Category Archives: Income Inequality

EPA Allowing Vast Oil Refinery Waste to Pollute US Waterways

“It’s high time for EPA to crack down on the toxic pollution from oil refineries that’s threatening both wildlife and human health,” said one environmental justice advocate.

By Kenny Stancil  Published 1-26-2023 by Common Dreams

Exxon Mobil Refinery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Photo: WClarke/Wikimedia Commons/CC

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is failing to uphold its legal obligation to regulate the nearly half-billion gallons of toxic wastewater that petroleum refineries dump into the nation’s waterways on a daily basis, according to an exhaustive study published Thursday.

The Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), a watchdog founded by former EPA enforcement attorneys, analyzed publicly available records and found that in 2021 alone, the 81 refineries across the U.S. that discharge into rivers, streams, and estuaries released 1.6 billion pounds of chlorides, sulfates, and other dissolved solids harmful to aquatic life; 15.7 million pounds of algae-feeding nitrogen; 60,000 pounds of selenium, which can cause mutations in fish; and other pollutants, including cyanide; heavy metals such as arsenic, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, and zinc; and petrochemicals like benzene. Continue reading

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Iowa Republicans Push ‘Profoundly Cruel and Petty’ Food Benefit Restrictions

Under the new legislation, Iowans would no longer be allowed to purchase fresh meat, white grains, nuts, canned fruits, American cheese, and other foods with SNAP benefits.

By Jake Johnson  Published 1-20-2023 by Common Dreams

Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley, right, speaks during a committee hearing on January 18, 2023. (Photo: Pat Grassley/Facebook)

Republicans in the Iowa House introduced legislation this month that would impose a slew of fresh restrictions on the kinds of food people can purchase using SNAP benefits, sparking outrage among local groups who say the measure would exacerbate hunger in the GOP-dominated state.

The Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC), an interfaith group that operates the largest food pantry network in Iowa, noted in a statement earlier this week that if the bill passes, “Iowans could no longer use their SNAP benefits to purchase meat, nuts, and seeds; flour, butter, cooking oil, soup, canned fruits, and vegetables; frozen prepared foods, snack foods, herbs, spices—not even salt or pepper.” Continue reading

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OSHA Fines Amazon ‘Roughly 0.000013%’ of Annual Revenue for Worker Safety Hazards

For serious injuries linked to the company’s insistence that employees maintain a relentless pace of work, Amazon was fined $60,000—the amount it made “every four seconds in 2022.”

By Julia Conley.  Published 1-19-2023 by Common Dreams

Amazon Warehouse. Photo: Jaimie Wilson/flickr/CC

A paltry $60,000 fine for failing to keep employees safe at one of the world’s richest companies offered the latest evidence, according to one critic, that the system ostensibly meant to protect workers “is so broken.”

That was the assessment of Paris Marx, host of the podcast “Tech Won’t Save Us,” after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced Wednesday it had issued a citation to Amazon for worker safety violations at three of its warehouses in Deltona, Florida; Waukegan, Illinois; and New Windsor, New York. Continue reading

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Because Congress ‘Won’t Act,’ Lawmakers in Seven States Team Up to Introduce Wealth Tax Bills

“States are stepping up to make billionaires pay their fair share, and it’s time for Congress to take action too,” said U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

By Jake Johnson.  Published 1-18-2023 by Common Dreams

Photo: Fibonacci Blue/flickr/CC

Frustrated with federal inaction in the face of soaring inequality, Democratic lawmakers in seven states across the U.S. are teaming up this week to simultaneously introduce wealth tax bills targeting the fortunes of billionaires and other rich individuals who have seen their net worth explode in recent years.

Officially launching on Thursday, the first-of-its-kind effort is led by state lawmakers in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Hawaii, Maryland, New York, and Washington—collectively home to around 60% of the country’s wealth. Continue reading

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‘Deeply Sinister’: Emails Reveal Big Pharma Pushed Twitter to Silence Vaccine Equity Voices

“At a time when online mobilizations were one of the few forms of protest available to the public, Twitter was seemingly asked to shield the powerful from criticism,” said one campaigner. “That should worry all those who care about accountability.”

By Brett Wilkins.  Published 1-16-2023 by Common Dreams

lobal Justice Now and The People’s Vaccine projection campaigning for global vaccine equality in London on March 8, 2021. (Photo: Jess Hurd/Global Justice Now via Flickr)

Drugmaker BioNTech and the German government pushed Twitter to “hide” posts by activists calling on Big Pharma to temporarily lift patents on Covid-19 vaccines—a move which would have given people the Global South greater access to the lifesaving inoculations, a report published Monday by The Intercept revealed.

Twitter lobbyist Nina Morschhaeuser “flagged the corporate accounts of Pfizer, BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca for her colleagues to monitor and shield from activists,” according to The Intercept‘s Lee Fang. An email from Morschhaeuser said the German Federal Office for Information Security also contacted Twitter on behalf of BioNTech, whose spokesperson, Jasmina Alatovic, asked the social media giant to “hide” activist tweets targeting her company’s account for two days. Continue reading

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Nobody loved you, 2022

From devastating floods in Pakistan to Italy’s far-right PM to overturning Roe v Wade, this was a year of extremes

By Adam Ramsay  Published 12-30-2022 by openDemocracy

A flooded village in Matiari, in the Sindh province of Pakistan. Photo: Asad Zaidi/UNICEF

How do you turn 365 days experienced by eight billion people – and billions more other beings – into some kind of story?

Maybe you start with some events?

In which case, 2022 was the year that Covid vaccines kicked in. Daily global deaths hit 77,000 on 7 February, and have declined fairly steadily ever since. It was the year Russia invaded Ukraine, the first war between major European powers since 1945. Continue reading

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Record Number of US Cities, Counties, and States to Raise Minimum Wage in 2023

“The monumental impact of the Fight for $15 is clearly visible in this year’s record wage increases,” said one worker advocate. “While it is encouraging to see boosts… we need federal policy.”

By Jessica Corbett  Published 12-22-2022 by Common Dreams

Strike and protest for a $15/hour minimum wage at the University of Minnesota in 2015 Photo: Fibonacci Blue/flickr/CC

After a decade since the launch of the Fight for $15 movement in New York City, a record number of U.S. states and communities are set to raise the minimum wage in the new year.

From New Year’s Eve to New Year’s Day, the minimum wage will increase in 23 states and 41 cities and counties, according to a report released Thursday by the National Employment Law Project (NELP). In 40 of those 64 jurisdictions, it will hit or exceed $15 an hour for at least some workers. Continue reading

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Congress Just Passed $858 Billion Military Budget, But GOP Is Blocking $12 Billion to Fight Child Poverty

“This isn’t using our taxpayer dollars wisely,” said one analyst. “It’s robbing programs that we need.”

By Jake Johnson  Published 12-17-2022 by Common Dreams

Sen. Mike Crapo, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee. Photo: USDA/flickr/CC

Congressional Republicans happily teamed up with Democrats this month to authorize $858 billion in military spending for the next fiscal year, but the GOP is refusing to even consider proposals to revive the Child Tax Credit expansion that lifted millions of kids out of poverty last year—even though bringing the program back would cost a fraction of the Pentagon outlay.

A spokesperson for Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) told HuffPost earlier this week that Republicans have thus far been unwilling to negotiate over the Child Tax Credit (CTC) boost, which they unanimously opposed when it was enacted as part of the American Rescue Plan last year. Continue reading

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Outlook ‘Grim’ Halfway Through Global Biodiversity Summit, Climate Groups Warn

“If Global North countries don’t compromise, the consequences will be dire,” said Greenpeace. “One million species are at risk of extinction, threatening the web of life that holds our planet together.”

By Julia Conley.  Published 12-15-2022 by Common Dreams

Primary Forest Alliance at COP15 on December 7, 2022. Photo: UN Biodiversity/flickr/CC

Disagreements over financing biodiversity protection, the piracy of natural resources, and commitments to protect at least 30% of the Earth’s land and water by 2030 are some of the top sticking points at the United Nations’ global biodiversity summit in Montreal, which is set to wrap up in just four days.

Following a walkout early Wednesday by developing nations outraged over the Global North’s opposition to creating a biodiversity fund, one anonymous negotiator at the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) wrote in The Guardian that the summit is at risk of amounting to more of what climate campaigner Greta Thunberg has called “blah blah blah.” Continue reading

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As Scandals Mount, So Do Calls to Abolish Private Medicare Advantage Plans

“Problems with Medicare Advantage are systemic and widespread,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal. “Not only do they too often deny care—they’re ripping off taxpayers.”

By Brett Wilkins.  Published 12-13-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: K Whiteford/Public domain

As yet another scandal involving Medicare Advantage made headlines this week, progressive U.S. lawmakers and advocates renewed calls to abolish the private health insurance program that a recent Senate report said is “running amok” with “fraudsters and scam artists.”

In a new Nation article written with health insurance reform advocate Wendell Potter, Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) contend that one of the most confusing things facing elders while choosing their Medicare plans “is a scheme by private insurance companies to prey on seniors and profit off of the Medicare brand, all in the name of padding their corporate profits and shareholder returns.” Continue reading

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