Monthly Archives: April 2015

Fundamentalist Christian Textbooks Exposed — This is What Vouchers Will Pay For

Bruce Wilson, writing on the blog Talk to Action gives a very disturbing look at the textbooks typically used in many fundamentalist Christian schools around the country.  Loaded with blatently racist lies, such as stating that the KKK acted as some kind of Christian benevolent organization, or that the Great Depression was exaggerated by propagandists like John Steinbeck, these books not only provide the only resource for education for millions of American children across the country, in many states they also are funded by the tax payers.

New Hampshire residents need to pay attention to this issue as the extremist right-wing faction in the state house would like nothing better than to take public tax dollars and funnel them into parochial schools.  Using dubious claims and even outright misinformation about Common Core, the fundamentalist right wing, funded oddly enough by large corporate and political players, attempt to cast doubt into the public’s mind about the quality of public education.

This look into the textbooks used by these religious schools demonstrates the reason why corporate interests love the malleable and unregulated industry of parochial schools; they can serve as the breeding ground for a compliant, uninformed and ignorant future population to exploit.

Nessie a Plesiosaur? Louisiana To Fund Schools Using Odd, Bigoted Fundamentalist Textbooks

“the [Ku Klux] Klan in some areas of the country tried to be a means of reform, fighting the decline in morality and using the symbol of the cross… In some communities it achieved a certain respectability as it worked with politicians.” – from Bob Jones University Press American history textbook

This 2012-2013 school year, thanks to a bill pushed through by governor Bobby Jindal, thousands of students in Louisiana will receive state voucher money, transferred from public school funding, to attend private religious schools, some of which teach from a Christian curriculum that suggests the Loch Ness Monster disproves evolution and states that the alleged creature, which has never been demonstrated to even exist, has been tracked by submarine and is probably a plesiosaur. The curriculum also claims that a Japanese fishing boat caught a dinosaur.

On the list of schools approved to receive funding through the new voucher funding, that critics warn could eventually cut public school funding in half, are schools that teach from the Christian fundamentalist A Beka Book, Bob Jones University Press, and Accelerated Christian Education curriculum.What’s in that curriculum? Last year, researcher Rachel Tabachnick and I co-produced a 35-minute documentary on the spread of a similar voucher program in Pennsylvania and other US states, titled “School Choice: Taxpayer-Funded Creationism, Bigotry, and Bias”. Embedded at the end of this post is an eight-minute video segment from that documentary with scans from material in currently used A Beka Book and Bob Jones University Press texts (in this May 25, 2011 story Tabachnick provides quotes from those textbooks.)

Continue reading: Nessie a Plesiosaur?

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Barbarians at the gates: authoritarianism and the assault on public education

Philosophers for Change

 barbkaf0

by Henry A. Giroux

In 2015 both the US Senate and House of Representatives will be controlled by the Republican Party, one of the most extremist political parties in US history.[1] Coupled with the empty centrism of the Democratic Party, their ascendency does not bode well for public education or a host of other important social issues. Nor does it bode well for democracy. If we conjured up George Orwell and his fear of state surveillance, Hannah Arendt and her claim that thoughtlessness was the foundation of totalitarianism, and Franz Kafka whose characters embodied the death of agency and the “helplessness of the living,”[2] it would be difficult for these dystopian works of literary and philosophical imagination to compete with the material realization of the assault on public education and public values in the United States at the beginning of the 21st century.

These are dangerous times. Compromise and…

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NH State House Watch

NH State House Watch, the American Friends Service Committee

State House Watch April 17
2015 Issue 14


Big news:  budgets, guns, casinos, and voting rights

Last week the Senate Finance Committee continued to hear agency presentations on the budget, the House Ways and Means Committee voted 11 to 10 to authorize two gambling casinos, and the NH Supreme Court heard oral arguments on voting rights.  Next week we’ll see additional deliberations on the budget, a vote on casino gambling by the full House, more deliberations on voting procedures, and yet another vote on legislation to weaken collective bargaining (i.e. right-to-work-for-less).  Read on, or click on the links, to get the details that follow, including the topics of discussion for meetings of Senate Finance.

The Budget

NH Voices of Faith will conduct vigils during every Finance Committee meeting.  Please contact Maggie or join the Facebook group to sign up for a shift.

But first, please take note that the Senate Finance Committee will hold a public hearing on the state budget on Tuesday, May 5, starting at 3 pm, in Representatives Hall at the State House.  This is the one formal opportunity for you, the public, to tell the members what you think about budgets for homeless services, mental health, energy conservation, state employee pay raises, why we should not reduce business taxes or privatize the Sununu Center, and more.

NH Voices of Faith will conduct a prayer service by the State House steps at 1:30 pm on May 5.  Everyone is welcome to participate.

Voting Rights at the Supreme Court

The NH Supreme Court heard arguments on a bill passed in 2012 that attempts to tie voter registration to motor vehicle registration. The legal debate is over whether there can be a relationship between the definition of “domicile” for voting purposes and “residency” for the purpose of automobile registration and driver licensing.  As the Concord Monitor reported,

“Originally brought against the state by the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union, the case centers on the question of whether such language is overly confusing and potentially unconstitutional. The lawyers challenging the state have argued that this language could amount to a ‘poll tax’ in the form of fees associated with driver’s licenses and motor vehicle registration, and that it would deter otherwise eligible voters from voting.
The Court has not said when it will issue a decision, but the outcome of this case is expected to impact other proposed voter bills in the legislature this session.”

One Casino, Two Casino

When the House Ways and Means Committee met on Tuesday to consider SB 113, State House watchers knew the vote would be 11-10.  The question on everyone’s mind was whether Rep. Paul Henle would side with backers or opponents of the 2-casino bill, which had already cleared the Senate.

Rep. Henle surprised opponents of expanded gambling with an amendment that delays licensing of the second casino until the first one has been licensed and a performance audit completed.  Casino supporters jumped on board with the amendment, Rep. Henle jumped on board with the casino crowd, and the bill came out of committee with an 11-10 OTP/A (ought to pass as amended) recommendation.

Speaker Shawn Jasper, who has opposed expanded gambling in previous sessions, said, “I don’t think we would be realizing any revenue very quickly, so it doesn’t solve any budget problems.”  WMUR’s Adam Sexton reported “It was initially believed that a vote would take place in two weeks, but Jasper said he doesn’t want to expose lawmakers to two weeks’ worth of calls from gambling lobbyists.”

The casino bill will be on the House agenda on Wednesday, April 29.  If it passes, it will go to the Finance Committee for review.  While casinos have been popular with Senators for years, a casino bill has never passed the House.

Governor Hassan still says she supports a single casino, but she doesn’t think the market will support a second casino. The NH Union Leader editorialized  today, “No governor can simply assert what the market is or will be, whether the topic is casinos or cattle.  If one casino is allowed, the market will demand more, and New Hampshire will be forever changed. The only way to prevent that is to prevent that first casino.”  We agree (this time) with the editor. High stakes gambling will change NH forever, and not for the better. (More on SB 113 in the House Regular Calendar section.)

We’ll talk more about gambling and state revenue with Representative Susan Almy on our next “State House Watch” radio show.

Coming Up Next Week in the House

The House will be in session on Wednesday, April 29 starting at 10:00 AM.

On the Consent Calendar

SB 92, establishing a committee to study public access to political campaign information. The bill was amended in committee to make it identical to HB 304, which had already passed the House. The committee will study the merits of an online campaign finance reporting system and a clearinghouse of information for voters. The committee voted 18-0 that the bill pass as amended. This is the bill championed by Open Democracy.

On the Regular Calendar

SB 116, repealing the license requirement for carrying a concealed pistol or revolver.  If this bill passes, any non-felon resident can buy a gun, load it up, and carry it concealed on their person whether they know how to use it or not.  However, one could still apply for a permit to carry a concealed weapon, which would enable concealed gun-toting in states that do require such a permit and enable gun-toters from other states to carry a concealed firearm here.  The bill extends the license renewal period for a permit to carry a concealed revolver or pistol from 4 years to 5 years. State revenue would be reduced due to a drop in permit applications, but no one seems to know how many people currently apply each year for a concealed carry permit. Committee recommends OTP/A 10-6.

SB 113, relative to video lottery and table gaming. This is the two-casino bill described above.  In the minority report, Rep. David Hess wrote,

Yes a casino will bring some revenue to the state (albeit much less than predicted), but at what cost? The charitable gaming rooms will most likely cease to exist. Crime may increase. The social costs and more importantly the impact on our citizens who become problem and pathological gamblers and the negative impacts on our local businesses are too high a price to pay. Finally, the potential for undue influence on the integrity of our political process and government from just one licensee will be enormous. More than $2,000,000,000 in cash will have to pass through a casino each year to generate the revenue projected by gambling interests. That is more than all of the general fund expenditures throughout the state in a year. Put another way, a single casino will be the largest taxpayer to our state – sending more money to the state than the next largest 25 taxpayers combined! Can anyone doubt that the gambling industry will have incredible influence on future legislatures? And there is no turning back if this bill passes. Once casinos are in place, they will be here forever. That will change the culture and the brand of New Hampshire. Forever. And not for the better.

Coming Up Next Week in the Senate

The Senate session scheduled for April 23 was cancelled so that members could attend the funeral for Michael Downing.  He was the Rockingham County Sheriff, and served three terms in the NH House and two in the NH Senate. Our condolences to his family.

The Senate will be in session on Thursday, April 30, starting at 10 AM, and including all the bills that were on last week’s calendar.

On the Consent Calendar

HB 407, establishing a committee to study the classifications of military vehicles and equipment that may be purchased by the state and its political subdivisions. The bill was amended to add a separate committee to study honorary legislation, e.g. the bill to designate the red-tailed hawk as the state raptor or the one to name the LOB lobby after George Roberts. Committee recommends OTP/A on a vote of 5-0.

On the Regular Calendar

HB 411, prohibiting the payment of subminimum wages to persons with disabilities.

HB 151, establishing a committee to study end of life decisions.

HB 658, prohibiting collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join a labor union. This version of the so-called “right to work” bill exempts police and firefighter’s unions.

HB 423, designating the bobcat as the New Hampshire state wildcat.

Coming up in Senate Committees

Contact Maggie to sign up for a NH Voices of Faith vigil shift.

Monday, April 27

Finance, Room 103, SH
Agency Presentations on the budget as passed by the House
9:00 AM  Dept. of Resources and Economic Development
10:00 AM Dept. of Environmental Services
11:00 AM  Lottery Commission, Racing and Charitable Gaming Commission
1:00 PM  Dept. of Education
2:00 PM  Veterans Home
2:30 PM  Office of Veterans Services
3:00 PM Public Utilities Commission
3:30 PM   LCHIP

Tuesday, April 28

Finance, Room 103, SH
Agency Presentation on the budget as passed by the House
2:00 PM  Community College System

Ways and Means, Room 103, SH

Revenue Presentations
9:00 AM  Dept. of Revenue Administration
10:00 AM  Lottery Commission
10:30 AM  Insurance Dept.
11:00 AM  Dept. of Safety
11:30 AM  Liquor Commission

Friday, May 1

Finance, Room 103, SH
Agency Presentations on the budget as passed by the House
1:00 PM  Homeland Security
2:00 PM   Long-Term Care Services

Monday, May 4

Finance, Room 103, SH
Agency Presentations continue
9:00 AM  Dept. of Health and Human Services:  Division of Community Based Care Services (including BEAS): Elderly and Adult, Behavioral Health and Substance Abuse, Developmental Services, the New Hampshire Hospital, and the Glencliff Home.
1:00 PM  Dept. of Administrative Services
2:30 PM  Fish and Game

Tuesday, May 5

Finance, Representatives Hall
Public Hearing on HB 1-A,  the budget bill, and HB 2, the budget “trailer” bill.
3:00 PM to 5:00 PM
5:00 to 6:00 PM – break
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
(Two years ago the committee held a similar hearing, also scheduled to end at 8 pm, but the members kept going until 10 pm to enable more people to testify.)

Coming up in House Committees

Tuesday, April 28

Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Room 302, LOB
10:00 AM Executive session includes SB 105, relative to child resistant packaging for tobacco products and establishing a committee to study revising the indoor smoking act. The child resistant packaging would be required for liquid nicotine containers used in products like E-Cigarettes or Advanced Personal Vaporizers or Vape Pens. Given that nicotine is a drug that can cause overdose, the child resistant packaging seems like a good idea. The study committee would consider revising the indoor smoking act to include e-cigarettes and vaping.

1:15 PM subcommittee work session on bills including SB 219, relative to breastfeeding. This bill requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to women who are breastfeeding. It also exempts a nursing mother from jury duty.

Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs, Room 205, LOB
10:00 AM Executive session includes SB 135, relative to lead poisoning in children, and SB 169, the bill that expands restrictions on the use of electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards. The bill’s sponsor has admitted that it will be difficult if not impossible to enforce. We view it as another attempt to marginalize and demean low income people.

Transportation, Room 203, LOB
11:00 AM Executive session includes SB 62, relative to driver’s licenses for persons without a permanent address.

Wednesday, April 29

Election Law, Room 308, LOB
1:00 PM or immediately following the House session, executive session on SB 179, the bill that would stipulate that a voter must be a resident of NH for 30 days before registering to vote. That the determining factors include business pursuits, employment, income sources, and motor vehicle registration implies that those who are not employed and do not own property would have a harder time establishing domicile.  We cry foul on this attempt to limit voter participation.

State Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs, Room 303, LOB
10:00 AM  Continued public hearing on SCR 1, recognizing the contribution of Bhutanese refugees to New Hampshire, and requesting the United States government to work diligently on resolving the Bhutanese refugee crisis, reaching an agreement to allow the option of repatriation, and promoting human rights and democracy in Bhutan.

Events Coming Up 

Sunday, April 26

Dr. Gershon Baskin, an Israeli peace activist currently affiliated with the Palestinian-Israeli Peace NGO Forum, will speak on “The Chances for Israeli/Palestinian Peace Post-Israeli Election” at 3S Artspaces in Portsmouth at 5 pm.  The event is sponsored by the World Affairs Council of NH and Kids4Peace.  The event is free but tickets should be reserved via the 3S Artspaces website.

Friday, May 1

Rally for Immigrants and Workers Rights – This year’s rally will be at Market Square in Portsmouth at 5 PM.  You can find more information here.

NHCA Community Conversations on NH Budget – NH Citizens Alliance is holding discussions with Jeff McLynch of the NH Fiscal Policy Institute to help us understand the state budget debate.  Each event will feature a presentation, followed by questions and comments. Light refreshments will be provided. These gatherings will last from 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Please be sure to record your selection time and location.  Sign up here.

•    Manchester – Monday April 27 at 5:30 PM – Manchester City Library, 405 Pine Street, Winchell Room.
•    Keene – Tuesday April 28 at 5:30 PM – Keene Public Library, 60 Winter Street.
•    Franklin – Tuesday May 12 at 5:30 PM – Franklin Public Library, 310 Central Street.

Also coming up in May

When Opportunity Stops Knocking  – New Hampshire’s Kids and the American Dream

Join a statewide conversation to share ideas with neighbors, hear the latest research, and inform the presidential primary campaigns about the increasing barriers our state’s children face in achieving their dreams.

NH Listens, a project of the Carsey School of Public Policy at UNH, is hosting 12 local conversations around the state. For more information and registration here.

Wednesday May 6 –   Berlin, Laconia, Nashua
Thursday, May 7 –  Manchester, Pittsfield, Plymouth
Tuesday May 12 – Keene, Lancaster, Portsmouth
Wednesday May 13 – Concord, West Lebanon, Rochester

We encourage those concerned about the “opportunity gap” faced by children to consider research by Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman.  In a paper they wrote last fall, they concluded that “wealth inequality has considerably increased at the top over the last three decades.  By our estimates almost all of the increase is due to the rise of the share of wealth owned by the 0.1% richest families, from 7% in 1978 to 22% in 2012.”  The key factors driving the wealth gap, they said, is a surge in labor income among those at the tippy top and a decline in savings for those in the middle class.  That led the authors to a set of recommendations.  First and perhaps most obvious, they recommended progressive income taxes and estate taxes.

“Yet tax policy is not the only channel,” Saez and Zucman wrote.  “Other policies can directly support middle class incomes—such as access to quality and affordable education, health benefits, cost controls, minimum wage policies, or more generally policies shifting bargaining power away from shareholders and management toward workers.”

To those giving important attention to the “opportunity gap” affecting children, we encourage attention to the inequality gap affecting their parents.  And that has to include policies that shift bargaining power toward workers and away from shareholders/management and the owners of capital.

Next week on “State House Watch/White House Watch” Radio

Our first guest next week will be Representative Susan Almy, a member of the Ways and Means Committee.  For the second half hour, we’ll be talking with Bethany Carson of Grassroots Leadership about her recent report, “Payoff: How Congress Ensures Private Prison Profit with an Immigrant Detention Quota.”  You can hear us on Monday from 5 to 6 pm and Tuesday from 8 to 9 am at 94.7 FM in the Concord area and at wnhnfm.org anywhere you can get an internet signal.  You can also download podcasts of past shows, including last week’s with Kate Frey from New Futures and Olivia’s interview with William Hartung.

Governing Under the Influence

There were 19 Republican would-be Presidents in the state last weekend, and Hillary Clinton made her first official campaign stop Monday and Tuesday.  If you met any of them, we’d love to know what you said and what they said so we can post a bird dog report on our GUI web site.  We also organized a 3-day speaking tour with Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who has gone from State Department insider to foreign policy critic.  (Arnie will soon have an article recounting Col. Wilkerson’s message.)  Next week Carly Fiorina and Donald Trump return to New Hampshire, and Martin O’Malley follows the week after.  Bookmark our candidate calendar and return often to find out where the candidates will be.

-Arnie Alpert and Maggie Fogarty

PS – Don’t forget to “like” us on Facebook.  Search for “American Friends Service Committee-NH” to “like” us.  After all, we are your Friends.

AFSC’s New Hampshire “State House Watch” newsletter is published to bring you information about matters being discussed in Concord including housing, the death penalty, immigration, and labor rights.  We also follow the state budget and tax system, voting rights, corrections policy, and more.  Click here for back issues.

The AFSC is a Quaker organization supported by people of many faiths who care about peace, social justice, humanitarian service, and nonviolent change.  Arnie Alpert and Maggie Fogarty direct the New Hampshire Program, publish the newsletter, and co-host the “State House Watch” radio show on WNHN-FM.  Susan Bruce helps with research and writing.  Addy Simwerayi produces the radio show.  We also thank Eric Zulaski for help with proofreading.

“State House Watch” is made possible in part by a grant from the Anne Slade Frey Charitable Trust.

Your donations make our work possible.  Click the “DONATE NOW” button on our web page to send a secure donation to support the work of the AFSC’s New Hampshire Program.  Thanks!

American Friends Service Committee
4 Park Street
Concord, NH 03301
http://afsc.org

The Single Payer Health Care Battle Goes On

As reported on April 22nd, by In These Times, Vermont activists stand strong on the fight to establish single payer healthcare as promised to Vermonters by Governor Shumlin who now finds himself hemmed into a tight spot due to requirements handed down by the Affordable Care Act which just so happen to conflict with Vermont’s healthcare plans.

The battle fields for success on issues such as healthcare, labor and social justice increasingly lie within the states and local governments.

Vermont Activists Battle Democratic Governor for Single-Payer Health Care

BY Steve Early

Vermonters rally for health care in 2011. (Vermont Workers Center / Flickr)

Liz Nikazmerad is a rarity in American labor: a local union president under the age of 30, displaying both youth and militancy. For the last two year years, she has led the 180-member Local 203 of the United Electrical Workers (UE), while working in the produce department of City Market in Burlington, Vermont. Thanks to their contract bargaining, full-time and part-time employees of this bustling community-owned food cooperative currently enjoy good medical benefits.

But that wasn’t always the case in Nikazmerad’s past non-union jobs, nor is it any assurance that UE members won’t be forced to pay more for their health care in the future. To curb medical cost inflation and related cost-shifting to workers, the UE has long advocated that private insurance plans be replaced with publicly funded universal coverage.

Four years ago, a newly elected Vermont governor, Peter Shumlin, took a promising first step in that direction at the state level. His Democrat-dominated legislature passed Act 48, which laid the groundwork for creating a comprehensive public insurance plan called Green Mountain Care (GMC).

Not all activists deemed GMC to be truly “single-payer,” because of potential legal or political obstacles to the inclusion of Vermonters currently covered through Medicare, the Veterans’ Administration, and even some “self-insured” plans offered by local employers. However, Act 48’s blueprint for getting everyone else into a more rational, cost-effective healthcare system, financed by taxes, was generally hailed as a great breakthrough.

Unfortunately, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) first required Vermont to operate a private insurance exchange until 2017, when a federal waiver permitting further experimentation might be granted. Despite this delay, Shumlin was still reassuring Vermonters, as recently as last fall, that a brighter health care future lay just a few years ahead.

By January 8, when the governor began his third term, that promise had dimmed so much that Liz Nikazmerad and several hundred others weren’t there to applaud his inauguration in Montpelier. Instead, frustrated advocates of health care reform staged a sit-in at the state capitol, chanting and singing, unfurling banners and refused to leave in protest against the governor’s abrupt abandonment of universal health care six weeks after his re-election.

“People had fought for this a long time,” Nikazmerad says. “It was a huge win and to have the rug yanked out like that was very upsetting. People were very emotional about it.”

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Updates from Bury Northern Pass

Sign from angry New Hampshire resident during an anti-Northern Pass action.

We will post the newsletter that Bury Northern Pass releases, as soon as we can every time we receive it.  While we do not  support the idea of burying the lines for Northern Pass; we’d prefer that southern New England states produce their own power as they need it, see our analysis of Northern Pass. That being said, the Bury Northern Pass group does very important and thorough work in watching the players in this continuing issue and informing the public.  We thank them for their hard work and encourage everyone to stay on top of this real threat to the New Hampshire way of life.

Here is the newest issue from April 26:

The Most Important NH Conservation Campaign Since the Creation of the WMNF
and Saving Franconia Notch a Century Ago
Leave Your Legacy to NH – A Landscape Unscarred by 2300 Steel Towers Up to 155′ Tall from Pittsburg to Deerfield
Please Donate Now to the Forest Society’s “Trees Not Towers” Legal Defense Fund to Bury the Northern Pass

Coming up this week

Tuesday, April 28: 4:15 PM: City of Concord Northern Pass subcommittee meeting – “public to be heard.”

Thursday, April 30: Senate floor vote on HB 192 (utility property tax) scheduled. (*Double check floor date before traveling to attend*)
HB 192 would prevent utilities from using a single cut-rate valuation method (depreciation) to abate their property taxes. This is relevant to how much property tax Northern Pass, if built, would actually pay.

Audio of March 24th testimony by bill sponsors, attorney for NHEC, NH Municipal Assoc., etc: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/senateaudio/committees/2015/wm/HB0192_03242015.asx

News report by Robert Blechl, for the Caledonian Record, 4/25: New Hampshire Utility Bills Head Toward Votes

April 29-May 4: Ever$ource Q1 investor call (estimated date)

May 6-7. Open House/SEC Info meetings in Londonderry and Hudson for MVRP (above ground line in NH, buried in MA).

Link to the PR tell-all Northern Pass doesn’t want you to read: “Case Study: Northern Pass”

This past week’s news in review

Seacoast residents revolt against E$ plan for above-ground lines, E$ downgraded by financial giant UBS, NP lashes out at opposition, and more.

1. In downgrade of E$ stock, UBS cites Northern Pass delay.

2. Newington and Durham revolt against E$’s plans for an overhead “Seacoast Pass” (aka Seacoast Reliability Project).  Newington’s lawyer says town won’t support project unless it’s buried.

More from Seacoast Online and Union Leader

Durham Residents Voice Concerns Over Eversource Project
Newington Residents Air Concerns Over 13 Mile Transmission Line
Durham Objects to Power Towers

3. Coos County biz group opens Northern Pass jobs funding program
More from NHPR: Northern Pass Funds Available for Coos Businesses

4. Forest Society Blasts Foundation National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for Northern Pass Partnership, report by Robert Blechl

5. Goliath not a happy camper this week: Northern Pass lashes out at opposition in PR offensive. In the wake of the revelation about the PR agency, Saint Consulting Group, lampooned as “fooling the politicians since 1983,”  and its claimed ties to Northern Pass and of the UBS stock downgrade, the project went on a PR rampage this week to change the channel.

Project flacks who usually stay in the shadows surfaced on Twitter – e.g., Scott Tranchemontagne (Montagne Communications), Erik W. Taylor (Elevare Communications), Scott Spradling, Rich Killion — and, phrased in euphemisms of “concern” and “disappointment,” project spox Murray and Collins attacked the Conservation Media Group’s Concord video, The Power of Place and whatever else they could think of to target.

Anti-Northern Pass Video Targets Concord, Concord Monitor
Northern Pass Opposition Video Lacks Credibility, Fosters.com
Tiny Section of Proposed Route Sparking Latest Verbal Sparring About Northern Pass, Union Leader
Northern Pass Cries”Foul” Over Opponent’s New Video, NHPR

6. New England Governors’s private tete-a-tete on energy, infrastructure.  [Mass. Gov.] Baker not bullish on Northern Pass, NH not bullish on sharing bill for southern New England energy wants.

Governors Renew Commitment to Reg’l Energy Solution, Nashoba Publishing

7. Buried Champlain Hudson line receives final, ACOE permit, moves on to funding negotiations with Hydro Quebec

Hudson-Champlain Powerline Gets Ok to Build, Poughkeepsie Journal
Quebec Energy Minister says “we are negotiating [with ChHud] at this current moment” , E&ETV

8. Hydro Quebec Phase 2 line goes on unexplained spring vacation, raises prices in New England. How’s this for a secure, reliable source of energy? It’s not even winter.

Boston Power Rises 4th Day This Week as Demand Tops Forecasts

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STOP THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP TREATY!

We will be posting as often as we can perspectives on the Fast Track Trans-Pacific Partnership, a treaty that will unite global corporations and twelve nations in a unified agreement on trade.  In summary, the aggreement, in the process of formation for many years now, will lock-on more favors to global manufacturers by providing mostly an easier ability to exploit labor markets in Indonesia and southern Asia.  There also exist loopholes around and restrictions to action involving labor rights, environmental concerns and even traditional tariffs to protect goods produced in countries such as the United States.  If you thought the trade with China over the last forty years or so has destroyed American manufacturing and business, just imagine that expanded even more.  Needless to say, labor leaders and groups worldwide are coming out against new global affront to the planet and to working people.

Our first analysis on this issue comes from the Socialist Worker.org:

A treaty to outlaw democracy

Australian socialist Michael Kandelaars explains what’s what we’re learning about the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty, in an article published at Red Flag.

Thousands protest in Tokyo against the Trans-Pacific PartnershipThousands protest in Tokyo against the Trans-Pacific Partnership

THE TRANS-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is set to be the largest economic treaty ever signed. It currently involves 12 countries, including Australia, that represent more than 40 percent of the world’s GDP.

Yet it is being negotiated in secret to ensure it is free of any public criticism or scrutiny–so secret that the text of the agreement will be released only four years after the deal has been signed.

How do we know what’s in the agreement? We know parts only because sections of the working documents have been leaked and published by whistleblower website Wikileaks. These leaks have exposed how the rich and powerful are conspiring to make tougher the lives of millions of people across the globe.

On 25 March Wikileaks released the Advanced Investment chapter of the TPP. It details a massive expansion of the rights of the rich and their corporations to rampage across the world.

The most controversial part is the establishment of an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) arrangement. This will give “investors” the right to sue governments if they pass laws that impede profits.

A case would not be held in the country that is being sued, but in a special international court with no right of appeal. This not only grants exceptional legal rights to corporations but also erodes the basic right of countries to make their own laws.

An example of how this can be used involves the provincial government of Quebec in Canada. It is currently being sued for $250 million by U.S.-based Lone Pine Resources Inc. over the government’s ban of gas fracking. Lone Pine is not suing primarily for loss of income, but for the loss of future profits expected from fracking. This is being conducted through the ISDS clauses in the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement.

Another important case involves French multinational Veolia, which is suing the Egyptian government under a similar bilateral agreement for increasing the minimum wage. Egypt is also being sued by Indorama Corp. for the nationalization of a textile factory during the 2011 revolution.

To continue reading:  A Treaty to Outlaw Democracy

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April 25, 1969

Today in Labor History

hospitalstrike-main photo_500x500The governor of South Carolina declares a state of emergency in Charleston and orders more than 100,000 state troopers and members of the National Guard to break a strike by predominantly African American Medical University Hospital workers seeking recognition for their union, Local 1199B of the Retail Drug and Hospital Employees. In the end, the employer promised to rehire the striking workers they had fired, abide by a newly established grievance process, and provide modest pay increases.

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How Americans Subsidize Companies that Pay Low Wages

While this article came out on tax day in the Washington Post in response to the national protests for a living wage, the facts still remain relevant until the issue is resolved, so we post the story here.

The facts speak for themselves; workers cannot subsist on the wages paid to most workers in the retail industries, including food service industry.  We have become accustomed to the convenience and abundance of cheap goods and cheap food but at what price? While this article focuses on Wal-Mart and McDonald’s, two the highest profile retail marketers in the country, almost the entire retail sector relies on a business model that passes their payroll cost onto the taxpayer.  Unlike the ideal “free market” of yore where companies compete on their own merits based on their pure wits and abilities, large companies have modeled their business enterprises on how well they can con consumers and con taxpayers into helping them to carry the burden of their cost of doing business — while they keep the profits for themselves.

Americans are spending $153 billion a year to subsidize McDonald’s and Wal-Mart’s low wage workers

How the minimum wage hurts us all.

Image from Wa-Po article, Andrew Burton, Getty Images

By Ken Jacobs

The low wages paid by businesses, including some of the largest and most profitable companies in the U.S. – like McDonald’s and Wal-Mart – are costing taxpayers nearly $153 billion a year.

After decades of wage cuts and health benefit rollbacks, more than half of all state and federal spending on public assistance programs goes to working families who need food stamps, Medicaid, or other support to meet basic needs. Let that sink in — American taxpayers are subsidizing people who work — most of them full-time  (in some case more than full-time) because businesses do not pay a living wage.

Workers like Terrence Wise, a 35-year-old father who works part-time at McDonald’s and Burger King in Kansas City, Mo., and his fiancée Myosha Johnson, a home care worker, are among millions of families in the U.S. who work an average of 38 hours per week but still rely on public assistance. Wise is paid $8.50 an hour at his McDonald’s job and $9 an hour at Burger King. Johnson is paid just above $10 an hour, even after a decade in her field. Wise and Johnson together rely on $240 a month in food stamps to feed their three kids, a cost borne by taxpayers.

The problem of low wages and the accompanying public cost extends far beyond the fast-food industry. Forty-eight percent of home care workers rely on public assistance. In child care, it’s 46 percent. Among part-time college faculty—some of the most highly educated workers in the country—it’s 25 percent.

Ebony Hughes is paid $7.50 an hour as a home care worker in Durham, N.C., and has a second job at a local KFC. While the home care industry has the fastest growing number of jobs in America, these workers are some of the lowest paid in the country – earning, on average, $13,000 a year. To get enough hours to pay the bills, Hughes works from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. But she and her daughter still rely on public assistance to make ends meet.

UC Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education, which I chair, has analyzed state spending for Medicaid/Children’s Health Insurance Program and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and federal spending for those programs as well as food stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Keep Reading at the Washington Post: Americans are Spending…

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