Saturday, January 03, 2004

we've moved 

Blogonaut is being put into retirement.

My current project is The Joe Hill Dispatch where I hope you'll join us. These are the current projects of The Joe Hill Dispatch:

Laborwire: a daily journal of labor and union news and activism.
Nationwire: a daily journal of national news and domestic issues.
Industry: a daily journal of economic, financial and business news.
The World Beat: a daily journal of globalization and trade news and activism.
Greenwire: a daily journal of environmental news and activism.
Junkiewire: a daily journal of news for political junkies.
Activate: a running log of activist projects. It's where to go when you want to get your E-Activist on.

The Joe Hill Dispatch won't be as eclectic as Blogonaut was, but I promise to make it worth your while.

See you over there.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

epa scuttled mercury warnings 

From the Washington Post:

For nearly 21 months, a government task force steadily moved toward recommending rules that within three years would force every coal-fired power plant in the country to reduce emissions of mercury, which can cause neurological and developmental damage to humans.

The Environmental Protection Agency-sponsored working group had a well-regarded mix of utility industry representatives, state air quality officials and environmentalists. Without settling on specific emission reductions, the panel agreed that all 1,100 of the nation's coal- and oil-fired power plants must use the "maximum achievable control technology" (MACT) to reduce mercury and other hazardous pollutants.

But in April, the EPA abruptly dismantled the panel.


Dean, Gepster and the Unions in Iowa 

The Chicago Tribune has an excellent article on the role of the unions in the upcoming Iowa caucus.

must read on the structural nature of our trade deficit 

Robert Kuttner writes in Business Week:

The U.S. trade deficit will exceed 5% of gross domestic product this year. A big trade deficit, combined with a low domestic savings rate, requires the U.S. to borrow heavily from abroad. We currently owe the world about 40% of one year's GDP -- $4 trillion, something totally unprecedented. That figure will keep rising, with more of our own income going to service external debt. At some point, our creditors will have second thoughts. For two decades, economists have warned about the unsustainable trade deficit. To paraphrase the late economist Herb Stein, anything unsustainable won't be sustained. But will the rebalancing be a soft landing or a painful crash?

I fear the landing could be nasty, but I disagree with most economists who blame the problem on our budget deficit, savings rate, and overvalued dollar. Look more carefully and you'll see three deeper structural causes, all related to hegemony and ideology.

safeway fight 

From Business Week:

The AFL-CIO and big pension funds want to boot William Tauscher, claiming conflicts of interest. The supermarket chain isn't budging

In this age of corporate-governance reform, few things rankle institutional investors like a presumably independent director whom they perceive to be anything but. William Tauscher, an independent director at supermarket giant Safeway, is learning that the hard way.

'good news' on healthcare costs 

Business Week:

While industry experts predict smaller cost increases for 2004, they'll still be rising at double-digit rates

The health-care industry has been down so long it must look like up. How else to explain the "good news" that virtually every industry expert is touting for 2004: a slowing rate of increase in health-care costs compared to the previous five years.

a union in china 

The New York Times has an extraordinary article on the struggle by one man, Liu Youlin to bring a legitimate union to a factory in China. Although foreign employers are legally required to have a local a branch of the national union, his employer has none. He overcomes a number of hurdles and eventually forces recognition. When the local office of the union required him to collect 20 signatures to petition for recognition, Liu Youlin came back with 182.

However at the election of officers, the union and the company collude to nominate only supervisers and a few handpicked workers. To attend the election, workers must take time off without pay to vote for the sham slate. Still, 109 out of 900 workers show up and hand in blank ballots or vote only for the workers. The slate cannot muster the necessary votes and the union is 'stillborn'.

"We defeated their idea of a union," Mr. Liu said. "But now we have to begin again."

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