Saturday, January 30, 2010

Haiti - Follow the Money

During the 1970s, sports companies Wilson, Rawlings, and Spaulding migrated to Haiti to produce baseballs. Why? The minimum wage was $1.30/hour. Most workers made no more than $1.70/hour. The fact that the country was being run by the vicious Duvalier family didn’t tweak the consciousness of these companies or Major League Baseball. When dictator “Baby Doc” Dulvier was finally overthrown, Rawlings, the first and major producer of baseballs, moved its operation to the Dominican Republic with Major League Baseball’s blessings.

A 2004 NYTimes article quoted baseball factory worker Overly Monge. “After I make the first two or three balls each week, they have already paid my salary.” So let’s pose the question again. Why did Rawlings and company migrate to Haiti? Profits. Big ones.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) just voted a $102 million dollar loan to Haiti. While there is “talk” of debt cancelation, the IMF made no mention of canceling it or the older $165 million dollar loan Haiti owes. The beat goes on.

For more details put “Haiti and Baseball” in Google Search and read on.

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There are many ways to help Haiti. It doesn't have to be money while that sure helps. The United Brooklyn Club collected backpacks and donated them to Haiti. Waterbury resident Nick Coscia is collecting backpacks, 4,000 watt generators and other items for Haiti. Nick hosts The Nick Coscia Special on Skye Cable. For more information, Nick can be contacted at or 203-7562203.

Submitted by the United Brooklyn Club

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Fight to Save Health Care Reform

Over 100 determined people attended an emergency rally today to save national health care reform at the office of Representative John Larson in Hartford, CT. Marching and caring signs such as "Insurance Profits are BAD FOR MY HEALTH," "Insure PEOPLE, NOT PROFITS," and "I want QUALITY, AFFORABLE HEALTHCARE," expressed the sentiment of the group. The Rally was sponsored by Health Care for America Now (HCAN) Connecticut and MoveOn.

[Above photo: Part of the rally participants at Representative John Larson's office. Click on the picture for full screen.]

John Rossi, a staff person from John Larson's office, came out to greet the crowd and was presented with a list of concerns by Steve Karp, the Connecticut Director of the National Association of Social Workers. Steve, on behalf of the group, encouraged Rep. Larson to continue his fight for meaningful, affordable national health care reform. Mr. Rossi thanked the group of their efforts and assured the crowd that Rep. Larson is doing everything he can to promote health care reform.

[Above Photo: Rep. Larson staff member John Rossi, on left, received a list of concerns from Steve Karp, the facilitator for the rally.]

Please join the fight and call your member of Congress today.

Let them know you support their effort to get health care reform done right for the country.

1st District – John Larson, 202-225-2265

2nd District – Joe Courtney, 202-225-2076

3rd District – Rosa DeLauro, 202-225-3661

4th District – Jim Himes, 202-225-5541

5th District – Chris Murphy, 202-225-4476

Other Photos:

Posted by: Tom Connolly

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Emergency Rally to Save Health Care Reform

Health Care for America Now (HCAN) Connecticut and MoveOn are sponsoring an emergency rally to save health care reform.

There is no piecemeal approach to reform -- we cannot eliminate denial of care because of pre-existing conditions unless we mandate coverage for everybody. We can't impose mandates unless we subsidize coverage. We cannot subsidize coverage without taxing those who can afford to pay. Mandating coverage and taxing low and middle income families is a cruel joke on us and health insurance companies' dream. Insurance companies will win and we will lose.

Our Connecticut delegation (except for Lieberman) has done great work so far on health care reform. We cannot allow President Obama, Majority Leader Reid & Speaker Pelosi to cave in because it's hard. John Larson has risen to Rahm Emanuel's leadership position within the Democratic caucus. We need to send a message to Obama, Reid & Pelosi to stand up for us and stand up to the health industry!

The event details are:

Emergency Rally to Save Health Care Reform
Congressman John Larson's district office
221 Main Street
Hartford, CT 06106
Tuesday, 26 Jan 2010, 5:00 PM

Friday, January 22, 2010

Hartford Press Conference Supports Immigration Reform Efforts

Immigrant workers across the country, joined by labor, clergy and civil rights organizations, launched a national campaign for immigration reform last week. Over 100 vigils, rallies and press events were held in 28 states including at the state Capitol in Hartford on January 15, the actual birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.

"We must affirm the United States is a nation built on the strength of immigrants," Talia Lopez, representing the faith-based United Action of Connecticut, emphasized at the rally here.

Last year, one month after the election of President Barack Obama, Lopez was among 50 from Connecticut who traveled to Washington to join a rally of several thousand on behalf of immigration reform legislation. Rep. Luis Guiterrez, D-Ill., visibly moved when he addressed the gathering on the steps of the Cannon House Office Building, pledged that immigration reform would be his top priority.

Twelve months later, Gutierrez, along with 70 colleagues in the House and the Congressional Hispanic, Black, Asian and Pacific American and Progressive Caucuses, unveiled the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 (CIR ASAP). The legislation is the product of wide local input.

Kickoff events were coordinated by Reform Immigration For America, a national coalition of over 600 labor, faith-based and civil rights organizations working for "comprehensive reform that will protect workers and help with economic recovery, create millions of new taxpayers, keep families together, and protect the due process rights of all."

The national coalition highlighted a statement of support by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and a new poll by America's Voice which indicates that two-thirds of Americans "want Congress to pass comprehensive reform, including 69 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of independents, and 62 percent of Republicans."

In addition the coalition cited an economic report from the Center for American Progress and the Immigration Policy Center showing that immigration reform is a necessary part of economic recovery by adding $1.5 trillion to the economy, boosting all wages and adding $5.4 billion in tax revenues.

"With so many Americans suffering during the economic downturn, fixing the economy should be Congress's top priority," said Mehrdad Azemun, field director for Reform Immigration For America. "Comprehensive immigration reform would put the economy on a more stable footing, provide a vital boost for recovery, and increase wages for all."

At the state Legislative Office Building in Hartford, the capital city's mayor Eddie Perez added his voice in support of a path to legalization, citing 200,000 undocumented immigrants in Connecticut who face severe exploitation and are prevented from participation in society.

John Jairo Lugo of Unidad Latina en Accion, an immigrant rights organization, chaired the press conference here. "It's time to enact immigration reform. It's time to bring justice for the millions of immigrants that keep this economy running, who are underpaid, who are exploited, humiliated and who have their hopes with the Obama administration," he said.

Other events were held in the West, Midwest and South. In Charlotte, N.C., the venue had to be changed on the spot when nearly 2,500 showed up at a meeting of African American and immigrant community leaders where 900 were expected.

Reprinted from People's World

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

To the People of Haiti

Calling the Ancestors by Ras Mo
(click for video)
This instrumental Drumming piece is a mixture of West African and Afro Caribbean rhythms. Musicians include Ras Mo Abdi, Tony D, Leslie, and Francis. The recording was done at Sound Waves rehearsal studios in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Unemployed Protest Wins Changes in System

Unemployed workers in Connecticut are having a little bit easier time filing their claims this week due to a mass phone call protest organized by state Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield of New Haven (D-94).

Holder-Winfield noticed an increasing flow of complaints from constituents in his hard-hit largely African American neighborhood. Unemployed workers could not get through to report their status to the Department of Labor (DOL) on the phone or via the web site for days at a time. When he asked Gov. Jodi Rell, a Republican, for a response, her reply that it would take six months to fix the computer system was so shocking to him that he set up a Facebook page titled, "No, Governor Rell, DOL's Response Is Not Sufficient."

Soon unemployed workers from all sectors and parts of the state began posting their horror stories there.

A boating industry worker on winter layoff said, "I have to spend my entire Sunday calling the DOL to file a claim because their web site is always down! Every time I log on it says 'Due to a high volume of claims please call your local DOL office.' What the web site does not tell you is that you will have to call hundreds of times between Sunday and Tuesday to file your claim! My cell phone records show 260 calls in a three day period. It's insane! The system is horrible."

One woman said, "I even stay up in the middle of the night and try to do my claim but it is always busy."

"I have tried for five days to get a live person on the phone and all day getting a message to call back," said another worker. "I have gone to the office in Hamden after the frustration with getting someone on the phone to be told I have to call in, and so I pray I never have a problem that requires speaking to someone."

Police officers are now posted at the DOL's Job Centers because the unemployed workers who come in seeking assistance are infuriated to find they cannot speak with anyone in person. Because of the governor's failure to replace Department of Labor workers as they retire, at times there are no DOL workers on site, and it is only possible to talk with untrained subcontracted staff.

One worker who had to speak with someone said, "I missed filing a week of unemployment because my mother unexpectedly went into the hospital. That forces you to talk to someone. Five weeks later, calling every day, multiple times and I had still not gotten through. Finally I e-mailed the DOL ‘contact us' link on their site .... they replied that they would file my claims, but by all rights I should forfeit my claims for filing late and reminded me that I had from Sunday to Friday to file."

At first, the governor did not get the picture that emergency action was required. Public exposure of her lack of concern for public service forced her to change position. On Jan. 8, the same day that the new job figures were released showing 85,000 more jobs had been lost nationally with unemployment now over 10 percent, Rell announced that the problem of filing claims would be addressed in an expedited manner.

"We are on uncharted ground," she said. "The demand for unemployment insurance is up 40 percent from a year ago and the Labor Department is issuing between 150,000 - 260,000 checks each week totaling approximately $55 million."

In the last two years the official unemployment rate in Connecticut increased from 4.0 percent to 8.5 percent. Real unemployment figures, including those who are not collecting benefits, are at least twice as high. In Holder-Winfield's Newhallville neighborhood in New Haven, unemployment is three times as high or more.

In this situation the Republican governor has repeatedly vetoed legislation to tax the rich in the state in order to raise revenues to maintain staffing levels and services. She continues to insist on more cuts to the very programs that serve working-class families.

A week of public pressure resulted in the governor ordering "temporary return of about 30 experienced call center workers who recently retired and approval for overtime for 65 other call center specialists ... to add a full new day of service, opening Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m."

In addition the computer system is being upgraded from one to five servers and more than double the number of phone lines.

Two days later, the posts to Holder-Winfield's Facebook page reflected the changes that were won. "Wow. I got on-line and filed within two minutes!!! This is great!!! Finally not an all day problem!!" said one person.

Meanwhile, at the national level the fight for job creation is heating up as a solution to the crush of calls to Unemployment Insurance offices and the countless human tragedies that represents.

-- Joelle Fishman

Reprinted from People's World
Jan 13, 2010

Friday, January 8, 2010

Ad: Working Families Need Health Care Reform, NOT Higher Taxes.

Click on Ad to magnify.

AFL-CIO is sponsoring a National Call-In Day on health care, Wednesday, Jan. 13 call toll-fee 1-877-323-5426. No taxes on health plans, and hold insurance cos. accountable -- best way Public Option!

Brothers and Sisters, the end is in sight for Health Care reform in America and we need all of you to weigh in again with members of Congress on our National Call In Day on January 13th.

The bills that passed the House and Senate were very different and they are now being merged into a single bill that will be introduced in both chambers. We need to ensure that the bill that comes out of this process is one that working people can be proud to support. Right now, the bill that passed the Senate does not meet that standard.

Aside from having no public option, the Senate bill puts and onerous excise tax on so called “cadillac” benefit plans. We know that working men and women don’t have “Cadillac” plans but the Senate bill will tax some of our members plans now and because of “bracket creep” many more of our plans in the future. The only way for these plans to avoid this tax would be for benefit levels to be reduced. That result and the tax itself are both unacceptable.

The president has said that he favors this tax and so we must call our members of Congress and tell them to “hang tough” against this regressive tax.

Therefore, we are asking that everyone call and get your members to call all 5 House members from CT and tell them we need their help on this vital issue.

Please ask the congressman to reaffirm their support of the letter penned by Congressman Courtney rejecting taxation of benefits.

Last Chance to Act on Health Care!

The House and Senate have passed health care reform measures. Now, a joint committee is meeting to hammer out their differences. This is our chance to pressure Congress to ensure the final version will help, not hurt, working families.

One of the differences is that the House pays for the plan by taxing incomes over $1 million per year. The Senate plan would tax existing health plans valued over $23,000 (family) or $8,500 (individual). The Senate plan will effect many union workers who have negotiated good health benefits, and would tend to establish a standard of high co-pays and deductibles.

The AFL-CIO is calling for a national call-in blitz for health care reform. On or before Wednesday, Jan. 13, call your representative and tell them:

I urge you work for health care reform that helps working families by

* taxing the rich, not our health benefits
* requiring employers to pay their fair share
* reducing costs with a public health care option

You can reach your representative through the AFL-CIO toll-free number: 1-877-323-5246

Working Families Need Health Care Reform, NOT Higher Taxes!

AFSCME Council 4 along with five other unions and the Connecticut AFL-CIO sponsored full-page ads in four daily newspapers. Headlined "Working families need health care reform, NOT higher taxes," The ad calls upon readers to call the congressional delegation and urge language in the final bill "be taken from the House version, HR 3590, which pays for health care reform with a surtax on the wealthiest earners -- the same earners who benefited so much from the failed tax policies of the Bush era. The House plan gets it right."

The unions are concerned that the Senate version would require 20% of workers who currently have health care coverage to pay tax on it they warn that the tax would not lower costs, but would result in loss of coverage. The ad quotes a mercer survey of health plan sponsors indicating that "63% say they would cut covered benefits to avoid the new tax -- and nearly ten percent of small employers would end their plans altogether."

Thursday, January 7, 2010


[Above Photo: Hundreds of seniors gather today in Hartford to continue the fight for meaningful national health care reform and to counter the lies being told by the "tea baggers," the Republican opposition and the corporate profit makers. Click on photo for full screen.]

The event was sponsored by the Seniors-to-Seniors coalition made up of groups like the AARP, the Alliance for Retired Americans, the Services Employees International Union, AFSCME Retirees, the Center for Medicare Advocacy, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the Center of Black Aged and the Association of Jewish Aging Services.

All the coalition presenters agreed that we must contact our congressional delegation to support the best aspects of the House and Senate bills to get the strongest health care legislation possible. They noted that it appears that we will not get everything they wanted, like the public option, but there are many positive aspect of the legislation being developed. They committed to continue to fight to improve whatever legislation final passes into law.

[Above Photo of presenters from left to right: Mary Elia, Alliance of Retired Americnas, Bonnie Gauthier, American Association of Homes and Services, Brenda Kelley, AARP and Barbara Kennelly, former congressional representative from Connecticut and now President of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.]

Some of the key points made by the panelist were:

* Health care reform will not cut any guaranteed Medicare services such as doctor visits, hospital care, or rehabilitation services.

* Keep doctors in the system -- If Congress does not act on Health care this year, Medicate payments to doctors will be cut by 21 percent and they will stop servering Medicare beneficiaries.

* Health care reform will:

- Lower drug prices by closing the coverage gap, or "doughnut hole."

- Make long-term care more affordable and relieving family caregivers' burdens by creating a new voluntary long-term care services insurance program. It will provide a cash benefit to help seniors and people with disabilities obtain service and supports that will enable them to remain in their homes and communities.

- Improve quality and coordination for the treatment and management of chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

- Make it easier for seniors in greatest need to get help with paying rapidly rising Medicare premiums and other health expenses and

- Strength Medicare for the future by adding extra years to its fiscal health.

- Allow millions of Americans without any health care coverage to acquire health care insurance.

CONTACT YOUR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVES TODAY AND TELL THEM TO FIGHT FOR A STRONG HEALTH CARE REFORM BILL THAT HELPS WORKING PEOPLE AND VULNERABLE GROUPS. Please thank our House representatives and Senator Dodd for thier efforts thus far and continue to fight for the best possible bill.

CD1 John Larson (202) 225-2265 [DC] - (860) 278-8888 [CT]
CD2 Joe Courtney (202) 225-2076 [DC] – (860) 886-0139 [CT]
CD3 Rosa DeLauro (202) 225-3661 [DC] - (203) 562-3718 [CT]
CD4 Jim Himes (202) 225-5541 [DC] – (866) 453-0028 [CT]
CD5 Chris Murphy (202) 225-4476 [DC] – (860) 223-8412 [CT]

Senator Christopher Dodd
(800) 334-5341 [DC] – (860) 258-6940

Senator Joseph Lieberman
(800) 225-5605 [DC} – (860) 549-8463

Posted by Tom Connolly