Coffee Break 11-11-17: Rural America

 Rural America, long-form edition


“…the lynching of Samuel Bush did not occur in Alabama, Mississippi, or any of the other states typically associated with that particular form of racial terror. Rather, Bush was lynched in Decatur, Illinois.”

lynching in the Midwest between 1880-1940

Today’s (bonus!) Coffee Break summarizes-discusses a number of long-form pieces, each of which deals in one way or another with rural America. Included: Are prisons economic lifelines for small rural towns? A history lesson on lynching not in the South, but in Illinois. A Guardian writer traveled from Maine to Mississippi last summer, and has some depressing anecdotes to report. And speaking of Maine (the U.S.’s most rural, and whitest, state): on Tuesday, voters there passed a referendum to expand Medicaid access to 80,000 of the state’s residents—but the governor is refusing to implement. Continue reading “Coffee Break 11-11-17: Rural America”


Coffee Break 11-11-17: Veterans Day

Honoring our Veterans 


“…the version of Veterans Day we know now wasn’t always so. It wasn’t always a holiday, it wasn’t always on Nov. 11 and, at first, it wasn’t even called Veterans Day. The original intent, established in the wake of World War I, was to celebrate world peace. Then the wars never ended, so Veterans Day changed.”

Katie Mettier, on the history of Veterans Day

Today’s Coffee Break looks at the history of Veterans Day, at the administration’s veteran-related accomplishments to date, at homelessness, opioid use, and suicide among veterans, and at the plan for veterans being touted by Illinois Democrat JB Pritzker, who is running for governor.

Continue reading “Coffee Break 11-11-17: Veterans Day”

Coffee Break 11-6-17: Sutherland Springs


We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries, but this isn’t a guns situation. We could go into it but it’s a little bit soon to go into it. Fortunately somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction, otherwise it wouldn’t have been as bad as it was, it would have been much worse.”

–the president, commenting on the church shooting in Sutherland Springs, TX Continue reading “Coffee Break 11-6-17: Sutherland Springs”

Coffee Break 9-29-17

Reflections on a progressive shock-doctrine for Puerto Rico


“How can one put into words how it feels to be completely powerless as the world I’ve always known slowly turns into Hell for those that I love the most? How can one fully express in words that could convey, in any way, the overwhelming sense of constant pain, of horrible uncertainty, the fear of loss, and the fury over what is, in the end, an unnatural disaster? And how can I live with myself for not being there?”

–Miguel A. Cruz-Díaz

We consider what a genuinely progressive “shock doctrine” for Puerto Rico might look like–and why it’s in all Americans’ best interests that it be applied. Continue reading “Coffee Break 9-29-17”

Coffee Break 9-10-17: Illinois Update


There’s a road I’d like to tell you about, lives in my home town
Lake Shore Drive the road is called and it’ll take you up or down
From rags on up to riches fifteen minutes you can fly
Pretty blue lights along the way, help you right on by
And the blue lights shining with a heavenly grace, help you right on by.”

–Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah, “Lake Shore Drive” (1971)

Amazon’s building HQ2—and we think it’s coming to Chicago

Below we explain why. Continue reading “Coffee Break 9-10-17: Illinois Update”

Coffee Break 9-4-17: Labor Day Reading


“What does it profit a man to be able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if he doesn’t earn enough money to buy a hamburger and a cup of coffee?”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The federal minimum wage has been $7.25 an hour since 2009. In the past 40 years, the minimum wage has lost 30% of its value. Continue reading “Coffee Break 9-4-17: Labor Day Reading”