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More on News & Issues

Gender and Pay in the Federal Workforce

GAO Testimony before the Joint Economic Committee, US Congress

Converging Characteristics of Men and Women in the Federal Workforce Help Explain the Narrowing Pay Gap

Previous research has found that, despite improvements over time, women generally earned less than men in both the general and federal workforces, even after controlling for factors that might explain differences in pay. To determine the extent to which the pay gap exists in the federal workforce, GAO addressed the following question: To what extent has the pay gap between men and women in the federal workforce [itals ours] changed over the past 20 years and what factors account for the gap?

To answer this question, GAO used data from the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) Central Personnel Data File (CPDF) — a database that contains salary and employment data for the majority of employees in the executive branch. GAO used these data to analyze (1) “snapshots” of the workforce as a whole at three points in time (1988, 1998, and 2007) to show changes over a 20-year period, and (2) the group, or cohort, of employees who began their federal careers in 1988 to track their pay over a 20-year period and examine the effects of breaks in service and use of unpaid leave. GAO is not making any recommendations.

OPM and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reviewed the report on which this statement is based. They generally agreed with our methods and findings and provided technical comments that we incorporated as appropriate.

The gender pay gap — the difference between men’s and women’s average salaries — declined significantly in the federal workforce between 1988 and 2007. Specifically, the gap declined from 28 cents on the dollar in 1988 to 19 cents in 1998 and further to 11 cents in 2007. For the 3 years we examined, all but about 7 cents of the gap can be explained by differences in measurable factors such as the occupations of men and women and, to a lesser extent, other factors such as education levels and years of federal experience. The pay gap narrowed as men and women in the federal workforce increasingly shared similar characteristics in terms of the jobs they held, their educational attainment, and their levels of experience. For example, the professional, administrative, and clerical occupations — which accounted for 68 percent of all federal jobs in 2007 — have become more integrated by gender since 1988. Some or all of the remaining 7 cent gap might be explained by factors for which we lacked data or are difficult to measure, such as work experience outside the federal government. Finally, it is important to note that this analysis neither confirms nor refutes the presence of discriminatory practices.

GAO’s case study analysis of workers who entered the workforce in 1988 found that the pay gap between men and women in this group grew overall from 22 to 25 cents on the dollar between 1988 and 2007. As with the overall federal workforce, differences between men and women that can affect pay explained a significant portion of the pay gap over the 20-year period. In particular, differences in occupations explained from 11 to 19 cents of the gap over this period. In contrast, differences in breaks in federal service and use of unpaid leave explained little of the pay gap. However, the results of this analysis are not necessarily representative of other cohorts.

The entire 108 page report may be viewed at the GAO site.

Article

Julia Sneden, The Bored of Education: While it is often left to the populace to vote on bond issues creating new schools, the need for school maintenance and repair seems to me to be every bit as vital. Too often it is shoved aside for other matters, buried somewhere between the School Board’s purview and Central Administration offices

Briefing Papers from the Economic Policy Institute

"On April 7, the [Economic Policy Institute], in conjunction with Demos and the Women of Color Policy Network, hosted a day-long symposium examining the labor market benefits of federal investment in the transportation and "green" sectors.

"EPI released two Issue Briefs at the event by Economist Josh Bivens, Research and Policy Director John Irons, and Policy Analyst Ethan Pollack. The first report calculates that a $100 billion investment in transportation infrastructure will generate $160 billion in output, over 1 million jobs, and reduce wage inequality by raising earnings for workers without college degrees and expanding the number of unionized jobs.

"The same authors applied their methodology (detailed in a Working Paper) to a second Issue Brief examining jobs built around a low-carbon future which finds that 'green' investment may prove even more beneficial in creating jobs than generic infrastructure spending."

"As the Obama administration formulates the terms for ongoing federal assistance to the Big Three automakers, one requirement should be that they invest in America to ensure that their revival creates broadly shared prosperity for US workers.

"While headlines have focused on who leads GM, who Chrysler merges with, and on how much taxpayer money is needed to keep the Big Three afloat, EPI Senior Economist Robert Scott — our auto industry expert — reminds us that one of the strategies American automakers want to use to keep costs down is to shift production and jobs out of the United States into Mexico.

"In a Briefing Paper, Scott finds that the growth in recent production in Mexico and planned investments to further shift production there will come at the expense of jobs for American workers. To reverse these trends, Scott argues that the administration should adopt three policy changes: Cap importation from Mexico as a share of total vehicle sales; require that domestic content requirements meet or exceed 2008 levels; and require labor rights enforcement for Mexican workers to prevent wage suppression."

Articles

Jo Freeman, Gay Republicans Plan Their Future: Log Cabin Republicans are very dedicated, stalwart Republicans, who refuse to be run out of their party despite a hostile atmosphere. They have occasionally found allies among some of the other outsiders in the party, but not without difficulties

Jo Freeman, Book Review, The Wrong Side of Murder Creek: A White Southerner in the Freedom Movement: To those of us who were civil rights activists in the 1960s, Bob Zellner and Constance Curry were legends in their own time. Not big legends like Stokely Carmichael and Julian Bond, but people you knew about even though you never met them, saw them or heard them speak

Jo Freeman, Six years since the invasion of Iraq and still protesting: What began with a bang is ending with a whimper. But the groups that organized the Iraq invasion protests aren’t going out of business; they're expanding their agenda

Harvard researchers find that only men showed favoritism toward supporters of their preferred candidate in the 2008 Democratic primary

Men, but not women, displayed strong favoritism toward fellow supporters of Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama during the summer of 2008, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by researchers at Harvard University.

“While the popular perception was that women were driving much of the strife in the Democratic party after Clinton’s defeat — the so-called ‘P.U.M.A’ movement — that was not what we found,” said David G. Rand of the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics. “Even older female supporters of Hillary Clinton did not discriminate against Obama supporters.”

The group of researchers, led by Rand and Yochai Benkler of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, investigated in-group favoritism among 395 Democrats from Cambridge, MA. Subjects participated in the “dictator game,” a test of generosity developed by behavioral economists. Each participant was given $6 and asked to divide the money between himself or herself and another anonymous supporter of one of the two candidates.

Men were more generous toward supporters of their own preferred candidate than to supporters of the other Democratic candidate, the study showed. Women, on the other hand, gave the same amount regardless of which candidate the recipient supported.

The researchers also observed a change in the attitudes of the men as events unfolded in the campaign. Male Democrats showed in-group bias immediately following Clinton’s concession in June, and this bias persisted until the end of the Democratic National Convention . Immediately following the DNC, party unity was restored, and the men donated the same amount to supporters of either Clinton or Obama.

“It was particularly interesting to see that it was not the fact that the internal conflicts were over that created the change, or that there was now a common adversary. These alone were not enough to get people to overcome their in-group bias,” said Benkler. “Instead, it was the public performance of reconciliation that seemed to have an immediate effect.”

The study also uncovered a difference in the level of bias shown by Obama and Clinton supporters. Supporters of Clinton discriminated more against Obama supporters than the other way around. “Hillary Clinton’s supporters were upset about her defeat in the primary, and this may have led to stronger feelings of hostility,” Rand said. “However, our findings have a positive message: even when deep resentment and in-group bias exist, reconciliation is possible. Symbolic displays of unity like those that occurred at the DNC can bring people back together, as further evidenced by Obama’s victory in the general election.”

The study, “Dynamic remodeling of in-group bias during the 2008 presidential election,” was supported by the Kauffman Foundation and the Society in Science/The Branco Weiss Fellowship. It was published online in PNAS Early Edition this week <http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.0811552106>, and will appear in print within the next month.

Prepared as a press release from the Berkman Center

Examining the President's Budget Proposals

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has released a couple of articles regarding the new budget's proposals:

VERY FEW SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS WOULD FACE TAX INCREASES UNDER PRESIDENT'S BUDGET;
Vast Majority Would Benefit from Other Key Proposals

"Some critics of the President’s budget charge that his proposals to roll back tax breaks for taxpayers with incomes over $250,000 would harm small businesses.  In fact, only 8.9 percent of people with any small business income have incomes of over $250,000 and, thus, would even potentially be affected by these provisions. (See Figure 1.)  And that figure substantially overstates the percentage of people with small business income who would actually be affected by these provisions; for example, only 1.9 percent of people with such income currently are in a tax bracket with a rate higher than 28 percent.  As a result, the percentage of people with small business income who would be affected by proposals to increase the top two tax rates or limit the value of itemized deductions to 28 percent of deductable expenses would be extremely small.

"Furthermore, even these estimates, from the Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center, may overstate the impact of these provisions because they are based on the previous administration’s definition of “small businesses,” which includes investors in small businesses who have little or no role in managing them.

"Indeed, the vast majority of small business owners and their employees would benefit from proposals in the budget to cut taxes for middle-class taxpayers, such as extending the Making Work Pay tax credits enacted on a temporary basis earlier this month in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  In addition, most small businesses and their employees are likely to benefit from non-tax proposals in the budget, particularly the President’s proposal to reform the health care system by expanding health insurance coverage and making health care more affordable."

Read the rest of the article at the Center's site, but first read another article from the site:

PROPOSAL TO CAP DEDUCTIONS FOR HIGH-INCOME HOUSEHOLDS WOULD REDUCE CHARITABLE CONTRIBUTIONS BY ONLY ABOUT 1 PERCENT; Would Help to Finance Universal Health Coverage

"President Obama’s proposal to limit the tax deduction for charitable contributions would affect only the top 1.2 percent of affluent U.S. households and, despite claims to the contrary, would reduce total charitable contributions by only 1.3 percent."

"The President’s 2010 budget proposes to limit the tax subsidy for deductible expenses of the most affluent Americans and to use the additional revenue to help finance national health reform, including universal coverage.  This proposal has been attacked on the grounds that it would lead to substantial reductions in charitable contributions and hit charities at a time when they face increased need and decreased contributions due to the recession.  Careful examination indicates that these criticisms are greatly exaggerated or wrong."

Again, more can be read at the Center's site

 

Borderlands RAVE: Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition

"The International League of Conservation Photographers sent a team of world-renowned photographers, with writers, filmmakers, and scientists to the borderlands of the United States and Mexico to document the wildlife, ecology, and effect of immigration and the border wall on this landscape. This region is a shared conservation treasure of international importance that harbors some of the most biodiverse landscapes on the continent. Many species here are found nowhere else in the US, and nowhere else in Mexico and some are found nowhere else on Earth."

"The WALL A wall bisecting borderlands habitat will not only disrupt the crucial uninhibited movement of imperiled species, it will curtail the movement of many species that are essential to the dynamics of ecosystems. Animals like javelina, who distribute seeds for many plant species, will be blocked from their role in the environment. Plant movement will be inhibited at a time, when due to global warming, plants will have to transition north or perish.  If a steel barrier and destructive immigration and law enforcement activities block their pathways, any hope of recovery will be lost. Outreach Strategy Our expedition will take the story of wildlife, landscape, plants and people in the borderlands to the public and policy makers. Through a photo exhibition, documentary, book and public outreach we hope to broaden the discussion of immigration to include what we all stand to lose if the current policy continues."

The Borderlands RAVE Blog features both the photographers blog entries as they move around the designated areas on their trip as well as a map that reveals pictures taken of wildlife and landscapes along the way.

Failing Infrastructure; Add to Report With Your Own Photos

While the substance of the stimulus bill is under debate, the American Society of Civil Engineers has issued their 'report card' detailing the condition of various aspects of the US infrastructure. Grades have not improved. Below are a number of the issues of concern.

In addition, The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) is sponsoring a contest for images that illustrate America's infrastructure. ASCE is looking for your point of view on the crumbling conditions of the infrastructure in your neighborhood or the creative ways an infrastructure problem has been solved. Submissions should depict the condition of current infrastructure in the 15 categories that will be evaluated for the 2009 Report Card for America's Infrastructure. One winner in each of the 15 categories will be selected to receive a $100 cash prize. One image will be selected for the overall Grand Prize of $1,000. Consult the ASCE site for additional details.

Aviation D — Despite surging oil prices, volatile credit markets, and a lagging economy, the Federal Aviation Administration predicts a three percent annual growth in air travel. These travelers are faced with increasing delays and inadequate conditions as a result of the long overdue need to modernize the outdated air traffic control system and the failure to enact a federal aviation program.

Bridges C — More than 26%, or one in four, of the nation's bridges are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. While some progress has been made in recent years to reduce the number of deficient and obsolete bridges in rural areas, the number in urban areas is rising. A $17 billion annual investment is needed to substantially improve current bridge conditions. Currently, only $10.5 billion is spent annually on the construction and maintenance of bridges.

Drinking Water D — America's drinking water systems face an annual shortfall of at least $11 billion to replace aging facilities that are near the end of their useful life and to comply with existing and future federal water regulations. This does not account for growth in the demand for drinking water over the next 20 years. Leaking pipes lose an estimated seven billion gallons of clean drinking water a day.

Levees  D- — More than 85% of the nation's estimated 100,000 miles of levees are locally owned and maintained. The reliability of many of these levees is unknown. Many are over 50 years old and were originally built to protect crops from flooding. With an increase in development behind these levees, the risk to public health and safety from failure has increased. Rough estimates put the cost at more than $100 billion to repair and rehabilitate the nation's levees.

Public Parks & Recreation  C- — Parks, beaches, and other recreational facilities contribute $730 billion per year to the U.S. economy, support nearly 6.5 million jobs, and contribute to cleaner air and water and higher property values. Despite record spending on parks at the state and local level, the acreage of parkland per resident in urban areas is declining. While significant investments are being made in the National Park Service for its 2016 centennial, the agency's facilities still face a $7 billion maintenance backlog.

Rail  C- — A freight train is three times as fuel efficient as a truck, and traveling via passenger rail uses 20 percent less energy per mile than traveling by car. However, growth and changes in demand patterns create bottlenecks which are already constraining traffic in critical areas. Freight and passenger rail generally share the same network, and a significant potential increase in passenger rail demand will add to the freight railroad capacity challenges. More than $200 billion is needed through 2035 to accommodate anticipated growth.

Roads D- — Americans spend 4.2 billion hours a year stuck in traffic at a cost to the economy of $78.2 billion, or $710 per motorist. Poor road conditions cost motorists $67 billion a year in repairs and operating costs, and cost 14,000 Americans their lives. One-third of America's major roads are in poor or mediocre condition and 36% of major urban highways are congested. The current spending level of $70.3 billion per year for highway capital improvements is well below the estimated $186 billion needed annually to substantially improve the nation's highways.

Schools D — Spending on the nation's schools grew from $17 billion in 1998 to a peak of $29 billion in 2004. However, by 2007 spending fell to $20.28 billion. No comprehensive, authoritative nationwide data on the condition of America's school buildings has been collected in a decade. The National Education Association's best estimate to bring the nation's schools into good repair is $322 billion.

Transit  D — Transit use increased 25% between 1995 and 2005, faster than any other mode of transportation. However, nearly half of American households do not have access to bus or rail transit, and only 25% have what they consider to be a "good option." The Federal Transit Administration estimates $15.8 billion is needed annually to maintain conditions and $21.6 billion is needed to improve to good conditions. In 2008, federal capital outlays for transit were only $9.8 billion.

 

RNC Election Article

Jo Freeman, Obama Inspires Republicans: African-Americans achieved a visibility at the winter meeting of the Republican National Committee not seen in the memory of anyone there, and perhaps not ever on the national level

Reversing the Ban and Constance Cook

MEMORANDUM FOR The Secretary of State and The Administrator for the US Agency for International Development

SUBJECT: Mexico City Policy and Assistance for Voluntary Population Planning

The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2151b(f)(1)), prohibits nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that receive Federal funds from using those funds "to pay for the performance of abortions as a method of family planning, or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions."  The August 1984 announcement by President Reagan of what has become known as the "Mexico City Policy" directed the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to expand this limitation and withhold USAID funds from NGOs that use non-USAID funds to engage in a wide range of activities, including providing advice, counseling, or information regarding abortion, or lobbying a foreign government to legalize or make abortion available.  The Mexico City Policy was in effect from 1985 until 1993, when it was rescinded by President Clinton.  President George W. Bush reinstated the policy in 2001, implementing it through conditions in USAID grant awards, and subsequently extended the policy to "voluntary population planning" assistance provided by the Department of State.

These excessively broad conditions on grants and assistance awards are unwarranted.  Moreover, they have undermined efforts to promote safe and effective voluntary family planning programs in foreign nations.  Accordingly, I hereby revoke the Presidential memorandum of January 22, 2001, for the Administrator of USAID (Restoration of the Mexico City Policy), the Presidential memorandum of March 28, 2001, for the Administrator of USAID (Restoration of the Mexico City Policy), and the Presidential memorandum of August 29, 2003, for the Secretary of State (Assistance for Voluntary Population Planning).  In addition, I direct the Secretary of State and the Administrator of USAID to take the following actions with respect to conditions in voluntary population planning assistance and USAID grants that were imposed pursuant to either the 2001 or 2003 memoranda and that are not required by the Foreign Assistance Act or any other law:  (1) immediately waive such conditions in any current grants, and (2) notify current grantees, as soon as possible, that these conditions have been waived.  I further direct that the Department of State and USAID immediately cease imposing these conditions in any future grants.

Constance Cook, a woman of note, died recently. The following paragraph from Cornell's Chronicle refers to her role in legalized abortion in New York State three years before the passage of Roe v. Wade:

"Born in Shaker Heights, Ohio, [Constance] Cook received her bachelor's (1941) and law degrees (1943) from Cornell. She was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1962. A Republican, she represented the 128th Assembly District, which then included the counties of Tompkins, Yates and Seneca. In 1970, she sponsored a bill to repeal state anti-abortion laws and to provide for legal, on-demand abortions during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. The state Senate had passed its version of the bill, and, following one of the bitterest debates in the Assembly's history, abortion became legal in New York by a one-vote margin. Cook left the Assembly in 1974."

"During the mid-1970s Cook represented the Rev. Betty Bone Schiess of Syracuse, who had been ordained as a priest in Philadelphia by "renegade" Episcopal bishops before the church admitted women to the priesthood. Cook helped Schiess sue her bishop on grounds of gender-based employment discrimination. The case helped force the church to revise its canon law in 1977 to allow ordination of women."

"[Sally] True recalled attending a meeting in Albany with Cook in the 1970s that was held at a club with separate entrances for men and women. 'We were not permitted through the front door,' True said. But Cook gave her speech to the Republican Assembly legislators. 'We came in through the employees' entrance. It was good instruction for a young woman professional: You can get distracted or you can move ahead. Connie knew how to roll with the punches.' "

The GAO's Additional High Risk Issues

"The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) today released the biennial update to its list of federal programs, policies, and operations that are at “high risk” for waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement or in need of broad-based transformation."

THE OUTDATED U.S. FINANCIAL REGULATORY SYSTEM. The worst financial crisis since the Great Depression has revealed major weaknesses in the U.S. financial regulatory system, which failed to keep pace with recent market trends, such as the emergence of large, interconnected financial conglomerates, and the development of new, often complex, investment products. In the near term, strong oversight is needed to ensure that the huge sums being deployed by the Treasury Department and other government entities are achieving their goals and are being used efficiently. Long term, GAO believes that modernizing the U.S. financial regulatory system and aligning it to current conditions is an essential step to reducing the likelihood that our nation will experience another financial crisis similar to the current one.

FDA OVERSIGHT OF MEDICAL PRODUCTS. New laws, the complexity of items submitted to FDA for approval, and the globalization of the medical products industry are challenging FDA’s ability to guarantee the safety and effectiveness of drugs, biologics, and medical devices. As a result, the American consumer may not be adequately protected from unsafe and ineffective medical products. FDA needs to improve the data it uses to manage the foreign drug inspection program, do more inspections of foreign establishments that manufacture drugs or medical devices, more systemically review the claims made in drug advertising and promotional material, and ensure that drug sponsors accurately report clinical trial results.

EPA’S PROCESSES FOR ASSESSING AND CONTROLLING TOXIC CHEMICALS. EPA’s ability to protect public health and the environment depends on credible and timely assessments of the risks posed by toxic chemicals. Its Integrated Risk Information System, which contains assessments of more than 500 toxic chemicals, is at serious risk of becoming obsolete because EPA has been unable to keep its existing assessments current or to complete assessments of important chemicals of concern. Overall, EPA has finished only nine assessments in the past three years; at the end of 2007, most of the 70 ongoing assessments had been underway for more than five years. EPA urgently needs to streamline and increase the transparency of this assessment process. The agency also requires additional authority than currently provided in the Toxics Substance Control Act to obtain health and safety information from the chemical industry and to shift more of the burden to chemical companies to demonstrate the safety of their products.

Jo Freeman, Inaugural Journal, Waiting to Party: I did have my Obama moment. It was late at night on a dark DC street, but I didn’t have to wait for hours in the cold, or be crushed by a crowd, or even buy a ticket

Jo Freeman, Inaugural Journal, Tuesday: Touring the Outskirts: Eight groups had been given NPS permits for "first amendment activity" on January 20. I paused at a media check-in to shed a tear for the seat on the press riser that I didn’t get and went on my way

Jo Freeman, Inaugural Flashbacks: "Senator, are you ready to take the oath?" Mid 1960s ... Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s SCOPE project registered 253 Negroes in Newberry, SC. Two local Negroes decided to run for local office in the September primary

Jo Freeman, Inaugural Journal, Monday was Martin Luther King Day; It was a good day to protest, even if there wasn’t anything to protest about: Celebrating 'The End of an Error,' the Raging Grannies sang to the crowd and Code Pink did the Can-Can, as in 'Yes We Can-Can End War, a take-off on 'Yes We Can'

Jo Freeman, Inaugural Journal, Sunday: The combination of the first African American elected President followed by Pete Seeger, the 89-year-old folksinger who had been convicted for "contempt of Congress" in the year Obama was born, made one believe that the Sixties had triumphed after all

Inaugural Tickets and Historical Minutes Essays from the Senate Collection

Even though most of us weren't able to obtain tickets to the Obama Inaugural, the US Senate's collection might assuage that slight. However, you may read John Malone's essay about his and his adopted son's attendance.

"In addition to the invitations and tickets seen [in the Senate's collection], the Office of Senate Curator's inaugural collection also includes inaugural programs, inaugural luncheon menus and luncheon programs, floor plans and seating charts, badges, ribbons, press credentials, historic engravings, and photographs."

Don't overlook the Historical Minutes essays which includes little known facts about that august body, in this case, the modern Senate:

The Senate's Taj Mahal June 25, 1964 Today, the US Capitol has many rooms and spaces named after respected senators. The tradition of named spaces dates back to 1964, when room S-211, informally known as the "Taj Mahal," became the Lyndon B. Johnson Room.

First Female Pages Appointed May 14, 1971 The tradition of Senate pages dates back to the 1830s, when Senator Daniel Webster appointed nine-year-old Grafton Hanson to run errands and serve as messenger. Hundreds of boys have followed in Hanson's footsteps. Not until 1971, however, did any girls follow that path. On May 14 of that year, two 16-year-old girls broke another gender barrier to become the first female pages.

 

Veterans Affairs

The American Veterans and Servicemembers Survival Guide

"The new Survival Guide is a follow-up to the 1985 national bestseller, The Viet Vet Survival Guide. Just as the earlier book was a must-read for Vietnam veterans, the new book will prove an invaluable resource for the 1.7 million servicemembers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, the 24 million veterans of past conflicts, and the families of all our troops and veterans. Unlike the earlier guide, the new Survival Guide is free." It is available from the Veterans for America site.

"The new book is as much a roadmap as a reference manual, detailing the benefits, assistance and resources available as well as the step-by-step directions for navigating the bureaucracies that serve our troops and veterans. The new Survival Guide contains 28 chapters, including 17 for veterans and their families and 11 for active-duty servicemembers, National Guard members and reservists, and their families. From legal to health services, job assistance to women’s issues, the new Survival Guide is designed to meet everyone’s needs."

Click here to download the entire American Veterans and Servicemembers Survival Guide (PDF) or you can also download the individual chapters.

You need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the guide. If you are having trouble viewing it, click here to download the latest version of the Acrobat software.

Review

Jo Freeman reviews Red, Blue, and Purple America: The Future of Election Demographics — The authors offer numerous insights into voting trends, a few surprises, and much food for thought. If you want to know why the 2008 election was not an aberration, read this book

Human Security

Whether you're planning a trip, worried about relatives or just interested in the current global security issues, this Canadian site provides recent articles and reports from a variety of authoritative sources on many areas of the world threatened by threats to individuals and societies:

"Human security focuses on the protection of individuals, rather than defending the physical and political integrity of states from external military threats — the traditional goal of national security.

"Ideally, national security and human security should be mutually reinforcing, but in the last 100 years far more people have died as a direct or indirect consequence of the actions of their own governments or rebel forces in civil wars than have been killed by invading foreign armies. Acting in the name of national security, governments can pose profound threats to human security.

"The Human Security Gateway focuses attention on threats stemming from violence to individuals and to societies at risk."

Follow the database search instructions for reports dealing with the part of the world in question. I searched for information about India after the recent Mumbai terrorism incident. This is what appeared after that search:

Partnership for Progress: Advancing a New Strategy for Prosperity and Stability in Pakistan and the Region; Center for American Progress  

The (Un)Peaceable Kingdom? Terrorism and Canada before 9/11 
Institute for Research on Public Policy

South Asia Intelligence Review, Volume 7, No. 18 
South Asia Terrorism Portal

India and Pakistan Address Terrorism Issues as Relations Deteriorate  // The Jamestown Foundation

GAO's Urgent Issues for Obama

Following each presidential election, Government Accountability Office serves as a resource to assist with the transition to a new Congress and administration.

13 urgent issues the GAO has identified as among those needing the attention of President-Elect Obama and the 111th Congress during the transition and the first year of the new administration and Congress:

  • oversight of financial institutions and markets,
  • US efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan,
  • protecting the homeland,
  • undisciplined defense spending,
  • improving the US image abroad,
  • finalizing plans for the 2010 Census,
  • caring for service members,
  • preparing for public health emergencies,
  • revamping oversight of food safety,
  • restructuring the approach to surface transportation,
  • retirement of the Space Shuttle,
  • ensuring an effective transition to digital TV, and
  • rebuilding military readiness.

"Meet Michelle"

From the profile of Michelle Obama at the White House site:

When people ask Michelle Obama to describe herself, she doesn't hesitate. First and foremost, she is Malia and Sasha's mom.

But before she was a mother — or a wife, lawyer, or public servant — she was Fraser and Marian Robinson's daughter.

The Robinsons lived on the South Side of Chicago, on the top floor of a brick bungalow. Fraser was a pump operator for the Chicago water department. He was a hero to Michelle and her older brother Craig: even though he had multiple sclerosis, he hardly ever missed a day of work. Marian stayed home to raise Michelle and Craig, skillfully managing a busy household filled with love, laughter, and important life lessons. Fraser and Marian valued hard work, independence, and honesty. Today, their children point to their parents as their greatest teachers.

Michelle attended Chicago public schools, then Princeton. She studied sociology and African American studies, graduated in the class of 1985, and earned admission to Harvard Law School. When she returned to Chicago in 1988, she joined the law firm Sidley & Austin.

After a few years, Michelle realized that corporate law was not her calling. So she left to give back to the city she loves and to help others serve their communities. She worked for City Hall, becoming the assistant commissioner of planning and development. Then she became the founding executive director of the Chicago chapter of Public Allies, an AmeriCorps program that prepares young people for public service. Today, more than 350 young leaders have graduated from Public Allies Chicago.

Read the rest of Michelle's profile at the Obama site and her speech at the Democratic Convention in Denver.

Review

Jo Freeman reviews Black Americans in Congress 1870–2007, the kind of book that one explores both for business and pleasure. If you read, write, or research Black or US political history, you will want to keep it handy

Drill, Baby, Drill: Perhaps in 2011, 2015?

From Stateline.org:

To drill or not to drill: issue for states

"Nineteen coastal states face tough decisions involving energy and the environment —whether or not to allow offshore drilling for oil and natural gas.

"Why? Because a 26-year federal ban on most offshore drilling was allowed to expire last month. So states along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts will get a bigger say on new drilling projects.

"With gasoline prices topping $4 a gallon this summer, the prospect of finding new sources of oil is politically popular. States must decide whether economic and environmental risks outweigh the potential benefits."

...

The United States has more than 12,000 miles of coastline, but nearly 95 percent of the oil produced in the federal coastal waters comes from wells in the Gulf of Mexico along the 860-mile stretch between the southern tip of Mexico and the Alabama-Florida border.
 
The oil and gas industry provides more than 430,000 jobs for the region’s residents. Unemployment is so low in some coastal Louisiana parishes that oil companies have to recruit people farther inland.

Read the rest of the article at the Stateline site

Decline in Employer-Sponsored Health Care

The Economic Policy Institute released an economic snapshot regarding:

Most states suffer large declines in employer-sponsored health coverage by Elise Gould, with research assistance from Emily Garr

The majority of states experienced significant declines in employer-sponsored coverage this decade. A new analysis of the under-65 population documents the variation in both the level and extent of coverage lost between 2000-01 and 2006-07. Forty-one states experienced significant losses in coverage across every region of the United States. South Carolina, Missouri, North Carolina, and Maryland experienced losses in excess of 7 percentage points, while no state experienced an increase. The interactive map illustrates the loss in employer-sponsored coverage by state, accompanied by coverage of kids and workers.

View the map at the EPI site to find the status of your state

14 Questions

A group called ScienceDebate2008.com has formulated 14 questions for the Democratic and Republican Presidential candidates. We don't know if third party candidates had an opportunity to answer these same questions.

Note that Sen. Barack Obama uses the term STEM when answering the question regarding education. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. One source to use for further understanding of the goals and programs is the STEM Education Coalition.

The creators of these question are described thusly: More than 38,000 scientists, engineers, and other concerned Americans signed on, including nearly every major American science organization, dozens of Nobel laureates, elected officials and business leaders, and the presidents of over 100 major American universities.  See who here.  Among other things, these signers submitted over 3,400 questions they want the candidates for President to answer about science and the future of America. 

ScienceDebate2008 explains the process: "Beginning with these 3,400 questions, Science Debate 2008 worked with  Scientists and Engineers for America, the AAAS, the National Academies, the Council on Competitiveness, and the other organizations listed to craft the top 14 questions the candidates should answer.  These questions are broad enough to allow for wide variations in response, but they are specific enough to help guide the discussion toward many of the largest and most important unresolved challenges currently facing the United States." 

Read the questions and the answers from Senators Obama and McCain.

An essay from the Economic Policy Institute, Building Shared Prosperity:

For the better part of three decades, our country has been stuck on a single, simplistic idea about the economy: less government equals more prosperity. American leaders have sought to create a marketplace unfettered by rules and regulations. Let people fend for themselves, they said, and innovation and entrepreneurship will flourish, the economy will grow as never before, and the benefits will eventually lift the fortunes of all.

That was the promise. We have seen — and lived — the reality. From 1989 to 2006, the highest-earning ten percent of U.S. households collected over 90 percent of the nation's income gains. Today the top 1 percent of American families receives 23 percent of all personal income, up from just 10 percent in 1979. Corporate executives earn 275 times as much as average workers, compared with 27 times in 1973.

It's been a fine time to be a CEO or a hedge fund manager, in other words. But the great majority of Americans are less secure and hopeful than they were a generation ago. Jobs are disappearing. Real family incomes are falling. Retirement security is a fading ideal. Health care is becoming a privilege rather than an expectation. In the struggle to keep up with expenses (or avoid falling too far behind), Americans are working longer hours, borrowing more, and living closer to the financial edge.

By degrees, the United States has become a more economically unequal country than at any time since the 1920s, and the most unequal of all of the world's developed nations today. By that measure, in fact, we are drifting away from the relatively egalitarian pattern of Western Europe and the Pacific Rim countries — toward the orbit of Russia and Latin America.

This is not a safe path. Extreme inequality hobbles mobility, leaving poor and working-class Americans and their children with little chance to move into higher-paid and more rewarding jobs. The stress of constant financial worry among the majority stifles innovation and technological progress. In an economy that relies heavily on consumer spending, the shortage of disposable income makes a bad situation worse.

Read the rest of Building Shared Prosperity by Lawrence Mishel and Nancy Cleeland for "steps to reduce economic insecurity and give Americans a chance to breathe easier and plan for the future without dread. Another key piece of a shared-prosperity agenda (discussed in the essay that follows) is public investment in our crumbling infrastructure, in education, and in job creation. Finally, we must shape a new brand of globalization that serves ordinary people in exporting and importing countries alike."

Article

Doris O'Brien, Veeps and Other Weepy Woes: If you examine the misfortunes of America's recent vice presidents (or wannabe candidates) one wonders why anyone would covet that office in the first place

How Would the States Fare?

From Stateline.org:

Bush, McCain view state issues similarly
By Daniel C. Vock
Democrats charge that a John McCain presidency would mean four more years of President Bushs policies. A close look at both mens records shows, on issues important to states, the Republicans are not far apart.  

and ...

What would an Obama win mean for states?
By Pamela M. Prah and Stephen C. Fehr
If elected president, Democrat Barack Obama promises closer ties with states and an infusion of federal dollars that could lessen points of tension between Washington, DC, and statehouses on issues from health care to energy.  

By the way, the Brookings Institute's report, State and Federal Electronic Government in the United States, 2008, reveals that:

    + Twenty-five percent of federal websites and 19 percent of state websites are accessible to the disabled.

    + The highest-ranking state websites belong to Delaware, Georgia, Florida, California, Massachusetts, Maine, Kentucky, Alabama, Indiana and Tennessee.

Jo Freeman at the Republican Convention

Jo Freeman, Sarah Palin: A Risky Move and A Gift to the Women's Movement: McCains's choice for VP indicates he thinks he can shave off a piece of the population still unhappy with how Hillary was treated.  It was a bold choice.  A brilliant choice.  A risky choice

Jo Freeman, Goodbye, Republicans: Behind the scenes with a convention press operation less organized and more dispersed than I have ever seen before; a daunting security zone contrasted with a helpful volunteer cadre

Jo Freeman, Outside and Inside The Big Tent: Republicans who want back in are moderates, formerly known as liberal Republicans or Rockefeller Republicans, tracing their roots to Teddy Roosevelt's progressives and viewing themselves as "the real majority" in the Republican party

Jo Freeman, Marching to the RNC; The message of many obscured by the sporadic violence of few: None of the press reports mentioned the main march message, proclaimed in the lead banner, "US OUT OF IRAQ ...  Money for human needs not for War"

Jo Freeman, First Impressions of the Republican Convention; Protests and Parties: Things are being done a little differently at the first Republican convention to be held in the Twin Cities since 1892.  The differences are small, but just enough to blur the picture

At the Democratic Convention

Jo Freeman, The End of the Dream? Thoughts on the Finale of the Democratic Convention: There is another dream that was part of the New Frontier of the 1960s that is threatened with foreclosure. That is the dream of every American to speak, write and think freely, and to conduct their lives without government surveillance

Jo Freeman in Denver — This didn't feel like closure of an historic primary campaign.  It felt like retreat: A sad ending to an historic campaign? A look behind the scenes at the Democratic Convention

Jo Freeman for SeniorWomen.com at the Democratic Convention: What Do (Democratic) Women Want?

Hillary....   and Obama: Diversity is more than delegate deep. Women's events are still aimed at mobilizing women on behalf of Democratic candidates, but they also encourage women to run for office and celebrate those who did

Jo Freeman, Diversity In Play in the Caucuses: Much of the Democratic Convention activity takes place in caucus meetings.  The convention proceedings are just a show for the media in which delegates are the backdrop

Jo Freeman for SeniorWomen.com at the Denver Democratic Convention, Recreate 68? —  A Protesters' Pipe Dream: There will be protests of varying kinds by different groups all week.  But judging from the numbers (or lack thereof) I saw on Sunday, the police won't need the "overflow" detention center they created "just in case"

Still Learning

Julia Sneden, Learning Differently: We do not bind the feet of our babies so that all will fit into one, universal shoe size. Why do we try to wrestle their minds into one educational box? They are divergent learners, and our world is full of them

November Election State Ballot Initiatives

From a Pew Research Center release about a new report:

"Besides electing a president on Nov. 4, voters in some key battleground states also will face divisive social policy choices, including whether to ban gay marriage in Florida and restrict affirmative action and abortion in Colorado.

"Michigan voters may be asked to end a 30-year-old ban on stem-cell research that destroys human embryos. Ohioans may decide whether sick workers should be guaranteed paid leave. Missouri voters’ attitudes toward immigrants will be tested by a measure to declare English the official state language. In Washington, voters may get to weigh whether to join Oregon in legalizing assisted suicide for the terminally ill.

. . .

"Among social issues, more proposals that would appeal to conservative voters than to liberals are showing up in 2008. But there is no consensus on whether ballot measures tend to drive enough voters to the polls to give an advantage to a presidential candidate. 'An initiative can help shape the debate and create a contrast between candidates, but there's no evidence to suggest a ballot initiative will increase turnout in a presidential year,' said John Krause, a spokesman for the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, a liberal advocacy group based in Washington, DC.

"Some conservatives, however, disagree. 'Social issues and family issues bring people to the polls, and they do affect voting,' said David Nammo, executive director of FRCAction, the legislative advocacy arm of the Family Research Council. He suggested that a proposed gay-marriage ban on California's ballot might help bring out enough conservatives that "California might be in play" for McCain. "It's been a long time since California was in play for a Republican," he said

Read the entire report from the Pew Research Center, Social Issues Crowd State Ballots

Stem Cell Controversy Continues

Embryonic stem cell research, which uses special cells found in three- to five-day-old human embryos to seek cures for a host of chronic diseases, has sparked a major moral and political debate in the United States. In the 10 years since University of Wisconsin scientists announced they had harvested potentially life-saving cells from surplus embryos donated by fertility clinics, the ethical dilemma presented by the studies has absorbed activists on both sides of the issue and has risen to the top of state and federal political agendas.

For patients and their families, embryonic stem cell research offers the hope of cures for chronic and debilitating conditions, such as juvenile diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injuries and blindness. For scientists, it represents a revolutionary path to discovering the causes and cures for many more human maladies. Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent, that is, they have the unique ability to develop into any of the 220 cell types in the human body. In addition to their versatility, embryonic stem cells are easier to grow in the laboratory than adult stem cells.

But many opponents, including some religious leaders, believe that stem cell research raises the same moral issues as abortion. Furthermore, opponents maintain that scientists have other promising ways of reaching the same goals, including non-controversial adult stem cell research. But proponents of the research point out that there is no substitute at this time for research using embryos. In addition, they say, the research has resulted in the destruction of only a few hundred embryos, making it fundamentally different from abortion, which results in the destruction of millions of human embryos every year.

Read the entire article written by Stateline.org writer, Christine Vestal

Being Overtaken

The Carnegie Endowment released a report, China’s Economic Rise — Fact and Fiction by Albert Keidel, that can be read in full at the Foundation's site.

Key Conclusions:

• Potential stumbling blocks to sustained Chinese growth — export concerns, domestic economic instability, inequality and poverty, pollution, social unrest, or even corruption and slow political reform — are unlikely to undermine China’s long-term success.

• China’s financial system, rather than a shortcoming that compromises growth potential, is one of the strengths of what the report calls “China’s money-making machine,” in part because of its ability to support the financing of infrastructure and other public investments necessary for sustained rapid growth.

• A Chinese economy that eclipses the US by midcentury has both commercial and potential military implications. China will be the preeminent world commercial influence. China’s military capabilities are a small fraction of the United States’ today, so there is time to prepare for a very different world in fifty years, says the report.

• American policy makers should take this opportunity to enact wide-ranging domestic reforms and rethink their concepts of global order.

“China’s economic performance clearly is no flash in the pan. Its growth this decade has averaged more than 10 percent a year and is still going strong in the first half of 2008. Because its success in recent decades has not been export-led but driven by domestic demand, its rapid growth can continue well into the twenty-first century, unfettered by world market limitation. China’s likely continued success will eventually bring an end to America’s global economic preeminence, requiring strategic reassessment by all major economies — especially the United States, the European Union, Japan, and even China itself.”

 

Preparing for a Domestic Surge

The GAO has released a report, Emergency Preparedness: States Are Planning for Medical Surge, but Could Benefit from Shared Guidance for Allocating Scarce Medical Resources

"Based on a review of state emergency preparedness documents and interviews with 20 state emergency preparedness officials, GAO found that many states had made efforts related to three of the key components of medical surge, but fewer have implemented the fourth. More than half of the 50 states had met or were close to meeting the criteria for the five medical-surge-related sentinel indicators for hospital capacity reported in the Hospital Preparedness Program’s 2006 midyear progress reports. For example, 37 states reported that they could add 500 beds per million population within 24 hours of a mass casualty event. In a 20-state review, GAO found that
• all 20 were developing bed reporting systems and most were coordinating with military and veterans hospitals to expand hospital capacity,
• 18 were selecting various facilities for alternate care sites,
• 15 had begun electronic registering of medical volunteers, and
• fewer of the states — 7 of the 20 — were planning for altered standards of medical care to be used in response to a mass casualty event.

State officials in GAO’s 20-state review reported that they faced challenges relating to all four key components in preparing for medical surge. For example, some states reported concerns related to maintaining adequate staffing levels to increase hospital capacity, and some reported concerns about reimbursement for medical services provided at alternate care sites. According to some state officials, volunteers were concerned that if state registries became part of a national database they might be required to provide services outside their own state. Some states reported that they had not begun work on or completed altered standards of care guidelines due to the difficulty of addressing the medical, ethical, and legal issues involved in making life-or-death decisions about which patients would get access to scarce resources. While most of the states that had adopted or were drafting altered standards of care guidelines reported using federal guidance as they developed these guidelines, some states also reported that they needed additional assistance.

What GAO Recommends
GAO recommends that the Secretary of HHS ensure that the department serve as a clearinghouse for sharing among the states altered standards of care guidelines developed by individual states or medical experts. HHS was silent on GAO’s recommendation. HHS and the departments of Homeland Security, Defense, and Veterans Affairs concurred with GAO's findings.

Gas, Oil, Futures and A Site

Although we don't pretend to understand the role speculators or the futures markets play (as well as should we be focussing on the spot market?) in the issue of high gasoline prices, we do know a good source when we see one.

And that's the Energy Information Administration site: Official Energy Statistics from the US Government.

Besides the weekly reports issued (This Week in Petroleum, Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Update) , there are analyses that are issued, such as How dependent are we on foreign oil? and Residential Heating Oil Prices. The section also displays a frequently asked questions section:

Question: How much US energy consumption comes from renewable sources?

In 2007, renewable sources of energy accounted for about 7 percent of total U.S. energy consumption and 9.4 percent of electricity generation.

Learn More: USenergy consumption by energy source and US electricity generation by energy source

Milestones

From Women's Policy Inc:

Congress Reaches Record Number of Women with Election of Rep. Donna Edwards

On June 17, Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) won a special election to fill the seat of former Rep. Albert Wynn (D-MD), who resigned in May. Rep. Edwards was sworn in on June 19.

Her election marks a milestone for women in Congress, bringing the total number of women serving in the 110th Congress to 91, including a record 75 women in the House of Representatives, and sixteen women in the Senate.

Early in her career, Rep. Edwards worked at the Goddard Space Flight Center translating technical documents into layman’s language. She then attended law school and worked on several public interest issues. She also co-founded and served as the executive director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence and worked to enact the Violence Against Women Act (P.L. 103-322) in 1994.

Rep. Edwards holds a bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University and a law degree from Franklin Pierce Law School. She is the first African American woman elected to represent Maryland in the House of Representatives.

Nuclear Security

From the Federation of American Scientists:

"An internal US Air Force investigation has determined that 'most sites' currently used for deploying nuclear weapons in Europe do not meet Department of Defense security requirements.

"A summary of the investigation report was released by the Pentagon in February 2008 but omitted the details. Now a partially declassified version of the full report, recently obtained by the Federation of American Scientists, reveals a much bigger nuclear security problem in Europe that previously known.

"As a result of these security problems, according to other sources, the US plans to withdraw its nuclear custodial unit from at least one base and consolidate the remaining nuclear mission in Europe at fewer bases.

European Nuclear Safety Deficiencies Detailed

"The national nuclear bases in Europe, those where nuclear weapons are stored for use by the host nation’s own aircraft, are at the center of the findings of the Blue Ribbon Review (BRR), the investigation that was triggered by the notorious incident in August 2007 when the US Air Force lost track of six nuclear warheads for 36 hours as they were flow across the United States without the knowledge of the military personnel in charge of safeguarding and operating the nuclear weapons."

The report can be read at Air Force Blue Ribbon Review of Nuclear Weapons Policies and Procedures

Raising State Taxes

From Stateline's article, Tax hikes rare among states — so far b

A handful of states have risked the ire of voters by digging deeper into residents’ pockets to keep the revenue flowing and balance 2009 budgets. Consider:

 
  • Minnesota drivers will pay 8.5 cents more for every gallon of gas they put in their car, thanks to a higher state gas tax.
  • New York smokers will pay an extra $1.25 on each pack of cigarettes now that state lawmakers raised the state tax to $2.75 a pack, the highest in the country.
  • Marylanders who earn a million dollars are getting slapped with a new tax rate of 6.25 percent, up from 5.5 percent. The tax replaces a computer-services tax that lawmakers approved in 2007 but repealed this year after widespread criticism that the tax would force tech businesses out of the state.

    In Maine, beer and wine drinkers and soda fans will have a bigger tab now that lawmakers more than doubled excise taxes on those items, with the money directed to the state’s health insurance program.

  • Illinois increased the sales tax by a quarter percent in Chicago and surrounding counties to avoid cuts and fare increases in public transportation.

Read the rest of the article at the Stateline site.

Articles

Jo Freeman, This is an historic election. Let's celebrate it: It illustrates what is good about America, at a time when many find it hard to see the good.  It demonstrates that we can overcome historic prejudices, change deeply buried values and attitudes, look beyond the surface to see the substance

Julia Sneden, Foundations: Can we not wait for the teachable moment? When we cram our children full of facts and ignore spontaneity, or when we try to provide answers before questions are asked, we do so at the expense of wonder

Jo Freeman takes you inside the most anticipated political meeting of the year: Count Every Vote or Play by the Rules? That was the question at the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting

Blues and Stress

Excerpts from the Pew Research Center's article on social and demographic trends, The Middle Class Blues: Pricey Neighborhoods, High Stress:

When it comes to anxiety about family finances, an old truism applies: Where you stand depends on where you sit. Or, more precisely, on where your house or apartment sits.

Americans who think of themselves as being in the middle class have differing levels of comfort or distress about their financial situations, and some of that variance is related to where they live, according to a Pew Social & Demographic Trends survey.

Adults who call themselves middle class and who live in the nation's most expensive metropolitan areas have higher incomes and higher costs than do self-identified middle class adults who live in lower-cost regions. They also have more financial stresses. They're more likely to say they barely make enough to get by, and they're more likely to say they expect to have trouble paying their bills in the coming year. Moreover, middle class homeowners in high-cost areas are less likely to have paid off their homes than are middle class homeowners in less expensive areas.

For example, more than a quarter of middle class residents of high-cost areas (26%) say they have just enough money for basic expenses, or not even that much. That is higher than the proportion saying so (16%) among middle class residents of low-cost metropolitan areas. Middle class residents of low-cost areas are more likely than those in high-cost regions to say that they live comfortably or have enough for basics plus a little left over for extras, 84% to 73%.

There also are differences between high-cost and low-cost areas of the country in the likelihood of owning one's home outright, according to the survey. Middle class Americans in high-cost metropolitan areas are less likely to have paid off their mortgages than those who live in less expensive regions, putting them at greater risk in a housing market downturn. Only a fifth (22%) say their homes are paid off, compared with a third (31%) of the middle class in low-cost regions.

Read the entire release about the research.

Book Review

Jo Freeman reviews The Age of Impeachment: American Constitutional Culture since 1960. Calls for impeachment have become so common that we forget how recently it has entered the political arsenal. Once viewed as a blunderbuss, it is now used as a bludgeon

Women's Issues in Congress

The Women'sPolicyInc.org website sends out weekly updates of its newsletter, The Source on Women's Issues in Congress.

Here's an example of what service the newsletter performs:

House Agrees to Senate Version of Genetic Nondiscrimination Bill

On May 1, the House passed, 414-1, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (H.R. 493). The Senate passed the measure on April 24 (see The Source, 4/25/08). The president is expected to sign the bill.

Article and New Book

Jo Freeman, Priming the Progressives: Getting unmarried female Democratic voters to the polls in November could turn some red states blue. In states whose exit polls asked marital status, unmarried women voted at much greater rates in Super Tuesday Democratic primaries.

Jo's new book, We Will Be Heard: Women's Struggles for Political Power in the United States, is published by Rowman and Littlefield.

Politics

Julia Sneden, Drugged: The drug companies represent an incredibly powerful industry. It gives huge amounts of money to members of Congress, ensuring that our representatives won’t be eager to regulate its excesses. We need a hero (think Teddy Roosevelt and his “trust-busters”) to set things right

Great Lakes — Danger Zones?

From the Center for Public Integrity:

For more than seven months, the nation’s top public health agency has blocked the publication of an exhaustive federal study of environmental hazards in the eight Great Lakes states, reportedly because it contains such potentially “alarming information” as evidence of elevated infant mortality and cancer rates.

The 400-plus-page study, Public Health Implications of Hazardous Substances in the Twenty-Six U.S. Great Lakes Areas of Concern, was undertaken by a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the request of the International Joint Commission, an independent bilateral organization that advises the U.S. and Canadian governments on the use and quality of boundary waters between the two countries. The study was originally scheduled for release in July 2007 by the IJC and the CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

The Center for Public Integrity has obtained the study, which warns that more than nine million people who live in the more than two dozen “areas of concern” — including such major metropolitan areas as Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, and Milwaukee — may face elevated health risks from being exposed to dioxin, PCBs, pesticides, lead, mercury, or six other hazardous pollutants.

In many of the geographic areas studied, researchers found low birth weights, elevated rates of infant mortality and premature births, and elevated death rates from breast cancer, colon cancer, and lung cancer.

Read the rest of the release from the Center and download excerpts from the report:

Long Term Care Insurance Revisited

Since the Wall Street Journal published an article, States Draw Fire for Pitching Citizens On Private Long-Term Care Insurance, we thought we'd remind you about SeniorWomen.com's article, Long Term Care Insurance; Is it For You? by Betty Soldz.

"Long term care insurance is of special importance to women and many of us are are pondering the question of whether or not to purchase a policy.  A woman's decision on the purchase of this product may be just as important in later years as an understanding of Medicare and Social Security.   One reason is a longer life expectancy for women:  they outlive men by about seven years.  While men tend to have more acute health episodes that lead to earlier and more rapid deaths, women tend to have more chronic diseases that impair their mobility,  leading to the need for long term care.  Because our mates usually die before us and our children, if we have them, may not be available to care for us, we have to plan for our own needs in the future.  One of the ways to do this is to understand what long term care is all about, who pays for it, the risk of needing such care, and then consider whether Long Term Care Insurance is right for you." 

Read the rest of the article and browse other articles by Betty Soldz.

Article

Gina Nádas, Volunteering: A Two-Way Street for Seniors. The definition of retirement for today’s older American advocates activity and involvement rather than rest. The number of volunteers that give over 100 hours a year is highest amongst seniors 65 years and older. Just ask volunteer Emily Clack

Global Issues

Global Voices Online is a non-profit global citizens’ media project founded at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, a research think-tank focused on the Internet’s impact on society.

Global Voices seeks to aggregate, curate, and amplify the global conversation online — shining light on places and people other media often ignore. We work to develop tools, institutions and relationships that will help all voices, everywhere, to be heard.

Engage and comment.

Reviews

Jo Freeman reviews Red and Blue Nation? Characteristics and Causes of America's Polarized Politics: This is a readable book, full of useful information and provocative ideas. If you like to talk politics, you'll find plenty here with which to make people listen

Jo Freeman reviews Leon Aron's Russia's Revolution: Essays, 1989-2006He remains hopeful that "the vertical of power" that Putin espouses will not prevail ... and says that "having defended their right to be treated as free and thinking people, the Russians never surrendered it to a new tyranny" and never will.

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