Boss’s prayer meetings + his warnings Gay folks are Hellbound = $1.6 Million award to chef

Mirella-SalemiX390

A New York appeals court has affirmed a lower court’s 2012 ruling that a lesbian chef is owed $1.6 million for being forced to attend weekly prayer meetings where her boss would regularly warn that “gay people” were “going to go to hell.”

Mirella Salemi sued Gloria’s Tribeca Inc., Gloria’s Tribecamex and principal owner Edward Globokar for violations of the New York City Human Rights Law after a string of incidents that occurred between 2004 and 2007. Gloria’s Tribeca is a Mexican restaurant.

Salemi was awarded $400,000 in compensatory damages and $1.2 million in punitive damages in what her lawyer, Derek Smith, called “the largest employment verdict in 2012 in New York.” A three-judge panel of the Appellate Division’s Manhattan-based First Department affirmed the verdict for Salemi.

He not only threatened her soul, but he also threatened her livelihood,” Smith told the New York Post in 2012. “He thought praying might cure her of her sexuality, but she is someone who didn’t need to be saved.”

There is no civil reason in the Land of the Free for an employee to put up with harassment over their sexuality. That is – if you live and work in one of the states that protects your civil rights. There is no federal law, yet, protecting LGBT workers from being fired for their sexual orientation and many states provide no protection at all.

What we witness in this case is an example of American homophobia cloaked once again in the freedom-of-religion trick bag adopted nowadays by rightwing hypocrites.

Has China left behind traditional fixed growth targets?

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Lou Jiwei, Xi Jinping and Zhou Xiaochuan

“Isn’t it now time for China to abandon the concept of a growth target?”

That was the question I asked Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei this week at the 15th annual China Development Forum, which brings together top Chinese officials and an international delegation of academics, leaders of multilateral organizations, and business executives. Having attended the CDF since former Premier Zhu Rongji initiated it in 2000, I can attest to its role as one of China’s most important platforms for debate. Zhu welcomed the exchange of views at the Forum as a true intellectual test for China’s reformers.

It was in that spirit that I posed my question to Lou, whom I have known since the late 1990’s…I have always found him to be direct, intellectually curious, a first-rate analytical thinker, and a forward-looking advocate of market-based reforms. He is cut from the same cloth as his mentor, Zhu…

While it may seem like splitting hairs, continuing to frame the economic goal as a target sends a message of determined and explicit guidance that now seems at odds with the government’s market-oriented intentions. Wouldn’t dropping the concept send a far more powerful message? Isn’t it time for China to let go of the last vestiges of its centrally planned past?

Lou’s response: “Good question.”

China, he went on, is in fact moving away from its once single-minded emphasis on growth targeting. The government now stresses three macroeconomic goals – job creation, price stability, and GDP growth. And, as evidenced by the annual “work report” that the premier recently submitted to China’s National People’s Congress, the current emphasis is in that order, with GDP growth at the bottom of the list…

This is particularly relevant in light of the important threshold that has now been reached by the structural transformation of the Chinese economy – the long-awaited shift to a services-led growth dynamic. Services, which now account for the largest share of the economy, require close to 30% more jobs per unit of output than the manufacturing and construction sectors combined. In an increasingly services-led, labor-intensive economy, China’s economic managers can afford to be more relaxed about a GDP slowdown…

RTFA. Few economists have the experience, personal knowledge of Stephen Roach on China. I mentioned in a recent post about the fight against corruption that economics and commerce fit more into my personal interests. You may find the topics dull as a hoe handle; but, if you haven’t curiosity about what’s going on in the whole world and how events will affect your own life – you may as well settle back and let some priest or pundit run your life.

Here’s where Doctor Roach ends up on this particular occasion. For more, read his latest book, Unbalanced: The Codependency of America and China.

Since Deng Xiaoping’s reforms of the early 1980’s, less and less attention has been paid to the numerical targets of central planning…China’s most senior fiscal and monetary policymakers – Lou Jiwei and Zhou Xiaochuan – are close to taking the final step in the long journey to a market-based economy. Their shared interpretation of flexible growth targeting puts them basically in the same camp as policymakers in most of the developed world. The plan is now a goal-setting exercise. From now on, fluctuations in the Chinese economy, and the policy responses that those fluctuations imply, need to be considered in that vein.

No correlation between medical marijuana legalization and crime

The legalization of medical marijuana has sparked debate across the nation for decades…Some have argued that medical marijuana’s legalization will lead to higher crime rates. But according to a new study at UT Dallas, legalization of medical cannabis is not an indicator of increased crime.

It actually may be related to reductions in certain types of crime, said Dr. Robert Morris, associate professor of criminology and lead author of the study…

The UT Dallas team began its work in summer 2012 after repeatedly hearing claims that medical marijuana legalization posed a danger to public health in terms of exposure to violent crime and property crime.

The study tracked crime rates across all 50 states between 1990 and 2006, when 11 states legalized marijuana for medical use…Since the time period the study covered, 20 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for medical use.

Using crime data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, the researchers studied rates for homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny and auto theft, teasing out an effect for the passing of medical marijuana laws…

None of the seven crime types increased with the legalization of medical marijuana…

While it’s too soon to say if there are definitive drawbacks to legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, Morris said, the study shows that legalization does not pose a serious crime problem, at least at the state level.

Anyone with a studied view of crime and criminology isn’t in the least bit surprised by the finding. If you pay attention to what makes crime a growth industry – we usually witness the quest for scarce goods dramatically and artificially shaped by restrictions that have nothing to do with reality.

Cannabis is no more deleterious to human beings than alcohol. As thoroughly as I advise moderation in food and drink, especially booze, I would encourage the same about cannabis consumption. In fact, in my own life I don’t even drink beer anymore though I appreciate it as a natural product of fermentation just like the bread I bake every week.

If and when cannabis becomes legal for recreational use here in New Mexico, I’ll hunt down a recipe for Alice Toklas brownies. Probably make one batch for family consumption. And never bother again.

That has nothing to do with the need to support an end to the stupidity that infects our legal system.

The IMF is interesting to US policymakers for the wrong reason

The International Monetary Fund is an immensely useful organization, able to deliver substantial amounts of financial and technical assistance at short notice to almost any place in the world. It also has the great advantage of almost always being perceived as incredibly boring…

In the realm of international economics, being perceived as boring confers power to the extent that it allows major decisions to be made without a great deal of external scrutiny. From 1918 to 1939, international economic cooperation was hard to come by – in large part because all of the attempted deals were put together at high-profile international conferences. Following the creation of the IMF in 1944, many of the same decisions became routine, a lot less interesting, and much easier to implement…

The US does not dictate what happens at the IMF, but it does have a disproportionate influence. Given the Fund’s origins in helping to rebuild Europe after World War II, European countries are also very well represented on its executive board and in terms of ownership shares (and thus voting weight on important decisions).

One major goal in recent decades has been to shift representation at the IMF somewhat away from Europe and toward the world’s emerging markets. These countries’ global economic and financial significance has grown rapidly, yet they have relatively little representation at the Fund.

A package of reforms has been agreed. Like most products of international negotiations, the agreement is not perfect; but it does move the ball forward…These reforms need to be agreed, in legislative form, by the US Congress before they can take effect. For whatever reason, President Barack Obama’s administration did not push this item hard in 2013 and early 2014 – and the agenda of encouraging further IMF reform has therefore languished.

The Obama administration proposed to tie IMF reform to the presumably imminent approval by Congress of funding for Ukraine. This is sensible legislative tactics but not appealing as an economic strategy. In effect, the administration tried to make the IMF more interesting, particularly to encourage Republicans in the House of Representatives to support the reforms.

The latest indications are that the Republicans will not be so enticed. But the bigger problem is that Ukraine does not really need a massive loan from the IMF. What Ukraine needs is a sharp reduction in corruption, as well as real legitimacy (through the ballot box) for people who want to rein in the influence of oligarchs – a group that has sapped the economy through plunder and incompetence over the past two decades.

Mostly, what looks like happening is typical of Congress and Congressional Republicans. Money for war is always available – so, the White House and the Pentagon will make Ukraine aid sound like war is imminent.

The need to reform the IMF and why – will probably be swept under the rug.

The need to reform Ukraine will simply be ignored. Most of Congress has no interest in anything concerned with real reform vs. the phoney sort they talk about all the time. The kind that means screwing working people even more.