From Congresswoman Robin Kelly:
We are happy to offer our support.
And our vote.
From Congresswoman Robin Kelly:
We are happy to offer our support.
And our vote.
Listen to a civilian LEAP staffer demolish the War on Drugs.
From our friends at LEAP:
As our successes on Election Day illustrated and last week’s Congressional vote to protect medical marijuana patients from DEA interference further confirmed, more people agree with the need for drug policy reform than ever before.
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition can claim credit for helping to bring about that palpable shift in mindset. Our speakers and staff work incredibly hard to bring our message of legalization, regulation and control to the forefront of the movement to end drug prohibition. We know that the consequences of prohibition are severe and impact real human beings – people like all of us. Our latest installment in LEAP’s ongoing “I LIVE THE DRUG WAR EVERY DAY” series comes from one of our own, LEAP’s Director of Programs and Financial Administration, Bill Fried.
Bill joined the LEAP staff in 2006, after years of involvement in grass roots activism. A product of 1960’s radicalism, Bill never thought he would one day work shoulder to shoulder with police officers, fighting for the legalization, regulation and control of all drugs. His story is one of activism come full circle. To hear Bill’s take on the madness of drug prohibition and why LEAP’s work is so important, please watch this video. Share it with your friends and family. Stand with LEAP and tell us your story. Make a contribution to support our work.
We all live the drug war every day. Please stand with LEAP in our fight to end the drug war. Add your voice to our campaign now.
Major Neill Franklin (Ret.)
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
Employees of the fast-food industry demand $15 minimum wage and better workplace protections as actions expected in 150 cities across the country
Fast-food workers are out in force nationwide on Thursday as they participate in a day of action designed to highlight the scourge of low-wages and push a series of demands to combat the persistent poverty endured by those who form the backbone of the profitable multi-billion dollar industry.
Led by organizers at FightFor15—and supported in their call by the Service Employees Union International (SEIU), grassroots organizers, and other workers’ rights groups—the fast-food employees say that singular actions that first started in New York City in 2012 and then spread to other cities have now become a national movement. Pushing for a $15 per hour “living wage” for all workers is the central but not sole demand of the workers and those who back them.
Organizers are expecting worker strikes and solidarity protests in 150 U.S. cities as employees of Burger King, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and other chains demand a dramatic increase to the minimum wage, better workplace protections, and the right to organize and join a union.
According to NBC News:
In Kansas City, Missouri, workers are expected to walk out of 60 restaurants. Latoya Caldwell, a Wendy’s worker, is one of dozens of fast food employees in Kansas City who plan to sit down in a city intersection, lock arms and get arrested.
“We’re a movement now,” Caldwell said on Wednesday before starting a shift at Wendy’s. She and several co-workers said that 25 of the more than 30 non-management employees in their restaurant have pledged to strike. “We know this is going to be a long fight, but we’re going to fight it till we win,” said Caldwell, 31, who is raising four children alone on $7.50 an hour and was living in a homeless shelter until earlier this year.
The strikers cite frustration about their continued struggle to survive at the bottom of the labor market even as the broader economic news seems positive. “They say the economy is getting better, but we’re still making $7.50,” said Caldwell. “Nobody should work 40 hours a week and find themselves homeless, without enough money to buy them and their kids food, needing public assistance.”
Early reporting in the day documented actions in Detroit, Chicago, New York, Charlotte, New Orleans and elsewhere.
In Detroit, protesters protesting outside a McDonald’s early on Thursday were arrested after they locked arms and sat down in the street, blocking local traffic.
The local CBS news affiliate reports:
Kaya Moody, a 20-year-old single mother who works at a different McDonald’s location in Detroit, has taken part in several protests and she admits it hasn’t been an easy sell.
“We always get the ‘Do you really think you deserve $15 an hour as a fast food worker?’ We get that a lot and I just feel like, who doesn’t deserve $15 an hour, you know? It’s a living wage. No one can survive off of $8.15 an hour, it’s almost impossible,” Moody told WWJ’s Ron Dewey.
The protests have been going on for about two years, but organizers have kept the campaign in the spotlight by switching their tactics every few months. In the past, supporters have showed up at a McDonald’s shareholder meeting and held strikes. The idea of civil disobedience arose in July when 1,300 workers held a convention in Chicago.
Kendall Fells, an organizing director for Fast Food Forward, said workers in a couple of dozen cities were trained to peacefully engage in civil disobedience ahead of the planned protests.
Dispatches and photos from other actions are being shared on Twitter under the#StrikeFastFood hashtag:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License
Stephen Pimpare at TalkPoverty.org performs a critical analysis of Congressman Paul Ryan’s so-called “poverty plan.”
So what’s so bad about Paul Ryan’s thinking about poverty?
First, there’s nothing new in it. He offers block grants, cuts to programs, new work requirements, school vouchers, regulatory repeal, more money to faith-based initiatives, and privatizing social services, presenting us with little more than fresh marketing for tired ideas that — when tried in the past — made people’s lives worse, not better. Even the proposals that might seem promising are badly designed — like his way of expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit. With the possible exception of his proposals to reduce some mandatory minimum sentences — which advocates of all stripes have been agitating for for decades — it’s old wine in old bottles. Why should we treat it as newsworthy or innovative?
There’s a deeper problem with Ryan’s approach beyond the details of his proposal. The foundation itself is rotten: the project is built upon three fatal, false premises.
Conservatives don’t like safety nets because they allegedly make people lazy and careless. But what about safety nets for top executives who fail? Yahoo’s recent decision to pay its chief operating officer $96 million for 15 months of work before firing him is just the latest example of handsome rewards for failure in corporate suites.
At least safety nets for the poor help those in need. Safety nets for corporate executives give them no reason to work hard because even when they fail they can vastly increase their wealth. One way to discourage these is to prevent corporations from deducting generous executive severance payments from their taxable incomes. What do you think?
So, what do you think?
So it turns out cheaters will not win this year, at least one in particular from H-F.
I especially feel bad for the kids affected, and, again, for those who were honest from the get-go.
Homewood-Flossmoor’s girls basketball team was scheduled to play T.F. North Wednesday. Instead, the Illinois High School Association has disqualified the team from the state playoffs over bylaw violations.
The Homewood-Flossmoor girls basketball team and its acclaimed first-year coach Anthony Smith were top contenders for the state title this season. Now, they won’t even play a game in the tournament. In a decision Wednesday, issued about an hour before H-F was to play its opening game in the tourney, the Illinois High School Association dashed all hopes of the team’s postseason glory. Citing several violations of its bylaws, the IHSA banned H-F from competing and forfeited its 21 victories this season. The Vikings, ranked No. 1 by the Sun-Times, was scheduled to play T.F. North at 6 p.m. in Calumet City.
Just hours before the top-ranked Homewood-Flossmoor girls basketball team was to take the floor to begin its playoff march, the state high school athletic association delivered a bombshell Wednesday, suspending the entire team and its highly regarded coach for rules violations.
The sanctions by the Illinois High School Association come just weeks after a lawsuit rocked the highly touted program, accusing coach Anthony Smith of improperly recruiting star players from other school districts in his first season at H-F. That prompted the school district to conduct an internal investigation that led it to acknowledge it had violated rules, though none for improper recruiting.
How much thought have you given Palestine recently?
We live in a country (USA! USA!) where celebrity news trumps news of the suffering in the world. News of the starving in the world. News of those still facing genocide. Still facing abuse. Still lacking basic human rights.
And we thrive to news of celebrity arrests, as if they matter one damn.
Had lunch with a now old friend, my friend is very young (comparable to my scalp line), but very, very wise.
And very empathetic.
My friend just returned from a half-month trip to Israel and Palestine (notice I’m naming them separately, as the two separate states the are, should be, shall be, Insha’Allah.
God willing, that is.
I will share with you in this space some of the amazing, alarming, and jaw-dropping things I learned from my friend today.
Israel, the state (not all Israelis, not all Jews), but Israel is persecuting the Palestinians.
And this must be stopped.
Did you know, for example, that Israel controls all water and electricity into Palestinian regions?
And, did you know, that Israel frequentlly cuts off all water and electricity if one Palestinian “misbehaves?”
Did you know that it is illegal for an Israeli to enter Palestine? Did you know that, on average, Israel demolishes four Palestinian home a day?
Did you know that Israel will not do trash pick-up in any region inhabited by Muslims, whether in the Old City, or Palestine?
Did you know that the Israeli government then uses that reality to refer to the Palestinians as filthy, dirty animals?
In short, did you know that Israel, to put it mildly, discriminates against the Palestinians, that the officials of the Israeli state refer to all Palestinians as “terrorists.”
Did you know that, at the Dome of the Rock, Israeli soldiers guard the entrance, allowing only a certain number of Muslims to enter each day to pray?
And did you know that Palestinians just want to live?
To own property?
To build homes (which is illegal now)?
To be human?
Thank you to my friend.
More to follow.
The economy is improving, and has been for years under President Obama.
It’s just been sluggish, and there are plenty of people out of work still. There are even more who are underemployed (above graphic is from June 2013). According to Forbes, the "official" underemployment rate does not count discouraged workers who have settled for part-time jobs, or have just given up. These people, properly tracked under what’s called the "U-6" rate, showed underemployment at 14.3% in June 2013.
So, what exactly are we to infer from the revised estimate, reported today by the New York Times, that third quarter estimates for the economy showed 4.3% growth? The NYTimes reports:
The United States economy grew at an astonishing 4.1 percent annual rate, the federal government said Friday in its third and final revision of gross domestic product for the third quarter.
The rate was the fastest in almost two years.
The Commerce Department said business spending was stronger than it originally thought, leading to the revision up from 3.6 percent. Economists had expected the final estimate of growth to be unchanged from that 3.6 percent.
According to the Times, the growth rate for quarter two was 2.5%.
So, this is good news, right?
Not so certain, given the underemployment rate and other factors. Those of us in the middle and lower are making less, therefore spending less.
Consider the rise in companies buying back their own shares of stock, to the tune of $211 billion.
Enter Robert Reich from December 17, via Facebook (emphasis added):
A big reason why CEOs are about to rake in big year-end bonuses even though their sales are lousy (after all, America’s vast middle class and poor aren’t earning enough to buy much) is CEOs been using their companies’ cash, plus whatever they can borrow at rock-bottom interest rates engineered by the Fed, to buy back their own shares of stock. This maneuver raises the price of the remaining shares, thereby giving the CEOs – whose pay is tied to share prices – huge rewards. This year, the 30 companies listed on the Dow Jones industrial average authorized $211 billion in buybacks, lifting the Dow (and CEO pay) to record heights.
This $211 billion could have gone instead to American workers in the form of higher wages – which would have come back to companies in the form of higher sales. McDonald’s, for example, spent $6 billion on share repurchases and dividends last year, the equivalent of $14,286 per restaurant worker employed by the company.
It’s a vicious cycle as long as CEO incentives are directed toward raising share prices rather than sales, and as long as the economy is organized around the stock market rather than good jobs.
Since many of our pensions were shifted to the stock market via crapshoot 401Ks, we have learned that the stock market is not a safe environment for our retirement funds to exist. Know anyone who was unable to retire because his or her 401K lost half its value or more — just when that person was planning to exit the work force?
I do. Too many, in fact.
So, yes, a 4.1% growth in the economy is good news. However, as long as the corporations are defining growth based on the stock market as opposed to job growth, most of us in America will have to wait — and work — for a paradigm shift in the outlooks of corporations.
Or, we will have to fight for it, just like we did in the early 20th century.
Let’s begin by organizing the Service Industry.
More on that to come.
The GOP government shutdown just hit home for a close friend.
His son, a laborer who lives in a so-called "Right To Work" state, was out of work. He had been let go from his previous job because he became injured outside of work. Rather than give him a month to heal, which is all he needed, his employer at the time just let him go. Tried to tell him that he was doing him a favor. That he could collect unemployment, as opposed to making nothing for the 30 days or so he would need to heal.
And his employer knew that this lad had only worked for him for five months, therefore not qualifying for unemployment. And, it turns out, this employer has done this to other workers, letting them go in the fifth month of employment, so the employer has to pay neither benefits nor unemployment.
This is what the GOP refers to as "Right To Work," the myth that, forbidding unions from requiring workers to join a union when they get a job, workers now can be "free" of union dues and work, because, dammit, they have the right to work.
In reality, it means states full of workers, like my friend’s son, who have no union protection, no unions who negotiated fair working conditions. None of that. Not at all.
And employers can be as ruthless as the nasty members of the GOP, some of the meanest pols we’ve seen since just before the Great Depression, when robber barons ruled, and pols danced to their commands.
So my friend’s son applied for another job. Went through the entire interview process. Passed every background check, drug test — paid for by the hiring company — and was given his "new employee" packet.
And, on what was supposed to be his first day of work, was told that the company could not start him, because of the government shutdown.
Because of the government shutdown, the company was not certain that some contracts would be upheld.
That’s not what they told him at first. But, after he pressed them, they admitted this was, in fact, the case. The government shutdown.
The damn GOP government shutdown.
His son says it was evident the company was scrambling. Some news from on high had reached the blue collar workers, and the company, and American company, was being downsized.
These inglorious GOP members of Congress have got to go.
All of them.
They claim that this shutdown is the fault of the Democrats and the Democratic President who "refuse to negotiate.
And here’s proof.
Never before has a minority party linked controversial legislative demands with a threat to shut down the government or imperil the global economy. But House Republicans would have you believe otherwise.
In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal this morning, Rep. Paul Ryan writes that president Obama “says he ‘will not negotiate’ on the debt ceiling. He claims that such negotiations would be unprecedented. But many presidents have negotiated on the debt ceiling—including him. ”
Ryan was referring to a speech given in September before the Business Roundtable — an association of CEOs of large US companies — in which the president said, “You have never seen in the history of the United States the debt ceiling or the threat of not raising the debt ceiling being used to extort a president or a governing party, and trying to force issues that have nothing to do with the budget and have nothing to do with the debt.”
Ryan continued: “He’s refusing to talk, even though the federal government is about to hit the debt ceiling. That’s a shame — because this doesn’t have to be another crisis. It could be a breakthrough.”
But that’s spin: Negotiating would set a dangerous precedent, because Obama’s right that this time really is different. Here are three reasons why.