Tuesday, August 4, 2015

MSNBC and the Media Blackout on Bernie Sanders

MSNBC is putting a media blackout on Bernie Sanders. Its greatest offense was when it dismissed Ed Schultz.

The word behind the cancellation is that MSNBC's corporate masters, Comcast ordered the firing, over Schultz's coverage of the Trans Pacific Partnership (PPP), as reported by Alternet in "MSNBC Cans Only Cable TV Host Who Extensively Covered TPP."

Have any doubts? Read here:
It has to be noted that Comcast, the company that owns MSNBC, is a big supporter of the TPP. Comcast hired a phalanx of lobbyists to spearhead a targeted campaign to push for Trade Promotion Authority, which recently passed. Included among the individuals it was paying was the former chief of staff for former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA).
Act now, while the momentum and popular outrage over Schultz's dismissal is still fresh. Please sign the petitions of protest over the firing at MoveOn and at Change.org.

The national paper of record likewise is doing a poor job, with an implicit political agenda. See the analysis at Alternet, "Why Is the NY Times Basically Doing a Blackout on Bernie Sanders? The New York Times' Sanders coverage is intellectually dishonest."

Thom Hartmann has given a few analyses of the media blackout of Sanders, earlier this summer, in "The Media's "Wave of Silence” on Sen. Bernie Sanders & Why" and in the last week, in "The Bernie Sanders News Blackout Continues...."

MSNBC gave an early view of how it was going to bat for Clinton and against Sanders when it gave extended time to Claire McCaskill of Missouri as she engaged in hyperbole, trying to make Sanders out to be an extremist, far beyond acceptable boundaries of American politics. Click here for the video of McCaskill redbaiting Sanders.

You can push social issues and fair treatment for different communities, as when the station points out inhumane policies regarding women's reproductive rights, Republican obstruction against marriage equality or other goals for LGBT fairness, or runaway police violence against unarmed black people. But do not ever tread on issues of economic power. Otherwise Comcast will make sure that you get the axe.

And what has the MSNBC tone been like on the station since the decision to let Ed Schultz go?

It is grasping at arcane side-distractions to divert attention from the surging momentum behind Bernie Sanders. A prime example of this is its pundits' steady drumbeat for Vice President Joe Biden to enter the race. Beyond this, it is just approaching candidates on a personality focus, instead of giving attention to the candidates' positions on the issues, such as Biden's personal tragedy of losing his son to brain cancer.

However, voters will realize that Biden is just another mainstream Washington politician, with too long a record of supporting corporations.

Twitter and other social media users, use this hashtag to protest MSNBC's firing of Sanders: #StopBernieBlackout

POSTSCRIPT:
Until this evening, the only major cable news network reporting Bernie Sanders' mere six percentage point margin behind Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire was none other Fox News.  CNN and MSNBC today restricted their reportage to push speculation of a Joe Biden candidacy. They noted Clinton's persistently weak poll numbers. Yet, if her numbers were weak, shouldn't the networks report which candidate was cutting into her potential support? --That is Bernie Sanders? No, they never uttered her name. Yet, it was Fox News that this evening reported the six digit difference. Only in the evening of August 4 did MSNBC report online the news of the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that showed the Democratic presidential nomination race to be tightening between Clinton and Sanders in New Hampshire. A WUMR TV poll reported the same narrow margin between Clinton and Sanders.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Hillary Clinton's Enthusiastic Work for the Fracking Industry

You search for the Democratic presidential campaign leaders in 2016, Hillary Clinton (Democrat) and Jeb Bush (Republican) on the fracking issue, and you find that both of them are pro-fracking.

"Mother Jones" has a very thorough article on the tenacious work that Hillary Clinton did for the hydraulic fracturing industry while serving as Secretary of State.

A trove of secret documents details the US government's global push for shale gas.


Ah, so that is why she was so eager to operate her own email server and delete as many emails as possible.
Europe, where Clinton has been extraordinarily active in vouching for the fracking industry --especially in Bulgaria and Romania. (Since this map was published last fall in "Mother Jones" additional countries have decided to have fracking bans.)

Read the full "Mother Jones" article from the September/October, 2014 issue. It touches on the campaign contributions that the fracking industry gave to both Obama and Clinton.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Time for.a Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions Campaign Against the Dominican Republic?

There is a nation in our hemisphere that has declared that all people of a defined "type" must go into camps, and must be expelled by the end of the summer.

Sound familiar? Specifically, the government of the Dominican Republic has declared that black Dominicans must go into concentration camps, which the government euphemistically calls "shelters." The government wants people to register their nationality status by tomorrow, June 18. Afterwards, it would appear, the army is slated to take action, as the Nation reports in "Concentration Camps in the Dominican Republic?":

General Rubén Darío Paulino Sem, the army official in charge of the deportation, says the expulsion will start this Thursday, June 18. Sem has been overseeing the construction of seven concentration camps—which he calls “shelters,” or “centros de acogida”—where Dominicans suspected of being of Haitian descent will be housed until a “final evaluation” can be made.

The world should not naively wait until things get worse. Witness Nazi Germany in the 1930s or Rwanda or Bosnia, in each case, before matters really heated up. People said, "oh, this is just talk. Let's wait and see what happens. This could just be talk." Witness Bosnia, with the hair-splitting about whether and when harassment or killing could be deemed the hint of genocide to come or the beginning of genocide.

As Chris Hayes reported on MSNBC last night, this is not just a matter of Haitian nationals in the Dominican Republic, but it is in reality a campaign against black people in the Dominican Republic. On this note we should applaud the Washington Post for being more alert to the ethnic cleansing character of this harassment. By contrast, the New York Times is introducing the story with the more tepid approach by referring to the targets as Haitians.

So, I dare human rights activists and leftist organizations to fight potential ethnic cleansing or genocide and challenge the Dominican government where it will hurt: its economy. Wouldn't a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign be in order? Has Israel made camps for Arabs, told them to register with the government and threatened to expel them? It would be interesting if all the activist organizations making Israel its sole or number one focus would stay silent on this one.

As one might draw from the Washington Post article, the United States had some responsibility in countenancing the racist harassment against Haitians. In both the 1930s, under a Democratic administration that of Frankin S. Roosevelt, mind you, the U.S. supported strongmen that led mass killings of Haitians and black Dominicans. And we did not challenge these massacres. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Alex Jones Is Actually Dangerous: Why We Have to Start Taking his Paranoid Worldview Seriously

Alex Jones Is Actually Dangerous: Why We Have to Start Taking his Paranoid Worldview Seriously

He has a captive audience and a sizable influence.
Alex Jones Thinks The Government Was Behind 9/11, Oklahoma City, And The Boston Marathon Bombing.
Photo Credit: Media Matters for America
In response to the Jade Helm military training exercises planned for this summer, Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) will deploy the Texas State Guard to apparently serve as a shield against the Green Berets and other special operations units who, many conservatives fear, might threaten the freedom of red-blooded Americans living in the Lone Star State.
“It is important,” said Abbott, in announcing the move, “that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed upon.”
The subtext is, of course: There’s a decent chance they could be infringed upon.
And so the governor is figuratively wrapping his state in a gigantic tin-foil hat. Abbott’s unprecedented move is one more chilling sign that the gonzo ideas imagineered by radio conspiracy theorist Alex Jones are hemorrhaging into mainstream American politics and beyond.
Sure, Jones is hilariously self-satirical to many of us who live safely outside the borders of his internet and radio cuckoo’s nest. When he paints himself up like Heath Ledger’s Joker from “The Dark Knight,” or when he airs an entire show disguised as a shape-shifting lizard person from outer space (based on one of his actual conspiracy theories), it’s really difficult to click over to something else. It’s nearly impossible to not become inextricably ensnared by his tractor-beam of theatrical ridiculousness. Hathos compels us to click. We have to watch; mouths agape and our rational instincts utterly confounded by his purple-faced, menthol-throated rants about fluoridated water, the New World Order, the Illuminati, the Bilderberg Group and even the “demonic mustaches” allegedly worn by agents of the federal government.
Not too long ago, when Oklahoma was ravaged by a super-tornado, Jones dedicated a segment of his show to a theory that President Obama uses “weather weapons” to manufacture tornadoes; and, what’s more, that he also deployed “helicopters and small aircraft” to “create and steer groups of tornadoes.” Why, exactly, would Obama want to do this? Doesn’t matter. And, by the way, why aren’t we using this awesomely destructive — and, in the real world, nonexistent — power against, say, ISIS? (The answer is obviously — because Jones believes Obama needs ISIS to exist in order to [insert another crazy conspiracy theory here].)
Incidentally, when Obama’s not using tiny helicopters to move weather events endowed with the destructive power of the Hiroshima bomb, he’s busily manufacturing juice boxes to manipulate the testosterone levels of children, turning young boys gay somehow.
Empirical facts, such as that there’s zero biological correlation between testosterone levels and homosexuality, clearly never stop Jones from either repeating or entirely inventing what amounts to tall tales for the digital age. Whenever cornered, Jones famously claims, “I’ve got the documents!” — even though the documents are usually just print-outs of blog entries from InfoWars.com, Jones’ official website.
That’s the dangerous thing about Alex Jones and his empire. The ludicrousness distracts from the damaging reach of the truly awful theories he sells. If it was all contained safely within its shrink-wrapped bubble, that’d be one thing. But Jones and his theories are being rapidly mainstreamed. This is a testament to his skill as a broadcast huckster, though it doesn’t require much salesmanship to transparently exploit the clinical paranoia of his audience for ratings and profit. Without saying a word, his disciples want to believe by default. Indeed, there are two key features of the InfoWars subculture: 1) absolute certitude that they and only they are aware of what’s really going on and the rest of us are mere “sheeple”; and 2) that the establishment will do whatever it has to do in order to discredit and shatter that certitude. The latter was Jones’ explanation for why he wasn’t able to appear on ABC’s “This Week” with Martha Raddatz last Sunday: ABC, he said, intentionally hoodwinked him to embarrass him.
Fold the paranoia and certitude into some of the theories Jones and we get the following:
  • Jones served as the media instigator during the Cliven Bundy fracas against the Bureau of Land Management, helping to nudge the pro-Bundy protesters toward an armed stand-off.
  • Last year, Jones predicted an inevitable civil war between armed “patriots” and the government, during which “300,000 police will die.”
  • During nearly every show, Jones inevitably circles back to his theory that the Boston Marathon bombing was a false flag operation orchestrated by the government in order to further impose a police state inside the U.S. In service of this theory, Jones sent one of his goons, a former semi-pro wrestler named Dan Bidondi, to various press conferences following the bombing where Bidondi shouted “false flag” at officials including Gov. Deval Patrick (D-MA).
  • Perhaps the most vile and unforgivable Jones conspiracy theory orbits the horrible Sandy Hook massacre. Jones believes the tragic mass shooting never happened; that the entire event was literally a hoax. Not only were those children and their teachers not killed in cold blood by Adam Lanza, but the parents are conspirators in the hoax. If that wasn’t horrendous enough, Jones believes the children never existed in the first place.
Exactly one year ago, 28-year-old Andrew David Truelove admitted to stealing memorial signs erected at playgrounds in honor of two of the slain Sandy Hook children, Chase Kowalski and Grace McDonnell. Why did he do this? Obviously because the children never existed, and the memorials represented fealty to a staged event intended to push anti-Second Amendment legislation. Worse, Truelove contacted McDonnell’s still-grieving mother on the phone and calmly repeated the conspiracy theory. After that, Truelove decided to contact me personally with his story. His ideas were authentic Jonesian gibberish.
The Truelove episode and its accompanying vandalism can’t be directly blamed on Jones, but the pervasiveness of Jones’ ideas are entirely Jones’ responsibility. Not only is he dependent upon the gullibility and activism of his listeners, but they’re also dependent upon him to confirm their worldview. Meanwhile, there’s a confluence of increasingly obstructionist small-government libertarianism and the Jones echosphere. Presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and his father, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), along with Gov. Abbott are perhaps the best evidence of this emerging Venn diagram.
For example, in the months following the infamous Benghazi attacks, Rand Paul marketed the conspiracy theory that the late Ambassador Chris Stevens was running weapons from Libyan rebels to pro-Al Qaeda units in Syria. Pure Alex Jones. It’s worth noting that of the current field of GOP candidates for president, Paul is the only one to appear as a guest on Jones’ show and to be glowingly endorsed by the host. Perhaps Paul should be asked about whether he agrees with various Jones theories, such as the one in which First Lady Michelle Obama is actually a transexual and that the president is bisexual. Do Jones’ libertarian congregants know how blindingly homo- and transphobic their hero is?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Fly the union-friendly skies, if you can find them

From NW Labor Press:

Fly the union-friendly skies, if you can find them

 
Do you fly airlines where the workers have union representation, or airlines that have kept unions out? To help you know which is which, the Northwest Labor Press consulted company annual reports and data from the DOT’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, and contacted airline unions. The findings: U.S. airlines range from 85 percent unionized US Airways to totally nonunion JetBlue.
It’s been a wild ride for airline industry workers since the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978. Passed over the objection of airline unions, that legislation got rid of fare and route regulation, and began an era of fierce competition, with wave upon wave of mergers and bankruptcies, a gradual disappearance of passenger perks, and continual pressure on workers. In the decades since it passed, PanAm, Republic, and Northwest were absorbed by Delta; Continental by United; TWA by American; and America West merged into US Airways. Today, those four surviving “legacy” companies, plus Southwest, JetBlue, and Alaska control over 80 percent of the U.S. market.
Every one of the legacy carriers — airlines that existed before deregulation — has filed for bankruptcy at one point since then, and some more than once. And when they do, management  uses bankruptcy law as a bludgeon to modify union contracts.

Click to enlarge
Here are some employee relations highlights from the Top 7 airlines, starting with the largest:
Southwest, headquartered in Dallas, became the biggest U.S. airline by “revenue passenger miles,” after acquiring AirTran in 2011. It also has the best relationship with its unions, and the highest customer satisfaction ratings.
Delta, headquartered in Atlanta, has fought employee efforts to unionize for decades. When it absorbed heavily-unionized Northwest Airlines in 2010, those 17,000 workers lost their unions. And Delta is having a big impact on conditions at other companies: More than other airlines, Delta relies on regional airlines as subcontractors on smaller flights to smaller cities, and it has used its market clout to drive down costs and wages, in the same way that WalMart does with its suppliers.
United Airlines, headquartered in Chicago, was in bankruptcy from 2002 to 2005, during which it negotiated concessions from its unions. It’s a major outsourcer, too, both of maintenance work, and of routes: Many flights sold by United are operated by subcontractors. This year United completed a merger with Continental.
American Airlines, headquartered in Ft. Worth, is the airline villain of the moment. On Oct. 3, it lost a year-long court battle to prevent 10,000 ticket agents from unionizing with Communications Workers of America. CWA supporters have begun fliering at airports to alert customers about rampant outsourcing. American filed for bankruptcy last November despite billions in cash reserves, and its plans in bankruptcy are to cut 13,000 employees, outsource maintenance, terminate all of its pension plans, and end retiree medical coverage. This is after American’s unions agreed to major concessions in 2003 to keep the company out of bankruptcy. This time around, the unions have said no, but American is asking a judge to order contract changes. Pilots are fighting back with record numbers of sick-ins and “working to rule” — instead of helping the airline limp along, they’re writing up every equipment failure. American has been in discussions about a merger with US Airways.
US Airways, headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, just swallowed America West, and now is making a bid to take over much-larger American Airlines. Its flight attendants rejected a tentative agreement and were scheduled to hold a strike authorization vote Oct. 31 (after this issue went to press.)
JetBlue, a low-cost carrier headquartered in New York City, is all non-union and determined to stay that way, defying an active campaign by Transport Workers Union to unionize flight attendants. JetBlue enters into five-year “agreements” with individual employees, in which it unilaterally commits to “just cause” discipline and protection against layoffs.
Alaska Airlines, headquartered in Seattle, began as a regional carrier in the Pacific Northwest. Now it’s the seventh largest airline nationally. It has relatively good relations with its unions, though new hires no longer get to enroll in the company’s defined-benefit pension plan.
ANd read more at the original site, for whether the plane manufacturers are union.

Fly the union-friendly skies, if you can find them

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Syriza's Victory and Their Model Message to the U.S. and the Austerity-Besieged World

Syriza has won the January 25, 2015 Greece elections, with 36 percent.
[Updated reports from the Guardian.]

Given that public workers, especially teachers, in the United States, are facing dire austerity-driven challenges, their platform and victory is inspiring and perhaps instructive.

Greece: What a SYRIZA government will do

December 20, 2014 -- Transform! Network, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Below is the governmental program of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) announced by Alexis Tsipras at the Thessaloniki International Fair, September 15, 2014. According to the latest opinion poll, SYRIZA is at 36.5%, with a seven percentage point lead over the conservative New Democracy. The current contest for the presidency of Greece looks likely to lead to a new parliamentary election.
In a first round of voting in parliament on December 17, Stavros Dimas, the government's candidate, won only 160 votes, short of the necessary 200 out of 300 members of parliament.
There will be two more rounds, with the last on December 29, when the threshold for Dimas to win the presidency drops to 180 votes. It is unlikely that the right-wing, pro-austerity New Democracy and its once social-democratic junior partner PASOK can find enough support.
If the government can't get someone elected it will trigger new a parliamentary election, probably in February 2015. SYRIZA won the most votes in the May election for the European Parliament, and for months, it has led the opinion polls.
* * *
We demand immediate parliamentary elections and a strong negotiation mandate with the goal to:
  • Write-off the greater part of public debt’s nominal value so that it becomes sustainable in the context of a "European Debt Conference". It happened for Germany in 1953. It can also happen for the South of Europe and Greece.
  • Include a "growth clause" in the repayment of the remaining part so that it is growth-financed and not budget-financed.
  • Include a significant grace period ("moratorium") in debt servicing to save funds for growth.
  • Exclude public investment from the restrictions of the Stability and Growth Pact.
  • A "European New Deal" of public investment financed by the European Investment Bank.
  • Quantitative easing by the European Central Bank with direct purchases of sovereign bonds.
  • Finally, we declare once again that the issue of the Nazi occupation forced loan from the Bank of Greece is open for us. Our partners know it. It will become the country’s official position from our first days in power.
On the basis of this plan, we will fight and secure a socially viable solution to Greece’s debt problem so that our country is able to pay off the remaining debt from the creation of new wealth and not from primary surpluses, which deprive society of income.
With that plan, we will lead with security the country to recovery and productive reconstruction by:
  • Immediately increasing public investment by at least €4 billion.
  • Gradually reversing all the Memorandum injustices.
  • Gradually restoring salaries and pensions so as to increase consumption and demand.
  • Providing small and medium-sized enterprises with incentives for employment, and subsidizing the energy cost of industry in exchange for an employment and environmental clause.
  • Investing in knowledge, research, and new technology in order to have young scientists, who have been massively emigrating over the last years, back home.
  • Rebuilding the welfare state, restoring the rule of law and creating a meritocratic state.
We are ready to negotiate and we are working towards building the broadest possible alliances in Europe. The present Samaras government is once again ready to accept the decisions of the creditors. The only alliance which it cares to build is with the German government.
This is our difference and this is, at the end, the dilemma: European negotiation by a SYRIZA government, or acceptance of the creditors’ terms on Greece by the Samaras government.
Negotiation or non-negotiation.
Growth or austerity.
SYRIZA or New Democracy.
What will happen though until the negotiation is over?
With SYRIZA for a National Reconstruction Plan for the Greek society.
We assume responsibility and are accordingly committed to the Greek people for a National Reconstruction Plan that will replace the Memorandum as early as our first days in power, before and regardless of the negotiation outcome.  
The National Reconstruction Plan focuses on four major pillars to reverse the social and economic disintegration, to reconstruct the economy and exit from the crisis.
THE FOUR PILLARS OF THE NATIONAL RECONSTRUCTION PLAN 
  1. Confronting the humanitarian crisis
  2. Restarting the economy and promoting tax justice
  3. Regaining employment
  4. Transforming the political system to deepen democracy
1st pillar: Confronting the humanitarian crisis
Total estimated cost: €1,882 billion
Our program to immediately confront the humanitarian crisis, with an estimated cost around €2 billion, amounts to a comprehensive grid of emergency interventions, so as to raise a shield of protection for the most vulnerable social strata.
  • Free electricity to 300.000 households currently under the poverty line up to 300 kWh per month per family; that is, 3.600 kWh per year. Total cost: €59,4 million.
  • Program of meal subsidies to 300,000 families without income. The implementation will take place via a public agency of coordination, in cooperation with the local authorities, the Church and solidarity organizations. Total cost: €756 million.
  • Programme of housing guarantee. The target is the provision of initially 30,000 apartments (30, 50, and 70 m²), by subsidising rent at €3 per m². Total cost: €54 million.
  • Restitution of the Christmas bonus, as 13th pension, to 1,262,920 pensioners with a pension up to €700. Total cost: €543,06 million.
  • Free medical and pharmaceutical care for the uninsured unemployed. Total cost: €350 million.
  • Special public transport card for the long-term unemployed and those who are under the poverty line. Total cost: €120 million.
  • Repeal of the leveling of the special consumption tax on heating and automotive diesel.  Bringing the starting price of heating fuel for households back to €0,90 per litre, instead of the current €1,20 per litre. Benefit is expected.
2nd pillar: Restarting the economy and promoting tax justice
Total estimated cost: €6,5 billion
Total estimated benefit: €3,0 billion         
The second pillar is centred on measures to restart the economy. Priority is given to alleviating tax suppression on the real economy, relieving citizens of financial burdens, injecting liquidity and enhancing demand.
Excessive taxation on the middle class as well as on those who do not tax-evade has entrapped a great part of citizens in a situation which directly threatens their employment status, their private property, no matter how small, and even their physical existence, as proved by the unprecedented number in suicides.
Settlement of financial obligations to the state and social security funds in 84 installments.
Estimated benefit: €3 billion
The revenue which we expect to collect on an annual basis (between 5% and 15% of the total owed) will be facilitated by the following measures:
  1. The immediate cease of prosecution as well as of confiscation of bank accounts, primary residence, salaries, etc., and the issuance of tax clearance certificate to all those included in the settlement process.
  2. A twelve-month suspension of prosecution and enforcement measures against debtors with an established zero income, included in the settlement process.
  3. Repeal of the anti-constitutional treatment of outstanding financial obligations to the state as offence in the act (in flagrante delicto).
  4. Abolition of the mandatory 50% down payment of the outstanding debt as a prerequisite to seek a court hearing. The down payment will be decided by a judge. It will be around 10%-20%, according to the financial circumstances of the debtor.
Immediate abolition of the current unified property tax (ENFIA). Introduction of a tax on large property. Immediate downward adjustment of property zone rates per m².
Estimated cost: €2 billion.
That tax will be progressive with a high tax-free threshold. With the exception of luxurious homes, it will not apply on primary residence. In addition, it will not concern small and medium property.
Restitution of the €12,000 annual income tax threshold. Increase in the number of tax brackets to ensure progressive taxation.
Estimated cost: €1.5 billion.
Personal debt relief by restructuring non-performing loans ("red loans") by individuals and enterprises.
This new relief legislation will include: the case-by-case partial write-off of debt incurred by people who now are under the poverty line, as well as the general principle of readjusting outstanding debt so that its total servicing to banks, the state, and the social security funds does not exceed ⅓ of a debtor’s income.
  •  We are setting up a public intermediary organisation for the handling of private debt, not as a "bad bank", but both as manager of any payment overdue to the banks and as bank controller regarding the implementation of the agreed-upon settlements.
  • In the next days, SYRIZA will table a law proposal to extend ad infinitum the suspension of foreclosures on primary residences, valued less than €300,000. 
  • The law proposal will also include the prohibition to sell or transfer the rights over loans and over land charges to secure the loans to non-bank financial institutions or companies.
  • Establishment of a public development bank as well as of special-purpose banks:
    Starting capital at €1 billion.
  • Restoration of the minimum wage to €751.Zero cost.
 3rd pillar: National plan to regain employment
Estimated cost: €3 billion
A net increase in jobs by 300,000 in all sectors of the economy – private, public, social – is expected to be the effect of our two-year plan to regain employment. Such a plan is indispensable for absorbing the long-term unemployed, particularly those over 55 years, as well as the young unemployed, who would be largely bypassed by economic growth. Our plan would save funds to expand unemployment insurance to more beneficiaries.
  • Restitution of the institutional framework to protect employment rights that was demolished by the Memoranda governments.
  • Restitution of the so-called "after-effect" of collective agreements; of the collective agreements themselves as well as of arbitration.
  • Abolition of all regulations allowing for massive and unjustifiable layoffs as well as for renting employees.
    Zero cost
  • Employment programme for 300,000 new jobs.
    Estimated first-year cost: €3 billion
4th pillar: Transforming the political system to deepen democracy
Total estimated cost: €0
From the first year of SYRIZA government, we set in motion the process for the institutional and democratic reconstruction of the state. We empower the institutions of representative democracy and we introduce new institutions of direct democracy.
  1. Regional organisation of the state. Enhancement of transparency, of the economic autonomy and the effective operation of municipalities and regions. We empower the institutions of direct democracy and introduce new ones.
  2. Empowerment of citizens’ democratic participation. Introduction of new institutions, such as people’s legislative initiative, people’s veto and people’s initiative to call a referendum.
  3. Empowerment of the parliament, curtailment of parliamentary immunity and repeal of the peculiar legal regime of MPs’ non-prosecution.
  4. Regulation of the radio/television landscape by observing all legal preconditions and adhering to strict financial, tax and social-security criteria. Re-establishment of ERT (Public Radio and Television) on a zero basis. 
Estimating the cost of the non-negotiable plan of immediate measures to restructure society.
We have calculated the total cost of the immediate programme for confronting the humanitarian crisis as well as the fiscal cost of abolishing monstrous tax measures.
It will be fully covered as follows:
  1. First of all, from the measures and procedures of settlement and clearance. We plan to collect, at a minimum, €20 billion out of a total of €68 billion in arrears over a seven-year period. That would add approximately €3 billion into the public coffers in the first year.
  2. Second, by decisively combatting tax evasion and smuggling (e.g. fuel and cigarette smuggling), something that requires resolve and political will to clash with oligarchic interests.
  3. Regarding the starting capital of the public intermediary organisation and the cost of the establishment of a public development bank as well as of special-purpose banks, totaling €3 billion, we will finance it from the so-called "comfort pillow" of the, around, €11 billion of the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund intended for the banking system.
  4. Regarding the total cost of the plan to regain employment: it amounts to €5 billion, €3 billion of which is the cost in the first implementation year. During that first year, the cost will be financed through: €1 billion from the National Strategic Reference Framework 2007-2013 "bridge projects"; €1,5 billion from its 2014-2020 equivalent, and €500 million from other specialized European instruments for employment.
In addition, considering the huge effort that will be required to restore pensions, our government, instead of selling-out public property, it will transfer a part of it to social security funds. 
That is the minimum of measures to be taken in order to reverse the catastrophic consequences of the Private Sector Involvement (PSI) on the pension funds and individual bondholders and gradually restore pensions.
ESTIMATED TOTAL COST OF THE "THESSALONIKI PROGRAMME":
€11,382 billion
ESTIMATED TOTAL REVENUES:
€12 billion 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Oxfam: Richest 1% will own more than all the rest by 2016

Richest 1% will own more than all the rest by 2016

The combined wealth of the richest 1 percent will overtake that of the other 99 percent of people next year unless the current trend of rising inequality is checked, Oxfam warned today ahead of the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.
The international agency, whose executive director Winnie Byanyima will co-chair the Davos event, warned that the explosion in inequality is holding back the fight against global poverty at a time when 1 in 9 people do not have enough to eat and more than a billion people still live on less than $1.25-a-day.
Byanyima will use her position at Davos to call for urgent action to stem this rising tide of inequality, starting with a crackdown on tax dodging by corporations, and to push for progress towards a global deal on climate change.
Wealth: Having It All and Wanting More, a research paper published today by Oxfam, shows that the richest 1 percent have seen their share of global wealth increase from 44 percent in 2009 to 48 percent in 2014 and at this rate will be more than 50 percent in 2016. Members of this global elite had an average wealth of $2.7 million per adult in 2014.
Of the remaining 52 percent of global wealth, almost all (46 percent) is owned by the rest of the richest fifth of the world’s population. The other 80 percent share just 5.5 percent and had an average wealth of $3,851 per adult – that’s 1/700th of the average wealth of the 1 percent.

Staggering inequality

Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International, said: “Do we really want to live in a world where the one percent own more than the rest of us combined? The scale of global inequality is quite simply staggering and despite the issues shooting up the global agenda, the gap between the richest and the rest is widening fast.
“In the past 12 months we have seen world leaders from President Obama to Christine Lagarde talk more about tackling extreme inequality but we are still waiting for many of them to walk the walk. It is time our leaders took on the powerful vested interests that stand in the way of a fairer and more prosperous world.  
“Business as usual for the elite isn’t a cost free option – failure to tackle inequality will set the fight against poverty back decades. The poor are hurt twice by rising inequality – they get a smaller share of the economic pie and because extreme inequality hurts growth, there is less pie to be shared around.”

Business must act

Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, Chief Executive Officer of E.L. Rothschild and chairman of the Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism, who is speaking at a joint Oxfam-University of Oxford event on inequality today, called on business leaders meeting in Davos to play their part in tackling extreme inequality.
She said: “Oxfam’s report is just the latest evidence that inequality has reached shocking extremes, and continues to grow. It is time for the global leaders of modern capitalism, in addition to our politicians, to work to change the system to make it more inclusive, more equitable and more sustainable.  
“Extreme inequality isn't just a moral wrong. It undermines economic growth and it threatens the private sector's bottom line.  All those gathering at Davos who want a stable and prosperous world should make tackling inequality a top priority."
Oxfam made headlines at Davos last year with the revelation that the 85 richest people on the planet have the same wealth as the poorest 50 percent (3.5 billion people). That figure is now 80 – a dramatic fall from 388 people in 2010. The wealth of the richest 80 doubled in cash terms between 2009-14.

The international agency is calling on government to adopt a seven point plan to tackle inequality:

  1. Clamp down on tax dodging by corporations and rich individuals
  2. Invest in universal, free public services such as health and education
  3. Share the tax burden fairly, shifting taxation from labour and consumption towards    capital and wealth
  4. Introduce minimum wages and move towards a living wage for all workers
  5. Introduce equal pay legislation and promote economic policies to give women a fair deal
  6. Ensure adequate safety-nets for the poorest, including a minimum income guarantee
  7. Agree a global goal to tackle inequality.
Today’s research paper, which follows the October launch of Oxfam’s global Even It Up campaign, shines a light on the way extreme wealth is passed down the generations and how elite groups mobilise their vast resources to ensure global rules are favourable towards their interests. More than a third of the 1645 billionaires listed by Forbes inherited some or all of their riches.
Twenty percent of billionaires have interests in the financial and insurance sectors, a group which saw their cash wealth increase by 11 percent in the 12 months to March 2014. These sectors spent $550 million lobbying policy makers in Washington and Brussels during 2013. During the 2012 US election cycle alone, the financial sector provided $571 million in campaign contributions.
Billionaires listed as having interests in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors saw their collective net worth increase by 47 percent. During 2013, they spent more than $500 million lobbying policy makers in Washington and Brussels.
Oxfam is concerned that the lobbying power of these sectors is a major barrier in the way of reforming the global tax system and of ensuring intellectual property rules do not lead to the world’s poorest being denied life saving medicines.
There is increasing evidence from the International Monetary Fund, among others, that extreme inequality is not just bad news for those at the bottom but also damages economic growth.
Oxfam will today hold a joint symposium Rising Inequality in the Global South with Oxford University. Speakers include Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank and Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild.

Notes to editors

Download Oxfam's new report: Wealth: Having It All and Wanting More
Wealth of 1 percent, 50 percent, 80 percent and 99 percent taken from Credit Suisse Global Wealth Datebook (2013 and 2014) https://www.credit-suisse.com/uk/en/news-and-expertise/research/credit-suisse-research-institute/publications.html Projection of 1 percent wealth for 2016 calculated by Oxfam based on that data.
The wealth of the richest 80 was calculated using Forbes’ billionaires list. Annual data taken from list published in March.
Credit Suisse made changes to its methodology between 2013 and 2014. Using this new methodology, last year’s ‘85’ would have been ‘90’. That means that the number of billionaires who have the same wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion has fallen from 90 to 80 in the last 12 months.
Details of Oxfam’s Even It Up campaign can be found at oxfam.org/even-it-up

Contact information

For further information or to arrange an interview: Jon Slater +44 7876 476403 /jslater@oxfam.org.uk
For updates, please follow @Oxfam.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Patrick Lynch Danger #1: PBA Head is Arguing that the Police Should Consider Civilian Government Illegimate

The New York Police Department (NYPD) head Patrick Lynch is undermining the civilian authority of democratically elected mayor Bill de Blasio.

These words, alone, demonstrate that Lynch is working to undermine the legitimacy of the civilian government. (From the New York Post, last Friday, December 19, 2014)

Mayor Bill de Blasio acts more like the leader of “a f- -king revolution” than a city, police union president Pat Lynch said at a recent delegate meeting.
“He is not running the City of New York. He thinks he’s running a f- -king revolution,” said Lynch, head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, during the private gathering in Queens last Friday.
Lynch, who was secretly recorded, also all but ordered a rule-book slowdown, according to the seven-minute tape obtained by Capital New York.
“If we won’t get support when we do our jobs . . . then we’re going to do it the way they want it,” Lynch said. “Let me be perfectly clear: We will use extreme discretion in every encounter.”
Lynch, when referring to de Blasio, encouraged members to be wary of what he called “enemies.” “Our friends, we’re courteous to them. Our enemies, extreme discretion,” he said. “The rules are made by them to hurt you. Well, now we’ll use those rules to protect us.”

Those words plus the fact that many in the New York Police Department see a conflict between First Amendment Free Speech rights and police power should be very chilling to New Yorkers.

See also Jacobin magazine, posted, December 23, 2014:

New York’s Cop Coup

Sunday, November 23, 2014

14 Greedy Companies That Are Forcing Employees to Work on Thanksgiving & 17 or 19 Refusing to Do So

20 Stores That Refuse to Open on Thanksgiving

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filed under: holidays


Plus, the stores that are giving their workers off for the holiday.>


In recent years, the Black Friday craze has inched further and further into Thanksgiving. With stores opening as early as 5 p.m. on Thursday, festive dinners are being overshadowed by shopping frenzies. Retailers like to point the blame at consumers—in a survey last year, 38 percent of shoppers said they planned to shop on Thanksgiving—but opening a day early also runs the risk of cannibalizing sales that could have been made on Friday. Furthermore, with stores open the day before, the idea of going shopping in the middle of the night for already picked-over merchandise seems unnecessary.
But there are still stores that allow workers to stay home and enjoy the holiday. Here are some of the bigger retailers that will be closed on Thanksgiving.

1. DSW

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DSW issued a statement on their Facebook page explaining that they believe family comes first. As a result, they are closed for Thanksgiving, and not opening until 7 a.m. on Friday.

2. COSTCO

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The warehouse club has always had a reputation for being good to their employees. This Thanksgiving, the nearly 127,000 Costco employees will have the opportunity to spend the holiday with their families.

3. NORDSTROM

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Last year, the retailer distributed flyers that explained, “We won't be decking our halls until Friday, November 29. Why? We just like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time." They're continuing that tradition this year as well.

4. DILLARD'S

A Dillard’s spokesperson told ThinkProgress, “We choose to remain closed on Thanksgiving in longstanding tradition of honoring of our customers’ and associates’ time with family.”

5. BJ'S

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BJ’s Wholesale Club has confirmed they will be closed Thanksgiving. Last year, their CEO told HuffPost, “maybe call me old-fashioned, but I feel that it’s an easy decision to make [to stay closed on Thanksgiving].”

6. BURLINGTON COAT FACTORY

The retailer made a point of staying closed last year, as well.

7. REI

REI confirmed with ThinkProgress that they will be staying closed this year.

8. AMERICAN GIRL

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9. CRATE AND BARREL

10. JO-ANN FABRIC AND CRAFT STORES

“Out of respect to our Team Members and their families, Jo-Ann stores will not be open Thanksgiving Day,” explained Travis Smith, chief executive officer and president of Jo-Ann Stores, Inc. “We ask a lot from our Team Members during the holidays, and Thanksgiving Day is a valued tradition for many families. We believe it is important for our Team Members to be able to spend this time with their loved ones.”

11. T.J. MAXX

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"We feel so strongly about our employees spending Thanksgiving with their families," says spokeswoman Doreen Thompson. "And we don't anticipate this changing in the future."

12. MARSHALLS

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Marshalls, like T.J. Maxx, is owned by TJX and will therefore also be closed.

13. PIER 1 IMPORTS

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Pier 1 traditionally decides to stay closed for Thanksgiving.

14. PUBLIX

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15. SIERRA TRADING POST

The Facebook page Boycott Black Friday confirms that Sierra Trading Post will closed for the holiday.

16. BARNES AND NOBLE

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Their website gives the following reason for staying closed: "We will be closed Thanksgiving Day, November 27 so that our booksellers can be with their family and friends. "

17. SAM'S CLUB

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Sam's Club is closed on Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.

18. HOME DEPOT

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Home Depot stays closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

19. PATAGONIA

When asked why, a spokesperson responded “It’s a holiday—we’re closed!”

(Radio Shack reversed itself, and decided that it would make Thanksgiving a workday for employees.