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Creating a Green Collar Work Force: Include Our Inmates

The Green Collar Economy is activist and political advisor Van Jones' new book. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. wrote the forward

The premise: We can solve both our economic crises and our environmental problems with one solution: creation of green collar jobs, a green collar work force and a green economy.

Jones says we cannot drill and burn our way out of our energy and environmental problems. Here's what we can do to solve the crisis, and at the same time, address our declining economy, poverty and inequality. [More...]

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Cook County Sheriff Halts Foreclosure Evictions

The Sheriff of Cook County (Chicago) today announced his office will no longer evict people from homes under foreclosure.

many people his office has helped throw out on the street are renters who did nothing wrong.
“We will no longer be a party to something that's so unjust,” a visibly angry Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said at a news conference.

“We have to be sure that when we are doing this – and we are destroying some people's lives – we better be darned sure we're talking about the right people,” Dart said.

More...

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Peter Camejo Is Dead

Activist, candidate, and Green Party leader Peter Camejo died today at the age of 68.

Camejo ran for [California's] top office in 2002, 2003 and 2006, supporting abortion rights, universal health care and a moratorium on the death penalty. Before joining the Green Party, he also ran for president as the Socialist Workers Party nominee in 1976. In 2004, Camejo was independent Nader's vice presidential pick.

Camejo, a first-generation Venezuelan-American, was also active against the Vietnam War and a vocal advocate for migrant worker rights. He marched in Selma, Ala. with Martin Luther King, Jr.

RIP, Peter Camejo.

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'Books Are Weapons': Remembering Richard Wright

Richard Wright, author of the powerful novel Native Son, died in 1960. Had he lived, this would have been his 100th birthday.

This great black writer not only helped change the face of American fiction but he also helped pull the curtain down on Jim Crow. We should commemorate Wright because he defied all the odds. One hundred years ago, he was born poor, black, the son of a sharecropper. In his formative years, he was legally denied access to segregated Southern public libraries. Raised in poverty and hunger, and barely educated in rural Arkansas and Mississippi, Wright believed that "books are weapons." His material spat in the face of indifference, forcing readers to acknowledge the racist underside of the American dream.

Happy birthday, Richard Wright.

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Labor Day

Today is Labor Day. If you aren't familiar with its origin and history, here's a primer.

The observance of Labor Day began over 100 years ago. Conceived by America's labor unions as a testament to their cause, the legislation sanctioning the holiday was shepherded through Congress amid labor unrest and signed by President Grover Cleveland as a reluctant election-year compromise.

On the first Labor Day parade: [More...]

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Obama to Ask Supporters to Help Gustav Victims

Here's something we should all be able to agree is a good idea:

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama said Sunday he will tap his huge political network of donors and volunteers to help U.S. victims of Hurricane Gustav after it comes inland. ... "I think we can activate an e-mail list of a couple of million people who want to give back," he said. Donations could include cash, goods and individual labor, he said.

Obama will wait until local officials make clear what sort of assistance is needed before asking volunteers to help. In the meantime, his website offers information for people in the area and links to relief agencies that need financial support.

Update: Obama says he is fine with McCain's visit to Mississippi because the response to a natural disaster should be bipartisan, but doesn't plan to travel to the disaster area himself until he can do so without diverting resources from first responders.

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Report Condemns Inequitable Access to Health Care

Health is a function of wealth, and it always will be in the absence of universal health care. Setting aside the differing approaches taken by Barack Obama and John McCain to health care access, the broader problem of inequality extends far beyond American borders.

A report commissioned by the World Health Organization "finds a majority of people in the world do not enjoy good health because of a toxic combination of poor social policies, unfair economics and bad politics." The chairman of the commission that produced the report, Sir Michael Marmot, says:

"Between countries, we have life expectancy differences of more than 40 years. A woman in Botswana can expect to live 43 years, in Japan 86 years... That is unnecessary. There is no good biological reason why that is the case," he said. "It arises because of the social conditions in which people are born, they grow, they live, they work and they age. And, because of the set of economic arrangements, the values of society that are responsible for those conditions."

Health problems are compounded for girls and women in countries that limit their educational opportunities. [More ...]

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Left Behind in Postville

Let's hear it for those who stepped up to help the women and children left behind in Postville, Iowa after a raid resulted in the arrests of about 400 undocumented workers, many of whom were imprisoned after cursory proceedings.

The raid left 43 women, wives of the men who were taken away, and their 150 children without status or a means of support. The women cannot leave the town, and to make sure they do not they have been outfitted with leg monitoring bracelets.

Postville has turned into an open air prison for the women and children who, for "humanitarian" reasons, haven't been detained behind bars. The women have been left to fend for themselves, but are prohibited from working to earn money. [more ...]

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Alexander Solzhenitsyn Is Dead

Nobel prize winning writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, best known (to me at least) for writing Gulag Archipelago, died today at the age of 89.

The world lost a great writer and, more importantly, a great voice of conscience. May he rest in peace.

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Mismanagement at IHS

Is there any federal agency that hasn't been mismanaged in the Bush administration?

It is supposed to provide health services to about 2 million American Indians and Alaskan natives. But the Government Accountability Office charged Monday that the Indian Health Services, which often runs out of funds to pay for health care, managed to lose more than 5,000 pieces of equipment worth about $16 million in the period from 2004 to 2007.... To top it off, auditors found false purchasing documents created to mislead investigators.

Native American health is right up there with the environment, civil rights, body armor for soldiers, alternative energy, and the Constitution on the list of things the Bush administration just doesn't care about.

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Poll: CA Voters Oppose Initiative to Ban Gay Marriage

Polls can be wrong and opinions can change between now and November, but results of the latest Field Poll are encouraging:

Californians are likely to uphold the right to gay marriage in the state by voting against a ballot measure that seeks to override a court ruling allowing same-sex unions, poll results showed on Friday.

The Field Poll survey firm found 51 percent of voters oppose the measure, which proposes an amendment to the state's constitution recognizing marriage as only between a man and woman, while 42 percent were in favor.

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A Generational Shift?

There are young Americans like this all over the nation. These two are from Indianapolis:

[George] Srour, 24, was inspired by a Second Presbyterian Church speech given by local civic leader Jim Morris, who at the time was running the United Nations World Food Program. Srour landed an internship with the agency and saw schools in Uganda that didn't have walls or a roof. He raised $35,000 from fellow students at the College of William & and Mary for the first school building. His organization, Building Tomorrow, finished two more schools last month. ...

[Rachel] Sparks, 25, started her film work after learning about girls sold into prostitution in Thailand. She led a small group of young adults to Thailand last year to make a $75,000 documentary.

Remember the Me Generation? Sparks thinks today's 20-somethings belong to a more inclusive, less self-indulgent world. [more ...]

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Homeland Security Protects USA From UT Golfers

Bad fence:

At a Congressional hearing this month in Brownsville, the president of the University of Texas campus there, Juliet V. Garcia, testified that she had not been consulted before Homeland Security officials announced plans to build an 18-foot-high barrier that she said would leave the campus’s technology center and golf course “on the Mexican side of the fence.”

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Immigration Rules Get Bianca Jagger Evicted

It's not just the poor who get hit with penalties over our immigration policy. Bianca Jagger, anti-death penalty and human rights activist, just got hit with eviction from her New York City apartment because of it.

Bianca rented the apartment for 20 years. She battled the landlord the past several of them, since she sued him for mold damage. The court has ruled against her and appeals are over. The Sheriff came to move her things to storage. The reason:

[The landlord] argued that the 18th-floor apartment couldn't be Jagger's primary residence — a requirement for occupying a rent-stabilized unit — since she was in the U.S. on a tourist visa that required her to show that she intended to leave after a temporary stay. The state Supreme Court's Appellate Division agreed in October, noting that Jagger, who is a British citizen, keeps at least one luxury apartment in London.

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Utah Plan Would Require Mandated Health Insurance

As a follow-up to this post about Barack Obama's response to Paul Krugman's column about the failure of Obama's health care plan to include a mandate for universal health care coverage, I thought it interesting that Utah is considering a plan that would require every resident to have health insurance. Advisors to Gov. Gov. Jon Huntsman say it's the way to go:

"This is not government insurance. We don't think that's the solution to these challenges. Individuals are going to have more responsibility," [House Majority Leader Rep. David Clark,] said. "Our goal is to try to find a way for every Utahn to have an opportunity to have access to health care." For the poor, the plan would aim to boost enrollment in existing programs such as Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program and Utah's Premium Partnership for Health, which helps workers pay premiums.

Working residents who do not qualify for those programs but can't afford health insurance would receive subsidies that put coverage within their reach. People who can afford health insurance but don't buy it could be prohibited from enrolling in university classes or getting a job. Nielsen said it's possible they could also someday face a tax penalty, as is the case in Massachusetts.

The Salt Lake Tribune has more on the plan.

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