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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 76,363

Journal Archives

The Supervisor From Hell Gets a Pass From SCOTUS

(In These Times) The petty tyranny of middle management is practically a modern workplace institution. We've all experienced—or heard stories of—the despised supervisor who makes every workday miserable with verbal jabs and insults, sexual harassment, racial epithets or outright discrimination. And if that describes your workplace, your life may get just a little more nightmarish, since the Supreme Court has made it harder to wage a civil rights challenge against the supervisor from hell.

While the media has focused on the court's big decisions this week on voting rights and marriage equality, the court also issued a major 5-4 decision on Monday limiting the scope of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The court ruled that when a supervisor engages in discriminatory harassment, the employer can be held strictly legally liable only if the supervisor working under the employer has authority over “tangible” employment decisions, namely the power to “hire, fire, demote, promote, transfer, or discipline.” The decision could sharply limit employer liability for supervisor harassment in many cases.

The theoretical distinction between employer and supervisor didn’t mean much to Maetta Vance, a black catering worker at Ball State University who complained to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) about her white supervisor’s alleged harassment and threats against her. According to the allegations, Vance's co-worker “gave her a hard time at work by glaring at her, slamming pots and pans around her, and intimidating her.” The day-to-day experience of bias was what drove Vance’s civil rights claim. The case illustrates how, even without hiring or firing power, a higher-up's power to shape the social environment of a workplace can be abused, especially when abetted by institutionalized racism and socially ingrained inequality. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/15197/scotus_limits_civil_rights_protections_against_supervisor_abuse/

Unnatural Gas: How Government Made Fracking Profitable

from Dissent magazine:

Unnatural Gas: How Government Made Fracking Profitable (and Left Renewables Behind)
By J. Mijin Cha - June 27, 2013

In his much-anticipated speech on climate change, President Obama proposed smart, modest policies that would help decrease greenhouse gas emissions through support for renewable energy development and increased energy efficiency measures, prepare the country for the climate change that is already occurring, and lead international climate efforts, including phasing out fossil fuel subsides and stopping funding for new coal plants overseas. While he stopped short of proposing anything groundbreaking, such as a carbon tax, the measures would be an improvement over the current climate stalemate.

Yet the president’s continued embrace of natural gas development threatens to counteract any of his proposed climate initiatives. In the speech, Obama continuously mentioned that we are the leading producer of natural gas and proposed advancing production of oil and gas in the Bakken formation (a rock formation beneath parts of Montana, North Dakota, and Canada)—code words for expanding hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, operations. Unfortunately, fracking is not the energy panacea its supporters claim it is. The environmentally destructive nature of the process negates any net greenhouse gas benefit from natural gas. Estimates of the amount of available gas that can be tapped economically widely vary, as highlighted in Timothy Mitchell’s article in Dissent. And while fracking may release deposits of oil and gas that were previously unavailable, there will ultimately still come a time when the finite fossil fuel resources run out.

Moreover, it is only after decades of development and government support that fracking operations are now seen as cost-effective. In contrast, the support for developing renewables has been erratic and only a fraction of that given to fossil fuel industries. Renewable energy sources are often dismissed as expensive and incapable of meeting the country’s energy demands. Yet looking at the history of energy development, it is clear that political and corporate interests deliberately impeded the development and expansion of renewable energy. Fracking is a clear example of how direct government research and consistent support turned an impractical, expensive process into one that is now seen as the key to domestic energy independence.

The Role of Federal Support in Fracking

Oil and gas companies are extremely profitable and have been for several decades. Yet much of their current success was the result of not just favorable tax incentives and subsidies but also direct federal research. Federal energy subsidies began in 1916 and focused almost exclusively on increasing the production of domestic oil and gas until the 1970s. Over the following three decades, the Department of Energy invested roughly $137 million in direct gas research, in addition to federal tax credits for drillers that totaled $10 billion between 1980 and 2002. .............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/unnatural-gas-how-government-made-fracking-profitable-and-left-renewables-behind

Chris Hedges: U.S. wants to plug leaks and divert attention

Published on Jun 25, 2013

Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist, believes the U.S. government is busy hunting down whistleblowers when it should be concentrating on the embarrassing revelations.

Mankind: Death by Corporation

Mankind: Death by Corporation

Wednesday, 26 June 2013 00:22
By Dr Brian Moench, Truthout | Op-Ed

The word "corporation," derived from the Latin corporare, means to physically embody. In his History of the Corporation, Bruce Brown notes how in the first thousand years after the fall of the Roman Empire, "the world's most powerful corporations were all trying to embody the Christian God." In 1534, Saint Thomas More spoke of Jesus Christ as the ultimate corporation. "He (Jesus) doth . . . incorporate all christen folke and hys owne bodye together in one corporacyon mistical."

Needless to say, in the 21st century, corporations as creations of civilization make no pretense of embodying the Christian God. In fact, today, corporations come much closer to embodying Mary Shelley's Frankenstein than Jesus Christ. Ironically, created by and managed by humans, corporations have become almost robotic monsters, perpetrating, even feeding off human misery, threatening every aspect of human life - the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat - and even the future of mankind itself. What have these corporate Frankenstein monsters done for us lately?

At least 1,127 people have died in a collapsed garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, the deadliest such accident in world history. As of this writing, the largest American clothing corporations, Gap, Walmart and Target, who are end users of these death-trap factories, are still unwilling to commit to any safety improvements. Fifteen people were killed and over 200 injured in West, Texas, from an explosion at a fertilizer plant. Despite the deaths of 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary school, no meaningful legislation to subdue ongoing gun slaughter in the United States will get passed.

All of these recent tragic headlines have a common denominator. Corporate profits were, and are, allowed primacy over all other considerations. Even Wayne LaPierre's foaming-at-the-mouth speech about freedom, liberty and second amendment rights is a smokescreen for ginning up profits for gun manufacturers, because American gun owners are on a steady, 30-year decline. The death certificate of all these victims - at Dhaka, West and Sandy Hook - should read, "Death by corporation." .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/17178-mankind-death-by-corporation

Chris Hedges: U.S. wants to plug leaks and divert attention

Published on Jun 25, 2013

Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist, believes the U.S. government is busy hunting down whistleblowers when it should be concentrating on the embarrassing revelations.

Antonin Scalia’s self-pitying, angry nostalgia

Antonin Scalia’s self-pitying, angry nostalgia
Supreme Court's arch-conservative says legalizing same-sex marriage discriminates against people who don't want it

By Alex Pareene

(Salon) Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent in the Supreme Court case that declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional is, as expected, fun reading. It’s also quite representative of the current state of anti-gay marriage arguments in general: It is much more concerned with whining and raging than it is with actual argumentation.

Scalia’s main point is that the court has no right to strike down DOMA. In doing so, Scalia says, the Supreme Court has overstepped its authority.

It is an assertion of judicial supremacy over the people’s Representatives in Congress and the Executive. It envisions a Supreme Court standing (or rather enthroned) at the apex of government, empowered to decide all constitutional questions, always and everywhere “primary” in its role.

The case could be made that this is sort of the only honest Originalist argument — there is nothing in the Constitution granting the Supreme Court the authority to determine the constitutionality of duly passed legislation, after all — but obviously this argument rather glaringly contradicts every single instance of Scalia voting to strike down a law. Indeed, it contradicts a decision the Supreme Court announced yesterday, in which the conservatives decided that a portion of the Voting Rights Act that they didn’t care for was unconstitutional because they didn’t care for it. But if Scalia wishes to recuse himself from all future cases involving constitutional questions, now that he has determined that Marbury v. Madison was improperly decided, I am not inclined to stop him. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.salon.com/2013/06/26/antonin_scalias_self_pitying_angry_nostalgia/

Gay couple challenging Michigan ban find hope in today's Supreme Court ruling

from the Detroit Free Press:

A lesbian couple from Hazel Park who are fighting to overturn Michigan’s gay marriage ban say their case could be helped by today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision throwing out the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

At a news conference at Wayne State University Law School today, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse said the Supreme Court’s decision could have a positive impact on their lawsuit challenging Michigan’s 2004 voter-approved constitutional ban against gay marriage.

Federal Judge Bernard Friedman stayed a decision in March on the couple’s case, pending the outcome of the Supreme Court’s cases. .........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.freep.com/article/20130626/NEWS05/306260099/

GONE after the second round of Wimbledon ..........

........ via withdrawals, retirements and WTF? losses:

Victoria Azarenka
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Maria Sharapova
Ana Ivanovic
Caroline Wozniacki
Marin Cilic
Sara Errani
Stan Wawrinka
John Isner

That Djokovic-Murray final looks like a certainty, barring more slippery grass injuries.

'Crossfire' returning to CNN

It's official—CNN is bringing back "Crossfire."

After months of speculation, the network announced on Wednesday that the debate program will return with four new hosts. Newt Gingrich and S.E. Cupp will represent the right, with Stephanie Cutter and Van Jones hosting from the left. The network did not reveal any additional programming details like its return date or time.

CNN's new president Jeff Zucker said in a statement, "Few programs in the history of CNN have had the kind of impact on political discourse that Crossfire did – it was a terrific program then, and we believe the time is right to bring it back and do it again. We look forward to the opportunity to host passionate conversation from all sides of the political spectrum. 'Crossfire' will be the forum where America holds its great debates." ........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/26/cnn-crossfire-newt-gingrich-se-cupp-van-jones-stephanie-cutter_n_3502660.html?ncid=txtlnkushpmg00000037&ir=Politics

Hunger Schools

Hunger Schools
by Abby Zimet

What's Wrong With This Picture Dept: Facing a budget deficit of $304 million, the Philadelphia school district has instituted a "doomsday" budget that will close 23 schools, lay off 3,800, or 20% of its employees, and eliminate clubs, aides, counselors, librarians, athletics, art and music programs that include 66 music teachers at 190 schools teaching over 10,000 students who present over a thousand concerts a year - all this while the GOP-controlled legislature and governor seek union concessions, pass corporate tax breaks up to $800 million a year, and plan to spend $400 million for a new prison. In response, furious parents and school workers are camped out at the governor’s office in the 8th day of a hunger strike - a hunger strike - to get schools to do what they're supposed to do even as Democrats scramble to find more money for the schools before a June 30 budget deadline and music teachers and students performed a bittersweet farewell concert. It was held this weekend, just as the Navy received its first, super-duper, new-and-improved (except for years of technical glitches which may or may not have been solved) F-35 aircraft, whose costs have doubled to at least $161 million each. The Pentagon Plans to build several thousand, at a cost of $12.6 billion a year through 2037, or $1.4 million an hour - about the duration of the farewell concert - for the next two and a half decades.


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