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Friday, June 28, 2013

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Today in History

1635 The French colony of Guadeloupe is established in the Caribbean.
1675 Frederick William of Brandenburg crushes the Swedes.
1709 Russians defeat the Swedes and Cossacks at the Battle of Poltava.
1776 Colonists repulse a British sea attack on Charleston, South Carolina.
1778 Mary "Molly Pitcher" Hays McCauley, wife of an American artilleryman, carries water to the soldiers during the Battle of Monmouth.
1839 Cinque and other Africans are kidnapped and sold into slavery in Cuba.
1862 Fighting continues between Union and Confederate forces during the Seven Days' campaign.
1863 General Meade replaces General Hooker three days before the Battle of Gettysburg.
1874 The Freedmen's Bank, created to assist former slaves in the United States, closes. Customers of the bank lose $3 million.
1884 Congress declares Labor Day a legal holiday.
1902 Congress passes the Spooner bill, authorizing a canal to be built across the isthmus of Panama.
1911 Samuel J. Battle becomes the first African-American policeman in New York City.
1914 Austria's Archduke Francis Ferdinand is assassinated at Sarajevo, Serbia.
1919 Germany signs the Treaty of Versailles under protest.
1921 A coal strike in Britain is settled after three months.
1930 More than 1,000 communists are routed during an assault on the British consulate in London.
1938 Congress creates the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to insure construction loans.
1942 German troops launch an offensive to seize Soviet oil fields in the Caucasus and the city of Stalingrad.
1945 General Douglas MacArthur announces the end of Japanese resistance in the Philippines.
1949 The last U.S. combat troops are called home from Korea, leaving only 500 advisers.
1950 General Douglas MacArthur arrives in South Korea as Seoul falls to the North.
1954 French troops begin to pull out of Vietnam's Tonkin province.
1964 Malcolm X founds the Organization for Afro-American Unity to seek independence for blacks in the Western Hemisphere.
1967 14 people are shot during race riots in Buffalo, New York.
1970 Muhammed Ali [Cassius Clay] stands before the Supreme Court regarding his refusal of induction into the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.
1971 The Supreme Court overturns the draft evasion conviction of Muhammad Ali.
1972 Nixon announces that no new draftees will be sent to Vietnam.
1976 The first women enter the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Non Sequitur


Tech Companies Find Ways Not To Hire Americans

Tech workers looking for jobs may think twice before looking at job ads that are targeted at Americans but actually are intended for foreigners.
Lawmakers continue to wrangle over a bill that would overhaul the nation's immigration system. One provision in this bill would allow companies to import a lot more skilled workers. The tech industry has lobbied hard for this, despite fears among some American workers about the extra competition.
Tech workers looking for jobs may think twice before looking at job ads that are targeted at Americans but actually are intended for foreigners.Illinois Senator Dick Durbin says the bill has American workers covered. "Employers will be given a chance to hire a temporary foreign worker when truly needed. But first, they'll be required to recruit Americans. No exceptions, no excuses," he said.
Still, making companies recruit Americans isn't the same as making them hire them.
If you talk to disgruntled tech workers much, sooner or later one of them is going to send you . It shows a Pittsburgh immigration lawyer at what looks like a seminar for clients in 2007. In the video, he's telling clients what to do when they want to sponsor one of their foreign workers for a permanent visa — a green card. The government requires employers to prove they looked for American workers first. So the companies have to advertise the job. But the lawyer tells them they don't have to advertise it too conspicuously.
"Our goal is, clearly, not to find a qualified and interested U.S. worker," the lawyer in the video says. He later adds, "We're going to find a place where ... we're complying with the law and hoping — and likely — not to find qualified and interested worker applicants."
Immigration law firms do this all the time: They show employers how to recruit Americans without actually having to hire them. This lawyer didn't want to talk to NPR, maybe because anti-visa activists have been sending this video around for years. It's Exhibit A in their argument that recruiting rules are a sham.
In the parts of the country where tech companies are prevalent, this kind of "faux recruiting" is common knowledge. But people in the industry quickly learn not to waste their time on certain job listings, says Orion Hughes, a software tester.
"A lot of us are aware of that ruse," he says.
Hughes and others avoid the listings with overly specific requirements, such as the number of years in "the job offered." That often means the employer just wants to make permanent a temporary foreign worker who's already in the job. And if you're stubborn enough to apply anyway, Hughes says that interview is going to be awkward.
"If you want to put yourself in that manager's shoes, it's an uncomfortable situation for them," he says. "They will [have a] kind of a sour facial expression, and they'll go from one question to the next. They are finding some reason to exclude you."
Employers usually go through these motions only when they're sponsoring a foreigner for a permanent visa. But now the Senate immigration bill would extend a similar requirement to temp workers: the foreigners on the H-1B visas which have become so common, and controversial, in lower-end tech jobs. The bill would have employers post those jobs online first, and there'd be more recruiting rules for companies that use H-1Bs a lot. It sounds good, but it's a move that seems to ignore all the ill will that's been generated over the years by insincere recruiting.
"No one is ever hired," says Bruce Morrison, a former Democratic congressman from Connecticut.
Morrison helped design the current work visa system, but now he's an immigration lawyer and a lobbyist. The "good faith" recruiting process, he says, comes with a fundamental flaw, he says.
"Which is, it doesn't start until you've already picked the person you want," Morrison says. "The decision whether to hire an American already happened — and you didn't."
Morrison's one of many experts who've given up on these recruiting rules. But he offers a solution to the problem: Have the government charge employers a heftier fee when hiring a foreigner.
"Create the economic circumstance where it costs you a lot more to hire a foreigner," Morrison says. "And you'll only do it if you can't find an American who's suitable."
The Senate bill takes small steps in this direction, but Morrison thinks it's not nearly enough. The bill actually removes the recruiting rule for some of the permanent visas — and he's happy about that. Morrison's been lobbying to get more green cards to skilled workers. But now it looks like the "recruit-Americans-first" idea is being shifted to temporary visas, the H-1Bs.
That means the tech industry will still be plagued by insincere job listings and bogus interviews, and the undercurrent of resentment that they create.

Did you know ...

That suicide now claims more lives than vehicular accidents

That the term 'illegal alien' is going out of style

What congress and the media are missing about food stamps

What is skeuomorphism?

Wendy Davis and Famous Filibusters in History

An old-fashioned form of political theater, a powerful and passionate filibuster can leave its mark on history even after the gavel has fallen.

The IRS Investigation Reveals Darrell Issa’s ‘Enemies List’

The Inspector General’s report didn’t mention the IRS targeting progressive groups for enhanced scrutiny … because House Oversight Committee Chair Darrell Issa used the Inspector General’s office to harass his own “Enemies List.” Within hours after the release of the Inspector General’s report on the IRS targeting of conservative groups that applied for 501(c)(4) status, there were reports that the IRS had also asked progressive non-profit groups for the same information. Indeed the only group whose 501(c)(4) application was denied – the Maine Chapter of Emerge America – is a progressive organization that trains Democratic women to run for office.
Yet the media dutifully allowed House Oversight Committee Chair Darrell Issa to charge President Obama with using the IRS to target political opponents, mostly because the IG’s report did not mention the IRS targeting progressive groups.
“Narrowly focus on Tea Party organizations”
On Tuesday we learned why, via the Huffington Post‘s Sam Stein:
As for why the report failed to mention that progressive groups, along with tea party groups, had been placed on IRS so-called Be On The Lookout lists for special scrutiny, Karen Kraushaar, the communications director at the Treasury Inspector General’s Office, said investigators had been constrained by their mission statement. House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) had specifically requested that investigators “narrowly focus on tea party organizations.” So they did just that, Kraushaar said.
In other words, Chairman Issa asked for a selective investigation of the IRS, directing the IG’s office to look only at the IRS targeting of conservative groups. He then used the report from that selective investigation to build a narrative of the IRS targeting only wingnut groups. It’s like combing through police records looking only for arrests of people wearing blue jeans … to tell a story that police arrest only people wearing blue jeans.
“It has contributed to the distortion of this entire investigation”
Yesterday the ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI), responded with an angry letter to the Treasury Department Inspector General’s office, with these key paragraphs:
Appendix VII of the audit report states: “The following chart illustrates a timeline of events from February 2010 through July 2012 involving the identification and processing of potential political cases.” There is no mention here that the timeline is narrowly focused on Tea Party and conservative organizations.
Failing to make this clear in these documents and at Congressional Hearings even when asked directly has been fully misleading. It has contributed to the distortion of this entire investigation, including use of innuendo and totally unsubstantiated assertions of White House involvement.
Mr. George, Congress created TIGTA to be an “independent and objective” unit to conduct and supervise audits and investigations into tax administration. Implicit in the word “objective” is a duty to be forth-coming. There is increasing evidence that the May 14, 2013 audit was fundamentally flawed and that your handling of it has failed to meet the necessary test of objectivity and forthrightness.
The IG’s response, so far, has been that they answered the questions they were asked to answer … by Chairman Issa.
“I want seven hearings a week, times 40 weeks”
Chairman Issa has his own “enemies list,” as he made clear six days after the 2010 midterms:
Issa told Politico in an interview that he wants each of his seven subcommittees to hold “one or two hearings each week.”
“I want seven hearings a week, times 40 weeks,” Issa said.
Issa is also targeting some ambitious up-and-comers like Reps. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, Patrick McHenry of North Carolina and Jim Jordan of Ohio – all aggressive partisans – to chair some of his subcommittees.
He also wants to organize aggressive oversight beyond his committee and plans to refer inquiries to other House panels, drawing even more incoming repugican cabal chairmen to the cause of investigating the executive branch.
In the coming weeks, Issa and his staff are also planning to reach out to the inspector general community and staffers at the various bureaucracies the committee will oversee.
“It’s a good thing the IRS is scrutinizing these applications”
Few progressive groups complained about the IRS procedures. As the Associated Press‘ Alan Fram and Stephen Ohlemacher reported yesterday, that may be because many progressive groups were neither shocked nor troubled by the scrutiny:
But even with the delays, leaders of some progressive groups said they didn’t feel like they were being targeted.
“This is kind of what you expect. You expect it to take a year or more to get your status because that’s just what the IRS goes through to do it,” said Maryann Martindale, executive director of Alliance for a Better Utah, a small non-profit that advocates for progressive causes. “So I don’t know that we feel particularly targeted.”
Sean Soendker Nicholson, executive director of Progress Missouri, said it took about 14 months for the IRS to approve his group’s tax-exempt status, in December 2012. He said the IRS asked a lot of questions about the group’s activities.
“It took a long time. We didn’t think much of it,” Nicholson said. “What I thought at the time was, there’s a lot of new groups that have popped up in the election cycle and it’s a good thing the IRS is scrutinizing these applications.”
The tea party groups howled that being asked to prove they weren’t political campaign organizations – forbidden under 501(c)(4) rules – was IRS oppression. Progressive groups saw that as the IRS doing their job.
The real scandal in the IRS story is Chairman Issa’s “enemies list” … and President Obama is at the top of that list.

Supreme Court agitators conspired with repugicans and ALEC to Kill Democracy

Every single day since November 5, 2008, wingnuts have asserted they want to “take their country back,” and yesterday the highest court in the land obliged them and sent the nation back to February 2, 1870; the day prior to ratification of the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Despite the increasing level of racism infecting America, the conservative Supreme Court officially endorsed, and enforced, the GOP’s state-sanctioned racism and officially announced the death knell of democracy in states controlled by repugicans that heartened neo-nazis and state rights activists. The High Court granted permission to repugican states to nullify the 15th Amendment’s guarantee that “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude,” and called into question whether or not “Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
The arbiter of all things legal and Constitutional in the United States ruled that the United States Congress no longer has the power to enforce the 15th Amendment by appropriate legislation, and transferred that power to the Koch-supported American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) who will in turn direct their conservative surrogates to announce what is appropriate and who is allowed to vote in the states. The 5 ALEC  Justices did not find anything in the Voting Rights Amendment was unconstitutional, but that the judgment of the United States Congress is no longer valid or appropriate.
The SCOTUS Blog in plain English explained that “Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which sets out the formula used to determine which state and local governments must comply with Section 5′s preapproval requirement is unconstitutional and can no longer be used. Thus, although Section 5 survives, it will have no actual effect.” In plainer English, the Supreme Court struck down the normally bi-partisan enforcement provision of the Voting Rights Act that, for all intents and purposes, gives ALEC power to disenfranchise people of color’s voting rights. The fact that the High Court eliminated the preapproval requirement based on racial discrimination which is the impetus of ALEC voter suppression laws, leaves Congress no room to enact new legislation ALEC cannot easily override with a contrary state law.
The repugicans know full well that African Americans, and minorities in general, would vote for Democrats and not against their own self-interests like their white Southern counterparts, and to remedy that inconvenient situation, repugicans passed ALEC voter restriction laws to disenfranchise minority (read Democratic) voters. When the Attorney General challenged ALEC’S voter suppression legislation in the states, ALEC appealed to its servants on the High Court to rule that ALEC, and not Congress, the Justice Department, or the 15th Amendment designates who has the right to vote and who is legally restricted from participating in the election process. Doubtless that if African Americans, and minorities in general, supported repugican candidates, neither ALEC nor the High Court would disenfranchise people of color from having their voices heard.
Wingnuts and 10th Amendment advocates cheered that, in their opinion, the High Court rightfully gave former Confederate states “the same rights as Northern states to set their own voting laws,” but until 2011 when repugicans gained control of some Northern states, there was no concerted effort to deny people of color the right to vote in Northern states. The great push to disenfranchise minority voters is the work of the Koch-sponsored ALEC whose template legislation mirrored Jim Crow laws’ effects and the VRA gave the Justice Department oversight to prevent Confederate states for restricting participation by people of color. President Obama expressed his disappointment “with the Supreme Court’s decision today” and said that “For nearly 50 years, the Voting Rights Act – enacted and repeatedly renewed by wide bipartisan majorities in Congress – has helped secure the right to vote for millions of Americans. Today’s decision invalidating one of its core provisions upsets decades of well-established practices that help make sure voting is fair, especially in places where voting discrimination has been historically prevalent.” What the President did not say, to his credit, is that although there has been progress in securing voting rights over the past 50 years, repugicans have been invalidating the VRA since his election in 2008 beginning with their assault on ACORN.
President Obama and Senator Al Franken called on Congress to pass legislation strengthening the Voting Rights Act, but it seems to be a futile call because really;  what grounds are there to base new legislation on? The ALEC laws suppressed student, seniors, poor, and minority voter rights, but Congress can hardly cite education, age, and economic grounds to empower the Justice Department to prevent repugicans from passing voter suppression laws. The likelihood of any new legislation even getting out of a committee is slim to none, and with the repugicans in control of the House there is no way Boehner will allow legislation make it to the floor that gives potential Democratic voters fair access to the ballot box. Doubtless the wingnut court is well aware of the barrier they erected to any new Congressional action and it is why the SCOTUS blog said the ruling meant “Section 5 has no effect” even though it was not ruled unconstitutional.
To say the wingnuts on the Supreme Court are activists in league with repugicans and ALEC is an understatement and it appears there is no end to their service to repugican cabal's machinations to end representative democracy in America. The court cannot possibly claim racial discrimination is vacant from America any more than they can claim corporations are not in control of two branches of the government. Critics of the ruling claim the Court set Americans’ right to vote back 50 years, but this ruling did more than give ALEC and repugicans free rein to disenfranchise minority voters in the South because they effectively opened the door for any and all restrictions on voting whether it is a state’s right to demand a Voter ID, eliminate early voting, or restrict voter registration drives. It is true the Court just returned the South to Jim Crow, but they also gave states the right to impose any requirements ALEC can devise to subvert democracy with impunity and further divide America and strengthen former Confederate state efforts to restrict minority voting.
What the wingnut court accomplished besides handing ALEC the right to restrict minority voters in the South is effectively abolishing the 15th Amendment. Remember, none of ALEC’s voter suppression laws are worded to restrict minority voting, but they do specifically target minorities who are most adversely affected by repugican policies. Now there is little Congress can do to enforce equal voting rights and the wingnut Court certainly knew their decision took the remaining enforcement out of Congress’s hands and handed it to ALEC. It should be no surprise though, the wingnuts have handed down one decision after another that support ALEC’s corporate maneuvers and now they have taken away the last vestige of fair elections in Southern states that portends hazardous times for states that most need representatives for the people. ALEC came to power during the Reagan junta and thirty years later they control every repugican state and the High Court just empowered them to control elections throughout the former Confederacy and there is little Congress can do to halt their power grab. The calls for new Congressional legislation are praiseworthy, but the Supreme Court took Congress’s power to enforce a crucial Amendment out of their hands and sent it the way of the rest of America’s democracy; straight to ALEC and doubtless they have templates on file to accomplish what the John Bircher Koch brothers have panted for over the past decade and are a little closer to realizing; a fascist corporatocracy.

Two Hours After The Supreme Court Gutted The Voting Rights Act, Texas AG Suppresses Minority Voters

by Aviva Shen

Just two hours after the Supreme Court reasoned that discrimination is not rampant enough in Southern states to warrant restrictions under the Voting Rights Act, Texas is already advancing a voter ID law and a redistricting map blocked last year for discriminating against black and Latino residents. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued a statement declaring that both measures may go into effect immediately, now that there is no law stopping them from discriminating against minorities. In 2012, the Justice Department blocked these measures under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Federal courts agreed that both the strict voter ID law and the redistricting map would disproportionately target the state’s fast-growing minority communities. Still, Texas filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court over the Voting Rights Act case complaining that the DOJ had used “abusive and heavy-handed tactics” to thwart the state’s attempts at voter suppression.
In the case of the new electoral map, a panel of federal judges found that “substantial surgery” was done to predominantly black districts, cutting off representatives’ offices from their strongest fundraising bases. Meanwhile, white Congress members’ districts were either preserved or “redrawn to include particular country clubs and, in one case, the school belonging to the incumbent’s grandchildren.” The new map was also drawn in secret by white repugican representatives, without notifying their black and Latino peers. After the court blocked the map, the legislature approved small changes to appease Democratic lawmakers last week. Now that they are free to use the old maps, however, Gov. Rick Perry (r) could simply veto the new plan and use the more discriminatory maps.
The strict photo ID requirement blocked by the DOJ and a federal court would require Texans to show one of a very narrow list of acceptable photo IDs. Expired gun licenses from other states are considered valid, but Social Security cards and student IDs are not. If voters do not have an ID — as many minorities, seniors, and poor people do not — they must travel at their own expense, produce their birth certificate, and in many cases pay a fee to get an ID.
Thanks to the Supreme Court, the DOJ no longer has any power to block these laws, even with the backing of federal judges who found blatant discrimination. Under the remaining sections of the Voting Rights Act, individuals may sue to kill these measures, but only after they have gone into effect and disenfranchised countless Texans of color.
According to the 2010 Census, non-Hispanic whites have become a minority in Texas, down from 52.4 percent to 45.3 percent of the population. Latinos have accounted for 65 percent of the state’s population growth over the past decade. Projections show that the eligible voter pool will shift to roughly 44 percent white voters and 37 percent Hispanic voters by 2025. Faced with this demographic reality, conservatives have alternated between changing their messaging to appeal to Latino voters, who overwhelmingly supported Democrats in 2012, and making it harder for them to vote.
It is only a matter of time before other states with voter ID laws and other election law changes blocked by the DOJ last year follow Texas’ example. Besides Texas, the attorney generals of Alabama, Arizona, South Dakota, and South Carolina argued that the Voting Rights Act was getting in the way of their ability to enact discriminatory laws.

Supreme Court Ruled In Favor Of America’s Top Corporate Lobbying Group In 13 of 16 Cases This Term

by Ian Millhiser

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donahue
The Supreme Court handed three big victories to big corporations seeking immunity from the law, and equally substantial defeats to American workers and consumers. In a pair of workplace civil rights decisions, the Court made it easier for many bosses to get away with sexual or racial harassment, and it eased the path for many companies that retaliate against workers who claim they are victims of discrimination. Additionally, the Court held a generic drug manufacturer whose product allegedly caused burns over half a patient’s body immune from a lawsuit that would have compensated this victim for her injuries. Notably, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s top business advocacy group, filed briefs on the victorious side in each of these cases.
Indeed, after today, the Chamber’s record before the Roberts Court is 13 wins and just 3 loses this term. This marks a sharp increase in the Chamber’s win rate even as compared to prior terms before the conservative Roberts Court. A Constitutional Accountability Center study of the Chamber’s record before the justices from last month found that the Chamber won 69 percent of its cases before the Roberts Court. That’s in contrast to a 56 percent win rate in front of the quite conservative, but comparatively more moderate, Rehnquist Court.
Notably the Court deferred so completely to the Chamber today that it adopted a harsh rule limiting sexual and racial harassment claims even though the attorney arguing that case on behalf of the defendant — a former Solicitor General under the shrub — would not endorse the rule himself while he was arguing the case. So the five conservative justices sided with the Chamber even though no party before the Court agreed with the Chamber’s position.

Sexual Harassers Score A Big Supreme Court Win

Or ... How The Supreme Court Stomped On Workers’ Rights

Justice Samuel Alito
Monday was a great day for sexual harassers and for bosses who retaliate against workers claiming discrimination. The rest of us did not fare so well in the Supreme Court. While most Court watchers will likely focus on the narrower-than-expected decision in the Fisher affirmative action case, the most lasting impact of today’s decisions likely will be the twin blows struck against women and minorities in the workplace. Taking advantage of employees just became a whole lot easier.
The first case, which we previously labeled the “scariest pending Supreme Court case that you’ve probably never heard of” made it significantly easier for many people’s bosses to racially or sexually harass them and get away with it. Though the law provides fairly robust protection to workers harassed by their supervisor, the Court’s 5-4 decision in Vance v. Ball State University defined the term “supervisor” very narrowly. Under today’s decision, your boss is only your “supervisor” if they have the power to make a “significant change in [your] employment status, such as hiring, firing, failing to promote, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, or a decision causing a significant change in benefits.”
The problem with this definition of the word “supervisor” is that it cuts out many individuals who exercise significant power to direct fellow employees — potentially including the power to intimidate those employees against reporting their actions to their employer — just so long as those individuals don’t actually have the power to fire or demote anyone. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissenting opinion lists several examples of now-no-longer-supervisors under Vance. One of them is a senior truck driver who coerced a female subordinate into unwanted sex with him. At oral argument, Justice Elena Kagan gave the example of a secretary whose boss “subjects that secretary to living hell, complete hostile work environment on the basis of sex.” Under today’s decision, the secretary’s boss is not her “supervisor” if the power to fire her rests with the “Head of Secretarial Services.” Don Draper can proposition his secretary with near impunity, so long as Joan Harris is the only one empowered to fire her.
To be clear, a victim of harassment may still sue their employer if the company was “negligent in permitting [] harassment to occur,” but this safeguard will mean little to workers who are so intimidated by their not-a-supervisor-according-to-Justice-Alito that they are afraid of what will happen if they report harassment to more senior management. Moreover, as Ginsburg writes in dissent, “anyone with work experience would immediately grasp” that a person does not have to be able to fire someone in order to exert significant control over them, to use this power to create a hostile work environment or even to demand that the worker be sexually available to them. Justice Samuel Alito, and the four conservatives who joined his majority opinion, apparently did not grasp this fact.
In a second case, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, the same five conservative justices gave employers a freer hand to retaliate against victims of discrimination who report that they have suffered discrimination. Nassar, which involves a physician of Middle Eastern descent who claims that his recent employer withdrew a job offer after he complained about an allegedly racist supervisor who said that “Middle Easterners are lazy,” nixes what are known as “mixed motive” retaliations claims under a key anti-discrimination law. Under the mixed motive framework, an employer cannot automatically escape liability for retaliation if racism, sexism or a similar improper motive was only one of several factors driving a decision to retaliate against an employee.

Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion rests heavily on a similar case, Gross v. FBL Financial Services, where the five conservatives killed mixed motive lawsuits in age discrimination cases. As we explained when that decision was handed down, mixed motive suits are important because they force an employer to reveal what they were actually thinking at the time that they fired or demoted an employee. Without this framework, employees are faced with the nearly-impossible task of proving that the sole thing on their boss’ mind was discrimination at the time that they decided to take action against a worker.
As Justice Ginsburg points out in dissent, Kennedy’s opinion relies on a law Congress enacted to strengthen the law’s protections against retaliation in order to undermine them. Once again, Ginsburg is also forced to explain that the conservative justices ignore the way workplaces actual function. Quoting Sen. Clifford Case (R-NJ), Ginsburg warns that Kennedy’s “sole cause” rule leaves the law’s protection against retaliation virtually meaningless. “[I]f anyone ever had an action that was motivated by a single cause, he is a different kind of animal from any I know of.”

In the News

How food tastes isn't just about how the food tastes 

Other senses besides taste matter in determining what your food tastes like and whether you like it. And we're not just talking about scent here. At Science Sushi, Christie Wilcox explains how things like noise levels, plate colors, and the weight of silverware affect what we think we like to eat. 

America hates pornoscanners 

Two and a half years after the TSA rolled out the nation's pornoscanners, they finally got around to fulfilling their legal obligation to ask Americans how they felt about them. 97% don't want them. Perhaps that's why they didn't want to ask. There were 4,321 responses. 

Why Tipping Should Be Outlawed

by Elizabeth Gunnison Dunn

It was the coat check tips that did it, back when I was working for a restaurant company and became friendly with a woman who staffed one of our hostess stations. It felt strange and demeaning to go from chatting about our weekend plans one minute to pressing a couple of sweaty bills into her hand in exchange for my coat the next. But to abstain would be even worse — it would mean neglecting my contribution to a pool of money that I knew comprised her income. I get the feeling she wasn't too keen on the power dynamics, either.
The friendships I've formed with restaurant employees over the years have made me think seriously about why hospitality workers are singled out among America's professionals to endure a pass-the-hat system of compensation. Why should a server's pay depend upon the generosity — not to mention dubious arithmetic skills — of people like me?
So I was thrilled to hear that New York City's Sushi Yasuda recently decided to eliminate tipping altogether. Including gratuity for parties of six or more has already become relatively commonplace; in a few restaurants, like Thomas Keller's Per Se and The French Laundry, it's automatically added onto all checks. But Yasuda has gone one step further, dispensing with service as a separate line item — and implicitly, an "extra" — and folding it into their prices as a cost of doing business, along with the rent, and electricity, and ingredients.
If I had my way, we'd take this idea to its logical conclusion and get rid of the practice of tipping altogether. Just outlaw it. Here’s why:
1. People don’t even understand what a tip is
If you are of the belief that a tip is an optional kindness you’re doing for your server, you might be surprised to hear that you are not in France. Here in America, the practice is voluntary only in the legal sense of the word. You are not technically stealing if you don't tip the customary 15 to 20 percent, but that’s probably the best that can be said of you. The tip you pay is a sort of wage: federal law allows tips to be used to make up the difference between a server's salary and minimum wage, meaning they can make as little as $2 to $3 per hour from their restaurant employer. Tips are absolutely depended upon to make up the shortfall.
When you leave a bad tip, you are docking a person's wages. This may either be because you're confused about what's expected or because you're an asshole, and you really believe that your sea bass arriving lukewarm is justly punishable by making it a little harder for the guy who brought it to you to pay his rent.
2. Doctors don’t live on tips. Nor do flight attendants.
Tip confusion is understandable, because it's not the way we choose to compensate most of our other people-facing professions. Imagine if when you went to the doctor, you decided how much he got paid based on how happy you were with the diagnosis; or if actors and musicians were paid discretionary sums by the audience, post-performance. Even within the context of the restaurant, some roles receive salaries and others rely on tips. Why do I tip the bartender who made my Manhattan, but not the line cook who grilled the excellent steak I'm eating with it? It’s completely arbitrary. Servers, whose job demands are not fundamentally different than that of hard-working office assistants, or hotel concierges, or spin instructors, or flight attendants, should be paid the competitive wage for what they do and how well they do it, and that cost should be factored into menu prices.
3. The percentage basis makes no sense
Did a server work less because I ordered a $40 bottle of wine than if I had ordered a $400 one? Should I feel a little bit bad when I'm a party of three on a table for four, as the waiter is getting stiffed on 25 percent of his or her optimal tip? Is it less hard to work at a roadside diner than Le Bernardin, where the check averages are approximately ten times higher? (Although that one isn't entirely fair; a place like Le Bernardin is dividing the tip among a much larger staff).
4. Better service doesn't actually beget better tips
Diners love the power to bestow or withhold financial reward at their whim; servers, in turn, seem to be motivated by the idea that really excellent service could be rewarded by a monster gratuity. The trouble is, that's not actually how things pan out in practice. Michael Lynn, a professor at Cornell's School of Hotel Administration, has spent his career researching tipping behaviors, and found that perceived service quality only accounts for two percent of the variation between tips. Two percent! It's probably not even enough to be picked up on by the server, much less cause a significant change in behavior.
5. It perpetuates racism and sexism
Lynn's research also shows that tip amounts are affected by racial and gender discrimination. Female servers get larger tips than male servers; sexy women earn more than frumpy ones; white servers, more money than their black counterparts — regardless of what the perceived quality of service is. The system works the other way, too. Black diners tip less on average than do white diners, and research shows that servers provide black diners with inferior service as a result. The tipping system catches us all in a regressive cesspool of our own worst prejudices.
6. Smart people have been trying to end the tipping practice for a century
Backlashes against the tipping practice are not new. There was an anti-tipping movement at the beginning of the 20th century amongst Americans who saw it as an aristocratic holdover contrary to the country's democratic ideals. Between 1909 and 1915 six states passed anti-tipping laws, all of which were repealed by the mid-1920's as unenforceable or potentially unconstitutional. Samuel Gompers, who founded the AFL, was one political figure notably outspoken against tipping as promoting detrimental class distinctions.
But despite all this, the country as a whole has been loath to abandon the tipping convention. If knowing all of the above, you still balk at the idea of a service charge being rolled into the cost of your meal, maybe you should ask yourself why this is. Are you unwilling to participate in what a restaurant judges to be the fair, market-rate compensation for its employees? Do you think that you are a pawn in a nefarious plot by management to grossly over-reward servers, those men and women who are on their feet for eight hours, ferrying your drinks and foods to and fro? Do you believe that you are in a better position than the restaurant manager to motivate and evaluate his or her staff and make the complicated decisions about compensation and employment?
If yes, can I march into your office and adjust your pay depending on how well you do in our meeting? Or — more accurately — depending on your skin color, your breast size, or your age? Well, of course not, is the answer to that one. Because that would be barbaric

Polish politician reprimanded for using the English phrase 'fuck up'

A Polish politician has been reprimanded for using the phrase “fuck up” after mistaking it for cool English slang.

While giving his views on issues related to the budget, Jacek Kurski, Law and Justice MEP of United Poland (SP) said to a reporter: “...wspolny gar, wspolny worek, to co jest fakapem...” - which translates into: “...a shared pot, a shared bag, so that which is a fuck up ...”.

The MEP - who later admitted he didn't really know what the phrase meant - was criticised by the British Council in Warsaw. “The phrase ‘f**k up’ can be heard in comedies and the like, but no serious person would say it on TV. It’s shocking to me that a Polish politician would say this in front of the cameras.” said spokesman Andy Edwins.

Mr Kurski has however stated that he would never dream of using such expressions in front of the British or American media. “I wouldn’t say these words in an interview with the BBC or on CNN.”

There's a news video here, which you don't have to understand Polish to get the gist of.

Sisters traveling in the same car both arrested for DUI

Two sisters from Miami were both charged with driving under the influence of alcohol in the Florida Keys on Saturday night.

After they were stopped by deputies, Steffany Miranda, 18, and Vanessa Miranda, 24, switched seats in the Volkswagen they were traveling in, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

Deputy Juan Martin-Reyes, who followed the car, saw the Volkswagen swerving, increasing and decreasing speeds and braking suddenly. When Martin-Reyes turned on his vehicle’s lights and siren, the Volkswagen stopped suddenly in the traffic lane, and through the back window he could see the driver and passenger quickly switch seats.

After Deputy Spencer Curry arrived, the two deputies had the Mirandas perform field sobriety exercises. Both had trouble doing so, and they were visibly impaired and smelled of alcohol, according to the deputies. Both sisters were charged with DUI because at some point they were both in control of the car behind the steering wheel with the keys in the ignition.

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Insect exterminator faced a million angry wasps in biggest nest he'd ever seen

Jonathan Simkins is an expert in flying insects. He has a degree in entomology from the University of Florida, and has been working in the industry for more than twenty years. Simkins is the owner of Insect I.Q. He travels all over Florida to deal with honey bees, Africanized bees, yellow jackets and other stinging insects. Recently, he faced the challenge of his life.

A million angry, venom-filled yellow jacket wasps deep in the Florida woods. “This nest was an amazing nest,” he said. “It was the most interesting and awesome experience I’ve ever had.” Simkins was staring down a yellow jacket colony about the size of a Smart car that posed a lethal danger to hunters and lumberjacks on a thousand-acre timber lot in Central Florida. It took him two days to vanquish the three-to-five-year-old colony, which housed a thousand queen wasps and a million “daughters.”

“When I first went out there, this colony was camouflaged. I didn’t even see it until we walked up to it.” But they saw him. Sentry yellow jackets buzzed toward him to check him out when he was still 40 meters away. Clad in two bee suits, the veteran stinging insect expert stirred up the nest a few times to study the wasps’ method of defense. “The noise was amazing. It was like a yellow jacket tornado coming for me.

“The alarm pheromone was so strong it made my eyes water and my nose run. When they land on you, they regurgitate so the others can find you.” He would have liked to have taken the massive nest to his alma mater, the University of Florida, but its size, threat and remote location prevented that, he said. “I wish I had had more time to have studied it a longer.” Despite his protection, Simkins was stung seven times on his neck and face by wasps that managed to slink past the cloth mesh over his head.


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Leopard killed pet dog in lobby of Mumbai apartment block

Shocking CCTV footage has emerged showing a wild leopard roaming a Mumbai apartment block and attacking a pet dog. The big cat entered the Lok Nisarg Apartments in Mulund, which shares a boundary wall with Sanjay Gandhi National Park, and dragged out a dog sleeping in the lobby. The video, recorded at 2.38am last Friday, shows a fully grown leopard entering the lobby of wing (B-7) of Lok Nisarg Apartments. The leopard is then seen approaching a ground floor apartment, where a dog was sleeping outside. It is seen grabbing the hapless dog by its neck, and dragging it out as the dog struggled to get free.

Suresh Pindarkar, the watchman on duty at B-7 when the leopard nonchalantly ventured into the lobby, saw the kill from behind an iron grill door abutting the stairway. The apartments' chairman, G P Lagad, said a shaken Pindarkar told him that he noticed the leopard only when the dog yelped in fear. "Pindarkar told me it was all over within seconds," he said. The apartments, which have seven wings, put up iron grille doors near the stairway of each building after a few leopard visits, and is now planning to install similar doors at the lobby level.

Contains graphic footage.

Lagad said Friday's victim, Raju, was the sixth dog killed by the leopards at their premises in just a few years. "The clip is spinechilling. It seemed a ghost entered the building and took the dog away. The residents of Flat 003, at whose doorstep the dog was sleeping, are especially concerned, and so are the others living on the ground floor," he said. Animal activist Pawan Sharma, coordinator, Resquink Association for Wildlife Welfare (RAWW), said leopard visits to the society were hardly surprising as there is just a wall separating it from the national park.

"If the residents want, we can organize a session wherein we can suggest ways to tackle such situations. If the residents take precautions, they won't be harmed," he said. The Lok Nisarg residents, however, blamed the Forest department for not repairing the boundary wall. Tukaram Kolambkar, who resides on the sixth floor of B-7 building, said he was extremely worried for his son, who returns home late in the night. The residents have now been instructed to not let the children and the elderly venture out alone, as the society reports frequent leopard visits between June and September. Ground floor resident Manisha Gada said until iron grille doors were put up at the lobby, the residents will remain on tenterhooks.

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