Bargaining For Your Life

Government Collective Bargaining 101

Political Cartoons by Nate Beeler

Members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1260 rejected a contract offer by HECO. Contracts between the IBEW represent 1,200 employees at HECO, Maui Electric Co. and Hawaii Electric Light Co.

The business manager Lance Miyake for the IBEW issued a statement: “As of 3:30 pm today, March 4, 2011, IBEW Local Union 1260 will be on strike against Hawaiian Electric Company, Maui Electric Company and Hawaii Electric Light Company.”

This is just after a big storm struck the island and left thousands without power to begin with. So that’s the perfect time to go on strike!

The move comes as dozens of HECO workers are scrambling to fix power outages around Oahu and fallen power lines in Ewa. About 8,000 customers remain without power, a HECO representative said.Leeward Oahu lawmakers voiced outrage over the walkout.”It is unacceptable for union members to put their pay before the safety of my community. Many people in Ewa Beach are already out of work and for them to walk off in a state of crisis is egregious,” Rep. Kymberly Pine said.The union has said it opposes management’s proposal to require employees to work two more years to get full retirement benefits, pushing back their retirement age to 62 from 60. (KITV)

It has now gone to mediation.

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BEANBAGS Vs. AK-47’s & More

A policy requiring U.S. Border Patrol agents to use nonlethal bean bags as a first line of defense evidently led to the murder of an agent who was gunned down by a heavily armed group of illegal immigrants in Arizona.

The deadly gun battle took place on December 14, but the Department of Homeland Security has kept details from the public under the often-invoked premise that it’s an “ongoing investigation.”

The murdered agent, Brian Terry, and his colleague encountered five illegal border crossers at around 11:15 p.m. in an area known as Peck Canyon, northwest of Nogales. The illegal aliens refused commands to drop their weapons and the two federal agents proceeded to fire beanbags, as per Border Patrol policy to use nonlethal force against migrants.

Turns out the illegal immigrants were heavily armed with sophisticated assault weapons known as AK-47s. They responded to the beanbags with gunfire and agent Terry was mortally shot in the back.

Making matters worse, a separate new reports indicates that the gun used to murder Terry was actually part of a federal experiment that allowed firearms from the U.S. to be smuggled into Mexico so they could eventually be traced to drug cartels. Instead, federal law enforcement officers have lost track of hundreds of guns which have been used in numerous crimes.

A federal operation that allowed weapons from the U.S. to pass into the hands of suspected gun smugglers so they could be traced to the higher echelons of Mexican drug cartels has lost track of hundreds of firearms, many of which have been linked to crimes, including the fatal shooting of a Border Patrol agent in December. John Dodson, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who worked on Operation Fast and Furious, said in an interview with the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit research group based in Washington, that he was still haunted by his participation in the investigation.

“With the number of guns we let walk, we’ll never know how many people were killed, raped, robbed,” he said. “There is nothing we can do to round up those guns. They are gone.”(LA Times)

Among them were at least three guns found at the Peck Canyon scene of Terry’s murder. The weapons were traced through their serial numbers to a gun shop in Glendale, Arizona, which led to a Phoenix man (Jaime Avila) that the feds repeatedly allowed to smuggle firearms into Mexico. Known as Operation Fast and Furious, the disastrous project was run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

But it gets Better, with Big Sis:

Newly-released documents obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) reveal that the US Depart of Homeland Security has been working on plans to roll out a new wave of mobile surveillance technologies at train stations, stadiums and streets. These new technologies will track your eye movements, capture and record your facial dimensions for face-recognition processing, bathe you in X-rays to look under your clothes, and even image your naked body using whole-body infrared that were banned from consumer video cameras because they allowed the camera owners to take “nude” of people at the beach.

Most importantly, many of these technologies are designed to be completely hidden, allowing the government to implement “covert inspection of moving subjects.” You could be walking down a hallway at a sports stadium, in other words, never knowing that you’re being bathed in X-rays from the Department of Homeland Security, whose operators are covertly looking under your clothes to see if you’re carrying any weapons.

According to a Forbes.com article one project pursued by DHS using technology from Siemens would “mount backscatter x-ray scanners and video cameras on roving vans, along with other cameras on buildings and utility poles, to monitor groups of pedestrians, assess what they carried, and even track their eye movements.”

Forbes Blog: American Science & Engineering, a company based in Billerica, Massachusetts, has sold U.S. and foreign government agencies more than 500 backscatter x-ray scanners mounted in vans that can be driven past neighboring vehicles to see their contents, Joe Reiss, a vice president of marketing at the company told me in an interview. While the biggest buyer of AS&E’s machines over the last seven years has been the Department of Defense operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Reiss says law enforcement agencies have also deployed the vans to search for vehicle-based bombs in the U.S.

“This product is now the largest selling cargo and vehicle inspection system ever,” says Reiss.

Another project involved developing “a system of long range x-ray scanning to determine what metal objects an individual might have on his or her body at distances up to thirty feet.”

We already know that the U.S. government has purchased 500 vans using covert backscatter technology to covertly scan people on the streets They’re called “Z Backscatter Vans, or ZBVs.”

“This would allow them to take these technologies out of the airport and into other contexts like public streets, special events and ground transit,” says Ginger McCall, an attorney with EPIC. “It’s a clear violation of the fourth amendment that’s very invasive, not necessarily effective, and poses all the same radiation risks as the airport scans.”

It’s not clear to what degree the technologies outlined in the DHS documents have been implemented. Multiple contacts at the DHS public affairs office didn’t respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Then a TSA official responds in a statement that the “TSA has not tested the advanced imaging technology that is currently used at airports in mass transit environments and does not have plans to do so.”

Which mean they have. This government after all, and especially Big Sis.

“When you’re out walking on the street, it’s not acceptable for an officer to come up and search your bag without probable cause or consent.,” EPIC’s  Mcall says. “This is the digital equivalent.”

We are from the Government and we are here to help you!

And we are NOT looking at your naked body! 🙂

We do not suspect you! 🙂

And Muslim Terrorism is not terrorism. The Border is secure even though we admit to having very little “operational” control over it!

But we are fighting the  armed Drug Cartels with bean bags and just watching as known Cartel buyers buy guns to kill us and Mexicans alike.

Rejoice!

We have everything under Control. Trust us. 🙂

But at least you have ObamaCare.

The number of temporary healthcare reform waivers granted by the Obama administration to organizations climbed to more than 1,000, according to new numbers disclosed by the Department of Health and Human Services.

HHS posted 126 new waivers on Friday, bringing the total to 1,040 organizations that have been granted a one-year exemption from a new coverage requirement included in the healthcare reform law enacted almost a year ago.

And…

The pension funds for state and local workers in the United States are understating the amount they will owe workers by $1.5 trillion or more, according to some economists who have studied the issue, meaning that the benefits are much costlier than many governments and taxpayers thought.
Doubts about government pension accounting have been voiced by analysts for years, but with shortfalls in state and local pension plans exacerbated by the recession, the push to refigure pension fund shortfalls has gained political momentum.
The trillion-dollar gap arises from the government method of accounting, which several experts say significantly underestimates the cost of future pension payments.
When the accounting is revised to value future payments more accurately, in the critics’ view, the amount that pensions are underfunded grows to more than $1.9 trillion, according to Munnell’s calculations for 126 large plans.
Those calculations have been published in part in a working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research.
But don’t worry, be happy. The Government is here to save you!
Trust Us. 🙂


Stop the Insanity!

Political CartoonObama said Congress had its “most productive post-election period” in decades. “And it comes on the heels of the most productive two years that we’ve had in generations.”

<<Industrial strength Super-Mega Sized Barf Bag!!!>>

Obama is correct though, the Republican rolled over more and played fetch in the Lame Duck session more than the last 2 years.

I guess Republicans should never go Duck hunting because they are completely useless at it and like one of the old Daffy Duck cartoons the duck just takes the dog (or elephant) to the cleaners and just runs circles around him and laughs insanely.

Now:  President Barack Obama says the economy will be his “singular focus” over the next two years.(AP)

Jan 9, 2010:  The Labor Department’s report on December job losses “was a reminder that the road to recovery is never straight, and that we have to continue to work every single day to get our economy moving again,” Obama said. “For most Americans and for me, that means jobs.”

Then Chief of Staff and “Never Waste a Crisis” Rahm Emmanuel:  “If he didn’t address it like a laser, if he talked about jobs then, people would have said he wasn’t dealing with the problem at hand. You have to deal with all of it.” (FOX)

Jan 21, 2010:  President Obama already was planning to put a heavy focus on jobs and the economy in next week’s State of the Union address, but his top aides are signaling that pivot is going to be even sharper in the wake of the Democrats’ stunning election defeat in Massachusetts. (CNN)

Dec 4, 2009: Obama convenes a summit here on jobs, then flies Friday to Allentown, Pa., for the first in what will be periodic listening tours on the economy. The goal is to develop new spending and tax proposals to help many of the nation’s nearly 16 million unemployed people find work in 2010.

“Though the job losses we were experiencing earlier this year have slowed dramatically, we’re still not creating enough new jobs each month to make up for the ones we’re losing,” Obama said last week. “For families and communities across the country, this recession will not end until we completely turn that tide.”

July 29, 2008: Mr. Obama’s focus on jobs seemed intended to show his mastery of an issue of special concern to working-class voters, especially working-class whites in industrial swing states like Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. During the Democratic primaries, those voters tended to support his main rival, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“The economic emergency is growing more severe,” Mr. Obama said just before the afternoon meeting began. “Jobs are down, wages are falling,” and “the financial markets threaten to be engaged in a protracted credit crunch with long-lasting ramifications.”

“I believe more action is going to be necessary,” he added, “so that entrepreneurship is encouraged, so that the market is thriving, so that hard work is rewarded.” (NYT)

I believe him. Don’t you? 😦

This will probably be gone from his mind on the plane to Hawaii. He has more important things to think about.

He still has to convince the new 112th Congress to pass the DREAM ACT & Cap & Trade after all. Leave no AGENDA item undeterred!

LET THE RATIONING BEGIN

The FDA has reversed its approval of a widely used cancer drug approved in Europe to treat breast cancer on the grounds it doesn’t provide a “sufficient” benefit. Let the terminally ill and their doctors decide.

One of the blessings of blocking the omnibus spending bill was that it included $1 billion for the implementation of ObamaCare.

Yet the first effects are still being felt, the latest being the Food and Drug Administration’s revoking of regulatory approval of Avastin to treat late-stage breast cancer.

The reason given by the FDA was that the drug does not provide “a sufficient benefit in slowing disease progression to outweigh the significant risk to patients.” What risk? These women are dying.

The drug buys them precious time, and the only risk they face is from an FDA saying “pull the plug.”

On the same day the FDA channeled Dr. Kevorkian, its European counterpart, the European Medicines Agency, issued a statement approving Avastin for metastatic breast cancer.

Benefits of the drug, it said, “continue to outweigh the risks, because the available data have overwhelmingly shown to prolong progression-free survival of breast cancer patients without a negative effect on the overall survival.”

So what say you, FDA? An agency overseeing the cost-conscious, government-run health care systems in the European Union says Avastin does provide sufficient benefit at little risk to the patient.

The annual cost, however, is a staggering $88,000 annually, and under ObamaCare cost trumps medical care. A prime decision is whether extending your life is worth the cost.

Consider that every year some 17,500 American women are prescribed Avastin by their practicing oncologists to treat their condition and prolong their life. Last October, the U.S. National Comprehensive Cancer Network, a group of 21 leading cancer centers that issues evidence-based medical guidelines, reaffirmed Avastin’s efficacy in certain cases.

Avastin, the marketing name for the drug bevacizumab, is the world’s best-selling cancer drug. Used primarily to treat colon cancer, it was first approved by the FDA in 2008 for treating breast cancer after it was found that by cutting the blood flow to tumors it slowed the progression of the disease. In some cases it has been shown to extend life as long as 20 months.

In a joint letter to the FDA and key lawmakers, two organizations — Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance— urge that Avastin continue to be approved for metastatic breast cancer patients and warn of the message this “decision sends about drug development for women with advanced breast cancer.”

Breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death among American women, with 40,000 fatalities last year. Komen says the decision to use Avastin should be made between a woman and her doctor after a thoughtful consideration of the benefits and risks. We agree.

Avastin is still available on an off-label basis since it is still approved for colon, lung, kidney and brain cancer. But insurers are reluctant to cover drugs that are not FDA-approved. Medicare never does and the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services are now headed by Dr. Donald Berwick, to whom we and others have referred as a one-man death panel.

“The decision is not whether or not we will ration care — the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open,” Berwick has said. For some that will mean the eyes closing forever.

Berwick has also opined: “We can make a sensible social decision and say, ‘Well, at this point, to have access to a particular additional benefit (new drug or medical intervention) is so expensive that our taxpayers have better use for those funds.'”

Like what? Tattoo-removal programs or Formosan subterranean termite research? This is your government, and it’s here to help. (IBD)

Tiny Tim to Dr. Berwick, “God bless us, everyone.”

Oh sorry, that was too religious for the political correct anti-christian liberals out there that scream every time God is mentioned.

Good. 🙂

Political Cartoon