US Supreme Court eliminates workers’ right to collectively sue corporations

by Eric London from WSWS

The United States Supreme Court’s 5–4 decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis eliminates the right of tens of millions of workers to bring class action lawsuits against their employers. With the bang of a gavel, the Supreme Court has effectively stripped workers of their legal rights and guaranteed the flow of even greater fortunes to the corporate and financial oligarchy, which controls America’s legal and political system.

The majority opinion, written by Trump nominee Neil Gorsuch, upholds the legality of mandatory arbitration clauses that bar workers from filing lawsuits. This locks the courtroom doors for coal miners suffering from black lung, construction workers with mesothelioma, fast food workers cheated of overtime pay, farmworkers denied the minimum wage, waitresses sexually harassed by their bosses, and countless other workers suffering forms of workplace abuse and exploitation. It announces “open season” for intensified corporate exploitation at tens of thousands of workplaces across the country.

The decision revives the legal doctrine of the Gilded Age elaborated by the Supreme Court’s 1905 decision Lochner v. New York, which overturned a state law limiting the workday to 10 hours on the absurd grounds that the regulations violated workers’ “right” to work as long as they want. In reality, that ruling safeguarded the power of corporations to exploit workers without recourse.

Today’s Supreme Court followed a similar logic, justifying its decision to eliminate workers’ right to sue with the lie that workers are always free to negotiate better contracts with their corporate bosses.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, roughly 60 million workers—56 percent of all private-sector nonunion workers—now no longer have access to the courts. Arbitration is a sham process set up by the corporations to deprive workers of even the minimal protections afforded by the courts and to spare businesses the cost of litigation.

Arbitration forces workers to take their grievances to a private tribunal. Sixty percent of all arbitrators are lawyers who formerly represented corporations. Arbitrators develop corrupt relationships with corporate lawyers who regularly appear before their tribunals and almost always rule against workers. Due process is severely limited as the rules of the arbitration are written by the corporations themselves.

According to a 2015 study, workers prevail in only 20 percent of all claims brought to arbitration and win an average of just $23,548. By comparison, workers win 57 percent of cases in state court, with an average compensation of $328,008…

[read more here]

Killing Us Softly: Here as it is in Britain, the War on the Disabled Carries On With Little to No Attention from the “Progressive” Left

by Scott Creighton

The war on the disabled has been going on in this current version, since Obama and congress passed a bill in 2013 which was very similar to the one Ronald Reagan passed in 1981 which was designed to kick people off Social Security Disability by the tens of thousands. That bill back in the early 80s killed thousands of people, just like left-cover Obama’s bill is doing right now.

I know because I am one of it’s victims. I write about it because I have to.

(I’ve written about this extensively and you can access the history of my writing on this subject under the “personal” and “war on the disabled” headings on the left side of the webpage.)

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Congress Votes to Free Up Big Business To Spy on You and Sell Your Most Private Data To Anyone Without Your Consent

by Scott Creighton

The “internet of everything” is big business. It’s big business, big opportunity and big control. It’s Big Brother. Today’s news exposes something awful. Not only are our congress-critters allowing for Big Business to turn everything you consider private into a commodity, but the fact is… THEY ALREADY DO IT.

Organizations like EFF are busy sending out mailers asking for donations so they can fight “the dismantling of broadband privacy” rules created back during the last moments of the Obama administration. Seems like a noble fight, doesn’t it? Accept, you never had those protections in the first place. Not during the Obama administration anyway.

The FCC’s rule titled “Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunication Services,” 81 Fed. Reg. 87274 (PDF), was put in place after a long fight on Dec. 2nd, 2016. It was set to go into effect on Dec. 4, 2017… long after the Trumpster was elected and his corrupt gaggle of neoliberal destroyers he calls his “administration” had plenty of time to undo the rule. A year in fact.

“The FCC rules were put in place in 2016 to prevent consumers’ private and sensitive information automatically getting into the hands of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon…. That rule is scheduled to go into effect on December 4, 2017.” RT

That RT evaluation of the rule is a bit misleading. It prevented these companies from monitizing your very personal information, not from collecting it. And it only prevented them from selling your most personal information IF YOU TOLD THEM THEY COULDN’T.

They have been collecting it since the USA Freedom Act and CISA went into effect. This rule was ONLY set to make sure customers had a choice to opt-out of the monitization part, essentially keeping Big Telecom from turning more of a profit on the data (more meaning, they are already paid by the government to collect and store said information for the purposes of “national security”)

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Trump proposes huge hike in military and police spending (and huge austerity cuts to domestic services)

(While the fake news and the unDemocratic Party distract us with tall tales of Russian boogeymen, The Donald is busy imposing reactionary neoliberal austerity cuts to America, turning us into Chile 1973.)

by Patrick Martin, WSWS

The Trump administration sent instructions to federal agencies Monday proposing a $54 billion increase in spending for the Pentagon, the intelligence agencies and the Department of Homeland Security, to be offset by $54 billion in cuts for other agencies, mainly those involved in domestic social services and regulation of business.

Trump’s budget outline sets the stage for his first address to Congress on Tuesday. It provides further evidence that the Trump administration will be dedicated to radically rolling back social spending to finance a dramatic escalation of military operations, both in the neo-colonial wars in the Middle East and against the United States’ ‘great power’ rivals: China and Russia.

Federal departments are being told to file budget requests for the fiscal year that begins October 1, 2017 based on the numbers they were given by the Office of Management and Budget. Each agency will be responsible for working out the cuts required to meet proposed reductions, while the Pentagon, CIA and DHS will propose expanded operations with the additional funds they are to be awarded.

There were no details made public about the exact budget ceilings given to each federal department, but White House officials made it clear that foreign aid programs in the State Department and anti-pollution regulation through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would suffer some of the largest cuts.

The total budget of the EPA is only $9 billion, so many other domestic programs are certain to be hard-hit, involving such departments as Education, Labor, Transportation, Agriculture (which includes food stamps), Housing and Urban Development and Health and Human Services.

The biggest federal social programs, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, are not affected by the budget order, which involves only funding for so-called discretionary programs, those financed through annual congressional appropriations. Entitlement programs, where benefits are paid out automatically to those who establish their eligibility, are covered by a separate budget process…

[read more here]

Roland Martin: That Hustla Ova There Tryna Sell Us School Privatization

by Bruce Dixon, BAR

Roland Martin pretends to be a journalist. But what does a guy do when the one percent won’t pay for an informed public? Roland is a hustla for hire, and he’s found a dependable set of clients. Roland is all about blackening up and selling us the destruction and privatization of public schools, which is what both elite Democrats and Republicans want. Journalists tell the truth without fear or favor. Hustlas do what they’re paid to do, and the charter school sugar daddies pay well…

[read more here]

The Brussels Attacks, the New Corporate World Order, Expanding the 5 Eyes and the TTIP

by Scott Creighton

“That has worked in places like the “five eyes” alliance of English-speaking countries, but sharing data with all the other countries in the EU is a far more ambitious goal.” BBC, Jan. 1

Two questions, one answer.

  1. What does a global fascist system like that to be created in the US and the EU via the pending TTIP “free trade” agreement need to remain in power and to thrive in spite of it’s undemocratic, totalitarian and corporatecentric rule?
  2. What has the CIA and State Department built in every single nation they overthrew over the past 60 years in order to install a pro-Western, fascist dictator of their choosing?

The answer to both of those questions is a brutal, over-reaching police state that can and will erase dissidents in the dead of the night who espouse “radicalized” ideas of individual’s “rights, liberties and democracy” being trampled upon by our New Corporate World Order. These kinds of voices have been and will be silenced via midnight raids on homes where unnamed “terrorism suspects” are rounded up and disappeared into the labyrinth of the global Industrial Intelligence Industry for crimes unknown and never specified for reasons of “national security”

The democracy-crushing Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with it’s disastrous  Investor-state dispute settlement  apparatus, is quietly worming it’s way through the European Union (EU) on route to being implemented sometime in the end of this year.

It is extremely unpopular, both abroad and here in the States and that is why it wont be finalized until after the US “election” and most likely will be signed by President Peace Prize after another is made ready to take his place and during the lame duck session of congress.

But before that happens, a security system has to be put in place over the whole of the area affected by this agreement: all of the European Union. A security agreement which just happens to include the United States, the other partner of the TTIP.

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Dissecting a Few of Hillary Clinton’s Most Recent Lies and Evaluating What They Tell Us About Her

by Scott Creighton

I was watching CNN’s town hall meeting with the candidates from the Democrat side of the Washington Consensus last night when Hillary Clinton was asked about rising insurance premiums by a woman from Ohio (that’s where the town hall meeting took place)

The questioner informed Hillary that she used to pay $400+ a month for insurance for herself and her family through a private company prior to the passage of ObamaCare and now she is forced to pay over $1,100 for the same coverage. She wanted to know specifically what Hillary would do to tackle the rising costs of insurance premiums.

Hillary answered her by telling her ObamaCare has done “great things” for the country, but yes, they have to do something about the costs. She focused on the pharmaceutical industry saying they had to get them to keep the costs down and that would bring down the prices of everything else.

This is a ridiculous assumption. It’s magical thinking.

If the price of pharmaceuticals decreases all that will happen is the insurance companies will generate more profits and find new reasons to justify jacking up the price of premiums for all their mandated customers.

Then Hillary went on to promote the federal ObamaCare exchange website, telling the woman she should do more research and saying she thought she could find less expensive coverage… if she took the time to look.

Talk about blaming the victim.

Hillary Clinton’s support for the fascist, mandated insurance program called “ObamaCare” is well documented. Also well documented now after her answer to that woman, is the utter disregard she has for working class women and mothers who are struggling to cope with the rising costs (and rising profit margins) of the insurance policies themselves.

Hillary pledged to “work” when she gets into office to get the co-pays and deductibles down a bit and reign in the pharmaceutical companies but she never said a word about going after the main perpetrators in this fascist fiasco, the insurance companies themselves.

Hillary thought that was a good answer. The response from the crowd was less than enthusiastic.

You shouldn’t expect Hillary to do or say anything else on this subject. She’s been serving the interests of Big Insurance for decades.

Take for example a recent lie she told about Bernie Sanders regarding her own efforts back in ’93 to pass what she has called “HillaryCare”

This particular lie, along with another she told this past weekend, illuminates the kind of human being she really is and it exposes why it is that better informed voters usually support Bernie over Hillary.

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