Russia Is At It Again

Grind for November 30th, 2018
“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” – Margaret Mead

Good News

The Headline

Workers in Kentucky won’t be forced to join unions

The Grind

Kentucky’s highest court last week upheld its right-to-work law, joining nearby states Indiana, Tennessee, the Virginias, and the Carolinas in protecting citizens from forced union membership and forced union dues.

The Details

The decision follows the AFL-CIO’s rejection of Kentucky’s right-to-work law, which was implemented in 2017. The law was passed by Republicans after they took hold of Kentucky’s state legislature for the first time since the 20’s.

“The legislature clearly established a rational basis for the act: to promote economic development, to promote job growth, and to remove Kentucky’s economic disadvantages in competing with neighboring states,” wrote Kentucky Judge Laurance Vanmeter.

There are only about 10 states left with legally mandated unionization, including California, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and all six New England states.

Data suggests right-to-work states enjoy economic advantages over their counterparts, including more employment opportunities and higher wages.

Between 1970 and 2013, personal income in right-to-work states rose nearly twice as much as in other states.

“Across America, right-to-work states have long benefited from economic growth far superior to that of states in which millions of employees are forced to join or pay dues or fees to a labor union just to keep their jobs,” writes The National Institute for Labor Relations.

“Although many factors besides labor laws affect economic change, the evidence suggests that there is a positive relationship between economic growth and the presence of [a right-to-work] law and that the magnitude of the legislation’s effects may be substantial.”


The Headline

International crisis: Russian warship slams Ukrainian boat in Kerch Strait

The Grind

A group of Russian Navy vessels on Sunday attacked and captured three Ukrainian boats and detained dozens of sailors.

Video footage clearly shows a Russian warship slamming into a Ukrainian tugboat, with the Russian captain shouting “squash them!”

The incident occurred in the Kerch Strait, a narrow passageway separating the Black Sea from the Sea of Avoz. The strait is also the closest point of access for Russia to Crimea, which has been under Russian control since 2014.

According to a treaty signed in 2003, Russia and Ukraine have equal access to the waterway.

The Details

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has accused Moscow of breaking international law and trying to block Ukraine’s access through the strait.

Moscow claims the Ukrainian ships entered Russian waters illegally, and has decided to detain the captured sailors for at least two months.

Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested the entire event was staged to boost Poroshenko’s chances in Ukraine’s upcoming presidential election.

Poroshenko responded to the incident by implementing 30-day emergency measures in the regions closest to Russia.

Members of the United Nations condemned Russia’s actions, with outgoing US Ambassador Nikki Haley referring to the incident as “yet another reckless Russian escalation.”

Haley accused Russia of violating international law, demanded the release of the Ukrainian sailors, and promised the US would “stand with the people of Ukraine.”

As analysts have pointed out, the situation puts increasing pressure on President Trump to hold Putin accountable for the maritime clash.

The two world leaders plan to meet face to face later this month at a G20 summit in Buenos Aires, but Trump has already hinted at canceling the meeting.

In the meantime, Russia also appears to be building a military presence along its border with Ukraine.

According to media reports, locals have spotted a missile system being transported along a highway in Crimea towards Kerch. Earlier this week, Moscow confirmed it would be sending a new surface-to-air missile system to Crimea to join the three already positioned there.

Did you know… There is a town called Okay, OK. It has a population of 600 people.