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Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct Race Track in Queens, NY, has been ordered to  double the average wages of 1375 workers at the casino after the Hotel Trades Council (the workers' union) presented its case for significant increases to an arbitrator and hit the jackpot. From an average wage of $10/hour, the new average will be $20.50/hour.

More on this terrific outcome for American Labor below the squiggly.

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Earlier today I read afisher's diary along with the Guardian story linked in it about Fargo Judge Wick Corwin's decision striking down a ND abortion law as unconstitutional. After obtaining a copy of the opinion, I wrote to Erik Eckholm, the Times' reporter who has written most recently about state-level abortion legislation to inquire why there was no mention of it in the Times. I sent along a link to the 55 page decision along with a link to the Guardian piece. Eckholm's response came quickly. To read it, get a little explanation of what the decision itself is all about, and find a link to the opinion, please come with me below the orange squiggle.

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Three years ago a New York friend, having seen pictures in the NYTimes taken from the top of Harney Peak in South Dakota and knowing I came from out that way, said, "I'd sure love to go out there and climb that mountain!"  I eagerly replied that I'd be happy to drive and to wave to her from the bottom.

As it turned out, we both got to the top of the mountain, but the most powerful experience of our trip wasn't the climb. Rather, it was our visit to the site of the Wounded Knee Massacre on the Pine Ridge Reservation 120 miles south and east of Harney Peak. What a sad, sad sight that was.

The creekside site of the massacre itself is pretty much unmarked. On a knoll nearby we found a monument and graveyard. A native woman and her child sat at the gate hoping for help from visitors to purchase the child's school uniform. I expect we were the only people she saw there that day.

The graveyard and monument site was overrun with weeds and characterized by broken fences, tumbled gravestones, rusted gates and most sadly, the graves of children, many, many children who died before they turned six. Those are not the graves of the children who died in the massacre, but rather of children who have died in the last decade or two there on the reservation. The senseless and preventable deaths of children goes on at Wounded Knee a century after the one-day slaughter.

Come with me below the curl, won't you?

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An excellent poll out of North Dakota today. They've been coming fast and furious lately and this one shows Heidi Heitkamp up by one in the race for the Senate seat being vacated by Kent Conrad. This is one of the seats the Republicans were sure they could win and that would help them take control of the Senate. They nominated multi-millionaire Rick Berg who hasn't yet completed his first term in the House of Representatives. Way too many of them have assumed he'd simply step up.  

Not so fast, fellas. Heitkamp's still got something to say about that.

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The word from Heidi Heitkamp's Senate campaign in North Dakota is that they have a new poll showing Heidi up by 48-44 over her opponent Rep. Rick Berg. No poll details yet, but this comes as no surprise to me as I've been predicting a Heitkamp win since the day she agreed to run; but it sure must be a surprise to Rove and Company who have spent a fortune in North Dakota in support of Berg's candidacy.

My confidence in Heidi results from my understanding of her power as a campaigner and my understanding of North Dakota voters' interest in knowing their congressional representatives. It's a retail campaign state, with fewer than 700,000 people. it's  possible in North Dakota for every voter to have met and talked with a federal candidate during the course of a long campaign and, not unlike New Hampshire voters at Primary time, they think it's their right to do so. Heidi, already a very popular ND political personality, was nominated in April. She hit the ground running and she hasn't stopped for a minute. Read below the squiggle for details of just how she has turned this campaign to her favor.

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This afternoon I watched the NN panel on the Congressional races and was interested to hear one of the panelists identify the ND Open Senate Race (for Kent Conrad's seat) between Heidi Heitkamp (D) and Rick Berg (R) as his favorite "Dark Horse" race.  I thought to myself, "Heidi's no dark horse!"  Heidi has always been extraordinarily popular in North Dakota and she's also the hardest working candidate they've seen out there since Conrad himself first undertook a scrappy 1986 campaign that unseated Mark Andrews who had been a long-time Congressman and one-term Senator. Andrews had won his Senate election with 70% of the vote in 1980.

Today, results of an independent poll were released showing Heitkamp with a slim lead in the race.  An earlier internal poll had shown her ahead but having that lead confirmed by an independent poll is a great boost to the campaign.  More below the squiggle.

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Mon Dec 05, 2011 at 05:29 PM PST

We're part of a wonderful community

by Alice Olson

Yesterday, Navajo posted a diary that gave our DKos community an opportunity to step up and provide some help to the poorest of the poor among us: the Native American communities of the Upper Great Plains.  It was a useful coincidence that Weatherdude posted at almost the same time, a diary showing the potentially killing cold front about to hit the Upper Great Plains  

And, step up, we did.  It's difficult to tell from the comments exactly how much money was raised yesterday, but it appears we bought at least 10 propane tanks and provided at least one household with a new heater.  As well, up to now we have donated at least $2,000 via chip-in (see more on that below). In hopes that there are more Kossacks who want to be a part of this truly life-saving project, there are lots of details below the squiggly -- look for phone numbers, mailing addresses, check payees -- it's all there, just waiting for you to act on your best instincts.

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Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 07:17 AM PST

We can do better than this

by Alice Olson

Bernie Sanders calls upon Americans to stand up and say, "We can do better than this . . ."  My contribution to the consideration of alternatives is below the fold. And I hope yours will be in the comments.

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Thu Sep 30, 2010 at 10:12 AM PDT

ND-Sen Potter/Hoeven on DADT

by Alice Olson

In their recent debate, North Dakota Senate candidates, Democrat Tracy Potter and Republican John Hoeven, were asked their positions on Don't Ask/Don't Tell. Potter was unequivocal in his support of repeal.  Hoeven, not so much.

You can support this progressive candidate for the US Senate with a contribution at


Last week, State Senator Tracy Potter, North Dakota Dem-NPL candidate for the US Senate, and his opponent, the popular governor John Hoeven, met in their first debate. It took about a minute and a half for it to be clear who Hoeven's running against (hint: it ain't Tracy Potter) and by the end of the debate everyone was pretty sick of hearing it.

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Wed Sep 22, 2010 at 08:16 AM PDT

ND AL, New Pomeroy v. Berg Poll Out

by Alice Olson

The North Dakota electorate identifies Republican (43%) over Democratic (32%), yet the State has an entirely Democratic Congressional delegation (Pomeroy, Conrad, Dorgan). Incumbent Democratic Congressman Earl Pomeroy holds a slight lead over his opponent, Republican State Senator Rick Berg, in the campaign's most recent internal poll, released yesterday.  This is a seat we could lose or hold; hold is better.

As the few who have read my recent diary know, I'm in North Dakota for four weeks working as a campaign volunteer for Tracy Potter, the Dems' US Senate Candidate; but the Pomeroy race is where the attention and real action is here, because both candidates have money to spend. Pomeroy and Berg have flooded the airwaves with attack ads these past two weeks -- one can't turn on television here without seeing them.

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I drove from my home in New York to Fargo, ND last week to spend a month as a volunteer on Tracy Potter's campaign to take Bryon Dorgan's place in the US Senate. I call North Dakota "The 50th State" because of all Democratic Senate candidates in the country Tracy Potter is, by all accounts but his own, the least likely to win election this year. His best poll showing to date has been 25% -- but only Rasmussen polls out here, so Tracy might be at 28 or 30.

I think of this work as my personal contribution to sustaining Howard Dean’s winning idea of a fifty-state strategy, but there's more to than that, and I hope you will follow me below the fold to learn more about this progressive politician and what makes him worthy of support.

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