Friday, May 30, 2008

Anybody need a new used car?!

So, I'm on my way to Columbia, but I recently learned that my financial aid package got slashed by $6,000! (That is, last year, I was allotted $6,000 more that what I can get this year.) That's the result of the sub-prime loan crisis. Apparently, student loans were also affected by this, specifically Perkins loans; I lost ALL of mine.

I was relating my financial woes to the father of two boys I tutor, and he gave me a job selling cars until I leave! Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I took him up on the offer, so here I am, selling used cars! I've sold two already, but man, it's been slow.

If anyone out there needs a car, DO LET ME KNOW! And we have some really nice, almost new cars to boot! (We have a really slick 2008 Nissan Altima and I can't understand why it hasn't been sold, yet. It's absolutely perfect, though not exactly cheap.)

You can also check out our Web site at

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Here's something you'll never read in our local papers!

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald is owned by Stephens Media, the same company that owns the West Hawaii Today, my former place of employment. The Trib is, according to inside rumor, the only paper in all of Stephens Media (which owns a bunch of papers on the Mainland) with a union, and that's because they had a union before it was purchased. It's not really a secret that the Stephens Media is evil. When I worked there, I once asked why the employees weren't unionized and people looked at me as if I asked for 1000 percent pay increase. Then someone pulled aside and told me never to mention it again.

Anyway, I'm glad the judge ruled against these bastards. It's just a shame that most people on the Big Island will never hear about it. (original source)

11 Mar 2008
Judge rules newspaper acted illegally
Fired reporters must be offered their jobs back

The Hawaii Newspaper Guild

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald violated federal labor law when it suspended and fired two reporters for their legally protected union activities, a judge for the National Labor Relations Board ruled on March 6.

The 41-page ruling released Monday also found the newspaper guilty of violating labor law for suspending reporter Peter Sur and taking disciplinary action against another employee, Koryn Nako. Sur and Nako were also disciplined for engaging in federally protected union-activities, the judge ruled.

Thirteen separate complaints against the newspaper were heard at a trial held in Hilo in October, including the firings and suspensions. The other complaints upheld by the judge included:

  • The newspaper’s ban on union-related buttons and arm bands in the workplace in support of the fired employees

  • Interrogating employees about their own and other employees’ union activities

  • Discriminating against union officials by requiring them to request permission before entering the newspaper building

  • Maintaining an overly broad rule prohibiting employees from making secret audio recordings, and

  • Failing to provide the union with necessary information about the actions taken against employees of the newspaper.

Judge John J. McCarrick ruled in favor of the Hawaii Newspaper Guild on 12 of the 13 complaints brought to trial. The judge ruled on one count that there was no effort by the company to lead employees to believe they were under surveillance, as the union alleged.

“It’s a big win,” said Wayne Cahill, administrative officer for the union, which represents about 50 employees at the Hilo-based newspaper.

Bishop, a union shop steward and former chair of the Hilo unit of the Newspaper Guild, was fired in October 2005 for insubordination after he intervened on behalf of an employee who was being taken into a meeting with management officials. McCarrick ruled, however, that Bishop was acting legally as a shop steward in attempting to ascertain whether or not the meeting would involve discipline against the employee, which would trigger the employee’s right to union representation under the Weingarten provision of the federal Labor Relations Act.

Smith, also a shop steward and member of the Guild’s bargaining committee, was fired in April 2006, after he secretly made an audio recording of a meeting with management because he believed the meeting was disciplinary in nature and that he would be denied union representation. Possible disciplinary action against Smith for low productivity was discussed at the meeting and he was denied a witness. When Editor David Bock learned of the secret recording, he suspended and then fired Smith. There was no company policy regarding secret audio recordings of conversations, and they are legal in Hawaii as long as one of the parties involved is aware of the recording.

The newspaper was ordered to “cease and desist” its illegal and discriminatory actions against Guild employees and their representatives, and to “make whole” employees who lost earnings and benefits due to the firings and suspensions. The newspaper was also ordered to expunge from the employees’ personnel files any record of the disciplinary actions.

The newspaper may appeal the judge’s decision to the National Labor Relations Board.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

This was in the New York Times today. It's reassuring to know that SOMEBODY gets it!

May 4, 2008
Who Will Tell the People?

Traveling the country these past five months while writing a book, I’ve had my own opportunity to take the pulse, far from the campaign crowds. My own totally unscientific polling has left me feeling that if there is one overwhelming hunger in our country today it’s this: People want to do nation-building. They really do. But they want to do nation-building in America.

They are not only tired of nation-building in Iraq and in Afghanistan, with so little to show for it. They sense something deeper — that we’re just not that strong anymore. We’re borrowing money to shore up our banks from city-states called Dubai and Singapore. Our generals regularly tell us that Iran is subverting our efforts in Iraq, but they do nothing about it because we have no leverage — as long as our forces are pinned down in Baghdad and our economy is pinned to Middle East oil.

Our president’s latest energy initiative was to go to Saudi Arabia and beg King Abdullah to give us a little relief on gasoline prices. I guess there was some justice in that. When you, the president, after 9/11, tell the country to go shopping instead of buckling down to break our addiction to oil, it ends with you, the president, shopping the world for discount gasoline.

We are not as powerful as we used to be because over the past three decades, the Asian values of our parents’ generation — work hard, study, save, invest, live within your means — have given way to subprime values: “You can have the American dream — a house — with no money down and no payments for two years.”

That’s why Donald Rumsfeld’s infamous defense of why he did not originally send more troops to Iraq is the mantra of our times: “You go to war with the army you have.” Hey, you march into the future with the country you have — not the one that you need, not the one you want, not the best you could have.

A few weeks ago, my wife and I flew from New York’s Kennedy Airport to Singapore. In J.F.K.’s waiting lounge we could barely find a place to sit. Eighteen hours later, we landed at Singapore’s ultramodern airport, with free Internet portals and children’s play zones throughout. We felt, as we have before, like we had just flown from the Flintstones to the Jetsons. If all Americans could compare Berlin’s luxurious central train station today with the grimy, decrepit Penn Station in New York City, they would swear we were the ones who lost World War II.

How could this be? We are a great power. How could we be borrowing money from Singapore? Maybe it’s because Singapore is investing billions of dollars, from its own savings, into infrastructure and scientific research to attract the world’s best talent — including Americans.
And us? Harvard’s president, Drew Faust, just told a Senate hearing that cutbacks in government research funds were resulting in “downsized labs, layoffs of post docs, slipping morale and more conservative science that shies away from the big research questions.” Today, she added, “China, India, Singapore ... have adopted biomedical research and the building of biotechnology clusters as national goals. Suddenly, those who train in America have significant options elsewhere.”

Much nonsense has been written about how Hillary Clinton is “toughening up” Barack Obama so he’ll be tough enough to withstand Republican attacks. Sorry, we don’t need a president who is tough enough to withstand the lies of his opponents. We need a president who is tough enough to tell the truth to the American people. Any one of the candidates can answer the Red Phone at 3 a.m. in the White House bedroom. I’m voting for the one who can talk straight to the American people on national TV — at 8 p.m. — from the White House East Room.

Who will tell the people? We are not who we think we are. We are living on borrowed time and borrowed dimes. We still have all the potential for greatness, but only if we get back to work on our country.

I don’t know if Barack Obama can lead that, but the notion that the idealism he has inspired in so many young people doesn’t matter is dead wrong. “Of course, hope alone is not enough,” says Tim Shriver, chairman of Special Olympics, “but it’s not trivial. It’s not trivial to inspire people to want to get up and do something with someone else.”

It is especially not trivial now, because millions of Americans are dying to be enlisted — enlisted to fix education, enlisted to research renewable energy, enlisted to repair our infrastructure, enlisted to help others. Look at the kids lining up to join Teach for America. They want our country to matter again. They want it to be about building wealth and dignity — big profits and big purposes. When we just do one, we are less than the sum of our parts. When we do both, said Shriver, “no one can touch us.”