Jobs that Keep Families Out of Poverty

“I have to figure out whether I want to pay my rent or pay my phone bill… I should be able to take care of my children,” said Erika Peterson, a Wendy’s worker from Rochester. Earning only $9.23/hour, she struggles to meet her basic needs. She visited the Capitol last week to demand a $15/hour minimum wage.

Too many New York families – more than 3 million workers – are making poverty wages because powerful corporations have systematically cut wages and benefits.

Governor Cuomo has proposed a minimum wage increase in his budget, but it’s not enough. If we want a strong economy and jobs that can keep families out of poverty, we need to reach a minimum wage of $15 an hour.

Click here to tell Gov. Cuomo that his wage plan isn’t enough. Tell him to push for $15/hour and automatic increases for inflation!

Over the past 30 years, the economy has taken off. But it’s only a few at the very top who have increased their wealth. CEOs’ average compensation is $30 million per year.

Instead of sharing the wealth that’s generated by workers, CEOs pay off politicians with massive campaign contributions. They are effectively buying big tax breaks and special subsidies.

With all the wealth in the United States, and especially here in New York State, it’s unconscionable that full time workers are still living in poverty and relying on public assistance.

There’s only two weeks left until this year’s budget deadline. We need to demand that Gov. Cuomo make sure that New Yorkers can earn enough to meet their basic needs.

Click here to send your message to Gov. Cuomo demanding $15/hour and automatic increases for inflation!

Thank you,

Karen Scharff
Executive Director
Citizen Action of New York

♪Balance – Music theme

This week Bear has chosen BALANCE for our theme. Yin/ Yang equilibrium, elegant, eternal. robert-plantOne of those perfect songs which come to mind is The Rain Song by Led Zeppelin. Soothingly balanced. ♥

Here’s the ’94 live acoustic version during Plant & Pagey’s “No Quarter” reunion tour. Enjoy!

It is the springtime of my loving-
the second season I am to know
You are the sunlight in my growing-
so little warmth I’ve felt before.
It isn’t hard to feel me glowing-
I watched the fire that grew so low.
It is the summer of my smiles-
flee from me Keepers of the Gloom.
Speak to me only with your eyes
it is to you I give this tune.
Ain’t so hard to recognize-
These things are clear to all from
time to time. Ooooh…
Talk Talk-
I’ve felt the coldness of my winter
I’ve never thought it would ever go
I’ve cursed the gloom that set upon us…
But I know that I love you so
but I know that I love you so.
These are the seasons of emotion
And like the winds they rise and fall
This is the wonder of devotion-
I see the torch we all must hold.
This is the mystery of the quotient-
Upon us all, upon us a little rain must fall.
Just a little rain?
ooooh, yeah yeah yeah!

ledPlease visit:   Bear     Lisa     Johnny     Eva     Willow

Why the United States launched its proxy war against Russia in Ukraine

Thx for posting this article! Sums up succinctly: “The United States cannot allow Russia reap the benefits of its own vast resources. Oh, no. It has to be chastised, it has to be bullied, it has to be sanctioned, isolated, threatened and intimidated. That’s how the system really works. The free market stuff is just horsecrap for the sheeple.”

Life in Russia

Ukraine has nothing to do with sovereignty, democracy or (alleged) Russian aggression. That’s all propaganda, says Mike Whitney.

ukraine_troops_460

THE UNITED STATES does not want a war with Russia, it simply feels that it has no choice.

If the State Department hadn’t initiated a coup in Ukraine to topple the elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, then the US could not have inserted itself between Russia and the EU, thus, disrupting vital trade routes which were strengthening nations on both continents.

The economic integration of Asia and Europe–including plans for high-speed rail from China (“The New Silk Road”) to the EU–poses a clear and present danger for the US whose share of global GDP continues to shrink and whose significance in the world economy continues to decline.

For the United States to ignore this new rival (EU-Russia) would be the equivalent of throwing in the towel and accepting a future in which the…

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US sets new record for denying, censoring government files

Source: AP News

US sets new record for denying, censoring federal files under open government law

Associated Press

US sets new record for denying, censoring government files

FILE – In this March 9, 2015, file photo, President Barack Obama listens during his meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. For the second consecutive year, the Obama administration more often than ever censored government files or outright denied access to them under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, according to a new analysis of federal data by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON (AP) — For the second consecutive year, the Obama administration more often than ever censored government files or outright denied access to them under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, according to a new analysis of federal data by The Associated Press.

The government took longer to turn over files when it provided any, said more regularly that it couldn’t find documents, and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy.

It also acknowledged in nearly 1 in 3 cases that its initial decisions to withhold or censor records were improper under the law — but only when it was challenged.

Its backlog of unanswered requests at year’s end grew remarkably by 55 percent to more than 200,000.

The government’s new figures, published Tuesday, covered all requests to 100 federal agencies during fiscal 2014 under the Freedom of Information law, which is heralded globally as a model for transparent government. They showed that despite disappointments and failed promises by the White House to make meaningful improvements in the way it releases records, the law was more popular than ever. Citizens, journalists, businesses and others made a record 714,231 requests for information. The U.S. spent a record $434 million trying to keep up.

The government responded to 647,142 requests, a 4 percent decrease over the previous year. The government more than ever censored materials it turned over or fully denied access to them, in 250,581 cases or 39 percent of all requests. Sometimes, the government censored only a few words or an employee’s phone number, but other times it completely marked out nearly every paragraph on pages.

On 215,584 other occasions, the government said it couldn’t find records, a person refused to pay for copies or the government determined the request to be unreasonable or improper.

The White House touted its success under its own analysis. It routinely excludes from its assessment instances when it couldn’t find records, a person refused to pay for copies or the request was determined to be improper under the law, and said under this calculation it released all or parts of records in 91 percent of requests — still a record low since President Barack Obama took office using the White House’s own math.

“We actually do have a lot to brag about,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

The government’s responsiveness under the open records law is an important measure of its transparency. Under the law, citizens and foreigners can compel the government to turn over copies of federal records for zero or little cost. Anyone who seeks information through the law is generally supposed to get it unless disclosure would hurt national security, violate personal privacy or expose business secrets or confidential decision-making in certain areas. It cited such exceptions a record 554,969 times last year.

Under the president’s instructions, the U.S. should not withhold or censor government files merely because they might be embarrassing, but federal employees last year regularly misapplied the law. In emails that AP obtained from the National Archives and Records Administration about who pays for Michelle Obama’s expensive dresses, the agency blacked-out a sentence under part of the law intended to shield personal, private information, such as Social Security numbers, phone numbers or home addresses. But it failed to censor the same passage on a subsequent page.

The sentence: “We live in constant fear of upsetting the WH (White House).”

In nearly 1 in 3 cases, when someone challenged under appeal the administration’s initial decision to censor or withhold files, the government reconsidered and acknowledged it was at least partly wrong. That was the highest reversal rate in at least five years.

The AP’s chief executive, Gary Pruitt, said the news organization filed hundreds of requests for government files. Records the AP obtained revealed police efforts to restrict airspace to keep away news helicopters during violent street protests in Ferguson, Missouri. In another case, the records showed Veterans Affairs doctors concluding that a gunman who later killed 12 people had no mental health issues despite serious problems and encounters with police during the same period. They also showed the FBI pressuring local police agencies to keep details secret about a telephone surveillance device called Stingray.

“What we discovered reaffirmed what we have seen all too frequently in recent years,” Pruitt wrote in a column published this week. “The systems created to give citizens information about their government are badly broken and getting worse all the time.”

The U.S. released its new figures during Sunshine Week, when news organizations promote open government and freedom of information.

The AP earlier this month sued the State Department under the law to force the release of email correspondence and government documents from Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. The government had failed to turn over the files under repeated requests, including one made five years ago and others pending since the summer of 2013.

The government said the average time it took to answer each records request ranged from one day to more than 2.5 years. More than half of federal agencies took longer to answer requests last year than the previous year.

Journalists and others who need information quickly to report breaking news fared worse than ever.

Under the law, the U.S. is required to move urgent requests from journalists to the front of the line for a speedy answer if records will inform the public concerning an actual or alleged government activity. But the government now routinely denies such requests: Over six years, the number of requests granted speedy processing status fell from nearly half to fewer than 1 in 8.

The CIA, at the center of so many headlines, has denied every such request the last two years.

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Online:

U.S. data: http://www.foia.gov/data.html