Sunday, April 29, 2007

More dirt

This is rich.

Randall Tobias, our man in the thick of the DC hooker ring scandal, required all groups receiving money to fight AIDS to take anti-sex-worker oaths. That is, they wouldn't use any US funds to educate sex workers on how to protect themselves from AIDS or any other aspect of sexual health education.

Brazil lost $40 million from one of its most successful anti-AIDS programs because of this dictat.

Well, one wonders if he followed his own advice when he procured the services of his 'masseuses'. Presumably there was no need.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Terrorist Plot averted

You didn't hear about it because the terrorists were white Christians, not scary Muslims.

In Alabama, BATF officials raided the coffers of the Alabama Free Militia in four separate counties and uncovered:
  • 130 grenades,
  • an improvised rocket launcher
  • 2,500 rounds of ammunition
What on earth were they planning to do with all this ammo? The feds haven't been able to identify a target for their wrath--yet.

Not to worry, their lawyer says it's all 'much ado about nothing.' Hey, many's the time I've hoarded automatic weaponry, so we've all been there.

Finally, a sex scandal. Now can we impeach him?

After the lying, obfuscation, war, pestilence, plague, and famine that have come to define the Presidency of George Bush, we finally have a sex scandal.

Seems Randall Tobias, the Undersecretary of State got caught in a web of a DC madam's prosecution. She's not going down without a fight, so she's naming names.

The best part--he's the AIDS czar in charge of the administration's abstinence and faithful monogamy iniatives. Of course he's married. That goes without saying.

Can we go ahead and get rid of Bush now? Or do we have to wait until he lies about it and then impeach him?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

This just in--the facts have a pro-union bias!

Wal-mart has responded to the 3rd certification of a union in one of its Canadian branches by arguing (and why would I make this up) that the very Canadian courts themselves have an anti-Wal-Mart bias.
"After losing in the high court, you'd think they have run out of stalling tactics,'' said Michael Forman, spokesman for the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which represents the workers.
Yes, Mr. Forman, you might think so.

By the way, I saw Bright Eyes last night. Underwhelming, to say the least. This led to a discussion between Dr. Mrsinallmyyears and myself that our days of live-music-show-attending are probably behind us. Good God, it pains me to type this. We're not even in our thirties. Isn't this a discussion to be held once we're jaded 40-somethings? And yet...I really can't remember the last show that I attended which wasn't marked by the jostling crowds of preening high schoolers. It's been similarly awful for the past few years. I actually loathe all-ages shows now.

Do I have a case of early-onset old-man crotchetiness?

The Magic 8-ball says 'yes.'

Thursday, April 19, 2007

"We don't want any troublemakers around here, do we?"

Nice video.

On Imus

Much has been said about his ouster. But no one says it as well as Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi:
"Because we love our black jokes, we love our Jew jokes, we love our redneck jokes, and we love our misogyny -- we just don't want it all on the wrong network in the wrong time-slot, coming from a white guy, in whose mouth it might very well sound like the bigot in all of us. And when it does pop up in the wrong place, coming from the wrong person, we've got to pull the "I'm shocked, shocked" act and pretend it's a criminal aberration. Because that's much easier than facing the truth about what we just heard."

Monday, April 16, 2007

Overtime for home health care workers--a victory

A couple of weeks ago, I told you about the case of Ms. Evelyn Coke, a retired home health care worker who was suing her employer for back overtime wages.

She won.

The 2nd circuit court of appeals ruled that exempting workers like Coke is inconsistent with other Labor department rules and Congressional intent in writing the overtime law.

One thing that I learned that from the NYT update is that when the overtime law was written, it passed with the support of racist segregationists who excluded agricultural and domestic employees. I've always wondered what was the basis for those exclusions in the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

"The culture of life is like a butterfly."

"Contraception is like eating the apple in the garden of eden."

These people are batshit insane.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A penny a pound more for Immokalee workers, plus a little dignity.

So a scrappy band of tomato pickers from Florida took on the world's largest fast-food company and won. They demanded that McDonald's pay them a penny more per pound of the tomatoes they pick, and that they get some basic working conditions protected. It took two years, but they did it.

Change is possible. If you had told these folks to give it up, they probably would have told you that they don't have time for that bullshit, because they have work to do.

And they did it. These are proud people, and they know they're worth more than their meager incomes.

In that spirit, the Illinois Labor History Society is planning a May Day action on Tuesday, May 1 at 11:00 am at the Haymarket Memorial (on Des Plaines Ave. between Randolph and Lake).

Monday, April 09, 2007

Yay for Rob

I've worked with Rob Bisceglie on several occasions, and I've come to know him as a hardworker who is dedicated to turning DuPage into a competitive county for Democrats to run for office. He's much more of a centrist than I am, but he's a good guy, and good for the DuPage Democrats.

A small quote, with truth behind it.

"How Democrats approach the labor community has changed,'' said Jenny Backus, a Democratic political consultant in Washington who worked for the 2004 ticket of Senator John Kerry and Edwards. "You have to approach each group individually. Labor power has become decentralized.''
Let's think about this for a minute. This quote comes from a story about John Edwards' attempt to get to the White House by focusing his attention on individual unions at the local level in Iowa, New Hampshire, and other early primary states.

If true, this is a good thing. It used to be that candidates could drop by the International union office, kiss the ring of the high poo-bah, collect their check, and move on. That they now have to spend more time with actual, you know, workers, will lead them to take worker issues more seriously.

Edwards will be the first to participate in the "Walk a day in my shoes" program that the SEIU is launching. All candidates have to walk a day in the shoes of a union member. It's that simple. If they screw that up, no endorsement.

Isn't that how it should always work? That this is a new campaign says volumes about how slack labor has been in giving away its endorsement lovin'.

Good news

The International Labor Organization, a UN body that oversees global labor standards, has ruled that North Carolina's ban on collective bargaining for public employees is illegal.

This is significant, because while NC public employees can 'join' unions, they don't have the power to bargain, or represent anyone. Most public employees in North Carolina are women, or people of color.

Two Democrats have introduced legislation to repeal the state statute that bans collective bargaining.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Gulf Coast Shipyard workers settle strike

Workers at the massive Pascagoula shipworks complex walked off their jobs in early March. All 7,000 of them.

They conducted their strike in dignity, marching downtown to Pascagoula to seek support from local merchants. When the 2,000 person-strong march arrived, merchants greeted them with food, water, and well-wishes.

The strike happened amidst the backdrop of Katrina-ravaged Mississippi. One union electrician had this to say about the strike, his boss, and things in general:
"Since Katrina, you can't get housing," he said. "People raised the rents up so high, they pretty much price-gouged. ... All we're saying is, let us have some pride and dignity. ... We'll keep fighting for that until we get what's fair."
They have settled their strike, and won some increases in pay from the military contractors who run the shipyard. But it's kind of sad. The first year guarantees an increase of $1.68 an hour, with two .55 cent per hour increases in the 2nd and 3rd year of the contract. The company offered a deal with $1.10 an hour in the first year, followed by identical raises in the 2nd and 3rd year. This from one of the wealthiest government contractors around--they usually earn $5 billion a year in contracts from the DOD. It drives home just how little people are really asking for, and the lengths they have to go to get it.

Two things:

One, Dr. Mrsinallmyyears I truly wish I was at home right now, instead of where I'm at. I miss you terribly.

Two: In our 'Hey, we're apparently already at war with Iran!' files, it turns out we've been sponsoring, well, terrorism against the Iranians from the Pakistani border.

And I can't pass without posting this picture of Dick Cheney lurking in the background at yesterday's tantrum meeting the Preznit held. Marvel at the bad optics:

When the annals of this administration have been written, let no one wonder why Dick Cheney gets made fun of for being an evil Svengali, Darth Vader, Hannibal Lecter type. It's an earned distinction.