Friday, September 30, 2011

Fox Harrisburg covers our demonstration

We joined with SEIU and unemployed workers in Harrisburg yesterday to say "No way!" to Pat Toomey's plan to give tax breaks to corporations who ship jobs overseas.

video

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What will PA look like when the drillers are done?













An aerial view of drilling field in Wyoming, from Damascus (PA) Citizens http://www.damascuscitizens.org/photos.html

Romney & Perry Doth Protest Too Much

The Progress Report Banner

Sep 28, 2011 | from www.thinkprogress.org

They Can Run, But They Can’t Hide Their Stimulus-Loving Pasts

Just as we were crawling out of bed this morning, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaign eagerly blasted out a new video attacking President Obama on the stimulus. Shortly thereafter, however, Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry became engaged in a nasty fight over who had flip-flopped harder on their past support for the Obama stimulus plan.

Here’s a rundown of how the action unfolded today and, more importantly, how both Romney and Perry are forever entangled with the Recovery Act, as much as they’d both like to pretend otherwise now.

Round 1: Romney Tries to Edit Away His Pro-Stimulus Comments, Calls Perry A Liar

Though Romney was also critical of the Recovery Act in his book, he at least initially offered an undeniably positive comment:

The ‘all-Democrat’ stimulus that passed in early 2009 will accelerate the timing of the start of the recovery.

  • Mitt Romney in the 2011 soft cover edition of his book No Apology:

The ‘all-Democrat’ stimulus passed in early 2009 has been a failure.

Romney, who is apparently unaware of the existence of “the google,” also excised another passage from his book in which he suggested that Romneycare and its individual mandate could serve as a model for the entire nation.

The Romney campaign responded to the attacks by calling Perry a liar, saying he has “a problem with truth.”

Round 2: Romney Reminds Everyone That Perry Extensively Relied on the Stimulus

As ThinkProgress has been reporting since way back in March 2009 and the Romney campaign reminded reporters today, Perry is all hat and no cattle when it comes to his opposition to the Recovery Act:

Round 3: Romney’s Pro-Fed and Fiscal Stimulus Past Further Exposed

While these days Republican leaders are practically begging the Fed to keep unemployment high, it wasn’t always so. Back in December 2008, Romney eagerly supported action by the Fed and clearly said a stimulus plan was necessary:

So this is surely the time for economic stimulus. But — and this is the crucial point — the government can’t just make itself bigger and more oppressive in the guise of stimulating the economy. That would make matters worse. Nor should we forget that fiscal stimulus is but one part of the solution. As Christina Romer, Barack Obama’s designee as chairperson of the Council of Economic Advisors concluded from her study of the Great Depression, bad monetary policy was its greatest cause and good monetary policy was its most effective cure. The Fed should continue to expand the money supply. And, it should confirm that it will not tolerate deflation — the pain of inflation pales in comparison.

That being said, a stimulus plan is needed without further delay, and there are some things that Republicans should insist on.

The Romney campaign once again attempted to dispatch this latest round of attacks from Perry by calling him a liar with a “Pinocchio problem.”

IN ONE SENTENCE: Mitt Romney and Rick Perry will do nearly anything to appease the Tea Party extremists in their party, whether it’s running from their pasts or attacking President Obama’s plan to make sure that no millionaires are paying a lower tax rate than working families — a commonsense rule that even two-thirds of Republicans say they support.

NEA TV ad urges Congress to pass American Jobs Act

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Ad draws attention to the consequences of Congressional inaction

WASHINGTON—The National Education Association today launched a multi-state television ad campaign urging Congress to pass the American Jobs Act. The legislation, if passed, will get more Americans working again, modernizing the nation’s aging schools and putting teachers and support staff back to work.

“The American Jobs Act is a win-win for the American people,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “Congress can choose to put students ahead of political gridlock by supporting a bill that puts Americans back to work, modernizes our schools, and puts educators in classrooms instead of on the unemployment lines.”

The 30-second ad is airing in select media markets in Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Texas and the District of Columbia. These are states that have been feeling the economic pinch caused by severe budget cuts and painful policy decisions.

Teachers, education support professionals, parents and others in local communities are rallying behind President Barack Obama’s bold proposal to get the economy moving in the right direction again. His proposal would put up to 280,000 educators back to work and modernize 35,000 of our nation’s aging public schools.

“The fact is that educators know firsthand the devastating impact the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression is having on our communities, our schools and students,” noted Van Roekel. “Children can’t learn if they’re hungry. They can’t learn if their family can’t afford to see a dentist or a doctor. They can’t learn if they’re anxious, nervous or have low self-esteem due to living in poverty. Unemployment isn’t just an economic issue – it’s an education issue.”

One such unemployed teacher from Florida visited Washington to urge her Congressional delegation to pass the American Jobs Act. Cherine Akbari, a history teacher from Northeast High School in Oakland Park, FL, was fired the last day of Teacher Appreciation Week and five days after she moved into her new house. The American Jobs Act would put people like Cherine back in the classroom with her students again. There are hundreds of thousands of unemployed educators like Cherine who are willing and eager to get back to schools and classrooms with help from Congress.

To view the 30-second ad, visit http://tinyurl.com/4x2thmt

Visit Education Votes to learn more about school budget cuts: www.educationvotes.nea.org

Follow us on twitter at www.twitter.com/NEAMedia

Friday, September 23, 2011

1,000 march in PA against Hershey’s corporate greed, for good jobs

Marchers defy thunderstorm, police helicopter at rally for justice and living wage jobs

Hershey, PA, Sep. 23, 2011—Today, after six weeks of mounting national pressure on Hershey’s for exploiting J-1 student workers and depriving local workers of living wage jobs, former student workers at the Hershey’s packing plant and working people from PA held a 1,000-strong march in Hershey for justice and jobs. (Video, photos)

Under pouring rain and with a police helicopter circling overhead, dozens of students marched up Chocolate Avenue with the head of a column of 1,000 supporters from the AFL-CIO and SEIU. The crowd bore signs reading “Justice at Hershey’s” and “Exploitation Is Wrong in Any Language,” and chanted, “Hey Hershey’s, can’t you see / What good jobs mean to me?”

“I paid $3,000 to become a captive worker at the Hershey’s packing plant. They threatened me with deportation if I didn’t work fast enough. Is this the real America?” Hershey’s J-1 student worker Malwina Siegien told the crowd, drawing a shout of, “No!”

“Hershey’s held us in its factory, but you let us into our homes. Hershey’s refused to speak with us, but over 1,000 American workers are marching with us today. You are the real America,” Siegien said. “This fight is not over!”

SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry said, “These students came to America to learn about our country, but instead they taught us all what it means to take a stand against injustice. They are heroes to us all. It’s time for Hershey's to treat these students with dignity and do right by the community they’ve called home for over a century by bringing good jobs back to central Pennsylvania.”

The students—who paid $3,000-6,000 each to come to the U.S. for a cultural exchange and instead became captive labors in the Hershey’s packing plant—organized and became members of the National Guestworker Alliance. With support from Central PA residents and organized labor, the students held a sit-down strike and walkout from the Hershey’s plant on Aug. 17.

Said National Guestworker Alliance executive director Saket Soni, “On Aug 17, hundreds of workers conducted a sit-down strike in the Hershey’s packing plant. Why did they do it? Because they believe in an America based on people not profit. They believe in an America based on human need, not corporate greed. And we are asking Hershey to show us that America.”

Other rally speakers included AFL-CIO PA state president Rick Bloomingdale and SEIU Healthcare PA president Neil Bisno, both of whom were arrested during an act of civil disobedience outside the Hershey’s packing plant on Aug. 17 in support of the student’s strike.

“Hershey’s has hunkered down in their corporate headquarters in the hopes this would all blow over when the students were home, but it is so important to keep this fight alive,” Bloomingdale said. “Now we see how Hershey’s acts when workers don’t have the protection of a union—they go right back to the old corporate town concept of a hundred years ago. We will not stand for it.”

Four federal agencies launched investigations into the exploitation of J-1 student workers at the Hershey’s plant, and nearly 70,000 Americans signed a petition in support of the students’ demands: 1) return the $3,000-6,000 students paid for false promises of a cultural exchange, and 2) turn the 400 jobs they filled in the Hershey’s packing plant into living wage jobs for local workers.

Hershey’s has maintained a wall of silence, hoping that when the students returned to their home countries at the end of the summer, the pressure would end. Instead, Friday’s 1,000-strong march demonstrated that the students’ solidarity with local workers has inspired a local fight for living wage jobs that won’t go away.

On the eve of the march, Hershey’s launched a PR campaign to attempt to discredit the students, and hired Blank Rome Government Relations to lobby Congress on “government affairs issues related to labor practices.”

The Hershey’s story goes to the heart of the current debate over the sources of America's jobs crisis. Decades of downsizing, outsourcing, and subcontracting by corporations like Hershey’s has robbed local workers of living wage jobs, while locking immigrant workers—and even cultural exchange students on J-1 visas—into situations of captive labor.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

LOCAL CENSUS DATA: Poverty Rises Sharply in Most Parts of Pennsylvania

Nearly one in five Pennsylvania children live in poverty

View a table with poverty rates by metropolitan/micropolitan region

HARRISBURG, PA (September 22, 2011) — Poverty has risen sharply in most regions of Pennsylvania, highlighting the widespread impact of the recession and the need for policymakers to protect struggling families and invest in building a stronger economy.

In urban areas of Pennsylvania, poverty rose to 14.7 percent in 2010 with 1,360,202 urban residents currently living in poverty, according to the Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey. That is up from 12.7 percent in 2007, before the recession started. The picture is similarly bleak in rural Pennsylvania where 9.5 percent of residents (287,982 people) lived in poverty in 2010, up from 8.1 percent in 2007.

“Many families in all parts of Pennsylvania are feeling the worst effects of this economy,” said Mark Price, PhD, Labor Economist for the Keystone Research Center. “Our state leaders have responded by cutting our kids’ education and affordable health care for working Pennsylvanians. That is making life harder for struggling families and undermining economic growth.”

Overall poverty in Pennsylvania rose by a statistically significant margin, going from 11.6 percent in 2007 to 13.4 percent in 2010. Most Pennsylvania metro areas also saw statistically significant increases in poverty from 2007 to 2010.

The number of Pennsylvania children living in poverty continued to increase last year amid the recession, according to the Census data. In 2010, 18.8 percent of Pennsylvania kids lived in families that fell below the poverty line, up from 15.9 percent in 2007. The Pennsylvania rate was lower than the national child poverty rate of 21.2 percent.

As poverty increases nationwide, African Americans and Latinos have been hit particularly hard by the recession, with 28.4% of African Americans and 33.5% of Latinos living in poverty in Pennsylvania last year. Just under one in ten non-Hispanic whites in Pennsylvania lived in poverty in 2010.

Pennsylvania’s recently enacted budget contained deep cuts to education, health care and other services that support struggling families, as well as investments that are the foundations of job creation and long-term economic growth.

Policymakers will continue to face tough fiscal choices next year and beyond. Taking a balanced approach that includes revenue and budget reserves instead of a cuts-only approach will be crucial to keeping more families from falling through the cracks and building a stronger economy.

“Relying heavily on cuts will make it more difficult for working and struggling families to keep a roof over their head and food on the table,” said Michael Wood, Research Director for the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center. “We need to take a balanced approach to budgeting so that we can invest in our state’s economy and provide help for those who need it most.”

View a table with poverty rates by metropolitan/micropolitan region


The Keystone Research Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that promotes a more prosperous and equitable Pennsylvania economy. The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center is a non-partisan policy research project that provides independent, credible analysis on state tax, budget and related policy matters, with attention to the impact of current or proposed policies on working families.

New Video Exposes PENNSYLVANIA GOP “Millionaire Politicians” Who Oppose Buffett Rule

PA Reps. Barletta, Cong. Kelly, Cong. Shuster, and Sen. Toomey slammed in new video

****See Video Here****

(Philadelphia)—A group of Patriotic Millionaires released a video challenging several of Pennsylvania’s prominent politicians for their opposition to the “Buffett Rule.” The Buffett Rule refers to billionaire Warren buffet’s call for Congress to raise taxes on people like him who earn over $1 million per year.

The video – PENNSYLVANIA’S MILLIONAIRE POLITICIANS – charges that the Pennsylvania Millionaire Politicians are opposing the Buffett Rule to benefit themselves rather than the country.

Pennsylvania Reps. Louis Barletta, Mike Kelly, Bill Shuster, and Sen. Pat Toomey are prominently featured in the video.

Here is a list of the Pennsylvania Millionaire Politicians featured in the video.
Here is a complete list of 136 Millionaire Politicians opposing the Buffett Rule.

Some facts about millionaires in Congress:

  • 48 percent of Congress members are millionaires while only 1 percent of all Americans are millionaires
  • 55 members of Congress have an average wealth of $10 million and 8 members have an average wealth of $100+ million
  • During the worst part of the recession 2008-2009, the median wealth of a congressional member rose $125K
  • The median wealth of a House member is $700,000+, while the median wealth for a senator was over $2 million
  • 5 of the 6 Republican members of the new Super Committee for the Budget are millionaires.

Why do Pennsylvania Millionaire Politicians oppose the Buffett Rule? Oh. That’s Why.

Patriotic Millionaires include: more than a dozen current and former Google employees, actress Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie); Susie Buell, Founder of Esprit; John Katzman, the founder of the Princeton Review; legendary philanthropist Michael Steinhardt; famed economist Nouriel Roubini; financial guru Andrew Tobias, top executives from Warburg, Pincus and other major financial firms, Dennis Mehiel, Chairman and Founder, U.S. Corrugated, Inc.; Ron Garret, Venture Capitalist – Former Google employee; Abigail Disney, Filmmaker, philanthropist; Peter Norvig, Computer Scientist; David Brown, Investor / Entrepreneur; Dal LaMagna, Co-Managing Partner IceStone; Leo Hindery, Managing Partner, InterMedia Partners; Frank Jernigan, Former Senior Software Engineer at Google; Michael Barr, Small Business Owner; Charlie Fink, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist; Daniel Berger, Attorney; Linda Gottlieb, Film / TV Producer; David Watson, Music Producer; Josh Kanter, Attorney; Garrett Gruener, Co-Founder / Director; and Dr. Robert Johnson, Executive Director – Institute for New Economic Thinking among others.

For more information about the Patriotic Millionaires, please visit www.patrioticmillionaires.org.

Williamsport Citizens Marcellus Shale Hearing

Last night's Citizens Marcellus Shale Commission hearing in Williamsport is online here. It's about 2 hours long, but the testimony is compelling.









Video streaming by Ustream

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

1,000 to march in PA against Hershey’s corporate greed, for good jobs

Hershey’s launches panicked PR and lobbying effort as march nears


Hershey, PA—After six weeks of mounting national pressure on Hershey’s for exploiting J-1 student workers and depriving local workers of living wage jobs, former student workers at the Hershey’s packing plant have organized a 1,000-strong march in Hershey for justice and jobs on Friday, Sep. 23 at 12:45 p.m.

The students—who paid $3,000-6,000 each to come to the U.S. for a cultural exchange and instead became captive labors at Hershey’s packing plant—organized and became members of the National Guestworker Alliance. With support from Central PA residents and organized labor, the students held a walk-out and strike from the Hershey’s plant on Aug. 17.

Four federal agencies launched investigations into the exploitation of J-1 student workers at the Hershey’s plant, and nearly 70,000 Americans signed a petition in support of the students’ demands: 1) return the $3,000-6,000 students paid for false promises of a cultural exchange, and 2) turn the 400 jobs they filled in the Hershey’s packing plant into living wage jobs for local workers.

Hershey’s maintained a wall of silence, hoping that when the students returned to their home countries at the end of the summer, the pressure would end. Instead, the students organized hundreds of local workers and labor leaders into a growing fight for living wage jobs—including Friday’s 1,000-strong march.

As the march neared, Hershey’s launched a PR campaign to attempt to discredit the students, and hired Blank Rome Government Relations to lobby Congress on “government affairs issues related to labor practices.”

The Hershey’s story goes to the heart of the current debate over the sources of America's jobs crisis. Decades of downsizing, outsourcing, and subcontracting by corporations like Hershey’s has robbed local workers of living wage jobs, while locking immigrant workers—and even cultural exchange students on J-1 visas—into situations of captive labor.

The National Guestworker Alliance is a membership organization of guestworkers engaging in workplace fights across many industries to win dignified conditions, just migration policy, and new rights and protections for all workers.

WHEN: Friday, Sep. 23 at 12:45 p.m.

WHERE: Corner of Homestead Rd. and Chocolate Ave. (Rt. 422), Hershey, PA 17033

Really? Let the uninsured die?

From our friends at MoveOn.org:

Did you catch that moment in the GOP debate when the crowd cheered for letting uninsured patients die?

Susan Grigsby did, and she's recorded an incredibly powerful rejoinder that's on the verge of going viral online. We posted it Friday and already, there are tens of thousands of views, Facebook shares, and comments.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Don't let them shut down abortion access in PA!

It's shocking, but this is really happening.

When legislators return to Harrisburg this month, they will be considering legislation that would drastically chip away at access to safe, legal abortion in Pennsylvania. We need YOU to stand with us against their full-scale attack on women's health! Mark your calendar to join hundreds of women's health supporters at a historic rally in Harrisburg on September 27.

Need a ride to the rally? TODAY is the deadline to register for a spot on a bus. Click here to sign up today!

These dangerous bills could cause a public health crisis in Pennsylvania by making abortion care inaccessible in the state. We have seen this sort of dangerous legislation pass in other states - and we cannot let it happen here in Pennsylvania! Let's join together as a strong and unified voice, declaring to Pennsylvania - and the Nation - that we will not allow these attacks to continue.

Add your voice and join us in Harrisburg on September 27!

This IS really happening. Let's do everything we can in the precious little time we have to tell our legislators to STOP their dangerous attacks on women's health and rights. Let's let them know: We've had enough!

Today is the deadline to register for a ride on the bus to Harrisburg. Please, click here to join us.

We hope to see you there!

Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates
Keystone Progress

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Text of the American Jobs Act

Looking for the text of the American Jobs Act? Here it is:

American Jobs Act -- Final

Affordable Care Act in Action: Fewer Uninsured Young Adults in America

We all know that our broken health care system failed to serve the needs of many American citizens. That is why the passage of reform legislation was so vital to the health of many Americans. But few people understood how necessary that change was to young adults.

In 2010, the number of uninsured young Americans climbed to 21 million people, accounting for approximately one third of the total uninsured population.

That is why the following announcement made today by Kathleen Sebelius HHS Secretary is so important…

“We know that young adults are the age group most likely to be uninsured and before health reform was enacted, many young Americans lost their health insurance when they left home or graduated from school. This meant that your sons or daughters – who might be college students or in their first job, are often forced to go without health insurance. A policy in the Affordable Care Act changed this, by allowing young adults to remain on their parents plan until age 26.

Today, a new report shows that the Affordable Care Act is working. According to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey released today, there was a significant increase in the number of 18-24 year olds with health insurance in the U.S. over the past year.

The report showed that the percentage of young adults with insurance increased from 70.7% in 2009 to 72.8% in 2010. That translates into 500,000 more young people with insurance. We expect even more will gain coverage in 2011 when the policy is fully phased in.

Young people sometimes think they’re invincible, but it’s important for everyone to have insurance. One car accident, one slip in a shower, or one sudden illness can result in months or even years of health care bills that can bankrupt the average family if that son or daughter is uninsured.

This 2% increase in coverage for young people came as the number of Americans under 65 with insurance went down slightly. The Affordable Care Act will help provide coverage at a decent price for millions of uninsured Americans starting in 2014, when millions of Americans will have access to affordable insurance options.”

For more information, click here

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Perhaps the Most Bizarre Campaign Ad Ever

This is not a joke. It's from the Herman Cain campaign.

PA Groups Express Concerns over Fracking Fluids in Flood Water


Demand Disclosure of Chemicals and Number of Well Pads in Floodplains


Harrisburg, PA
—As tropical storm Lee continues to dump massive amounts of rain throughout Pennsylvania, concerns are growing over natural gas drilling pits overflowing and spilling their toxic contents into flooded creeks, streams and rivers. There are no currently safeguards in place by the State of Pennsylvania to prevent natural gas drilling and the placing of open pits containing toxic fracking fluids in flood plains. The groups call on the DEP to immediately disclose to the public and emergency response professionals how many wells are located within the floodplain, how many may have potentially leaked into our waterways, and what types of chemicals residents and emergency responders may have come in contact with.

Pennsylvania Environmental groups released the following statements in reaction to the heavy rainfall and potential for contaminated flood regions:

“Given the significant flooding over the past several days, there is much concern over how many well pads, open pits and chemical storage tank fields have been inundated with toxic chemicals washing into our waterways and flooded communities,” states Jeff Schmidt, Director with the Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter. “It is imperative that the PA DEP not allow natural gas wells and infrastructure to be located in floodplains.”

"The human devastation experienced by flooding is largely the result of bad decision making - building in the wrong place and the wrong way,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper. “Because we have once again put the priorities of industry above the health, safety and protection of people, which includes protecting the environment that feeds and sustains them. We have created a catastrophic situation - and the damage we see here will far surpass what we are able to see with our eyes, the chemical slurry of the drillers will spread its poison, becoming an insidious and unseen threat that will cause sickness and harm for years to come."

"We can only assume that the runoff from gas well sites during this terrible flooding is a toxic flood,” said Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director of DRN. “PA should shut down all drilling now and must immediately revise its regulations to prohibit any gas well development within the floodplains adjacent riparian areas, for the sake of public health and safety."

B. Arrindell, Director of Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, said, "We have verified that there is a spreading oil slick in the Wyalusing area along the flooding Susquehanna River. This is indicative of not just oils, but also all the chemicals being used and released materials brought to the surface by the drilling that are now being spread everywhere the flood waters travel. This has profound ongoing health implications for everyone living, working, farming or visiting the area. Pennsylvanians are being denied their constitutional right to a clean environment"

"While the industry mouths rhetoric about 'safe and responsible' drilling, they do the absolute opposite in fact, storing hundreds of millions of gallons of toxic flowback fluid in open frack pits, now flowing into floodwaters," said Iris Marie Bloom, director of Protecting Our Waters. "Fracking fluid chemicals, and even worse, the radioactive materials, arsenic and other deadly contaminants brought up from the deep shale, should never come into contact with air, water or earth. But here they are flowing with flood waters irreversibly into our ecosystem. This is a public health disaster in the making. Not one more fracking permit should be issued. All open frack pits must be permanently abolished and life-cycle cumulative impact studies done."

Nature Abounds President Melinda Hughes-Wert commented on the situation, “Prior to the epic flooding, we already knew that toxic water from the wells was seeping into our waterways through inefficient containment ponds placed in mountainous topography. Now with the epic flooding, we have even more toxic chemicals in our ground and surface waters. This is truly a significant problem for the commonwealth and it should be addressed by our officials with urgency. Anything less, is an insult to the intelligence of the citizens of Pennsylvania.”

"The devastating flooding occurring in Pennsylvania is just another chilling reminder that we are all downstream of poorly regulated, poorly understood, and inherently dangerous natural gas drilling operations. Natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania needs to stop," said Karen Feridun, Founder of Berks Gas Truth.