Saturday, September 20, 2003

sunday magazine 

I'm heading out of town. A few rock and roll bands and I are going out to the Oregon coast for a little shindig. Cuz that's the kind of guy I am. So I'm publishing the Sunday Magazine today, Saturday. It takes two days to read anyway. Get a cup of java, fire up the printer and enjoy.

SALAM PAX
Peter Maass of the online magazine Slate said
Pax was "the Anne Frank of this war ... and its Elvis. Pax's
diary entries have been collected in book form in the
forthcoming The Baghdad Blog.

by Terry Gross from Fresh Air

WE ARE NO LONGER NEW YORKERS
If you want to carry out a brazenly imperialist war in Iraq,
by all means, go ahead. But what do 9/11 and the sympathy
emanating from those events have to do with it?

by Maksim Sokolov writes in Moscow’s Izvestiya from the World Press Review

HUMAN SPACEFLIGHT
China's Great Leap Upward:How China hopes
to become the newest space superpower

by James Oberg from the Scientific American
printer friendly

LEFTIST PUBLICATIONS FROM THE '20s, '30s
rare U.S. periodicals that will be offered by Barry S. Slosberg
at a sale starting a t 5 p.m. Thursday in Port Richmond have
their own significance: evoking the days of left-wing avant-garde
intellectualism in this country between the end of World War I
and the start of World War II.

by David Iams from the Philadelphia Inquirer

THE HUG
Sammy Davis Jr.and Richard Nixon were drawn
together by a mutual need for acceptance. In the end,
neither got quite what he was hoping for.

by Wil Haygood from the Washington Post Magazine
printer friendly

UNDER THE SHELTERING SKY
Writer Paul Bowles helped establish Tangier
as a world center of cool and mysticism. Nearly 50 years
later, how much of that spirit remains?

By Bill Donahue from the Washington Post Magazine
printer friendly

SUMOTALK
Aki Basho Day Two Report
by Kenji Heilman from McSweeney's

NEWSWORLD
Fiction
by Todd James Pierce from the Georgia Review

EXTREME MAKEOVER
Turn your beige box into a twin-engine, fan-cooled V-8!
Linus Torvalds meets Martha Stewart in the obsessive,
custom-fabricated computer world of casemodding.

by Cory Doctorow from Wired

DAVID BOWIE
Interview
by David Bianculli from Fresh Air

CON HEIR
Alison Lohman and Nicolas Cage in “Matchstick Men.”
Plus: “In This World.”

by Anthony Lane from the New Yorker

HEY YA
Video. I know a ran this a few weeks ago, but...
by OutKast from RollingStone.com

IT'S OH SO QUIET
Video. A blast from the past.
by Bjork

GUBERNATORIALYSSA MILANO
puzzle
by Carlton Dolby from McSweeney's


don't forget to read the comics down in the margin

that sinking feeling part two 

So, if you look at the post directly below this one, you will see that I said,"The enthusiasm that I was feeling for the upcoming general election has evaporated today. My spidey sense is starting to tell me that Clark is going to fuck everything up. I hate to say it, but I'm almost never wrong about these things."

This morning I look at the Iowa Electronic Market's market for candidate futures in the Democratic National Convention and this is what I see:



That plunging purple line is ROF or 'Rest of Field' and it represents Clark, Dean, Sharpton, et al; everyone who is represented singularly. ROF was trading at .570 on Wednesday, 589 on Thursday and it closed at 220 yesterday from a high of .556. I knew I didn't want Clark getting into this thing. Notice that no one else picked up either. The Iowa markets are very accurate in predicting the outcomes of elections. Man, I didn't even look at the campaign news yesterday. I just saw a few things around the Blogosphere. This bad. This is really bad.

You get the same reaction in here:



Goddamnit!

If anyone's confused about what this means, it means that Clark is going to derail Dean's candidacy and also be a lousy candidate himself. That's just great.

Friday, September 19, 2003

that sinking feeling 

The enthusiasm that I was feeling for the upcoming general election has evaporated today. My spidey sense is starting to tell me that Clark is going to fuck everything up. I hate to say it, but I'm almost never wrong about these things.

funniest internet joke since the WMD 'i'm feeling lucky' 

From Promethus 6:

I'm in the RSS reader and I see a headline from Brad DeLong's site that says:

"Finally! A Coherant Defense of Nader"

I click the headline, and get:

Not Found
The requested URL /movable_type/2003_archives/002268.html was not found on this server.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Apache/1.3.26 Server at www.j-bradford-delong.net Port 80

the iranian democracy movement shames the US left 

From OpinionJournal : Best of the Web Today:

How's This for an Answer?
Blogress Karol Sheinin reports that an Iranian democracy activist named Banafsheh contacted the most prominent "antiwar" group asking them to take a stand against Tehran's thuggish theocracy. In an e-mail (quoted verbatim), Banafsheh describes the answer she got:

Recently I contacted a group called A.N.S.W.E.R. COALITION which organizes marches. After having introduced myself and explained to them the situation in Iran (after 4 phone calls and messages) I was told that they won't help the Iranian activists and their friends in organizing marches against the Islamic Republic as they're afraid the Iranian student movement might be run by IMPERIALIST!!!!!

They claimed to be "intelligent" and very well informed though essentially they had NO IDEA what on earth I was talking about. They were not only unaware of the crimes committed by the Islamic Republic, they had never even heard that an organized group of hoodlums, called the BADR Brigade, trained by the KGB and Palestinians, armed and bankrolled by the Islamic Republic's ruling theocrats, were infiltrating Iraq to run a muck in killing American soldiers and destroy the future of Iraq! When I explained that the people of Iran are acting on their own but that encouragement from the PEOPLE of the west was crucial in holding anti-Islamic Republic demonstrations etc. (that's all I had asked them for: help in organizing demonstrations) the woman basically said that they won't help because their cause was to eradicate Imperialism! I explained that Iranian oil was being pilfered by member nations of the EU and other countries such as Japan, at which she replied: since we don't live in Europe or Japan, I cannot help! I guess imperialism is concentrated only in the U.S.!!!!! AND that Mullahs can't be "Imperialists!"

I then explained that Hossein Khomeini (Khomeini's grandson) is now one of the biggest opponents of the Mullacracy in Iran...She told me that he was probably being bought by Americans!!! In other words, she was convinced that there could be no dissent among the Mullahs themselves!!!!!

I told her about my father and other political prisoners in Iran (not to mention the number of people stoned to death, hung, assassinated, raped...), she thought for a moment and said that my father is probably a dissident and that the Islamic Republic was possibly justified in putting him in prison!!!!! I don't know, but doesn't that seem oxymoronic coming from someone working at an "activist/protestor" organization?????

This is truly disgraceful. The fact that the National Review is the leading champion of the democracy movement in Iran is a complete embarassment for the left. I've been covering it as best I can. It's been hard to find good reporting. I've done substantial posts here andhere and here.

I can't find Karol Sheinin's actual post. But in looking for it, I came across the little gem just below.

blahmnasporkendoodle!!! take that! 

THIS:

Blix: Iraq destroyed WMD 10 years ago
Is that so? Then I want to be repaid every dollar of my tax-paying money that went into Hans Blix skipping around Iraq looking for them.
by Karol Sheinin @ AlarmingNews

has got to be maybe the most asinine thing I've ever read in the blogosphere.

OK here's your sixty five cents. Now tell me why you don't want the tax dollars that Donald Rumsfeld has spent skipping around "looking" for them. I could have told you they weren't there. Hell, he could have told you they weren't there.

they hate our freedoms 

From MSNBC:

BOGOTA, Colombia, Sept. 18 — Colombia has signed an accord exempting Americans from prosecution in the International Criminal Court, complying with a demand from Washington needed to resume military aid to the drug-war ally.

The accord, signed late on Wednesday according to the Foreign Ministry, applies to some 1,500 U.S. personnel in Colombia, including state department officials and U.S. Special Forces training Colombian troops. Colombia, where the government is fighting leftist guerrillas and drug traffickers, is one of the largest recipients of U.S. military aid in the world. Washington suspended military assistance in July to 35 countries, including Colombia, for failing to shield Americans from the international court -- set up last year to try war crimes and acts of genocide.

The United States fears its nationals overseas could be vulnerable to politically motivated charges. The United States signed the 1998 treaty creating the court, but President George W. Bush's administration later rescinded U.S. backing.


The freedom from prosecution in the Interantional Court must be one of our freedoms that our enemies hate. Thanks for defending our freedoms, Monkey Boy.


From News24.com:

Bogota - A report presented on Monday by an umbrella group of 80 NGOs accused President Alvaro Uribe of taking an "authoritarian" stand in his first year in office that has only aggravated Colombia's bloody conflict.

it's about time 

From Newsday:

The economy is improving for the super rich.

After two years of declines, the total net worth of America's richest people rose 10 percent to $955 billion this year from 2002, according to Forbes magazine's annual ranking of the nation's 400 wealthiest individuals.

Forbes said the surge in collective net worth was largely due to gains in Internet stocks and tech fortunes.

The gains are part of a continuing shift in wealth from the East to the tech-centric West. When the list was first published in 1982, there were 81 members from New York and 56 from California. Today, California boasts 95 Forbes 400 members, while New York has 47.

Thanks to Oliver Willis for the link.

what is a strike, alex 

From the Yale Daily News:

STRIKE SUSPENDS 'JEOPARDY!' TAPING FOR NOW

BY KATHERINE STEVENS
Staff Reporter

JEOPARDY! College Championship suspended its plans to hold tryouts and tape the event at Yale this fall because of the ongoing strike by locals 34 and 35, Yale College Council President Elliott Mogul '05 said Tuesday.

I'll take 'Slowdowns and Sickouts' for 400.

and that concludes this weeks Blogonaut Labor News Roundup. I am going to do a thought piece tonight when I get home from work on recent contract negotiations, so stop back, y'all. Please email me if you'd like to be added to the mailing list to be alerted when a Labor News Roundup is posted.

triangle 



From Fresh Air:

'Triangle: The Fire That Changed America'

Book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews Triangle: The Fire That Changed America by David Von Drehle.

Just listening to Maureen Corrigan ennunciate makes my tongue and jaw muscles sore, but it's still an interesting review.

i’ve been busting my butt for these guys. i asked them if that counted for anything? 

From DenverBrown.com:


A DRIVER COMES OF AGE

I recently came to work at UPS as a driver in the Englewood area. It was really tough getting through the company’s probation, but I’m a full-blown seniority driver now. I’m the pilot of a P-1000 down a busy business area in town. I bust my butt, and am getting things done, keeping the sups off my ass.

I usually come in about an hour ahead of my start time to sort and set up my load. I need to do this in order to maintain my production. I felt I was doing well. This week they added an additional 20-stop split from the guy next to me. I was already working 10 hours every day and now I’ll be out for 11 or 12...

from the manufacturing czar criticism czar 

From the AFL-CIO:

Sept. 17—With the U.S. economy hemorrhaging 2.5 million manufacturing jobs since President George W. Bush took office, U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Donald Evans announced the creation of two new posts to address trade and manufacturing—a move AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney calls “window dressing to distract the public” from the Bush administration’s “consistent pursuit of policies that hurt American manufacturing.”

Instead of superficial staffing, what’s needed are policies to address various causes of the manufacturing crisis, including misguided trade and tax policies, health and pension costs and the over-valued dollar, Sweeney says.

According to Mending Manufacturing, an Economic Policy Institute (EPI) report released Sept. 15, the over-valued dollar, which makes American-made goods more expensive and less attractive than other nations’ goods, is a significant factor in the massive U.S. trade deficit.

let's get real about the proposed dol rules 

From Union Democracy Review:

DOL's proposed report form a mixed bag
A discussion by Judy Schneider, AUD President

The US Department of Labor is proposing major changes in union financial reporting, including new requirements that salaries and other expenses be allocated into clearly identified categories: political activities, lobbying, organizing and contract negotiation and administration, expenses over a certain threshold must be itemized, and the finances of certain organizations, in which the union has an "interest" (over $10,000 in payments) must be reported. Currently, the finances of only a union's wholly owned, controlled or financed organizations are subject to mandatory disclosure.

...a comment by Carl Biers

While the AFL-CIO has organized an aggressive campaign against the "burdensome" rules, it is clear that most union members would welcome access to more information. It is impossible for someone who is unfamiliar with union bookkeeping to accurately judge how onerous the new LM-2 will be. What then to make of the new rules? Putting aside the question of how burdensome they are, there are other reasons - some good, some bad - to oppose the rules.

Good reasons to oppose the rules

1) Political Action. Forcing unions to report what percentage of staff time and total expenditures are made for political action and lobbying will make it easier to allege that unions which engage in vigorous efforts to elect prounion candidates or support proworker initiatives have violated campaign finance restrictions.

2) Agency fees. The break down of expenditures may result in more agency fee payers -- nonmembers who pay only that portion of dues used for collective bargaining purposes -- demanding a larger share of their money back.

3) The source. It is difficult not to be suspicious of any union-related initiatives coming out of an administration with such an antiworker, antiunion record. (This is not necessarily a good reason to oppose the rules, however. They should be judged on their merits and their effect on the labor movement. Measures to democratize unions have always had a certain appeal to conservatives who believe, mistakenly, that if members are given more control, then the union will support conservative candidates and policies


The good parts are a fig leaf baby.

most americans say they think employer anti-union activity is illegitimate  

From AlterNet:

LABOR FIGHTS FOR RIGHTS
By David Moberg, The Nation
September 11, 2003

Sadius Isma came to the United States from Haiti looking for freedom and opportunity. But he found little of either when he and fellow workers at the Point Blank Body Armor factory in Oakland Park, Florida, decided to form a union. After 85 percent of the 350 workers had signed cards to join UNITE, the clothing and textile union, Isma led co-workers to the plant manager's office on July 18, 2002, asking the company to recognize the union. The manager told him that it was illegal to form a union, Isma recounted, and shortly afterward called in the sheriff's department, locked out the workers and had Isma arrested – then fired him.




Big Bill Haywood

beantown war brewing? 

From the Boston Globe:

Talks broke down between the city and the police union after their first bargaining session in four months yesterday, even as the chairman of the Democratic National Committee and Mayor Thomas M. Menino were promising that labor unions would not disrupt their party's convention next summer.

The bargaining session ended after about an hour -- the union said it was over in five minutes -- after it became clear neither side was budging, said Boston Police Patrolmen's Association president Thomas Nee. The next bargaining session, scheduled for next week, has been canceled. "Things do not look [good] for the convention, given what we heard today," Nee said. "The tone and tenor has got to change. We met with people who don't want to work with us. It's the first of three bargaining dates, they come to the table and say they don't want to work with us, and they walk away."

But while Nee was speaking of impasse, Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe and Menino said they were confident the contracts would be completed soon, and that the convention would go off without a hitch. It starts July 26. "I don't think the unions would ever disrupt a Democratic National Convention," McAuliffe said. "I talked to the leadership of the AFL-CIO. That would never occur. We are going to have an agreement, and I think that will be done in the next several months."


20,000 steelworkers ratify contract 

From ICEM:

Job security prevailed as members of the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) ratified a three-year master agreement with Goodyear Tire and Rubber at 14 US plants. The contract, pieced together after five months of difficult bargaining aimed at keeping the US rubber company solvent, gives nearly all 20,000 unionised US Goodyear workers job security, and grants the ICEM-affiliated USWA unprecedented language regarding company decision making including a seat on Goodyear's board of directors.

"Given the blatant abandonment of American manufacturing by global corporations in recent years - 2.7 million jobs in the last 30 months - the job security provisions in this contract are an achievement that mark a whole new era of labour-management relations in the tyre and rubber industry," stated USWA President Leo Gerard.

To relieve the company's financial burden (it had posted losses of US$1.3 billion over the past two years, US$237 million coming in the first two quarters of this year), Goodyear sought to substantially reduce North American production by closing several plants and downsizing others. This production was scheduled to shift to non-US tyre plants with capital investment aimed at non-US and non-union facilities. In addition, Goodyear was looking for USWA members and its 22,000 retirees to make major wage and benefit concessions.

"We made it clear that, for there to be a contract, our plants would stay open and capital expenditures would be made to keep them globally competitive," said USWA Executive Vice President John Sellers, who heads the USWA's Rubber/Plastic Industry Council. The US union secured "Protected Plant" status for 12 of the 14 plants, with one (Tyler, Texas) having "partial-Protected Plant" status meaning it must meet certain goals to obtain protected status. Such designations ensure the plants will remain open for the term of the contract and that these operations be given "meaningful and significant first consideration and preference" for all new products introduced in North America.

sweeney gets out ahead of a challenge from within 

From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17 — John J. Sweeney said today that he would seek another four-year term as president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., a move that if successful would keep him at labor's helm for a total of 14 years.

Mr. Sweeney, 69, said he was making the announcement nearly two years before his term ended because he wanted the 64 unions in the federation to focus next year not on a fight over his successor, but on defeating President Bush.

"We don't want to distract from what our main agenda is right now, and that's to win back the White House and the Senate and the House," Mr. Sweeney said in an interview in his office. "Next year, 2004, is going to be a crucial year for us, because people realize how antiunion this administration has been."

Soon after being elected president in 1995, Mr. Sweeney said he hoped to stay in the position for 10 years, and certainly not after age 70. But if he finishes a new term, he would be president until 75.

"Times change," he said. "When you're in your early 60's, 70 seems a long way off. I really love what I'm doing, and, thank God, I still have my health and my energy and enthusiasm."

...Some labor officials questioned whether Mr. Sweeney might reverse himself and announce in early 2005, after the presidential elections, that he would not seek another term. It is possible, several officials said, that he could face opposition from a younger opponent who might say the movement needs a new and more aggressive leader. .

..."We're entering probably the most important election facing the American labor movement," the president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Gerald W. McEntee, said. "For John, Rich and Linda to take this position adds some certainty to the direction of the labor movement."

With many people expecting Mr. Sweeney to step down in July 2005 at the A.F.L.-C.I.O. convention in Chicago, the labor movement was rife with rumors about who would seek to succeed him. The predictions included Mr. Trumka; Bruce Raynor, president of Unite, the apparel workers' union; Terrence M. O'Sullivan, president of the Laborers' International Union; and John W. Wilhelm, president of the hotel employees' union.

honolulu bus strike madness 

From the Honolulu Advertiser:

Faced with what appears to be growing dissent in their ranks and dwindling public support, striking Honolulu bus workers plan to rally this afternoon at the State Capitol and City Hall.

Some members of the Teamsters and Allied Workers Local 996 have openly challenged the union's leadership during the strike that has shut down O'ahu's public bus system, while others remain solidly committed to the picket lines.

The number of Teamsters and backers who show up at the rally could help illustrate how much support the strike retains on its 25th day. It could also give the strikers a needed morale boost as negotiations resume today with the O'ahu Transit Services bus company.


From the Honolulu Advertiser:

The Teamsters, saying the Honolulu media is not giving the public an accurate account of the bus workers strike, marched confidently into the KSSK Radio studio yesterday to set the record straight. Jim Santangelo, a vice president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, expressed confidence that the bus strike could be resolved soon.

What they got, however, was a verbal brawl. As guests of morning disc jockeys Michael W. Perry and Larry Price, Teamsters International official Jim Santangelo and officials from the Hawai'i Teamsters and Allied Workers Local 996 were allowed to address the public directly. From the beginning, Santangelo, who arrived from the Mainland on Tuesday, pleaded with O'ahu Transit Services to resume labor negotiations. He asked the federal mediator to call the sides back and insisted several times that he could end the strike.

"The sooner we sit down, this thing will be all over with," Santangelo said.

But the guests became defensive with the first negative comment. The rest was talk-show drama. There were name-calling arguments, shouted accusations of lying, not to mention snide remarks about union thuggery, solidarity and government sincerity from both callers and the Teamsters. To paraphrase one caller, who listened to the dispute as she drove her children to school: It was just like professional wrestling.

Mayor Jeremy Harris, who listened to some of the show while driving a city shuttle van from Kalihi, said he found the whole thing amazing, noting that the Teamsters' radio comments were "bald-faced misrepresentations to the public." "It is obvious this union boss, Mr. Santangelo, has flown into town and obviously doesn't know what is going on," Harris said after the show.

There were calls of praise for both Santangelo and the union bus workers, but they seemed lost when emotion took over.

One caller said the 1,300 striking bus workers should be thankful to have a job. Another caller said Santangelo was "a thug from the Mainland." "Is that maybe because I was born and raised in New Jersey and I am a first-generation Italian American?" Santangelo said. "That makes me a thug? I love my people. They're going to win."

Santangelo's arrival has boosted union morale. He has vowed to support the strikers with as much as $500 a week in strike benefits. As he spoke yesterday, his confident, can-do attitude was static-free. "This can be over tomorrow," he said. "I guarantee you that if you sit down with me tomorrow or today, this thing can get done."

Few callers appeared to believe that.

One woman caller said the teachers, who went on strike in 2001, accepted what was offered, and suggested that the bus workers were wrong to dig in their heels. She noted that teachers make less than bus workers. Bus workers make between $15.26 and $21.17 an hour.

"Oh, we're so bad because we drive buses and make a decent living," Santangelo said. "Yeah, we are really bad people."

Read the rest for yourself, it just keeps going.


all aboard 

From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16 — Six Amtrak unions are to announce on Wednesday that they will stop work on Oct. 3, shutting the railroad for the day, to protest Congress's failure to pass a $1.8 billion appropriation for the railroad for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. If carried out, it would be the first time Amtrak workers have walked off the job to protest Congressional policy. In the past, workers have struck over wages or other workplace issues.

A railroad official said Amtrak would probably seek an injunction to stop them, but union officials said they believed that they were justified under the law and cited a 1982 Supreme Court ruling involving longshoremen who protested the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan by refusing to load fertilizer on ships going to the Soviet Union.


PRESS RELEASE

From Yahoo Financial:

PHILADELPHIA and WASHINGTON, Sept. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees ("BMWE") announced today that its members would withdraw their services from Amtrak nationwide on October 3, 2003 to protest Congress' and the White House's failure to appropriate sufficient funds to maintain Amtrak services.

"Good contracts for fewer workers..." 

The Detroit Free Press examines the new UAW contract.

"But strong unions appear to make a difference. The federal government's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this week that the percentage of U.S. workers covered by company-paid health care and retirement programs dropped over the past 10 years along with the percentage of workers covered by unions."




Striking Worker Assasinated - 1934
Manuel Alvarez Bravo

yale 

From Newsday:

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Yale University and two labor unions tentatively agreed Thursday night on a new contract that would end a three-week strike. Negotiators planned to meet with the unions Friday to discuss the proposed eight-year deal, and a vote would follow. If approved, workers would be back on the job Monday. Both sides claimed victory and promised to work on a way to avoid strikes in the future.

...A key issue was the unions' agreeing to an eight-year contract, the longest in their history, which the university said was needed to give both sides enough time to work on a better process for negotiating labor pacts.

"I hope that long-term agreement enables us to figure out how to do this right in the future," said John Wilhelm, president of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union.

Locals 34 and 35 of the union, which represent about 4,000 workers, went on strike Aug. 27 in dispute over wages, benefits and pensions. The last contract expired in January 2002. The new contract would increase pensions substantially for about 1,000 workers who are expected to retire within the next six years.

Neither side would discuss specifics of the agreement.

Sources close to the negotiations told The Associated Press that the contract would increase current pension benefits by at least 50 percent. The benefits would almost double for workers who retire near the end of the contract.

The agreement would be retroactive to last year, but does not include retroactive pay increases. Workers, however, would receive signing bonuses of between $1,500 and two-thirds of the raises they would have received since the last contract expired. The clerical and technical workers in Local 34 would receive raises of between 4 percent and 5 percent annually for the six remaining years of the contract. In the last four years of the deal, the workers would receive half that raise in January and the other half in July. The service and maintenance workers of Local 35 would receive raises of between 3 percent and 4 percent annually, also with the raises split between January and July in the last four years of the pact. Any members of Local 34 who are laid off during the contract would be placed in a pool and given the first chance at other clerical or technical jobs that open up at the school in the following 18 months. Yale has also agreed to create an additional pay level for highly skilled Local 34 workers, the sources said.


From the Guardian:

STRIKE EXPOSES POVERTY BEHIND THE SCENES AT YALE
One of America's richest universities is pitted against one of its poorest towns

...Yale is the largest employer in a predominantly black town, where more than a third of families with children under five live in poverty. New Haven has a higher infant mortality rate than Costa Rica; With its £6.9bn ($11bn) tax exempt endowment, Yale could cover Costa Rica's public health budget until 2015 and still have change left over to build a couple more hospitals.

aud stuff 

From the Union Democracy Review:

Using the Internet for Union Democracy: limits and possibilities.
by Matt Noyes

In the spring of 2000, workers from across the US and Canada met in Boston for a National Rank-and-File Carpenters Conference organized by the Association for Union Democracy and the Carpenters for a Democratic Union. At the end of the day, as they hammered out their next steps in forming a national reform group, one carpenter called out to his brothers and sisters, "how many of you are on-line?" Out of a hundred working carpenters, most of them middle-aged men, all but two raised their hands...


"A DRAFT BILL OF RIGHTS FOR THE BUILDING TRADES"



Refomers win majority in harbor workers Local 333, ILA

Members of the Committee for Change, a reform group in the 3000-member United Marine Division Local 333 of the International Longshoremen’s Association, tried to run for office three years ago but were disqualified on an invented technicality. In May, however, in voting supervised by the Department of Labor, they won four executive board posts, giving them a majority and empowering them to choose the local’s top officer, the board chair. The local represents workers on tug boats, barges, and coastal tankers in New York harbor.

Now the local’s “old guard” is maneuvering to prevent them from taking control...


For union democracy in action, watch NYC public employees

For a lively place to be, try one of the New York City public employee unions. You’ll find hotly contested union elections galore, policy disputes, demands for ethical practices, occasional rivalry among unions, open discussions in the public press. Is New York exceptional in this display of union democracy in action? Or are New Yorkers simply fortunate in access to the information? We are blessed with the Chief, a rare independent weekly newspaper specially aimed at public employees.


IBEW delegates demand due process in construction hiring.

Delegates to last year's 36th convention of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers faced up to one of the most egregious practices in the construction trades, a practice which undermines union strength and militates against union democracy. They adopted resolutions calling for a new due process system in construction hiring. It would limit a right now universally enjoyed by construction employers in all the trades: the right to reject any applicant for employment for any reason and without explanation.


Is the Teamsters Union safe for dissenters? An exchange.

Bradley T. Raymond is an attorney who, as he informs us, has represented the Teamsters union. He takes umbrage at our story in UDR No.142 entitled "Teamsters union: still dangerous for dissenters."

"As a reader of Union Democracy Review, and the attorney who represented the IBT in a number of protest cases during the 2000-2001 election, I offer the following personal observations in regard to your recent article entitled, "Teamsters Union: Still Dangerous for Dissenters":

"1. Your attack against Election Appeals Master Kenneth Conboy for his decision in the Armadeo Bianchi matter is wholly unjustified...


IBEW roundup: electricians rally at international headquarters, a message from Herman Benson, and IBEW officers thumb noses at convention decision

Electricians rally demands action by IBEW
by Andy Piascik

They came to Washington, DC from all along the Eastern seaboard, from New England and the Deep South, from the Midwest and from as far away as Arizona... Some came from small towns where work is scarce, while others came from Cincinnati and Chicago and Washington itself, cities with big locals where a disturbing amount of electrical work is being done non-union.

They were members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, 160 strong, rallying in front of their union's international headquarters on April 14. They came not at the call of their union, but as rank and file critics of IBEW international officials. Their demands were many, but boiled down to their simplest expression, the rally was a collective cry for democracy: Fight for us, or at least let us fight for ourselves.


ILA report: Baltimore local threatened with trusteeship for resisting concessions
by Carl Biers

ILA Local 333 in Baltimore is being threatened with a trusteeship by the International Longshoremen's Association because its officers have resisted demands for concessions from the world's largest paper company, says an executive board member of the local. John Blom, a 26-year member of the local, says the union is in a strong position to resist the concessions demanded by UPM-Kymmeme, a $10 billion company that has threatened to use nonunion longshore workers or relocate to another port if Local 333 does not agree to reduce its labor costs before the contract expires in September, 2004

oh no 

From LaborNet:

IN ONE OF THE MOST bizarre examples of international union dictatorship, the International Association of Machinists [IAM] has taken its largest Midwest local into trusteeship. After violating the IAM constitution and the National Labor Relations Act, Thomas Buffenbarger, IAM International President, has moved to destroy what little democracy remains in the IAM. IAM Local 701 in Chicago IL has for years been a well run local that has operated democratically and been the recipient of contracts most rank and file IAM members would be grateful for. Local 701 has more than 8000
members representing workers at UPS who maintain the fleet of trucks, at local car dealerships and workers at trucking lines who service trucks. 701 has been progressive in organizing by IAM standards and most certainly has
been a union where members have had a decisive role in the decision making.

For the first time, the international union took over negotiations at the national level for its locals that represented workers around the country at UPS. The locals still negotiated local issues and maintained the right to vote on the contract. When local 701 members rejected the contract by a wide margin, the IAM reneged, denying local 701 the autonomy to negotiate. Business Representative Jon Baker was told to "fix It" by Buffenbarger,
according to sources in local 701.

...The IAM then fired the Recording Secretary, Bob Feehan. The IAM brought local officers and business representatives up on charges that many in the local believe are phony and designed to intimidate local members and officers. Jon Baker and Herb Elam, Directing Business Manager have both been suspended and brought up on charges.

Local 701 members have formed the Committee to Defend Local 701 and are holding membership meetings to build support for suspended leaders and defend 701 against the trusteeship. When trustee Roger Nauyalis held a membership meeting, the committee to Defend Local 701 organized a picket of their own hall.

...The IAM has suffered huge losses in membership due mostly to the top down style of current leaders. At United Airlines, the IAM suffered a staggering decertification vote and lost more than 13,000 members to AMFA, Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association. AMFA, an independent union not affiliated with the AFL-CIO, now has more than 20,000 active members in the airline industry, most of them former IAM and Transportation Workers Union members. The recent United Airlines loss by the IAM is a clear signal to Buffenbarger and the IAM International Executive Board; rank and file
members have had enough.

...If you want to help Local 701 in this important struggle for justice, here's what you can do. Send a contribution to the legal assistance fund to the Committee to Defend Local 701. Write a letter expressing your outrage to Thomas Buffenbarger, President, IAMAW 9000 Machinist Place, Upper Marlboro, MD 20772-2687 and send a copy to The Committee Local 701 PO Box 1218 Oak Park IL 60304. Call the IAM International offices at: 301-967-4502. Contact
the committee at their website committee@free701.0rg.


Elsewhere

From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:


The international union representing machinists at Lockheed Martin's Marietta plant has suspended 16 local union leaders, accusing them of overcharging or failing to account for more than $150,000.

In a letter this week to members of Local 709, the largest union at Lockheed Martin, International Association of Machinists President R. Thomas Buffenbarger said local leaders billed members for first-class airline tickets when they actually traveled coach and pocketed the difference. Local 709 officials also failed to account for expenses, didn't pay proper taxes and falsely inflated expenses, he said.

...Jimmy Carroll, president of IAM Local 709 since 1987, declined to comment. Other Local 709 officers also refused to discuss the charges.



revenge of the nerds 

From TechsUnite.org:

On Tuesday, September 16th at 8:30 am, the Communications Workers of America, with a coalition of laid-off high-tech workers and labor supporters, will demonstrate against the “off-shoring” of IT jobs (information technology) out of the United States.

uaw and the big three stuff 

From the Detroit News Auto Insider:

DETROIT -- DaimlerChrysler AG is free to sell or close as many as seven unwanted Chrysler Group parts plants under a tentative agreement reached Sunday with the United Auto Workers union.

While details remain sketchy, The Detroit News has learned that the proposed deal includes a $3,000 contract signing bonus, a lump-sum payment in the second year and general wage increases ranging between 2 percent and 3 percent in the third and fourth years.

By comparison, the union's 1999 contract with Detroit's automakers -- considered one of the richest in the industry's history -- included a $1,350 signing bonus and 3 percent wage increases in each year of the contract.


From the Detroit News Auto Insider:

DEARBORN -- Ford Motor Co., parts supplier Visteon Corp. and the United Auto Workers union reached an agreement on a tentative four-year national labor pact Monday covering more than 95,000 hourly workers.

Details of the pact were not released, but the terms will be similar to a deal signed between the union and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group on Sunday that provides a $3,000 signing bonus and less generous wage and pension increases than the last contract signed in 1999.

"It was a long set of negotiations, but it was well worth it," said Ford Chairman and CEO Bill Ford Jr., who took a direct role in the final days of negotiations.

Under the pact, Ford and Visteon, its former parts unit, agreed to pay new hires at Visteon a lower starting wage to make the parts supplier more competitive with other suppliers, including nonunion companies, sources familiar with the deal said. As part of the deal, Ford will allow some Visteon hourly workers to transfer to Ford factories as openings allow. Replacements can then be hired by Visteon at a lower wage rate.

In tandem with the agreement, Ford received a multi-year price guarantee on Visteon components, the sources said. The agreement should save Ford millions of dollars in purchasing costs a year.

The new pay scale -- which will be roughly 30 percent lower than the current $25-29 hourly wage rate -- is expected to help Visteon cut costs, putting the No. 3 U.S. global supplier in a better position to win and keep business at Ford, its largest customer.

Ford also secured greater flexibility to move workers from job to job and factory to factory, sources said.

Details of contracts in Forbes.



cat past 

From The Illinois Labor History Society:

UAW debacle at Caterpillar: The Political Lessons
18 December 1995

By Shannon Jones and Barry Grey

For the second time in four years, the United Auto Workers has ignominiously surrendered to the heavy machinery maker Caterpillar.

In April 1992 the UAW ended a six-month partial strike in the face of a threat by management to hire strikebreakers. This months's cave-in was even more humiliating. The ending of the second, 17-month-long strike and the unconditional return to work announced by the UAW on December 3 meant that returning strikers would face terms far harsher than those initially rejected by the UAW in 1991.

The UAW's action was universally interpreted by the media and big business for precisely what it was. The Detroit News ran a banner headline: "UAW Surrenders at Caterpillar." Wall Street took the calling off of the strike as further proof that the UAW and the AFL-CIO as a whole would do nothing to oppose its continuing attack on jobs, wages and working conditions. Already celebrating an extraordinary bull market, buoyed by falling wages, rising productivity and low inflation in the midst of record profits, the Dow Jones industrial average jumped another 52 points.

While many Caterpillar strikers initially reacted with stunned outrage and shock over this latest betrayal, it came as no surprise to the Workers League and others who have closely followed the policies of the UAW and AFL-CIO over past 15 years. The International Workers Bulletin warned at the beginning of the strike that if its direction remained in the hands of the UAW bureaucracy, it would end in disaster.


The UAW may be headed for another knockdown dragout with CAT.

el maestro luchando también está enseñando 



From Labor Notes:

On a balmy late May evening in Oaxaca,
Teachers from Oaxaca march through the streets of the state capital. They wanted the government to allocate sufficient resources for education and opposed the impending privatization of public education, electricity, and social security.

“El maestro luchando también está enseñando,” the teachers chanted.-“A teacher in struggle is also teaching.”

Tents, tarps, and makeshift kitchens surrounded the square too, and spilled into several nearby blocks. They belonged to members of Section 22 of the Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores en la Educación (CNTE), a democratic reform caucus of 250,000 members inside the national teachers union. The teachers’ encampment, or plantón, was part of a wave of actions being carried out across Mexico by tens of thousands of rank-and-file CNTE activists.


left coaster on clark 

Check out the Left Coaster's take on Clark as the establishment's attempt to head off Dean. This makes hash of the idea that Clark's candicy is a warm up for a Dean Veep run or left pronouncements that Dean's run is a establishment strategy to dupe the left.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

dear friends 

I'm going away this weekend. Not wanting to leave the blog unhelmed, I've asked my friend Antonio Gramsci to guest blog over the weekend. To that end, I set him up with a password and some simple instructions to get him started. Unbeknownst to me, he's already started - so we'll both be blogging for tonight and tomorrow. Then Sgnr. Gramsci will take the com until Tuesday. I will most likely drop long thought pieces on Monday and Tuesday. So Blogonauts please welcome our comrade: Antonio Gramsci!

"The Governor looked deranged..." 

Matt Taibbi takes a look at the Dean campaign here.

I must confess that for the first time since 1992, when I volunteered for Cathy Steinberg's congressional bid (she was running against right-wing fundamentalist John Linder), I donated something to a campaign when I sent Dean 25 precious dollars.

I've liked Dean because he presents himself as the most recognisable alternative to Johnny Flight Suit, but...he's no Eugene McCarthy, you know?

Is Ted Rall insane? 

I blog...you decide..
Ted is rarely at a loss for words
And I like these words the most:
But SUVs are a national blight, burning 33 percent more gas, generating 30 percent more carbon monoxide and 75 percent more nitrogen oxide than regular cars. SUVs are so popular--they account for more than half of new car sales--that average fuel efficiency reversed a long-term trend by starting to drop beginning in 1987. Since 1990, SUVs have wasted an extra 70 billion gallons of gasoline, costing even more than the war on Iraq

I live in an exurb with a lot of stupid people who think that tooling around solo in a giant SUV is guaranteed by the Constitution. Marc probably thinks that I shouldn't promote setting other people's "property" ablaze. Ach! Too bad for him!

Hah, Marc here: While I would never publicly advocate the destruction of private property especially the property of fellow citizens (the property of legal fictions is a different matter altogether), I must confess a certain pleasure in hearing the news that someone has been firebombing SUV's.

and why not? 


the market responds to clark 



The Iowa Electronic Market for the Democratic Convention Nomination rallied to General Wesley Clark's announcement that he is running for President and began to correct yesterday. ROF closed at .508 on Monday, .625 on Tuesday and .570 yesterday.

Trading for ODEM in the General was as follows: 9/15 - BU/ODEM .255 ODEM .267 9/16 BU/ODEM .29 ODEM .367 9/17 BU/ODEM .3 ODEM .29


For an in depth profile of Clark the Atlantic has this. I plan on reading it when I get up in the morning.

I asked a friend who has the best political head I know how he felt about Clark getting in. I just found this in my email:


Could mean:

a) bad news for Kerry & Lieberman, each of whom might now be supplanted as the most "legit" on national security issues. There's an argument to be made that Demo primary voters are looking for a way to be both pro-security and anti-war; Clark provides one such opportunity whereas both Kerry & Lieberman were somewhat compromised among liberal coastal primary voters by their support for the authorization resolution in the Senate.

b) bad news for Edwards, who might now have to compete for white southern democrat parimary votes that would otherwise have been his. (assuming, as most do, that Bob Graham has always been pretty much an afterthought).

c) good news for Gephardt, who benefits as at least three other candidates see their trademark messages & profiles duplicated.

d) could go either way for dean - one the one hand, it could split the anti-war base; on the other, there's some speculation that Dean wanted him in the race to help position him for eventually being Dean's running mate - Dean can't compete in the General Election in any southern state except Florida without a Southerner with good defense credentials on the ticket. It will be interesting to watch WHERE he campaigns and AGAINST WHOM he goes on the offensive.

e) Irrelevant for the irrelevant candidates Sharpton, Kucinich, Graham, & Mosely-Braun.

I worry that Clark's primary run could compromise him as a Dean Veep, but I can also see the value. I also think that having Clark running in the primary is going to further soften up Bush. It sure will be nice to have a four star general beating up on Monkey Boy on national security. I wish Kerry and Gephardt would get their asses back to Congress at take the fight to the floor and the hallways.


that's just peachy 

From the Washington Post:

The White House said yesterday that it will nominate three new members to the Amtrak board of directors, including former American Airlines chief Robert L. Crandall. Also nominated were former World Bank official Louis S. Thompson, an advocate of railroad privatization, and Floyd Hall, former chairman of Kmart Corp, who would bring experience turning around ailing companies.


Wednesday, September 17, 2003

afghanistan quickie 

From the World:

Kandahar report
There's still sympathy for the Taliban in Kandahar. Taliban and Afghan forces continue to clash. Afghan President Hamid Karzai is testing his political strength by venturing into Kandahar to reign in the warlord culture and crate a united Afghanistan. The World's Quil Lawrence reports.


From Reuters/Alternet:

CARE International has lobbied for greater protection of humanitarian workers in the face of ever-growing danger, particularly conflict zones. The organisation's advocacy director, Kevin Henry, told Lars Inge Staveland much more needs to be done to increase security in Afghanistan and Iraq and emphasised the need for a clear distinction between the military and humanitarian spheres

Interview here


From Reuters/Alertnet:

BRUSSELS (AlertNet) - New guidelines to help relief and development agencies ensure safe and appropriate conditions for their staff seem more relevant than ever, but some in the sector say they could be costly to implement and might make organisations balk at deploying aid workers in hostile environments.

I did a big Afghanistan post yesterday. If you want more it's here. Except that is one of Blogspot's stupid, messed up trackback links that doesn't work. You're better off scrolling down. It's down there. When you see a picture of some Afghani kids, you know you're there. Seven articles, all interesting.

liberia 

From Reuters Video:

Liberia Peacekeepers Moving Into Rebellious Countryside


From The World:

Liberia report
The UN Security Council is considering whether to send a peacekeeping force of 15,000 troops to Liberia. A small West African peacekeeping force has already secured the Liberian capital Monrovia, but a much bigger United Nations presence will be needed to bring stability to the rest of the country. The BBC's Mark Doyle reports from Liberia.


Reuters Photo Album:
Liberians running short of supplies.

From AllAfrica.com:
Daily Trust (Abuja)

The federal government has issued a stern warning to ex-Liberian president, Charles Taylor, currently on asylum in Nigeria, not to interfere in the crisis in his country.

Presidential spokesperson, Mrs. Remi Oyo, who made governments' position known yesterday, said the warning became necessary following an allegation by the UN Secretary-Generals' special representative for Liberia, that Charles Taylor was still interfering in its political affairs from Nigeria.


From AllAfrica.com:

The United Nations has sent food to tens of thousands of people in the rebel-held Liberian city of Buchanan for the first time since heavy fighting erupted between the government and rebels earlier this year, but hundreds of thousands more in the West African country have received no humanitarian aid for months.


From Reuters/AlertNet:

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) - Switzerland
Website: http://www.icrc.org
GENERAL SITUATION

Ecomil troops managed to deploy outside Monrovia at the end of last week, but renewed fighting between Liberian government troops and the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) delayed the deployment planned for Kakata, 60 km north of Monrovia. Although security remains volatile in several rural areas, displaced Liberians who sought refuge in Monrovia at the height of the fighting have started to move back to the Montserrado camps. People staying in schools in Monrovia have been asked to vacate the premises for the resumption of classes in October.

ICRC ACTIVITIES

The ICRC is currently focusing on protection and assistance activities to help both displaced people and residents in Monrovia and the neighbouring counties of Montserrado, Bong, Margibi, Grand Bassa and Bomi. In order to extend its programmes, a new sub-delegation will be opened in Zwedru in the coming weeks.


From the NY Times:

MONROVIA, Liberia — Charles Taylor, for six years the warlord president of Liberia, stole or diverted nearly $100 million of his country's wealth, leaving it the poorest nation on earth, according to a close review of government records, an investigation by United Nations experts and interviews with senior Liberian officials.

Mr. Taylor stole government money to buy houses, cars and sexual partners, senior members of his government said. He illegally diverted many millions in government revenues to buy weapons in defiance of an international arms embargo, fueling a futile civil war, United Nations investigators say.


From IrinNews.org

MONROVIA, 17 Sep 2003 (IRIN) - Mains electricity will be restored to parts of Monrovia within a few days, more then 10 years after it was cut off during fighting that damaged a hydro-electric power station, the European Union representative in Liberia said on Wednesday.

reuters video 

From Reuters Video:

Chileans March To Honor 'Disappeared'


U.S. Heading High Seas Inspections Exercise


the daily show 

The Daily Show's takes on Israel's tentative plans to assasinate Arafat and the California recall election. And more on California. Senator John Edwards announces his candidacy for president.


ps: from Chappelle's: Wu Tang Clan Financial

c is for cheney, l is for liar 

From ABC News:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration signaled its intent on Tuesday to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a ruling requiring Vice President Dick Cheney to divulge information about his energy task force.

In papers filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia, Cheney's Justice Department lawyers said they intend to file a petition with the Supreme Court no later than Sept. 30.


From the Star Tribune:

on "Meet the Press" Sunday,...Cheney repeated the mantra that the nation ignored the terrorism threat before Sept. 11. In fact, President Bill Clinton and his counterterrorism chief, Richard Clarke, took the threat very seriously, especially after the bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000. By December, Clarke had prepared plans for a military operation to attack Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, go after terrorist financing and work with police officials around the world to take down the terrorist network.

Because Clinton was to leave office in a few weeks, he decided against handing Bush a war in progress as he worked to put a new administration together.

Instead, Clarke briefed national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, Cheney and others. He emphasized that time was short and action was urgent. The Bush administration sat on the report for months and months. The first high-level discussion took place on Sept. 4, 2001, just a week before the attacks. The actions taken by the Bush administration following Sept. 11 closely parallel actions recommended in Clarke's nine-month-old plan. Who ignored the threat?

...On weapons of mass destruction, Cheney made a number of statements that were misleading or simply false. For example, he said the United States knew Iraq had "500 tons of uranium." Well, yes, and so did the U.N. inspectors. What Cheney didn't say is that the uranium was low-grade waste from nuclear energy plants, and could not have been useful for weapons without sophisticated processing that Iraq was incapable of performing.

Cheney also said, "To suggest that there is no evidence [in Iraq] that [Saddam] had aspirations to acquire nuclear weapons, I don't think is valid." It's probably not valid; Saddam wanted nuclear weapons. But Cheney is changing the subject: The argument before the war wasn't Saddam's aspirations; it was Saddam's active program to build nuclear weapons.

Cheney also said "a gentleman" has come forward "with full designs for a process centrifuge system to enrich uranium and the key parts that you need to build such a system." That would be scientist Mahdi Obeidi, who had buried the centrifuge pieces in his back yard -- in 1991. Obeidi insisted that Iraq hadn't restarted its nuclear weapons program after the end of the first Gulf War. The centrifuge pieces might have signaled a potential future threat, but they actually disprove Cheney's prewar assertion that Iraq had, indeed, "reconstituted" its nuclear-weapons program.

...Cheney also said that an investigation by the British had "revalidated the British claim that Saddam was, in fact, trying to acquire uranium in Africa -- what was in the State of the Union speech." The British investigation did nothing of the kind. A parliamentary investigative committee said the documents on the uranium are being reinvestigated, but that, based on the existence of those documents, the Blair government made a "reasonable" assertion and had not tried to deliberately mislead the British people.




ollyollyumkumfree 

From ABC News:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A draft report on the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq provides no solid evidence that Iraq had such arms when the United States invaded the country in March, ABC News reported on Monday.

Citing unidentified officials, ABC said the report by the civilian leading the search for hidden weapons will detail Iraq's effort to maintain the capability to produce biological, chemical or nuclear weapons.

...A U.S. intelligence official said Kay's report on the search was not finished and the ABC report was mere speculation.


colombia watch 

MUST READ: From ABC News:

Report: 11,000 Colombia Children on Front Lines of Guerrilla War

C H I A, Colombia, Sept. 17— Jimmy leans against the fence, his arm on the post. The 17-year-old tries to sound confident, but as his story of horror unfolds, he voice becomes more tentative. "The worst thing for me," he says, his eyes focused on the ground, "was when my girlfriend and child were killed by police." Jimmy was 14 when that happened. His girlfriend was the same age. Their baby was just a month old.

... When he was 13, Jimmy ran away from his home in Nariño in southern Colombia to join guerrillas fighting government forces. He became an expert at making land mines and car bombs that were used to kill Colombian soldiers.

According to a report released this week by Human Rights Watch, Jimmy's story is typical of the experiences of the estimated 11,000 Colombian children who have been recruited to fight on the front lines of the 40-year-old guerrilla war against the Colombian government.

...With a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development and other funding from the United Nations, the Colombian government operates a network of 46 safe houses, which are home to almost 600 former child soldiers. In the next three months, the number of children escaping from the guerrillas and turning to the government for help is expected to double.

...Monika, 17, is toiling in the market garden, chatting incessantly with a boy nearby. She joined the guerrillas voluntarily, thinking they offered her a life of freedom. She quickly discovered the reality: a grueling life constantly on the run in the jungle. ...But for Monika and the other girls it is often much worse. About a third of the child soldiers are young girls, some just 8 and 9 years old. Many are sexually exploited. "The commander wanted to sexually abuse me," says Monika nervously, "and I didn't let him and that is why [I] was punished. They punished me with hard labor. That is one of the reasons I deserted."

...Jimmy points to scars around his fingernails and a slash on his unusable left thumb. He describes how police tortured him as they tried to get him to reveal to the location of the jungle camp where his comrades were hiding.

"During the interrogation, when they tortured me, they broke my arm and the stuck pins under my fingernails and they cut one of my fingers," he says. "That night I took the officer's knife and slit his throat and escaped."


REUTERS VIDEO: Marxist Rebels Hold Tourists In Colombia


From the Guardian:

SIERRA NEVADA DE SANTA MARTA, Colombia (AP) - The commander of the Colombian army flew over jungle-covered mountains Tuesday, heading up a massive search for eight foreign backpackers who were kidnapped by rebels. Gen. Carlos Ospina also visited an Indian village tucked in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains where residents told him they saw the tourists - four Israelis, two Britons, a German and a Spaniard - and their captors on Saturday afternoon.

Rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, were suspected in the largest mass kidnapping of foreigners in Colombia in almost a quarter-century. But the rebel group late Tuesday denied involvement. The FARC has quickly admitted its involvement in other high-profile kidnapping cases. Ospina said authorities had not discarded the possibility that members of the National Liberation Army, a smaller leftist rebel group, were responsible.


From the Australian Broadcasting Company:

The Department of Foreign Affairs is disappointed a Bendigo couple captured by armed rebels in Colombia ignored warnings not to travel to the country.

Michelle Walkden and Mark Tuite were among a group of tourists tied up by the soldiers while visiting ancient ruins on the Sierra Nevada mountains. They eventually escaped, but another group of tourists kidnapped at the same time are yet to be found.


From Common Dreams:

WASHINGTON -- Washington should cut off aid to Colombia if the country proceeds with an amnesty for leaders of right-wing paramilitary groups responsible for some of the worst massacres of the country's decades-long civil war, human rights groups insist.

A Colombian government proposal to offer amnesty to paramilitary leaders, in exchange for their dissolution and the payment of fines or other acts of contrition, was strongly assailed by a U.S. human-rights researcher who has monitored abuses there for both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW).


From Petroleum World:

Colombia´s National Deputy Planning Director Alejandro Gaviria announced Monday that Colombia´s gas company ECOGAS will be privatize, reported goverment news agency CNE noticias.

With the privatization and the appointment off a new operator the government wants ECOGAS to reduce decreased consumer costs and increased the supply of gas for cars and homes. Also, taxes on the transport of gas are to decreased and the the cost passed to the consumer, Dow Jones reported.


From the Guardian:

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) - A massive U.S.-financed fumigation campaign of cocaine-producing crops has hit Colombia's illicit drug industry hard, cutting coca cultivation by one-third in seven months, a U.N. report said Wednesday. The Colombian government hailed the report by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime as evidence that the aggressive eradication efforts are working. The results are "extraordinarily encouraging and positive,'' the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

But the United Nations also warned that production of coca, the raw material for cocaine, was rapidly expanding in other South American countries, notably Peru and Bolivia.

The report attributed much of the drop in Colombia - 32 percent from January through July - to the government's vigorous use of U.S.-supplied spray planes to fumigate coca plantations. Colombian troops trained by U.S. Special Forces and flying aboard U.S.-provided Black Hawk helicopters provide security for the spray planes, which are often fired at by rebels who along with the right-wing paramilitary foes control much of Colombia's cocaine production.

the general entereth 



From Reuters:

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Reuters) - Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, former NATO commander and a relative political novice, announced on Wednesday he would make a run for the White House, joining nine other Democrats in the crowded 2004 race.

...His military resume allows him to challenge Republican President Bush's credentials as commander in chief; his decorated war veteran background nullifies the argument of fellow Vietnam veteran Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts that he is the only Democratic contender with combat experience, and his public opposition to the Iraq war makes former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean share the anti-war mantle.

In addition, Clark's southern roots could siphon support from U.S. Sens. Bob Graham of Florida and John Edwards of North Carolina. Edwards formally kicked off his candidacy on Tuesday but was overshadowed by news of Clark's impending announcement.


I don't know if Clark is our best shot or if he just muddled our best shot, by running against Dean. Their are going to be competing for the same dollars and their politics are about the same and they are friends. It's hard to imagine what it will look like when they start campaigning head to head in a few months. The timing sure was a tough break for Edwards.

I really wish he had signed on as Dean's VP. The behind the scenes history will be interesting when it comes out in two years.

he's back! 

From the San Jose Mercury:

from the moment Bill Clinton was introduced at the Monterey Conference Center, drawing a standing ovation, to his final minutes pressing the flesh of squealing admirers, he came pretty darn close to living up to his status as president-cum-rock star.

Clinton's appearance at a Panetta Institute forum on "The Challenges of Presidential Leadership in the 21st Century" had some Democrats saying they'd vote for him one more time -- or even his wife.

"He was absolutely powerful," said Dorothy Lloyd, dean of professional studies at CSU-Monterey Bay.


What's that crafty bastard up to?

the link, the link, the link is the key 

From the Boston Globe:

WASHINGTON -- Vice President Dick Cheney, anxious to defend the White House foreign policy amid ongoing violence in Iraq, stunned intelligence analysts and even members of his own administration this week by failing to dismiss a widely discredited claim: that Saddam Hussein might have played a role in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Evidence of a connection, if any exists, has never been made public. Details that Cheney cited to make the case that the Iraqi dictator had ties to Al Qaeda have been dismissed by the CIA as having no basis, according to analysts and officials. Even before the war in Iraq, most Bush officials did not explicitly state that Iraq had a part in the attack on the United States two years ago.

But Cheney left that possibility wide open in a nationally televised interview two days ago, claiming that the administration is learning "more and more" about connections between Al Qaeda and Iraq before the Sept. 11 attacks. The statement surprised some analysts and officials who have reviewed intelligence reports from Iraq.


it's almost as if they want lewis lapham to make snarky remarks about them 

From USA Today:

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration spends $1 billion a year trying to polish the United States' image around the world, yet polls show anti-Americanism rising to record levels, especially in Muslim and Arab nations where the government is concentrating its efforts.

the world 

From The World:

Kabul interview
Afghan officials are reporting that 15 Taliban guerrillas were killed in a clash last night involving US forces. Two years ago the radical Taliban regime was ousted from power, but Taliban rebels have been regrouping and attacking in the Kandahar province. Host Marco Werman speaks with The World's Quil Lawrence, who spent the weekend in Kandahar.


Kidnap report
Kidnap for ransom is a growing business in Baghdad. And neither the American nor Iraqi security has been able to stop it. The World's Orlando de Guzman spoke with some recent kidnap victims in the Iraqi capital about their ordeal.


Detainee interview
U.S. led forces in Iraq have been detaining Iraqis believed to be involved in subversive activity. But once taken they go missing in the new legal system and their families are desperately trying to locate them. Host Marco Werman speaks with Farnaz Fassihi who reported the story for the Wall Street Journal.


AIDS interview
Marco Werman speaks with Jay Pryor, the Managing Director of Chevron in Nigeria about how HIV is the greatest challenge faced by businesses in Africa.


Afghan road report
The World's Quil Lawrence reports on efforts to rebuild the road between Kabul and Kandahar.


Nissan report
The World's Matthew Bell reports on a new Nissan plant that is opening up in Mississippi.

marketplace 

From Marketplace:

States look to cut prescription med costs
Several states are trying to find new ways to cut drug costs for their consumers. The governor of Illinois is looking to Canada as a possible source of cheaper drugs for state employees. And, health insurers in California are proposing to give $10 discounts to patients that switch from brand-name to generic medications, which have lower co-pays. Companies also come out ahead if patients use cheaper medications. As healthcare costs and insurance premiums rapidly rise, states are attempting to find creative solutions to one of the drivers of healthcare cost increases.
Reporter: Helen Palmer


UAW and Ford, Chrysler reach tentative agreement
Negotiators for the United Auto Workers union and General Motors are still at work on a new contract. So far, Chrysler and Ford have reached a tentative agreement with the union. And, as with many labor negotiations this year, healthcare was a major issue. The UAW did not want automakers to shift healthcare costs to workers. While neither side has released details, it was reported that UAW members still won't have to pay monthly premiums, although the co-pay for prescription drugs will double. Also, Ford and Chrysler wanted the leeway to get rid of plants to be able to match their production to demand -- and the tentative agreement is said to work in company restructuring plans.
Reporter: Bill Poorman


Afghanistan’s warlords needed, yet undermine U.S. efforts
Two years after the U.S. relied on warlords to help liberate Afghanistan from the Taliban, the warlords have carved up the country and taken control of the economy. Some say this seriously undermines the U.S. effort toward the economic and political stability of Afghanistan. The warlords, who have their own armies, are convenient military allies, but gnarly obstacles to nation-building. The U.S. tends to overlook the warlords’ drug trafficking because they need to maintain good relations with them, and President Karzai is not about to pick a fight. And, the warlords are the government’s main internal revenue source. It’s a never-ending cycle of instability -- which made the country such a snug fit for terrorists in the first place.
Reporter: Ilana Ozernoy

song of the week 

The song of the week is "It Stops With Me" by the Hot Club of Cowtown.

My friend Doug and I met them playing for quarters in Balboa Park in San Diego. I went to see them a few more times in San Diego in cafes. Soon after they moved to Austin to get serious. Now they're all grown up. They even have website with Flash and little spinning whole notes. I saw them last fall at the Aladdin here in Portland with 400 devoted fans. You may have heard them on Prairie Home Companion (if you were listening to the show that they were on).

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

sliver lining 

In thinking about the collapse of the WTO I'm finding a sliver of hope in the debacle. The poor countries were happy that they hung together and didn't give in to more concessions to the West. When even the progressive press was dutifully reporting the pronouncements by Western negotiators and World Bank types that they didn't that they would be hurt most of all by the collapse, I had to stop and wonder: Do they really misunderstand their own self interest? No they know damn well what's best for themselves.

I think the key thing that resulted from the Cancun breakdown is that the G21 held together. They will bargain with more clout next time. What I would suggest they propose is that they will agree to language on the Singapore issues that phases in say 5 years after the West completes phasing out their ag subsidies. This has the double benefit of giving them time to pull their economies together, ready their financial markets and giving built in motivation to the West to meet deadlines on ag subsidies.

Three cheers for the G21.

afghanistan 



From Eurasianet.org:

Pashtuns, Afghanistan's largest ethnic group, have a disproportionately low level of representation in the country's governing bodies. Political analysts worry that the Pashtuns’ ongoing exclusion may create an insurmountable barrier to Afghan stabilization hopes.

Afghanistan is bracing for a Loya Jirga, or grand tribal council, that will try to frame a new constitution and set the stage for elections in 2004. The Loya Jirga is now scheduled for December. Pashtuns comprise approximately half of Afghanistan's 28.7 million population. Despite their large demographic share, they are struggling to make their influence felt as the country enters a critical development phase. Though Afghanistan's interim president, Hamid Karzai, is a Pashtun, the bulk of top government officials come from other ethnic groups. Ethnic Tajiks, in particular, dominate defense and security structures.


From the International Herald Tribune:

Guerrillas opened fire with mortars and machine guns on American soldiers in an eastern province of Afghanistan before retreating toward the Pakistan border, the U.S. military said Monday. The military said it suffered no casualties in the incident Saturday, the latest in a spate of attacks on coalition and Afghan security forces in the south and east of the country usually blamed on Taliban loyalists.


From the Pakistan Daily Times:

KABUL: Afghanistan will be on a "road to hell" unless the outside world provides more reconstruction funds urgently and improves security by deploying peacekeepers around the country, a report said on Monday.

A forthcoming policy brief from aid agency Care and the New York-based Centre on International Cooperation (CIC) said the promises made in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States had not been fulfilled. Putting Afghanistan on the road to peace needs more than good intentions, it needs urgent action, they said. "If donors continue to try to fulfill their pledges on the cheap or allow for further delays, they will set Afghanistan on a road to hell that Afghans know too well.

NATO is considering expanding its 5,000-strong peacekeeping force in Afghanistan beyond the capital of Kabul, after repeated appeals by the Afghan government and the United Nations. But contributing nations have so far been reluctant to commit troops for a broader role for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Care and CIC said insecurity was growing ”especially outside Kabul” with 62 attacks on UN or aid agency staff from May to August, compared with just five attacks in the last four months of 2002. "It is simply not right that while Kosovo, Bosnia, Croatia and East Timor had an average of one peacekeeper for every 65 people, Afghanistan still only has one ISAF member for every 5,380 people," they said.

..."In a world where security and prosperity are global issues, the international community will surely pay for its actions in Afghanistan” either by supporting Afghanistan now or by paying for the consequences of not doing so later."Care and CIC's paper, due to be released formally today (Tuesday), also blamed the US military for funding and rearming warlords to buy their support in the war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda.


From the San Jose Mercury News:

ORGUN-E, Afghanistan - On a bare brown hillside in a remote corner of eastern Afghanistan, the soldiers on the front lines of America's forgotten war wait, watch and wonder how long it will be before the U.S. can declare victory and go home. From behind the safe confines of their barbed-wire enclave, the biggest enemies are boredom and the dust that whips endlessly through the little tented camp, clogging nostrils, lungs and gun barrels.


From the Afghan News Network:

AFP) - KABUL - Afghanistan has approved a total of 5,000 investment projects worth some $4.5 billion since 2002, the Commerce Ministry said yesterday. "We're glad to say that over 25 percent of these projects are in place or in the process of being implemented," Commerce Minister Sayed Mustafa Kazemi said on his return from a trip to Iran for the inauguration of Chabahar port. "We're hopeful of creating an environment that will see implementation of all these projects,"he said. When implemented, the 5,000 projects are expected to employ more than 400,000 people.


From the Afghan News Network:

(BBC) - Pakistani officials say that troops have been deployed along the border near Balochistan province to try to stop the activities of al Qaeda and suspected Taleban fighters in the area. A BBC correspondent in Quetta says a high level official confirmed that Pakistani troops have been deployed near Chaman, Toba Achakzzai and Qamar Din Karaiz. He says that army and Frontier Corp personnel are reported to have begun joint patrols.


From the NY Times:

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- European nations are considering a U.S. and German request for the United Nations peacekeeping force in Afghanistan to spread outside the capital, Kabul, but have not discussed sending more troops, officials said Monday.

NATO currently provides 5,500 troops in Kabul under a U.N. mandate to maintain order in the capital and support the Afghan authorities. About 11,500 foreign troops are also in Afghanistan in the U.S. force fighting the remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaida. "There was a general agreement that this is something that needs to be looked at, but there needs to be very careful consideration,'' said NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson.

uaw 

From the Washington Times:

DETROIT, Sept. 16 (UPI) -- General Motors was the only one of Detroit's Big Three automakers still in need of an agreement with the United Auto Workers on a new four-year contract.

Ford Motor Co. as well as it former parts operation, Visteon Corp., reached a tentative deal Monday, 24 hours after DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group announced its agreement. "We are pleased with the settlement, and we just move forward from there," said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger, who called the Ford negotiations "very difficult and challenging."

People familiar with the deal at DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group told the Detroit Free Press there is no wage increase in the first year of the contract beyond a cost-of-living adjustment. However, there was a $3,000 signing bonus. The automaker gets flexibility to close money-losing plants and transfer workers. In the second year of the contract there is a cash bonus equal to 3 percent of a worker's annual pay and 2 percent and 3 percent wage increase the subsequent years.

Ford's agreement was reported to have similar provisions.

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