Analysis of social networks is suggested as a tool for linking micro and macro levels of sociological theory. The procedure is illustrated by elaboration of the macro implications of one aspect of small-scale interaction: the strength of dyadic ties. It is argued that the degree of overlap of two individuals’ friendship networks varies directly with the strength of their tie to one another. The impact of this principle on diffusion of influence and information, mobility opportunity, and community organization is explored. Stress is laid on the cohesive power of weak ties. Most network models deal, implicitly, with strong ties, thus confining their applicability to small, well-defined groups. Emphasis on weak ties lends itself to discussion of relations between groups and to analysis of segments of social structure not easily defined in terms of primary groups.

Israel has announced a land appropriation in the occupied West Bank that an anti-settlement group termed the biggest in 30 years, drawing Palestinian condemnation and a US rebuke.

Some 400 hectares in the Etzion settlement bloc near Bethlehem were declared “state land, on the instructions of the political echelon” by the military-run Civil Administration on Sunday.

"We urge the government of Israel to reverse this decision," a US State Department official said in Washington, calling the move "counterproductive" to efforts to achieve a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel Radio said the step was taken in response to the kidnapping and killing of three Jewish teens by Hamas militants in June.


David Weil, the director of the federal Labor Department’s wage and hour division, says wage theft is surging because of underlying changes in the nation’s business structure. The increased use of franchise operators, subcontractors and temp agencies leads to more employers being squeezed on costs and more cutting corners, he said. A result, he added, is that the companies on top can deny any knowledge of wage violations.

“We have a change in the structure of work that is then compounded by a falling level of what is viewed as acceptable in the workplace in terms of how you treat people and how you regard the law,” Mr. Weil said.

His agency has uncovered nearly $1 billion in illegally unpaid wages since 2010. He noted that the victimized workers were disproportionately immigrants.

[…]

Business advocates see a hidden agenda in these lawsuits. For example, the lawsuit against Schneider — which owns a gigantic warehouse here that serves Walmart exclusively — coincides with unions pressuring Walmart to raise wages. The lawyers and labor groups behind the lawsuit have sought to hold Walmart jointly liable in the case.

Walmart says that it seeks to ensure that its contractors comply with all laws, and that it was not responsible for Schneider’s employment practices. Schneider said it “manages its operations with integrity,” noting that it had hired various subcontractors to oversee the loading and unloading crews.

Business groups note that the lawsuits against McDonald’s have been coordinated with the fast-food workers’ movement demanding a $15 wage. “This is a classic special-interest campaign by labor unions,” said Stephen J. Caldeira, president of the International Franchise Association. In legal papers, McDonald’s denied any liability in Ms. Salazar’s case, and the Oakland franchisee insisted that Ms. Salazar had failed to establish illegal actions by the restaurant.


“I have often wish’d I had saved a single specimen of all the new articles I have made, and would now give twenty times the original value for such a collection. I am now, from thinking, and talking a little more upon this subject … resolv’d to make a beginning.” So said Josiah Wedgwood in 1774, as he laid the foundations for one of the greatest ceramics collections in the world. The Wedgwood Museum was first opened to the public in 1906, and for more than a century it has been telling the story of how six towns in north Staffordshire were transformed through clay and coal into the world-famous Potteries.

Then, in 2009, the Wedgwood business went into administration and, through a wretched quirk in pension law, brought the museum down with it. Suddenly, this extraordinary testament to the genius of Josiah Wedgwood and the unrivalled skills of Stoke-on-Trent’s potters was at risk of a fire-sale to fill a £134m pension black hole.

Today, the fight to save the Wedgwood collection begins in earnest as the Art Fund joins forces with the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Victoria & Albert Museum to raise the final £2.75m of the £15m price tag. It is a campaign to which, I hope, Guardian readers might contribute, because if you haven’t yet made it to Barlaston to see the 8,000-strong collection – from black jasper Portland designs to bone china tea sets and Robert Adam-designed vases – you are missing out on one of the most compelling accounts of British industrial, social and design history.


Israel appropriated a swath of 990 acres in the West Bank on Sunday and declared the Palestinian area south of Bethlehem to be Israeli “state lands,” local media reported.

According to the veteran anti-settlement group Peace Now, the declaration is the largest of its kind since the 1980s and stands to change the area dramatically.

The group said the Bethlehem area lands are earmarked for a massive expansion of the small settlement of Gevaot, which could grow into a town connected to the so-called Green Line that marks the border that stood prior to the 1967 war.

The announcement of the appropriation was made by COGAT, the military unit implementing the policies of Israel’s government in the Palestinian territories it controls.

The settlement is located in the West Bank area Israel calls the Etzyon Bloc, which is one of several settlement blocs Israel reportedly seeks to keep and annex under a future peace agreement with the Palestinians.


The California State Senate gave final legislative approval on Thursday to a bill that would require certain replica guns to be painted bright colors or made transparent to prevent police from confusing toy guns for real weapons.

The bill, which passed the Democratic-led chamber by 22-12, was introduced by Democratic state Senator Kevin De Leon after Sonoma County Sheriff’s deputies fatally shot 13-year-old Andy Lopez Cruz in October after mistaking an imitation pellet rifle for the real thing.

The bill now requires the signature of Democratic Governor Jerry Brown.

"A toy should look like a toy, and a toy should not get a child killed," said Democratic Senator Noreen Evans, who co-authored the legislation.

The bill would require BB guns that fire pellets with a diameter of 6 to 8 millimeters to be painted bright colors or have prominent fluorescent strips attached, making them look less authentic.


cctvnews:

‘Empty buckets’ in Henan say no to Ice Bucket Challenge

Dozens of people in the drought-hit Henan Province are protesting against the Ice Bucket Challenge, which has become a global viral trend

Armed with empty buckets, bowls and other containers, the protesters stood outside the Spring Temple Buddha in Lushan County on Friday.

The Chinese characters on their clothes read: “Henan, please say no to the Ice Bucket Challenge.”

The province is experiencing its worst drought since 1951. Nearly 19 million people have been affected by the drought.

With that in mind, protesters are calling for water to be saved and other sensible means to be used to help patients of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

Read more:http://wp.me/p4xlGl-OP


“When we are shown scenes of starving children in Africa, with a call for us to do something to help them, the underlying ideological message is something like: “Don’t think, don’t politicize, forget about the true causes of their poverty, just act, contribute money, so that you will not have to think!”

Slavoj Žižek (via w-farah)

Landlord-tenant laws and housing market conditions vary widely, and evictions are not surging everywhere. And a court filing does not necessarily result in eviction; some cases are resolved through payment plans or other agreements. But from 2010 to 2013, Maine experienced a 21 percent increase in eviction filings, Massachusetts 11 percent and Kentucky 8 percent. In the fiscal year that ended in June, New Jersey, which has some of the strongest tenant protections in the country, had one eviction filing for every six renter households. In Georgia, where court statistics do not differentiate between tenants evicted by a landlord and homeowners evicted after foreclosure, filings soared to almost 270,000 last year, a 9 percent jump since 2010. Over the same period, according to the research firm CoreLogic, the number of foreclosures dropped by half.

Perhaps the simplest explanation for the rise in evictions is a severe shortage of rental housing caused by a lack of new construction during the recession and the wave of foreclosures that turned homeowners into renters and occupied housing into abandoned blight.

A vast majority of renters live in cities, but evictions are not limited to urban settings. Rural areas like western Oklahoma, where an oil and gas boom has increased demand for housing, have also seen an increase in eviction filings.

The rising demand for, and tight supply of, apartments means landlords can now afford to be more exacting in their standards, if not outright aggressive in replacing renters with those who can pay more. In the second quarter of this year, the rental vacancy rate sunk to its lowest in almost 20 years, while rents, in inflation-adjusted dollars, remained close to their peak. Some advocates for tenants said that court filings were just the tip of the iceberg — many renters have been displaced by rising rents, threatening letters, one-time payoffs and condo conversions, without ever going to court.

The rental shortage has made the most vulnerable tenants susceptible to eviction. “So many of our clients are people of color, people with disabilities, people who have suffered extreme health crises or a long-term chronic illness,” said Christine Donahoe, a staff attorney with Legal Action of Wisconsin.


Grape vines march across wires strung along rolling hills, their little trunks improbably supporting heavy black fruit. Cindy Steinbeck’s family has been farming this land since 1920. They grow Zinfandel, Viognier, Cabernet, Merlot, and Petite Syrah grapes but are best known in this area of Central California for a blend called The Crash, named after a remarkable incident in 1956, when a B-26 crash-landed 200 yards from the family home. Four of the five Air Force men aboard survived, bailing out in the nearby fields.

Now a new crash threatens, as groundwater levels beneath the vineyards plummet. California produces nearly half of U.S.-grown fruits, nuts, and vegetables, according to the state’s Department of Food and Agriculture. It is in the midst of one of the worst droughts ever recorded, with more than 80 percent of the state in extreme or exceptional drought. But so far, the Steinbeck Vineyards’ 520 acres of grapes are growing well under the hot August sun, thanks to the family’s access to all the groundwater they need: up to two acre-feet per acre per season. An acre-foot is the amount of water required to flood an acre of land one foot deep—about 326,000 gallons. The Steinbecks’ sole source of irrigation is groundwater.

However, groundwater and surface water—rivers, lakes, streams—are part of the same hydrological system. Excessive groundwater pumping can overdraft aquifers, emptying them faster than natural systems can replenish them; dry up nearby wells; allow saltwater intrusion; and draw down surface water supplies. Taking so much water out of the soil can cause the dirt to compact and the land to sink, an action called subsidence. Because land can subside as much as a foot a year in the face of aggressive pumping, it can destroy infrastructure such as irrigation canals, building foundations, roads, bridges, and pipelines.


The Internet might be a useful tool for activists and organizers, in episodes from the Arab Spring to the Ice Bucket Challenge. But over all, it has diminished rather than enhanced political participation, according to new data.

Social media, like Twitter and Facebook, has the effect of tamping down diversity of opinion and stifling debate about public affairs. It makes people less likely to voice opinions, particularly when they think their views differ from those of their friends, according to a report published Tuesday by researchers at Pew Research Center and Rutgers University.

The researchers also found that those who use social media regularly are more reluctant to express dissenting views in the offline world.

The Internet, it seems, is contributing to the polarization of America, as people surround themselves with people who think like them and hesitate to say anything different. Internet companies magnify the effect, by tweaking their algorithms to show us more content from people who are similar to us.


A lot of Americans work all kinds of crazy hours these days to pay the bills. Doctors do. Lawyers can. Maybe you do. It can make for a stressful life. Especially if the hours are irregular. All over the map. And especially if the work is low-wage. A doctor might hire a nanny. A stock clerk, a barrista, a Wal-Mart associate – not likely. But last-minute, all-over-the-clock-and-week shift assignments have become common. You can’t plan. You don’t know. And then there’s freelance work. This hour On Point: hanging on, making do in the makeshift, all-over-the-clock economy.