WHAT: Southern Workers Assembly Forum
WHEN: August 9, 2012, 6:00 p.m. -7:30 p.m.
WHERE: International Longshoremen Local 1422 Hall, 1142 Morrison Drive, Charleston, SC
On September 9th, Southern workers will hold a Southern Workers Assembly (SWA) Forum, where workers will gather in Charleston to speak out about a vision for worker rights as human rights; and begin initial planning toward organizing a rank-and-file led workers movement in the South to build power to realize these human rights. It will include workers speaking from the public and private sectors and sectors excluded from protections under the National Labor Relations Act or state laws.
"In an economy that demands that the majority of the people work in order to provide the basic necessities for themselves and families, worker rights are human rights.? said Erin McKee, President of the Charleston Central Labor Council and Vice President of the S.C. AFL-CIO. ?I receive calls frequently from workers who are afraid to give their names, but want help with workplace issues.? She continues ?They feel that S.C. laws don?t protect workers, but are legislated to suppress wages, benefits and working conditions for workers, while providing employers with unprecedented profits.?
The Charleston Forum is one of several throughout Southern states to focus on the SWA to be held on Labor Day, September 3rd , 1 pm- 5pm in Charlotte during the week of the Democratic National Convention. The SWA will be held at Wedgewood Baptist Church in Charlotte. There, also, will be some initial planning to form a Southern Labor Alliance to unite local unions, worker organizations, worker centers and supporters, in launching a Southern campaign to organize a labor movement.
?From the brutal corporate anti-union campaigns like J.P. Stevens, in NC, the Charleston ILA in SC, and Smithfield foods in NC, that saw the beating and jailing of pro-union workers, and the industrial murder of 25 workers by the Imperial Foods Company in Hamlet, NC who had no union.? remarks Saladin Muhammad of the Southern International Worker Justice Campaign, who will be on the panel at the Charleston forum. ? These attacks on workers occurred during the 1970?s through the 2000s, making clear that the legacy of denying worker rights throughout the South continues. The SWA is the start of a movement to challenge and end this legacy.?
To learn more, including a list of endorsers, visit http://southernworker.org
This post covers Episodes 1-3 of the second season of The Wire. For next week, we’ll discuss episodes 4-6.
If the first season of The Wire began with a focus on hands, the second season takes as its most important image paper. Even though the show introduced all of its main characters in the previous season, it has to reorient us to their new positions, and images of paper, both as slang for money and in its literal form, are a critical part of situating old players and introducing new ones.
We begin with the cops, and the bills that change hands between the man running the party on the Capitol Gains and McNulty, miserably assigned to the harbor patrol but not seasick enough to miss the opportunity for a reasonable bribe when he sees it. Kima’s consigned to paperwork, sighing “Fuck me, I still cannot type.” Daniels is stuck shuffling evidence in paper bags in the basement dungeon. Prez is staring at new printouts of photos tacked to a new bulletin board in a new detail office, this time a lonely building out by the water supplied by his father-in-law, Southeastern District Commander Stan Valchek.
Paper is the means of communication amongst criminals, too. Bodie notes down mileage and hands the tally to Stringer, who’s filing other pieces of paper in his pockets. We meet Blind Butchie in his capacity as bank, his most notable characteristic his ability to hear the count correctly. Omar and Dante first meet Kimmy and Tosha when they beat the men to a chance to rob a drug crew?Dante and Omar ambush the women and forge their partnership with them as they sort the bills from the heist into neat piles. In prison, D’Angelo’s transitioned from running the Pit crew to keeping the library neat, but he doesn’t have a sense of which currency is most valuable. “What do you like better? Ultimate Spider-Man or Regular Spider-Man,” a young prisoner asks D while he’s at work. “What’s the difference?” D’Angelo asks him, only to get a “Man, I gotta teach you everything” in response. And on the docks, Frank Sobotka lets stacks speak for him as he desperately tries to prevent defections to local 47, and Johnny Fifty and Ziggy Sobotka exchange slips of paper.
Paper means so many things here. To only be able to push paper is a sign of shame and restriction, in Daniels’ case, an unfair punishment from the department he has tried so hard to serve, in Kima’s case, an act of resentful loyalty to Cheryl, surrounded by a pile of paper of her own in the form of baby books. It can make you, as in a sergeant’s exam, or take your life away, as in the separation agreement McNulty’s wife sends him so it can speak the words she cannot bring herself to utter. To be able to make or share it is a source of pride, though one that can be badly misplaced, as when Ziggy, fatally unable to read any situation correctly, even from the beginning, declares “You know what, Dolores? I made money today” after he and Nicky steal a truck from the docks and sell the contents, prompting her contemptuous “Yeah? What ship came in?” It contains secret knowledge that cannot be spoken immediately out loud, like the note in Stringer’s pocket, the note from Johnny, which Ziggy can speak as soon as he’s far enough away from Johnny that Johnny can’t be traced to the information within it. And it’s a symbol of the value that can lurk in the mundane, as when McNulty sees the news report of the women found in the shipping container in the papers he and Bunk are using to protect the interrogation room table from their crab lunch.
That randomness, the chance that lead Jimmy to this new information, is particularly important. Watching this season again, I was struck by the extent to which Stan Valchek’s selfishness and his petty rivalry with the stevedores over who gets prominent placement for their donated church window end up doing some good. In The Wire: The Musical, the chorus sings “There are complex problems / Inherent in the bureaucratic institutions of the state / But there?s no one to blame / It?s a vast array of personal interests that conflict in a way that undermines the overall system.? But part of the point of The Wire is that goodness is as random as badness. If Stan, in a fit of pique, hadn’t demanded Daniels be put in charge of the detail, Burrell might well have let Daniels walk out the door and on to a legal career. Inertia, for better and for worse, is a more powerful force than meritocracy. Taking the effort to keep Daniels in house lets Burrell preserve the larger inertia that is sweeping him towards a commissionership.
And Valchek may not have convinced Prez that it’s better to adhere towards the vision he laid out for a younger man: “I think you’re going to take the Sergeant’s exam next month…you’re going to make sergeant. Then you’re going to come out here to the Southeast where, because of your father-in-law, you’re going to be assigned a daytime shift in a quiet sector. Then you’ll take the Lieutenant’s exam, where you’ll also score high…If you’ll just shut up and listen to me, you might actually have a career in this department.” But giving the detail some heft is an easier way to keep Prez from fighting that vision, and keep him from doing anything that might keep him from progressing towards those high scores on those tests, and the badges and stripes that go with those particularly powerful pieces of paper.
Eight days after the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate and ruled that the federal government cannot penalize states that refuse to expand Medicaid, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) announced that he would not open the program to more applicants. But while he was making a public show of turning down federal funds, Perry was using the additional dollars in state budget projections.
In a letter explaining how he would fill a budget gap left by Texas’ decision to defund Planned Parenthood, Perry’s office uses the money the federal government will pay states that make Medicaid available to individuals up to 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Line in its budgetary assumptions:
Greta Rymal, Deputy Executive Commissioner for Financial Services, has projected the fiscal impact of this rule for three years, assuming that all clients will be eligible for Medicaid following the expansion of the Medicaid program in January 2014 [...]
Several months ago, the Texas health commissioner signed a rule to ban Planned Parenthood or any organization the state considers an “abortion affiliate” from participating in Medicaid’s Women’s Health Program, which “provides low-income women with family planning exams, related health screenings and birth control” throughout Texas. The state’s discrimination against a specific health provider violated federal rules and led Washington, which had financed 90 percent of the WHP through Medicaid funds, to block Texas from receiving further funding for the program.
According to a new report from the George Washington University School of Public Health, more than 52,000 people benefited from Planned Parenthood’s services as part of the Women’s Health Program in Texas in 2010.
In 2009, the Justice Department formally announced that it would not direct its limited resources towards medical marijuana dispensaries acting in full compliance with state law. According to a memo from then-Deputy Attorney General David Ogden, federal prosecutors “should not focus federal resources . . . on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.” Recently, however, U.S. Attorneys in states such as California and Colorado, where medical marijuana use is legal, have began threatening to seize the buildings that house medical marijuana dispensaries unless the dispensaries’ landlords evict their cannabis-providing tenants.
Recently, DOJ set its sights on California’s Harborside Health Center, the largest medical marijuana dispensary in the world, suing to shut down Harborside’s two branches in Oakland and San Jose. Yet it is not at all clear how these suits can be squared with the Department’s 2009 memorandum. Harborside worked closely with Oakland officials to craft a strict regulatory regime to monitor their industry, and city officials agree that Harborside is in full compliance with state and local laws.
On Thursday, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced the States’ Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act, which would stop the DOJ from going after dispensaries’ landlords through asset forfeiture laws. According to Americans for Safe Access, the mere threat of these kinds of lawsuits have been enough to shutter roughly 400 medical marijuana dispensaries in California.
Lee’s bill comes on the heels of the bipartisan Truth In Trials Act, sponsored by Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), among others. More extensive than Lee’s measure, the bill would allow state-licensed medical marijuana users to defend against federal prosecutions or lawsuits, by showing that they were in fact in compliance with state law. It also would prevent the government from seizing cannabis plants that are legal under state law.
As recently as June 7 of this year, Holder reiterated in a House Judiciary Committee that DOJ would only take action against dispensaries operating “out of conformity with state law.” Yet there does not appear to be any evidence that Harborside, which tests all its products in a lab for safety and pays $3 million in federal, state and local taxes, is in violation of California law. U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, who is responsible for the actions against Harborside, could only point to the fact that Harborside is a large operation, and “[t]he larger the operation, the greater the likelihood that there will be abuse of the state’s medical marijuana laws.”
While they gear up for a legal battle, Harborside is also calling for an immediate freeze on the patchwork enforcement actions against dispensaries operating under different state laws until a top-level federal review can determine whether U.S. Attorneys are acting appropriately in targeting these dispensaries. The need for one coherent federal policy will only grow, as 17 states and the District of Columbia currently have medical marijuana laws on the books, and more medical marijuana ballot initiatives are likely to pass this year. An unprecedented majority of Americans favor marijuana legalization, while 3 in 4 believe the federal government should leave marijuana users alone as long as they comply with state law.
The Missouri Supreme Court last week approved a ballot initiative that, if passed, would place a cap on payday lending rates. The ruling is a victory for fair lending groups and consumers in a state that has some of the loosest payday lending regulations in the country. The law would cap rates at 36 percent, a far cry from the current situation, where rates can exceed 400 percent. Missourians for Responsible Lending, a coalition that includes faith-based organizations and consumer groups, has pushed the initiative, which will now appear on the November ballot despite heavy spending from outside interests intent on keeping it off. (HT Nick Sementelli)
Missourians will cast their ballots in the primary tomorrow, but Senate hopeful John Brunner will have to make his last few campaign stops without the RV’s military insignia. A local businessman who served in the Marines, Brunner often touts his military experience along the campaign trail. Nevertheless, brandishing the logo for political purposes is against the law, according to the Marine Corps Trademark and Licensing Program’s “Frequently Asked Questions“:
I’m running for a political office and am a former Marine. Can I use Marine Corps trademarks on my campaign materials?
No, you may not use the official Marine Corps Seal, Eagle, Globe and Anchor (EGA), or any other USMC insignia or trademark in this manner, since it might create the impression that your candidacy is endorsed by or affiliated with the USMC in some way, or that the USMC has chosen your candidacy over other candidates. You are more than welcome, to simply and accurately state that you are a Marine Corps veteran, that’s fine, that’s a fact. But using the EGA which is a trademark of the USMC, and protected by Federal law (please see 10 USC 7881) is something you may not do.
Brunner’s press secretary said they will “remove the sticker just to be cautious,” although the campaign “believes that the RV does not constitute campaign materials.”
Last month, Mother Jones discovered a similar infraction from an anti-Obama PAC purporting to speak on behalf of veterans and active duty soldiers. The group has since removed trademarked insignia military insignia from its website and social media pages.
In symbolic opposition to same-sex adoption, the French Catholic Church plans to revive the “15 August Prayer for the Assumption” later this month, a custom originally decreed by Louis XIII in 1638. The prayer — which fell out of favor after World War II — asks God to to compel those elected to govern to have a “sense of common good of society” which “outweighs the special requests” they receive. In this case, “special request” refers to the new President Francois Hollande’s intended legislation to grant nationwide same-sex marriage and adoption rights in 2013. French bishops usually lay low, but a church spokesman told Reuters that they wanted to “raise the consciousness of public opinion about grave social choices,” as the prayer specifically makes note of the “benefit from the love of a father and a mother.” Recent polling shows that about two-thirds of the French support marriage equality.
U.S. District Judge Peter C. Economus granted a motion on Monday allowing 15 military groups to intervene in the Obama campaign’s early voting lawsuit, which seeks to restore the ability of all Ohio voters to vote in-person during the three day period leading up to election day. While Ohio has allowed early voting through this period since 2005, the state legislature restricted early voting this year exclusively to members of the military and their families. Mitt Romney’s campaign falsely smeared the lawsuit, claiming that Obama is trying to take away voting rights rather than restore them.