News April 15

Senator Sanders

'A Fair Shake' for Working Families Congress should expand opportunities for working Americans. "The American people want to see the middle class of this country grow," Sanders said. "They don’t want to see more tax breaks for the very, very wealthy. They want to see the ordinary folks of this country starting to get a fair shake," Sen. Bernie Sanders said Monday in a radio interview on The Ed Schultz Show. Republicans proposing tax cuts for the wealthy and cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are espousing “the agenda of the Koch Brothers,” Sanders told Schultz Monday on MSNBC. VIDEO,  AUDIO 

Sanders’ Message Resonates “Sanders could excite a popular movement strong enough to force centrist candidates to veer leftward, the way that right-wing candidates pulled Mitt Romney to the right,” the Rutland Herald and Times Argus said in an editorial. “Sanders understands that the public good requires that the forces in any system tending toward oligarchy require constant resistance if their grasp for power is to be restrained. It is a message that, increasingly, resonates around the nation.” LINK, LINK

N.H. Analysis Interviewed by C-SPAN on Monday, WMUR-TV political director James Pindell discussed Sen. Sanders weekend appearances in New Hampshire while a gaggle of Republican White House hopefuls took part in a separate Koch-brothers funded “Freedom Summit.” Sanders’ drew “300 to 400 people” to St. Anselm College in what Pindell called a “really surprising” turnout. He said the crowd response to Sanders was enthusiastic. “The passion and the energy from the left at this event was very interesting.” Pindell also said Sanders may be the only one who benefits if Hillary Clinton runs because he likely would be Clinton’s only challenger. If Clinton does not run, Sanders would have to share the limelight with a bigger field of Democrats, he predicted.  LINK

N.H. Independents Looking ahead to New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary, veteran political observer Bob Shrum said the independent Sen. Sanders and Hillary Clinton may compete in the Democratic primary but independents may be a bigger factor for Republicans. “If Hillary Clinton is there and people think she`s going to be the nominee, independents are going to flood into the Republican primary and all of that stuff that we heard at this so called ‘Freedom Summit’ is actually going to hurt those guys in the primary,” Shrum said on MSNBC. VIDEO

‘Freedom Summit’ Sen. Sanders summed up Democrats’ broad contempt for Koch populists in one Tweet: “The #FreedomSummit means freedom to pollute, freedom to work for $3 p/hr and if you’re old without insurance you have the freedom to die,” according to The Daily Beast. LINK

Ex-NSA Chief at Norwich Commencement The man in charge of the National Security Agency while it secretly monitored the communications of foreign leaders and millions of Americans will be the 2014 commencement speaker at Norwich University. Before Gen. Keith Alexander stepped down, Sen. Sanders demanded to know if the NSA was “spying on members of Congress or other elected American officials.”  Alexander said “nothing NSA does can fairly be characterized” that way, the Burlington Free Press reported. LINK

Vermont Best in Pay Equity The gender pay gap in Vermont is the lowest of any state, with women receiving 85 cents for every dollar a man makes. In a joint statement, Sens. Sanders and Patrick Leahy said they are "very proud that Vermont is a leader in this fight but more must be done to balance the pay between men and women," reported. LINK

Veterans Too many veterans blame the Department of Veterans Affairs rather than Congress for shortcomings in services for veterans, according to a blog at Daily Kos. "These people are bearing the brunt of what war is about. We have a moral obligation to support them," Sen. Sanders said.  LINK   

Kindred Spirit Speaking Monday at the National Press Club, comedian Lewis Black identified himself as a socialist. Aside from Sen. Sanders, he added, there are hardly any other prominent socialists in the country, The Raw Story reported. LINK 

Progressive Media The award-winning Truthdig website covers political stories with a progressive slant, including articles about the "distinctive” Sen. Sanders, according to The (London) Telegraph.  LINK   


Ukraine’s President Calls for UN Troops With pro-Russian militants attacking more buildings in eastern Ukraine Monday and ignoring a government deadline to disperse, Ukraine’s acting President Oleksandr Turchynov said he would welcome United Nations peacekeepers to help establish order by conducting a “joint counterterrorist operation” with Ukrainian forces, The Washington Post reported. LINK

Nigeria Bomb Blast Kills At Least 71 A rush-hour bomb blast on Monday at a bus station on the outskirts of Abuja, Nigeria, killed at least 71 people and wounded more than 124 people, The Wall Street Journal reported. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Monday morning's attack, but suspicion immediately focused on Boko Haram, the Islamist militant group whose attacks across northeastern Nigeria have killed at least 1,500 people this year. LINK

UN Condemns ‘Rampant’ Torture in Syria A United Nations report released Monday condemned the “rampant” and “routine” use of torture by the Syrian authorities, The New York Times reported. The paper also records torture by some armed opposition groups and serious allegations of torture and ill-treatment of children. LINK


Political Rifts Slow U.S. Effort on Climate Laws The United States needs to enact a major climate change law, such as a tax on carbon pollution, by the end of this decade to stave off the most catastrophic impacts of global warming, according to the authors of a report released this week by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But aggressive efforts to tackle climate change have repeatedly collided with political reality in Washington, where some Republicans question the underlying science of global warming and lawmakers’ ties to the fossil fuel industry have made them resistant to change, according to The New York Times. LINK

CBO: Lower Premiums Cut Costs for Health Care The Congressional Budget Office estimated Monday that expanded insurance coverage under the health care law will cost $104 billion less over 10 years than previously estimated, although the projected number of enrollees will stay about the same, Congressional Quarterly reported.  LINK

Student Loan Costs to Jump as Education Department Reaps Huge Profit The U.S. Department of Education is forecast to generate $127 billion in profit over the next decade from lending to college students and their families, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Beginning in the 2015-16 academic year, students and their families are forecast to pay more to borrow from the department than they did prior to last summer’s new student loan law, which set student loan interest rates based on the U.S. government's costs to borrow. The higher costs for borrowers would arrive at least a year sooner than previously predicted, The Huffington Post reported. LINK

Deficit Shrinking The U.S. government's gap between spending and revenue will be narrower both this year and later in the decade compared with prior estimates, driven in part by reductions in near-term military spending and falling longer-run costs associated with the Affordable Care Act, The Wall Street Journal reported. LINK

Guardian and Washington Post Win Pulitzer Prize for NSA Revelations The Guardian and the Washington Post have been awarded the highest accolade in U.S. journalism, winning the Pulitzer prize for public service for their groundbreaking articles on the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities based on the leaks of Edward Snowden, The Guardian reported. LINK

Clinton Backs Boeing, and Vice Versa While serving as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton functioned as a powerful ally for Boeing’s business interests at home and abroad, while Boeing has invested resources in causes beneficial to Clinton’s public and political image, The Washington Post reported. LINK

The Rent is too Damn High For rent and utilities to be considered affordable, they are supposed to take up no more than 30 percent of a household’s income. But that goal is increasingly unattainable for middle-income families as a tightening market pushes up rents ever faster, outrunning modest rises in pay. The strain is not limited to the usual high-cost cities like New York and San Francisco. An analysis for The New York Times by Zillow, the real estate website, found 90 cities where the median rent — not including utilities — was more than 30 percent of the median gross income. LINK


One in 10 Live in Poverty in Vt. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about one in 10 Vermonters is living in poverty, the Burlington Free Press reported. LINK

Food Labels There’s a good possibility that Vermont will become the first state in the country to require the labeling of food products made with GMOs. The proposal is scheduled to come up for debate on the Senate floor on Tuesday. If the bill passes and is signed into law, Attorney General Bill Sorrell says it’s likely that some of the country’s major food processors will sue the state to block the bill from taking effect, Vermont Public Radio reported. LINK

Vt. Seeks to Expand Economic Development Toolbox Gov. Peter Shumlin and legislative leaders announced Monday two initiatives designed to retain and attract businesses to the state, The Associated Press reported. LINK

Flood Warnings Concerns about flooding in northern New England are growing as more rain was predicted for Tuesday. Minor to moderate flooding already was expected along the Connecticut River near Wells River, Vt., and for the portion of the river near Lunenburg, Vt. The warning affects portions of Essex, Windsor, Orange and Caledonia counties in Vermont, AP reported. LINK