News February 8

Senator Sanders

Postal Service The financial crisis facing the U.S. postal service can be solved in a way that doesn't slow mail delivery and harm rural America, Sen. Bernie Sanders said during a Monday news conference in Washington, the Burlington Free Press, WCAX-TV and WTEN-TV in Albany, N.Y., reported. LINK, LINK, VIDEO

Postal Service The Postal Service is not broke, John Nichols blogged in The Nation. Its finances are strained by a 2006 law that forced it to set aside significantly more than practically any other entity for retiree health benefits, the USPS inspector general told Sen. Sanders. LINK

Attacks by the Right When the right-wing echo chamber destroyed ACORN, Sen. Sanders warned that it would strike again. "His words proved prescient," The Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel said. Planned Parenthood and organized labor have been targeted by Republicans trying "to dismantle and destroy progressive institutions." LINK

Super PACS In a reversal, President Obama embraced big-money fundraising groups he once assailed as a "threat to democracy." Even Sen. Sanders, who authored a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision, doesn't begrudge the decision much, given the potential onslaught of super PAC money Obama could face, Roll Call reported. LINK

Child Care Workers Union organizers packed the Statehouse with scores of child care workers and tried to use their sheer numbers - and support from Gov. Peter Shumlin and Sen. Sanders - to move Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell, the main roadblock for legislation that would allow child care workers in Vermont to unionize, the Times Argus reported. LINK

Millionaire Tax Sen. Sanders' support for a bill to take away tax breaks for millionaires was noted in an Investor's Business Daily editorial that argued "now is not a time to be soaking the job creators..."

Citizens United "I have watched with dismay the juggernaut campaign to place a resolution concerning the Citizen's United Supreme Court decision concerning corporations and contributions on the Jericho town meeting agenda," Dr. Terence B. Hook wrote to the Burlington Free Press. LINK

National

Obama and Catholics Facing vocal opposition from religious leaders and an escalating political fight, the White House sought on Tuesday to ease mounting objections to a new administration rule that would require health insurance plans - including those offered by Catholic universities and charities - to offer birth control to women free of charge, The New York Times reported. LINK

The Family Plan Some members of Congress send tax dollars to companies, colleges and community groups where their spouses, children and parents work as salaried employees, lobbyists or board members, according to an examination of federal disclosure forms and local public records by The Washington Post. LINK

Gay Marriage A federal appeals court on Tuesday struck down California's voter-mandated ban on gay marriages, but stopped short of finding that other states or the federal government were required to recognize same-sex marriage. The decision sets the stage for the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on gay marriage, The Wall Street Journal reported. LINK

Vermont

EPA Grant The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency selected Burlington, Vt., to get technical help improving the local economy and environment, AP reported. LINK

EPA Grant Three Vermont groups are going to share up to $34 million as part of a five-year grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to promote energy efficiency, AP reported. LINK

Irene and Global Warming Environmental activist Bill McKibben went before a panel of state lawmakers on Tuesday to say Tropical Storm Irene was at least partly the product of climate change, AP reported. LINK