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« September 2010 | Main | November 2010 »

Front Page » Monthly Archives » October 2010

By Dmitri Iglitzin on October 29, 2010

Negotiations for a union contract are not customarily conducted through advertisements in a daily newspaper. Which is why readers of last Sunday's Anchorage Daily News were doubtless surprised to see a half-page advertisement by the Sheraton Anchorage Hotel & Spa that wasn't touting the virtues of the Sheraton's facilities or bargain-basement off-season prices. Instead, the ad was an "open letter" to Marvin Jones, President of UNITE HERE Local 878, the union that represents the Sheraton's housekeepers, bell staff, banquet workers, and other hourly employees.

In this letter, the Sheraton, which the union accused more than a year ago of violating federal law by refusing to bargain in good faith for a successor agreement, now promised Local 878 that it would “negotiate a contract” if the union agreed to permit a “decertification election” to occur within 30 days.

It was a different kind of a pitch, made by a different kind of employer. How different?

Read more from this post here ...

By Angelo Lopez on October 28, 2010

Recently advice columnist Dan Savage launched the "It Gets Better Project" on YouTube in response to the recent deaths of Tyler Clementi, Billy Lucas, Asher Brown, and Seth Walsh, four teens who committed suicide after being bullied for being gay. The intent of this project is to encourage LGBT youth who may be harassed to persevere into adulthood, where they can find a better life and choose to be around people who could give them the love and respect that they deserve. Over 800 videos have been submitted for this project, and among those who have submitted are Christians, Muslims and Jews who are either gay or lesbian or who want to show support for their LGBT friends. Nicole Neroulias wrote in the October 18, 2010 edition of the Huffington Post of religious figures like Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, Catholic author Gregory Gerard, Muslim student Ibad Shah, and Mormon Natalie Sperry talking about the homophobia within their places of worship and the support they have with those who don't agree with the teachings of the more intolerant members of their religion. In looking at these youtube videos, I grew very proud of those religious people who have the courage to take a stand against homophobia in their place of worship.

Read more from this post here ...

By James Bordonaro on October 27, 2010

The recent outbreak of cholera in Haiti which has killed more than 300 people is bringing international attention back to that island nation. Unfortunately, this epidemic has been predicted for months now and despite the best efforts of numerous NGOs and the donation of billions of dollars (special kudos is given to Bill Clinton in that aspect) the world hasn't been able to put Haiti back together or even in a position to have avoided the latest crisis. The remainder of my post is a cut and paste from an MSNBC.com comment on a story about the continuing rise in the death toll and the shortsighted reaction of some residents of that country to an effort by Doctors Without Borders to open a new health clinic to treat cholera patients. Here's the link to the story.

Basically, I was responding to those who commented that Haiti's people were 'ignorant' and we as a country should pull out and cut our losses. I do agree that Haiti is poorly served by its leadership and trust my wife's perception of the on-the-ground realities of economic and social inertia and stagnation which have been made worse by the over-reliance on temporary aid from NGOs. I'm also not willing to let Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma off the hook for delaying US aid already appropriated by Congress. So, here are my thoughts in that context.

Read more from this post here ...

By Diane Wahto on October 27, 2010

I registered to vote as soon as I turned 21. Even though I was too young to vote for him when he ran for president against Richard Nixon, John Kennedy had a great influence on my registering as a Democrat. I came from a family of Republicans, not so surprising in Kansas. After all, Kansas was historically a free state during the Civil War and had ties to Pres. Abraham Lincoln, one of the great Republican presidents, maybe even the last great Republican president. And, no, Ronald Reagan was not a great Republican president.

Since my first vote, two years after JFK was elected, I have missed voting in only one election. I missed voting for George McGovern because I had just moved back to Kansas from Michigan and didn’t have time to get registered to vote. My Kansas vote wouldn’t have helped McGovern anyway, but it did feel strange not going to the polls when everyone else was voting.

Read more from this post here ...

By John Atlas on October 26, 2010

A raging debate has ensued around whether NPR correctly fired Juan Williams because his remarks were inconsistent with editorial. Some say Williams undermined his credibility as a news analyst. Others accuse NPR of bungling its response and stifling free speech. What’s been missing in the debate over his firing is this.

Immediately after National Public Radio fired Williams because of his remarks about Muslims, Fox Cable’s Bill O’Reilly said, “This is like the ACORN deal — no more money to NPR. NPR has now devolved into a totalitarian outfit functioning as an arm of the far left.”

The Republican leadership and the right wing echo chamber followed O’Reilly’s call for the federal defunding of National Public Radio. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., announced plans to introduce legislation to strip federal funds from NPR because it fired Williams. According to DeMint, NPR received $4 billion in federal money since 2001 and will get $430 million in the 2011. Republican Minority Whip Eric Cantor and nearly every Republican running for office this year promised to seek an end to taxpayer subsidies for NPR and public television.

Read more from this post here ...

By Ken Poland on October 23, 2010

"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." - Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd US President (1882-1945)
Whether you agree with President FDR's social programs or 'stimulus' packages or not, this quote from him is a very good test for todays political arguments.

The difference between civilized society and barbarian or uncivilized society is respectful treatment of all members of society: rich or poor; powerful or weak; educated or uneducated; Christian or Pagan; the list can go on and on.

By Bob Hooper on October 12, 2010

Dr. Robert Musil held his hand palm down, just over knee high. "This is where global warming ranks in today's political dialog.." He brought his hand head high. "What's here?" From the 50 people gathered at Cafe Semolino in Hays, Kansas, last month came the quick response: "Jobs! The economy."

Speaking without a script, Musil sometimes rambled. But his three-part thesis was clear: (1) global warming is an international concern (2) ordinary citizens should not be sideline spectators, but demand timely progress (3) success requires persistence. Don't give up.

For Musil the fact of global warming is just that--a fact. No show of hands, but I'm guessing those present were mostly in agreement. A handful of students, surely there for extra-credit, got glassy-eyed at times. Too low-tech, I suppose.

The focus soon sharpened to what efficiency might accomplish: turning thermostats down, swapping out incandescent bulbs, remembering to switch off the lights or turn off the TV when nobody's in the room. A gentleman perched on a stool toward the back spoke up. Eating less meat, he said, would reduce demand on fossil fuel. Fattening livestock is not fossil fuel efficient. There were some grimaces and squirms at shorting ourselves on t-bones, or even burgers. Surely some cattle ranchers were present, too. Americans not only like their creature comforts but generally feel entitled.

Read more from this post here ...

By Darrell Hamlin on October 12, 2010

These remarks were delivered at the Distinguished Alumni Award Ceremony in San Marcos, Texas, October 1, 2010.

I am grateful to the selection committee at the San Marcos Education Foundation for this recognition tonight. And I thank those who moved my nomination by Virginia Witte forward after her death last summer.

Success and achievement in life is certainly related to performance. If you show up, work with energy and passionate purpose, you have a good chance to make something of yourself in the world.

But what I want to talk about tonight is that accomplishment is also about being lucky. It’s about having good fortune in the relationships and circumstances that shape your life. I have been very lucky...

Read more from this post here ...

By Danielle Lee on October 11, 2010

With today being National Coming Out Day, there is quite a bit of talk about repealing the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy of the United Stated Military. I remember how momentous it was when President Bill Clinton signed into law the in 1993. I was a second year Army ROTC cadet in college. Though not a signed member of the US Armed Forces, I was being fully indoctrinated into military ethos and customs. Like the men and women who joined the Army, I was given a 4x6 inch card.

It asked me two questions: 1) "Would you be willing to bear arms and go to war?" (the conscientious objector question); and, 2) "Are you homosexual or have you ever engaged in homosexual acts?"

Why? Because “Homosexuality is INCOMPATIBLE with the US Military“. Stop now. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.

Read more from this post here ...

By Angelo Lopez on October 6, 2010

Last Winter, I went to a rally to support a strong health care reform bill that was going through Congress. While I was there, I encountered three oddly dressed older women who were holding signs and singing songs for single-payer health care reform and against the power of insurance companies. This was my first encounter with the Raging Grannies, an activist group that fights for progressive causes like the ecology, economic justice, and civil rights. They use humor and music to protest for just causes.

The Raging Grannies began in 1987 in Victoria, British Columbia when a group of white middle-class Canadian women between the age of 52 and 67 began to protest the visit of US Navy warships and submarines in the harbors of Victoria. Many of these women had experience in activism, but were getting tired of being relegated to making coffee in the peace groups that were then in existence. Due to their marginalization in these other groups, these women decided to form the Raging Grannies to implement their own ideas of social protest, and on February 14, 1987 they staged their first protest. The Raging Grannies sent to Pat Crofton, then Chairman of the Defense Committee, a broken heart to signify his lack of commitment and action on nuclear issues. They sang a few satiric songs under an umbrella full of holes, symbolizing the absurdity of sheltering under a nuclear umbrella. Canadians loved the Raging Grannies, and a movement was started.

Read more from this post here ...

By Janet Morrison on October 5, 2010

Let me admit something. I'm not big on celebrities. My goal is education for children. Oftentimes, I think celebrities detract from that. Most of the ones I've met made empty promises (that they never kept) and the events seemed to be more about them than it was about the kids/families who were there.

So, when we were told to gather people to cheer for Kirk Franklin when he arrived, I must admit, I didn't have a great attitude. I didn't see the purpose. Kirk Franklin gets to hear cheering every time he walks on stage.

As often happens in my life, I had to eat my words (and, trust me, I have enough friends in my life who relish in making sure that happens). Yes, there was cheering when Kirk Franklin got out of his car. But he didn't walk but a few steps before he starting humbly greeting each person he saw.

Read more from this post here ...

By Angelo Lopez on October 2, 2010

These are extremely partisan times. Democrats and Republicans seem to be unable to work together as they fight to an impasse in Congress over such issues as climate change, gay rights, immigration reform, and health care reform. Tea Party members try to vote out of office any politician who is not sufficiently conservative, while progressives decry the Obama administration for taking too many compromises in the health care reform bill and the stimulus bill. Though these times may seem exceedingly partisan, a look at our history shows that America has always had its partisan conflicts and divisive issues. From the Vietnam War to Civil Rights to Abolition, Americans have always been arguing about one issue or another.

In spite of these many disagreements, history is replete with many friendships of individuals with opposing viewpoints. Liberal Ted Kennedy and conservative Orrin Hatch were best friends in the Senate. Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neil would argue during the congressional debates, but would share drinks and exchange jokes afterward. When Reagan was shot, O'Neil visited his bedside and comforted his wife Nancy. Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda were best friends even though Stewart was a conservative Republican and Fonda was an ardent New Deal liberal. The most famous friendship of opposites in American history was the friendship of Thomas Jefferson and John and Abigail Adams.

Read more from this post here ...

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