Wednesday, Sept. 5

Bad jobs
Do you have a bad job? According to a report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the number of American workers with a “bad job” has increased since 1979. A “bad job” is defined as one that pays less than $37,000 a year (or approximately $18.50 an hour), which equals the inflation-adjusted earnings of a typical male worker in 1979. In 2010, 24% of the workforce had a “bad job,” up from 18% in 1979.

Secret court
In a case that was mooted by subsequent events, a federal appeals court ruled that two major newspapers—the Indianapolis Star and the Akron Beacon-Journal—do not have a First Amendment right to examine documentation used to obtain a search warrant. The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals said the First Amendment guarantees public access to criminal trials, but the Supreme Court has held that court documents can be sealed when it is “essential to preserving higher values” and is “narrowly tailored” to achieve that goal.

 Antitrust enforcement
The 3M Co. withdrew its plan to acquire Avery Dennison Corp.’s Office and Consumer Products Group, its closest competitor for adhesive-backed labels and sticky notes, after the U.S. Dept. of Justice Antitrust Division said it would file a lawsuit to block the deal. Had the proposed $550 million sale gone unchallenged, it would have given 3M more than an 80% share of the U.S. market for labels and sticky notes.

 Airplane safety
The National Transportation Safety Board recommended that large airplanes be equipped with external cameras that can provide pilots a clear view of their plane’s wingtips to prevent collisions with other aircraft, vehicles and obstacles. On large airplanes, the pilot cannot see the wingtips from the cockpit without sticking his or her head out of the window.

 Banking for the poor
A pilot program that encouraged low-income families to open a bank account to receive direct deposit tax refunds has produced positive results, the Urban Institute said in a report. The offer of a prepaid card account appealed to its target audience of unbanked adults.

High blood pressure
A majority of Americans with high blood pressure are being treated with medicine and have seen a doctor at least twice during the past year. But, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, their blood pressure remains high. Of 63 million with high blood pressure, more than half (36 million) don’t have it under control. And, CDC says, millions more know they have high blood pressure but don’t take medicine for it or don’t know they have it.

WikiLeaks trial
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press led 31 news organizations in a “friend of the court” brief that seeks court documents in the court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning who is accused of leaking classified documents to the WikiLeaks website. Secrecy is pervasive, extending even to the court’s docket that lists the times and places of hearings, thus denying reporters basic scheduling information they need to cover a trial which is being conducted in an open courtroom, the brief said.

 Discriminating against illegal aliens
A federal judge, ruling in a suit brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center, said children of illegal aliens who live in Florida should not be forced to pay out-of-state tuition rates to attend a state college in Florida. The state’s tuition policy treats the children of undocumented residents, although they themselves might be U.S. citizens, as non-residents who must pay out-of-state tuition.

Democrats and African Americans
There are 1,452 black delegates at the Democratic party convention in Charlotte, or 26.2% of the 5,551 total number of delegates. Blacks make up about 13% of the U.S. population, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies noted in its quadrennial examination of the relationship between African Americans and the Democratic party.

 Organic food
There is no difference in the nutritional value or risk for bacterial contamination between organic and conventionally-produced foods, the American College of Physicians reported. A study found that the consumption of organic fruits and vegetables reduced exposure to pesticide residues by 30%, but pesticide levels were generally within the allowable limits for safety. Researchers reviewed 17 human studies and 223 studies of nutrient and contaminant levels in unprocessed foods, and found no strong evidence that organic foods are more nutritious than conventional foods.

Reverse mortgages
The Consumers Union is urging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to adopt regulations to protect vulnerable seniors from the potential pitfalls of reverse mortgages. Reverse mortgages are home loans that enable homeowners who are 62 or older to obtain cash by borrowing against the equity in their home. The loan becomes due when the borrower dies, moves out of the home, or sells it. Such loans might be appropriate for some low-income, healthy seniors who lack other retirement assets, but they should be considered as a last resort, the Consumers Union said, noting that 9.4% of reverse mortgage loans are in default.

Chief judge ascension
A federal judge issued an order that paves the way for Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Bernette Johnson to become the state’s first African American chief justice in January. Ordinarily, the longest-serving justice fills a chief justice vacancy. But several Court members sought to deny Justice Johnson’s ascension by arguing her first six years of service in a court-appointed seat shouldn’t count. That argument was challenged by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.



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