Archive for July 7th, 2011
Last year in Washington D.C. at a one-day conference on human trafficking held at the Woodrow Wilson Center, the new Ambassador to Combat Trafficking in Persons, Lou CdeBaca, spoke about the need to re-conceptualize ‘human trafficking.’ He emphasized that it is not just an issue rooted in the sex industry, but a larger problem of forced labor and migration worldwide. Many academics and activists lobbying for this reconceptualization for the past decade gave a silent cheer. Ambassador CdeBaca seemed committed to recognizing two important points that many have highlighted: 1) that ‘human trafficking’ is not synonymous with sex work, and 2) that instances of force, fraud and coercion which characterize trafficking are experienced by many men and women outside the sex industry — simply put trafficking is about migration and labor (regardless of the industry) gone wrong (continue reading…)
Less than a year ago, as I was finishing a book on Michelle Rhee, the combative former chancellor of schools in Washington, D.C., the time arrived to set up a website for the book. The website designer asked if I wanted to include reader comments. It was a sensible suggestion. That’s what writers do to spark reader debate and boost book sales.
My answer: No thanks.
While reporting the book, I had monitored the comment sections in other publications as reporters wrote about hot-button education topics, including Rhee (continue reading…)
The 2012 Presidential election night is 16 months away, but that didn’t stop the professional President Obama loathers from committing what will probably be the first of much malicious mischief to disrupt, disinform, and confuse voters and slur Obama. The slur the hacker or hackers chose was the standard, insipid “commy Obama.” The hacked site steered readers and supporters to two sham anti-government events supposedly hosted by the “Commy Obama.”
The goofball punch line for the “event” was the knock that big government lies, shoves out goodies to freeloaders, and that hardworking taxpayers pay the freight for the government largesse. This all supposedly is the signature trademark of the Obama administration. The temptation is to shrug off this tripe as the product of haywire tech geeks with too much time on their hands and too little brain in their skulls (continue reading…)
If there was one invitation to truly score during Couture week, it was Azzedine Alaia’s rare runway show earlier today that was presented to an intimate “chosen” crowd at his Marais studio. One would have thought last night’s Love Ball to benefit the Naked Heart Foundation at Valentino chateau an hour out of Paris would be the highlight of my trip, but “non”. Alaia made my heart skip a beat more than taking my seat among a slew of Russian billionaires, fashionistas, and international society darlings under a clear tent and MCd by Anne Hathaway.
Alaia showed 41 creations to an audience including Sofia Coppola, Eugenie Niarchos, Donatella Versace, and legendary model Bettina. No one from Vogue graced the front row or attended the show, for that matter (continue reading…)
At a time when Congress should be focusing on creating jobs, House Republicans — led by the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Rep. Lamar Smith — are pushing to make E-Verify, the deeply flawed immigrant worker data base, mandatory. It’s bad enough that E-Verify doesn’t work, making it mandatory just makes matter worse — and does nothing to address the single most important challenge before Congress today: job creation.
By forcing seven million employers in the U.S (continue reading…)
In exactly 12 days, I will be going away on a 10-day vacation. The thought of this impending time off from the daily in and out of work exhilarates me — and worries me.
On the pro side is the anticipation of rest, renewal and relaxation. Weighing in on the negatives are preparing to go in the first place and a heavier workload when I return (continue reading…)
While most of the United States experiences the onset of scorching summer heat, it’s a great day for snowballs in Hell. For 25 years, Farm Sanctuary’s Mephistopheles has been the egg industry, which is the most abusive of all the farmed animal industries. And yet today, the egg industry’s trade group, the United Egg Producers, has agreed to support federal legislation that is also endorsed by Farm Sanctuary, the Humane Society of the United States, and the ASPCA.
Until now, the UEP supported abuses of farmed animals in the United States that turned their lives into a blazing inferno of pain and despair — battery cages, which cram between 5 and 10 hens into cages so small that their lives are void of any natural activities beyond breathing and defecating. In these torture chambers, hens are unable to spread even one wing (continue reading…)
If you eat it, how do you think meat gets to your table? If you were to order wild boar at a fancy restaurant – how do you think it died? I find ways to feel better about death, by not looking at it, or choosing to see slaughter in a certain light. But its very real, and very true and often gruesome. Sure there are faster more efficient ways (no doubt the giant operations have it down better than anyone), but if I believe it is OK to kill something for my benefit, very often, it is a challenging process — Even in those places where there are “happy” pigs, or “happy” turkeys.
I think it is OK to kill animals for nutrition/sustenance, for celebration and for flavor/culture — and in this case, it was OK for another reason. Us humans have done a number on this earth: We’ve built cities, introduced species, and polluted (continue reading…)
Bad ideas being touted by Washington lately are threatening to squeeze America’s middle class to extinction. House Republicans continue to push a Medicare privatization plan that non-partisan analysts have determined would be a ruinous cost shift to patients and families, doubling out-of-pocket expenses.
Another middle class landmine is buried within both the Simpson-Bowles and Domenici-Rivlin debt reduction plans. Both proposals would reclassify employment-based health benefits as taxable income, eliminating a tax exclusion that is vital to working families, particularly men and women in high-risk fields.
Since the end of World War II, employer-sponsored health coverage has been exempt from taxable income (continue reading…)
We recently returned from a 10 day road trip that started with a short stint in San Antonio. Road trips are always a great time to bond more with your teammates. The first night I went out for a nice dinner on the Riverwalk the night before the game against the Silver Stars. Nothing too exciting happened while we were there (continue reading…)
My home is run down, but it’s not broken…
The legal community and researchers often define divorce matters in technical terms: custodial parent, custody, access, primary residence, amongst others. I understand the reasons behind those terms, which help to describe and label the concepts in the legal arena to eliminate confusion. But a term that is often used, and in my mind, has little rationale, is “broken home.” In today’s society, there are so many different configurations of a “family” unit. But, when it comes to defining a family run by a single parent as “broken,” I wonder, where is the break? Perhaps I’m sensitive, but I don’t consider my children to be growing up in a “broken home.” When I talk to my children, we call ourselves a family, without any negative connotations, because that is what we are (continue reading…)
I have been doing a fair bit of travel recently, and it’s always interesting to me how much people open up on airplanes and share intimate details that they probably wouldn’t otherwise share with a stranger.
I recently sat next to a woman. We shared the normal pleasantries … “where is home for you? … is this a business or pleasure trip” .. (continue reading…)
“We are a people who never made singing or dancing an unrespected way of knowing. All of the five-fingered ways of knowing remained open to us.”
For anyone trapped in Western consciousness, here’s some good news. The Earth has nearly completed a revolution around the sun since Woman Stands Shining, a.k.a., Pat McCabe, a Navajo writer and scholar, spoke those words at the 12th Language of Spirit Conference. That means the 13th annual conference — a dialogue “exploring the nature of reality,” among aboriginal scientists, scholars, healers and artists and their Western counterparts in a wide array of fields — is coming up soon.
This year’s event, sponsored by the SEED Graduate Institute, will be held Aug (continue reading…)
The Obama Administration’s promising position on medical marijuana policy and the recent backpedaling that followed have generated plenty of discussion, but the most revealing aspect of this still-developing controversy has gone entirely unnoticed.
When DOJ released the infamous Holder Memo — stating that federal resources would generally not be directed at activities that are legal under state law — the news broke late on a Sunday night. The result was extensive Monday morning news coverage, continuing throughout the week. Remarkably, the White House had recognized that a large majority supports medical marijuana and timed the story to maximize exposure of their announcement that state laws would be respected (continue reading…)
Movies are show. Theater is tell.
But The Ledge, opening in limited release tomorrow (7/8/11) and currently available on VOD, is essentially a two-hander of a play inexpertly blown up into a movie. It’s populated by famous faces and told with not nearly enough pace or drama, considering that it’s meant to be something of a thriller about a guy about to jump off a ledge (continue reading…)
For more than half a century, the Church of Scientology has been America’s most controversial religious movement: known for its appeal to celebrities like Tom Cruise, its requirement that believers pay as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars for salvation, and its storied history of harassing journalists and others through litigation and intimidation, even infiltrating the highest levels of the government to further its goals. It has been called a “cult” and even a “mafia” by its critics; to Scientologists it’s “the fastest growing religion in the world.” But what, beyond the media hype, is Scientology actually about?
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It’s probably the most detailed theology in the world: there are some 1000 volumes of doctrine, all written by Scientology’s founder, L.
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Strangely absent from the list of issues being hashed out by NFL Owners and Players in this long-running labor dispute is perhaps the most important issue of all: revenue sharing among Owners. Although it was the issue dominating the final hours of negotiating the 2006 CBA, it has been largely absent from this round of negotiations.
The lack of emphasis on internal revenue sharing may be due to either: (1) the Players not making it a priority issue; (2) the Owners – especially small market Owners – not pushing the issue as they have done before; or (3) the feeling of both sides that if their priority issues can be resolved to their satisfaction, the revenue sharing problem will “take care of itself”.
“The issue” in 2006
As written here before, revenue sharing was the focus of the 2006 NFL Owners meeting that ratified the now-expired CBA. Former NFLPA chief Gene Upshaw had demanded that the Owners come up with a workable plan, diverting their attention from the Player deal which slid through by a 30-2 ratification vote.
Indeed, a formula did emerge from that meeting where the top half of the NFL teams would contribute to the bottom half at different levels of giving or receiving depending on their rankings.
Ranking teams by revenue alone is an incomplete picture due to the enormous debt that some teams carry while others are debt free. In Green Bay, the smallest market in the NFL, we had high revenue and no debt.
The Cowboys, Texans, and Eagles are examples of teams positioned near the top of the rankings yet have high debt and operating costs (continue reading…)
“It was the ’70s,” one of the participants says at one point in the documentary Project Nim, about an experiment involving a chimpanzee and human language – as though that excused the callous, thoughtless and ignorant behavior of the principals.
Ahh, the 1970s – apparently a period before the law of unintended consequences was written into the books.
Project Nim chronicles the misadventures of Columbia University professor Herb Terrace, who wanted to study whether a chimp raised from infancy by humans and taught American Sign Language could learn to speak in sentences or even paragraphs. Would the language skill be enough to allow us to plumb the animal mind and examine its intellect?
So Terrace got a hold of a baby chimp, which he named Nim Chimpsky after the noted MIT linguist Noam Chomsky. But not having the time or, apparently the patience, to raise the chimp himself, he farmed it out to a student – a woman named Stephanie LaFarge, who brought Nim up in her Upper West Side household, with her husband and their numerous children.
While Nim learned some words, it was, for all intents, an upbringing in the human equivalent of the wild (continue reading…)
WASHINGTON — If you are like most people, you don’t much like the way the “national media” cover politics. As a long-time member of the Washington press corps, I agree with you. We can be trivial, shortsighted, credulous, ideologically blinkered and timid — on a good day.
But here at The Huffington Post, we have a proposition for you. If you don’t like the way we professionals cover politics, we invite you to do it yourself — and we will show your work to the world.
Today we are re-launching OffTheBus, our open-source, citizen-based reporting project (continue reading…)
Meet the pig. A very edible animal, its head is a veritable smorgasbord, containing 27 different meals. And, according to Michelin-starred chef Fergus Henderson, who tells Crane.tv how “it carries on being delicious and edible the whole way through.”
We are in Spitalfields, London at the restaurant St John Bread and Wine. The Biblical allusions continue inside with a thoroughly monastic interior (continue reading…)
A few weeks ago ICOMOS’ recommendation against the registering of 19 buildings designed by Le Corbusier in the World Heritage List provoked heated discussion in the architecture world. ICOMOS, an influential advisory body of UNESCO, claimed that the 19 nominated buildings do not clearly ‘demonstrate remarkable universal significance of the modern architectural movement’ and that ‘Le Corbusier was not the only architect who promoted the modern architectural movement, in which many architects participated.’
Among the 19 nominated buildings is the National Museum of Western Art in Taito Ward, Tokyo, completed in 1959. It is an architecturally and historically significant building, so ICOMOS’ announcement surprised and prompted me to take a closer look at what happened. Researching the way the World Heritage List is being managed made me question whether history and politics had a play in ICOMOS’ rejection (continue reading…)
Send all your eco-inquiries to Jennifer Grayson at email@example.com. Questions may be edited for length and clarity.
I’m moving this summer. Any tips for how to do it without all the waste?
Moving is a real pain; not just for you, but for the planet, too. Think of all the trash that’s created for the sole purpose of relocating from Point A to Point B: the ubiquitous single-use cardboard box, plastic bubble wrap, that chemically smelling packing tape…
Let’s not forget, either, about the junk that’s discarded as you prepare for your move, or the load of new stuff you have to buy (a different sized drawer organizer, that low-flow shower head) as you settle into your new home.
Then consider that more than 35 million Americans move each year (continue reading…)
Simon Van Booy. Photograph by Ken Browar.
The strangest thing about meeting Simon Van Booy is that it doesn’t feel strange at all.
Many people might call Simon’s new novel, Everything Beautiful Began After, a love triangle. But really, it’s more of a love octagon (continue reading…)