"Renaissance Thinking About the Issues of Our Day"
This year, we've seen massive protests for higher wages all around our nation, but this fight is not just for those struggling to live on minimum wage. It's about our rights in the workplace and society saying “No” to corporate welfare. This year, corporate profits hit another all-time high, while wages as a percent of our economy saw an all-time low.
The super rich have skipped out on paying $100 billion dollars in estate taxes since 2000. And, that incredible number doesn't even factor in the billions that they saved using loopholes like capital gains, or by stashing their money in tax havens around the world.
On Monday, a Bush-appointed Federal District Court judge ruled that the N.S.A. is likely violating our Fourth Amendment rights. In a 68-page ruling, Judge Richard J. Leon called the government's collection of so-called meta data “almost Orwellian,” and he was unconvinced by the government's argument that these massive spying programs serve the public interest.
Sixty-five years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed. The Declaration was drafted by the United Nations, and chaired by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The goal of the Declaration was to strive for “inherent dignity” and “equal and inalienable rights [for] all members of the human family.” But, many people in our nation are being denied these basic human rights.
Last night, the House of Representatives voted 332 to 94 to approve the Murray-Ryan budget deal. One hundred and sixty nine Republican House members voted in favor of the plan, and only 62 voted against it, but the future of this legislation is not quite as certain in the U.S. Senate.
Last night, Republicans in the U.S. Senate stayed up all night to delay a vote on a federal appeals court judge. The vote to approve Judge Nina Pillard happened at 1am, and several other nominations will be considered before the upper chamber leaves for vacation next week.
House and Senate negotiators have reached a deal that could prevent the next government shutdown, but don't start celebrating just yet. Tuesday night, Senator Patty Murray and Congressman Paul Ryan announced an $85 billion dollar budget agreement.
Regulators want to start making banking boring again. Today, five different regulatory agencies are expected to adopt the Volcker Rule, which would redraw a line between regular banking and Wall Street gambling. The rule is one of the centerpieces of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, and it is seen as a litmus test for the overall strength of the financial reform law.
Congress hasn't done much this year, but House and Senate negotiators are close to a deal on “fast-tracking” the Trans Pacific Partnership. The TPP is a massive trade agreement among the US and a dozen Pacific nations that poses a major threat to our jobs, our economy, and our national sovereignty.
Yesterday, the world lost a great man. Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela passed away at the age of 95. In addition to being South Africa's first black president, Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist and human rights icon throughout much of his life. He even spent 27 years locked up as a political prisoner for trying to fight the apartheid in South Africa.
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