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© Linda Hogan
IMAGE ON A LATE SPRING DAY IN VERMONT


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Posted 2.25.21
Just Outside Washington

FRANK BERNHEISEL FILM TO WATCH: INCOME EQUALITY

This link is to the movie Inequality for All (2013). It stars Robert Reich, the American economist, who was the United States Secretary of Labor from 1993 to 1997 under Bill Clinton. Also, he is the Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley, where he has been since January 2006.

FRANK'S COMPLETE ARCHIVES
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PSST! LOOKING FOR A QUICKIE?
3.4.21
THOUGHT FOR TODAY
Posted 1.19.21

THIS SUCKS
Posted 7.27.20
I WISH I'D SAIDTHAT
Posted 7.27.20

I WISH I'D SAID THIS TOO
Posted 7.27.20

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CORONA NUMBERS UPDATED
WORLD: OVER 116.7 MILLION CASES.
DEATHS: OVER 2.59 MILLION.
USA: CASES - OVER 29.53 MILLION. DEATHS - OVER 535,563.
CANADA: CASES - OVER 881,761.
DEATHS - 22,192.

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HCR LATEST REPORT
Posted 3.6.21

SENATE CONTINUES WORK ON AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN

In coronavirus news today, there were a record 2.4 million vaccines administered.

Florida governor Ron DeSantis (R) is denying any involvement in a vaccine drive in a private, gated community after which a resident of the community, former Illinois governor Bruce Rauner (R), made a donation of $250,000 to the Friends of Ron DeSantis Political Action Committee.

This appears to be part of a pattern in Florida, where vaccine administration seems to track with wealthy communities whose members donate to the governor's campaign funds.

News about the January 6 insurrection continues to mount, with a mid-level Trump appointee from the State Department, Federico Klein, arrested yesterday on several felony charges, including assaulting police officers, stemming from the riot.

Tonight the New York Times revealed that a member of the far-right Proud Boys organization was in contact with someone at the White House in the days before the insurrection.

Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) has catalogued almost 2000 pages of public social media posts from those representatives who voted to overturn the election. The material reveals that a few representatives were active indeed in pushing the idea that the election was stolen and Trump supporters must fight. Especially active were Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Mo Brooks (R-AL), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Billy Long (R-MO) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) is slow-walking the confirmation of Merrick Garland as attorney general, an odd stance at a time when one would think we would want all hands on deck to investigate the insurrection and ongoing domestic terrorism.

The Senate continues to hash out the American Rescue Plan.

After last night's 10 hour and 44 minute reading of the bill by Senate clerks, demanded by Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), there was a surprise when Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) requested that the debate on the bill resume at 9 AM (this morning) and be limited to three hours, rather than the 20 hours that had been planned. Since no Republicans were there to object, the presiding officer agreed, and voting on amendments started at noon.

The big deal today was that Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) balked at what observers thought was a done deal, withdrawing his support from the measure's $400 weekly unemployment. Shortly before 8 p.m., Manchin and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) reached a deal to extend $300 payments through September 6, making the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits nontaxable for those households whose income is less than $150,000.

Manchin's position has raised fury on the part of Democrats who are already mad at the loss of the $15 minimum wage in the bill, and there are grumblings that Manchin should not have the power to water the measure down.

But Manchin is as powerful as he is only because the Senate is split 50-50, and the Republicans -- who represent 41.5 million fewer Americans than Democrats do -- are refusing to vote for the measure at all, despite the fact that 77 percent of Americans want it. We have a structural problem both with the Senate and with the Republican Party.

The Democrats continue to believe they will pass the American Rescue Plan.

The popularity of that bill spells trouble for Republicans. President Biden is making a pitch for Americans who feel that the government has not responded to the needs of a falling middle class.

The bill expands the earned income tax credit for all Americans, and almost doubles the child tax credit. These provisions will disproportionately help poor families, especially families of color. The measure is expected to cut child poverty in half, while also helping parents to work by helping them pay for childcare.

Meanwhile, there is another big event on the horizon in Alabama that suggests a seismic shift in the contours of our political parties.

Workers at an Amazon plant in Bessemer, Alabama, are voting on whether to unionize.

Amazon opposes the move, which, since Amazon employs more than 400,000 warehouse and delivery workers, is shaping up to be the biggest fight over unionization in American history.

The company warns that unionization might increase costs and slow growth, and it has flooded its workers with mandatory anti-union meetings and anti-union literature -- even posting signs in bathroom stalls. While workers have complained about working conditions and mandatory overtime, the company points out that it offers Bessemer workers benefits and a starting pay of $15.30 an hour, while the federal minimum wage remains pegged at $7.25.

The reason this unionization effort jumps off the page for politics is that President Biden recorded a video on February 28 taking a strong pro-union stance.

He reminded viewers that "America wasn't built by Wall Street, it was built by the middle class, and unions built the middle class.

"Unions put power in the hands of workers. They level the playing field. They give you a stronger voice for your health, your safety, higher wages, protections from racial discrimination and sexual harassment. Unions lift up workers, both union and non-union, and especially Black and Brown workers."

Biden made it clear that the choice to unionize should be made by workers, without pressure from employers. "The choice to join a union is up to the workers -- full stop."

Biden has also nominated Boston mayor Marty Walsh, the former president of the Laborers' International Union of North America, as secretary of labor. If confirmed, Walsh will be the first union member to serve as secretary of labor in nearly 50 years. Biden's vocal defense of working Americans has the potential to rally struggling workers to the Democrats more firmly than they have rallied for decades.

©Heather Cox Richardson
Letter from an American

Posted 2.25.21
Just Outside Washington

FRANK BERNHEISEL

THINKING ABOUT PLASTICS, TALKING ABOUT SPERM

It was about 1972, early in my career in waste management and recycling, that I read an article in Science Magazine, which is published by the AAAS. The article discussed the relatively recent move to storing blood for transfusions in plastic bags, specifically polyvinyl chloride (PVC) copolymer, plasticized with di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP).

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PROTEST ... WHERE IT COUNTS!
Posted 2.1.21
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QC | Two street protests against pandemic restrictions in Quebec, in Fort Coulonge and Shawville, have stimulated public comment. And criticism -- many participants, generally, were not following the health rules (masks and a two-metre distance). The SQ were careful to warn protestors of the rules, without aggravating emotions and stimulating further disturbance.
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STOPPING COVID-19 ~ WITH VALIUM?
Posted 1.12.21
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QC | One of the lesser-noted effects of Covid-19 and its lockdown is the sudden and widespread proliferation of scientific expertise. There's a touch of sarcasm here.

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10 POST-PANDEMIC LESSONS
Posted 1.1.21
FRANK BERNHEISEL

Zakaria celebrates America's resilience, which he says gains strength through chaos and crises. He also downplays the idea that despots like China's Xi Jinping do better than democratic leaders pointing out covid-19's leap around the world was due to China's suppression of lifesaving data. Also, that authoritarian regimes including Khamenei's Iran, Erdogan's Turkey, and Bolsonaro's Brazil, ruled did badly.

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OUR 30TH ANNIVERSARY
Posted 12.28.20
ROSS MURRAY

I'm writing this on the day of our 30th wedding anniversary. Deb and I were married on December 15, 1990 in Sherbrooke. That wasn't the original plan.
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ON KEEPING WITS ABOUT US
Posted 12.23.20
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QC | Lesson number one: The pandemic's lockdown may be teaching us a thing or two, despite it's costs. One lesson is obvious: how deeply we all depend upon contact and communication with others. The opposite side of that coin may be that we also are learning to live with our own selves, without the contact we took for granted in the past.
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WHY ENVIRONMENTAL REGS ARE NEEDED
Posted 12.17.20
FRANK BERNHEISEL

As many as 12,000 children were exposed to drinking water with high levels of lead, which cause long-term health problems. The water supply change also caused an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease that killed 12 people.

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WHAT'S WRONG WITH "SOCIALISM"?
Posted 11.15.20
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QC | American friends are certainly now on the road to a healing presidential term. The Republicans may rant about individual counts, but we can also be certain that they are busy studying their playbook, "How to Sabotage a Democrat President."
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JANE DOES THE LAUNDRY

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WINTER SOLSTICE
This is one of 30 short poems in the chapbook Placing No Markers by Jason Krpan. You can download the book for free at Bookfellows.