Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Student loan leg / Worker Rights Leg

Dear MoveOn member,

Since 1999, average student loan debt has increased by a shameful 511%. In 2010, total outstanding student loan debt exceeded total outstanding credit card debt in America for the first time ever. In 2012, total outstanding student loan debt is expected to exceed $1 trillion.
In response to this crisis, U.S. Representative Hansen Clarke of Michigan has just introduced H.R. 4170, the Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012, which would extend a helping hand to those struggling under massive amounts of student loan debt.
That's why I created a petition to Rep. John Kline, Chairman of the House Education and the Workplace Committee; the United States House of Representatives and Senate; and President Barack Obama on, which says:
Total outstanding student loan debt in America is expected to exceed $1 TRILLION this year. Millions of hardworking, taxpaying, educated Americans are being crushed under the weight of their educational debts, while the economy continues to sputter. Support a REAL economic stimulus and jobs plan. Support the Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012 (H.R. 4170).

Dear Mark ,

Corporate-bought politicians are taking aim at workers again. And this time, they’ve got fair elections for workers in the crosshairs.

In December, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)—the federal agency that protects workers’ rights—issued a rule that modernizes the NLRB election process and helps ensure workers have a fair way to form a union without unfair delays and manipulation of the process by employers.

Now, anti-worker politicians in Congress are trying to ram through a resolution to undo this modest step forward for the 99%.

The resolution is headed for a vote in the U.S. Senate this week, and we need your voice in this debate. Please take 30 seconds to write your senators NOW.

By limiting delays and frivolous litigation, the NLRB’s rule helps ensure that workers who want to vote to form their own union have a fair opportunity to do so.

From the day a worker is hired, companies have every opportunity to communicate with employees about the pros and cons of having a union. But extremists have pushed a congressional resolution that would overturn the NLRB’s new election procedures: They’re trying to pay back their corporate donors by slashing workers’ rights on the job once again.

Let your senators know that voters won’t stand for this senseless attack.

The stakes are too high for working families to stay on the sidelines. If corporate-backed politicians pass this week’s attack on fair elections, they’ll:

  • Resurrect the barriers workers face when they want a simple up-or-down vote on forming a union, giving an unfair advantage to law-breaking CEOs.

  • Encourage costly delays and litigation, paving the way for employers who want to retaliate against workers.

  • Make it even harder for employees to form a union and negotiate for fair pay and benefits, weakening the middle class and our chances at a brighter economic future.
From statehouses across the country to Congress, the forces of the 1% are openly and brazenly waging war on workers. This attack on the NLRB is just the latest in this relentless series of nationally coordinated assaults on workers and collective bargaining rights. Rather than working together to create jobs, restore tax fairness and jumpstart our economy, extreme legislators are pushing divisive policies that put workers' rights on the chopping block.

Corporate politicians won’t let up until even the most modest workplace protections have been eliminated. But you can help stop this attack in its tracks.

Tell your senators: Don’t reverse progress for workers.

Thank you for all the work you do.

In Solidarity,

Richard L. Trumka
President, AFL-CIO


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

YES Mag and more

A DIY Civilization
Can we create the machines of modern life sustainably, cheaply, and close to home?
posted Mar 26, 2012
life track tractor by sean church 220x165
The LifeTrack Multi-Purpose Tractor is designed to accept many attachments making it many tractors in one.
Photo by Sean Church
A baker’s oven, a backhoe, a well drilling rig. According to social entrepreneur Marcin Jakubowski, these are a few of the 50 machines essential for any society to sustain a modern, comfortable lifestyle.
But these machines are not only essential, explains Leifur Thor, they’re also expensive, hard to repair and designed to be obsolete in a few years. Thor volunteers with Open Source Ecology, a non-profit Jakubowski founded to develop the Global Village Construction Set. The set will comprise durable, modular machines that people can build and maintain themselves with sustainable, locally available materials—often scrap metal. OSE will give the plans away to anyone who wants them. The money a farmer would have sent to a large corporation to buy a hay cutter will stay in the community. The environmental impact of shipping heavy equipment long distances will disappear. These machines are designed to cost roughly a fifth of what factory-produced models do.

I just returned from the White House, where President Obama signed the STOCK Act, a new law requiring the government to post public officials' financial transactions online so that the public can see if the officials are personally benefiting from inside information they may obtain due to the positions they hold. This is an important step forward for open government and for lifting ethical standards.
The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, or STOCK Act, requires proactive online disclosure of public officials’ financial dealings. This is the first time that much of this information will be available online, and it should help prevent questionable ethical activities by public officials and the staff that serve them and the public.
A commitment to putting the public’s interest above personal gain should be a core value of any public servant, and the belief that public officials do so is what builds trust in government. We’re pleased that our elected officials made it a priority to pass this historic legislation. Now, to ensure real accountability, they need to get the information posted.
The STOCK Act creates a spotlight to search out insider trading. Please urge the president and Congress to turn it on. Right away. The government should post the required disclosures as soon as possible, preferably on a website that allows the public to quickly find the information in a form that is easy to understand. We’d like to see a website with quality search tools and data that can be downloaded and shared.
The American people have been left in the dark for far too long. Turn on the STOCK Act now. Create the website.
Thank you again for standing up for integrity and accountability in government.
KM1 cropped color.jpg
Warm Regards,
Katherine Signature
Katherine McFate
For years, the right wing has been trying to stop people of color, young people, and seniors from voting in order to help Republicans get elected — and now some of America's biggest companies are helping them do it.1
These companies have helped pass discriminatory voter ID legislation by funding a rightwing policy group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Voter ID bills linked to ALEC have already passed in seven states, and similar voter ID bills have been introduced in 27 other states.
That's why we're joining our friends at Color of Change and calling on "ALEC corporations" to remove their support of this rightwing organization.
Supporters of discriminatory voter ID laws claim they want to reduce voter fraud (individuals voting illegally, or voting twice). But such fraud almost never actually occurs, and never in amounts large enough to affect the result of elections. What is clear is that voter ID laws prevent large numbers of eligible voters from casting a ballot, and could disenfranchise up to 5 million people.
ALEC's voter ID laws are undemocratic, unjust and part of a longstanding right wing agenda to weaken the voting blocs that historically oppose Republican candidates. We have to expose the major companies who are helping ALEC suppress the votes of millions of Americans before it's too late.
Thank you for standing up against voter suppression.
Becky Bond, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets
When I started writing my new book, "Rebuild the Dream," I was thinking about you and the millions of Americans like you who voted for hope and change in 2008. We found out that change was a lot harder than we thought.
As a grassroots outsider who became a White House insider, I have a special perspective on the challenges, which I want to share with you.
In the book I write about a lot of things:
·  For the first time, I share my experiences working in the Obama White House—and reveal the seven biggest mistakes that grassroots progressives and the president made before the 2010 midterm elections.
·  I give my perspective on the tea party—and detail the many things it does well.
·  I explain how we can create jobs for millions of Americans—including veterans coming home, debt-burdened students, and our public employees (such as teachers, cops, and firefighters) who are being thrown under the bus.
·  Most importantly, I talk about what we must do during Obama's second term to have many, many more victory parties.
The book officially launches tomorrow, but it's available for pre-sale today. You can order the book for yourself, your friends, and your family by clicking here:

Ultimately, this book is just the prologue to what comes next, and that is why I wrote it for you. America is not broke. We are a rich nation, and we can do much better than we are doing.
We need a game plan for victories now and in the years to come. To win, we need to build a grassroots movement as big as anything we've ever seen—on scale with the historic civil rights movement. This book offers my best thinking about how we can get there.
Today's the first day the book is for sale. I hope you will order the book for yourself, your friends, and your family. Our movement for hope and change is just getting started, and I look forward to building it with you.
–Van Jones
"Van Jones" <>

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Target Store´s Recycling and more

I love recycling – it saves resources, energy and gets people involved in saving the planet.
In our surveys of the general public, it’s the #1 environmental issue that people want to know more about. And recycling is one of the first ways people begin to take responsibility for the environment. It's a gateway environmental issue that gets people thinking about how they can reduce and reuse.
Businesses must take responsibility too, by creating markets for recycled materials, and by taking responsibility for the life-cycle of products they sell. This week, we’ve got news on how businesses are getting involved – and on how you can get involved too, to push businesses to do the right thing and encourage recycling.
First of all, our Policy Director, Fran Teplitz announces a new action in partnership with MoxyVote to urge Target to launch a responsible take-back program for used electronics sold in Target stores. Target’s competitors Best Buy and Walmart have small take-back programs; now consumers and shareholders are banding together to push Target to launch a comprehensive electronics recycling program that trumps even what their competitors are doing.
Let’s catalyze a virtuous cycle – with companies competing to recycle more and more, moving to a complete product take-back mindset!
The businesses of our Green Business Network™ are already doing the right thing. This week, online editor Andrew Korfhage brings you the latest Faces of the Green Pages interview with Jerry and Corie Thornton of Clean Conscience. Jerry and Corie started their business in their retirement years to help build a greener world for their grandchildren. They’re diverting thousands of used plastic bottles from the waste stream by making them into reusable bags (and they’re made right here in the USA)!
Finally, Frank Locantore, the director of our Better Paper Project announces the latest round of spring promotions that will help you find recycled-paper leaders in your local bookstores. New for April are promotions at Barnes and Noble, in the NYC subway, and more. When recycled paper magazines are rewarded in the market, it provides incentive for more publishers to use recycled paper and divert more useful paper from landfills and incinerators.
Here’s to the pursuit of zero waste!

Alisa Gravitz,
Executive Director,
Green America
Credit Union Lending Cap Increase Needs Your Support
The National Cooperative Business Association is asking members and all friends of cooperatives to demonstrate their support of S. 2231, which will enable credit unions to support economic growth through increased small business lending.  The bill is in the US Senate, and critical action on this bill could come in the next few weeks.  It’s important that members of the Senate hear from the cooperative community about the importance of voting in favor of this legislation.

What does S. 2231 do?  S. 2231 would raise the credit union member business lending cap from 12.25 percent of assets to 27.5 percent for eligible credit unions and task the National Credit Union Administration with writing safety and soundness regulations to implement the added authority. To be eligible, a credit union would have to be at or near its current cap, have at least five years’ experience in member business lending and be in a strong capital position.  In addition, the credit union would not be allowed to grow its MBL portfolio more than 30 percent a year.

Why it’s important.  Credit unions have been subject to an arbitrary cap on lending since the passage of the Credit Union Membership Access Act of 1998. The Small Business Lending Enhancement Act would significantly increase the amount of money credit unions are allowed to invest in small businesses. The Credit Union National Association estimates that passing this legislation could provide up to $13 billion to small businesses in the first year alone and create over 140,000 new jobs at no cost to taxpayers.

NCBA asks its members to call and email their senators in support of S. 2231.

You may send an email to your senators by using this action alert tool, created by CUNA:

Wow. So many workers' rights supporters are stepping up to the plate to help stop the right wing's right-to-work scam.
And already the tide is beginning to turn – thanks to more people like you speaking out against this deceptive policy.
Even employers are coming out against right to work. Some say it's not their priority, some say it's bad for the economy,1 while others say it's simply too risky.2
Politicians are also starting to balk at the divisive measure. Efforts to pass right-to-work in Minnesota and New Hampshire appear to have stalled.
The ground is shifting – but it's not over yet. We need just 46 more donors to fully fund our campaign. With your donation we can ensure right to work is off the agenda for good. Please chip in now!
Anti-worker politicians thought they could get away with anything. But their overreaching policies for the 1% are catching up with them. It certainly backfired for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. A federal judge on Friday ruled that portions of his outrageous anti-collective-bargaining law are unconstitutional, and his recall election was just confirmed for June 5.
But there are still a few holdouts. We need to make absolutely certain these extremists get the message loud and clear that we're not fooled. Right to work will drive down wages, benefits, and job standards for all of us – and in this economy, that's something we just can't afford.
We're almost at critical mass. Just 46 more donations will ensure that we can go out swinging. We're ready to end this fight once and for all – let's do so together. Join us and donate today.
In solidarity,
It’s paying off.

Ever since the Supreme Court issued its perverse ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission a little over two years ago, all of us have been working together to protect our democracy from a hostile corporate takeover.

When we started, many people and pundits thought our movement for a constitutional amendment to overturn the ruling was a pipe dream. Now it’s mainstream.

The momentum you’ve helped generate just keeps growing:
Last week, the California State Assembly passed a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.
On Super Tuesday, voters throughout Vermont passed resolutions calling for a constitutional amendment. Public Citizen activists are leading this unprecedented push in the Green Mountain State.
Public Citizen activists have made substantial contributions to efforts for similar measures in Maryland, Massachusetts and New York.
We recently launched Resolutions Week, a campaign to pass resolutions in hundreds of cities and towns this June. Activists in more than 1,000 communities from coast to coast have already signed up.
We must build on this momentum right here, right now. This is the time.
Ever since the ruling was handed down, surveys have consistently shown that 4 of 5 Americans think Citizens United was wrongly decided.

What’s changed — and what we can all take credit for — is that people are mobilizing with resounding impact:
Dozens of representatives, including Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, have joined our call for an amendment.
Twenty-four senators — very nearly a quarter of the Senate — support an amendment.
President Obama recently endorsed the idea of a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.
This is the unique power you have as part of Public Citizen — the melding of principled commitment, on-the-ground activism and creative political strategy into a force that time and again transforms the seemingly impossible into reality.

The plutocrats and their Super PACs are waging a full-blown assault on the functioning of our democracy. We’re looking at a scenario where perhaps a few dozen giant corporations and hyper-wealthy individuals exert a decisive influence over our elections.

I know you are outraged. Let that outrage incite you to action.

I have faith in our country. I have faith in our people. And I know what great things Public Citizen and its supporters can achieve when we all pull together — we’ve done it countless times before.

Thanks to Public Citizen activists and supporters like you, we’ve made dramatic gains in the fight to prevent the sell-off of our democracy.

But we have a long way still to go.

This is going to take all of us, each doing everything we can. Real citizens, united.
Thank you.

Robert Weissman
President, Public Citizen

Dear Mark,
Our country has literally no limits on the carbon pollution that is causing catastrophic climate change and that is freely spewed by power plants.
On Tuesday, The Environmental Protection Agency finally proposed a rule to change that. Unfortunately, not by very much.1
The EPA's first ever rule limiting carbon pollution — known as the Carbon Pollution Standard — applies only to unlikely-to-be-built, new coal-fired power plants. It is riddled with loopholes allowing new sources of pollution including some new coal plants. It does nothing to reduce carbon pollution from much more significant existing sources.
It's sad that our political climate has been made so toxic by climate change denying Republicans — who literally voted to deny the science of climate change2 — that the very acknowledgement of the need to regulate carbon pollution by EPA is a victory and a positive step forward.
But in today's actual climate — where much of our country just experienced record-shattering March heat waves after a disturbing lack of winter — it is not nearly enough. It is not only disappointing but profoundly dangerous that this rule does little if anything to effectively reduce unregulated climate pollution.
The EPA will now accept public comments on the rule — and as it weighs the public's reaction, we need to show that we expect much, much more from EPA to regulate carbon pollution.
Tell the EPA: We need stronger rules to protect us from existing and future sources of carbon pollution.
Having proposed a rule for new power plants, the EPA is now legally required to develop a rule to limit carbon pollution from existing power plants, a much more significant source.
But even in Tuesday's announcement, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson — who has been one of the few people in the Obama administration willing to fight to address climate change and defend the Clean Air Act — appeared to have her hands tied when it came to moving forward on rules that would address existing power plants, literally saying in a press conference, "we have no plans to regulate existing sources."3
If EPA fails to take action on existing power plants, then the measured progress represented by this rule will go down in history as a symbolic though essentially empty gesture.