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Falsely Shouting Fire in a Theater: How a Forgotten Labor Struggle Became a National Obsession and Emblem of Our Constitutional Faith

Posted on February 18th, 2013 at 21:41 by John Sinteur in category: News


Did you ever wonder where the metaphor of falsely shouting fire in a theater comes from? Several years ago, I was co-writing a book about American political repression with Ellen Schrecker, the brilliant historian of McCarthyism. We came across a fantastic article by University of Texas legal scholar Lucas Powe that made a strong case for where Oliver Wendell Holmes, who came up with the metaphor, might have gotten the idea for it. Ellen followed up Powe’s hypothesis with some extensive sleuthing in the Michigan archives, and what follows is the result of her research and our writing.

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  1. Unless you are in the government or political parties. Then is OK.


Posted on February 18th, 2013 at 21:19 by Paul Jay in category: News

MIDWAY : trailer : a film by Chris Jordan from Midway on Vimeo.

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Amazon ‘used neo-Nazi guards to keep immigrant workforce under control’ in Germany

Posted on February 18th, 2013 at 15:49 by John Sinteur in category: News


Amazon is at the centre of a deepening scandal in Germany as the online shopping giant faced claims that it employed security guards with neo-Nazi connections to intimidate its foreign workers.

Germany’s ARD television channel made the allegations in a documentary about Amazon’s treatment of more than 5,000 temporary staff from across Europe to work at its German packing and distribution centres.

The film showed omnipresent guards from a company named HESS Security wearing black uniforms, boots and with military haircuts. They were employed to keep order at hostels and budget hotels where foreign workers stayed. “Many of the workers are afraid,” the programme-makers said.

The documentary provided photographic evidence showing that guards regularly searched the bedrooms and kitchens of foreign staff. “They tell us they are the police here,” a Spanish woman complained. Workers were allegedly frisked to check they had not walked away with breakfast rolls.

Meanwhile, in the USA:


Online retailer Amazon grabbed the top spot for corporate reputation in the 2013 Harris Poll Reputation Quotient, beating out firms like Disney and Coca-Cola, but also besting tech rivals Google and Apple.

The Harris Poll surveyed 14,000 members of the general public, gauging their feelings about the 60 most visible companies in the country. In the 2012 poll, Apple held the number one spot in reputation perception among consumers. This year, Amazon’s composite score of 82.62 barely edged out Apple, which scored 82.54.

The poll gauges consumer perceptions across 20 attributes grouped into six dimensions of reputation. Those dimensions are Products & Services, Financial Performance, Workplace Environment, Social Responsibility, Vision & Leadership, and Emotional Appeal.

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  1. Amazon has since fired the security firm. They’re going to be responsive to this kind of criticism, exactly because they can’t afford to have their reputation with customers sink too much.

    What I find interesting is that the bit of German press I looked at mentions that Amazon used a temp worker agency to recruit the workers, but the temp agency is not named. The question is who actually hired this security firm and set its mission–was it Amazon itself, or the temp agency?

  2. “The question is who actually hired this security firm and set its mission–was it Amazon itself, or the temp agency?” — what does it matter? Amazon is responsible no matter whether they hide behind their front agency or not.

  3. Mykolas, correct, as they acknowledge:


    “Amazon is responsible for ensuring associates working in our fulfilllment centres are safe and treated with respect and dignity at all times and we constantly work to improve our processes in this regard,” the company said in an emailed statement.

    “It is clear that we failed to hold the contractor who was responsible for managing lodging, transportation and the security company for our temporary associates up to our high standards. Therefore we are ending our relationship with this company.

    “We recently removed the security service from all of our locations. We have zero tolerance for discrimination and intimidation and we expect the same from companies working with us.”


Posted on February 18th, 2013 at 9:57 by John Sinteur in category: Software

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  1. Nice. Along the same lines: