Bob Higgins

House Ethics Committee’s Report on Newt Gingrich’s Ethics Violations

Posted in Politics by Bob Higgins on January 27, 2012

Full Text of State of the Union Message of Barack Obama 1/24/12

Posted in History, Politics by Bob Higgins on January 25, 2012

Remarks of President Barack Obama in State of the Union Address — As Prepared for Delivery

State of the Union Address, Washington, DC

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:

Tonight I want to begin by congratulating the men and women of the 112th Congress, as well as your new Speaker, John Boehner. And as we mark this occasion, we are also mindful of the empty chair in this Chamber, and pray for the health of our colleague – and our friend – Gabby Giffords.

It’s no secret that those of us here tonight have had our differences over the last two years. The debates have been contentious; we have fought fiercely for our beliefs. And that’s a good thing. That’s what a robust democracy demands. That’s what helps set us apart as a nation.

But there’s a reason the tragedy in Tucson gave us pause. Amid all the noise and passions and rancor of our public debate, Tucson reminded us that no matter who we are or where we come from, each of us is a part of something greater – something more consequential than party or political preference.

We are part of the American family. We believe that in a country where every race and faith and point of view can be found, we are still bound together as one people; that we share common hopes and a common creed; that the dreams of a little girl in Tucson are not so different than those of our own children, and that they all deserve the chance to be fulfilled.

That, too, is what sets us apart as a nation.

Now, by itself, this simple recognition won’t usher in a new era of cooperation. What comes of this moment is up to us. What comes of this moment will be determined not by whether we can sit together tonight, but whether we can work together tomorrow.

I believe we can. I believe we must. That’s what the people who sent us here expect of us. With their votes, they’ve determined that governing will now be a shared responsibility between parties. New laws will only pass with support from Democrats and Republicans. We will move forward together, or not at all – for the challenges we face are bigger than party, and bigger than politics. (more…)

The Mayor of Kabul

Posted in Politics by Bob Higgins on January 13, 2012

The Mayor of Kabul

Cross posted at Film Annex: The Mayor of Kabul

I imagine that being mayor of a city, despite decent pay and perks, could be a thankless job. Whether you’re the mayor of East Podunk (pop 236) or a metropolis of millions of people most of the problems land on your desk. Problems of moving people around from work to home to play. Keeping the streets clean and safe. Keeping coalitions together, satisfying the divergent interests of the various neighborhoods and competing groups.

Power failures, sporting events, conventions, fires, storms, crimes both petty and spectacular, strikes, all bring an overnight bag or more of grief for the Mayor.

But what must it be like to be Mayor in a city that has grown in population from just over a million to nearly 5 million in eight years,  a city of mostly unpaved roads, a city 3500 years old, with a dozen ethnic groups and half a dozen languages, a city with one foot in the present,  one foot in the past and both planted firmly in a war.

Read the rest at: Film Annex  “The Mayor of Kabul”

Foxconn: Take This Job and Shove Me Off the Roof

Posted in Humor, Labor Health and Safety, Politics by Bob Higgins on January 11, 2012
Foxconn worker suicides

They love their jobs, it shows in their smiling faces.

Do you enjoy reading on your Kindle or wasting time on your Xbox 360? Are you browsing with your iPad or yakking on your iPhone?

When you bought them were you happy with the price?

There may be some hidden costs being paid by the people who make these products.

Foxconn, a manufacturer of circuit boards for a long list of consumer electronics companies including Apple, Microsoft and Amazon is having a bit of a problem in the human resources department. Reports are that on January 2 about three hundred workers in a Foxconn mega factory in Wuhan, China threatened to hurl themselves from the roof of a building in a mass suicide over poor pay and working conditions.

On Jan. 2, over 300 employees at a Foxconn plant in Wuhan, China threatened to throw themselves off a building in a mass suicide. Foxconn makes Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony products. These workers manufacture Xbox 360s.  Kotaku

This isn’t the first time for labor relations problems at Foxconn. Fourteen workers opted for the not so golden departure without a parachute in 2010 which should have indicated that the company had bigger problems than crowded lunchrooms.

Microsoft’s Phil Spencer said at the time, “Foxconn has been an important partner of ours and remains an important partner. I trust them as a responsible company to continue to evolve their process and work relationships. That is something we remain committed to—the safe and ethical treatment of people who build our products. That’s a core value of our company.” Kotaku

Foxconn’s factories have been described in a report by 20 Chinese universities as “labor camps” and “concentration camps:

The company was described in the report as a “concentration camp of workers in the 21st century,” and all the employees are “imprisoned” in the “company empire” in order to serve the manufacturing rule of  “just-in-time production.”

The students are “kidnapped” to work overtime for the company that takes advantage of a lack of laws and regulations to maximize its profits, according to the report. TeleCom Asia

Concern for the suicides caused Foxconn to install suicide prevention netting on buildings at some of its factories and higher wages were promised to the workers who were forced to sign agreements not to sue the company if they harmed themselves or committed suicide.

The higher wages didn’t materialize however hence the recent action and threatened mass suicide.

American workers should sit up and take notice.

When the circuit board factory that you that you work in installs suicide netting around the perimeter of the building to prevent employees from leaping to their deaths you probably have a weak union.

With the dismantling of labor unions, the attacks on the NLRB, continued deregulation of business and the rampant growth of corporate control of government there may soon be a net beneath your office or shop window.

I suppose a smart entreprene­ur would draft a business plan and get an SBA loan to start a company called “Suicide Prevention Nets R Us” and get in on the ground floor of what may become a growth industry.

Bob Higgins

Related stories and sources:
Microsoft Investigates ‘Mass Suicide Threat
300 Chinese Foxconn Workers ‘Threaten Mass Suicide’ At XBox Plant, Reports Claim