February 4th, 2011

Seal certifies kosher establishments as ethical toward employees

Serving God, workers and hungry customers:
Seal certifies kosher establishments as ethical toward employees

At Taboun Grill in Skokie, the Sunday dinner hour is controlled chaos. A cashier is ringing up checks with one hand and handing over takeout orders with the other. The wait staff rushes around delivering orders to packed tables. Behind a counter, flames flare up as a cook throws skewers of meat and vegetables on the grill.

The work can be hard, but the employees know they will be treated well. Taboun is one of six Kosher restaurants and catering companies in the Chicago area that have been awarded the Tav HaYosher (Hebrew for ethical seal), certifying that they treat their workers fairly.

Tav HaYosher is part of the ethical kashrut movement, a sort of fair trade kosher that is beginning to establish a toehold locally. Kosher establishments that receive the seal meet an ethical labor standard, including paying workers at least minimum wage, giving them appropriate breaks and time off, and maintain a safe working environment. A similar standard has recently been developed for kosher food producers.

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Source via resist_racism


Compton's cricketers live life 'not out'

Cricket Australia has had its challenges in the past 12 months, having surrendered the Ashes in a shock 3-1 series loss on home soil and facing an uphill battle to promote the flagging domestic one-day format.

But perhaps CA should spare a thought for a "band of brothers" from Compton, an infamous city in South Central Los Angeles, who face an everyday struggle just to get a flat patch of grass to play on.

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US Senator Worried that ICE may be Freezing our Series of Tubes & Free Speech

US Senator Worries Domain Seizures May Stifle Free Speech

Following on from news of the third phase of ‘piracy’ and counterfeit related domain seizures in 7 months, US Senator Ron Wyden has asked the director of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to clarify some of the most pressing questions. If the domain seizures are to continue, the Obama administration has to be more open about the need for them and the process involved, he argues.

Earlier this week we broke the news that US authorities had started a third round of domain seizures. This time, it turned out that the actions were aimed at sports streaming sites. In total, 10 domain names belonging to 6 websites were handed over to the authorities.

As with previous seizures, the actions of the authorities were met with disbelief by the sites’ owners and their millions of visitors. The owner of Rojadirecta, one of the affected sites, questioned the legitimacy of the seizure since his site has twice been declared legal in Spain. In addition, many further questions were raised.

Today, we learned a little bit more about the justifications for the “Super Bowl Crackdown” after we obtained the affidavit that ICE agent Daniel Brazier sent to the US District Court. However, the request for a seizure warrant is very generic and leaves many questions unanswered.

Luckily, we’re not the only ones who want to find out more about the lack of due process and the need for domain seizures that comply with the DMCA. US Senator Ron Wyden asks the same questions.

In a letter addressed to ICE director John Morton he voiced his concerns, stating that the seizures are “alarmingly unprecedented” and that they could “stifle constitutionally protected speech.”
In addition, Senator Wyden asks the following.
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why do you hate us so much?
  • chaya

Texas Recognizes Black History Month By Getting Caught Brutalizing Teen

Graphic Footage of Cops Beating Teen Roils Houston [VIDEO]
Feb 4, 2011 – 10:05 AM

(Video is, predictably, violent.)

Video of police repeatedly kicking and stomping a teenage burglary suspect has passions running high in Houston, with community activists charging the city with a cover-up and the mayor fearing that release of the footage may end up jeopardizing a pending trial of officers charged in the case.

The video taken March 24 shows a number of policemen surrounding then 15-year-old Chad Holley, who is facedown on the street after being chased by patrol cars. The officers can be seen kicking, punching and stomping Holley, and some of the blows appear to have been administered after he had been handcuffed.

Twelve officers were disciplined in the case, and four have been fired and are awaiting trial on official oppression charges, ABC affiliate KTRK-TV reported. The station was given a copy of the video by local activist Quanell X and aired it Wednesday night. City officials had said they wanted the video kept under wraps until the trial began.

Mayor Annise Parker, who told KTRK she was "shocked and disgusted" when she first saw the video, nevertheless complained that the person who gave it to the TV station should be prosecuted. Later, the mayor tempered her stance.

"I was angry and frustrated," Parker told the station Thursday. "Having slept on it, I would not have been so harsh."

But the beating continues to stir emotions in Houston's minority community.

"That tape made me angry as hell, and I'm telling you when the people in the 'hood see it, they will be angry also, and now it's time to come out," said Quanell X.

He said that the indicted officers should be facing more serious charges than misdemeanor official oppression.

"I want to know how in the hell did they do what they did to that boy on that videotape and they only got charged with official oppression," he told the station.


I just saw this story quickly referenced on CNN, where they called the black teen a murder suspect. Slip of the tongue? Wishful thinking?
  • mswyrr

Freshman GOPer Didn't Know Government Paid For Her Health Benefits

Freshman GOPer Didn't Know Government Paid For Her Health Benefits

Brian Beutler
February 4, 2011

A fun nugget buried in this story about Rep. Ann Buerkle's (R-NY) first town hall meeting as an elected member of Congress. Constituents repeatedly asked a puzzled Buerkle about her health benefits. She couldn't figure out why. But her staff sure could.
Buerkle, who voted to repeal the health care reform act, was twice asked about the health insurance she receives as a government employee. At first she said she couldn't understand why people were so interested in her health insurance, and that taxpayers didn't pay anything for it. She later corrected herself after being handed a note from a staffer. Like most employees, she pays for a portion of her insurance and her employer, the government, pays the rest, she said.

As Republicans point out, these are employer provided benefits, which they're all for. So it's not as simple as straight hypocrisy. But there's a fundamental tension between the GOP's naysaying on health care reform and their willingness to accept federally subsidized private insurance -- just as in the health care law. These flubs grow out of that tension. And Dems can't get enough of it.


She's *soaking* in privilege. She's fucking textbook, privileged enough that she doesn't even have to think about her privilege or the fact that her easier life comes at the cost of the suffering of others. She doesn't have to imagine what the realities of living without insurance are for tens of millions of her fellow citizens. Not only is the health care of her and her family not even a question to her, she doesn't even have to think about the way taxpayer money (some of it coming from uninsured people!) is cocooning her privileged ass six ways from Sunday so she can be healthy and fit to go out and oppose "Obamacare" for poor and working people.

FFS. And lest anyone say that she works hard for her insurance -- she doesn't even bother to know basic facts pertaining to her decisions as an elected representative. How much you want to bet that 90% of the uninsured people she desperately longs to fuck over work harder than she does?
iran freedom!

Right-wingers run out of sympathy for reporters attacked in Egypt

While journalists are harassed, beaten and detained by pro-Mubarak forces, conservative pundits stifle laughs.

The uprising in Egypt has perhaps been most difficult on our nation's political pundits, who suffer from a damning ignorance about the nation and the region as a whole, and who are forced by the conventions of their field to apply a strict binary analysis to all matters political, cultural and historical. Consider the struggle of the conservative pundit forced to have an opinion on world-changing events he can barely grasp: Is he supposed to support Mubarak because the demonstrators might be "bad Muslims"? Should he attack the Obama administration for initially supporting a brutal dictator? Should he just look at what liberals are saying and say the opposite? One thing he knows to do, though, is to hate and distrust the Liberal Media.

That is why Rush Limbaugh said this, about New York Times reporters who've been detained by the Mubarak government:

Ladies and gentlemen, it is being breathlessly reported that the Egyptian army -- Snerdley, have you heard this? The Egyptian army is rounding up foreign journalists. I mean, even two New York Times reporters were detained. Now, this is supposed to make us feel what, exactly? How we supposed to feel? Are we supposed to feel outrage over it? I don't feel any outrage over it. Are we supposed to feel anger? I don't feel any anger over this. Do we feel happy? Well -- uh -- do we feel kind of going like, "neh-neh-neh-neh"? I'm sure that your emotions are running the gamut when you hear that two New York Times reporters have been detained along with other journalists in Egypt. Remember now, we're supporting the people who are doing this.

And that is why Andrew Breitbart's "BIG PEACE" features a post by Hoover Institution research fellow Peter Schweizer headlined "I Don’t Have a Lot of Sympathy for Those Journalists Attacked in Egypt."

A journalist walking into a crowd of tens of thousands of protestors facing off against tens of thousands of other protestors is akin to the foolish hikers you read about from time to time who end up getting trapped in a snowstorm and have to be taken off the mountain by helicopter. They made a foolish decision to ascend a mountain and simply were not prepared.

Hah, dumb reporters, attempting to broadcast uncensored images from the scene of a historic uprising in the ancient capital city of the Middle East's most populated country. They're basically just like stupid hikers who went out in a storm without GPS. It is so self-indulgent of them to be beaten and shot at so that those of us sitting comfortably at home in front of computers can learn what's happening.

The horrid Piers Morgan actually had former New Republic owner and deposed editor in -chief Marty Peretz on his new show, live from Tel Aviv, to tell us of the mood in Israel. The mood in Israel is that journalists in Egypt are narcissists. (Video at the source)

A word about this: Back when only inconsequential liberals (and Jack Shafer) cared that Marty Peretz was a frothing anti-Muslim bigot, he frequently complained that he was never invited on TV, even though he's a total expert on everything. Now that everyone knows he's an unhinged Arab-hater with anger issues, he is suddenly on CNN, pontificating on the Middle East. That's funny, right?

Anyway, yes, it's funny when Nick Kristof and Anderson Cooper parachute into war zones and disaster sites, but despite the fact that television personalities are narcissists, the vast majority of working journalists being attacked and detained in Egypt are not American evening news anchors with great hair. Hey, Swedish television correspondent who was stabbed in the stomach and Egyptian blogger who was beaten and jailed: Get over yourselves!

(Even Rush changed his tune when he learned that journalists from Fox News were beaten, because while it's really funny when liberals are mistreated by oppressive regimes, it is a tragedy when the same thing happens to people on "our side.")


donk... donk... donk...

Are Game Show Audiences Trustworthy?

In Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior, Ori and Rom Brafman discuss a contestant on Qui Veut Gagner des Millions?, the French version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, who asks the audience for help with the question, “Which of these revolves around the Earth?” His options are the sun, the moon, Venus, and Mars. While it might be surprising that he doesn’t know, more shocking is the result of the audience poll — 56% say the sun:

How can we explain this? The easiest answer, and the video’s title, is that French people appear to be stupid, or were never informed about the Copernican Revolution. But the Brafmans have an explanation based on different cultural attitudes toward reality shows and, ultimately, ideas about fairness.

The general outlines of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? are the same regardless of country. But distinct cultural patterns have emerged in how audiences act when asked for help. In the U.S., contestants can count on the audience’s goodwill; regardless of the question asked, audiences appear to do their best to help contestants out and the Brafmans report that data shows the audience is right over 90% of the time. I must admit it had never occurred to me that audiences would do anything other than try to be helpful. Though I don’t watch game shows now, as a kid I regularly watched The Price Is Right, among others, with my family, and we always inherently rooted for the contestant, cringing if they seemed to make a bad choice and rejoicing if they won big. We truly wanted these complete strangers to win.

But not all national audiences are so cooperative. When the show was introduced in Russia, contestants quickly learned to be wary of asking the audience for help because Russian audiences frequently mislead them, intentionally giving the wrong answer. It doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the players or the questions they ask for help on.

In France, audiences seem to fall in the middle. They don’t regularly attempt to trick players, as Russian (and according to my googling, Ukrainian) audiences do. But unlike U.S. audiences, they don’t seem willing to help under any circumstances, either. They appear to intentionally give the wrong answer if the contestant asks for help on a question the audience perceives as too easy. If they think the player ought to know the answer they give the wrong response, apparently thinking the contestant deserves to lose if they’re so stupid. In the video you can hear audience laughter when Henri decides to go with the results of the audience poll.

Ori and Rom Brafman suggest this relates to notions of fairness, which have been shown to vary widely by culture. They say that in the U.S., we think it’s fair for people to win large sums of money even if they seem dumb, while in France, there is more concern about whether the individual deserves to win. They consulted historians of Russian society who suggest audience behavior there results from a general mistrust of those who gain sudden wealth. However, they provide no data to directly connect the audience members’ intentional wrong answers to cultural perceptions of fairness more broadly, so I’m somewhat hesitant about this theoretical leap. If you’re an enterprising grad student looking for a dissertation topic, perhaps you can take this project on and get back to me with your results.

But I think this topic is also interesting for the way it highlights the intersection of globalization and local cultures. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, like other reality shows such as the various varieties of Idol, are international franchises (Millionaire is owned by Sony), designed to be easily transferable to and implemented in many countries with the same basic blueprint — simply add local talent and you’ve got a successful TV show. But as the variation in Millionaire shows, differences inevitably creep in as a global product or process is used or interpreted on the local level, sometimes in superficial ways but other times to a degree that significantly alters the original product.

Sociological Images
  • xerox78

Obama Administration hopes to add free birth control to health care law

Officials Consider Requiring Insurers to Offer Free Contraceptives

The Obama administration is examining whether the new health care law can be used to require insurance plans to offer contraceptives and other family planning services to women free of charge.

Such a requirement could remove cost as a barrier to birth control, a longtime goal of advocates for women’s rights and experts on women’s health. But it is likely to reignite debate over the federal role in health care, especially reproductive health, at a time when Republicans in Congress have vowed to repeal the law or dismantle it piece by piece. It is also raising objections from the Roman Catholic Church and is expected to generate a robust debate about privacy.

The law says insurers must cover “preventive health services” and cannot charge for them. The administration has asked a panel of outside experts to help identify the specific preventive services that must be covered for women.

Administration officials said they expected the list to include contraception and family planning because a large body of scientific evidence showed the effectiveness of those services. But the officials said they preferred to have the panel of independent experts make the initial recommendations so the public would see them as based on science, not politics.

Many obstetricians, gynecologists, pediatricians and public health experts have called for coverage of family planning services, including contraceptives, without co-payments, deductibles or other cost-sharing requirements.

Dr. Hal C. Lawrence III, vice president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said contraceptives fit any reasonable definition of preventive health care because they averted unintended pregnancies and allowed women to control the timing, number and spacing of births. This, in turn, improves maternal and child health by reducing infant mortality, complications of pregnancy and even birth defects, said Dr. Lawrence, who is in charge of the group’s practice guidelines.

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