BP smacked by OSHA | Chevron, Exxon Mobil and &c. take heed..

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced today the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has levied the largest fine in its history—$87.4 million—against BP for failing to correct safety problems identified after a 2005 explosion that killed 15 workers at its Texas City, Texas, refinery.

via AFL-CIO NOW BLOG | BP Hit with Largest-Ever OSHA Fine of $87 Million.

For all the evil you do to workers, to people and to the environment there will be a reckoning. We will come and take your power from you sooner or later. Now that BP was swatted like a fly on a wall (for once), Chevron must also answer for its reign of terror.

Has the Bronx changed?

3rd. Avenue and 149th. Street, The Bronx, New York, 12 Feb. 2008

“I feel great about the change,” said Mr. Muniz, now a salesman at a police goods store. “The neighborhood was hot during the crack era. It was a terrible time. You see it now, the Bronx has changed. I’m amazed at how it looks now.”

via Bronx Park South Journal – A Desolate Princess of the Bronx? Not Then, Not Now – NYTimes.com.

I was born and lived in the Bronx until I was eighteen. In 1997,  my mother had saved up and moved us to Westchester County, NY in Hartsdale (in the Town of Greenburgh, NY). It was the best thing she ever did for my sister and I. Though I did not live in the area this article talks about, the Wakefield area was not much better.

When I was going to high school in the Bronx I was surrounded by a lot of negative elements and had been heading in the wrong direction. Of course I’m not entirely absolved of responsibility for the direction I was headed in, but I was also a teenager. It took me moving to a new area to see what was important. Finishing high school in Greenburgh, NY allowed me to eventually find what I consider to be my calling, and that is, political and advocacy related work. After high school I sort of headed off into another direction with what I was studying &c., but I eventually I found my way back to working in the area that I discovered I liked in high school. I must also add that after working in retail and retail banking, while going to a two-year college at  night, I also developed my immense dislike of corporate power and the financial obstacles thrown up in seeking a higher education, but I digress from the main subject of the Bronx.

Growing up in the Bronx was also tough for me because I was not one of the “tough or cool kids.” I admit to being constantly bullied in my neighborhood and in school. It has had long lasting effects on me even up to now. If you could not fight people immediately preyed upon you. I am still tormented by the nicknames once hurled at me.

It is needless to say that I have no good thoughts about the Bronx. I’ve cut all ties to people I knew then. I don’t care to know them or what they are doing. I do hope that the Bronx is changing however, for the sake of everyone else there. They deserve better.

The problem with Mr. Coburn

“My mission is to frame this health care debate in terms of the fiscal ruin of this country,” said the 61-year-old Mr. Coburn, who recently railed on the Senate floor that the federal debt was “waterboarding” his five grandchildren. “I have instructed my staff to clear my schedule for every minute that bill is on the floor.”

via A Senate Naysayer, Spoiling for Health Care Fight – NYTimes.com.

I find him a hyper-conservative and also a hypocrite. Where was he with his Dr. No antics over the past eight years of the Bush administration? If Bush were to get his way on privatizing Social Security would Mr. Coburn have stepped in and assumed the role of Dr. No to stop the increased deficit in the budget as a result?

San Francisco Hotel Workers Vote to Strike

A strike has been authorized by San Francisco hotel workers. More than 9000 hotel workers are represented by UNITE-Here local 2. Ninety-two point three percent of those workers voted in favor of strike authorization at 31 upscale hotels. According to the union the hotels are seeking to increase workloads by cutting shifts and combining jobs.

The hotels have also sought to shift more of the health care burden onto employees. Some of the hotel chains involved in the contract negotiations include Hyatt, Hilton, and Fairmont corporations. The next meeting scheduled between the union and the hotels is on set for November 4. The previous contract expired in August of this year. Workers previously struck hotels in San Francisco five years ago. At the time the workers were also hit with a 53-day lockout by the hotels.

via San Francisco Hotel Workers Vote to Strike | Workers Independent News.

There’s enough online about the way Hyatt’s and Hilton’s treat their workers that I don’t have to say any more. Well, okay I’ll just mention for example a Columbia-Sussex run Hilton. I just wonder if it’s just hotels in general that act this way?

White House Public Option: Rumor Check

A rumor is making the rounds that the White House and Senator Reid are pursuing different strategies on the public option.  Those rumors are absolutely false.

In his September 9th address to Congress, President Obama made clear that he supports the public option because it has the potential to play an essential role in holding insurance companies accountable through choice and competition.  That continues to be the President’s position.

via The Public Option: Rumor Check | The White House.

I just saw this hit by feed reader. The White House posted this about an hour ago. I find it interesting that the White House felt it had to post something on the official blog about a rumor.

Bailed out banks hoard art

Many of the world’s biggest banks — and biggest recipients of government bailouts — have some of the largest collections of art. Some of the works, including abstract pieces and old masters, are hanging in hallways or boardrooms. But much of it is packed away in storage. The art owned by financial institutions should get out more — at the least to give the taxpayers, who have been so generous with the financial sector, an aesthetic return.

via Breakingviews.com – Banks Hoard Troves of Art – NYTimes.com.

This is rather pathetic.

The writing industrial complex?

Even graduates of bartending schools have some sort of employment on the horizon. But that just goes to show you the sheer genius of the literary-industrial complex. The available jobs after graduation are nothing more than a mirage, and even though everyone knows it, people still fork over millions of dollars.

via Ripping Off Writers Since 1852: The Literary Industrial Complex — Politics Daily.

There’s also an interesting comment on this post’s thread by a Joseph K where he says that “anybody who wants to make a career as a writer would be well advised to major in something-anything-other than writing. ” “Major in history, or political science, or psychology, or philosophy, or physics, or economics or religion.”

Hello stupid lenders: Produce the note!

One surprising smackdown occurred on Oct. 9 in federal bankruptcy court in the Southern District of New York. Ruling that a lender, PHH Mortgage, hadn’t proved its claim to a delinquent borrower’s home in White Plains, Judge Robert D. Drain wiped out a $461,263 mortgage debt on the property. That’s right: the mortgage debt disappeared, via a court order.

So the ruling may put a new dynamic in play in the foreclosure mess: If the lender can’t come forward with proof of ownership, and judges don’t look kindly on that, then borrowers may have a stronger hand to play in court and, apparently, may even be able to stay in their homes mortgage-free.

via Fair Game – If the Lender Can’t Find the Mortgage – NYTimes.com.

I find this rather hilarious especially when you read this excerpt.

But if our current financial crisis has taught us anything, it is that many borrowers entered into mortgage agreements without a clear understanding of the debt they were incurring. And banks often lacked a clear understanding of whether all those borrowers could really repay their loans.

If banks had actually stuck to that philosophy instead of getting swept up in subprime greed they would have been better off. This is the same thinking behind giving a college kid a credit card. It should not be done.

H1N1: The problem with corporate agri-farming

The animals never know the feel of grass, mud or sunshine, and hardly the touch of man, in their six months of life. But they are also free of many of the infections that slow the growth and occasionally end the lives of their outdoor cousins.

“We’re producing the most efficient animal, one that is healthy every day,” said Devon Schott, the 34-year-old farmer who owns the building. To do that, he said, “biosecurity is of utmost importance.”

via Scientists study pig farming for answers on swine flu – washingtonpost.com.

I don’t care what new procedures they have come up with to make their pigs “healthy.” The fact is there are a few sentences in this excerpt that tell you all you need to know.

“The animals never know the feel of grass, mud or sunshine.” That alone tells you that what they’re doing is wrong. The last quote is also telling when the “farmer” says “we’re producing the most efficient animal.” Animals are not supposed to be looked at as being efficient (unless you’re the human kind stuck in a corporate rat race). While pigs and cows are our food we cannot look at them as things they are living beings.

CRUDE: A Joe Berlinger Film

CRUDE: A Joe Berlinger Film.

Today I saw CRUDE and it is everything I thought it would be and everything it needs to be as a film. At the end of the film I was troubled by the fact these people have still not received justice from the legal system in Ecuador as the case against Chevron is dragged on even further.