Nel's New Day

April 19, 2011

Good/Bad News

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 1:52 PM

Some Good News:

The Los Angeles Lakers will be working with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation on ways to keep anti-gay slurs out of basketball.  The Lakers and GLAAD announced a partnership Friday, three days after Kobe Bryant was spotted on a national television broadcast yelling a common homophobic slur in frustration over a referee’s call. Bryant was fined $100,000 by the league, and the sixth-leading scorer in NBA history issued multiple apologies.

Across the country, 173 regional presbyteries have been voting on a constitutional amendment to return to qualifications for ordained leadership based upon faith and character, not marital status or sexual orientation. With seven more positive votes, the policy in the largest Presbyterian denomination in the country will change from exclusion to inclusion.

After filing recall petitions against Republican state Senators Dan Kapanke and Randy Hopper, Wisconsin Democrats are on the brink of filing a third recall petition against Shelia Harsdorf. Hopefully the Tea Party members will be accurate when they say, “Elections have consequences.”

Progressives Fight Tea Party Tax Cuts, Union Busting:

On tax day yesterday, progressives across the country protested the corporation rip-off that allows them to get away tax free. The Tea Party movement claims that America is broke, but the top 2 percent of the people should be exempt from any responsibility to fix the problem. At the same time, well-connected corporations continue to use their political power to dodge their taxes. In 2009, after helping crash the American economy, Bank of America paid $0 in taxes. GE had a tax bill of $0 in 2010. Republicans want to give a $50 billion tax bailout to big oil companies—and at the same time take away food aid to hungry pregnant women and children.

It should be noted, however, that the Tea Party protesters are still getting the media attention although their crowds have greatly shrunk in the past two years. Only Donald Trump in Boca Raton (FL) drew any more than 500 people in any one place.

Even the appearance of Sarah Palin in Madison (WI) last Saturday failed to bring the Tea Party rally a huge crowd of supporters. About 1,500 Tea Partiers—many bused in by the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity—came to hear Palin and Andrew Breitbart. Over 3,000 labor supporters surrounded the conservatives and shouted them down. It was reported that when they yelled “Shame” at the two speakers, Breitbart—conservative Internet entrepreneur, Faux fixture, and regular speaker for the Tea Party—shouted back at the crowd, “Go to hell!”

Be an Earth Day Activist:

Two courageous Girl Scouts, Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen, are trying to get rainforest-destroying palm oil out of Girl Scout cookies, a substance found in all except one of the 17 different brands and that causes clear-cutting of irreplaceable rainforests threatening the survival of orangutans. When Girl Scouts USA ignored their concerns, they took their campaign public. You can help their cause by signing their petition. It’s a great way to participate in Earth Day, April 22, 2011.

Yesterday, I mentioned the anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. One of the best books about this tragedy is for kids. Instead of concentrating the entire book on the fire itself, Albert Marrin’s Flesh & Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy (Knopf, 2011) begins with the history that led up to this moment in time: the story of immigration, the story of horrible working conditions and greedy bosses, the story of no regulations or unenforced ones that allowed the fire.  The book doesn’t finish with the fire: Marrin describes the mob control of the unions in the ensuing decades and the current sweatshops around the country today including those inNew York City. Large photographs, drawings, and sidebars make this book even more fascinating.  This is the story of the hard work and sacrifices required to create better living conditions, something that we will lose if we don’t fight the conservative politicians who want to take money from the middle class and poor to give to the wealthy and the corporations.

April 18, 2011

Introduction/Eleanor Roosevelt

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:39 PM

One hundred years ago on March 25, 1911, 146 people, mostly young women, died in the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory because owners’ greed and government allowed them to treat workers like slaves. A few years before this tragedy a shy wealthy New York teenager began her amazing activist career when she volunteered as a social worker in the East Side slums and took her husband-to-be—and president-to-be—with her to view the squalid living conditions of the people there.

Eleanor Roosevelt is known for many incredible actions when she traveled the world, reporting her experiences to her husband, Franklin D. Roosevelt, U.S. President from 1932 through 1945. But one of her most impressive activities was her communication in the media. The first “First Lady” to hold weekly press conferences and write a widely syndicated newspaper column, “My Day,” she produced this column six days each week with almost no interruptions from 1932 through 1962, the year of her death. In addition, she wrote columns for magazines, books, speeches, and hundreds of letters.

Because of her work, many people in the United States gained human rights that included a 40-hour work week, minimum wage, abolition of child labor, and the right to join unions. Now the sweep of elected conservatives across the country is threatening these rights: state legislators have introduced bills to reinstate child labor, destroy minimum wage, and decimate unions. In the past decade elected officials have forced the decline of these human rights with the goal of complete destroying them.

The outrage demonstrated on Internet communication proves its potential to stave off these encroachments. is joining this outrage toward the menace that promises to destroy the advantages that we have over third world countries so hard won by progressives.

This blog will include links, soundbites, web sites, book reviews, and other pieces of information that help us better understand the actions surrounding accomplishments and show the falsehoods of conservative “facts.” (Think the recent statement from a spokesperson for Jon Kyle (R-AZ) after the senator was caught in a lie when he declared that over 90 percent of Planned Parenthood funds are spent on abortions: “His remark was not intended to be a factual statement.” The fact is that abortions comprise only three percent of Planned Parenthood’s services.)

A recent book showing the fight to advance democracy and human rights during the first half of the twentieth century and the part that Eleanor Roosevelt played in these events is Brigid O’Farrell’s She Was One of Us: Eleanor Roosevelt and the American Worker (ILR/Cornell Press, $29.95). Reading this book will hopefully inspire people toward a new generation of activism to ensure workers’ rights, human rights, and dignity for all and to imagine a future of economic security, worker safety, and equitable wages, and worker health free of toxic industrial poisons—all part of family values.

In one of her articles, Roosevelt said, “We should not forget that the power of the unions is puny compared to the power that goes with the enormous wealth of Big Business. And business had power first.” Today corporations have more power than ever, providing 40 percent of income for lobbyists compared to the eight percent from unions. She also said, “Employees who are quite evidently not receiving a living wage and are dissatisfied with their conditions of work would simply be slaves if they were obliged to work on without being able to reach their employers with their complaints and demand negotiation.”

“A business has no right to exist which cannot pay every employee a living wage” is a statement that should be emblazoned on every government building across the country.

After her husband’s death,Roosevelt chaired the committee to write The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948. If we want to protect people in theUnited States, we need to follow the guidelines of Article 23:

  1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
  2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
  3. Everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
  4. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Eleanor Roosevelt was not afraid to take on opponents of human rights, and she never wavered in her support for the rank and file. We need to follow her example in order to have a “new day.”

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