You need to know this. The Republican sequester is wreaking havoc on our economy. Yesterday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis announced a huge revision to previous estimates of economic growth. Initially, the BEA estimated our economy grew by 2.5 percent during the first three months of this year. Now they say our GDP only increased by 1.8 percent. The original growth estimate was already too low to provide much relief to our struggling economy, but the revised number shows we're now reversing our modest recovery. It was Republicans who demanded huge spending cuts, and who pushed destructive austerity measures on our nation. However, that hasn't stopped the GOP from blaming President Obama for the decline in economic growth. House Speaker John Boehner is using the revised growth rate to criticize the President's economic policy, and to advocate for the GOP's plan to implement even more extreme austerity. Despite the fact that similar spending cuts have destroyed economies in the European nations of Spain, Greece, and Italy, Republicans refuse to accept that we can't cut our way to prosperity. Millions of Americans are feeling the pain of cuts to healthcare, education, housing, and more, and they are angry that the GOP continues to play political games while our economy suffers. Americans want Republicans to spend less time on so-called scandals, and more time repairing the damage that their austerity measures have inflicted on our nation.
In screwed news... As workers throughout our nation continue protesting against unlivable wages, one Republican Senator thinks they may be being paid too much already. Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander wants to abolish the minimum wage. During a meeting of the Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee, to mark the 75th anniversary of the Federal Labor Standards Act – which set our nation's first minimum wage – Senator Alexander said he thinks low-wage workers would be better off with tax cuts. At the current level, a minimum-wage, full-time worker makes only $15,000 dollars a year, and brings home even less after taxes. Many of these workers struggle to survive on an income that's less than the poverty line. Yet, Republicans think that's just fine. Alexander, and other Republican Senators, oppose Democratic proposals to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. However, low-wage workers have begun to organize throughout our country, and one way or another, they will eventually get the livable wages they deserve.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Just one day after the Supreme Court struck down a vital provision in the Voting Rights Act, one lawmaker is already calling on Congress to restore the law. Representative James Sensenbrenner – a Republican – is urging his colleagues from both parties to stand up for minority voting rights. Congressman Sensenbrennar was influential during the 2006 reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, and many are hoping he can achieve the same bipartisan unity to restore the law this time around. In a statement released yesterday, Sensenbrennar said, “The Voting Rights Act is vital to America's commitment to never again permit racial prejudices in the electoral process.” He said that members of both sides of the aisle must work together to “ensure Americans' most sacred right is protected.” With many Red states already enacting laws that the VRA previously found discriminatory, Congress must act fast to prevent serious damage to our democratic process. Congressman James Sensenbrenner was successful in 2006, and Americans hope he can lead the fight to restore the Voting Rights Act now.
Only hours have the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, the Pentagon announced it will act fast to extend all military benefits to the same-sex spouses of gay and lesbian service members. The Defense Department will now provide these family members with medical and dental coverage, housing allowances, and all other benefits that opposite sex spouses have been receiving for decades. According to the Pentagon, same-sex spouses will be issued official identification cards within six to twelve weeks, which will ensure their access to military bases, child care programs, commissaries, and all other facilities open to military families. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said, “We think it's the right decision, and we're looking forward to taking that decision and implementing the required next steps.”
And finally… Since Google introduced “Street View” maps, we've heard of many strange images ending up on the internet mapping service. But, a few pranksters in Western Tokyo recently added one more hilarious image. The writers of a Japanese comedy website got word that a Street View camera was coming through the Mitaka Station area, so they flocked to the location and donned pigeon masks they've been using to stage photos throughout the neighborhood. The image was captured by a Street View backpacker, who indexes the city by sidewalk rather than moving vehicle, and the picture is just as strange as you might expect. You can re-live the backpacker's experience by visiting the Mitaka Station area, and clicking your way down the same path the camera followed. You'll have to judge for yourself as to whether the pigeon-prank is hilarious, or if these Japanese joke-sters are simply “for the birds.”
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