My brother is in an Auto Insurance Commercial for 2 seconds…and they payed him over $3000 for it, God bless Unionized labor. :)

So, as some of you may know, my brother recently moved to the Los Angeles, California area.  Some of you may also know that my brother is an avid fan and player of “soccer” (football), by pressing play below you can see a local insurance ad that he and his teammates were asked to “stand in for.” (he is the dude in orange flipping the coin and the only guy form his team to actually be in the ad. (he was a very lucky man for this, as you will see.))

The crazy part is not that my bro was asked to be in a local commercial in L.A., but rather that the piece of paper he signed in compliance with California’s unionized laborforce of Actors ended up entitling him to over $3000.00 in “suprise” checks in his mailbox for his unexpected “role” as a “principle” for 2 seconds in the resulting local auto insurance company ad.  Amazing. (the ad IS slated to air over 2000 times on cable in California/WestCoast markets, but still seems like a nice chunk of change for 2 hours “work” :) to me!)

While this is clearly an example of some rather unlikely “right place at the right time” luck and seemingly outrageous pay for 2 hours of “work”  :), I also see this as just one small example of how a nationwide/trade-wide return to the American tradition of Unionized Labor membership may soon help all working Americans regain fair value for their labors and hopefully a “LIVING WAGE” for anyone willing to work 40+ hours every week.  The point I want you all to see is that what happened to my brother here would never have been possible were it not for the long history of hard work, stubborn willpower, and years of sacrifice and organizing of thousands of people for many years.  People who had the courage, the optimism and the self-respect to fight for their own financial rights in the face of overwhelming structural/legal forces that have long been fostered to boost corporate profits at the expense of worker wage/living incomes.

The “Union-made” rule/regulation by which the corporation/production company/insurance company had to play by in California in this case is what allowed for my brother, the “worker” to be paid so handsomely for his “work.”

Stephen Colbert on “psycho-pharma-parenting.”

Stephen Colbert Coins a new phrase for a recent and troubling trend in the raising of America’s youth, “psycho-pharma-parenting.”  Sad and True I think.  :(

Click here to see video. (link will open in a new window.)

Bill Moyers on the shocking shift in US politics that has seen “the delusional” move from the marginal fringe to the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress

“One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington. Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a world view despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. When ideology and theology couple, their offspring are not always bad but they are always blind. And there is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts.” Bill Moyers: Democracy in the Balance

Africans against Obama…”Sarah Palin Rocks!!!” Watch video of The Honorable James David Manning, PhD, African American Religious leader voicing his support for John McCain and Sarah Palin against “Hussein” Obama.

This man exists, press play botton, watch and be amazed:

read definition of sycophant by clicking here.

Bad News for John McCain…new VP running mate, Sarah Palin involved in corruption and abuse of power litigation after she and her husband allegedly pressured numerous subordinates to fire an Alaska State Trooper for his nasty divorce battle with the Governor’s younger sister.

Local Alaskan TV news segment concerning Alaska Governor and Republican Vice Presidential Candidate, Sarah Palin’s investigation by state authorities after allegations of abuse of power in wrongful termination lawsuit:

Also, read this local Alaskan news article (Click here) explaining why Governor Palin is under investigation,

And click here to read a good blog post explaining more details about this pending litigation, scheduled to be decided in October.

Supreme Court Barely affirms our Constitutional right to trial, soberingly narrow victory for keeping some of our Civil Liberties

Published: June 13, 2008

For years, with the help of compliant Republicans and frightened Democrats in Congress, President Bush has denied the protections of justice, democracy and plain human decency to the hundreds of men that he decided to label “unlawful enemy combatants” and throw into never-ending detention.

Twice the Supreme Court swatted back his imperial overreaching, and twice Congress helped Mr. Bush try to open a gaping loophole in the Constitution. On Thursday, the court turned back the most recent effort to subvert justice with a stirring defense of habeas corpus, the right of anyone being held by the government to challenge his confinement before a judge.

The court ruled that the detainees being held in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, have that cherished right, and that the process for them to challenge their confinement is inadequate. It was a very good day for people who value freedom and abhor Mr. Bush’s attempts to turn Guantánamo Bay into a constitutional-rights-free zone.

The right of habeas corpus is so central to the American legal system that it has its own clause in the Constitution: it cannot be suspended except “when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.”

Despite this, the Bush administration repeatedly tried to strip away habeas rights. First, it herded prisoners who were seized in Afghanistan, and in other foreign countries, into the United States Navy base at Guantánamo Bay and claimed that since the base is on foreign territory, the detainees’ habeas cases could not be heard in the federal courts. In 2004, the court rejected that argument, ruling that Guantánamo, which is under American control, is effectively part of the United States.

In 2006, the court handed the administration another defeat, ruling that it had relied improperly on the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 to hold the detainees on Guantánamo without giving them habeas rights. Since then, Congress passed another law, the Military Commissions Act of 2006 that tried — and failed horribly — to fix the problems with the Detainee Treatment Act.

Now, by a 5-to-4 vote, the court has affirmed the detainees’ habeas rights. The majority, in an opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy, ruled that the Military Commissions Act violates the Suspension Clause, by eliminating habeas corpus although the requirements of the Constitution — invasion or rebellion — do not exist.

The court ruled that the military tribunals that are hearing the detainees’ cases — the administration’s weak alternative to habeas proceedings in a federal court — are not an adequate substitute. The hearings cut back on basic due process protections, like the right to counsel and the right to present evidence of innocence.

It was disturbing that four justices dissented from this eminently reasonable decision. The lead dissent, by Chief Justice John Roberts, dismisses habeas as “most fundamentally a procedural right.” Chief Justice Roberts thinks the detainees receive such “generous” protections at their hearings that the majority should not have worried about whether they had habeas rights.

There is an enormous gulf between the substance and tone of the majority opinion, with its rich appreciation of the liberties that the founders wrote into the Constitution, and the what-is-all-the-fuss-about dissent. It is sobering to think that habeas hangs by a single vote in the Supreme Court of the United States — a reminder that the composition of the court could depend on the outcome of this year’s presidential election. The ruling is a major victory for civil liberties — but a timely reminder of how fragile they are.

Fox News Channel airs graphic reading “Obama Baby Mama…” wow.

The following is an article found today on AFP:

“Fox News calls ‘Obama Baby Mama’ graphic poor judgment

WASHINGTON (AFP) — US cable network Fox News found itself in hot water this week after referring to Barack Obama’s wife as “Obama’s Baby Mama” and asking if a gesture the Obamas exchanged was a “terrorist fist jab.”

A graphic with the words “Outraged Liberals: Stop Picking on Obama’s Baby Mama!” displayed Wednesday during a Fox interview about whether Michelle Obama has been unfairly targeted by critics sparked outrage from political commentators and set the blogosphere humming.

“Where do you even start when criticizing Fox’s slur? Do you try to explain that ‘baby mama’ is slang for the unmarried mother of a man’s child, and not his wife, or even a girlfriend?” Joan Walsh wrote on Salon.com, which spotted the graphic.

A top Fox official said use of the graphic showed poor judgment.

“A producer on the program exercised poor judgment in using this chyron during the segment,” Fox’s Senior Vice President of Programming Bill Shine told Politico.com.1

Fox, which Democrats accuse of displaying a right-wing bias in its coverage, earlier this week came under criticism for comments from one of its anchors.

ED Hill lost her show after asking on air if a gesture between Barack and Michelle Obama on the night he claimed the Democratic nomination was a “terrorist fist jab.”

“A fist bump? A pound? A terrorist fist jab? The gesture everyone seems to interpret differently,” Hill said ahead of a segment on body language on the June 6 edition of her afternoon news show “America’s Pulse.”

The knuckle tap exchanged by the Obamas just before she exited the platform where he was to claim the nomination at a packed arena in Minnesota on June 3 generated a flood of ink and air in the US media.

Commentators analyzed the second-long gesture, suggesting it was intimate, hip, African-American, never-before-seen among political power couples, or just plain lacking in decorum.

The Washington Post called it “the fist bump heard ’round the world.”

The Boston Globe wrote: “The Obamas are proposing that the fist bump … is the public-display-of-affection of change, the pucker-up of the future. And this, as much as anything Obama has espoused, is something of a mini-revolution.”

Hill appears to be the only one knocked over by the fist bump.

Her show was dropped from Fox’s afternoon lineup on June 10, but she was to remain at the network, where she is a ten-year veteran, in an as-yet unspecified capacity, US media said.”

New York Times reports U.S. government is splitting up KBR/Halliburton military contract monopoly in Iraq due to mismanagement and wasteful spending, rape, and electrocutions

Controversial Contractor’s Iraq Work Is Split Up

Published: May 24, 2008

WASHINGTON — Sometime soon, a group of American corporate executives and military leaders will quietly sit down and divide Iraq into three parts.

Their meeting will not have anything to do with Iraq’s national sovereignty, but instead will involve slicing up billions of dollars in work for the defense contractors that support the American military’s presence in the country.

For the first time since the war began, the largest single Pentagon contract in Iraq is being divided among three companies, ending the monopoly held by KBR, the Houston-based corporation that has been accused of wasteful spending and mismanagement and of exploiting its political ties to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Yet even as the Pentagon begins to pull apart the enormous KBR contract, critics warn that the new three-company deal could actually result in higher costs for American taxpayers and weak oversight by the military. In fact, under the new deal, KBR and the two other companies could actually make more than three times as much as KBR has been paid each year since the war began.

Last month the Pentagon awarded the companies pieces of a new contract to provide food, shelter and basic services for American soldiers, a 10-year, $150 billion deal that stretches far beyond the final days of the Bush administration. KBR will still get a sizable chunk of the business, but now it will have to share the work with Fluor Corporation and DynCorp International.

Army officials and executives of the three companies are planning to meet in the next few weeks to start the complex process of breaking up KBR’s sprawling operations in Iraq.

KBR, previously a subsidiary of Halliburton, once headed by Mr. Cheney, has collected more than $24 billion since the war began. It has 40,000 employees in Iraq and 28,000 more in Afghanistan and Kuwait.

But KBR has come under fire from Congress and Pentagon auditors for complaints ranging from making more than $200 million in excessive charges, including meals never served to soldiers, to delivering unsafe water to American troops to doing little to prevent sexual assaults of its female employees, often by their KBR co-workers.

Army officials acknowledge that they were under intense pressure from Capitol Hill to give KBR some competition, yet leading Democratic lawmakers and other critics say the new contract will merely paper over the fundamental problems that stem from the Pentagon’s heavy dependence on outside contractors in Iraq.

“This is just another verse in the same old song,” said Senator Byron L. Dorgan, a Democrat from North Dakota who is one of the leading Congressional critics of KBR and other major defense contractors. “It appears to me that this is a broken process.”

Critics also say they doubt that the new contract will result in significant cost savings or better services for soldiers in Iraq. The Army has built into the deal the potential for larger profits for the contractors than existed under the prior contract, and it plans to outsource much of the management and oversight of the contractors to yet another company, Serco Inc., for $59 million.

“This new contract sounds good, they are splitting it up, but there are serious flaws, including what looks like outsourcing oversight,” said Dina Rasor, an investigator and co-author of a book about contracting in Iraq. “And the size of the contract is enormous. When you think of these big, multibillion-dollar defense contracts and contractors, you think of companies like Lockheed, and you can see their big airplane plants. But what is KBR doing for all this money? They are slinging hash, washing laundry.”

Army officials said that they would not be able to actually shift work from KBR to the other companies until late this year, meaning that the change would be under way just as Americans are choosing a new president. The Army officials said the huge new multiyear contract for Iraq would not commit any new presidential administration to paying billions of dollars to defense contractors for services in Iraq if the new president decided to withdraw American troops.

It is not clear how the Pentagon will try to untangle KBR’s operations in Iraq to share them with DynCorp and Fluor. Lee Thompson, the executive director of the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, as the program is called, said the Army would first try to split work in Kuwait among the three companies, and would then move on to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Even if the United States remains in Iraq long term, the contract could ultimately cost much less than $150 billion over 10 years, Mr. Thompson said. But after being caught off guard by the scale of the spending at the start of the war, the Army is building in a cushion this time, he said.

Army officials have been working for two years to undo KBR’s monopoly on business in Iraq.

U.S., Halliburton’s KBR subsidiary cover up KBR employee gang rape of U.S. civilian in Iraq

Halliburton/KBR employee, Jamie Leigh Jones, now 22, was kept in a “storage container” under armed gaurd by the company’s other employees in Iraq and repeatedly gang raped. U.S. army doctors reported that there was clear evidence of both vaginal and anal trauma due to rape and a rape kit was administered to collect DNA from the perpetrators, however the kit was subsequently lost after army officials handed the kit over to Halliburton/KBR security personnel.

Nice.

So, now, The two sickest, saddest things I have read about in the past two days are both tragic events that could have and should have been prevented by Halliburton subsidiary and primary Iraq War military contractor, Kellogg, Brown, and Root (KBR) (both occurred in Iraq last year.), A company that is immune to prosecution for either of these acts under special laws enacted to protect from prosecution, any U.S. military contractors working in Iraq .

nice.

US soldiers repeatedly die of electrocution in improperly grounded U.S. army base showers from 2004 to 2008

Ryan Maseth, 24-year-old Green Beret, died of electrocution in army base shower on Jan. 2, 2008Ryan Maseth, a 24-year-old Green Beret, died in his shower January 2.

This is the saddest thing I have read in a very long time. It is the story of a woman who had three sons serving in Iraq, one of which was accidentally electrocuted in his army base shower due to “improper grounding.” And he is not the first to have died in this manner on our bases in Iraq. It makes me sick for our brave young men and women to know that this was allowed to happen for the past several years. Our soldiers are true heroes, they deserve better. :(

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