Author Archives: DCG

Ben Affleck Requested His Slave Owner Ancestor Be Censored From PBS’ ‘Finding Your Roots’

affleck

MSN.com: Hacked Sony emails reveal that actor-director Ben Affleck requested that his slave owner ancestor be removed from his family tree on PBS program Finding Your Roots.

In a series of WikiLeaks emails, the genealogy program’s host Henry Louis Gates, Jr. emailed Sony chief Michael Lynton asking “advice” on the actor’s request, according to New York Daily News.

finding your roots

“For the first time, one of our guests has asked us to edit out something about one of his ancestors the fact that he owned slaves,” Gates emailed Lynton in the July 22, 2014 email chain.

Gates defended the decision to edit out Affleck’s ancestor in a statement posted Friday on the PBS website.

The mission of “Finding Your Roots” is to find and share interesting stories from our celebrity guests ancestries and use those stories to unlock new ways to learn about our past. We are very grateful to all of our guests for allowing us into their personal lives and have told hundreds of stories in this series including many about slave ancestors never shying away from chapters of a family’s past that might be unpleasant. Ultimately, I maintain editorial control on all of my projects and, with my producers, decide what will make for the most compelling program. In the case of Mr. Affleck we focused on what we felt were the most interesting aspects of his ancestry including a Revolutionary War ancestor, a 3rd great grandfather who was an occult enthusiast, and his mother who marched for Civil Rights during the Freedom Summer of 1964.

PBS also issued a statement supporting Gates’ decision:

It is clear from the exchange how seriously Professor Gates takes editorial integrity. He has told us that after reviewing approximately ten hours of footage for the episode, he and his producers made an independent editorial judgment to choose the most compelling narrative. The range and depth of the stories on Finding Your Roots speak for themselves.

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DCG

Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant paying her “employees” as contractors on her re-election campaign

sawant

MyNorthwest.com: A Seattle City council member is in a bit of hot water over her handling of campaign staffers. Kshama Sawant has allegedly structured her employees in a way that allows her to avoid payroll taxes, paying them overtime, and offering them insurance.

Now, none of what she’s accused of allegedly doing is illegal — in fact, it’s very standard and necessary. But her own supporters — the folks who join her in her fight to demonize big business as exploiting the work force — are upset.

We learned of this story over at Publicola — a progressive online offshoot of Seattle Met Magazine.

It turns out Sawant is spending a sizable portion of her campaign funds on five different campaign consultants, as she tries to win her re-election campaign for city council. She’s spent just over $12,000 for the consultants so far and that’s in stark contrast to her colleagues. Jean Godden has spent about $6,000. Council member Tim Burgess spent just over $2,000 on consultants; Mike O’Brien has spent nothing.

sawant2

And it’s the $12,000 Sawant is spending that has some folks wondering if she’s a hypocrite — because she’s not paying these consultants as employees, she’s paying them as contractors.

So what’s that mean? Why is that a big deal? According to Josh Feit at PubliCola, “there’s no sign of payroll taxes (such as unemployment insurance or social security payments).” And he writes, “Sawant has been skirting the rules by not paying into the public workers’ safety net.”

And that’s where the cry of hypocrisy comes into place. According to the Stranger, its “a practice businesses are known to use in an effort to, as the New York Times points out, ‘circumvent minimum wage, overtime and anti-discrimination laws.'”

Indeed, the New York Times reported:

Companies that pass off employees as independent contractors avoid paying Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance taxes for those workers. Companies do not withhold income taxes from contractors’ paychecks, and several studies have indicated that, on average, misclassified independent workers do not report 30 percent of their income.One federal study concluded that employers illegally passed off 3.4 million regular workers as contractors, while the Labor Department estimates that up to 30 percent of companies misclassify employees.

It’s the exact type of conduct Sawant and her allies have used to criticize “evil big business.” So why is it OK that Sawant is doing it? How isn’t this hypocritical?

One of her consultants is Phillip Locker. He told the Stranger that this kind of behavior is common practice amongst political campaigns — an ironic position for a candidate that says she’s not a typical politician.

And it also turns out he apparently is illegally working as a consultant. You need a business license to do what he’s doing and the Stranger reports he doesn’t even have one.

“We are absolutely against that,” Locker said about big businesses using contractor status to avoid proper labor practices. But, he adds, “there are some positions [and] some times when it is appropriate for someone to be an independent contractor.”

Now, the truth is, he’s right — this is how politicians work and this is how a lot of businesses work. The difference is he’s asking for a pass on behavior he’d never give a pass to if it was a business doing it.

If Wal-Mart or McDonalds did this, Sawant would be all over it — because when you’re driven purely by an ideological position (whether or not you and I agree with it), you tend not to give a pass.

do as i say

DCG

 

Machinists withdraw request for South Carolina Boeing union vote

boeing-strike

MyNorthwest.com: The Machinists union is delaying its attempt to organize Boeing workers in South Carolina, announcing Friday that it’s withdrawing a petition to hold a union vote next week because of what it called a toxic atmosphere and political interference.

Almost 3,200 production workers at Boeing facilities in North Charleston, where the aeronautics giant has a 787 assembly plant, were eligible to vote in the election that was set for April 22.

Withdrawing its petition before the National Labor Relations Board means there cannot now be another union vote for at least six months. Boeing employs nearly 7,500 workers in South Carolina.

“We’ve determined now is not the right time for an election,” said Mike Evans, lead organizer for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. “An atmosphere of threats, harassment and unprecedented political interference has intimidated workers to the point we don’t believe a free and fair election is possible.”

South Carolina governor Nikki Haley

South Carolina governor Nikki Haley

The union said it had contacted about 1,700 workers but Evans said the home visits were suspended after two organizers were threatened at gunpoint and other workers reported hostile confrontations. “I hold the Boeing Company, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and their surrogates responsible for creating an atmosphere of state-sanctioned hostility toward unions and union organizers,” Evans said.

“The IAM’s allegations are ridiculous,” responded company spokeswoman Candy Eslinger. “We’ve taken a very transparent approach to informing our teammates and the community about what it means to be represented by the IAM. We have provided factual information backed up by data throughout this entire process.”

Haley, a strong opponent of unions, had urged Boeing workers to vote against representation. “We are proud of our loyal workforce, their unmatched work ethic and the strong, direct relationships they have with employers in our state,” Haley said in a statement released by her office. “In South Carolina our workers know that we always have their back.” The AP left a message with Haley seeking comment on the union allegations.

Beverly Wyse, vice president and general manager for Boeing South Carolina, issued a statement thanking workers for “their passion, spirit and determination to move forward together.” She added that “we now have the opportunity to make Boeing South Carolina and our local community an even better place to work and live.”

The union, which has filed unfair labor practice complaints, said it will continue efforts to organize Boeing workers. Less than 4 percent of workers in South Carolina are members of unions.

The Machinists have had members in the Charleston area before. The union won the right to represent workers at Vought Aircraft Industries in 2007, a plant that Boeing later bought. Less than two years later, plant workers voted against union representation.

Four years ago, shortly before Boeing opened the $750 million Dreamliner plant, the NLRB filed a complaint against the company alleging the nonunion plant was in retaliation against Washington state workers who earlier went on strike. The NLRB later dropped the complaint after Boeing agreed that the 737 Max would be built in Washington.

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Debbie

Obama’s America: Army morale is low, job satisfaction low, and more than half have poor nutrition and sleep

tired soldier

USA Today: More than half of some 770,000 soldiers are pessimistic about their future in the military and nearly as many are unhappy in their jobs, despite a six-year, $287 million campaign to make troops more optimistic and resilient, findings obtained by USA TODAY show.

Twelve months of data through early 2015 show that 403,564 soldiers, or 52%, scored badly in the area of optimism, agreeing with statements such as “I rarely count on good things happening to me.” Forty-eight percent have little satisfaction in or commitment to their jobs.

The results stem from resiliency assessments that soldiers are required to take every year. In 2014, for the first time, the Army pulled data from those assessments to help commanders gauge the psychological and physical health of their troops.

The effort produced startlingly negative results. In addition to low optimism and job satisfaction, more than half reported poor nutrition and sleep, and only 14% said they are eating right and getting enough rest.

The Army began a program of positive psychology in 2009 in the midst of two wars and as suicide and mental illness were on the rise. To measure resiliency the Army created a confidential, online questionnaire that all soldiers, including the National Guard and Reserve, must fill out once a year.

Last year, Army scientists applied formulas to gauge service-wide morale based on the assessments. The results demonstrate that positive psychology “has not had much impact in terms of overall health,” says David Rudd, president of the University of Memphis who served on a scientific panel critical of the resiliency program.

army morale

The Army offered contradictory responses to the findings obtained by USA TODAY. Sharyn Saunders, chief of the Army Resiliency Directorate that produced the data, initially disavowed the results. “I’ve sat and looked at your numbers for quite some time and our team can’t figure out how your numbers came about,” she said in an interview in March.

However, when USA TODAY provided her the supporting Army documents this week, her office acknowledged the data but said the formulas used to produce them were obsolete. “We stand by our previous responses,” it said in a statement.

Subsequent to USA TODAY’s inquiry, the Army calculated new findings but lowered the threshold for a score to be a positive result. As a consequence, for example, only 9% of 704,000 score poorly in optimism.

The Army said the effort to use the questionnaire results to gauge morale Army-wide is experimental. “We continue to refine our methodologies and threshold values to get the most accurate results possible,” it said in the statement.

The Army’s effort to use positive psychology to make soldiers more resilient has been controversial since its inception in 2009. A blue-ribbon panel of scientists from the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, concluded last year that there is little or no evidence the program prevents mental illness. It argued there was no effort to test its efficacy before the Army embraced it . The panel cited research arguing that, in fact, the program could be harmful if it leaves soldiers with a false sense of resiliency.

The Army disputed the findings, pushing ahead with its positive psychology program that now costs more than $50 million a year. At least 2.45 million soldiers have taken a self-assessment test that is a crucial part of the resiliency program, and 28,000 GIs have been instructed on how to teach other soldiers the curriculum.

“The Army funds this program because the Army values the lives of soldiers and wants to instill skills and competencies that will enhance their connections, relationships and ability to mitigate stressors and exercise help seeking behaviors through their life,” says an Army statement released last month.

But the internal data obtained by USA TODAY shows most soldiers today trending in the wrong direction. Two-thirds were borderline or worse for an area called “catastrophic thinking,” where poor scores mean the soldier has trouble adapting to change or dwells on the worst possible things happening.

Other results:

  • Forty-eight percent or about 370,000 soldiers showed a lack of commitment to their job or would have chosen another if they had it to do over again. Only 28% felt good about what they do.
  • About 300,000 soldiers or nearly 40% didn’t trust their immediate supervisor or fellow soldiers in their unit or didn’t feel respected or valued. Thirty-two percent felt good about ab bosses and peers.
  • In one positive trend, more than 400,000 soldiers or 53% said they were satisfied or extremely satisfied with their marriage, personal relationship or family. About 240,000 expressed dissatisfaction.
  • For physical fitness, nearly 40% were in good shape, 28% were borderline, and 33% did poorly.

Retired vice admiral Norb Ryan, head of the Military Officers Association of America, and Joyce Raezer, executive of the National Military Family Association, said the results are not surprising. Fourteen years of war and recent decisions to downsize or cut funding for the military have left morale low, they said.

A recent survey by the Military Times and a Navy Retention Study also show troops increasingly unhappy.

Saunders defended the Army resiliency program, known officially as Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness, as an effort that has resonated with soldiers.” When we talk to soldiers, soldiers tell us about the life changes they’ve had,” she says.

Morale is low? Shocker, not.

Hillary Clinton what difference does it make

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NY-Post-Frontpage-Obama-Islam-2-19-2015

DCG

Frustration continues with aggressive tax-refund seizures

irs

CBS News: More than 77 million American have received tax refunds — but others may not be so lucky. CBS News has been investigating complaints that refunds are being seized by the government without notice.

Shalita Grant is a Tony nominated actress — who plays a federal agent on TV’s “NCIS New Orleans.” But to Social Security she’s been an outlaw — not because she did anything wrong — but because her father was overpaid more than $13,000 in disability. Grant grew outraged when Social Security seized her $1,500 tax refund without warning or any evidence against her.

“I would describe it as a theft,” she said. “I’m asking for a bill. I’m asking for something that says I owe you. I feel like you guys stole from me and I have nothing to show for it.” But stolen is a strong word. “Oh yeah, and I feel strongly about that.”

Over the last year, CBS News has contacted a dozen taxpayers who say Social Security has taken their tax refunds because a relative had been overpaid in benefits.

Jessica Vela, a U.S. Navy Veteran, lost a $6,000 refund last year, when she was eight months pregnant. “I had a baby due the next month,” she said, growing emotional as she recalled what happened. “There are no words to explain how helpless the situation has been.”

Helpless because Social Security admitted it had overpaid Jessica’s mother, not her. “I’ve told them ’til I’m blue in the face, I was a minor, I was learning to ride a bike during that time.”But now she’s a Navy veteran, and describing herself as defenseless. “Against your own government.”

Social Security declined to speak on camera. In court filings, it said it has the legal authority to go after the relatives of people overpaid in benefits. However, the agency has repeatedly denied it has ever done so.

In January the agency told Congress: “We did not…[collect] any…debt that was incurred by a parent or another family member.” “It’s a flat lie,” Vela said. “It’s an absolute, bold-faced lie.”**

After our investigation Social Security admitted that the taxpayers in our story were not to blame, that the money had indeed gone to their parents and both of those women got their refunds back. But that’s an admission that Social Security is doing the exact kind of aggressive debt collection it’s told the public it would never do.

Lois Lerner, queen of IRS Lies

Lois Lerner, queen of IRS Lies

**The government should know a thing or two about lies:

DCG

Shocker, not: Sarah Silverman lies, forced to apologize

Sarah Silverman

Daily Mail: Comedian Sarah Silverman was forced to apologize after she was caught exaggerating a story about being paid less than a man for a gig – to highlight the gender pay gap.

The comic and feminist campaigner recalled an incident at the New York Comedy Club when she claimed she was paid less than her male counterpart, for a piece she recorded a wage-discrimination-activism video for Levo League.

But Silverman has been forced to apologize after New York Comedy Club owner Al Martin revealed the story was false, because Silverman had been paid less purely because she appeared as a guest on the show and wasn’t meant to receive anything – her male counterpart Todd Barry was booked for the slot.

Silverman has since publicly apologized to Martin and revealed she fabricated the story. But she stressed that critics should not use the story as a way to undermine the gender pay gap campaign.

silverman

‘To the maniacs who want to use this as a chit against women’s issues, I ask that you please don’t. Because that would be super s****y,’ she said in a statement, according to National Review. 

In the video, released on April 6, Silverman accused Martin of paying her $50 less than Barry to perform.  She claimed while both did 15 minute back-to-back sets she was paid $10, while Barry went home with $60.  ‘So I went back inside and I asked the owner Al Martin and I said, “Al, why did you pay me $10 and you paid Todd Barry $60?”‘ she said.  ‘And he, it was so perfect. He goes, “Oh, did you want a $60 spot?” It was symbolic, I didn’t need $60, but, you know it was pretty s****y.’ She added: ‘If you work a job and a man is working the same job, then you should be getting paid the same.’

However Martin revealed what really happened in a Facebook post – prompting Silverman’s apology.

She said: ‘When I was interviewed by Levo, they asked me “Do you remember a time you were paid less for the same job” and this story, being just that, popped into my head.’ The comic said she regretted mentioning Martin by name getting caught, who had always been ‘so lovely’ to her. She also admitted her anecdote lie had not been a good example of the gender pay gap. 

In a Facebook post Martin said he fully accepted Silverman’s apology and invited her back to perform. He wrote: ‘It takes a big person to apologize and and today Sarah proved she is that kind of person.’

Silverman came under criticism last month after she posted a list of ten ‘rape prevention tips’ on Twitter.  Critics blasted the comic for offering ‘tips’ to potential rapists while dozens of men responded by branding her sexist for suggesting that all men desire to rape women.

The sarcastic set of rules, which focus on the perpetrator of the crime rather than the victim, also include ‘if you are in an elevator and a woman gets in, don’t rape her’, as well as ‘when you encounter a woman who is asleep, the safest course of action is not to rape her’.

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DCG

Womyn says “she wasn’t sure if she wanted to be attached to this person for the rest of her life”…and she wasn’t talking about getting married

Funny, I thought an unborn baby was just “goo“.

Kirke and Dunham

Kirke and Dunham

This womyn is Jemima Kirke, an actress and friend of Lena Dunham. Fine company she keeps.

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DCG