Jersey however, is not humorous at all (save for the fictional Springfield that the Simpsons live in). This is a real problem, and officials are scrambling to ensure that as much drinking water is protected as possible.

From the AP:

LACEY TOWNSHIP, N.J. — Radioactive water that leaked from the nation's oldest nuclear power plant has now reached a major underground aquifer that supplies drinking water to much of southern New Jersey, the state's environmental chief said Friday.

The state Department of Environmental Protection has ordered the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station to halt the spread of contaminated water underground, even as it said there was no imminent threat to drinking water supplies.

The department launched a new investigation Friday into the April 2009 spill and said the actions of plant owner Exelon Corp. have not been sufficient to contain water contaminated with tritium.

A friend of mine and I were discussing the safety of nuclear energy last night and I mentioned Indian Point as an example of what can go wrong with nuclear facilities. He's in favor of nuclear power, arguing that newer power plants are much better at containing the harmful effects of radioactive contamination.

Now I grant that the Exelon plant in New Jersey is the country's oldest and that per my friend's assertion, this isn't coming from a newer facility. He also mentioned that even a jet plane could not crack the fifteen foot thick steel-reinforced walls they build for the reactors. However, the fact remains that plenty of older facilities remain open for business and continue to be threats to their surrounding environments. Further, due to the laws of mother nature, eventually these new super structures will decay and become threats. For more information, start at the webpage for the World Nuclear Association.