Posts from the ‘The War Economy’ Category

Sheldon Adelson and Newt Gingrich: One gained clout from friendship, the other funding – The Washington Post


The way casino magnate Sheldon Adelson remembers it, he and his wife, Miriam, met then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1995 in the majestic Capitol Rotunda as they made their way through the building while lobbying for a bill to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Nearly two decades later, Gingrich, on the campaign trail, has promised that his first executive order as president would be the embassy move, long a priority of ardent Israel supporters such as the Adelsons.

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The former House speaker is seeking the Republican presidential nomination.

It would also be a sweet jackpot for the Adelsons, who are the biggest patrons of Gingrich’s political career.

Perhaps no other major presidential candidate in recent times has had his fortunes based so squarely on the contributions of a single donor, as Gingrich has on Adelson, who has spent millions in support of Gingrich and his causes over the past five years. In a primary season dominated by the mega-spending of super PACs, Adelson’s efforts on Gingrich’s behalf provide a window into the expanding influence of the super-rich on American politics.

After putting up the seed money and ultimately $7.7 million between 2006 and 2010 for a nonprofit group that served as a precursor to Gingrich’s presidential campaign, Adelson, 78, an irascible Las Vegas billionaire, doubled down this month, giving $5 million to a political action committee run by former close aides to Gingrich.

“My motivation for helping Newt is simple and should not be mistaken for anything other than the fact that my wife Miriam and I hold our friendship with him very dear and are doing what we can as private citizens to support his candidacy,” Adelson, who is listed by Forbes as the eighth-wealthiest American, with a net worth of $21.5 billion, said in a prepared statement e-mailed to The Washington Post. He declined interview requests.

The most recent donation to Winning Our Future, a Gingrich-linked super PAC, fueled Gingrich’s resurgence before Saturday’s primary in South Carolina and bankrolled ads and a half-hour film painting rival Mitt Romney as a job-killing corporate raider. Adelson told associates that he will consider more donations if Gingrich fares well Saturday.

For Gingrich, the check links him even more closely to Adelson (pronounced ADD-el-son), an outspoken businessman known for aggressive tactics. His net worth has increased at least ninefold in the last decade. (The FBI and Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating his company, Las Vegas Sands, in connection with allegations that Adelson ordered an executive to bribe Chinese officials by putting them on the payroll. Adelson and company officials deny the allegations, which they say were first made by a disgruntled former employee.)

Adelson said the check to Gingrich was about fidelity. “Our means of support might be more than others are able to offer,” he said, “but like most Americans, words such as friendship and loyalty still mean something to us.”

Friends said Adelson and Gingrich share views on Israel, labor and free enterprise. In December, when Gingrich was riding atop the national GOP polls, Adelson was delighted.

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ramseytuell

1/27/2012 2:11 PM MST

At present we are sending 33% of our work to other countries. If we were to keep 18% of that here it would put most of that 14 million back to work. It is very important that we do it now. Workers feed our money Supply, pay taxes, and pay the wages of all those that have jobs in our government.
The President, in his state of The Union speech, addressed the fact that we are losing our skilled workers such as engineers, die makers, machinists, etc and along with them goes our ability to manufacture and build wealth in our country.
If I see any of the contenders for the Presidency, or the President and any of his staff, smiling and talking about rearranging the government offices to safe money, or shuffling papers and laws to improve the economy, I’m going to puke.

banicki

1/20/2012 1:33 PM MST

One dollar one vote.
Here is biggest problem of this years election. and no one is discussing it including the Times.
American politics is one of the few jobs where you are allowed to hunt for another job during 98% of normal working hours and continue to be paid for your present position. WE CANNOT LET THIS HAPPEN THIS TIME!
“Republicans hope Mr. Obama’s pronouncement that a full-year extension of the payroll tax cut was the last “must-do” piece of legislation for the White House will work in their favor, making them look as though they are trying to create jobs while Mr. Obama is busy campaigning.” Boehner Faces a Restive G.O.P. and New White House Attacks, Jennifer Steinhaurer, New York Times, January 14, 2011
In 2012 we have the following items that demand national attention: the presidential and congressional elections, the Afghan war, Iran building a nuclear weapon, high unemployment, a teetering economy and a national debt with no plan in place to solve it. These are just the items on the top shelf. Morehttp://goo.gl/mIWYc

Provincial

1/20/2012 9:13 AM MST

What is not mentioned in this article is the fact that Newt Gingrich did a 180 on his Israel v. Palestinians positions immediately after receiving the $1 million.
Newt sold himself to Adelson, he has been bought and paid for.

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Sheldon Adelson and Newt Gingrich: One gained clout from friendship, the other funding – The Washington Post

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Relatives of Afghan civilians killed or injured in Robert Bales’ ‘shooting spree’ receive tens of thousands of dollars from US military – NYPOST.com


New York Post

Last Updated:Sun., Mar. 25, 2012, 11:26am

Relatives of victims in Afghan shooting spree paid $900K by US military

Last Updated: 11:15 AM, March 25, 2012

Posted: 10:48 AM, March 25, 2012

KABUL — Relatives of 17 people shot dead in a rampage by a US soldier in southern Afghanistan were paid tens of thousands of dollars in compensation, a tribal chief and government officials said Sunday.

The money — provided by the US military — was handed over at a private ceremony at the Kandahar provincial governor’s office, they said.

“The elders called me and said they were paid $50,000 per person for the dead and $11,000 for the injured per person,” Haji Agha Lalai, a tribal chief and a member of the Kandahar provincial council, said.

The killings — mostly of women and children — in Panjwai district are thought to be the deadliest crime by a US soldier during the decade-long conflict and have tested Washington and Kabul’s already tense relationship.

AP
Afghan villagers pray over the grave of one of the victims of a shooting rampage earlier this month.

The US is keen to draw a line under the massacre earlier this month as far as it can, and the sums — around $900,000 in total — amount to a fortune in rural Afghanistan.

The payments Saturday came a day after Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, 38, of the US 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, was formally accused of 17 premeditated murders for the killings — charges that could carry the death penalty.

He also is accused of six counts of assault and attempted murder.

Afghan government officials speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed the payments but differed slightly on the amounts, citing them as 2.3 million Afghanis ($46,000) each for the families of the dead and 500,000 Afghanis for the injured.

American officers, local government leaders and tribal elders were present at the event, they said.

Local government officials in Kandahar declined to comment.

In Kabul, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) declined to confirm that any payment was made.

“As a matter of policy, ISAF does not make restitution for losses resulting from combat, combat-related activities or operational necessity,” he said.

But he added, “Individual troop-contributing nations may participate in some form of restitution consistent with the cultural norms of Afghanistan.”

Such payments are normally kept confidential, he added.

Fears had been expressed that if the families received compensation, they could be targeted by Taliban militants, who consistently threaten anyone who receives money from the United States or other foreign forces in Afghanistan.

Bales allegedly walked off his combat outpost under cover of darkness March 11 and killed 17 people in two nearby villages, burning some of their bodies before returning to the base and surrendering.

Responding to the charges against the soldier, a spokesman for Afghan president Hamid Karzai said, “We want justice, and we want it as soon as possible.”

Bales is currently being held at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, and a spokesman for Joint Base Lewis-McChord, his home station, said it was likely to be 18 to 24 months until any trial.

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Relatives of Afghan civilians killed or injured in Robert Bales’ ‘shooting spree’ receive tens of thousands of dollars from US military – NYPOST.com.

Indiana unions remind voters of Gov. Mitch Daniels’ past opposition to anti-union bill as vote nears


Indiana unions remind voters of Gov. Mitch Daniels’ past opposition to anti-union bill as vote nears

by Laura Clawson

Indiana Democrats have returned to the state House after their third brief boycott aimed at slowing Republicans’ rush to pass an anti-union bill, but, according to the Associated Press, “made no promises they won’t stall again.”

If passed, the law would force union members to pay the costs of representing their non-union coworkers. The Senate is expected to vote today and to pass the bill overwhelmingly, followed by the House later in the week.

Meanwhile, the Indiana AFL-CIO will be running the ad shown above surrounding Gov. Mitch Daniels’ Republican response to Tuesday’s State of the Union, highlighting his 2006 opposition to such a law. No word on the size of the buy, but “The ad will air surrounding the governor’s response on broadcast networks in Indiana and nationally on CNN and MSNBC.”

Discuss

Mon Jan 23, 2012 at 10:34 AM PST

Pro-Romney super PAC leads Florida primary spending, followed by union

by Laura Clawson

Will this union ad be a major player in the Florida Republican primary?

Politico rounds up outside spending on the Florida Republican presidential primary … and so far, a union is coming in second. Mitt Romney’s super PAC, Restore Our Future, leads the way:

[T]he organization has spent more than $2.07 million in Florida alone to fund broadcast advertisements and phone banking designed to both support Romney and attack both Gingrich and fellow GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, federal records indicate.

By contrast, the super PACs aligned with other candidates are spending peanuts so far: Just $225,000 from the pro-Santorum Red White and Blue Fund and a measly $100,000 from the pro-Gingrich Winning Our Future. That $100,000 is an internet ad buy; you have to assume they’ll be doing something more shortly.

But AFSCME’s ad buy targeting Romney, originally reported at $800,000, is in fact around $1 million. That’s still less than half what Romney’s super PAC has spent in the last few days, of course, but right now, it’s some of the most serious opposition Romney is drawing in Florida.

Discuss


Mon Jan 23, 2012 at 08:44 AM PST

Kansas kicks American citizen children of undocumented immigrants off of food stamps

by Laura Clawson


For kids!

The state of Kansas has found a way to deny children who are American citizens nutritional assistance they would be eligible for—if only their parents weren’t undocumented immigrants.

While undocumented immigrants are not eligible to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, many have children who were born in the U.S. and are, as citizens, eligible for aid. Or they were until Kansas tinkered with how household income is calculated.

Here’s how the change works: Until last fall, Kansas would look at the household income of a family made up of a mixture of citizens and non-citizens, and prorate the income to the number of citizens—and remember, we’re talking about dependent children here. So for one family the Kansas City Star‘s Laura Bauer talked to, the two U.S. citizens in a family of five were counted as receiving two-fifths of the total household income of $1,600 a month. That meant they were counted as having $640 a month in income and were eligible for $280 a month in food stamps. Now, though, those two children, aged eight and three, are counted as earning their family’s entire $1,600, and $1,600 a month is too high an income for two people to qualify for benefits.

How’s that for creativity in the service of screwing immigrant families?

The family described above applied for benefits only after the children’s mother was laid off; when the children’s father worked weekends for some months, he reported the extra income and his daughters’ benefits were cut. Then, just as his weekend work and his daughters would have qualified for food stamps again, Kansas made this change going after the children of immigrants:

He now puts $50 a week aside for food to feed his family. When that’s not enough, he borrows from the rent money and the cash put aside for utilities.

His eyes fill with tears when he talks about his struggle to provide for his family.

“My family doesn’t know what I’m doing,” he said. “I try to eat at work (where his boss often provides meals and snacks) so I don’t take food away from my children at home. … The bills are coming in. Now I am getting letters on what they are going to cut off. I know every month it’s going to be worse.

“But I ask myself, ‘What is better, my kids having food or paying the bills?'”

Way to go, Kansas.

Discuss

Mon Jan 23, 2012 at 07:18 AM PST

Newt Gingrich’s ‘Obama is the food stamp president’ line founded on a falsehood

by Laura Clawson


(Adam Hunger/Reuters)

Details, details. Newt Gingrich’s whole schtick about how Barack Obama is “the food stamp president” is founded on a false claim, a USA Today fact-check finds. Gingrich’s basis for the “food stamp president” thing is his specific claim that “more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history.” It would be accurate to say that under Obama food stamp enrollment has been at its highest point ever, but:

Gingrich goes too far to say Obama has put more on the rolls than other presidents. We asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition service for month-by-month figures going back to January 2001. And they show that under President George W. Bush the number of recipients rose by nearly 14.7 million. Nothing before comes close to that.

And under Obama, the increase so far has been 14.2 million. To be exact, the program has so far grown by 444,574 fewer recipients during Obama’s time in office than during Bush’s.

Obama still has time to exceed Bush, of course, but the number of people receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP, or food stamp) benefits actually went down in October. And even if, during the coming months, the number will go up enough to exceed Bush’s record, Newt Gingrich has yet to prove that he can see into the future, And even if Newt Gingrich can see into the future, he can’t change the rules of grammar such that when he says “more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama” it actually means “more people ultimately will have been put on food stamps.” So no matter what happens in coming months, right now, Newt Gingrich is a liar.

Discuss

Sun Jan 22, 2012 at 09:33 AM PST

Retail industry sells New York workers short with discrimination, low wages and schedule abuses

by Laura Clawson


A large majority of the 436 New York City retail workers surveyed for the newly released study Discounted Jobs have at least some college education. They’ve been working in retail for an average of five years, and half have been at their current job for more than a year. Half of them earn less than $9.50 an hour, only 29 percent get health care through their retail job, and of the 44 percent who do have paid sick days in theory, only 54 percent have used a sick day—in many cases due to pressure from their managers and fear of retribution.

What the report, by City University of New York professor Stephanie Luce and Naoki Fujita of the Retail Action Project, shows is an educated, experienced workforce in an industry that makes it virtually impossible for workers to make a living. Even the most educated workers, who earn more than others, earn poverty-level wages:

For those with a Bachelor’s degree, the median wage was $11.50 per hour. With a median of 36 hours per week, a retail worker with a Bachelor’s degree could expect to gross just under $22,000 a year. Respondents with an Associate’s degree had a median hourly wage of $10 and 32 median weekly hours. This results in an annual gross income of $16,640, assuming year-round employment.

And, as the chart above shows, there’s a significant racial gap in wages, with Latino workers with two years on the job averaging a slightly lower pay rate than white workers with less than six months on the job. As a preview of the report, which I wrote about in December, made clear, women are also paid less than men.

One explanation commonly offered for such wage differentials within an industry is that the lower-paid groups aren’t as qualified for the higher-paid jobs in the industry. In this telling, white men in retail are just more likely to have the qualifications needed to work the more desirable jobs and get more raises. Another study of New York City employment offers a rejoinder to that notion. Sociologists Devah Pager and Bruce Western conducted an audit study, in which they had matched teams of young men with similar attributes and (fictitious; created for the study) resumes, but of different races, apply for entry-level jobs. In some cases, a white tester was given a resume that indicated he was a recently released felon, while his black and Latino counterparts did not do so. Pager and Western found that, in the teams in which no one indicated a criminal record, the white man had a 23 percent chance of getting a positive response, the Latino man had a 19 percent chance, and the black man had just a 13 percent chance of a positive response. In the teams in which the white member was supposedly a felon, those white members were about as likely as the black and Latino non-felons to get a positive response.

That part of Pager and Western’s study speaks to how likely people of different races are to be offered work at all. But they also found significant racial channeling, in which black and Latino applicants for jobs involving contact with customers were instead offered back-of-house jobs—applying for a job as a salesperson or waiter, they were offered a job as a stocker or a dishwasher. White applicants, on the other hand, were sometimes channeled upward, asked to apply for a waiter job rather than the dishwasher one they’d asked to apply for. The only white testers who were channeled downward were those who claimed to be felons, while black testers were channeled down in 10 cases and Latinos were in four cases.

These were, remember, applicants who had been chosen to be similar to each other—race aside—down to their very height, then trained to behave similarly while inquiring about jobs, then given matching resumes (except in the cases of the white testers who were given prison records). The disparate results they experienced in their “job searching” demonstrates the role that employers play in creating racial disparities in pay such as the Luce and Fujita “Discounted Pay” study finds.

Pay isn’t the only racial disparity the workers Luce and Fujita surveyed experience. Scheduling is a major issue for these workers (as anyone who has read Lightbulb‘s diaries here at Daily Kos will be well aware). More than half of the workers Luce and Fujita surveyed were classified as part-time employees, though 30 percent of the “part-time” workers reported sometimes working more than 40 hours in a week. Many reported various forms of schedule-related wage theft, such as not being paid overtime when they should have been, or being called in for a shift, then sent home quickly and not paid for a four hour shift as New York law requires. But even without wage theft, scheduling is problematic for workers:

Only 17 percent of workers surveyed have a set schedule. Thirty percent know their schedules more than a week ahead of time, and the rest – over half – only know their schedules within a week, with about a fifth getting their schedule within three days notice.

Try making child care arrangements when you don’t know your work schedule ahead of time. Try budgeting for food and to pay your bills when you don’t know how many hours you’ll be working in any given week.

Like wages, scheduling problems fall differently on different racial groups:


One of the great brutalities of the retail industry today is that workers are, on the one hand, not given the hours they need to make a living, but are, on the other hand, expected to be always available to come in to work with little notice. For poverty wages, companies demand absolute control over their workers’ schedules—and, this study finds, the burden falls most heavily on Latino workers and least on white workers. Luce and Fujita identify how “hours are the new bonus,” given as rewards or taken away as punishment. Rather than offering raises, managers just give a favored worker more hours.

Though this study focuses on New York City, the struggles these workers face are common throughout the nation. Many of the retail industry’s abuses would require massive and complex societal change. Racial discrimination, for instance, is hardly confined to retail, and while the worst instances of discrimination may be subject to some kind of legal remedy, most cases are much more subtle. Pager and Western, for instance, found cases in which their black and Latino testers were told a position had been filled but they’d be called back if the new hire didn’t work out. That doesn’t sound like discrimination, until you know that their white teammate was hired on the spot. And most job applicants don’t go around in matched teams to know when that’s happening.

But Luce and Fujita’s study does point to some relatively simple ways retail work could be improved. First, we could enforce the laws we already have, so that if you work overtime, you get paid for it and so that employers can’t call a worker in then send her home after 15 minutes and pay her only for that 15 minutes if the state law requires she be paid for a four hour shift. (Obviously managers would be a lot less likely to call people in for just 15 minutes if they actually had to pay for four hours.) Protecting and enforcing the existing legal right to organize, too, would help, since union contracts often deal not only with wages and benefits but with scheduling, and can help reduce racial and gender discrimination by standardizing wages, benefits, and schedules.

Luce and Fujita also point to laws that cities and states can pass to improve things for workers. Congress may not be passing living wage or paid sick leave laws anytime soon, but some cities and, in the case of Connecticut and sick leave, even states have done so. Given the truly wretched state of affairs their study reveals, this is an important fight to wage at any level of government we have even a small hope of changing.

Discuss

Sat Jan 21, 2012 at 04:55 PM PST

This week in the War on Workers: ‘Hoosier jobs are at stake’

by Laura Clawson

And more:

  • Alternet’s Sarah Jaffe looks at rising college tuitions and a system of subsidies that help individuals rather than lowering tuitions and asks one of my favorite questions:

    In other words, the hidden subsidies are not helping those who most need help in getting a degree. It’s also helping lenders, by providing an incentive to borrow.  So why not take that $22.75 billion or so that we’re already spending and putting it directly toward making public higher education free.

  • Fifty years ago this week, John F. Kennedy opened the door for federal employees to join unions.
  • Kay at Balloon Juice takes Newt Gingrich’s child janitors idea from the perspective of what he’s saying about adult workers:

    But Newt Gingrich believes that janitors are overpaid and that children can replace adult janitors, so let’s conduct one of those thought experiments that conservatives love so much, and see if any other adult workers can and should be replaced by children.

    Could nine year olds replace the adults who cleaned up after that gathering of political and media luminaries last night? Working adults did that, after all. After the political and media celebrities left that room, real live adult janitors came in and cleaned up after them. Why didn’t Newt Gingrich suggest that the people who cleaned up after him last night be replaced by children?

    What about Gingrich’s staff? How much do they make? Can children do their work as well as they can? Why or why not? Newt Gingrich has been paid an absurd amount of money for lobbying since he left Congress in disgrace. Could a nine year old replace Newt Gingrich? How hard could Newt Gingrich’s “job” be, after all? A lot of lavish meals, ass-kissing, and bloviating, right? We could employ a hell of a lot of nine year olds on the absurd amount of money Gingrich is paid.

  • And speaking of Balloon Juice, in honor of the crappy jobs Willard Mitt Romney never had, new Juicer Betty Cracker lists the three worst jobs she ever had. How would Mitt do with those?
  • Cablevision workers are attempting to organize and join the Communications Workers of America.
  • And speaking of the CWA, its president has joined with those of the UAW and SEIU to urge New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to keep up the fight for public funding of elections.
  • With so many jobs requiring people to work unpredictable, non-traditional hours, parents face big challenges arranging for child care. Some day care centers are adding evening and even overnight hours to accommodate the demand.
  • Whatever you thought of the AFL-CIO’s new ad, the companion website Work Connects Us All is worth playing around with.
  • The General Council’s Office of the National Labor Relations Board has issued a complaint against the Hyatt Andaz in West Hollywood for increasing the number of hotel rooms housekeepers’ must clean in a shift, and threatening discipline to workers who spoke up about the problem.

    Hyatt housekeepers voiced concerns in March 2011 immediately after managers increased the cleaners’ room quota by two–meaning housekeepers were expected to complete an additional hour worth of cleaning in the same amount of time. Under the law, the hotel is required to negotiate workload increases with the workers’ union.

    The Assistant Director of Human Resources threatened to discipline workers who voiced concern about the increased workload. The complaint alleges that the Hyatt Andaz’s actions violated the National Labor Relations Act.

 

Discuss

Sat Jan 21, 2012 at 09:00 AM PST

Van Halen supports unions – but you must be a member of the 1% to sit in the first twenty rows.

by Mark E Andersen


While reading this you are going to ask, “What does Van Halen have to do with labor”…we will get there, just indulge me for a minute…

I am a metalhead. I cut my musical teeth on artists like AC/DC, Van Halen, Iron Maiden, Aerosmith, Judas Priest, ManOwar, Slayer, Anthrax, Metallica, Megadeth, Poison, Cinderella, Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne to name just a few.

I still get pissed off when some snotty young punk music writer, who was born during this era, calls my music “Glam metal.” I grew up in that era and I can assure you it was not called “glam.” They were hair bands, heavy metal bands, hard rock bands, and in the case of Lita Ford and Vixen, hot chick metal (Please hold off on throwing eggs at me for saying “hot chick metal,” I have evolved since the eighties); however, none of them were ever “Glam bands,” “Glam metal,” or anything with Glam in the name! (Yes, I have become that old man standing in my yard yelling, “Hey you kids, get off my lawn!”)

Of all the bands I saw growing up, of all the bands I listened to…one stood out. Van Halen. Now I am not talking about Van Hagar here. For me Van Halen ended when David Lee Roth left the band and I joined the Army in 1985. Van Halen was never the same after that – with Sammy Hagar they had lost the raw edge that had attracted me to them.

I still remember the first time I heard “Eruption” – I was blown away, I had never heard anything like it before. Van Halen I changed how I listened to music. When I finally got a copy of Van Halen II imagine my surprise to find a “thanks to” the Sheraton Inn in Madison, Wisconsin.

[Van Halen] trashed the 7th floor of that hotel during the first tour – fire extinguisher fights, TVs and furniture out the windows. Alex Van Halen used to like gluing people’s doorknobs shut or putting Vaseline on the doorknobs so people couldn’t turn them.

They blamed the whole thing on their headliner…Journey.

For a twelve-year-old kid that was pretty damn cool to know that Van Halen trashed a hotel in your hometown (I was twelve, what did I know?).

“The Cradle will Rock…” off of Women and Children First was one of the first songs that really spoke to me – especially with a line like, “Have you seen Junior’s grades?”

Out of all of the Van Halen albums Fair Warning has to be my favorite – raw and edgy…songs like “Unchained,” “Sinners Swing,” “Dirty Movies,” and “Mean Street” just blew me away. No one, in my mind at the time, could come close to what Eddie could do on guitar and what Dave could do vocally.

I finally got to see Van Halen on the  Diver Down tour – they came to Madison on August 11th, 1982 – I was fifteen years old and going into my sophomore year at Madison East High School. The show cost all of twelve bucks and I got right up front – Eddie gave me a high five when he came on stage and while that show will not go down in the annals of history as one of the greatest metal shows ever, it will go down as the only time I have seen Van Halen live.

After 1984 came out, where I have to admit that I was appalled at the time with all the synthesizers, I found other newer, heavier bands like Metallica. When I went into the Army on August 1st, 1985 I had heard rumblings of trouble in Van Halen in the pages of Circus magazine. While in training at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri the rumblings of David Lee Roth’s departure were confirmed with a contraband copy of Circus that had been hidden from the Drill Sergeants and passed around the barracks.

Van Halen was never the same for me after that…not with Sammy Hagar, and certainly not with Gary Cherone. For me Van Halen with David Lee Roth will always be the soundtrack of my teenage years and because of that will always hold a special place in my heart.

Just this last week Van Halen released a new song – with Dave on vocals, you cannot imagine how excited I was…right up until I listened to the song. It was only okay – not the Van Halen of my youth by any means; however, one part of the song caught my attention:

Uncle Denny had a gold tattoo
He fought for the union
Some of us still do
On my shoulder is the number
of the chapter he was in
that number is forever
like the struggle here to win

You can hear the lyrics at about 3:06 on the video.

Awesome! Van Halen supports unions!

Then I looked up their tour schedule…thinking I could take my son if they came close enough to Madison. Imagine my disappointment when I looked up ticket prices for their Chicago show. It will cost a hell of a lot more money than twelve bucks to see them this time around.

Lower Level Seating (100 Level)
US $79.50 Ticket + US $11.24 Fees/Additional Taxes = US $90.74
US $149.50 Ticket + US $12.76 Fees/Additional Taxes = US $162.26

Main Floor Seating
US $149.50 Ticket + US $12.76 Fees/Additional Taxes = US $162.26

Club Level Seating (200 Level)
US $49.50 Ticket + US $10.56 Fees/Additional Taxes = US $60.06
US $149.50 Ticket + US $12.76 Fees/Additional Taxes = US $162.26

Upper Level Seating (300 Level)
US $49.50 Ticket + US $10.56 Fees/Additional Taxes = US $60.06
US $79.50 Ticket + US $11.24 Fees/Additional Taxes = US $90.74

Basically if I wanted to take my son it would cost anywhere from $60 a ticket up to $162 a ticket…$60 is a bit much to pay to see a band that saw its heyday end some twenty years ago; but that isn’t what really chaps my ass. What really pisses me off if the outrageousVIP ticket packages. One of the fondest memories of my youth, right up there with getting a kiss from a pretty blonde girl at the Rollerdrome, and who will remain nameless, was getting right up in front of the stage at that Van Halen show.

Ultimate VIP Package ($995.00)
SOLD OUT
Each Van Halen Ultimate VIP Package includes:
•    One reserved ticket in the front row*
•    Backstage tour
•    Pre-show party
•    Parking (where available)**
•    Early entrance into the venue
•    Van Halen Ultimate VIP commemorative laminate
•    Exclusive Van Halen gift bag
•    Commemorative VIP ticket
•    Crowd-free merchandise shopping
•    On-site VIP host

You will be required to sign a waiver & release of liability.
Package details subject to change without notice.

That’s right…you want front row, you are paying a thousand bucks per ticket, did you notice, those tickets are sold out…and that ain’t all.

VIP Package ($595.00)
Each Van Halen VIP Package includes:
•    One reserved ticket in rows 2-13
•    Backstage tour
•    Pre-show party
•    Early entrance into the venue
•    Van Halen VIP commemorative laminate
•    Exclusive Van Halen gift bag
•    Commemorative VIP ticket
•    Crowd-free merchandise shopping
•    On-site VIP host


The greedy bastards aren’t done yet!

Tour Package ($395.00)
Each Van Halen Tour Package includes:
•    One reserved ticket in the first 20 rows
•    Exclusive Van Halen gift
•    Commemorative VIP ticket
•    On-site VIP host

On the one hand Van Halen touts support for unions in their latest release…on the other, the only way you are going to get up front like I did back in 1982 is if you are a one percenter. Sorry Van Halen, you won’t be getting my money this time around – funny thing, a couple years ago I got to take my son to see Judas Priest at Summerfest in Milwaukee – we sat up front. It cost twelve bucks and I saw one of the best shows I have ever seen in my life.

Now I doubt Eddie, Alex, Wolfgang and Dave read anything I write; however, on the off chance that they do – I ask them that if they truly support unions to drop the VIP seating…donate those seats to U.S. servicemen, give them to unions to raffle off to their members…or, if they must sell VIP packages due to contractual obligation then give the money earned off of them to some worthy cause. If the 1% wants to piss away their money – fine…let them. Just don’t profit off of it. These VIP packages are just another symptom of the disease that is eating away at America, another divide between the haves and the have nots.

Discuss

Fri Jan 20, 2012 at 02:29 PM PST

Compromise on union issues to keep FAA open

by Laura Clawson


Ah, the sweet smell of compromise. The good news is that the Federal Aviation Administration is likely to get its reauthorization before the Jan. 31 deadline; moreover, instead of another short-term extension it is likely to finally get a real, stable, long-term reauthorization; moreover, Republicans are dropping their demand to count workers who don’t vote in union representation elections as having voted no. The bad news? Democrats made one big up-front compromise and the National Journal is using the term “gentleman’s agreement,” as in:

The remaining disputes between Republicans and Democrats on the measure have been worked out in a gentleman’s agreement among the congressional transportation gurus.

In exchange, Democrats have agreed to include a provision that would raise the threshold for rail and aviation workers expressing interest in forming a union from 35 percent to 50 percent.

In one sense, raising the threshold from 35 percent to 50 percent is inconsequential. You don’t file for an election in which you’ll need 50 percent-plus-one support if you only have 35 percent support. But remember when Republicans were fighting the Employee Free Choice Act and their big talking point was that it removed the sacrosanct “secret ballot”? Yeah, well, what the Employee Free Choice Act said was that once a majority of workers had signed cards saying they wanted a union, they had one. Now, Republicans are demanding that a majority of workers have to go through exactly that process, only after a majority of workers sign cards saying they want a union, they additionally have to go through a so-called “secret ballot” election, with management using the time between the petition for election and the election itself to try to persuade or intimidate them into voting against the union.

Obviously we need to hear more details, but my initial take is that this is something of a win. I would’ve expected Republicans to hold the FAA hostage to … elimination of the National Labor Relations Board or something. But boy does this ever show how full of shit Republicans were with all that “secret ballot” nonsense.

Discuss

Fri Jan 20, 2012 at 01:36 PM PST

Union draws parallels between Mitt Romney and Florida Gov. Rick Scott in Republican primary ad

by Laura Clawson

Florida voters have a ton of buyer’s remorse over Gov. Rick Scott, and AFSCME is putting that to use with an $800,000 Republican primary buy for the ad above, which draws a comparison between Scott and Mitt Romney. Greg Sargent reports that:

The unusual involvement of a major labor union in a GOP primary is a sign that Obama’s outside allies view Romney as the all but certain GOP nominee — and the toughest Republican in a general election.

Larry Scanlon, AFSCME’s political director, says the union may invest in other GOP primaries down the line, too, depending on the response this ad gets. He acknowledged that the union views Romney as the toughest opponent Obama could face, but added there’s no reason for labor not to start spending big money to define him right away, to influence not just the primary but the general election, too. Florida, of course, is a major general election swing state.

It’s starting to look like Mitt Romney’s record at Bain will have some unfortunate (for Romney) echo in practically every state he comes to, giving his opponents—primary or general election—plenty of local interest to work with.

Discuss

Fri Jan 20, 2012 at 12:42 PM PST

Republicans want to eliminate labor board now, but wait until next time a Republican is president

by Laura Clawson


Josh Eidelson points out one of the central ironies of the Republican crusade against the National Labor Relations Board:

The Labor Board is charged with enforcing employers’ and unions’ compliance with the Wagner Act – including the anti-union Taft-Hartley amendments Congress added in 1947. […]

Although the Labor Board often fines or forbids unions that seek aggressive action against the 1%, and regularly leaves workers waiting for years to get their jobs back after being fired for organizing, Republicans are on the warpath against the agency.

During George W. Bush’s presidency, you didn’t hear a whole lot of complaints from Republicans about the NLRB—because it was busy issuing a whole bunch of anti-union decisions. And even as Republicans have been howling about how, under Obama, the NLRB was allegedly putting a boot on the neck of businesses and tilting the playing field toward unions, the board has gotten an injunction against disruptive union picketing at the Port of Longview and has fined another union for obstructing an NLRB investigation.

It’s no surprise that Republicans would be outraged at an agency’s very existence under one president after having used it aggressively under the previous one, or that they’d act as if actions taken by the board to protect workers from businesses were the sum total of what it was doing. But it’s an important reminder of just how situational their outrage is. They really are like a bunch of toddlers who go in an instant from loving a toy to flinging it down at the slightest frustration.

Discuss

Fri Jan 20, 2012 at 07:27 AM PST

Caterpillar threatening to move jobs from Canada to U.S. in search of cheap labor

by Laura Clawson


Here’s another entry in the “company going to America for cheap labor” category for you: Iconic heavy machinery manufacturer Caterpillar bought a plant in Canada just two years ago—and now it’s planning to move those jobs to Indiana unless Canadian workers will agree to massive concessions. Massive like a 50 percent pay cut, giving up their pension, and more, and Caterpillar has locked the workers out to drive home how serious it is about this, as Huffington Post’s Lila Shapiro reports.

Caterpillar isn’t suffering financially; in fact, it’s been profitable consistently over the past five years and profits spiked over and above that in late 2011. And it’s not that the Canadian workers of whom Caterpillar is demanding a 50 percent pay cut make outrageously much money. It’s that the Muncie, Indiana workers earn so little: $24,000, below the median income in the U.S. and just above the 2010 poverty threshold for a family of four. Shapiro points out that:

The situation at Caterpillar illustrates an emerging problem with the nascent economic recovery: While corporations are rebounding from the depths of the recession, working Americans aren’t. Corporate profits are at their highest level in decades while worker compensation is at a relative 50-year low. Much hope has been placed in the rebound of North American manufacturing, but while the industry has added some 334,000 positions in the past two years, many of the new jobs don’t pay the old middle class wages. […]

“It’s a fundamental problem: Now we have a situation where there’s not enough purchasing power in the American economy to feed this recovery,” said Thomas Kochan, a management expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“It’s not all bad,” he continued, pointing to companies like General Electric, which have slashed wages while profits were strong in return for continued investment in the United States and the promise of more jobs. Other companies must cut wages to stay alive, such as the auto makers, which pay new workers nearly half what starting employees made before the crash.

“But if it’s just companies slashing wages because they’ve got the power to do so, then it’s dysfunctional,” Kochan said.

Standards may vary on what constitutes “companies slashing wages because they’ve got the power to do so” rather than because they need to; I suspect that MIT management expert Kochan and I locate that at rather different starting points. But there seems to be no question that Caterpillar falls into this “dysfunctional” category. Other words that might be applied include “abusive” and “evil.”

Discuss

Thu Jan 19, 2012 at 02:46 PM PST

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels opposed anti-union bill before he supported it

by Laura Clawson

It’s not exactly a secret that Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels once opposed passing a so-called “right to work” law in his state, but it’s nice to have the video reminder that in 2006 he said, to a union audience:

We cannot afford to have civil wars over issues that might divide us and divert us from that path. I have said over and over, I’ll say it again tonight: I’m a supporter of the labor laws we have in the state of Indiana. I’m not interested in changing any of it. Not the prevailing wage laws, and certainly not the right to work law. We can succeed in Indiana with the laws we have, respecting the rights of labor, and fair and free competition for everybody.

Amanda Terkel traces Daniels’ shifting positions on the issue:

In March 2006, the South Bend Tribune in Indiana noted, “Daniels had said earlier this year that he opposed right-to-work legislation as too divisive. But he did not address its inherent merits or demerits.”

In December 2010, however, Daniels said that the right-to-work issue was “legitimate” but was “too big to do without having discussed it out in the open first.”

“I’ll also say I think it would have the potential — just tactically — to possibly reduce or wreck the chances for education reform and local government reform and criminal justice reform and the things we have a wonderful chance to do,” he added, acknowledging that it would be incredibly controversial.

Today, though, the Republican war on workers is in full swing and Daniels has not only given in to Republican legislators in his state who hold hurting workers and unions as their top priority, he’s become the face of their campaign.

Discuss



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Obama to offer economic blueprint in State of the Union


WASHINGTON — Vilified by the Republicans who want his job, President Barack Obama will stand before the nation Tuesday night determined to frame the election-year debate on his terms, promising his State of the Union address will offer an economic blueprint that will “work for everyone, not just a wealthy few.”

In a video released Saturday to millions of campaign supporters, Obama said he will concentrate on four areas designed to restore economic security for the long term: manufacturing, energy, education, job training and a “return to American values.” The release came the same day as the South Carolina primary, where four candidates competed in the latest contest to determine Obama’s general election rival.

The prime-time speech will be not just a traditional pitch about the year ahead. It will be perhaps Obama’s biggest stage to make a sweeping case for a second term.

“We can go in two directions,” the president said in the video. “One is toward less opportunity and less fairness. Or we can fight for where I think we need to go: building an economy that works for everyone, not just a wealthy few.”

That line of argument about income equality is emerging as a defining theme of the presidential race, as Republicans are in their own fierce battle to pick a nominee to challenge Obama in the fall.

By notifying the millions of supporters on his email list, Obama gave advance notice to his Democratic base and trying to generate an even larger audience for Tuesday’s address.

Obama’s preview did not mention national security. He is not expected to announce new policy on that front in a speech dominated by the economy — the top concern of voters.

Obama is expected to offer new proposals to make college more affordable and to ease the housing crisis still slowing the economy, according to people familiar with the speech. He will also promote unfinished parts of his jobs plan, including the extension of a payroll tax cut soon to expire.

His policy proposals will be less important than what he hopes they all add up to: a narrative of renewed American security. Obama will try to politically position himself as the one leading that fight for the middle class, with an overt call for help from Congress, and an implicit request for a second term from the public.

The timing comes as the nation is split about Obama’s overall job performance. More people than not disapprove of his handling of the economy, he is showing real vulnerability among the independent voters who could swing the election, and most Americans think the country is on the wrong track.

So his mission will be to show leadership and ideas on topics that matter to people: jobs, housing, college, retirement security.

Vision for re-election
The foundation of Obama’s speech is the one he gave in Kansas last month, when he declared that the middle class was a make-or-break moment and railed against “you’re on your own” economics of the Republican Party. His theme then was about a government that ensures people get a fair shot to succeed.

That speech spelled out the values of Obama’s election-year agenda. The State of the Union will be the details.

The White House sees the speech as a clear chance to outline a vision for re-election, yet carefully, without turning a national tradition into an overt campaign event.

On national security, Obama will ask the nation to reflect with him on a momentous year of change, including the end of the war in Iraq, the killing of al-Qaida terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and the Arab Spring protests of peoples clamoring for freedom.

But it will all be secondary to jobs at home.

In a winter season of politics dominated by his Republican competition, Obama will have a grand stage to himself, in a window between Republican primaries. He will try to use the moment to refocus the debate as he sees it: where the country has come, and where he wants to take it.

In doing so, Obama will come before a divided Congress with a burst of hope because the economy — by far the most important issue to voters — is showing life.

The unemployment rate is still at a troubling 8.5 percent, but at its lowest rate in nearly three years. Consumer confidence is up. Obama will use that as a springboard.

The president will try to draw a contrast of economic visions with Republicans, both his antagonists in Congress and the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination.

Despite low expectations for legislation this year, Obama will offer short-term ideas that would require action from Congress.

His travel schedule following his speech, to politically important regions, offers clues to the policies he was expected to unveil.

Both Phoenix and Las Vegas have been hard hit by foreclosures. Denver is where Obama outlined ways of helping college students deal with mounting school loan debt. Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Detroit are home to a number of manufacturers. And Michigan was a major beneficiary of the president’s decision to provide billions in federal loans to rescue General Motors and Chrysler in 2009.

For now, the main looming to-do item is an extension of a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits, both due to expire by March. An Obama spokesman called that the “last must-do item of business” on Obama’s congressional agenda, but the White House insists the president will make the case for more this year.

If anything, Republicans say Obama has made the chances of cooperation even dimmer just over the last several days. He enraged Republicans by installing a consumer watchdog chief by going around the Senate, which had blocked him, and then rejected a major oil pipeline project the GOP has embraced.

Obama is likely, once again, to offer ways in which a broken Washington must work together. Yet that theme seems but a dream given the gridlock he has been unable to change.

The State of the Union atmosphere offered a bit of comity last year, following the assassination attempt against Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. And yet 2011 was a year of utter dysfunction in Washington, with the partisanship getting so bad that the government nearly defaulted as the world watched in embarrassment.

The address remains an old-fashioned moment of national attention; 43 million people watched it on TV last year. The White House website will offer a live stream of the speech, promising graphics and other bonuses for people who watch it there, plus a panel of administration officials afterward with questions coming in through Twitter and Facebook.

© 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore related topics: obama, state-of-the-union, sotu

Obama to offer economic blueprint in State of the Union

Is Reversing Citizens United or Corporate Personhood Enough?


Which president told Congress: “I recommend a law prohibiting all corporations from contributing to the campaign expenses of any party…let individuals contribute as they desire; but let us prohibit in effective fashion all corporations from making contributions for any political purpose, directly or indirectly?”

If you recognize this Presidential quote, it probably means you’re a history buff (or you watch too much Jeopardy). The correct answer: Who was Theodore Roosevelt?

While the speech has become a notable quotable, it’s often forgotten that it followed public outrage surrounding Roosevelt’s acceptance of huge corporate contributions that locked-in his election in 1904.  This popular clamor for accountability (the Progressive Era; maybe they were the Occupiers of their times) was enough to move Teddy and Congress to pass the first ever Federal legislation prohibiting corporations from making monetary contributions to national political campaigns, called the Tillman Act.

Now for extra points: What happened to the Tillman Act?

Like so many other attempts over the last 100+ years to restrict, reform, reign in, eliminate and otherwise account for Big Money in politics, the Tillman Act didn’t even need to be overturned for the corporate elite to get around it. It was simply whittled away. How is this done?  In the same way Congress later banned unions from making political contributions in the 1940’s, only to see Big Labor skirt the restrictions by forming the first-ever PAC, and collecting campaign donations (sometimes coercively) outside of regular worker’s dues.

OK, now for a Civics question: What is the source of power for the corporate elite?

Throughout our history as a nation, the wealthy elite have always held power, and its not an accident, or the result of a few bad decisions, or even corruption (though those all exist), its far more structural and insidious than that.  TheConstitution itself provided—from the beginning—for a government by and for the 1%. The Founding Fathers truly believed that the best form of government was one in which wealth made the rules. At the time the Constitution was being debated, the majority of people were against it, despite how our folklore has remembered it.

Turns out the 99% of yesteryear were quite prescient indeed.

Fast-forward to the present day, the ways money has seeped through the cracks of our political system and pooled into the pockets of our elected officials has only grown despite generations upon generations of ever-ongoing reform efforts.

* Dozens of Acts of Congress have been passed attempting to address corruption in government and our elections yet for every reform our system has enabled bigger, better ways for wealth to hold the reigns.

* Lobbyists. They walk right into lawmaking areas and help write bills and buy votes. They present politicians with corporate-friendly Bills already drafted. They are well paid to successfully influence, chop and change legislation, and work deals with our elected officials and even with Supreme Court Justices. Under our Constitution this is protected as free speech and despite the numerous laws to regulate lobbyists, the practice is only on the rise.

*  Constitutional laws.  Many states—not only Montana— wrote their Constitutions to include the subordination of corporations to the will of the people, and banned corporate political expenditures in state elections.  Over the years, most of those Constitutional provisions have been amended to pave the way for more corporate-friendly laws.(Montana, of course still has this language in their Consitution, and has used it to challenge Citizen’s United)

Robert Reich and ‘Amend 2012’ Launch Campaign for Constitutional Amendment to Overturn ‘Citizens United’


Robert Reich appears in a new video from a new organization, Amend 2012, calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United. In just over two minutes, Reich clearly and effectively explains how Citizens came about and why it is dangerous to U.S. politics. The campaign focuses on the idea that corporations aren’t people, only people are people. Reich then asks everyone to take action in support of Amend 2012’s call for a constitutional amendment:

Thanks to the Supreme Court and Citizens United, the same big corporations and billionaires that destroyed our economy and caused millions of us to lose our jobs and homes, are spending obscene amounts to drown out our voices in elections and take over our government.

But together, “We the People” can set things right.

The campaign website has a petition, a way for supporters to donate to the cause, and a way to sign up for the campaign’s ‘Constitution Crew’ with numerous other ways to support the amendment drive. The website also offers state-by-state toolkits for activists, the latest news about related issues and a more thorough explanation of the court ruling and the problems it creates.

The campaign is a project of Common Cause. Public Citizen is also pushing for an amendment to overturn Citizens United.

A recent poll shows that two-thirds of small business owners say that Citizens United hurts them, while only nine percent found it to be a positive thing.

Tags: Amend 2012, Citizens United, Common Cause, Robert Reich

https://www.youtube.com/v/Qq-9A9CGTYU?version=3&feature=player_embedded

Picking up the pieces: Kenneth Harding’s mother calls on community to march for justice this Sunday


Surround Candlestick Stadium during NFC championship game; gather at Third & Palou at noon Sunday, Jan. 22, to march to Candlestick

by Denika Chatman

Hi, my name is Denika Chatman and I am the mother of Kenneth Harding Jr. Many of you know that my son was brutally murdered by the San Francisco police on July 16, 2011, over a $2 Muni transit fare. Since the murder of my son, my life has drastically changed. I have left my hometown of Seattle, Washington, and my livelihood and relocated here with my 4-year-old daughter Mi’Neika to stand for righteousness while seeking justice for the murder of my son.

It has been almost six months since my son was killed and there are still unanswered questions. The City and County of San Francisco is not trying to help me find out why the police murdered my son. There were video cameras located on the city property where my son was murdered. The police confiscated them and have not released any evidence that their officers committed a justifiable homicide. There have also been many videos released on YouTube showing in full detail the murder of my son. The city will not help me for being a victim of a violent crime. I haven’t even grieved the loss of my son because I’m out on the front line with my frontrunners forcing the issue of justice.


Kenneth, Ondrell Harding as children with mom Denika Chatman

It has been extremely hard trying to pick up the pieces in my life. My life is no longer about me. Since relocating here, I have become an activist, an active protester and a public speaker. My life purpose now is to prevent any other child from experiencing such a heinous death. I have been active within the Bayview Hunters Point community. I have been going into the high schools, colleges and universities reaching out to the youth and building awareness that this is happening and trying to create prevention so that no other parent has to experience this. I have spoken out against police brutality at several events including the 44th annual Black Panther Party reunion.

Since relocating here, I have become an activist, an active protester and a public speaker. My life purpose now is to prevent any other child from experiencing such a heinous death.

It was extremely hard getting through the holidays without my son. I don’t have a mother, father or grandmother; everyone has passed away. All I have is my kids and grandkids, who are still in Seattle except for my baby. The community has supported me and adopted me; however, I also needed help from different organizations and agencies and was turned away. Why won’t they help me? Everyone who came out in the beginning while the cameras were rolling offering their help and support disappeared when the cameras shut off. The community, however, remained on the front line in solidarity with me.


Kenneth Harding Jr.

We have started the Kenneth Harding Jr. Foundation and we need donations. I need transportation to remain in my son’s movement. I have to travel back and forth to the city and I need help. It’s cold and I have a baby and it makes it difficult to get around. The foundation also needs startup money so that we can obtain the materials that we need to be effective to the youth of the community. I’m personally seeking financial help to help me within this new life. We need T-shirts, venues and a vehicle donated to help us with this movement.

I would like you to know that this fight for justice is not just about what happened to my son. This is about standing up and fighting back against police brutality and other injustices committed by the police and the 1 percent alike. Many people, such as DeBray Carpenter (aka Fly Benzo), Pladee Clayton and Kilo Perry have had their rights violated, have been assaulted and incarcerated for openly speaking out against the police and the murder of my son. Witnesses have been pulled over and threatened by the police that their parole or probation will be violated if they say anything. Kilo Perry went to jail for being in the community collecting witnesses. DeBray and Pladee are fighting bogus charges in court for attending a press conference and openly speaking out about what they witnessed the police do to my child.

This fight for justice is not just about what happened to my son. Many people, such as DeBray Carpenter (aka Fly Benzo), Pladee Clayton and Kilo Perry have had their rights violated, have been assaulted and incarcerated for openly speaking out against the police and the murder of my son.

We have to fight back, but it takes more than me; it takes a community. These brothers need help so that they don’t face any more jail time for standing up for what’s right. We need to continue to support them. DeBray needs donations to help pay off his bail. I need you to continue to support me and this movement. The power is in the people, not in politics; the power is in numbers.


Activists Fly Benzo (DeBray Carpenter) and Kilo Perry have stayed the course after pledging here, following the big press conference last July 18, two days after the police murder of Kenneth Harding, to fight for justice. – Photo: Malaika Kambon

We are the majority; we can’t let history repeat itself. We have to move forward, and that starts with us standing as one for a righteous change. We need to teach one another; what if it was your child? Many have come before me and it’s time for the killing, brutality, terrorizing and occupation of our communities by the police to stop.

What if it was your child? Many have come before me and it’s time for the killing, brutality, terrorizing and occupation of our communities by the police to stop.

I would like to thank Minister Christopher and the Nation of Islam for the continued support spiritually, financially and mentally. I would like to thank Rev. Brown and the NAACP for their contribution and getting me through the midnight hour. I also would like to thank Bishop Lee for allowing me to call upon him every time I needed to leave my burdens at the altar. Mr. Willie Ratcliff and Mary, you guys are great and I really appreciate you. JR, the minister of information, I need you to know that we ride together. You all should know that when my son was killed, JR travelled to Seattle to make sure me and my children were all right. He also brought Malcolm X’ grandson with him, and that’s a life experience I will always be grateful for.


Since they murdered Kenneth Harding Jr. on July 16, 2011, SFPD has intensified its repression and terrorism in Bayview Hunters Point, repeatedly brutalizing anyone who speaks out for justice, especially Fly Benzo, a leader of the resistance and a hero to the community. Following this police assault in November – in broad daylight in front of many witnesses in Mendell Plaza near where Kenneth bled to death – he was arrested and still faces four years in prison for the ridiculous charge of assaulting the police.

To my surviving children and grandchildren, I love you dearly and always. To the family of Oscar Grant, I will never be able to thank you enough for helping me get through the hurt and pain and for being here for me and my family. To my board members, we all ride together and thank you for still being on the front line and not allowing me to go through this alone. Larry Felson, I want to thank you for being a true blessing in my life. To everyone who supports this movement, all my new family, and all the organizations that I stand in solidarity with, I appreciate you and want to personally thank you.

If you would like to submit a donation, you can contact me personally at (323) 519-4177; you can also email me at neikneek@gmail.com. If you would like to be a part of this movement or see everything that we have accomplished, you can log on to Justice 4 Kenneth Wade Harding Jr. on Facebook. For those who don’t know what happened, you can watch the video yourself (see Why should you die for a transfer?) and make your own informed opinion. Kenneth Harding Jr. will live forever in us.

Dear Denika, the Bay View salutes your courage, your dignity and your diligence and persistence and stands ready to help you win justice for your son. As you so eloquently say, “It’s time for the killing, brutality, terrorizing and occupation of our communities by the police to stop.”

 
 

 
 

Since relocating here, I have become an activist, an active protester and a public speaker. My life purpose now is to prevent any other child from experiencing such a heinous death.

You may also like –

Free Fly Benzo! Criminalizing critique, cameras and community in Bayview Hunters Point

Kenneth Harding police murder aftermath: Victory for Kilo G

San Francisco police claim Black youth shot himself … say what!

 


 

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