By Michelle Chen
Sep 2, 2011
For a typical boshttp://www.inthesetimes.com/working/entry/11885/could_georgias_unpaid_labor_scheme_bring_relief_to_the_nations_jobless/s, there’s only one thing better than getting away with not paying your workers: getting the government to supply you with people who will work for free. It’s an employer’s dream that may soon become reality around the country, as President Obama has moved toward incorporating it in his emerging job-creation agenda.
The job-creation flavor of the week is GeorgiaWork$, a job program that has for several years funneled unemployed workers into job slots as “trainees.” Under this half-internship, half-indentured servitude scheme, a worker can earn a $240 weekly stipend on top of regular unemployment benefits for eight weeks, working 24 hours per week. Unlike other job subsidy programs, which use generally use public dollars to supplement workers’ regular earnings, GeorgiaWork$ allows the state to capitalize on existing unemployment payments while giving a free boost to private employers. Workers, often hired in service sectors like child care and restaurant work, can only hope that their bosses will hire them after their preliminary test run ends.
This system fits well with Obama’s anti-spending, quasi-pro-stimulus double-speak, and his forthcoming jobs plan may include a federal version of Georgia’s virtually free labor system.
While there may be many desperate people ready to forfeit labor standards for any form of paid work, the Huffington Post reports that so far, the program doesn’t seem to live up to its promise of sustainable job growth:
We should know by now that the Vatican is incapable of telling people the truth about anything.
From the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/04/world/europe/04vatican.html?scp=1&sq=vatican&st=cse
By Rachel Donadio
Published: September 3, 2011
VATICAN CITY — In a strong rebuke to the Irish government, the Vatican said Saturday that it had never discouraged Irish bishops from reporting the sexual abuse of minors to the police and dismissed claims that it had undermined efforts to investigate abuse as “unfounded.”
The statement was the latest salvo in a tense diplomatic standoff since the Irish government released a report in July accusing the Vatican of encouraging bishops to ignore guidelines requiring them to report abuse cases to civil authorities.
Days later, Prime Minister Enda Kenny assailed the Vatican as having tried to block an inquiry into sexual abuse by priests and placing its interests ahead of protecting children. The speech led the Vatican to recall its ambassador.
In its first public statement on the issue since then, the Vatican said Saturday that it “understands and shares the depth of public anger and frustration at the findings” of the July report, “which found expression in the speech” by Mr. Kenny. But it said both the report and the speech hinged on a “misinterpretation” of an important letter.
The Vatican also dismissed as “unfounded” a statement by the Irish Parliament that the Vatican’s intervention “contributed to the undermining of the child protection framework and guidelines of the Irish state and Irish bishops.”
The July report, the fourth in a series of scathing Irish government reports into sexual abuse by priests and evidence of a widespread cover-up, found that clergy members in the rural diocese of Cloyne had not acted on complaints against 19 priests from 1996 to as recently as 2009. The guidelines adopted by Irish bishops in 1996 required that abuse cases be reported to the police.
The report pointed a finger at Rome for encouraging bishops to ignore the reporting guidelines.
The report cited a confidential letter to the bishops of Ireland from the Vatican ambassador in 1997, in which he said that he had “serious reservations” about the child-protection guidelines, and that they violated canon law.
Wake up and smell the McCafé: Cold cereal, donuts and orange juice are breakfast staples because somebody somewhere wanted money.
By Anneli Rufus
September 2, 2011
Not all of it. But nearly every breakfast staple — cold cereal, donuts, yogurt, bagels and cream cheese, orange juice, frappuccino — is a staple only because somebody somewhere wanted money. Wake up and smell the McCafé.
Seeking to provide sanitarium patients with meatless anti-aphrodisiac breakfasts in 1894, Michigan Seventh-Day Adventist surgeon and anti-masturbation activist John Kellogg developed the process of flaking cooked grains. Hence Corn Flakes. Hence Rice Krispies. Hence a rift between Kellogg and his business partner/brother, who wanted to sweeten Kellogg’s cereals in hopes of selling more. Guess who won.
In pre-Corn Flakes America, breakfast wasn’t cold or sweet. It was hot, hearty and lardy, and it had about 4,000 calories.
“Breakfast was the biggest meal of the day. Eaten before you headed out to do a whole day of farm chores, it had to keep you going until dinner,” says food historian Andrew F. Smith, author of Eating History: Thirty Turning Points in the Making of American Cuisine (Columbia University Press, 2009). Pre-industrial Americans loaded up on protein-rich eggs, sausages, ham and American-style belly-fat bacon along with ancient carb classics: mush, pancakes, bread.
The Great Cereal Shift mirrored — and triggered — other shifts: Farm to factory. Manual to mechanical. Cowpuncher to consumer. Snake-oil superstition to science. Biggest of all was food’s transition from home-grown/home-butchered to store-bought.
From Climate Story Tellers: http://www.climatestorytellers.org/stories/james-hansen-white-house-and-tar-sands/
By James E. Hansen
September 2, 2011
Tar Sands Action organized a civil disobedience sit–in at The White House to oppose construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline that began on August 20 and will culminate in a big rally on September 3rd. On August 29 I joined 60 religious leaders and other fellow protestors. I was arrested that day. But before I was handcuffed, I addressed fellow activists who had gathered outside The White House with these words:
Let us return for a moment to the election night in 2008. As I sat in our farmhouse in Pennsylvania, watching Barack Obama’s victory speech, I turned my head aside so my wife would not see the tears in my eyes. I suspect that millions cried. It was a great day for America.
We had great hopes for Barack Obama — perhaps our dreams were unrealistic — he is only human. But it is appropriate, it is right, in a period honoring Martin Luther King, to recall the hopes and dreams of that evening.
We had a dream — that the new President would understand the intergenerational injustice of human–made climate change — that he would recognize our duty to be caretakers of creation, of the land, of the life on our planet — and that he would give these matters the priority that our young people deserve.
We had a dream — that the President would understand the commonality of solutions for energy security, national security and climate stability — and that he would exercise hands–on leadership, taking the matter to the public, avoiding backroom crippling deals with special interests.
We had a dream — that the President would stand as firm as Abraham Lincoln when he faced the great moral issue of slavery — and, like Franklin Roosevelt or Winston Churchill, he would speak with the public, enlisting their support and reassuring them.
Perhaps our dreams were unrealistic. It is not easy to find an Abraham Lincoln or a Winston Churchill. But we will not give up. There can be no law or regulation that stops us from acting on our dreams.
Continue reading at: http://www.climatestorytellers.org/stories/james-hansen-white-house-and-tar-sands/
by Michelle Chen
Friday, September 2 2011
This Labor Day, the Pacific Rim will wash into the Midwest’s flagship city, and activists will confront the tides of global commerce with a demand for global economic justice.
At trade talks in Chicago, the Obama administration will work with other officials to develop a trade agreement that will incorporate Vietnam, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand, Australia, Chile and Peru. Labor, environmental and human rights groups will gather in the city to warn that the structure, and guiding ideology, of the emerging trade deal could expand a model of free-marketeering that has displaced masses of workers across the globe and granted multinationals unprecedented powers to flout national and international laws.
The provisions of the Trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement or Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are still under wraps. But the general outline seems to mimic the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and similar pacts that have brought political and economic turmoil to rich and poor countries alike. The new negotiations are also taking place amid political friction over pending trade deals with South Korea and Colombia, which have run into opposition over concerns about labor abuses abroad and offshoring of U.S. jobs. Yet the White House continues to push free trade as a path toward the country’s economic revitalization.
So on Monday, activists with Stand Up! Chicago and other groups hope to get ahead of political deal-making by demanding that any new trade deal give greater priority to environmental, labor, and health concerns. The ongoing trade talks offer a tiny opening for advocates to put forward ideas for making trade less hostile to ordinary people. In a way, they’re taking the Obama administration on its own word, because the TPP has been billed as a “21st century” trade pact that will presumably improve on previous trade agreements.
Of course, that could just be the tepidly liberal spin on a deal that is shaping up to be the “NAFTA of the Pacific,” as activists call it: a pact that coddles corporate interests like sweatshop manufacturers, pharmaceutical makers, and agribusinesses seeking to eliminate any barriers to profit.
Manuel Perez-Rocha, an analyst with the D.C.-based think tank Institute for Policy Studies, says that free trade deals tend to use “investment” and “growth” as a pretext for ruthless exploitation. The agreements “push wages lower and dislocate production with the ensuing loss of jobs,” says Perez-Rocha, adding that “the prospects for the TPP are very bleak and workers everywhere must resist it.”
By Travis Waldron
on Sep 1, 2011
ThinkProgress filed this report from Richmond, Virginia.
Progressive groups organizing a rally at the same Richmond-area hotel where House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) was holding an event Wednesday were abruptly kicked out of the hotel and told by hotel management to remain off of its property during Cantor’s event.
Cantor held an Advisory Council gathering, closed to the media but open to constituents who registered ahead of time, at the Holiday Inn Koger Center in Richmond. A coalition of progressive Virginia organizing groups — Progress Virginia, OurDC, and Virginia Organizing — had booked rooms and a separate ballroom in the hotel to hold a “jobs rally” countering Cantor’s event. According to organizers, the groups planned to invite Cantor to attend their rally after his own event, in the hope that he would listen to their concerns regarding job creation and unemployment.
But just hours before the events were set to begin, the Holiday Inn canceled the groups’ ballroom and room reservations and ordered the groups to remain off of hotel property during Cantor’s meeting. According to organizers, hotel management falsely accused them of smoking in their rooms and used that as justification to cancel their reservations. A representative of Holiday Inn who only agreed speak on the condition of anonymity, however, said the hotel was seeking to avoid confrontation between the progressive groups and those attending the Cantor event. He would not comment on whether the hotel had any communications with Cantor or his staff regarding the progressive groups.