Charleston Gazette: Longtime Massey official cooperating as Upper Big Branch probe widens

-By Ken Ward Jr.

November 28, 2012- CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A longtime Massey Energy executive has agreed to cooperate with investigators as they continue to try to work their way up the corporate ladder in their probe of the worst U.S. coal-mining disaster in nearly 40 years, federal prosecutors revealed Wednesday.
Former Massey official David C. Hughart will plead guilty to two criminal charges and provide testimony about a decade-long conspiracy to defy safety laws and hide the resulting conditions from government inspectors.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said that Hughart plotted with other company officials to routinely violate ventilation and dust-control standards at Massey mines and to cover up those infractions.

In an interview, Goodwin called the plea agreement with Hughart "a significant step" in an ongoing investigation that began with the deaths of 29 miners at Massey's Upper Big Branch Mine and has expanded into a broader examination of the former coal giant's safety practices.

"We are digging deeper and moving forward," Goodwin said.

PR Watch: Corrections Corporation of America Used in Drug Sweeps of Public School Students

-by Beau Hodai

November 27, 2012- An unsettling trend appears to be underway in Arizona: the use of private prison employees in law enforcement operations.

The state has graced national headlines in recent years as the result of its cozy relationship with the for-profit prison industry. Such controversies have included the role of private prison corporations in SB 1070 and similar anti-immigrant legislation disseminated in other states; a 2010 private prison escape that resulted in two murders and a nationwide manhunt; and a failed bid to privatize nearly the entire Arizona prison system.

And now, recent events in the central Arizona town of Casa Grande show the hand of private corrections corporations reaching into the classroom, assisting local law enforcement agencies in drug raids at public schools.

Trick or Treat

At 9 a.m. on the morning of October 31, 2012, students at Vista Grande High School in Casa Grande were settling in to their daily routine when something unusual occurred.

AP: Wal-Mart distances itself from fire in Bangladesh

-By Farid Hossain and Julhas Alam (Associated Press)

November 26, 2012- DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — The garment factory in Bangladesh where a weekend fire killed at least 112 people had been making clothes for Wal-Mart without the giant U.S. retailer's knowledge, Wal-Mart said.

Wal-Mart said the Tazreen Fashions Ltd. factory was no longer authorized to produce merchandise for Wal-Mart but that a supplier subcontracted work to it "in direct violation of our policies."

"Today, we have terminated the relationship with that supplier," America's biggest retailer said in a statement Monday. "The fact that this occurred is extremely troubling to us, and we will continue to work across the apparel industry to improve fire safety education and training in Bangladesh."

The blaze on Saturday was one of the deadliest fires at a garment factory in Bangladesh and highlighted how the country's garment factories often ignore safety in the rush to supply major retailers in the U.S. and Europe. More than 300 people have died over the past six years in garment factory fires in the South Asian country.

Chris Hedges: Third World America

In this lecture, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges will examine how America has devolved, economically and politically, into a Third World country and the role that inverted totalitarianism plays in consolidating the control of rapacious elites over our political and economic systems. He will also discuss the implications of the current arrangement for the world and what are the steps necessary for the masses of people in this country to begin to push back.

CNN Money: Wal-Mart warns workers on Black Friday strike

-By Emily Jane Fox

November 21, 2012- NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- As Wal-Mart workers prepare to stage a walkout on Black Friday, the world's largest store is fighting back.

Wal-Mart has filed a complaint with a federal agency accusing one of the largest labor unions in the country of unlawfully organizing picket lines, in-store "flash mobs" and other demonstrations in the past six months.

In its complaint Thursday, Wal-Mart said the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and its subsidiary known as OURWalmart is trying to force the store into collective bargaining even though it is not the official union for Wal-Mart's employees. The UFCW represents over a million meat packers and food industry workers.

The complaint comes just days before Wal-Mart workers' plan to stage nationwide walkouts on Black Friday, arguably the biggest holiday shopping day for any U.S. store. Union-backed groups OUR Walmart and Making Change at Wal-Mart, along with a watchdog group Corporate Action Network are calling on the country's largest employer to end what they call retaliation against employees who speak out for better pay, fair schedules and affordable health care.

The Nation: Occupy Walmart: Workers Plan Black Friday Protests

-By Allison Kilkenny

November 20, 2012- Walmart workers are planning to mark Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and one of the biggest shopping days of the year, with pickets outside of stores and warehouses across the country.

Former and current employees of the giant corporation describe systemic abuse and harassment by management at Walmart stores and warehouses. When asked about their demands, many workers talk about the desire for management to respect and listen to the workers. OUR Walmart, a protest group seeking justice and accountability from Walmart, also wants to see the minimum wage raised to $13 an hour and for full-time jobs to made available to “associates” who want them. Other demands include a dependable, predictable work schedule, affordable healthcare, no discrimination and wages that ensure no Walmart worker has to rely on government assistance to survive.

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