By Doug Porter
Talk about your buzzkill.
Everybody, it seems, has been doing the ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) challenge lately. Actor Charlie Sheen, San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle and even Mayor Kevin Faulconer have had buckets of iced liquid dumped on them as part a nationwide fundraising campaign.
While public figures locally have gone out of their way to be conscious about the drought faced by Californians, there’s always a crank somewhere looking to be a spoiler.
In the case of the ALS challenge it’s a certain Catholic Archdiocese and the we’re-not-a-hate-group types at the American Family Association (AFA). You might remember the AFA from their ‘don’t buy Harvey Milk stamps campaign’.
We’ll start this off with an explainer from KPBS:
The challenge itself is simple. Challenge three people to donate $100 to The ALS Association or have a bucket of ice water dumped on their head; then usually you get ice water dumped on your head. (It also helps if you record it and post it on Twitter, Facebook, Vine, YouTube, Instagram or whatever social media platform you like and tag it with #icebucketchallenge, #alsicebucketchallenge or #strikeoutals.)
ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is ofter referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” It is aprogressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, eventually leading to death.
Donations to ALS groups nationwide are booming. Steve Becvar, executive director of the ALS Association’s San Diego chapter, said the challenge has led to 310,000 donors as of Monday who have pledged $15.6 million, a 64 percent increase in pledges since Friday.
And this note from the ALA Association.
Currently, there is only one drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat ALS, which only modestly extends survival by two to three months. Consequently, ALS is 100 percent fatal. In addition to acclimating to the challenges that come with losing control of voluntary muscle movement, people with the disease progressively lose their ability to eat, speak, walk, and eventually breathe.
Along comes the Catholic Church in Ohio, which wants us to know ALS research is a bad idea. At least they were polite about it.
From the Associated Press:
A Catholic diocese in Ohio is discouraging its schools from participating in the ice bucket challenge to benefit the ALS Association, citing its funding of research involving embryonic stem cells.
In a letter sent Tuesday to its 113 schools, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s superintendent of Catholic schools says the research being funded is “in direct conflict with Catholic teaching.”
Here’s the AFA’s Kevin McCullough:
The only problem here is that–unknowingly–this very challenge is contributing to the on going destruction of human life–intentionally.
The ALS association is actively now funding embryonic stem cell research and admitting that they likely will continue to do so in the future.
The funding of embryonic stem cell research means that children are created and at their earliest stages of life they are destroyed so that the stem cells (from usually the base of the brain) can be harvested to perform tests with.
As usual, when you mix religious fundamentalism with scientific claims, some weird stuff emerges. The AFA writer above seems to think stem cell research is evil.
From the Southern Poverty Law Center, which keeps track of these groups in its HateWatch Newsletter:
Stem cell research has proven to be a controversial issue for years, with many conservative Christians, including the Southern Baptist Convention, viewing it as akin to abortion. The embryos used for the research are fertilized in the laboratory, and there has never been a baby born or created in such conditions.
The ALS Association also claims to have produced substantial scientific research that, contrary to the AFA’s claims, indicates progress toward finding a cure for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, the progressive and fatal neuromuscular malady commonly known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease.”
A Close Encounter of the Anti-Minimum Wage Kind
Just so you know…. Another good reason not to sign the petition.
I had my first encounter with one of the Chamber of Commerce sponsored signature gatherers yesterday outside a certain Hillcrest supermarket that I’ve since been told is politically incorrect.
I’m guessing this hippie burnout missed the orientation session. Or maybe he didn’t.
He told me that the increase in the minimum wage passed by the City Council would threaten the very existence of small businesses because wages would JUMP BY TWENTY FIVE PER CENT over the State’s minimum come January 1st.
That sounded like Republi-Math (™) to me, so I whipped out my official pinko cell phone calculator:
State Wage: $9
City bump: $9.75
That would an 8.3% increase by my calculation.
So, having taken up a few minutes of his time while I did the math, I looked him in the eye and croaked out “No”…. “NEVER!”
He was gone by the time I left the parking lot, so I assume he was busy calling me in as a union thug…. Or is it union bully? I can’t keep these names straight…. …wish I had an app for that.
More of the Silly Factual Stuff About Wages
The Economic Policy Institute released an extensive study yesterday about the wages earned by people in the restaurant industry.
Given that certain mouthpieces for the local Chamber of Commerce have been dazzling us with tales about how much they think waiters and waitresses make, I thought a dose of reality might help.
This paper examines the restaurant industry and the workers who hold restaurant jobs, including how much they earn, what jobs they do, whether they receive benefits, and whether they and their families are able to make ends meet. Key findings include:
Restaurant workers receive very low pay.
The median hourly wage in the restaurant industry, including tips, is $10.00, compared with $18.00 outside of the restaurant industry. After accounting for demographic differences between restaurant workers and other workers, restaurant workers have hourly wages that are 17.2 percent lower than those of similar workers outside the restaurant industry. This is the “wage penalty” of restaurant work.
The largest restaurant industry occupation is waiter/waitress, which makes up nearly a quarter (23.3 percent) of all restaurant jobs, and has a typical wage, including tips, of $10.15 an hour. The lowest-paid occupation is cashiers/counter attendants, at $8.23 an hour, while the highest paid are managers, at a typical wage of $15.42 per hour—which is still lower than the overall median wage outside the restaurant industry.
Unionization rates are extremely low in the restaurant industry, but unionized restaurant workers receive wages that are substantially higher than those of non-union restaurant workers.
Occupations within the restaurant industry are highly gendered and have strong racial and ethnic concentrations.
Women are much more likely than men to be cashiers/counter attendants, hosts, and wait staff, and much less likely to be dishwashers, cooks, or chefs/head cooks.
Blacks are disproportionately likely to be cashiers/counter attendants, the lowest-paid occupation in the industry. Hispanics are disproportionately likely to be dishwashers, dining room attendants, or cooks, also relatively low-paid occupations. White non-Hispanics are disproportionately likely to be hosts/hostesses, wait staff, bartenders, or managers, which are among the industry’s more highly paid occupations.
Restaurant workers are much more likely than other workers to be poor or near-poor.
One in six restaurant workers, or 16.7 percent, live below the official poverty line. The poverty rate for workers outside the restaurant industry is more than 10 percentage points lower, at 6.3 percent.
Twice the official poverty threshold is commonly used by researchers as a measure of what it takes for a family to make ends meet. More than two in five restaurant workers, or 43.1 percent, live below twice the poverty line—more than twice the 19.9 percent share outside the restaurant industry.
By race/ethnicity and gender, poverty rates in the restaurant industry are highest for women, blacks, and Hispanics. Among workers in the restaurant industry, poverty rates are much lower for workers in a union.
Encinitas Passes Plastic Bag Ban
The Encinitas City Council approved a ban on plastic bags last night. This makes the North Coast city the second city in San Diego County to pass an ordinance barring retail establishments from providing single-use plastic bags to customers. Eighty four other localities in California, including Los Angeles County, have bans in place.
From the Seaside Courier:
Wednesday’s adoption of the ordinance followed Council discussions in November 2013 and in June, as well as a recommendation from the city’s Environmental Commission.
Statistics provided by city staff revealed that the average Californian uses 527 plastic bags each year. Eighty-one percent of bags end up in landfills, while others float into the Pacific Ocean from coastal communities such as Encinitas, creating a hazard for marine life.
Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer, who voted in favor of the ban, said that through the process of creating the ordinance she has learned more and more about the adverse effects.
“…This sends a message that we do care about our environment,” Shaffer said.
Deputy Mayor Tony Kranz, who also voted in favor of it, said that unfortunately, “some people are just not responsible with how they dispose of garbage.”
A statewide ban via Senate Bill 270 is on track for approval, with a final vote projected for August 31st. As of its proposed effective day (September 1) SB270 preempts California cities and counties from enforcing or creating bans on single-use plastic bags unless the local ordinance was in place prior to its passage.
On This Day: 1831– Slave revolt led by Nat Turner began in Southampton County, Va. 1923 – In Kalamazoo, Michigan, an ordinance was passed forbidding dancers from gazing into the eyes of their partner.1959 – Hawaii became the 50th state after conspiracists led by Barack Obama went back in time to allow him to become President some day.
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