Monthly Archives: June 2011

Washington Post going the Huffington Post route? Firing journos?

It would seem that the Washington Post is going the route of what the Huffington Post was doing for years and that is making money off of unpaid bloggers.

From the Metro Washington Council, AFL-CIO:

A Newspaper Guild official representing Washington Post employees expressed concern earlier this month about the paper potentially moving away from using professional journalists. "The Post very clearly is trying to make it much easier to lay people off and pay them less severance or even re-classify jobs and by reclassifying jobs, paying you less, at their total discretion. That is what we are really fighting against," said Fredrick Kunkle, co-chair of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild and a Post reporter.

It’s one thing to be a volunteer citizen journalist and contribute to a website knowing it’s for the greater good. It is entirely another thing for that website to make money off of your work without sharing any of the revenue with you.

The dangers of factory farming animals comes to light

Recently when I was in a local supermarket I happened to see Purdue now marketing poultry that would be more acceptable to the Whole Foods Market crowd. Whether it’s organic, free range, HFCS free and etc the market for better food is there.

Because that market is there I hope to see the last of the days where we pump livestock full of antibiotics.

Today, nearly 70 percent of all antibiotics used in the United States are given to healthy farm animals. Drugs that can mean the difference between life and death in humans are routinely mixed into animal feed to make them grow faster and to compensate for unsanitary living conditions. It’s a wasteful practice that squanders one of the most powerful tools of modern medicine.

We must all come to the consensus that an animal bred in unsanitary conditions, in close proximity to others, with no room to graze is unacceptable. What happens as a result of all this are superbugs that have built up resistance to the antibiotics given to these animals. These superbugs then jump the chain and become human diseases.

There just seems to be this massive disconnect when it comes to morals for those engaged in these practices. Just because you are shielded by a corporation does not make it right.

The natural gas economic bubble

It looks like a new bubble is emerging and it’s not the one I thought it would be.

But the gas may not be as easy and cheap to extract from shale formations deep underground as the companies are saying, according to hundreds of industry e-mails and internal documents and an analysis of data from thousands of wells.

In the e-mails, energy executives, industry lawyers, state geologists and market analysts voice skepticism about lofty forecasts and question whether companies are intentionally, and even illegally, overstating the productivity of their wells and the size of their reserves. Many of these e-mails also suggest a view that is in stark contrast to more bullish public comments made by the industry, in much the same way that insiders have raised doubts about previous financial bubbles.

I actually heard that T. Boone Pickens stands to benefit a lot from the natural gas industry. So this bubble would really help him out. The sad thing is I thought green technology would have been the next bubble but looks like we’ll have to wait and see.

Why I won’t ride the ART bus until the labor dispute is resolved

Up until a few days ago I was a daily ART bus rider. It was convenient to walk outside, cross the street and board an ART 74 bus in the morning. After the economy tanked and budgets were constrained the new timetable made it impossible to catch one of the evening busses however. None the less the convenience was welcome.

Yet I’d rather slightly inconvenience myself than support what Forsythe Transportation is doing to the bus drivers who are members of AFSCME local 3001. Arlington County should reevaluate their relationship with this contractor who operates the county’s busses.

They essentially fired all of the drivers who went on strike.

The drivers went on strike to protest working conditions and what they called sexual harassment from Forsythe Transportation, the contractor that runs the Arlington Transit buses.

Drivers shouted and paced with signs outside Forsythe headquarters from around 4:30 a.m. until well into the afternoon. Forsythe warned the workers they would be fired if they did not return to work by noon, and in the afternoon terminated all but a few who returned.

Besides the sexual harassment, they also refused drivers bathroom breaks. Then, when a union leader wore a union button to work Forsythe fired her resulting in the strike. Since this has happened Arlington County Board Chairman Chris Zimmeran has said the worker’s concerns need to be taken seriously. I haven’t heard that these concerns are being taken seriously by Forsythe however.

Until the striking workers are rehired along with the fired union leader I will not be riding the ART bus system. I’d encourage other people not to as well.

I hear ya AFL-CIO

I get what you’re saying.

Stopping the demonization of workers starts with recognizing that anyone who has a job—no matter what that job is—deserves a good job, benefits, and respect from other people. And it requires ongoing attention, solidarity and coverage—from bloggers, and from all of us.

As a blogger I’ll keep on covering it because I know there aren’t enough labor bloggers out there to begin with. Also, getting back to the everyone works thing, that’s why Working America is important! It’s not just about people in unions—anyone who works matters.

Chris Hedges dystopian future

I’ve read a few things along these lines. One book being Climatopolis by Matthew E. Kahn about how we’ll adjust to the hell we have brought upon ourselves.

Hedges has something to say on this matter as well:

The game is over. We lost. The corporate state will continue its inexorable advance until two-thirds of the nation and the planet is locked into a desperate, permanent underclass. Most of us will struggle to make a living while the Blankfeins and our political elites wallow in the decadence and greed of the Forbidden City and Versailles. These elites do not have a vision. They know only one word: more.  They will continue to exploit the nation, the global economy and the ecosystem. And they will use their money to hide in gated compounds when it all implodes. Do not expect them to take care of us when it starts to unravel. We will have to take care of ourselves. We will have to rapidly create small, monastic communities where we can sustain and feed ourselves. It will be up to us to keep alive the intellectual, moral and cultural values the corporate state has attempted to snuff out. It is either that or become drones and serfs in a global corporate dystopia. It is not much of a choice. But at least we still have one.

Debt Collectors are afraid of the CFPB

Do you have any sympathy for debt collectors? Very soon this industry will fall under the the jurisdiction of the CFPB and share that burden with the FTC.

Indeed, Mark Neeb, the association’s incoming president, says that most debt collectors are the “salt of the earth” and are tired of being defined by the worst members of their profession. And it is they who are feeling harassed.

Ok, they obviously deserve to be treated like human beings. They don’t deserve to get threats or be harassed. But keep in mind it’s usually been the other way around.

The complaints told of menacing late-night phone calls and threats of jail time or confiscating a house. In one instance a jury awarded a Texas man $1.5 million after a debt collector left voicemail messages using vulgarities and racial slurs.

The real news however is that the industry’s trade association is ramping up it’s lobbying forces. They have a list of things they want changed. They are also embarking on a PR offensive.

Prescription drug abuse in rural America

I had no idea that is was such a problem.

Karen Shay and Lynn Kissick have become reluctant experts in the medicines which killed their daughters and which are eating away at rural communities throughout the area.

Both have lent their passionate voices to an education campaign being led by Kentucky’s Attorney General Jack Conway.

People don’t realize that it’s the rural conservative areas that often have a lot of the social problems that conservatives often rail against. Teen pregnancy, drug abuse it’s all there. If you ended all the social programs that conservatives hate like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and welfare it is these rural areas that would be hurt the most. That’s why Paul Ryan can’t get support for his budget his own base depends on these programs. It’s time to see the reality.