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Archive for February, 2012

RTW: Will America become the new India or China?

After reading Mike Elk’s piece on Caterpillar I can’t help but wonder if these right to work laws will make the United States a new haven of low wage labor. It’s a sickening race to the bottom.

After locking out 465 members of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) Local 27 in London, Ontario, Caterpillar decided last Friday to close its 62-year-old locomotive facility there and move production to newly “right-to-work” Indiana, where American workers will work for half of what Canadian workers would make. Caterpillar’s decision to close the plant  after workers refused to agree to major wage concessions has provoked outrage across Canada in light of the fact that Illinois-based Caterpillar made a record $4.8 billion in profits in 2011.

This reinforces the thinking out there that labor activism has to become global, because corporations are able to exploit any sector of the global economy they choose. It’s going to be about global solidarity movements.

Taco Bell and the CDC cover up

It’s truly a shame and a danger to the public when a government agency refuses to disclose a restaurant chain who is responsible for numerous salmonella outbreaks over the years.

Even once Food Safety News made the finding public, the CDC maintained its code of omerta. Taco Bell, which the CDC found to have been responsible for a 2006 E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak that sickened more than 70 customers in the Northeast, did not return my call, but the company did put a cryptic post on its website linking to the CDC’s investigative report about the recent salmonella outbreak but did not own up to being at fault.

A restaurant poisons its customers. A government agency colludes to keep its identity under wraps. And it takes a scrappy trial attorney to uncover the truth for Americans. Talk about a sickening situation.

That scrappy trial attorney, one who Republicans would pin up as the poster child for “tort reform” is Bill Marler. The website his law firm runs is called Food Safety News.

The commercialization of breast cancer

Turns out the first woman to devise a breast cancer ribbon for grassroots movement building was right not to sell out, as this Washington Post column details.

Soon after she introduced her creation to the world, big business came calling — specifically, representatives of Conde Nast’s Self magazine and international cosmetics company Estee Lauder, who wanted to make Haley’s ribbon the official symbol of the disease. Haley, concerned about the commercialization of her creation, turned them down. Undeterred, Self and Estee Lauder consulted their attorneys, changed the ribbon’s color to pure pink — all-female focus groups said it was the most nonthreatening, reassuring and feminine color — and went on their merry way.

It’s like a double-edged sword really. On one hand you want the support that can be generated for your cause, but you hate to see it become some sort of normalized and desensitized thing. We’ve seen the same thing happen with environmentalism and it’s really painful to watch.

The two most important paragraphs in this piece that best explains what the critics of “pinkwashing” and their stance is as follows:

What critics such Ehrenreich and breast cancer activist Barbara A. Brenner chafe at, however, is the evolution of much of breast cancer activism from a scientifically curious and explicitly feminist grass-roots movement with an interest in causes and prevention to the highly marketed, watered-down and corporatized iteration of today, focused mainly on treatments and “cures.” They also question where most of the money raised is going.

“We are not doing enough with looking at the disease origins,” Din says. “Why do we get cancer in the first place? The fact is that most of the money raised focuses on awareness and lifestyle changes and not on primary prevention.”

In truth, many of the corporations now involved in this multi-million dollar campaign; who put pink ribbons on their products, may be involved in producing items that create cancer in the first place. Imagine if a bottled water company put a pink ribbon on a bottle with BPA in it?

Obama: Five years ago today. We remember!

 

It seems just like yesterday, we were in the 2008 campaign and about to make history as a nation. Today, I’m still proud to call Barack Obama my president. We’ve had our ups and downs and the progressive community hasn’t gotten everything we wanted, but I’m glad Obama has been able to achieve what he did in his first term.

He hasn’t had it easy. The president has been fighting the wrongheadedness of the right wing and the tea party. He’s had a hostile Republican Party in Congress that has cared more about their party than the United States of America. They’ve sought to thwart almost any initiative and still are blocking many of his appointments.

So in 2012 I still support you Mr. President! There are many things that I disagree with you on, but honestly the GOP (more so conservatives are horrible) is a horrible party and there’s no way I’d vote to give them more power. Most conservatives in leadership are the enemies of America. Just look at the things Grover Norquist says, he wants to impeach the president over the Bush tax cuts!

Your bacon might explode

Factory farming is disgusting; I’ve seen too many documentaries to ever believe otherwise. For example, while Smithfield finally relented and allowed a union in to its Tar Hell, NC plant; I bet they still keep the animals in conditions that are less than desirable. I bet other major producers like Tyson and Purdue are just the same. Even the practice of giving animals human antibiotics is wrong and we are now seeing the FDA prohibit certain drugs from being given to animals altogether.

Today, we come across a story of a mysterious foam causing hog farms to explode:

A mysterious foam is now causing hog farms in the Midwest to explode, killing thousands of pigs and injuring workers. Minnesota Daily reports that the foam forms on the top of manure pits and traps gases like methane, which accidentally ignites and then, well, you’re in some deep shit. It’s happened to nearly half a dozen barns in the Midwest in the past few years, and now researchers at the University of Minnesota are trying to get to the bottom of it.

Sooner rather than later we’re going to have a food revolution in this country. It will be similar to what happened after Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle was published. I just don’t know how many more incidents like this it’s going to take before the public becomes outraged enough to get political and seek change.

Update  2/10/12 – In the world of factory farming we’ve begun to see a glimmer of  benevolence. I found an article today talking about how Hormel plans to phase out what is known as gestation cages for its pigs by 2017. Smithfield has also agreed to this timeline as well, but it’s still a while to go before this change is made.

Will we all miss The New York Times when it’s gone?

I remember Seymour Hersh once talking about the importance of The New York Times, even though he had issues with how the paper was run. He felt that it needed to be preserved. I think the majority of us realize the importance of the New York Times as the journal of record. As we all know, newspapers as we know it have been undergoing a sea change as of late; with many of them ceasing to operate, while others no longer publish in print and just online.

The New York Times has tried to stay one step ahead of this shift to online publishing by producing an excellent website. They make great use of online video and blogs as well. But they’ve also realized that they had to monetize their online presence, otherwise all would be lost. So they introduced a pay wall and it is my understanding that The New York Times finds their current subscriber rate from the pay wall to be satisfactory.

Then why are they still in trouble?

As Mike Elk reported in this website on January 3, in an effort to trim its overhead costs, in December the company froze the pensions of its foreign citizen employees and threatened to cut their health insurance benefits. A frozen pension means the company will no longer be contributing to that employee’s retirement account. The company is trying to cut pensions across the board, for both union and foreign nonunion employees, from The International Herald Tribune in Paris to foreign citizen Times staffers posted worldwide. (Contract talks with the Newspaper Guild union continue.)

The truth as this article points out is that we aren’t reading newspapers anymore. If newspapers can’t make money online then maybe they might have to go the nonprofit route?

Jared Bernstein tells Romney Econs put up or shut up

OK so he didn’t really say it that way, but that is what I got from his latest blog post.

Gov Romney’s got real economists on his team.  If he wants to make the case that things would be better if we followed his plan—which actually looks pretty Hoover’esque to me—explicitly anti-stimulus re jobs and liquidate the housing market—let’s see the model.   True, most people won’t believe it anyway, but those of us familiar with counterfactual analysis would like to see if there’s anything there, or if this is just disgruntled smoke-blowing.

So where is their model? Actually, where is the model that says not renewing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy would cause the damage that conservatives have been warning us of?

Great graphic highlights Occupy Our Homes Raison d’etre

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To really learn what Occupy Our Homes is all about visit their website.

Ugly: Aveda has some labor issues

Shame on you Aveda! Who would have thought that the lovely people I often see at the Green Festival in DC that are from the Aveda Institute, work for some cruel higher-ups?

The AFL-CIO has the dirt on Aveda:

Aveda’s image as a socially and environmentally responsible company is outstanding. In Portland, Ore., however, the story is a little different.

Charges filed with the National Labor Relations Board allege that salon workers at Dosha Salon Spa—an Aveda Lifestyle Salon—are being subjected to illegal surveillance, illegal threats and coercion and even being fired for supporting their union.

Now that is an ugly management team if I ever saw one! It doesn’t matter how many Aveda products they use, you can’t change the ugly on the inside people.

There are two things you can do to help CWA Local 7901 in their struggle with Aveda.

1. Call Aveda President Dominique Conseil at 612-378-7404. Urge Aveda management to tell its local owner in Portland to reach a fair union contract with his workers at Dosha Salon Spa—an Aveda Lifestyle Salon.

2. Call Ray Motameni, the owner of Dosha Salon Spa, at 1-888-519-5424 (press 0 for the operator).Demand Mr. Motameni reach a fair contract with his workers.

Do Cameron and Clegg want to use nerve gas on people?

Really radical stuff going on in the UK it would seem. I guess David Cameron and his deputy have had enough of all the protests going on because of their austerity measures. So they figure “let’s just gas them!”

A neuroscience research team has announced that the UK may be planning on implementing nerve gas and other chemical agents for domestic law enforcement. Scientists commissioned through Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of sciences, says that the government commissioned them to research new developments in neuroscience that would ‘be of use to the military’. The group of scientists has become aware that the government may be preparing to use incapacitating chemical agents for crowd control.

Looks like Unite and Occupy London better prepare themselves; the Milliband brothers too. It isn’t laughing gas that Cameron and Clegg have planned!

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