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79 posts from December 2005

December 29, 2005

BCCLA "Hotties and Naughties"

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We do things a little differently here in Vancouver… This particular item from CKNW is so many kinds of weird, I don't even know how to snark at it.

"The 2005 list of "hotties and naughties" for the BC Civil Liberties Association has been released and the Vancouver Police are making an appearance on both sides of the list.

The list recognizes people the association believes have helped and hindered civil liberties.

This year the Vancouver Police Department is being applauded for posting their policy manual on the V-P-D website.

But Police Chief Constable Jamie Graham made the "naughty" list for suggesting new Mayor Sam Sullivan be investigated after admitting he allowed a drug user to smoke crack in the back of his van years ago.

[…]

The list has been around for years...formerly called brickbats and bouquets."

December 27, 2005

The only poll that matters

Either obscure polling wonkery has gripped the Montana Republicans, or Sen. Conrad Burns' campaign manager is a little confused:

‘‘The only poll that truly matters is taken the first Tuesday of next November,’’ said Burns’ campaign spokesman John Brueggeman. [AP]

Hat tip to Bob.

December 25, 2005

Testing testing

Have all my posts disappeared since mid-November?

Update: Evidently not anymore. Did anyohe else notice the temporary truncation?

December 23, 2005

Holiday slowdown

I'm on vacation in Vancouver, so posting may be a little irregular over the next few days.

Happy Holidays (as we subversive, secular, progressive, Jews like to say)!

December 21, 2005

Katrina revisionism

Why did over 1000 people die in New Orleans?

It wasn't a lack of buses, or mass carnage at the Super Dome. Most of the victims died because the shoddy floodwalls collapsed.

Chris Kromm writes:

Republicans have pushed hard -- and the media and Democrats have gone along -- in making a big deal about evacuation orders: when they were made, did people listen to them, and so on.

But that's not the issue. Some people hear evacuation orders, some don't. Some are able to respond to them, some can't. It's particularly pointless when talking about Hurricane Katrina, which as late as Friday -- two days before the hurricane made landfall -- was a mild-mannered storm aiming for Apalachicola, Florida.

Most importantly, in interview after interview with families of those who died, it becomes clear that many stayed by choice (a fact that busts some myths on the left) because they thought the levees would hold. They knew about all the recent construction project on the levees -- wouldn't that make them safe?

In my trip to New Orleans a week ago, I saw first-hand why these "rebuilt" levees failed. Thanks to Washington budget cuts, they were done on the cheap -- not driving the piles deep enough, using wobbly "I" beams instead of walls with a broad base, etc.

And still, the Republicans are trying to shirk all responsibility for the consequences of their underfunded public works projects:

U.S. Rep Jeff Miller, R-Fla., giving himself over wholly to demagoguery, told Blanco that the 1,086 Louisiana residents known to have died in the storm are about half the number of American lives lost in Iraq.

"You lost that many in one day," he said. [Times Picayune]

There were failures at all levels, but Miller's accusations defy decency and logic.

Meet CIFA, Rummy's secret police

The Pentagon has a new spy agency. Or, perhaps more accurately, a preexisting DOD bureaucracy is rapidly metastasizing into a full-service espionage operation unburdened by Congressional oversight.

Morgon discusses Monday's Washington Post article about Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA):

The Pentagon's newest counterterrorism agency, charged with protecting military facilities and personnel wherever they are, is carrying out intelligence collection, analysis and operations within the United States and abroad

CIFA is a three-year-old agency whose size and budget remain secret. It has grown from an agency that coordinated policy and oversaw the counterintelligence activities of units within the military services and Pentagon agencies to an analytic and operational organization with nine directorates and ever-widening authority. [WaPo]

Echidne is as concerned as I am about CIFA's ever-widening authority.


New York transit strike digest

In a scathing open letter, Steve Gilliard blasts the Mayor for calling the T.W.U. leadership "thuggish":

Dear Mayor Bloomberg,

The members of the TWU are not thugs, they are the people who make New York work. They, not the bond traders or your employees, who are the heart and soul of the city. When they don't work, we feel it.

But you are using racial code words to demean the working class of the city. Men and women who work day and night, rain and snow and 100 degree heat. To demean them, to question their sincerity is offensive.

Maybe such language makes you feel like a big man, but to most New Yorkers, you might as well as called then ungrateful niggers.

Why?

Because the TWU is made of people who are New York's winners, people who graduated high school, served in the military and then came home to serve this city. To suggest that they are on par with the criminals who endanger their lives and the lives of riders is a grave insult. No other union has been so insulted and demeaned by the leadership of this state and city. Yet, they are to be bullied into going back to work? [...]

Steve's co-blogger Jen offers a dissenting view.

Scott Lemieux calls out the MTA's actuarial union-busting.

David Sirota explains why anti-strike legislation hurts workers by undermining the only real bargaining tool they have, not working.

Great strike post by Ian Welsh at BOP .

Matt Stoller offers a big picture perspective on Democrats and unions.

Carnival of Education

Coturnix hosts the latest edition of the Carnival of Education at Circadiana.

MTA and transit pension costs

Last night I posted about how the MTA precipitated the transit strike by springing an outrageous demand at the last minute. With only a few hours left on the clock, MTA chairman, Peter S. Kalikow demanded that new hires contribute 6% of their pre-tax income to their pension funds during their first decade of service, triple the annual contribution rate of current employees.

The net effect would have been to create a 4% net pay cut for new hires, relative to what they would have gotten if they'd been hired under the old contract.

Old hires would get 3% raise next year, but new hires would effectively suffer a 4% pay cut. Discrepancies like that undermine solidarity within unions, and the MTA knows it.

The MTA's proposed demand would only save the company $20 million over three years, by shifting the burden onto new hires. The authority claims insists this small savings in the near future will ultimately create much larger savings over the life of the contract. This too, as Carl Ericson points out, is bogus. Yes, $20 million invested over the next 3 years would grow to $100 million over the next 30 years, but that's beside the point. The issue is who should cough up the $20 million now, new subway conductors or a company with a $1 billion surplus.

Most effective abstinence-only product

Feministing points to a remarkable catalogue of abstinence-promoting products.

It's a real trove. But this item really stands out, because, unlike the other putatively abstinence-promoting merchandise, this temporary tattoo might actually achieve its stated purpose.

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