Speakout is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. Speakout articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.
Washington DC - The presidents of the AFL-CIO and North America's Building Trades Unions today sharply condemned Mayor Bill de Blasio's 421a proposal, which expands a lucrative tax giveaway for wealthy developers while failing to require a standard of middle-class wages for working families.
"Mayor de Blasio has been traveling the country talking about income inequality as the country's biggest problem," said Sean McGarvey, president of North America's Building Trades Unions.
Across the country, in the face of mounting budget deficits, states are more aggressively going after poor people who have already served their criminal sentences and jailing them for failing to pay their legal debts. These modern-day debtors' prisons impose devastating human costs, waste taxpayer money and resources, undermine our criminal justice system, are racially skewed, and create a two-tiered system of justice.
At Chevron's AGM in San Ramon, California today, 4 percent of shareholders supported the first-of-its-kind proposal to return capital to shareholders rather than pursue ever more risky carbon extraction investments.
Julian Poulter, CEO of the Asset Owners Disclosure Project (AODP), said: "Big pension funds voting against Resolution 7 will look back and realise they missed an opportunity to limit wasted capital, which is surely more important than having the evidence to sack senior management once the carbon crash begins."
Arriving in Sri Lanka's Bandaranaike International Airport on Indian turboprop titled "Spice Jet" was just the first taste of the irony that pervades this island nation. While waiting in the long line at immigration to enter the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, I was getting ready for a mental cavity search as veteran traveler to many socialist republics of the bygone era.
However, the country's check-in was smoother than expected, and besides being welcomed with obligatory smiles to the "Wonder of Asia," I was also presented with a "Welcome to Sri Lanka" tourist booklet.
The US empire fought numerous wars in the 20th century that ended in failure and humiliation, and the 21st century is off to a bad start. Wars in the Philippines, Korea and Vietnam War ended with stalemate and embarrassment, and our debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan have poorly-defined objectives and no foreseeable victory in sight. Ironically, the most powerful military in history has not won many wars.
But the definition of success can be blurred. Wars ending in military failure are still political and economic accomplishments for the architects who design them.
"Nope, nope, nope," was Australia's Prime Minister, Tony Abbott's answer to the question whether his country will take in any of the nearly 8,000 Rohingyarefugees stranded at sea.
Abbott's logic is as pitiless as his decision to abandon the world's most persecuted minority in their darkest hour. "Don't think that getting on a leaky boat at the behest of a people smuggler is going to do you or your family any good," he said.
G7 finance ministers gather in Dresden, Germany, to discuss promoting "sustainable growth" in the face of growing globaldebt. US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew is among the ministers gathering. The meeting takes place amid debt crises in the Eurozone and the developing world. The ministers meet after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported slow economic growth and increased debt burdens during the IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings.
"It's impossible to experience sustainable growth, when wealthy and poor countries are struggling with unsustainable debts," stated Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA Network, who is in Dresden for the meetings.
Mr. Warren Buffet believes that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour is not the best answer to alleviatingpoverty in America. Instead, he calls for the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and names this as a better alternative. All things considered, his suggestion makes as much sense as someone bringing a lone fire extinguisher to put out a forest fire.
The EITC is an excellent federal program, but its expansion is not a long-term solution to addressing poverty in America. A living wage is and will remain the best method to reduce poverty.
For several decades, state and local governments have been showering private businesses with tax breaks and direct subsidies based on the theory that this practice fosters economic development and, therefore, job growth. But does it? New York State's experience indicates that, when it comes to producing jobs, corporate welfare programs are a bad investment. This should be instructive to state and local officials across the US.
In May 2013, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, with enormous fanfare, launched a campaign to establish Tax-Free NY - a scheme providing tax-free status for ten years to companies that moved onto or near the state's public college and university campuses.
Northern California's Sonoma County has been known historically as part of the natural Redwood Empire. Wineindustry lobbyists re-branded it "Wine Country." Its economy has been so colonized by outside investors who extract water and resources from the environment and export their products and profits, that re-branding would be appropriate. A more accurate description would be that Sonoma County is now part of the multi-national WineEmpire.
Local residents and nature have been dominated by these outside investors; they reap the benefits, while the environment and residents pay the costs. They have de-localized, industrialized, commercialized, urbanized and commodified a once diverse agrarian place and culture with their excessive wine production and tourism.