Expanded Medicare for All: What It Is and What It’s Not (Part Two)

The Illinois Single-Payer Coalition-CU (ISPC-CU) is on the move. Following its successful November 16 workshop on improved and expanded Medicare for All (Med4All), held at the Champaign Public Library, ISPC-CU is laying the groundwork for further grassroots action in the local community.

Future plans include continuing to collect signatures on petitions urging Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth to sign on as co-sponsors of the Med4All bill introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders. Earlier efforts conducted by one of ISPC-CU’s co-founders, CU Democratic Socialists of America, paid off dramatically. Approximately 2000 signatures were collected at the Urbana Farmers Market. Open to both organizational representatives and individuals, ISPC-CU hopes to get resolutions in support of Medicare for All legislation adopted by local governmental bodies. Continue reading

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Affordable Housing—For Whom?

Billions of federal, state and local dollars were spent on affordable housing for low income people last year. Yet 2.5 million children in the nation were homeless. Close to 700 of them were right here in Champaign County.

Most “affordable housing” dollars are spent to help people other than the poor. Funding for programs involving home ownership or new construction of multi-family complexes is favored over the one type of housing assistance that reaches the most needy households: rent subsidy. Continue reading

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African American Cultural Center Gets a New Building

The new African American Cultural Center on the UI campus

After 50 years of political struggle, the African American Cultural Center at the University of Illinois has a new building.

In 1969, the Black Student Association (BSA) and Black Champaign-Urbana activists, with support from white students, presented 41 demands to campus leaders.

One demand was for a Black Cultural Center that would serve the “social needs of Black students.”

The outcome: Chancellor J. W. Peltason authorized the creation of a “temporary” Black Cultural Center, as part his very own Special Educational Opportunity Program, popularly called “Project 500.” Later, Chancellor Peltason amended the mission of the Black Cultural Center to serve all students and all Champaign-Urbana Black residents. Continue reading

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After Statewide Coal Ash Victory, the Fight for the Middle Fork Continues

Protecting the integrity of our natural resources requires multigenerational vigilance, perseverance and dedication. Successes are rarely quick and easy, and generally only mark milestones in an unending quest to preserve what we hold dear. Such is the story of the mission to protect the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River, Illinois’s only National Scenic River.

Previous attempts to dam or alter the river were met with strong public opposition and ultimately failed. Today we are again in the midst of a campaign to protect the river, this time from coal ash, a toxic byproduct of decades of coal combustion for power generation at the Vermilion Power Station. The power plant closed in 2011, but Dynegy Midwest Generation, the current owner of the property, now wants to cap and leave behind 3.3 million cubic yards of ash in three unlined pits immediately adjacent to the river. The river threatens to breach the berm holding the ash and coal ash pollutants are leaking into the river. Continue reading

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Expanded Medicare for All: What It Is and What It’s Not

Perhaps you’ve seen the video: a Vietnam veteran at a Bernie Sanders rally in Carson, Nevada takes the floor and describes how he is on the point of suicide due to the high uncovered costs of treating his Huntington’s disease. Or maybe you’ve read the recent press articles and TV news reports describing how people are dying due to rationing their insulin shots. The cost of insulin has skyrocketed, from $2,864 per patient per year in 2012 to $5,705 in 2016.

These are vivid reminders of how the current state of health care delivery in the United States kills people: kills them by virtue of inaccessibility, inadequate levels of coverage, and skyrocketing drug prices, among other deficit features. Is it any wonder that in survey after survey, people name health care as their primary concern—and not just the over 30 million that have no health insurance coverage? Continue reading

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Being the Unreasonable: Educating Highly Marginalized Girls to Change the World 

SwaTaleem Logo—from a version designed by children

Seema is a 12-year-old Dalit girl from Bihar, one of the poorest states in India. In the social hierarchy, Dalits in India belong to the lowest strata, often devoid of education and job opportunities, and have compromised rights. On one hot day, rather than being in class studying, she was clinging to a pillar crying before her parents, urging them not to take her home and not to have her married. She wanted to go to school and she wanted to study.

In American middle schools, most 12-year-old girls are looking forward to high school. Most cannot picture leaving school before even starting high school, let alone being married before that time. Yet in many parts of the world, girls struggle to get an education and even go beyond secondary education. Seema is one of those, and she is not alone. Continue reading

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