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The Spam Factory's Dirty Secret

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First Hormel gutted the union. Then it sped up the line. And when the pig-brain machine made workers sick, they got canned.

Ted Genoways, Mother Jones

This article is made possible with the generous contributions of readers like you. Thank you!

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Trucks outside the Hormel factory Photographs by Alec Soth/Magnum Photos

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On the cut-and-kill floor of Quality Pork Processors Inc. in Austin, Minnesota, the wind always blows. From the open doors at the docks where drivers unload massive trailers of screeching pigs, through to the "warm room" where the hogs are butchered, to the plastic-draped breezeway where the parts are handed over to Hormel for packaging, the air gusts and swirls, whistling through the plant like the current in a canyon. In the first week of December 2006, Matthew Garcia felt feverish and chilled on the blustery production floor. He fought stabbing back pains and nausea, but he figured it was just the flu—and he was determined to tough it out.

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Garcia had gotten on at QPP only 12 weeks before and had been stuck with one of the worst spots on the line: running a device known simply as the "brain machine"—the last stop on a conveyor line snaking down the middle of a J-shaped bench [DC] called the "head table." Every hour, more than 1,300 severed pork heads go sliding along the belt. Workers slice off the ears, clip the snouts, chisel the cheek meat. They scoop out the eyes, carve out the tongue, and scrape the palate meat from the roofs of mouths. Because, famously, all parts of a pig are edible ("everything but the squeal," wisdom goes), nothing is wasted. A woman next to Garcia would carve meat off the back of each head before letting the denuded skull slide down the conveyor and through an opening in a plexiglass shield.

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John Marty | In Defense of Good Government

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  • I'm speaking out in defense of good government, which includes criticism of bad, ineffective, and inappropriate government. But it also requires defending that which government needs to do, even if it means higher taxes.
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  • Legislators, the key to compromise is human dignity
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  • The price of being poor
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MN Sen. John Marty (D-Roseville), Apple Pie Alliance/USuncutMN

Why does one need to write in defense of good government? Because right wing politicians have vilified government. Under their relentless attacks, government is portrayed as evil - something Grover Norquist wants to reduce "to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."

Norquist is not an insignificant figure. He founded Americans for Tax Reform, and is a key strategist behind the Republican Party attack on government. This assault on government is not a compassionate attempt to serve the public good. Norquist says, "Our goal is to inflict pain. It is not good enough to win; it has to be a painful and devastating defeat.... It is like when the king would take his opponent's head and spike it on a pole for everyone to see."

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Legislators, the key to compromise is human dignity, Brian Rusche, Minneapolis Star Tribune | MN

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  • Consider, among the budget proposals, who is truly affected.
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  • Woe to You, Legislators!
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The price of being poor, Charles M. Blow, New York Times | NY

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  • If Washington politicians ever knew the sting of poverty then they have long since vanquished the memory.
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  • Poverty is brutal, consuming and unforgiving. It strikes at the soul.
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  • Prescription for pain in shutdown, budget cuts
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The Democratic Party and the assault on public workers

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  • Both parties are carrying out the policy of the ruling class, which is to impose the full cost of the breakdown of the capitalist system on the working class.
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  • Apologists for the Democratic Party continue suidical plunge.
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  • Kathy Hochul, Another Corporate Democrat Posing As A Friend to Worker
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  • Can Unions Break From the Democrats?
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World Socialist Website

Thanks to Evergreene Digest reader Scott Schneider for this contribution

Last Thursday (June 23), the Democratic-controlled New Jersey Assembly passed a sweeping package of pension and health care cuts and attacks on government workers’ bargaining rights drawn up by Republican Governor Chris Christie. Leaders of the state Senate, also controlled by the Democrats, said they would quickly adopt the same bill and send it to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.
The bill affects 750,000 public sector workers and retirees. The New York Times summed up its contents as follows:

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“The legislation will sharply increase what state and local workers must contribute for their health insurance and pensions, suspend cost-of-living increases to retirees’ pension checks, raise retirement ages and curb the unions’ contract bargaining rights. It will save local and state government $132 billion over the next 30 years, by the administration’s estimate, and give the troubled benefit systems a sounder financial footing, mostly by shifting costs onto workers.”

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Kathy Hochul, Another Corporate Democrat Posing As A Friend to Workers, Tobias Michael, Workers' Compass
Her record on her website reads as one long love poem to corporate America with proud achievements of eliminating taxes and no record of shifting the burden to the rich in order to make up for the shortage of funds coming in. Furthermore, nowhere on Hochul’s website does she speak to union issues or even whether she supports unions despite the fact that unions poured millions of dollars and time and energy into her campaign.

Can Unions Break From the Democrats? Amy Dean, Truthout

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  • The role of this "independent" labor movement, AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka said, "is not to build the power of a political party or a candidate. It is to improve the lives of working families and strengthen our country."
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  • What a Real Declaration of Independence Would Mean
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  • GOP Not the Only Party Targeting Unions
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  • Kathy Hochul, Another Corporate Democrat Posing As A Friend to Workers
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Welcome to the Violent World of Mr. Hopey Changey

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For the record, on a scorecard of imposed misery, from secret trials and prisons and the hounding of whistleblowers and the criminalising of dissent to the incarceration and impoverishment of his own people, mostly black people, Obama is as bad as George W. Bush.

John Pilger, John Pilger.com

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Lydia Howell

If you like reading this article, consider contributing a cuppa jove to Evergreene Digest--using the donation button in the above right-hand corner—so we can bring you more just like it.

When Britain lost control of Egypt in 1956, Prime Minister Anthony Eden said he wanted the nationalist president Gamal Abdel Nasser “destroyed … murdered … I don’t give a damn if there’s anarchy and chaos in Egypt”. Those insolent Arabs, Winston Churchill had urged in 1951, should be driven “into the gutter from which they should never have emerged”.

The language of colonialism may have been modified; the spirit and the hypocrisy are unchanged. A new imperial phase is unfolding in direct response to the Arab uprising that began in January and has shocked Washington and Europe, causing an Eden-style panic. The loss of the Egyptian tyrant Mubarak was grievous, though not irretrievable; an American-backed counter-revolution is under way as the military regime in Cairo is seduced with new bribes and power shifting from the street to political groups that did not initiate the revolution. The western aim, as ever, is to stop authentic democracy and reclaim control.

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States That Cut The Most Funding Lost The Most Jobs

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  • On average, states that increased spending performed significantly better than cost-cutting states, with their unemployment rates actually dropping by 0.2 percent (as opposed to 1 percent increase in cost-cutting states), private-sector employment increasing by 1.4 percent (as opposed to a 2.1 percent loss) and 0.5 percent "real economic growth" since the start of the recession (as compared to a 2.9 percent economic contraction relative to the national economic trend).
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  • Stop the Austerity Craze! Massive Budget Slashing Can Lead to Economic Disaster, Violence and Repression
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Huffington Post

At a time when corporations are buying up elections – not to mention the 24-hour-news cycle – help ensure that a source for truly independent journalism lives on. Support Evergreene Digest today by using the donation button in the above right-hand corner.

Republican governors have touted spending cuts as both fiscally responsible, and economically prudent. But a new analysis casts doubt on that narrative.

In recent months, Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) and Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) both claimed their budgets, heavy on the spending cuts, would pave the way for job growth in their states, as Think Progress notes.

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Yet according to research performed by Think Progress, it seems states that cut the most funding lost the most jobs. And according to the site, in fact, the country is split pretty evenly between the 24 states that cut spending between 2007 and 2010, and the 25 that expanded government outlays.

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Stop the Austerity Craze! Massive Budget Slashing Can Lead to Economic Disaster, Violence and Repression, Mark Ames, AlterNet

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  • The DC-Wall Street power circuit, with a big assist from the corporate media, is blindly pushing an agenda that could lead to massive social upheaval.
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  • Austerity - a sure path to a bad economy
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  • Citizens must be better educated about U.S. economic option
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  • Anti-Austerity Alliance Wins in Illinois
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Clarence Thomas Can Breathe a Sigh of Relief with Weiner Downfall

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  • Every Democrat from the White House down screamed loudly for New York Representative Anthony Weiner to resign, and he finally did. But it's not a Democrat that's breathing the biggest sigh of relief at Weiner's downfall. It's Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
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  • Clarence Thomas & Ethics
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  • Clarence Thomas Must Go
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  • The Clarence Thomas Scandal
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Earl Ofari Hutchinson, OpEdNews.com

This article is made possible with the generous contributions of readers like you. Thank you!

Every Democrat from the White House down screamed loudly for New York Representative Anthony Weiner to resign, and he finally did. But it's not a Democrat that's breathing the biggest sigh of relief at Weiner's downfall. It's Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. There was much talk a year ago that Weiner would be the point man on the House Judiciary Committee if it decided to go after Thomas for his long trail of financial manipulations, abuse, and duplicity. Weiner gave some hope that he'd be the go to guy against Thomas because he had been hammering him publicly on his dealings and demanding that he recuse himself from any high court deliberations and ruling on the constitutionality of the health care reform law that conservative's loathe.

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Weiner certainly had a lot of ammunition to make Thomas's misdoings a prima facie legal and political embarrassment for the GOP. This stemmed from Thomas's wife Ginni's mini-king ransom earnings she received from assorted right wing foundations and think tanks. The Heritage Foundation, was a prominent funder of Ginni as well as the ultraconservative Koch brothers, the Coors family and Richard Mellon Scaife, all of which have a major interest in any number of Supreme Court rulings.

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Clarence Thomas & Ethics, Michael Keegan, People For the American Way

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  • With the latest ethical questions about Justice Clarence Thomas's relationships with groups and individuals who have a stake in his decisions, it's time for Congress to act.
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  • Tell the Judiciary Committee to investigate and enforce ethics on the Supreme Court.
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Clarence Thomas Must Go, William Rivers Pitt, Truthout

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  • Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do. - Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart
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  • Conservative corruption is nothing new in Washington, but Mr. Thomas has taken the practice to bold new heights, and finally, people are beginning to sit up and take notice.
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The Clarence Thomas Scandal, Ian Millhiser, Progress Report, Think Progress
If Thomas’ addiction to high dollar favors were his only problem, that would be deeply disturbing. But this is just one of many scandals facing the justice.

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Prescription for pain in shutdown, budget cuts

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  • Both the impending shutdown and the GOP-proposed budget cuts are bad medicine, prescriptions for pain rather than for health.
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  • The impact of a shutdown, in fact, would hit hardest many of the same people who would be hurt by the GOP's cuts-only budget.
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Mary Turck, TC Daily Planet | MN

Thanks to Evergreene Digest reader Lance Heglund for this contribution.

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Minnesota's economy is healthier than those of many other states, but maybe not for much longer. Both the impending shutdown and the GOP-proposed budget cuts are bad medicine, prescriptions for pain rather than for health. The breadth of pain that will be caused by the shutdown is mind-boggling, from poor people receiving medical or food or other assistance to state workers who will join the ranks of the unemployed to highway construction workers, whose projects will be shut down. The impact of a shutdown, in fact, would hit hardest many of the same people who would be hurt by the GOP's cuts-only budget.

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Workday Minnesota's video of people in Rochester describing what will happen is powerful. So is the testimony that Bob Collins published on News Cut Wednesday (June 22):

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I have broken down sobbing twice so far at the news about the Minnesota government shutdown. I am a single mother of three young children, one with autism and receiving services and therapies through Medical Assistance and Waivered Services. I have a masters degree in Experiential Education, which is "hands-on learning" and I am going through bankruptcy and on the brink of foreclosure. It's not like I WANT to be on assistance, it's my situation, and this housing economy, and my soon-to-be ex husband also receiving a "disability" diagnosis of autism, which is a social and communication disorder.

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