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Ring of fire

Johnny Cash:

Play with fire

Mick etc.

Virtually Speaking A-Z

VS A-Z tonight: 6pm pacific, 9 pm EST
Stuart Zechman and Jay Ackroyd discuss Paul Krugman, and his mixed views of centists, centrism, the democratic party and the Obama administration. Listen

Shoulder to the wheel

So now I have rotator cuff problems on both sides – although it’s a lot worse on one side. Right now, I have it taped, which makes the pain more tolerable and stops that clicking noise. Fortunately, I have an appointment with the physiatrist next week and I can get some prolotherapy shots, which will help. Arghh.

Nestled in the Northwest Georgia Mountains in the city of Rome is Shorter University. Shorter University is a small Baptist Institution with a big problem.

Close to 60 of its faculty will not renew their contracts for new school year. The school has about 100 full time faculty members.

This is due to the requirement to sign a “Personal Lifestyle Statement.”

Here is part of the statement:

 I agree to adhere to and support the following principles (on or off the campus):


1. I will be loyal to the mission of Shorter University as a Christ-centered institution affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention.


2. I will not engage in the use, sale, possession, or production of illegal drugs.


3. I reject as acceptable all sexual activity not in agreement with the Bible, including, but not limited to, premarital sex, adultery, and homosexuality.


4. I will not use alcoholic beverages in the presence of students, and I will abstain from serving, from using, and from advocating the use of alcoholic beverages in public (e.g. in locations that are open to use by the general public, including as some examples restaurants, concert venues, stadiums, and sports facilities) and in settings in which students are present or are likely to be present. I will not attend any University sponsored event in which I have consumed alcohol within the last six hours. Neither will I promote or encourage the use of alcohol.

The University is practically decimated. Four out of seven deans will not be returning. The School of Professional Programs (remote learning for non traditional students) is the largest tuition draw, has lost a sizable portion of its students and 20% of its faculty. The College of Nursing has lost all but 2 inexperienced faculty members. The faculty that left is developing a new nursing program at nearby Berry College. Music and Theater has historically been a big draw to the undergraduate program at Shorter and they will lose 12 out of 20 faculty members. A tenured librarian of 14 years has also turned in his resignation.

Inside Higher Ed has an article giving some background:

In 2002, Shorter’s board of trustees voted to break away from the Georgia Baptist Convention after a dispute about who would appoint the college’s board. In the past, the state convention had chosen from a list of candidates approved by the college; beginning in 2001, it began to put its own board members forward.

The state convention fought the move, and the case went to the state Supreme Court, which ruled in 2005 which ruled the college did not have authority to sever ties with the church on its own……

Another Georgia Baptist college, Mercer University, provides a view of an alternate path, had Shorter won at the state supreme court.

When Shorter sought independence from the Baptist convention, it used Mercer as a model: at the time, the college’s charter limited the convention’s control over the board of trustees. In 2006, not long after Shorter lost its court case, the convention cut ties with Mercer entirely, the result of a dispute about both institutional control and the rights of gay student groups.


Unlike Shorter, that separation stuck. Thus, five years later, a few days after Shorter announced its new faith statements, Mercer announced an employment policy change of its own: the Baptist university is now extending health insurance and other benefits to employees’ same-sex partners.

I suppose the Georgia Baptist Convention can take the school in any direction they see fit. It is a private institution. But tearing down this university’s academic integrity will be no door to heaven.

Legal theft

This isn’t the only kind of game they play with bail money, but it’s one of the worst ones:

When the Brown County, Wis., Drug Task Force arrested her son Joel last February, Beverly Greer started piecing together his bail.

She used part of her disability payment and her tax return. Joel Greer’s wife also chipped in, as did his brother and two sisters. On Feb. 29, a judge set Greer’s bail at $7,500, and his mother called the Brown County jail to see where and how she could get him out. “The police specifically told us to bring cash,” Greer says. “Not a cashier’s check or a credit card. They said cash.”

So Greer and her family visited a series of ATMs, and on March 1, she brought the money to the jail, thinking she’d be taking Joel Greer home. But she left without her money, or her son.

Instead jail officials called in the same Drug Task Force that arrested Greer. A drug-sniffing dog inspected the Greers’ cash, and about a half-hour later, Beverly Greer said, a police officer told her the dog had alerted to the presence of narcotics on the bills — and that the police department would be confiscating the bail money.

“I told them the money had just come from the bank,” Beverly Greer says. “We had just taken it out. If the money had drugs on it, then they should go seize all the money at the bank, too. I just don’t understand how they could do that.”

The Greers had been subjected to civil asset forfeiture, a policy that lets police confiscate money and property even if they can only loosely connect them to drug activity. The cash, or revenue from the property seized, often goes back to the coffers of the police department that confiscated it. It’s a policy critics say is often abused, but experts told The HuffPost that the way the law is applied to bail money in Brown County is exceptionally unfair.
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Coinky dink

I am certain it is mere coincidence that every time peaceful protesters plan a major action, police announce a vile conspiracy to blow things up. And it is even more of a coincidence that the conspirators claim to have been baited into such plans by undercover agents, who have even been known to supply material with which they can blow things up.

Because if it was not a coincidence, we’d have to admit that our own government is working against our ability to seek redress for grievances, and that couldn’t possibly be true. The good guys always win, right?

Lawyers for three protesters arrested on terrorist-related charges ahead of the Nato summit have accused police of entrapping them and encouraging an alleged bomb-making effort.


The three were arrested on Wednesday night when members of the Chicago police department battered their way into an apartment in the Bridgeport area of the city.


According to court documents released on Saturday, the three men considered targeting Barack Obama’s re-election headquarters and the home of Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel.


The Chicago police department said the men, described as self-proclaimed anarchists and members of the “Black Bloc” movement that has disrupted international gatherings in the past, were arrested on Wednesday and charged on Friday with conspiracy to commit terrorism, providing material support for terrorism and possession of an explosive incendiary device.


The three men charged were listed as Brian Church, 22, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Jared Chase, 27, of Keene, New Hampshire, and Brent Betterly, 24, from Massachusetts.


At a hearing on Saturday bail was set at $1.5m for each of the three. Their next court appearance is on Tuesday.


Supporters of the three men disputed the charges, saying the men had come to protest at the Nato summit peacefully and that the police had confused beer-making equipment with explosives.


A lawyer for the three, Michael Deutsch, said undercover police officers had entrapped them by infiltrating the group and encouraging the bomb-making effort. The Chicago police department declined to comment on the tactics employed in the case.


The Cook County state attorney’s office said the three men had other weapons including a mortar, knives and a hunting bow. It said they considered attacking police stations and cars in Chicago to disrupt police operations for the two-day Nato summit that begins on Sunday.

A mortar? A kitchen mortar? Knives and a hunting bow? Yeah, they sound like hardened terrorists to me! Imagine. You can carry a loaded handgun to a presidential appearance, but apparently you can’t have knives or a hunting bow without being charged with a terrorist conspiracy.

“Some of the proposed targets included campaign headquarters of US President Barack Obama, the personal residence of Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel and certain downtown financial institutions,” the court papers said.


On Saturday several hundred activists protested outside Emanuel’s home. The event was peaceful.


“The men had been making Molotov cocktails out of empty beer bottles filled with gasoline and fitted with cut bandanas for fuses,” Cook County state attorney Anita Alvarez told a news conference after the bond hearing.


“It is pretty clear from the evidence they were making the bombs,” Alvarez said. “There was a lot of discussion about making these Molotov cocktails and what they were going to do with them.”

I wonder who encouraged them to make those bombs? I guess we’ll find out at the trial, because as we know, police officers never, ever lie.

Mother, may I?

I keep mulling this over, and I can’t think of any way even Republican judges can make this constitutional. But it’s mindboggling that they would even try to give the legislative branch the power to decide whether a state AG is permitted to bring a prosecution without the approval of the politicians. Imagine if it was illegal for the state AGs to go after bank fraud without the permission of the politicians they’ve bought! They already own almost everything, I guess this is their way of trying to snatch that final crumb:

A year ago, even a divining rod would have been tempting to a reporter trying to tease out details about the workings of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The group’s corporate, ideological and lawmaker members wouldn’t admit to an association, much less describe the model bills cooked up at its cushy confabs.

Today, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. One need only pick up one of the 4,000 documents recently obtained by Common Cause, which has filed complaints against the group here and at the national level, and out tumble nuggets of political chicanery.

Exhibit A: The agenda from last week’s ALEC meeting in Charlotte, N.C., where its task forces polished proposed bills that are likely to pop up in the next legislative session here and around the country.At the meeting, ALEC’s Civil Justice Task Force considered a proposal entitled the ALEC Attorney General Authority Act. The boilerplate is pretty impenetrable — one more reason lawmakers don’t write these themselves — but the summary attached for members’ advance consideration lays out the gist pretty neatly:

“Just as a private attorney cannot bring a suit on behalf of a client without the client agreeing and authorizing such action, and then only within the guidelines allowed by the client, so it should be with the attorney general. Rather than an attorney general deciding on his or her own what authority the office may have to bring a lawsuit, the authority should be defined by the state as reflected by the specific decisions of the legislature via statute. The legislature, not the attorney general, is best positioned to balance the competing concerns that go into the decision of whether to allow a cause of action and under what circumstances.”

In even plainer English: AGs, who are typically the consumer’s lone public advocate these days, may not file suit against, say, a tobacco company, a mortgage fraudster or a national company flaunting state law, unless the legislature passes a bill saying he — or in our case, she — can.
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Yep

What Duncan said.

Back in the USSR

If I were the queen of the universe, every time a member of the one percent opened his or her piehole to defend exploiting workers, they would be sentenced to work six months at a minimum wage job, find an affordable apartment, apply for Medicaid and food stamps and be monitored closely by a social worker. Because when Mayor Mikey says crap like this, I can only think of a Yiddish word that rhymes with “nuts”:

To a few hundred New York workers laboring for $8 or $9 an hour, a living wage bill recently passed by the city council means a raise, a few dollars more a week to help feed their families.

To billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg, it’s a wedge to open the door to communism. That’s right — the mayor told a local radio program that requiring businesses that get taxpayer subsidies to pay their workers a little bit more is just like a centrally planned economy. “The last time we really had a big managed economy was the USSR, and that didn’t work out so well,” Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg is just fine with handing over millions of New Yorkers’ dollars in taxpayer subsidies to companies that threaten to flee the city — no complaints about “free market” capitalism when it’s wealthy real estate developers getting the dough. Requiring those businesses that are happily slurping at the public trough to pay their workers a dollar or two more an hour, though, is just opening the door to Stalin.

In addition, Bloomberg has been willing to support a statewide minimum wage increase — so it’s not really that he opposes workers making a little bit more as much as he’s opposed to admitting that businesses that get public money have an obligation to the public. He’s opposed to admitting that there’s nothing “free market” about any of it.

No wonder a rally in support of the living wage bill was interrupted by a heckler calling him “Pharoah Bloomberg”—the reference to “Pharoah” making workers labor for low wages on taxpayer-funded projects seems apt, as the world’s 20th richest man has vowed to sue to prevent the living wage ordinance from going into effect.

“Mayor Bloomberg is in fact taking the position that the immense buying power of the city as well as its prominent role in economic development should be used to milk private sector workers,” Mark Price, a labor economist who testified in 2009 before the New York City Council over a prevailing wage bill, told AlterNet. “The idea that the government can be used to do this to workers is a throwback to the Gilded Age when robber barons ruthlessly accumulated wealth and power at the expense of workers.”

But as the economy remains stalled and companies that pay poverty wages continue to get huge subsidies from cities and states (like New York’s FreshDirect, which we recently reported is pocketing $129 million in handouts and is exempt from the new living wage rule), activists around the country are pushing for living wages in cities, on college campuses, and in tandem with pushes to raise the minimum wage.

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