In a special comment on Friday’s episode of “Moyers and Company,” the former press secretary to President Lyndon Johnson pointed out what he believes to be at the very core of corruption in Washington, D.C.: “the revolving door” between working in government and lobbying it. “[The] revolving…
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Friday, December 14, 2012
The City of Baltimore recently issued a ticket to Daniel Doty for speeding 38 miles per hour in a 25-mph zone — but photos and video captured by the speed camera system showed that his car was stopped at a red light at the time. Doty told The Baltimore Sun that photos included with the ticket issued…
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Bloomberg has an article today highlighting the pay gap at McDonald’s. The whole piece is worth a read but the beginning is particularly striking. It highlights Chicago man Tyree Johnson, who holds positions at two different McDonald’s. Between shifts he has to give himself a quick scrubbing in one of the restaurant’s bathrooms because he can’t even show up for work at a McDonald’s smelling like a McDonald’s.
“I hate when my boss tells me she won’t give me a raise because she can smell me,” he said.
Johnson, 44, needs the two paychecks to pay rent for his apartment at a single-room occupancy hotel on the city’s north side. While he’s worked at McDonald’s stores for two decades, he still doesn’t get 40 hours a week and makes $8.25 an hour, minimum wage in Illinois.
This is life in one of America’s premier growth industries. Fast-food restaurants have added positions more than twice as fast as the U.S. average during the recovery that began in June 2009.Johnson’s circumstances look particularly grim when they’re compared, as Bloomberg does, to the compensation enjoyed by executives whose pay gives a whole new meaning to “McJob.”
There is something insidiously ironic about being American Indian during the fall of the 21st century. It all starts with Columbus Day to mark our “discovery,” then moves right into the “it’s totally not racist to dress up as a hypersexualized Indian” for Halloween parties, and goes out with a bang on Thanksgiving when we celebrate the survival of the Pilgrims and that harmonious, mutually beneficial relationship forged between colonizers and Indigenous peoples everywhere! However romanticized or factually inaccurate, these holidays happen to be the three days when Native peoples actually enter the mass psyche of American culture.
I don’t know about you, but I usually spend the autumn months parading around in my Navajo Hipster panties, feather headdress (on loan from model Karlie Kloss and singer Gwen Stefani), Manifest Destiny T-Shirt and knee-high fringed moccasins made in Taiwan while watching a Redskins game, smoking a pack of American Spirits, and eating genetically modified Butter Ball turkey, because I’m just that traditional.
Perhaps it was that warm Indian summer weather that seemingly made non-natives so eager to sport culturally demeaning faux Indian apparel and legitimize it under the guise of “ignorance” or “appreciation.” Maybe it’s totally cool to be an oblivious racist these days. Whatever the case, there have been unusually high rates of “playing Indian” this year. READ MORE
Twinkie-maker Hostess continues to screw over its workers. The company is in the process of complete liquidation and 18,000 unionized workers are set to lose their jobs. More troubling – they could lose their pensions.
According to a report by the Wall Street Journal , Hostess’ CEO, Gregory Rayburn, essentially admitted that his company stole employee pension money and put it toward CEO and senior executive pay (aka “operations”). While this isn't technically illegal, it's another sleazy theft by Hostess executives - who've paid themselves handsomely while running their company into the ground. Just last month, a judge agreed to let Hostess executives suck another $1.8 million out of the bankrupt company to pay bonuses to CEOs.
If there's no way to recover the money for the Hostess pension plans for workers, then the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. will have to foot the bill to make sure workers get at least some of the retirement money they paid in.
Hostess shows us clearly what Bain-style predatory capitalism is all about: big bucks for the very few rich executives, layoffs and poverty for the workers and their communities. READ MORE
It seemed to happen so fast. Actually, it was years in the making: A law designed to eviscerate the membership rolls of labor unions in the state in which the mighty United Auto Workers makes its home was rammed through both houses of the Michigan legislature and signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Rick Snyder. As Wisconsin is to public employee unions, so is Michigan to the unions of the manufacturing sector -- a place emblematic of labor’s political sway, a force now diminished by the new law.
Taken up in a lame-duck legislative session, the prospects for the bill’s passage caught everybody off-guard, thanks to a sudden change of heart by Snyder who had, throughout his term, expressed opposition to any law that, like the one he just signed, would allow workers in union shops -- such as those employed by the big-three automakers whose plants account for more than 136,000 Michigan jobs -- to opt out of paying dues to the unions that represent them.
But Snyder faces re-election in 2014, which means his campaign begins now, with this opening volley. Had the legislature passed the law, drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (the organization funded by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch that drafted Wisconsin’s anti-union law), and Snyder failed to sign it, he might have faced fierce opposition from Americans for Prosperity, the Koch-funded astroturf group that was also instrumental in the passage of the Wisconsin law. Even worse (for him), Snyder might have faced a primary challenge. READ MORE
Since the erosion of Americans' civil liberties depends on high levels of public apathy, some of the most dangerous privacy breaches take place incrementally and under the radar; if it invites comparisons to Blade Runner or Orwell, then someone in the PR department didn't do their job. Meanwhile, some of the biggest threats to privacy, like insecure online data or iPhone GPS tracking, are physically unobtrusive and therefore easily ignored. And it'll be at least a year or two until the sky is overrun by spy drones.
So when a method of surveillance literally resembles a prop or plot point in a sci-fi movie, it helps to reveal just how widespread and sophisticated commercial and government monitoring has become. Here are five recent developments that seem almost unreal in their dystopian creepiness.
1. Buses and street cars that can hear what you say .
You can't really go anywhere in America without being tracked by surveillance cameras. But seeing what people do is not enough; according to a report by the Daily, cities all over the country are literally bugging public transportation.
In San Francisco, city officials have plans to install surveillance cameras that record sound on 357 buses and trolley cars, the Daily reported. Eugene, Oregon and Columbus, Hartford and Athens, Georgia, also have audio recording plans in the works. The systems have the capacity to filter background noise and hone in on passengers' conversations. READ MORE
For women, engaging in casual sex still carries a stigma, and the prospect of being judged dampens their interest in one-night stands.
In contrast, Conley’s research suggested that, under the right circumstances—that is, when the experience promises to be safe and pleasant—women are just as likely as men to engage in casual sex. Her new paper adds stigma and the prospect of backlash to that equation, and finds they inhibit women’s choices. READ MORE
(Please note that today, "slut" has also become a term of endearment, meant to signify that "this sex is so good it must be illegal". Some modern women can be insulted if not called a slut, but only in private, where it's absence would mean that you did not enjoy the sex.)
December 12, 2012
The New York Times reports this week that megabank HSBC has escaped criminal prosecution for money laundering that probably funded terrorists and narcotics traffickers. Why? Because regulators and prosecutors were petrified that an indictment would undermine the entire financial system. The Times quotes anonymous government sources who confessed fears about bringing formal charges because doing so would be a "death sentence" for the bank. So they let it off the hook.
That’s right, HSBC is officially above the law. Too-big-to-fail has become too-big-to-prosecute.
A year-long investigation found that the British banking giant had blown right past federal laws by laundering billions of dollars from Mexican drug trafficking and processing banned transactions on behalf of Iran, Libya, Sudan and Burma. A Wednesday Times article serves up vivid passages about the shady goings-on, including HSBC officials working closely with Saudi Arabian banks linked to terrorist organizations. READ MORE
December 10, 2012
Lincoln is a magnificent movie. But as I left the theatre, to echo Paul Harvey, the late radio commentator, I wanted to know “the rest of the story.”
The movie begins in January 1865, exactly 2 years after Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring slaves of the Confederate States “thenceforward and forever free. ”
As Lincoln himself told Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles issuing the Proclamation was a “military necessity. We must free the slaves or be ourselves subdued.” Indeed, Lincoln wanted to issue the Proclamation in July 1862 but Secretary of State William Seward cautioned that the series of military defeats suffered by the Union army that year would lead many to view such a move simply as an act of desperation. The victory at Antietam in September gave Lincoln the opportunity he needed.
The Emancipation Proclamation helped the Union immeasurably. It converted a war to preserve the union into a war of liberation, a change that gained widespread support in key European nations. And by rescinding a 1792 ban on blacks serving in the armed forces, the Proclamation solved the increasingly pressing personnel needs of the Union Army in the face of a declining number of white volunteers. During the war nearly 200,000 blacks, most of them ex-slaves joined the Union Army, giving the North additional manpower needed to win the war. As historian James M. McPherson writes, “The proclamation officially turned the Union army into an army of liberation…And by authorizing the enlistment of freed slaves into the army, the final proclamation went a long step toward creating that army of liberation.”
Abolitionists viewed arming ex-slaves as a major step toward toward giving them equality. Frederick Douglass urged blacks to join the army for this reason. “Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letter, U.S., let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket, there is no power on earth that can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship.”
(Reuters) - The U.S. military judge overseeing the Guantanamo prosecution of five alleged conspirators in the September 11 attacks has issued an order maintaining secrecy over the defendants' experiences in clandestine CIA prisons.
The protective order safeguarding classified information in the case was signed on December 6 by the judge, Army Colonel James Pohl, and unsealed on Wednesday.
It is not limited to documents formally labeled "Top Secret" by the CIA or produced by the government, but also prohibits disclosure of the defendants own "observations and experiences" in the secret CIA detention, rendition and interrogation program.
Pohl is the chief judge overseeing the war crimes tribunals established by the United States to try foreign captives on terrorism-related charges at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba.
The defendants in the 9/11 case, including the alleged mastermind of the hijacked plane plot, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other Pakistani, Yemeni and Saudi captives, face charges that could lead to their execution. READ MORE