Black, Korean and searching for the American dream

BBC World News - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 16:06
South Korean orphan Milton dreamed of making it to America, the land of his father. One day he seized his chance.
Categories: World News

Gabriels: From 'harrowing' American Idol to 2022's most talked-about band

BBC World News - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 16:04
Singer Jacob Lusk on the musical rebirth that saw him form the year's most talked-about new band.
Categories: World News

Brazil polarised as Bolsonaro seeks re-election and Lula aims for comeback

BBC World News - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 16:02
Stakes are high as the far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro could be unseated by left-wing rival Lula.
Categories: World News

Zimbabwe's treasure trove of lost radical art on display in Harare

BBC World News - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 16:00
Paintings by black Zimbabwean artists, recovered in storage in London, go in show at home after 70 years.
Categories: World News

US frees President Maduro's relatives in Venezuela prisoner swap

BBC World News - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 15:49
Two nephews of Venezuela's first lady had been serving 18-year sentences for trafficking drugs.
Categories: World News

Iran: Rallies support Iran protests at woman's custody death

BBC World News - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 15:42
Protests take place in countries outside Iran, in support of opposition to the death in custody of Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini.
Categories: World News

Hurricane Ian: They stayed for the storm - what happens now?

BBC World News - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 14:37
Florida residents are facing tough choices about whether to stay or leave in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.
Categories: World News

Jewish Ukrainian father and son soldiers mark holy days under cloud of Russia's war

NPR - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 14:05

A father and son fighting for Ukraine against the Russian invasion say the war has heightened their Jewish identity.

(Image credit: Eleanor Beardsley/NPR)

Categories: World News

Equatorial Guinea seeks to block sale of confiscated Paris mansion

BBC World News - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 14:03
The luxury mansion was seized after Equatorial Guinea's vice-president was convicted of embezzling money.
Categories: World News

American citizen held in Iran for more than six years released to seek medical treatment, UN spokesperson says

CNN World News - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 13:17
An elderly American wrongfully held in Iran for more than six years has been permitted to leave the country "to seek medical treatment abroad," according to a statement from UN Secretary General spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric.
Categories: World News

King Charles will not attend COP27, says Palace

BBC World News - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 12:45
The monarch and prime minister agreed the King would not attend after he sought government advice.
Categories: World News

Corporations Are Spending a Ton to Stop Low-Wage Workers From Unionizing

TruthOut - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 12:27

Thousands of workers across the country have been busy gathering signatures from their co-workers in the past year. Candy makers at a Hershey’s factory in Virginia. Cooks at a Chipotle restaurant in Michigan. Six employees at a Dollar General store in Connecticut.

Their goal: form a labor union to force their bosses to negotiate better pay and benefits after years of brutal working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of them are low-paid service employees trying to establish the first unions at multibillion-dollar companies.

The recent spike in labor organizing is unusual, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of data published by the National Labor Relations Board, which enforces collective bargaining laws and oversees union elections.

Workers have filed more than 2,000 requests to hold elections to form labor unions since the start of the fiscal year, which began in October. That’s a jump of more than 62% from fiscal year 2021 — the highest increase in at least a decade. These numbers don’t include unions created without formal elections, often because employers recognize them voluntarily.

The surge in requests for official elections has overwhelmed the NLRB. The agency said it’s understaffed and “handling unsustainable caseloads.”

It has also alarmed corporate executives, who are paying thousands of dollars a day to break up organizing efforts. Amazon, Dollar General, Hershey’s, Pfizer, Walgreens and Chipotle are just a few major companies that have done so since the start of the pandemic, according to Public Integrity’s review of disclosures filed with the U.S. Department of Labor.

One of their go-to firms is the Labor Relations Institute, which prides itself in guiding companies to become “union free” and educating employees “about the disadvantages of unions.”

In December and January, Dollar General paid the firm $83,488 for its services in stopping six workers at a store in Barkhamsted, Connecticut, from forming a union, according to the company’s disclosures.

Employees at the store said they wanted job security and to ensure they wouldn’t get fired without good reason.

One of them contacted Jennifer Petronella, an organizer with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 371. Petronella said LRI, as the firm is known, put on the most aggressive anti-union campaign she’s ever witnessed. Its strategy, she said, involved flying several Dollar General executives to Connecticut to shadow employees in the weeks leading up to the October vote. She wasn’t surprised to find out how much Dollar General spent to block the union.

“What’s sad is that they’d rather pay consultants thousands and thousands of dollars rather than give that to their employees,” Petronella added.

One of the employees who pushed for the election, Shellie Parsons, said the consultants and executives badmouthed unions and told employees they were being tricked.

“They followed us. It’s like you’re walking on eggshells around the store. They’re right there,” Parsons described in an interview with a More Perfect Union roughly a week before the vote. “They’re listening. You can’t talk. You can’t work. You can’t do nothing. It’s so uncomfortable.”

Days before the election, the company fired a union organizer for allegedly using profanity in front of customers, Petronella said — a move she said was illegal retaliation for his union organizing. UFCW Local 371 is still challenging his firing before the labor board. In the end, the company’s strategy may have worked. Three of the six employees voted against forming a union, just enough to block it for now.

Dollar General and the Labor Relations Institute did not respond to a request for comment from Public Integrity.

The most common reason companies say they oppose labor unions is because they want to have a direct relationship with their employees. It also costs them more money. Research shows that the growth of union jobs correlates to higher wages for the lowest-paid workers. Studies also show that expanding union membership likely decreases income inequality.

In 2021, the typical paycheck for a full-time union employee was $194 higher each week than that of a full-time nonunion employee, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While public support for labor unions has skyrocketed in recent years, the share of workers who belong to one has declined for decades. Only about 1 in 10 workers in the United States are union members.

Corporate executives don’t seem to want that number to rise. Public Integrity reviewed public records to see how much U.S. corporations paid union-avoidance firms in recent years. Here is a sample of what we found:

Amazon

One of the biggest spenders in recent years is Amazon. In 2021, the company paid more than $4.2 million to four anti-union labor firms, according to disclosures filed with the Department of Labor. The filings described the payments as a “response to large scale union organizing efforts.”

Most of that money targeted organizing efforts at two Amazon warehouses: one in Bessemer, Alabama, and another at the company’s JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island, New York.

One firm, Lev Labor, charged $400 per hour for each consultant to meet with workers at the Staten Island warehouse, conduct “walkthroughs” and run employee focus groups. They also met with managers to roleplay conversations about the union.

That strategy may not have worked. In April, a majority of employees there voted in favor of joining the Amazon Labor Union — the first federally recognized union victory at the company’s U.S. facilities. Amazon is challenging the election results before the NLRB.

The union’s win in April follows heated elections at a separate Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. Workers in favor of unionizing narrowly lost an election there in 2021. The results of a revote in March, which was ordered by the labor board, is still too close to call.

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment from Public Integrity. Neither did Lev Labor.

Amazon has not yet reported its union-related spending in 2022.

The Hershey’s Company

During the winter, The Hershey’s Company hired six union-avoidance firms to block organizing efforts at its chocolate factory in Stuarts Draft, Virginia.

Employees in favor of unionizing there cited overtime pay cuts, fewer breaks and wage gaps as the main reasons for organizing with the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco and Grain Millers International Union. More than 1,000 people work at the company’s second-largest factory, which produces iconic candies such as Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Almond Joy candy bars. Only two of Hershey’s seven factories are unionized.

“We are delighted and honored for the opportunity to educate your employees about the myths and realities of union representation,” wrote Phillip Wilson, president of the Labor Relations Institute, in a January letter to a company executive. The letter was recently submitted by the labor firm to the Department of Labor.

One month later, in March, a majority of workers at the plant voted against unionizing. It’s unclear how much money Hershey’s paid the six labor firms to help make that happen. The company hasn’t submitted its spending report for the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

Hershey’s did not respond to a request for comment from Public Integrity. Neither did Phillip Wilson of the Labor Relations Institute.

Chipotle Mexican Grill

Chipotle hired three different firms to intervene in union organizing efforts at some of its restaurants over the summer. At least one of the firms, P.A.S. Labor, was paid to talk to workers at a restaurant in Lansing, Michigan, according to its disclosures.

The firm’s anti-union campaign did not pay off. In August, most employees at the restaurant voted in favor of joining Teamsters Local 243 to represent 21 employees — the chain’s first location to unionize.

Employees said they want higher wages and better schedules.

A month earlier, Chipotle permanently closed a restaurant in Augusta, Maine. Workers there had just filed a request for a union election. The company said it was unable to “adequately staff” that location, though union organizers claimed the chain was trying to silence workers.

Chipotle did not respond to a request for comment from Public Integrity. Neither did the president of P.A.S. Labor.

It’s unclear how much Chipotle paid the three union-avoidance firms it hired over the summer, as it hasn’t submitted its spending report for the current fiscal year.

Williams-Sonoma

Last year, the luxury goods retailer paid $47,250 to the Labor Relations Institute to “train members of management on how to comply with the National Labor Relations Act and/or to educate employees regarding their [collective bargaining] rights.”

The company’s disclosures did not give details about where employees were organizing, but one consultant mentioned that his work involved the “pre-petition” phase, meaning that employees had not yet requested an official election. According to NLRB records, they still haven’t.

Warehouse employees for Williams-Sonoma have tried to unionize at least twice before in 2016, but the company challenged both election requests. One was dismissed by the board and employees withdrew the other.

Williams-Sonoma did not respond to questions from Public Integrity.

(Editor’s note: The author of this article is a member of the Washington-Baltimore News Guild, which is affiliated with the Communications Workers of America, a member union of the AFL-CIO.)

This article first appeared on Center for Public Integrity and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Categories: World News

California Gov. Newsom Proposes Windfall Profits Tax on Big Oil

TruthOut - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 12:24

California Gov. Gavin Newsom called Friday for a windfall profits tax on oil companies that would go directly back to California residents.

While crude oil prices are down nationally, big oil companies have increased gas prices in California by a record 84 cents per gallon in just the last 10 days.

“Crude oil prices are down but oil and gas companies have jacked up prices at the pump in California. This doesn’t add up,” said Newsom. “I’m calling for a windfall tax to ensure excess oil profits go back to help millions of Californians who are getting ripped off.”

YES! California, the 5th largest economy in the world, is calling for a Big Oil windfall profits tax. This is a clear signal to Biden and Democrats to make this a national priority. Let’s get this done. https://t.co/j6HrN9RdB7

— Jamie Henn (@jamieclimate) September 30, 2022

California lawmakers are not due back in session until January 2023, which would be the earliest Californians could see any movement on this.

Governor @GavinNewsom is right: greedy oil companies are fleecing Californians. While families struggle to pay at the pump, Big Oil is reaping record profits. My bill to hold these corporations accountable passed the House, but the Senate won't act. I'm proud California will. https://t.co/nPV0ZtJJ7c

— Katie Porter (@katieporteroc) September 30, 2022

Calls for windfall profits taxes have increased globally in recent weeks.

On Friday, the European Union agreed to impose a new windfall profits tax on fossil fuel companies reaping massive profits from the high price of oil and natural gas.

And on September 20th, in his opening remarks to the UN General Assembly, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on “all developed economies” to tax fossil fuel companies to help those suffering from the climate and cost-of-living crises.

Guterres’ windfall tax proposal would direct those funds: “to countries suffering loss and damage caused by the climate crisis; and to people struggling with rising food and energy prices.”

Guterres accused oil and gas giants of “feasting on a whole bunch of billions of {dollars} in subsidies and windfall profits whereas family budgets shrink and our planet burns.”

Also last week, a report authored by world-renowned economists and advocates called on governments to enact windfall profit taxes and other “emergency” measures to avert a global recession.

The United Kingdom, meanwhile, approved a 25% windfall tax on oil and gas firms in May — but new right-wing Prime Minister Liz Truss has made clear she opposes windfall taxes and won’t support any new ones.

UK isolated as EU agrees €140 billion windfall tax on energy firms to reduce bills & ease the cost of living crisis

Meanwhile Liz Truss is letting UK energy companies make staggering profits to reward bosses & shareholders at the expense of consumers! https://t.co/f36GOm9Gkp

— Peter Tatchell (@PeterTatchell) October 1, 2022

Categories: World News

Russia withdraws its troops from a key city encircled by Ukrainian forces

NPR - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 11:13
Artillery craters are seen in the field from an aerial view in the recently liberated area of Kharkiv region, Ukraine, on Friday.

Russia pulled troops out Saturday from the eastern Ukrainian city of Lyman, which it had been using as a front-line hub. It was the latest victory for the Ukrainian counteroffensive.

(Image credit: Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

Categories: World News

Amid global turmoil, here's what superyacht buyers are doing

CNN World News - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 11:00
The world is in turmoil. The specter of global conflict lurks on the horizon. Energy prices are putting the squeeze on millions. Covid lingers. But in Monaco, at the yachting world's most glamorous event, it's business as usual.
Categories: World News

Gunfire erupts in Burkina Faso a day after the second coup in nine months

NPR - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 10:49
In this image from video broadcast by RTB state television, coup spokesman Capt. Kiswendsida Farouk Azaria Sorgho reads a statement in a studio in Ougadougou, Burkina Faso, on Friday evening.

Gunshots rang out in Burkina Faso's capital amid signs of lingering tensions a day after a group of military officers overthrew the man who had seized power in a coup in January.

(Image credit: RTB via AP)

Categories: World News

Abled-Bodied Leftists Cannot Abandon Disabled Solidarity to “Move On” From COVID

TruthOut - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 10:31

I have this book coming out. It’s about the disabled future, about how most of the world will be disabled soon, and how disabled people kept each other and other people alive during COVID. I have tour dates. They’re all online. Because COVID. Because COVID is still here. Because every week, 90 percent of the country is in high or substantial uncontrolled community transmission — the whole country is blood red on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) map. Because 400-500 people a day are still dying of COVID in the U.S., and long COVID is the third-most common neurological disorder. For all of these reasons, having in-person events would feel like inviting my disabled fan base to a slaughterhouse. I have every booster that exists, and I’m still immunocompromised and not hopping on 19 planes in a row.

Yet every time I post, people — radical people, “movement” people — say, “Oh see you in L.A./Atlanta/Chicago!” And I have to say, “All events are virtual. Remember that? Virtual events? The accessible kind, with CART (real time captioning, making events accessible to people with a variety of disabilities and neurodivergence) and American Sign Language (ASL)? How did you forget so quickly?”

I’ve started calling the time we live in “The Great Forgetting.” Some call it “The Great Gaslighting.” Both are true.

By these terms, I mean the immense, on-purpose effort by the state to throw down the memory hole the fact that the last two years of the pandemic happened. The CDC switching its easiest-to-find map from the accurate community transmission map to one that shows the whole country in (fake) happy low-risk green. Biden saying offhandedly that “the pandemic is over” even as thousands of people die every week and groups like Long COVID Justice and #MEAction organize — from bed and in die ins in front of the White House — demanding that the U.S. declare long COVID a public health emergency. The state is acting like a bad boyfriend, a gaslighting partner telling you that nothing you remember is real. That’s not new, but the intensity level has reached a new high.

It shouldn’t surprise me. Of course, the state hates disabled people, even now that there are so many more of us. Of course, federal, state and local governments for the most part don’t want to pay for guaranteed income or disability payments or paid care work or accommodations. They want us to die slowly so they can save money.

The powers that be also badly want us to forget that there was a moment — a long, two-year moment — when people felt that everything could be different, that revolutionary change was possible. Many disabled people noted that the pandemic made for a “cripping of the world” — where for perhaps the first time in a while, the world, gripped by a global pandemic, dwelled in disabled reality. Remember how, for a minute, so many forms of access disabled people had long fought for were here because abled people needed them? Remember virtual work, pandemic pay for frontline workers, online school, online events with captioning and ASL, teaching people how to freaking wash their hands and stay home when they were sick, the ability to reschedule an appointment or a plane ticket when you got sick and not get yelled at or charged a fee, and immunocompromised shopping hours? These waves of access, mixed with mass resistance in the streets and at home against anti-Black, white supremacist violence, made for a powerful-ass two years. If that kind of mass access, resistance and mutual aid could happen, revolutionary change could happen too. The state wants us to forget that.

The thing is, though, it’s not just the state. It’s been wild watching people who are ostensibly leftist say, We’re following the CDC guidelines, and drop masking, rapid testing and other safety requirements. Two years or more of rioting in the streets and suddenly, we’re doing what the government says we should do? One minute, we were masking; the next minute, you do you. One minute some abled people are experimenting with “WE keep US safe,” the next minute, every club in 2022 was like, “Masks encouraged but not required. You do you!”

By wild, I mean painful. By painful, I mean heartbreaking. By heartbreaking, I mean every disabled person I know is in a state of grief and shock since April, when many mask mandates in airlines, public transport and public life were abruptly dropped by federal and state governments in the U.S., as everyone else abandons solidarity to “move on.” One minute, a lot of people were masking during Omicron; the next minute, everyone was back to breathing on each other on the bus — and we weren’t safe anymore. We increasingly feel pushed out of public life, as events and spaces from urgent cares to ERs to conferences say, “Oh, we’re not doing virtual anymore.” We’re talking about it, but it feels like no one else is. And many of us feel incredibly alone in our grief, and in the disorientation of feeling like we’re the only ones stubbornly remembering.

Maybe I was naive. I thought many people, while hating the pandemic, liked some of the access features it brought it. I still think that. I also think that most people at heart must care about others and want us all to stay alive. But internalized ableism is real. A lot of people have had a brush with what it’s like to live a disabled life these last two years, and a lot of them want to forget it as quickly as possible. They’d rather expose themselves to all kinds of harm than continue to be disabled like us — mask, discuss risk, stay home, pass public policies for the safety of all. Unfortunately, this puts us all, but especially us, at risk. So many abled people — including abled members of the left; including abled queer, trans, Black, Indigenous and/or People of Color on the left — want to forget disability.

Sometimes forgetting is the only way people can find to survive. In the face of few to no mass public rituals or acknowledgment for the millions of people who died from COVID, combined with almost zero collective survival public health strategies, I understand that denial is many people’s only accessible survival strategy. What we face is completely overwhelming and brain-bending.

I wish I could pretend everything was fine, too, sometimes. But I lost a lot of people and I can’t forget their deaths, or what we all went through — and continue to go through. And I also have somehow made it through 2.5 years of pandemic as an immunocompromised disabled person without getting COVID, and I want to keep that winning streak.

People like to say survivors of sexual violence make up false memories. But it’s far more common for people who perpetuate abuse to make up a false reality where they did nothing wrong. It’s easier that way. They don’t ever have to face it. There’s a similar logic with The Great Forgetting. If the powers that be tell us nothing happened and nothing is happening forcefully enough, they can make it true. We will always have been at war with Eastasia.

I believe many people’s denial does not just stem from ableism, but also from the huge un-composted mass of collective grief we find ourselves in. There has been no mass public mourning, no Vietnam Veterans Memorial for everyone we lost to COVID. Millions of people are dead, and we have mourned privately; some of us haven’t been able to mourn in ways we need to — funerals, ceremonies — at all. Most of us have had to go back to work and suck it up, holding all our dead in our hearts. The beat goes on. We’re supposed to go shopping.

However, in the words of June Jordan, “We always have choices. And capitulation is only one of them.” And in the words of South African freedom struggle activists, as quoted by bell hooks, “Our struggle is a struggle of memory against forgetting.”

We, as disabled revolutionaries, are disabled memory keepers. And our refusal to forget, both our dead and the work of our survival, is part of our revolutionary work. We live in a world that always wants us dead, and wants to erase that we existed after they kill us. As disabled revolutionaries — particularly disabled, sick, Deaf, neurodivergent BIPOC — our refusal to forget our dead, our losses and our survival is an act of resistance.

And I know we will keep remembering — through speaking out stories, shouting out our dead, archiving our work, making accessible gatherings and protests and homes and communities no matter what.

But I also call on the abled left to not abandon us. We need each other to stay alive. You may be us, or may become us quite quickly. We are you. We are all each other’s beloved community. Disabled Korean organizer and writer Mia Mingus recently wrote, “Why doesn’t ‘We keep us safe’ apply to COVID and monkeypox?” It does. The last two and a half years — and our lives before and after this moment — prove to us that we are all we have to keep each other alive, cared for, loved and home.

I call on the not-primarily disabled Left to make good, lifegiving, disabled wisdom choices, to continue to insist on access that the past two years proved possible. You have the power to insist on masking, community safety strategies for COVID and virtually accessible events, and to invest in community care. There must be support for disabled activists continuing to do lifesaving disabled activism, mutual aid and survival work who are exhausted and need and deserve support.

Some troll on my Twitter the other day said, “No one’s gaslighting you- you can mask all you want.”

Many people are gaslighting all of us. And I want so much more than to be told, “Oh, if you don’t feel safe/ it’s not accessible, just stay home!” I want to live in the full world, like every disabled person. I want to be able to leave my apartment without fearing death, go to a party, have casual sex. I want to live in the world, not my safe immuno-bubble, for the rest of my life.

More than that, I want to finish what we started. I want us not to abandon the revolutionary dream some of us touched and made in 2020-2021 — of a world where community care, mutual aid for collective survival and a refusal to obey are not just possible, they make up the bones of the new world.

Many, many disabled people feel what a coalition of Chicago disability justice organizers wrote in their “Letter to the Chicago Party Scene” in April 2022:

We don’t want to return to normal. We want to dream and imagine a less ableist future where we listen to each other and take care of each other. We want to build spaces that work for everyone, and we want this for ourselves and for our future generations of queers…. We want to move slower and with intention. More people are becoming disabled every day, and we need Disability Justice dreams to hold us and guide us.

Join us. We can still make that other world that is possible, but only if we all do the work. Let’s not abandon the dream. Let’s make it happen.

Categories: World News

The Ice Bucket Challenge wasn't just for social media. It helped fund a new ALS drug

NPR - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 09:39
Participants tip buckets of ice water over their heads as they take part in the World Record Ice Bucket Challenge at Etihad Stadium on Aug. 22, 2014, in Melbourne, Australia.

In 2014, it was hard to miss the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that set out to raise money to fund research for the disease. And it paid off. A new treatment was funded by $2.2 million of the funds raised.

(Image credit: Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Categories: World News

Ukraine war: Russian troops forced out of eastern town Lyman

BBC World News - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 09:02
The retreat came amid fears thousands of soldiers would be encircled in Lyman, and is seen as a significant blow.
Categories: World News

Palestinian deaths toll in Jerusalem, W Bank hits 100 this year

BBC World News - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 08:39
The deadliest tally in years comes amid a big increase in Israeli military raids.
Categories: World News

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