Happy Friday, dear friends. It is cold and rainy where I live, but that doesn’t dampen my enthusiasm for the weekend! I hope you all have some lovely plans for bringing joy into your hearts over the next few days.
Let’s grab those cups of coffee and get right down to the news, so we can all move forward with our day.
Today, we focus on international news related to worker’s rights and we bounce around from there.
Belgians come out in force against business-friendly policies.
Over 100,000 Belgian workers took to the streets of Brussels on Thursday, to protest austerity measures and business-friendly policies that undermine employees. The protest is the biggest in Belgium since World War II.
Previous government coalitions have always been friendly to workers and supported a wide range of voices within the country. The current government is pro-business and wishes to institute new measures that will make it easier for companies to operate at the expense of workers.
Protestors are disgruntled about a change in the pension age to 67, a freeze in automatic wage increases that mirrors inflation, and cuts to public service. The socialist union party says it will continue protests, even though talks have been initiated by the government with union leaders. The protests will be capped off with a nation-wide strike on December 15th.
Danish women urged to “take the day off” in a union protest to shrink the gender gap.
Three quarters of all Danish public and private employees belong to unions, and those unions are concerned about a 17% difference in pay between men and women. The Danish Confederation of Trade Unions has been working with other employee groups for the past five years on an annual “Women’s Last Work Day” protest to put pressure on employers to even up wages.
The protest has spurred a new national audit for companies with over 10 employees that will force employers to show the annual salaries of their workers by gender. The organizers hope this will make the gender gap more stark and initiate reforms in a nation who’s women hold significantly more higher education degrees than men.
The World Economic Forum released its International Gender Gap report for 2014 last week. The report ranks countries on a number of key gender equality issues. Denmark, in fact, ranks among the top nations in gender equality.
This link to the World Economic Forum shows analysis of the report, and a link to the full document, so you can check out how your home-country is doing in the gender equality department.
A group of workers in the US state of Maine, bought out their own jobs.
The employees of three businesses on the island of Deer Isle were worried because the owner of three local businesses was about to sell them and retire. The employees banded together, with the help of various business cooperative organizations, and purchased the businesses themselves.
They created the Island Employee Cooperative, which is the largest employee cooperative in Maine. Many families in the rural state live below the poverty line, and state initiatives to draw in corporations very rarely provide benefit to individual families. An employee-owned cooperative is based on economic democracy, where all members have a say in business affairs and receive a portion of the profits.
As the cooperative is new, they plan to reinvest initial profits in new employee benefits, education and site improvements.
This type of cooperative is an example for other states to grow economic opportunities for living wages instead of providing large profits for corporations, who rarely think of their workers and instead look to their bottom-line exclusively.
Were US mid-term elections decided before the votes were even cast?
Republican efforts may have taken a number of years, but they knew exactly what they were doing when they began to redraw the congressional districts in many key states back in 2010. Republican gerrymandering, combined with weak democratic candidates, significantly shifted both houses of the US Congress.
The US voting system is not based on total vote count, or percentage of party votes, but on a system of electoral votes, which can be heavily weighted one way or another.
In most of the close races, that ultimately turned into Republican victories. The number of democratic votes cast were higher than republican votes, but because they came from within specific districts, the vote was carried for the Republican candidate.
This indicates that the voice of the people was not heard during this election, only the voice of the electoral districts.
Faulty touch screens to blame for voter irregularities in Virginia?
The Diebold company, owned by Mitt Romney, manufactures computerized, touch-screen, Accuvote election machines. Early on election day, a district in Virgina began receiving complaints about the machines counting votes incorrectly.
Individuals would vote for a certain candidate, and when they were asked to review and approve their votes, it showed they had voted for the other candidate. All voters who requested assistance to change their votes were helped to do so, according to the State Board of Elections.
Most of the complaints, related to this voting issue, came from the office of Rep. Scott Rigell, who was running for re-election against Democrat Suzanne Patrick, a retired commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves. Rigell ultimately carried his district with a 58% majority.
Is that a space cloud, or two suns colliding, by that big black hole?
This link was sent in by a dear reader. There is a huge debate going on between astronomers as to what they are actually seeing near the black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, known as Sagittarius A.
Initially researchers thought that a massive cosmic gas cloud, called G2, would stretch out into a thin line and half of it would be eaten up by the black hole, creating cosmic fireworks in the form of X-ray radiation. While the cloud did stretch out, no fireworks have been noted.
This led other researchers to believe that the cloud was actually a debris field of dust encircling two stars that had collided and were in the process of merging. That set off a debate that has yet to be settled.
More information is needed to resolve this astronomical dilemma, and so the researchers will certainly be keeping their telescopes pointed towards the middle of the Milky Way to figure out which theory is correct, or to discover an entirely new one.
That’s the news for today. Have a day filled with miracles and wonder. I hope to see you back here tomorrow for more news.
Be Well. Be Joy. Be Love!