Hazing Ruled Not the Cause of Chinese-American Marine’s Suicide ‎

On Monday a judge in Hawaii sentenced a Marine to 30-days in jail and have his rank reduced to private first class for punching and kicking a fellow Marine who killed himself shortly afterward. The judge ruled she found no evidence the abuse led to the Lance Cpl. Harry Lew’s suicide.

Lew committed suicide shortly after the Jacoby punched and kicked him on April 3, 2011.

Lance Cpl. Jacob Jacoby, 21, who pleaded guilty to assault, acknowledged he punched and kicked Lew out of anger and frustration that the fellow Marine repeatedly fell asleep while on watch for Taliban fighters, the Associated Press reports. He’s also one of the three Marines accused of regularly hazing Lew by punching, kicking and forcing him to do pushups.

Navy Lt. John Battisi, Jacoby’s attorney, successfully argued that Jacoby lost his temper and struck Lew, but that he made sure to hit Lew on his body armor where he was best protected.

“If this is how you’re going to approach and motivate your peers, then you do not need to be a part of the service,” Schweig said in closing remarks at the sentencing hearing,” said Navy Capt. Carrie Stephens, the judge in Jacoby’s special court-martial.

Schweig went on to say the government was confident Jacoby is capable of rehabilitating himself.

Lew’s Chinese immigrant parents told the LA Times last year that they tried to prevent their son from joining the Navy but he insisted he wanted to serve his country.

“My son died — I have only one son,” Lew told the AP on Monday. He went on to say he doesn’t understand how Marines could do the things they did to their own.

In a similar incident last October, U.S. Army Private Danny Chen was found dead in a guard tower in Afghanistan with”an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.” Reports found Chen suffered from violent hazing and racist bullying that may have led to his to suicide.

‘Precious’ Director Lee Daniels Gets Into Race Argument on Set of New Movie [Video]

Director Lee Daniels is currently working on “The Paper Boy” starring Zac Efron and Nicole Kidman. TMZ has obtained footage of Lee getting in to some sort of verbal disagreement with producer Avi Lerner in which they both accuse each other of being racist.

Whatever the argument is about it looks like Daniels maintains his composure while Lerner points at him with a wagging finger, yelling at him and demanding an apology.

Representatives for both Daniels and Lerner tell TMZ both parties laughed it off.

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Why Komen’s Decision to Pull Funding Is So Deadly [Infographic]

Why Komen's Decision to Pull Funding Is So Deadly [Infographic]

African-American women are more likely than all other women to die from breast cancer. Women of color in general are more likely to be diagnosed late and die from breast cancer, due in large part to poor access to early screening and treatment—which is precisely the type of programs Komen used to fund at Planned Parenthood.

In a story published earlier today on, Akiba Solomon quotes Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards saying the cancer detection and prevention programs Komen funded “saved the lives of women who often had nowhere else to turn for care.”

Below is an infographic from our archives that looks at just how deadly breast cancer is for women of color.

Mel Gibson’s ‘Get The Gringo’ (aka My Summer in a Mexican Jail) Gets a Trailer [Video]

Mel Gibson's 'Get The Gringo' (aka My Summer in a Mexican Jail) Gets a Trailer [Video]

The bad news: Mel Gibson stars in a new movie about him escaping to Mexico with a car full of money.

The good news: It’s going straight to video. (Video on demand, that is. DVD sales will follow.)

The movie, formerly titled “How I Spent My Summer Vacation,” is about a career criminal who crashes his car into the border wall while trying to escape the U.S. Border Patrol, according to Reuters. Gibson’s character survives the crash, but ends up in a “tough Mexican prison” where a 10-year-old boy shows him the ropes.

South Korean Pop Group Girl’s Generation Make U.S. Television Debut [Video]

South Korean Pop Group Girl's Generation Make U.S. Television Debut [Video]

Girls’ Generation, the nine-member South Korean pop girl group, made their U.S. network television debut last night on David Letterman. Industry insiders say the record labels behind the pop group are eying the U.S. market.

The Korea Times’ Noh Hyun-gi says S.M. Entertainment, the company that formed Girls’ Generation, has been encouraged by the group’s success in Japan and are now “eying the American Market.”

Girl’s Generation also made an appearance on “Live with Kelly” Wednesday morning which went less smoothly when guest co-host Howie Mandel told one of the members her English was very good.

“Oh, I was born in America,” she replied.

University of Alabama Economist Study Says HB 56 Will Cost State $2.3 billion and 70k Jobs

A new study from economist Dr. Samuel Addy, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Alabama, provides evidence that “HB 56 has been, and will continue to be an economic disaster for the state of Alabama.” Dr. Addy concludes that “Instead of boosting state economic growth, the law is certain to be a drag on economic development even without considering costs associated with its implementation and enforcement.”

Among Dr. Addy’s key findings:

  • By driving some immigrants out of the state and others underground, the law will damage the economy by shrinking demand for the goods and services that Alabama businesses provide. Dr. Addy estimates that HB 56 will shrink the state’s GDP by at least $2.3 billion (1% of the state’s 2010 GDP), and possibly as much as $10.8 billion (6% of 2010 GDP).

  • Supporters of HB 56 have misleadingly pointed to the declining unemployment rate among Alabamians to argue that the law is “working.” However, Dr. Addy points out: “recent data show employment falling in the four sectors (agriculture, construction, accommodation, and food and drinking places) that are often alleged to employ migrant and unauthorized workers.” Dr. Addy estimates that the law will ultimately cost Alabama 70,000-140,000 jobs.

  • The supporters of HB 56 who deny that immigrants pay taxes might be surprised to learn that HB 56 is costing the state $57-$265 million in state taxes, with an additional $20-$90 million loss in local sales taxes. This is a staggering cost to the state budget even without considering the costs of enforcing the law and defending it in court all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which will cause the cost to balloon even more.

Addy also lays out common arguments among HB56  supporters and goes on to dispel the so called “economic benefits” of the law:

  • Saving funds used to provide public benefits to illegal immigrants
    The two most common benefits that illegal immigrants are said to enjoy are healthcare services at emergency hospitals and clinics and educational services (mainly for their children). No one knows for sure how much savings will be generated because of the significant uncertainty regarding the hard data required. However, as unauthorized immigrants try to avoid notice as much as possible any such savings is likely to be small.

  • Increased safety for citizens and legal residents
    This benefit depends on whether illegal immigrants commit crimes and endanger public safety at a higher or lower rate than citizens and other legal residents. There is a benefit only if the rate is higher for illegal immigrants. Considering that most illegal immigrants are seeking to better their lot, it is more likely that the rate would be lower for them.

  • More business, employment, and education opportunities
    It is generally accepted that unauthorized immigrants work for low wages. As such, the absence of illegal immigrants is likely to improve competitiveness for businesses that found it extremely difficult to compete because they do not use such labor. This might make the business climate attractive for out-of-state businesses that do not use illegal immigrant labor to consider relocating to the state. Such benefits for some businesses do not translate into a benefit for the aggregate economy because they cannot fully make up for the reduced demand caused by the absence of unauthorized immigrant workers.

  • Ensuring the integrity of various governmental programs and services
    This can only be a benefit of the immigration law if illegal immigrants use governmental programs and services dishonestly. Because they wish to remain undetected, illegal immigrants usually apply for services for their legal children when required to by state and national laws; sometimes these laws specify provision of the services to children.
The full report “A Cost-Benefit Analysis of the New Alabama Immigration Law” is available below. [PDF]
New AL Immigration Law - Costs and Benefits

Gingrich’s Rick Tyler Says Democrats “Abort Black Babies” [Video]

Gingrich's Rick Tyler Says Democrats

Rick Tyler, Newt Gingrich’s former communications director who now runs his Sheldon Adelson-funded SuperPac, was a guest on “The Rachel Maddow Show” yesterday and claimed Democrats “abort black babies” and that African Americans children need the movie “Red Tails” because they don’t have any positive role models in their lives.

Gingrich has for decades been the GOP standard bearer in using racial caricatures to demonize poor people.’s Seth Freed Wessler wrote a piece entitled “Gingrich Surges With Old, Familiar Ploy: Racist Attacks on Poor People” that looks at the history.

Sasha and Malia Think the President Singing is ‘Highly Embarrassing’ [Video]

Sasha and Malia Think the President Singing is 'Highly Embarrassing' [Video]

First Lady Michelle Obama was a guest on “The Tonight Show” Tuesday night and talked to Jay Leno about her love for red velvet cake, the President aging and getting much greyer and how Sasha and Malia are begging him stop singing because it’s “highly embarrassing” for them.

California Assemblyman Introducing Bill to Counter Federal Secure Communities Program

A bill being drafted by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) would circumvent the federal Secure Communities program by preventing local law enforcement from holding arrestees on behalf of immigration authorities seeking to deport them.

“States have their own ways of fighting back,” Ammiano said. “We can’t stand by and let innocent people, food vendors, etc., be caught up in sweeps, assume they’re guilty of some violent offense and then deport them and separate them from their families,” Ammiano told the LA Times.

Although the exact language is not yet finalized, the legislation would be similar to policies in Cook County, Ill., and Santa Clara County that instruct law enforcement agencies not to cooperate with certain detainer requests, the assemblyman said.

Anti Choicers Pressure Pink Ribbon Organization to Nix Breast Exams for Poor Women

The nation’s largest and best-funded breast cancer organization in the US., Susan G. Komen for the Cure, will cutoff grants made to Planned Parenthood that were mostly used for breast exams.

The Associated Press broke the news Tuesday. More details below:

Planned Parenthood says the move results from Komen bowing to pressure from anti-abortion activists. Komen says the key reason is that Planned Parenthood is under investigation in Congress — a probe launched by a conservative Republican who was urged to act by anti-abortion groups.

The rupture, which has not been publicly announced as it unfolded, is wrenching for some of those who’ve learned about it and admire both organizations. …

Planned Parenthood said the Komen grants totaled roughly $680,000 last year and $580,000 the year before, going to at least 19 of its affiliates for breast-cancer screening and other breast-health services. also points out “Karen Handel, the new Senior VP of Public Policy at Susan G. Komen, is a staunch anti-choicer, who went so far as to pledge to defund PP’s services when she was running for Governor.

“We are living in dangerous times in which breast health becomes part of an ideological battle,” said’s Akiba Solomon said about Komen’s decision.

“Poor women should not be denied the preventative care they need because of anti-choice, political pressure. If we needed evidence that the radical anti-choice movement is willing to sacrifice the lives of women for what they claim is a pro-life stance, this is the smoking gun,” Solomon went on to say.

UCSF Denies Kidney to Undocumented Father

Oakland resident Jesus Navarro has health insurance and a matching kidney donor but UCSF has denied him the procedure that could save his life because they say there is “no guarantee he will receive adequate follow-up care, given his uncertain status.”

Navarro, 35, is a steelworker who’s had insurance for 14 years, but he recently lost his job and doctors are concerned he may not have the means to pay for medical cost in the future.

The Contra Costa Times provides more details:

“UCSF’s policy for financial clearance requires candidates to present evidence of adequate and stable insurance coverage or other financial sources necessary to sustain follow-up care long after transplant surgery,” she said. “Immigration status is among many factors taken into consideration.”

Navarro was caught up in an immigration audit and lost his foundry job earlier this month. His private insurance continues for now, and he is trying to extend it. But he may well end up on the state’s Medi-Cal program.

That would deepen Navarro’s dilemma. While Medi-Cal will cover his daily dialysis — which now costs $17,000 a month — because of his illegal status, it will not pay for the immunosuppressive drugs that ward off organ rejection. The drugs cost $20,000 annually. Medi-Cal also won’t pay for organ transplants for illegal immigrants.

The hospital won’t perform the transplant without a guarantee that the drugs and accompanying treatment will be paid for.

Some bioethicists say the hospital should have performed the surgery because Navarro would not be taking resources away from other patients or putting his wife at serious risk.

After all, many legal residents fail to follow their post-surgical plan.

“Why was this patient denied the opportunity to comply?” asked Santa Clara University bioethics professor Margaret McLean.

Other experts suggest that the possibility of saving a life should outweigh concerns about follow-up care.

“He has the organ — the critical resource — if he can get it transplanted,” said University of Southern California bioethics professor Michael Shapiro. “That’s a serious chance at life.”

Critics say that providing any long-term care to undocumented immigrants is irresponsible and discourages home countries from investing in an adequate health system.

TAGS: health

Here’s What a Less Racist ‘Vanity Fair’ Hollywood Issue Cover Would Look Like

Here's What a Less Racist 'Vanity Fair' Hollywood Issue Cover Would Look Like

This should not come at a shock for anyone because Vanity Fair has moved actors and models of color to the sides of pages for decades but here it is anyway: the March “Hollywood Issue” cover put an all white cast of actresses on the cover and saved the two black actresses featured for the back cover.

This is Vanity Fair’s 18th Hollywood Issue and they’ve done thing with both males and female actors for more than a decade.

So I thought Vanity Fair could use some ideas of what a more inclusive cover could like: (click to enlarge)


From left to right: “Awkward Black Girl’s” Issa Rae; “The Good Wife’s” Archie Panjabi, Hawaii 5-0’s Grace Park; America Ferrera, “Gun Hill Road’s” Harmony Santana; “Pariah’s” Adepero Oduye; Gabourey Sidibe; Kim Wayans. On the last page to the right, added in there is Naya Rivera from “Glee”; Mindy Kaling from “The Office” and Maggie Q from “Nikita.”

Below is the original cover of Vanity Fair’s March issue:


*This post has been updated since publication.

TAGS: Vanity Fair

ICE Confirms DREAMer Yanelli Hernandez Deported to Mexico

Earlier today I wrote about the efforts of DREAMers across the United States to keep Yanelli Hernandez in the country because she’s tried to commit suicide twice. On Tuesday afternoon sources close to the 22-year-old confirmed she was in Mexico to

ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls:

Yanelli HERNANDEZ-Serrano was removed to her native country, Mexico, today in accordance with a final order of removal from an immigration judge. ICE has adopted common sense policies that ensure our immigration laws are enforced in a way that best enhances public safety, border security and the integrity of the immigration system. As part of this approach, ICE has adopted clear priorities that call for the agency’s enforcement resources to be focused on the identification and removal of those that have broken criminal laws, recently crossed our border, repeatedly violated immigration law or are fugitives from immigration court.

In a letter to attorney Jorge Martinez, ICE Detroit field office director Rebecca J. Adducci wrote, “Your request is denied. The basis of this request is that your client cannot depart from the United States due to hardships she will face stamming from longstanding mental illness. You have provided no documentation to support this claim.”

“The removal of individuals with final orders of removal, as well as criminal aliens, is an ICE civil immigration enforcement priority. Ms. Hernandez was never lawfully present in the United States,” Adducci went on to write in the letter.

“An order of removal was entered in Ms. Hernandez’s case by the immigration judge on Jan. 25, 2012, at her request. Thus she is subject to a final order of removal. Further, Ms. Hernandez is a convicted criminal as she has convictions for forgery and driving under the influence.”

Immigrant youth around the country are holding vigils as part of “Undocumented Youth Mental Health Day” in response to Hernandez’s deportation order.

The National Immigrant Youth Alliance, which organized the nationwide vigils, also have plans to launch a 24-hr hotline in the future so that undocumented youth can reach out to fellow young immigrants. The plan is for the newly launched website,, to be a resource, and a way to address the very real mental health issues that come along with being young and undocumented.

Jan Brewer Uses Wagging Finger Incident to Raise Money

Jan Brewer Uses Wagging Finger Incident to Raise Money

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s book sales skyrocketed last week after the famous wagging finger incident and this past weekend she used the same incident to raise political campaign contributions. And she’s switched up to story to make her sound like a maverick.

Last week, Brewer said that, despite the widely circulated photo of her with her finger a few inches from Obama’s face, said she “really wasn’t pointing at him.”

“We could have been talking about a lot of different things,” Brewer explained then, saying she respects the office of the president. “And I would never be disrespectful in that manner.”

But on her website for supporters, Brewer said she was holding the President accountable.

“I was telling him, ‘You have ONE more year,’ ” she writes, a clear reference to the upcoming presidential race.

“The president needs to be reminded that he is the president of the FEDERAL REPUBLIC and not a KING lording over state governors.”

And then she went in for the ask: “Donate today to Jan PAC and help me stop President Obama in 2012 and others like him who are taking our country down the wrong path,” she wrote on her website.

DREAMers Declare Undocumented Youth Mental Health Day

DREAMers Declare Undocumented Youth Mental Health Day

Immigrant youth around the country are holding vigils as part of “Undocumented Youth Mental Health Day” in response to the imminent deportation of Yanelli Hernandez, a young undocumented immigrant who has attempted suicide while in detention. Hernandez is slated for deportation to Mexico today.

Last November, a DREAM Act-eligible youth named Joaquin Luna committed suicide because he was reportedly distraught about his immigration status. Activists say depression is common among undocumented youth and they’re rallying to save Hernandez’s life.

YanelliNew1.jpgHernandez was charged with a DUI last April—activists say that she turned to alcohol to deal with the depression that came with her immigration issues. She had attempted suicide first in 2009, and attempted suicide more recently in jail while incarcerated. 

Luna’s family has spoken out in support of Hernandez.

“I hope that ICE and the proper authorities find it in their heart to release her. She needs to be out, with her mother. Only a mother knows how to take care of her child, and also what it feels like to lose a child after we’ve try everything to keep them safe,” Luna’s mother said in a statement.

The National Immigrant Youth Alliance, which organized the nationwide vigils, also have plans to launch a 24-hr hotline in the future so that undocumented youth can reach out to fellow young immigrants. The plan is for the newly launched website,, to be a resource, and a way to address the very real mental health issues that come along with being young and undocumented.

“A lot of our very active DREAM leaders contemplated suicide or have dealt with depression, so it’s a very real thing for us. We want people to know that if you’re feeling that way, it’s okay. There are other folks who can support you and help you,” the National Immigrant Youth Alliance’s Mohammad Abdollahi told

“We are stepping up and identifying ourselves as undocumented, and also as survivors of depression. We’re coming out and saying it. It’s a very taboo thing, and it’s a very difficult thing to say, and if we never represent it, then other folks are going to feel they’re doing something wrong or they don’t have support.”

For more information and resources visit

Ava Duvernay Becomes First Black Woman to Win Best Director at Sundance

Ava Duvernay Becomes First Black Woman to Win Best Director at Sundance

Ava DuVernay won the Best Director award at the Sundance Film Festival for her drama ‘Middle Of Nowhere’ — making her the first black woman to take home the honor.

DuVernay’s U.S. Dramatic Competition film chronicles a woman’s struggle to adapt to life after her husband’s incarceration. “This epidemic of incarceration really affects black and brown communities disproportionately,” DeVernay said in the interview seen in the video above.

In her acceptance speech Duvernay thanked her grandmother for teaching her to see the beauty in Compton and Lynwood where she grew up. She also stressed that it was important that her film be seen beyond the film festival and for “filmmakers of color to see one another’s films and have them seen.”

‘Middle Of Nowhere’ was picked up for distribution last week by Participant Media, which also distributed ‘An Inconvenient Truth,’ ‘The Help,’ and ‘Waiting For Superman.’

You can see DeVernay’s acceptance speech online starting at the 1:32 mark.

Authors on Tucson’s Mexican-American Studies Banned Book List Respond

Authors on Tucson's Mexican-American Studies Banned Book List Respond

Arizona’s ban on the Mexican American Studies curriculum used in Tucson high schools went into effect on January 1st. Several authors who are on the banned list have made statements.

“Administrators told Mexican-American studies teachers to stay away from any class units where ‘race, ethnicity and oppression are central themes,’”Jeff Biggers wrote on

That list of banned books includes “Occupied America: A History of Chicanos,” Paulo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” “Rethinking Columbus,” “Critical Race Theory,” Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” and “Chicano!: the History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement.”

The Progressive has compiled responses from authors included in the ban including Sherman Alexie, Winona La Duke, and Junot Diaz.

Alexie’s book “The Lone Ranger and Tonto’s Fist Fight in Heaven,” was on the banned curriculum of the Mexican American Studies Program. An excerpt from his response via The Progressive:

Let’s get one thing out of the way: Mexican immigration is an oxymoron. Mexicans are indigenous. So, in a strange way, I’m pleased that the racist folks of Arizona have officially declared, in banning me alongside Urrea, Baca, and Castillo, that their anti-immigration laws are also anti-Indian. I’m also strangely pleased that the folks of Arizona have officially announced their fear of an educated underclass. You give those brown kids some books about brown folks and what happens? Those brown kids change the world. In the effort to vanish our books, Arizona has actually given them enormous power. Arizona has made our books sacred documents now.
Winona LaDuke responded on the Indian Country Today Network, an excerpt below:

My essay “To the Women of the World: Our Future, Our Responsibility” was also included in the book. Interestingly enough, if I were going to ban one of my essays from a public school, this would probably not be the one. The essay is the transcript of my opening plenary address to the United Nations Conference on the Status of Women in 1995, held in Bejing, China. Other books and writings banned include those by famed Brazilian educator Paulo Friere and, in a multiracial censorship move, Shakespeare’s The Tempest was also banned.

Book-banning has a distasteful history. Catholic priests burned Mayan books in 1562, Nazi Germany banned 4,100 or so books from 193 to 1939.

Junot Diaz’s book “Drown” was also part of the banned curriculum of Mexican American Studies. Diaz won the Pulitzer prize for “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.” His response to the Progressive is below:

This is covert white supremacy in the guise of educational standard-keeping—nothing more, nothing less. Given the sharp increase of anti-Latino rhetoric, policies, and crimes in Arizona and the rest of the country, one should not be surprised by this madness and yet one is. The removal of those books before those students’ very eyes makes it brutally clear how vulnerable communities of color and our children are to this latest eruption of cruel, divisive, irrational, fearful, and yes racist politics. Truly infuriating. And more reason to continue to fight for a just society.

Visit The Progressive for more responses.

Celebrate Love: Happy Fred Korematsu Day!

Celebrate Love: Happy Fred Korematsu Day!

Today is second annual Fred Korematsu Day.

Fred T. Korematsu was a national civil rights hero. In 1942, at the age of 23, he refused to go to the government’s incarceration camps for Japanese Americans. After he was arrested and convicted of defying the government’s order, he appealed his case all the way to the Supreme Court. In 1944, the Supreme Court ruled against him, arguing that the incarceration was justified due to military necessity.

Celebrated every January 30, on Korematsu’s birthday, Fred Korematsu Day is the first day in U.S. history named after an Asian American

A short biography of Korematsu from the Fred T. Korematsu Insitute for Civil Rights and Education:

In 1983, Prof. Peter Irons, a legal historian, together with researcher Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga, discovered key documents that government intelligence agencies had hidden from the Supreme Court in 1944. The documents consistently showed that Japanese Americans had committed no acts of treason to justify mass incarceration. With this new evidence, a legal team of mostly Japanese American attorneys re-opened Korematsu’s 40 year-old case on the basis of government misconduct. On November 10, 1983, Korematsu’s conviction was overturned in a federal court in San Francisco. It was a pivotal moment in civil rights history.

Korematsu remained an activist throughout his life. In 1998, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Bill Clinton. In 2010, the state of California passed the Fred Korematsu Day bill, making January 30 the first day in the US named after an Asian American. Korematsu’s growing legacy continues to inspire activists of all backgrounds and demonstrates the importance of speaking up to fight injustice.

On February 2, Korematsu will become the first Asian American featured in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery permanent exhibition, “The Struggle for Justice.”

We’re ending the day as often as possible by celebrating love. We welcome your ideas for posts. Send suggestions to, and be sure to put Celebrate Love in the subject line. You can send links to videos, graphics, photos, quotes, whatever. Or just chime in to the comments below and we’ll find you. Be sure to let us know you’ve got the rights to share any media you send.

To see other Love posts visit our Celebrate Love page.

Dad Teaches Kids Everything Counts With Depeche Mode Song [Video]

Dad Teaches Kids Everything Counts With Depeche Mode Song [Video]

Colombian video artist Dicken Schrader and his kids, Milah and Korben, cover Depeche Mode’s “Everything Counts” on a xylophone, an old Yamaha keyboard and a bunch of homemade improvised instruments.

“Everything Counts” specifically addresses corporate greed and corruption in the music industry, as the chorus sings of “grabbing hands” that “grab all they can”.

The song was originally released on July 11, 1983.


TAGS: music

Indiana’s ‘Right-to-Work’ Final Vote to Take Place Wednesday

Right-to-work legislation in Indiana cleared one of its final steps Monday with a state Senate committee passing the bill 6-1. Supporters of right-to-work, led by Indiana’s Republican Governor Mitch Daniels, say it is needed to bring business and jobs to the state. But opponents call it “union busting” and say it will hurt workers with lower wages.

If the bill gets final approval Wednesday it will allow workers to opt out of paying union dues, even when a workplace is unionized.

Local 150 International Union of Operating Engineers representative Todd Vandermyde told the Sun Times the bill goes against a protection found in the state Constitution restricting services from being demanded without just compensation.

“This bill forces my local and many others to render representation to people who choose not to be a member and pay any fees,” Vandermyde said.

Indiana would join 22 other states with right-to-work laws, most of them in the South and West, according to Reuters. Indiana’s action has stirred a national debate because no state has approved right-to-work legislation since Oklahoma a decade ago.

The bill now moves to the full Senate with the potential for amendments Tuesday and a final vote Wednesday.

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