1 Sep 2014

Bad History: Another Ala. Official Thinks The Constitution Is Based On The Ten Commandments

An Alabama official wants to display the Ten Commandments outside a county courthouse, and he thinks he can justify the location of said monument by arguing that the famous list of biblical laws simply isn’t religious.
Instead, said Jackson County Commissioner Tim Guffey (R), he just wants people to know the supposed basis behind America’s most famous documents.
“If you look at the documents that was written (sic) – the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence – they are all stemmed from the word of God, from the Ten Commandments,” Guffey said last week in an interview with WHNT, the CBS affiliate in Huntsville.
In a separate interview with the news website AL.com, Guffey added that he’s “not going to push religion at all” with his proposed monument and thinks the Decalogue display would teach students the real story behind the founding of America.
“They don’t teach this at school anymore, and a person would have to go back and research and study each one of those men’s writings to find out that that’s what established them,” he said. “That’s what gave [the Founding Fathers] the inspiration to read the greatest Constitution this world has ever seen.”
Of course Guffey is off base all around. The U.S. Constitution makes zero mention of Jesus, God or any other religious deity. It also bears little resemblance to the Ten Commandments, which indisputably come from the Bible, an indisputably religious text. After all, U.S. law does not forbid adultery, nor can one be punished for failing to remember the Sabbath.
While it is rightfully illegal to murder, steal and in some cases lie, those are basic ideas that predate the inception of Judaism, Christianity and most other religions.    
Yes, the Declaration of Independence does mention God and rights that come from a creator. But what does that have to do with the Ten Commandments? And the fact that such language was left out of the Constitution, which is a governing document – unlike the Declaration – says that the Founding Fathers didn’t intend to base the United States on religious law.
It’s also incredibly delusional for Guffey to think that the Ten Commandments aren’t religious, adding him to a long line of fundamentalists who have argued that Christian symbols or concepts don’t really have anything to do with faith. If the Ten Commandments aren’t religious, then what are they? Guffey of course hasn’t said.

Wage Theft is on the Rise in America (

Week after week, Guadalupe Rangel worked seven days straight, sometimes 11 hours a day, unloading dining room sets, trampolines, television stands and other imports from Asia that would soon be shipped to Walmart stores.

Even though he often clocked 70 hours a week at the Schneider warehouse here, he was never paid time-and-a-half overtime, he said. And now, having joined a lawsuit involving hundreds of warehouse workers, Mr. Rangel stands to receive more than $20,000 in back pay as part of a recent $21 million legal settlement with Schneider, a national trucking company.

“Sometimes I’d work 60, even 90 days in a row,” said Mr. Rangel, a soft-spoken immigrant from Mexico. “They never paid overtime.” 

The lawsuit is part of a flood of recent cases — brought in California and across the nation — that accuse employers of violating minimum wage and overtime laws, erasing work hours and wrongfully taking employees’ tips. Worker advocates call these practices “wage theft,” insisting it has become far too prevalent.

Some federal and state officials agree. They assert that more companies are violating wage laws than ever before, pointing to the record number of enforcement actions they have pursued. They complain that more employers — perhaps motivated by fierce competition or a desire for higher profits — are flouting wage laws.

Many business groups counter that government officials have drummed up a flurry of wage enforcement actions, largely to score points with union allies. If anything, employers have become more scrupulous in complying with wage laws, the groups say, in response to the much publicized lawsuits about so-called off-the-clock work that were filed against Walmart and other large companies a decade ago.

Here in California, a federal appeals court ruled last week that FedEx had in effect committed wage theft by insisting that its drivers were independent contractors rather than employees. FedEx orders many drivers to work 10 hours a day, but does not pay them overtime, which is required only for employees. FedEx said it planned to appeal.

Julie Su, the state labor commissioner, recently ordered a janitorial company in Fremont to pay $332,675 in back pay and penalties to 41 workers who cleaned 17 supermarkets. She found that the company forced employees to sign blank time sheets, which it then used to record inaccurate, minimal hours of work. 

David Weil, the director of the federal Labor Department’s wage and hour division, says wage theft is surging because of underlying changes in the nation’s business structure. The increased use of franchise operators, subcontractors and temp agencies leads to more employers being squeezed on costs and more cutting corners, he said. A result, he added, is that the companies on top can deny any knowledge of wage violations.

“We have a change in the structure of work that is then compounded by a falling level of what is viewed as acceptable in the workplace in terms of how you treat people and how you regard the law,” Mr. Weil said.

His agency has uncovered nearly $1 billion in illegally unpaid wages since 2010. He noted that the victimized workers were disproportionately immigrants.

Guadalupe Salazar, a cashier at a McDonald’s in Oakland, complained that her paychecks repeatedly missed a few hours of work time and overtime pay. Frustrated about this, she has joined one of seven lawsuits against McDonald’s and several of its franchise operators, asserting that workers were cheated out of overtime, had hours erased from timecards and had to work off the clock.

“Basically every time that I worked overtime, it didn’t show up in my paycheck,” Ms. Salazar said. “This is time that I would rather be with my family, and they just take it away.”

Read More:http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/01/business/more-workers-are-claiming-wage-theft.html

Middle Earth fineliner drawing by KarinAela

Ocean detail
After an hour or so into this I started to think I should have gone with something simpler....
More ocean detail
Added a little ship leaving the Grey Havens.
Finished ocean detail
The ocean took about 10 hours altogether.
The Shire

The Misty Mountains

Minas Tirith
Finished drawing
And here it is finished! Took about 30 hours in total  

10 Awesome Google Tricks You Need To Use (10 pics)

31 Aug 2014

Edmonton teacher fired for giving zeroes for not doing homework, tests wins appeal

 An Alberta appeal board says the Edmonton Public School Board was unfair in suspending and firing teacher who gave out zeros to his students.
Lynden Dorval was suspended in May 2012 and fired four months later for awarding zeros to students who did not hand in homework or take assigned tests.
Dorval appealed to the Board of Reference and it has ruled that Dorval was treated unfairly in his dismissal.
The appeal board has ordered that Dorval be paid his salary from the date of his dismissal and also that his pension be topped up. 
It also says it found no evidence of deliberate misconduct on Dorval’s part.
Dorval says the ruling was a pleasant surprise.
“The Board of Reference was very harsh on what the principal had done and how the superintendent had handled it so I was surprised at that, and also the no-zero, I was expecting virtually no comment on the correctness of the no-zero policy, I assumed that it would be strictly about the legality of what the school board did,” Dorval said.

Man suffers heart attack while mowing lawn; Responding firefighters bring him to the hospital, and return to finish the mowing for him

For the firefighters and EMTs of Station 4 in Baytown it was another normal assignment: rushing to a 911 call to help save someone's life.
But to the family and neighbors of John McCormick it was it was beyond normal. It helped restore a bit of their faith in humanity and the kindness of strangers.
McCormick, 65, had a history of heart problems - a quadruple bypass more than a decade ago and other lingering health issues. Tuesday afternoon he suffered a heart attack while mowing the yard of his Baytown home. He went inside his house and collapsed where his family called for help.
Engine 4, Medic 4, and Medic 2 responded. EMT's performed CPR and got a pulse again. And per standard operating procedure, the crew of Engine 4 followed the ambulance to the hospital.
But when they left the hospital to drive back to Station 4, engine driver Luke Bednarek had an idea. Why not go back to the McCormick home and finish mowing his yard for him.
"We're all fighting over who can push the mower first," said Station 4 Lt. J.D. Giles.
"I just happened to get off the truck first and grabbed the lawnmower first. We were all fighting over it," said firefighter Blake Steffenauer.
They took turns behind John McCormick's lawn mower. They finished the backyard too, locked the garage, put the padlock key in the mailbox, and Giles left a handwritten note to Patsy McCormick that said in part "we felt bad that your husband didn't get to finish the yard, so we did."
And they didn't think it was that big a deal.
"No not at all. Just something to help someone out in the worst time of their life," said Giles.
"They already got stuff they've got going on that's more important," added Steffenauer. "Yard work shouldn't be something they'd have to finish up. So we were happy to come back and take care of that."
But it was a letter, and a gesture, that made a daughter weep.
"It just showed me that there's still compassion," said McCormick's daughter Jeana Blackford. "That people still do random acts of kindness every day for people that they don't know."
This story does not have a happy ending. John McCormick died two days later.
But while the firefighters were mowing his yard, a neighbor secretly took a series of cell phone photographs and posted them to social media. The response has been remarkable.

Food imports ban backfires on Russia′s economy | An embargo on food imports from the West has sent grocery prices in Russia soaring and greatly worsened inflation. The move is seen as a severe blow to the country's stagnating economy.

An embargo on food imports from the West has sent grocery prices in Russia soaring and greatly worsened inflation. The move is seen as a severe blow to the country's stagnating economy. 
The cost of banned foodstuffs started to rise days after the embargo took effect in early August. According to figures released by Russia's State Statistics Service on Wednesday, consumer prices rose by 0.1 percent last week, following a similar increase a week earlier. This trend indicates that already by the end of 2015 Russia's annual inflation rate might hit the five-year maximum of 8 percent, far above the official target set by the Russian authorities, analysts warned.
The weekly price increase was especially sharp for foodstuffs like chicken (+1.4 percent), pork (+0.9 percent), frozen fish (+0.5 percent) and cheese (+0.4 percent), the State Statistics Service said. The retail price for apples rose by 0.5 percent from the previous week. This is the most glaring example of the market's reaction to the imports ban, analysts at Raiffeisen Bank said in a research note. Apple prices tend not to increase in summer, when new crops are harvested, they added.
Chris Weafer, a senior partner at Moscow-based research firm Macro-Advisory, echoed those findings. As a result of the embargo, "we didn't get the usual deflation in fruit and vegetable prices that we normally see in August with this plenty of local supply, as well as the imports. That usually brings prices down through August," he said in a telephone interview. 
Russia curbed imports of foodstuffs from the European Union, the United States, Australia, Canada and Norway as a countermeasure to Western sanctions. Among the products on the blacklist are fresh and processed meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, nuts and dairy products.
More price growth expected
As a result of the embargo, the cost of food in some of Russia's regions has been rising at a record pace. Wholesale prices for chicken legs on Sakhalin Island in Russia's Far East skyrocketed by 60 percent, Russian daily newspaper Kommersant reported in mid-August, citing the region's agriculture minister, Nikolai Borisov. The cost of meat in the nearby Primorsky region rose by 26 percent, while fish prices went up by 40 percent, the report said.
These figures come as no surprise, explained Macro-Advisory's Weafer, adding that remote regions like Sakhalin are completely dependent on imports due to the lack of local suppliers and harsh weather conditions which make growing their own crops impossible. 

This Situation Screams Disastrous Ending (36 pics)