Snark: to annoy or irritate

"Snark" has been in English language dictionaries since at least 1906, and Lewis Carroll used the word to describe a mythological animal in his poem, The Hunting of the Snark (1874). Most recently, the word has come to characterize snappish, sarcastic, or mean-spirited comments or actions directed at those who annoy or irritate us.

At first, this blog was just going be a place to gripe, but because it's more satisfying to take action than it is to merely complain, now most of the posts/reposts suggest ways to get involved in solving problems.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Support Walmart Workers

Take Action!Walmart Stores Inc. — notorious for years for trampling the basic rights of American workers1 — has become the focus of a historic strike by its store workers.
In an unprecedented move, recently Walmart workers went on strike across the country,2 informing Walmart management that strikes will spread throughout November if Walmart doesn't listen to their demands.3
We need to show solidarity with the Walmart workers who are standing up to Rob Walton, Walmart chairman of the board and the rest of Walmart's management for a safe workplace and a decent standard of living.
Walmart's 2.1 million employees make it the largest private employer in the world, trailing only the U.S. Department of Defense and the Chinese People's Liberation Army in overall employment.4 Fully 1.4 million of them work at Walmart stores in the United States.5
And while Rob Walton raked in at least $420 million in Walmart dividends alone last year, because low pay and arbitrary schedulig force many of Walmart's workers to rely on public assistance to make ends meet.
In nearly all of the 23 states which have disclosed the information, Walmart has the largest number of employees on the public rolls of any employer. As reported by Mother Jones:
In 2004, a year in which Walmart reported $9.1 billion in profits, the retailer's California employees collected $86 million in public assistance, according to researchers at the University of California-Berkeley. Other studies have revealed widespread use of publicly funded health care by Walmart employees in numerous states. In 2004, Democratic staffers of the House education and workforce committee calculated that each 200-employee Wal-Mart store costs taxpayers an average of more than $400,000 a year, based on entitlements ranging from energy-assistance grants to Medicaid to food stamps to WIC-the federal program that provides food to low-income women with children.6
Walmart always counters these facts by talking about low prices. But the profits of Walmart are enormous. The Walton family, which owns nearly half of Walmart, is as wealthy as the bottom 42 percent of American families combined.7 An average Walmart worker, who earns about $8.81 an hour, would need to work one year to earn as much money as the Walton family earns in Walmart dividends every three minutes.8
Too often, when the workers at Walmart stand up for their rights they are subjected to retaliation and intimidation.9 Walmart's appalling record of treating workers poorly also includes blatant disregard for their human rights, discrimination against women, and infliction of damage on small businesses and the environment.10
Walmart needs to know that we have those workers' backs on this. That is why we are joining our friends at Making Change at Walmart campaign to turn up the pressure on Walmart to end its exploitative employment practices.
Walmart has set the standard for driving wages down and maximizing profits. Forcing its executive to meet the workers at the negotiating table would be a major milestone. It would have reverberations throughout the retail world and be a victory for those who are fighting for higher wages and better working conditions for American workers.
Thank you for taking action.
Murshed Zaheed, Deputy Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets
1. Pallavi Gogoi, "Walmart's Record on Human Rights," Bloomberg Businessweek, May 1, 2007.
2. Dave Jamieson, "Walmart Strikes Mark New Chapter In Labor's Fight With Mega-Retailer,", October 15, 2012.
3. Harry Bradford, "Walmart Black Friday Strike: Workers Threaten To 'Take Action' On Retailer's Busiest Day [UPDATE],", October 11, 2012.
4. Mike Ivey, "Biz Beat: Walmart's low-wage reach runs deep," The Capital Times, July 10, 2012.
5. Henry Blodget, "Walmart Employs 1% Of America. Should It Be Forced To Pay Its Employees More?,", September 20, 2010.
6. Sasha Abramsky, "America on $195 a Week,", January/February 2009.
7. Josh Harkinson, "To Match Walton Heirs' Fortune, You'd Need to Work at Walmart for 7 Million Years,", September 20, 2012.
8. Ibid.
9. Josh Eidelson, "Wal-Mart punishes its workers,", July26, 2012.

Romney Ties to Voting Machine Company

Don't let the Republicans steal the 2012 election in Ohio with Romney owned voting machinesCould a voting machine company with deep financial ties to the Romney family help Republicans steal the presidential election in Ohio?
It could happen. If this year's presidential election comes down to the electoral votes in Ohio, the deciding votes could be cast on electronic voting machines manufactured by Hart Intercivic.
Tell the Department of Justice: Don't let Republicans steal the election in Ohio with Romney-owned voting machines. Click here to automatically sign the petition.A 2007 study conducted by Ohio's Secretary of State showed that Hart Intercivic's touch screen voting machines could be easily corrupted. The New York Times reported:
At polling stations, teams working on the study were able to pick locks to access memory cards and use hand-held devices to plug false vote counts into machines. At boards of election, they were able to introduce malignant software into servers.1Hart Intercivic is majority owned by H.I.G. Capital which controls two of the five seats on the Hart Intercivic board. An investment fund with deep ties to the Romney family and the Mitt Romney for president campaign, H.I.G. Capital was founded by Tony Tamer, a major bundler for the Romney campaign, and it is one of the largest partners of Solamere Capital, an investment fund founded by Tagg Romney and Spencer Zwick, Mitt Romney's chief fundraiser from the 2008 presidential campaign.2 This makes the Romney family part owner of the voting machine company, through its interest in H.I.G. Capital.
Tell the Department of Justice: Don't let Republicans steal the election in Ohio with Romney-owned voting machines. Click here to automatically sign the petition.What's more, three other H.I.G. Capital directors are major fundraisers for the Romney campaign, and H.I.G. Capital is the 11th largest contributor to the Mitt Romney campaign.3 Two of the company's directors, Douglas Berman and Brian Schwartz, were even in attendance at the Boca Raton fundraiser4 where Romney infamously declared:
There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what... who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it... These are people who pay no income tax...[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.5And as if the ties between Tagg Romney's Solamere, Romney contributors at H.I.G. Capital, and Hart Intercivic weren't astonishing enough, two members of Hart Intercivic's 5-member board of directors made direct contributions to the Romney campaign. That's right. Directors of the company that makes touchscreen voting machines that could decide the presidential election in Ohio, have made contributions to the Mitt Romney for President campaign.
It is disturbing and dangerous that Hart Intercivic, the company that makes the machines that will count many of the votes in Ohio on election night has deep financial ties to family members of Mitt Romney. And that its leadership has been actively involved presidential campaign by donating and bundling hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Mitt Romney. The fact that these machines are easily corruptible touch screen voting machines makes matters even worse.
Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama are locked in a tight election race which could very well be decided by Ohio's 18 electoral votes. We must take action now. you for all you do to protect the integrity of our Democracy.
Becky Bond, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets1. Bob Driehaus, "Ohio Elections Official Calls Machines Flawed," New York Times, December 15, 2007.
2. Rick Ungar, "Romney Family Investment Ties To Voting Machine Company That Could Decide The Election Causing Concern," Forbes, October 20, 2012.
3. "Mitt Romney (R) Top Contributors." Open Secrets, October 1, 2012.
4. Dave Gilson, Who Was at Romney's "47 Percent" Fundraiser?, Mother Jones, Sept. 18, 2012.
5. MoJo News Team, "Full Transcript of the Mitt Romney Secret Video," Mother Jones, September 19, 2012.

Romney Endorses Mourdock

No on 6 Don't be fooled!Stand with us and demand that Governor Mitt Romney pull his television ad in Indiana endorsing Richard Mourdock for U.S. Senate.
It is intolerable that a presidential candidate would continue running such an ad in light of the Murdock's extreme position on rape. This is the only ad Romney has released endorsing a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate and revealed Romney's ultra conservatism in such selection.
In case you have not heard, last night in the Indiana Senate debate Mourdock said, "I believe life begins at conception. The only exception […] to have an abortion is in the case of the life of the mother. I struggled with myself for a long time but I came to realize life is that gift from God, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape. It is something that God intended to happen."
Does Mourdock mean that God intended for that rape to happen, and for it to result in a pregnancy? Is the next step not to prosecute the rapist, and to force her to marry the rapist? This is not so far-fetched and is happening in Afghanistan and Morocco.
Religious extremism threatens women's lives – in fact, threatens all of our lives, and religious freedom itself.
Governor Romney now says he would allow abortion in cases of rape, incest, and to save the life of the woman. But Romney has also said he supports the Personhood Amendment that states that life begins as the moment of fertilization and would outlaw all abortion (it has no exceptions) and may outlaw the pill, the IUD, and some medical treatment for critical illnesses of the women. Now Romney has chosen to single out Mourdock for his only TV ad endorsement of a Senate candidate.
If women's lives count at all to Governor Romney, he must pull the ad. Religious extremism has no place in public decision-making that can cost women their lives and freedom.
For women's lives,
Ellie Smeal Signature
Eleanor Smeal
Feminist Majority

Clear Channel's Voter Suppression Scheme

Tell Clear Channel: Take Down These Billboards
It's one of the nastiest voter suppression schemes we've seen: this week, in African American and Latino neighborhoods in Ohio and Wisconsin, an anonymous group started running outrageous billboards that try to scare people away from voting.1 The billboards are hosted by Clear Channel, a media conglomerate owned by Bain Capital — the same company that Mitt Romney co-founded.2In key battleground states nationwide, Republicans are hyping an irrational fear of "voter fraud" to provide cover while they work to disenfranchise eligible voters. The truth is, voter fraud is exceedingly rare. More Americans are struck by lightning than commit voter fraud. The real problem, the one that can affect the outcome of our elections if we're not vigilant, is voter suppression.
Allowing an anonymous advertiser to create an atmosphere of fear around voting just as the early voting period begins is unacceptable. There should be an extremely high standard to ask a media company to refuse to erect a billboard based on content. But we believe these anonymously funded billboards, which have no other purpose than to intimidate minority voters and take away their voting rights, meet that standard. And as Clear Channel has rejected billboard ads many times in the past,3 the company should have no problem rejecting these.
CREDO is joining with our allies at ColorOfChange to demand that Clear Channel immediately take down these misleading billboards erected on behalf of an anonymous client.
Join the members of ColorOfChange in demanding that Clear Channel take down these billboards. Click here and we will automatically sign your name to the following letter, which we'll send to Clear Channel on your behalf.Dear Clear Channel CEOs Bob Pittman and William Eccleshare,
I am writing to demand that you take down the billboards that have cropped up in African American and Latino neighborhoods in recent weeks and that employ tactics meant to scare people away from voting. While you may not have crafted the message, your company is in fact the messenger.
These billboards, which read "Voter Fraud is a Felony," are clearly designed to intimidate voters of color and keep those communities away from the polls. That these billboards did not appear in white or suburban neighborhoods is proof of their discriminatory nature.
Allowing an anonymous advertiser to create an atmosphere of fear around voting just as the early voting period begins is unacceptable. I ask that you remove these billboards at once. I know that in the past, you have rejected billboard ads. This campaign of misinformation fits that criteria and is a dangerous disservice to the African American and Latino communities in which they are placed.
Please remove these billboards immediately.
[Your name]
Click here to automatically add your name to the letter to Clear Channel demanding that it immediately take down those billboards.Thank you for taking action.
Becky Bond, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets1. Similoluwa Ojurongbe, "Ohio voter fraud billboard accused of intimidating black voters,", October 5, 2012.
2. Richard Meyers, "Does Romney's Bain Capital Support Voter Suppression?,", October 10, 2012.
3. Noah Pransky "St. Pete Pride gay-themed digital billboards rejected by Clear Channel Outdoor,", June 11, 2010, "Clear Channel Rejects Billboard Highlighting Heartland Institute's Corporate Funders: "You can't criticize a corporation",", May 17, 2012, and "Clear Channel Rejects Times Square Peace Billboard Timed for RNC,", July 14, 2004.