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Undernews: November 16, 2012

Undernews: November 16, 2012

Since 1964, the news while there's still time to do something about it

THE PROGRESSIVE REVIEW

Orlando backs off of anti-front yard gardening rule

Click Orlando College Park man's garden will continue to grow in his front yard after the city of Orlando was inundated with emails following a Local 6 story that generated national headlines.

The city of Orlando received hundreds of emails that focused on Jason Helvingston's 25-foot-by-25-foot front yard vegetable garden in College Park.

And now, the city has decided not to pursue a violation against him. Instead, city officials said they're trying to work out a solution, which could result in a change in the city's landscaping codes.

Unions split on Hostess strike

In the Hostess strike, the Teamsters and the bakers' union took two different approaches. Below is the Teamster argument, which was followed by Hostess announcing it was shutting down. The bakers union site is currently unavailable because an overload

Teamsters - Today, the Teamsters Union announced its recommendation to the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco and Grain Millers International Union that a vote of its Hostess members by secret ballot should be held to determine if the workers want to continue their strike of the company and force it into liquidation.

On Wednesday, Nov. 14, Hostess Brands indicated that if it couldn’t resume normal operations by 5 p.m. EST on Thursday, Nov. 15 that it would have to begin the liquidation process. Teamster Hostess members and all Hostess employees should know this is not an empty threat or a negotiating tactic, but the certain outcome if members of the BCTGM continue to strike. This is based on conversations with our financial experts, who, because the Teamsters were involved in the legal process, had access to financial information about the company.

As stated previously, Teamster Hostess members have been frustrated by numerous missteps by a variety of Hostess management teams, but the union has tried to engage constructively to find a solution to preserve jobs. That comprehensive engagement has spanned 18 months.

The Teamsters chose to challenge the company’s path of a worker-only solution, engage constructively so other constituents would be sacrificing and require management changes and oversight so that the same missteps would not be repeated.

In fact, when Hostess attempted to throw out its collective bargaining agreement with the Teamsters in court, the Teamsters fought back and won, ensuring that Hostess could not unilaterally make changes to working conditions during the several months’ long legal process that recently ended. Teamster Hostess members were allowed to decide their fate by voting on the final offer conducted by a secret mail ballot. More than two-thirds of Hostess Teamsters members voted with 53 percent voting to approve the final offer.

The BCTGM chose a different path, as is their prerogative, to not substantively look for a solution or engage in the process. BCTGM members were told there were better solutions than the final offer, although Judge Drain stated in his decision in bankruptcy court that no such solutions exist. Without complete information, BCTGM members voted by voice votes in union halls. The BCTGM reported that over 90 percent rejected the final offer and three of its units ratified the final offer.

On Friday, Nov. 9, the BCTGM began to strike at some Hostess production facilities without notice to the Teamsters despite assurances they would not proceed with job actions without contacting the Teamsters Union. This unannounced action put Teamster members in the difficult position of facing picket lines without knowing their right to honor such a line without being disciplined.

As is our longstanding tradition, Teamster members by and large are honoring Bakery Worker picket lines when encountered and complying with their contractual obligations when not encountering picket lines. The BCTGM leaders are putting Teamster members in a horrible position – asking them to support a strike that will put them out of a job when they haven’t even asked all their members to go on strike.

That strike is now on the verge of forcing the company to liquidate – it is difficult for Teamster members to believe that is what the BCTGM Hostess members ultimately wanted to accomplish when they went out on strike. We may never know unless the BCTGM members, based on the facts they know today, get to determine their fate in a secret ballot vote. Teamster members would understand that the will of the BCTGM Hostess membership was truly heard if that was the case.

Climate change continues despite Romney & Obama

Live Science - Continuing a hot trend, October was the fifth warmest across the globe since record keeping began in 1880. And climate scientists say it's likely, about 90 percent so, that 2012 will become the warmest year on record for the contiguous United States.

The last 36 Octobers, including this one, have experienced global temperatures above the 20th-century average; in fact, the past 332 months have all shown above-average temperatures globally, according to a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Latinos own 3% of TV stations, blacks less than 1%

Joe Flint, LA Times - The Federal Communications Commission just released its report on the ownership of commercial broadcast stations which reveals that as of 2011, whites own 69.4% of the nation's 1,348 television stations. That's up from 63.4% in 2009, when there were 1,187 stations.

Blacks went from owning 1% of all commercial TV stations in 2009 to just 0.7% in 2011. Asian ownership slipped from 0.8% in 2009 to 0.5% last year. Latino ownership increased slightly from 2.5% to 2.9%.

Females owned 6.8% of all commercial TV stations in 2011, compared to 5.6% in 2009.

It is a similar story in radio. Whites own almost 80% of all AM and FM radio stations, with more than 70% being owned by men.

Recovered history: A former slave's reply to a letter from his former master
Letters of Note - In 1834, 21-year-old Jarm Loguemanaged to steal his master's horse and escape the life of slavery into which he had been born. Sadly, his mother, brother and sister remained. 26 years later, by which time he had settled down in New York, opened numerous schools for black children, started his own family, become a reverend and noted abolitionist, and authored an autobiography, he received a letter from the wife of his old owner in which she demanded $1000.

That letter, and his furious reply

Letter to Facebook

Social Fixer - Dear Facebook, You filter the posts we see from friends and Pages, so what we see in our news feed is only a fraction of the content that we are actually connected to. There are lots of hacks and tricks to help us see the things you hide from us, but many of us are still left asking: Why can’t you just show us an unfiltered feed of everything?

The reason, you say, is because users would be too overwhelmed. They can’t handle that much content. Trust you. You know better than we do. You’re image looking out for us, right? You want to protect us from overload. Oh, and by the way, you make money by charging people and Pages to make their content appear in more users’ feeds ... But I’m sure that has nothing to do with why you filter the feed, right? Of course.

But not only do you filter content, but you also insist on putting us back into your “Top Stories” view, which puts posts at the top that you think we will be most interested in. If we switch to “Most Recent”, which puts posts in order it will stick for a while, then randomly switch back without asking us. Because you’re trying to help us. Of course.

So I ask again: Facebook, why can’t you just give us an unfiltered chronological feed?!

Twitter does it.
Google+ does it.
Instagram does it.

Why must you be different?

(Hint: It’s because none of the others get revenue from artificially limiting content visibility)...

When I tell my Tivo to record episodes of Modern Family, it doesn’t pick out the ones it thinks I will like best and only record them, does it?

When I subscribe to a magazine, the publisher doesn’t deliver only the issues that it thinks I will be most interested, does it?

The Post Office doesn’t filter my mail, in order to protect me from drowning in all the catalogs, magazines, and junk mail that I’ve requested, does it? No. It delivers everything I’ve asked for.

Why, Facebook, can’t you just be like everyone else and let me see what I’ve said I want to see? Why must you think you know what I want better than I do? Why?

We like you, Facebook. We want to stay. Just show us all the witty posts from our friends, the cat pictures from our Pages, the gay puns from George Takei, and comics from The Oatmeal. Even the ones you don’t think we’ll like. We’ll manage. I promise.

Thanks. All the best,

– Matt Kruse

Social Fixer, incidentally, helps to fix some of Facebook's numerous problems - TPR

Privatization piracy: Prison gangs and CCA get together

Think Progress - A new lawsuit brought by eight inmates of the Idaho Correctional Center alleges that the company is cutting back on personnel costs by partnering with violent prison gangs to help control the facility. Court documents and an investigative report issued by the state’s Department of Corrections show how guards routinely looked the other way when gang members violated basic facility rules, negotiated with gang leaders on the cell placement of new inmates, and in one instance may have even helped one group of inmates plan a violent attack on members of a rival gang.

Rather than working with corporate headquarters or local authorities to combat the growing threat of gangs, CCA officials at the prison the state’s largest, with more than 2,000 beds used those same gangs as a way to control the rest of the inmates and save money:

The inmates also contend that CCA officials use gang violence and the threat of gang violence as an “inexpensive device to gain control over the inmate population,” according to the lawsuit, and that housing gang members together allows the company to use fewer guards, reducing payroll costs.

“The complaint alleges that CCA fosters and develops criminal gangs,” attorney Wyatt Johnson, who along with T.J. Angstman represents the inmates, said in a statement. “Ideally, the lawsuit should force this to come to an end.”

CDC prudes work against themselves

Jake Blumgart, Slate - Alcohol still plays an important part in my social life, as it does for many Americans. Most of my friends and acquaintances drink, keep a supply of booze about the house, and even get drunk, at least on the weekends. Most of us know our limits, and the limits of alcohol, better than we did in high school or college. And who doesn’t know a story of a parent, an uncle, a friend, who has struggled with alcohol, perhaps unto death?

But how many drinks are OK? How many on a week night? In a weekend? In a week? The CDC has extremely stringent answers to these questions. The agency’s definition of “heavy drinking”--an average of more than one drink a day for a woman--could make my mom, a wine-with-dinner lady, sound like Cersei Lannister. My personal experiences of doctors scolding against any overindulgence, ever--no matter the weddings, birthdays, or neighborhood dance parties--leave me feeling exasperated and not disposed to consider their opinion.

Such rigid definitions don’t seem helpful and smack of pathologizing a behavior--drinking with your friends, or even alone in moderation--that has served humanity well since our ancestors settled down for a beer and a bit of civilization. According to the CDC, 50.9 percent of Americans drink regularly (which the agency defines as more than 12 drinks per year). Overly puritanical government and medical cautions against alcohol consumption, which contrast so markedly with the experience of many, could lead drinkers to totally blow off these recommendations.

Great moments in law enforcement

Herald Tribune, Sarasota - A homeless man spent the night in jail Sunday after police arrested him for charging his cellphone in a public picnic shelter at Gillespie Park.

Darren Kersey, 28, was charged with theft of utilities after Sarasota Police Sgt. Anthony Frangioni spotted him charging his phone at about 9:20 p.m. Sunday. Unable to come up with the $500 bail for the misdemeanor, Kersey had no choice but to stay in jail.
In his arrest report, Frangioni wrote that he told Kersey that the “theft of city utilities will not be tolerated during this bad economy.” Frangioni also told Kersey that he should charge his phone at local shelters, according to the report.

But Monday morning Circuit Judge Charles Williams threw the case out, saying Frangioni lacked the legal justification to make the arrest.

Obama's new Afghan general pushes for longer war

Anti-War - The next commander of US forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Joe Dunford, told the Senate on Thursday that he supports continuing the war in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

“Dunford is ready to tell Congress,” reports The Cable, “that he supports U.S. troops staying in Afghanistan for a host of missions in 2015 and beyond, which matches the Obama administration’s plans, despite some high-level administration statements to the contrary.”

“In my view our overall objective in Afghanistan after 2014 will be to sustain our hard-won security gains after 2014 so that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists,” Dunford told the senators.

“To accomplish this objective, the primary missions of the U.S. military in Afghanistan should be to (1) train, advise, and assist the ANSF; (2) provide support to civilian agencies, and (3) conduct counter-terrorism operations. This mission set will include force protection for our brave young men and women and, as available, the provision of in extremis support for our Afghan forces.”

The Obama administration has been falsely telling the American public that the war in Afghanistan is coming to a close and the last US troops with be withdrawn in 2014. But all along, the US has been working behind the scenes with the Kabul government on an agreement that would govern the presence of up to 25,000 US troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014, perhaps until 2024.

Friday morning line

Sam Smith - I have suspected that one major reason the real filibuster - i.e. lengthy speeches on the Senate floor - disappeared was because of CSPAN. If citizens actually watched senators being as stupid as they were, say, in fighting civil rights legislation in the 1960s there would be an awful lot of new senators. So it's good news that there's a filibuster reform movement that wants to send the legislation blockers back on the floor where everyone can see what they're up to.

While we still don't know the full story behind the David Petraeus blowup, it's beginning to feel more and more like one of those political intrigues you read about in a not so democratic country. What's driving the investigation, which is quite a separate thing from finding out what actually happened, is a semi-covert power struggle within our political elites. . . And don't get too excited about the related Benghazi investigation. It was a sad incident, perhaps involving a bureaucratic screw-up, but compared to our other Mid East disasters in the Iraq and Afghan wars, it doesn't amount to much. It's just politically highly useful and the sort of thing the conventional media always falls for.

Here are a few useful facts about Hamas:

Hamas is the Palestinian Sunni Islamic or Islamist political party that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas also has a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Since June 2007 Hamas has governed the Gaza portion of the Palestinian Territories, after it won a majority of seats in the Palestinian Parliament in the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections and then defeated the Fatah political organization in a series of violent clashes. Israel, the United States, the European Union, Canada and Japan classify Hamas as a terrorist organization, while Arab nations, Russia, Turkey, and most other countries do not.

In other words, Hamas is another government that does some bad things, but it is not a terrorist organization, unless, of course, you want to put the United States and Israel in the same category. Journalists who use the term terrorist organization to describe Hamas are once again caving into the propagandists they are meant to be exposing.

One reason Romney wanted to win

Poiticus USA - Ten days ago, this column reported on a Delaware bankruptcy court’s failure to enter an Emergency Motion into the public docket that included Bain Capital and Romney operative’s perjury and corruption in the eToys bankruptcy case. At the time it appeared the judge was protecting Romney and Bain Capital by suppressing the motion in expectation he would win the election and have the motion tossed out of court ...

Well now that he lost the election, it appears the allegation had merit because on November 7, the day after his crushing defeat, the Delaware bankruptcy court judge entered the motion into the public docket and scheduled a hearing for December 4, 2012; all on the same day.

It was a victory for the whistleblower and eToys investors, and incriminating for the Delaware court and Willard Romney because although the judge received the Emergency Motion on October 24th, it was withheld from the public docket until after it was clear Romney lost the election and would not be appointing an attorney general to drop the case.

According to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 79 says when a motion is received by the court, “The clerk must keep a record known as the civil docket, and must enter each civil action in the docket and assign consecutive file numbers, which must be noted in the docket where the first entry of the action is made.” Instead of putting the Emergency Motion into the public docket immediately when it was received, it was held up until the day after the election and gives the very believable appearance the court was waiting for election results before either acting on the Motion according to the law, or letting it languish until Romney appointed a friendly attorney general.

Assuming Romney would appoint a friend of Bain as attorney general is an entirely realistic assumption because Bain Capital’s corrupt lawyers were let off the hook when George W. Bush appointed another Bain lawyer as Delaware U.S. Attorney who refused to investigate and eventually drop the eToys case instead of prosecuting and forcing Bain to repay investors who were bilked out of their money.

MORE

What Israel is really up to
Philip Giraldi, Anti-War -I would argue that much of what the American public is seeing and hearing about Iran and Syria is a red herring. If the media is focused on developments in Syria and Iran it will be excusable not to pay any attention to what Israel is doing in its own backyard in what remains of Palestine. And Israel is most definitely up to its usual tricks on the West Bank. Benjamin Netanyahu has recently announced the building of 1,200 more housing units for Jews only in occupied East Jerusalem and on the West Bank. If the Palestinians seek permanent observer member-state status in the United Nations at the end of this month, there have been suggestions that Israel will retaliate by building even more new settlements. The Israeli media is reporting a senior government official’s assertion that “If the Palestinians go to the UN, we won’t continue to show the restraint that we’ve demonstrated in terms of settlement construction.”

Restraint? Benjamin Netanyahu has no desire to see any viable Palestinian state and he has exploited the United States as an enabler in his commission of war crimes to stall any progress in that direction. When Israel was created it managed to seize control of 78% of the historic Palestine leaving only 22% to the Palestinian inhabitants. That 22% has now been reduced to less than 10% remaining on the West Bank plus Gaza. Israel is intent on colonizing the more desirable parts of the West Bank, crowding the remaining Palestinians into a cluster of Bantustans that will be “self-governing” though without any of the attributes of sovereignty. The Arabs will not control their own water resources and airspace, will be hemmed in by Jews-only highways that they cannot use and military zones that they cannot enter, and will be prey to arbitrary action by the Israeli army to “protect” settlers and maintain security.

The Israelis appropriate Palestinian land as the wish to create new settlements and the rampaging settlers themselves destroy Palestinian farms and businesses so that the people will have no livelihood and will be forced to leave. All of the Israeli action is, of course, illegal in addition to being unconscionable as the Geneva Conventions consider it a war crime to seize and colonize land that has been occupied by military action. Israeli settlers on the West Bank have increased from 200,000 in 2000 and now number more than 350,000. They continue to increase, with settlements constituting 42% of the West Bank. If one adds in the 300,000 Jews living in Arab East Jerusalem and in the adjacent areas that have been illegally annexed to Israel proper, the total becomes 650,000 for Israeli Jews living in territories that were occupied in 1968. And there should be no confusion about the ultimate intentions of the Israeli government, which has secretly doubled its budget for settlement expansion. Hardliner Knesset member Yaakov Katz has predicted that “within four years,” there will be more than 1 million Jews living beyond the Green Line that once separated Jordan from Israel, and “then the revolution will be completed.”

MORE

Wal-Mart workers plan Black Friday walkout

CNN - A group of Wal-Mart workers are planning to stage a walkout next week on Black Friday, arguably the biggest holiday shopping day for the world's largest retail store.

The walkout builds on an October strike that started at a Wal-Mart in Los Angeles and spread to stores in 12 other cities. More than 100 workers joined in the October actions.

The union-backed groups OUR Walmart and Making Change at Wal-Mart, and a watchdog group Corporate Action Network, are calling on the nation's largest employer to end what they call retaliation against employees who speak out for better pay, fair schedules and affordable health care.

On Black Friday, the organizations expect 1,000 protests, both at stores and online.

Meanwhile, furthermore & on the other hand
Furthermore. . .

Homemade Twinkie recipe

Alternative news update

Action notes
Rolling Jubilee: Over $5 Million of Debt Erased, and Counting

Urban
The Sinking of New York City's Subways

Cyber notes
Is Obama About to Take Over the Internet?

Polls
57% favor tax hike on those making over $25,000

Torture
What's the Point of Having Laws Against Torture if They Don't Apply to the Powerful?

Economy
The Fiscal Cliff and The Janitors Who Are Already On It
European austerity programs aren't working

Bookshelf
The John Lennon Letters

Mid East
Egyptian PM Visits Gaza, Condemns Israeli Assault
AIPAC takes a big hit

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