US labor, union election, solar panel firm, worker furloughs, union-busting accusation
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NY Solar Firm Accused of Union Busting After Worker Furloughs (Maria)

The author writes, “A New York-based solar panel business has been accused of being a ‘poster child’ of union busting after furloughing 40% of its workforce for more than a year, days after a victorious union election. Installers and technicians at EmPower Solar in Bethpage … reached out to the United Auto Workers after gains it won during the ‘stand up’ strikes at the big three automakers. Just before Christmas, on December 22, workers at Empower voted to join UAW Local 259. … Barely a week after the vote, on December 30, EmPower furloughed 21 workers until 2025.”

2024 Is the Biggest Global Election Year in History (Laura)

From Vox: “On January 1, Future Perfect published its predictions for 2024. The forecasts range from the number of poultry that will be culled because of bird flu this year to which film will win the Oscar for Best Picture. (Oppenheimer — take it to the bank.) But no single subject was covered by more predictions than who will win some of the most important elections around the world this year. That’s because 2024 will be the biggest election year in history. More than 60 countries representing half the world’s population will go to the polls in 2024, with an estimated 4 billion people voting in presidential, legislative, and local elections.”

Media Obsession With Inflation Has Manufactured Discontent (Gerry)

From FAIR: “The gap between consumer sentiment and economic performance has sparked extensive pontification online, with a variety of reasons being proposed for the disconnect. Arguments have been made for everything from increases in grocery prices (Atlantic, 12/21/23), to real wage declines during much of 2021 and 2022 (Vox, 8/10/23), to social media misinformation (Washington Post, 11/24/23), to partisan polarization (CBS, 8/14/23), to lagging perceptions and a desire for outright deflation (Wall Street Journal, 10/18/23). … At the end of the day, there’s probably some truth to all of these ideas. But there’s another fundamental cause of economic discontent that should be getting more attention: corporate media’s single-minded obsession with inflation, which has left the public with an objectively inaccurate view of the economy.”

‘Pirola’ JN.1 Is the Probable Future of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Experts Warn — But You Didn’t Hear It From the WHO (Sean)

The author writes, “Omicron was the beginning of an era — one that, despite its outlandish success in infecting and reinfecting the public, would see the end of both global and national pandemic emergency statuses. For more than two years, COVID and Omicron were all but synonymous. Now, as the world enters its fifth year of COVID, the calculus may have changed, experts say. The new, highly mutated COVID variant JN.1 — dubbed ‘Pirola’ by volunteer variant trackers — has achieved global dominance. And like Omicron, it came flying out of left field.” 

Claudine Gay Was Not Driven Out Because She Is Black (Al)

The author writes, “I don’t think the notion that racism was substantially to blame for Claudine Gay’s trouble holds up. As both Gay and Harvard note, she received openly racist hate mail. This is repulsive. But however awful it must have been for Gay to endure their abuse, those people did not force her resignation. Nor does it seem that Gay was ousted on the basis of her race in the aftermath of her Dec. 5 testimony before Congress on the topic of antisemitism on campus. … No, the charge that ultimately led to Gay’s resignation was plagiarism, of which more than 40 alleged examples were ultimately unearthed. And plagiarism and related academic charges have of course also brought down white people at universities many times.” 

Massive Dumping Ground of WWII-Era Munitions Discovered Off Los Angeles Coast (Reader Steve)

From the Los Angeles Times: “It’s not just toxic chemical waste and mysterious barrels that litter the seafloor off the coast of Los Angeles. Oceanographers have now discovered what appears to be a massive dumping ground of military weaponry. As part of an unprecedented effort to map and better understand the history of ocean dumping in the region, scientists have found a multitude of discarded munition boxes, smoke floats and depth charges lurking 3,000 feet underwater. Most appear to be from the World War II era, and it remains unclear what risk they might pose to the environment.”

Mouse Filmed Tidying Up Man’s Shed Every Night (Mili)

The author writes, “Despite being an avid wildlife photographer, retired postman Rodney Holbrook never expected to capture a Ratatouille-style scene unfolding in his own shed. After regularly discovering that things from the night before had been mysteriously tidied, he set up a night vision camera on his workbench. It captured a mouse picking up clothes pegs, corks, nuts and bolts. He has since nicknamed the well-kept rodent Welsh Tidy Mouse.”


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