Sunday, March 26, 2017

Last Call For Crime In Cincy

Cincy police are still looking for the suspect in a nightclub shooting early this morning that left one person dead and 15 injured.

Cincinnati police have yet to make arrests in a nightclub shooting early Sunday morning that killed one person and wounded at least 15.

Police said the violence started as a dispute between "local men" who were caught up in an argument.

The victim who died was identified by authorities Sunday as 27-year-old Obryan Spikes. Another victim is in critical condition, police said.

The shooting at around 1:30 a.m. at Cameo Nightclub created an atmosphere of "chaos," said police, who described the 21-and-over nightspot as one frequented primarily by young people.

"The bar was very crowded" at the time, with hundreds of people inside, police said.

“People were going to have a good time and ended up being shot. That is unacceptable,” the city's mayor, John Cranley, said at a press conference Sunday.

Police early on in their investigation ruled out terrorism as being behind the attack, but Cranley said that didn't diminish the tragedy.

"To the victims, what difference does it make?” the mayor said.

It makes a lot of difference actually Cranley, but that's besides the point.  Cincinnati police have a pretty decent post-2001 riots record, or did until Ray Tensing, but Cranley's still very much a blockhead on things like this.

Still, this looks like a beef gone very, very bad, so we'll see if arrests are made this week.

Meanwhile In Moscow...

Major anti-corruption protests in dozens of Russian cities ignited Sunday as opposition leader Alexey Navalny was detained along with hundreds of protesters in Moscow.

Prominent Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny was detained during an anti-corruption protest in the heart of Moscow on Sunday, according to tweets by Navalny and his press secretary. 
Navalny downplayed his detention in a series of tweets and encouraged protesters to keep marching. 
"Today we are discussing (and condemning) corruption, not the detentions. Well, I was detained. So what. It ok. There are things in life that are worth being detained for," Navalny tweeted. 
Similar demonstrations were planned in 100 cities across Russia on Sunday, according to organizers. 
Hundreds of arrests were reported at the Moscow protest. Russian human rights group OVD Info tweeted that more than 700 had been detained -- while state-run news agency Ria Novosti said 500 had been held. 
The protest drew a heavy police presence but remained largely peaceful. Riot officers flanked crowds while plainclothes officers moved among the demonstrators. Police told those on the street that the protest is unsanctioned and asked them to move on. 
Navalny praised turnouts for the protests in early-morning tweets. "Far East started fine," he tweeted, referring to a photo of protesters gathering in the city of Vladivostok, located on Russia's far eastern coast. Navalny also shared photos and tweets from various parts of the country. 

The protests have been mostly aimed at Russian PM Dmitri Medvedev rather than Vladimir Putin.  Navalny has accused Medvedev publicly of gaining millions through corruption, and is expected to run against Putin next year, but rounding him up at this point shows you how worried ol' Vlad is right now, what with his Trump gambit coming apart.

Trump is strangely silent on Navalny's arrest, too.

Go figure.

Sunday Long Read: Bama's Bloody Race To The Bottom

For 20 years now auto manufacturing in right-to-work red states in the South has been a growing alternative to the union shops of the Rust Belt.  Good-paying jobs have been drifting south for decades now and the numbers prove it, but these jobs come at ore than just the cost of cheaper labor.  It also comes at the cost of lives.

Regina Elsea was a year old in 1997 when the first vehicle rolled off the Mercedes-Benz assembly line near Tuscaloosa. That gleaming M-Class SUV was historic. Alabama, the nation’s fifth-poorest state, had wagered a quarter-billion dollars in tax breaks and other public giveaways to land the first major Mercedes factory outside Germany. Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai followed with Alabama plants of their own. Kia built a factory just over the border in West Point, Ga. The auto parts makers came next. By the time Elsea and her five siblings were teenagers, the country roads and old cotton fields around their home had come alive with 18-wheelers shuttling instruments and stamped metal among the car plants and 160 parts suppliers that had sprouted up across the state.

A good student, Elsea loved reading, horses, and dogs, especially her Florida cracker cur, named Cow. She dreamed of becoming a pediatrician. She enrolled in community college on a federal Pell Grant, with plans to transfer to Auburn University, about 30 miles from her home in Five Points. But she fell in love with a kindergarten sweetheart, who’d become a stocker at a local Walmart, and dropped out of school to make money so they could rent their own place.

Elsea went to work in February 2016 at Ajin USA in Cusseta, Ala., the same South Korean supplier of auto parts for Hyundai and Kia where her sister and stepdad worked. Her mother, Angel Ogle, warned her against it. She’d worked at two other parts suppliers in the area and found the pace and pressure unbearable.

Elsea was 20 and not easily deterred. “She thought she was rich when she brought home that first paycheck,” Ogle says. Elsea and her boyfriend got engaged. She worked 12-hour shifts, seven days a week, hoping to move from temporary status at Ajin to full time, which would bring a raise from $8.75 an hour to $10.50. College can wait, she told her mom and stepdad.

On June 18, Elsea was working the day shift when a computer flashed “Stud Fault” on Robot 23. Bolts often got stuck in that machine, which mounted pillars for sideview mirrors onto dashboard frames. Elsea was at the adjacent workstation when the assembly line stopped. Her team called maintenance to clear the fault, but no one showed up. A video obtained by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration shows Elsea and three co-workers waiting impatiently. The team had a quota of 420 dashboard frames per shift but seldom made more than 350, says Amber Meadows, 23, who worked beside Elsea on the line. “We were always trying to make our numbers so we could go home,” Meadows says. “Everybody was always tired.”

After several minutes, Elsea grabbed a tool—on the video it looks like a screwdriver—and entered the screened-off area around the robot to clear the fault herself. Whatever she did to Robot 23, it surged back to life, crushing Elsea against a steel dashboard frame and impaling her upper body with a pair of welding tips. A co-worker hit the line’s emergency shut-off. Elsea was trapped in the machine—hunched over, eyes open, conscious but speechless.

No one knew how to make the robot release her. The team leader jumped on a forklift and raced across the factory floor to the break room, where he grabbed a maintenance man and drove him back on his lap. The technician, from a different part of the plant, had no idea what to do. Tempers erupted as Elsea’s co-workers shoved the frightened man, who was Korean and barely spoke English, toward the robot, demanding he make it retract. He fought them off and ran away, Meadows says. When emergency crews arrived several minutes later, Elsea was still stuck. The rescue workers finally did what Elsea had failed to do: locked out the machine’s emergency power switch so it couldn’t reenergize again—a basic precaution that all factory workers are supposed to take before troubleshooting any industrial robot. Ajin, according to OSHA, had never given the workers their own safety locks and training on how to use them, as required by federal law. Ajin is contesting that finding.

An ambulance took Elsea to a nearby hospital; from there she was flown by helicopter to a trauma center in Birmingham. She died the next day. Her mom still hasn’t heard a word from Ajin’s owners or senior executives. They sent a single artificial flower to her funeral.

More and more we're seeing car parts made in the US by minimum-mage temp workers in states with no collective bargaining, no union benefits, no safety training and no help, all to maybe get on as a full-time worker working 60 hours a week making 35 grand a year.

America is the new Bangladesh, it seems.

Let's Not Kid Ourselves Here, Guys

Dave Weigel at the Washington Post has this story about the Democrats' grassroots efforts to beat the AHCA and how it helped stopped the vote in the House.  There's only one problem with it: Democrats didn't have a damn thing to do with stopping the ACHA, period.

On Friday afternoon, as congressional Democrats learned that the GOP had essentially given up on repealing the Affordable Care Act, none of them took the credit. They had never really cohered around an anti-AHCA message. (As recently as Wednesday, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi was still using the phrase “make America sick again,” which most Democrats had abandoned.) They’d been sidelined legislatively, as Republicans tried to pass a bill on party lines. They’d never called supporters to the Capitol for a show of force, as Republicans had done, several times, during the 2009-2010 fight to pass the Affordable Care Act.

Instead, Democrats watched as a roiling, well-organized “resistance” bombarded Republicans with calls and filled their town hall meetings with skeptics. The Indivisible coalition, founded after the 2016 election by former congressional aides who knew how to lobby their old bosses, was the newest and flashiest. But it was joined by MoveOn, which reported 40,000 calls to congressional offices from its members; by Planned Parenthood, directly under the AHCA’s gun; by the Democratic National Committee, fresh off a divisive leadership race; and by the AARP, which branded the bill as an “age tax” before Democrats had come up with a counterattack.

Congressional Democrats did prime the pump. After their surprise 2016 defeat, they made Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) the outreach director of the Senate caucus. Sanders’s first project was “Our First Stand,” a series of rallies around the country, organized by local Democrats and following a simple format. Elected officials would speak; they would then pass the microphone to constituents who had positive stories to tell about the ACA.

“What we’re starting to do, for the first time in the modern history of the Democratic Party, is active grass-roots organizing,” Sanders said in a January interview. “We’re working with unions, we’re working with senior groups, and we’re working with health-care groups. We’re trying to rally the American people so we can do what they want. And that is not the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.”

Weigel goes on to say that because grassroots groups like Planned Parenthood, the AFL-CIO, MoveOn, and the AARP rallied town halls around the country, they were able to stop the bill.

That's a nice thought, guys.  It's also 100% not what happened.

What actually happened is that Republicans in the Freedom Caucus wanted a total repeal, and they were able to stay united to the point where the bill was pulled and the vote postponed until that happens.  Democrats taking credit for this would be like hen house chickens celebrating record egg production because the foxes were too busy arguing over whether or not to kill and eat all the hens or just some of them.

It's a nice rallying cry for Dems, it gives them something positive as a symbol to build on, it does provide hope for the future that grassroots opposition to Trump will be a factor going forward.

But in the case of the AHCA House bill?  Dems were 100% powerless, and pretending otherwise is also promoting a fundamental misunderstanding of the facts.  Let's not delude ourselves, guys.  We got lucky here that the Freedom Caucus, including my own Congressman Thomas Massie, decided that the perfect was the enemy of the evil.  They sank their own bill through incompetence.

And eventually it will be back.
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