Friday, February 22, 2019

Trump and Maduro, birds of a feather

  Even while still keeping U.S. troops mired in America’s forever wars in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, President Donald “America First” Trump is threatening to order his army to invade Venezuela in order to oust Venezuelan dictator Vincente Maduro from office and install a pro-U.S. puppet in his stead. As Ronald Reagan might have put it, “There he goes again.”

  In 2017, Maduro used his federal judiciary to annul the Venezuelan National Assembly. He then engineered a new congress that consisted of his lackeys. Not surprisingly, Maduro’s actions received condemnation from all over the world. The head of the OAS called it a coup and declared it to be the final blow to democracy. The U.S. government said it was a “serious setback for democracy in Venezuela.”

Thursday, February 21, 2019

New law could eliminate disability minimum wage loophole

  Earlier this month, Representative Bobby Scott (D-IL) and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced legislation to eliminate the subminimum wage for workers with disabilities. The bill, the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act, phases out section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which made it legal for certified “sheltered workshops” to pay people with disabilities less than the minimum wage.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Alabama leads the way with women in governmental leadership

  There has been a lot of talk about the advancement of women in politics over the past year. It has been suggested that more progressive states have led the way with this change. The citizens of Alabama can very well make the case that we lead the nation in women taking leadership roles in our state.

  It is very doubtful that any state in the nation can claim a female governor and a female chief executive of their state's leading business organization.

  Kay Ivey became governor on January 14 after being elected to her own four-year term in November. Ivey had previously been the state treasurer for eight-years and lieutenant governor for six years. She was serving an unexpired term as governor for two years prior to her election last year.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The MLB makes millions on minor leaguers, but it refuses to pay minimum wage

  Pitchers and catchers reported to spring training last week, the first sign that Major League Baseball’s Opening Day is drawing near. But amid the hope that springs up with every new baseball season is an unacceptable fact: Many of the players at spring training aren’t being paid.

  “Each year, every major league team has their minor league players report to spring training. Most fans don’t know those minor league players have to work 31 straight days for no pay,” said Garrett Broshius, a former minor league baseball player and current attorney who is attempting to sue Major League Baseball to ensure that minor leaguers receive fair pay for not only spring training but all year round.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Improving infrastructure to benefit communities—without harming the environment

  Improving and upgrading U.S. roads, bridges, and transportation networks; energy production and transmission systems; and other elements of human-made infrastructure is long overdue. As the new Congress begins its bipartisan, bicameral effort to pass an infrastructure bill, it’s important that it not come at a cost to the natural resources that benefit society. Instead, policymakers should view the infrastructure package as an opportunity to protect bedrock conservation laws and reinvest in America’s natural resource infrastructure.

  Parks, forests, and public lands are not only an essential part of the American landscape—they are also foundational to its economy and well-being. They clean our water and air, and they buffer against the effects of climate change by sequestering carbon and mitigating natural disasters. For these reasons, any infrastructure proposals must be managed with natural resources’ short- and long-term benefits in mind.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Donald Trump - America’s elected dictator

  After losing his battle against Congress to secure funding for his wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, President Trump is declaring that that the congressional rebuff is irrelevant anyway. The reason? Trump is declaring an “emergency” under the “National Emergencies Act,” which, he says, authorizes him to spend U.S. taxpayer money on the wall without congressional authorization. He’s going to have the U.S. military, which will dutifully follow his orders, construct his Berlin Wall.

  Trump’s action is the very essence of dictatorship. Check out other dictators around the world — Maduro in Venezuela, Ortega in Nicaragua, Diaz-Canel in Cuba, Kim Jong-Un in North Korea, el-Sisi in Egypt, and Zi in China. They don’t have to jack around with congresses. They have the authority to just act or order. That’s what makes them dictators.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Six things to know before the second Trump-Kim summit

  On February 27 and 28, U.S. President Donald Trump will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam. This second summit could answer a key question: Does Trump remain only interested in the appearance of progress, or can he extract genuine concessions from North Korea on its nuclear program?

  When Trump and Kim met for the first time on June 12, 2018, in Singapore, they promised “to cooperate for the development of new U.S.–DPRK relations and for the promotion of peace, prosperity, and security of the Korean Peninsula and of the world.” Yet beyond establishing vague areas of diplomatic focus and promising to return the remains of U.S. prisoners of war (POWs) and military personnel listed as missing in action (MIA), there were no concrete agreements on denuclearization. While Trump has repeatedly claimed that the Singapore summit was a success, there is scant evidence that North Korea has changed its behavior since then. Indeed, some observers believe that the United States gave up more than it received by providing a global platform for one of the world’s most brutal dictators without any tangible return.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Hank Sanders: Sketches #1653 - When we don’t know our full history, we cannot tap into our full power

  I love history. I loved history as a child. I especially loved Black History. I loved Black history, but I did not understand the power of Black history. I had to look back from a decades-later perch to fully understand the power of Black history. I do not want our youth of today to have to look back decades later to fully understand the power of Black history. I want all people to better understand the power of history. I know the power of Black history.

  I returned to the South because of the power of Black history. I left the Deep South at 18 years of age. I returned several years later to attend Talladega College. I left again for the state of Massachusetts to attend law school. I returned to the South again. The real reason I returned both times to the South sprung from the power of Black history.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Farming’s next generation has nowhere to grow

  The farmland clearinghouse ads read a bit like listings on a dating site, but way more practical:

    Ernst Weissing is seeking to rent 20+ acres of tillable farmland in southeastern Minnesota. Land with a barn or pole shed and access to water is preferred; no house is required.

    Kelly Schaefer is seeking to rent 20 acres of farmland in Minnesota, Arkansas, Oklahoma or Kentucky. Land with pasture, fencing, water, power, outbuildings and a house is preferred.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse – AEA... dead or not?

  The Alabama Education Association (AEA) was the most powerful and influential political organization in Alabama for close to three decades. The late Dr. Paul Hubbert was the builder and king of this powerful organization. He became known as the King of Goat Hill. He reigned omnipotently over the Alabama Legislature.

  All dynasties have to end. The AEA reign began to end with Dr. Hubbert’s retirement. The choice to succeed Dr. Hubbert with Henry Mabry was devastating for the organization. Mabry’s ludicrous and foolhardy stay was the worst nightmare that Hubbert could have imagined.