Saturday, May 30, 2015

HUD deems five GMF apartments uninhabitable; city inspectors report 40 more

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is forcing a limited liability corporation controlled by Rev. Richard Hamlet to pay for the relocation of five families who live in its federally subsidized apartments, describing the units as uninhabitable.

The tenants are residents of Goodwill Village and Warren Apartments owned by Global Ministries Foundation, a nonprofit agency founded by Hamlet. The agency would be responsible for paying for the moving expenses and rent for temporary units away from Goodwill and Warren, pending repairs, according to a HUD letter obtained by The Commercial Appeal.

Trick to reduce absenteeism: Pay living wages

Employers who pay the Living Wage -- payment required to meaningfully participate in society -- help to create a 'feel good factor' in the workplace resulting in increased productivity, says new research.

Reduced absenteeism, reduced staff turnover and an enhanced company reputation have also been outlined as potential benefits in the study, which was carried out by the Loughborough University and Ipsos MORI, a leading market research company in England, on behalf of the Scottish Government.

Living Wage is based on the University's detailed research into the types of goods and services members of the public think are needed to reach a socially acceptable standard of living.
The Scottish government has committed to paying the Living Wage as part of its public sector pay policy.

Residents Say City Must Keep an Eye on Police Surveillance

Oakland residents are strongly advocating for a citywide privacy policy that would monitor the use of a surveillance system used to collect and monitor data, respond to emergencies and crime in the City of Oakland, unanimously passed by the Public Safety Committee this week.

The Port Domain Awareness Center (DAC) is currently limited to use at the Port of Oakland and applies technology systems to respond to emergencies, crime and maritime related operations.
This new privacy policy would expand the DAC to monitor and respond to emergency and criminal activity citywide with oversight and reporting requirements.
Strongly supported by community members, the recommendation from the city’s Ad Hoc Privacy Committee calls for the City Council to create a permanent Privacy Policy Advisory Committee that would oversee citywide use of the DAC.
Speakers at Tuesday’s Public Safety meeting urged the council to make sure the policy has teeth.

Allowable uses of the DAC would include situations such as: active shooter, bomb or explosion, hostage situation, major emergency, missing or abducted person, power outage, street racing/side show, and a list of many others.
The Oakland Police Department (OPD) recommended adding protests and special events to the list.

Also at Tuesday’s Public Safety Committee meeting, councilmembers approved a joint workspace with the FBI’s Violent Criminal Threat Section in OPD’s administration building.
FBI personnel would partner with OPD on a Safe Streets Taskforce, dedicating 10 FBI agents to work with the department’s Criminal Investigation Division. OPD would allocate $63,000 to cover costs of equipment, furniture, and network security.

ACLU on the Oakland Protest Curfew: Let the People March

OPD’s rollout of a curfew on protests is problematic for a number of reasons:
  • A blanket ban on non-permitted protests after dark is in violation of OPD’s Crowd Control Policy. (This policy is a result of a 2003 court settlement between OPD, the ACLU-NC and the National Lawyers’ Guild after OPD unleashed severe violence against protesters at the Port of Oakland.)
  • There isn’t a sundown exception to the First Amendment. We don’t want to live in a police state in which you can’t demonstrate at night. 
  • When there is a major shift in a police department’s policy or practice, it needs to be clear and transparent so that people demonstrating know what the ground rules are.
Oakland developed a drastic change in the rules behind closed doors and imposed it, with no notice, on peaceful demonstrators who were anticipating an evening march. Whatever the city’s intention was, officials should have predicted that this would unnecessarily create or heighten tension.

Google reveals trump card to build new Mountain View headquarters

The Shadow NSA: The Growing Privatization of Cyber Espionage in the U.S.

Washington Post editorial board functions as quack science Monsanto operatives

The entire editorial board of the Washington Post functions as a group of hilarious quack science Monsanto operatives pretending to be engaged in reporting real news. It's so bad that key articles published by the Post now appear to be "written" by Monsanto, with the "Greenwashington Post" parroting Monsanto's quack corporate "science" talking points. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the Post's hit piece response to Chipotle's announcement of going 100% non-GMO on their menu items.

Chinese Security Laws Elevate the Party and Stifle Dissent. Mao Would Approve.

China’s new national security law, released in draft form this month, has little to say about such traditional security matters as military power, counterespionage or defending the nation’s borders.

Instead, to the surprise and alarm of many people here, it reads more like a Communist Party ideology paper and a call to arms aimed at defending the party’s grip on power. The law, together with two other recently published draft laws, constitutes the most expansive articulation yet of President Xi Jinping’s vision of national security, and the widest interpretation of threats to the Communist Party and the state since the Mao era.

Analysts say the laws are aimed at giving the security forces and courts greater leeway in muzzling Chinese civil society and corralling the influence of Western institutions and ideas, which Mr. Xi views as a threat.