Tag Archives: Vermont Law School

a Letter From Virginia ~In Memory~ (Free Before Emancipation) ~~ July/August edition

Letter From Virginia
Excavations are providing a new look at some of the Civil War’s earliest fugitive slaves—considered war goods or contraband—and their first taste of liberty

 click on the graphic below to get the complete story, it’s six pages of American History

(Library of Congress)

Following an 1861 decision by a Union general, escaped slaves were declared contraband, or illegal war goods, and freed. Thousands of fugitive slaves, including this group in Pamunkey Run, Virginia, provided the Union army with labor and established independent communities.

The War on Poverty at … never forget


What People Really Think About Poverty

On January 8, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced an “unconditional war on poverty in America.” “It will not be a short or easy struggle, no single weapon or strategy will suffice, but we shall not rest until that war is won. The richest nation on earth can afford to win it. We cannot afford to lose it,” said Johnson.

50 years later, many of the programs that were passed in that era still exist and have helped keep millions out of poverty. In fact, the poverty rate would be nearly double today without them. But without a doubt, poverty still exists in this country.

The perception continues to be that there is a wide ideological gap across the county of what government’s role is in extending the ladders needed to increase economic mobility and lift people out of poverty. On this anniversary, the Center for American Progress and Half in Ten commissioned a poll to ask Americans what they really think about poverty in the United States. The findings might surprise you:

1. Between one-quarter and one-third of Americans experience direct economic hardship. Sixty-one percent of Americans say their family’s income is falling behind the cost of living, compared to just 8 percent who feel they are getting ahead and 29 percent who feel they are staying even. Anywhere from 25 to 34 percent of Americans-and even higher percentages of Millennials and people of color-report serious problems in the past year falling behind on rent, mortgage or utilities payments; affording necessary medical care; keeping up with credit card payments; or having enough to money for food.  Fifty-four percent of Americans say that someone in the immediate or extended families is poor — a 2-point increase since 2008 and an 18-point increase since 2001.

2. Americans blame economic conditions, not personal responsibility, as the reason people live in poverty in this country.  Almost two-thirds (64 percent) believe that most people who live in poverty do so because of bad economic conditions like low-paying jobs, compared to only one-quarter who think it is because the poor make bad decisions. Even white conservatives believe by a 2:1 margin (63 percent to 29 percent) that poverty is driven by socioeconomic factors and conditions rather than poor personal decision-making.


3. There is almost unanimous agreement that government has a responsibility to fight poverty. An overwhelming 86 percent of Americans agree with the belief put forward by President Johnson 50 years ago.


4. There is widespread support for a national goal to cut poverty in half within 10 years. Seven in 10 Americans–including a majority of those identifying as white conservatives–support this goal.


5. Americans also express very strong support for a number of policies to help reduce poverty rates, particularly with jobs, wages, and education but also on more traditional safety net items. Among the proposals garnering strong support are emergency unemployment benefits, increasing the minimum wage, universal pre-kindergarten, and expanded nutrition assistance. Congress should take note.


You can check out the complete results of the poll HERE. Our colleagues have also put together a variety of other resources on the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty. Be sure and check those out HERE.

Annie Leonard, Greenpeace and bits of plastic in our oceans

Bits of plastic called microbeads are polluting our oceans.

Take Action

Take action today to ban the use of microbeads in the US.

Take Action

greenpeaceEvery time you brush your teeth, you might be unknowingly adding tiny bits of plastic to our oceans.

These bits of plastic are called microbeads and you can find them in everything from face soaps to body washes to toothpastes. And while they’re almost invisible to the naked eye, they’re causing serious problems for our waterways and oceans (and us!).

Most wastewater treatment can’t filter out the tiny microbeads — meaning they journey from your bathroom drains into waterways. Once there, they end up in the bellies of fish or other marine life and are passed along the food chain.

National legislation has been introduced in Congress to ban the sale of personal care products that contain plastic microbeads. It’s part of an ever-growing movement that needs your voice.

Tell your federal Representative and Senators today to support the Microbead Free Waters Act and to solve the problem of these polluting plastics.

This doesn’t end in the water. Today’s plastic face wash is in tomorrow’s sushi.

Many fish species that humans eat are known to consume these microbeads at an alarming rate, and the toxins absorbed in those plastics transfer to the fish tissue.

The toxins absorbed by plastic microbeads include pesticides, flame retardants, motor oil and more. And all that ends up in the oceans — and on our plates. We have to act.

A single microbead can be up to a million times more toxic than the water around it! Take action today to ban plastic microbeads from everyday personal care products.

The Story of Stuff Project, an organization I founded, is leading a coalition of over 100 groups to get these tiny plastic beads out of everyday products. Greenpeace is proud to be a part of this coalition.

This is a perfect example of the underlying problem with our current economic system and the culture it helps create. Natural alternatives to microbeads exist. But plastic microbeads are smoother than natural alternatives like apricot shells, jojoba beans and pumice.

Smoother is better for the companies making these products because smoother means these cleansers will be less effective at exfoliating… which means you can use them everyday… which means you buy more of the product! 

Sadly, it also means poisoned oceans and a poisoned food supply. Plastic pollution in our waterways has become one of the great perils facing our environment. We can do something about it.

Take a minute right now and tell your elected federal representatives to support the Microbead Free Waters Act.

Thanks for all you do.

Annie Leonard
Executive Director, Greenpeace USA
P.S. Tiny pieces of plastic called microbeads are polluting our waterways and oceans. Tell your elected federal representatives to ban microbeads by supporting the Microbead Free Waters Act today!

The Supreme Court’s decision on voting access … a repost

First posted 8/6/2015

The Supreme Court announced a major decision about voting access in the United States. You can start a petition now to address these issues and make your voice heard.

The Supreme Court announced a landmark voting access decision in the case of Evenwel v. Abbott, upholding the current standard for creating congressional districts – the geographical lines that determine where you vote and who represents you in Congress – around the country.

This is the first Supreme Court decision regarding voting access and congressional districts in 50 years, and it has reignited debates about these issues around the country.

Over the past few years, hundreds of thousands of Change.org users like you have taken action to protect voting rights, expand voting access, and ensure that the United States maintains a free and open democracy. From the Voting Rights Act to expanding early voting around the country, users have started petitions to voice their opinions. Now you can add your voice to the conversation.

You can start your own petition about voting rights, voting access, or issues concerning America’s voting process by clicking here. It only takes about five minutes.

Change.org users are using these tools to ask their states to create nonpartisan committees to draw up the new congressional districts, to ask Congress to address issues of voter access, to call on governors to create early voting in in their home states, and much more.

Want to do the same? All you have to do is go to the dedicated start a petition page for voting rights and access and follow a few easy steps:

In just a few moments, you can make your voice a part of the conversation.

Thanks for being a change-maker,

The Staff at Change.org

Share This With A Mother In Your Life


Wishing Moms Everywhere A Happy Mother’s Day — With Progressive Policies!

It’s a fact of life that none of us would be anywhere without our moms. It’s also a fact of life that the Progress Report loves talking about progressive policies. So it’s natural, then, that on the Friday before Mother’s Day we will take the opportunity to share some of the reasons why our public policies lag behind for women and families — and why America’s mothers deserve better.

Here are five steps we can take right now:

1. Establish paid family and sick leave. Nearly all workers need to take time away from work to deal with a serious personal or family illness, or to care for a new child or aging parent. Access to paid family and medical leave could allow workers to meet those needs without jeopardizing their economic security. The United States is the only developed country that doesn’t guarantee workers the right to earn paid time off in some form; only 12 percent of U.S. workers have access to paid family leave through their employers. We need a national paid family and medical leave insurance program that allows workers to continue to earn at least a portion of their pay while they take time away from work: it’s good for families and its good for the economy, too.

2. Ensure equal pay for equal work. Women are the primary, sole, or co-breadwinners in nearly two-thirds of families, yet they continue to earn less than their male counterparts, with Latinas and African American women experiencing the sharpest pay disparities. Although the law prohibits unequal pay for equal work, there is more we need to do to ensure that both women and men enjoy the fullest protections against discrimination. Unfortunately, despite overwhelming public support, conservatives in Congress continue to be unwilling to move forward concrete action steps that could help uncover discriminatory pay practices, create greater pay transparency, and ensure that the law works fairly for everyone.

3. Raise the minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage will help hardworking women better support their families. Women made up approximately two-thirds of all minimum wage workers in 2012. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, which means someone working fulltime earns
$15,080 a year. That is below the poverty rate for a family of three. Progressives are stepping up on this issue: last week new legislation was introduced calling on Congress to raise the wage to $12 per hour and eliminate the sub-minimum tipped wage, a move that would boost earnings for 19.6 million women.

4. Require paid sick days. Everyone gets sick, but not everyone has time to get better. Almost 40 million U.S. employees, or about 40 percent of the nation’s private-sector workforce, do not have access to paid sick days. If employees choose to skip work, the loss of pay can take a toll, particularly on the low- income workers who are least likely to have access to these policies. Allowing employees to earn paid sick days helps keep our economy, families, and communities healthy.

5. Expand access to preventative healthcare. Make no mistake, health care — from affordable insurance coverage to reproductive freedom — is an economic issue. In a 5-4 decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, five conservative male justices on the Supreme Court gave unprecedented power to closely-held, for-profit, secular corporations to make health care decisions for their female employees. That needs to change — along with the minority of U.S. Senators who blocked a bill to overturn that decision. At the same time, conservative officials in some states continue to refuse to close the Medicaid coverage gap for low-income working families. In fact, it turns out Florida Gov. Rick Scott used his mother’s own death as a ruse in his political games to deny hundreds of thousands the right to affordable care.

Do you like what you are reading here? These and other important policy issues are part of a nationwide campaign called the Fair Shot campaign to help women and families get ahead. Check out the website here to learn more, and sign on to become a Fair Shot voter.

BOTTOM LINE: The mothers in our lives deserve the very best from us, and Mother’s Day is one easy way to show we appreciate them. But they also deserve the best from the employers and policymakers that can affect their ability to help their families succeed. Those officials who stand in the way should be more afraid than the child who forgets to call their mom this Sunday.