Three whistle blowers receive nearly $1M in compensation

 

- SurvivingTimes.com staff report

Pontiac, Michigan - One foreman and two truck drivers working for a Michigan asphalt company received nearly $1M in compensation after losing their jobs for whistle blowing about safety violations at the company. The three men raised safety concerns related to rest periods for drivers, exceeding legal overtime and lack of vehicle maintenance.

Asphalt Specialists Inc, headquartered out of Pontiac, Michigan, was found in violation of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act by the U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHEA for wrongfully terminating employees who had raised safety concerns.  The STAA covers private-sector drivers and other employees of commercial motor carriers who resist working in unsafe working conditions and report safety issues to OSHEA.

“It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against employees who report work-related safety concerns or violations of federal transportation regulations, which require drivers to have a minimum 10-hour rest period between shifts,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels.

In a news release from the U.S. Department of Labor, Asphalt Specialists Inc was ordered to reinstate the three employees to their former positions with all pay, benefits and rights.  The company will pay close to $944,000 in damages, $250,000 in back wages and $110,000 in compensatory damages and $600,000 in punitive damages.

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Bank of America to pay nearly $17B in mortgage pact, says CBS News

Are American banks redeeming themselves by paying billions in financial settlements back to the U.S. taxpayers?  CBS News reports on one U.S. Department of Justice investigation led to the largest settlement so far in 2014.  http://cbsn.ws/1q2HHXz

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New film to help students take action on global water crisis

- SurvivingTimes.com staff report

We take it for granted when we turn on the faucet and clean drinking water  appears and is plentiful.  Yet, throughout the world more than 1 billion people do not have clean drinking water.  The Thirst Project, an proactive student organization hitting the clean water problem head on, says  80 percent of global diseases are water-borne and result from drinking contaminated water.  These diseases kill more than 2.2 million people per year.

In a new movie, “Earth to Echo,” the stars of the film receive “distress signals” on their phones from someone who needs their help.

Students can join The Thirst Project and “Earth to Echo” to take action against the global water crisis without having to give, donate, or raise any of their own money. All you have to do is TEXT the keyword ECHO (in all caps) followed by your message for hope and encouragement to someone in a developing community without safe, clean drinking water to 51555. For every message we receive, the movie “Earth to Echo” will donate to The Thirst Project to build wells to give clean water to those who need it most. Not only that, but we will capture the actual messages we receive and install them on murals on the wells funded by this campaign. Then, go see the movie “Earth to Echo” in theaters everywhere July 2014. Visit www.ThirstProject.org/EarthToEcho to learn how you can get involved today!

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Take the “diet” words out of the family dinner time

Editor’s Note:  Feb. 23 to March 1 is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

Sitting down to a family dinner is not a Norman Rockwell moment for many people who suffer from eating disorders.  According to the National Eating Disorder Association, constant discussions by parents on dieting, food fetishes or the desire to lose weight might leave a negative influence on your teen or child’s body image.

“Eating disorders are complicated and vexing problems and we don’t exactly understand the pathophysiology of them,” Dr. Aaron Krasner, a practicing psychiatrist and director of the Adolescent Transitional Living Program at Silver Hill Hospital in Connecticut told Forbes magazine.

In the article, author Dr. Robert Glatter, M.D., says Krasner early hypotheses of the pathogenesis of eating disorders are related to difficulties between parents as it pertains to “mothers milk”:  giving love, receiving love, sharing in food, sharing in food-related celebrations.”  He says there is environmental component with eating disorders. Krasner offers five constructive support and suggestions describing how parents might promote a positive body image in teens and children:

1.     Try to avoid criticizing yourself or others about weight or shape in front of your children.

2.     Avoid talking negatively about food – “I can’t eat potatoes because they’re carbs” or “That cake will go straight to my thighs.” It’s more important to teach the importance of healthy eating and exercise without references to weight.

3.    Compliment children on their talents and accomplishments – a little praise goes a long way, especially when it’s well deserved

4.    Let your teens and children know that weight gain and changes to body shape are a natural part of the growing process.

5.    Have a discussion with your children about their use of social media and what they view in movies and on TV.  Only about 5% of American women have the body type that is portrayed in advertising as the ideal size and shape for women.

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Underbelly of unemployment shows homelessness

Rosa Serrano and her seven children at the Days Inn in Shrewsbury, Mass., where they were living since November until being moved to more permanent housing. Worcester Telegram and Gazette photo

The published unemployment numbers show progress in the American economy.  But what the underbelly of the unemployment numbers doesn’t show is that homeless shelters are filling up, and states are picking up the tab by housing people in low-cost hotels and emergency shelters, especially families with children. Damaged by the results of the Great Recession including long-term unemployment, foreclosures, evictions and health care costs has led families into the only housing available to them.

In the state of Massachusetts there is a “right to shelter” budget provision that requires the state to house homeless families that qualify. Yet, these families must show they are victims of domestic violence, a natural disaster, a no-fault eviction, or have spent a night in a place not meant for human habitation.

A New England Center for Investigative reporter, Rupa Shenoy, covers Massachusetts’ raising homeless challenges and how taxpayers are flipping the bill as a result of the lingering effects of the Great Recession.

- Sharon Dunten, editor, SurvivingTimes.com

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2011 Sundance film launches movement for equality

The Representation Project is a movement that uses film and media content to expose injustices created by gender stereotypes and to shift people’s consciousness towards change. Interactive campaigns, strategic partnerships and education initiatives inspire individuals and communities to challenge the status quo and ultimately transform culture so everyone, regardless of gender, race, class, age, sexual orientation or circumstance can fulfill their potential.

For more information visit therepresentationproject.org. 

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Faster conveyor belt poultry processing might put consumers at risk

When purchasing chicken for yourself or your families’ table, do you wonder if the chicken was processed properly?  With the popular trend toward buying free-range chickens, or chickens not raised from incubators to cages to death, does it really matter if those preferred free-range chickens end up facing questionable unsanitary processing and packaging?

The chicken industries’ bottom line might be playing a role in the disputed safety regulations of processed American chicken.  As more chicken factories speed up their conveyor belts to quicken the poultry industries’ delivery to demanding consumers, could food safety rules be waived and the humans processing the chicken be harmed?

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