Is UAW Betraying Its Members?

The Detroit Free Press reported Friday that the United Auto Workers union (UAW) is secretly negotiating with the Big Three US automakers to revise current contracts in accordance with demands from both Democratic and Republican leaders that major concessions be imposed on auto workers in return for any government loan to avert bankruptcy by one or more of the companies.

The Free Press said that the UAW was offering to end the jobs bank program that allows laid-off union workers to receive 95 percent of their wages and benefits, and is considering other concessions.

That the UAW is working behind the backs of its members to impose a new round of give-backs to the auto companies should come as no surprise to those who follow the actions and policies of the union bureaucracy.

From the outset of the effort by General Motors, Ford and Chrysler to obtain emergency funding from the government that the collapse in auto sales and profits would be used to slash wages and jobs and gut pensions and health benefits for both active and retired workers, and that the UAW would agree to whatever concessions were demanded to protect the interests of the union bureaucracy.

The elimination of the jobs bank will result in the impoverishment of tens of thousands of auto workers whose jobs will be wiped out as part of an imminent and drastic downsizing of the Big Three companies, whether it takes place under the auspices of bankruptcy courts or as a condition of an eventual government bailout package. As with the Chrysler bailout of 1979-80, but on a broader and more brutal scale, the assault on auto workers’ jobs and conditions will spearhead an attack on workers in every part of the country and every sector of the economy.

I was wondering how long it would be before the UAW caved to the automakers.

And So It Begins

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has chosen seasoned policymakers Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers as his two top economic lieutenants to direct the fight to rescue the economy and stem the worst financial crisis in more than 70 years.

Obama plans to nominate Geithner, 47, president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank and a former Clinton administration official, as Treasury secretary, a transition official said on Saturday.

A main part of his portfolio will be managing the $700 billion bailout for the troubled financial industry.

Summers, who served as Treasury secretary under former President Bill Clinton, will become director of the White House National Economic Council, the official said.

The 53-year-old Summers, who gained Obama’s trust by helping to guide his response to the financial meltdown during the campaign, will play a broad role in shaping policy and coordinating among other economic advisers.

The two Clinton-era veterans have worked closely together and both command wide respect in financial markets, which could take comfort in the announcement. Obama plans to formally unveil the picks at a news conference on Monday.

The picks come after Obama announced plans earlier on Saturday for an aggressive, two-year economic stimulus package as he warned that the economy was at risk of huge job losses and broadly falling prices if swift action is not taken.


The recent economic downturn in the United States and across the world has caused significant alarm in Central America, especially due to the region’s close links with the US economy. Some Central American officials have begun to question the wisdom behind integration with an economy that seems to be imploding, and are taking steps to immunize their own economies from the effects of the crisis. Member states of the Central American Integration System met on October 4, 2008 in Tegucigalpa, and agreed on a strategy to promote regional economic cooperation and development. The plan includes the investment of $5 billion into the region’s agricultural sector, with a special emphasis on grain production. However, it will be no easy task for Central America to withstand the economic decline of their number one trade partner, especially since economic integration with the US has been developing over the past several decades. Costa Rican economist Eduardo Lizano summed up the problem by stating: “The chief hope was that Central America would receive increased investment to produce goods for export to the United States. With a considerably lower level of consumption in the United States, those investments will not be made and the expected benefits will not materialise, or will be diminished.” This points to one inherent danger of global integration: that it leaves countries vulnerable to the ripple effects of poor economic decisions made elsewhere in the world.

Two years into the agreement, DR-CAFTA has failed to fulfill its promises in Central America. The pact has been controversial since its onset, drawing criticism from across the globe and sparking numerous popular protests in El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. DR-CAFTA has plenty of critics in Washington as well; it passed the U.S. Senate and Congress by very slim margins of 54-45 in the Senate and 217-215 in the House. A new administration under Barack Obama, who voted against DR-CAFTA in the Senate, may re-address the stipulations of the accord, as the President-elect has promised to do with NAFTA. However, solving the chronic problems caused by this trade pact would require a vast overhaul of U.S. foreign policy, as well as a fundamental shift in its economic ideology. The United States should promote a foreign policy that values and promotes strong and stable allies through a fair-minded economic program that no longer rewards global exploitation. A major reassessment of DR-CAFTA, and the unbridled capitalistic profiteering which it embodies, could be an important step in this country’s path to progress and positive change in Latin America, and across the globe.

IMF Wants So Of The Bailout Pie

The head of the International Monetary Fund says it will need more funding if it is to play a bigger role in aiding a global economic recovery.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn told the BBC that the IMF was likely to need at least $100bn (£68bn) of extra funding over the course of the next six months.

Mr Strauss-Kahn also called on states to continue cutting interest rates.

His comments came as the Japanese economy officially entered a recession, shrinking 0.1% in the third quarter.

This follows a 0.9% contraction in the world’s second-biggest economy in the previous quarter from April to June.

The former French finance minister also called on countries to tackle the economic crisis themselves by cutting interest rates and using government finances.

How nice!  The world is suffering through this economic crisis, so I ask where would all this cash come from?  Who will supply the money for all these out stretched hands of the bailout?

One Good Orgasm Deserves Another

Time to get busy, people! According to a new report, the Big O is more than just pleasurable—it’s also good for your health.

Orgasms (and just good ol’ fashioned arousal) can release DHEA and Oxytocin, hormones that are beneficial to the heart and lower breast cancer risks, according to the Los Angeles Times. What’s more, the benefits apply to both men and women, helping to prevent prostate cancer while serving as pain relief from migraines.

The article cites these major findings: Prostate: Two large studies, reported in 2003 and 2004, found that middle-aged men who had (or at least remember having) at least four orgasms a week throughout their 20s, 30s and 40s had a reduced risk of prostate cancer by as much as one-third. Some researchers speculate that ejaculations may clear the prostate of carcinogens.

Physical comfort: In laboratory studies, women are able to tolerate more pain when a vibrator is applied to their vaginas. When that stimulation leads to orgasm, their pain threshold doubles. And one small study found that orgasms provided some relief for women suffering from migraines.

General health: A 10-year study of Welsh men in 1997 found that those who had two or more orgasms per week had half the risk of dying compared with their less sexually active neighbors.

With evidence like that, there’s no reason you should be faking it anymore.

The Heels Have It

Women have long known about the impact high heels can have on sex appeal. Stilettos make them look taller, boost the confidence, and, yes, tend to be more effective at attracting men than a ratty pair of Birkenstocks. But now we have proof that those to-die-for-shoes are actually good for a woman’s sex life, The Daily Mail reports. And who better than a doctor from Italy to be the first one to discover the surprising sexual health benefits of high heels?

“I adore high-heeled shoes and I wanted to find something positive about them,” says Dr. Maria Cerruto, a urologist at the University of Verona. “In the end I achieved my goal.”

What the lovely doc did was verify that wearing a moderate heel (about two and a half inches) is actually good for women, working the pelvic muscles and reducing the need to exercise them (no more Kegels!). The study, involving 66 women under the age of 50, found that women who held their feet at a 15-degree angle to the ground showed up to 15 percent less electrical activity in their pelvic muscles. (No, we don’t know how they measured this, but let your imagination suffice.)

And even though the study focused on women under 50, older women shouldn’t worry about strutting their stuff in stilettos.