Saturday wrap

Bam, Biden tackle capitalist workplace oppression ... Heralding a turn to the left for the U.S. President, Barack Obama on Friday made statements strongly in support of organized labor, the second straight day he advocated positions that could be seen as anti-business. "I believe we have to reverse many of the policies toward organized labor that we have seen over the past eight years, policies with which I have sharply disagreed," Obama told a gathering at the White House. "Labor is not part of the problem, it is part of the solution," he said to loud applause from an audience that included representatives of labor unions and business groups. Obama was meeting with labor leaders to announce the creation of a Middle Class Task Force. Led by Vice President Joe Biden, the panel is meant to help the middle class, and those aspiring to be middle class, gain a foothold on the American dream. Obama said the task force will focus on “policies to create jobs that pay well” and “workplaces that are safe and fair,” a move applauded by labor unions across the country. (forbes.com)

Progs begin to repair U.S. ... Did you cheer when the House bill was discovered to contain $4.2 billion — that’s billion with a “b” — that could be available for ACORN to use to elect left-wingers? And that was just for this year. They’ll find the need for more next year and the next election after that. Were you proud when President Barack Hussein Obama on Islamic television assured potential jihadists they now have nothing to fear from you? Did a warm thrill run up your leg when he ordered America’s combat troops and intelligence operatives to stop using the very anti-terrorism techniques that have thwarted terrorists from pulling off another 9/11 attack on this soil? Or when he announced he’s shutting down Gitmo — never mind he has not a clue what to do with or where to send its current residents? When socialists now crawling out of the Capitol woodwork finish “reforming” healthcare so party hacks instead of doctors decide what’s good for what ails you, are you ready to turn your head and cough? With leftists now in lock-down control of Congress, just how impotent do you feel? Is your honeymoon with the maestro of “change” over? (newsmax.com)

Unchecked Dems Pad Bam Porkulus Package ... Our taxpayer money, under the unchallenged Democratic leadership, is being thrown away on pork barrel projects that drift afar from any stimulus goals. Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, et al, are out of control and appear to be on a shopping spree, taking advantage of a situation that was created by fellow Democrats like Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Hillary Clinton, ACORN. (Force banks to give mortgages to people who could not afford them and, bingo, massive foreclosures and bank failures.) I pray that the lemmings that blindly followed the rhetoric of Obama will wake up and see what is happening under this drunken spending stupor going on and work to put a very loud halt to it. (tcpalm.com)

Strike captains prep Steelworker refinery walkouts ... The signs are almost done and the picket shacks are set up at the Valero Energy Corp. refinery and Chevron Phillips. Valero's contract expires at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, along with the contract for union members at the ExxonMobil Corp.'s Beaumont refinery. The expirations affect a total of 2,400 workers in Southeast Texas at four refineries, including workers at the Total Petrochemical Inc.'s refinery and Motiva Enterprises refinery, both in Port Arthur. Steelworkers union administrators in Port Arthur are preparing for best- and worst-case scenarios. "Right now we're in the wait-and-see and set-up mode," said accounting clerk Sylvia McDuffie Friday afternoon. "Today and tomorrow we will be on standby to see if we need to schedule meetings at the last minute. We have to be ready if (a strike) happens. We have to maintain picket rosters to make sure everyone knows what unit will walk which day. At the eleventh hour, if we don't need them, we'll throw them away. But we have to be ready." (tradingmarkets.com)

SEIU big Balanoff's P2P corruption forces out Dem Governor ... Blagojevich was impeached on 13 counts, eight of which had to do with the criminal charges brought against him in December, which alleged that he had tried to sell the US Senate seat vacated by President Obama, had demanded the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial writers in exchange for state help with the sale of Wrigley Field, and had engaged in pay-to-play corruption schemes. (features.csmonitor.com)

Gov't-unions sue voters to defend no-bid P2P ... A second lawsuit against a newly enacted “clean government” measure alleging seven constitutional and Colorado law violations has been filed by public employees and trade organizations representing Colorado educators and first responders. Amendment 54, which went into effect Dec. 31, prohibits both unions and sole-source government contractors and their families from giving to political campaigns. The teachers and firefighters further argue that the amendment has significant consequences, though backers largely intended to use it as a vehicle to squelch labor contributions to political campaigns that benefit Democrats. (coloradoindependent.com)

Expanding P2P probe triggers national Dem anxiety ... A former state investment officer who has filed a lawsuit claiming that New Mexico taxpayers lost more than $90 million in an alleged ''pay-to-play'' scheme has subpoenaed a foundation established by Gov. Bill Richardson to uncover the names of its donors. Frank Foy, the former investment officer for the state's Educational Retirement Board, has charged in a civil lawsuit filed last July and made public earlier this month that political contributions to Richardson influenced the awarding of investment business in New Mexico. Foy's attorney, Victor Marshall, says the subpoena seeks to uncover who contributed to the Moving America Forward Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by Richardson that began operating in 2003. "Because MAFF is shrouded in secrecy, no one knows whether Moving America Forward Foundation was used as a conduit by people who wanted to buy business from the state of New Mexico," Victor Marshall, Foy's attorney, said in a statement. He emphasized that it is not known whether companies like Vanderbilt Financial, one company named in the civil lawsuit, or any other companies used the foundation to hide "pay-to-play" contributions. (alamogordonews.com)

Congressional union thugs cultivate very small businesses for P2P ... The act would put the card system back into play, and a union would be recognized if a majority of workers signed cards. Tony Fiore, director of labor and human resources policy for the Ohio chamber, thinks the Employee Free Choice Act would make a confidential election process less likely. The act also would call for stronger penalties against companies trying to join a union. “The title is even misleading,” he said. “It takes free choice away.” Fiore thinks companies of all sizes and their employees are at risk, though he expects unions to target industries with high worker counts “to help increase bargaining units significantly in a short period after decades of declining membership. It’s a numbers game.” The act would apply to any business with three or more non-management employees. (columbus.bizjournals.com)

Tarheel unionist explains Card-Check ... Henry Kramer, Fletcher, NC: Regarding the letter, “Agrees with letter on impact of the EFCA,” (AC-T, Jan. 24): “Employee Free Choice Act” is anything but a free choice. When employees are considering unionization, the present system calls for the employer and the union to independently present their cases, for or against. Thereafter, a secret ballot is held. What can be more free choice than that? What the unions want is to be able to contact employees one at a time and have union representatives try to get them to sign a card that they want to join the union. This is called “card check.” An employee who does not wish to unionize can be unduly intimidated by this into doing something against his will. I worked union my entire career and can give the letter writer many reasons why employers resist unionization. They would include the union requiring larger crews than are needed, journeymen being paid at the same rate regardless of their experience or skills, requiring operators on machines that run themselves, slowing down employees that they think are working too hard and unreasonable pay rates, to name a few. (citizen-times.com)

Academics reconsider unionism ... Economics Nobel Prize winner Gary Becker: "Any substantial shift of federal and state governments toward pro-union regulations would harm the American economy and the position of the typical employee. As Posner indicates, unions want greater monopoly power so that they can raise the wages and other benefits of union members above their competitive levels. Unfortunately, the effects of this are to reduce earnings for non-union workers, shift production outside the US, or toward states with less pro-union laws, and shift production in unionized plants away from labor and toward capital. None of these changes are beneficial to the efficiency and performance of the American economy, especially in a global environment." (laborpains.org)

Teachers union enraged by student demands ... York University students say they are relieved classes can resume Monday but are concerned about their job prospects now that the academic year has been extended. The faculty strike ended after Ontario enacted legislation to force teachers back into the classroom after more than 85 days on the picket line. Union officials are outraged, saying the legislation tramples on the constitutional rights of all Ontario workers. Premier Dalton McGuinty says the experience should serve as a cautionary tale for all post-secondary institutions. He says other universities have to understand the consequences of the failure of negotiations. The Federation of Students wants the university to refund 12 per cent of their tuition because the academic year has been shortened. (cp24.com)

Hoffa deflects blame for failed Teamsters strike ... Teamster local unions across the country have informed KeyCorp that they intend to end their financial relationship with the Cleveland-based bank. The union is upset because Key is the primary lender for Oak Harbor Freight, an Auburn, Wash., company where more than 600 Teamster members have been on strike for the past four months. In a letter addressed to local unions, Teamster President Jimmy Hoffa asked that they contact Key immediately and begin the process of transferring their business to a other financial institutions. Union members went on strike on Sept. 22, 2008 to protest alleged violations of American labor laws. It was the first strike against the company in 50 years. Lynne Woodman, a spokeswoman for Key, said the Teamsters are “trying to insert Key into this dispute between two other parties. Key has no dispute with either of them.” She added, however, that under federal law Key cannot discuss client relationships. (albany.bizjournals.com)

Shameless community organizers risk arrest for discredited 'affordable housing' campaign ... "We are not going to move". That's what Baltimore homeowner Larry Beverly told a church filled with ACORN members. Beverly is facing an eviction notice next month and says he plans to homestead rather than leave. It's the latest strategy from ACORN which has has been waging a nationwide campaign against home foreclosures sparked by predatory lending practices. A representative from the sheriff's office was also in the audience. Lt. Sam Cogen told ABC2 the kind of civil disobedience being called for by ACORN could result in arrests. The community group also announced plans for a national day of action February 10th. ACORN members will be in the nation's capitol calling for an end to home foreclosures. (abc2news.com)

U.S. Organizer-in-Chief Gets Right To Work

Blacklister Barack disgusts worker-choice advocate ... In effect, the Secretary of Labor would become an additional judge, jury, and executioner of federal labor laws with respect to federal contractors. Most importantly, the Secretary would determine whether a contractor would be fired by the federal government (apparently where the contractor has not even been found to have violated any laws by the law enforcement body of jurisdiction). Even President Bill Clinton stopped short of attempting to give the Secretary of Labor a "blacklisting" power, which is almost certainly unlawful. “It’s disgusting to see this blatant payoff to Big Labor only two weeks into Obama’s term,” continued Mix. “Today, President Obama has sent an ominous message to the 93 percent of private sector workers in America who, for whatever reasons, have chosen not to unionize: You’re not welcome here.” (nrtw.org)

Wrist-slap for ugly union-big embezzler ... As treasurer of the teachers' union at a Northeast Philadelphia school for autistic students, Grace Gaines wrote the checks. Authorities say she also took the teachers' money - $17,800 of it - for herself. This afternoon, Gaines was sentenced to six months of house arrest, five years of probation and ordered to pay restitution for $11,328 of the money she stole from the teachers' union at the Woodhaven Center, which educates students with autism and other developmental disabilities. "While the thefts totaled less than $20,000, the defendant's crimes were persistent, systematic, open-ended and ugly," Assistant U.S. Attorney Pamela Foa wrote in a sentencing memo. In October, Gaines pleaded guilty to three counts of embezzlement. She could have faced up to 20 years in prison. (philly.com)

SEIU police thugs forcibly oust Rosselli faction ... The takeover of United Healthcare Workers by Service Employees International was completed today as SEIU finally took physical control of UHW’s Oakland headquarters and changed the locks following a final standoff that had to be mediated by Oakland Police officers who were called to the scene. “We went to the office and we asked to be able to do the work we need to do,” David Regan, who SEIU appointed as a trustee overseeing UHW, told the Guardian. But they were turned away by UHW members still loyal to ousted president Sal Rosselli, who has formed a new rival union. “The police came and we sorted it all out.” (sfbg.com)

International Collectivism

Latin Socialists ease access to U.S. ... The report notes that Latin America, which now has a large Hezbollah presence, especially in Argentina, Venezuela, Paraguay and Brazil, is increasingly becoming the point of entry because documents are easily obtained. In addition to those countries is Nicaragua, which has a large Iranian presence. Iran also has a huge embassy in Managua “where diplomats enjoy immunity and the full support of President Daniel Ortega,” the report finds. The Venezuelan government, lead by President Hugo Chávez, also has issued passports and official documents to members of Hezbollah and Hamas, whose cause Chavez believes in. Experts agree South America has become a place of preference for terrorists that want to travel to the United States, making it imperative for U.S. agencies responsible for protecting the American public to become more vigilant. (newsmax.com)

AFL-CIO praises Latin leftists ... Nearly 100,000 people are expected to participate in the forum, which brings together unions and activists from as many as 180 countries between Jan. 27 and Feb. 1. The World Social Forum, a mainstay of the global justice movement, is held every year at the same time as the World Economic Forum, a meeting of heads of state, financial ministers and business leaders in Davos, Switzerland. While most of the world’s heads of state preferred to attend the economic forum, some leaders of major Latin American countries are participating in this year’s social forum. On the evening of Jan. 29, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will convene a meeting with three other Latin American presidents—Evo Morales of Bolivia, Rafael Correa of Ecuador and Hugo Chávez of Venezuela. (blog.aflcio.org)

Trouble in workers' paradise ... Violent clashes between police and workers protesting outside Mitsubishi Motors Corp.'s car assembly plant in eastern Venezuela left two people dead and two police officers injured, officials said Friday. Tarek William Saab, governor of eastern Anzoategui state, told state television that two people died of gunshot wounds received during clashes with police Thursday outside the plant in the city of Barcelona. Prosecutors are investigating the incident, Saab said. "There were gunshots fired, and it's not clear where they came from," said President Hugo Chávez, speaking during a televised address on Friday. "Those responsible must be imprisoned." Roughly 200 of the plant's 5,000 employees, joined by 1,000 contract workers, called a strike and seized control of the assembly plant on Jan. 12. Striking workers are demanding that Mitsubishi renew a contract with a local cleaning company. (iht.com)

Chávez fatigue may trigger voter fraud ... Director of pollster Hinterlaces Oscar Schemel Friday disclosed the results of a recent survey showing that 54 percent of respondents reject the implementation of never-ending reelection of public officials, while 45 percent are to vote for President Hugo Chávez's proposed amendment to the Constitution. According to Schemel, such vote intent will remain unchanged as long as the opposition continues to spread the implications of indefinite reelection. He added that the major challenge facing Chávez's supporters is abstention. In Schemel's view such vote intent is the result of "the exhaustion and fatigue" among the followers of the Venezuelan ruler. "We found that Chavezism is increasingly discouraged, dissappointed, dissatisfied at the lack of solutions and worsening problems such as personal insecurity. Chávez's followers are exhausted because of the intensive electoral activism, to the extent that their support for the process has started to wane. These supporters may vote against some of the proposals made by the president, and they will not feel they are traitors," said Schemel. (english.eluniversal.com)

Chávez sets stimulus package ... Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez has promised to invest 220 billion U.S. dollars in the next four years in the development of industries in Venezuela. A total of 120 billion U.S. dollars will be invested in the gas industry, he said. In spite of the global economic crisis, Venezuela will not suspend its development and will eventually turn into an industrialized power thanks to the revolutionary transformations underway now and to the transition over to its authentic Bolivarian model of socialism, Chávez said. Friday, he signed a decree on setting up a National Metallurgical Corporation and made public the plans to raise the output of melted steel to 7.8 million tons in 2013 and to 15 million tons in 2018 from 4.2 million tons at present. For this purpose, Venezuelan government is building an ore-dressing factory in cooperation with the Brazilian company Andrade Gutierrez. It will be commissioned at the end of 2011. (itar-tass.com)

Add striking nativist workers to U.K. crisis ... Thousands of workers at oil refineries across Britain are protesting against the use of foreign labour for a construction project, reflecting concern about rising unemployment amid the economic crisis. Protests were sparked by a strike at Total's Lindsey oil refinery on Wednesday in north-eastern England, where workers walked out in anger over the use of Italian and Portuguese contractors on a $286m building project. Around 1,000 contractors from the Lindsey oil refinery demonstrated outside the building on Friday, waving placards saying "Put British workers first". (english.aljazeera.net)

Putin brooks no dissent ... Opponents of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin from across the political spectrum were holding protests on Saturday calling for the government to resign amid a growing economic crisis. The police have already warned that they will crack down on unauthorized events and dozens of riot police were seen gathering in Moscow squares ahead of the demonstrations. A demonstration organised by the Communist Party in the centre of the Far Eastern city Vladivostok attracted around 3,000 people after members of other political and social groups joined the action. Meanwhile, around 5,000 supporters of the ruling United Russia Party held an action in support of the government in the city, shouting slogans in favour Putin, the organisers said. However unlike a similar demonstration in the city last month which was violently dispersed by riot police, the orderly anti-government demonstration passed peacefully and the numerous police present did not intervene. "The crisis is in the heads of the authorities, not in the economy!" and "We need laws about the responsibility of the authorities to the people!" were among the slogans daubed onto banners. After several previous opposition marches were violently broken up in Moscow by riot police, the opposition this time has organised several protests at different and largely undisclosed locations starting at around 1100 GMT. (timesofindia.indiatimes.com)
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