Saturday, July 26, 2003
my my my.
Taking his piece from the top:
'Here are a random five examples of the current groupspeak that defy common sense.
1. Tens of thousands of troops deployed in Iraq represent an unacceptable escalating
and open-ended commitment of American blood and treasure.
Against the present cost of pacifying Iraq must be set a half-generation and the $20-30
billion already spent to secure two-thirds of the airspace of Iraq. Then there was the
costly naval enforcement of the U.N. embargo from the Gulf to the Indian Ocean - as well
as years of prior shootings and bombings along the way. Add another decade's outlay of
keeping 10,000 troops in Saudi Arabia. '
Agreed. However, had the US not bungled the international diplomacy in the run up to the war, the cost would be spread among more countries and the backlash against us as occupiers would not be so great. What is also frustrating is that the Administration did not have a plan for occupation that equaled the dynamism of their plan for invasion. They did not show up with the entire Army Corps of Engineers ready to fix the electric grid and telecomunications systems. They did not deploy troops on day two in Iraq to secure say one hundred crucial resources to a functioning infrastructure and civil society such as ministry buildings (aside from the Ministry of Oil which they did secure) hospitals and the National Museum.
2. Iraq was a complete distraction from the war against terror.
This is a tired allegation made by a number of Democratic presidential hopefuls,
especially Senator Graham.
First, none of the oft-repeated and dire predictions - increased terror, an inflamed
Arab street, the fall of "moderate" governments in Jordan and Egypt, a ruined Turkish
economy, millions of refugees, thousands dead, endless sectarian fighting, and other
horsemen of the Apocalypse - have followed from Saddam's ouster. Indeed, the end of
Saddam Hussein has already brought dividends in other areas.
Consider the following collateral developments in little over 100 days. There is some
movement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Soon an American military presence in
Saudi Arabia will end. We already see a cessation of cash rewards for suicide murderers;
the death or arrests of terrorists like Abu Nidal, Abu Abbas, and al Qaedists in Kurdistan;
probable disruption of Iraqi cash flows to terrorist groups based in Lebanon; Hamas worried
in Syria; democratic foment in Iran; and a growing sense that the United States is not
something terrorists wish to arouse.
Again, all excellent points. I think that criticisms of this nature center more on underfunding the Department of Homeland Security. This why Sen. Lieberman began to push in February to increase the funding by $16 million above and beyond the $41 million proposed by the Admin. It also was a hell of a lot sexier than talking about using financial institutions to frustrate terrorists ability to move money around at will.
3. The lack of tangible evidence of weapons of mass destruction undermines the
success of the war - and gives powerful ammunition to the Democrats' criticism of
This would be true if there had not been ample reasons presented for going to war -
from Saddam's violation of the 1991 accords, his expulsion of U.N. inspectors, his
past history of invading and attacking his neighbors, his connection with terrorists,
and prior confirmation by the U.N. and the Clinton administration of a continued Iraq
...If President Clinton once authorized a four-day war because of Saddam's non-compliance
with past promises, and no subsequent evidence was adduced that those stockpiles of WMD
were in fact recovered or destroyed, then were the Clinton administration and the U.N.
wrong, or disingenuous, in their belief that such weapons ever really existed?
And - putting all put aside WMD, curbing terrorism, and concerns over our own security -
is saving thousands of Iraqis any less humanitarian than intervening in Liberia?
The lack of WMD's does not subtract from the success of the operation in terms of removing a brutal dictator from power. What matters is whether the county and the world was misled into war by the administration, either through intentional deception or willful tunnelvision or some combination of both.
If Clinton initiated a four day war of containment based on what seems to have turned out to be unreliable intelligence that is a shame. However, it can not be held to the same standard as launching a full scale invasion aimed at regime change and taking responsibility for a five to ten year occupation.
The lack of WMD's has had an interesting fallout for Liberals beyond simply handing them a stick with which to smack the President. It has forced the President (and apparently Victor Hanson Davis) to take the very unconservative position that the invasion and occupation can be justified on humanitarian grounds. This is creating the pressure in Liberia and will create pressure elsewhere to intervene for mostly humanitarian grounds. I don't think this is exactly the worst thing in the world.
4. We have done lasting damage to international alliances and institutions.
Careful scrutiny reveals just the opposite: the U.N., NATO, the EU, South Korea, and
other bodies and nations are reexamining their own, not our, behavior.
The U.N. is not debating leaving the United States or expelling us from the Security
Council, but in fact is reviewing its entire constitution: from the exclusion of powerful
nations like Japan, Germany, and India from the Security Council to the nature of odious
regimes that participate on important commissions - such as that paragon of human rights, Libya.
A. Our efforts to recruit other countries to pitch in in Iraq are not going well. Several countries have put us off until they can join under the auspices of the UN.
B. We don't know that the heads of state from countries that joined the "Coalition of the Willing" against popular opinion at home aren't going to lose reelection to anti American populists.
5. In a drive for global hegemony, America is crafting a new imperialism to rule the world.
The trendy notion of America as a "hyperpower" is largely an artifact of the aftermath of the Cold War. True, we enjoy unmatched military strength. Sure, we spend more on defense than do the next ten or so nations collectively. But that imbalance is not a reflection of a wish to dominate the globe, but mostly due to the abject collapse of an empire that failed to do precisely that - and the cleanup of the resulting detritus of Soviet interventions and clients, from Serbia to Afghanistan to Iraq.
Dude, where you been? Ruling the world was exactly what was outlined in Rebuilding America's Defences: Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century.
Exerpting from a report by the Information Clearing House/Sunday Herald:
The blueprint, uncovered by the Sunday Herald, for the creation of a 'global Pax Americana'
was drawn up for Dick Cheney (now vice- president), Donald Rumsfeld (defence secretary),
Paul Wolfowitz (Rumsfeld's deputy), George W Bush's younger brother Jeb and Lewis Libby
(Cheney's chief of staff). The document, entitled Rebuilding America's Defences: Strategies,
Forces And Resources For A New Century, was written in September 2000 by the neo-conservative
think-tank Project for the New American Century (PNAC).
The plan shows Bush's cabinet intended to take military control of the Gulf region whether
or not Saddam Hussein was in power. It says: 'The United States has for decades sought to
play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with
Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force
presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.'
The PNAC document supports a 'blueprint for maintaining global US pre-eminence, precluding
the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with
American principles and interests'.
This 'American grand strategy' must be advanced for 'as far into the future as possible',
the report says. It also calls for the US to 'fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous
major theatre wars' as a 'core mission'.
The report describes American armed forces abroad as 'the cavalry on the new American frontier'.
The PNAC blueprint supports an earlier document written by Wolfowitz and Libby that said the
US must 'discourage advanced industrial nations from challenging our leadership or even aspiring
to a larger regional or global role'.
Friday, July 25, 2003
The dollar sank in value on currency markets following Bernanke's comments, apparently fearful that cheaper credit makes the currency less attractive, while bond prices rallied as investors looked for a safer haven. Bernanke also said he was well aware that reducing short-term interest rates closer to zero would carry some cost, including reducing interest income for savers like senior citizens and eroding profits in money markets '
This doesn't show a lot of confidence in the prospects for the economy on the part of the fed.
DAVIS' OPPONENTS CRIMPED BY NEW RULES ON DONATIONS
BUT PROP. 34 QUIRK PUTS NO LIMITS ON INITIATIVE EFFORTS
' ...Through a quirk in Proposition 34, the donation restrictions that voters
enacted in 2000, there are no spending limits for statewide ballot measures, or
on the amounts that can be donated to initiative committees. But no individual
candidates can receive more than $21,200 from any single source. Therefore,
Davis and his opponents can raise unlimited amounts to spend on the recall
questions, but candidates running to replace Davis must follow the new spending
limits. Those finance rules, combined with the truncated period in which to raise
money, gives a big advantage to wealthy candidates who by law can give an unlimited
amount of their own money to their campaigns. '
Why do Democrats keep shooting themselves in the foot with campaign finance? As usual campaign finance rules skew towards making campaigning easier for candidates backed by the wealthy and away from candidates with grassroots support. In order to get "something" passed the Dems always accept the GOP's insistence only limited spending on traditionally Democratic sources of fundraising.
Campaign finance reform must include public funding, compulsory TV time, across the board spending. and donating limits.
Oh yeah, the amount candidates can spend on themselves needs to be capped at something reasonable like $50,000 or at least $1,000,000 .
COALITION FORCES 'MISTREAT CIVILIANS'
Amnesty International, the human rights group, said yesterday that US-led coalition
forces inside Iraq had been mistreating civilians and using "inhumane" methods of
detaining and interrogating captured Iraqis.
I always kind of knew that Bush was going to end up with Amnesty on his back. But I wasn't expecting the FT, too.
' PAY ATTENTION to Ishtar al-Yasseri. She's the editor of Baghdad's Habezbouz, one of the hundreds of Iraqi media outlets now operating throughout the country--over 85 newspapers and periodicals have launched since May 1 alone--that will shape public opinion there for years to come. And thanks to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), non-Arabic speakers can read what al-Yasseri and other members of the new Iraqi chattering classes are saying. '
Go see the editorials at MEMRI.
Wait til the FCC finds out about this. Michael Powell is going to be pissed off, honey.
$$$ ' After the Gulf war of 1991 at the insistence of the United States, The United Nations created an agency known as the United Nations Compensation Commission. It's sole duty was to litigate claims for war related dammages brought by private citizens, corporations and governments against the country of Iraq. The commission considered a wide range of claim types, everything from personal injury or death, to corporate losses, to claims for expenses incured by governments in dealing with the war and it's aftermath.
Succesfull claims were to be paid out of the Iraq "Food For Oil" program. The first 25% to 30% of all profits from the sales of Iraqi oil under the program were skimmed off and placed in a special fund to pay Iraq's war creditors. On average 2.2 billion dollars a year has raised via this method since Iraq began making payments in 1995.
...UNCC awarded $46.2 billion dollars to sucessfull claimants...At the date of this printing there are an aditional $97.9 billion in claims yet to be adjudicated. The final debt owed by the people of Iraq to it's real and imagined victims should be reasonably expected to reach between 60 and 100 billion dollars. So far, cash payments of $17.5 bilion have been made leaving an unpaid balance of about $30 billion and climing. Interest is charged on the unpaid balance beginning at the date of the loss(1991). In the end the interest will likely end up being several times larger than the principle.
The first three categories A, B, C were generally small claims placed by individuals. Category A,B&C awards amounted to just over $8 billion. Most of which has been paid by the UNCC "Food For Oil" fund. These claims were most likely filed by the "little people" who lost their mud huts, camels, arms and legs, and various family members to the conflict. Most of these claims are probably legitimate, and who could argue that reparations should not be made in cases such as these? The lion's share of the money however, is in categories D, E, F which are large claims for corporate and government losses. Such duboius "losses" as "loss of income", claims for "non-payment of goods" and "loss of profits" are included in these categories. It hardly seems reasonable that the destitute people of Iraq should be forced to pay reparations to a corporation to make up for theoretical profits it may, or may not have reaped had the 1991 war not happened. The UN, however, obviously saw it differently. '
Thursday, July 24, 2003
Last month the AP reported:" Thousands of Colombians marched on the presidential palace Thursday to defend their jobs against what they described as a drive to turn the country's public services into multinational corporations. They waved red flags, blew whistles and denounced what they said was excessive U.S. interference in Colombia's domestic affairs. Riot police, behind shields, lined the streets with batons in hand. "The government wants to sell off the few assets of our country," said Mauricio Canon, a union leader from the Bogota telephone operator ETB. "(President Alvaro) Uribe is paying with our jobs for multinationals to take over." Thursday's protest, part of a one-day nationwide strike, was prompted by last week's dissolution of the public telecommunications company Telecom. The dissolution allows authorities to lay off around half of the group's 10,000 employees. Telecom was immediately reconstituted under the same name.
Last week, the governement and leaders of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia - an umbrella paramilitary group agreed to peace talks. The outlawed paramilitary groups also agreed to to start demobilizing their forces by the end of the year and stop traficking drugs. "For its part, the state promised to help the demobilized paramilitary fighters reintegrate into regular society. The statement did not address the issue of legal action against top paramilitary leaders, some of whom face extradition requests from the United States on drug charges. Earlier this month, Castano urged the United States to suspend the extradition orders and give the leaders a chance to prove they can behave like regular citizens."
From the Guardian:
' Trade unions around the world have launched a boycott of Coca-Cola products, alleging that the company's locally owned bottlers in Colombia used illegal paramilitary groups to intimidate, threaten and kill its workers. The unions claim Coca-Cola bottlers hired far-right militias of the United Self Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) to murder nine union members at Colombian bottling plants in the past 13 years. Two years ago, the Colombian food and drink union Sinaltrainal sued Coca-Cola and its Colombian bottling partners in a US federal court in Miami over the deaths of its members. The suit alleged that the bottling companies "contracted with or otherwise directed paramilitary security forces that utilised extreme violence and murdered, tortured, unlawfully detained or otherwise silenced trade union leaders", and that Coca-Cola was indirectly responsible for this. '
URIBE CONDEMNS UNION MURDER
From the BBC:
The President of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, has defended the role of unions after the assassination of another union leader. Carlos Barrero, who led the hospital workers, was the 42nd trade unionist to be killed in the country this year. Speaking after Barrero was shot dead in Barranquilla, Mr Uribe called for the police, powers of justice and public to help afford union leaders better protection. Mr Uribe said unions were moral reference points, which were necessary for the smooth-running of communities, and they should have guarantees and total respect for their rights.
Safire in the Times:
Couch potatoes throughout the land see plenty wrong in concentrating the power
to produce the content we see and hear in the same hands that transmit those
broadcasts. This is especially true when the same Four Horsemen own many satellite
and cable providers and already influence key sites on the Internet.
...When liberals and conservatives of both parties in the House surprised them by
passing a rollback amendment to an Appropriations Committee bill, the Bush
administration issued what bureaucrats call a SAP - a written Statement of
...Yesterday afternoon, the comprehensive bill - including an F.C.C. rollback -
passed by a vote of 400 to 21.
I have to say though, that CEO of Clear Channel Radio, John Hogan cleaned Salon.com's Eric Boehlert's clock yesterday on Fresh Air. While Boehlert raised the familiar raft of concerns about media concentration, he offered almost no concrete examples of consequences. Hogan on the other hand had specifics coming out his ears. His only mistake was that he wouldn't own up to anything or even acknowledge trade offs. Everything about radio has only gotten better with consolidation. Where there once was a garden now there are lush gardens type stuff. Gimme a break. I grew up outside of Boston and I remember the glory days of WBCN.
' An offshoot of online retailer Buy.com, BuyMusic.com, which launched Tuesday
(July 22), offers more than 300,000 songs for download, about 100,000 more than iTunes,
according to a company spokesperson. And it sells them more cheaply, too. A single-song
download costs as little as 79 cents, while entire albums will start at $7.95 - among
the lowest rates on the Web. Most songs, however, cost about 99 cents.
BuyMusic...allows users to burn their downloads onto a CD, or transfer them to portable
music devices or other computers. However, depending on the licensing deal worked out,
limits are imposed on how many burns and transfers are permitted, generally between three
The BuyMusic.com launch was marked by a press conference in New York, hosted by former
Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee and Buy.com founder Scott Blum. '
Yes, but can I get the "Heat Mizer song" or the "Theme to Sanford and Son"? Call me when you have 1,000,000 songs.
Sure you know chocolate sundaes are full of calories and saturated fats. But the Center for Science in the Public Interest wants you to know the nutritional damage done by some of the nation's most popular ice cream treats is worse than you ever imagined. In a report released yesterday, there is nothing but bad news for some of summer's favorite sweets. The study, "Living Large: The Scoop on Ice Cream Shops," says that large ice cream chains are pumping more calories and saturated fats into their products in order to stay competitive. And consumers are eating them up -- to their nutritional detriment.
..."It's as if these ice cream shops were competing with each other to see who could inflict the greatest toll on our arteries and waistlines," said Jayne Hurley, senior nutritionist at the institute.
Wednesday, July 23, 2003
Until the philosophy which holds one race
Superior and another inferior
Is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned
Everywhere is war, me say war
That until there is no longer first class
And second class citizens of any nation
Until the colour of a man's skin
Is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes
Me say war
That until the basic human rights are equally
Guaranteed to all, without regard to race
Dis a war
That until that day
The dream of lasting peace, world citizenship
Rule of international morality
Will remain in but a fleeting illusion
To be pursued, but never attained
Now everywhere is war, war
And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes
That hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique,
South Africa sub-human bondage
Have been toppled, utterly destroyed
Well, everywhere is war, me say war
War in the east, war in the west
War up north, war down south
War, war, rumours of war
And until that day, the African continent
Will not know peace, we Africans will fight
We find it necessary and we know we shall win
As we are confident in the victory
Of good over evil, good over evil, good over evil
Good over evil, good over evil, good over evil
Check out TIME's profile or the Haile Selassie Family Web or if you really want the skinny buy youself "The Emperor" by Ryszard Kapuscinski.
Ray Suarez, Talk of the Nation turns it's lonely ears to you.
From The Guardian
US: BODIES IDENTIFIED AS UDAY AND QUSAY
Dental and medical records have confirmed that the two men killed in a gun
battle at a villa in northern Iraq were Saddam Hussein's sons Uday and Qusay,
the US military said today.
"We believe that we have positive identification and that we indeed have Uday
and Qusay," Lieutenant-General Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of ground forces
in Iraq, told a press conference today.
This is good news. Hopefully, it will help settle things down. The cool thing is that the informant is going to get the reward. Funny how Uday and Qusay's dental records hadn't been looted though.
Tuesday, July 22, 2003
If they are successful it could be devastating for the Open Source Movement, but I think the issue going to sputter and fizzle. Everything that I've read about it reeks of desperation.
$$$:"Just as DeLay delivers legislatively, he delivers in elections. Some leaders use their leadership PACs to subsidize their travel and pay for a large political staff. DeLay pours his money into races. In the last election, then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) gave less than 7 percent of his money to GOP candidates; DeLay gave nearly 36 percent.
One of the first Republican congressional leaders to recognize the importance of grass-roots mobilization, DeLay devised "STOMP." The program, run by the National Republican Congressional Committee but subsidized in part by ARMPAC, poured volunteers into key districts 72 hours before last fall's elections."
This link to a EUCOM report referenced by Josh Marshall is mysteriously down. I was all hyped to report it to Josh and MemoryHole.org when I realized that the entire EUCOM site is down tonight. Drat.
Or MAYBE...the story is much bigger...
21 MARINES SENT INTO LIBERIAN CAPITAL AT AMBASSADORS REQUEST
WASHINGTON, July 21, 2003 - A team of 21 U.S. Marines arrived in Monrovia
today to add a level of security to the U.S. Embassy in Liberia's capital,
Defense officials in the Pentagon said.
Civil war in the West African nation has increased security concerns. The
newly arrived Marines, deployed from Rota, Spain, are part of a Fleet
Antiterrorism Security Team. They join a 35-member Humanitarian Assistance
Support Team that U.S. European Command deployed July 7. Another 20 Marines
are staged in neighboring Sierra Leone awaiting further orders. '
Color me underwhelmed.
Just keep telling yourself: We invaded Iraq to liberate the Iraqi people and avert humanitarian disaster.
What's really messed up is that she used to be so incredibly skinny, now that she is not incredibly skinny and merely really skinny she looks fat. Merely skinny is now fat and incredibly skinny is phatt. That's messed up. Pop culture is fucking us up in ways we can scarcely get a handle on.
'...I didn't grasp quite the degree of Tenet's bureaucratic savvy. Nor do I think did the White House. Actually, scratch that: I'm sure they didn't. '
Monday, July 21, 2003
I should be in favor of bringing back real public interest demands on local television in hopes of getting better local news coverage. At this point however I'm in favor of outlawing local television. It's so far gone and it only serves to confuse and antagonize us. Get rid of it. For the sake of the Democracy.
"Thinking of taking a shower? Think again!!!! We've just completed an investigation into SOAP and the results may surprise you!!!!!!! Our consumer reporter unveils the hidden menace of SOAP!!!!!!"
Kill it!!! Kill it dead. Then Letterman could start at 11. God, I wish Letterman still kicked ass.
A battery of police and sheriff's deputies converged on a home in Essexville in Bay County Wednesday in hopes of digging for evidence that could solve the 28-year old mystery of what happened to former Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa.
``We have some information that's come to us from a prisoner that's related to Hoffa case,'' Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said from the backyard of the home in a residential area. He said the prisoner provided the information in the past few days.
A must read.
By STEVEN GREENHOUSE
July 17 - The two main unions of Verizon Communications announced today that
more than 75,000 workers had voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if
no contract is reached by Aug. 2. Verizon's largest union, the Communications
Workers of America, said 92 percent of its 60,000 members working for Verizon
in the Northeast had voted for a strike...In a parallel announcement, the
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers said its 15,000 Verizon workers
in the Northeast had also voted to authorize a strike.
Recent willingness by large (really large) numbers of workers (at Verizon and elsewhere) to take it to the mat means that these unions are doing something right in organizing their members. I'm not expecting the revolution anytime soon, but this is clearly significant.
This comes on the heels of the major union arbitration victory:
' Verizon Communications is rehiring 1,100 laid-off workers in the Northeast
who were not covered by last week's order by a New York arbitrator to take back
2,300 employees in that state who were improperly terminated in a cost-cutting
In typical piss poor labor beat coverage they don't specify which union actually won the grievance. Maybe both? Hang on a sec, I'll be right back..........................OK' I'm back.
A press release at the CWA site confirms that it was CWA members who got their jobs back.
' With premium costs rising by an average of 12%, bargaining over health care costs has become as difficult as it was during the late 1980s and early 1990s, when insurance premiums skyrocketed by similar amounts. Nearly all employees and retirees in the United States are being asked to pay more for their health care benefits.
Over the last year, almost every union has been involved in major health care-related disputes. The most high-profile clash was when 18,000 General Electric employees walked out for two days last January over GE's decision to unilaterally raise premiums. An even bigger confrontation lies ahead when, later this summer, contracts covering nearly 80,000 Verizon workers are up for re-negotiation. '
On Thursday, the House of Representatives-with seven Democrats absent, including presidential candidate Richard Gephardt-voted 213 to 210 to approve new regulations that would cut off a universe of Americans-anywhere from 1 million to 8 million-from guaranteed overtime pay. Under the new rules, backed by the Bush administration and campaigned for heavily by business lobbyists, those employees would still have to put in extra hours. They just wouldn't get any extra pay. Instead, some would qualify for comp time-try paying the rent with that-and others would simply be reclassified as executives, even if they wield little managerial authority.
Where were the Democrats? Nowhere to be found. Gephardt was in Iowa getting an endorsement from the International Order of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, promising veterans of the picket line they'd be part of a new American prosperity. Among the leading Democratic contenders, neither Gephardt nor senators John Edwards, John Kerry, or Joe Lieberman returned repeated Voice calls for comment. The office of Representative Dennis Kucinich, a staunch labor supporter who voted against the measure, at least returned a call, as did former Vermont governor Howard Dean's office.
...Even more mind-boggling is the reaction from organized labor. Bill Samuels, the legislative director of the AFL-CIO said he "was disappointed by the vote in the House." Just disappointed? Is that all? He went on to say the next step was to try to win a vote in the Senate, a vote that hasn't yet been scheduled, and about which labor leaders can only hope. Because if Kerry, Edwards, Lieberman, or Bob Graham decide not to be present, the unions are bound to lose. With such a narrow margin in the Senate-Republicans hold a one-vote majority-the chances of labor winning a vote there are viewed as very slim. And with the House vote sealed, the general consensus is that the new regs are a done deal.
Carpenters walked off the job June 25 after the contractors' association refused to adequately fund health insurance for workers and retirees. After nearly two weeks of project delays and shutdowns, the sides returned to the table to hammer out a tentative deal prior to the Fourth of July weekend.
In the end, contractors agreed to a $2.10-an-hour increase over the next two years to fully fund family health insurance and maintain health care for retirees. Contractors will add a nickel an hour in each of the next two years to the apprenticeship and training trust. '
8000 Carpenters on strike? This a different union from the Carpenters Union of ten years ago that's fer shitsher.
UAW CONTRACT NEGOTIONATIONS
Sending a strong signal it intends to reverse years of membership declines, the United Auto Workers kicked off contract talks with Detroit's automakers Wednesday at Chrysler Group headquarters, where a top union leader insisted the union would organize the German-American company's Mercedes plant in Alabama.
"Vance will be organized very, very soon, I think in less than a year," said Nate Gooden, UAW vice president in charge of DaimlerChrysler AG. The UAW will have an agreement for a card-check union authorization at the plant "before these talks are over," said Gooden. The plant employs 2,000workers.
...New contracts at the three automakers and parts suppliers Delphi Corp. and Visteon Corp. would cover more than 300,000 UAW workers who will eventually vote on the agreements.
...Membership at the organization sank to about 640,000 in 2002 from a high of 1.5 million in 1979, and the union is expected to use this year's talks to make a play for more members in the auto-parts sector and wherever else they might claim them, such as Mercedes-Benz.
Good for them. It's a disgrace they've put it off until now.
This article details what happens when the international union has to put market power and long term interests ahead of on local unions immediate contract goals. It is always a tough situation. The results of prior organizing with this company under a neutrality agreement were dismal. Though that might also show that these workers would have been in for a helluva fight if they wanted to hold the line against the pay cuts they took. It's always hard when workers have to start bargaining against the "market" when they are used to bargaining against their own bargaining history. The UAW has to look at the interest of all their members in building and maintaining market wide bargaining power. New organizing is the most powerful tool they have in doing that and neutrality agreements can often facilitate that. I suspect that the article exagerates a little in portraying the cut from $26/hr to $16/hr as a straight quid pro quo. The company was more than likely going to push through a substantial pay cut anyway.
All in all I suspect the article is pretty balanced, but the UAW has always been the union that Labor Notes loves to hate.
New Financial Disclosure Rules Should Go Back to the Drawing Board by Judith Schneider
' The AFL-CIO says the Department of Labor's proposed new requirements, which
call for far more detailed accounting of union finances, are excessively burdensome.
They claim these regulations are the product of an anti-union, anti-worker Republican
administration that wants to undermine the labor movement and divert its resources
from organizing and political action in support of Democrats.
...The current LM-2, which must be filed annually with the DOL by any labor organization
with income over $200,000 (those with less file an LM-3), requires reporting on a range
of information, including officer salaries, union assets, the date of the next officer
election, the number of reported members, and whether any officer earns more than $10,000
from another labor organization.
The new rules would go further, requiring a breakdown of expenses to the nearest 10% for
each of the following categories: political activities, lobbying, organizing/contract
bargaining, and administration. Each staffer's time would also have to be broken down into
the same categories.
...Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the new DOL regulations is something that they've
left out. As noted above, the current LM-2 requires disclosure when any officer receives
$10,000 or more as an officer or employee of another labor organization.
One would expect that new requirements ostensibly designed to protect union members from
corruption would strengthen, or at least maintain, requirements that multiple salaries be
clearly disclosed. Curiously, the DOL has decided instead to eliminate the specific question
providing that information. This alteration in the LM-2 would not only make it more difficult
for members to obtain vital information about potential misuse of union funds, it also
calls into question the DOL's motivations for pushing these new regulations.
When one considers that the Teamsters, the union most aggressively courted by the Bush
administration, are historically one of the worst offenders when it comes to multiple salary
abuses, these questions become downright disturbing. '
In fact the removal of double salaries reporting provisions gives away the game. These provisions are tailor made (laser etched really) to bog down busy, financially strapped progressive unions. Asking field reps to give detailed accounting of their time will eat into their valuable time and take away from organizing and representation. (Organizers often go weeks, fronting hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars of their own money, without finding time to fill out expense reports so they can get reimbursed, they really just can't find the time.) However, the number one sign of a corrupt, useless union is these double (triple, quadruple) salaries that the new provisions would remove from scrutiny. Add to this the Bush admin's vested interest in making it easier for more members to go agency shop to hobble union political efforts and you can see what's really going on here.
What's disappointing is how toothless and "balanced" Labor Notes and the AUD's take on the provisions was.
The Union of Needletrades Industrial and Textile Employees began their convention in Las Vegas today.
From their press release:
UNITE KICKS OFF SECOND CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION WITH FOCUS ON BUILDING POWER AND ORGANIZING
Two thousand delegates converge to celebrate victories won in past four years and set ambitious agenda to face challenges ahead
LAS VEGAS, July 21 - Delegates from across North America convened this morning for the opening session of the Second Constitutional Convention of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees [UNITE]. The keynote speech will be delivered by Bruce Raynor, with Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union [HERE] President John Wilhelm scheduled to speak later in the day.
Las Vegas is a strong union town in which UNITE has experienced tremendous growth in the past decade: ten years ago, the union had 80 members in the city; four years ago that figure had reached 600; today UNITE represents 4000 members in the Las Vegas area. Negotiations covering 2000 laundry workers in the greater Las Vegas metropolitan area are currently underway as well. '
I worked as an organizer for UNITE in the South in the mid-nineties and it's a kick ass union. 80 members in Las Vegas to 4000 going on 6000 in ten years. Bruce Raynor has developed strategies that work and he has been evangelical in trying to share them with the rest of organized labor. John Wilhelm of HERE's participation here is significant. We are seeing movement recently for successful, progressive unions to work together in more organized ways.
It's been driving me crazy for 10 years that our side won't grow up and get this sophisticated and disciplined. Sweeney's AFL-CIO and MOVE ON.org are bright spots in a dark basement of inepitude and sentimentality but they are child's play compared to this stuff.
You can view it here:
SpinSanity has a typically nitpicky but uncharacteristically and ultimately pointless critique here:
They "debunk" the ad by taking the Bush Administration at their word in their attempt to spin their way out of the mess they've gotten themselves into. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.
Beats me. The "Gap" is something that Bush is vulnerable on and sooner or later we are going to have a news cycle or two dedicated to it. Is Kerry getting ahead on the issue or avoiding issues surrounding a war that he voted to authorize?
Pledging resources to unionized New York City firefighters is never going to hurt a candidate in a Democratic primary either.
Here's the story at Slate:
If you aren't a subsciber you have to watch an ad to get a day pass. No biggie.
' "Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists," President Bush said in Cincinnati on Oct. 7. "Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints."
But declassified portions of a still-secret National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) released Friday by the White House show that at the time of the president's speech the U.S. intelligence community judged that possibility to be unlikely. In fact, the NIE, which began circulating Oct. 2, shows the intelligence services were much more worried that Hussein might give weapons to al Qaeda terrorists if he were facing death or capture and his government was collapsing after a military attack by the United States.
The declassified sections of the NIE were offered by the White House to rebut allegations that the administration had twisted prewar intelligence on Iraq's nuclear weapons program. The result, however, could be to raise more questions about whether the administration misrepresented the judgments of the intelligence services on another basis for going to war: the threat posed by Hussein as a source of weapons for terrorists. '
' On "Fox News Sunday," Bremer also said Hussein appeared to have pre-positioned weapons and made plans to carry out an insurgency should his forces, as expected, lose a war with the United States. "There has been some evidence of planning for the possibility of losing the war militarily and going into some kind of insurgency or organized resistance," Bremer said, without explaining what the evidence is.
Bremer said he does not believe Hussein could make a comeback: "Dead or alive, this guy is finished in Iraq. There is no public support for him."
Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) said in an interview that despite what Bush has said, the war is not over until Hussein is captured or killed. "He could come back like Napoleon if we don't watch out," '
Hey, I'm all for contradicting the administration when they are wrong, but Markey's statement is just asinine.
Argentina's economic crisis has forced many companies to restructure the way they do business. One answer to their financial woes has been to reorganize into worker-run collectives. The Ghelco SA company outside Buenos Aires has bounced back from the brink of disaster by having the same people running the front office and the factory floor. Three months after Argentina's economy went belly up last year, the chocolate company filed for bankruptcy. After a core group refused to walk away, a brief court battle won the company the right to operate as a collective. Now, 180 companies in Argentina have followed Ghelco's example. Worker-run businesses, such as Ghelco, have been competitive in the marketplace so far.
From the Oregonian:
AS CORPORATIONS INCREASE USE OF TAX SHELTERS, STATES LOSE BILLIONS EACH YEAR
Corporate tax-sheltering schemes are short-changing states billions of dollars in tax collections annually, according to a report released Tuesday by the Multistate Tax Commission. All told, revenue losses hit about $10.4 billion in 2001, almost one-third less than the amount states otherwise would have collected. Corporate tax losses in Oregon amounted to $80 million, pulling down the potential tax take by 25 percent.
...The Multistate Tax Commission defines tax shelters as push-the-envelope techniques that take advantage of structural weaknesses and loopholes in state corporate tax systems. It does not include tax credits or other state-enacted tax policies in the tally. The commission links most of the revenue losses to "exotic" tax shelters, such as those that move income overseas to tax havens...and those that shift income from state to state in elaborate tax-reducing strategies. The commission cited Sherwin-Williams Co. and Toys "R" Us as companies that established subsidiaries for licensed trademarks for tax purposes. Ingersoll-Rand Co. and Foster Wheeler Corp. both reincorporated to Bermuda in 2001, joining Tyco International Ltd. and other companies based there to cut taxes.
California Comptroller Steve Westly called on states to crack down on enforcement. "Abusive tax shelters threaten the integrity of our tax system, our economy, and frankly, are a slap in the face to taxpayers," Westly said. "We need to be relentless about going after tax cheats."
...West Virginia had the largest loss as a percentage of corporate tax revenue, down 57.8 percent from what the commission estimated would have been collected without shelters... Oregon came in at a relatively low 24.8 percent, 40th in a ranking by a percentage measure. Harchenko attributed the tempered losses in Oregon to relatively tight tax laws, such as those requiring corporations to file consolidated returns. Consolidated reporting gathers income generated by related subsidiaries into a single pool before apportioning income to individual states. "With our legal structure, there aren't as many opportunities to move income around," Harchenko said.
Nevertheless, the state's corporate tax system has drawn plenty of criticism. It was sharpened by revelations earlier this year that TWO THIRDS OF OREGON CORPORATIONS PAID NO CORPORATE INCOME TAX IN 2000, the latest year for which statistics were available. Instead, they wrote $10 checks to the Department of Revenue, the minimum required when no tax liability is recorded.
Most companies keep separate books for financial and tax reporting purposes. The gap between income reported to shareholders and taxable income reported to the IRS hit $155 billion in 1998, according to a Harvard Business School study. Tim Nesbitt, head of the Oregon AFL-CIO and an advocate of corporate tax reform, argues that corporations should pay taxes based on profits to shareholders. By that measure, he said, the calculations in the commission report "are just the tip of the iceberg." Nesbitt said. '
Where's John Ashcroft when you really need him. I know it's not his jurisdiction, but come on.
Amidst the ads the full article is here:
Granted by law the money can't be used to fill in budget gaps, this state needs help with so many things and $22 million dollars pumped into the economy will have a salutory Keynesian effect. Anybody remember old JMK?
The latest outrage:
' ...Syria also provided the United States with intelligence about future Al Qaeda plans. In one instance, the Syrians learned that Al Qaeda had penetrated the security services of Bahrain and had arranged for a glider loaded with explosives to be flown into a building at the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet headquarters there. Flynt Leverett, a former C.I.A. analyst who served until early this year on the National Security Council and is now a fellow at the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution, told me that Syria's help "let us thwart an operation that, if carried out, would have killed a lot of Americans." The Syrians also helped the United States avert a suspected plot against an American target in Ottawa.
Syria's efforts to help seemed to confound the Bush Administration, which was fixated on Iraq. According to many officials I spoke to, the Administration was ill prepared to take advantage of the situation and unwilling to reassess its relationship with Assad's government. Leverett told me that "the quality and quantity of information from Syria exceeded the Agency's expectations." But, he said, "from the Syrians' perspective they got little in return for it."
..."The Defense Department pushed for the hard line on Syria," a former State Department official told me. "I think Rummy was at least testing the waters-to see how far he could go-but the White House was not ready." The former official added that Condoleezza Rice, the national-security adviser, "is not going to sit on the Pentagon the way she'd have to in order to give the policy of engaging Syria politically a chance. She won't until the President has made his preferences clear. This kind of policy drift on Syria would be sustainable for another Administration, but Bush can't take it indefinitely. He's defined the war on terrorism in theological terms. A President who says 'You're either with us or against us' can't let policy drift. Rumsfeld's approach is to tell the President, 'You do in Syria what you promised to do.'"
In Washington, there was anger about what many officials saw as the decision of the Bush Administration to choose confrontation with Syria over day-to-day help against Al Qaeda. In a sense, the issue was not so much Syria itself as a competition between ideology and practicality-and between the drive to go to war in Iraq and the need to fight terrorism-which has created a deep rift in the Bush Administration. The collapse of the liaison relationship has left many C.I.A. operatives especially frustrated. "The guys are unbelievably pissed that we're blowing this away," a former high-level intelligence official told me. "There was a great channel at Aleppo. The Syrians were a lot more willing to help us, but they"-Rumsfeld and his colleagues-"want to go in there next."
"There is no security relationship now," a Syrian foreign-ministry official told me. "It saddens us as much as it saddens you. We could give you information on organizations that we don't think should exist. If we help you on Al Qaeda, we are helping ourselves." He added, almost plaintively, that if Washington had agreed to discuss certain key issues in a back channel, "we'd have given you more. But when you publicly try to humiliate a country it'll become stubborn." '
Sunday, July 20, 2003
MONROVIA (Reuters) - Liberian troops battled on Sunday to repel a fresh rebel onslaught at the threshold of the center of the capital after President Charles Taylor vowed his forces would fight to the last man.
At least five people were killed when one of a hail of mortar bombs slamming into the city landed among terrified residents just a few hundred meters (yards) from the U.S. embassy, which took some stray bullets, witnesses said.
Tens of thousands of people have flocked to the heart of the city in search of sanctuary, distraught that promised regional peacekeepers had failed to show up in time to prevent a third rebel assault on Monrovia in little more than a month.
Taylor accused the United States on Saturday of having "blood on its hands" for urging him to step down while he was trying to beat back the rebels. Washington says a small U.S. peacekeeping force may be deployed once Taylor leaves.
The other reason why it feels like you are going into another country is the British presence in the south. The first thing you notice is that everything is smaller, their vehicles are tiny compared with what the Americans are using in Baghdad. They have these cute little tanks which go really fast, our driver called them "baby-tanks". As we were entering Basra we encountered a small convoy, just a couple of vehicles escorted by the British equivalent of a Humvee. On the top sat a soldier with a BIG gun.
In Baghdad that gun would be pointing either at the car right behind the military vehicle or at the sidewalk, scanning the buildings. But the British guy wasn't pointing at anything, he was just looking around with the gun turned in, at an angle that would have shot him in the foot if it had gone off by accident. You appreciate this only after you have been driving behind an American Humvee and praying that your car doesn't backfire or make strange noises, because the US soldier has that gun pointing right at you.
The next thing was getting into Basra and being stopped at the checkpoint. One soldier in a floppy hat waving his hand for you to slow down, and when you lower the window he actually greets you with "al salamu alaikum". That got him some appreciative giggles - imagine that happening in Baghdad. Everybody here in Basra is so much more laid back, even after the incidents in al-Majar al-Kabir. To their credit they didn't decide to punish the whole population and clamp down on them.
...During a wedding celebration, two young men fire celebratory shots into the air. A British patrol happens to be near by, they think they have a couple of Fedayeen shooting at them. Bang bang, the Iraqis are dead.
The British take the bodies to the hospital, and after conducting an investigation they find out they were not Fedayeen, a mistake has been made. So the next day two British officers, two Iraqi lawyers and a translator go to the hospital and ask how the locals deal with this sort of thing. The concept of "Fasil" or blood money is explained to them. A couple of days later the word spreads that the British have paid 15 million Iraqi dinars in blood money to the families of the two Iraqi men. Further bloodshed was stopped. Perfect.
I am not discussing the moral correctness of blood money. This is the way things are done here and if this money will stop any sort of revenge killings then it is worth it. No, I only have one comment: being foreigners, they paid too much. Habibi, everything is bargainable here, and paying 15 million in blood money will ruin the blood money market - it is way too much. You should improve your tribal connections and get someone to bargain for you.
A top Iranian government official admitted that an Iranian-Canadian photo-journalist who died after her arrest here last month had suffered a "brain haemorrhage caused by a beating".
Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi, a reformist, also made the dramatic claim that the death of 54-year-old Zahra Kazemi was linked to wave of arrests carried out by regime hardliners seeking to undermine the embattled pro-reform camp.
'The father of the world's richest man got on the stump in Stumptown on Friday urging America to tax the rich. He thinks people who have made money with the help of the laws and freedoms of the United States owe something to their country.