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A little baby pig to cheer you up!

Walmart drives down American wages

Think Progress:

Walmart’s outsourcing of jobs is driving down wages at American factories, according to a report from the National Employment Law Project. Instead of employing its own factory employees, Walmart subcontracts many of the jobs to outside companies that have histories of low wages and labor violations, the report said. “These outsourced workers laboring on Walmart’s behalf toil at the bottom of a complex hierarchy of intermediaries and in alternative employment schemes that leave them vulnerable to significant worker rights abuses and unsure where to seek redress,” said the report, which also noted that workers at multiple Walmart-contracted facilities have sued their employers for violating minimum wage laws and cheating them out of pay.

Socialism

How do we get some?

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s new left-wing government announced on Wednesday a cut in the pension age to 60 for some long-time workers, carrying out an election pledge in the face of economic troubles and an EU warning that it would overburden an already creaking social welfare system.


Socialist President Francois Hollande, who took power in mid-May on a pro-growth ticket for the economy, had promised a partial rollback of his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy’s pension reform if he won.


“Promise made, promise met,” said Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.


He said in an interview on TV channel TF1 that the move was fully funded by a small rise in contributions and France would still meet European commitments gradually to reduce its public deficit to zero in 2017.


The cut, announced by decree, was anticipated but still drew stinging criticism from the conservative opposition.


The change, taking effect in November, partly reverses Sarkozy’s 2010 reform that raised the pension age to 62 from 60 and affects workers who have spent at least 41 years in labour-intensive jobs.

No more leaky ice cream cones

What a clever idea.

The Times-Picayune

Harry Shearer has written an insightful piece in CJR that really sums up the really stupid thinking of the venture capital crowd that’s taken over the newspaper industry. This is the kind of thinking that’s killing journalism. Come to think of it, it’s killing everything else, too:

So: a city of tightly knit neighborhoods, of varying classes, with mainly local retail. Yet, the model for Advance Publication’s demotion of the New Orleans Times-Picayune metro daily into the Neverland of thrice-weekly print publication—gee, what day is it? Is there a paper today?—was based on, wait for it, a college town in Michigan. Ann Arbor, to be exact. And this plan is being applied to three papers in Alabama, as well—the Press-Register in Mobile; The Huntsville Times; The Birmingham News. All quite similar to New Orleans, of course. This is the kind of cookie-cutter decision-making that gives absentee ownership a bad name.


The Times-Picayune is not Starbucks or Rite-Aid or Winn-Dixie sitting on the sidelines waiting for the recovery. It is the paper people in New Orleans love, or love to hate. You’ve probably read the relevant stats: the TP enjoys the highest rate of print penetration of all dailies in the 50 biggest metro areas.


And 36 percent of New Orleanians are not connected to the Internet. Consider also that nola.com, the website to which Advance Publications now assumes people seeking news in the city will drift, is widely recognized as one of the ugliest and worst-designed such sites—aside from the others in the Advance newspaper stable, all of which are forced by Advance headquarters New York to use the same digital template.


Okay, the argument goes, the decision to turn the paper into the Sometimes-Picayune may ignore local realities both cultural and statistical, but it’s Advance’s bat and ball. If they want to play only on the days when advertisers really want to buy space, that’s their right.


Yet it is funny the word “right” should pop up. The newspaper business lives off the benefits of free speech, which all citizens enjoy, but none more than news outlets, who put out so much of it. The First Amendment offers government protection against almost all lawsuits from angry politicians, lazy ballplayers, and dim-witted celebrities whose exploits may be reported to their dismay. Should there be a societal expectation that the proprietors of such privileged enterprises owe a little something back—perhaps a calm acceptance of a lower profit margin than could be attained, say, in the car-leasing business? The TP, after all, is still reported to be profitable.


On the other hand, Advance has signaled—by this stumble-footed decision—that they don’t understand the New Orleans market. You can’t care about what you don’t understand.

Quote of the day

Krugman:

Everything we know says that this generation will never — never — recover from the terrible job market into which it has graduated. But hey, we can’t do anything about that; we must have austerity, for the sake of the next generation.

Romney hires criminal hack

Which one? I know, it’s so hard to keep track.

R.I.P.

Ray Bradbury, 91.

White people gone wild

And the Philadelphia newspaper didn’t even report it. I wonder why! Their comments section is full of readers who commonly refer to black people as “animals,” so this might add some balance:

CAMDEN – June 4, 2012 (WPVI) — They’re still feeling the fallout in Camden in the wake of Saturday night’s fight-filled concert event with more than 100 people injured and nearly 200 people arrested.


It started even before many of the concert goers arrived to the Susquehanna Bank Center.


Video captured two young women fighting on a NJ Transit train on the way to the WXTU Anniversary Concert.


More than 25,000 country music fans converged on at the arena in Camden. One of them, Christie Bellis, found chaos when she got there.

“There were two guys down semi-unconscious on the ground. Then I found my friends and there was a guy bleeding on a chair from his eyebrow and his jaw was cracked. I started to help treat him,” Bellis said.


Witnesses say fights broke out everywhere, leaving pools of blood on the ground and on the tailgate of a pickup truck.


Emergency Medical Technicians treated 163 people for various injuries. At least a dozen were rushed to area hospitals.


“Broken bones, we had bruises, scrapes, a couple of them did have a little more severe injuries,” Dr. Rick Hong of the Cooper University Medical Center said.


Police arrested 191 people.


But, witnesses say the police didn’t do much to break up the fights.


Last year, a Camden officer was stabbed in the chest while breaking up a fight at this concert.

Pennsylvania, land of giants

How many other states can brag about such bipartisan corruption?

They used to share a gavel. Now, apparently, they’re sharing a jail cell.


John Perzel, a Republican from Philadelphia and Bill Deweese, a Democrat from Greene, share the distinction of both having served as Speaker of the Pennsylvania State House.


They also became convicted felons within a month of each other after separate convictions on corruption charges. Now they’re both at Camp Hill state prison, and according to the website PoliticsPA, they’re sharing the same cell.


A spokesman at the prison confirmed to ABC News that Perzel and Deweese are both at the prison and on the same cellblock, but said the Department of Corrections does not release information about which particular cells inmate inhabits.


Democratic Rep. Ronald Waters, who serves in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and worked with both Perzel and Deweese prior to their convictions, commented that “to the best of our knowledge, it seems to be true.”


Waters said he first learned of the situation via a conversation with Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel, who tentatively confirmed the rumors. “It’s truly a coincidence,” Waters said.  ”They’ll probably have some time to spend there together, and who knows where they’re going to go after they leave there.”


Perzel pled guilty last August to eight criminal counts, including theft, conspiracy and conflict of interest, after heading a scheme to use taxpayer-paid computer programs to win political campaigns, according to the Associated Press. Deweese was convicted of five counts in his own corruption case in February, including conflict of interest and conspiracy as well as three counts of theft stemming from charges that his state-paid staff performed campaign work, a scandal the Pennsylvania press dubbed “Bonusgate.”

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