Todd Zimmer

Standing Up for Rural Voters in North Carolina

Far-right radicals have made North Carolina the place to test their most extreme ideas. They redrew our voting maps, disempowered Black voters, shredded our safety net and are trying to pit rural and working people against each other. They rewrote the rules to benefit the rich and powerful at the expense of North Carolina’s poor and disenfranchised people. Photo credit: Down Home North Carolina We founded Down Home North Carolina in 2017 to build a different future for our state. We believe a progressive vision for North Carolina must include all of us, including rural communities, if we are to counter the influence of far-right donors who have captured our state government. Far-right ideologues like Art Pope have flooded our state with money, stoking racial resentments.

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Olivia Alperstein

It’s on Us to Stop the War in Yemen

We’re helping fight someone else’s war in Yemen — and the blood is on our hands. Since March 2015, the United States has supported a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that’s intervening in a civil war in Yemen. The war has resulted in massive civilian casualties and the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.   Photo credit: Julien Harneis / Flickr / cc The war has killed more than 10,000 Yemenis and wounded more than 40,000, the majority of them civilians. Over 3 million Yemenis are displaced, millions more have contracted cholera, and some 14 million are at risk right now of starving to death. These aren’t empty statistics. They’re crimes, which we’re enabling. American weapons — including American bombs — are helping to wage the war in Yemen. Saudi Arabia is a close U.S.

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Jeff Bryant

Striking Teachers Are Fighting for Communities

Teacher strikes that started in West Virginia and are now raging in Oklahoma and whipping up in Kentucky and Arizona are being called a “nationwide movement.” But a nationwide movement for what? The Wall Street Journal calls the teacher rebellions a “response to years of steep cuts to state education budgets.” Similar articles in other outlets make the argument that because strikes are currently confined to “teachers in states governed by Republicans,” they are mostly about challenging “GOP austerity.” While there is much more than a grain of truth to these observations, they are short-sighted. These striking teachers, in saying “We’ve had enough,” are taking a stand  not only about their own financial situation, but also about the conditions of their students, their schools, and their communities.

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Libero Della Piana

Fifty Years On, MLK’s Call for Economic Justice Rings True

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down fifty years ago today on April 4, 1968. It was a turning point of the twentieth century, marking an ending and a beginning. It was the end of one phase of the Black Freedom struggle, and the beginning of one of the most volatile periods of U.S. politics since the Civil War. MLK Memorial, Washington, D.C. Photo credit: Ron Cogswell / flickr / cc Dr. King was a Baptist minister, a prophetic visionary, a great coalition builder, a moral pillar, a polarizing figure, a movement strategist, a practitioner of nonviolence, a radical reformer. King was arguably the greatest progressive leader of the past century. One the one hand, King’s life and his assassination seem distant after five decades. At the same time, it is haunting to know that King could be alive today had he lived on. He was only 39 when he was killed.

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Paul Harvey

Martin Luther King Jr. Was a True Radical

Martin Luther King Jr. has come to be revered as a hero who led a nonviolent struggle to reform and redeem the United States. His birthday is celebrated as a national holiday. Tributes are paid to him on his death anniversary each April, and his legacy is honored in multiple ways. But from my perspective as a historian of religion and civil rights, the true radicalism of his thought remains underappreciated. The “civil saint” portrayed nowadays was, by the end of his life, a social and economic radical, who argued forcefully for the necessity of economic justice in the pursuit of racial equality. Three particular works from 1957 to 1967 illustrate how King’s political thought evolved from a hopeful reformer to a radical critic. King’s Support for White Moderates For much of the 1950s, King believed that white southern ministers could provide moral leadership.

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Tim Wilkins

Rev. William Barber, Dr. Liz Theoharis on New Poor People’s Campaign

Reverend William Barber and Dr. Liz Theoharis speak in Memphis, Tennessee about the “new and unsettling force” of Dr. Martin Luther King’s life and legacy, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination. Barber and Theoharis are co-chairs of the New Poor People’s Campaign, A National Call for Moral Revival, inspired by Dr. King’s movement at the time of his death in 1968.

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Tim Wilkins

The Fight for Health Care: In It to Win It

Eight years: that’s how long an American president can serve, and it’s the age at which children start to solve problems on their own. It’s also how long we’ve had President Obama’s signature reform of health care, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Obama achieved goals that eluded every one of his predecessors: the ACA cut the nation’s uninsured population by half, extending coverage to 24 million. It funded this expansion by increasing economic equity, through taxes on the nation’s wealthiest one percent. All across the country last year, thousands of activists flooded into streets, Town Halls and Congressional offices to beat back the GOP’s attempts to repeal the ACA and gut Medicaid. They succeeded in their defense, though the GOP’s efforts to undermine funding for health care continue.

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Richard Eskow

Is the ‘Liberal World Order’ Worth Saving?

Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, recently wrote a column entitled “Liberal World Order, R.I.P.” Haass sees the post-World War II order succumbing to centrifugal forces. He foresees a fragmented and chaotic world made up of “regional orders” or “disorders”, along with the return of great-power rivalries that some thought had ended with the Cold War. He’s offering a eulogy, but one he hopes will revive the deceased before the burial is final. An Inside View Haass has a distinguished resumé as a diplomat, Defense Department official, presidential advisor, author, and Harvard lecturer. Few people have achieved as much prominence in the current system of international relations. He writes with the authority of an insider who has stood near the epicenter of global power.

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James Haslam

Fighting for Our Health in New Hampshire and Vermont

Last week, I found myself where no parent ever wants to be: in a hospital emergency room, next to my big guy – he’s 7. On the way to school, he’d experienced severe abdominal pain and bleeding, so we rushed to the hospital. It happened so fast that we feared the worst. I sat next to his bed under the fluorescent lights, watching him lightly snore next to his favorite stuffy,  Penguin. Nurses came and went to check his vital signs, and I stroked his hair. A million thoughts passed through my mind. I love this kid more than anything in the world. I would do anything, make any sacrifice, to keep him happy and healthy. I needed to be there, because as much as he needs that medicine in the IV, he needs me and his mom, and every kid needs to be in their parents’ arms to heal.

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Leo Gerard

Energy Independence Requires Steel Independence

Shale oil and gas, now fracked from deep underground in two dozen states, is celebrated for delivering energy independence to the United States. But that goal can’t truly be achieved if America depends on China, Korea, even Brazil for the steel vital to drilling. Sustaining steel independence is a big part of what President Trump’s tariffs are about.  They’re intended to revive American steel production which has been hammered by illegal trade practices, particularly in China. Just this week, the tariffs helped secure a new trade deal with Korea that reduces by 30 percent the amount of steel and drilling pipe the Asian country can export to the United States. As fracking geared up across the United States, American steel makers invested in their mills to meet drillers’ needs, from pipe called Oil Country Tubular Goods (OCTG) to plate for platforms.

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Sam Pizzigati

Getting Granular on America’s Income Distribution

Back in the 1980s, the decade that saw researchers start detailing America’s increasing concentration of income and wealth, flacks for the emerging Reagan economic order disdainfully dismissed the significance of the alarming new data. The United States isn’t getting more unequal, the Reaganites pronounced, and the middle class isn’t shrinking. Those economists claiming otherwise, the conservative pushback went, weren’t taking government welfare programs into account. Add in safety-net benefits, conservatives continued, and the increased inequality would disappear. Over on Capitol Hill, researchers at the Congressional Budget Office would eventually put that conservative case to the test.

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Jeff Bryant

Democrats Can Win if They Lead on Education

While progressives lament their recent failure in an Illinois primary to knock out Dan Lipinski – a conservative, anti-abortion, Congressional Democrat who voted against the Affordable Care Act – they mostly fail to note where and how they won elsewhere in the state. Zaid Jiani reports for The Intercept that there were numerous progressive “upstart candidates” further down the ballot in Illinois who beat more established Democrats, including Aaron Ortiz in a State House race, Fritz Kaegi for Cook County Assessor, and Brandon Johnson in a Cook County Commissioner contest. Delia Ramirez also won running as a progressive in a State House primary without an incumbent. These victors had a number of things in common, including endorsements from labor unions and progressive advocacy organizations.

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Andy Spears

Hunting Payday Sharks in East Nashville

In the Paleozoic Era, Tennessee was covered by a warm, shallow sea, filled with sharks. The waters receded millions of years ago, but sharks still linger in our state, ready to sink their teeth into your wallet. These modern-day apex predators are called “payday lenders,” because they make their money lending – legally – to working families who live paycheck to paycheck, who sometimes need a little extra to get to the end of the month, or make a car payment. “Don’t worry,” they say with toothy smiles. “We’re here for you, 24/7.” And indeed, they are: they make it as easy as possible to take out a loan. The hard part? Paying it back. Because once you take out a payday loan, it grows and grows. Payday lenders legally charge interest rates of up to 400 percent, trapping borrowers in a debt trap that seemingly has no end.

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Jeff Bryant

After Years of Failed ‘Choice,’ Philadelphia Gets Its Schools Back

Despite the strong marketing for “school choice” by politicians and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, communities that know firsthand what it’s like to have lots of “options,” like charter schools and vouchers, have found what’s more important is to have a voice in how their schools are governed and operated. That’s the lesson to draw from Philadelphia, where the school district is about to complete a transition to local control after 16 years of governance by a state-appointed commission that emphasized cutting expenses and staff, closing neighborhood schools, and expanding charters. State control of Philadelphia’s schools came to an end in November 2017, when the state-imposed School Reform Commission (SRC), which governed the schools, voted itself out of existence.

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Richard Eskow

Pete Peterson’s Ghost

Peter G. “Pete” Peterson, the billionaire businessman and anti-government crusader, died last week at the age of 91. He leaves behind family and friends who will miss him, and a vast coterie of consultants and politicians who may miss his checks even more. They can take comfort from the words of Percy Bysshe Shelley: “He doth not sleep/he hath awakened from the dream of life …”  Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons Peterson will be mourned by those who loved him. But that’s no reason to forget the harm he has done, especially since his family vows to continue his work.

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Richard Eskow

This Is What Makes John Bolton so Dangerous

“Snowpocalypse.” “Robo-apocalypse.” “Retail apocalypse.” Casual references to annihilation pop up every day in American life. That makes it harder to communicate the danger posed by Donald Trump’s appointment of John Bolton as National Security Advisor. Bolton has poor judgement, a mean spirit, and an intellect that’s weaker than he thinks. He spreads ethnic hatred and argues for sending others to fight and die. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore / flickr This weekend, young people around the country stood up against gun violence in their schools. Bolton’s appointment tells us that senseless violence may soon dominate our foreign policy, too, even more than it already does. Bolton seems to pursue Machiavelli’s dictum that “it is much safer to be feared than loved.” But it’s not safer.

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Miles Mogulescu

The March For Our Lives: Teach Your Parents Well

Teach your parents well, Their children’s hell will slowly go by, And feed them on your dreams The one they pick’s the one you’ll know by.  Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry, So just look at them and sigh,  And know they love you.                         –Graham Nash, recorded by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, 1970 The students of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School and their young peers have, in a matter of weeks, galvanized one of the most significant social movements in our country’s recent history. They pulled off massive marches in Washington, D.C., and in more than 800 locations across the country and the world. This kind of feat would have taken their elders months to organize, if they could even pull it off.

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Pavan Vangipuram

Washington Voting Rights Act a New Dawn for Democracy

With the passage of the Washington Voting Rights Act (WVRA), democracy in Washington State is about to get a lot more vibrant! This month, Governor Inslee signed this Act into law, with other measures that will improve voter turnout, ushering in a new era for local representation. For years, communities across Washington State have had to live under unfair voting systems that leave many voices out. That’s why the WVRA is a huge win for our state, and is the fruit of many years of patient organizing. Photo credit: OneAmerica Votes At-Large Voting Currently, many of Washington’s communities use “at-large” voting in general elections. That means a majority of voters in the state can decide the result for every council or school board seat in a town, city, or county, rather than local voters.

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Jeff Bryant

Betsy DeVos Wants to Cut Public Education to the Bone

True to form, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s testimony before Congress this week was yet another example of how her utterances about American public education and her governance over the system send people into fits of frustration and outrage. Appearing before a House subcommittee, she was tasked to defend the Trump administration’s 2019 budget for her department. As prominent news outlets reported, she mostly sparked intense disagreement with her views on “gun control, racial bias, and civil rights.” Repeated questioning over her views on whether students of color were far more apt to be discriminated against in school disciplinary actions – a matter of fact, rather than opinion – prompted California Democratic Representative Barbara Lee to exclaim, “Madam Secretary, you just don’t care much about civil rights of black and brown children.

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Richard Eskow

There’s Fake News on Your Television, Too

There is increasing public concern about the political manipulation of Facebook and Twitter by private corporations and foreign actors, and it’s certainly warranted. Social media, especially Facebook, are increasingly mediating their users’ realities in ways that traditional broadcasters can only dream about. But millions of Americans still rely on television news, and they probably give it more credence than they do to random strangers on the internet. That’s bad news, because there’s fake news on your television, too.  And there’s about to be more of it, unless something is done to stop an upcoming merger. Fake News Network Sinclair Broadcast Group is a hard-right – perhaps even “alt-right” – corporation that imposes its views on the local television stations it owns.

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