When one thinks of substandard working conditions in the world of retail and consumer products, what usually comes to mind are images of “sweatshop” factories overseas, in the manufacturing stage of a product’s journey to the United States. But in a remarkable piece of investigative reporting by the Morning Call newspaper in Allentown, Pennsylvania, it is discovered that American workers for a well-respected major corporation are facing brutal, unimaginable conditions right here in the USA. Former employees at the shipping warehouse for Amazon.com near Allentown describe dangerous, uncomfortable, and potentially illegal conditions in the operation, with temperatures regularly exceeding 110 degrees, workers forced to put in “mandatory overtime,” and paramedics regularly stationed outside the doors to the building in order to treat employees that passed out from the heat or exhaustion. Former workers call Amazon.com’s operation “slavery,” and numerous complaints to federal workplace safety agencies have been filed. The company refused to respond to specific incidents, assuring the newspaper that their facilities are a “great place to work.”
Texas Gov. Rick Perry made a splash with his first major foreign policy address as a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, declaring that unquestioned US government support of Israel is a a divine obligation and that the Obama administration’s policy towards the eternal conflict in the Middle East has represented “appeasement” of the Palestinian people. Such comments embody the new, aggressive pro-Israeli message being embraced by lawmakers and politicians of all partisan persuasions, where blind allegiance to Israel is either a necessity to support the “only democracy” in the region or, as with Perry and many religious conservatives, it is a matter of personal faith. And the question of “appeasement” in regard to President Obama’s Israeli-Palestinian agenda is truly curious, given that his administration has supported Israeli settlement expansion, given billions of dollars in “aid” to the Israeli government, and is now blocking UN recognition of Palestinian statehood that is backed by most other international powers.
The standard view of the upcoming 2012 presidential campaign is one that pits President Obama against a Republican challenger, a single name to emerge from the GOP’s large field of hopefuls. But some progressive activists want to change that predetermined path. Seeking to coalesce those progressives and Democratic activists that are disillusioned with the direction and policies of Barack Obama in his third year as president, a group of prominent individuals with strong ties to the progressive community have organized an effort to seek candidates to oppose Obama in a Democratic presidential primary. Led by Ralph Nader and Cornel West, the group has circulated a letter seeking to build support for a primary challenge of the president in order to have him “seriously articulate and defend his beliefs,” beliefs that they say have run counter to a progressive agenda.
STILL REELING FROM THEIR “ACCOMPLISHMENTS” IN 2011, FLORIDA GETS READY TO FACE ANOTHER WAVE OF “CONTROVERSIAL” PROPOSALS FROM RICK SCOTT AND THE STATE LEGISLATURE NEXT YEAR.
Though the formal start to the 2012 state legislative session is not until January, Gov. Rick Scott is already piecing together the core components of what will be his agenda for lawmakers in Tallahassee. The first year of Gov. Scott’s term saw a number of his divisive priorities passed through the legislature, from deep budget cuts to major changes in voting laws that have made it harder for Floridians to cast a ballot. Scott’s wishlist for the 2012 session is likely to be just as controversial. The governor’s office has started work — or “building consensus,” as his administrative team puts it — on items such as abolishing personal injury protection insurance, a request from the insurance industry, and another attempt at passing a strict, Arizona-style immigration law. Both of of these faced stiff resistance from the Republican legislature and are expected to be opposed again in 2012. The centerpiece of Scott’s 2012 agenda will be sweeping reforms of education, from eliminating tenure for university professors to an expansion of a program that dedicates large state subsidies for private school enrollment.
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