Thursday, May 31, 2012
Less than three years removed from accepting a $45 billion bailout courtesy of the American taxpayers - Bank of America announced plans to lay off 30,000 American workers - and relocate its business-support operations and call centers to the Philippines. Bank of America joins other big American banks that've turned their backs on American workers and set-up shop in the low-wage paradise of the Philippines - where the average family makes just $4,700 a year. This exodus of jobs not only hurts our economy - but also may compromise the security of account holders in the United States - as foreign contractors now have access to secure financial data. In the last four years - 500,000 jobs have been shed from the US call center industry thanks to this same sort of outsourcing. That's roughly ten percent of the entire call center workforce. So how do we stop this endless leak of American jobs to the developing world?
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 10:42 AM
Mike Papantonio, Attorney/Host-Ring of Fire Radio joins Thom Hartmann. Mitt Romney released his so-called plan for educating students in America last week - and to noone's surprise - the plan does very little to help students in America afford a higher education. Rather than promote policies that reduce the costs of college and help the student loan debt crisis - Romney has chosen to protect for-profit colleges and big business. In fact - Romney pledges to undo two essential reforms implemented by President Obama and his administration: Student Loan Reform and Holding For-Profit Colleges accountable for waste, abuse and fraud. Right now - student loan debt in America is over $870 billion dollars - and apparently - if Mitt Romney becomes President - he's comfortable letting this debt grow larger. Whether Romney wants to admit it or not - America is in the midst of a student loan crisis - and something needs to be done about it.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 10:41 AM
Interpol aids in search for Luka Rocco Magnotta after torso found in Montreal, foot and hand mailed
The search for Luka Rocco Magnotta, the 29-year-old suspect in the grisly slaying and dismemberment of a victim whose body parts were sent in the mail, has now spread beyond Canada.Interpol posted a picture and information on Magnotta on its website Thursday among a group of nine international suspects wanted for crimes including homicide, kidnapping and organized crime.
Montreal police Cmdr. Ian Lafrenière told CBC News on Thursday morning that they believe Magnotta may have left the country.
Magnotta is wanted for homicide in connection with sending body parts through the mail and the discovery of a torso behind a low-rise apartment rented by the suspect in west-end Montreal, near the Décarie Expressway.
Police believe Magnotta was in "a relationship" with the victim, a man in his 30s whose torso was found in a suitcase in a pile of garbage in Montreal. Investigators haven't released the victim's name and are awaiting autopsy results to confirm his identity.
However, Montreal police said they believe the victim was reported missing in Montreal several days earlier.
Lafrenière said police believe he was killed last week.
Sources have told CBC News that police believe they have evidence of the suspect videotaping the killing and dismembering of the victim.
A hand was found in a package addressed to the Liberal Party of Canada at a Canada Post terminal before it could be delivered.
Montreal police said there are still remains that are unaccounted for, but they have no reason to believe they were also sent in the mail.
Magnotta, believed to be originally from Toronto, is also known as Eric Clinton Newman and as Vladimir Romanov. Montreal police give this description of Magnotta:
Five feet 10 inches tall.
The discovery of the torso was believed to be linked to the foot sent to Conservative headquarters and a hand found at a Canada Post terminal that was addressed to the Liberal Party of Canada headquarters.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 10:34 AM
DemocracyNow.org - The New York Times revealed this week that President Obama personally oversees a "secret kill list" containing the names and photos of individuals targeted for assassination in the U.S. drone war. According to the Times, Obama signs off on every targeted killing in Yemen and Somalia and the more complex or risky strikes in Pakistan. Individuals on the list include U.S. citizens, as well teenage girls as young as 17 years old. "The President of the United States believes he has the power to order people killed -- in total secrecy, without any due process, without transparency or oversight of any kind," says Glenn Greenwald, a constitutional law attorney and political and legal blogger for Salon.com. "I really do believe it's literally the most radical power that a government and president can seize, and yet the Obama administration has seized [it] and exercised it aggressively with little controversy."
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 10:24 AM
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Interestingly, the same percentage of Americans who favor marriage equality also favor legalizing medical marijuana. Oh, and Vice President Biden? If you want to step into this and blurt out some words in defense of medical marijuana? Now would be a GREAT time...
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 10:35 AM
In ordering an end to the nationwide rail strike by Canadian Pacific workers, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives appear to be following a long-standing tradition.
What is dramatically new about this particular majority government, however, is the break-neck speed with which it acts. It legislates an end to strikes immediately after — and in some cases before — they begin.
It has introduced the concept of pre-emptive warfare to labour negotiations.
The CP strike began last Wednesday. Back-to-work legislation was threatened on Thursday and introduced in the Commons the following Monday.
Compare that to the way in which the Harper minority government handled a similar strike by Canadian National Railway workers in 2007.
In that case, workers were either on strike or locked out for a total of 23 days over three months before the Conservative government — with Liberal support — brought in back-to-work legislation
That same year, CP rail maintenance workers went on strike for three weeks. Yet here, the Conservative government did nothing.
“The government doesn’t introduce a law each time there is a strike,” then labour minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn explained.
By 2009, however, the Conservative approach had subtly changed. In November, the government introduced back-to-work legislation just three days into another CN strike.
Continue reading here.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 10:31 AM
Mexicans will head to the polls on July 1 for national and local elections, voting in Senators, Governers and a new President. More than 3.5 million people will be casting their ballots for the first time. The so-called youth vote for those aged 18 to 29 makes up more than 20% of the electorate. If voter turnout is high it could have an impact on the election, however, nearly half of voters in that age group are still undecided, according to a recent academic study. Al Jazeera's Rachel Levin reports on how the youth vote could play a big role in deciding the next President of Mexico.
DemocracyNow.org - Two years after directing the Academy Award-winning documentary, "Inside Job," filmmaker Charles Ferguson returns with a new book, "Predator Nation: Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption, and the Hijacking of America." Ferguson explores why no top financial executives have been jailed for their role in the nation's worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. We also discuss Larry Summers and the revolving door between academia and Wall Street as well as the key role Democrats have played in deregulating the financial industry. According to Ferguson a "predatory elite" has "taken over significant portions of economic policy and the political system and also, unfortunately, major portions of the economics discipline."
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is among several world leaders calling for a new approach to the war on drugs. He says he might even consider legalising cocaine to stop the devastation it has caused to his country. Al Jazeera's Teresa Bo has this exclusive report from Cauca, Colombia.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 10:23 AM
DemocracyNow.org - Sunday's antiwar march at the NATO summit in Chicago was led by members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) and Afghans For Peace. "We're here to protest NATO and call on all NATO representatives to end this inhumane, illegal and barbaric war against our home country and our people," says Suraia Sahar, a member of Afghans For Peace who marched alongside Afghan war veteran Graham Clumpner during anti-NATO protest in Chicago. "I feel honored standing next to this veteran because in my opinion they are doing the right thing by speaking out against the occupation and war alongside us." Clumpner says, "I reject any affiliation with this war."
Monday, May 28, 2012
The Canadian public is on a distinct tilt to the left, says a new national public opinion poll, suggesting concern over wealth distribution has traction beyond the Occupy tents and protest parades. The nationwide poll suggests the New Democratic Party would form a minority federal government if this were election day and a strong majority of Canadians believe the country suffers from an income gap, where the rich are getting too rich and the poor are getting too poor.
(click image for larger view)
Continue reading here.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 12:38 PM
For tonight's Conversations with Great Minds, Thom Hartmann is joined by Nobel Prize winning economist Dr. Paul Krugman. Krugman received a Ph.D. from MIT - and has taught at several schools including Yale, MIT, and Stanford. He's written 20 books - including several best-sellers - and over 200 papers on international trade, finance, currencies, and several other areas. He's the recipient of numerous awards - including the Nobel Prize in economics, which he won in 2008. Currently - he is a professor of economics and current affairs at Princeton University - and you can read Paul Krugman's work everyday as a columnist on the pages of the New York Times. His new book is titled: End This Depression Now. Europe is in crisis mode. The United States could be headed off a fiscal cliff at the end of the year. And Congress doesn't seem to know what to do. Tonight Thom speaks with someone who DOES know what to do: Paul Krugman.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 11:53 AM
Larry Rousseau, Regional Executive Vice President, Public Service Alliance of Canada, The Huffington Post:
In 2011, Quebec eliminated the corporate tax on paid-up capital, denying itself hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue each year. Or take the general corporate income tax rate, which, at 28.4 per cent, means that Quebec has one of the lowest rates in North America. Many readers might be surprised to learn that this statutory corporate tax rate is lower than in California (40.75 ...per cent), Florida (38.58 per cent) and Texas (35.65 per cent). In fact, American subsidiaries in Québec remitting profits to the U.S. must also remit the difference between the lower Québec/Canada corporate tax rate and the higher U.S. rate to the Internal Revenue Service, so Quebec is effectively passing up revenue to a foreign government.
Continue reading here.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 11:50 AM
A Postmedia News analysis reveals that 35 of the 141 candidates who lost at the polls received jobs in places such as the Prime Minister’s Office, Health Canada, ministers’ offices or on boards and agencies such as the Quebec Port Authority. In fact, Quebec candidates made up three-quarters of those who received federal jobs.
Four candidates were appointed to the Senate, two to overseas diplomatic positions in France, 14 to agencies or boards and 14 became political staff to ministers and MPs. Some left their previous political staff positions to run in the election, and then were rehired after losing their bid for public office. Two people hired to serve in ministers’ offices have subsequently left their positions.
The analysis found that of the 63 defeated candidates in Quebec, where the Tories won only five of 75 seats, 26 received appointments or political jobs, or about 40 per cent of all the defeated Quebec candidates.
Outside of political staff, appointments to boards, agencies and the Senate are approved by cabinet.
The practice of appointing or hiring party faithful is a staple in Canadian politics. During his days as an opposition MP, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was critical of political appointments made by former prime ministers Brian Mulroney and Jean Chrétien.
Continue reading here.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 11:41 AM
Democracy Now! returns to Chicago, site of the largest NATO summit in the organization’s six-decade history, where nearly 50 veterans discarded their war medals by hurling them down the street in the direction of the NATO summit. We hear the soldiers’ voices as they return their medals one by one from the stage. "I’m here to return my Global War on Terror Service Medal in solidarity with the people of Iraq and the people of Afghanistan," said Jason Hurd, a former combat medic who spent 10 years in the U.S. Army. "I am deeply sorry for the destruction that we have caused in those countries and around the globe." Scott Kimball, an Iraq war veteran, adds: “For all the servicemembers and veterans who are against these wars, you are not alone!”
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 11:35 AM
Sunday, May 27, 2012
As violence continues in Syria despite the UN peace plan, we ask what other options are left to end the bloodshed in Syria.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 11:49 AM
A polar bear named Yupi is a long way from her natural home. For the past 20 years, she's lived in sunny Mexico. But not for much longer, if animal rights campaigners get their way. Adam Raney reports from Mexico.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 11:47 AM
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Scores have been killed in an attack by Syrian government forces and loyalists on Houla, a town in Homs province, according to activists. The Syrian National council has asked the United Nations to take immediate action after what it called a "massacre". Al Jazeera's Rosiland Jordan reports.
Warning: There are graphic images in this report which some might find disturbing. At least 90 people have been killed during an attack on Houla, a town near the opposition stronghold of Homs. Dozens of children are among the dead. Al Jazeera's Rosiland Jordan reports.
UN observers in Syria have visited the town of Houla where nearly 100 people were killed in a massacre. The head of the mission condemned the attack. UN leader Ban Ki-moon and UN-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan also condemned the killings saying they were an "appalling and brutal" breach of international law. Al Jazeera's Charles stratford reports.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 11:48 PM
How did the Montreal student protests escalate into the current situation? Have a quick look at this video to get up to speed. Hint: It's not just about tuition fees. It's about the austerity agenda.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 12:23 PM
This woman defines ignorance. Her inability to make a coherent statement and lack of conviction is staggering. Thanks for making a case against your own cause, Stacey. You're a peach. Kudos to Anderson for his incredible restraint and professionalism during her blisteringly uneducated responses.
Now watch this:
Joan Crawford justice for this bumbling idiot.
The Huffington Post:
A video of protesters banging pots and pans on Quebec streets is going viral on social networks.
Posted on Friday afternoon, the beautiful black and white film shows protesters of all ages taking to the streets to protest the emergency law Bill 78. The Vimeo video quickly began showing up all over Twitter and Facebook.
Bill 78 is being called a draconian attempt to quell massive student protests that have taken over Quebec streets for more than 100 days. The bill limits the ability to protest by requiring groups to get police approval for demonstrations and restricting where they can take place, among other provisions.
People took up the percussive protest Thursday night in several towns and cities including Sorel, Longueuil, Chambly, Repentigny, Trois-Rivieres and even in Abitibi -- several hundred kilometres away from the hot spot of Montreal.
They were still loudest in Montreal, where a chorus of metallic clanks rang out in neighbourhoods around the city, spilling into the main demonstrations and sounding like aluminum symphonies.
The pots-and-pans protest has its roots in Chile, where people have used it for years as an effective, peaceful tool to express civil disobedience. The noisy cacerolazo tradition actually predates the Pinochet regime in Chile, but has endured there and spread to other countries as a method of showing popular defiance.
Thursday's protest in Montreal was immediately declared illegal by police, who said it violated a municipal bylaw because they hadn't been informed of the route. They allowed it to continue as long as it remained peaceful.
Usually the nightly street demonstrations, which have gone on for a month, have a couple of vigorous drummers to speed them along their route. At the very least, someone clangs a cow bell.
But in the last few days, the pots and pans protest -- dubbed the casseroles by observers -- have acted like an alarm clock for the regular evening march, sounding at 8 p.m. on the nose in advance of the march's start.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 12:14 PM
Friday, May 25, 2012
What would America look like if Washington was run like a Pirate Equity firm - and what kind of misinformed crazy person would even ask such a question?
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 10:52 AM
Parliament Hill - Despite two months of trying to extract itself from the furor over plans to spend an estimated $25-billion on a fleet of F-35 stealth fighter jets, the Conservative government continues to face overwhelming public opposition over the controversial project.
Even a majority of Conservative Party supporters who are aware of the project favours other options than replacing Canada’s aging CF-18 fighter jets with the sophisticated and costly F-35s, according to a Forum Research poll.
The only place in Canada where support for the project has grown significantly since Auditor General Michael Ferguson released a highly critical report of the F-35 procurement at the beginning of April was Alberta, the survey this week found.
Nationally, only 21 per cent of voting age Canadians who were aware of the plan to buy the stealth fighters said the purchase should go ahead as planned.
Fully 66 per cent of Canadians who are aware of the F-35 acquisition said they believe the government misled Parliament and the Canadian public over the true costs of its purchase and maintenance—a minimum total of $25.1-billion over the next 20 years.
Although support for the F-35s has grown among respondents who declared the Conservative Party as their federal party preference, 57 per cent of the Conservative Party supporters preferred other options than the F-35 or didn’t know what the government should do.
The survey conducted on Wednesday, May 23 found a majority of the public at odds with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) government on another key front for the Conservatives—their attack against environmental groups with charitable tax status who have been lobbying against the Enbridge Inc. proposal to build a controversial pipeline to carry oilsands bitumen across Northern British Columbia for shipment to China and other Asian countries.
More than half of those who were surveyed, 51 per cent, said they believe the government should bar foreign oil companies from energy board hearings into the Enbridge plan and only 38 per cent said they believed foreign environmental groups should be barred from the hearings. Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver (Eglinton Lawrence, Ont.) has claimed “radical” Canadian environmentalists campaigning against the pipeline are financed by foreign groups that want to intervene.
Continue reading here.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 10:50 AM
The wealthy elite are taking over America - and they're trying their hardest to turn the U.S into a complete oligarchy. How do we stop their destruction of our democracy - and protect the values and ideals that this nation was founded on?
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 10:45 AM
President Obama’s counterterrorism chief John Brennan is heading up a new team to determine who should be targeted by armed U.S. drones overseas. The newly revealed procedure for drone attacks means Brennan’s staff consults the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies before ultimately deciding who will be targeted. One official said there is growing concern over "how easy it has become to kill someone" under the administration’s drone strike policy. We speak with investigative blogger Marcy Wheeler of the website, "Empty Wheel." "I think we’re now calling Brennan the 'assassination czar,'" she says. Wheeler disputes the government’s assertion the drone attacks are finely targeted, noting that it is unclear who the targets really are and that civilians have been killed.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Tommy Christopher, Mediaite.com joins Thom Hartmann. This weekend - Newark Mayor Corey Booker criticized President Obama over his attacks on Mitt Romney's time at Bain Capital. Now - we've learned that he's collected tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Bain Capital executives. So - what were the real motives behind Booker's attack on the President?
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 11:27 AM
For a change, Americans should take note of what is happening across the quiet northern border. Canada used to seem a progressive and just neighbor, but the picture today looks less rosy. One of its provinces has gone rogue, trampling basic democratic rights in an effort to end student protests against the Quebec provincial government’s plan to raise tuition fees by 75 percent.
The bill threatens to impose steep fines of 25,000 to 125,000 Canadian dollars against student associations and unions — which derive their financing from tuition fees — in a direct move to break the movement. For example, student associations will be found guilty if they do not stop their members from protesting within university and college grounds.
During a street demonstration, the organization that plans the protest will be penalized if individual protesters stray from the police-approved route or exceed the time limit imposed by authorities. Student associations and unions are also liable for any damage caused by a third party during a demonstration.
These absurd regulations mean that student organizations and unions will be held responsible for behavior they cannot possibly control. They do not bear civil responsibility for their members as parents do for their children.
Freedom of speech is also under attack because of an ambiguous — and Orwellian — article in Bill 78 that says, “Anyone who helps or induces a person to commit an offense under this Act is guilty of the same offense.” Is a student leader, or an ordinary citizen, who sends a Twitter message about civil disobedience therefore guilty? Quebec’s education minister says it depends on the context. The legislation is purposefully vague and leaves the door open to arbitrary decisions.
Since the beginning of the student strike, leaders have told protesters to avoid violence. Protesters even condemned the small minority of troublemakers who had infiltrated the demonstrations. During the past four months of protests, there has never been the kind of rioting the city has seen when the local National Hockey League team, the Canadiens, wins or loses during the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The biggest demonstration, which organizers estimate drew 250,000 people on May 22, was remarkably peaceful. Mr. Charest’s objective is not so much to restore security and order as to weaken student and union organizations. This law also creates a climate of fear and insecurity, as ordinary citizens can also face heavy fines.
Continue reading here.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 11:14 AM
Police in Montreal moved in on student protesters again Wednesday night, kettling them and making 518 arrests — the largest number in one night since the demonstrations began weeks ago.
The majority of those arrested in Montreal will face fines, police said. Some will be charged under the Criminal Code.
In Quebec City, police arrested 176 people under the provisions of Quebec's controversial new protest law, known as Bill 78.
The demonstration was declared illegal because protesters refused to give police their route in advance, one of the provisions of the new law.
Under Bill 78, those arrested can face a minimum fine of $1,000 for a first offence.
The students are marching against the Quebec government's plan to raise university tuition. For more than three hours Wednesday, a crowd of thousands walked peacefully through the streets, and then the situation changed quickly.
"This is the 30th night of the protest," one woman told CBC's Tom Parry. "Can you imagine what's going to happen when there's summer festivals? … We're going to keep marching. It's not going to stop. Negotiations have to happen."
The Quebec government has offered to return to the bargaining table, but it won't give in on the tuition hike or on another student demand that it scrap its controversial new emergency law that clamps down on protests.
Continue reading here.
Occupy Wall Street shows solidarity with striking Quebec students:
The Senate is closer to renewing controversial measures that critics say would allow the emails and phone calls of U.S. citizens to be monitored without a warrant. The Select Committee on Intelligence has voted to extend controversial amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that were set to expire at the end of this year. “What we’re asking is that they slow down this process and start first with the question: What type of information are they picking up? How many Americans are being affected? What is the government doing with it?,” says Michelle Richardson of the American Civil Liberties Union, which has sued over the U.S. government’s surveillance practices, saying agencies would be able to tap their communications with clients and sources overseas.
We’re also joined by William Binney, who served in the National Security Agency for nearly 40 years, including a stint as technical director of its World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group. Since retiring from the NSA in 2001, Binney has warned that the NSA’s data-mining program has become so vast that it could “create an Orwellian state.” "This is a continuation of the mindless legislation that our Congress has been putting out just to justify what they’ve been doing for a decade or more,” Binney says. “Instead of living up to their oath of office [and] defend the Constitution, they’ve decided to violate the civil liberties and the rights of all U.S. citizens." The Senate is also set to vote soon on the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act — a bill opposed by many civil liberties and privacy groups.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 10:56 AM
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Yesterday marked the 100th day of the student strike in Montreal, in which up to 300,000 to 500,000 people took to the streets to show solidarity with students, and to protest the draconian Bill 78. Mainstream media however is doing its best to downplay the high numbers, proclaming "tens of thousands" and that only 100,000 to 200,000 people participated.
A river of red-clad protesters rippled through downtown Montreal to mark the 100th day of Quebec’s student strikes, while smaller events were held in other cities Tuesday.
For the first time, police invoked Bill 78 and a Montreal anti-mask bylaw as they made multiple arrests during a rowdy protest late Tuesday.
Even a well known provincial politician, Independent MNA Pierre Curzi, joined the crowds that strayed off the announced path in a mass demonstration of defiance against the law. A prominent student organizer wandering in the throng went further, practically daring authorities to punish him.
Organizers said the crowd size rivalled the massive protests held the two previous months, on the 22nd of March and April.
While polls in recent weeks suggested the striking students had lost considerable public support, they appeared to have been galvanized in recent days by the new Quebec law.
Since that law passed, people in central Montreal neighbourhoods have appeared on their balconies and in front of their houses to defiantly bang pots and pans in a clanging protest every night at 8 p.m.
Related events were organized Tuesday in New York, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, which saw only a tiny group of people show up to protest. In France, a few hundred congregated near Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral.
A stone’s throw from the Seine River, people in Paris waved flags in a crowd that included many Quebecers, some of whom had brought their own signs, like one that read: “Quebec is becoming a dictatorship.”
There were two demonstrations scheduled in New York – one at Rockefeller Plaza where Quebec government offices are located, and another at Washington Park later in the day.
Organized by the Occupy Wall Street movement and by the group Strike Everywhere, the first New York event was designed to raise awareness about the Quebec protests while the second was about opposing anti-protest laws all over the world.
Continue reading here.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 12:34 PM
Steve Coll, President-New America Foundation / Staff Writer-The New Yorker / Author of the new book, "Private Empire: Exxon Mobile and American Power" joins Thom Hartmann. Exxon Mobil is the largest and most powerful private corporation in the United States - and yet - very little is actually known about how the company operates. How does this corporate giant really function - and how much control does it have over lawmakers in Washington? We'll pose those questions and more to Steve Coll in tonight's Conversations with Great Minds.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 12:27 PM
The two unions contemplating the biggest merger in Canadian labour history want to open membership to workers who don’t have bargaining rights.
“We would be opening up the union to a whole new group of workers who we can’t reach right now,” Gaétan Ménard, CEP’s secretary treasurer and a committee member, said Tuesday. “We get to really walk the talk.”
Representatives for the two unions view the proposal, obtained by the Star, as critical in building a stronger and more influential force in the community and at the bargaining table, where organized labour’s clout has weakened over the past two decades.
The CAW, which has 195,000 members, and the CEP, representing another 120,000 workers, confirmed merger talks late last year. In a surprisingly blunt assessment of organized labour’s difficulties, they said in January that unions must overhaul themselves quickly and become more relevant or face a slow demise.
The proposal, which still needs work, indicates one way of meeting that challenge is a new membership category with includes workers who are unemployed, laid off, part time, as well as young people.
“Millions of Canadian workers, like part-time workers and contract workers, have no effective possibility of forming a traditional union,” said CAW economist Jim Stanford. “These unorganized workers should not be cannon fodder for unethical employers. We can find other ways for them to use the power of numbers.”
The two unions say governments have implemented tougher union certification procedures that are business-friendly and allow for more employer intimidation. Furthermore, economic downturns have made bargaining progress for workers more difficult and reduced interest in unions.
“Eroding union density (especially in the private sector) and the daunting obstacles to new organizing mean that a majority of Canadian workers have no effective access to unionization and they can come to see unions as distant or even ‘privileged,’ ” one discussion paper noted.
Continue reading here.
A Native American tribe in the US has lodged a $500 million lawsuit against some of the world's largest beer companies. The Oglala Sioux say brewers, retailers and distributors should pay for their health and other alcohol-related problems. Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher reports from Whiteclay in Nebraska.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 12:16 PM
Fifty-six percent of Americans think marijuana should be legalized and regulated like alcohol and tobacco, according to a nationwide Rasmussen poll of 1,000 likely voters.
Neill Franklin, a retired Baltimore narcotics cop and the executive director of advocacy group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, sees the poll as a political weather vane pointing toward the future.
"Polling now consistently shows that more voters support legalizing and regulating marijuana than support continuing a failed prohibition approach," he said in a statement Tuesday. "Yet far too many politicians continue to act as if marijuana policy reform is some dangerous third rail they dare not touch. If the trends in public opinion continue in the direction they are going, the day is not far away when supporting a prohibition system that causes so much crime, violence and corruption is going to be seen as a serious political liability for those seeking support from younger and independent voters. Savvy forward-looking politicians are already beginning to see which way the wind is blowing."
Indeed, the Rasmussen poll is far from the first to find the majority support legalizing marijuana.
Continue reading here.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Just in time for the 100th day of Quebec's student strike comes a birthday present of epic proportions for the indefatigable students.
A QMI/Leger Marketing poll released early Tuesday morning by the Journal de Montreal bore the banner headline "Le gouvernment va trop loin" (The government has gone too far).
On the central question of whether respondents supported the government or the students in the ongoing conflict over increases to tuition fees, the poll found a stunning 18 point shift from the government to the students, compared to a poll taken ten days earlier. Although this shift still leaves the students trailing the government by 8 points, the momentum is clearly on their side.
On the question of whether the controversial, and likely unconstitutional, special law known as Loi 78 went "too far," 53 per cent agreed that it did, while 32 per cent judged it to be fair and balanced and 8 per cent thought it didn't go far enough.
Seventy-three per cent thought the extraordinary law, which critics have compared to the War Measures Act and the dark days of the Duplessis era, would fail to achieve Charest's stated goal of "restoring social peace." Three out of four respondents also supported the immediate resumption of negotiations between students and government, a firm repudiation of the Charest government's refusal to negotiate.
Disastrous as these numbers are for Charest, this may only be the beginning. The more the population analyzes the law, the more they will question it, according to Christian Bourque, Executive Vice President with Leger Marketing. He attributes the collapse in support for the government to Loi 78, noting "it's the only thing which has changed since the last poll".
Continue reading here.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 1:34 PM
Jesse LaGreca, Daily Kos:
Let me tell you how important defeating Koch Governor Scott Walker is . . . but first, step into the wayback machine courtesy of the internets.
Vintage Scott Walker talking about once GOP candidate and KKK Grand Dragon David Duke. Walker can beat up on labor rights but he couldn't bring himself to bad mouth another Republican, even if that Republican is a self avowed white supremacist.
“The distinction we’re making is not one of saying his issues are extreme, they certainly are not.”
Back in the 90's, Scott Walker stated that David Duke's views weren't extreme, going so far as to say "they certainly are not"
Really? Did you get the part about Duke "hiding behind legitimate issues" Does that sound familiar, Present-Day Scott Walker?
If Scott Walker defeats the recall election it will embolden every Corporatist politician in America to kick the effort to repeal the 20th century into overdrive, every union busting, privatizing, glad handing corporate sellout politician will be greasing his palms, knowing that they can make life worse for 99% of Americans so they can hand the benefits to the wealthiest 1% with zero political repercussions. Throwing Scott Walker out of office should be the Number One priority for every one not only in Wisconsin, but in America, because Scott Walker is the new prototype Citizens United Koch fueled corporatist overlord that is being unveiled across the USA, a bullshit driven hatchet-man for the billionaires who takes bribes, breaks laws and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wall Street. This is what Oligarchy looks like. One billionaire to rule them all. Wisconsin deserves better. America deserves better.
If Scott Walker prevails his corporatist shadow money style of wage suppressing, rights restricting government will come to your state, it was coming anyway sooner or later, the question is when the Wisconsin style shock doctrine hits your state will it be damaged after a Scott Walker loss or empowered by defeating the working class citizens? In a post Citizens United America the concerted weight of a bunch of billionaires on one state's election process looks overwhelming. The billionaires can not be allowed to eat Wisconsin alive, or Michigan, or Ohio or Pennsylvania or Colorado or your state or my home state of New York. Fighting back is the number one priority. Fight like the future is at stake. It is.
Continue reading here.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 1:22 PM
Robert Reich on his e-original BEYOND OUTRAGE: "The first thing is to connect the dots, to see how one frustrating or outrageous thing is connected to all the other frustrating and outrageous things. If we're going to make progress on this, we've got to see the big picture.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 12:18 PM
A group of artists in America's southwest has converted old warplanes into works of art. They hope their innovative and rather quirky interpretations of life, love and war will help broaden people's minds. From Tucson, Arizona, Al Jazeera's Rosiland Jordan reports.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 12:15 PM
As NATO concludes its largest-ever summit in Chicago, we host a debate on whether the trans-Atlantic military alliance should exist at all and its new agreement to hand over control to Afghan forces next year. "When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When you’re a military alliance, every problem looks like it requires a military solution," argues Phyllis Bennis, an author and fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. "NATO is a giant, big hammer. The problem is, Afghanistan is not a nail, Libya is not a nail. These are political problems that need to be dealt with politically. And by empowering ... a military alliance, NATO is really serving to undermine the goal of the United Nations Charter, which speaks of the importance of regional organizations, in political terms, for nonviolent resolution of disputes, not to put such a primacy and privilege on military regional institutions that really reflect the most powerful parts of the world." Speaking in support of NATO, Stan Sloan, a 30-year security analyst at the CIA and former senior specialist at the Congressional Research Service, counters: "I believe that having allies in this alliance for the United States serves our interests, serves our national interests. ... [NATO] has always been a political alliance. ... I think as long as the member states regard cooperation among them as valuable and even necessary if they have to use military force, they will continue to judge that we need the alliance."
Monday, May 21, 2012
Anti-war demonstrators have clashed with police outside the NATO summit in Chicago, with reports of injuries in the scuffle. The hours-long standoff began after an otherwise peaceful march led by a group of veterans who spoke passionately about their opposition to the war before tossing away their medals. Al Jazeera's John Hendren reports.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 8:44 PM
Nine marine scientists and staff in North Saanich Friday will lose their jobs as the federal government cuts almost all the employees who monitor ocean pollution across Canada.
The entire DFO contaminants program nationally and regionally — including two research scientists, a chemist and four technicians at the Institute for Ocean Sciences in North Saanich — is being shut down effective April 1, 2013.
Across Canada, the government is slashing up to 75 jobs in the national contaminants program — that involves any one who works mostly in marine pollution. For about a decade Fisheries and Oceans has been trying to offload the program to Environment Canada. Instead, this week, it axed it.
“The entire pollution file for the government of Canada, and marine environment in Canada’s three oceans, will be overseen by five junior biologists scattered across the country — one of which will be stationed in B.C.,” said environmental toxicologist Peter Ross., a expert on marine mammals, notably killer whales.
“I cannot think of another industrialized nation that has completely excised marine pollution from its radar,” Ross said. Hired as a research scientist at Fisheries and Oceans Canada in 1999, Ross was one of the nine employees who received a letter Thursday informing him his position will be “affected as your services may no longer be required due to a lack of work or discontinuance of a function.”
“It is with apprehension that I ponder a Canada without any research or monitoring capacity for pollution in our three oceans, or any ability to manage its impacts on commercial fish stocks, traditional foods to over 300,000 aboriginal people, and marine wildlife,” Ross said.
There are 25,000 chemicals in the Canadian market place, hundreds of which can be detected in Canada’s killer whales. There are also over 350 pesticides registered for use in B.C. Ross deals with a wide range of pollution files from municipal sewage and pesticide impacts on salmon to the effect of PCBs on killer whales and contaminated sites throughout B.C.
The federal government says 19,200 jobs will be eliminated in the next three years as it cuts $5.2 billion in spending. As part of those cutbacks, 13,000 union jobs across Canada have already been affected — including 898 in B.C., according to the Public Service Alliance Canada union.
Continue reading here.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 2:07 PM
The Huffington Post:
Dan Rather slammed corporate media on Friday night, alleging that news coverage is guided by political interests and profits.
The former CBS News anchor has recently returned to the spotlight, speaking out about his former employer and defending the controversial Bush National Guard story that ended his storied career at the network.
On Friday, Rather appeared on Bill Maher's show to discuss his new book "Rather Outspoken." He spoke out about the controversy again, and stood by his story (his comments start at the 1:50 mark in the video above). He said that he was fired because CBS News caved into the Bush administration's demands.
"The powers that be and the corporate structure were very uncomfortable with the story," Rather said. "They got pressured by the Bush administration and others in Washington, and it cost a lot of people their jobs, including myself."
He went on to warn that everyone should be "concerned" about "the constant consolidation of media," saying that "no more than six" companies currently control 80% of the distribution of news.
"These large corporations, they have things they need from the power structure in Washington, whether it's Republican or Democrat, and of course the people in Washington have things they want the news to be reported," he said. "To put it bluntly, very big business is in bed with very big government in Washington, and has more to do with what the average person sees, hears, and reads than most people know."
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 1:45 PM
A screengrab from RDI Radio-Canada news report appears to show Montreal police police pepper-spraying patrons at Montreal bar Saturday night.
Montreal - A day after a violent protest ending in a series of street fires, police came under criticism Sunday over an altercation caught on video that shows patrons on a bar patio getting pepper sprayed.
Another video from a local TV station shows the officers took action after one was hit by a flying chair. The chair was then flung back toward the patio.
The bar owner said police went too far and he’s considering taking legal action.
“People were falling on each running inside to get away from the pepper spray, breaking things, and then people left by the back exit,” said Martin Guimond, who runs the Saint Bock brasserie in the city’s lively Latin Quarter.
“My waitress said, ‘we have to call 911.’ And then she said, ‘But wait, it’s the police that are doing this.’ That’s when you realize there’s a total loss of security.”
Police didn’t immediately return a request for comment about the incident, which occurred only steps from where the fires were earlier set.
Police were armed with Bill 78, which lays out regulations governing demonstrations of over 50 people. The bill passed last week includes requiring organizers to give eight hours’ notice for details such as the protest route, the duration and the time at which they’re being held.
The bill was intended to restore order and put an end to three months of student protests, but it appears only to have given the movement momentum.
A demonstration was held Sunday afternoon against Quebec’s new emergency law and another march was planned for later in the evening.
Continue reading here.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 1:30 PM
America sees the' looting' of the US Treasury, and the money given to a Wall Street 'criminal class', journalist Chris Hedges told RT. He adds that ordinary people are caught in the vice of unregulated corporate capitalism -- with no escape.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 12:42 PM
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Lori Wallach, Director-Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch joins Thom Hartmann. On Tuesday - a trade deal between the U.S and Colombia went into effect - and - according to estimates - the deal will kill American jobs and increase the deficit. Why does our government keep signing trade deals that harm the economy and American jobs?
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 1:37 PM
A protester holds a banner that reads 'Austerity enough is enough' during a demonstration in Paris.
Markets all over the world freaked out over the prospect of having ignorant European voters meddling in the recovery process the geniuses of the high finance world had already painstakingly laid out for them. The model for economic progress in the financial bubble era, after all, is supposed to go something like this:
1. Let banks inflate massive asset bubbles with the aid of cheap or even free government cash, and tons of leverage;
2. Before it all explodes, carve out gigantic sums for bonuses and compensation for the companies that inflated those bubbles;
3. After it explodes, get the various governments to bail those companies out;
4. Pay for it all by slashing services to what’s left of the middle class.
This is the model we used in America. We had a monster asset bubble based on phony mortgages, which Wall Street was allowed to inflate to spectacular dimensions with minimal reserve capital, huge amounts of leverage, and tons of fraud for good measure. When that bubble exploded, we first rescued the banks who inflated the thing in the first place, and then our plan for paying for it mostly revolved around folks like Paul Ryan and Chris Christie, who made great political hay by trying to take an ax to "entitlements" like health care and retirement benefits.
The point is, when people talk about “austerity,” they only ever talk about the pain the general population should voluntarily accept, in the form of reduced services and curtailed “stimulus.” No one ever says the financial services sector should have to cut back on its access to easy money, and there hasn’t been much in the way of serious plans to restore some sanity and prudence to the lending and investing business.
Instead, governments have stood by and allowed banks to lend thirty and forty dollars for every one on the books, they’ve watched lenders almost completely do away with underwriting standards, they’ve continually pumped the big firms full of cheap cash from the Fed and the ECB (printing new trillions when the real money runs out), and they’ve allowed Wall Street to build giant sandcastles of illusory wealth using synthetic derivatives, all with minimal reserve requirements.
But if pain’s coming, it can’t just be regular people who pay. Bankers have to find new ways of making money that don’t just involve betting the hot table and taking out instant billion-dollar profits. They have to go back to building real businesses and being content with gradual returns over time. If there’s going to be austerity, it has to be for everybody.
Continue reading here.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 1:32 PM
A powerful earthquake has killed at least seven people in northern Italy. The quake struck in a region roughly 35 km north of the city of Bologna. The epicentre was in the rural plains near Modena. It was relatively shallow, striking at about 10 km underground. Al Jazeera's Sabina Castelfranco reports from Bologna.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 1:25 PM
The European economic crisis is expected to top the agenda at the G8 meeting tomorrow at Camp David. In Greece, voters will soon head to the polls for another round of elections which will be viewed by many as a referendum on the euro. Our guest today, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, warns the current bank run in Greece could spiral into the end of the eurozone. "It’s really quite shocking," Krugman says. "I hate to sound apocalyptic." Meanwhile, France’s new finance minister has reiterated that the country’s new Socialist government will not ratify the European Union’s fiscal pact calling for greater austerity.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 1:21 PM
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Professor William "Bill" Black, author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One, joins Thom Hartmann. As Greeks withdraw their money from the banks - and the Spanish enter a second recession - Republicans in Congress are still applauding austerity. What's the austerity endgame - and when will world leaders finally realize austerity is not the way to rebuild an economy?
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 7:43 PM
The rise in academic book bannings and firings is compounded by the US's growing disregard for scholarship itself
Recently, I found out that my work is mentioned in a book that has been banned, in effect, from the schools in Tucson, Arizona. The anti-ethnic studies law passed by the state prohibits teachings that "promote the overthrow of the United States government," "promote resentment toward a race or class of people," "are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group," and/or "advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals." I invite you to read the book in question, titled Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, so that you can decide for yourselves whether it qualifies.
Trying to explain what was offensive enough to warrant killing the entire curriculum and firing its director, Tucson school board member Michael Hicks stated rather proudly that he was not actually familiar with the curriculum. "I chose not to go to any of their classes," he told Al Madrigal on The Daily Show. "Why even go?" In the same interview, he referred to Rosa Parks as "Rosa Clark."
The situation in Arizona is not an isolated phenomenon. There has been an unfortunate uptick in academic book bannings and firings, made worse by a nationwide disparagement of teachers, teachers' unions and scholarship itself. Brooke Harris, a teacher at Michigan's Pontiac Academy for Excellence, was summarily fired after asking permission to let her students conduct a fundraiser for Trayvon Martin's family. Working at a charter school, Harris was an at-will employee, and so the superintendent needed little justification for sacking her. According to Harris, "I was told… that I'm being paid to teach, not to be an activist." (It is perhaps not accidental that Harris worked in the schools of Pontiac, a city in which nearly every public institution has been taken over by cost-cutting executives working under "emergency manager" contracts. There the value of education is measured in purely econometric terms, reduced to a "product," calculated in "opportunity costs.")
Continue reading here.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 7:13 PM
People in Libya's second largest city Benghazi are casting their ballots in local elections. Voters are choosing 41 city councillors. And given that Benghazi was the birthplace of the revolution in Libya, the poll is taking on wider significance. Al Jazeera's Omar al-Saleh reports from Benghazi.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 7:07 PM
As the financial giant JPMorgan Chase continues to suffer major losses on its risky derivatives trades, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman says bank chief Jamie Dimon should resign "precisely because he’s been using his supposed wisdom as a way to campaign against reform, and now it’s turned out that he wasn’t that wise after all. In fact, his bank was doing seriously bad stuff." Krugman says, "I think it would be better for everybody if he went." The Justice Department is now probing JPMorgan amid new calls for tougher regulation of Wall Street. "They’re making these bets with your money, because these are banks that are guaranteed. They have guaranteed deposits," Krugman says. "We’re supposed to have a rule going into effect — the Volcker Rule — that says that they can’t do this kind of stuff. But they are continuing to do it. ... We cannot trust the bankers to use this money safely."
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 7:02 PM
Students and at least one Quebec legislator are contemplating a campaign of civil disobedience after two pieces of legislation widely condemned as attacks on liberty became law.
As the 21-hour, overnight debate ended with approval, Montreal city council banned masks from protests – another highly controversial move overshadowed by the provincial crackdown.
A student protest and boycott over tuition hikes, which began as little more than a traffic and classroom nuisance Feb. 13, culminated Friday with province’s passage of a law one scholar described as the worst attack on Canadian freedom since the War Measures Act. In the intervening weeks, an education minister resigned, demonstrations turned into riots, dozens were injured and jailed, and thousands of students – some 35 per cent of their ranks – have boycotted or been blocked from attending college and university classes.
Student groups, unions, opposition politicians, a host of legal scholars, the Quebec Human Rights Commission, right-wing and left-wing commentators, and the normally restrained Quebec Bar Association blasted the provincial law as an assault on the right to speak and assemble freely.
“This bill infringes many of the fundamental rights of our citizens. The basis of a democracy is the rule of law. We must respect the law. We must also respect fundamental freedoms, like the freedom to protest peacefully, the freedom of speech and the freedom of association,” bar association president bâtonnier Louis Masson, said in an interview.
Continue reading here.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 6:24 PM
Friday, May 18, 2012
The federal government is closing a research station scientists have used for decades to study how pollutants like acid rain and phosphates affect lakes.
Employees were told Thursday, said Roberto Quinlan, a biologist at York University, but he noted they were also informed the government would not make an official announcement.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans said in a statement later Thursday it would no longer conduct research that requires “whole lakes or whole lake ecosystem manipulation,” but that “every attempt will be made to transfer the ownership of the facility to universities or provinces.”
The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada is criticizing the fisheries for withdrawing funding from the Experimental Lake Areas program.
“A region of remote lakes has been dedicated, since the late 1960s, to whole-lake ecosystem research. It has been the site of groundbreaking studies into the effects of pollutants, acid rain, freshwater aquaculture, and hydroelectric dams on freshwater ecosystems,” the union said in a news release.
John Smol, a professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, said closing the facility is a “travesty, not just for Canada but for the rest of the world.”
He said data from experiments carried out at the lakes “ were critical in showing we can’t have phosphates in detergents and that acid rain causes marked ecosystem changes.”
David Schindler, a professor at the University of Alberta, said employees were told that the facility will be closed as of March, 2013, and that universities, not governments, should be doing this kind of science. But he argued this type of large-scale, long-term research requires government support.
“I think we have a government that considers science an inconvenience.”
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 4:56 PM
New census figures have highlighted a significant change to the racial makeup of the United States. For the first time, there are now more minorities being born in the US than whites. Al Jazeera's Kimberly Halkett reports from Washington, DC.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 4:50 PM
World leaders are convening at the heavily guarded Camp David in Maryland today for the G8 Summit. Leading nonprofits such as Save the Children and Oxfam are urging G8 leaders to live up to a 2009 pledge of $22 billion towards food security in developing nations of which only a quarter has been met. Activists are also urging G8 leaders to build on their previous commitments and partner with developing countries to urgently tackle hunger. We’re joined by Raymond Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America, and Dr. Margaret Flowers, a physician and organizer with the Occupy G8 Peoples’ Summit.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 4:44 PM
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb general has faced his first day in The Hague in front of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, charged with genocide and war crimes. The prosecution argues that Serb atrocities were not spontaneous but part of a plan to remove, to ethnically cleanse Muslims and Croats from the land that the Serbs wanted and that Ratko Mladic was an integral part of this plan. The success or failure of this trial will go a long way to establishing how the UN court is perceived by generations to come. Inside Story, with presenter Kamahl Santamaria, discusses with guests: Muhamed Sacirbey, former Bosnian ambassador to the UN; Toby Cadman, international criminal lawyer and a former special adviser to the chief prosecutor of Bosnia ; and Slobodan Samar-dzija, a journalist at the Politika Daily newspaper in Serbia.
Posted by The Progressive Rambler at 12:48 PM