The University of Colorado is no stranger to drug related controversy. For many years Boulder has been the center of media attention regarding marijuana use, especially on April 20th. However, just one month ago Colorado voters approved Amendment 64, which allows Colorado citizens to enjoy the recreational use of marijuana. But even with this new law passed, Boulder can’t seem to stay out of the headlines for marijuana related crimes. Recently 2 students from the University of Colorado at Boulder were arrested on suspicion of bringing pot brownies to class. Several students as well as the teacher unknowingly indulged in the deliciously mellow treat which undoubtedly made for a very interesting class. A prank that many people (especially from Boulder) would find hilarious, led to 3 hospitalizations due to intense side effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This irresponsible demonstration of marijuana use couldn’t come at a worse time for those who recently contributed to passing Amendment 64.
Some government employees are finally allowed to exercise the right to voice their concerns in a consequence free environment now that President Obama signed the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA). This act will help resolve the issue of the FDA and USDA intimidating their employees to keep their concerns quiet. Since employees of these government agencies feared retaliation for speaking out against their employer, many have sat idly by while they believed public health was at risk. The consequence of demotion, firing, or relocation was enough for employees to keep their opposition to themselves. However, the WPEA has now been signed and FDA and USDA employees are officially free to voice their concerns to supervisors without the possibility of unfair retaliation. This is a step in the right direction for honest and healthy working conditions in an industry that has a big impact on the food we eat.
Despite the current upswing in revenue, large American corporations have decided to keep employee wages uncomfortably low while corporate profits increase. Of the 12 companies that are paying their American employees the least, 7 are in the restaurant industry. These include, McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Starbucks, Darden Restaurants (Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Red Lobster), Dine Equity (Applebee’s, IHOP), and Yum! Brands (Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC). These companies are within the confides of the law with the nation’s minimum wage regulations, but these employees are getting less bang for their buck than they should. The current minimum wage is worth 30% less in terms of purchasing power than it was in 1968. The other offenders of this immoral salary situation are national retail giants like Walmart, Target, and Sears. Being compared to Walmart is rarely a good thing. In this scenario Walmart is an especially bad company, since it is pretty well known that the Walmart CEO, Mike Duke, makes more in one hour than one of his employees makes in an entire year.
Many businesses have struggled to stay afloat during these trying economic times. Amidst the recent campaign season, the buzz was surrounded around middle-class America and small businesses, but we are slowly learning that small businesses aren’t the only ones hurting. Zane Tankel, chairman and CEO of Apple-Metro and owner of 40 Applebee’s restaurants expressed his concern for the Applebee’s chain to the Fox Business Network. Due to the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, businesses who employ more than 50 people must provide each employee with an approved insurance plan. The penalty for not providing insurance is a $2,000 fine for every worker over the 30 worker mark. Tankel’s smallest Applebee’s staff consists of at least 80 employees, so you can see why he’s upset.
Just more than a year after Hurricane Irene mangled the eastern seaboard, Hurricane Sandy has reared her ugly head threatening to repeat the devastation. The entire east coast of the United States is scrambling for shelter as the monster hybrid storm moves it’s way north faster than expected. This “Frankenstorm” is over 1,000 miles wide with maximum sustained winds of 90mph. Millions of people have evacuated their homes to move farther inland. Even NYC is experiencing mandatory evacuations, leaving the city looking like a scene from I Am Legend.