Voices from Russia

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Getting Sick Not an Option for Many American Workers

01 tired woman


Like the protagonist of some cold medicine commercial, Robert said that he couldn’t afford to get sick and miss a shift at the upscale restaurant where he waits tables six nights a week in the American capital. Robert, 31, told RIA-Novosti this week, “It’s expensive to live in this city. You can’t just be missing days”. Robert, who asked that his last name not be published because his employer hasn’t authorised him to speak to the media about this job, actually has more access to paid sick leave than many Americans do. He works in Washington DC, which is one of just three American cities… along with one state, Connecticut… to guarantee paid sick leave for employees. An estimated 40 million American workers have no paid sick leave, which the US federal government defines as a “benefit” rather than a right.

A national debate over mandatory sick-pay grabbed headlines in recent weeks in the USA, which is in the grip of a flu outbreak that health authorities said has reached epidemic proportions. The USA is one of the few industrialised nations that don’t have a federal law mandating paid sick leave, a situation that critics say pressures ill employees to come to work out of fear of losing a pay-cheque .. or their jobs. They say that this results in decreased employee productivity and increased public exposure to infectious illnesses, particularly when workers like Robert and other food service employees… whose jobs involve face-to-face contact with the public… shrug off symptoms and clock in anyway.

According to a 2010 study at the University of Chicago, more than two-thirds of Americans reported going to work whilst ill. According to the study, employees without paid sick-leave are 18 percent more likely to show up at work sick and 10 percent more likely to send their sick children to school or day-care. New York City legislator Gale Brewer told WNYC radio in an interview earlier this month, “I’m sure right now as we speak kids are going to school sick. Their parents can’t take a day off”. Arguably, New York City is the current epicentre of the sick leave debate, with local lawmakers pushing for the nation’s financial capital to guarantee sick pay for workers. Brewer is backing a bill that would mandate that businesses with five employees or more must offer some sort of paid sick-leave; the legislation has received backing from a range of civic and religious groups, as well as celebrities like American feminist writer and activist Gloria Steinem.

However, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said such that legislation would hurt business during already difficult times, a position that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg expressed as well. New York Times columnist Michael Powell noted with irony that Bloomberg’s opposition to the bill is at odds with his reputation as a public-health activist… an image burnished by enacting public smoking bans and crackdowns on oversized sugary drinks. In October, Powell wrote, “Bloomberg worries a lot about our health; he’s banned smoking in bars and vat-size cups of soda, but suggest that a couple of women should be allowed to take off a day rather than cough bacteria into the chicken quesadillas, and his free-market spine stiffens”.

According to a 2011 study published in the American Journal of Public Health, the lack of paid sick-leave in the USA helped lead to an additional five million infections during the Swine Flu outbreak in 2009. This week, Michael Sinesky, who owns several bars and restaurants in New York City, told the AP that the bill would hurt his operations, particularly in the destructive wake left by Hurricane Sandy late last year, saying, “We’re at the point, right now, where we can’t afford additional social initiatives”. Lawmakers in several other American cities are pushing for mandatory paid sick-leave bills as well, including Portland OR and Philadelphia PA, whose mayor, Michael Nutter, vetoed a bill requiring sick pay in 2011. Joel Mathis, a columnist for Philadelphia Magazine’s website, argued this week that the city should pass paid sick leave legislation in order to protect customers as well as workers. Mathis wrote, “Want the flu with your fries? Some pertussis with your poutine? A cold with your cold beer? Because that’s what the current system is designed to provide”.

25 January 2013

Carl Schreck



Editor’s Note:

That’s why I went to work feeling poorly this past week… I lacked sick days as part of my compensation. Of course, according to the rightwing received-wisdom, I’m a “taker”… I deserve nothing but a swift boot in the arse for laziness according to Steve Forbes, Wet Willy Romney (have you seen how quickly the Repulicants dropped their erstwhile standard-bearer?), and James Paffhausen. Then again, Steve Forbes said on 12 October 2012, “Yes, [Romney] will win this election, despite all the claptrap to the contrary”… he believes in crackbrained foolishness such as the gold standard. Romney actually believed his own propaganda (what would one expect with a youthful nappy-wearing incompetent such as Priebus at the head of the RNC (he was white, though!)?)… and Paffhausen actually thinks that he’s a victim of the OCA Holy Synod and that he deserves “compensation”. Not very good for the “makers” of this world, eh? Shitbirds of a feather flock together… never forget that. Yes, taking care of sick people is “Pro-Life”… more so than waving a placard in a bootless “March for Life“. Think on that, if you will…

We need a “new” New Deal… the sooner, the better…



Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Coptic and Muslim Leaders Denounce Violence Over “Innocence of Muslims”

Dr Maher Hathout, senior adviser of the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Southern California, and Coptic Orthodox Bishop Serapion (1951- ) of Los Angeles at a news conference in Los Angeles CA USA condemning the violence surrounding the film Innocence of Muslims. Now, THIS is the real deal. THIS is what relations between REAL Orthodox and Muslims are like. God bless this.


On Monday, Muslim and Coptic Orthodox leaders stood together to condemn the anti-American violence that broke out in several countries following the release of an anti-Muslim film allegedly made in Southern California. In a news conference at Los Angeles City Hall, they said that the creators of Innocence of Muslims need not fear retribution from them. The movie, whose trailer was posted on YouTube, is considered blasphemous by Muslims because it mocks the Prophet Muhammad. Maher Hathout, senior adviser of the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Southern California, called the movie “hate speech” and “instigation”, but added, “We don’t go after people for what they say. If he’s hiding from us, he’s wrong. Hide from somebody else. We aren’t interested”. Hathout was referring to Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, an Egyptian Coptic Christian and naturalised American citizen living in Cerritos purported to be one of the makers of the film.

The movie was linked to protests that resulted in the death of the American Ambassador in Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other State Department employees. Hathout condemned those behind the violence, saying, “Those are neither Muslims nor Copts… those are people who are psychologically diseased, with hearts full of hate, and minds full of ignorance. There should’ve been no bloodshed. As a matter of fact, there should’ve been no reaction to such an insignificant production”. Bishop Serapion, the spiritual leader of the Coptic Orthodox church in Los Angeles, said neither should the movie trigger violence against Copts, noting, “We find there’s no justification to make such a movie, so, there’s no justification to retaliate or attack the Coptic community”. He also released a statement, “The actions of a few ignorant individuals don’t represent the collective Copt diaspora, nor do they represent the collective Muslim community”. Both religious leaders said they hope recent events would draw the Muslim and Coptic communities of Los Angeles closer.

17 September 2012

Christina Villacorte

Press-Telegram (Long Beach CA)



On Monday, the spiritual leader of about 120 Coptic Christian families who live in the Portland OR metro area issued a statement critical of the film that’s sparked violent protests in Muslim countries. Fr Mekhail Hanna, pastor of St Antonious Coptic Orthodox Church in Southeast Portland, said the movie Innocence of Muslims is “inappropriate”. Also on Monday, The Los Angeles Times reported that the filmmaker, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who claims to be a Coptic Christian, is in hiding with his family.

According to Fr Mekhail, the film, which sparked a riot in Libya, in which four Americans were killed, and several other violent protests, doesn’t reflect the teaching of the Coptic Church, saying, “The Coptic Orthodox Church respects equally all religions and doesn’t agree or like to see any religion treated with disrespect. We’re commanded in the Bible to deal with others with love, kindness, and respect, and we adhere to that. The behaviour of an individual in our community doesn’t reflect the opinion of our Church, and we should deal with such individuals through the legal channels according to the current laws”. Fr Mekhail, who’s been pastor of the Portland congregation since 2006, said Coptic Christians “disagree with the killing of innocent people”, including those who “disagree” with freedom of speech or don’t know about the film, observing, “We hope that the sound of peace will cover the spark that was ignited by this inappropriate movie”.

17 September 2012

Nancy Haught

Oregon Live


Editor’s Note:

With all the rightwing bloviation out there, THIS is refreshing. By the way, Dr Mathout said this:

Home is not where my grandparents are buried; home is where my grandchildren will be raised.

Hear, hear! This story wins the laurels as the story that I’ve most enjoyed covering in a long while. It DOES restore faith in humanity, doesn’t it?


Saturday, 28 April 2012

28 April 2012. RIA-Novosti Infographics. Deepest Metro Stations in the World


All of the above depths are in metres. The depth in English traditional units are 259 feet, 276 feet, 328 feet, and 345 feet respectively.

Links for: 


30 March 2012



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