IPS Blog

Senate Emissions

The much-debated new Senate climate bill is finally ready to be unveiled on April 26. Sens. John Kerry (D-MA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) are set to announce the broad long-range goals going beyond “cap and trade” (a scheme Janet Redman debunked in her OtherWords op-ed), to reduce our national emissions by more than three-quarters each year by 2050. But will President Obama’s proposal of new drilling for oil stir up even more controversy? The Sierra Club discusses that question.

The Other 95 Percent

The next time you read about another tea party protest convened to decry the tax bogeyman, log on to “The Other 95%” website (http://theother95.com). There, you’ll learn that “unlike President Bush’s 2001 tax cuts, which went to the wealthiest 2.2%, President Obama’s tax cuts overwhelmingly benefit working and middle class families–95% of all Americans.” Most of us don’t know this. Or read Chuck Collins’ OtherWords op-ed explaining why the middle class gets the shaft when the wealthy dictate our tax code. Or check out the OtherWords op-ed the affluent Gene Mulligan wrote about how he hopes Congress “has the courage to let my tax cuts expire.”

Remembering Benjamin Hooks

Former NAACP executive director Benjamin Hooks opened doors. “Many of the rights we take for granted today were made possible by the courage and tenacity of Ben Hooks and others of his generation who devoted their lives to the relentless pursuit of equality and justice for all,” writes National Urban League CEO and OtherWords contributor Marc Morial, of the civil rights leader, who died April 15 at 85. He “pursued that mission wherever he went–as a soldier, lawyer, judge, preacher, teacher, FCC commissioner, and civil rights leader. As a Sergeant in World War II, assigned to guard European prisoners of war, he suffered the indignity of being refused service at ‘whites only’ restaurants, while his prisoners were allowed to eat. After leaving the military, he pursued a career in law…In 1965 he became the first African-American criminal court judge in the State of Tennessee.” As the first African-American Federal Communications Commission, he struggled to expand minority ownership of radio and TV stations. Dorothy Height, another civil rights leader, died April 20. OtherWords will run a Marian Wright Edelman op-ed about her in our April 26 editorial package.

Too Fat to Fight

Pizza and freedom fries have become national security threats. As Marian Wright Edelman recently put it in an OtherWords op-ed: “It’s time to fight childhood obesity.” The U.S. military gets it. A military officers group called “Mission: Readiness” wants to make school lunches healthier, after its new study reported more than a quarter of Americans ages 17-24 are ineligible to enlist because they weigh too much. The group appeared on Capitol Hill to tell Congress about this problem.

Exploiting Athletes

The NCAA is mulling the expansion of the men’s college basketball tournament, an inevitability that will mean young athletes will rake in millions more dollars for their schools. Marc Morial’s recent OtherWords op-ed, College Basketball Graduation Rate Insanity and cartoonist Khalil Bendib’s accompanying cartoon highlight this exploitation, which will only deepen as the money increases. And this change would be a great opportunity to follow up on Morial’s suggestion “that schools failing to graduate at least 80 percent of their athletes not only be ineligible for post-season play, but lose all of their athletic scholarships.”
College Basketball

With All Deliberate Speed

The Washington Post ran a front page story reminding us that our schools are a reflection of our society as a whole. And in many parts of the country, segregation is on the rise again. Just a week before the Post story ran, OtherWords columnist William A. Collins wrote about how electing our first African-American president didn’t do away with racism in America. In it, he noted how our schools’ “slow drift toward re-segregation has continued unabated.” This cartoon by OtherWords cartoonist Khalil Bendib, titled School Resegregation, illustrates this problem.

School Resegregation

Injustice Served

Bradley Birkenfeld, who is serving time in a Pennsylvania federal prison for his role in Swiss-bank tax evasion schemes that he exposed, is now petitioning President Obama for clemency. He submitted his clemency application on tax day, arguing that he has worked with federal officials to expose thousands of tax cheats. As Jesselyn Radack explained in her recent OtherWords op-ed, rewarding Birkenfeld’s information, which led to $780 million recovery for our treasury, with a three-plus year prison sentence simply discourages would-be whistleblowers.

Palin’s Contract with Stanislaus

Sarah Palin, leader of everyday Americans. You betcha. She’s just your typical small-town, Alaska hockey mom who, Donald Kaul noted, doubles as a latter-day American savior to the Tea Party faithful. One who requires first-class plane tickets, or else “the private aircraft MUST BE a Lear 60 or larger,” when she travels to speak of her folksiness, according to the Associated Press. She stands up for the rest of us before retiring to her mandatory suite in a luxury hotel and an additional two single rooms for her entourage. That’s what some California State University-Stanislaus students learned when they fished her contract with their Central California school, where Palin was hired to speak this June, from a trash bin. It’s enough to make me reconsider every claim she’s made about being just one of the people. And the more I learn about Sarah Palin, the less I believe her.

Rushing to Universal Coverage

Last year, before Rush Limbaugh pledged to emigrate to the jewel of Central America, I lived and worked In Costa Rica for six months. I quickly learned that the “Caja” is the government health-care plan most Costa Ricans use. I asked my boss one day in my first couple weeks, “I’m not yet paying into the Caja, what happens if I get run over by a car or something? I don’t have insurance.” She was a bit incredulous. “Of course you’d be taken care of,” she said. “What, if you get hurt really badly, you think they’re going to kick you out? That’s why we have hospitals.” Actually, yes, being from the United States, that was a major concern. Like Jim Hightower says in his OtherWords column, Costa Rica’s health-care is system is universal. It’s great to know that Rush Limbaugh’s smart enough to know the value of getting universal care.

What If We’re Not So Angry?

It seems the more conservative you are, the more aggressive you want America to be with our nukes. If we’re angry loose cannons with an itchy finger on the button, the thinking seems to go, rogue countries will think long and hard about crossing us. Personally, I think it would be a good thing if the planet believes the United States would consider the nuclear option to truly be a the last, worst option. Mary Slosson provides in her OtherWords op-ed an insightful examination of latter-day nukes pointing out the United States and Russia still have that market cornered. Together, we’ve got 95% of the world’s nuclear weapons in our possession. But what if conventional wisdom dictated that we didn’t want to use them? Nobody thinks our great vulnerability is a dearth of devastating conventional arms.

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