Elizabeth Warren wants to stop water from being traded for profit

Water Protectors foto

Access to clean and affordable water is a basic human right and must be protected

Washington, D.C. — Today, Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) led a bicameral group of colleagues in introducing the Future of Water Act to amend the Commodity Exchange Act to prohibit futures trading of water or water rights and protect our country’s water. Water is a basic human right that must be managed and protected as a public trust resource. 

As climate change has increased the severity and frequency of drought in our country, large corporations should not be profiting off of water or water rights. Water should be affordable, easily accessible, and guarded from markets prone to manipulation and speculation that could cause real-world price increases. The announcement of the water futures trading received condemnation from the global water community, including the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Water who stated: “Water is already under extreme threat from a growing population, increasing demands and grave pollution from agriculture and mining industry in the context of worsening impact of climate change. . . I am very concerned that water is now being treated as gold, oil and other commodities that are traded on Wall Street futures markets.” read more

Trump attacked workers’ pay and rights in 2017. Here are the worst violations.

McDonalds NYC demo
McDonalds NYC Demonstration for workers rights & fair pay Source: IUF.org

The focus of the Economic Policy Institute’s (EPI) report issued on January 12, 2018 is in its name: Ten actions that hurt workers during Trump’s first year: How Trump and Congress further rigged the economy in favor of the wealthy

See the article for facts about how workers are affected by each action on this list:

McDonalds NYC demo
McDonalds NYC Demonstration for workers rights & fair pay Source: IUF.org
  • Enacting tax cuts that overwhelmingly favor the wealthy over the average worker
  • Taking billions out of workers’ pockets by weakening or abandoning regulations that protect their pay
  • Blocking workers from access to the courts by allowing mandatory arbitration clauses in employment contracts
  • Pushing immigration policies that hurt all workers
  • Rolling back regulations that protect worker pay and safety
  • Stacking the Federal Reserve Board with candidates friendlier to Wall Street than to working families
  • Ensuring Wall Street can pocket more of workers’ retirement savings
  • Stacking the Supreme Court against workers by appointing Neil Gorsuch
  • Trying to take affordable health care away from millions of working people
  • Undercutting key worker protection agencies by nominating anti-worker leaders
  • read more

    NJ judge strikes deep blow to low-income tenants seeking affordable housing

    Affordable-Housing-GraphicColleen O’Dea of NJ Spotlight does a great job laying out both the present significance and background story behind a State Appeals Court’s Monday July 12 ruling that relieves municipalities of the need to provide affordable housing for at least 50,000 New Jersey tenants who are seeking affordable housing today.

    The logic that underpins the ruling is so convoluted as to appear arbitrary. The Appeals Court judge’s curious logic works this way: less tenants qualify for affordable housing assistance today than actually exist in the state of New Jersey because their need for affordable housing developed during a period that affordable housing was not legally mandated in the state (during the years 2000-2015).


    The Fair Share Housing Center is fighting this case on behalf of New Jersey tenants. Director Kevin Walsh points out that today, 200,000 affordable housing units are needed although the court ruling will provide for only 150,000 to be built. And to provide for future needs, a total of 350,000 units should be provided for.

    Christie’s dismal record on union/labor rights just got worse

    Christie, sweeney, bookerChristie has assaulted vulnerable New Jersey residents and labor rights all the years of his governorship. Next City shares the low-down on what Christie’s gotten away with, and how he’s done it.

    Take public education: having promised when he was campaigning to take care of New Jersey’s teachers, after getting into office Christie proceeded to systematically destroy public ed, along with teachers’ and students lives and the bloodshed is far from over. Newark and Camden have been among the communities hardest hit.

    Christie has now taken his assault to an entirely new level by wrangling a court victory for his refusal to fund state pensions. It seems clear that Christie wants to make sure that union workers – whose organizations finance Democratic candidate’s campaigns – won’t have comfortable lives or enough money to wage battle.

    New Jersey Law Journal writes:

    A divided New Jersey Supreme Court ruled June 9 that Gov. Chris Christie is not bound by a 2011 pension reform law that he championed and trumpeted as a highlight of his administration … The ruling, authored by Justice Jaynee LaVecchia, is a clear win for Christie, who will not be required to repay nearly $2.5 billion that he diverted from the pension system the last two years in order to balance the state’s budgets.

    So, who is fighting GOP darling Christie? Civil rights groups are taking a bold stand against him for education, worker’s rights and the environment, aren’t they? Well, not exactly. Justice is why it seemed to be such a stunning betrayal of what the NAACP stands for when the New Jersey NAACP President secretly invited Chris Christie to keynote at the 2015 convention luncheon. Some members were appalled, citing damage Christie has caused to people of color in the Garden State. Daniel Hardwick of Camden told the Star-Ledger:

    He’s abolished our school district. He’s disenfranchised 77,000 people of color. We no longer can vote for our school board, like all the other cities … So, Chris Christie? As keynote speaker? Everything he’s done is completely contrary to what our organization has fought for.

    Christie’s traveling companion the day of the convention lunch was none other than New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney, a Democrat. If you have asked yourself why Dems never take a stand against the harm Christie dishes out, the friendly relationship between these two gentlemen and between Dem Sen. Cory Booker and Christie, might be the answers you’ve been seeking. The friendship should cool now that Christie has shown the breadth of his considerable backside to Sweeney and union members over pension benefits … but will it? The GOP doesn’t rely on union votes to elect its candidates, but the Dems sure do. It seems high time for New Jersey’s Dem politicians to wake up and smell the coffee.

    In a different article, New Jersey Law Journal’s Michael Booth shares Sweeney’s reaction to the NJ Supreme Court ruling (emphasis mine),
    …Democrats who backed the (pension) reform law received criticism from the public-sector unions, who believed that their interests had been sacrificed for political gain.

    But if immediate reaction to the ruling is any indication, Christie’s invitation to the Democratic leadership and the unions to resume pension reform talks might prove to be wishful thinking.

    The cooperation of Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, was vital in reaching the 2011 agreement. But at a press conference held after the court’s ruling was released, he made it clear he was not open to further negotiations with Christie.

    “I listen to the governor say come back to the table,” Sweeney said. “Who in their right mind would come back to a table and negotiate with someone that didn’t keep the first part of the deal?” read more

    Congressman Bill Pascrell says NO WAY to TPP at press conference

    Pascrell rally against TPPAt a press conference at UFCW in Clifton, Congressman Bill Pascrell on 28 May 2015 announced his opposition to “Fast-Track authority” of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is now headed for Congressional vote. Although the bill to Fast Track the TPP bill was recently approved by the Senate, New Jersey’s Bob Menendez and Cory Booker voted against it, and now Cong. Pascrell will have his chance to do the same.

    Truthout offers an explanation of what Fast Track is and why Americans should rally against it.

    When Congress votes on whether to grant the president “fast-track authority” to negotiate the TPP – which would bar Congress from making any changes to the secret pact after it’s negotiated – it will effectively be a vote to pre-approve the TPP itself. read more

    Gay rights advance in Ireland and are defended by a Vermont mom

    In honor of Ireland’s historic vote to allow same-sex marriage throughout the country, Truthout’s Senior Editor William Rivers Pitt shared this fabulous Letter to the Editor from a Vermont mother addressing the community of neighbors that began tormenting her son from age 6, mercilessly bullying him and calling him a “fag” because he didn’t walk and have the same interests as other students. In 2000 Sharon Underwood wrote:

    Many letters have been sent to the Valley News concerning the homosexual menace in Vermont. I am the mother of a gay son and I’ve taken enough from you good people.

    I’m tired of your foolish rhetoric about the “homosexual agenda” and your allegations that accepting homosexuality is the same thing as advocating sex with children. You are cruel and ignorant. You have been robbing me of the joys of motherhood ever since my children were tiny.

    My firstborn son started suffering at the hands of the moral little thugs from your moral, upright families from the time he was in the first grade. He was physically and verbally abused from first grade straight through high school because he was perceived to be gay.

    He never professed to be gay or had any association with anything gay, but he had the misfortune not to walk or have gestures like the other boys. He was called “fag” incessantly, starting when he was 6.

    In high school, while your children were doing what kids that age should be doing, mine labored over a suicide note, drafting and redrafting it to be sure his family knew how much he loved them. My sobbing 17-year-old tore the heart out of me as he choked out that he just couldn’t bear to continue living any longer, that he didn’t want to be gay and that he couldn’t face a life without dignity.

    You have the audacity to talk about protecting families and children from the homosexual menace, while you yourselves tear apart families and drive children to despair. I don’t know why my son is gay, but I do know that God didn’t put him, and millions like him, on this Earth to give you someone to abuse. God gave you brains so that you could think, and it’s about time you started doing that …

    Read full text read more

    Obamas celebrate Native American youth with website & tribal gathering

    Generation Indigenous
    The White House launched its new Generation Indigenous (Gen-I) portal to serve as a one-stop shop for Native youth.

    The Gen-I initiative focuses on improving the lives of Native youth through new investments and increased engagement. This initiative takes a comprehensive, culturally appropriate approach to ensure all young Native people can reach their full potential. Gen-I will help improve the lives of Native youth by promoting a national dialogue and policies and programs to mobilize and cultivate the next generation of Native leaders. Key programs address: education, health and nutrition, juvenile justice, housing, and youth engagement.

    Gen-I includes two components:

    Youth engagement, including the first-ever White House Tribal Youth Gathering that will bring Native youth leaders to Washington, DC for a day-long convening in the summer of 2015.
    Strategic investments and policies, including resources for education reform and building capacity.

    More on the White House Website or visit Gen Indigenous

    Democratic citizens have obligations, not just rights

    dismantle corporate powerI don’t know why this important US Department of State document is housed on a Taiwanese website. but I like how it lays out the Citizen Responsibilities in a Democracy. Some of the juicier exerpts are:

    Citizenship in a democracy requires participation, civility, and even patience.

    Democratic citizens recognize that they not only have rights, they have responsibilities. They recognize that democracy requires an investment of time and hard work — a government of the people demands constant vigilance and support by the people.

    …Democratic citizens know that they must bear the burden of responsibility for their society if they are to benefit from its protection of their rights.

    There is a saying in free societies: you get the government you deserve. For democracy to succeed, citizens must be active, not passive, because they know that the success or failure of the government is their responsibility, and no one else’s. In turn, government officials understand that all citizens should be treated equally and that bribery has no place in a democratic government.

    …Democracies need more than an occasional vote from their citizens to remain healthy. They need the steady attention, time, and commitment of large numbers of their citizens who, in turn, look to the government to protect their rights and freedoms. read more

    New Jersey Voter Resources & Rights

    Voting Rights


    Voting Rights in New Jersey

  • Brennan Center for Justice Student Voting Guide
  • Voter’s Rights Handbook published by New Jersey State.
  • League of Women Voter’s New Jersey Voter and Election Guide
  • ACLU Know Your Voting Rights Voting Information and Voting Rights
  • Identification Request: if you’re a first-time voter you may be asked for identification.

    Most New Jersey voters do not need to show ID when voting. However, if you are a first-time New Jersey voter who registered by mail, and election officials could not verify your identifying numbers (your New Jersey driver’s license or ID number or the last four digits of your Social Security number), you will have to provide proof of identification, either at the polls or anytime before Election Day.

    Sufficient proof of identity includes any current and valid photo ID, or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, car registration, non-photo driver’s license, rent receipt, sample ballot, utility bill (including cell phone and student housing bills), or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter.
    Brennan Center for Justice

    read more

  • Powerful reasons women should stop calling other women bitches

    We are all wonderwomen

    We are all wonderwomen
    We Are All Wonderwomen poster by Sarah & Catherine Satrun

    My Facebook post

    What is this trend, that even women refer to women as bitches? Stop doing this. Demand respect.

    is generating quite a bit of discussion. Lady friend Marilyn admits that she uses this word, but in a popular language context (meaning, not with derogatory intent) and @Han Broekman points out that language mutates with time and across cultural lines. But a bunch of my Facebook friends say they’re glad I took a stand.

    (BTW, if you’re interested in the Wonderwomn Poster, one of the twin sister artists talks about it here. And, they have an Etsy store where you can order a print.)

    Whereas the language evolution arguments are intriguing, I stand by my point of view. I believe that the women who are using “bitches” to describe ourselves and other women, are unwittingly being drawn into reinforcing a culture of disrespect for women – which I’m sure is neither their intention nor desire. To the extent that language is a creative tool, let’s create a culture of respect and a future where difficulties women face are no longer part of our collective reality. Here’s a list of what needs to go:
    Women earn only 77¢ on the dollar that men make
    “According to some statistics, more than 50,000 women have been killed by their husbands or partners in the past ten years in this country. More than 25% of all visits to hospital emergency rooms by women are the result of domestic violence.”
    Recently, Republicans in Congress, “degraded and continue(d) to hold up passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)”
    Violence, “is the leading cause of miscarriage, birth defects, and infant mortality (as the perpetrator/abuser almost always escalates their use of violence when their partner is pregant). Recently, national studies found domestic violence homicide is the leading cause of death during pregnancy.”
    National studies estimate that 3 to 4 million women are beaten each year in our country. A study conducted in 1995 found that 31% of women surveyed admitted to having been physically assaulted by a husband or boyfriend. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in our country, and the FBI estimates that a woman is beaten every 15 seconds. Thirty percent of female homicide victims are killed by partners or ex-partners and 1,500 women are murdered as a result of domestic violence each year in the United States.
    The community turns out to watch girls from the New Light India School celebrate the joy of freedom of escaping prostitution slavery and being free to learn in school by dancing to the song Break the Chain
    From the One Billion Rising Movement
    “There are 7 billion people on the planet. Half are women. One third of them are raped or beaten.
    V-Day refuses to watch as more than one billion women experience violence. V-Day is going further now, saying no more.
    We’re inviting ONE BILLION women and those who love them to walk out, dance, rise up and demand an end to this violence.
    On 2.14.13, we will move the earth, activating women and men to dance across every country. The celebration of One Billion Rising will be a WORLD HAPPENING”
    Half the Sky Movement on

    Gender-Based Violence read more

    Election 2012 voting FAQ

    FAQ: Questions about election/voting procedures

    • Q: I didn’t get my Voter ID card after registering to vote. Can I still vote?
      A: Yes. If you’re a registered voter who appears on the voter rolls (see below for how to check if you’re registered), you can vote. If you submitted a registration form but don’t appear on the voter’s roster at your polling place, you have two options:

      Q: How can I find out if I’m registered to vote?
      A: Visit canivote.org To check if you’re registered to vote and to find your polling place
      Q: Can I vote electronically, by email or fax?
      A: Yes! New Jersey voters that are, “displaced voters” can cast ballots by fax or email. What’s more, I learned at 6:10pm from the Assistant Bergen County Clerk that due to overwhelming demand, Governor Christie has just authorized the County Clerk’s offices around New Jersey to continue processing ballot requests through Friday Nov 9 for Vote By Mail applications that were received electronically by the submission deadline of 5pm on Election Day, Nov 6.. The Clerks’ staff need this extra time to finish checking and entering Vote By Mail applications received, and to generate and send out ballots by fax or email in accordance with the preference each voter has indicated). Although thousands of ballots have been processed in Bergen County, many still remain. The vote of each and every registered voter who returns an electronic ballot by Friday will be counted for the 2012 General Election :).

      The deadline for submitting a request for an electronic ballot ended at 5pm Tuesday, Nov 6, 2012. No new procedure was established to make this process possible for New Jersey voters displaced by Hurricane Sandy; the procedure already existed for military personnel and United States residents living abroad. Permission to vote by electronic means expires at the end of the 2012 general election. These are the instructions that were provided.

      You will need to fax or email a Vote By Mail application to your County Clerk by 5pm on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov 6 2012. They will send you back a form you must sign waiving your right to having your vote be anonymous (because entering your vote will see it), and a ballot. After filling out the ballot, you return it by fax or email as indicated on the ballot.
      Q: How does a provisional ballot work?
      A: You can vote provisionally from any polling location or by visiting your county’s (see list) Board of Elections or County Clerks Offices – they’ll steer you to the right location. When the provisional ballot is reviewed, they Board of Elections should approve it based on what are a common entry errors (Street vs. Avenue, etc.).
      Q: Why didn’t I get a sample ballot?
      Sample ballots came out very late. Some people received them on Nov 5 and some people did not receive them at all.
      Q: What do I need to bring with me to vote at the polls?
      A: Here’s a list of what’s required in each state. In New Jersey, people who have already voted don’t need to bring any form of ID, but first time voters may be asked for identification.

      Información en Español

      Visite Ya Es Hora – ¡Ve y Vota! ó llamar al 888-839-3682 (888-VE-Y-VOTA)

      Where Do I Vote?

      Voter protection information / Voter Rights

      If you have a problem voting or having your vote count on Election Day get help by:

      • Visiting VOTE411.org or call 1-866-OUR-VOTE for assistance
      • File a written report about voter issues you become aware of, or experience directly at ourvotelive.org
      • You may also contact the Democratic State Committee’s legal hotline at 732-640-2250 if you have any questions about your voting rights or you feel that you’ve been denied access to vote, or email State Democratic Committee Executive Director Paul Penna
      • EXCELLENT voter information at League of Women Voters

      Voting Information/News by Municipality & County

      Please note that you have several options for voting in the 2012 election on Election Day:

      • You can vote at your polling place
      • You can vote by going to your County Clerk’s Office
      • If you are displaced as a result of the hurricane, you will be able to go to any open polling location in the state of New Jersey and cast a Provisional Ballot.
      • If you’ve been displaced as a result of the Hurricane, you can also vote by email or by fax by requesting a Vote By Mail ballot.This is a process the state already uses for military personnel stationed overseas and is known as voting “electronically”. To vote electronically, submit a Vote By Mail ballot application either by e-mail or fax to their county clerk on or before 5:00pm on Election Day, Tuesday, November 6th. Once your application is approved, the clerk will electronically send your ballot by either fax or email in accordance with the preference you have indicated. Voters must return their electronic ballot – by fax or email – no later than November 6, 2012, at 8 p.m. Voters can download a mail-in ballot application at the following link: http://nj.gov/state/elections/voting-information-vote-by-mail.html.

      Here’s a list of Polling places listed county by county all across the state

      • Passaic County

        The Passaic County GOTV door hanger being distributed today includes a sample ballot and voting instructions in English and Spanish. Please call the Pascrell office at 201-933-0333 or PCDC at 973-279-4647 if you have questions.

      • Paterson

        Most polling places in Paterson will remain the same except two locations which have been changed: Build Academy (formely known as Don Bosco High School) has been changed to Hillcrest Fire House located at 221 Union Avenue; Martin Luther King School No. 30 has been changed to Rutland Early Learning Center located at 851 E. 28th Street; these were the only two polling place changes in Paterson.

      • Englewood

        A shuttle bus for 4th ward residents will pick up residents from some of the old poll locations and take them to vote at Liberty School. The shuttle will run from 9am-5pm approximately every half hour, stopping in this order at: First Baptist Church, King’s Gardens (William Street entrance), Ebenezer Baptist Church and Liberty School. All Rock Creek voters must go to Flat Rock Brook to vote.

      • Middlesex County

        Middlesex Municipal and County Clerk contact information Board of Elections Tel 732-745-3471 (call to get fax number) and e-mail

      Please also see

      Special New Jersey voting options for 2012 election read more