NJ climate crisis activists lobby Congress
Ananya Singh is 16.
The climate crisis is a very real threat to my generation.
Soak the Rich graphic in yellow
NJ ranks 12th-highest in income inequality.
And NJ has a budget crisis.
Babs Siperstein at 2016 Democratic Convention
Honoring the late Equality Rights Heroine BABS SIPERSTEIN
Gov. Murphy’s eulogy
The Political Power of Women’s Anger
WATCH. Before pink pussy hats, Hillary, the Midterms.
History of ignoring women’s anger to keep organizing down. Boom, like that. WATCH.
Covington Catholic HS boy
That white boy smugness.
Do you know it as well as Jim Keady does?
Green New Deal House protest
Green New Deal is PRIORITY.
Where does our new House delegation stand?

Latest Posts

Highly Enriched Uranium Missing In New Jersey

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, there were “over one hundred confirmed cases of illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive materials” in 2005.

In most cases there were no signs of criminal activity, but two instances in particular – one in New Jersey – should be cause for concern:

Two cases last year involved small quantities of highly-enriched uranium, which can be used as fissile material.

One occurred in New Jersey, America, where 3.3 grams of HEU was reportedly lost.

The other took place in Fukui, Japan, where a neutron flux detector containing 0.017 grams was lost at a nuclear power plant.

An atomic bomb requires roughly between 9 kg and 50 kg of HEU, depending on how sophisticated it is. 3 grams won’t get them there, but this should prompt an immediate review of the security practices employed at these facilities.

News Round-up and Open Thread for Tuesday, August 22

Open Thread: What’s on your mind, Blue Jersey?

Tax Reform Schedule

The AP is reporting the schedule for the Special Session on Tax Reform has been released.  The four panels will meet as follows:

  • Every Tuesday: Public School Funding Reform  (Aug. 22 – Oct. 31)
  • Every Wednesday: Government Consolidation and Shared Services  (Aug. 30 – Oct. 25)
  • Every Thursday: State Constitution (Aug. 17 – Sep. 28)
  • Wednesdays/Thursdays: Public Employee Benefits (August 23, 24, 31)

    Evidently all panels will have meetings until the end of October and some meetings not yet scheduled may be in other parts of the state.  Recommendations are due November 15.  Reforms would be enacted by December 31.  Don’t hesistate to fill out the “Let us know what you think” box at the state tax reform site

  • Why Do Communities of Faith Care About Human Rights and Social Justice?

    If you’ve visited my personal blog or if you’ve paid attention much to what I’ve written here over the last six months or so, then you’ll know that I have an interest in finding a place in progressive political activism for people of faith to speak openly about what motivates them and why.  In many ways, this is because of my own experience of growing up in an evangelical tradition where I was constantly told that my political beliefs weren’t Christian and walking in a political world where my Christian faith was tolerated, but accepted as a quaint personal quirk or an inability to shake off the superstitions of my youth.  Very simply, I am politically progressive BECAUSE of my faith and to stymie the expression of my faith is to blunt the effectiveness of my advocacy.

    I’m very pleased to see that I’m not the only one who has felt this way.  In fact, almost every time I speak about my experience, I hear ten people agreeing with me for every one I hear who shakes their head in disagreement.  While I don’t think that progressives were ever hostile to faith, there is a level of distrust (well-earned in recent years) of religious organizations and their adherants.  That distrust must be overcome if progressives want to build a large and enduring majority.

    Rich Sexton to appear on “Colbert Report” this *Thursday*

    Rich Sexton isn’t afraid of a challenge and he proved it by going toe-to-toe with the biting satire of Steven Colbert.

    NJ-3 will be featured on the Colbert Report’s “Better Know a District” series this Thursday, which includes a sit-down with Democrat candidate Rich Sexton. 

    Steven Colbert has been spending a lot of time in the Garden State lately.  In addition to NJ3, he also made a stop in NJ-5 for the Arohnson interview which will air soon, (details to follow.)

    “I’m excited for the opportunity to connect with young people,” said Rich Sexton about his appearance.  Over 40% of The Colbert Report’s audience is between the ages of 18-24.  “My kids watch the show,” Mr. Sexton said, “and they helped me to get ready.  My daughter gave me one piece of advice – Don’t be funny.  She’ll be glad to see I wasn’t.”

    The segment will be airing this Thursday, August 24 at 11:30PM. 

    Rumor has it, Rich gives the “interview of his career” which will be good to watch.  One thing is for sure, this is bringing some much needed attention to this race and our district.

    (Photo from left:  Sexton staffer J.R. Cohen, Colbert, Rich’s son Drew, Rich)
    Stephen Colbert with Rich Sexton
    Wanna help trade in GOP lapdog incumbent Jim Saxton for a Democrat?

    Public meetings aren’t completely public

    So riddle me this.  If your town holds a Public Meeting, in a Public Building, with Public Elected Officials, is the public allowed to tape the meeting? According to many courts, the answer is no.

    This situation has been playing out in Pine Hill since 2000 when a Pine Hill resident had his camera seized for refusing to turn it off during a public meeting.

    A state appeals court in November upheld borough officials’ right to bar him from doing so.  The three-judge panel found the public has no right under the state constitution to videotape public proceedings. The panel also said there was no proof Tarus was prevented from expressing his views to council or was denied access to a public meeting.

    Now the issue will head to the NJ State Supreme Court joined by a new friend, the ACLU.

    The ACLU submitted a friend-of-the-court brief, a document submitted by a non-litigant that offers unsolicited testimony or other information of relevance to the case.

    “The right to freedom of speech and of the press includes the right to obtain and document public information,” said Jennifer Klear of Drinker, Biddle & Reath, the firm that wrote the brief. “In no arena is that right as important as during meetings of elected officials.”

    Someone who is smarter than me please explain why a member of the public can’t tape a public meeting because it just seems ridiculous to me.

    Show Me The Science or Shut Up!

    In March 2005, Mike Ferguson announced the following [pdf] in questioning the director of the National Institute of Health:

    Of course, the question of when life begins is not a question of someone’s personal ethics or their religion or anything else. It is a question of science. I think that is important to note for the record.

    I will give Mike $200.00 from my own checkbook for his campaign if he can show me one scientific experiement that proves life begins when an egg is fertilized.  One that conclusively shows that it is that moment, and not when the fertilized egg attaches to the uterus.  Or when the fetus could live on its own outside the womb.  Or at 24 weeks.  Or when you can see fingers on the untrasound.

    Seriously.  $200.00 from my checking account he can report to the Federal Election Commission and use as proof that I have supported his campaign in return for one scientific experiment that proves a fertilized egg is a human being.

    But I am not looking for sophistry, where you simply argue for it using sophistic methods.  I’m not looking for you to say, “Human beings start when the genetic material is set, the genetic material is set when the egg is fertilized, so a human being starts when an egg is fertilized.”  That’s just a circular argument where you define something in a way that proves your point, then proclaim your point is proven.  Watch, I can do it too:

    “Human life starts when an individual can live on their own outside the womb, fetuses have been kept alive outside the womb using modern science as early as 21 weeks, so life begins at 21 weeks.” 

    But that’s not science. That’s philosophical logic, and flawed philisophical logic at that.  Really, it’s just asserting something you believe to be true but cannot prove.

    But you say it’s science.  And the basis of science is that something we consider true must be demonstrated by experiement, and that the experiment must be repeatable under similar conditions.  So get me that experiment and I’ll drive the check over.

    But if you can’t produce that experiement, stop saying it’s science.  ‘Cause it’s not.

    Give To Linda Stender ’til it hurts!

    Kean Family “Ethics”: A History of Shakedown Schemes

    Just two weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal revealed the latest example of the Kean family’s unethical abuses of influence and shady fundraising practices. Tom Kean Sr sits on the board of UnitedHealth Group. On May 1, he participated in a board meeting to consider whether company executives fraudulently granted themselves stock options. That same day, some of the UnitedHealth Group executives whose fate lies in the hands of Tom Kean Sr attended a fundraiser for his son, Tom Kean Jr. Former Republican chairman of the SEC, Harvey Pitt, called the situation “‘ill-advised and strange’ and something that could be seen as an attempt to influence a witness because of the senior Kean’s role on the compensation committee.”

    It’s not the first time the Kean family has unethically used their influence for political fundraising. As documented by PoliticsNJ, in March of 2004 Tom Kean, Sr, abused his influence as President of Drew University to help his son fundraise:

    Earlier this month,  Drew University — where former Governor THOMAS KEAN, SR. serves as President — paid a hefty fee for former U.S. Secretary of State HENRY KISSINGER to deliver a lecture.  As long as he was in Madison on Drew’s dime, Kissinger was also the main draw at a rather exclusive fundraiser to benefit the campaign of Kean’s son, State Senator THOMAS KEAN, JR.

    The Kean family’s documented history (Kissingergate, UnitedHealth, etc) of unethically trading influence for campaign contributions might make them think twice about repeating such obvious offenses, but we know we can expect these kinds of practices to continue in the future. How do we know that? Because they’ve told us so. Last Tuesday, Tom Kean Jr appeared on RNN TV where Richard French asked him whether he would do it all over again. This is how the exchange went:

    French: Would you do it the same way, if the opportunity presented itself, you wouldn’t change a thing?
    Kean Jr: I would, I woulda done it the exact same way we did it.

    The Kean family sets the bar high for others when it comes to ethics, yet they trip over it every time. They act like the gatekeepers to a strict code of ethics, but in their hands those strict rules suddenly become very malleable and are bent and twisted to suit their needs. Anyone who would dare point out this walking contradiction is denounced by the Kool Aid drinkers, but history shows that the squeaky-clean image of the Keans is a farce.

    Racism and You …

    Yes, Virginia, the are ordinary, garden variety bigots in New Jersey, and there are also extraordinary, organized racists in New Jersey. The Southern Poverty Law Center keeps track of the latter.

    Click here to see how our fair state stacks up.

    Here’s a task for the next Attorney General … speech may be free, but actions that are prosecutable should be vigorously pursued.

    Remember Sakia Gunn.

    Charlie Epps’ Other Scandal

    Still fresh from the scandal over his extravagance in Oxford on the tax-payer’s dime, Charlie Epps is now finding his way onto the pages of the Jersey Journal for another scandal.  Earl Morgan and Ken Thorbourne report on the Superintendant/Assemblyman’s hiring practices:

    Jersey City’s schools chief Charles T. Epps Jr., who doubles as a state assemblyman for Jersey City and Bayonne, has hired four school district employees to part-time jobs on his state assembly staff – further blurring the lines between his two public roles.

    Ellen Zadroga, Epps’ $129,508-a-year executive assistant and Charles Trefurt, a $129,508-a-year special assistant to the superintendent, have both been hired as $12,000-a-year legislative aides, according to state records obtained by The Jersey Journal.

    Epps has also hired Linda Zupko, an analyst with the board, and part-time Board of Education security guard Robert Marshall as legislative aides. Zupko is paid $67,000 annually for her day job and earns another $5,000 a year for her Assembly work.

    It seems that Prince Charlie just can’t keep his jobs straight.