News » Citydesk

August 11, 2004

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WEST

ON THE WAL-MART DOLE

Inadequate wages and benefits forced workers at Wal-Mart stores in California to seek $86 million in state aid according to an August 4 Los Angeles Times article.

The article cites a report entitiled "The Hidden Cost of Wal-Mart Jobs" released earlier this month by the University of California-Berkeley Labor Center.

In the report, Berkeley researchers Arindrajit Dube and Ken Jacobs contend that more than other retail workers, Wal-Mart employees rely on a variety of public-aid programs, including food stamps, Medicare and subsidized housing.

"In effect, Wal-Mart is shifting part of its labor costs onto the public," the researchers wrote.

In Congress, writes the Times, a report by Democratic staffers on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce looked at employee eligibility for assistance programs and found that a typical 200-employee Wal-Mart store could cost federal taxpayers $420,750 a year, or more than $2,000 per employee.

Wal-Mart has disputed those findings and maintains that it pays competitive wages.

The UC-Berkeley study can be viewed at www.dsausa.org/lowwage/walmart/2004/walmart%20study.html.

PENNIES FROM POLLUTERS

The Yellowstone Mountain Club, a swanky resort for multimillionaire's only near Big Sky, Montana, will pay a $1.8 million fine to settle complaints of discharging debris into waterways and wetlands. In addition to the fine, the club will also complete several habitat restoration projects.

NATION

RED AND BLUE ALL OVER

The battle between the red states and blue states heated up this week when BuzzFlash writer Maureen Farrell looked at the 10 smartest states in the Union and whether they were leaning toward Kerry or Bush.

"Starting with the hypothesis that Bush backers must, given all the evidence, be a bit slow on the uptake," writes Farrell in an August 10 column, "researchers at BuzzFlash (namely me) consulted the publishers of Education State Ranking, 2003-2004 (via Google) and compared these findings against projected electoral votes in the 2004 election."

According to Farrell, this is how the candidates fare in the country's top 10 "smart states":

1. Massachusetts--Kerry, strong lead

2. Vermont--Kerry, strong lead

3. Connecticut--Kerry, strong lead

4. Montana--Bush, strong lead

5. New Jersey--Kerry, strong lead

6. Maine--Kerry, barely leads

7. Pennsylvania--Kerry, weak lead

8. Wisconsin--Kerry, barely leads

9. Iowa--Kerry, barely leads

10. New York--Kerry, strong lead

To read the report "Which State is Smartest" go to www.morganquitno.com/edrank.htm.

To read Maureen Farrell's article "Are Blue States Smarter than Red States?" go to www.buzzflash.com/farrell/04/08/far04027.html.

PESTICIDE SHELL GAME

Bush administration EPA officials are helping a handful of chemical suppliers hide a massive stockpile of the toxic pesticide methyl bromide according to a lawsuit filed in federal court last week by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Methyl bromide is scheduled for phase-out under the 1987 Montreal Protocol, a treaty signed by President Ronald Reagan.

According to the NRDC the administration is pushing hard to reverse the phase out.

"Methyl bromide is a story about greed, not need. Suppliers are trying to overturn successful ozone layer safeguards and keep growers hooked on this dangerous product," said David Doniger, NRDC's Climate Policy Director. "EPA is helping them by playing hide-and-seek with the facts."

QUOTES OF THE WEEK

"Real rich people figure out how to dodge taxes and the small-business owners end up paying a lot of the burden of this taxation."

--President George W. Bush during an August 9 campaign stop in Annandale, Virginia

"If you are a Democrat, you win when people think."

--President Bill Clinton on August 9 on The Daily Show

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

--President George W. Bush on August 5 in Washington, D.C.

OVERHEARD LOCALLY

"You guys are hurtin'."

"I'm a veritable Dale Earnhart"

"I think you gentlemen need to go back for your driver's licenses."

--City Councilman (and funny man) Alan Shealy quips to Mayor David Bieter and City Councilman Jerome Mapp as the three city leaders--clad in tie-dye T-shirts--race mini solar-powered remote-control cars at The Discovery Center on Friday, August 6 during a news conference on the Alternative Energy Fair.

Shealy won the race.

WAR IN IRAQ

U.S. CASUALTIES: As of 10 a.m. Tuesday, August 3, 930 U.S. service members have died since the war in Iraq began in March 2003: 692 in combat and 238 from noncombat-related incidents and accidents. Twelve U.S. soldiers died last week in Iraq; 792 soldiers have died since President Bush declared "mission accomplished" aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003.

Source: U.S. Department of Defense

IRAQI CIVILIAN DEATHS: Estimated between 11,487 and 13,458.

Source: www.iraqbodycount.org

COST OF IRAQ WAR: $126,941,000,000.

Source: costofwar.com

The Outstanding Public Debt as of August 10 is $7,329,623,241,097.70.

The estimated population of the United States is 293,916,204, so each citizen's share of this debt is $24,937.80.

The National Debt has continued to increase an average of $1.73 billion per day since September 30, 2003.

Source: www.brillig.com/debt_clock/

--Compiled by Cynthia Sewell