Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Workers Of The World Do Something

Russian workers have expressed their opinion, they don't accept 60 hours/week without overtime. From RIANOVOSTI:

Russians are ready to work longer than the current 40-hour week, but want to get more than their basic wage for this additional labor. This is why they have rejected billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov’s idea. He suggested formalizing a 60-hour working week without paid overtime.

According to a recent survey conducted by the national pollster VTsIOM, 77% of respondents are not ready to work more than 40 hours a week for their basic salary. This is understandable, as nearly half of Russians currently get additional pay for working overtime.

Similarly, 61% of respondents blackballed Prokhorov’s proposal that educational leave should only be granted to working students who were sent to a college or university by their employer. There are few such students in Russia. Most students who take on a job to pay for their education or housing will be unable to combine their studies with employment if this law is approved.

Half of Russians are against giving the employer too much freedom: 51% of the respondents do not think employers should have the right to change the working hours, payment and other conditions of a labor contract because of a crisis or falling demand.

At the same time, the respondents support Prokhorov’s idea that labor contracts be concluded with pensioners and inexperienced young people, provided the contract is signed for a minimum of 12 months. They also think employers should be allowed to extend fixed-term contracts as many times as they need (provided the employee agrees of course), and agree that probationary periods be cancelled for people the employer sends on further education courses."

"Last year, Prokhorov suggested amending the labor code to increase the working week by 20 hours to 60 hours and to give employers more freedom to manage their labor force. He said social guarantees and motivation should be tied to labor productivity, which is low in Russia compared to developed states."

Mikhail Prokhorov is the owner of the New Jersey Nets and is the 39th richest guy in the world and hopes to start what is essentially the Oligarchs Party in Russia. Makes Putin look rather progressive.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day 2011 USA/David Crosby - What Are Their Names

We have way too many holidays meant to reinforce blind patriotism and social conformity. It is worth remembering that Memorial Day was started to commemorate the greatest existential conflict in American history, the Civil War, where America almost destroyed itself. This is a time for real reflection rather than an excuse for obese, vacuous, Americans to ride motorcycles.

Corporate Controlled Nukes

The Herald of Scotland reports that the management of the British nuclear weapons base at Coulport is being privatized and will be run by a corporate consortium headed by Lockheed-Martin:

"THE running of Britain’s nuclear bomb base at Coulport on the Clyde is to be handed over to a consortium of multinational private firms led by the controversial US arms dealer, Lockheed Martin, the Sunday Herald can reveal.

Defence ministers in Westminster have decided that the highly sensitive job of managing more than 200 Trident nuclear warheads, and arming the Royal Navy’s submarines with them, should be taken over by the group of companies within the next year.....

"Angus Robertson, the SNP’s defence spokesman and the party’s leader in Westminster, attacked the decision as “highly questionable” last night.

“Weapons of mass destruction are the most sensitive areas of military technology and should not be put in private hands,” he said.

“The SNP opposition to the nuclear fleet is absolute, but as long as Trident and nuclear missiles remain on the Clyde, their security must be absolute and UK ministers should reconsider their decision to give responsibility to companies outwith the country.”

"COULPORT’S Royal Naval Armaments Depot is meant to be one of the most secure places in Britain. Sprawled across the slopes above Loch Long, surrounded by cold war-era watchtowers and fences, are buildings and bunkers in which Britain’s nuclear bombs and missiles are kept.

The fact that private companies were bidding to take over running the site caused a furore when it was first disclosed by the Sunday Herald last October. At the time, the MoD said that Coulport’s management was under review, but insisted that no decisions had been taken. Now, however, arrangements for transferring management to ABL have begun.

According to the leaked MoD plan, ABL will be responsible for “processing, handling, and storage” of Trident warheads and missiles, along with “dockside handling”, “explosive handling”, “radiological safety” and “nuclear emergency response”.

This if anything shows that there is no limit to the monetization and corporatization of the most sensitive and potentially catastrophic of human activities. Obviously Fukushima and the Gulf Oil catastrophe, both corporate ventures within the past year alone, have changed nothing in the relentless pursuit of profits over common sense.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Messer Chups - Tremolo From The Crypt (HD)

A little Russian surf music: 31.07.2009 — Санкт-Петербург, клуб А2.

The Koch Brothers and The Tar Sands

Here we have the diabolical combination of America's premier oligarchic kleptocrats, the Koch brothers, and Canada's world class eco disaster, the tar sands of Alberta. If you really want to understand how demented the whole tar sands thing is read "Stupid To The Last Drop". Here's more:

"Stupid to the Last Drop by William Marsden is without question the definitive guide to Canada’s oil sands and what Marsden describes as ‘environmental armageddon’. In fact, the full title to his beautifully researched, and absolutely riveting book is: Stupid to the Last Drop: How Alberta is Bringing Environmental Armageddon to Canada (And Doesn’t Seem To Care). Marsden, an award-winning journalist with the Montreal Gazette, has provided a detailed account of the oil industry in Alberta and how that industry is now threatening to destroy the entire province.

The oil sands in Alberta, Canada, occupy about 148,000 square kilometres – roughly the size of Florida. Marsden describes it as "…the oil capital of the world –the new Saudi Arabia". Stupid to the Last Drop painstakingly documents the levelling of the Boreal forest to access the oil sands, the creation of tens of thousands of gas wells, the water waste, poisoned rivers, impact on communities, politician corruption and companies that will stop at nothing to squeeze every last resource out of Alberta."

This is the on land equivalent of the Gulf Oil Spill that never stops.

Friday, May 20, 2011

This is What Fascism Looks Like

Wisconsin republicans dispense with the appearance of any interest in Democracy. Hopefully this will be tied up in court for the foreseeable future, if not, where do they think suppressed voters are supposed to go? Assholes.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

John Nichols At Wisconsin Democracy Campaign

John Nichols is a Wisconsin resource. He has a grasp of history of the state which is unmatched. A place that has produced a demagogue like McCarthy and socialist mayors of Milwaukee has a history which at the least can be described as colorful. Perhaps he should run for something, there do seem to be a few oppurtunities.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Madison WI: The Fight Is Not Over

Myself and Mrs. WINston SmITh attended a rousing labor rally at the now very familiar steps of the state Capitol this afternoon. I am happy to report that the battle against the corporatization and commodization of every aspect of human existence is alive and well in Wisconsin. While ostensibly sponsored by AFSCME there was a very diverse range of people and interests represented including but not limited to students, undocumented people, retirees, farmers, and labor unions in both the private and public sectors. This is in part due in no small measure to the fact that the Fitzwalker regime has managed to offend almost anyone in the state who is not a millionaire or corporation with its budget bill. While the crowd, which I would estimate in the 25,000 to 30,000 range, was in good humor the stakes in this struggle are high for everyone affected and even more so as the radical right in our state makes an effort to disenfranchise as many as possible through voter suppression. Increasingly what passes for MSM has tried to portray these gatherings as wild and out of control I am hard pressed to find much extremism amongst people who for the most part look like folks you'd run into at the grocery store. The real extremists unfortunately meet in small rooms inside the the Capitol and at the Governor's residence.

Friday, May 13, 2011

MSNB's Dylan Ratigan Talks To Mark Ames & Yasha Levine About The Koch Bros.

A fascinating interview that connects the dots on many levels. I found the Russian references particularly interesting in regards to manufactured movements and democracy (or as the Russians would say, dermocracy).

Saturday, May 07, 2011

U.S. Energy Information Agency to Quit Analyzing Energy Data

As economically distressed Americans take a bit of a breather from speculator driven gas prices (until the next round) the Oil and Gas Journal reports that the government agency responsible for keeping track of oil and gas reserves among other things is having its activities curtailed due to budget cutbacks:

"WASHINGTON, DC, May 2 -- The US Energy Information Administration will not prepare or publish US oil and gas reserves data for 2011 as it cuts $15.2 million, or 14%, from its budget, the US Department of Energy information and analysis agency said on Apr. 29. The reductions are part of Congress’s latest continuing resolution that was signed into law by US President Barack Obama on Apr. 15. The resolution keeps the federal government running through Sept. 30. ...

I found this little snippet particularly telling and unsettling:

"In addition to not preparing the annual oil and gas reserves data survey, the agency said it will be necessary to curtail efforts to understand linkages between physical energy markets and financial trading; suspend analysis and reporting on the market impacts of planned refinery outages; suspend collection and dissemination of monthly state-level data on wholesale petroleum product prices including gasoline, diesel, heating oil, propane, residual fuel oil, and kerosine; and halt preparation and publication of the annual petroleum marketing data report and the fuel oil and kerosene sales report. "

This is breathtaking in the depths of its shortsightedness and stupidity. Not to mention akin to aiding and abetting quasi criminal activity. It is hard to imagine clearer evidence of a society and system incapable of understanding its own problems let alone dealing with them.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

The Canadian Elections

Americans may be surprised to learn that there is a national election in Canada tomorrow pitting Stephen Harper the current conservative Prime Minister against a variety of contenders including Michael Ignatieff of the Liberals and Jack Layton of the New Democratic Party.Harper was widely thought to have the advantage but surprisingly the NDP has been coming up in the polls which could make things very interesting. I was intrigued by this passage from the party platform which would seem to suggest exporting all to insatiable Americans might not be a priority.

"Recognizing that oil and gas will continue to play a prominent role in our energy mix in the medium term, we will discourage bulk exports of our unprocessed resources and encourage value-added, responsible upgrading, refining and petrochemical manufacturing here in Canada to maximize the economic benefits and jobs for Canadians."

Wow Canada with an energy policy.