Donnachaidh's Journal - Archives
Recently, a string of cities and states have passed new ordinances that would require paid sick days for employees at certain employers. Just last week, Philadelphia’s city council passed a second version of a paid sick leave bill after the mayor vetoed the earlier one. Earlier this year, Seattle approved paid sick days legislation, while Connecticut became the first state with a state-wide requirement.
Now, the Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch has published an expose of how the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) — a corporate front group that farms out legislation to almost a third of state legislators nationwide — is drafting legislation on behalf of its wealthy conglomerate funders to repeal these ordinances.
PR Watch obtained documents from ALEC’s 2011 Annual Meeting showing that one of the group’s committees — the Labor and Business Regulation Subcommittee of the Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force — focused its entire meeting on the issue of paid sick leave. Task force members, who are legislators, were given copies of a bill that enables state legislatures to override municipal paid sick days laws. The same bill was used in Wisconsin to override Milwaukee’s paid sick days requirement.
PR Watch notes that ALEC’s Labor and Business Regulation subcommittee is co-chaired by a company that owns many of the nation’s fast food companies, major opponents of paid sick leave:
More at the link --
ATLANTA, Georgia - As the Occupy Movement spreads like wildfire across the United States and around the world, protests in the U.S. South are facing unique challenges.
Occupy protests have sprouted up in countless cities across the U.S. South, including Atlanta and Augusta, Georgia; Columbia, South Carolina; Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Miami, Florida; and New Orleans, Louisiana, to name just a few.
In Atlanta, Georgia, the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement, the city government has struggled with the question of how to respond to the Occupy protesters who have literally taken over downtown's Woodruff Park with tents and an encampment that has no end in sight.
On Monday, Mayor Kasim Reed issued a second extension for Occupy Atlanta to stay in the park for three more weeks.
More at the link --
HOLY BAILOUT - Federal Reserve Now Backstopping $75 Trillion Of Bank Of America's Derivatives Trades
This story from Bloomberg just hit the wires this morning. Bank of America is shifting derivatives in its Merrill investment banking unit to its depository arm, which has access to the Fed discount window and is protected by the FDIC.
This means that the investment bank's European derivatives exposure is now backstopped by U.S. taxpayers. Bank of America didn't get regulatory approval to do this, they just did it at the request of frightened counterparties. Now the Fed and the FDIC are fighting as to whether this was sound. The Fed wants to "give relief" to the bank holding company, which is under heavy pressure.
This is a direct transfer of risk to the taxpayer done by the bank without approval by regulators and without public input. You will also read below that JP Morgan is apparently doing the same thing with $79 trillion of notional derivatives guaranteed by the FDIC and Federal Reserve.
What this means for you is that when Europe finally implodes and banks fail, U.S. taxpayers will hold the bag for trillions in CDS insurance contracts sold by Bank of America and JP Morgan. Even worse, the total exposure is unknown because Wall Street successfully lobbied during Dodd-Frank passage so that no central exchange would exist keeping track of net derivative exposure.
MORE at the link --
on the Dylan Ratigan show.
They want to talk to him about going after Geithner, Paulson, etc., for FRAUD.
The group has been given a deadline of 5 pm to vacate the park. The local media is playing the group like a bunch of *dirty hippies*, giving more airtime to some rightwing nutbag who came down to scream at the protestors.
BUT -- there was also a blurb that Mayor Kasim Reed is mulling over giving the protestors more time, and that is where DU can help. If you have the time please call his office today, and ask them WHY these kids need to leave, and ask them to re-consider their deadline to vacate.
His office number is 404.330.6100. There are more contact numbers at this link:
This is a solid group who have caused NO problems for the city. They can use some real support in their effort.
Please call, and keep calling!
The man who called Goldman Sachs a "great vampire squid" has some advice for Occupy Wall Street.
Not that he doesn't think they're doing things well. In fact, he thinks the logic behind the protester's lack of demands is ingenious.
But if they were to figure out their specific demands. Here's where he, per his article in Rolling Stone today, thinks they should start:
1. Break up the monopolies. He's talking about the 20 or so "too big to fail" companies in our country that could single-handedly take down our economy.
2. Pay for your own bailouts. "A tax of 0.1 percent on all trades of stocks and bonds and a 0.01 percent tax on all trades of derivatives would generate enough revenue to pay us back for the bailouts, and still have plenty left over to fight the deficits the banks claim to be so worried about..."
3. No public money for private lobbying. Pretty self-explanatory.
4. Tax hedge-fund gamblers. Right now, because of the carried-interest tax break, they're only paying about 15%.
5. Change the way bankers get paid. Bonuses shouldn't be paid up-front. They should be contingent upon performance.
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/matt-taibbi...
In the wake of COINTELPRO and the Watergate scandal, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas sent a letter to a group of young lawyers at the Washington State Bar Association. "As nightfall does not come all at once," he wrote, "neither does oppression. In both instances there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air - however slight - lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness."<1>
The recent dramatic expansion of intelligence collection at the federal, state and local level raises profound civil liberties concerns regarding freedoms and protections we have long taken for granted. If people generally appear unaware of "change in the air," a large part of the reason is the unparalleled resort to secrecy used by the government to keep its actions from public scrutiny. According to the new American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) report, "Drastic Measures Required," under President Obama (who had vowed to create "an unprecedented level of openness in Government" when he first took office), there were no fewer than 76,795,945 decisions made to classify information in 2010 - eight times the number made in 2001.
There are layers of secrecy that cannot even be penetrated by most members of Congress. In the recent debate over the re-authorization of three sections of the USA Patriot Act with sunset provisions, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), who is a member of the Joint Intelligence Committee, declared in the Senate in May 2011 that there was a secret interpretation of Patriot Act powers that he could not even tell them about without disclosing classified information. <2> "When the American people find out how their government has secretly interpreted the Patriot Act, they will be stunned and they will be angry," said Wyden. The determination of the Obama administration to imitate its predecessor and maintain a wall of secrecy around anything that could be connected (however tenuously) with "national security" is evident in the zeal with which it has pursued whistleblowers and its use of the state secrets privilege in judicial proceedings, including in the recent court challenge to the FBI use of the informant Craig Monteilh to spy on mosques in Orange County, California.
During a decade of relentless fearmongering about the terrorist threat, most Americans appear to have accommodated themselves to the visible signs of change without questioning their broad implications. If searches on the subway, body scans at the airport and a Special Operations military drill targeting a Boston neighborhood are presented as necessary to keep the nation safe, they are for them.
More at the link --
The Afghan state is considered to be so weak that President Hamid Karzai is mockingly known as the "mayor of Kabul." Well here's the latest troubling sign: In the five-year period ending in 2010, the United States and other donor nations paid for fully 90 percent of the expenditures of the Afghan government.
That's according to a new study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). It found that the U.S. paid for 62 percent of the Afghan government's budget, while other donor nations paid 28 percent. The U.S. share amounted to about $34 billion over the five-year period.
The money went to budget items such as salaries for government employees, social security benefits, infrastructure projects, and training of the Afghan army.
To be sure, this represents only a small portion of the expenditures on the war, which, depending on the estimate, amount to something over $100 billion per year.
More at the link --
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Food and Drug Administration has cautioned the corn industry over its ongoing use of the term "corn sugar" to describe high fructose corn syrup, asking them to stop using the proposed new name before it has received regulatory approval, The Associated Press has learned.
The Corn Refiners Association wants to use "corn sugar" as an alternative name for the widely used liquid sweetener currently labeled as high fructose corn syrup on most sodas and packaged foods. They're attempting an image makeover after some scientists linked the product to obesity, diabetes and other health problems; some food companies now tout products that don't contain the ingredient.
Though it could take another year before the FDA rules on the request made last September to change the name, the Corn Refiners Association has for months been using "corn sugar" on television commercials and at least two websites: cornsugar.com and sweetsurprise.com.
A series of high-profile television, online and print advertisements tell consumers that "sugar is sugar" and that corn sugar is natural and safe, provided it's consumed in moderation.
More at the link --
about freaking time FDA....
President Obama recently addressed the nation during a joint session of Congress and the main theme of that address was the need to create jobs, lots of jobs, millions of jobs. The Great Recession has cost US workers millions of jobs and those jobs have not come back as quickly as they disappeared and in many cases those jobs will never return. According to the Economic Policy Institute, “In total, there are 6.9 million fewer jobs today than there were in December 2007.”
That is only a small part of the jobs-hole story, a story that is often ignored, overlooked and oversimplified by mass media.
The media has failed to present the unemployment problem, with all its associated economically devastating consequences, in the manner it deserves. It’s possible that unemployment facts and figures don’t translate well for advertisers, or they are too cumbersome to present in a two-minute segment. Whatever the reason, the mass media seem to avoid unemployment details as they would avoid describing and filming fresh road kill during a dinnertime newscast. While some excellent blogs clearly explain unemployment data, such as Mish’s Economic Trend Analysis, Calculated Risk and Economic Populist, mass media sites are absent.
1. The jobs deficit: That is the total number of jobs lost PLUS jobs that should have been created since the recession began in December 2007; as mentioned above, there are 6.9 million fewer jobs today than at the start of the Great Recession, but that tells only half the tale of the jobs deficit. There is also the matter of creating jobs to keep up with the increase in workforce population. Those new workers include high school and college graduates, and immigrants. The number of jobs that need to be created each month to accommodate new entrants into the workforce ranges from 120,000 - 150,000. Adding together the jobs lost since the recession and the new jobs needed for population growth, the total jobs deficit is estimated to be 11.3 million. A few tax breaks, some targeted workforce retraining and some regulatory relief for businesses are not going to be the forces behind the creation of more than 11 million jobs. A massive effort is required to fill that gaping jobs hole.
More at the link --
As we prepare to celebrate the third anniversary of the Lehman bankruptcy and the ensuing financial crisis, it’s a good time to assess the situation and ask what has changed. The answer is not encouraging.
Very little has changed about either the realities on the ground or the intellectual debate on economic issues in the last three years. The too-big-to-fail banks are bigger than ever as a result of crisis-induced mergers. Financial industry profits now exceed their pre-crisis share of corporate profits, and executive pay and bonuses are again at their bubble peaks.
None of the executives who pushed and packaged fraudulent mortgages have gone to jail. Even those who have faced civil actions, like Countrywide’s Angelo Mozilo, have almost certainly still come ahead after making large payments to settle suits.
And all the top policy people who guided us to this economic disaster are still doing just fine. When Alan Greenspan isn’t collecting his seven-figure salary from PIMCO, the country’s largest bond fund, he is sharing his wisdom with the world on the Sunday morning talk shows.
More at the link --
In the present jobs bill, a majority of all the tax cuts and financial help mostly went to high wage earners ONLY who NOW pay federal income taxes, even though many of these identical wage earners have already received a tax cut through the Bush tax cut extension in the past. Additionally, on January 1, 2010, federal workers had also received a "permanent" 2.9 percent wage increase during this depression or deep recession that they now call it. Almost everyone in this Nation has now received some form of "financial assistance" within this Obama jobs (stimulus) bill, with the exception of our American poor, which also include our senior citizens and our disabled and retired U. S. veterans -- even though this segment of our population has previously paid over the years approximately 20 percent of their income each and every year in the form of local city taxes, state taxes, and federal taxes. These previous taxes include gasoline, tires, batteries, used or new automobiles and auto parts, telephone calls, home heating oils or natural gas, electricity, and of course any bus or air travel taxation fees when you go on a trip to your Grandma's house.
The only thing that our Senior Citizens received from this present Obama jobs bill is the possibility that this Democratic President and Congress may put Medicare on the table for future reform cuts. The reason he gave in his jobs plan speech was that cuts or reforms may be needed due to higher healthcare costs, for which the President is partially to blame by not including a Medicare-For-All public option plan that would have helped fund the Medicare System with more paying members and at the same time provided competition that would have contained higher medical costs. In addition, the Democratic Congress at the time the National Health Bill was passed, did not enter a provision that would permit our U. S. citizens to purchase their drug needs from foreign sources, nor did they include a provision in the bill that would require that all drug prices should be negotiated prior to purchasing that is now practiced in veterans' hospitals. In retrospect to the previous, who are our politicians trying to protect or favor? Themselves or the drug industry cartel?
Why is it that our poor, disabled veterans and retirees are not part of this so-called economic jobs (stimulus) recovery program when it relates to more income through tax cuts when it is our low-income citizens who are now hurting the most? Additional income for these citizens to spend at the retail sector in an effort to increase spending at the retail sector will do the same if they are employed or not. In addition, middle class or union workers' monthly incomes may average approximately $40,000 per year in comparison to a low-income senior who may only receive $9,000 per year or less through their present Social Security payments. I also have been informed that many of our seniors who now fit into this identical low-income bracket are in dire need of assistance.
Does the government truly believe that "by not" cutting Medicare or entitlement programs for the poor that it "will financially help" these citizens during this depression? If our highly-paid working citizens now need a tax cut to "survive" or to boost their income today, it is therefore inconceivable that our low-income seniors today are also in desperate need of additional tax cut "income." Medicare or entitlement programs are not additional income programs to buy what you may need to survive or to sustain their livelihood at the retail sector. To the contrary, Medicare reforms or cuts will only provide seniors with additional "hidden" expenditures to receive their present medical needs.
More at the link --
On Saturday, September 17, 2011 U.S. Day of Rage has called for peaceable assemblies of people in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle.
In New York City, the plan is to occupy Wall Street and target the root of our political and social problems: Money & Greed.
In the words of Day of Rage organizer Alexa O'Brien, "...we have no choice but to focus on the sources of the money. Both the Democratic and Republican parties set the bankster agenda because of the money."
It's finally happening. The target: money, big money. Protest in Washington all you want, the U.S. Government and our elected representative are all pawns of the real power brokers the bankers, the swindlers.
More at the link --
Mack Cook Jr. has come to depend on the monthly boxes of food from Angel Food Ministries.
The Monroe-based nonprofit, which has faced legal and financial problems in recent years, said Wednesday it is suspending its food distribution for September -- the first time in 17 years. It's unclear when distribution will resume.
The nonprofit works through a network of about 5,000 churches and some community organizations across the nation. Food boxes are sold for up to half off what a customer might pay at regular retail prices. People can pay for the boxes through their churches, online or directly to AFM.
Some area food banks said they don't know what spillover they might get from AFM suspending distribution this month. Jeri Barr, CEO of the Center for Family Resources in Cobb County, said food resources are already tight. "We don't have enough for folks already coming to our door. We can't keep food on the shelves."
More at the link --
Many of the 70,000 "third country national"(TCN) service workers employed in Afghanistan and Iraq "recount having been robbed of wages, injured without compensation, subjected to sexual assault, and held in conditions resembling indentured servitude by their subcontractor bosses," reports Sarah Stillman in a June 6th article in The New Yorker magazine titled "The Invisible Army." The arrangement, in fact, is very near to what one might describe as slavery.
"These workers, primarily from South Asia and Africa, often live in barbed-wire compounds on U.S. bases, (and) eat at meagre chow halls..." Stillman reports. "A large number are employed by fly-by-night subcontractors who are financed by the American taxpayer but who often operate outside the law."
Since the U.S. invasions, more than 2,000 contractor fatalities and 51,000 contractor injuries have been reported in Iraq and Afghanistan as the soaring casualty rates "are now on a par with those of U.S. troops in both war zones," Stillman writes.
Although President Obama said in 2009 he would make good on his campaign pledge to do better by these contractors, the number of TCN's in Afghanistan had increased by nearly 50 percent reaching 17,500----with no apparent improvement in their lot. Indeed, the deplorable conditions on the bases where contractors are employed have triggered widespread rioting.
More at the link --
The ten most recent threads posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums.
FL GOP tries to close state pension system to new workers, yet take THEIR pension at 2X accrual rate
FL GOP denies $51 billion federal Medicaid to poor, yet order cheap health care for themselves
Happy Mother's Day
I love DU2!
Florida Senate President Don Gaetz (R) ran company now accused of Medicaid fraud (Rick Scott redux)
Mediterranean diet cuts risk of heart dis-ease
By No Elephants
The ten most recommended threads posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums in the last 24 hours.
Use the tools below to keep track of updates to this Journal.