The term “airport safety” often conjures up images of TSA lines, passengers removing shoes, and holding their hands overhead for body scanners. These safety measures for passengers are certainly necessary, but there is also a less visible world of thousands of ground-based airport workers who contribute to the safety of passengers and crew every day. While there is plenty of evidence to show that pay increases for these workers would help keep airports safe, most still receive poverty wages.
Ground-based airport workers are essential to keeping our nation’s airports running. This includes cleaners, baggage handlers, wheelchair agents, ramp workers, and concessionaires. Wages in airport operations have significantly lagged behind pay in other industries since the early 1980s when airlines and airports started to contract out many of these jobs. Outsourcing enabled airlines and airports to reduce labor costs and allowed employers to more easily lay workers off during slow periods.
The lack of public regulations means airline service contractors keep wages as low as possible in order to compete. That is true even when wages are up in most sectors. Between 1990 and 2012, average weekly wages for airport operations fell in real terms by 14 percent
, even though wages rose across all industries by 18 percent. Between 2015 and 2019, half of airport cleaners and more than a third of baggage handlers earned less than $16.20 an hour — the minimum wage for federal contractors.
Not surprisingly, turnover is high among airport workers as many seek other employment for even a small pay increase. This means that there are greater numbers of inadequately trained and less experienced workers on the job who are often less familiar with safety and security procedures. That means that they are less able to anticipate and identify potential hazards, and more uncertain about where to take their complaints or how to report problems. This has outsized impacts on passengers with disabilities, who often need the help of trained professionals to get in and out of their seats safely, and transport their crucial equipment
— like wheelchairs — so it arrives in one piece.
A less experienced workforce also means more accidents and security violations
are likely to occur, which could undermine airport security procedures in the event of an emergency. There has been a recent call for more trained security officers at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, following reports of a disturbing 670 violent incidents
involving unruly passengers between January and May of this year. A lack of trained airport service personnel can have serious consequences beyond contributing to longer lines and travel chaos, which is why it is important to ensure that these are good jobs that attract and retain workers.
Airport employees play a crucial role in safeguarding airport security as well as ensuring overall safety by guarding against in-flight emergencies, crashes, and runway collisions. A federal policy setting higher labor standards at United States airports would serve to stabilize and improve pay for ground-based airport workers, reduce worker turnover, and enhance the safety and security of our airports. Writing higher labor standards into policy would not just benefit workers and their families, but also passengers and the broader public. The bipartisan FAA reauthorization bill now before Congress offers the opportunity to do just that.
Ken Jacobs is chair of the UC Berkeley Labor Center which conducts research and education on issues related to labor and employment and works with unions, government, and employers to develop innovative policies and programs.
The National Republican Congressional Committee on Tuesday released a digital ad targeting House Democrats over a wave of new migrants arriving at the southern border and in New York City.
“An unmitigated crisis,” a narrator says against a backdrop of clips depicting migrants traveling together en masse. “Not just at the border, but in the Big Apple.”
The video focuses on New York, showing migrants sleeping on sidewalks and residents protesting their arrival. The ad included images of several well-known politicians, including President Biden and other politicians and public figures of color.
“Extreme Democrats’ response?” the narrator continued, before the words “Defund the police” appeared in capital letters. “It’s dangerous. It’s extreme, and Democrats run the other way when asked to step up.”
The NRCC found success in New York in the midterm elections targeting Democrats on crime and tying them to the “defund the police” movement, though the effort seemed less successful in the country at large — at least when it came to the House elections.
Republicans did not gain as many seats as had been anticipated in the 2022 midterms, though it was enough for them to win back the House majority. Many of their gains were in New York, which will be a key battleground for control of the House in 2024.
“Ignoring the border crisis won’t solve New York’s migrant crisis, despite Hakeem Jeffries’ desperate wishes. Extreme House Democrats scurry away when asked about the issue – allowing the state’s GOP Congressional delegation to be the only face of reason in the Empire State,” NRCC press secretary Will Reinert said in a statement
The video comes as New Yorkers have been struggling to find housing for migrants, and migrant encounters at the border are climbing once again, after dipping in June after the rollback of Title 42, the controversial pandemic-era policy that gave border agents the authority to turn away migrants.
Biden has introduced several policy solutions but many are now caught up in court as they face legal challenges from both sides of the political aisle.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said on Tuesday that she plans to put forward a proposal to reinstate net neutrality rules that were repealed under former President Trump.
The proposal would bar broadband providers, like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon, from blocking or throttling internet traffic to some websites and speeding up access to others that pay extra.
It would also block internet providers from “unreasonably interfering or unreasonably disadvantaging consumers from going where they want and doing what they want on the internet,” Rosenworcel said.
She pointed to the public’s heavy reliance on the internet throughout the pandemic in announcing the push to reinstate net neutrality rules, which were first approved by the commission under former President Obama in 2015.
“[The pandemic] made crystal clear that broadband is no longer just nice to have,” Rosenworcel said in remarks at the National Press Club. “It’s needs to have for everyone, everywhere. It’s not a luxury; it’s a necessity. It is essential infrastructure for modern life.”
“No one without it has a fair shot at 21st century success,” she continued. “We need broadband to reach 100 percent of us, and we need it to be fast, open and fair.”
The move by the FCC comes after the Senate confirmed
Anna Gomez to serve on the commission earlier this month, filling its fifth and final spot and breaking a deadlock between Republican and Democratic commissioners. Gomez was sworn in on Monday.
Rosenworcel said she plans to release the full text of the proposal on Thursday and bring it to a vote in mid-October, which would kick off the rulemaking process.
She emphasized that the proposed net neutrality rules are largely the same as those approved during the Obama administration, which were ultimately rolled back when the FCC came under Republican leadership in 2017.
“I believe this repeal of net neutrality put the FCC on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the law and the wrong side of the American public,” Rosenworcel said. “It was not good then, and it makes even less sense now.”
A California man accused of organizing a group of Jan. 6 rioters, participating in the riots and attempting to destroy evidence of his involvement was sentenced to more than four years in prison on Tuesday, the Justice Department announced
Edward Badalian was convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding in April. He was sentenced to four years and three months in prison and was ordered to pay $2,000 in restitution.
that Badalian used a Telegram group chat named “PATRIOTS45MAGA Gang” to encourage violence against political enemies, and at one point said he wanted to arrest President Biden.
Badalian and the other members of the group sent hundreds of messages about committing violence against political enemies and revolution against the government, prosecutors allege.
“We need to violently remove traitors and if they are in key positions, rapidly replace them with able-bodied Patriots,” he said in the chat, according to prosecutors.
He later attended the Stop the Steal rally in front of the Capitol Building with the same group and participated in the riots. Prosecutors said he entered the Capitol Building through a broken window after clashing with police and rifled through a Capitol office looking for “intel.”
On the drive from Washington back to California after the riots, Badalian called into the “InfoWars” web show “War Room” and discussed his participation under the pseudonym “Turbo.” He said in the interview that a video showed him fighting what he believed were members of “Antifa” disguised as Trump supporters during the riots.
After that interview, prosecutors allege Badalian confronted another rioter about destroying evidence of him and the group being present at the Capitol Building. Prosecutors allege he wrote to the other rioter, “I want to help you delete everything and to transfer files to a secure hard drive.”
That other rioter, who was not named, did not delete the evidence, prosecutors wrote. Badalian’s efforts to cover up his Jan. 6 participation also included changing his phone number, prosecutors said.
More than 1,100 people have been charged with crimes related to the Jan. 6 riots, the Justice Department said, including about 400 for assaulting or impeding law enforcement.
Democratic strategist James Carville is warning his party that President Biden could lose to former President Trump in 2024.
“Let’s say the election was November the third of this year. And they said the candidates are Joe Biden the Democrat, Donald Trump the Republican, Joe Manchin and Larry Hogan No Labels and Cornell West. Trump would be a betting favorite. If I told you I would give you even money, you would not take that bet,” Carville said on a Sunday episode of Bill Maher’s “Club Random”
“And so somebody better wake the f‑‑‑ up,” he added.
Maher said that he was on the “same page” as Carville and also expressed pessimism toward Biden’s reelection campaign. He said that while Biden in 2020 may have been the only Democrat who could have beaten Trump, Biden is now “the only one who will lose to him.”
“He’s, I think, going to lose, it will be Ruth Bader Biden, the Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the presidency,” Maher said. “It’s not a good look. And any 50ish, not stupid woke Democrat with a D by their name — people just vote D and R — that person can win.”
Carville agreed, adding that “if we have somebody under 60 and ran against Trump, we’d get 55 percent.”
A recent YouGov/Yahoo News poll
found that Biden and Trump are tied at 44 percent support among registered voters in a hypothetical match-up, with 7 percent undecided and 4 percent saying they will not vote.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s official portrait was unveiled on Tuesday at the State Department, accompanied by glowing remarks from Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“The walk to the secretary’s office on the seventh floor is a little bit awe-inspiring…down that wood-paneled mahogany row, surrounded by portraits of our predecessors, most of them looking a little bit severe, many with some pretty imaginative facial hair, and all but three of them white men,” said Blinken in remarks before the unveiling.
“And now, beginning today, another secretary will join this esteemed group. A secretary who helped transform American diplomacy for the 21st century,” Blinken said, introducing Clinton.
Blinken lauded Clinton’s work on behalf of women, girls and the LGBTQ community, among other accomplishments during her tenure — and praised her for “calling out” Russian President Vladimir Putin “for who he really is, from the start.”
“Beyond any part of the world, the Secretary saw that to be more effective, diplomacy needed to widen its aperture,” Blinken said.
Clinton served as Secretary of State during the Obama administration. She was also a former First Lady alongside her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and became the first
woman elected as a U.S. senator from New York — as well as the first First Lady to win a federal office.
She ran for the White House in 2016 and won the Democratic nomination, becoming the first woman to secure a major party’s presidential nomination.
“Secretary Clinton, your leg of the race helped revitalize the power and the purpose of American diplomacy. It reminded the world of who America is and what we stand for, and helped us achieve our mission,” Blinken said.
In her own remarks before the portrait unveiling, Clinton underscored the importance of American commitment to diplomacy and development, and praised “the continuation of a lot of the values and priorities that we worked on” in the Biden administration.
“Expanding NATO, facing down Russian aggression, managing the challenges from China using creative diplomacy in the Indo-Pacific,” she listed — with an aside to Russia’s leader on the NATO point that “Vladimir, you brought it on yourself.”
She also quipped that it had been a while since she’d seen the official portrait, “between COVID, between not wanting to finish it during the prior administration,” prompting laughs with a subtle jab at the Trump administration, to which she lost her 2016 presidential bid.
Some people during the pandemic learned to bake a killer sourdough or binged on TV shows, but Major Garrett had a few other things in mind.
“One of the things that I had to do during lockdown was to find myself ways to be useful in the information space when a global pandemic did not require the daily exertions of the chief Washington correspondent/oracle/analyst of CBS News,” Garrett said in an interview with ITK.
In addition to “a daily podcast on the Trump White House coronavirus briefings” and a weekly one on multiple subjects, Garrett said he “decided to do a longer-term project.”
That’s how “Agent of Betrayal: The Double Life of Robert Hanssen,” came to be. The CBS News podcast is poised to premiere Thursday on Apple Podcasts and Amazon Music.
The eight-episode series explores the story and impact of Hanssen, the most damaging spy in FBI history.
Garrett called him an “unbelievable person who did this unbelievable damage who was as contradictory a human being as I’ve ever come across in 35 years of journalism.”
The podcast uncovers different dimensions to the spy tale, including how a CIA agent named Brian Kelley was initially investigated prior to Hanssen’s arrest in 2001.
“That ‘wrong man story’ is as instructive as the ‘right man story,’” said Garrett.
“We have every single voice that was involved, every single voice — and their memories are precise,” the longtime journalist said.
Hanssen, who spied for Russia and the former Soviet Union, was found dead
in his prison cell at 79 in June. He had pleaded guilty to 15 counts of espionage in 2001 and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
After working on the podcast project for two years and interviewing more than 50 people, did Garrett find himself always having spies on the brain, and watching his back while bringing in the newspaper or taking out the trash?
“I would say no, in this sense, because I came to this whole project with a tremendous amount of innocence and naiveté. I’ve lived in Washington since 1990, but my lane, as most people know, is Congress, the White House and campaigns. It’s never been counter-intelligence, intelligence, spy craft, any of that,” CBS’s “The Takeout” podcast host said.
“That innocence kind of protected me from the deeper realities of this work. And we talked to several people who are expert at it, and the key thing they kept telling us is the hardest part of counterintelligence — which is different than intelligence — is the paranoia aspect,” he said.
“You can get paranoid if you can believe there’s something wrong with everybody, you can find reasons to be suspicious of everything and everyone. And if you get to that place, then you your effectiveness disappears.”
Asked whether, along the same lines, “Agent of Betrayal” had him questioning his friends and their motives, 61-year-old Garrett recalled his career covering the White House and Capitol Hill.
“I’m not unaccustomed to those who shade the truth and give their own version of events — that’s day-to-day business for me. But in this world, where the stakes are so much higher, and the idea of what is secrecy and what isn’t, and the value of those secrets — that’s a new realm for me,” he said.
But just when this sounds like a science-based success story, enter Big Dairy to argue for an exemption so that meals could be less healthy.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed revised nutrition requirements
for school meals so they would align with the recommendations of the 2020-2025 dietary guidelines while considering the challenges faced by school nutrition programs, largely caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposal includes multi-year, gradually phased-in requirements, coupled with more than $100 million in investments to help schools improve the nutritional quality of school meals.
A key element in this proposal would reduce sodium
in breakfast by 20 percent by 2027 and 30 percent in lunches by 2029, achieved through a series of two-year 10 percent reductions.
Currently, high school lunches may contain 1,280 mg sodium, or 56 percent of a day’s worth of sodium. By 2029-2030, under the USDA’s proposed rule, lunches should not exceed 935 mg, or 41 percent of a day’s worth — a limit that still will make it challenging for students to stay within expert sodium recommendations.
Revisions to child nutrition programs can have a big impact on children’s health — and industry. Following passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and subsequent updates to school nutrition standards, the nutritional quality of school foods improved significantly;researchers concluded
that in 2017-2018, foods consumed in school were higher in nutritional quality than foods from grocery stores, worksites and restaurants. Manufacturers developed new products and reformulated existing K-12 products to fit the new guidelines. Many schools have even surpassed sodium reduction requirements.
But there’s still room for major improvements, and according to a recent study modeling the impacts of strengthening school nutrition standards, sodium reduction would deliver greater health and economic
benefits than any other nutritional change.
Despite USDA’s measured, science-based approach, Big Dairy is looking for a way out. Their strategy? They’ve successfully lobbied Congress to insert a rider in both the House and Senate versions of the fiscal 2024 spending bill requiring a special exemption for sodium in cheese used for “food safety and functional purposes,” or else USDA won’t be permitted implement the new sodium standards at all.
Salt has been used for millennia as a preservative and contributes to texture and flavor. Never mind that it is already one of the top 10 foods
that contribute to excess sodium in kids’ diets. No doubt cheese makers will not be the last industry to claim that the sodium in their products is used for food safety and functional processes, potentially opening the floodgates to more exemptions, allowing the exception to swallow the rule.
But from a public health perspective, sodium in cheese is no better or worse than sodium in other food products, and thus doesn’t warrant an exemption. In fact, cheese manufacturers have developed lower sodium cheeses
that already comply with the proposed sodium limits.
The sodium limits for schools are expressed as averages, allowing a balance of higher and lower sodium items. Thus, schools can still serve anything from Swiss cheese (a lower-sodium cheese) to feta (one of the saltiest cheeses), and anything in-between as long as it averages out over time. But if Congress keeps this rider, they will be incentivizing cheese manufacturers to abandon any sodium reduction efforts and for schools to just serve more cheese — putting corporate profit before children’s health.
We’ve seen this movie before. Every time there are changes proposing to improve child nutrition programs, food industry interests cry foul and seek special treatment (see: limitless French fries
and counting pizza as a vegetable)
Congress should strike the “cheese rider” from the spending bill and leave developing nutrition standards to the USDA and the scientific community. The health of our future leaders and the integrity of our federal child nutrition programs depend on it.
Colin Schwartz, MPP, B.A. B.S., is director of Federal Affairs for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Previously he served as director of government affairs at the Physicians Committee; policy and communications manager for the American Association of People with Disabilities; and manager of Viral Hepatitis Policy and Legislative Affairs at the National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors.
Meghan Maroney, MPH, B.S., is the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s campaign manager for federal child nutrition programs. She worked previously as nutrition project coordinator and food standards coordinator for the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
President Biden made an unprecedented stop Tuesday, joining the picket line with striking autoworkers, marking the first time a sitting president has done so.
The president stood in solidarity with United Auto Workers (UAW) at a General Motors facility in Van Buren Township, Michigan and spoke to the group via bullhorn alongside union president Shawn Fain.
“Wall Street didn’t build the country. The middle class built the country. Unions built the middle class,” Biden told the striking workers wearing baseball cap and quarter-zip sweater.
“Let’s keep going, you deserve what you’ve earned and you deserve a hell of a lot more than what you’re getting paid now,” Biden said to cheers from the group.
He stood with workers at UAW Local 174 wearing red shirts and holding signs that read “UAW on strike” and “saving the American dream.”
“You guys, UAW, you saved the automobile industry back in 2008 and before,” he said. “You made a lot of sacrifices, gave up a lot and the companies were in trouble. Now they’re doing incredibly well. And, guess what? You should be doing incredibly well too” he said.
“Stick with it because you deserve the significant raise you need and other benefits,” he added. “Let’s get back what we lost, okay?”
Fain, as well as Garlin Gilchrist II, Michigan’s lieutenant governor, and Democratic Reps. Debbie Dingell, Shri Thaneda, and Rashida Tlaib greeted Biden at the airport.
Biden announced his decision to go to Michigan hours after hours after Fain said the union would expand its strike to include Stellantis and GM parts distribution facilities at 38 locations across 28 states.
Negotiations between the UAW and Ford, Stellantis and General Motors have been focused on pay increases, pensions and career security, and workers also have concerns about electric vehicles (EVs) and how a shift toward EVs could affect their jobs and pay.
The president has maintained that he supports workers during negotiations with the Big Three auto companies but, he had previously stopped short of saying he supports the 40 percent pay increase and 32 hour work week workers are asking for.
“This is really a historic event, historic day what the president is going to be doing,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on the ride to Michigan.
Trump is visiting Michigan on Wednesday to speak with workers and the dueling events show the significance of Michigan and the union vote in 2024. Biden won Michigan in 2020 after Trump won the state in 2016.
The UAW hasn’t endorsed Biden yet, arguing in May that it has concerns over the White House’s focus EVs. The UAW said, however, that it wouldn’t endorse Trump.
Reporters asked Biden on Tuesday what it would take to get that endorsement.
After the breakup of the Soviet Union, former Carter administration national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski observed
that “without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be an empire, but with Ukraine suborned and then subordinated, Russia automatically becomes an empire.”
That sums up Vladimir Putin’s real reason for invading Ukraine. A growing contingent
of isolationist House Republicans, by threatening a $24 billion Ukrainian military and humanitarian aid package, are helping Putin realize his irredentist vision. Without that aid, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky bluntly said during his Capitol Hill visit, “we will lose
In explaining her opposition to Ukraine aid, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) rhetorically asked
, “What did we get out of Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan?” Greene is not usually identified with serious foreign policy analysis, but her question gets to the heart of what’s at stake in aiding Ukraine.
It is not, as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) insists
, about accountability for American aid or Ukraine’s strategy for victory. It is about whether we should be sitting in the parlor with a shotgun, just waiting. Let me explain what I mean.
Greene’s invocation of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan actually helps illuminate why the Ukraine War is different. Public opinion soured on those wars partly because American soldiers were fighting and dying for American allies who were unwilling or unable to fight as hard as their enemies. In Vietnam, for example, many Americans came to believe that the South Vietnamese army was only willing “to fight to the last American.
Supporting Ukraine involves none of the tragic flaws of those earlier wars. No American soldiers are fighting; Ukraine’s soldiers are more motivated, resourceful and capable than Russia’s; and Ukraine’s defense against a barbaric Russian invasion both meets traditional “just war
” criteria and furthers our national interest.
By supporting Ukraine, we have destroyed
half of Russia’s combat capability without losing a single American soldier’s life.
But that could change. As Zelensky observed
, “If Ukraine loses, Russia will surely go further,” and this time with the resources of a conquered Ukraine. Remember, Russia is the “no limits
” partner of China in challenging American influence in the world, which means pushing back American forward defenses to our coastlines.
So here is a return rhetorical question for Greene: If in these circumstances Ukraine is undeserving of American support, then what country or alliance ever could be?
Greene and other Republican isolationists are making the same disastrously misguided arguments that isolationists and appeasers made during the 1930s
, when FDR’s Lend-Lease kept Great Britain fighting against Nazi Germany and preserved the platform for the Normandy landings. These arguments resurfaced at the dawn of the Cold War, when the U.S. replaced Great Britain as the global power.
In 1950, Secretary of State Dean Acheson, one of the principal architects of NATO, explained
in a speech why the Soviet Union’s aggressive expansionist drive required an extended security perimeter
for America and its allies backed by military strength. The isolationists’ strategy, he argued, was unacceptable.
In short, we could not afford to pull down the blinds and sit in the parlor with a loaded shotgun, waiting.
Isolation was not a realistic course of action. It did not work and it had not been cheap. And appeasement of Soviet ambitions was, in fact, only an alternative form of isolation. It would lead to a final struggle for survival with both our moral and military positions weakened.
Greene and her fellow parlor-sitters advocate the same misguided isolationist strategy against Putin’s Russia. They are on the wrong side of history but, given the dysfunctional Republican politics of government funding, they are actually in a position to grant Putin his dream of empire.