Saturday wrap

Obama FDA cracks down against Cheerios ... Only four percent (4%) of voters nationwide agree with the federal Food and Drug Administration that the popular breakfast cereal Cheerios should be regulated as a drug. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 87% disagree and oppose such regulation. Survey participants were told that the FDA made its claim because the cereal is advertised for use in the prevention, mitigation and treatment of disease (see question wording). A letter from the FDA to General Mills, the makers of Cheerios, said the company's advertising makes "unauthorized health claims" which means the cereal should be regulated as a drug. As a result, the FDA declared that Cheerios "may not be legally marketed with the above claims in the United States without an approved new drug application." The government agency added that "enforcement action may include seizure of violative products and/or injunction against the manufacturers and distributors of violative products." When told of Cheerios' claim that it can help reduce cholesterol, just three percent (3%) of voters say the cereal should be removed from the grocery shelves and sold only in pharmacies. (rasmussenreports.com)

Obama cancels shameful invitation to radical Mullah envoys ... The Obama administration said Wednesday it has rescinded invitations to Iranian diplomats to attend July 4 U.S. Independence Day celebrations at American diplomatic missions around the world. The State Department said an Iranian presence at such events would be incongruous with a celebration of American values. The Obama administration says it is not closing the door to eventual dialogue with Iran on such issues as its support of terrorism and nuclear program. But in a symbolic protest of what the State Department Wednesday termed Iran's appalling and deplorable treatment of election protestors, it is withdrawing invitations for Iranian diplomats to attend traditional U.S. embassy Fourth of July parties. (voanews.com)

Obama Perestroika: Finding common ground with Iran ... A senior Iranian cleric called on the judiciary Friday to impose death sentences on the leaders of the recent protests against alleged fraud in the June 12 presidential election. 'I call on the judiciary for a decisive confrontation with the leaders of these illegal demonstrations and ask for capital punishment against them without any mercy,' Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, who is close to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said at Friday prayers. The ayatollah, one of the top figures in the radical wing of Iran's establishment, said that, according to Islamic law, anybody attacking the leadership has to face capital punishment. (monstersandcritics.com)

Obama apologizes to Europe for inherited U.S. economic success ... On global warming, Mr. Obama said the U.S. is beginning to catch up to European nations, who have committed to tougher caps than the Americans. But Mr. Obama said the House bill --which is already more than many lawmakers say they can accept -- is only a beginning to what the U.S. must do. "There's going to be more to do," he said, adding that the U.S. will have to be more clear about its international obligations. "I'm the first one to acknowledge that the United States over the last several years has not been where we need to be. We're not going to get there all in one fell swoop," he said. (washingtontimes.com)

Mammoth, debt-financed Stimulus fails to impress ... Thirty percent (30%) of voters now say the $787-billion economic stimulus plan passed by Congress is hurting the U.S. economy, up three points from late last month. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that for the second month in a row 31% say the plan has helped the economy. That's down from 34% who thought the plan would help in late February just after Congress approved it. (rasmussenreports.com)

Federal Reserve boss depends on unionists to micromanage U.S. economy ... Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke did not mention the U.S. central bank's outlook for monetary policy or the national economy while speaking to the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday, focusing instead on the department's research. "Clearly, the timeliness and reliability of your labor market and price reports are critical to us," he said at a celebration of the bureau's 125th anniversary. "We need to understand productivity because it is a key element in determining how fast the economy can expand without generating inflation. And we need to factor in trends in wages and benefits, in consumer spending, and in how U.S. wage, price, and productivity trends compare with those abroad," he told the department's employees. (reuters.com)

UPS engages Hoffa-friendly A.G.'s to fight FedEx ... Attorneys general from Montana and seven other states have asked FedEx Corp. to ensure that FedEx Ground properly classifies its drivers to comply with state employee protection laws. Thirty states are investigating FedEx Ground to determine if the company is misclassifying FedEx drivers as independent contractors through its owner-operator model. And more than 45 class-action lawsuits have been filed in state and federal courts against the company’s classification of drivers. In a joint letter Thursday to FedEx, the eight attorneys general cited shared concerns about workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance, wage-and-hour laws and protection of workers’ civil rights. “Each of our states has a responsibility under our respective laws to protect a broad range of interests associated with the employment status of an individual,” said the letter sent jointly by Montana’s Attorney General Steve Bullock and attorneys general from Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont. “The right of FedEx Ground independent contractors to own and operate their own business has been repeatedly validated, most recently by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit,” said Maury Lane, a FedEx spokesman in Memphis. “We’re happy to work with the attorneys general to answer any questions that they might have.” (memphisdailynews.com)

Shut Up: Workers fight back against AFSCME oppression ... A big labor union endorsement for Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez may soon have a huge hole blown in it as the city’s blue-collar workers say they’re pulling out. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, is the large union representing city employees, but it made up of smaller union groups called locals—and the blue-collar workers’ local says nobody ever asked them who they wanted for mayor. The blue-collar union represents about 1,000 city workers—the physical backbone of the city workforce, and blue-collar leaders say they got a raw deal in the endorsement business. Last month, AFSCME endorsed three-term mayor Martin Chavez after he crafted a city budget with some raises and no layoffs, despite a recession-driven revenue shortfall. “It should have been done by a survey - pretty much polling all the city employees - asking them who they wanted to endorse for mayor - because we are a member-driven union and that's the way it should have been done,” said David Ortiz with the union. “They did not do it that way - they went out on their own and they decided to endorse Martin Chavez on their own." (kob.com)

You can check out any time you like ... Home care consumers and workers reacted jubilantly Thursday evening upon hearing the news that a U.S. District Court judge issued an injunction ordering the state of California to halt a proposed $2 an hour cut in wages for the state's 440,000 home care workers. The injunction has the effect of stopping pay cuts in all California counties that were planning on passing the state cut through to their home care workers. The injunction, issued by federal Judge Claudia Wilken, was in response to a lawsuit filed by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which has 250,000 home care members in California. (news.yahoo.com)

Typical labor-state dues-embezzlement ... A Billings (MT) woman accused of stealing more than $11,000 from a local union denied federal charges Thursday. Tammy Smith, 40, pleaded not guilty to an indictment charging her with embezzlement of labor union assets. Prosecutor Jessica Fehr said Smith stole $11,175 from Painters Local 1922 while employed by the union. The theft began about May 2004 and ended in December 2006. (billingsgazette.net)

Gay City News: Labor Big Outs Himself ... Stuart Appelbaum, president of the New York City-based Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), in an exclusive interview, told Gay City News that his decision in May to openly affirm his gay identity within the American labor movement means, “I am defining myself publicly, and not just defining myself privately. That’s what makes a difference. I wanted to make my public role not just as a labor leader or Jewish labor leader, but as a gay Jewish labor leader.” While other heavyweight US labor leaders, such as Randi Weingarten, president of New York’s United Federation of Teachers (UFT) and its parent, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and Nancy Wohlforth, secretary-treasurer of the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU), have come out publicly, Appelbaum is the first international labor president to publicly embrace his gay sexuality. (chelseanow.com)

International Collectivism

Militaristic Chávez: We don't need no stinkin' Constitution ... This year, the traditional military parade to commemorate the anniversary of the Carabobo Battle and the Venezuelan Army Day introduced a foreign contingent which was the first to pass through the main avenue of the historical site behind the banners of the army commands. A total of 126 officers of the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC); the Honduras Military Academy; Colonel Gualberto Villarroel Military College of the Bolivian Army; Nicaragua's General José Dolores Estrada Military Academy, and of the five member states of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of our America (ALBA), took part in the parade on Wednesday, July 24th, across the Carabobo Battlefield. The representation of the small Caribbean island of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was the first one to show up in the avenue. Under article 187, number 11, of the 1999 Constitution, the National Assembly (AN) should authorize the entry into Venezuela of any foreign military mission. However, no information was released from the Parliament as to any related authorization. (english.eluniversal.com)

Brave Hondurans battle entrenched Leftists ... A serious institutional crisis is taking place in Honduras as a result of President Manuel Zelaya’s call for a new constitution that would allow for his reelection. Zelaya, a close ally of Hugo Chávez, is barred from pursuing a second term in the general elections in November. Unfortunately for Zelaya, he doesn’t have the backing of his own party, much less any other major political group. So he has moved unilaterally to call for a referendum on the need for a new constitution. The vote, which is scheduled for this Sunday, has been declared illegal by the Supreme Court and the Electoral Tribunal, and condemned by the Honduran Congress and attorney general (whose office is not part of the cabinet in Honduras). Despite the widespread institutional opposition to his plans, Zelaya is pushing for the vote. On Wednesday he ordered the Honduran armed forces to start distributing the ballots and other electoral materials throughout the country. The army chief, complying with the Supreme Court ruling, refused to obey the order. Zelaya sacked him, which prompted the resignation of all other leading army officers and the defense minister. (cato-at-liberty.org)

Unionism oppressed in Iran ... The Australian Workers Union faxed a protest letter to the Islamic Republic of Iran's Ambassador to Australia, Ambassador Mahmoud Movahhedi, after he refused today to meet a union delegation. The union members wanted to hand a letter to the Ambassador from the Australian Council of Trade Unions on behalf of the Australian union movement outlining the anger of union members at the treatment of unionists in Iran. (awu.net.au)

India moves against Communists ... The Indian government has banned the Maoist Communist Party of India as a terrorist group, giving security forces enhanced powers of arrest. The move provides Indian police with the power to detain members of the party even if they have not been involved in insurgent activity. Earlier, five states across east and central India were put on a high alert as the Maoists called a two-day strike. One district in West Bengal briefly fell under almost total Maoist control. (news.bbc.co.uk)
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