Andy Stern, President of the SEIU, and Lee Scott the CEO of Wal-Mart, announced a new partnership to make sure that every American has access to affordable health insurance by 2012. Sound unlikely? Even Stern admitted that, calling it "a moment I never expected would have happened in my life."
Stern makes, and Wal-Mart seems to have accepted, an argument that has also been made by NDN Globalization Initiative Director Dr. Robert J. Shapiro, that health care is, in Stern's words, "not just a moral problem but a major drag on American business competitiveness and job creation."
Watch Andy Stern talk about this new coalition, below:
Check out this article in The Hill which features a quote from me on how easing travel restrictions on Cuban Americans is a good way to find middle ground with them:
Garcia said Democrats need to find common ground with Cuban-Americans, noting that easing travel restrictions is a way to do that. Lifting the entire travel ban would be overreaching, he said. “We’ve got to do this incrementally,” he said.
The Miami Herald has a great article on how Representatives Bill Delahunt (D-MA) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) are leading the charge to change policy towards Cuba, recognizing that previous obstacles are now reduced with a Democrat-controlled Congress. (NDN's Joe Garcia reflected on the efforts of Congressman Delahunt here.)
For information on how these travel restrictions are viewed in the community, check out NDN's poll of Cuban Americans. Also, be sure to check out After Fidel: A New Day for America's Relations with Cuba and Latin America? an NDN forum to be held next Wednesday, February 7. For more information or to RSVP, click here.
The Times has a good story this morning on how Saudi Arabia is stepping up its role in the Middle East to block the regional rise of the Iranians and their Shiite allies:
With the prospect of three civil wars looming over the Middle East — and Iran poised to gain from them all — Saudi Arabia has abandoned its behind-the-scenes checkbook diplomacy and taken on a central, aggressive role in reshaping the region’s conflicts.
On Tuesday, the kingdom is playing host in Mecca to the leaders of Hamas and Fatah, the two feuding Palestinian factions, in what both sides say could lead to a national unity government and reduced bloodshed. Last fall, senior Saudi officials met secretly with Israeli leaders about how to establish a Palestinian state.
In recent months, Saudi Arabia has also increased its public involvement in Iraq and its support of the Sunni-led government in Lebanon. The process is shaping up as a counteroffensive to efforts by Iran to establish itself as the regional superpower, according to diplomats, analysts and officials here and throughout the region. Some even say that the recent Saudi commitment to temper the price of oil is aimed at undermining Iran’s economy, although officials here deny that.
“We realized that we have to wake up,” said a high-ranking Saudi diplomat who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media. “Someone rang the bell, ‘Be careful, something is moving.’ ”
Joe Garcia, vice president of the New Democrat Network, said the Bush administration hobbled the Republican Party by ``selling itself out to the ultra-right.''
''What I think you are going to find from Democrats is they are going to look to engage the Cuban-American community for the solution,'' Garcia said.
Polling results also show indications of a political shift among younger Cuban-Americans:
Bendixen's poll showed that 49 percent of Cuban Americans favored the 2004 sanctions and 45 percent opposed them. Cuban exiles who arrived after 1980 opposed sanctions 55 percent to 41 percent; those who came before 1980 favored restrictions 63 percent to 29 percent.
A similar poll conducted in September for U.S. Rep. Lincoln Díaz-Balart found Cuban Americans in his district backed current sanctions, although younger voters were less likely to support the embargo. In that poll, 80 percent of the Cuban Americans interviewed arrived before the Mariel boatlift.
A Washington-based think tank [AEI] has been soliciting critiques of the just-released international assessment of the evidence on climate change, a move that prompted some academics and environmentalists to accuse the group of seeking to distort the latest evidence for global warming.
Several environmental activists and climate scientists questioned why AEI would offer a $10,000 honorarium to scientists to critique the IPCC survey. Andrew Dessler, another Texas A&M atmospheric science professor, who has worked with both Schroeder and North, said the move represents an effort by climate skeptics to create "reasonable doubt" in the minds of policymakers who are debating whether to limit greenhouse gases.
AEI: today's example of anti-science conservatives on the wrong side of history.
World Changing is a new project launched by a committed group of activists and experts from all around the world who believe that "the motive, means and opportunity for profound positive change are already present. That another world is not just possible, it's here. We only need to put the pieces together." One of their first interviews is with our own Simon Rosenberg, who Jonathan Greenblatt, NDN's good friend and a World Changing contributor, describes as "one of the most thoughtful voices on the political landscape, interpreting how current trends will affect politics long into the future both in the US and more broadly on a global scale."
The Washington Postpoints out that Senator Barack Obama is trying to make his presidential run reflect his reputation as someone who is different, new, and above "slash and burn" politics. The article uses the following two quotes from Obama advisers to reveal this point:
"Our campaign will never be the most rigid, structured, top-down, corporate-type campaign in this nomination battle," said senior Obama adviser Robert Gibbs. "There are plenty of other people that can do 'politics as usual' far better than we can. But I hope we have a campaign whose support continues to expand even faster than you can put a fence around it."
"I think he is very focused on the fact that he doesn't want to lose his essential self in this process, and if he does -- and if what he projects and delivers is just more of the kind of politics people have become accustomed to -- it would be a disappointment to him, and to them," [his chief media strategist David] Axelrod said. "It's not just how he delivers the message but how we deliver the message, and what kind of relationship we develop with our supporters," he said. "If this campaign is what it should be, this is not going to be the hoisting of an icon. It's going to be the movement of millions of people."
For more information on NDN's coverage of the 2008 Presidential election, click here.
A very interesting article from the LA Times shows how the immigration issue plays in a campaign for a role that has little authority over immigration issues. Yet by having a stance on immigration, those hoping to represent the 1st District on the Orange County Board of Supervisors are hoping to increase voter turnout. As the article points out:
Emphasizing a tough-on-illegal-immigration stance there might seem risky. But with low voter turnout expected, candidates are gambling that such a polarizing issue can drive conservatives to the polls, because they tend to vote more in special elections such as this one.