Category Archives: Society

New Mexico Outlaws School ‘Lunch Shaming’

What is “lunch shaming?” It happens when a child can’t pay a school lunch bill.

In Alabama, a child short on funds was stamped on the arm with “I Need Lunch Money.” In some schools, children are forced to clean cafeteria tables in front of their peers to pay the debt. Other schools require cafeteria workers to take a child’s hot food and throw it in the trash if he doesn’t have the money to pay for it.

Image: Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

In what its supporters say is the first such legislation in the country, New Mexico has outlawed shaming children whose parents are behind on school lunch payments.

On Thursday, Gov. Susana Martinez signed the Hunger-Free Students’ Bill of Rights, which directs schools to work with parents to pay their debts or sign up for federal meal assistance and puts an end to practices meant to embarrass children. It applies to public, private and religious schools that receive federal subsidies for students’ breakfasts and lunches.

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 Posted by Libergirl

North Carolina Cop Placed on Leave After Video Shows Him Slamming Teen Onto Floor

A North Carolina police officer captured on video body slamming a high school student has been placed on paid administrative leave, police and school officials said Tuesday. Widely circulated footage shows the officer picking up the female student by her torso and then throwing her down hard onto the floor. The incident stemmed from a…

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Judge blocks Obama rule extending overtime pay to 4.2 million U.S. workers

A federal judge on Tuesday blocked an Obama administration rule to extend mandatory overtime pay to more than 4 million salaried workers from taking effect, imperiling one of the outgoing president’s signature achievements for boosting wages.

U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant, in Sherman, Texas, agreed with 21 states and a coalition of business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, that the rule is unlawful and granted their motion for a nationwide injunction.

The rule, issued by the Labor Department, was to take effect Dec. 1 and would have doubled to $47,500 the maximum salary a worker can earn and still be eligible for mandatory overtime pay. The new threshold would have been the first significant change in four decades.

It was expected to touch nearly every sector of the U.S. economy and have the greatest impact on nonprofit groups, retail companies, hotels and restaurants, which have many management workers whose salaries are below the new threshold.

The states and business groups claimed in lawsuits filed in September, which were later consolidated, that the drastic increase in the salary threshold was arbitrary.

On Tuesday, Mazzant, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, ruled that the federal law governing overtime does not allow the Labor Department to decide which workers are eligible based on salary levels alone.

The Fair Labor Standards Act says that employees can be exempt from overtime if they perform executive, administrative or professional duties, but the rule “creates essentially a de facto salary-only test,” Mazzant wrote in the 20-page ruling.

The states and business groups that challenged the rule applauded the decision.

Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt said in a statement that the ruling “reinforces the importance of the rule of law and constitutional government.”

The Labor Department said it strongly disagrees with the decision. It remains confident that the entire rule is legal, and it is currently considering its options, department spokesman Jason Surbey said.

The Labor Department can appeal to the New Orleans, Louisiana-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but that court has stymied the Obama administration before, blocking Obama’s executive actions on immigration in 2015.

In any case, the Labor Department could drop the appeal after Republican President-elect Donald Trump takes office in January.

In August, Trump told the website Circa that the overtime rule was an example of the type of burdensome business regulations he would seek to roll back as president, perhaps by exempting small businesses or delaying implementation.

Even if the rule survived the legal challenge, it could be upended by legislation passed by Congress or withdrawn by Trump’s Department of Labor.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce official Randy Johnson said in a statement that the rule would have been costly and disruptive to businesses.

But Ross Eisenbrey of the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, which supported the rule, called the decision “extreme and unsupportable.”

“It is also a disappointment to millions of workers who are forced to work long hours with no extra compensation, and is a blow to those Americans who care deeply about raising wages and lessening inequality,” Eisenbrey said in a statement.

The case is Nevada v. U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, No. 16-cv-731.

By Daniel Wiessner and Robert Iafolla/Reuters

Posted by The NON-Conformist

 

Thousands of life jackets have been laid outside the British Parliament to commemorate refugee death

Image: Quartz

As the United Nations summit on migrants and refugees begins in New York, campaigners in the UK have created a”life jacket graveyard” on Parliament Square in London to raise awareness of the ongoing crises. The installation by Snappin’ Turtle productions is to commemorate those who died trying to get to Europe. Almost 7,000 people died…

via Thousands of life jackets have been laid outside the British Parliament to commemorate refugee deaths — Quartz

Posted by Libergirl

Defense Department Paid Sports Teams $53M of Taxpayer Dollars to Play Anthem, Stage Over-the-Top Military Tributes

At a time when professional athletes such as Colin Kaepernick are labeled as unpatriotic for refusing to stand during the national anthem at sporting events, it turns out that the very displays of patriotism and tributes to the armed forces on display at those games were paid for by the U.S. government. So when those teams tell the players to stand for the “Star-Spangled Banner,” it is because the fake patriotism is bought and sold like a commodity.

Stephen A. Smith brought attention to the practice on ESPN’s “First Take” recently, as players have come under fire for refusing to salute the flag. Smith noted that players were not required to stand until 2009, and before that time players did not stand for the anthem because they remained in the locker room until game time.

In November 2015, Republican U.S. Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona released a report stating that “In all, the military services reported $53 million in spending on marketing and advertising contracts with sports teams between 2012 and 2015. More than $10 million of that total was paid to teams in the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), National Basketball Association (NBA), National Hockey League (NHL), and Major League Soccer (MLS).”

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Shut up and play ball: Why America can’t handle black athletes who talk about race

Image: Raw Story

Sometime far in the future, Colin Kaepernick’s  decision to sit during the playing of the national anthem will be heralded as another example of a black athlete using his or her national platform to draw attention to the continued mistreatment of black people in the United States. Undoubtedly, former teammates, coaches, and journalists will step forward to present their memories — seen through lenses covered in vaseline so that the edges are softened and the ugly stuff excised — in which they will extol Kaepernick for his courage and for his willingness to do the right thing even though he had to know that his act would be deliberately misinterpreted by those whose kneejerk reaction to any critique of the United States is to invoke the bodies of American war dead.

It’s especially ironic that the military is used to somehow prove that Kaepernick is wrong for speaking up when African Americans serve their country in the military at a higher rate — 17.8% — than its proportion of the U.S. population — 13.3% — than do white people, whose proportion of the population is 77.1% but who are only represented in the military at a rate of 74.6%.

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Posted by The NON-Conformist

Trump’s Call for ‘Law and Order’ and Options Facing Black Community in Its Resistance to Police Violence

Donald Trump; Too late to turn off; Primaries
Image: Rolling Stone

In the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement and a national debate over badly needed reforms to the policing of communities of color, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has reintroduced the term “law and order” to the public discussion on the criminal justice system.  Meanwhile, as Trump calls on more police, the Black community is in a dilemma, and is left to ask what it must do to escape police brutality, when everything to date has not worked.

After rolling out his concept at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Trump gave a speech on law and order that was purportedly designed to appeal to African-American voters, with whom he is polling between 0 and 1 percent, according to recent polls. Yet, he made his remarks in West Bend, Wisconsin, 40 miles northwest of Milwaukee, as ABC News reported.  As the most recent Census data show, West Bend is 92 percent white, and has an African-American population of 1.2 percent, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
Trump thanked law enforcement for their service, and condemned the recent violence in Milwaukee — impacted by police violence and economic deprivation — as “an assault on the right of all citizens to live in security and peace.”  His answer for the Black community, as he told the nearly all-white crowd, is more police:

Law and order must be restored. It must be restored for the sake of all, but most especially the sake of those living in the affected communities. The main victims of these riots are law-abiding African-American citizens living in these neighborhoods.

Posted by The NON-Conformist