WHEN NPR'S MARKETPLACE ALLOWS AN ARTICLE/INTERVIEW YESTERDAY THAT STATES ONLY 8% OF PEOPLE IN THE US ARE UNEMPLOYED.......THAT 92% ARE EMPLOYED SO THERE IS NO REAL PROBLEM WITH EMPLOYMENT WHEN WE KNOW THAT WITH THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE GIVEN UP LOOKING IT IS MORE LIKE 30% WITH THE UNDEREMPLOYED MAKING IT HIGHER.........WE HAVE NORTH KOREAN-STYLE PROPAGANDA ON THE VERY AIRWAVES THAT USED TO HOLD CORORATIONS ACCOUNTABLE. THE FACT THAT THIS SAME MEDIA IS REFUSING TO ALLOW POLITICAL FORUMS AS A PUBLIC SERVICE TO FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS.....THIS IS CRITICAL......IT IS FAR BEYOND 'CANARY IN THE COAL MINE'......IT IS SHOUTING LOUDLY AND STRONGLY........AUTOCRATIC SOCIETY!
YOUR ELECTED OFFICIAL IS ALLOWING THIS TO HAPPEN.....THESE INCUMBENTS AREN'T CUTE AND FUZZY......THEY ARE KILLING YOUR DEMOCRACY!
VOTE YOUR INCUMBENT OUT!!!!
Fire Department clamping down on firefighters' online chatter Department drafting new social media policies, as is Police Department
By Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun 7:46 p.m. EDT, July 12, 2012
The Baltimore City Fire Department plans to implement new social media guidelines after Chief James S. Clack said he found that firefighters and officers were "crossing the line" by posting inappropriate or sensitive information online.
The social media website Twitter has become a forum for griping about City Hall policies in 140 characters or fewer — the maximum allowed in postings. The new policy comes after fire personnel have written a number of heated, politically charged barbs aimed at the department, Clack, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and the City Council over a recent budgetary decision to close three fire companies in the city.
"If citizens/firefighters [are] hurt/die in areas of closings," Wilbur Smith, a nine-year department veteran with Truck 10, one of the companies set to close, wrote on Twitter last month, city politicians will "have to live knowing they could have prevented it."
The policy, which is still being drafted, would provide guidelines on appropriate social media postings. Some firefighters said they worry that the policy would be used as a political tool to stifle dissent among their ranks, and free-speech advocates have raised concerns about the right of employees to air opinions without fear of reprisal.
"It's happening more and more, cases are cropping up across the country, and it's troubling for people who care about free speech," said David L. Hudson, a scholar at the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University, who has written about public employees' social media rights.
"If the public employer deems that the online comments of a public employee are detrimental to the internal operations of the company, then sometimes employees are suspended, punished and disciplined."
Anthony Guglielmi, a Baltimore police spokesman, said his department is also creating a social media policy — a draft version based on the guidelines of the International Association of Chiefs of Police is currently being reviewed by department lawyers. But he said the effort wasn't prompted by any problems.
"We haven't had any issues where [social media] has been abused, but we do need policies and procedures," Guglielmi said.
Smith, who drives emergency vehicles, said he doesn't understand "what the big deal is" if firefighters want to tweet, especially while they are not on duty. "I think the public has the right to know what's going on, rather than the smoke and mirrors," he said.
Firefighter Andrew Doyle, a 10-year veteran on Fire Boat 1, said the Fire Department should embrace social media rather than focus on censoring it. He has taken social media courses with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"We are one of the busiest fire departments in the nation, and sometimes we get overlooked by citizens and government," he said. "We just want to let them know we're here and we're keeping the city safe."
Clack says the intent of the Fire Department's new policy isn't to suppress critics and hopes the new policy will help prevent repercussions for inappropriate postings. Clack said the process first began about three months ago, and the new policy will be completed in the next few weeks.
"What we're attempting to do is define for members what is OK and what isn't," Clack said. "We're not going to be able to cover every scenario, but we want to provide some guidelines so people don't get themselves in trouble."
Clack would not provide examples of problematic postings or discuss individual fire personnel or their social media accounts. But said the department has noticed more Fire Department employees posting information on social media platforms, mainly on Twitter, that could be interpreted as official reports but are actually unofficial and often incorrect.
The department has also noted information posted about shootings and other violent incidents in the city that has the potential to harm police investigations or put working firefighters, paramedics or police officers in danger, Clack said.
"This is kind of an emerging issue in the fire service, and I guess in all kinds of professions," Clack said. "What do you do with this kind of instantaneous communication method that's out there? And how do you allow people to have their freedom of speech and engage in dialogue that's out there, but at the same time protect the department? That's what we're trying to balance."
Companies, governments and organizations have devised social media policies across the country in recent years, and employees have been reprimanded for sharing information related to their work online.
Last month, three members of the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company in Harford County were suspended, a fourth was demoted and a fifth is facing termination after they complained on Facebook about not receiving a discount at a local restaurant. They joked about not responding to emergency calls there and possibly starting a fire in one of the restaurant's trash bins. The fire company is now reviewing its social media policies.
Last year, Pete Piringer, who had worked for decades as a public information officer for Fire and Emergency Medical Services in Washington, was transferred to another city agency after the Twitter account on which he wrote raised concerns among higher-ups, who believed sensitive information was being posted. District of Columbia Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe had told reporters he had decided Piringer's tweets needed to be "filtered," according to The Washington Post.
What the press should ask Gregoire is why she is not fighting for the billions in mortgage fraud penalties still owed the state from the $25 billion interest payment earlier this year. Financial analysts all agree that a compromise $600-800 billion is a fair settlement and all those billions heading to the states would place all state budgets in the black and not the red. The fact that the government has not received these fraud funds to their coffers means that the main economic engine of the US.....the government....is starved of rightful revenue. This is the problem and public sector employees are paying the price for this disgraceful action on Gregoire's part.
If the media does not make this first and foremost the problem and solution, they have become banana republic.
Roiled Over Raises
July 11, 2012 - 3:00am By Kaustuv Basu Inside Higher Ed
Governor Christine Gregoire of Washington State is considered a friend of public higher education, someone who has backed universities during tough fiscal times.
But in the last month, she found herself frustrated by one of those universities. So much so that the Democratic governor recently wrote a strongly-worded letter to Bruce Shepard, president of Western Washington University, criticizing a decision by the university to give raises to faculty members as part of a new contract. It was clear from the governor’s letter that she expected small or no raises this year for state employees, including those at public universities, and the Western announcement had caught her by surprise.
“In the worst economic times in 80 years, I am surprised that Western has entered into a collective bargaining agreement that provides for a salary increase of 5.25 percent effective in 2012-2013, a 4.25 percent salary increase each year during the 2013-2015 biennium, a 10 percent increase for faculty and instructors who are promoted, and an additional 15 percent increase in stipends for department chairs,” she wrote.
She berated the university for ignoring the sacrifices made by state workers, most of whom haven’t had a raise for four years. Some workers have been furloughed, while faculty salaries at the University of Washington and the Washington State University remain frozen.
“I sincerely hope that the faculty salary increases will not be paid for by the tuition increases Western imposed upon its students,” the letter said, referring to the 16 percent tuition hike at the university set to take effect this fall. The tuition increase is higher than at other regional universities in the state, and the same as those adopted by the University of Washington and Washington State University.
The letter set off a furious debate, with Shepard defending the raises in a blog post while union leaders at Western said the raises would make the university more competitive when it came to hiring new professors. But an official at the University of Washington, the state’s preeminent research university, was sharply critical of the raises, and so was Marty Brown, director of the state’s Office of Financial Management.
Western Washington isn't the only place to cause offense by awarding raises when other campuses (or units of state government) were under the impression that this was a "no-raise year." Last year, Richard Lariviere, the University of Oregon president, lost his job after state officials said that they were upset about his plan to give $5 million in pay raises to administrators and faculty members, even as the state waged a campaign to cut costs at universities in the Oregon system. The raises immediately caught the attention of faculty members at other public universities, who weren't so fortunate as to be receiving more money.
Washington State officials said that the governor wrote the letter because she was disappointed and had fought to prevent cuts to higher education in the past legislative session. “At no time were blanket pay raises discussed – especially when most state employees have had their pay reduced or frozen,” said Karina Shagren, a spokeswoman at the governor’s office.
Brown, who is Gregoire’s budget director, said the raises will lead to challenges from faculty members at other public universities. “Their faculty is going to say, ‘What about us?’ ” he said, adding that every other university in the state can make the same argument -- that raising salaries will help retain faculty. Brown said the decision would make the collective bargaining process with other universities and state workers in other sectors much more difficult. “I would say that we don’t have the money to give raises like that, and it is a mistake that Western did it…. The legislature will look at how this occurred.”
Brown’s concern reflects reactions at the University of Washington, where Randy Hodgins, a spokesman, said that faculty members at his university were likely to feel resentful and unhappy because of raises at Western Washington University. “They are getting a pay raise when no one else is. Our concern is that shared sacrifice isn’t as shared as we thought,” he said.
Defending the Raises
Steve Swan, vice president of university relations at Western Washington, defended the salary hikes, which will cost the university $3 million this year, about 1 percent of its budget. “It was imperative to raise salaries in order to protect the excellence of our institution,” he said.
Swan said the university has had a difficult time trying to retain faculty since the pay freeze in 2008, and in many instances, searches for faculty openings have been futile. “This is a commitment to ensuring the academic quality of the university,” Swan said about the pay hikes.
President Shepard, in his blog post, pointed out that the average annual salary for an assistant professor at the university was $55,300 while the average salary of an associate professor was $65,355. Both, he said, were lower than the average salary of a high school teacher in the state’s Bellingham School District, located in the same areas as Western Washington University. The university addressed the concern now because a contract had to be negotiated for the coming academic year, he said.
“The governor provided us with very clear direction: protect core functions, make the hard choices, focus on service to Washington, avoid the easy road of across-the-board cuts, figure out new ways of doing business. That is exactly how we have proceeded,” he said in the blog post.
When officials at the university were asked whether it was fair for faculty members to get raises when other state workers did not, they pointed to Shepard’s blog post, which says: “Western is out front in addressing this issue because we were the first to be required to negotiate a contract for the coming year. We are not alone in addressing the issue, though… The increase we settled on is less than the increases that accumulated elsewhere under other contracts and while we were providing no raises."
Steven Garfinkle, president of the United Faculty of Western Washington, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, said he was disappointed with the governor’s letter. He said that instead of pitting public employees against each other, he hoped that Western Washington was leading the way when it comes to fairer compensation for state workers.
Competitive Edge in a 'National Market’
Saranna Thornton, a professor of economics at Hampden-Sydney College and co-author of the American Association of University Professors’ annual salary survey, said in an e-mail that average salaries for faculty members at public universities nationally increased by 4 percent (when not adjusted for inflation) in the last three years. “If all of the public universities in Washington do not start increasing the salaries of their faculty -- they will find it harder to recruit and retain good faculty -- who can find better pay outside of the state university system,” she said.
Thornton said a national job market exists for faculty members, and Western Washington’s commitment to pay raises was a strategic move. “This investment in faculty will buy much higher quality faculty in the current labor market, than it would in four to five years when the economy has recovered,” she said. The risk, Thornton said, is that public universities might lose their talented faculty members to private universities.
Western Washington officials were asked to give the number of faculty members recruited elsewhere but could not provide it.
And even though University of Washington officials have criticized the raises, Janelle Taylor, outgoing president of the university’s AAUP chapter and associate professor of anthropology, defended the hikes. “Why is it so terrible for a university to invest in its faculty?” Taylor said. “They can invest in its infrastructure and its buildings, but not its people?”
Still, there are plenty of others who question the timing of the pay hikes.
“I am sure that the raises they want to give are deserved, but so are the raises that we want to give,” said Hodgins, the spokesman at the University of Washington.
“Given the general fiscal situation in the state and the tenuousness of the state’s funding for higher education, the raises are unfortunate,” said Kriss Sjoblom, a vice president and economist at the Washington Research Council, which calls itself a “business-supported research organization.” Sjoblom said the raises were an effort to prop up the “long-term health” of the university, but they would complicate negotiations with other state workers.
Paul Guppy, vice president for research at the Washington Policy Center, a nonprofit that advocates public policy based on free-market solutions, said he wanted the government to be more disciplined when it came to the budget. “My independent view is that if faculty members are not happy with their salaries, they are welcome to seek opportunities elsewhere,” he said.
One cannot speak of the ECB as with the Federal Reserve without using the word criminal. With the financial collapse everyone saw the mechanations of Greenspan and the Federal Reserve as he single-handedly let the subprime mortgage fraud continue for several years after 50 states attorneys general complained of the massive level of fraud and we all know the illegal approach to the AIG payments and funnelling of money to specific banks all involved in the fraud. This is what you called creating the conditions for a nation's forced participation with the ECB program......it's what the IMF has been doing around the world for decades and it is what Obama is doing to states in America with his Race to the Top privatization of US public education. Each of these reveals the level of corruption and criminality at the top of our political and corporate class and it leads to characterizations of gangland or mafia style operations. Committing crimes to weaken a nation financially in order to take control of its governing mechanisms is the same as a thug standing outside a vendor's store intimidating customers and vandalizing the store until the vendor pays 'protection' money.
It is too bad the NPR has joined the gangland team!
The European Central Bank's Guide to Influence 3:19 am July 13, 2012 by Zoe Chace NPR
The ECB has increased its influence over European countries struggling with debt.
Europe is struggling, thanks to a relentless debt crisis. Compounding its problems: It is not one country, but 17.
Many observers agree that to solve their problems, those countries have to start looking a lot more like one country. And there is a force in Europe trying to make that happen: the European Central Bank. The weapon it has that everyone else lacks? Money.
Princeton Economist Alan Blinder used to work at a central bank, the U.S. Federal Reserve. And central banks don't like to use brute force, he says.
"The central bank is normally contemplative, slow-moving, intellectual, and very polite," Blinder says.
Central banks do have one magic power. They can create money, which is something a lot of countries in Europe really want. The European Central Bank is the only place that can make more Euros.
And so it's using this power to extract concessions from the countries of Europe, says Jacob Kirkegaard, a research fellow with the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
"Throughout this crisis," Kirkegaard says, "the ECB has provided financial support only when the governments have committed to hand over more of their national sovereignty."
Did you get that? The ECB only gives you money if you give up some of your independence. The ECB says to the Greeks, for example, "You can't collect taxes the way you're doing it, it's ridiculous. You've got to get better." To the Spanish: "Your government can't spend so much money. Cut back."
Thanks to its unusual powers, the ECB has succeeded in forcing European governments to do things they otherwise might not have.
First example — August 2011: The Italian government couldn't find anyone to lend it money. It went begging to the ECB. The president of the ECB sent a secret letter to Italy, to prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.
It was leaked online a few weeks later. It gave Berlusconi a long list of reforms he would have to carry out in return for the bank's support.
Italy eventually adopted the reforms. The ECB helped Italy out. As part of the process, Berlusconi was forced to resign and economist Mario Monti took over. Blinder says it was a pretty bold move for a central bank — particularly this one.
"I was mainly surprised at how frank they were about it," Blinder says. "Central banks are not known for their frankness, and Europeans are low on the frankness scale."
Second example — last December: Various southern European countries are scrambling to borrow money. The European governments make a fiscal pact, promising to cut spending — and, crucially, to send each of their national budgets to a team in Brussels for approval. And then, without much fanfare, the ECB comes through with the money.
And the debt crisis quieted down. For a bit.
Recently, though, it's heated up again. Also, in the last few weeks, the ECB has launched a new campaign. Lately, every time a governor from the ECB appears in public, they talk about the need for a banking union.
And what's happening now in Europe? No longer will Greeks run Greek banks, and Italians run Italian banks however they want. Now there will be one regulator in charge of all the banks across the continent.
Now, it could prove dangerous to force countries to the brink in exchange for money they need. On the other hand, a lot of the changes they're making are changes they've needed to make for a long time, many observers say.
The European Central Bank didn't want to comment for this story. They don't really like discussing their plans; their actions speak for them.
But with this new centralized banking union, the ECB seems, once again, to have pushed these very different countries closer together