Friday, October 29, 2010

EWS Friday Newswire

It's Gettin' Closer All The Time:

Every 34th wage earner in America in 2008 went all of 2009 without earning a single dollar, new data from the Social Security Administration show. Total wages, median wages, and average wages all declined, but at the very top, salaries grew more than fivefold.


Trade Union Voice:

Listen to an overbearing gatekeeper, Jon Faine, attempt to rubbish the genuine concerns of an Australian trades unionist, Kevin Bracken, in an attempt to stifle any debate about the many anomalies in the official 9/11 story.

Trades Hall president Kevin Bracken stands by his 9/11 conspiracy

Why Do We Put Up With It?:

Out of more than 100,000 people stopped and searched by police using controversial anti-terror powers not one single arrest was made for terrorism-related offences, new figures show.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Days of the Dead

Horror as the background music, or Muzak, of life:

A few months after that night drinking beers at Fort Hood, I was again in Killeen, Texas. A taxi driver bringing me in from the bus station told me he had planned to be career military, but things changed when he did his time in Iraq. Now his wife was a few months from getting out of the army herself, he said, and then they would leave this bleached, desiccated town, this awful swathe of beige and neon and yellow ribbons in the middle of nowhere, and do something else. Other than that, he didn’t want to talk about Iraq. We rode through the nighttime streets in a thick silence. Outside the motel he turned toward me as he made change. It was a cheap place with brash lighting that cut slantwise through the taxi window and gave one side of his brown, angular face an intense clarity. He looked at me. “I killed a family,” he said. “At a checkpoint. I killed them all.” That was it. I took the change, and he drove off.

JoAnn Wypijewski is on the road in a ’63 Valiant, sending stories to CounterPunch as she goes. She can be reached at

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Chains Invisible

Why Would Anyone Be Afraid Of Work?:

Almost three in 10 workers have played hooky from their jobs by calling in sick at least once this year, according to CareerBuilder’s annual survey of workplace absenteeism. More than a quarter of employers attribute the bogus sick days to the job stress and burnout that’s continued in a weak economy.

Of the employers who checked up on an employee, 70 percent asked the employee to come back to work with a doctor’s note, half called the “sick” employee at home, and 18 percent had someone else make the phone call.

And, in a scene reminiscent of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 15 percent of bosses said they drove by the employee’s house or apartment.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Heart Transplant

Worth A Look:

Author/attorney/child-and-anti-abuse advocate Andrew Vachss’ latest, the graphic novel (and a half) HEART TRANSPLANT, hit the stores this week. Read it!

I can’t do better in pushing you to do that, than to repeat the quote I gave the publisher:
“Heart Transplant is a necessity in a country that sometimes seems to be run by bullies at every level, from kindergarten to Capitol Hill. It fits the bill perfectly, with a simple and simply terrific story, wise and scholarly commentary that lets nobody off the hook, and the incandescent Rorschach of Frank Caruso’s illustrations. IF YOU’RE WONDERING NOT JUST WHY BULLYING HAPPENS BUT WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT, READ HEART TRANSPLANT. It ranks alongside Andrew Vachss’ Another Chance to Get It Right as a signpost on the road to a more human society.”

I keep a stash of Another Chance in my house, in case of emergencies–like people who don’t know what to do about their own histories of enduring abuse. Reading it changed an important part of my life. Heart Attack is just as important, and maybe even of more widespread importance. A big part of that is the part written by Zak Mucha, a Chicago social worker.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

EWS Political Report

Mark Ames, author of Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond...

... dissects the latest threat from the "masses" through the lens of alienation. TRT 5.36

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Celebrate Another EWS

Obviously, All His Fault:,0,6621986.story

Slater's departure made him a folk hero to put-upon workers everywhere who have fantasized about quitting in a blaze of glory. He was a topic on TV shows, on the Internet and on the front pages of newspapers, with many cheering him for standing up to the often-inhospitable world of airline travel, and others accusing him of childish and dangerously reckless behavior.

His 15 minutes of fame are not quite over: In a homage to Slater, several businesses are selling a new costume for Halloween: the disgruntled flight attendant.

Friday, October 15, 2010

What Happened?

Some Assembly Required by Gregg Shotwell, 1996

“All possible brain work should be removed from the shop floor,” said Frederick Taylor in 1903. As industrialized workers race headlong into the 21st century we seem to be gazing into a rearview mirror where our future recedes before our eyes. We’re on a fast track backward.
Look around. Take your eyes off your repetitive task, your keyboard, your instrument panel, your personal row of buttons. Set your screw driver down and look around.
Have you noticed the high-tech, high-skill jobs disappearing from your plant? Have you observed the actual manufacturing capability of your facility reduced? Piece by piece?
More and more factories have basically become screw driver plants. That is, assembly plants with very little in-house manufacturing and jobs with “no experience required”. We are not only losing jobs, we are losing skills, knowledge, expertise, and ultimately our bargaining power. The less you know, the less value you hold.
While corporations promote countless new programs touting teamwork, progress, and people friendly slogans, the old fashion Taylor System of Scientific Management continues to dominate corporate strategy and accelerate the brain drain.
A key feature of the Taylor system was the dummy down approach. Make every job as stupid as possible. Simplify and standardize procedures into mindless tasks that require minimum (but highly repetitive) motion. Reduce workers’ power by depleting skill, craft, knowledge, and expertise. Minimize individuality. Erase personal pride in the job. Liquidate all sense of ownership. Make workers generic, interchangeable, and replaceable as component parts. Merge classifications. Blur the lines of demarcation.
The current application of Taylorism further depreciates worker value, advances the de-skilling of America, and disassembles solidarity by applying the reduction principle to whole factories. Each manufacturing facility is broken down to its simplest function. Piece by piece, work is removed from the bargaining unit and out sourced to ever smaller and more specialized nonunion suppliers. Even component plants are increasingly dependent on outside suppliers. The strip down process emasculates workers. After ten years in an auto plant you have no marketable skills.
The shakedown process is lubed with sweet talk and enticements. The familiar come-on inviting us to be “partners in the business” is worth less than a pimp’s promise. Wake up. The first indication you’re about to be date raped is an appeal for cooperation.
Once the union/management team is cozily ensconced in the back seat, company con men present the villainous competitive bid, “If we want to save jobs, we have to be competitive. How can we get the cost down?” Boogie. “Now we don’t have room for all the equipment this new product requires. How can we create more space?” Cha-cha.
The union isn’t busted, it’s disrobed. One piece at a time. Slowly. It’s almost painless.
Have you noticed all the new products require more equipment, less jobs, and lots of out sourcing? (Oh yeah, teamwork too!) The union is gradually reduced by attrition. As the manufacturing process is fragmented, scattered, and decentralized, union shops become smaller and more isolated. Pattern bargaining is shattered. Breaking with tradition the national contract is ratified before local agreements are signed. The solidarity with other plants is broken. Then the isolated victims are whipsawed into cowering shadows of their old confrontational selves.
Skilled trades have not escaped the erosion of skills. The new system contracts out work that requires more knowledge, planning, and experience, such as major construction, complex repairs, and the set up of new machinery. Service reps and engineers set up the new high-tech machines. Skilled trades are left in the dark and reduced to performing simple standard maintenance procedures that require minimal knowledge, ingenuity, troubleshooting savvy, or skill.
Unions have gradually become smaller and weaker. The UAW has literally been cut in half. How is the leadership responding? With mergers. A strategy gleaned from the CEO’s they play golf with while we are at work. The merger of Auto, Steel, and Machinist unions is a massive cover up for a failure to organize. It won’t stop the out sourcing or the de-skilling of America. It won’t increase union membership. It won’t leverage our bargaining power. It will only conceal the losses a little longer.
Union leaders are busy cutting deals that protect the privileged few at the expense of new hires. The two tier wage system is now an accepted practice. The corporations will build on it. Pattern bargaining is a thing of the past. When Chrysler workers get $7000 bonuses and GM workers get $300, parity is trashed. The UAW has agreed to accept new parts plants at prevailing wage. Welcome Delphi, the whipsawing has just begun.
We need to take a tip from the CAW. Create a culture of struggle, not cooperation. Stop union shops from competing to see who can bend over the farthest. Make solidarity an action, not a slogan. Promote democracy within the union and demand accountability from the leadership. Be proactive. Take a stand for job ownership. Stop talking about the Flint sit down in ‘37 and take over a plant. Don’t roll over. Fight back.

Stay Solid, Gregg Shotwell, 1996

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Treat The Cause

Wonder of Wonders:

More troops are dying by their own hand than in combat, according to an Army report titled "Health Promotion, Risk Reduction, Suicide Prevention." Not only that, but 36 percent of the suicides were troops who were never deployed.

The unprecedented suicide rates are accompanied by an unprecedented rise in psychoactive drug rate among active duty-aged troops, 18 to 34, which is up 85 percent since 2003, according to the military health plan Tricare. Since 2001, 73,103 prescriptions for Zoloft have been dispensed, 38,199 for Prozac, 17,830 for Paxil and 12,047 for Cymbalta says Tricare 2009 data, which includes family prescriptions. All of the drugs carry a suicide warning label.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Choose Your Weapon

Maintain Mind At All Costs:

Although the effects can be temporary, gray matter destruction due to chemotherapy is often permanent. Some people become so impaired following chemotherapy that they are never able to return to work, that is if they survive the treatment at all.

According to The McGill Cancer Center in Canada, 91 percent of oncologists surveyed indicated that "all chemotherapy programs are unacceptable to them and their family members." Instead of helping to treat cancer, chemotherapy destroys the only thing that even has a chance at preventing it: the immune system.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

You Like?

Therapies All Kinds:

Nude therapy was based on the idea of the naked body as a metaphor of the "psychological soul." Uninhibited exhibition of the nude body revealed that which was most fundamental, truthful, and real. In the marathon, Bindrim interrogated this metaphor with a singular determination. Bodies were exposed and scrutinized with a science-like rigor. Particular attention was paid to revealing the most private areas of the body and mind-all with a view to freeing the self from its socially imposed constraints. "This," Bindrim asserted gesturing to a participant's genitalia and anus, "is where it's at. This is where we are so damned negatively conditioned" [...] Determined to squelch the "exaggerated sense of guilt" in the body, Bindrim devised an exercise called "crotch eyeballing" in which participants were instructed to look at each others genitals and disclose the sexual experiences they felt most guilty about while lying naked in a circle with their legs in the air [...] In this position, Bindrim insisted "you soon realize that the head end and the tail end are indispensable parts of the same person, and that one end is about as good as the other.:"

Friday, October 8, 2010

Nothing Here. Move Along.

Anything Wrong With America?:

If there has been soul-searching among the bullies in Mentor — a pleasant beachfront community that was voted one of the "100 Best Places to Live" by CNN and Money magazine this year — Sladjana's family saw too little of it at her wake in October 2008.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

That Guy's Nuts! Grab 'em

Nutrition News:,0,3656318.story

The researchers found that including walnuts and walnut oil in the diet lowered both resting blood pressure and blood pressure responses to stress in the laboratory. To "stress" the participants, researchers had them give a speech or submerge a foot in cold water. "This is the first study to show that walnuts and walnut oil reduce blood pressure during stress," said Sheila G. West, associate professor of biobehavioral health. "This is important because we can't avoid all of the stressors in our daily lives. This study shows that a dietary change could help our bodies better respond to stress."

Monday, October 4, 2010

Relieved Of Fear

First they came for the ______, but I wasn't one of them.... :

To see what is happening we probably need to return to the old journalistic maxim, follow the money. There is now an extensive police and industrial lobby in Britain dependent for its resources on maintaining a high level of public fear. The lobby thrives on its own failures. The incidents in America on 9/11 (2001) and in London on 7/7 (2005) saw the greatest ever peacetime growth in spending on security. Unlike most forms of public spending, this one could by its nature demand cash with menaces and with no account of value for money...

Hardly a month goes by without someone in authority reminding us to expect another attack imminently. I have lost count of statements from MI5, the police and other experts that an attack is a matter of "not if, but when". The attacks never occur, or are brilliantly thwarted, like the one reportedly prevented this week, apparently by dropping bombs from drones on Pakistani villages. What is noticeable is that the tempo of such threats increases immediately before Christmas and when the security lobby is involved in a fight over money, as now...

I do not believe that this apparent failure to deliver value for money is real, or that some catastrophic explosion is imminent. I think this is just another lobby seeking money. As it plays with its words, the rest of us may shrug and go about our business. But I sometimes wonder who is the real terrorist.