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Friday, May 20, 2011

The War on the Poor and Middle Class - War and Profits more important than Killer Asteroids?! - Republicans Attack Cesar Chavez - Obama's Illegal War - Record Profits for Insurers as People Die from Unaffordable Healthcare - Unions!

- Three reasons why people who work for a living should support unions
    The current [Republican and Libertarian] assault on collective bargaining rights shows that ideology and smash-mouth politics can triumph over economic reality.
    There are three reasons why everyone who works for a living should want to rebuild the American labor movement.

    First, if you want a job with a living wage and decent benefits, then you want a strong labor movement. When unions decline, many workers — whether organized or not — see a drop in their standard of living. And driving wages down does not help the American economy, which is dependent on strong consumer spending.

    Second, if you like spending time on the weekends with your friends and family, then you want a strong labor movement. Unions struggled for many decades to get laws mandating an eight-hour day, a minimum wage and a ban on child labor. Given what is happening across the country today, with basic rights being heaved out the window, working people need unions to preserve the gains we have made.

    Finally, if you believe in a healthy democracy, then you want a strong labor movement. Many unions work for more than just good wages and benefits; organized labor has also campaigned for access to affordable health care and for protecting the human rights of immigrant workers.
- An Early Warning System for Killer Asteroids
    In 2009, a bus-sized asteroid roughly 10 meters long exploded over an isolated part of Indonesia, packing the equivalent of roughly 50,000 tons of TNT, more than three times the strength of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, he notes .... such 10-meter-long objects are expected once per decade, underscoring the need for an early warning system against cosmic impacts. 
    The problem: Although Tonry and his colleagues submitted a $3 million proposal for ATLAS to NASA to operate them for two years, the current budgetary problems the U.S. government faces meant the agency basically declined to fund any 2010 proposals, Tonry says. "I'll resubmit in June."
- Not Broke, Just Twisted
    "We're broke." Or so claim (Republican) governors and lawmakers all over the country. Our states and our nation can no longer afford, their plaint goes, the programs and services that Americans expect government to provide. We must do with less. We need "austerity."
    But we're not broke. Not even close. The United States of America is awash in wealth.

    Reversing tax giveaways to the super-rich and the nation's largest corporations could raise $4 trillion within a decade and avert possible government closures.
- Massey Put Profits Before Workers at Upper Big Branch Mine, Investigator Says
    The lead investigator examining the Upper Big Branch Mine tragedy lambasted coal company Massey Energy Thursday for failing to ensure the safety of the 29 workers who died in its West Virginia mine last year. [as if things aren't bad enough the Republicans and Libertarians like Ron and Rand Paul want to eliminate all regulations these mining companies operate under, which would cause MORE death and destruction].
- America’s Healthcare Crisis is Getting Worse
    Employers have successfully shifted a huge portion of costs to their workers, so working families face such a daunting barrier of high deductibles and co-pays that they have become reluctant to go to the doctor or the hospital or request a particular course of treatment.
    The New York Times’ Reed Abelson concisely captured the cruel reality that working families now confront while insurers rake in record profits and CEOs collect record salaries and bonuses: "The nation’s major health insurers are barreling into a third year of record profits, enriched in recent months by a lingering recessionary mind-set among Americans who are postponing or forgoing medical care."
- The illegal war in Libya
    "The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation" -- candidate Barack Obama, December, 2007

(Republican) Duncan Hunter Slams Navy for Naming Ship after Cesar Chavez
By Beth Ford Roth
Published May 17, 2011 at Homepost/KPBS SanDiego

The United States Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, is headed to San Diego tomorrow to announce that a ship will be named after labor leader Cesar Chavez. General Dynamics NASSCO spokesman James Gill told the Associated Press it’s a way to pay homage to the Latino workers who built the dry cargo ship, and the neighborhood (Barrio Logan) General Dynamics calls home.

But Congressman Duncan Hunter Jr. of East San Diego County, a veteran of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, released a statement to the media today to complain about the naming:
    "This decision shows the direction the Navy is heading. Naming a ship after Cesar Chavez goes right along with other recent decisions by the Navy that appear to be more about making a political statement than upholding the Navy’s history and tradition."
Hunter suggests it would be more appropriate to honor Latinos by naming the ship after heroic Hispanics in the military, like Marine Corps Sergeant Rafael Peralta.

For the record, Cesar Chavez actually was in the military. He enlisted in the Navy in 1946 and spent two years in the service. He gained fame, though, for bringing to light farmworkers’ rights and organizing them into a union that still exists, the United Farm Workers.