Tuesday’s election signaled a political sea change in New York City as voters chose a candidate who repeatedly emphasized his progressive vision. The city’s public advocate, Bill de Blasio, crushed Republican Joe Lhota in the mayoral race to replace billionaire mayor Mike Bloomberg. De Blasio is set to become the first Democrat to lead the city in two decades. During his campaign, de Blasio’s signature message focused on what he called a "tale of two cities" and challenge the police department’s controversial “stop-and-frisk” program. Mayor-elect de Blasio rose to power with the help of the Working Families Party, an independent political coalition sponsored by labor unions and focused on reducing social and political inequality. The party’s grassroots organizing efforts are not limited to New York. It recently won landmark legislation to tackle the student debt crisis in Oregon, fought the corporate education reform agenda in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and won paid sick days in Jersey City, New Jersey. Voters in New Jersey also approved a constitutional amendment to raise the minimum wage by a dollar to $8.25 an hour and add automatic cost-of-living increases each year. “We are living in the world Occupy made,” says Dan Cantor, executive director of the Working Families Party. “We are the beneficiaries of what they did in terms of making this [about] inequality, which is from my point of view the core issue of our time.”
For decades, members of many American Indian communities have called on the Washington Redskins football team to change its name, which is based on a racial slur. Now the pressure has reached a new heights. On Thursday night, nearly a thousand Native Americans and their allies protested outside the Metrodome Stadium in Minneapolis as the team played the Minnesota Vikings. Earlier in the day, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton suggested members of Congress put pressure on the team’s owners by boycotting its games. On Tuesday, D.C. lawmakers voted to call on the team to change its name. Also this week, the Minnesota American Indian movement took legal action to call on the state to refuse funding for the new Vikings stadium if the word “redskins” will be used there. Despite the massive outcry, the team’s owner, Daniel Snyder has refused to change its name. “The R word is not different than the N word. Little red Sambo has to go,” says Clyde Bellecourt, co-founder and director of the American Indian Movement, and an organizer with the National Coalition on Racism in Sports and the Media. We are also joined by Dave Zirin, political sports columnist for The Nation magazine and host of Edge of Sports Radio. “The word ‘redskins’ is a legacy of Jim Crow, it’s a legacy of the team’s original owner, George Preston Marshall, who was an arch segregationist,” Zirin notes. “The team was the last team to integrate in the NFL. When George Preston Marshall passed away in 1969, he put in his will that no money from his foundation could go to any organization that promoted [racial] integration.”
The National Football League’s culture of violence has come under scrutiny after Miami Dolphins player Richie Incognito allegedly made bullying and racist threats to his teammate Jonathan Martin. The Dolphins initially denied the threats, but later suspended Incognito, one of the team’s most popular players. For more, we talk with Dave Zirin, The Nation sports editor and host of Edge of Sports Radio. For those who think the controversy is simply a “sports issue,” Zirin explains: “Think about other stories that have been in the media recently with names like Steubenville, or Maryville, or Torrington, Connecticut, instances where you see this connective tissue between jock culture and rape culture, all of these things are very connected. This idea where you get young men in a very violent kind of group mentality … It creates a very, very destructive social climate that puts terrible social cues out to the general public.”
As a measure to require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods fails to pass in Washington state, we speak to one of its major supporters, David Bronner, the grandson of Dr. Bronner who founded Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, who spent $2.3 million on the "Yes on 522" campaign, but was outspent 3-to-1 by opponents. The campaign against Initiative 522 drew millions of dollars from major corporations and out-of-state organizations who spent more than $22 million to defeat it, including Monsanto, which donated more than $5 million, and DuPont, which gave almost $4 million. Pepsi, Coca-Cola and Nestle dedicated more than $1.5 million each. This comes as a recent New York Times poll found 93 percent of Americans want labels on food containing GM ingredients. Sixty-four countries require it. Bronner notes votes are still being counted and the measure is not yet officially defeated, and says similar measures are pending in Connecticut and Maine.
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