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Story and photo by Pete Shaw

“If food is essential for survival, then why are the people who bring it to us paid so little?”

That question was recently asked at a forum regarding the many fast food worker strikes across the country over the past year. Those workers, many of whom make the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour (the Oregon minimum wage is $8.25 an hour), have been demanding a raise to $15 an hour. With the economy still in the tank for most working people, the idea of demanding this increase to a living wage seemed only fair, especially as CEOs who don’t do the actual work of getting customers their food are earning high salaries, and then much more in stock and incentives.

On October 15th a crowd of about 60 people gathered at lunchtime outside of the McDonald’s on SE Powell and 28th in support of fast food workers being given a living wage increase. Chanting slogans such as “No burgers, no fries, we want our wages supersized!” and “At $8.95 we can’t survive!” the ralliers milled around on the sidewalk as numerous cars honked their horns in approval. The rally was part of a national day of action honoring the work that fast food workers do and demanding their wages reflect the value of their work.

“People have a right not to live in poverty and be paid an affordable wage,” said Rob Sisk, President of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 503. “They have a right to earn more than poverty wages and to take home a living wage.”

Magarito Joy, who attended the rally with her young son, works a minimum wage job at a coffee shop. “I get paid minimum wage, but I can’t live on that. I have a kid. Minimum wage doesn’t cover the cost of food for us. Fifteen dollars an hour is a start. I’d like it higher. The money is being saved for the people at the top–CEOs, presidents. We want a more even distribution of the money.”

More than 20 students from Cleveland High School, not far from the McDonald’s, also took part in the rally. “We’re going to stand in solidarity with these McDonald’s workers and all low wage workers,” said CHS student Ian Jackson.

According to a new report from the University of California Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education, between 2007 and 2011, the cost of public assistance to families of fast food workers was almost $7 billion a year. “McDonald’s likes to keep the minimum wage low, but not for CEOs,” Sisk told the crowd. “That $7 billion subsidizes McDonald’s.”

The report also shatters an old stereotype of fast food workers. Contrary to myth, most front-line fast food workers are not young teenagers putting together some savings for college: Sixty-eight percent of front-line fast food workers are not in school and are single or married adults with or without children.

A year ago, if you had asked people about the prospects of organizing fast food workers, they probably would have laughed at the idea. But with the help of SEIU, fast food workers have forced people to reconsider the idea.

The people at the rally ate at neither McDonald’s nor the Wendy’s across the street, but they did not go hungry. The Red and Black Cafe, celebrating its 13th birthday, provided lunch.

Mother Jones

1:16 PM  -  Public
Obama can murder you with drones on US soil, US Attorney General writes. But only in, like, "extraordinary" circumstances. Comforting.

Somali American Council of Oregon Seeks to Unite Frightened Community
African youth are at-risk from extremists, but they are also caught in the school to prison pipeline… To read all about it click here

Now Six - Not One - Hanford Tanks Leaking Radioactive Waste

Governor: "This is disturbing news"

- Craig Brown, staff writer

Six aging, single-walled underground storage tanks are leaking radioactive waste, threatening groundwater below the Hanford nuclear site, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee announced on Friday afternoon.

Workers at the Hanford nuclear reservation work around a a tank farm where highly radioactive waste is stored underground near Richland, Wash. Six underground radioactive waste tanks at the hemisphere's most contaminated nuclear dump are leaking, Gov. Jay Inslee said Friday, Feb. 22, 2013 (AP Photo/Shannon Dininny) The seeping waste adds to decades of soil contamination caused by leaking storage tanks at Hanford in the past and threatens to further taint groundwater below the Columbia River, officials said.

The newly disclosed leaking tanks were revealed by Inslee just a week after the U.S. Energy Department disclosed that radioactive waste was found to be escaping from only one tank at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

"This is disturbing news for all Washingtonians," Inslee said in a statement released by his office. "This certainly raises serious questions about the integrity of all 149 single-shell tanks with radioactive liquid and sludge at Hanford... We received very disturbing news today.  I think that we are going to have a course of new action and that will be vigorously pursued in the next several weeks."

Obama's 'Playbook' for Targeted Strikes Has a Gaping Hole--CIA's Killer Drones in Pakistan Exempted

The CIA's deadly campaign of drone strikes in the tribal areas of Pakistan will be exempt from the Obama administration's attempt to codify rules for targeted killings.

Photo Credit:

The Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) campaign of drone strikes in tribal areas in Pakistan will continue to run wild in the coming year. A “playbook” for how the U.S. conducts targeted killing operations by drone that is nearly completed will exempt the CIA’s drone strikes in Pakistan, making the “playbook” essentially useless, considering that the vast majority of strikes occur in Pakistan.

From the Daily Kos!
Published Thu Oct 18, 2012 at 03:58 PM PDT

Am I My Brother's Keeper?
Why pay for health care for the undeserving?

by Samuel Metz, MD

My brother-in-law Max has smoked since he was 12 years old. Now he’s turning 40 and hates the miserable habit. His many efforts to quit reduced his three-pack a day habit to one, but he still can’t kick the addiction. Meanwhile, his many years of low-paying jobs, if they offered any benefits at all, provided him only with high-deductible health insurance he couldn't afford to use. He hadn’t seen a physician in years. But last month he went to the emergency room with a hacking cough that kept him awake for two nights running. The ER people gave him three pieces of bad news: (1) he’s got an advanced lung cancer requiring an operation he can’t afford, (2) the only hospital that will admit him is the county hospital funded with tax dollars, and (3) the multi-hundred dollar emergency room bill is more than he can pay.

Question: Should we spend our hard-earned tax dollars on Max’s operation? Or should Max go without health care because, after all, his bad decisions had allowed the disease to go undetected for so long and caused the cancer in the first place?

It's a question that goes to the heart of our health care crisis. Should we reduce health care costs by excluding the undeserving? If we don’t squander dollars on them, we liberate billions for us solid citizens who earned our right to health care. Why should everyone have that right?


If Oregonians diverted what we currently spend on health care premiums and out-of-pocket payments into a statewide, publicly-funded, universal care agency, we would recover enough administrative costs to pay for treatment for uninsured people like Max without spending more money. We need to regain our health care dollars from insurance companies, not from our neighbors (deserving or undeserving).

Universal health care is an essential tool to ensure each of us gets better care for less money. Who cares if freeloaders get care at our expense if by doing so the rest of us spend less and receive better care?

So hop on the bandwagon for quality health care for everyone. The campaign to create publicly funded universal health care in Oregon is underway, spearheaded by Health Care for All-Oregon. To provide Max with the care he needs while making your own care less expensive, visit Learn more about how to become a better advocate for your family’s health care needs and play your own role in this vital process. Turning Oregon into a shining example of cost-effective comprehensive health care requires people like us looking after ourselves, our families, and our communities.  Join us!  

Samuel Metz is a private practice anesthesiologist, HCAO representative from the Portland chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program, and founding member of Mad As Hell Doctors.

  Go here for the whole article at KOS

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