Sunday, March 24, 2019

Last Call For Another Day In Gunmerica, Con't

In less than a week, two survivors of the Parkland High School terrorist attack took their own lives, because this is what we deem to be the price of the Second Amendment.

After a second Parkland shooting survivor died by suicide in a week’s span, Florida’s emergency chief is calling for the state Legislature to dispatch more mental health resources for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School community.

On Saturday night, a Parkland sophomore took his own life, according to Coral Springs police. A week before, a former student whose best friend died in last year’s massacre took her life.

“Now is the time for the Florida Legislature to help,” said Jared Moskowitz, Florida’s emergency management director and a former state representative from Parkland.

“Mental health is a bipartisan issue,” he posted on Twitter.

Meanwhile, local leaders are taking steps of their own.

On Sunday afternoon, more than 60 school, county, city, child services and law enforcement officials, as well as mental health specialists, teachers and parents, met for an emergency meeting.

Parents who attended the meeting said the Broward County School Superintendent’s Office is working to reach every parent in the district via text, email, social media and robo calls.

“They will be asking parents to take this issue seriously,” said Ryan Petty, father of Alaina Petty, a 14-year-old freshman who was one of 17 people murdered on Feb. 14. 2018. “Parents cannot be afraid to ask their kids the tough questions.”

Petty said the school district will be giving parents the “Columbia Protocol,” a set of six questions to ask their children. Based on their answers, they will be given several emergency resource options. Several nonprofits are also dispatching therapy groups that will offer free services.

“During the Spring break, I encourage you to take time to speak with your children every day. Dinners are a great time for family conversation,” said Superintendent Robert Runcie. “We need to remove the stigma from talking about suicide.”

I've been in the depths of despair to the point where I've considered hurting myself.  We've all had dark thoughts once in a while, and it's important to know that there is help out there.  A friend of mine saved me from acting precipitously on those thoughts back then and I'll always be grateful to him.

But to go through the awful trauma of a mass school shooting and to live to see your country rise up in sheer hatred against you for saying "this is wrong"?

Nobody should have to go through that.

BREAKING: It's Not Mueller Time

As expected, Attorney General Bill Barr has released almost nothing of the actual Mueller report, but summarizing its conclusions as "no collusion, no obstruction."

Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein decided the evidence was “not sufficient” to support a prosecution of the President for obstruction of justice.

“While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” Barr quotes special counsel Robert Mueller as saying.

Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said the evidence gathered in the special counsel’s investigation was “not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense,” Barr wrote.

Republicans disagree, with Sen. Lindsey Graham calling this a "complete removal of the cloud" over Trump's head, and ranking member Rep. Doug Collins officially requesting an end to the House Judiciary probe into the Trump regime.

Barr says that the DoJ is still "processing" the report but will decide on releasing more at a later date.

If you believe that, I have a small moon to sell you.

The Mueller report was never going to save us from the Trump regime.

We have to do that.

Our Little Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

At least someone in the Democratic caucus has the stones to say that Trump's rhetoric kills, and once again it's Rep. Ilhan Omar taking a stand.  The problem is that Omar has her own critics.

Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, one of the first two Muslim women in Congress, accused President Trump on Saturday of inciting hatred of Islam and inspiring attacks like the killing of 50 people last weekend in a mass shooting at mosques in New Zealand.

In a speech to a packed hotel ballroom at a Muslim civil-rights banquet in Woodland Hills, the newly elected Democratic congresswoman said the New Zealand attack by a white supremacist fit a pattern of threats and assaults at American mosques and schools.

“We all kind of knew that this was happening,” she said. “But the reason I think that many of us knew that this was going to get worse is that we finally had a leader in the White House who publicly says Islam hates us, who fuels hate against Muslims, who thinks it is OK to speak about a faith and a whole community in a way that is dehumanizing, vilifying.”

Trump, she told the crowd, “doesn’t understand, or at least makes us want to think that he doesn’t understand, the consequence that his words might have. Some people like me know that he understands the consequences. He knows that there are people that he can influence to threaten our lives, to diminish our presence.”

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said last week that it was outrageous to suggest Trump had any responsibility for the New Zealand shooting.

Omar’s speech at the Council on American-Islamic Relations dinner sparked a protest hours earlier of more than 100 people outside the hotel. Police closed a stretch of Canoga Avenue, and uniformed officers stood watch over demonstrators waving Israeli and U.S. flags and calling Omar an anti-Semite.

Several of them marched with an enlarged photo of Omar, a Somali immigrant, with a swastika over her face and the slogan: “Your Hate Makes Us Stronger.

Omar has said some pretty controversial stuff and that's being ridiculously generous.  At the same time, she's one of the few Democrats willing to call Trump out in an attempt to stop normalizing his behavior.

I'm good with that.  It's what we need right now.

Sunday Long Read: The Company Store Has A Company Clinic

Just a reminder that Amazon's speedy deliveries come at a human cost, as treatment for workplace injuries are shunted to the company's growing chain of in-house clinics rather than insurance care from primary physicians, and the clinics increasingly exist to get Amazon workers back out on the job, pain or not.

The Amazon fulfillment facility in Eastvale, California, was gearing up for its annual onslaught of holiday orders in October 2016 when Andrea appeared for her first day of work. A creative child from a working-class Latino family, Andrea dreamed of becoming an English teacher. With her job at Amazon, she hoped she could work and pursue an education at the same time. For years, the 27-year-old English major had taken other short-term warehouse jobs—mostly for retail companies, including the shoe store Zumiez. The work ranged from tagging items to entering UPC codes for returned packages. It was mundane, but it was a good way to make money while she finished her degree. Andrea assumed Amazon would be similar, albeit more strenuous.

More than two years later, injuries to her shoulder, neck, and wrist sustained during her time at Amazon—lifting up to 100 items an hour, moving them to conveyor belts, and then hauling them into trailers—have made it nearly impossible for her to type without the aid of voice dictation software. She has surges of pain up her spine and hip. She can’t write for too long without her right wrist flaring up. Even if working a new job was physically possible, scheduling it around class and her new regular rotation of doctor’s appointments would be difficult. She sees a chiropractor, acupuncturist, and primary care physician for multiple appointments a week. Only the primary care doctor is covered by Medi-Cal, the state version of Medicaid that she now relies on for health insurance. (Andrea has asked Mother Jones not to use her last name in order to protect her future work opportunities. Her employment at Amazon was verified by the company.)

Andrea is one of Amazon’s more than 125,000 workers who work in vast facilities that can span the length of over 20 football fields. Attracted by promises of steady bonuses and health insurance, many workers like Andrea have discovered an unofficial culture prioritizing speedy distribution of merchandise over the health and well-being of employees—sometimes with disastrous results. In locations from Los Angeles to Baltimore, Amazon employees face potentially unsafe working conditions that have been welldocumented in the media and by government agencies.

According to inspection data by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the government agency charged with overseeing worker safety, there have been over 100 federal investigations launched against Amazon since 2016. OSHA has also issued letters to Amazon advising the company to voluntarily change conditions that posed hazards to employees. In 2015, OSHA issued a warning letter specifically about the use of EMTs in Amazon’s AmCare clinics in a New Jersey warehouse. The same facility is currently undergoing a follow-up inspection.

“It kind of reminds me of an American-made sweatshop,” Andrea says, reflecting on how she feels about her experience working for Amazon. “It’s cleaner and nice. You get praised if you meet your numbers. But you get humiliated if you don’t.” The only injuries Amazon ever seemed to take seriously, she says, involved blood. The main concern, it seemed, was not getting stains on the merchandise.

Amazon points out that the federal government has requirements requiring special control plans to deal with exposure to bodily fluids, including blood, to prevent the potential spread of infectious disease. The company disputed the characterization that its working conditions are comparable to a sweatshop. “We disagree. We’re proud of the quality work environment provided to associates in our fulfillment centers,” Amazon spokeswoman Ashley Robinson said in an email to Mother Jones. “The facilities are temperature controlled, they are well-lit, employees receive competitive wages and comprehensive benefits, and everyone is encouraged to be a leader on behalf of the customer and the company.”

AmCare clinics, run by licensed emergency medical technicians, are meant to provide employees with onsite first aid in a job that, even with the most stringent safety precautions, can be strenuous and result in accidents. But Andrea’s story, along with over a dozen other cases from interviews with Amazon workers, court records, and OSHA logs, show that hazards on the warehouse floor can launch months and years of medical injury that ultimately result in worker disability. Between 2015 and 2018, OSHA reported 41 “severe” injuries resulting in hospitalization, including six amputations and 15 fractures, associated with Amazon delivery or fulfillment jobs. This data does not include state OSHA records, and Amazon declined to make its internal safety data available to Mother Jones. While several Amazon employees who spoke with Mother Jones, including three in an interview facilitated by Amazon’s PR team, said injuries were not common at their facilities and they enjoyed working for the company, for the dozens of workers injured at Amazon each year the job can have a radically different outcome.

“There’s this sense that people should be able to get what they want immediately,” says Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, co-executive director of the watchdog nonprofit National Center for Occupational Safety and Health, tells Mother Jones. “But not at the expense of having your workers be disposable. Their bodies and lives aren’t disposable.”

Ah, but we are disposable in every sense of the word in 2019.   A company pension for anyone my generation or younger is unheard of.  My father worked for the state of NC for decades, then decades more in the private sector, two employers in 35 years.  My mother had a pretty similar experience.

Me?  The thought of being with a company for more than five years is astonishing, and for folks younger than me, everything is temp work, contract-to-hire if you're super lucky, and the gig economy, and even then, there's always layoffs and restructuring.

So why wouldn't a trillion-dollar company like Amazon have disposable workers?  Who cares about unions and collective bargaining anymore?  We vote to break unions with our dollars and at the ballot box regularly.

And everything is right on schedule for the continuing American demolition, the rich looting the place before the lights go out.
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