SAG UpDate #5

The Screen Actors Guild on Thursday gave its most detailed explanation yet for its rejection of a final contract offer by Hollywood studios, citing shortfalls in pay and union jurisdiction on made-for-Internet productions.

In a letter to SAG’s 120,000 members, Doug Allen, the guild’s executive director, claimed the offer would allow nonunion actors into “almost all new media productions for the foreseeable future.”

It said the producers’ offer also would leave out residual fees paid to actors for content that is made specifically for, and then retransmitted on, the Web.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers responded with an equally detailed statement describing its Internet offer as “a major advancement” from the previous contract.

The producers have offered to mandate union coverage for Web shows that cost less than $15,000 per minute, but only if a union actor is hired. Those costing more would also be covered, regardless of who is hired.

They also offered residual payments for Internet-only shows that are rebroadcast on pay platforms like iTunes, theatrically or on television. Paid downloads of movies would trigger double the residual rate actors now receive from DVDs.

The producers have said a final offer they made June 30 was worth $250 million in additional compensation over three years, an estimate the guild disputes.

The offer mirrors those accepted by writers, directors and the smaller actors union, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

Today In Labor History

18 July

35,000 Chicago stockyard workers strike – 1919

Hospital workers win 113-day union recognition strike in Charleston, S.C. – 1969

Impeachment UpDate

This article appeared in “Raw Story”.

In a release Thursday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) announced he will hold a hearing July 25 examining “the imperial presidency of George W. Bush and possible legal responses.”

The word “impeachment” was not mentioned in the announcement, but it appears the hearing is going to examine issues raised by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) in his resolution to impeach Bush. A Judiciary Committee spokesman tells RAW STORY Kucinich will testify at the hearing.

Conyers did not say who would testify at the hearing, but he laid out a variety of abuses that would be examined, including:
(1) improper politicization of the Justice Department and the U.S. Attorneys offices, including potential misuse of authority with regard to election and voting controversies;

(2) misuse of executive branch authority and the adoption and implementation of the so-called unitary executive theory, including in the areas of presidential signing statements and regulatory authority;

(3) misuse of investigatory and detention authority with regard to U.S. citizens and foreign nationals, including questions regarding the legality of the administration’s surveillance, detention, interrogation, and rendition programs;

(4) manipulation of intelligence and misuse of war powers, including possible misrepresentations to Congress related thereto;

(5) improper retaliation against administration critics, including disclosing information concerning CIA operative Valerie Plame, and obstruction of justice related thereto; and

(6) misuse of authority in denying Congress and the American people the ability to oversee and scrutinize conduct within the administration, including through the use of various asserted privileges and immunities.

After the committee ignored Kucinich’s first impeachment attempt last month, the former Democratic presidential candidate re-introduced a single article on Tuesday. In response, Conyers promised a hearing that would accumulate “all the things that constitute an imperial presidency.”

Kucinich started this thing and we will see just how far the Dems will take it.

But The US Is Not Into Nation Building

Somewhere I remember a spokesperson for the present administration saying that the US was not into nation building.  Sorry, cannot remember which pea brain uttered those words.  But guess what?

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice inaugurated the U.S. government’s first-ever civilian nation-building team Wednesday in a bid to learn from missteps in Iraq and Afghanistan reconstruction efforts.

The “active” component, called the Civilian Response Corps, is a team of 250 federal employees from several agencies – diplomats, development specialists, public health officials, law enforcement and corrections officers, engineers, economists, lawyers, public administrators, agronomists and others.

Their primary responsibility is to deploy to crisis spots around the world within 48 to 72 hours.

“This is a mission that requires the integration of security, diplomacy and development,” Miss Rice said at a State Department ceremony.

For the team’s active members, the response corps will be a full-time job. Another 2,000 who have other federal jobs will serve as the “standby” component, said John Herbst, the department’s coordinator for reconstruction and stabilization.

About 37 percent of the active corps will come from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), about 30 percent from the State Department and the rest from the departments of Justice, Commerce, Agriculture, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services and Treasury, Mr. Herbst said.

Members of the nation-building corps already have deployed to missions in Sudan, Chad, Haiti, Lebanon, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, although the numbers are much smaller than the targets of 250 active members and 2,000 standby members.

Only 100 active members have been hired so far because the $75 million appropriated by Congress is less than needed to fund the operation.

The administration later created Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Iraq and Afghanistan, which usually are headed by senior diplomats and include other civilian specialists working with the military.

Because of the need to help stabilize and rebuild weak, war-torn or poorly governed countries, Miss Rice has advocated “transformational diplomacy” as a part of the Foreign Service’s future.

OOPS!  The the Washington Times article pretty much punched a huge hole in the lame statement from the recent past.

The Surge Is Working–So Stop Worrying

This has been the call of the McCain campaign for months.  The surge is working and all is well in Iraq.  Yes, the “surge” is working, but not because of anything that was accomplished by the US efforts.  Sunni tribes made it the fragile success that all are witnessing.

The lull of violence here has encouraged people to appear in the street, which used to be one of hottest turf war battleground when Baghdad’s sectarian conflicts were rampant.

Life seems to have gone back to normal here, where people jostle on the sidewalk; families spend good hours wandering in front of shops and stalls showcasing various goods; old men gather in cafes, smoking water pipes, drinking tea and socializing, while teenage girls stand giggling and gossiping in ice-cream shops.

The boost of U.S. troops, and uprising of Sunnis against al-Qaida and the ceasefire of a major Shiite militia are the major factors contributing to the security pickup.

The U.S. military says violence has dropped to a four-year low across Iraq. The Iraqi government is also calling for expediting the political reconciliation and the return of refugees.

However, doubt about whether it is a real and sustainable peace is still pervasive among Iraqis.

“I am not sure that we will have a real peace, because nothing tangible happened that may change the violent course of life in Baghdad. To me I think the reason behind the violence is that the country was not ready for the change the Americans and their allies want after the invasion, “said Nu’man Jabir, a 48-year-old electronic engineer.

The U.S.-led coalition forces handed over security control of the Diwaniyah province to Iraq on Wednesday, making it the tenth Iraqi province retrieved from the control among the 18 provinces in Iraq.

However, those ten provinces belong either to Kurdish or to Shiite Iraqis. In the mixed regions, like Baghdad, Nineveh and Diyala, the situation is still unstable and unpredictable.

In Baghdad, Sunnis and Shiites live in separate neighborhoods walled up by concrete. Checkpoints still strew the streets.

“I agree, the walls are effective in protecting the neighborhoods, but my district seems more like a prison or a military camp, because we can leave or enter the neighborhood only through one entrance where soldiers and local Awakening Council members search the cars and everything that get in or out the district,” said Abbas.

The news that all get back in the USA, is from a perspective of that all is well and good in a war zone.  The media is selling the Ameriucan people a line of crap…and they are buying it!

I am Not Gonna Worry About Global Warming!

Climate change will pose “substantial” threats to human health in the coming decades, the Environmental Protection Agency said yesterday — issuing its warnings about heat waves, hurricanes and pathogens just days after the agency declined to regulate the pollutants blamed for warming.

In a new report, the EPA said “it is very likely” that more people will die during extremely hot periods in future years — and that the elderly, the poor and those in inner cities will be most at risk.

Other possible dangers include more powerful hurricanes, shrinking supplies of fresh water in the West, and the increased spread of diseases contracted through food and water, the agency said.

Well Crap!  JUst one more thing to keep the brain working.  The economy is collapsing, War continues, and now this……..have a nice day.

Diplomatic Mission To Iran?

Wait!  I read this in the NY Times:

The Bush administration is considering establishing an American diplomatic presence in Iran for the first time since relations were severed during the 444-day occupation of the American Embassy in Tehran nearly three decades ago, European and American officials said on Thursday.

The idea would be to establish a so-called interests section, rather than a fully staffed embassy, with American diplomats who could issue visas to Iranians seeking to visit the United States. But the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity under diplomatic rules, cautioned that the idea had not been approved by the White House and could be delayed or blocked by opposition within the administration.

The proposal comes as the White House is adopting new tactics in dealing with Iran. With six months left in office, Mr. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appear to be looking for new ways to reach out to the Iranian people as the administration tries to bring a peaceful resolution to the impasse over Iran’s nuclear program.

Wait!  Is this the same president that said diplomatically meeting with Iran would be compared to the appeasement of Hitler by Chamberlin of UK?  Did I miss something while I slept?