March 7, 2010 archive

Union of the Unemployed — what organizing looks like

I’ve been unemployed since July 2008.  My tech job was outsourced to the Philippines.  The week before that, my wife had been forced out of her job in retaliation for having reported sexual harassment at one of Wall Street’s leading regulatory agencies.  I was intrigued when she showed me an article on AlterNet telling about a newly formed Union of the Unemployed formed by the IAM.  I joined online.

Then I set out trying to figure out what I had gotten myself into.  The union is organized into 6-person Cubes.  One could communicate to everyone within a Cube, but all other communication had to be done one-by-one from the membership links.  As for what the union was fighting for, the emphasis was on excoriating Jim Bunning for holding up unemployment extensions (which Democratic Party dallying made possible).  While there were references to IAM press releases supporting jobs creation, the actual agenda was to support the bill whose heart was giving tax breaks to small businesses so as to encourage them to create jobs (the lowest paying jobs).  There was no link for contacting the union.

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Icelanders refuse to foot bill for bank collapse

by Marc Preel, AFP

Sat Mar 6, 10:10 pm ET

REYKJAVIK (AFP) – Iceland’s socialist government was surveying the damage Sunday after a referendum rejected a deal to pay Britain and the Netherlands billions for losses in the collapse of the Icesave bank.

As expected, Icelanders overwhelmingly voted down the deal in Saturday’s referendum, with some 93.6 percent of voters lined up on the “no” side after more than 50 percent of the votes had been counted.

Only 1.5 percent of voters had so far voted “yes” to the Icesave deal, said RUV public broadcaster which compiles all electoral statistics.

“You’re basically sending the bill to tax payers for the failure of a private bank”

Fuck you banksters.

If You Do Nothing Else Today…

Some or maybe most of you have long been familiar with Declan Galbraith and his important work. If so, please accept my apologies for recycling old news. In the event that you may have missed this as well, please take a few minutes to consider his thought-provoking and heart-wrenching message.  

Somehow this young man’s considerable talents had escaped my attention until this morning, when a dear friend sent the video along via e-mail.  

Declan composed and performed “Tell Me Why”, his first single, on December 9, 2002, ten days shy of his eleventh birthday. The video, first posted on youtube on January 31, 2008, has since been viewed more than a quarter million times.  

The following paragraph, courtesy of wikipedia, provides the following information…

On December 9th 2002, the largest choir in history, drawn from all parts of the UK and Ireland, joined Declan to sing ‘Tell Me Why’ for a Guinness World Record. The event was organized by ‘Young Voices in Concert’. Funds from the record-breaking attempt were donated to the Sargent Cancer Care for Children.

After perusing this video, if you’d like to learn more about Mr. Galbraith, you can find it here.

When you watch this video, particularly for the first time, please carefully consider the meaning of his lyrics, which, helpfully, are superimposed on the screen. Please imagine yourself being asked this same question, and contemplate what your answer might be. Rather than launch into any further introduction, I will simply invite you listen to what this young man has to say…

Open Boundaries

open boundaries

Social Security Works for America

In honor of the 75th anniversary of Social Security, we are kicking off a blog series called “Social Security Works.” Every post will examine one aspect of how Social Security works.

For our first installment we will examine how Social Security works for America as a whole.

Since President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act at approximately 3:30pm on August 14, 1935, it has provided economic security for millions of Americans.

Currently, the Social Security Administration provides benefits to:

• More than 52.5 million total beneficiaries including:

       • 9.7 million disabled persons under age 65 and dependent family members

       • 6.4 million survivors of deceased workers

       • 36.4 million retired workers and their families

Capitalism Driving Humanity’s Downfall

Raw Story, March 6th, 2010

In his film Capitalism: A Love Story [set to be released on DVD and Blu-ray Monday], Michael Moore squares off with the free-market system for its role in leveraging the United States’s wealth into the hands of a few.

But in one clip cut from the documentary — which Moore provided exclusively to RAW STORY — he interviews Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Chris Hedges, who explains how capitalism is actually contributing to the very downfall of the human race and the “degradation of the planet.”

“All sorts of people who have spent their lives studying climate change, from Bill McKibben on down, have warned us that we don’t have a lot of time left,” Hedges said. “So it’s not just that capitalism has destroyed our economic system and hijacked our political system, but it literally is extinguishing the system that sustains life. If that’s not thwarted soon…then we will begin to see massive dislocations, environmental refugees, further depleting of natural resources. Overpopulation is also an issue. The UN estimates that by 2050 the size of the planet will double.”

The very concept of capitalism, Moore declares in the film, is the problem because it inevitably leads to a system where the richest few control the means of production as well as the levers of power — leading to a “plutonomy,” a term used in a leaked Citigroup memo from 2005, in which the finance juggernaut concluded that the United States is no longer a democracy.

In the interview, Hedges decries America’s turn toward supply-side economics over the last three decades as the cause of stagnating middle class incomes, contrasting it with the increasingly lavish fortunes of the wealthy and the aid they often receive from the government at the expense of working people.

Obama Supports Firing Union Teachers

A Rhode Island school board fired all the teachers in a school, in a dispute over working more hours without any more pay, and Obama says, that’s just great, while the right wing applauds.

To get a share of the $3.5 billion in what are known as School Improvement Grants, school officials can choose to transform the learning environments in failing schools by extending instructional hours and making other changes, converting them to charter schools, closing them entirely or replacing the principal and at least half the staff.

The Central Falls superintendent, Frances Gallo, initially chose the first option this year, but after a dispute arose with the union over extra pay for adding 25 minutes to the school day, she broke off negotiations. Backed by the local school board, she announced the firings on Feb. 23. Last Monday, Mr. Obama supported the board’s action in a speech to a dropout prevention group.


Of course, it’s just fine to militarize the schools:

Disturbing as well is the prominence of Duncan’s belief in offering a key role in public education to the military. Chicago’s school system is currently the most militarized in the country, boasting five military academies, nearly three dozen smaller Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps programs within existing high schools, and numerous middle school Junior ROTC programs. More troubling yet, the military academies he’s started are nearly all located in low-income, minority neighborhoods. This merging of military training and education naturally raises concerns about whether such academies will be not just education centers, but recruitment centers as well….

read more at:…

The battle for America’s future is being played out in the schools, charter schools, and Texas-approved textbooks, and the left just doesn’t seem to care.  For 30 years, the right is pushing the schools ever further right, although they don’t plan to send their own kids their– many have pulled their own kids out- for those that can afford it to expensive private schools, and those that can’t, to homeschooling  (82% of home-schoolers are Christian right) .

Iceland sez, “fuck you,” to odious capitalist debt.

As the saga unfolds, it appears Icelanders refuse to be weighed upon by heavy dudes bearing IOUs.  “Get off me, mother fucker!” was the general reply by 93% plus Icelanders.

Honestly?  Who can blame them?

You stupid capitalist wankers made the bet and lost.  Fuck off, now, the lot of you.

And fuck your ratings.  

Bjarney?  Of Hof?   Yeah, I know him real good.  Part of the family, he is.  You claiming to be family, too?  Sure, let’s see if I can find his number for ya…  He can be temperamental, and such.

Iceland sez, “fuck you,” to odious capitalist debt.

As the saga unfolds, it appears Icelanders refuse to be weighed upon by heavy dudes bearing IOUs.  “Get off me, mother fucker!” was the general reply by 93% plus Icelanders.

Honestly?  Who can blame them?

You stupid capitalist wankers made the bet and lost.  Fuck off, now, the lot of you.

And fuck your ratings.  

Bjarney?  Of Hof?   Yeah, I know him real good.  Part of the family, he is.  You claiming to be family, too?  Sure, let’s see if I can find his number for ya…  He can be temperamental, and such.

I’m Still Not Ready To Make Nice

Docudharma Times Sunday March 7

Sunday’s Headlines:

Open war over Rahm Emanuel, Barack Obama’s master of the dark arts

Growing low-oxygen zones in oceans worry scientists


Anthem a boon to Obama’s healthcare efforts

ABC goes dark for New York Cablevision subscribers


France finally acknowledges its war children

The sober truth behind Boris Yeltsin’s drinking problem

Middle East

Elections in Iraq galvanise citizens determined to vote for democracy

Settlement deep in West Bank seen as peace spoiler


Army launches investigation: Corrupt Afghans stealing millions from aid funds

A happy ending for the Gurkhas? Think again


How food and water are driving a 21st-century African land grab

Burden of AIDS hits Zimbabwe’s women hardest

Latin America

Departing Chilean President Defends Government’s Actions After Quake

Late Night Karaoke

Open Thread

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