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A few well-written words can convey a wealth of information, particularly when there is no lag time between when they are written and when they are read. The IPS blog gives you an opportunity to hear directly from IPS scholars and staff on ideas large and small and for us to hear back from you.

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Entries since January 2012

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The Lineup: Week of Jan. 16-22, 2012

January 16, 2012 ·

In this week's OtherWords editorial package, Janet Redman offers a "recipe" for action on climate change and Andrew Korfhage underscores the dangers of natural-gas fracking following Ohio's recent spate of earthquakes. Get all this and more in your inbox by subscribing to our weekly newsletter. If you haven't signed up yet, please do.

 

  1. A Recipe for Climate Action / Janet Redman
  2. Uncle Sam Is Sheltering the SWAG Economy / Sam Pizzigati
  3. Let's Stop Sentencing Children to Life without Parole / Everette R.H. Thompson
  4. Ohio Earthquakes Underscore Fracking Dangers / Andrew Korfhage
  5. What I'm Giving Up in 2012 / Donald Kaul
  6. We're No. 27! / Jim Hightower
  7. A Watchbird Is Watching You / William A. Collins
  8. A Fracking Miracle / Khalil Bendib

A Fracking Miracle, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib.

Unconventional Wisdom: Bread and Roses

January 12, 2012 ·

Thanks to the many of you who supported IPS in 2011, we met our year-end goal of raising at least $90,000. Those of you who gave more than in the past or supported us for the first time triggered an equal contribution from the generous HKH Foundation. Thank you for making us strong.

A good deal of the Institute's work this year will be spreading the word that America Is Not Broke. This week, IPS expert Miriam Pemberton has highlighted the fact that President Obama’s upcoming proposed military budget for 2013, while a bit smaller than what we previously expected, is still going to be bigger than last year's budget. It also "excludes the hundreds of billions of dollars Washington spends on nuclear weapons, the wars we're actually fighting, and subsidies for foreign arms sales."

As Obama points out, this military budget will exceed the budgets of the next 10 largest militaries put together. Pemberton argues for abandoning the U.S. role as a global cop, and replacing "our country's global military overreach with a posture more deserving of the name 'defense.'"

Please take a moment out of your busy day to ponder the 100th anniversary of one of the most important strikes in American labor history, a key moment in the history that now leads us to the Occupy movement.

On January 12, 1912, 25,000 immigrant women and teenagers walked off their jobs at the Everett Cotton Mills in Lawrence, Massachusetts demanding an increase in wages and overtime pay. Led by the Industrial Workers of the World, the two-month-long labor action came to be known as the "Bread and Roses" strike because the women demanded bread (better salaries), and roses (the time to enjoy life outside work). The strike gained fame through a poem by James Oppenheim, a Judy Collins song, and a book by Upton Sinclair.

The Steely Mitt Blues: A Mitt Romney and Bain Capital Song

January 10, 2012 ·

When it Bains it pours
Don’t got no job no more
Why Romney come around
and lay off my whole town?
 
Bain Capital and Romney
with a steely-eyed glance
bought our steel mill,
then they closed down our plant.
 
They call him Mitt
Feels more like a boxin’ glove
Sure hurts when he knocks you out
but he calls it tough love.
 
Says we got to compete
on the global stage,
but how we gonna beat
a sweatshop wage?
 
They try to say I’m lazy
or call me a slob.
Guess I’ll go to China or Mexico
just to get a job.
 
In old New Hampshire
they say live free or die.
Die I might,
just ask Mitt why.
 
Bain said I’d have health insurance
and a severance pay
then they flip-flopped
and they took it away.
 
Bain got bailed out by the gov'ment
but I’m the one who needs welfare.
Ain’t none of Mitt’s campaign money
gonna pay for my healthcare.
 
I got a bad cough
and I’m feeling quite ill.
I may have asbestosis
from my years at the mill.
 
Now I’ve got the Steely Mitt blues.
Seen him on TV.
But I’ll never forget
what Mitt did to me.

Happy New Year, Nigeria: Now Say Good-Bye to Your Safety Net

January 10, 2012 ·

Massive protests have broken out in Nigeria following the government's announcement that long-standing oil subsidies will be terminated. Reuters has reported that tens of thousands have taken to the streets, and that confrontations with police have left at least five dead.

Thousands gathered outside the labour union headquarters in Lagos and marched to the marina that runs along its wide lagoon. The roads of the normally heaving commercial hub, notorious for its traffic jams, were largely empty.

Oil workers were also on strike and the offices of international companies such as Shell and Exxon Mobil were shut. But Shell and the state oil company said output was unaffected.

Subsidies on imports of motor fuel were scrapped on Jan 1., leaving countless Nigerians without the only welfare program they depend on. With the change, Nigerians will be paying one dollar per liter in a country where most people make less than two dollars per day. People from all walks of life, including novelist Chinua Achebe, have lent support to the nascent movement to oppose this gutting of the Nigerian safety net.

A small, but high-energy crowd demonstrated at the World Bank to stand in solidarity with Nigeria, and to say no to the policies proposed by global institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Here's a video (catch IPS'er Emira Woods leading the chants at the 0:58 mark):

The government argues that the subsidy program is riddled with corruption, and that this step is necessary to curtail government spending. The rhetoric is eerily familiar. All over the world, states once held the power to create a safety net for their citizens. In today's political environment, corporations are able to flex their muscle to impede on government taking that role from Wisconsin and El Salvador, to Lagos.

Why Washington Should Be Like Chicago and Stand Up to ICE

January 9, 2012 ·

A difficult case in Chicago highlights the choices local governments have to make when forced to deal with complex immigration enforcement measures by the Department of Homeland Security’s immigration police, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Cook County in Illinois made headlines last year when it became the only jurisdiction to disregard immigration detainers from ICE. Now it faces public scrutiny after Saul Chavez, a suspected drunken driver charged with murder, is AWOL.

Local police units are under Janet Napolitano's jurisdiction. Photo by Center for American Progress.Saul Chavez is accused of killing a pedestrian on a northwest side of Chicago street last year. Days after, he went in front of a judge who set bond at $250,000. He paid ten percent of that, and walked free. Soon after, he was gone and has not gone to court since.

In his absence, the family of the victim is blaming Cook county’s breakup with ICE as the reason for their anger, as the Chicago Tribune reported:

"My anger is more directed at the fumbling and bumbling of Cook County agencies," said McCann's younger brother, Brian. "I'm more angry at the system than the offender. I know that sounds crazy."

Anger at the system is what took pro-immigrant organizers to seek the change in policy. Before Cook County’s actions, ICE detainers trapped Chicago residents who clearly did not deserve to sit around in jail waiting for an immigration hearing.The Chavez case is horrific - witnesses say he dragged his victim for more than 200 feet - but his immigration status is less dangerous to the common good than his drunk attempt to operate a motor vehicle.

Another case shows why Cook County should not automatically detain every undocumented person they come in contact with. On July 12, 2011, Marcelo Castañeda’s family member contacted the police in Illinois to assist her in getting into her locked car. He was then placed in deportation proceedings and held by Cook County for a week. Highlighting that he lived in the U.S. for most of his life, Castañeda’s supporters were able to win his release.

The reason why Saul Chavez has more to do with how courts handle bails, than how police units should handle immigration law. In this context, President Obama has tried to spook American citizens (“We are going after the worst of the worst!”) in justifying his support for increased deportations through programs that encourage local involvement in immigration enforcement, such as Secure Communities.

With the District of Columbia’s city council considering a detainer policy change similar to Cook County’s, the issue might soon be hot news in this area. Like Chicago, the city of Washington could benefit from a more productice immigrant population if it stands behind them in their aspirations for a legal ID, an education, and a trusting relationship with the Metropolitan Police Department. Last week, supporters of changing the detainer policy packed the room at a judiciary committee hearing.

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