CommunityThe Bullpen

The Roundup for June 5, 2012

What an exciting evening before us: Venus and the Wisconsin election returns, too. Shade 14 welding glass and popcorn for all.

Working for a Living

?Employers are out to cut labor costs, particularly among low-wage workers. Fewer workers now belong to unions which used to protect them and budget-strapped governments are not as vigorously enforcing labor laws as they once were. Typical rip-off tactics include “stealing tips . . . illegal deductions . . . failing to pay overtime or the legal minimum wage”, declaring workers independent contractors, thus avoiding unemployment insurance. Recent immigrants and undocumented workers are particularly vulnerable.

?A few weeks ago the JOBS Act was passed, supposedly by “clearing away regulation to help young companies create jobs.” Whether a bug or a feature, the misnamed “JOBS” act is enabling “‘Special-purpose acquisition companies’ and ‘blank check’ companies” to get themselves recognized as so-called “emerging growth companies”. Such companies are “basically empty shells”, have “virtually no employees” and are “used in mergers or as a backdoor route to U.S. stock listings”.

?1700 Verizon workers will have to accept buyouts this year or be laid-off, the company says. (CEO, Lowell C. McAdam, was paid $22.5 million by the company in 2011, and shareholders had an 18.8% increase in their returns.) The 1700 targeted positions are in addition to the roughly 39,000 Verizon jobs cut between 2008-2010.

?”California government unions move to squeeze out private contractors”

?Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee celebration was a dismal event for some long-term unemployed and others on apprentice wages who “were bussed into London to work as unpaid stewards . . . and told to sleep under London Bridge before working on the river pageant.” It gets worse: They arrived in London at 3:00 am, were told to sleep on concrete floors, were denied access to toilet facilities for 24 hours, worked 14-hour shifts and other insults.

Money Matters USA

?Obama has presided over the “sharpest decline of the last half-century in real federal, state and local spending during his presidency.” Helps to explain the dismal May jobs report, depressed consumer confidence, why the economy is going nowhere and other ills. Good chart included.

Politics USA

?”Koch Network Alone To Spend More To Defeat Obama Than McCain Raised In All of 2008″

?FL is determined to defy the US DOJ and go right on ahead and purge those voter rolls. Again. A Miami Herald editorial stated, “Florida seems to be heading back to those ‘Flori-duh’ days . . ..” The FL Association of Supervisors of Elections, however, is recommending that members “cease any further action until the issues raised by the [US] Department of Justice are resolved . . ..”

?TX is “suspending” voters who don’t “fail to vote or to update their records for two consecutive federal elections.” Currently 1 in 10 TX voters over all are suspended, and 1 in 5 of those under 30. Those who are suspended either ignored a form letter advising them of a pending suspension or never received one. TX has one of the lowest registered voter rates in the US.

?Jay Townsend, who advocated hurling “some acid at those female democratic Senators” who supported the Lilly Ledbetter Act, has now resigned as chief aide to Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-NY)’s re-election campaign. He still doesn’t seem to get it, though, because he characterized his comment as “stupid because my words were easily misconstrued . . ..” Huh? Teddy Partridge has more.

International Developments

?More death and destruction along the Pakistan-Afhanistan border over the weekend, with three drone attacks and nearly 30 killed, including 14 “suspected militants” and 15 others who may or may not have been militants. Today we learn: 1) that Pakistan “has summoned a senior US diplomat to lodge a formal protest” about the total of 8 drone strikes in the past two weeks; and 2) another of those Al Qaeda No. 2s was killed in one of the strikes.

?The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced it is pulling all funding for the children’s tee-vee series, Sesame Street, in Pakistan. They cited “allegations of corruption against a Pakistani partner organization.”

?Despite the US State Department’s urging that prisoners still held as a result of the Tiananmen Square uprising in 1989 be freed, “China has arrested activists and placed others under increased surveillance” as the anniversary of the event draws nigh this month.

Latin America

?Editor Carlos Lozano of Colombia’s leftist magazine “La Voz” claims there is a “$200,000 bounty on his head” and that a jailed leader of a far-right group and drug trafficking operation has ordered his assassination.

?Argentina is now “suing five oil companies for pursuing [oil exploration] activities around the Falklands/Malvinas.

?Another suit, this one from Odebrecht, a huge construction giant in Brazil, through a US subsidiary. It challenges FL’s recently-passed law banning any contracting between local governments and companies that do business with Syria or (can you guess?) Cuba.

War on Women

?Those descriptions tucked away in “every box of morning-after pills” are just not accurate. They say the pills prevent fertilized eggs from attaching to uterine walls. Not true: “the pills delay ovulation, . . . and some pills also thicken cervical mucus so sperm have trouble swimming.”

?Not a surprise, but still. . . The Paycheck Fairness Act went down today in the Senate by a 52-47 vote, strictly along party lines, with one Republican (Mark Kirk, IL) not voting and the two independents voting ‘yea’. The Act would have increased “protections for women filling gender-discrimination lawsuits” and have created “a federal grant program to improve women’s salary negotiation skills.”

Planet Earth News

?Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientists who volunteered their expertise and help immediately following BP’s huge Gulf blow-out have been forced by a court to turn over to BP some 3,000 confidential emails, in addition to some 50,000 pages of data they’ve already submitted.

Mixed Bag

?68-year old AIG CEO Robert Benmosche has decided we’ll just have to work longer--“Retirement ages will have to move to 70, 80 years old” he opined, while lounging around at “his seaside villa in Dubrovnik, Croatia.” A few choice words come to mind, but I’ll spare you those, dear reader (you could probably come up with better ones anyway).

?And while we’re in the Bad Taste Zone, here’s this one: “Cow sex halts traffic”

Break Time

?The world’s first animators. Amazing stuff.

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