With a Nod of Appreciation to Andrew Sullivan for posting this video.
From The Department of Labor: http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/opa/OPA20122316.htm#.UK0bwYZvHA4
OPA News Release: [11/20/2012]
Contact Name: Joshua R. Lamont
Phone Number: (202) 693-4661
Release Number: 12-2316-NAT
WASHINGTON — Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today issued the following statement regarding the Transgender Day of Remembrance, memorializing transgender Americans who have lost their lives as a result of violence:
“The Transgender Day of Remembrance will be commemorated in cities and countries around the world today, reflecting on those who have died as a result of fear, hate and transphobia.
“I stand proudly today — and every day — as an ally to the transgender community and to every person and family impacted by anti-transgender bullying and violence. Transgender people are part of the diversity that America celebrates today and they, like every American, deserve to live without fear of prejudice or violence.
“What Gwendolyn Ann Smith began as an online project in 1998 to memorialize Rita Hester’s murder has today evolved to include hundreds of vigils and events in workplaces, churches and community centers around the world. I hope that this year’s commemoration will serve as an opportunity to shine a brighter light on both progress made and the challenges ahead.”
In Kentucky, a homeland security law requires the state’s citizens to acknowledge the security provided by the Almighty God–or risk 12 months in prison.
By Laura Gottesdiener
November 21, 2012
In Kentucky, a homeland security law requires the state’s citizens to acknowledge the security provided by the Almighty God–or risk 12 months in prison.
Wed Nov 21, 2012
Speaker [of the Ugandan parliament] Rebecca Kadaga told The Associated Press that the bill, which originally mandated death for some gay acts, will become law this year.Ugandans “are demanding it,” she said, reiterating a promise she made before a meeting on Friday of anti-gay activists who spoke of “the serious threat” posed by homosexuals to Uganda’s children. Some Christian clerics at the meeting in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, asked the speaker to pass the law as “a Christmas gift.”
“Speaker, we cannot sit back while such (a) destructive phenomenon is taking place in our nation,” the activists said in a petition. “We therefore, as responsible citizens, feel duty-bound to bring this matter to your attention as the leader of Parliament … so that lawmakers can do something to quickly address the deteriorating situation in our nation.”
Now, All Out, an international LGBT rights organization, is reporting the bill was officially added to the parliament’s schedule today and could be voted on as soon as Thursday. James Burroway at the Box Turtle Bulletin confirms this.
The bill has been scheduled for an “order of business to follow” and could be voted on on Thursday, or any time thereafter. It is expected to easily pass, and then it will be up to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to veto the bill. If vetoed, the veto could be overturned by the assembly.
Proponents have denied the death penalty is attached, but All Out and other outlets report the final bill has not been made publicly available. It is believed the death penalty is still attached to the loosely defined charge of “aggravated homosexuality.”
Under existing law, homosexual acts are already considered a crime in Uganda, and can lead up to 14 years in prison.
All Out has sponsored a petition asking President Museveni to veto the bill, a promise he has said to made in the past. It will likely take the pressure of international coalition to stop this. Activists in the country have called upon the global community to help.
Frances Moore Lappe
Fall is about food. Approaching Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, copious food-rich words are written before we all sit down with loved ones to celebrate food abundance. But in this fall food season, what do we most need to know about food for all seasons?
It is this: Our exceedingly bright species has ended up creating a “food” system so inefficient that much of it doesn’t really produce food at all!
Sound extreme? Here’s what I mean: First, there’s no inherent connection between what we grow on most of the world’s farmland and what human bodies need to thrive.
In the U.S., 43 percent of all cropped acreage, and the most fertile share, goes to just two crops — corn and soy. Yet they aren’t really food but raw materials that hardly ever turn up in our mouths directly. Forty percent of corn, the biggest crop, now goes to fuel tanks. The rest, along with 98 percent of soy meal, becomes raw material for creating products like grain-fed meat that (except for cooking oils) greatly shrink the capacity of the original ingredients to meet nutritional needs.
For a quick, animated intro to what’s behind it all, see Anna Lappé’s Food MythBusters debut video. Obviously a lot of people care. In just the first few weeks, it’s attracted more than 60,000 viewers.
About grain-fed meat, consider this: Over eons of time, there was no such thing. Instead, humans got a great nutritional deal from ruminants — mammals like cows that “double digest” their food. These amazing animals can eat grasses and waste products inedible to us, and convert them into highly useable protein — giving humans eating ruminants a big nutrition boost from stuff they could never digest.
From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/11/21-8
Out here on the left fringe of ‘60s – style activism, we don’t go in much for ritual. We lefties are about freedom, innovation, always finding a new and better way to do things.
Still, there is something to be said for ritual. Repeating the same activity year after year creates an illusion that things never change, that we can turn back the clock for a moment and pretend things are still the way they used to be. So I’m going to repeat a column I’ve published several times on Thanksgiving. It’s my own little ritual.
Even if you are one of those ‘60s – style anti-ritualists, I bet that on Thanksgiving you do some kind of ritual, something old and familiar, too. Maybe you gather with the same folks you share dinner with every Thanksgiving. Maybe you fix the trimmings in the same way as always. Or maybe, like so many of us, you sing along with Arlo.
No, we don’t really believe that we can get anything we want at Alice’s Restaurant, excepting Alice. But it takes us back to a time when we believed we might get anything we wanted, even though we wanted the world, and we wanted it now! Everyone we knew really could imagine fifty people a day walking into the draft board, singin’ a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out, creating the Alice’s Restaurant Anti-Massacre Movement. And all we had to do was sing along the next time it came around on the guitar.
Isn’t that why so many of us wait eagerly each Thanksgiving for it to come around on the guitar? It isn’t just to recapture our lost youth (though perhaps there is nothing wrong with that). It’s also because we were young at a very special time, when it seemed that the whole world would soon shed its aging body, worn down by war and greed and dehumanization, and regain its lost youth.
Never again, we believed, would anyone be arrested for littering. Never again would anyone be fined fifty dollars and have to pick up the garbage. Never again would anyone be injected, inspected, detected, infected, neglected and selected by their government to join the army, burn women, kids, houses, and villages.
Soon, we believed, the whole world would be full of loving people who would take out the garbage whenever it needed to be taken out, bring it down to the city dump, then go back home to have a dinner that couldn’t be beat. And not just on Thanksgiving, because we believed that every day would be Thanksgiving. Every day we would feel awestruck and thankful for the little miracles of life, like sharing food and song with people we love. Every day, we would do just a bit more to right the world’s wrongs, to make sure that justice was really blind. And all the while, we would remember to laugh and play with the pencils there on the Group W bench.
Well, it hasn’t worked out quite that way, yet. The world keeps doing all kinds of mean, nasty, ugly things. But kid, it’s never too late to “rehabilitate” yourself, to start once again creating enough of a nuisance and singing loud enough to end war and stuff. If you’ve been doing it for 40 years, or more, I bet you are prepared to do it for another 40 years. I bet you still have high hopes that we can “REHABILITATE” the world. I bet you’re not proud, or tired.
The first time I published this column, I got a thank you note from Arlo Guthrie himself. Really. If you’ve got his email address, please send this column along to him and tell him we are all proud that he’s not tired, that he’s still walking on stage and singing that chorus of Alice’s Restaurant, along with all the wonderful verses.
Who knows what might happen this time. The golden age of the 1960s is long gone, but anything is still possible. So perhaps you can get anything you want, as long as you remember to sing it the next time it comes around on the guitar — with feeling. Because it is, indeed, a movement: The Alice’s Restaurant Let’s Give Thanks and Remember Why We Started Doing This and Why We Keep On Keepin’ On Movement.
By Kay Steiger
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
A new study released by the progressive think tank Demos on Monday estimated that if retail workers were given a living wage, hundreds of thousands of Americans would be lifted out of poverty and the wage boost would significantly bolster the economy.
The study began by assuming a new “price floor” for retail workers at America’s largest retailers — amounting to a 27 percent pay raise for those workers. If companies that employed at least 1,000 workers paid them a living wage of just $25,000 for full-time, year-round work, more than 700,000 Americans would make their way out of poverty and an additional 700,000 would move up near poverty. In all, the wage boost would affect more than 5 million retail workers.
Demos further estimated that if these low-wage workers got a pay boost, the economy would grow and create 100,000 more new jobs, boosting the economy by somewhere between $11.8 and $15.2 billion over the next year.
“Families living in or near poverty spend close to 100 percent of their income just to meet their basic needs, so when they receive an extra dollar in pay, they spend it on goods or services that were out of reach before. This ongoing unmet need makes low-income households more likely to spend new earnings immediately – channeling any addition to their income right back into the economy, creating growth and jobs,” the report said.
By David Bacon
Tuesday, 20 November 2012
On past Black Fridays, the nation’s annual post-Thanksgiving shopping celebration, Walmart stores have seen such a crush of shoppers that people have been trampled trying to get through the doors. On this coming Black Friday, however, shoppers are more likely to see protesting workers.
People have been criticizing the chain’s low wages and unfair competition with local businesses for years. But for a long time the company has been able to keep its workers from joining the critics. Where it could, Walmart has tried to give itself a paternalistic, we’re-all-one-big-family face. Where that hasn’t worked, it’s resorted to the age-old tactics of firings and fear.
But Walmart workers are waking up. Supported by a number of unions, they’ve organized a series of work stoppages, the latest and most extensive of which will take place on Black Friday. They call their organization OURWalmart (Organization United for Respect at Walmart).
Strikes at Walmart stores are usually short walkouts by groups of mostly-young people, propelled by pent-up anger at abuse by managers and wages so low no one can really live on them. My heart goes out to these workers. I, too, was fired more than once for trying to organize a union where I worked. I remember how it felt to be an open activist in a plant where the company made no secret of its hatred for what we wanted – a union.
So when I went to take pictures at a walkout at the San Leandro, California Walmart, I wanted to make visible the faces of people with the courage to defy their boss. And I wanted to see how people who like that union idea, as I do, can help keep the company from firing them. This is what I saw.
We got together in the parking lot of the BART rapid transit station a few blocks from the store. Several dozen supporters joined a handful of workers who’d already been fired, along with a couple of associates (as the workers call themselves) from other Walmarts in the area. Together, they marched down Hesperian Boulevard, through the parking lot, to the doors.
by Theodoric Meyer
ProPublica, Nov. 21, 2012
Getting the agencies responsible for national security to communicate better was one of the main reasons the Department of Homeland Security was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
But according to a recent report from the department’s inspector general, one aspect of this mission remains far from accomplished.
DHS has spent $430 million over the past nine years to provide radios tuned to a common, secure channel to 123,000 employees across the country. Problem is, no one seems to know how to use them.
Only one of 479 DHS employees surveyed by the inspector general’s office was actually able to use the common channel, according to the report. Most of those surveyed — 72 percent — didn’t even know the common channel existed. Another 25 percent knew the channel existed but weren’t able to find it; 3 percent were able to find an older common channel, but not the current one.
The investigators also found that more than half of the radios did not have the settings for the common channel programmed into them. Only 20 percent of radios tested had all the correct settings.
The radios are supposed to help employees of Customs and Border Patrol, the Transportation Security Administration, the Coast Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Secret Service, and other agencies with DHS communicate during crises, as well as normal operations.
DHS officials did not immediately respond to questions from ProPublica about what effect the radio problems could have on how the agency handles an emergency.
The $430 million paid for radio infrastructure and maintenance as well as the actual radios.
From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/nov/21/walmart-trade-union-walkouts-black-friday
An international trade union has asked ship operators handling goods in Walmart‘s global supply chain to raise concerns with the company about how it treats its US workforce.
Walmart has been affected by a series of walkouts and protests by several union-supported groups seeking to highlight what they say are low pay, poor benefits and retaliatory measures against those employees who speak out.
A series of high-profile protests are now planned to highlight “Black Friday” this week, which is the busiest single shopping day in the US calendar.
Now the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has written to shipping owners and ship captains who carry Walmart goods and asked them to contact the gigantic global company and express support for the protesting workers. “Walmart workers taking industrial action know that their jobs are at risk. The least we can do to help is use our expertise at sea and relations with the shipping industry to back them in any way we can.”
ITF acting general secretary Steve Cotton told the Guardian: “We’re talking to captains and the ship operators moving Walmart goods, and asking them to register their concerns with the company about its treatment of staff – and the impact that could have on trade.”
The ITF is a global union federation representing around four and a half million transport workers worldwide.
By Linda McQuaig
Monday November 19, 2012
In the interest of fighting climate change, most of us avoid buying SUVs — fortress-like vehicles that aren’t necessary unless one intends to take the whole family for a spin through downtown Baghdad.
Most of us also recycle and keep the thermostat low. However, these gestures are doing almost nothing to stop the warming of the planet.
Yet climate change has disappeared from the political agenda. While the media diligently scrutinize the security risk posed by a hot relationship between a general and his biographer, there’s little airtime to consider the security risk posed by something even hotter: the planet. (A Pentagon-commissioned study in 2003 concluded that global warming would lead to brutal storms, flooding, drought and widespread human strife. “Once again, warfare would define human life.” But back to the general . . .)
The news on the climate front is devastating.
In a report earlier this month, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), one of the world’s largest accounting firms, states the world has “passed the critical threshold” and that current carbon reductions amount to “a fraction of what is required against the international commitment to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.”
In order to keep within that limit by 2050, the accounting firm says the world will have to dramatically accelerate its annual pace of carbon reduction — to a rate never before achieved, and then continue at that rate “for 39 consecutive years.” No problem!
That’s if we want to keep warming to just 2 degrees Celsius — which may be too high. So far, we’ve warmed the planet by only 0.8 degrees Celsius — and yet that little bit of warming packs quite a punch, as the U.S. east coast learned last month.