Angry over what they say are unfair labor practices, protesters are planning to demonstrate at a Louisville area Walmart on Friday -- traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year.But organizers won't announce which Walmart will be the site of the demonstration until Friday morning, said Harold Embry, organizing director for the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 227, based in Louisville.As many as 50 people are expected to participate, Embry said. Workers at the protested Walmart may walk out and join the demonstration, but Embry said the organizers' intention is not to impede the store's business.The Louisville area demonstration is planned as Walmart employees across the nation may walk out on Black Friday, so named because the holiday business puts companies in the "black."Embry said Walmart employees and their sympathizers are alleging that Walmart is engaged in unfair labor practices and intimidating workers to keep them from organizing. The protests are being called for by the group Our Walmart.A request for comment from Walmart was not immediately returned.Update: A Walmart spokeswoman responds, "We are preparing to have a great Black Friday across all of 4,000 locations in the U.S and we don’t think these actions by the UFCW will have any impact on our Black Friday plans whatsoever. Our stores will be operating normally on Black Friday and our customers will see nothing unusual when they shop. These so called protests involve a handful or associates at a handful of stores."Walmart is also fighting nationwide plans for walk-outs on Black Friday, the Associated Press reports. Here's more:Federal labor officials say they haven't decided whether to support a request by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to stop a union-backed group from encouraging worker walk-outs that are expected to culminate Friday, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season.The world's largest retailer, based in Bentonville, Ark., filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board on Friday against the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. It said the demonstrations organized by union-backed OUR Walmart threaten to disrupt its business and intimidate customers and other associates.Organizers are hopeful that some employees at the protested Louisville area Walmart will walk out and join Friday's demonstration, Embry said."We're not going to count on it," Embry said. "We have told workers that we don't want them doing anything they're not comfortable with."He added later, "We don't expect the entire store to come out."The goal of the protest, he said, is to bring attention to the labor dispute. The UFCW local and Kentucky Jobs with Justice are organizing the protest. Protesters are meeting at the UFCW lodge on Pinecroft Drive near Okolona, and then depart for the currently undisclosed site.
This week, Maryland and Rutgers bolted from the ACC and the Big East, respectively, to the Big Ten (or B1G, as they call it now).Just like that, the appearance of a fragile peace among college athletics conferences shattered.The re-arranging again jolted the University of Louisville -- not that the last round of conference realignment ended ideally for the Cardinals, stuck in a Big East whose football membership spanned from San Diego to Annapolis.So where does this leave UofL? Searching still, it seems.In a recent blog post, WDRB's Eric Crawford said UofL's strengths -- based in a city with the nation's most intense basketball interest, for starters -- aren't what expanding major conferences are looking for. What might that be?Here is Crawford's WDRB colleague, Rick Bozich, who seems to be ticked off about this:This is one of the best college sports towns in America. It's the best college basketball town in the country. Louisville is one of the most ambitious college football programs in the nation. There are plenty of programs that would love to have all the assets Louisville has parked on South Floyd Street.Doesn't matter. Think about how absurd that sounds. But it doesn't matter.More specifically, it's about television markets.The ACC is interested in getting UConn -- of the Big East -- to fill Maryland's spot, according to various news outlets. UofL has been mentioned, too, as have Central Florida and South Florida. Any of those would remove yet another spoke in the Big East's already wobbly wheel -- a problem for Louisville, should it not be called on.(Meanwhile, the Big 12 is unlikely to expand to 12 teams, if that makes any sense.)In a thorough blog post, Crawford outlines the reasons UofL is again in a perilous position. The Louisville television market? Not big enough compared to other schools in the Big East, the most poachable of conferences, apparently. The ACC may look at academic rankings -- again, Louisville doesn't fare as well as other schools.The size of your market is 90 percent of your grade. It's not everything -- but it's almost everything.So when the ACC looks to add, I have to assume that market size will be a huge determining factor. But I can't say it will way as heavily as it did with, say, the Big Ten. The ACC may have other factors to consider. But when you hear Connecticut spoken of as the leader, that's the main reason why.Crawford's WDRB colleague, Rick Bozich, seems to be ticked off about this:This is one of the best college sports towns in America. It's the best college basketball town in the country. Louisville is one of the most ambitious college football programs in the nation. There are plenty of programs that would love to have all the assets Louisville has parked on South Floyd Street.Doesn't matter. Think about how absurd that sounds. But it doesn't matter.Without really naming Louisville, Yahoo! Sports' Pat Forde -- like Crawford and Bozich (and, though not in sports, myself) an ex-Courier-Journal reporter -- noted that Maryland and Rutgers aren't deserving of a move to higher, stabler ground.This week, the Associated Press ranks Louisville's football team No. 19. The men's basketball team is ranked No. 2. The women's basketball team is ranked No. 7. The Courier-Journal's Tim Sullivan reported on Rick Pitino's touting of UofL's football program -- and on the coach's apparent bewilderment at the realignment chaos.Here's Pitino, as quoted in The C-J: "I think it’s a hidden jewel (and) that people don’t realize we probably have, top-to-bottom, the best overall facilities in college athletics. I mention that to people and they say, ‘No, it’s all about TV.’ TV. TV. TV.”And Sullivan made a solid point about how UofL must tread carefully, should one of those conferences that are reportedly overlooking the Cardinals start paying attention to what's happening at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, the KFC Yum! Center and elsewhere.Though U of L would likely leap at the chance to join the ACC as it is currently constituted, the league’s appeal could be dramatically diminished by additional defections. Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech and North Carolina are all seen as potential acquisition targets.By the time Tobacco Road gets repaved, it might be unrecognizable. Thus when U of L finally gets its chance to jump, it should take a hard look at where it might land.This latest bout of conference realignment could end in many ways, bad news for people who want to keep the drama on the field and court. This seems clear: Any guesses on how this ends for UofL are as good as Final Four picks in November.
Louisville Metro government will host four public meetings in November seeking public input on the cable television service provided by Insight/Time Warner.The meetings will be:6 p.m. Nov. 28 at the East Government Center, 200 Juneau Drive6 p.m. Nov. 28 at the Southwest Government Center, 72189 Dixie HIghway6 p.m. Nov. 29 at Metro Hall, 527 W. Jefferson St.6 p.m. Nov. 29 at the South Central Government Center, 7201 Outer LoopThe city is seeking comments on: Overall satisfaction with Insight/Time Warner service, including picture and sound quality, encounters with outages and degraded signals and installation and service response satisfaction,Viewership and satisfaction with the local public and governmental access channels – Insight/Time Warner Public Access Channel 98 and MetroTV Channel 25,The need for current, recent and emerging cable television services, such as high-definition, video-on-demand, interactive television and other similar servicesInternet access and use.Residents who live in the Louisville Metro franchise area -- in Jefferson County, excluding people living in second- through sixth-class cities -- are invited.Time Warner bought Insight earlier this year. Since then, Time Warner has been in disputes that led to two local stations -- WDRB and WLKY -- to be pulled from the air. Both stations returned to Insight/Time Warner after agreements were reached.
The opening today of the film "Lincoln" is expected to renew interest in the United States' 16th president -- and to send those people to the sites dedicated to memorializing him. Lincoln led a nomadic life, especially when he was young -- he was born in Kentucky but spent much of his youth in Indiana, before he settled in Illinois. And, of course, he ended his life in Washington, D.C., the first American president to be assassinated.Since his death in 1865, each of the places Lincoln lived have established memorials to his past presence. Kentucky and Illinois, no doubt, make the biggest deals that Lincoln once was there. But which state has the better claim to Lincoln's legacy?In Kentucky, the seat of all things Lincoln is in LaRue County -- his birthplace and a later childhood home. You're Born in Only One Place"One of the things that I really consider here is where the foundations of the morals of Lincoln are really instilled in him -- through his family, through the church his family attends," said Gary Ferguson, a park guide for the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park, and an amateur Lincoln historian."It's really here where his ideals on slavery are put in place. It's really the beginning of what he will develop into later on."The Knob Creek farm is where Lincoln had his earliest memories, the national park said.Consider Kentucky the place where Lincoln got his early real-life education. He attended school in Kentucky with his sister, Sarah, but Ferguson said he believes Lincoln also learned much from what he observed in Kentucky. It was the only state where Lincoln lived where slavery was legal, and it's believed that some of the Lincoln family's neighbors owned slaves, Ferguson notes.Slavery was a reason why the Lincoln's left Kentucky in the first place, said James Cornelius, curator of the Lincoln Collection at the Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library in Springfield, Ill. Lincoln Chose SpringfieldThomas Lincoln, a skilled but uneducated laborer, couldn't compete in an economic model that included slaves, Cornelius said. Lincoln's youth in Indiana -- the family moved to New Salem when Lincoln was about 7 -- was also significant to his development, but Cornelius argues that Illinois has a special claim to Lincoln.And, in turn, Springfield was special to Lincoln."We feel in Springfield and throughout Illinois -- because Springfield is the only place that Abraham Lincoln chose to live completely of his own volition and that he chose to stay and that he chose to marry and chose to have four children there and build his life as a small businessman and then as a small politician and then as a big politician -- that that is rightfully the home of Lincoln history," Cornelius said.What You'll See at EitherFirst off, the log cabin in the Lincoln birthplace monument is not the actual log cabin where Lincoln was born -- those pieces of wood disappeared long ago. Ferguson said the cabin on the site is similar to those from the era when Lincoln was born, in 1809. And, regardless, the farm is where Lincoln was born, just as Knob Creek is where he spent part of his childhood.Springfield boasts more physical evidence that Lincoln was there, beyond the countless statues of the man spread throughout the town. His home is preserved -- as are the several blocks around it, giving it the appearance of a Midwestern town in the mid-1800s.The old Illinois state capitol -- where Lincoln labored -- is preserved there. And, of course, Lincoln was buried in Springfield.Kentucky Had Lincoln First; Illinois Had Him Longest"I have to side with Illinois," said Matthew Pinsker, a history professor at Dickinson College who has written about Lincoln, including 2003's "Lincoln's Sanctuary.""Abraham Lincoln is from Kentucky and the state was certainly important to his life, and you can explain a lot about Lincoln's attitudes by reminding people that he's a white southerner. But Illinois is central to his story -- and his rise there is the central dynamic that made him a great politician and a great president."The Lincoln story, plainly put, is of a farm boy who becomes a lawyer, and then president during a trying period in American history.It starts in Kentucky, but too much of the action takes place in Illinois, Pinsker argues.That said, Lincoln's ties to Kentucky played a significant role in his politics, too. Lincoln, Pinsker said, long hoped that he could connect with poor white southerners -- those who didn't own slaves -- and bring them to his side, banking on his origin as one of them. "He never quite was able to do it," Pinsker said.Pinsker argues that Springfield is the best place to study Lincoln, but he adds that being anywhere Lincoln spent significant -- Kentucky, Indiana or Illinois -- time can be illuminating.
Each week, members of the WFPL news team will spotlight interesting stories we've read over the past week for your weekend reading pleasure:Gabe Bullard: I spent the last few days with the Oxford American's "New South Journalism" issue. There are some gems inside, including a piece by Jack Pendarvis about meeting Jerry Lewis. But the two pieces that are about journalism are also the most interesting. The first is author and former Times-Picayune columnist Chris Rose's obituary for the New Orleans newspaper, which is now only printed three days a week, rather than seven. The other is an archived work by Harold Hayes. Hayes was the editor of Esquire in the magazine's good years. The years when the covers were consistently notable. The years when Gay Talease was submitting work. When he wasn't editing magazines, Hayes wrote most of a book about editing magazines, and an excerpt about building an image and the frustrations of dealing with Norman Mailer is reprinted in the Oxford American. The OA edits are behind a paywall, but you can read Hayes' original typewritten chapter here. Read "Stop the Presses," and "Building a Personality."Rick Howlett: John Hechinger of Bloomberg News has written an interesting piece about the growing number of high-paid administrators at the nation’s public colleges and universities, with a spotlight on Purdue University. Critics say those salaries could be better spent elsewhere, like on faculty or helping students who struggle with rising tuition and other costs. But many university officials say the administrators are needed to help raise money when state legislatures are slashing higher education funding. Read "Critics Boiling Over at Cost of Purdue's Administration."Devin Katayama: I picked up where I left off years ago (American Short Fiction Fall 2009). In it, I found "Mystery Girl" by Rusty Dolleman. The story is a few pages in length, but it captures a young womans (early 20s) struggle in a relationship with an older man (mid 30s), who wishes people close to him would die. She assumes because hes discussed this morose part of this life, and the fact that he doesnt wish her dead, that their relationship is the strongest. The story is disturbing, and at times dirty, but connects anyone who has ever thought they could pull someone from the dark and emerge into successful light--but instead fails.Joseph Lord: The British consume more alcohol than American, but why? The answer is rooted in the economic models of drink and how they industries are regulated. This story from Washington Monthly suggests that the American alcohol industry would prefer the U.S. to have a more Brit-style economic model for booze, leading to cheaper drinks and more consumption. A bad or good thing, depending on your outlook. Read "Last Call."Erica Peterson: New Yorker editor David Remnick’s commentary is a call to action on climate change. In the piece, he urges Obama and Washington D.C. to stop the “magical thinking” that ignoring climate change will make it disappear.“Last week, in his acceptance speech, Obama mentioned climate change once again. Which is good, but, at this late date, he gets no points for mentioning. The real test of his determination will be a willingness to step outside the day-to-day tumult of Washington politics and establish a sustained sense of urgency. There will always be real and consuming issues to draw his and the political class’s attention: a marital scandal at the C.I.A., a fiscal battle, an immigration bill, an international crisis. But, all the while, a greater menace grows ever more formidable."Read Remnick's commentary.
Last week, The New York Times Magazine published a lengthy story that can be summarized in a sentence: The NBA is doing well in Oklahoma City.The piece discusses the Oklahoma City Thunder's surprising on-court successes, the city's embrace of star Kevin Durant and how a middle-sized Midwestern city landed a pro basketball team in the first place. And there's this discussion with Oklahoma City's police chief, Bill Citty:This, then, is part of the city’s love affair with the Thunder. It’s more than just a basketball team: it’s the culmination of 20 years of civic reinvention, and the promise of more to come. Over the last five years, the city and its team have undergone a perfect mind meld, so at this point it’s impossible to talk about one without talking about the other. After all of that sacrifice — the grind of municipal meetings and penny taxes and planning boards, the dust and noise and uncertainty of construction, the horror of 1995 — the little city in the middle of No Man’s Land has finally arrived on the world stage. While it’s there, it fully intends to put on a good performance.A bit of background. For more than a decade, talk of Louisville hosting a pro basketball team someday has repeatedly waxed and waned. In the 1970s, the city had an American Basketball Association team that was left out of the league's merger with the NBA. In recent decades, Louisville had near-hits with the Houston Rockets and the Charlotte Hornets. The construction of the KFC Yum! Center reinvigorated the NBA talk, but the topic has had few significant developments aside from Mayor Greg Fischer pronouncing support for exploring the idea.Any NBA-to-Louisville proponents emboldened from reading about what the Thunder is doing for OKC may have been disheartened days later with the release of a report arguing that the NBA couldn't work in Louisville. From a white paper on the report:At the present time, this region’s economy is not strong enough to attract and sustain and NBA team and certainly not viable to bounce back should the team depart after a decade of operation.The white paper was pushed out to media by Boxcar PR. The gist is: An NBA team is unsustainable in Louisville, would cost taxpayers and hurt local college sports. A Boxcar executive, Bob Gunnell, would not divulge to The Courier-Journal's Marcus Green the names of who commissioned the study, which was done by Cambridge Economic Research in Massachusetts. Gunnell told Green that the people who commissioned the study were "favorable" to UofL, but to his knowledge were not approached by the university to have the study commissioned.In an interviewed by WHAS 11's Joe Arnold, Mayor Greg Fischer questioned the objectivity of the study and suggested that Louisville Metro should partner with Greater Louisville Inc. for to study the idea of the NBA in Louisville. He told Arnold:"This is about bigger visions for the city, right? About what kind of city can we become? If an NBA team is part of that or any professional sports, I think that's great. But the important thing is that we take a look at data objectively. We start with a neutral platform. We come together with a fully professional study and then we share that with the community."So that brings us where, exactly?We know that Fischer is intrigued by the NBA. We know that at least some high-profile people in the UofL community don't see it happening. We know that UofL has a restrictive lease agreement in the KFC Yum! Center through its status as primary tenant.We know that other cities are interested in landing an NBA team. But we don't know if a team will be available anytime soon, anyway.WDRB's Eric Crawford, a longtime observer of the Louisville sports scene, suggested in a recent column that the latest study may be right, but he still thinks the NBA could work in Louisville under the right circumstances. Crawford wrote:"It's my belief that this city and state could support an NBA team, the right team, under the right conditions. So far, no such team appears to have expressed an interest, and no such conditions seem to have been arranged. So basically, all of this is one big exercise in grandstanding. That's my opinion. I haven't commissioned a study."The issue won't go away until Louisville either A) lands an NBA team and sees how the matter plays out, B) decides definitively that it's not interested or C) the NBA says thanks for calling, but no thanks. To get to that point, the mayor may do well to ensure that any study by the city and GLI is as comprehensive as possible, addressing not only the feasibility issue but also questions including:1. What OKC has is the best case scenario -- what's the worst case scenario for Louisville, should it land a team? Let's get that out there.2. What's the best estimate for how much the NBA would cost Louisvillians -- for season tickets, for single-game tickets?3. How much support does the NBA have in and around Louisville? Twitter and Facebook groups supporting or shooting down the idea are fine, but they're not legitimate indicators of public opinion.If anything is to be divined from the Times story on the Thunder, it's that a pro sports team can do wonders for a city's attitude -- under the right circumstances. The Thunder making the NBA finals after just four seasons since relocating from Seattle surely hasn't hurt attendance.We also know that Oklahoma City seems pretty pleased with the NBA.Here's Flaming Lips singer Wayne Coyne, an OKC resident and Thunder fan, from the Times Magazine story:“I think people like the idea that, whether you’re a weirdo rock dude or a basketball player, we all have this spirit of the city. Which I don’t think really exists. But I think the Thunder has probably pulled it together more than anything else.”
The politics of ordering a pizza for Friday's dinner just got significantly more complicated than the usual arguments over toppings.In response to criticism of Papa John's chief executive John Schnatter's comments criticizing the Affordable Care Act, Freedomworks -- the conservative organization closely tied with the Tea Party -- issued a statement Thursday urging people to make Friday "National Papa John's Appreciation Day."The day of support for the Louisville-based pizza chain was begun by Reboot USA. And, of course, it has a Facebook page. There, supporters are urged to:1. Like Papa John’s on Facebook2. Change your Facebook avatar to the Papa John’s logo on Friday3. Have a pizza on Friday! Take a picture of yourself and share on Facebook, as well as on Twitter with #IStandWithPapaJohns4. If there is not a Papa John’s near you, simply tweet your support with the above hashtagLast week, Schnatter was quoted by a Naples newspaper saying that some Papa John's franchisees would likely cut hours to keep from having to offer healthcare to workers. In August, Schnatter said the Affordable Care Act -- often called Obamacare -- would cause an increase in pizza prices."If Obamacare is in fact not repealed, we will find tactics to shallow out any Obamacare costs and core strategies to pass that cost onto consumers in order to protect our shareholders best interests," Schnatter said at the time during a conference call.Here's what Freedomworks said Thursday, as it urged Obamacare critics to make their Friday night dinner plans early:"There was the expected liberal backlash. As has become routine for those who oppose anything related to Obama, Schattner was accused of racism. He was also painted as a wealthy man who was willing to hurt workers for his own bottom line or simply to be anti-Obama."Freedomworks noted the long lines at Chick-fil-a restaurants across the nation this summer when a similar appreciation day was created for the chicken chain, after its chief executive was criticized for his comments on gay marriage.A Papa John's spokeswoman did not immediately return a telephone message and e-mail from WFPL seeking comment. We'll update when she gets back to us.
Louisville Metro Police traffic investigators are trying to determine how the driver lost control Wednesday morning of a AAA Rescue Ranger pick-up truck on Interstate 71, causing a chain-reaction that left the driver dead, police said.The AAA Rescue Ranger driver has not been identified.The accident happened at about 6 a.m. Wednesday and left northbound I-71 near the Watterson Expressway closed for hours, said Dwight Mitchell, a Louisville Metro Police spokesman. Traffic was moving on I-71 in the area by the early afternoon, according to TRIMARC.After losing control, the pick-up truck struck a wire barrier, flipped and came back into traffic -- it was struck by another pick-up truck, Mitchell said. The driver of the second pick-up was taken to University Hospital with injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening.The Louisville Metro Police Traffic Unit is investigating, Mitchell said.
Crews successfully finished moving early Wednesday the chemical butadiene from the train derailment site in southwestern Jefferson County. The butadiene has been delivered to a rail yard, according to MetroSafe.At 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, crews began working to work on car containing another dangerous chemical, hydrogen fluoride, MetroSafe said. MetroSafe said the "trans-loading" -- moving from the wrecked cars to others to get the chemical from the scene -- has gone well and no HF vapors have been detected in the work zone.(Five things to know about hydrogen fluoride.)Dixie Highway will remain closed until the work is complete. Also, an evacuation of a half-mile radius around the derailment site -- near Dixie Highway and Katherine Station Road -- continue, as well as air restrictions.
The problem was with spam, not the pizza.A class-action lawsuit seeking $250 million has been filed against the Papa John's pizza chain because of a 500,000 unwanted text messages sent to customers, CNN Money is reporting. The CNN story reported that Papa John's franchises sent blast text messages through a third-party services -- and, after ordering a pizza, some customers began getting dozens ads for pizza specials, sometimes in the middle of the night.The lawsuit alleges that such text blasts violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, the CNN story said. The corporate text messaging for Papa John's, which is based in Louisville, is not a part of the suit, CNN Money reports.Quoting Donald Heyrich, an attorney for the plantiffs, CNN Money said:The class-action lawsuit could lead to the largest damages awards ever recovered under the TCPA, according to Heyrich. The plaintiffs are seeking $500 per text, but they could be awarded up to $1,500 for each message if a jury rules that Papa John's willfully broke the law."We have noticed text message spam is increasing in part because advertisers see it as a great way to get their material directly into the hands of customers," Heyrich said. "We hope this case keeps text message spam out of cellphones."The Atlantic Wire adds this point:Papa Johns also has a history of coming out on top in lawsuits like this. Beginning in 1998, Papa Johns defended itself against false advertising claims made by Pizza Hut over its tagline "Better ingredients. Better pizza." Pizza Hut denied that Papa Johns had better ingredients. The U.S. Supreme Court took Papa Johns side.
More than 12,000 people had by Tuesday afternoon "signed" the user-generated petition on the White House website asking for the federal government to grant Kentucky the right to secede from the Union. Many observers view the petition more as the manifestation of anger from some Americans over President Obama's re-election. But the petition does raise the question: If Kentucky could secede -- and it can't -- would leaving the Union make any sense? Dewey Clayton, a political science professor at the University of Louisville, agreed to address some questions about this sudden, informal Internet secession movement.What benefits, if any, would Kentucky get from secession?Kentucky, in my opinion, would gain little, if any, benefit from seceding from the Union. Kentucky receives a very substantial amount of federal aid from the U.S. government. We are a small state, and a poor state (in terms of revenue), and we benefit because of this. When Congress passed the federal income tax amendment (16th) which was subsequently ratified by the states, it allowed the federal government to redistribute income from wealthier states to poorer states. The federal governments assists us in public education (higher, secondary and elementary), it assists us in building our infrastructure, it subsidizes our agricultural industry, not to mention entitlement programs like Medicaid which is a joint federal-state program. Look at the role the federal government plays when natural disasters hit the state. FEMA came in when we had the flooding here a couple of years ago. The national guard has been called in times of disaster national law enforcement agencies plays a huge role in fighting crime, the growing of illegal crops, and illegal activity. In reality, we have a federal government in the sense that federalism means a coordination of programs at the national level down to the states and localities. There is a large amount of poverty in this state. The federal government provides a tremendous amount of aid to the poor in this state.So an independent Kentucky is not sustainable?An independent Kentucky is not sustainable. Furthermore, if this were to happen, many intelligent and productive citizens would leave which would further erode what economic base we have. I would say that California is probably the only state that could feasibly become an independent state. It has a Gross Domestic Product that is higher than most nations around the world. Texas, may also qualify, but I am not as certain. Why do you think these petitions are popping up?Some Kentuckians are upset over the election. We have a presidential election every four years and the elections represent the will of the people. This is how a democracy is supposed to work. Sadly, some people in this country are not willing to accept an African American president. Some of these people have been fed the stale bread of hatred.
President Obama has been re-elected, a new Congress is taking shape and the American citizenry is ready to move on to tackle the various challenging issues before the nation.Perhaps not all of the citizenry.At least a small fraction of people in several states are more interested in calling an end to the Union. Here's an Internet petition asking to remove Kentucky from the United States:WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO: Peacefully grant the State of Kentucky to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government.More than 5,000 people had "signed" the Kentucky secession petition as of Monday afternoon, created Saturday by a "Wesley C."The petition appears on the WhiteHouse.gov website, of all places, in a section where citizens are encouraged to exercise the First Amendment right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. The petitions are user generated. The section, called "We the People," says:"We the People provides a new way to petition the Obama Administration to take action on a range of important issues facing our country. We created We the People because we want to hear from you. If a petition gets enough support, White House staff will review it, ensure it’s sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response."So far, succession petitions have been made for several states. The Texas petition appears to be leading the way -- it has more than 25,000 signers since beginning Friday.Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas and New Jersey are just a few of the other states where hundreds or thousands are signatories to similar secession petitions on the White House website.This, of course, will lead to nothing, except perhaps a minor embarrassment for the Obama administration's attempt to engage people directly on issues.The 1869 Supreme Court case Texas v. White settled the secession matter, stating: The Union of the States never was a purely artificial and [p725] arbitrary relation. It began among the Colonies, and grew out of common origin, mutual sympathies, kindred principles, similar interests, and geographical relations. It was confirmed and strengthened by the necessities of war, and received definite form and character and sanction from the Articles of Confederation. By these, the Union was solemnly declared to "be perpetual." And when these Articles were found to be inadequate to the exigencies of the country, the Constitution was ordained "to form a more perfect Union." It is difficult to convey the idea of indissoluble unity more clearly than by these words. What can be indissoluble if a perpetual Union, made more perfect, is not?And, of course, a bloody, terrible war that left about 620,000 American soldiers -- if you combine the Union and Confederacy -- settled the matter, too.Still, a 2008 Zogby poll found that 22 percent of Americans believed that a state or region should have the right to peaceably secede and forge new republics. Support was only slightly higher in the South -- which, again, had once seceded -- than the rest of the country, the Middlebury Institute said. And support was strongest among young Americans -- 40 percent of people 18-24 supporting the rights of states to secede.Somewhere, Igor Panarin is flashing an I-told-you-so grin, albeit severely prematurely.Update: Just after 9 a.m. Tuesday, 11,600-plus people had "signed" the Kentucky petition. The Texas petition has more than 64,000.Update: Here's what Kentucky Public Radio has to say: Support is growing for an online petition for Kentucky’s secession from the U.S. The petition was posted just days after President Obama was re-elected last week. It’s logged with the Obama Administration’s We The People program. The White House promises it will respond to any petition that receives at least 25,000 signatures within 30 days. The online petition currently has more than 5,000 signatures, but does not require those signing the document to be residents of Kentucky, many of which are not. Murray State Political Science Professor Winfield Rose says secession could occur under a referendum vote but he says there is little chance of something like that happening. Although he sees no real outcome from the petition, Rose says the petition itself is a mark of how dissatisfied a group of Americans are with the current administration. “The whole thing is just bizarre," Rose said. For a state like Kentucky to talk about seceding from the Union is just absurdity on stilts."Update: And the Atlantic Wire is asking, "Which State Wants Out of the U.S. Most?"Update: Dewey Clayton, a political science professor at the University of Louisville, addresses for WFPL what would happen if Kentucky actually seceded from the Union.
John Schnatter, founder and chief executive of Louisville-based Papa John's, said last week that some of the company's franchisees were likely to reduce employees' hours to avoid offering health insurance through the Affordable Care Act."That's probably what's going to happen," Schnatter told college students on Wednesday in Naples, Fla., according the Naples Daily News. "It's common sense. That's what I call lose-lose."The law, strongly associated with President Obama, requires employers with 50 staff members -- or the equivalent hours -- to offer healthcare coverage, or to pay a penalty. Speaking the day after Obama's re-election at the Edison State College's Collier County campus, Schnatter re-emphasized his stance that the Affordable Care Act -- commonly referred to as Obamacare -- would lead to his company and others passing on the costs to consumers.The Naples Daily News story goes on to say:Schnatter, a Mitt Romney supporter and fundraiser, said he was not "pro or against" the reform law but likened the government's involvement in health care to its operation of the U.S. Postal Service, saying "the worst entity in the world for running the thing is the government."About a third of Papa John's employees are covered by the company's health insurance plan, although Schnatter said he has always wanted 100 percent of them on the plan. The rising costs of health insurance, he said, have been a deterrent."The good news is 100 percent of the population is going to have health insurance. We're all going to pay for it," he said, estimating the new law would cost the business $5 million to $8 million annually.Papa John's had about 16,500 employees at the end of 2011, according to the company's website. The company has more than 3,800 restaurants worldwide.
The clean-up from the Oct. 29 train derailment continues. Since then, residents near the site in southwestern Jefferson County have endured evacuations, road closures. There have been shelter-in-place orders as authorities dealt with dangerous chemicals, some spilled after the wreckage. And then there was the fire that injured workers.But, as the dangers and disruptions recede, the question of how the Paducah & Louisville Railway train derailed endures. Federal investigators and others are at the train derailment site, sorting through the wreckage and trying to determine precisely what happened, officials said.So far, no definitive answers have been provided.Just after the derailment, P&L President Tom Garrett said that the railroad believed that the accident was not caused by human error -- that the issue was likelier with equipment or the railroad.P&L officials did not return a telephone message on Friday; a spokeswoman, Bonnie Hackbarth, would only say that the accident is still under investigation.A spokesman for the Federal Railway Administration send this statement:Investigators from the Federal Railroad Administration are still at the crash site investigating the cause of the derailment and why hazardous materials were released. Investigations of this nature typically take an average of six months to fully complete.A "black box" -- similar to the data records used in airplanes -- has been recovered from the train wreckage, said Jody Duncan, the MetroSafe spokeswoman.P&L Railway operated the train and the railroad, Garrett said last month.The railroad had been inspected at least two days before the derailment, Garrett said.About half of all U.S. derailments are caused by track defects, said Bob Jarvis, a law professor at Nova Southeastern University who specializes in transportation issues.Other factors in derailments? Vandalism, signal failure, mechanical problems with the train, improper loading, overloading and weather -- mostly involving snow, Jarvis said.Human error is responsible for about 30 percent of train derailments -- mostly through excessive speed, Jarvis said.In the past 30 years, technological improvements have drastically decreased the number of derailments in the U.S. -- by about 70 percent, Jarvis said."Still, there's room for improvement," Jarvis said. "While tougher regulations -- and more effective enforcement of the regulations we do have -- would help, the biggest need is simply more money. Our railroad infrastructure needs to be rebuilt and our rail crews need more training."So far, the U.S. has has 335 train accidents on "main lines" -- which includes derailments and other sorts of accidents, but excludes minor incidents in rail yards that are investigated, according to data from the Federal Railway Administration. That's 50-percent fewer than in 2003.Fifteen -- including the one in Louisville -- had releases of hazardous materials.