Friday, March 16, 2012

Foxconn Update: Report Retracted by This American Life

One of the sources I cited in that post was from the radio show This American Life, which today announced they have learned much of their report had been fabricated and as a result, they have retracted the entire episode.

“Daisey lied to me and to This American Life producer Brian Reed during the fact checking we did on the story, before it was broadcast,” the show’s host, Ira Glass, wrote in a blog post on Friday. “That doesn’t excuse the fact that we never should’ve put this on the air. In the end, this was our mistake.”

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Pennsylvania - America's First Corporate State?

The news for Americans isn't looking too good in a place where freedom and rights were first celebrated.

"Pennsylvania, where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were signed and where the U.S. coal, oil and nuclear industries began, has adopted what may be the most anti-democratic, anti-environmental law in the country, giving gas companies the right to drill anywhere, overturn local zoning laws, seize private property and muzzle physicians from disclosing specific health impacts from drilling fluids on patients. 

“It’s absolutely crushing of local self-government,” said Ben Price, project director for the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, which has helped a handful of local communities—including the city of Pittsburgh—adopt community rights ordinances that elevate the rights of nature and people to block the drilling. “The state has surrendered over 2,000 municipalities to the industry. It’s a complete capitulation of the rights of the people and their right to self-government. They are handing it over to the industry to let them govern us. It is the corporate state. That is how we look at it.”
“Now I know what it feels like to live in Nigeria,” said recently retired Pittsburgh City Council President Doug Shields. “You’re basically a resource colony for multi-national corporations to take your natural resources, take them back to wherever they are at, add value to them, and then sell them back to you.”

This American Life has more on the story and the battle of Liberty being lost.

VW's Corporate Taxation Moved Onto Workers, Residents

What did Roane County have to do to land 45 jobs for a VW warehouse? Simple: remove property taxes on the now-for-free location, throw in a few million dollars more in tax funding (corporate welfare), and rely on the tax rates on workers and residents to compensate for the loss of corporate taxation.

"There's the 100 percent property tax break for 10 years, the $435,000 worth of local matches of two state grants totaling more than $1 million, and a break-even land purchase deal.

In exchange, the company will invest $40 million in a 400,000-square warehouse that will result in 45 jobs in the Roane Regional Business and Technology Park. The annual payroll is pegged at $3 million. The facility can be expanded to 600,000 square feet, officials said.

The long-term payoff, says Roane County industrial recruiter Leslie Henderson, is the cachet the Volkswagen name will lend to Roane County and the likelihood more industries will locate there because of the prestigious automaker's presence.

"We're going to promote the heck out of this," said Henderson, president and CEO of The Roane Alliance. "This will be a magnet for more projects."

So you'll pay more in taxes on income, more for property taxes - but you'll get something called "cachet".

And some other large companies in the construction biz will get loads of money from VW, and Roane politicos will now have to offer the same kind of freebies to attract another 45 jobs.

Rest assured - someone will make a lot of money (VW). But it won't be you. It isn't personal - it's business.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Unwired: The Final Installment of a Non-LiveBlog

This is the Third and final part of an experiment I made to live and work offline and write about my results via a sort of non LiveBlog.  (Part two is here.)

The final installment is below, and I must say that - unsurprisingly - the overall results are deeply boring and uninteresting to most everyone. The life of a writer is a fairly boring thing. I tend to work all alone, though I have often collaborated with a few folks. But mostly my time would be akin to watching paint dry. Thinking, scratching out notes and ideas, re-writing and re-writing again are dull events to observe. It's a far, far more exciting time within my brain of course, an electric-synaptic-orgy of thoughts and actions.

I wondered if my creation and eventual publication of a life lived offline would draw in readers. It has not. Not only am I a solo writer, I am a solo human - never been married, no girlfriend currently, so no spousal/near-spousal dramas or comedies to share; no children to tote from one life-affirming event to another; no financial chicanery or wizardry to recount; no daring recipes of dazzling foods to share (though I often do make a fine and tasty dish, plus there's always a fine cup of coffee close by); and as a solo writer, while I do have so many fascinating and intelligent friends, I don't always share such conversations here on this blog, though I often write about the results of my thoughts after such conversations.

I do act, write, direct and produce several stage shows thru the year - and all those I shamelessly do self-promote here. And since a few (very few) have asked, this post includes a fairly recent picture of my very handsome, lovable self.

But I shall add today to this blog the final entry of my Three Part account of my Offline Experiment. Because, as any writer does, I hope what I write does get read. But in all honesty, the writing and the publishing tend to be most important to one lone person: Me.

Should you read, enjoy and share all 3 parts, dear reader, I thank you greatly. Now on with the show!!


DAY EIGHT (continued)

11:38 a.m.

All the presentations of status, actions, events, stats, tweets, posts, results both googled and binged, all texting, messaging, and all the jabs of communication short and long … online I am aware these things will reach an audience of readers, whether one or ten or one thousand. Absent the Web, I’m back to the Old Ways of the Writer – what I’m saying and writing may never be seen by anyone.

So the basic foundation of writing is as it ever was: who is the writer writing for or to? Himself? Future generations which might find the scribbled notebooks (or in this case a reader who decides to search the memory of my lone computer)? The drive to make these sentences has been greatly fueled in the last eight to ten years by the reality that I can publish what I write on a global scale without being a lowly worker for a large or small publishing company, newspaper or any other media owner – I pay for my access to the web, write and publish as I wish, daily, weekly, hourly, and I publish whatever I wish. And I know what I write gets read (according to my stats counter) not only by readers in the U.S., but in Europe, Asia, South America – anywhere the Web exists.

And while it is true that without a publisher my earnings from my writing is limited, there still exists a large opportunity that a sizable paycheck will arrive in the future – a matter of my efforts to promote it, or perhaps someone else who decides to share it, or my skill or luck at saying something which snags the world’s imagination and wallets.

11:56 a.m.
Boop-bedoop-bah-bah … grrrrrrr.

8:20 p.m.

Televised coverage of the celeb arrivals for Oscars’ red carpet is deeply dull. Essentially, the actors and performers all parade past a crowd of mostly publicists, herded like cattle, yet politely, but the celebs seem to have little of note to say or do, aside from wearing clothes and jewelry. So few improve skills are displayed – even being interesting seems to escape them … though is the problem instead that today’s celebs don’t like this parade, even resent it?

9:15 p.m.

Producer Brian Grazer … how old is he, 60? Crazy scientist/spiky 1980’s pop star/anime hair looks odd on old people.

10:00 p.m.

Cirque du Soleil performs a showcase of … well, what was their show about? As the cast swings around the theater I keep thinking about how the producers of the Spiderman show on Broadway should have used them. I still think the backstage is the place to be these days.

So sad that Crystal doesn’t have Jack Nicholson to make jokes about this time around. He does Clooney jokes instead … but the mirth is oddly muffled.

11:30 p.m.

Let’s see – a French silent film comedy filmed in L.A., Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher, Woody Allen’s script, black actresses playing maids in the 1960s, a song by the Muppets, and efx/tech awards heaped upon Martin Scorcese … the show tonite seemed steeped in nostalgia.


8:00 a.m.

I’m cranky and unhappy without the ability to seek and read news from the wide range of sources via the Web. There’s such a superficial gloss, an total lack of critical thinking and a loving embrace of the spin from PR men and women on television.

9:00 a.m.

This offline experiment is a drag so I am ending it. However, I will extend it through today so that I might prepare some closing remarks … which hopefully will contain some kind of notable conclusion. Hopefully. Right now, I’m lacking any wisdom here, other than I am suffering a debilitating addiction to the internet. Does that make me pitiable or do I have merely a ‘first world problem’?

I’ve cleared more than a week without it, approaching 10 days. What time period is needed to truly flush my system of digital cyber-toxins? A month? A year? Or is it like alcohol or drug addiction – meaning I am forever an addict forced to live one day at a time with the constant threat that the addiction will return with even the slightest usage, just one email is all it would take and boom! I’m over the edge of the abyss.

How long could you go without the online world, dear reader? An hour? A day? Do you dare even attempt it?

1:00 p.m.

Grim hours ahead as I cling to my experiment in spite of a raging urge to go online …

Perhaps what has been absent is more than just my ability to amuse, entertain or even educate myself via the Web … perhaps the removal of access is also the removal of my one constant avenue of self-expression in our modern world. No access means no voice for me about the world I inhabit? That’s a chilling thought …


I'm going back online tomorrow .... what have I learned, if anything, trying this offline experiment? That, dear reader, is a question I will have to ponder .... and yet I wonder most -- how long could you go with no online access??