Coffee Break 2-26-18: Janus v. AFSCME

Oral arguments today in Janus v. AFSCME


Now, what does all of this mean in this great period of history? It means that we’ve got to stay together. We’ve got to stay together and maintain unity.

The issue is injustice. The issue is the refusal of Memphis to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants, who happen to be sanitation workers.

Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation.

–excerpts from Martin Luther King, Jr., “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” delivered April 3, 1968, one day prior to his assassination during the Memphis public sanitation workers’ strike

Today is a historic day for public unions: oral arguments are scheduled before the Supreme Court on Janus v. AFSCME. Continue reading “Coffee Break 2-26-18: Janus v. AFSCME”


Coffee Break 1-23-18

A Question for our Readers


“Let’s think about Section 8 housing. If word got out that the government was planning to build a housing project for the poor in your neighborhood, how would you feel about it? Be honest with yourself. Nobody would consider this good news. You wouldn’t consider it good news because you don’t want the destructive culture of the poor imported into your neighborhood. Drive over to the poor part of town, and see what a shithole it is. Do you want the people who turned their neighborhood a shithole to bring the shithole to your street? 

No, you don’t. Be honest, you don’t.”

–Rod Dreher, “Of Sh*tholes and Second Thoughts,” The American Conservative (blog), 1-19-18 Continue reading “Coffee Break 1-23-18”

Illinois Update 1-16-18

Cairo, Illinois: Our Nation Writ in Miniature

We have become a society that seems to revel in the shaming of others. How great it would be if we could learn to speak or acknowledge the hurt we feel and have caused, and then show the love and understanding, and extend the forgiveness and ability to change, to others that we seek for ourselves. What if we spent less time blaming and more time asking — personally and collectively — how do we atone for our past mistakes? And how do we move forward?”

–Molly Parker of The Southern Illinoisan Continue reading “Illinois Update 1-16-18”

HEJE Overview 11-15-17: Justice


As illogical as it sounds, courts routinely suspend the drivers’ licenses of those who are too poor to pay their fines and fees on time, typically with no notice or opportunity to be heard. It’s illogical because, without a drivers’ license, people lose their jobs and income – making it even harder to pay what they owe. … These policies that punish the poor have created staggering racial disparities and fueled a mass incarceration crisis that has cost billions of dollars and failed to make anyone safer.”

–“An Arkansas Town Agrees to Criminal Justice Reform to Ensure That the Poor Are Not Jailed

? There are some 3,140 counties and county-equivalents in the United States. Is this issue going to have to be re-fought 3,139 times?

In today’s survey of developments in (in)justice, we look at an interview with a man who successfully defended a death-row inmate in Texas (and got him exonerated), at the ongoing war on workers/unions (two links, one on the rather low-key Ricketts family, which shut down DNAInfo and Gothamist the second their reporters unionized, and a historical primer on Janus v. AFSCME), at a piece about why it might be preferable to sue polluters rather than attempt to legislate their infractions away, and finally, at a small city in Arkansas that’s agreed not to jail poor people for the crime of being poor. Continue reading “HEJE Overview 11-15-17: Justice”

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”

HEJE Overview 11-4-17: Justice


While writing my book … I met people who slept in their cars and waited in long lines for extractions at free clinics. I met people who had pulled out their own teeth and others who had lost loved ones to dental abscesses. I met a boy dying from complications of untreated tooth decay.”

Mary Otto, author of Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health

We’re breaking down the HEJE Overview today, starting with varieties of Justice/ Injustice: Ethnic, Housing, Economic, and Dental.

A range of topics, all ultimately traceable to the multitude of injustices suffered by the poor in America. Continue reading “HEJE Overview 11-4-17: Justice”

HEJE Overview 10-16-17

DSO: Today we review four long-form pieces, focusing on one per area: Healthcare (Why Medicare for All means freedom); Environment (A just rebuilding in the wake of Harvey, Irma, and Maria); Justice (How Chicago gets a few of its guns); Education (The demise of Midwestern flagship Research I universities).

Selections from Jacobin (Healthcare), The Center for American Progress (Environment), ProPublica Illinois (Justice), and The Atlantic (Education).

Oh, and a bonus piece in “Health” (courtesy Mother Jones) on the opioid epidemic as it plays out on a daily basis in northeastern Ohio.

Enjoy! Continue reading “HEJE Overview 10-16-17”