Despite spending the GOP’s contested primary accusing President Obama for waging “an assault on religion,” flyering voters in Iowa with pamphlets that touted a “pro-life” agenda, and pledging to defund Planned Parenthood, Mitt Romney’s senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom insisted that the general election should eschew social issues. Fehrnstrom also accused Democrats of using women’s reproductive health as “shiny objects” to avoid discussing the economy. “Mitt Romney is pro-life,? he told ABC?s George Stephanopoulos on Sunday. ?He?ll govern as a pro-life president, but you?re going to see the Democrats use all sorts of shiny objects to distract people?s attention from the Obama performance on the economy. This is not a social issue election.?
What is the future of progressive politics? What is the world that we are trying to build? In some ways these are the wrong questions. There?s so much in terms of low-hanging fruit that needs to be accomplished. From mass unemployment, to climate change,[...]
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Children in a spinning room in Fall River, Massachusetts, 1912.
They were paid half the going rate for adult workers.No parades or surprise parties are likely to be on tap Monday when Massachusetts passes the anniversary of a milestone of U.S. labor law. A century ago, on June 4, 1912, the state enacted the nation's first minimum-wage law. That may not seem like a big deal these days. But for the women and minors covered by the law it was a very big deal. In sweatshops across the nation at the time, workers of all categories were deeply exploited. And while legislators could ignore?be paid to ignore?most of that exploitation, they had a harder time when the exploited were women and children forced to work 10- and 12-hour days six days a week in sweatshops where their pay was, let us say, painfully inadequate.
That pay could be reduced at any time on an employer's whim. Or the hours increased but the weekly pay unchanged. Workers could lump or leave it. The problem with leaving being that it would land all but the luckiest of them in a job with equally measly pay and the same kind of verbal contract between unequals. The worker had to right to accept whatever the owner wished to pay. Period. Women, unable to even vote and only rarely represented by unions, were vulnerable to employers' whims and their prejudices, one of which was the view that no matter how hard they worked women simply should not be paid as much as men. As for children in sweatshops? Even worse off. Even more vulnerable. And paid even less.
Reformers saw need of many improvements for workers, but one proposal that struck a chord was a minimum wage for women. The Progressives made that a plank in their party platform in 1912.
Economists, businesspeople big and small, and the elected stooges for owners who hired these easily exploitable workers hated the idea of a minimum wage, as many still do. And had the Massachusetts law been drafted to cover a broader range of workers, that is to say, men, it would never have made it to the governor's desk. But it did and he signed it. Within a decade a dozen other states had followed in Massachusetts's footsteps. And in 1933, deep in the Depression, Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, the brains and heart of the New Deal, made the case for a federal minimum wage. I'll get to that in a moment.
Section 3. It shall be the duty of the commission to inquire into the wages paid to the female employees in any occupation in the commonwealth, if the commission has reason to believe that the wages paid to a substantial number of such employees are inadequate to supply the necessary cost of living and to maintain the worker in health.In Washington state not quite five years later, the battle over implementing the minimum wage was hard fought. The law had passed in 1915. But by 1917 companies were evading the minimum-wage law however they could.
Section 4. If after such investigation the commission is of the opinion that in the occupation in question the wages paid to a substantial number of female employees are inadequate to supply the necessary cost of living and to maintain the worker in health, the commission shall establish a wage board consisting of not less than six representatives of employers in the occupation in question and of an equal number of persons to represent the female employees in said occupation, and of one or more disinterested persons appointed by the commission to represent the public, but the representatives of the public shall not exceed one half of the number of representatives of either of the other parties. [...]
Section 5. The commission may transmit to each wage board all pertinent information in its possession relative to the wages paid in the occupation in question. Each wage board shall take into consideration the needs of the employees, the financial condition of the occupation and the probable effect thereon of any increase in the minimum wages paid, and shall endeavor to determine the minimum wage, whether by time rate or piece rate, suitable for a female employee of ordinary ability in the occupation in question, or for any or all of the branches thereof, and also suitable minimum wages for learners and apprentices and for minors below the age of eighteen years. When two thirds of the members of a wage board shall agree upon minimum wage determinations, they shall report such determinations to the commission, together with the reasons therefor and the facts relating thereto, and also the names, so far as they can be ascertained by the board, of employers who pay less than the minimum wage so determined.
Laundry work was one of the few jobs open to women at the time, and the employers made the most of it. According to the Seattle Union Record women who worked in the laundries were ?girls without any family support and many widows with babies to feed and clothe.?
During the first part of 1917, the state minimum wage for laundry workers was $9 a week for an eight-hour workday. [...] The laundries then paid less and less until they were paying far below the minimum wage and many workers were receiving the same pay as they had five years previously. In addition to lowering wages, the laundries used several other methods to get around the minimum wage provision.The Laundry Owners Association maintained a united front for a while. But then the cooperatively owned Mutual Laundry announced it was going to raise the weekly wage to $10, $1 above the state minimum wage for eight hours work a day. While the Laundry Workers Union praised Mutual, it also noted that a livable wage was really $12 a week. Word nonetheless quickly got around. The Laundry Owners Association wouldn't budge. Every trick was tried to keep the women workers from joining unions. Laundries fired any woman who had joined the union and refused to give it up. In June 1917, a lot of women were fired for their refusal.
The laundry plants used a system of ?splitting shifts.? This was a practice in which a laundry put the women to ?work in the morning, rush them to top speed for a couple of hours, ring a gong and stop their time when the work immediately in sight was disposed of and without previous notice; after an hour or two again putting them to work and in that way compelling them to be present on the job for periods of from ten to twelve hours for pay for from four to eight hours.? This practice of having the women work faster over more hours for less money was upheld in the courts with the decision of Rose Bishop v. Model Laundry Co., in which the judge refused to hear the case.
When it became clear at mid-month that the owners weren't going to come around, 900 laundry-workers took to the streets. By the time the strike was settled four weeks later with full capitulation by the Laundry Owners Association on July 11, 85 percent of the women had joined the Laundry Workers Union. Their strike got apprentices paid $9 a week for an eight-hour day, $10 for women with experience, with a limit on the number of apprentices. All the dismissed workers were reinstated as part of the deal.
?...men of inferior business caliber who probably could not survive at all if it were not for their willingness to be entirely ruthless in exploiting labor.?But the courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, were not cooperative. They ruled against laws restricting child labor and mandating minimum wages. One of the worst decisions came in 1936 Most notorious was the 1936 case of Morehead v. New York ex rel. Tipaldo. Joseph Tipaldo ran Brooklyn laundry. He violated the state's minimum wage law by paying women workers only $10 a week. The state demanded that he pony up for $14.88 each. He acquiesced but then made the women kick back the additional pay. Caught and charged not only with violating the minimum-wage law but also forgery and conspiracy, Tipaldo was jailed. His lawyers argued the law unconstitutional and, in 1936, the Supreme Court agreed by a 5-to-4 majority, ruling that it interfered with "liberty of contract." Even many conservatives were appalled. Republican Rep. Hamilton Fish of New York called it a "new Dred Scott decision" condemning three million women and children to economic slavery.
With Franklin Roosevelt reelected by a huge landslide in 1936 and talking about altering the balance of the court by appointing a new justice for every one of those on the court over 70 who did not retire, Associate Justice Owen Roberts ultimately changed his mind, at least publicly. He took the other side in a second minimum-wage case, reversing the Court's majority in 1937. It was a crucial turning point.
The decision meant the federal minimum wage being included in the multi-issue Fair Labor Standards Act would not be challenged in Court. The bill,which also included limits on child labor and set standards for overtime pay, ran to 40 pages. Eventually, it was boiled down to eight. Even in a Congress practically overflowing with Democrats, it took several tries before a draft suitable for full debate had been written. Seventy-two amendments were proposed on the floor of the House and Senate to narrow the bill's scope. By the time it was signed in 1938, it was a good deal weaker than when it had started out, in great part due to opposition from anti-New Deal congressmen from the South. But it still contained two important provisions, a 40 cents-an-hour minimum and a 40-hour-a-week maximum. Unions wanted more money and some on the left in Congress wanted a lower number of hours, but the principle had been set. The federal government now had the authority to make such rules.
Nearly 75 years after FDR signed the minimum-wage law, we're still fighting for it. Some argue it should be done away and replaced by guaranteed incomes, an expanded earned income tax credit or left up to collective bargaining, a more European approach. But most critics who seek to ditch it have no intention of replacing it with something better. For them, it's just another New Deal thorn to be removed from the bottom line. Just as they'd like the minimum-wage to be zero, they want corporate taxes to be zero. Always on a search for balance these guys are.
Even when a majority of legislators, including many Republicans, support an increase in the minimum wage, right-wing maneuvers can squelch it, as just happened in New York.
Jack Temple, policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project, says:
After several decades of congressional stewardship, the real value of the minimum wage peaked in 1968. Since then it has trailed the rising cost of living: The minimum wage would be over $10 today if it kept pace with inflation, but it is only $7.25 an hour?just over $15,000 a year for full-time work.One of numerous items in the worker-friendly Rebuild America Act that Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa has proposed is a phased-in minimum wage of $9.80 an hour, up from $7.25. The bill also includes a raise to $6.86 in the minimum wage for tipped workers (which has been at a ridiculous $2.13 an hour for 20 years). Each would be indexed to inflation annually.
We are now three years out from the official end of the recession, and workers? wages are declining rather than rebounding: From March 2011 to March 2012, real average hourly earnings fell 0.6 percent for all private-sector workers and declined by an even greater degree?a full 1.0 percent?for nonsupervisory and production workers.
The website RaisetheMinimumWage.com is a project of the National Employment Law Project. Working with state advocates, it seeks to rebuild "the wage floor for low-wage workers in the U.S." with technical assistance, research, background materials, strategizing and coordination for campaigns.
One of the states partnering with RMW is Massachusetts. A bill introduced last year by state Sen. Marc Pacheco cleared committee in March. Deadline for passage this year is July 31. It would raise the minimum wage from $8 an hour to $9.50 on July 1 and to $10 in July 2013, indexed to inflation thereafter.
The foes of the minimum wage play rough. Here's John Stoher at The American Prospect examining one of the promoters of the corporate agenda on the minimum wage:
One of the most active in the propaganda industry has been the Employment Policies Institute, a so-called think-tank in Washington that serves as a front for Richard Berman & Co., a lobbying firm for major corporations in the fast-food, alcohol, and tobacco industries. The Employment Policies Institute studies essentially say: Raising the minimum wage hurts minimum-wage earners. We know, we know. That sounds counter-intuitive, but trust us. We're the experts.Anthony Speelman, United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500 Secretary-Treasurer, says:
?It is amazing how much money corporations will spend from their own pockets to make sure no additional money goes into their workers' pockets. It is appalling that the voice opposing the minimum wage increase will come from those making ten, twenty even fifty times what those on minimum wage make in a year. Any business that can only survive and profit by paying their workers poverty wages should either rethink their business model or consider another line if work. Regardless, their voices of greed will be drowned out by the voices of need.?That sounds as if he's been reading Frances Perkins.
The minimum wage is no panacea. But raising it does not hurt minimum-wage earners, as Berman claims but surely knows is bogus. Work full-time at the current minimum and gross pay for a year will be $15,000. Raising that to $20,000 by making the minimum $10 an hour hurts that worker how? Contrary to popular belief, those making minimum wage aren't all kids on their first job or working their way through school. And they don't all work for mom and pop shops:
Many minimum-wage workers are in jobs we may not assume to be minimum-wage occupations, such as contracted workers at airports who handle our luggage, process tickets and clean airplanes. Or home health aides and office workers.A century ago, the minimum wage was just one item on a long list of labor reforms that took decades of political maneuvering, direct action and legislative compromise to achieve. Today, in an era when supposedly serious candidates for the presidency argue in favor of bringing back child labor, it is no surprise that a lot of big guns are turned on keeping the minimum wage below the buying power it had in 1968. Much of the action is at the state level, just as it was in Massachusetts and Washington and Oregon so many decades ago. The foes are just as wrong as they were then and for the same reasons.
Most are not that young. Of the 40,000 in New Jersey who earn minimum wage, more than half are 25 or older. More than a third are at least 45.
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Conservative columnist George Will on Sunday used outrage over New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed ban on large sugary drinks to slam attempts to curb climate change.
"That's modern liberalism: They delight in bossing people around," Will complained to ABC's George Stephanopoulos. "What Bloomberg is saying [is] the government helps with your health care, the government's implicated in your health. Therefore, we own you. Therefore, the government can fine tune all the decisions you make pertinent to your health."
"This is one of the reasons liberals are so enamored over the issue of climate change," Will continued. "They say all our behaviors in some way effect the climate, therefore, the government -- meaning, we liberals, the party of government -- can fine tune all your behavior right down to the light bulbs you use."
Last week, Bloomberg proposed that certain businesses be banned from selling sugary drinks, like sodas, in containers larger than 16 fluid ounces.
It took 44 days before George Zimmerman was arrested for Trayvon Martin’s death because police claimed he was “standing his ground” when he fatally shot the teenager. But these kinds of delays are not all that uncommon under the ALEC-sponsored law, a new report by Tampa Bay Times concludes. The report finds that in nearly one-third of 200 Stand Your Ground cases, the defendant had initiated the fight, shot an unarmed individual or first pursued the victim, and were never even charged with crimes.
Additionally, Stand Your Ground has allowed police a wide latitude of interpretation, resulting in uneven enforcement for whites and blacks. Some of the report’s findings include:
Nearly 70 percent of those who have invoked “stand your ground” to avoid prosecution have gone free. 73 percent of those who killed a black person walked away without penalty, while 59 percent of those who killed a white person went free. Attorneys are increasingly invoking Stand Your Ground in ways state legislators didn’t originally intend, and use of this defense has grown five-fold in nonfatal cases between 2008 and 2011. Among the incidents where defendants walked free: “One man killed two unarmed people and walked out of jail. Another shot a man as he lay on the ground. Others went free after shooting their victims in the back.” There are three times more concealed carry permits in Florida since 2005, when Florida passed the law.
In Florida, the number of Stand Your Ground cases is on the rise, being invoked in cases with both minor injuries and where the defendants shot a person who was unarmed or whose back was turned. As Tampa Bay Times writes, “If you claim ‘stand your ground’ as the reason you shot someone, what happens to you can depend less on the merits of the case than on who you are, whom you kill and where your case is decided.” For George Zimmerman, these inconsistencies have played out in national media, but many times these cases escape notice and even police records.
Charlie Engle today. Engle is a marathoner who participated in a liar loan during the housing bubble. The IRS - really one vindictive agent of the IRS - tracked him down, searched through his garbage, sent an undercover agent with a wire to get him to[...]
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It's easy to love the troops when you don't have to be the troops--Col. Jack Jacobs (ret.)
Chris Hayes is still quite visibly moved by the uproar caused by his Memorial Day show, when he expressed discomfort with the ubiquitous use of the word "hero" to discuss our military, because rhetorically, it shuts down all discussion of justifications of war. It's a fair point, if inartfully made, and I'm sure that he's still feeling the reverberations from the blowback he received in the last week.
But the larger discussion deserves--and gets--exploration. And Chris Hayes give is the respect and time it needs, speaking to MSNBC's Military Analyst Col. Jack Jacobs (ret.), Josh Trevino, founder of RedState.com and an Iraq war vet, Anu Bhagwati, co-founder of the Service Women's Action Network and Kayla Williams, of the Truman National Security Project and also an Iraq vet.
The percentage of the US population who are active duty military is ridiculously small (less than one percent). It's not enough to slap a yellow ribbon magnet on your car and feel self-satisfied that you support the troops, safe and anesthetized, tens of thousands of miles away, as they endure their third, fourth and fifth tour of duty. It's not enough.
Jacobs suggests that bringing back the draft would bring more skin in the game. And while the notion sends shivers down my spine, I agree with the premise that if the war was everpresent in our collective consciousness, it would not still be dragging on in its eleventh year.
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Four missiles struck a village in South Waziristan in Pakistan on Sunday morning killing ten "suspected militants," who had gathered at a funeral to mourn the death of "two fighters" killed in a drone strike just the day before. At least, that is what[...]
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The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) released its report, Hate Violence Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and HIV-Affected Communities in the United States in 2011 on Thursday, and the statistic that jumped out is the rise in anti-LGBT murders, up 11%.And she summarizes the recommendations:
The report also listed policy recommendations to bring these numbers down in the future:Also reporting this was Kossack rserven.
- Increase funding for LGBTQH anti-violence support and prevention.
- End police profiling and police violence against LGBTQH communities.
- End the root causes of anti-LGBTQH violence by reducing poverty against LGBTQH communities and systemic homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic discrimination in laws, policies, employment, public services, and education.
- End the homophobic, transphobic, and biphobic culture that fuels hate violence.
- Collect data and expand research on LGBTQH communities particularly data and research on LGBTQH communities? experiences of violence.
Will anyone listen?
Monitoring stations across the Arctic this spring are measuring more than 400 parts per million of the heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere. The number isn't quite a surprise, because it's been rising at an accelerating pace. Years ago, it passed the 350 ppm mark that many scientists say is the highest safe level for carbon dioxide. It now stands globally at 395.How big a milestone?
So far, only the Arctic has reached that 400 level, but the rest of the world will follow soon.
It's been at least 800,000 years ? probably more ? since Earth saw carbon dioxide levels in the 400s, Butler and other climate scientists said.
Young illegal immigrants, saying President Obama has done little to diminish the threat of deportations they face despite repeated promises, have started a campaign to press him to use executive powers to allow them to remain legally in the country.
The campaign is led by the United We Dream Network, the largest organization of young immigrants here illegally who would be eligible for legal status under a proposal in Congress known as the Dream Act.
To a remarkable degree, the challenges to the Affordable Care Act reflect an effort to codify legal nostalgia as legal doctrine. The opinions of some lower courts striking down the individual mandate, as well as the arguments of the States and private plaintiffs in the Supreme Court urging that result, repeatedly hark back to bygone eras of American jurisprudence. This legal facsimile of reincarnation seeks to revive not just the long discredited doctrines invoked by an ossified Judiciary to thwart the New Deal. It goes back further still, to the dogma of an earlier time when the Judiciary regarded its principal function as the protection of private property, even at the expense of social justice, democratic values, and other individual rights.
The European bailout of 130 billion euros ($163.4 billion) that was supposed to buy time for Greece is mainly servicing only the interest on the country?s debt ? while the Greek economy continues to struggle.Actually helping Greece isn't part of the equation.
If that seems to make little sense economically, it has a certain logic in the politics of euro-finance. After all, the money dispensed by the troika ? the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission ? comes from European taxpayers, many of whom are increasingly wary of the political disarray that has afflicted Athens and clouded the future of the euro zone.
In an elaborate payment system that began after the May 6 election that brought down the Greek government and is meant to ensure that the Greeks do not touch the cash, the big three creditors are now wiring bailout payments to an escrow account in Greece. There the money sits for two or three days ? before much of it is sent back to the troika as interest payments on the Greek bonds that Europe accepted under terms of the bailout deal struck in February.And for this the Greek people are supposed to accept the continued deliberate destruction of their economy.
Some major U.S. corporations that support climate science in their public relations materials actively work to derail regulations and laws addressing global warming through lobbying, campaign donations and support of various advocacy groups, according to a new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, an environmental and scientific integrity group.
It is likely the Sun will be flung into a new region of our galaxy, but our Earth and solar system are in no danger of being destroyed.
The richness of CÚzanne?s legacy derives from the complexity of his technique, which combines linear and planar elements with passages of solid modeling and allows the white ground of the canvas to interrupt what is represented on it. This creates a picture space full of shifts and ellipses, especially noticeable in depictions of the human figure, where even small alterations in the shapes and sizes of body parts or facial features are conspicuous.
CÚzanne?s manner of building his forms with accumulations of small, planar strokes was as much a way of not fully defining objects as it was of depicting them. What results is a tension between the painted surface and what is represented on it. Consequently, Mondrian could write that CÚzanne showed how beauty was created not by the objects he represented ?but by the relationships of form and color,? while Kandinsky emphasized the content of CÚzanne?s paintings, his ?gift of seeing the inner life in everything.?
The grandeur of CÚzanne?s achievement and the tensions that underlay it are superbly exemplified in The Large Bathers, from 1906, which will be a key work in the Philadelphia Museum of Art?s forthcoming exhibition ?Gauguin, CÚzanne, Matisse: Visions of Arcadia,? on view from June 20 through September 3.
From Peterson's "Guide" and Carson's "Silent Spring" a movement was born: environmentalism. It grew out of a new set of relationships between Homo sapiens and nature. Peterson invited the public to care enough about birds to identify them and, by extension, to identify with them. Carson showed that in caring about the fate of another species we were implicitly protecting our own fate as a species. The "Life List" that is kept by most birders acquired a double meaning: It names every live species seen in a person's lifetime.
Some lawmakers will go to great lengths to deny the reality of climate change. But this week, North Carolina lawmakers reached new heights of denial, proposing a new law that would require estimates of sea level rise to be based only on historical data?not on all the evidence that demonstrates that the seas are rising much faster now thanks to global warming.Scott Huler, of Scientific American, a North Carolina resident:
The sea level along the coast of North Carolina is expected to rise about a meter by the end of the century. But business interests in the state are worried that grim projections that account for climate-induced sea level rise will make it harder for them to develop along the coast line. So policymakers in the state plan to deal with that issue by writing a law requiring inaccurate projections.
North Carolina legislators have decided that the way to make exponential increases in sea level rise ? caused by those inconvenient feedback loops we keep hearing about from scientists ? go away is to make it against the law to extrapolate exponential; we can only extrapolate along a line predicted by previous sea level rises.
Which, yes, is exactly like saying, do not predict tomorrow?s weather based on radar images of a hurricane swirling offshore, moving west towards us with 60-mph winds and ten inches of rain. Predict the weather based on the last two weeks of fair weather with gentle breezes towards the east. Don?t use radar and barometers; use the Farmer?s Almanac and what grandpa remembers.