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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 November 2012

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This Week in OtherWords: November 28, 2012

November 28, 2012 ·

This week, OtherWords is running three commentaries that highlight electoral milestones: African-American turnout reached record levels, marijuana-legalization ballot initiatives passed in Washington State and Colorado, and voters in a small Ohio town approved a measure declaring that "corporations are not people and money is not speech."

We're also distributing an op-ed by Scott Klinger, who points out that the CEOs promoting Social Security cuts have vast pensions and that American businesses have gutted their pension funds. The erosion of the nation's private pension system makes this earned-benefit program more essential than ever.

And Sam Pizzigati's latest column highlights his new book: The Rich Don't Always Win. Please let me know if you would like a review copy.

Scroll down to see all our offerings and please subscribe to our weekly newsletter if you haven't signed up yet.

  1. A Pension Deficit Disorder / Scott Klinger
    Beware of wealthy CEOs who are lecturing the rest of us about tightening our belts.
  2. The New Normal for African-American Voter Turnout / Leslie Watson Malachi
    As election law changes threatened access to the ballot box this year, African-American turnout operations strengthened.
  3. Washington and Colorado Voters Opt for a Smarter Drug Policy / Austin Robles
    Treating drug use as a criminal act rather than a health problem has harmed our society.
  4. To Move Forward, We Must Learn from Our Progressive Past / Sam Pizzigati
    Yesterday's ideas about curbing the ultra-rich's power remain just as relevant as ever.
  5. Shortchanging Our Future / Mattea Kramer
    Lawmakers have long underinvested in young people, and sequestration would make matters even worse.
  6. Democracy Outbreak in Ohio / Jim Hightower
    One small town is standing up to deep-pocketed campaign cash.
  7. The Sleazy League / William A. Collins
    The dark side of corporate-run schools is no longer a secret.
  8. The Ant and the Grasshopper / Khalil Bendib cartoon

 The Ant and the Grasshopper, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

This Week in OtherWords: November 21, 2012

November 21, 2012 ·

This week, OtherWords is running two "fiscal cliff" commentaries. Guest columnist Mattea Kramer makes the case for deep, yet targeted military spending cuts while Marian Wright Edelman calls for restraint when it comes to scaling back programs that serve children. We will continue to feature under-debated angles of the growing conversation about how to balance the nation's budget and avoid what could prove a "fiscal swindle."

Scroll down to see all our offerings. I encourage you to visit the OtherWords blog, where we are running a special Thanksgiving post from Jim Hightower. And please subscribe to our weekly newsletter if you haven't signed up yet.

  1. Name that Foreign Policy Legacy / John Feffer
    Under Obama's leadership, Washington is finally coming to terms with the world's multipolarity.
  2. Will the Supreme Court Dismantle the Voting Rights Act? / Raul A. Reyes
    Widespread efforts to suppress voting by people of color and the poor through a rash of voter ID laws make it clear that we still need the landmark 1965 legislation today.
  3. Don't Cut Our Kids Out of the Budget / Marian Wright Edelman
    America's security and prosperity depend on our children's ability to drive the economy of the future.
  4. The Classy Election of 2012 / Steve Cobble
    Big ideas can change voting patterns.
  5. Another Side of Inequality / Sam Pizzigati
    A vast gulf between the rich and the rest of us is incompatible with democracy.
  6. The Real Problem with Military Spending / Mattea Kramer
    The Pentagon's budget has plenty of fat, but cuts need to be targeted.
  7. Bosses Gone Berserk / Jim Hightower
    Papa John's and other employers are punishing their workers for Obama's win.
  8. Our Endless State of War / William A. Collins
    As long as it's fought by other people on someone else's soil, Americans can live with perpetual conflict.
  9. Voting Rights Appeal / Khalil Bendib Cartoon

Voting Rights Appeal, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

Latinos' One-Sided Love Affair with Obama

November 15, 2012 ·

Clearly, we Latinos love President Barack Obama. He garnered nearly three-fourths of our vote. In battleground states like Nevada, Florida, and Colorado , we helped catapult the incumbent president to victory.

An Obama supporter displays an "Obamanos" sign at a campaign rally in Wisconsin. Photo by Mundo Hispanico.Unlike African Americans, Latinos didn't always back Democrats by this kind of margin. In 2004, George W. Bush garnered 40 percent of the Latino vote. Had Mitt Romney pulled that off this year, he might have won the White House.

Although Obama overwhelmingly won our support, we're still unhappy with his immigration track record. He's made no progress toward achieving a long-overdue and comprehensive immigration reform. Even more disheartening, more people are being deported under his leadership than during Bush's presidency. To put this in its tragic context, thousands of our families have been torn apart. Too many kids are growing up without their parents.

Obama lucked out because the Republican Party is taking such an extreme stance on immigration that many Latino voters that might have otherwise voted GOP rejected it at the ballot box.

Romney advocated for "self-deportation" and failed to distance himself from Arizona's Republican-led state government, which passed an extremist "papers please" law that implicitly advocated racial discrimination. Most Republicans oppose the DREAM Act, a bill that would give millions of young undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship. Republicans regularly refer to undocumented immigrants as "illegal aliens," insinuating that they're not only different but somehow sub-human.

We aren't single-issue voters or a homogenous voting bloc. But we do take the issue of immigration personally. Nearly all Latino voters have ties of some sort to undocumented immigrants. We may have been undocumented at one point or have family and friends who are currently undocumented or used to be. Both my parents came to this country without legal documentation.

Ironically, they became citizens because of the 1986 amnesty law President Ronald Reagan signed. Some of my best friends are undocumented. Most of them came to this country when they were kids. This is the only country they've ever known. This is their home — they're as American as me. The DREAM Act would provide my friends and others like them with the opportunity to realize their true potential as American citizens.

When Republicans label all undocumented immigrants as "criminals," "aliens," and "illegals," we in the Latino community can't help but feel that the GOP is badmouthing our grandparents, our mothers and fathers, our neighbors, and our friends. Why would any group support a political party that explicitly disrespects its loved ones?

On Election Day, we came out in record numbers in support of Obama. In tight Senate races in states like New Mexico and Virginia, the Latino vote gave those Democratic candidates a winning edge Without Latino support, the Democratic Party would have lost its Senate majority in 2010 and failed to win it back this year.

The onus is now on the White House to prove that he deserved our votes.

In his most recent press conference, Obama said he supports "a pathway for legal status" instead of citizenship. This is discouraging news. We voted for him because we want our loved ones to become citizens. We won't settle for less. Obama must push for bills like the DREAM Act, and fight for comprehensive immigration reform, but more importantly he must ensure that these are legitimate pathways to citizenship.

We may love President Obama, but now it's time for the entire Democratic Party to prove it loves us back. How long can this one-sided love affair last?

 

Javier Rojo is the New Mexico Fellow at Institute for Policy Studies. IPS-dc.org

An Appeal to Canada to Stand with El Salvador, the First Nation to Halt Gold Mining

November 14, 2012 ·

I paid a visit this week to the Canadian Embassy with colleagues from the Institute for Policy Studies and other environmental and public policy organizations to deliver a letter to the Canadian Ambassador to the United States. We are demanding that his government tell Pacific Rim — the Vancouver-based mining company — to stop bullying the people of El Salvador.

John Cavanagh, IPS Director, speaks with Canadian Ambassador to discuss how Canadian company Pacific Rim is bullying El Salvador.

Our letter was co-signed by Greenpeace, Sierra Club, Public Citizen, Friends of the Earth, Earthworks, the Center for International Environmental Law, and others. We wrote:

“Given the severe environment and human rights implications associated with Pacific Rim’s investment in El Salvador and the gold mine and cyanide leach-water processing plant it is proposing, we urge the Canadian government to alert Pacific Rim that its investor-state claim against the Salvadoran government for enforcing its own environmental laws and striving to protect its water and communities tarnishes the image of the Canadian mining industry.”

Salvadoran community leaders tell us that, since 2009 when they came to Washington DC to receive the Letelier-Moffitt human rights award from IPS, Pacific Rim has been trying to transform itself from victimizer to victim. This behavior is reprehensible. Some have lost their lives due to anti-mining activities, such as Marcelo Rivera, the brother of one of those who received the awards, who was assassinated for speaking out about the perils of gold mining.

This is the effect of free trade agreements.

Despite the prospect of major environmental damage, Pacific Rim says it has the “right,” under the investor–state regime allowed by investment rules in free trade agreements, to reap the profits that would have been brought by gold mining. In pursuit of these so-called lost profits, Pacific Rim is demanding up to hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation at the International Centre for Settlement of International Disputes (ICSID), an unaccountable World Bank tribunal that operates behind closed doors.

The Sierra Club “opposes trade and investment agreements that allow foreign corporations to attack environmental and public health protections in secret trade tribunals,” says  Ilana Solomon, trade policy expert at the Sierra Club. “This lawsuit by Pacific Rim, which threatens the health and safety of communities in El Salvador, is a case in point for why we oppose these secret tribunals." 

Using large roll-out maps of El Salvador watersheds that he brought along, IPS director John Cavanagh explained to the First Secretary of the Canadian Embassy that, though there is always danger from the mining and processing necessary to extract gold, Pacific Rim’s activity in El Salvador is particularly threatening given that El Salvador is the second most water-starved country in our hemisphere. A full 98 percent of El Salvador’s surface water is contaminated, some of it from mining activity halted decades ago. Yet Pacific Rim stands to exacerbate El Salvador’s water problems, threatening the river that supplies water to over half the population. 

There is a broad consensus in the department of Cabañas and throughout the country that opening a mine in the Lempa River watershed presents a dangerous risk that El Salvador cannot afford. Polling shows that the people of El Salvador oppose gold mining and the government supports this mandate.

Pacific Rim claims that those who oppose gold mining are “certain,” “rogue,” and “anti-developmental” organizations. But hundreds of environmental organizations in the United States, Canada and globally stand firm to defend the right of the people of El Salvador  — the first nation to halt gold mining — to defend their environment and to implement public policies to this end. Yesterday we asked the embassy official to notify his government that we expect an escalation in worldwide protests demanding that Pacific Rim drop its suit at the World Bank’s ICSID, and leave El Salvador.

In addition to environmental concerns, Pacific Rim’s project has caused divisions and severe human costs. As our letter states:

“We are deeply troubled by the human rights abuses associated with the Pacific Rim mine. Already, four environmental activists have been assassinated and many more have been threatened, including journalists who operate a local radio station.”

No company should have the right to threaten a country like this.

This Week in OtherWords: November 14, 2012

November 14, 2012 ·

This week, OtherWords features an op-ed by Sarah Anderson and a cartoon by Khalil Bendib that highlight the dangers of the "Fix the Debt" campaign. Spearheaded by big corporations and their CEOs, this slick and well-financed initiative could only make our national financial situation worse by slashing tax revenue and cutting Social Security and other earned benefits.

As always, I encourage you to visit the OtherWords blog and subscribe to our weekly newsletter if you haven't signed up yet.

  1. The Trojan Horse in the Debt Debate / Sarah Anderson
    Dozens of CEOs are running a misleading campaign that would just make matters worse.
  2. Our Nuclear Insecurity Complex / Peter Stockton
    The government has yet to address the lapses in bomb-grade uranium storage security that an 82-year-old nun and her accomplices revealed months ago.
  3. Fracking our Thanksgiving Feast / Joel Greeno
    Could mining Wisconsin sand lead to butter and cranberry shortages?
  4. Voting Can Be Good for Your Health / Hillary Gibson
    Obama's re-election means insurance companies won't be able refuse to cover the treatment I will need for the rest of my life.
  5. The Return on Those Bad Bets on Romney / Sam Pizzigati
    Billionaires can win politically even when they lose on Election Day.
  6. Without Unity, We'll Tumble Over the Fiscal Cliff / Mattea Kramer
    Our lawmakers have an opportunity to negotiate a better budget deal for this country.
  7. The Biggest Loser in Politics / Jim Hightower
    Billionaires expect better returns than Karl Rove pulled off on Election Day.
  8. Please Don't Shoot the Messengers / William A. Collins
    Official secrecy doesn't just shield high-ranking officials from the personal embarrassment that comes with taking the term "embedded" too literally.
  9. The 'Fix-the-Debt' Racket / Khalil Bendib Cartoon

The 'Fix the Debt' Racket, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

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