This morning, Michael Moroney wrote one of those pro-internship op-eds that seem to be so in vogue these days. But like so many who've come before him, Moroney failed to get all the facts first. He started with criticizing the recent lawsuits, so we'll start with this: "As Forbes recently noted, the Supreme Court established nearly six decades ago in Walling v. Portland Terminal Co. that unpaid internships are legal and exempt from minimum wage laws as long as six conditions are met. These conditions heavily emphasize that the internship is to the benefit of the intern, not the employer. Thus, so long as the intern is aware of, and agrees to, the fact that his internship is unpaid, and the employer approaches the internship with the intention of training the intern rather than just receiving output from him or her, the internship is lawful."
A recent Wall Street Journal article noted the Social Security Administration’s struggle to cope with last week’s Supreme Court ruling regarding gay marriage. In its ruling, the Court said federal agencies managing federal benefits programs -- e.g., social security widow/widower’s benefits -- need to look at the marriage laws of the claimant’s state of residence, not where the person was married. Some have noted that this situation presents an issue of equal protection. That may be true, but the truth is that “equal protection” is currently a very flexible notion at the SSA. ...
After Edward Snowden leaked information about the NSA PRISM surveillance program to the Guardian, everyone on the Web was shocked and outraged, but it really shouldn't be so surprising that the government has that sort of program up and running. While the outrage at the United States government's overstepping of its constitutional bounds persists, we have to wonder why everyone suddenly cares so much about privacy and surveillance? After all, this kind of far-reaching surveillance was reported on in the early 2000s, and millions of people over-share their information every day.
June was a great month for doublespeak. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was caught lying in a congressional hearing about the scope of the National Security Agency’s ability to snoop on American communications. Clapper, when asked by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., last March, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” he answered “No, sir … not wittingly.” When NBC’s Andrea Mitchell asked Clapper how his testimony squared with the details on the PRISM program revealed by leaker Edward Snowden, he said his response was the “least untruthful” answer that he could give.
The Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie warned in her popular TED talk that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding. Adichie illustrated her point by talking about her childhood in Nigeria, when she read British literature filled with white characters, and thought that stories cannot have African characters. For me, the danger of the single story is most pronounced in Western media coverage of my home country, China. I only started to read American newspapers while at college. It was initially interesting to see that there is nearly always news on China -- I hadn’t realized how "big” my country had become.
Brian Cashman turned Alex Rodriguez’s update on his injury into a bigger story than it should have been.
Regardless of the political weather in Washington, D.C., and the perpetual bickering between Democrats and Republicans, if there’s one thing that unites all Americans in frustration – exasperation, really – it’s gasoline prices. And lately, gas prices in the states seem to know only one direction: up. What’s more, in decades past U.S. motorists could count on at least one form or relief – seasonality, with gasoline prices falling in the autumn/winter, before rising in the spring/summer - the latter being the U.S. travel season. However, this decade even that seasonal relief seems to have disappeared.
We don't live in a culture that embraces ritual sacrifice as a cultural, religious or social norm. But we do live in a culture where we enjoy seeing the downfall of decade-long empires crumble in mere days. ...
The Supreme Court ended what was a far from stellar week for justice in this country with a decision everyone has been waiting for -- the decision on the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, and California's Proposition 8. ...
On Monday, Megan Willett of Business Insider clumsily attempted to make the case that unpaid interns should stop complaining about -- and suing over -- their unpaid internships. They are lucky to have jobs, as she puts it, even if those jobs are unpaid. It’s the kind of untenable argument that reminds one of Mayor Bloomberg’s assertion that New York’s carriage horses should be grateful for the opportunity to schlep tourists around Central Park in the middle of July. Putting aside for a minute the semantic paradox of calling an internship a “job,” Willett’s position ignores the unavoidable fact that many unpaid internships, as they exist today, are illegal -- particularly those in so-called glamour industries like media and entertainment. Except under the narrowest of conditions, unpaid internships violate federal and state labor laws, and no amount of winking, nodding and accepting them as “paying your dues” is going to change that.
Last Thursday’s surprise defeat of the House farm bill resulted in a litany of finger-pointing from the lobbyists on K Street to the House Ag staffers in the Longworth Building. But they’re looking for blame in all the wrong places. It really belongs to Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan -- and many other Republicans and conservatives -- who said so many times last year that America was going broke. If we are really going broke, then why did the bill maintain generous subsidies for agriculture? The Republican House members, including Ryan, who voted against the bill, took last year’s “broke” message to heart and should be congratulated for their fortitude.
Leaders of the world’s largest banks have been desperately trying to escape the ghosts of the financial industry’s bad old days -- Libor rate manipulation, tax avoidance, rogue trading, swap misselling and the breaking of antimoney laundering rules -- and rebrand the industry as a responsible force for good in the economy. Well, good luck with that. Barclays PLC (NYSE: BCS) Chairman David Walker recently fired back against what he said has become the “political and media industry” of badmouthing banks and bankers, and insisted on banks’ irreplaceable role in a free-market economy.
Former President Bill Clinton was in Israel last week to accept the Presidential Medal of Distinction, Israel’s highest honor, from Israeli President Shimon Peres, who also happened to be celebrating his 90th birthday (two months before the actual date). What did our former chief executive say to this man who escaped the Holocaust by immigrating to Israel in 1932? What would could one say to a man who heard that every member of his family who stayed in Poland was murdered by the Nazis? What would you say to a man who has served his country both in the military and government for decades? What would any decent human being say to a man who is the oldest living president of one of the world’s most productive democratic republics, one which happens to surrounded by hundreds of millions of people who wish her total destruction, and makes no bones about it?
On the laundry list of things Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan should do to restore his image as a Western-style democratic leader: Fire Egemen Bağiş. The pugnacious European Union minister, responsible for negotiating Turkey’s way into the 27-nation club, has done little but humiliate himself and his country with a series of combative public statements and decrees that make him seem disconnected from reality at best, and waxing despotic at worst. He said in a speech last week that he deemed protesters in Istanbul’s Taksim Square supporters or members of terrorist organizations. He spent 849 words lambasting The Economist over an article comparing Erdoğan to a sultan. And on Thursday, he ignited already fraught relations with Germany, the de facto leader of the EU, by claiming Chancellor Angela Merkel was stalling Turkey’s accession talks because she was “looking for domestic political material for her elections.”
Yasiel Puig's beaning last week should be a wake-up call to end beanings.
The New York Times editorial board has written a pretty much true piece on the "turmoil" going on in Turkey, saying that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has had "many opportunities over the last three weeks to resolve the political crisis in Turkey peacefully and quickly. However, with almost every statement and directive[,] he has made the situation worse, increasing concerns at home and abroad over his authoritarian tendencies and Turkey's future as a democratic model in the Muslim world." I have no great umbrage to take with the piece; I agree with it. But if I may, I'm going to be a smidge nit-picky, and it has to do with this bit here: "Mr. Erdogan has worked hard to promote Turkey as a democracy aligned with the United States and Europe. Yet he is now intimidating the local news media, attacking the international news media, making veiled anti-Semitic remarks and suggesting that undefined 'foreign forces' are behind the unrest."
It was the playwright and first president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel, who said we inhabit a system “in which words are capable of shaking the entire structure of government, where words can prove mightier than ten military divisions.” And the late journalist Michael Hastings, who died Tuesday in a car accident in Los Angeles, was physical representation of that truth. If his writings didn’t prove mightier than 10 military divisions, it was enough to at least bring down the career of a military general -- and piss off other high-up government officials, including an aide to the secretary of state.
ISTANBUL -- I was visiting Istanbul when the Gezi Park protests erupted. I had a unique chance to observe how the events evolved over time as both social and political events. The Gezi Park events started as peaceful demonstrations against the municipal government’s controversial construction plans to demolish the small public park in the iconic Taksim Square to make way for a shopping mall. Taksim is situated on the European side of Istanbul and is a popular destination for both tourists and Turkish youth. It is famed for its long pedestrian streets full of restaurants, shops, nightclubs and hotels. The initial response to the demonstrators by the Turkish police was rather punitive, though not surprising given the history of protests and provocations that have routinely taken place in Turkey. Yet the turning point was Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s rather uncompromising and highly dismissive speech in which he called the protesters “capulcu,” looters or marauders.
Even before the rise of Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill warned of the danger of the Nazis, only to be fought at every turn by the British government. What Churchill had foreshadowed became reality as one by one Poland, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands and France had fallen under Nazi control. In the spring of 1940, Britain was the last one standing, the last barricade to all of Europe being under Hitler’s full control. The man leading Britain onto the battlefield was Churchill, who had been prime minister all of six weeks. As the threat of invasion encroached from a Nazi-occupied France, Churchill, on this day 73 years ago, gave what historians have called one of the greatest speeches -- the “finest hour” speech of June 18, 1940 -- ever delivered in the English language.
Bill Maher, the obnoxious, execrable and unfunny “comic” who hosts a talk-show on HBO called “Real Time,” is inexplicably one of the most successful and popular television celebrities in the United States. His rise to the top presents yet another example of how mediocrity, vulgarity (and, of course, luck) are far more important in determining the quality of contemporary pop culture than such quaint and forgotten qualities as talent and integrity. Like many of his dubious contemporaries -- including Oprah Winfrey, Michael Moore, Spike Lee, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly, among numerous others -- Maher has become a “brand,” a brand that is meticulously marketed for the sake of maximizing profit. Maher does not engage in reasoned debate, nor does he really care about the validity of his viewpoints. Having identified the demographic he wants to target (that is, upscale urban liberals), he simply ladles out what they want to hear.
Trump is threatening to impose 25% tariffs on China if its president doesn't attend the G20 summit.