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End Death Traps, more Tom-foolery, USPS fix, ‘Get Lucky’…

Friday, April 26, 2013




Sumi-Abedin-bangladesh► In today’s Seattle Times — ‘End Death Traps’ tour puts face on Bangladesh garment industry — Five months ago, Sumi Abedin jumped out of a third-floor window at the garment factory where she worked. A fire was consuming the ground floor of Tazreen Fashions outside of Dhaka, Bangladesh… Abedin is in Seattle as part of the “End Death Traps” tour, which is visiting 10 U.S. cities this month raising awareness about safety and labor concerns in Bangladesh’s garment industry. Asked after her presentation at the UW, if she would go back to a garment factory, she said: “I don’t want to. I’m really afraid that if I get a job in another factory there will be a fire again.” It was an eerie prediction. That very night, the Rana Plaza building, which housed several garment factories collapsed in an industrial suburb of Dhaka. By the next morning more than 200 were reported dead and more than 1,000 injured.

► In today’s NY Times — Western firms feel pressure as death toll rises in Bangladesh — As the death toll nears 300 and rescuers struggle to reach survivors in one of the worst manufacturing disasters in history, pointed questions were being raised about why a Bangladesh factory building was not padlocked after terrified workers notified the police, government officials and a powerful garment industry group about cracks in the walls.




wizard-of-oz-curtain► In today’s Olympian — Senate OKs 401(k)-style pension plan for state employees — A controversial plan to let future state employees opt into a 401(k) style pension plans — instead of fixed-payment pensions that most receive today — won passage Thursday in the state Senate by a narrow vote of 25-22. SB 5851 also lets existing members in state-run Plans 2 and 3 to make an irrevocable switch into the new option.

EDITOR’S NOTE — First of all, a 401(k) plan is not a pension. It is a personal savings account with a supplemental employer contribution. By all accounts 401(k)s offer very little retirement security and have failed Americans as a retirement savings vehicle. The state legislators who voted for this — Rodney Tom’s GOP+2 Coalition (plus Democrat Jim Hargrove, who is voting GOP for the ailing Sen. Mike Carrell) — are part of the race-to-the-bottom crowd that believes public employees should face the same retirement insecurity that corporations have foisted upon the rest of the American working class. You know, in the interest of “fairness.”

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Fate of transportation package lies in special session — A plan by House Democrats to hike the gas tax hike and car tab fees to fund new transportation projects is on hold until an expected special session, its chief architect said this afternoon. Judy Clibborn (D-Medina) said she has enough votes in the Democratic caucus to pass the $8.5 billion proposal in the House but there’s too little time to win over the Republican-controlled Senate before the clock runs out on regular session Sunday night.




► In today’s Seattle Times — FAA formally ends 787 grounding — The Federal Aviation Administration is formally lifting the grounding of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner fleet, effective Friday, ending the embarrassing and costly episode after 14 weeks and two days. The FAA estimates the cost to airlines of modifying each jet with two of Boeing’s beefed-up batteries, containment boxes and venting tubes at $464,678.

787-inaugural► In today’s (Everett) Herald — ANA readies fleet as Japan OKs 787 flights — All Nippon Airways is preparing to return its fleet of 787s to commercial service after Japanese aviation officials signed off Friday on Boeing’s redesigned battery system.

► In today’s NY Times — A back seat for safety at the FAA (by former NTSB chairman James Hall) — If one thing is clear after this week’s National Transportation Safety Board hearings on the certification of the 787’s lithium-ion battery, it is that the FAA and the industry it regulates share a cozy relationship that sometimes takes a front seat to safety. This relationship contributed to the grounding of the 787 Dreamliner in January and the astonishing swiftness with which the airplane was approved to return to commercial flight.




ILWU-United-Grain-lockout► In today’s Columbian — Port of Vancouver report: Transportation = Jobs — State and local business and government leaders gathered Thursday as part of the Port of Vancouver’s annual “Port Report” breakfast, attended by more than 300 people. About 50 ILWU members attempted to hand out fliers at the port’s early-morning event but were “kicked out” of the Red Lion Hotel, according to spokeswoman Jennifer Sargent. The fliers say, in part, that United Grain benefits from investments by taxpayers in public works projects while freezing out local workers. The company and the ILWU are at odds over a new labor contract as part of a larger conflict between grain-terminal operators and union dockworkers in the Pacific Northwest.

See the flier — Longshoremen to community: ‘Mitsui is hurting Northwest economy with its illegal lockout at United Grain’




► In today’s Washington Post — Conservative House Republicans to push own immigration agenda — Influential House conservatives signaled Thursday that they will pursue their own course on revising the nation’s immigration laws, a move that some lawmakers warned could derail a comprehensive overhaul that President Obama has made a top priority for his second term.

► In today’s Washington Post — No shortage? New STEM data could derail entrepreneurs’ push for immigration changes — New research on the labor market for science and technology graduates poses a threat to the lobbying efforts of business owners and entrepreneurs, many of whom want Congress to let more highly skilled workers into the United States.




USPS-prefunding► At AFL-CIO Now — Rep. Peter DeFazio offers bill to fix Postal Service flaw created by Congress — Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) filed legislation to end the requirement that the U.S. Postal Service pre-fund 75 years of retiree health care benefits. The requirement, passed by Congress in 2006, is unprecedented, as no other private or public entity has to meet such a standard. That requirement is the key factor driving Postal Service deficits and defaults and has led to proposals to end Saturday service, close rural post offices and lay off postal workers. Supporters of the bill can sign a petition at White and if enough people sign the petition, the administration will respond to the petition.

ALSO at the Stand — Congress broke the USPS, and now must fix it

► In today’s Washington Post — Senate votes to end furloughs of air traffic controllers — The Senate took the first step toward circumventing sequestration Thursday night with a bipartisan vote that would put furloughed air traffic controllers back on the job. The House is expected to take up the measure as early as Friday, and the White House has promised to consider any bill which it receives.

► In today’s Yakima H-R — Supreme Court asked to review Noel Canning labor case — The Obama administration on Thursday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a recent Court of Appeals decision that could invalidate hundreds of National Labor Relations Board rulings and limit presidential authority to fill administrative positions while the Senate is in recess.

austerity_not-working► In today’s NY Times — The 1 percent’s solution (by Paul Krugman) — While the austerity doctrine seems to have imploded, austerity has strengthened its grip on elite opinion. Why? The years since we turned to austerity have been dismal for workers but not at all bad for the wealthy, who have benefited from surging profits and stock prices even as long-term unemployment festers. The 1 percent may not actually want a weak economy, but they’re doing well enough to indulge their prejudices. And this makes one wonder how much difference the intellectual collapse of the austerian position will actually make. To the extent that we have policy of the 1 percent, by the 1 percent, for the 1 percent, won’t we just see new justifications for the same old policies?




► Here’s why we love technology and the series of tubes we call The Internets. Two weeks ago today on April 12, a one-minute preview video was screened at Coachella of a new song by the French electronic music duo Daft Punk. The next night this ad featuring the same clip of the forthcoming new single, “Get Lucky” featuring Pharrell Williams and Chic legend Nile Rodgers doing his funky-guitar Dave-Chappelle-as-Rick-James thing, appeared on SNL.


Over the next few days, fans posted dozens of extended and remixed and shredded versions of it. By last Friday, April 19, when Daft Punk’s new single was FINALLY released on iTunes, many Net hipsters were already sick of it.  But the entire staff of The Stand isn’t… yet.  (By the time the album is released May 21, we may be.)  Here’s our favorite unofficial fan video of the whole song.


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