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Archive for October 13th, 2012

 

There’s trouble in paradise, the New York Times reports:

Protests against Wal-Mart expanded on Tuesday, spreading to 28 stores in 12 states, a union spokesman said.

Mr. Schlademan, director of the union-backed Making Change at Walmart campaign, added that more than 200 employees were traveling to Wal-Mart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., to stage a protest on during the company’s annual meeting with financial analysts. He warned that disgruntled Wal-Mart employees, joined by labor unions and community groups, might stage a combined protest and educational campaign the Friday after Thanksgiving, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season.

Colby Harris, who earns $8.90 an hour after three years at a Walmart in Lancaster, Tex., said, “We’re protesting because we want better working conditions and better wages and because we want them to stop retaliating against associates who exercise their right to talk about what’s going on in their stores.”

Wal-Mart officials insisted that the protests were publicity stunts rather than strikes, carried out by a tiny fraction of the nation’s 1.4 million Wal-Mart workers.

source.

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Caracas, October 11th 2012 – Recently re-elected Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, stated that his next 6 year term would mark a period of “greater advance” towards the construction of socialism as well as “greater achievements and greater efficiency in this transition from capitalism”.

The Venezuelan president made the comments on Wednesday night during a ceremony with the country’s National Electoral Council (CNE), who named him the official winner of last week’s presidential election after Chavez beat right-wing candidate Capriles Radonski by 11.11% and took over 55% of the vote last Sunday.

In his speech, Chavez argued that the project of 21st century socialism in Venezuela was something that must be constructed “in the long term,” and promised that his government would try to respond to citizen’s concerns over the next 6 years.

“We are obliged as a government and as the state to speed up the administration of efficient responses and solutions to the thousands and thousands of problems that the Venezuelan people still suffer from. We are obliged to be more efficient, precisely so we can continue every day with greater force,” he said.

The thrice-elected president also confirmed that in the next few days his government will launch “Mission Mercosur” (Common Market of the South), aimed at developing areas of Venezuela with railways and deep-water ports in order to export products to other Mercosur member nations.

“There is an extremely important project to convert La Ceiba, Trujillo state and the Lake of Maracaibo into international ports. Further, we should start at once to begin the construction of the railway line between the Orinoco and the Caribbean,” said the president, adding that “this is the power of Latin America, this is the historic project”.

Chavez also went on to announce the deepening of government social programs through the implementation of what he termed “micro-missions,” which according to the president will be implemented at a local level by organised communities and focused on those most in need.

“We are drafting up ideas, revising notes and the specific and fundamental objectives of the micro-missions, as there will be many. They will be applied in towns, regions, factories, schools and the different places where they are needed”.

The Venezuelan president argued that in order for these projects to be effective, they must be rooted in grassroots organisation. “We must keep giving power to the people, that is the solution, it’s not the power of the bureaucracy and elites that is going to solve the problems of the people,” he said.

The announcements reflect a new approach by the Chavez government aimed at guaranteeing greater effectiveness and efficiency in the delivery of social programs and other policies. The Venezuelan president also recently announced the creation of a new government ministry of social missions to the same end.

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The Battle of East Texas

WINNSBORO, Tex. — Deep within the oak and pine forests that blanket this stretch of East Texas, the chug of machinery drones on late into the day, broken only by the sounds of a band of activists who have vowed to stop it.

Here, among the woods and farmland, what might be one of the last pitched battles over the Keystone XL oil pipeline has been unfolding for weeks now, since construction of the controversial project’s southern leg began in August.

As bulldozers and diggers churn up a 50-foot-wide path for the pipeline — this portion will run from Cushing, Okla., to the Gulf Coast — a small group of environmental activists have taken to the towering trees in its way.

And with the blessing of some landowners who live here, and whose property the pipeline will cross, the protesters have fashioned a web of tree houses, structures and pulleys in a last-ditch effort to keep the enormous project from rumbling forward. […]

“In one case, protesters jumped underneath a truck and tied themselves to the rear axle with plastic,” Shawn Howard, a TransCanada spokesman, said by e-mail. “They were fortunate that the driver saw them go under — if he had not, it could have had very serious consequences for everyone.”

Mr. Howard said the company was making sure that work sites were safe, “even for those who are breaking the law and trespassing on these locations.”

Still, as protesters have staked out positions in tree platforms 70 feet high and along a 100-foot-long wall lashed together with timber, tensions in East Texas have risen along the route of the pipeline — slated for completion next year.

Off-duty police officers, hired by a TransCanada contractor, patrol the perimeter of construction sites day and night. This month, one man chained himself to a concrete capsule buried in the dirt before police managed to disconnect and arrest him, Mr. Seifert said.

And on Oct. 4, the actress Daryl Hannah was arrested alongside a local landowner, Eleanor Fairchild, 78, after they blocked heavy equipment clearing a path through Ms. Fairchild’s property.

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