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Supreme seat, TPP inequality, why America loved FDR…

Tuesday, March 18, 2014




johnson-james► In today’s Seattle Times — James Johnson to retire from state’s Supreme Court — Justice James Johnson will retire next month from the Washington Supreme Court due to “recent health concerns.” Johnson, who is considered the most conservative member of the court, was not up for re-election until 2016. Instead, he will leave April 30. Most recently, he has become increasingly critical of his fellow justices for their continued involvement after a court order to put more money into K-12 education. The governor is expected to appoint someone to fill the seat until it can be filled in the November election.

► From KPLU — Washington among states working to negate federal food stamp cutbacks — Washington state policymakers are pondering whether to make an end run around looming cutbacks in the federally-funded food stamp program by restructuring low-income heating assistance. This would mimic what Oregon and three eastern states just decided to do.

EDITOR’S NOTE — House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said such changes are “cheating” and “fraud,” an accusation Connecticut’s governor calls “shameful” and “reprehensible.” We’re guessing that politicians and their surrogate TV talking heads who say the United States can’t afford to help feed its poorest citizens haven’t missed many meals themselves.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — New $5 car tab fee will save state millions on third new ferry — A bill heading to the governor would impose a $5 service fee on vehicle registrations and $12 fee on title transfers to finance construction of a 144-vehicle Olympic Class vessel for Washington State Ferries. Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to sign the bill, which stands as the only transportation funding measure to emerge from the just-completed legislative session.

Hanford-big► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Federal Hanford cleanup plan falls short, Gov. Jay Inslee says — The federal government’s latest plan to clean up nuclear waste at Hanford is short on details and the state is considering its options to force a better one, Gov. Jay Inslee said.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — The feds show their hand (editorial) — Attention to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation corresponds to its distance from Washington, D.C.’s political class. If Hanford and its 56 million gallons of highly radioactive crud sat on the Potomac and not the Columbia River, care and attention to its clean-up might be a wee more pronounced.

► In the (Everett) Herald — Tone deaf on political ethics (editorial) — Lt. Gov. Brad Owen insists the Ethics Defense Fund bill (a 10-fold increase in how much can be contributed to legal defense funds of lawmakers facing ethics charges) really wasn’t about his specific case, it was about fair treatment for anyone in a similar predicament. This sort of tone-deaf rationalization helps us comprehend how the lieutenant governor managed to get himself into an ethics jam.




► In today’s Yakima H-R — Workers’ suit alleges H-2A violations at Mercer Canyons — Two farm workers have filed a class-action lawsuit against a large grower over alleged violations of the rules of a federal guest worker program.

► In today’s Yakima H-R — Yakima County beats Medicaid sign-up goal — After months of data suggesting Yakima County was lagging behind other communities in enrolling people in Medicaid, the state Health Care Authority released new numbers Monday showing that the county is now exceeding its target.

► In today’s News Tribune — Detention center strikers eat some, still under medical observation — A group of three hunger striking detainees was eating some food, but remained under medical observation Monday at the federal immigration detention center in Tacoma.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Seattle City Council places limits on number of rideshare drivers — The Seattle City Council Monday set limits on the number of drivers from rideshare companies Lyft, uberX and Sidecar who could be on the road at once, and also required them to have higher levels of insurance.

► In today’s Oregonian — Elk urine in manager’s car? United Grain dispute with longshore union gets stinky (video) — United Grain Corp., which has locked out Vancouver longshoremen for a year, has released a security video showing someone pouring foul-smelling liquids into a car at the Clark County home of a company manager.




► In today’s News Tribune — Boeing doubling size of 737 delivery center at Boeing Field — With its production rate for its popular 737 model increasing to 42 monthly beginning next month, Boeing is more than doubling the size of its 737 delivery center at Boeing Field.




► In the NY Times — On the wrong side of globalization (by Nobel-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz) — The high level of inequality in the United States today, and its enormous increase during the past 30 years, is the cumulative result of an array of policies, programs and laws. Given that the president himself has emphasized that inequality should be the country’s top priority, every new policy, program or law should be examined from the perspective of its impact on inequality. Agreements like the TPP have contributed in important ways to this inequality. Corporations may profit, and it is even possible, though far from assured, that gross domestic product as conventionally measured will increase. But the well-being of ordinary citizens is likely to take a hit.

tp-sick-days► At Think Progress — The secret benefits of paid sick days for all — When you get sick, you shouldn’t need to worry about losing pay or even your job. It seems like a simple concept. And, for most professionals who have such a benefit, many assume that the ability to do so is standard. But the United States is the only country among 22 developed nations that doesn’t guarantee the right to paid leave if someone falls ill or has to care for a sick family member. Forty-one million people in the country don’t have access to paid sick leave. That has changed in a few places around the country: seven cities and one state have passed paid sick leave laws, ensuring workers can earn time off. This new right has a profound impact on the lives of those workers. But that impact also has ripple effects. It transforms relationships between employers and employees – and between workers and the rest of society.

► At Politico — The rich fight back — Just a few months ago, it looked like 2014 would be the year of the populist, with Democrats running on economic inequality, tea party Republicans bashing banks and newly minted New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio pledging to soak the rich with higher taxes. That was so January. Fresh off a bruising loss in Florida, the Democratic playbook for the midterms appears in need of a major rewrite — and the pro-business wing of the party is ready to draw up new plans.

putin-winkEDITOR’S NOTE — Near the story’s end: “The aggressive actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin have eased the anxieties of Wall Streeters sick of being portrayed as the enemy. ‘We obviously see other things driving the news cycle,’ a top industry executive said. ‘Ukraine keeps the focus off the evil 1 percent, so I guess we have Putin to thank for that’.” Thanks, Vladimir!

► At Huffington Post — New York settles with McDonald’s on wage theft investigation — New York state has reached a settlement with the owner of seven McDonald’s franchises that will give nearly $500,000 to fast-food workers who claimed they were shorted on pay, according to state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.

► In today’s Oregonian — Should Congress extend long-term unemployment benefits? (poll)




► Imagine a U.S. President with the fortitude to call for a Second Bill of Rights that guarantees the RIGHTS of all Americans to a good-paying job, a decent home, adequate medical care, retirement security, and more in the pursuit of “new goals of human happiness and well-being.” Meet Franklin Delano Roosevelt circa 1944, saying things that made him one of the greatest, most beloved presidents of all time.

And now, imagine what would ensue if any U.S. politician, much less a president, said such things today. The message would still be popular with the public, but in today’s plutocracy, the messenger would be systematically vilified, marginalized and silenced.


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