The “We Can Do Better” theme that Republicans had planned for day one of their National Convention in Tampa Bay has been set aside, usurped by a hurricane named Isaac, ten thousand raucous Ron Paul supporters, a thousand social conservatives, a couple hundred Occupy demonstrators and one former Florida governor who’s decided to break ranks with the GOP. The deluxe $2.5 million stage, which was supposed to frame the highly choreographed ascension of Republican wonderfulness starting today will sit dark.
Instead of Republican messaging, the news cycle and the nation’s eyes will be focused on Isaac, whose projected track and timing is eerily similar to Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans and Gulf Coast seven years ago. As Republican Governors from states in that region are ordering states of emergency, images of the Bush administration’s failure in the wake of the 2005 storm are rising from the nation’s subconscious; creating the kind of negative framing for this year’s Tampa Bay confab that threatens any positive imagery that could have/should have been the media narrative this week.
The vacuum created by the cancellation of today’s convention events has been filled by the posturings of the factions within and those opposed to the GOP that were supposed to be subordinated to the slickly orchestrated memes of the Romney faithful. Ron Paul’s rally at the University of Florida’s Sun Dome highlighted the frustrations of his supporters, who, despite the exhortations of their leader, present a real threat to the face of unity that Republican leaders were hoping for. Speakers at Sunday’s Faith & Freedom Coalition rally, headlined by Newt Ginrich, got more media attention as they blamed Obama for the rise of Islamic radicals, killing unborn children and America’s purported moral decay. And, despite the rain, the drumbeats of demonstrators served as a reminder that all is not well in Romney/Ryan land.
Escondido protest against Goodwill store… Groups that advocate for disabled Americans picketed the Goodwill building in Escondido on Saturday to call out the nonprofit for paying employees with disabilities less than minimum wage. The action was part of nationwide effort in two dozen states that involved setting up informational picket lines outside more than 80 stores The coordinated action is the latest effort from the National Federation of the Blind, which launched a boycott of Goodwill Industries earlier this summer after obtaining documents indicating that the organization known for reselling household goods has paid workers with disabilities as little as 22 cents per hour.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers are able to obtain special permission from the U.S. Department of Labor to legally pay individuals with disabilities less than the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour. Goodwill has argued that by paying a sub-minimum wage, they are able to employ people with severe disabilities who otherwise likely wouldn’t be working. The non-profit stores employ 30,000 people with disabilities across the country, about 7,000 of whom are paid less than the minimum wage for their work.
A statement released by Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, earlier this summer made their position clear:
Goodwill cannot credibly argue that workers with disabilities are incapable of doing productive work while paying its blind CEO over half a million dollars a year. Goodwill should be ashamed of such blatant hypocrisy. We are calling upon all Americans to refuse to do business with Goodwill Industries, to refuse to make donations to the subminimum-wage exploiter, and to refuse to shop in its retail stores until it exercises true leadership and sound moral judgment by fairly compensating its workers with disabilities.”
More vegetarian options, maybe… The National Restaurant Association is warning its members to expect higher prices and lower production of beef, poultry and dairy items as the cost of animal feed is escalating due to the rapid depletion of the domestic corn supply caused by drought and extreme heat conditions in the Midwest. More than half of U.S. counties have been designated disaster areas because of a drought that has taken on historic proportions. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is predicting at price increases of between 4 percent and 5 percent in the coming year, but industry insiders think it easily could be double that rate. While prices may decline in the short term as herds are thinned, in the long term all types of animal protein are going to get more expensive.
Or maybe not… The North County Times reports that local growers are facing difficulties with this year’s harvest because of a shortage of migrant workers. Fruits, vegetable and flower crops are key to San Diego’s economy; one grower reports leaving flowers unharvested, another says he may choose not to harvest his citrus crops at all next year. The agricultural labor shortage is impacting other areas of the state according to the California Farm Bureau Federation of Sacramento. A spokesman for that group told the NC Times that the shortages are being caused by border crossings becoming more dangerous because of drug cartels; better enforcement of immigration laws at the borders; and the fact that Mexican economy is doing better.
Gun scandal unfolding… The LA Times is reporting on an investigation into whether hundreds of weapons purchased for the LAPD SWAT squad ended up being resold for hefty profits to third parties by the officers they issued to. The .45-caliber guns , which bore a special “LAPD SWAT” insignia, were purchased by officers directly from the manufacturer for about $600 each — a steep discount from their resale value of between $1,600 and $3,500. This marks the second time in recent years that the LAPD unit has come under scrutiny for its handling of firearms. Last year submachine guns and handguns were stolen after SWAT officers left them overnight in an unguarded training facility.
Coming real soon: online voter registration… Secretary of State Debra Bowen has informed California’s 58 county elections officials that the Online Voter Registration System is ready to become operational in early September. The system will allow names of those who register online will be immediately added to the voter roll, which will reduce the need for provisional ballots on Election Day when a newly registered voter’s name has not yet been added to the list provided to poll workers. The deadline to register to vote — on paper or online — to cast a ballot in November is Oct. 22.
Clues to autism, other ailments emerging… Sunday’s New York Times column by Nicholas Kristof on the emerging science behind endocrine disruptors, so called because they play havoc with hormones in the body’s endocrine system, is a shot across the bow for the big companies that have denied suggestions that their products may play a role in many of the mystery ailments that have emerged in recent years. Please, follow the link above and read the entire column; this story isn’t about some quack-a-doodle “researcher” living in his mother’s basement. It’s about real scientists, vetted research, and companies that are doing their best to ignore the implications of this research. Money quotes:
One of the most common and alarming is bisphenol-A, better known as BPA. The failure to regulate it means that it is unavoidable. BPA is found in everything from plastics to canned food to A.T.M. receipts. More than 90 percent of Americans have it in their urine
It’s scary,” said Jennifer T. Wolstenholme, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Virginia and the lead author of the report. She said that the researchers found behaviors in BPA-exposed mice and their descendants that may parallel autism spectrum disorder or attention deficit disorder in humans.
Emilie Rissman, a co-author who is professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics at University of Virginia Medical School, noted that BPA doesn’t cause mutations in DNA. Rather, the impact is “epigenetic” — one of the hot concepts in biology these days — meaning that changes are transmitted not in DNA but by affecting the way genes are turned on and off.
Pussy Riot is a feminist opposition punk group collective consisting of more than a dozen young Russian women. Five members of the group stormed an Orthodox Russian service in Moscow wearing bright dresses and balaclavas on the eve of Vladimir Putin’s victory in the presidential election back in February. Their brief, obscenity-laced performance, which implored the Virgin Mary to “throw Putin out”, enraged the Orthodox Church.
Three members of the group were convicted on charges of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” and sentenced to “two years deprivation of liberty in a penal colony”. The judge at their trial, which was considered a “show trial” by many people, said they had “crudely undermined social order”. Russian persecution of these women sparked international outrage and attracted wide support of musicians including Sting, Madonna and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Russian police have searching in vain for two additional members of Pussy Riot who were believed to have been involved in the action at the church. Yesterday, the group’s Twitter account posted the following message: “In connection with the search, our two participants have successfully left the country! They are recruiting foreign feminists for new actions!” Maybe they’ll show up in Tampa this week.
Tweet of the Day: LOLGOP (@LOLGOP) Republicans. Dedicated to the principle that vaginas need reform but Wall Street doesn’t.
On This Day: In 1789 the Declaration of the Rights of Man was adopted by the French National Assembly. In 1990 Stevie Ray Vaughn and three members of Eric Clapton’s band were killed in a helicopter crash in Wisconsin. In 1996 California Governor Pete Wilson signed an order that would halt state benefits to illegal immigrants.
On This Day: Eat Fresh! Today’s Farmers’ Markets: Escondido (Welk Resort 8860 Lawrence Welk Drive) 3 – 7 pm
I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.