Tuesday, September 06, 2005

NYT: "Union Organizers at Poulty Plants in South Find Newly Sympathetic Ears" (Steven Greenhouse)

Hour after hour, Antonia Lopez Paz said, her supervisor at the Koch Foods poultry plant here told women on the deboning line that production demands were so great that they could not go to the bathroom.
Sometimes she developed acute pain because she could not go, Ms. Lopez said. And one time when another woman asked for permission, "the supervisor took off his hard hat and told her, 'You can go to the bathroom in this,' " said Ms. Lopez, a Mexican immigrant who moved to this town in East Tennessee three years ago, lured by the company's promise of year-round work.
Out of her solitary complaint has grown a thriving unionization drive that fits neatly into the plans of several insurgent unions that hope to revive the labor movement by focusing on low-wage workers and immigrant workers.
"We believe there is a need for a union to come in and help these workers," said Joe Hansen, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers, which is organizing workers at the two Koch Foods plants here. "The conditions in some of these places are criminal, especially in the way they treat undocumented workers, and it's criminal that they often get away with it."

The above is from Steven Greenhouse's "Union Organizers at Poultry Plants in South Find Newly Sympathetic Ears" in this morning's New York Times.

That's out spotlight story for the Times this morning, selected by Eli, Keesha, Ned, ???, and Jordan in their e-mails this morning.

We just added Rita J. King's Ruminations on America to our permalinks yesterday (we've highlighted her site before here in entries) but Trevor's already e-mailed on it. From King's "In Wake of Hurricane, New Orleans Nuclear Plant in Jeopardy:"

While the entire city of New Orleans and surrounding areas have been plunged into a watery blackout, Entergy Corporation is faced with the task of keeping spent fuel at the Waterford nuclear plant cool to avoid a potentially deadly situation that could make Hurricane Katrina look like a gentle preamble to the worst environmental disaster in recorded history.
Some experts and scientists feel that a spent nuclear rod pool, when severely compromised, could result in a catastrophic fire capable of dwarfing the Chernobyl tragedy. Others, such as Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesperson Victor Dricks, said Wednesday afternoon that the situation is under control at the Waterford plant, which is owned by the New Orleans --headquartered Entergy Corporation.
According to NRC spokesperson Eliot Brenner, interviewed on Wednesday afternoon, the spent fuel rod pool at the Waterford plant is being kept cool by two backup generators that are being "topped-off" with new fuel each day. He claims the path to the plant is clear enough to guarantee that the trucks will be able to continue making the trek, and that another set of generators have been brought in as a precautionary measure.
The NRC's official website reveals a checkered safety record at Waterford when it comes to back-up generators. On April 12, 2004, the Waterford plant received a letter from Bruce Mallet, the regional NRC administrator responsible for the area in which the plant is located, informing Waterford that they had received a "white" warning for a violation regarding their back-up diesel generators.

Make sure you check out (or at least aware of) Dahr Jamail's latest, "IRAQ: U.S. Influence 'Too Much'" (IPS):

U.S. influence in the process of drafting a constitution for Iraq is excessive and "highly inappropriate", a United Nations official says.
"It is a matter of public record that in the final weeks of the process the newly arrived U.S. ambassador (Zalmay Khalizad) took an extremely hands-on role," Justin Alexander, legal affairs officer for the office of constitutional support with the United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) told IPS. "Even going so far as to circulate at least one U.S. draft."
Alexander, who oversaw the recent proceedings in Baghdad added: "This involvement was highly inappropriate for a country with 140,000 soldiers in country."
Zaid al-Ali, a legal expert who also oversaw the drafting process in Baghdad, made a similar case at a meeting at the International Association of Contemporary Iraqi Studies in London.
"There are three ways in which the occupation intervened in the context of Iraq's constitution-writing process," he said. "Firstly, the occupation authorities selected and affected the makeup of the commission that was charged with drafting Iraq's transitional law, and its permanent constitution. Second, the occupation determined the limits and parameters within which the constitution was to be drafted. Third, the occupation authorities intervened directly in order to safeguard its interests in the context of the constitutional negotiations."

Here's Sunday editorial from The Third Estate Sunday Review:

"Editorial: Let's play politics"
Like a really bad road company Rizzo, forgetting her blocking and stumbling around stage, Bully Boy spent most of last week singing "There Are Worse Things I Could Do" repeatedly and hitting the same three sour notes constantly.

As Lucy Bannerman notes in The Scotland Herald, "Bush pleads 'don't play politics' as blame lands at Washington." Bully Boy pleads it and a whiner calling into C-Span's Washington Journal all but spat at The Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel that she was "being 90% negative." Ironically, vanden Heuvel had taken the high road (and remained on it).
We won't high road it here. It is playing politics? Is the truth political?
The truth is very political in any period but especially in a time when "up" is called "down," when fiction is passed off as reality.
How do you play the truth game in these distorted times? We'll do it by spitting out the obvious, Bully Boy is no leader. He can marshall the usual subjects to chant "we have to pull together!!!"
Those who seem him as King George are more than happy to be loyal subjects.
Us, we've never forgotten that he's supposed to be working for us. And we'll pull together -- behind the truth. We won't, however, (to paraphrase Susan Sontag) all be stupid together.
What we saw last week was a national disaster hit New Orleans. And, just like on 9/11, the nation was left to await the Bully Boy's actions. And wait and wait. No one expected that he'd grab a shovel and dig in, please that family doesn't work (well, dirty work . . .). But we did expect that the former cheerleader would grab the pom-poms in some attempt to comfort the nation.
Didn't happen. We waited. We waited. And saw the dull witted Bully Boy respond in slow mo yet again. Which, by the way, is why we were never surprised to learn about the years of planning that went into the invasion of Iraq.
So truth telling involves stating the obvious, while the nation was in shock, while Americans were in disbelief that their own citizens could be referred to as "refugees." The nation's jaw dropped further as footage from New Orleans dominated the news cycles.
Truth telling involves faulting him for his lack of response to the nation and to the areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Unlike Bill Clinton, he does not feel your pain, nor is he concerned with it.
Also slow in response was our national agencies. FEMA was rightly noted for its disgraceful behavior by Terry Ebbert, head of emergency operations in New Orleans, and for its late to dinner appearance in Mississippi. FEMA's response was a disgrace. Homeland Security, the much ballyhooed agency created under the Bully Boy's watch, wasn't any better. So who's responsible?
We realize that basic question is a "political" one. It always is. But especially when you're dealing with an administration that's refused accountability regardless of the situation. Lies that took us into war? "Didn't happen." Smears against those who told the truth (and in the case of Valerie Plame, the spouse of someone who told the truth)? "It wasn't us." And when it turns out that, yes, indeed it was them? "We can't comment due to the ongoing investigation." 9/11?"No one could have guessed . . ." Condi's statement is the fallback for everything apparently."No one could have guessed."
And here's where it gets especially ugly, this truth telling, because in the case of the devastation that followed Hurricane Katrina, it could have been guessed, in fact, it was predicted.
Bully Boy's not responsible for the hurricane hitting the United States. He is responsible for the lack of preperation, for the slow response and for ignoring the needs of the areas hit throughout his previous term.
Playing "politics?" Isn't that what got us into our current crisis?
Politics, not the hurricane is at the root of the current crisis. Politics determined who headed the agencies that should have been responding immediately. Politics determined which monies went where and which priorities were recognized and which weren't. Politics determined that the Bully Boy yet again pushing his privatization of Social Security in a state not hit by the hurricane was more important than his demonstrating to the public that he was actually on the job.
A natural disaster (the hurricane) hit the United States. That's about the only issue in this tragedy that's nonpolitical. The ignoring of preparation, the misguided budget policies, the lack of leadership and the lack of response are all political issues.
The Bully Boy's not beyond playing politics (he excells especially in dirty politics) but watch the goon squad come out and try to hush the questions and try to distort the truth. Why? Because the emperor has no clothes. After 9/11, they were able to silence important questions. They can't do it this time. The nation has grown weary of the politics coming out of the White House and we're not in the mood to play follow the faltering leader.
It's time for some accountability and that's the ugly truth.
[This editorial was written by the following:
The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ty, Jess, Dona, Jim and Ava, C.I. of The Common Ills, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Kat of Kat's Korner, Elaine substituting for Rebecca at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude and Mike of Mikey Likes It!]

Scheduled topics (thanks, Rod) for today's Democracy Now! include:

More on Hurricane Katrina, with exclusive reports from Democracy Now! producers just back from New Orleans, and an intensive look at John Roberts, who was just nominated as the Chief Justice of the United States, to replace the late William Rehnquist.

Amy Goodman's Un-Embed the Media tour upcoming dates include:

New York, NY:
Wednesday, September
7, 1:15 PM
58th Annual Department of Public Information/NGO Conference
Our Challenge: Voices for Peace, Partnerships and Renewal
Panel Discussion: "Peace Building and Community Well-Being: The Importance of Media Collaboration and Strategies"
United Nations
New York, NY
An interactive web site at
http://www.undpingoconference.org/ will allow for worldwide participation.

Baraboo, WI:
Saturday, September 10, afternoon - exact time TBA
Fighting Bob Fest
Sauk County Fairgrounds
Baraboo, WI
Free admission, but a $10 donation will be requested.
Pre-register at
For more information, visit

South Hadley, MA:
Sunday, September 11, 2 pm
New York Stories: Before and After September 11
Mount Holyoke College
back for more details

Monday, September 12, 6:00 pm
Bread and Roses 'Tribute to Change' Awards
Zellerbach Theater
Annenberg Center
3680 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA
Tickets: $50, $25 fixed income, $5 students
For more information, visit

New York, NY:
Wednesday, September 14, 7:00 PM
A debate between George Galloway and Christopher Hitchenson Iraq and U.S. and British foreign policy.
Moderated by Amy Goodman
Mason Hall at the Baruch College Performing Arts Center
17 Lexington Ave., enter on 23rd St.
New York, NY
Tickets $12 in advance through Ticket Centralwww.ticketcentral.com, Phone: 212-279-4200 and at the door.
For more details on this debate and Galloway's U.S. tour September 13-24, visit:
email: Galloway2005@comcast.netor call 415-607-1924.
Presented by: The New Press, International Socialist Review, and the Center for Economic Research and Social Change

Friday, September 16, 7:30 pm
Media-ocracy: How the American Media Compromises Democracy
Chan Auditorium Administrative Science Building
The University of Alabama
Huntsville, AL
Admission is FREE
A sign language professional will provide interpretation
For more information, call 256-489-3884 or email Lahaynes@knology.net
Reception before the speaking engagement (Reservations are required!)
6:00 - 7:00 pm
Union Grove Art Gallery
The University of Alabama in Huntsville
Cost is $30.
Includes refreshments and Goodman' book, The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media that Love Them.
Reservations: Call 256-824-6210 or email reide@uah.edu no later than Sept. 9, 2005. Space is limited.

Birmingham, AL:
Saturday, September 17, 7:00 pm
Amy Goodman speaking event:
Hill University Center Alumni Auditorium
14th Street South @ University Blvd
Free and open to the public
Pre-event reception: Bare Hands Gallery
109 Richard Arrington, Jr. Blvd
4:30-6:30 PM
For more information, visit:
www.geocities.com/bhampeace or contactDiane McNaron, dianemcnaron@aol.com, 205.838.1391 David Gespass, thepasss@aol.com 205.323.5966

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