Friday, March 21, 2008

Starbucks tips

Starbucks allowed its supervisors to take a share of the tip jar. Now a court has told it to pay $100 million back to baristas who were shortchanged over the years. Management and supervisors don't get tips under California law (or under any proper law anywhere). They are supposed to get paid well enough not to need them. Apparently Starbuck is appealing. I think Starbucks is silly to appeal this one. Keeping this story in the news is bad publicity. More here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Obama speech on race

From the New York Times Editorial:

What is evident, though, is that he not only cleared the air over a particular controversy — he raised the discussion to a higher plane.

More about the speech:

  • Editorial in the NY Times
  • Commentary by Andrew Sullivan, Fallows, Goldstein, Hemingway, and Crowley.
  • Transcript of the speech
    • Jessica Lynch biography

      Monday, March 17, 2008

      Supreme Court Inc.

      Is it there for peoples' justice or for protecting big business?
      The Supreme Court term that ended last June was, by all measures exceptionally good for American business. . . . Ever since John Roberts was appointed chief justice in 2005, the court has seemed only more receptive to business concerns. *
      These figures tell the story:

      In 2007 percent of US Supreme Court cases heard involving business interests: 40%
      In recent years previous: 30%

      Cases briefed by US Chamber of Commerce litigation center in 2007: 15
      Cases it won: 13

      % of 10,000 petitons to the Supreme Court granted each year 2% (200)
      % of US Chamber of Commerce petitions granted by Supreme Court 26%

      % of lower court rulings reversed by the court 65%
      % reversed if petitioner was hired by the US Chamber of Commerce 75%

      Coming cases: 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill case. Will the US Supreme court reduce the largest punitive damage award in American history?

      * NYTimes Magazine

      US economic records broken recently

      1. dollar down 14 percent against six major world currencies in past 12 months, to lowest level since early 1970s when the US went off the gold standard.*
      2. oil pases $111, oil prices up $23 in six weeks.**
      3. gold passes $1000 an ounce.
      *Federal Reserve's decision to cut short-term interest rates to 3% from 5.25% one of biggest factors driving a lower dollar. Interest rates in Eurpoe and Asia are higher, drawing investors to those currencies. (The Fed is lowering interest rates in an attempt to stimulate the US economy, making it cheap for businesses to borrow money).
      **Fall in dollar has caused surge in commodity prices, food, oil, raw materials priced in dollars.i

      Friday, March 14, 2008

      The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2008

      The United States ranks 7th. The country is number one for overall business environment and infrastructure. It ranks 2nd for the country’s human, cultural and natural resources. In particular, the United States has an excellent air transport infrastructure (2) and high-quality tourism and ICT infrastructure. Its natural resources are ranked 2nd worldwide, with many protected areas and many World Heritage natural sites, although a perception exists that the environment is not being sufficiently protected (100 for environmental sustainability). Safety and security (119) is also of concern; as well as some concerns about safety from crime, the country has one of the highest rates of road traffic incidents of all the countries covered.
      Inexcusable. Not mentioned was the harassment and endless inconveniences to which foreign travelers are routinely subjected by arrogant US customs and immigration personnel. Nor the very restricted number of passports eligible to travel to the US without a visas.
      World Economic Forum (PDF "report highlights" document)

      Thursday, March 13, 2008


      Through DNA studies, scientists have learned that twenty thousand years ago six women left the lost land of Beringia and made their way to the Americas. These women became the ancestors to the native peoples of the Americas. More here.
      SPECIAL COVERAGE I live-blogged the spontaneous Obama victory celebration in Washington DC. Experience what it felt like to be among thousands of deliriously happy people gathered outside the White House. Click here.

      Previously, I had been blogging about the Obama, McCain and the US election. I wrote about Sarah Palin on this blog even before McCain chose her to be his running mate. The choice was disappointing, and a possibility I had anticipated.

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