Kindred Spirits Fair and Balance
A Blog for Political Activists in East North Carolina
Saturday, November 29, 2003
A Prisoner Of Panic After 9/11 (washingtonpost.com): A Prisoner Of Panic After 9/11 Algerian-Born Detainee Seen as Victim of Excess
By Michael Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 29, 2003; Page A01
BATAVIA, N.Y. -- Benamar Benatta sits in a whitewashed cell, lost in a post-Sept. 11 world.
"Jailed the night of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, the Algerian air force lieutenant with an expired visa has spent the past 26 months in federal prisons, much of that time in solitary confinement -- even though the FBI formally concluded in November 2001 that he had no connection to terrorism. "
This article details the situation of many Muslim men accused of terrorim-related activities since 9/11.
WASHINGTON, Nov. 22 — The Federal Bureau of Investigation has collected extensive information on the tactics, training and organization of antiwar demonstrators and has advised local law enforcement officials to report any suspicious activity at protests to its counterterrorism squads, according to interviews and a confidential bureau memorandum.
The memorandum, which the bureau sent to local law enforcement agencies last month in advance of antiwar demonstrations in Washington and San Francisco, detailed how protesters have sometimes used 'training camps' to rehearse for demonstrations, the Internet to raise money and gas masks to defend against tear gas. The memorandum analyzed lawful activities like recruiting demonstrators, as well as illegal activities like using fake documentation to get into a secured site. "
"By David S. Broder and Amy Goldstein
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, November 20, 2003; Page A01
AARP's decision this week to endorse Medicare prescription drug legislation, a step that caught Democrats by surprise, was the product of years of cultivation by the Bush administration and top Republicans on Capitol Hill.
The dialogue that led to AARP's seal of approval for the $400 billion measure, providing the first prescription drug benefit to seniors while opening the Medicare system to private insurance competition, included intense discussions in recent weeks with House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (Ill.) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (Tenn.) and a private conversation between President Bush and AARP President James Parkel. "
"Indeed, a recent survey of 7,500 Europeans, conducted on behalf of the European Commission, ranked Bush No. 2, along with Kim Jong Il of North Korea, as a threat to world peace. (Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel ranked No. 1.)"
The 70,000 grocery workers on strike in Southern California are the front line in a battle to prevent middle-class service jobs from turning into poverty-level ones. The supermarkets say they are forced to lower their labor costs to compete with Wal-Mart, a nonunion, low-wage employer aggressively moving into the grocery business. Everyone should be concerned about this fight. It is, at bottom, about the ability of retail workers to earn wages that keep their families out of poverty.
Grocery stores in Southern California are bracing for the arrival, in February, of the first of 40 Wal-Mart grocery supercenters. Wal-Mart's prices are about 14 percent lower than other groceries' because the company is aggressive about squeezing costs, including labor costs. Its workers earn a third less than unionized grocery workers, and pay for much of their health insurance. Wal-Mart uses hardball tactics to ward off unions. Since 1995, the government has issued at least 60 complaints alleging illegal anti-union activities.
Southern California's supermarket chains have reacted by demanding a two-year freeze on current workers' salaries and lower pay for newly hired workers, and they want employees to pay more for health insurance. The union counters that if the supermarkets match Wal-Mart, their workers will be pushed out of the middle class. Those workers are already only a step — or a second family income — from poverty, with wages of roughly $18,000 a year. Wal-Mart sales clerks make about $14,000 a year, below the $15,060 poverty line for a family of three.
Wal-Mart may also be driving down costs by using undocumented immigrants. Last month, federal agents raided Wal-Marts in 21 states. Wal-Mart is facing a grand jury investigation, and a civil racketeering class-action filed by cleaners who say they were underpaid when working for contractors hired by Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart insists that it was unaware of its contractors' practices. But aware or not, it may have helped to deprive legally employable janitors of jobs and adequate pay.
This Wal-Martization of the work force, to which other low-cost, low-pay stores also contribute, threatens to push many Americans into poverty. The first step in countering it is to enforce the law. The government must act more vigorously, and more quickly, when Wal-Mart uses illegal tactics to block union organizing. And Wal-Mart must be made to pay if it exploits undocumented workers.
Unions understand that the quickest way to win this war is to organize Wal-Mart workers. And Wal-Mart's competitors have to strive for Wal-Mart's efficiency without making workers bear the brunt. Consumers can also play a part. Wal-Mart likes to wrap itself in American values. It should be reminded that one of those is paying workers enough to give their families a decent life."
GOP Hails Deal on Energy Bill Republicans Upbeat; Democrats Skeptical
By Dan Morgan and Peter Behr
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, November 15, 2003; Page A01
House and Senate Republicans announced yesterday that they had reached broad agreement on the most ambitious energy legislation in more than a decade, ending weeks of wrangling among GOP lawmakers and setting the stage for congressional action next week on a top Bush administration priority. "
. . .
The bill would repeal the Public Utility Holding Company Act, long a mainstay of consumer protection in the utility industry. PUHCA, enacted in 1935, limits mergers between utility holding companies.
. . .
For the first time, the bill would offer a production tax credit of 1.85 cents per kilowatt-hour to the first few companies that build nuclear reactors featuring advanced designs. The provision would put nuclear power on the same footing in the tax code as clean, renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. "
Want a Bush quote that will really curl your hair? Look below:
Guardian Unlimited Politics | Comment | Bush and Blair - the betrayal: "The key to the road map's success was US support for the Palestinian prime minister, Abu Mazen, indispensable as a partner for peace, but regarded as a threat by both Sharon and Arafat. At the June summit on the road map, Bush told Abu Mazen: 'God told me to strike at al-Qaida and I struck them; then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did; and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act.' "
"Government Outgrows Cap Set by President
Discretionary Spending Up 12.5% in Fiscal '03
By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 12, 2003; Page A01
Confounding President Bush's pledges to rein in government growth, federal discretionary spending expanded by 12.5 percent in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, capping a two-year bulge that saw the government grow by more than 27 percent, according to preliminary spending figures from congressional budget panels. "