The Working Families Flexibilities Act, which passed by a 223-203 vote along party lines, would allow employers to substitute “comp time” instead of paying hourly workers time and a half for every hour worked over 40 hours, the standard full-time commitment in the US. Women’s advocates and union organizations have vehemently opposed the bill, saying it further erodes the protections afforded in the Fair Labor Standards Act instituted during the Great Depression. “It takes cash out of the pocket of cash-strapped families under the guise of flexibility,” Liz Watson, a senior advisor at the National Women’s Law Center, told Raw Story. “It’s a bill that comes up right in time for Mother’s day – we say it’s the Mother’s day equivalent of coal in your stocking.” Rep. Martha Roby, the Alabama Republican who introduced the bill in April, said the law is necessary to reflect hectic family schedules. Former US President Ronald Reagan signed a similar bill into law in 1985, giving state and local governments the option to renegotiate how workers were paid, although Congressional leaders of the time called the idea “seriously flawed,” as quoted by the Associated Press. “It was really designed to protect those workers who were most likely to be exploited,” Watson said of the Fair Labor Standards Act. “It was designed to ensure that those workers with the least bargaining power were made to work a certain number of hours in a week and to create a disincentive to make people work beyond a 40-hour work week.” Democrats have argued that the bill would allow businesses to essentially take out an interest-free loan on employees and pressure them into taking undesired time off, even if that choice is protected by law. The controversy surrounding the bill could be moot, however, as the Democrat-controlled Senate has given no indication that the Working Families Flexibility Act would be put up for discussion. President Obama has similarly promised to veto the bill. “This legislation undermines the existing right to hard-earned overtime pay, on which many working families rely to make ends meet, while misrepresenting itself as a workplaces flexibility measure that gives power to employees over their own schedules,” the White House said in a statement. Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) told the Huffington Post he has “concerns” about the bill’s ability to protect workers “from being pressured into making choices that will actually hurt their families.” He added that the House of Representatives has yet to consider a bill he proposed in the Senate that would mandate paid sick leave.“I think this is the wrong approach to the very critical problem of helping workers balance job responsibilities with family and caregiving,” Harkin said. …
Hi Cary,I’m a 21-year-old woman, and I’ve been engaged since 18. (We’re not really religious or anything, so that’s not a factor.) When we decided to get married, for me it was kind of on a whim. I was young and didn’t really get what it means to make a lifetime commitment. So now we live together and plan to get married later this year. I love him more than anything. He’s my best friend and knows me better than anyone else. We get along great and rarely fight. He would make an incredible husband. But at the same time, I don’t feel ready to make a lifetime commitment. I feel I haven’t had enough time to experience life independently and develop myself. I know that he doesn’t feel the same way. He’s very serious about getting married and seems to have no second thoughts. We’re the same age. To make things more complicated, he recently lost a parent and lost his job, and he’s going through a hard time, and I love him and want to support him, not make things worse. I don’t know what to do. Continue Reading… …
JERUSALEM — President Barack Obama’s address to the Israeli people, delivered a mere two months after starting his second term in office, may herald a new direction for American foreign policy.Clearly aware of first term missed opportunities in the relationship with America’s closest Mideast ally, Obama chose to crown his two day trip to Israel and the Palestinian Authority with a passionate, forceful speech addressed to a group of more than 2,000 Israelis.Whereas for the Obama administration the trip, and the speech, may represent a gamble on a second term commitment to the thorny problem of an Israeli-Palestinian peace, for Israelis it was a chance to see, up close and personal, a man who had remained for them a cipher.Immediately following the address, Jeffrey Goldberg, a national correspondent for The Atlantic, blogged, “I spoke to several members of the audience, who confirmed my impression that Israelis just wanted to know that he liked them. It’s hard to understand this from the US, but the idea really did take hold here that Obama genuinely hated Israel. So this whole trip is a bit of a revelation for ordinary Israelis.”Continue Reading… …
Barack Obama is on his first visit to
Israel as president, after insisting in his first term he’d only
visit if he had
something concrete to accomplish. Both he and the Israeli prime
minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, are recently re-elected, and both
would have likely preferred to be meeting with the other’s
opponent. Nevertheless, the president said he was there “to
reaffirm the unbreakable bond between our nations, to restate
America’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security”, but, also!,
“to speak directly to the people of Israel” (to go
“over the heads” of its leaders, as some put it)
America’s alliance with Israel is eternal—lanetzach—the
president said, and Israel
branded the visit “Operation Unbreakable Alliance,” with the
country in a
high state of alert for the 48 hours Obama will be there. After
Tel Aviv, the president will be in Jerusalem, which the
Washington Free Beacon notes the White House
did not identify as part of Israel on the itinerary. The
Free Beacon also found discrepancies in the map of Israel
used in a White House video (Jerusalem, northern Israel, and areas
around the West Bank were not identified as Israeli territory).
Meanwhile, in Jersualem itself Deutsche Welle
finds neither Israelis or Palestinians optimistic about what
President Obama’s visit might accomplish. In 1898, the German
broadcaster notes, the sultan of the Ottoman Empire prepared six
months for the Kaiser’s visit to Jerusalem. Palestinians have
set up a protest camp in a region zoned by Israel for
settlement (E1) for President Obama’s visit. Obama
began his first term pushing for a settlement freeze but has
since settled for
not saying anything about it. Arab hopes for Obama have
reports the Guardian, since his 2009 Cairo speech.
America, in fact, is
less popular now in parts of the Muslim world than it was when
George W. Bush was president.
Another big issue on the itinerary is Iran, which President
week told Israeli news was only a year or so away from having a
nuclear bomb. Estimates for when Iran would get a nuclear weapon
from 2000 to 2015. On the eve of his trip to Israel, meanwhile,
released a video address to the Iranian people on the occasion
of the Iranian new year, warning them the country faced increased
isolation if its leaders continued to pursue a nuclear policy.
Obama’s arrival in Israel
comes on the tenth anniversary of the war in Iraq, a war
Netanyahu supported (and
Obama wanted to prolong) that arguably strengthened Iran’s
influence in the region. This time, in addition to the looming
prospect of war with Iran is a two-year-long civil war in Syria.
Israel fears spill-over from that conflict, and will
reportedly ask the president for U.S. support for any potential
strikes on Syrian weapons convoys headed for Hezbollah in Lebanon.
And while Israeli officials have said it was
“apparently clear” Syria has used chemical weapons against its
people, the White House says there’s
no evidence of that.
Obama looks likely to
continue the tradition of American presidents visiting Israel
in their second term, endorsing the U.S.-Israeli alliance, and then
not accomplishing much else. …
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — In a case that tests anti-discrimination protection for gays, a religious rights group told the New Mexico Supreme Court on Monday that a photographer who declined to shoot the commitment ceremony of a lesbian couple was exercising her rights to free speech and artistic freedom.The First Amendment should exempt Elaine Huguenin and her Albuquerque business, Elane Photography, from state laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, Jordan Lorence of the Alliance Defending Freedom told the high court.He said gay marriage is against the photographer’s religious beliefs, and she should not be required to promote a message that violates her conscience.An attorney for the couple, however, argued that the business openly advertises its wedding photography services, and as a public business is required to follow the same anti-discrimination laws as any other company.After the hearing, Lorence called it an unusual case that takes the gay marriage debate to a new level.”Nationally, there is a lot of debate about should marriage be defined as between a man and a woman,” he said. “One of the consequences is that it creates these rights of conscience cases.”Continue Reading… …
Daily Show blames Manti Te’o: Pope questioned ‘relationship with someone he talks to all the time, but has never actually met’
Like most of the world, The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart expressed shock Monday night that Pope Benedict the XVI was resigning at the end of February. “I assumed the Papacy was a lifetime commitment …like being in the mob or a correspondent on 60 Minutes. I just assumed you were there…
Hilda Solis leaves after serving since 2009, three sources tell BuzzFeed.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.
Image by Richard Vogel / AP
Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis resigned Wednesday afternoon, three sources told BuzzFeed.
Her departure means one fewer woman in a cabinet that is already facing criticism for including too many men.
Solis was one of the least-visible members of Obama’s cabinet.
“She was involved a lot in labor specific stuff but you didn't see her out there a lot on, or being listened to, giving the side of what working families would think about taxes, health care, etc,” said one Labor activist.
Obama praised her in a statement announcing her resignation.
Over her long career in public service – as an advocate for environmental justice in California, state legislator, member of Congress and Secretary of Labor – Hilda Solis has been a tireless champion for working families. Over the last four years, Secretary Solis has been a critical member of my economic team as we have worked to recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and strengthen the economy for the middle class. Her efforts have helped train workers for the jobs of the future, protect workers’ health and safety and put millions of Americans back to work. I am grateful to Secretary Solis for her steadfast commitment and service not only to the Administration, but on behalf of the American people. I wish her all the best in her future endeavors.
Solis, a former member of Congress from California, has served as Secretary since 2009.