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Monday, June 03, 2013

Around and about...

It's about time! Forbes has published the headline we've long been waiting to see...
California To Wal-Mart: Enough! No More Taxpayer Subsidized Profits For You
We've known for a while that Walmart employees utilize state health services, food stamps, and "Section 8" housing, all because the retail giant refuses to pay a living wage. A proposed new law would rectify that situation by levying fines.
Legislation is now making its way through the California legislature—with the support of consumer groups, unions and, interestingly, physicians—that would levy a fine of up to $6,000 on employers like Wal-Mart for every full-time employee that ends up on the state’s Medi-Cal program—the California incarnation of Medicaid.

The amount of the fine is no coincidence.

A report released last week by the Democratic staff of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, estimates that the cost of Wal-Mart’s failure to adequately pay its employees could total about $5,815 per employee each and every year of employment.
I predict that the teabaggers will scream in outrage -- proving, once more, that those dolts are the bought-and-paid-for tools of big business.

I know what the tools will say: Higher wages will mean higher prices. My response: Bring it on! If Walmart workers were to receive a living wage, people who shop there would pay a whopping 46 cents extra (on average) at the register. That's not an extra 46 cents per item; I'm talking about the entire transaction. (People who go to Wally World usually fill up their baskets with lots of stuff.)

The Romney Presidency. You may have already seen this Time story on the Romney presidency-that-never-was. We know about his plans due to a document called the Romney Readiness Project, put together by his (rather premature) transition team, which went by the name R2P. Let's savor the large helping of gall to be found in this small paragraph...
The non-profit R2P, Inc., chaired by former Utah Gov. Michael Leavitt and run by former General Motors chief financial officer Christopher Liddell, benefited from free rent and other federal support, and drew heavily from the business and consulting community Romney, a former consultant and private equity executive, knew so well.
The "free rent and other federal support" bit may cause you to emit a dark chuckle at the expense of libertarian-minded Republicans. But let's also direct a loud, evil cackle in the general direction of Christopher Liddell.

The Republicans hounded Democrats endlessly about the GM bailout. We were told that providing aid to the company was a socialistic affront to free-market principles. Unbearable! Outrageous! Conservatives demanded that such a badly mismanaged company be allowed to die.

Now, just a few years later, the chief mis-manager has linked arms with those who called for his corporation's demise. Can you think of a more sublime example of hypocrisy? I can't. Not offhand.

Your emails are not private -- by law. Did you know this?
If you have any e-mails that are older than 180 days (and we all do), they’re considered “legally abandoned.” Any governmental agency can look at these e-mails simply by providing a statement saying that they are relevant to an investigation. The scariest part? There’s no judicial review or oversight required… none at all.

You might think this law was part of the Patriot Act or created after 9/11 to fight the war on Terror – it wasn’t. It’s called the The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA) and it predated the World Wide Web by almost a decade.
When the law was written -- during the age of the BBSes (remember those?) -- email went from one private computer to another, spending very little time on a server. That practice continued throughout the initial phase of the internet era. But now we live in the era of Yahoo and GMail, and our email stays on those servers -- like, forever.

Senator Patrick Leahy wants to change the law in order to bring it more in line with current technology. If you want to help, go here NOW.

Did Bradley Manning do the right thing? First, let me reiterate my belief that Manning may not have been responsible for releasing those State Department cables -- which weren't Top Secret anyways, and which did no actual damage to the U.S. (In fact, quite a few observers noted that the cables portrayed the U.S. in a surprisingly positive light.) On the other hand, Manning may well be responsible for other leaks, primarily the well-known Apache helicopter video depicting the killing of 12 civilians, including two children.

But did he do the correct thing in releasing that video?
Manning fulfilled his legal duty to report war crimes. He complied with his legal duty to obey lawful orders but also his legal duty to disobey unlawful orders.

Section 499 of the Army Field Manual states, "Every violation of the law of war is a war crime." The law of war is contained in the Geneva Conventions.

Article 85 of the First Protocol to the Geneva Conventions describes making the civilian population or individual civilians the object of attack as a grave breach. The firing on and killing of civilians shown in the "Collateral Murder" video violated this provision of Geneva.

Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions requires that the wounded be collected and cared for. Article 17 of the First Protocol states that the civilian population "shall be permitted, even on their own initiative, to collect and care for the wounded." That article also says, "No one shall be harmed . . . for such humanitarian acts." The firing on rescuers portrayed in the "Collateral Murder" video violates these provisions of Geneva.

Finally, Section 27-10 of the Army Field Manual states that "maltreatment of dead bodies" is a war crime. When the Army jeep drove over the dead body, it violated this provision.

Enshrined in the US Army Subject Schedule No. 27-1 is "the obligation to report all violations of the law of war." At his guilty plea hearing, Manning explained that he had gone to his chain of command and asked them to investigate the "Collateral Murder" video and other "war porn," but his superiors refused. "I was disturbed by the response to injured children," Manning stated. He was also bothered by the soldiers depicted in the video who "seemed to not value human life by referring to [their targets] as 'dead bastards.' "
I fail to see how releasing that video did any harm to this country. We ought to be able to see what occupation looks like. Citizens of this country deserve to see the real reasons why we are despised.

Finally, some words from a Cannonfire critic. Some days ago, I expressed a desire to see the IRS crack down on those Tea Party groups fraudulently pretending to be "social welfare" organizations. Earlier today, that post evinced this thoughtful reaction from a scholar who calls himself ProAmerica:
Ahhh.. Just another COMMUNIST you are.. You are BUSTED! The left wing was VERY selective here. The IRS is a FRAUD and thanks for firing up the Tea Party you COMMUNISTS!
Normally, I don't publish insulting comments. (See the rules posted in the upper left-hand corner.) But ProAmerica's message was very, very cute. I hope he contributes again to this humble blog.

Meanwhile, someone named Lindsey Graham has announced that he sees no evidence of a White House plot to sic the IRS on right-wingers. I do hope that our friend ProAmerica can contribute a piece explaining to our readers why this Graham personage is just another filthy COMMUNIST.

(I bet Lindsey would look faaaaaabulous in red...!)
Legislation is now making its way through the California legislature—with the support of consumer groups, unions and, interestingly, physicians—that would levy a fine of up to $6,000 on employers like Wal-Mart for every full-time employee that ends up on the state’s Medi-Cal program—the California incarnation of Medicaid.

Which means ,of course, that each and every California WalMart employee will find his or her hours cut below whatever the law specifies as "fulltime". You know they're going to do it, right?

Yet another reason to:
1) Avoid WalMart, and
2) Push for single-payer.
I got caught up in a UCMJ conflict once upon a time. It was a very unpleasant business culminating with
"Here's your orders, asshole, and I hope the gooks kill you."
Bradley Manning is a hero in every sense of the word. He saw war crimes, and he reported them in the only way possible for him. And now he's paying the price for his courage. There won't be any monuments to Bradley Manning on US military bases or in public parks in the future, but there should be.
"Just another COMMUNIST you are"

Posting on blogs these days is Master Yoda? -_^
With Walmart it's more than the low wages, it's the tax breaks and free stuff they get that puts the local retailer out of business
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