[Maru Mora Villalpando, founder of Latino Advocacy], accused GEO Group of exploiting detainees at the facility by paying them $1 a day for performing services that include working in the kitchen and janitorial work.'It's just ironic that the government is detaining people for working without a social security number; meanwhile, they allow this company to exploit their labor,' said Villalpando.
Coordinated actions by immigration advocates and detainees signify a new front in the battle to halt deportations after a bipartisan immigration reform bill stalled in the Republican-controlled House last July.Activists have shifted their focus from Congress to President Barack Obama, demanding that he issue an executive order to end deportations until the immigration system is overhauled for the around 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.A national campaign dubbed 'Not One More Deportation,' organized by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, is sponsoring events around the country to halt the deportations.
Sunday was a big night in Hollywood, and not just for the movie stars attending the Academy Awards ceremony. Outside the event at the Dolby Theatre, 50 security guards and supporters gathered to oppose the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences' use of non-union security guards from a company called Security Industry Specialists (SIS).
As Los Angeles Times reports, union activists believe that SIS has mistreated workers across the board. They outlined their grievances in a letter addressed to Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs:
"SIS is an irresponsible security firm that falls short of the high standards the Academy has traditionally set for the Oscars," the Service Employees International Union wrote in the letter.According to the letter, SIS has been the subject of numerous lawsuits by current and former officers "who have accused the company of engaging in wage theft, racial and gender discrimination and worker spying and intimidating."Though the academy did not change its security firm for the event, the protesting security guards said they want to draw attention to the issue.Daivon Young, a 28-year-old SIS officer from Seattle, came to L.A. specifically to help protest during the Oscars.“As security guards we just want to be equal, treated fairly just like anybody else,” he said. “Obviously the Oscars are very known—everyone’s TV is on right now. We want to put the attention on us.”
Nearly 400 people—many of them students—protesting the Keystone XL pipeline were arrested outside the White House on Sunday. The protest, which began at Georgetown before continuing to the White House, was organized by XL Dissent, a student-led organization that believes “the decision on Keystone XL will be the definitive test of President Obama’s character and integrity.” The Chicago Tribune reports:
Organizers estimated 1,000 people protested and said several hundred agreed to risk arrest by refusing to leave the sidewalk in front of the White House. Citing U.S. Park Police figures, the organizers said later that almost 400 people were arrested.
"If the Democratic Party wants to keep our vote, they better make sure President Obama rejects that pipeline," said Nick Stracco, a 23-year-old student at Tulane University in New Orleans…
Organizers said they intended to remind the White House that young people are a key voting demographic of the president's party and their peers do not want to inherit environmental damage caused by current leaders.
"Our future is on the line. The climate is on the line," said Aly Johnson-Kurts, 20, who is taking a year off from Smith College in Massachusetts. She said she had decided to get arrested on Sunday. "When do we say we've had enough?"
According to Politico, the protestors locked themselves to the White House gate using plastic zip ties, chanting phrases like “Hey, Obama, we don’t want no pipeline drama." Others held signs that read “There is no planet B” and “Columbia [University] says no to fossil fuels.”
Jackson, Miss. Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, a prominent civil rights activist and attorney with roots in the black revolutionary movement, died yesterday at the age of 66. The cause of death has not yet been determined.
Lumumba became mayor of Mississippi's capital city only last July but had already accomplished a great deal during his tragically brief tenure—most notably implementing a sales tax to infrastructure, including sewers and roads. He was the city's third black mayor and among the nation's most prominent politicians with ties to black radicalism, having served as the Republic of New Afrika movement's vice president as a young man.
Al Jazeera reports:
Lumumba believed that dealing with infrastructure was a radical act that would secure the city’s autonomy and protect it from the kind of takeover that befell Detroit, his birth city. But his vision extended further. It encompassed cooperatives, recycling, alternative energy and other tools to create a “people’s economy” with local investment and employment.
This vision’s most ambitious expression was the Jackson-Kush plan, an agenda prepared by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, which Lumumba co-founded in the 1990s and which provided the organizing engine for his campaign. The plan promoted a sustainable economy and progressive community organizing. It had a political component as well: People’s Assemblies, a kind of decision-making town meeting, which the group held in Lumumba’s ward while he was councilor and was hoping to expand to the city.
In his eight months as mayor, Lumumba maintained his balance between radicalism and pragmatism in a manner that suggested they were a natural combination. Confident and frank, he participated in a warm “conversation about community” with former Gov. Haley Barbour in November, and he gave the state legislature an effusive welcome at the start of its 2014 session. In truth, parts of his vision—the emphasis on self-determination and local enterprise—were compatible with small-business conservative ideas, if reached through a very different journey.
State law says the City Council must hold a special mayoral election within the next two months. Council president Charles Tillman has taken the helm of mayor in the interim.
President Barack Obama announced Tuesday that the Midwest will soon be home to two new manufacturing and innovation centers. The project represents a public-private collaboration to jumpstart industry and innovation in the region by supporting centralized research and development alongside manufacturing in an effort to foster collaboration.
Obama first proposed government support for such hubs in 2013. The first hub, announced in January of this year, is based in Raleigh, NC and will work on developing next-generation computer chips. The Chicago and Detroit hubs will focus on digital manufacturing/design and developing modern composite and metals manufacturing, respectively.
The two new hubs will advance the region’s economic and technological positions, as well as bring new jobs and industry to the Midwest. According to Reuters:
Obama, who calls Chicago his home town, is seeking ways to find jobs for middle-class Americans and raise their incomes the U.S. economy continues to recover from a brutal recession. In the absence of a consensus in Congress on how to proceed, he has pledged to act on his own when he can.
Part of that push is an effort to expand manufacturing jobs, many of which were lost in preceding decades as U.S. companies searched for cheaper labor abroad.
Both of the institutes will be led by the Defense Department. They will be supported by $140 million in federal funds and another $140 million from businesses and universities.
The public-private partnership will enable the hubs to address different issues than either sector would do alone. According to the Brookings Institution: “The centers will seek to accelerate technology deployment, operate demonstration facilities and test beds, support education and training, and perform applied research on new manufacturing processes—all unlikely activities for private industry on its own.”
In protest of the controversial anti-gay bill signed by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s on Monday, Denmark, Netherlands and Norway have decided to suspend aid to the sub-Saharan African nation.
The “draconian law” contains punishments of 14 years in prison for first time offenders of “homosexual acts”. Convictions for “aggravated homosexuality” carry a sentence of life in prison. The Wall Street Journal reports:
On first conviction for so-called homosexual acts, offenders face a 14-year prison sentence. Subsequent convictions for "aggravated homosexuality," which include homosexual acts committed by an HIV-positive person, could bring a penalty of life in prison.
An official at the Norwegian embassy in Kampala said that the measure would immediately affect at least $8 million in aid to Uganda's legal system. Norway extends more than $64 million to Uganda every year. The bulk of western aid has been going directly to the Ugandan government, which would then earmark it for spending in different departments—notably, health, education and the military.
The Netherlands and Denmark said they would redirect nearly $20 million of aid to Ugandan-based private aid agencies and rights groups. The U.S. and Canada, some of the Uganda's largest donors, said they had started reviewing their relationship with Kampala.
The diplomatic moves represented the first fallout of Uganda's controversial antigay bill. Although the bill is politically popular in Uganda, it could cost the government of President Yoweri Museveni. Western donors give up to $2 billion in aid to the country.
In 2011, a well-known Ugandan gay activist was killed after tabloid included his name in list of gay people. On Tuesday, another Ugandan tabloid, The Red Pepper, printed a list of Uganda’s “top 200 homosexuals,” leaving gay activists fearing similar acts of retaliation. “The newspapers are inciting the public against homosexuals and unfortunately, government cannot protect us,” Kash Jacqueline, a Ugandan gay activist, told the Wall Street Journal.
Trade unions, representing both public and private sector workers, laid down their tools on Tuesday as part of a massive nationwide strike in Croatia. Reuters called the brief two-hour strike a warning shot against the Croatian government, which plans to reform current labor rules to make it easier for employers to fire and re-hire workers at will, as well as remove protections that ensure reasonable and consistent working hours.
According to Reuters:
The unions said the strike, which began at midday, was a signal to the two-year-old Social Democrats-led government that it had to change its economic policy or step down.
It is unclear how many people joined the stoppage, but the unions earlier said they expected at least 100,000 people to down tools for two hours.
As a sign of solidarity, the public transport in the capital Zagreb halted at midday for five minutes. Local trains across the country were stopped during the strike.
The unions have threatened to step up industrial action, including calling a general strike and demanding an early election, if the government does not withdraw the proposals and focus more on growth than austerity measures.
Croatia has an unemployment rate topping 22 percent and an economy that has undulated between retraction and flat growth for years. Labor leaders put the blame not on labor rules, but failed government policies that reduce the debt gap at the expense of economic growth.
The strike comes on the heels of social unrest in neighboring Bosnia, where massive anti-government protests have broken out against unemployment and government corruption.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has unveiled the Pentagon's plans to cut enlistment in the United States Army to its smallest size since the onset of the Second World War.
Hagel's five-year budget plan, announced yesterday, would also close military bases and reduce certain benefits. Officials are calling it the first Pentagon budget to aggressively distance itself from the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The proposal comes one week before President Barack Obama submits his 2015 budget plan to Congress.
Al Jazeera reports:
Under the Hagel plan—which Congress could change—the active-duty Army would shrink to between 440,000 and 450,000 soldiers, from its current 522,000. That would make it the smallest since just before the U.S. entered World War II.
Army leaders have said for months that they expect their numbers would drop as the nation prepares to end its combat role in Afghanistan this year.
Hagel's outline won't necessarily be the death-knell for current American militaristic intervention practices, though. The proposal counters some of its downsizing by raising special operations enlistment to 70,000, thereby aligning with present trends favoring fluidity over extended foreign occupations.
Temporary workers in the United States are some of the least protected in the developed world, according to a study from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In the wake of the recession, American companies have increasingly relied on workers from temp agencies. These workers often labor for years without ever being hired on full time and are frequently assigned to dangerous jobs with little training. The OECD data shows that other developed countries provide extensive legal protection for temporary workers. Pro Publica reports:
In contrast, countries around the globe have responded to similar abuses by adopting laws to protect the growing number of temps in their workforces. These include limiting the length of temp assignments, guaranteeing equal pay for equal work and restricting companies from hiring temps for hazardous tasks.“The lack of basic protections for temporary workers in this country is shameful,” Rep. George Miller, the ranking Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee, said in a statement. “It is important that the U.S. examine some of these provisions and consider whether they can serve as models for statutes to help protect American workers.”...Almost half of the 43 countries that the OECD collects data on restrict the duration of temp assignments. In Brazil, assignments are limited to three months unless the ministry of labor grants an extension. In Japan and Italy, the limit is three years. In the Czech Republic, it’s 12 months.
In the United States, temp workers often hold such jobs without recourse for years.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed an anti-gay bill into law on Monday, provoking international criticism and condemnation. Homosexuality is already a crime in Uganda and the new law, which was passed last December, is extraordinarily repressive. According to Al Jazeera, first time offenders receive 14 years in prison and acts of “aggravated homosexuality” are punished with life in prison.
Museveni cited Western interference as a reason for the bills necessity, arguing that Western groups were attempting to push Ugandan children towards homosexuality. Al Jazeera reports:
President Yoweri Museveni signed the bill at his official residence in an event witnessed by government officials, journalists and a team of Ugandan scientists whose report — which found that there is no genetic basis for homosexuality — Museveni has cited as his reason for backing the bill.
"We Africans never seek to impose our view on others. If only they could let us alone," he said, referring to Western pressure not to sign the bill.
Museveni said he previously thought homosexuality was merely "abnormal" sexual behavior that some people were born with — the reason he once was opposed to harsh penalties against gays. Now he said he is convinced that it is a choice made by individuals who may try to influence others. Africans are "flabbergasted" by homosexual behavior, he said.
Government officials applauded after he signed the bill, which was influenced by the preachings of some conservative American evangelicals.
President Obama condemned the law and has been a strong opponent of it since its introduction in 2009, as did Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who argued "there is no scientific basis or genetic rationale for love. ... There is no scientific justification for prejudice and discrimination." Like the anti-gay law signed by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan last January, the law is popular in Uganda where, like most of sub-Saharan Africa, anti-gay sentiment is widespread.