News Roundup


Senate passes Employment Non-Discrimination Act: “The Rainbow FlagSenate passed a historic piece of gay rights legislation Thursday that would ban workplace discrimination against gay and transgender employees, another milestone victory for a gay rights movement that has been gaining favor in the courts and electoral politics.

“The 64 to 32 vote to approve the Employment Non-Discrimination Act marked the first time federal lawmakers had approved legislation to advance gay rights since repealing the military’s ban on gay men and lesbians in uniform in late 2010.”Washington Post 11/7/13

“The Senate on Thursday approved the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in a tempered win for gay rights advocates who still need a reluctant, GOP-controlled House to take up and pass the bill.

“In a bipartisan vote, 64 senators supported the ENDA legislation, championed in the Senate by Democrat Jeff Merkley of Oregon. The bill, if it were to become law, would set a federal non-discrimination standard to ensure that private employers cannot fire employees based on their sexual orientation or identity.”Roll Call 11/7/13



New World Trade Center Tower is finally beaming: “Lower Manhattan residents were awestruck Friday night as the bright lights atop 1 World Trade Center were switched on in a test for the first time.”

“The Port Authority said the glow can be seen for up to 50 miles.” — New York Post 11/9/13

Official One World Trade Center Time-Lapse 2004-2013

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Wendy Davis Files For Texas Governor


Wendy Davis For Governor website

Democratic State Sen. Wendy Davis makes it official – Files paperwork for Texas Governor: “The leading candidates for Texas governor made it official Saturday, submitting the required paperwork and fees to compete in their respective primaries, giving pep talks to volunteers and laying out a couple of key attack lines a year ahead of their expected general election showdown.

Sen. Wendy Davis signing paperwork for Texas Governor

Sen. Wendy Davis signing paperwork for Texas Governor

“Democratic State Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth went first, signing her application …”

“Davis, elected to the state Senate in 2008 after serving on the Fort Worth city council, rose to fame after temporarily derailing a restrictive abortion law with an 11-hour filibuster this summer. Republicans passed the measure, known as House Bill 2, in a subsequent special session.”Texas Tribune 11/9/13

Wendy Davis re-defines “Pro-life”, enrages anti-choicers: “The right-wing blog world is erupting again at Wendy Davis.

“The state senator first became the focus of conservatives’ burning scorn for her 11-hour filibuster of the bill that is responsible for abortion providers now going out of business across Texas.

“Now that she’s declared she is running for governor of the Lone Star State, the Harvard Law-educated Davis has done it again.

“I am pro-life,” she told a University of Texas at Brownsville crowd on Tuesday.” — National Memo 11/6/13

Wendy Davis I Am Pro-Life

“Wendy Davis hinted at how she’ll handle the issue of abortion on the campaign trail in the conservative Lone Star State.

“The Democratic candidate for Texas governor declared, “I am pro-life,” suggesting her stance on women’s reproductive rights doesn’t mean she doesn’t care about people or life itself.

“I care about the life of every child: every child that goes to bed hungry, every child that goes to bed without a proper education, every child that goes to bed without being able to be a part of the Texas dream, every woman and man who worry about their children’s future and their ability to provide for that future,” Davis said, according to The Dallas Morning News. “I care about life and I have a record of fighting for people above all else.” MSNBC 11/7/13

Leticia Van de Putte websiteDemocratic State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte will announce plans to run for Texas Lt. Governor with Wendy Davis: State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, on Friday took another step toward entering the race for lieutenant governor, a campaign that would make her fellow Sen. Wendy Davis’ running mate.

“That means two women would top the Democratic Party’s ticket next year in the 2014 general election, a first for Texas.

“In an email to supporters, the veteran Texas lawmaker said she will make a formal announcement about her political future on Nov. 23 at San Antonio College.”

“A Davis-Van de Putte ticket for the Democrats would bring together two senators who made headlines in June during a 13-hour filibuster by Davis to stop a controversial, GOP-supported bill to restrict abortion services. As Republicans moved to cut off Davis’ long-running speech, Van de Putte challenged their authority to do so with remarks that went viral online with women’s rights groups:

“Dewhurst declined to recognize her to speak, and Van de Putte then said: “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?”

“A public gallery packed mostly with opponents of the bill then jumped to their feet, shouting and yelling and creating pandemonium that left senators unable to complete their last-minute vote on the bill. Though the midnight deadline passed and the bill died, it was approved in a subsequent special legislative session.” Statesman 11/15/13

Texas State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte brings the gallery to their feet with her now-famous remarks during Wendy Davis’s marathon filibuster:

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News: Unemployment, NYC Mayor


Unemployed worker with signFor some, joblessness is not a temporary problem: “MOST Americans who lose their jobs these days are able to find new ones quickly. But those who do not are likely to remain unemployed for a long time.”

“More than a quarter of the unemployed workers in the United States say they have been out of work for at least a year, and that does not count those who have given up looking, since they are no longer counted as unemployed. That is down from nearly a third at the peak of the recession, but far higher than it had ever been before the recession that began in 2007.”New York Times 10/25/13

Everything you think you know about panhandlers is Homeless Veteranwrong: “A new survey of panhandlers in downtown San Francisco dispels a number of myths that society propagates about homeless people.”

“Conventional wisdom is that those on the sidewalk asking for a dollar are lazy freeloaders who will use the money for alcohol or drugs. Some even think that beggars are living large off of handouts … “

“In San Francisco’s Union Square, the typical panhandler is a disabled middle-aged single male who is a racial minority and makes less than $25 per day despite panhandling seven days a week for more than five years.”

“Among the survey’s findings: … 26 percent served in the military.”Think Progress 10/30/13



Bill de Blasio Brooklyn Bridge

Bill de Blasio elected Mayor: Bill de Blasio is New York’s next mayor.

“In an overwhelming victory over Republican Joe Lhota, de Blasio became the first Democrat elected mayor in 20 years, after running a campaign devoted to progressive values and promising to tackle what he called the “growing inequality” in the city.

“De Blasio secured 73 percent of the vote compared to Lhota’s 24 percent, based on 99 percent of the vote.”DNAinfo 11/5/13

“The overwhelming support of  New York City voters for Bill de Blasio is the latest sign of the shift towards a new populist left in America. De Blasio owes his unexpected tailwind to campaigning on issues considered by insiders to be too polarizing for winning politics.”

“Despite its Democratic voter majority, New York in recent decades has been the political stronghold of the plutocratic Mayor Michael Bloomberg and, before him, the abrasive law-and-order Mayor Rudolph Giuliani – both Republicans with national, even global, reach. Democrats have lacked a progressive voice on the national stage of American politics often provided by the New York mayor’s office – until now.”AlterNet 11/6/13

Bill de Blasio announces TransitionNYC“Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is wasting little time getting ready to take over City Hall.

Less than 24 hours after easily winning the mayoralty, de Blasio announced the leaders of his transition team on Wednesday.”

“De Blasio said the transition team would help him create an administration that “mirrors the glorious diversity of this city,” while looking for the right personnel to enact the promises he made as a candidate.”

“To prepare for the transition, de Blasio’s campaign launched a website — — as a new Twitter handle, @nyctransition. De Blasio said he hoped New Yorkers would use site and social media to provide their thoughts and ideas, as well as to keep track of the process.”DNAinfo 11/6/13

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News: Marijuana, Tea Party, Ted Cruz


Marijuana LeafMost Americans now support legalizing marijuana: “For the first time, a majority of Americans support the legalization of marijuana, according to a new poll from Gallup.

“The poll shows 58 percent now support legalizing recreational marijuana — an unprecedented jump of 10 points from just last year.” — Washington Post 10/22/13

“Gallup released new polling data today that shows an overwhelming majority of Americans want marijuana to be legalized. According to their survey, 58% of Americans support legalizing marijuana, while only 39% are opposed. This is up significantly from the last time Gallup polled the question in 2012, when only 48% of Americans were in favor and 50% were opposed. For historical perspective, the first time they surveyed this question in 1969 a paltry 12% of Americans were in favor of legalization.”NORML 10/22/13

Marijuana Leaf Kaleidoscope

“Pollsters attributed the rapid rise in support for legalization to changing attitudes among self-identified Independent voters. In 2012, 50 percent of Independents endorsed legalization, compared to 62 percent in 2013. Support among Democratic (65 percent) and Republican (35 percent) voters was little changed from 2012 to 2013.

“Respondents in every age category except for those age 65 and over expressed majority support for legalization.”NORML 10/24/13

Uruguay is set to become the first country to legalize marijuana: “Uruguay will soon be the first nation in the world to completely legalize the use, sale, and cultivation of (strikingly affordable) cannabis.”

“In Uruguay, it has long been legal to smoke cannabis, but growing, buying, selling or carrying it can result in prison time. However, the Uruguayan House passed a cannabis legalization bill in late July and contingent on a senate vote set for November, Uruguay is readying to become the first country in the world to completely legalize the government-controlled sale, cultivation, and consumption of cannabis.”AlterNet 10/27/13

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Government Shutdown Drama


It’s Over For Now — Until January. Here’s A Brief Look At What Happened:

The saddest government shutdown photo you’ll ever see: “Add to the growing list of Americans affected by the GOP-led government shutdown this adorable, heartbroken child:

Saddest Shutdown Photo Daily Kos 10-10-13

“Now, I present this image not to make light of the real suffering being caused by the current shutdown, from furloughed workers to cancer patients struggling to receive treatment.

“I present this image because it is the perfect metaphor for the heartless, billionaire-funded hostage situation orchestrated by our country’s Republican leadership.”Daily Kos 10/10/13

Native Americans Crow Reservation MontanaShutdown deepens Native Americans’ distress: “Worlds away from Washington, Audrey Costa wondered aloud about keeping her family warm. A mother of three, she relies on lease payments from the Bureau of Indian Affairs on land owned by her family, which can run up to a few hundred dollars a year, to pay for food and electricity. But since the partial shutdown of the federal government began on Oct. 1, Ms. Costa, 41, has not received a check.

“We’re having such a hard time,” she said outside her tattered clapboard home in this poor prairie town deep in the heart of the Crow reservation. “I don’t know what I’ll do. Just tough it out, I guess.”

“Like other largely impoverished Indian tribes that lean heavily on federal dollars, the Crow have been battered by the shutdown.”New York Times 10/13/13

Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen inquires about a rule change made unilaterally by the Republican majority in the House. The rule would not allow Democrats or anyone else to call a vote to end the shutdown without prior permission from the Republican House Majority Leader or the Republican Speaker of the House:

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News: First Responders, Shutdown, UAW


Rubble of WTC Sept 11

People who lived or worked near Ground Zero are still being diagnosed with cancer: “As the nation marks the 12th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, the federal government is still working to ensure that the people who came into close contact with Ground Zero are receiving the health treatment they need. So far, about 1,140 Americans have been diagnosed with cancers that resulted from the toxins at the site of the World Trade Center collapse, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).”

“The most recent research into the issue found that 9/11 first responders have a 15 percent higher rate of cancer than the general population. Health experts expect that number to continue to rise, since some types of cancer can take decades to develop.” Think Progress 9/11/13



U.S. Capitol BuildingWhich lawmakers will refuse their pay during the shutdown?: “Hundreds of thousands of rank-and-file federal employees were forced out of the office Tuesday morning because of the start of a government shutdown and won’t be paid over the course of the impasse.

“But members of Congress and the president, who are so at odds over who caused the shutdown, will continue being paid and must be by law. That’s because their jobs are authorized by the U.S. Constitution and are paid with mandatory funds, not discretionary spending dependent on annual appropriations.”

“As of midday Monday, at least 159 lawmakers have said that they plan to donate, refuse or hold in escrow compensation earned over the course of the impasse. (The count includes a few members who already donate their salary to charity). Here’s our Thursday tally, in alphabetical order, but check back for updates.”Washington Post 10/7/13

Foreign press is baffled as U.S. Government shutsU.S. Capitol Building down: “American exceptionalism has been in full view of the world in the last few days, but not in the way that people usually mean. Since Monday night, the U.S. government has reminded the international community that it’s one of the few — maybe the only — that can actually shut down.

“Foreign press correspondents, left trying to explain an inexplicable situation to their audiences back home, are dumbfounded. TPM talked with Washington reporters from around the world, everywhere from South Korea to Sweden to Turkey, to ask them what they thought about the first U.S. government shutdown in 17 years.

“Some of their takes were quite frank.”Talking Points Memo 10/3/13



UAW logoUAW takes another step toward representing Tennessee Volkswagen workers: “For years, the UAW has sought to organize workers at the foreign auto plants in the anti-union south, without success. But now it looks as though the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, may get some kind of union representation thanks to pressure from the union that represents Volkswagen workers in the country’s home base of Germany.

“The UAW announced last week that a majority of workers in the Chattanooga plant have signed union cards, and union leaders are asking Volkswagen to recognize the union rather than demanding an election, a process during which many employers intimidate and fire union supporters.” — Daily Kos 9/16/13

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Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis Runs For Governor

Wendy Davis For Governor Bumper Sticker

Wendy Davis Runs For Governor: “State Sen. Wendy Davis, standing on the stage where she got her high school diploma more than 30 years ago, finally announced Thursday what has been anticipated, telegraphed and talked about for weeks: She is running for Texas governor.

“Davis promised to be an advocate for those who feel they no longer have a voice in the halls of the Texas Capitol, to fight for more education dollars and to take on Republicans leaders who she said are listening to their campaign contributors instead of average Texans.”Texas Tribune 10/3/13

Wendy Davis & Castro Bros TX Monthly July 2013Wendy Davis: Yes, she can: “Yes, Wendy Davis is making an uphill run for governor of Texas.

“She’s a progressive, pro-choice woman with a dramatic personal story, who made her name fighting the powers that be. As such, she does not fit the currently accepted image of a winning statewide candidate in a place where, as Molly Ivins noted, there has been a tendency to elect “good ol’ boy” governors.

“But Davis has some history on her side.

“And that history counters the narrative of those who would write her off.” The Nation 10/3/13

Wendy Davis, misogyny magnet: “A Wendy Davis run for TexasWendy Davis stares in Texas State Legislature governor may be just what the Democratic party needs as it gears up for the 2014 midterm elections.

“And that’s not just because the pro-choice state senator’s June filibuster –11 hours of talk in which she couldn’t lean on her desk, have a drink of water, cede the microphone or change the subject (she was penalized just for putting on a back brace) — was so much more hardcore than Republican Ted Cruz’s recent “Green Eggs and Ham” reading gabfest in the U.S. Senate.

Sen. Wendy Davis TX Lege filibuster 6-25-13“It’s not just because her own personal story – an absent father, a sixth-grade-educated mother, a teen pregnancy, followed by life as a single mom in a mobile home, then community college and, at last, Harvard Law School – gives the party that backs her impeccable “real people” credibility.

“It’s a whole lot more simple than that.”Time 10/3/13

Profile of  Wendy Davis in Vogue Magazine, August 2013: “Texas state senator Wendy Davis’s filibuster against an antiabortion bill turned her into an overnight sensation. Now can she battle her way to the governor’s mansion?”Vogue 8/15/13

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A Few Words About Tom DeLay

A Few Words About Tom DeLay

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) smiles in Washington, DC after hearing of his acquittal on Sept. 20, 2013

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) smiles in Washington, DC after hearing of his acquittal on Sept. 20, 2013

I am a lifelong progressive Democrat who has been a political activist since age 13 when I campaigned for Bobby Kennedy. If you are reading this blog, then you can spot the lefty leaning right away. I have a few words to say about conservative Republican former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay — but it’s not what you might expect …

Leader DeLay — I will call him “Tom” — was convicted of money laundering back in 2010. That was just one episode in a long legal journey that actually began years before that in 2005 and just ended this past Thursday when Tom was finally acquitted of all charges by an appeals court in Texas. I am writing this blog post to say “CONGRATULATIONS, TOM!”.

Why am I bucking the trend of other lefty bloggers this weekendTom DeLay courtroom during trial 2010 who are damning Tom and wishing he had been hauled off to jail instead of acquitted of all charges? Because I have had the pleasure of knowing Tom since his now famous appearance on “Dancing With the Stars” (DWTS) in 2009. I enjoyed Tom on that show so much, and I wasn’t expecting to because as a lefty political junkie, I just didn’t think I could ever like anything about our right-wing nemesis Tom DeLay. But I was won over by his joy of dancing and his sense of humor. Oddly, I ended up becoming acquainted with Tom because I was a fan of DWTS — and it had nothing to do with politics. What happened was …

Back in early 2010 after Tom had appeared on DWTS, I heard that he had embarked on a new project of dancing for charity. He would agree to dance for the charity, they would sell tickets to his performances and donate the money he made for them to the charity. This was becoming quite popular and he was getting a lot of bookings. I am in New York City which also happens to be the hometown of DWTS pro dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy. At the time, Maks had a small charity for local kids who wanted to take dance lessons but couldn’t afford it. I wondered if Tom might be interested in appearing to help raise money for Maks’s charity. To make a long story short, I contacted the charity, they said “Yes” they would love to have Tom appear, Tom said “Yes” he would love to dance for them, I arranged the project in conjunction with the charity and Tom’s public relations rep, everything was set up, AND THEN —

Tom and Cheryl closeup vestAt the last minute, Tom couldn’t make it to the charity event in New York because the court set a pre-trial date that conflicted with the charity date. I had been in correspondence with Tom directly here and there throughout this project which took me about six months to set up. I had made all of the hotel and travel arrangements myself. Eventually, Tom called me to tell me that he couldn’t make it. I have to say I will always remember that phone call. It was all about DWTS and dancing — very little politics. Most of all, I remember Tom laughing through the whole phone call as we talked and joked about how surreal and hilarious it was that he appeared on that show and danced the cha-cha to “Wild Thing”! As that phone call ended, Tom told me to “keep in touch” — and I have kept in touch with him to this day three years later.

So, I could say a few words about Tom DeLay — I could say aTom DeLay "Wild Thing" whole lot, actually. And it wouldn’t be negative at all, so I will leave that to all the people this weekend who are chewing over the merits (or lack thereof) of the case against him that was just thrown out. I know very little about the law, and even less about campaign finance, so I’ll leave that to everyone else. For my part, I just want to say that I am thankful to know Tom and his family. They are good people with good hearts. I wish we could all take a step back and dance together for charity, or tell jokes to each other on the phone like I did with Tom. He is a free man now, and that is a good thing, according to me. I hope he will dance for charity again soon. He told me he really did love doing that. Tom dancing and raising money for charity would be a good thing for all of us!

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Income Inequality In America


Rich Poor signsU.S. Income Inequality has been growing for almost three decades:“The gulf between the richest 1 percent and the rest of America is the widest it’s been since the Roaring ’20s.

“The very wealthiest Americans earned more than 19 percent of the country’s household income last year — their biggest share since 1928, the year before the stock market crash. And the top 10 percent captured a record 48.2 percent of total earnings last year.” — Talking Points Memo 9/10/13

The Rich get richer through the recovery: “The top 10 percent of earners took more than half of the country’s total income in 2012, the highest level recorded since the government began collecting the relevant data a century ago, according to an updated study by the prominent economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty.” — New York Times 9/10/13

The 50 Richest members of Congress — The wealth keepsU.S. Capitol Building growing: “A surprisingly strong year in the financial markets made the richest members of Congress even wealthier in 2012, with the median net worth of the 50 richest rising more than 17 percent, CQ Roll Call’s annual survey of congressional wealth shows.”Roll Call 9/13/13

A closer look at the 50 Richest members of Congress: The median net worth of the top 50 was $14.3 million, a number made all the more astonishing by the fact that it’s 46 times as much as the median net worth ($306,000) of all the other members of Congress last year. And that lesser amount, in turn, is more than quadruple the median household net worth in the country.”Roll Call 9/16/13

U.S. Capitol BuildingThe 50 Richest members of Congress: Who they are and what they’re worth: “Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year’s report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club. The wealthiest lawmakers with breakdowns of their assets and liabilities is found below.” — See chart at CQ Roll Call 9/13/13

GOP Rep. complains he’s “stuck” making only $172,000 per year: “Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA), who’s running for Senate in Georgia, complained that while his staff can jump to K Street and make $500,000 a year by lobbying, he’s “stuck” in Congress making a bare $172,000 a year.”Talking Points Memo 9/18/13

House GOP votes to cut nearly $40 Billion from SNAPNY State EBT Card (Food Stamps) Program: “This evening’s House vote on the food assistance program SNAP is significant not only in the size of the cuts proposed but also by separating food assistance policy from agricultural subsidy policy. That pairing, which dates back to the Great Depression, has been key to the success of both policy programs. To understand the significance of the proposed cuts to SNAP, we need to understand it in a larger context.” — See chart for breakdown by vote at 9/19/13

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News Mix


Unemployed worker with sign

Demographics of the long-term unemployed: “Four years after the official end of the Great Recession, millions of America’s workers continue to struggle to survive without a paycheck. This persistently high level of unemployment is the real cliff that threatens our economy. Lost wages, a smaller tax base, less consumer spending, and disproportionate growth in lower-wage sectors pose fiscal challenges for decades to come.

“This report—the first of two being released by the National Employment Law Project this spring—explores who the long-term unemployed are and how their ongoing estrangement from the labor force hurts the entire economy.” — National Employment Law Project Briefing Paper April 2013



Wendy Davis Life in Pictures 2013

Spotlight on Wendy Davis – The Democrats’ Big Hope: “Wendy Davis burst into the national political consciousness this summer as a feminist folk hero. She was a titan in pink tennis shoes, a single mother who became a lawyer, stood up to the Republican boys club and, against all odds, temporarily halted enactment of a restrictive abortion bill.

“Last week, a different side of the Democratic state senator emerged … “

“As it turns out, Davis’ story is more complicated and nuanced than legend would have it.” —  Texas Tribune 9/1/13



Swing Dancers Nazi Germany“The Swing Boys” of Nazi Germany (Video): “In the 1930s, Hamburg was a bastion of swing. Like many young people at the time. Heinrich Dringelburg was crazy about this US import, and became what was known as a “Swing Boy”. But when the Nazis came to power in 1933, swing was banned and many of its devotees arrested, including Heinrich Dringelburg.” — Deutsche Welle 9/1/13



National September 11 Memorial and Museum getsSept 11 Museum Steel Tridents finishing touches (Photos and Video): “The memory of those lost on 9/11 will soon have a new home — in the sacred ground beneath the place where the twin towers once stood.

“Finishing touches are just now being put on the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, officials said Friday.

“Outfitting the museum has taken three years of painstaking work, but as New Yorkers and the rest of the world prepare for the 12th anniversary of the tragic day, solid progress has been made.”New York Daily News 9/6/13

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