Bill and Melinda Gates bet big on the future and philanthropy – Yahoo News

I am thankful for Bill and Melinda Gates and all they have done for so many poor people in the world. But I don’t think philanthropy really has the teeth to address inequality in our country. It’s like in Medeival times when the Queen would give out gold coins to the poor. It’s a nice gesture, but it doesn’t solve the underlying problems. Unless philanthropy can change the tax structure and income distribution problems we have, it will remain a token effort to address inequality.


Bill and Melinda Gates bet big on the future and philanthropy – Yahoo News.

Speak-Out for Good Jobs & Quality Care at RI Hospital

From our union brothers and sisters:

Some Certified Nursing Assistants report having to buy their own equipment to make sure they can monitor patients’ oxygen levels. Physical plant workers report troubling shortages of critical equipment they need to combat mold in ventilation ducts to patient and operating rooms. Now the Hospital is threatening to make the situation even worse by laying off more employees.

At the same time, Lifespan – A Health System paid more than $16.6 million in compensation to just ten executives last year. These individuals averaged $1 million more in compensation than the average compensation earned by CEOs of nonprofit hospitals nationwide. Meanwhile, Rhode Island’s largest healthcare employer has employees working more forty hours per week that get no health coverage.

Speak-Out for Good Jobs & Quality Care at RI Hospital.

Block Island Wind Farm Transmission Line: Yay!

From the Whitehouse Press Office:

RI Delegation Lauds Approval of Block Island Wind Farm Transmission Line

Washington, DC – Yesterday the U.S. Department of the Interior announced that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has offered a right-of-way (ROW) grant to Deepwater Wind Block Island Transmission System, LLC (Deepwater Wind) for the Block Island Transmission System (BITS).  The announcement paves the way for the installation of a transmission line to carry energy from the Block Island Wind Farm to the Rhode Island mainland, and to give island residents access to the mainland electric grid.

U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Representatives Jim Langevin and David Cicilline, strong supporters of the offshore wind project, released the statements below praising the announcement:

“This decision by the BOEM marks the first right-of-way grant offered in federal waters for renewable energy transmission, a significant distinction for Rhode Island.  As the country reduces its dependence on oil, coal, and other fossil fuels, Rhode Island has the potential to benefit from this emerging renewable energy industry, while helping to chart its future,” said Senator Jack Reed (D-RI).

“The Block Island Wind Farm will bring cleaner and more affordable energy to Block Island’s residents while helping Rhode Island access the tremendous economic and environmental potential of our offshore wind,” said Whitehouse.  “It’s a milestone in our nation’s transition to a clean energy economy, and I’m proud that Rhode Island is leading the way.”

“Rhode Island has championed so many environmental conservation efforts and we are truly leading by example with the country’s first offshore wind farm.  This exciting news from BOEM is further evidence of our state’s important role in a nationwide movement to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and create a cleaner, more sustainable energy infrastructure now and for the future,” said Congressman Langevin, a founding member and energy task force chair of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition.

“Rhode Island is leading the way in a clean energy future and this announcement marks important progress in the Ocean State and across the nation in harnessing renewable energy sources,” said Cicilline.  “I’m pleased to join with my colleagues in supporting this project, and I look forward to charting the economic and environmental progress this project represents in the coming years.”

Reed More Cautious in Committing Troops to Afghanistan

After posting a video earlier in the month questioning why the US is adding troops in Afghanistan, particularly as many in Rhode Island are being called up to serve, (see video here), I am very pleased to see today that Senator Reed is helping to urge more caution in this commitment. From the Projo:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — “The burden of proof” will be on military leaders if they ask President Obama in the coming days to send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, Sen. Jack Reed said Tuesday, as the political lines of battle on the issue sharpened.

But Reed stopped short of the declaration by his longtime ally, Senate Armed Services
Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Michigan, that a further increase in U.S. combat troops should not be undertaken until the military attempts a vigorous training program to boost the numbers of Afghanistan’s own security forces.

Levin thus put himself at odds with Admiral Michael G. Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who told the committee in forceful terms that the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, is likely to ask soon for additional combat U.S. troops — on top of the 17,000 that Mr. Obama ordered into the war effort in March.

Obama’s Stimulus and RI’s Education Needs

I managed to join on Wednesday to drop off some 600 petitions from Rhode Island residents asking for Senator Reed to support the Obama stimulus plan. The message from Reed’s staffer was that the Obama stimulus plan could be passed “in the next few weeks.” That seems like a hopeful sign, as long as the plan is properly vetted and the necessary “teeth” of accountability are in there.

In Rhode Island, however, there might be particular problems with getting the money of the stimulus into the right places. Why? Because as Tom Sgouros explains in this excellent analysis of the Governor’s budget (and as Paul Krugman has also warned about) most states are cutting back just as the stimulus is coming through, meaning that much of the stimulus will need to be applied to fix the devastating cuts that “little Hoovers” like Carcieri are proposing such as the cuts to public transportation and RITE Care.

In addition, Pat Crowley explains in this post that education funding for Rhode Island from the Obama stimulus may also be a problem because we don’t have an education funding formula. The General Assembly could choose not to use any of the stimulus to help with our lack of state funding for education this year.

We are the only state in the entire country that does not have an education funding formula. State Senator Hanna Gallo of Cranston has proposed one, but the bill cannot seemingly get anywhere. Now we will find out if the General Assembly can come up with a fair way to allocate some of the stimulus funding to education, or whether other priorities beat education out and our schools will continue to be starved into deficits.

Fogarty Gets National Leader Endorsements

From the Projo:

Reed, Whitehouse, Langevin endorse Fogarty

CRANSTON Democratic mayoral candidate Cynthia M. Fogarty has been endorsed by U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressman James R. Langevin.

Reed, in a news release issued yesterday by Fogarty’s campaign, said: “Cindy has a strong reputation for working to create a better future for Cranston. She has been vocal on issues of finance, education and health care, and knows how to listen and respond to the needs of the community.”

Whitehouse called Fogarty “a smart, tough, experienced leader who will put local government to work for Cranston families. I’m confident that she will work hard to make one of Rhode Island’s largest cities a great place to live, work, and raise a family.”

Langevin, whose 2nd Representative District includes Cranston, said, “Cindy has a great track record as an advocate for the taxpayers and residents of the city of Cranston. As a member of the City Council, Cindy demonstrated strong skills as a communicator and a fierce determination to implement real change.”

Is Barack Obama Inevitable?

I’m still holding off on my Barack Obama endorsement. I don’t really know why — it seems inevitable. It’s like when I was a first-time mother and I tried to resist getting Barbies for my daughter because they are too stereotypical and her body proportions are impossible. My older, wiser sister with two daughters said, “Kiersten, just give in. Barbie is inevitable.” That’s how I’m feeling about Barack Obama. He’s kind of inevitable, but in the complete opposite way from the way Barbie is inevitable. People want someone fresh and real, and he is that someone.

At some point, I will be offline for a while today as the cable service gets changed over. Yes — we, too were seduced by the lure of the free TV. Just hope FIOS is as fast or faster than Cox. But ultimately, similar to choosing a candidate to vote for in the Presidential primary, I am happy to know that we have some viable Democratic contenders in both Hillary and Obama.

I notice that we had a small squad (well, two) of pro-Hillary commenters on the blog last night. Welcome! You have some fellow Hillary supporters in the community here, I’m sure. I know Hillary is kind of getting run over by the Obama Moe at the moment, but I would most certainly still vote for her over any of the Republican offerings, and I do appreciate that she has all those years of experience. But in this election year, those years of experience in Washington may be more a liability than an asset.

I was surprised and pleased to hear that the Dallas Morning Star, a Belo-owned newspaper like the Projo, endorsed Barack Obama for President. That seems like a direct slap in the face to George Bush, a message of extreme dissatisfaction from his home state. People are lunging toward Barack Obama like he is the last viable political candidate on earth. Five-hundred people showed up last night to volunteer for his campaign in RI. This is no doubt in delayed reaction to these many years of Bush screwing up the country beyond belief.

The thing that impresses me at the moment about Barack Obama is that it seems like he is talking about a new kind of WPA (Works Progress Administration) that would be “green collar.” Hillary has put this idea out there, too, but somehow, Obama’s plan seems more tangible and exciting. It’s the attraction of the unknown — something the American voters have never experienced in this way.

Plus I like that Obama is not good at paperwork. I don’t like paperwork either, although in my professional life as a social worker, I’m actually known for being pretty good at it. It’s important to write some stuff down, but the truth is we don’t have to put much on paper anymore. We have electronic systems that can do it much better.

The big news from the Barack Obama campaign in Rhode Island is that they are going to announce a “key endorsement” in a conference call with reporters at 11 am. I wonder who it will be. Jack Reed seems like a likely candidate, although I would imagine he has some Clinton loyalty issues. Jim Langevin is also a possibility — I don’t believe he made his endorsement yet. Feel free to make your guesses below. I’ll try to update later in the day with the answer.

UPDATE: As noted by Nomi in the comments, the mystery endorser was Lincoln Chafee. RI Future blog has the scoop, as well as a long list of other notable Rhode Islanders endorsing Obama.