A regional director for the National Labor Relations Board last week ruled that football players at Northwestern were "employees" and could therefore form a union. To some, the ruling was not a step toward a more equitable system, but a dangerous, unnecessary precedent.
To wit, Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins argued in a Sunday op-ed that the issue hinges on the "specious premise" that college athletes are "exploited and aggrieved" in the first place. Right from the outset then, her whole argument is total bunk.
You can quibble all you want about whether student athletes are exploited, but there is no question a bunch of them are "aggrieved." The mere fact that Northwestern players are pursuing the issue so stridently is proof of that. And then there's the class-action lawsuit filed by former UCLA hoops star Ed O'Bannon, who is challenging the NCAA's ban on compensating athletes. So yes, I'd say that settles the "aggrieved" question.
Yet you may not have even made it that far into the article after stumbling over its first, puzzling line:
It's hard to view Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter as the Che Guevara of college sports once you learn that he interned at Goldman Sachs. [Washington Post]
I don't even know where to begin. Is Jenkins arguing that financial internships preclude you from joining a union? Is she forgetting that Guevara was a medical student before he became a revolutionary? And is it really apt to liken literal revolution to college football?
To her credit, Jenkins raises many legitimate questions about student-athlete unionization, such as whether members would pay dues, and who all could join. But to simply throw up your hands and declare, "It's not looking out for college athletes to open the Pandora's box of employment and unionization," as Jenkins does, is a lazy attempt to ignore the problem. College athlete unionization will of course be problematic. It will of course raise thorny questions, experience hiccups, and need to be fine-tuned. But just because it will be a difficult process doesn't mean it isn't worth pursuing, especially since it would end an exploitative system that is at best cabalistic, and at worst racist.
It's not looking out for college athletes to dismiss their grievances simply because you don't know how to resolve them.
A large-scale military operation by Iraqi government forces to take back Tikrit from ISIS is underway, Iraqi state television reports.
— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) March 2, 2015
The forces are backed by allied Shiite and Sunni fighters and artillery and airstrikes by Iraqi fighter jets, The Associated Press reports. Some militants are said to have been forced out of areas near Tikrit, which is 80 miles north of Baghdad and Saddam Hussein’s hometown. Tikrit fell to ISIS last summer, and before the operation, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told Sunni fighters that if they left the militant orgnanization, they would be pardoned.
Early Monday, Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas, 35, declared victory for his pro-Western Reform Party in Sunday's elections. With all votes counted, the Reform Party got 28 percent of the vote and 30 seats, beating the ethnic-Russian-favored opposition Center Party by five seats. In all, though, the ruling center-right coalition lost seven seats, giving it a 45-seat plurality in the 101-seat legislature.
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) March 2, 2015
A quarter of Estonia's population is ethnic Russian, and security concerns about an expansionist Moscow loomed large in the election. But all major political parties favor increased defense spending and continued membership in NATO. The main economic issue, The Associated Press reports, concerned whether to transform Estonia's 20 percent flat tax to a progressive tax, an idea opposed by the Reform Party and favored by the Center Party and the Social Democrats, a minority party in the governing coalition.
Meet the Kristy Thomas of her generation: 15-year-old Noa Mintz has started her own babysitting agency that brings in an estimated $300,000 a year.
— TESG (@TESGuide) February 27, 2015
The New Yorker has three younger siblings, and came up with the idea to launch her own company after seeing how difficult it was for her parents to find the right sitter for their family. Nannies by Noa started with Mintz matching babysitters she found with the friends of her parents, charging $100 to $200 for each pairing. Today, she has 25 full-time nannies and 50 babysitters, and charges a standard 15 percent of their initial gross salary, which People says can range from $50,000 to $80,000.
It's not surprising to Mintz's mother, Meredith Berkman, that her daughter has become successful at a young age. Berkman told the New York Post her daughter "was always trying to start these mini-companies," although this time it's "not a hobby for her. This isn't a lemonade stand." Noa's Nannies hired its first CEO in July, 26-year-old Allison Johnson, who said while it is a bit surreal to take orders from a high schooler, "I really support women who do things for themselves and get their visions out there."
Leonard Nimoy originally got the idea for the V-shaped Vulcan hand greeting during a chanting ceremony in a synagogue when he was younger, he told the Yiddish Book Center Wexler Oral History Project, in this video posted by The New York Times. During a "chilling" call-and-response, Nimoy peeked at the chanters, "and I saw them with their hand sticking out of their tallit like this," he said, holding his hands up in the now-famous Vulcan gesture.
Nimoy said he remembered that gesture when he was set to meet his first fellow Vulcans on the TV show Star Trek, and he pitched it to the director as a greeting between Vulcans. "Boy, that just took off through the culture — it was amazing," Nimoy told the interviewer. "Within days after it aired, I was getting it on the street." Fans continued greeting him with the V gesture up until his death, but "people don't realize they're blessing each other with this," Nimoy added, laughing. Presumably, "live long and prosper" came from a scriptwriter. —Peter Weber
Los Angeles police officers shot and killed a homeless man in the skid row area of downtown, and a video of the incident has been shared on Facebook.
— KTLA (@KTLA) March 2, 2015
The video shows several officers in an altercation with a man on a sidewalk Sunday afternoon, the Los Angeles Times reports. One drops his nightstick, and a woman who picks it up is quickly handcuffed. The Times says it sounds like one officer says, "Drop the gun. Drop the gun." At least one officer then opens fire, and five gunshots are heard. Police spokesman Sgt. Barry Montgomery said the officers responded to a robbery call, and at one point a Taser was deployed. The man, who has not been identified, was declared dead at a hospital.
Witnesses gave conflicting accounts about what happened: One told the Times the man was on the sidewalk and when he got up the officers "went straight to lethal force," while another said he would not come out of his tent and then fought after being tackled. One woman said the man moved to skid row a few months ago and told her he had been released from a mental facility after being there for a decade.
Police Commission President Steve Soboroff saw the video for the first time on social media, and told the Times the LAPD's independent inspector general and the district attorney's office would be investigating the shooting "very, very carefully."
On Sunday, thousands of Russians marched in Moscow in remembrance of prominent opposition figure Boris Nemtsov, who was shot dead Friday night. Less than three hours before he was killed, Nemtsov was on the radio, promoting Sunday's march — originally planned as an opposition rally — and denouncing Russian President Vladimir Putin. He said Russia needs to "hold honest elections" and "abolish censorship," according to a translation from Reuters.
But Nemtsov also weighed in on Russia's involvement in Ukraine: "The main reason of the crisis is that Putin started that insane, aggressive, murderous — for our country and for many of our citizens — policy of war with Ukraine. The presence of the Russian troops there is well-documented." Putin says he has personally taken control of the investigation into Nemtsov's murder, and promised the dissident's mother he will find the killers. Watch parts of Nemtsov's final interview below. —Peter Weber
Canadian fans of Leonard Nimoy are paying tribute to the late actor by grabbing their markers and "Spocking" $5 bills.
— Kevin Delaney (@kevinjdelaney) March 1, 2015
— Josh Good (@joshdotbad) March 2, 2015
— Aaron (@Aaronwpg) February 27, 2015
The Canadian Design Resource came up with the idea to transform the current face of the $5 bill, Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier, into Nimoy's iconic Star Trek character. CDR publisher Todd Falkowsky told Quartz that it's the perfect bill to customize. "The existing portraits are quite large and can be improvised with easily, and the color of our $5s are the same blue as Spock's uniform," he said.
While defacing bank notes isn't outright illegal, it's frowned upon, Mashable reports. In 2002, a Bank of Canada spokeswoman said it "strongly objects to any mutilation or defacement of bank notes," as it limits the life of the bills and it costs to replace them. Still, marked up notes are still legal tender and can be used in transactions.
A former ISIS fighter says that the man known as "Jihadi John" is a "cold loner" who was eager to appear in propaganda videos.
— AOL.com (@AOL) March 2, 2015
The defector, who calls himself Abu Ayman, told the BBC that he met Jihadi John, identified publicly last week as Mohammed Emwazi, in the northern Syrian town of Atmeh. "He didn't talk much," he said. "He wouldn't join us in prayer. He'd only pray with his friends. ...the other Brutish brothers prayed with us, but he was strange." Emwazi would refuse to say hello and turn his face away, Abu Ayman said, and wouldn't spend time with his fellow fighters from Britain.
Abu Ayman said Emwazi became Jihadi John because "ISIS have professional psychologists. They know who to choose from the fighters and how to make them famous. Still, there was nothing special about Jihadi John...anyone could have become like him." Abu Ayman said he left after being told to kill a woman and children, but many others are flooding into Syria after seeing the brutal videos of Emwazi released by ISIS. "He's a celebrity to attract our Muslim brothers in Europe," he said.
The World Health Organization has a warning: 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing loss due to listening to their music too loud and spending too much time in noisy venues.
WHO analyzed data from studies in "middle- and high-income countries" and found that almost 50 percent of people between 12-35 are exposed to unsafe sound on their personal audio devices, and 40 percent are exposed to potentially damaging levels of sound at bars, nightclubs, sporting events, and other entertainment venues. "As they go about their daily lives doing what they enjoy, more and more young people are placing themselves at risk of hearing loss," Dr. Etienne Krug, WHO director for the Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention, said in a statement. "They should be aware that once you lose your hearing, it won't come back. Taking simple preventative actions will allow people to continue to enjoy themselves without putting their hearing at risk."
WHO recommends that the highest permissible level of noise exposure in the workplace is 85 decibels up to a maximum of eight hours per day, and 100 decibels for no more than 15 minutes in venues like bars and clubs. Young people are also advised to wear earplugs in noisy establishments.
Moscow police detained Alexei Goncharenko, a member of Ukraine's parliament, as he marched with demonstrators on Sunday in honor of slain Russian politician Boris Nemtsov, The Associated Press reports.
Russian officials said Goncharenko was being questioned about his alleged involvement in a fire that broke out in Odessa last year. The fire in Goncharenko's home city killed dozens, including some Russian citizens, amid demonstrations by pro-Ukraine and pro-Russia protesters.
Ukraine's parliament denounced the detention and said Goncharenko has diplomatic immunity and should be released immediately.