By Rev. Jim Conn
With a trumpet blast from the sources of conventional wisdom, the Keystone XL pipeline charged through the news sources last month. When the State Department released its positive environmental report that is seen as clearing the way for a pipe full of Canadian oil slurry to run through the heartland of America to the refineries of Houston, the pundits lined up to salute. They said the XL would add to American oil independence. They said it would bring jobs. They said it would never cause any of those silly problems the environmentalists were bothered about.
By Michael Dear
Four U.S. Senators came to visit the Arizona border. Hosted by John McCain, Republican of Arizona, they were members of the so-called 'Gang of 8' - a bipartisan group currently drafting proposals for comprehensive immigration reform.
During their visit, the senators reportedly witnessed a migrant trying to scale the border wall before being apprehended by authorities. Such drama! (And such a coincidence...)
But being on the line does provoke fresh insights. "You can read and you can study and you can talk but until you see things it doesn't become reality," said Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York, who was touring the border for the first time.
By Robert Cruickshank
Joel Fox, chairman of the Small Business Action Committee, said, "The stars were in line, but have been knocked out of alignment."
But Rubio may have seen the writing on the wall as far back as last fall, when his last-minute effort at taking on CEQA was quashed by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, who insisted that any fixes to the premier environmental law wouldn't happen in the dark of night under the Capitol dome.
By Robert Reich
Bad news on the economy. It added only 88,000 jobs in March - the slowest pace of job growth in nine months.
While the jobless rate fell to 7.6 percent, much of the drop was due to the labor force shrinking by almost a half million people. If you're not looking for work, you're not counted as unemployed.
That means the percentage of working-age Americans either with a job or looking for one dropped to 63.3 percent - its lowest level since 1979.
The direction isn't encouraging. The pace of job growth this year is slower than its pace last year.
What's going on? The simple fact is companies won't hire if consumers aren't buying enough to justify the new hires. And consumers don't have enough money, or credit, or confidence to buy enough.
By Lisa Schiff
In the midst of a protracted assault on public education, teachers unions have in front of them a tremendous opportunity. The need for strong leadership asserting child-centric approaches to education has never been greater - teachers and their unions can seize this moment to break the mold of the traditional union and expand that organization's legitimate sphere of action to formally include the very structure and quality of students' learning experiences.
The historic purpose of a union to protect and advocate for its members is no less relevant today than it was in years past, but within the world of public education that mission alone is insufficiently ambitious, both for teachers and their students. The conditions of work are critical, but the nature of that work is equally so.
By Linda Leu
While we all anxiously await the transformational changes of the Affordable Care Act, California legislators are also moving forward several important bills that will improve the health care system for consumers (Health Access is supporting list of such bills this year). The Assembly Health Committee met Tuesday to consider a number of these bills in the regular legislative session (not on the accelerated Special Session schedule) that impact health care consumers.
By Dick Price
As California grapples with a prison system so broken that the U.S. Supreme Court has mandated reductions in the number of prisoners it holds, the three-part "Smart Justice: Rethinking Public Safety in California" discussion begun this past week at the University of Southern California is examining both consequences and possible solutions to the state's mass incarceration mess.
By Randy Shaw
In the past month, 1. Los Angeles voters overwhelmingly rejected a billionaire-backed school board candidate seeking to shift control of the district to anti-union forces; 2. Thirty-five Atlanta educators, including a close ally of prominent "reformer" Michelle Rhee, were indicted for altering students' test scores; 3. Rhee, head of "Students First," was herself caught lying about being a "public school parent" after it was reported that one of her daughters attends an exclusive private school in Tennessee; and 4. Chicago parents came out in force against Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan for massive school closures.
By Dan Bacher
Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird cynically used the release of the latest Sierra Nevada snow survey on March 28 to campaign for the construction of the peripheral tunnels through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, just as he has done every spring since being appointed by Governor Jerry Brown.
Snow surveyors reported Thursday that water content in California's snowpack is only 52 percent of normal, with the spring melt season already under way, according to the Department of Water Resources. After a record dry January and February in much of the state, DWR has decreased its water delivery estimate from 40 to 35 percent of requested amounts from the State Water Project (SWP).
By Norman Solomon
If your daily routine took you from one homegrown organic garden to another, bypassing vast fields choked with pesticides, you might feel pretty good about the current state of agriculture.
If your daily routine takes you from one noncommercial progressive website to another, you might feel pretty good about the current state of the Internet.
But while mass media have supplied endless raptures about a digital revolution, corporate power has seized the Internet - and the anti-democratic grip is tightening every day.