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Thanksgiving Advice From U.S. DOT

The U.S. Department of Transportation offers several pieces of advice to help families stay safe over the Thanksgiving holiday. Travel, particularly travel in poor weather conditions, can be hazardous. The added pressure of a holiday can place many drivers in positions they know to be unsafe. Winter holidays almost always see a sharp rise in car accidents and other transportation injuries.

The AAA reports that some 46 million people will be traveling at least 50 miles this Thanksgiving. The transportation system groans under the weight of traffic it normally doesn't hold. Traffic jams, crowded airport terminals, overflowing buses and trains, and the jagged nerves that only holiday travel can cause are a recipe for danger. It is important to stay calm, use good judgment and plan ahead to make Thanksgiving a safe and happy experience for you and your family. 

Fewer Cell Phone Calls Does Not Mean Safer Drivers

Surveys conducted by State Farm have shown that the number of people making cell phone calls while driving has actually dropped since 2009. Unfortunately, drivers have replaced calls with smart phone activities such as checking e-mail, surfing the Internet, checking Facebook or accessing Twitter. Over that time period, the percentage of people who text and drive has remained steady despite the proliferation of laws banning the practice. The total percentage of people using their cell phones in some way while driving has gone up in each of the past six years.

The survey supports the arguments that texting and other cell phone laws have been ineffective and that cell phone use may have an addictive quality. Drivers should be better informed about the dangers of splitting their attention between driving and cell phone use, but that information has not curbed the dangerous behavior. Distracted driving accidents will continue to be a major problem as long as so many people feel free to mix driving with cell phones. 

Hall of Lawsuit Hypocrites: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Employment and Civil Rights Lawyer Discusses The Hypocrisy of the United States Chamber of Commerce

Webster's defines a "hypocrite" as: (1) a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue; (2) a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.

Well, how apt.

As an employment and civil rights lawyer, my professional life is dedicated to protecting the 99% of people in this country who aren't corporate fat cats, power-brokers and the elite; in other words, all the workers at all levels of the economy. We don't represent corporations. We don't represent the government. We hold corporations accountable for what they do to workers. We fight discrimination, workplace harassment and abuse, retaliation and wage and hour abuse.

Now, that said, I'm also an employer. But I'd be a hypocrite if, as an employer, I engaged in discrimination, retaliation or workplace abuse. Why? Because I can't be "opposed" to the very conduct I myself engage in. If I did, I'd be putting on a "false appearance of virtue" and acting in "contradiction to my stated beliefs."

So that said, let's talk about the the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. There're a few things you need to know about them.

First, they're not a government agency promoting "commerce." In another classic example of lying, they call themselves by a name which implies "official" status, government affiliation, etc. But what they are is a private organization of business interests who lobby for "pro-business" policies and alteration of the way the Courts work to advantage corporate interests at the expense of working people. They've spent hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying elected officials to give immunity to the chamber's multinational corporate members. They're "business for business." Not for you.

Third Circuit Upholds New Jersey Ban on 'Gay-Conversion' Therapy

Or . . . You Can't Fix What Isn't Broken - Redux.

New Jersey Employment and Civil Rights Trial Lawyer Kevin Costello Discusses 3d Circuit's Upholding of New Jersey's Ban on 'Gay-Conversion' Therapy

I posted a Blog in December of last year which followed on a Blog of even earlier than that about the subject of "Gay-Conversion" Therapy. As I get older, I've become more blunt and less apologetic about calling bullshit what it is.

My first Blog on the subject was about the Bill which sought to ban this type of "therapy" in New Jersey. Before we go on, let's stop calling it "therapy" and call it was it is: mental abuse disguised as "therapy" which is in turn cover for religious terrorism. Calling it "therapy" nicely protects this brainwashing from exposure as nothing more than an attempt by religious people (the parents as well as the "therapist") to force gay people - usually very young, very vulnerable gay people - into being "cured" of sexual orientation in accordance with religious doctrine. The therapy might not mention religious doctrine, but it's always at the root of this bullshit "therapy."

Sometimes, sadly, people in charge of their own fates do it to themselves, because they've been raised in such a doctrinaire environment that they can't get that mental poisoning out of their heads, and they live with guilt over the fact that they're homosexual and hate themselves for it. Obviously, the vast majority of the victims, on the other hand, are minor people under the age of 18 who have little choice but to abide by their parents' or guardians' wishes in undergoing this "therapy." They may even hope to succeed or attempt willingly and wholeheartedly to buy into it, but this "therapy" can't "fix" or "cure" homosexuality because homosexuality isn't a choice or a disease, it's simply a biological condition. It's like offering a dog a "cure" so he can be the "cat" "nature" (deity) "intended."

So now that we know what this "therapy" actually is, let's discuss.

How Unsafe Trucks And Truck Drivers Remain On The Roads

There is no shortage of regulations aimed at the trucking industry. Many of these regulations are intended to ensure that truck drivers are well rested, properly trained, have safe driving records and are monitored. Trucks are supposed to be carefully maintained, properly loaded and designed for safety. Trucking companies are supposed to employ competent, safe drivers, keep their trucks in good working order and provide a working atmosphere that is conducive to safety. As with many regulations, these are often ignored when they get in the way of profit.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration monitors trucking companies. Unfortunately, it is possible for a company to compile a lousy safety record over a long period of time while still maintaining the right to drive on American roads. Bad employers are allowed to operate in ways that almost guarantee an accident. Drivers may be pressured to drive unsafe hours and falsify log books to keep their jobs. Trucks may be "maintained" by unqualified or even incompetent mechanics. Repeated violations may not draw a strong response until someone is killed. 

Calls For Reform Of The NHTSA

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is responsible for improving motor vehicle and highway safety. It works to improve safety in many ways. It is responsible for setting safety standards for motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment. It provides grants to state and local governments to educate the public and improve driving safety. It is responsible for investigating automakers and the makers of auto parts that are suspected of defects impacting safety. Finally, it is responsible for safety research into issues such as drinking and driving, distracted driving, fatigued driving and other potential hazards. After a number of highly publicized missteps, some legislators believe the NHTSA is failing in its mission.

Senators from Massachusetts, Connecticut and Florida have asked President Obama to push for changes to the NHTSA when he names a new chief administrator. The NHTSA has been operating under an interim head administrator for nearly a year. President Obama is expected to name a permanent chief in the next few weeks. 

NJ Employment and Civil Rights Lawyer: What It Means to be "Liberal."

Or . . . The Only Real Natural Philosophy.

First of all, all words that describe a state of mind - a creed or belief system or a personal or broad based philosophy - change over time. Even the nature of the language itself changes, so why should it be a surprise that a word that means one thing at one point in time may come to mean another.

Moreover, society changes and evolves. Every century since society first formed - let's be generous and say since 5000 B.C. - the rate at which society changes also increases. This is simply a matter of physics. Ever since 5000 B.C., when the planetary climate became more stable and the pace at which farming produced surplus food (enabling surplus population) increased, population has grown.

At first, it grew slowly but steadily, and then it began to explode in the last two centuries. Obviously, it's exploded the most during the 20th Century, and the pace of population growth has expanded even more in the latter half of the 20th Century and at the dawn of the 21st. Put simply: the more people there are, the faster we make still more people.

So, the rate at which the population has grown has continued to accelerate, and that means that the time it takes for the nature of a word to change decreases with those human numbers. As well, of course, the ability of people to communicate has reached a saturation point which means words are born and die over time spans of only a few years.

Ineffective Distracted Driving Laws

Some behaviors are harder to control than others. Despite increasingly harsh penalties for DUI, drinking and driving still kills more than 10,000 people every year. Part of the problem is that many people do not believe they will be caught driving drunk. Mothers Against Drunk Driving estimates that drivers who are arrested for DUI have driven drunk 80 times before getting caught. The problems surrounding distracted driving are even more severe. Not only do people not fear getting caught, many refuse to recognize the danger of the behavior in the first place.

Distracted driving does not match the death toll of drunk driving. Still, it kills more than 3,000 people every year. One form of distracted driving, texting behind the wheel, has inspired many states to pass laws banning the practice. The laws vary in the authority given to law enforcement to catch and punish offenders. Taken as a whole, the laws have not been effective at deterring people from distracted driving. The number of fatalities has continued to rise even as states have moved to prevent texting deaths. 

A Victory for Misclassified Federal Express Drivers

New Jersey Employment and Civil Rights Attorney Deborah L. Mains, Esq. Discusses Victory for Federal Express Drivers

In September of 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a decision that represents a substantial victory for employees who are deliberately misclassified by their employers as "independent contractors" in order to avoid paying minimum wage, overtime pay, payroll taxes and responsibility for other entitlements of employees. In this particular case, the employees at issue were delivery drivers for Federal Express, who were deemed by Federal Express to be "independent contractors" despite the fact that Fed Ex exerted substantial control over these individuals. The Ninth Circuit found as a matter of law that the drivers are indeed employees.

Civil Rights and Personal Injury Attorney Discusses the Negative Impacts of Tort Reform

I've blogged about "Tort Reform" - attempts, under the misleading word "reform" (which implies a good, necessary change) - to gut the civil justice system by limiting access to a jury trial, compelling arbitration, erecting barriers to suit and by limiting damages.

It's always nice to be right.

Take a look at the article "How Tort 'Reform' Ruins Health Care" in the Huffington Post, which talked about "caps" - limits - on damages.

And before this goes on, remember; I have nothing against "the American Way," or capitalism (I'm an employer myself) or against the concept of a company striving to do well. I started my own enterprise - this law firm - and I know what goes into running a business (the financial risks, the headaches, etc.)

But.

What I am strongly against is the idea that corporate power and the lies that corporations tell about how "awesome" they are, and all the influence they have over politicians, and the laws that "corporations" are pushing to pass to help the "corporations" (rather than working people) should rule legal policy.

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