Friday, January 29, 2016

Last Call For Minding That Gap

President Obama wants businesses to collect information on what they pay workers by race, ethnicity, and gender.  You know, so we can prove the pay gap that "doesn't exist" doesn't exist, because of course the free market takes care of that, right?

President Obama on Friday moved to require companies to report to the federal government what they pay employees by race, gender and ethnicity, part of his push to crack down on firms that pay women less for doing the same work as men. 
“Women are not getting the fair shot that we believe every single American deserves,” Mr. Obama said in announcing the proposal, timed to coincide with the seventh anniversary of his signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which makes it easier for people to challenge discriminatory pay. “What kind of example does paying women less set for our sons and daughters?” 
The new rules, Mr. Obama’s latest bid to use his executive power to address a priority of his that Congress has resisted acting on, would mandate that companies with 100 employees or more include salary information on a form they already submit annually that reports employees’ sex, age and job groups. 
Too often, pay discrimination goes undetected because of a lack of accurate information about what people are paid,” said Jenny Yang, the chairwoman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which will publish the proposed regulation jointly with the Department of Labor. “We will be using the information that we’re collecting as one piece of information that can inform our investigations.” 
The requirement would expand on an executive order Mr. Obama issued nearly two years ago that called for federal contractors to submit salary information for women and men. Ms. Yang said the rules would be completed in September, with the first reports due a year later. 
“Bridging the stubborn pay gap between men and women in the work force has proven to be very challenging,” said Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Mr. Obama, noting that the median wage for women amounts to 79 percent of that for men. “We have seen progress, but it isn’t enough.” 
White House officials said that the requirement was intended to bolster the government’s ability to penalize companies that engage in discriminatory pay practices and to encourage businesses to police themselves better and correct such disparities.

I heartily approve of such efforts. American corporations cheat workers on everything unless you bash them in the head until they relent. The pay gap doesn't exist?  Time to prove it.

And yes, I know that excluding employers under 100 employees exempts about half of Americans, but it's a start.

An Offer You Can't Refuse

To recap, law enforcement is not your friend if you are a person of color.  This goes doubly so if you are in immigrant, exponentially more so if you are a Muslim, and infinitely more so if you are an immigrant Muslim.

Pressuring people to become informants by dangling the promise of citizenship — or, if they do not comply, deportation — is expressly against the rules that govern FBI agents’ activities.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales forbade the practice nine years ago: “No promises or commitments can be made, except by the United States Department of Homeland Security, regarding the alien status of any person or the right of any person to enter or remain in the United States,” according to the Attorney General’s Guidelines Regarding the Use of FBI Confidential Human Sources.

In fact, Gonzales’s guidelines, which are still in force today, require agents to go further: They must explicitly warn potential informants that the FBI cannot help with their immigration status in any way.

But a BuzzFeed News investigation — based on government and court documents, official complaints, and interviews with immigrants, immigration and civil rights lawyers, and former special agents — shows that the FBI violates these rules. Mandated to enforce the law, the bureau has assumed a powerful but unacknowledged role in a very different realm: decisions about the legal status of immigrants — in particular, Muslim immigrants. First the immigration agency ties up their green card applications for years, even a decade, without explanation, then FBI agents approach the applicants with a loaded offer: Want to get your papers? Start reporting to us about people you know.

Alexandra Natapoff, an associate dean at Loyola Law School who studies the use of informants, said people who are pressured into informing for the government face considerable danger, from ostracism or retribution within their own community to betrayal from law enforcement officers, whose promises the informants are powerless to enforce. BuzzFeed News spoke with six people who had been approached by the FBI, as well as immigration attorneys who said they had represented far more. Some allowed their stories to be published, even with details that could make them identifiable to federal authorities. But they all drew the line at publishing their names, lest they or their families suffer repercussions from their communities.

Beyond the danger that coercive recruitment poses for its targets, it may also mean danger on a broad scale, by hampering America’s ability to detect, derail, and prosecute real threats to national security.

Like 9/11 before it, the mass shooting in San Bernardino cast into stark relief the urgency of guarding against terrorism at home. Over the years, law enforcement authorities have used informants’ tips to foil numerous plots on American soil and to help other countries foil plots of their own. But many critics of America’s counterterrorism operations say the FBI’s heavy-handed recruitment methods actually make it harder to thwart dangerous attacks, by alienating the very communities on whom the government is most reliant for information.

Michael German, a former FBI agent who is now a national security expert at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, says wide-scale coercive recruitment produces a surfeit of false leads. “All of this investigative effort is against people who are not suspected,” he said, of “terrorism or any other criminal activity.” The result is so much useless information that agents cannot focus on the most important leads. “This becomes an obstacle to real security.”

It's like the worst seasons of Homeland come to life, and yeah, if Eric Holder looked the other way on this (and Loretta Lynch and President Obama are still looking the other way on this) then it needs to be stopped.

I think it's much more likely that FBI Director James Comey has some very ugly questions to answer, however.

Dispatches From Bevinstan, Con't

Gov. Matt Bevin introduced his 2016-2017 budget plan this week in his first major speech since inauguration, and the word to describe it best is "carnage". He envisions nearly ten percent across-the-board cuts in Kentucky's government agencies, universities, services, and state employment. But it's what he didn't say that's getting attention.

Bevin outlined his proposed 2016-18 budget in an hourlong address to the General Assembly Tuesday night. The budget would add more than $1 billion to the pension programs, but it would come up with most of that money by cutting state funding to most agencies by 9 percent. 
The governor's actual budget bill - House Bill 303 - was not filed until late Wednesday. And it contains some things that Bevin did not mention in his speech, including the prevailing wage repeal and ban on abortion services funding
"Obviously, those are things that the governor has made very clear he would like to do. So they shouldn't surprise anyone." Jessica Ditto, communications director in the Governor's Office, said Thursday morning. 
A provision within the budget bill says in part, "no public authority shall make the prevailing wage...a part of the bidding specifications for any public works or a part of any contract for the construction of public works..." 
Another provision of the budget mandates that public funds, including moneys received from the federal government, shall not directly or indirectly be paid to any entity "that provides abortions or abortion services, or that is any affiliate of an entity that provides abortion services." 
Different Senate bills moving through the legislative process also would repeal prevailing wage and ban funding for abortions or abortion services. If those bills pass they would become permanent law. 
If those bills are blocked, and Bevin's budget bill passes, it would accomplish the same thing - but only for two years. Any provision in a budget bill expires at the end of the budget period, which in this case would be June 30, 2018. 
Rep. Rick Rand, the Bedford Democrat who chairs the House budget committee, said Thursday morning, "I like to reserve comment on a new budget until I've had time to go all the way through it with my staff. There are always some surprises in a budget bill, and we will certainly be taking a very close look at those provisions."

It should surprise no one that Bevin wants to defund Planned Parenthood state and federal money, but as Joe Sonka reminds us, PP's Louisville clinic that has recently started abortion services doesn't accept family planning funds anyway, and operates without it. But that means both Bevin and Kentucky lawmakers are trying to cut off funding for the clinics that don't perform those services in order to try to bully the organization.

Witness Bevin's reaction to the story:

Gov. Matt Bevin submitted a statement to IL claiming that this Planned Parenthood clinic is violating the law and pledging to use force to shut it down.

“They are openly and knowingly operating an unlicensed abortion facility in clear violation of the law,” said Bevin. “We will use the full force of the Commonwealth to put a stop to this. There is no room in Kentucky for this kind of blatant disregard for proper legal procedure.”

Open threats?  Matt, please.


Related Posts with Thumbnails