Sunday, April 10, 2011

When Unions are Strong, Americans Enjoy the Fruits of Their Labor

This is a must-read piece for anyone concerned about the decline of the middle class, on the role that unions have played in America, pointing out that all workers enjoy the benefits that were wrought over decades of struggles on behalf of labor. These include weekends and the five-day workweek, the eight-hour day, rest breaks, decent wages and other civilized standards that affect us all. The story also brigs us to the current fight against public sector unions being waged by Tea Party enthusiasts in the GOP and offers a demographic showing which states currently outlaw collective bargaining in the country.

"In the last generation, US unions have shrunk in size and influence, largely as a result of a withering attack by corporations and Republicans. And with that shrinking influence has come a corresponding decrease in the standard of living of most Americans. Indeed, as we shall see, the correlation between the strength of unions and the strength of the middle class is so empirically strong it might well be considered causal."

Wisconsin Common Cause: Count Every Vote

The suspicious circumstances of over 14,000 votes being discovered in Waukesha County, resulting in a recount-proof margin for the conservative candidate, and past election controversies involving the "Republican activist" who discovered the votes, demands both a federal investigation and a statewide recount.

Wisconsin: How a 'win' portends potential losses for the GOP

A detailed piece on the prospects of the GOP in Wisconsin moving forward, even though they may prevail in the State Supreme Court race. A dramatic increase in turnout and mobilization of the citizenry suggests that the tide has turned against the Republicans in the state.

Japanese Workers Braved Radiation for a Temp Job

The blatant disregard for human labor and safety detailed in this NYT article is appalling. The nuclear power industry is a scourge on humanity and presents an intolerable threat to all of us, not only the itinerant workers whose health is sacrificed on the alter of the industries subsidized profits.

Jim Messina, Obama's Enforcer

Messina is the campaign manager for Obama's 2012 re-election machine and has shown a brazen tendency to tune out the concerns of progressive and grassroots advocacy groups and blocked them from lobbying to improve the healthcare bill. Messina was a longtime aide to conservative Blue Dog Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont) whose political record is detailed here:
"At the beginning of the healthcare debate in 2009, many Democrats were justifiably concerned about the role that Baucus, chair of the powerful Finance Committee, would play in shepherding the Obama administration’s domestic policy priority through the Senate. Baucus had brokered the passage of George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cuts and 2003 Medicare prescription drug plan, and had spent the better part of the Bush presidency cutting deals with Republicans and infuriating fellow Democrats. Other transgressions included voting for the war in Iraq, the energy bill, the bankruptcy bill and to confirm Supreme Court Justice John Roberts. Among Senate Democrats, only Nebraska’s Ben Nelson had a more conservative voting record on economic issues than Baucus. Moreover, Baucus accepted the most special-interest money of any senator between 1999 and 2005, and had at least two dozen staffers working as lobbyists on K Street, including for healthcare companies adamantly opposed to reform."

End to Japan nuke crisis is years, a fortune away

An update on the harrowing situation in Japan and the uncertainties and exorbitant costs associated with cleaning up and decommissioning four damaged nuclear plants at the site. The human and environmental costs of nuclear power accidents are astounding and surely do not justify further investments in new plants. As the entire industry is fully dependent on public subsidies, just dealing with the long-term safety issues of existing plants and fuel rods will be present an enormous financial and political burden on the public.

Why is Our Food Making Us Fat?

NRDC's Growing Green Awards features pioneers in the sustainable agricultural movement. This piece includes a video profile of this year's winners and highlights some of the problems facing food production and its impact on health, obesity and diabetes, in the US.

Cancer cause or crop aid? Herbicide faces big test

Regulators in the US and Canada are conducting a formal review of the herbicide Glyphosate's safety. This chemical is used in Monsanto's Roundup and other generic pesticides. There are mountains of evidence that the herbicide is dangerous to humans and the environment and that it's use degrades soil and creates resistant super-weeds, but it has powerful backers in industry and government nonetheless. The EPA, unfortunately, is relying largely on industry generated data in its evaluation and has set a lower safety standard than is typically used in toxicity reviews.

"Critics say it's a chemical that could cause infertility or cancer, while others see it speeding the growth of super weeds and causing worrying changes to plants and soil. Backers say it is safe and has made a big contribution to food production."

Monsanto cash helped fund bill to stifle whistleblowers in Iowa

Monsanto is lobbying to pass a bill to make it illegal to produce undercover videos at agricultural facilities, while protecting their own 'rights' to infiltrate farmer's groups and trespass in efforts to protect their patented seeds.