Here’s some news for you while we await DDay’s report of Eric Schneiderman’s key-note address at the Netroots Nation.
Working for a Living
❖Hyundai’s deadline for job applications at their new plant in Montgomery, AL, was June 2nd. The number of jobs to be filled (ranging from $16.25/hour for production positions to $22/hour for maintenance positions) was 877. The number of applicants was almost 22,000.
❖”Only 13.5 Percent of Food Workers Earn a Living Wage” This article includes an insert (based on US Bureau of Labor Statistics data) listing the 10 lowest-paid jobs in 2011.
❖Why the steep decline in unions–from nearly 40% of American workers (including non-union members covered by union-negotiated contracts) in the 1950s to 12% today? Timothy Noah, in “The Great Divergence”, notes the match between a line on a graph showing decline in union membership and another showing loss of middle-class income. If you haven’t the clout, your wage will be determined by the Wal-Marts of the world–resulting in the inverse relationship between corporate profits and workers’ wages & benefits. People have turned their backs on unions, at their own peril.
❖The “diminishment [of unions] has not been accompanied by rage, but indifference or even befuddlement.” Lacking “familial or community links to unions” that people used to have, membership has declined sharply and “politicians aren’t nearly as dependent on [union] money and votes . . ..” US unions are the smallest of any highly industrialized nation. Only 7% of private sector workers are unionized while the increasing attacks on public sector unions threaten their continued existence.
❖Public employee pensions took a hit in Tuesday’s elections in CA. Both San Jose and San Diego voters passed pension cut initiatives by large margins.
❖“Protect Our Jobs”, a coalition of “teachers, first responders, construction workers, and clergy, have begun a petition drive “for a constitutional amendment to protect collective bargaining rights for Michigan workers.”
❖According to Australia’s 2012 Annual Wage Review, the minimum wage there, as of July 1, 2012, will be $15.51/hour or $589.30/week. “National minimum wage” is considered “a safety net for employees.” Gee, that’s cool. (PS $1.00 US dollar = $1.01096 AU dollar per this calculator.)
❖The League of Women Voters won a federal injunction against Florida and will resume voter registration efforts, as will Rock the Vote.
❖Oh, this should turn out really well. “Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner essentially dared the Justice Department to sue the state over its voter purge in a sharply worded letter on Wednesday, accusing DOJ of wanting to make it easier for non-citizens to vote.”
❖The Orange County, FL, Supervisor of Elections sent out 214,000 letters this week asking absentee voters and those who’ve been on the rolls since before 1995 to submit new signatures to his office to ensure there is “no confusion” when his office compares signatures on file to signatures on ballots. Reaction to the letters has been warm, and by no means affectionately so.
❖Howard Dean on the WI recall election: “I think the sad story of the night was the money because this is the beginning of the undermining of American democracy . . ..”
❖The war of words between Pakistan and Leon Panetta kicked up another notch today, with Panetta in Afghanistan saying the US is running out of patience “with Pakistan allowing militant groups to enjoy safe haven inside parts of the country.” Also, he would not rule out increased drone attacks.
❖UN monitors on their way to the Syrian village where 78 were killed were themselves fired upon.
❖”Russia is urging Saudi Arabia and Qatar to halt help for Syrian rebels, a senior lawmaker in the Russian ruling party said.”
❖”The United States is offering rewards of up to $7 million for information leading to the location of seven key leaders of Somalia’s al Shabaab, seeking for the first time to target top echelons of the al Qaeda-linked militant group.”
❖”A NATO airstrike was blamed for the deaths of 18 civilians yesterday in one of the worst days of violence in Afghanistan this year”
❖One of the Greek neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party members got pretty nasty on a tee-vee show, throwing water on a left-wing politician and then slapping a communist politician. Video at the link.
❖Greek official Nikos Lekkas “said banks had hindered his efforts to collect back taxes” and the government could be broke by July. “The budget gap is widening as the so-called troika of lenders [International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Commission] withholds 1 billion euros in bailout money earmarked for government financing” while waiting to see who wins in Greece’s June 17th elections.
❖ European leaders “have called for a banking option with more coordination of regulation”; One new EU plan would “impose annual levies on banks to ensure that a minimum amount of money . . . is immediately available to stabilize crisis-hit banks. Fitch ratings agency has now downgraded Spain’s credit rating to just above junk status, saying “mistakes at a European level that had allowed to debt crisis to escalate were in part to blame . . ..”
❖It’s unanimous: the Los Angeles City Council has banned tents from city parks. Two-birds-with-one-stone, I guess, since this will have an impact on the homeless as well as Occupy.
Planet Earth News
❖”Dramatic Decline in Microscopic Life on BP’s Oiled Beaches”
❖The Toronto City Council has banned plastic bags altogether by January 1, 2013.
❖Deforestation in the amazon puts almost 100 bird species at risk of extinction.
❖There is some hope: “Amazon deforestation at record low, data shows”, due to decreased illegal logging”. New legislation, however, “reduces requirements on farms created by illegal logging to reforest portions of cleared land.”
❖”An estimated 700 emails from the computer of former [far-right paramilitary organization] AUC commander and drug lord Vicente Castafio revealed the US Central Intelligence Agency . . . and many top Colombian politicians may have been working with the paramilitary group.”
❖In Yakye Axa, Paraguy, 67 indigenous families who “have lived here (in a roadside camp for 20 years] demanding the return of their ancestry territory” have finally “won their battle and recovered 11,000 hectares of land from the government.” Those 67 families are among 26 separate indigenous groups struggling for their survival in the vast Chaco region (spanning parts of Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia) which is now being greedily eyed by oil, gas and agricultural industries.
❖Oh, snap! “An attorney attempting to facilitate a U.S. extradition request for MegaUpload.com founder Kim Dotcom told a New Zeland [sic] judge this week that the prosecution cannot produce evidence against the defendant in a timely manner because his company’s servers are simply ‘too big.’”
❖Clouds over the USA