By Brendan Fischer and Mary Bottari
In a victory for working families, New York is poised to become the largest U.S. city to require businesses offer paid sick days to workers. Community activists and labor leaders struck a deal with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to allow a vote on a paid sick leave ordinance that would cover almost 1 million people. But workers in more than 700 other large American cities must choose between spreading their illness and getting paid.
The hit 2000 film Erin Brockovich, which tells the story of how a novice legal clerk holds a huge corporation liable for contaminating a town's drinking water with the carcinogenic chemical hexavalent chromium, or chromium (VI), ends in justice for those harmed. But as it turns out, Hinkley, California, the real-life town featured in the movie, is still contaminated.
A study published this week in the Environmental Science & Technology journal, "Novel and High Volume Use Flame Retardants in US Couches Reflective of the 2005 PentaBDE Phase Out," reveals that 85% of couches purchased in the United States between 1985 and 2010 contain chemical flame retardants. The most prevalent include polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), tris (1-3-dichloroisopropyl) phosphate (TDCPP), and the newer Firemaster 550 (FM 550) mixture, as well as tris (4-butylphenyl) phosphate (TBPP), which according to the study has not been reported to be used as a flame retardant until now.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has refused to implement a state-run health care exchange, defaulting to a federally-run exchange in protest of the federal health care law known as "Obamacare." Tea Party groups had pressured Walker to reject the exchanges.
As CMD has reported, the fossil fuel industry has been engaging in an aggressive PR and political campaign to convince Americans that drilling for oil and gas domestically is the only way that the nation can break its dependence on foreign oil, bring down prices at the pump, and usher in a new era of economic prosperity. A new report from the DC-based public interest group Food & Water Watch knocks down these claims one by one. While the industry uses the phrase "energy security," the report contends that only industry profits will be secured by the expansion of controversial hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" for shale oil and gas.
Despite Americans overwhelmingly rejecting Mitt Romney and his plans to "repeal Obamacare on day one," an effort to nonetheless thwart the federal health care law on the state level is underway, led by the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity and Cato Institute, with help from American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) model legislation. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is a key holdout and has not indicated whether he will continue to actively block the health care law.
The people of Missouri and Indiana were, in effect, given a referendum on "legitimate rape" on election day, and they soundly rejected the concept by defeating U.S. Senate candidates Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock. The two legislators had stirred controversy over their verbal attempts to characterize the validity of a rape victim's experience in order to push forward their anti-abortion agendas.
The big five health insurance companies have begun reporting their third quarter 2012 earnings and so far, they are pleasing their shareholders with profits that are better than Wall Street expected, in large part because they are doing especially well in one key area: Medicare.
Manufacturers of flame retardant chemicals, an industry that got a boost from Big Tobacco's shadow money decades ago, are being exposed to increased public scrutiny. In the fallout, a front group formed by the three biggest manufacturers, calling itself "Citizens for Fire Safety," has been shuttered.