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Nuclear improv, Braceros strike, our hostage crisis, choking on smoke

Thursday, August 10, 2017




► From AP — North Korea announces plan to fire missiles toward Guam — North Korea has announced a detailed plan to launch a salvo of ballistic missiles toward the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, a major military hub and home to U.S. bombers. If carried out, it would be the North’s most provocative missile launch to date.

► From TPM — North Korea says ‘only absolute force’ can work on ‘bereft of reason’ Trump

► In today’s Washington Post — As Trump escalates tension with North Korea, U.S. allies see disturbing discord — Members of the Trump administration rushed to tell a suddenly jittery world that they stood behind the president’s sentiments on North Korea, if not his fiery language. But U.S. allies, a number of Trump aides and some lawmakers saw dissonance and lack of coordination.

► In today’s NY Times — Trump’s threat to North Korea was improvised — President Trump’s aides knew he planned to deliver a tough message to North Korea on Tuesday, but they did not expect a threat that rivaled the apocalyptic taunts often used by his target, Kim Jong-un.

► From Reuters — Experts: U.S. lacks necessary channels to resolve North Korea crisis

► From Bloomberg — Two top aides for U.S. Ambassador to UN Haley resign

► In today’s NY Times — It’s not too late on North Korea (by Susan Rice) — We have long lived with successive Kims’ belligerent and colorful rhetoric — as ambassador to the United Nations in the Obama administration, I came to expect it whenever we passed resolutions. What is unprecedented and especially dangerous this time is the reaction of President Trump… Either Trump is issuing an empty threat of nuclear war, which will further erode American credibility and deterrence, or he actually intends war next time Kim behaves provocatively. The first scenario is folly, but a United States decision to start a pre-emptive war on the Korean Peninsula, in the absence of an imminent threat, would be lunacy. We carefully studied this contingency. “Preventive war” would result in hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of casualties.

► In today’s NY Times — Fear of missiles, and words (editorial) — If prudent, disciplined leadership was ever required, it is now. Rhetorically stomping his feet, as President Trump did on Tuesday, is not just irresponsible; it is dangerous. He is no longer a businessman trying to browbeat someone into a deal. He commands the most powerful nuclear and conventional arsenal in the world, and any miscalculation could be catastrophic.




► From The American Prospect — Braceros strike after one worker dies (by David Bacon) — A farmworker’s death in the broiling fields of Washington state has prompted his fellow braceros to put their livelihoods in jeopardy by going on strike, joining a union, being discharged — and risking deportation. Honesto Silva Ibarra died in Harborview hospital in Seattle on Sunday night, August 6. Silva, a married father of three, was a guest worker — in Spanish, a “contratado” — brought to the United States under the H-2A visa program, to work in the fields. Miguel Angel Ramirez Salazar, another contratado, says Silva went to his supervisor at Sarbanand Farms last week, complaining that he was sick and couldn’t work. “They said if he didn’t keep working, he’d be fired for ‘abandoning work.’ But after a while he couldn’t work at all.” Silva finally went to the Bellingham Clinic, about an hour south of the farm where he was working, in Sumas, close to the Canadian border. By then it was too late, however. He was sent to Harborview, where he collapsed and died.

► In today’s Bellingham Herald — After one of their own sickened, farmworkers protest conditions at farm near Sumas — The case drew harsh words from the Consulate of Mexico in Seattle, whose representatives were at the farm Tuesday to check on the health of workers and to make sure their rights were being protected. “They are responsible for (the workers’) well-being,” said Roberto Dondisch, head consul of Mexico in Seattle. “It is up to the farm, and one of their workers died. This is not a small matter.” … The fired workers have been protesting the food and working conditions at the farm. Their contracts showed that $12.07 a day was deducted from their paychecks for food, but they said the portions they were served were too small or the food was undercooked. They also said some workers fainted while working in the heat, and that they sometimes worked 14-hour days. A heat warning was in effect for Western Washington last week, which also had unhealthy air quality levels due to smoke from fires in British Columbia… Fired workers also said they didn’t get their last paycheck because the farm said they’d send it to them in Mexico.

► In today’s Seattle Times — L&I investigating Sumas blueberry farm after temp worker collapses, dies — The Department of Labor and Industries has launched an investigation into Sarbanand Farms, a Sumas blueberry farm, to determine if any workplace conditions caused the death of Honesto Silva Ibarra, 28, a temporary worker who died Sunday. L&I opened two separate investigations: workplace safety with health inspection and employment standards.




► In today’s Spokesman-Review — No movement on $4 billion construction budget or water-rights law — Lawmakers aren’t likely to vote on the state’s $4 billion construction budget before September – and possibly not even then – as they continue to struggle with a workable change to Washington water law. Republicans who control the Senate have said for months that they will not allow a final vote on the capital budget until a solution is found to the court ruling.

EDITOR’S NOTE — The only “solution” Republicans deem acceptable is complete reversal of the Hirst decision. They are unwilling to consider a compromise, unwilling to accept a temporary fix. In the meantime, by taking the capital budget hostage, Senate Republicans are killing jobs and driving up construction costs for taxpayers. These destructive, scorched-earth tactics will never end until they lose their majority.

► In today’s (Aberdeen) Daily World — Senate’s failure to pass a capital budget leaves local projects hanging — A number of major projects in Grays Harbor and Pacific counties are hung up because the funding for them is part of the state capital budget — which, after a full legislative session and three special sessions, has yet to be passed. It’s been stalled over a fight in the Senate involving a fix that Republicans want to get around a state Supreme Court decision involving water rights.

► Meanwhile, next door… from CNN — Oregon is now the first state to mandate when workers get their schedules — The new law takes aim at on-call scheduling, whereby employees are tapped to work on short notice. This often causes workers’ schedules to fluctuate a great deal, and makes planning for child care and transportation more difficult. It’s a particularly common practice for workers in lower-wage industries, such as fast food and retail. One in six Oregonians receive less than 24 hours of notice before their shifts, according to a survey the University of Oregon Labor Education and Research Center published in February.




► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Norpac asks feds to stop ‘unfair’ Canadian ‘dumping’ — For years Norpac has argued that it faces unfair competition from Canadian papermakers, and now the Longview paper manufacturer wants the U.S. government to intervene to level the playing field. Norpac filed a petition asking the federal government to impose antidumping and countervailing duties against Canadian papermakers.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Changes at Delta Dental would benefit patients (editorial) — Delta’s apparent reluctance to speak to the Washington State Dental Association’s proposals shows that dentists may have correctly diagnosed a need for greater transparency by the nonprofit. Getting Delta to respond to and consider recommendations that would aid patient care, affordability and responsiveness shouldn’t be like pulling teeth.




► From The Hill — Trump officials confront new ACA reality — With the Senate’s failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act last month, the Trump administration now has pressing questions to answer about how it will manage a system that provides insurance to more than 10 million people. President Trump has threatened to cancel key ACA payments to insurers as part of an effort to make the health law “implode.” But he is yet to follow through on that threat, leaving insurers in a state of anxious uncertainty.

► From TPM — Trump admin abandons Latino outreach for ACA sign-ups — The major organizations that were part of the Latino Affordable Care Act Coalition tell TPM that HHS has made no effort to reach out to them this year as open enrollment approaches, and there is no sign the partnerships will continue.

► From The Hill — Insurers cite uncertainty in filing ACA rate hikes — Insurers’ requests for premium increases in 2018 varied widely amid uncertainty surrounding how the Trump administration will implement the ACA, a new analysis finds.

► In today’s NY Times — McConnell’s ‘excessive expectations’ comment draws Trump’s ire — Trump lashed out on Wednesday at the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ken.), who suggested this week that the president harbored “excessive expectations” about the pace of congressional progress. It supplied perhaps the most potent evidence yet that Trump, seething over the lack of major achievements in his first year, will not hesitate to train fire on allies.

► From Politico — GOP Sen. Ron Johnson suggests McCain’s brain cancer could have affected health care vote — Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), who voted in favor of the GOP plan to repeal parts of the ACA last month, suggested  that Sen. John McCain’s deciding vote against the proposal may have been related to his brain cancer.




► From Time — Immigration raids are sweeping up more people who weren’t targets — More undocumented immigrants are being swept up in immigration raids targeting their friends, neighbors and coworkers. Under the Trump Administration’s new enforcement priorities, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are instructed to detain and deport anyone who is in the country illegally, which means even so-called “non-targets” may end up in custody after a raid.

► Cause and effect… from Fortune — California crops rot as immigration crackdown creates farmworker shortage — Vegetable prices may be going up soon, as a shortage of migrant workers is resulting in lost crops in California. Farmers say they’re having trouble hiring enough people to work during harvest season, causing some crops to rot before they can be picked. Already, the situation has triggered losses of more than $13 million in two California counties alone, according to NBC News.

► From CNN — Get Ready. NAFTA talks are coming soon — After all the attention on NAFTA during Trump’s campaign, all the tough talk of tariffs and the verbal warnings from Mexico and Canada, negotiations are set to begin on August 16 in Washington, D.C. with little fanfare from the president. That may reflect a reality that Trump’s rhetoric once challenged: Trade can be boring.

► From Politico — Trump’s indecision on Afghanistan leaves generals in lurch — U.S. and Afghan military commanders battling the Taliban and the Islamic State are encountering an obstacle they never expected, sources close to them say: months of indecision by President Donald Trump on whether to commit thousands of additional American troops.

► From The Hill — Half of Republicans would back postponing 2020 election if Trump proposed it

► From The Hill — Almost half of Republicans believe Trump won popular vote

EDITOR’S NOTE — Same half.




► From the People’s World — CWA’s Shelton: “Corporate America going in for the kill” against unions — Sounding dire warnings and summoning his union members to the barricades, Communications Workers of America President Chris Shelton said “corporate America is going in for the kill” against unions and workers.

► In today’s Washington Post — The Foxconn deal Trump championed won’t make Wisconsin money for 25 years, report says — The deal President Trump called “incredible” and Gov. Scott Walker hailed as a “once-in-a-century” opportunity to bring the electronic manufacturing giant Foxconn to Wisconsin wouldn’t generate profits for the state until 2042, a new legislative analysis projects. The state’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau, a nonpartisan agency that analyzes proposed economic investments, looked at Walker’s bid last month to bring a new flat-screen-display factory to the state in exchange for a roughly $3 billion-incentives package.

► From Eater — Restaurant jobs now dominate the workforce. That’s a bad thing — This is a cause for concern for two main reasons. First, mid-level restaurants and chains like Applebee’s and Cheesecake Factory — which are responsible for 50 percent of total job growth in the foodservice sector — are struggling to attract diners, pay their employees fairly, and turn a profit. Second, compared to factory workers, restaurant staffers consistently receive lower wages, fewer benefits, are, in most cases, unable to unionize, and almost never receive parental leave.




► MUST-READ in today’s NY Times — We’re choking on smoke in Seattle (by Lindy West) — I don’t mean to imply that these British Columbia wildfires and this smoke are the direct result of human-made climate change. I have no idea. I am not a scientist. What I mean is that they have thrown formerly intangible feelings of dread into stark perspective. All week I have stared at the low, dirty sky and thought, “What if this never left? What if it got worse?” Irrespective of their cause, the fires’ impact — the claustrophobia, the tension, the suffocating, ugly air — feels like a preview (and a mild one) of what’s to come if we don’t take immediate and drastic steps to halt and mitigate climate change. Temperatures will almost certainly rise. Air quality will almost certainly decline. I do not want to live like this, and you don’t either.

ALSO at The Stand:

Are smoky skies a glimpse of our future? (by John Burbank)

WSLC delegates back clean-energy action — Delegates representing unions from across the state approved a resolution at last week’s 2017 Convention of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO affirming the support of the states’ largest union organization for “legislation, administrative rules, or an initiative that enables a just transition for workers and communities directly affected by the transition to a renewable energy economy.”

The campaign is already under way, led by the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, to build momentum for a strong, broad and inclusive movement to tackle this challenge. “Taking the Lead on Climate Change” kickoff events are being hald across the state. Get details.



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