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Walker Promotes Education Privatization in D.C. Amid Protests

Teacher ProtestIt seems wherever Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker goes, protesters seem to follow. This rule held true earlier this week in Washington D.C., when Walker used his newly burnished credentials as an extremist to address a forum promoting the privatization of public schools.

The American Federation for Children (ACF) promotes school privatization and voucher schemes that take away critically needed funds for public education to fund private schools. Inside the Marriott, The American Federation for Children's "School Choice Now: Empowering America's Children" policy summit attracted voucher boosters like Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and Michelle Rhee, the former controversial head of the Washington D.C. public school system. Outside the Marriott, there were around 200 protesters with signs that read "Public Education Not Privatization," "Save Our Schools," and "Vouchers Aren't the Answer."

Voter Suppression Bills Sweep the Country

Let the people voteA wave of voter suppression legislation is emerging from newly elected GOP governors and Republican legislators that would make it much more difficult for traditional Democratic constituencies to vote -- just in time for the 2012 election. About a dozen states are are actively considering legislation that would make voting much more difficult for college students, minorities, the elderly and the disabled.

And the Razzie goes to Norman Lear's EMA for Exposing Kids to Sewage Sludge and Not Coming Clean

For a non-actress surrounded by movie stars, Debbie Levin, President of the Environmental Media Association (EMA) -- an organization founded by Norman Lear -- is putting on quite a performance of her own. Too bad it's more likely to win her a fraud charge than an Oscar, based on her May 6, 2011 letter to her Board provided to the Food Rights Network by a source inside EMA.

Rosario Dawson gardening at a school next to a bag of Kellogg's AmendOver the past month, Levin has been confronted with ample evidence that the group she runs exposed school children (not to mention the Hollywood celebrities that serve on the group's board) to toxic sewage sludge. In 2009, EMA began a partnership with several Los Angeles schools, securing the donation of thousands of dollars in compost and soil amendment products from Kellogg Garden Products for the schools' organic gardens soon thereafter. In a sworn affidavit, former L.A. Unified School District garden advisor, Mud Baron, said that he informed Levin early on and repeatedly that Kellogg uses sewage sludge in many of its products, and sewage sludge is illegal for use in organic gardens.

Because of Two Determined Women, Vermont May Be First Single-Payer State

Dr. Deborah RichterWhile several states are suing the federal government to block health care reform and dragging their feet on implementing any part of it, Vermont this week will be taking a giant leap in the other direction -- toward universal coverage and greater cost control -- when Governor Peter Shumlin signs legislation putting the state on the path toward a single-payer health care system.

The Vermont House last week voted 94-49 to approve legislation that has been years in the making. The Senate approved the measure a few days earlier. While it will not establish a government-run system right away, work will begin almost immediately to lay the groundwork to create a state health plan -- called Green Mountain Care -- that could be up and running as early as 2014.

Wisconsin Recalls Are Heating Up

WI RecallRecall elections loom on the horizon as petitions against nine Wisconsin state senators were recently submitted to the Government Accountability Board (GAB). Each successful petition must include 25 percent of the total number of votes cast in that senate district in the last election.

The recall efforts of Republican senators who supported Gov. Scott Walker's Budget Repair Bill, and the Democratic senators who left the state to delay voting on the bill, are a result of the political firestorm that quickly flared up over the bill that sought to eliminate almost all collective bargaining rights for public workers.

Currently, the Republican senators who are facing a recall election are Alberta Darling, Robert Cowles, Sheila Harsdorf, Luther Olsen, Randy Hopper and Dan Kapanke. Democrats are facing recall efforts are -- Dave Hansen, Jim Holperin and Robert Wirch.

Big Bank Backlash: From Coast to Coast People are Moving their Money

"Move Your Money" campaignAs the economy continues to sputter and new unemployment claims surge to an eight-month high, it hasn't escaped the notice of people on Main Street that the folks on Wall Street are back in the black.

According to Fortune magazine, profits of the 500 largest U.S. corporations have surged 81 percent this past year. Fortune's editors write, "We've rarely seen such a stark gulf between the fortunes of the 500 and those of ordinary Americans."

When Fortune is standing up for the workers, you know it's bad.

Are Health Insurers Writing Health Reform Regulations?

Health care reformOne of the reasons I wanted to return to journalism after a long career as an insurance company PR man was to keep an eye on the implementation of the new health reform law. Many journalists who covered the reform debate have moved on, and some consider the writing of regulations to implement the legislation boring and of little interest to the public.

But insurance company lobbyists know the media are not paying much attention. And so they are able to influence what the regulations actually look like -- and how the law will be enforced -- with little scrutiny, much less awareness.

Another Big Business Win in the U.S. Supreme Court

Cell phone moneyThe U.S. Supreme Court's conservative majority granted big business another win on April 27 by granting corporations the "right" to suppress class actions challenging unfair practices. In a decision that has serious implications for consumer and employment rights, Justice Scalia's majority decision ignores traditionally-conservative judicial principles to get to the pro-business end it seeks.

Protests in Benton Harbor follow Martial Law Enforcement

Benton Harbor protest - San Francisco Bay ViewThe stripping of all power of the local government in Benton Harbor, Michigan has brought the national spotlight to the tiny town on the shores of Lake Michigan. The first city to be declared in a "financial emergency" by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, CMD reported that Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) Joseph Harris was assigned to the city back in 2010 by then-Governor Jennifer Granholm. But it wasn't until March of this year that Harris essentially disbanded the local government and boards.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. responded to this takeover while on a tour of the state, calling for a rainbow coalition to organize against the EFM bill and others that Snyder and the Republican-led Senate has passed. At a protest in Benton Harbor, Jackson said that he, along with Michigan Congressman John Conyers, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and Benton Harbor Mayor Wilce Cook will file a lawsuit to challenge the law's constitutionality.

"I Never Promised You an Organic Garden"

Nicole RichieA story has been developing over the past month involving lies, toxic sludge, Hollywood celebrities, and poor, inner city school children. It centers around the Environmental Media Association (EMA), a group of environmentally-conscious Hollywood celebs, and the "organic" school gardens they've been volunteering at for the past past couple years.

Stars like Rosario Dawson, Amy Smart, Emmanuelle Chriqui, and Nicole Ritchie have generously adopted Los Angeles schools, visiting the schools and helping the children garden. What the celebs didn't know is that their organization's corporate donor -- Kellogg Garden Products -- sells both organic compost and soil amendments, and ones made from sewage sludge. Seventy percent of Kellogg's business is products made from sewage sludge. Sewage sludge is not allowed on organic farms and gardens.

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