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Google fires 28 employees after sit-in protest over Israel cloud contract

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An illustration of the Google logo.
Illustration: The Verge

Google fired 28 employees in connection with sit-in protests at two of its offices this week, according to an internal memo obtained by The Verge. The firings come after 9 employees were suspended and then arrested in New York and California on Tuesday.

The fired employees were involved in protesting Google’s involvement in Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion Israeli government cloud contract that also includes Amazon. Some of them occupied the office of Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian until they were forcibly removed by law enforcement. Last month, Google fired another employee for protesting the contract during a company presentation in Israel.

In a memo sent to all employees on Wednesday, Chris Rackow, Google’s head of global security, said that “behavior like this has no place in our workplace and we will not tolerate it.” You can read the full memo at the bottom of this story.

He also warned that the company would take more action if needed: “The overwhelming majority of our employees do the right thing. If you’re one of the few who are tempted to think we’re going to overlook conduct that violates our policies, think again. The company takes this extremely seriously, and we will continue to apply our longstanding policies to take action against disruptive behavior — up to and including termination.”

In a response statement, the “No Tech for Apartheid” group behind the protests called Google’s firings a “flagrant act of retaliation.”

“In the three years that we have been organizing against Project Nimbus, we have yet to hear from a single executive about our concerns,” the group wrote in a post on Medium. “Google workers have the right to peacefully protest about terms and conditions of our labor. These firings were clearly retaliatory.”

You can read Rackow’s full memo below:

Serious consequences for disruptive behavior


You may have seen reports of protests at some of our offices yesterday. Unfortunately, a number of employees brought the event into our buildings in New York and Sunnyvale. They took over office spaces, defaced our property, and physically impeded the work of other Googlers. Their behavior was unacceptable, extremely disruptive, and made coworkers feel threatened. We placed employees involved under investigation and cut their access to our systems. Those who refused to leave were arrested by law enforcement and removed from our offices.

Following investigation, today we terminated the employment of twenty-eight employees found to be involved. We will continue to investigate and take action as needed.

Behavior like this has no place in our workplace and we will not tolerate it. It clearly violates multiple policies that all employees must adhere to — including our Code of Conduct and Policy on Harassment, Discrimination, Retaliation, Standards of Conduct, and Workplace Concerns.

We are a place of business and every Googler is expected to read our policies and apply them to how they conduct themselves and communicate in our workplace. The overwhelming majority of our employees do the right thing. If you’re one of the few who are tempted to think we’re going to overlook conduct that violates our policies, think again. The company takes this extremely seriously, and we will continue to apply our longstanding policies to take action against disruptive behavior — up to and including termination.

You should expect to hear more from leaders about standards of behavior and discourse in the workplace.

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4 days ago
Boo Google
Overland Park, KS
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The Bygones bring a blast from the past to recordBar

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Photo Apr 13 2024 12 11 53 Pm

The Bygones. // photo by Haley Mullenix

The Bygones
with the Wildwoods
Friday, April 12

Friday night, I found myself walking into RecordBar here in KC where the indie-folk duo The Bygones that is made up of Joshua Lee Turner and Allison Young were set to play the eighth stop on their tour. I noticed as I walked up that the demographic for this show was all folks a little older than myself. If you know anything about The Bygones, you’ll know that they draw inspiration heavily from the ‘40s and ‘60s with a bit of jazz and classical influence, so I wasn’t too surprised to not see anyone my age, but they’re definitely missing out!

Opening the night was The Wildwoods, a folk trio from Nebraska whose voices melted together to create their intricate, lullaby-esque sound. Many in the audience sat crisscrossed on the floor throughout the night, and though it might have been to save their knee,s it made for a more intimate feeling throughout the room that felt fitting for the genre.

Photo Apr 13 2024 12 21 12 Pm 1

The Wildwoods. // photo by Haley Mullenix

The trio told stories to accompany their songs and they all ended with “And that’s how we met Andrew” (their bass player), which garnered lots of laughs every time. The band included a bluegrass cover of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright,” the story being that they played at a bluegrass competition, which they had no idea was a competition until they arrived and subsequently lost! The crowd, of course, loved it and appreciated the band’s humor to start out the night. The best part about folk bands is that every member is always so immensely talented and it’s always amazing to watch them perform. The Wildwoods brought it all and got the night started right. 

The Bygones were next and the stage was fitted with one of those vintage round microphones before they stepped on. As they took the stage, the first thing I noticed was Allison wearing the most amazing plaid pants suit I’d ever seen! It was like taking a step back in time, and when they started singing the crowd began whooping and hollering!


The Bygones. // photo by Haley Mullenix

The Bygones have a palpable joy when performing and this, combined with their technique and spellbinding vocals, makes it easy to see why they are loved so much. The duo wasn’t even an official band when they began performing, their first release being a Willie Nelson cover. They gained popularity online and were soon rushing to record an EP so they could build out their setlist.

Rushed is the furthest thing their music feels like though, as it all seems to come so naturally to them both. The duo took a couple requests from the crowd and sang a cover of “Plastic Jesus” before ending the night with their song “Hollow Wood,” a beautiful acapella ballad that echoed throughout the room drawing the night to a close. The duo’s debut album The Bygones is out now and I highly recommend you give it a listen.

All photos by Haley Mullenix

The Bygones

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The Wildwoods

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Categories: Music
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5 days ago
This was such a good show! If they're going to be in your area and there are any tickets left, do yourself a favor and go!
Overland Park, KS
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An old, worn and rough box with mechanical buttons and sliders that resembles what the Winamp music-player software looked like.  An earphone jack and a rocker power switch can be seen on the side.

by Rick Gude
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6 days ago
I'd buy that mp3 player
6 days ago
Overland Park, KS
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6 days ago
How many llamas asses were whipped to bring us this
Bend, Oregon

Here's the column Meta doesn't want you to see


On Thursday I reported that Meta had blocked all links to the Kansas Reflector from approximately 8am to 4pm, citing cybersecurity concerns after the nonprofit published a column critical of Facebook’s climate change ad policy. By late afternoon, all links were once again able to be posted on Facebook, Threads and Instagram–except for the critical column. According to Editor-in-Chief Sherman Smith, the site hasn’t received any communication from Meta besides this tweet

With permission from the Kansas Reflector, I’m sharing the column verbatim here in an attempt to sidestep Meta’s censorship. I hope you’ll share it far and wide—and I really hope Meta doesn’t block this version. Other outlets are invited to republish as well, as long as they follow their republishing guidelines.

Press freedom has never been more important, and The Handbasket stands with nonprofit and independent news outlets against the forces continually trying to silence us. Support the Kansas Reflector here and become a premium subscriber to The Handbasket here.

A Kansas audience gathers for the screening of “Hot Times in the Heartland” at All Saints Hall at Grace Cathedral in Topeka. (Dave Kendall)

The World Meteorological Organization issued a “red alert” as it released its latest report on the “State of the Global Climate” earlier this month, noting that 2023 was the warmest year in recorded human history — and 2024 will likely surpass it.

For the past two years, I have been working on the production of a documentary about the local response to this planetary warming, focusing primarily upon what’s taking place within the Kaw Valley and the Kansas City metro area.

The program – “Hot Times in the Heartland” – recently premiered to an attentive gathering of concerned citizens in a hall connected to Grace Cathedral in Topeka. It includes an interview in the cathedral with a person who has been intensely focused on climate change in various ways for a number of years.

I’m referring to The Rt. Rev. Cathleen Chittenden Bascom, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas, which encompasses all the Episcopal churches in the eastern half of the state. In our program, she describes the efforts being made under her leadership to address the climate crisis.

After viewing our documentary, she sent me a response that I found most reassuring.

“It is a beautiful montage of ALL the good efforts of Kansans,” she wrote to me in an email. “Thank you for this important work. It gives me more hope.”

That response was exactly what we were aiming for with this program.

Knowing that many people are distraught by the challenges we’re facing, we certainly don’t want to exacerbate the climate anxiety and depression that already exists. The bishop’s response, along with those of others who have now seen the show, indicates we are on track in our effort to inform and educate without unduly magnifying a sense of hopelessness.

Imagine my surprise when I attempted to “boost” a post on Meta’s Facebook to begin our online promotional efforts — and the company summarily rejected it.

Apparently, Meta deems climate change too controversial for discussion on their platforms.

I had suspected such might be the case, because all the posts I made prior to the attempted boost seemed to drop off the radar with little response. As I took a closer look, I found others complaining about Facebook squelching posts related to climate change.

Steve Lerner, a Lawrence psychologist who addresses the subject of climate anxiety in our documentary, recently moderated a series of public discussions around the state as part of the “Step By Step” gatherings he initiated with funding from Humanities Kansas. He says he encountered the same type of rejection as I did with Facebook.

But in the Meta-verse, where it seems virtually impossible to connect with a human being associated with the administration of the platform, rules are rules, and it appears they would prefer to suppress anything that might prove problematic for them.

Hayhoe expressed her personal frustration in a recent post on Facebook.

“Since August 2018, Facebook has limited the visibility of my page,” she writes, “labelling it as ‘political’ because I talk about climate change and clean energy. This change drastically reduced my post views from hundreds to just tens, and the page’s growth has been stagnant ever since.”

The implications of such policies for our democracy are alarming. Why should corporate entities be able to dictate what type of speech or content is acceptable?

Columnist Dave Kendall’s latest documentary addresses climate change in the Kaw Valley and Kansas City metro region. (Dave Kendall)

Although it’s disturbing to see what’s happening in what’s become the public square for many of us, it’s been reassuring to experience the reception from our local media outlets, including Kansas Reflector.

While I was in various stages of production on this documentary, Kansas Reflector has published more than one piece I’ve written about this subject.

Across the state line, public radio station KCUR in Kansas City has also been responsive, inviting us on to their “Up To Date” program in advance of an upcoming screening at Johnson County Community College.

The broadcast premiere of our documentary has taken place on Smoky Hills PBS, whose signal reaches across western Kansas. Although I was unsure how receptive the station might be to this topic, the program director enthusiastically accepted the offer to broadcast the show and the person in charge of promotions really did a stellar job.

Our show has also been broadcast on Kansas City PBS, thanks to the support of its veteran programmer, Michael Murphy, who’s retiring after more than 40 years in that position. (You might remember him as one of the “Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations” trio who drove around spotlighting regional folk art for many years.)

In the middle of the month, KTWU, the PBS station in Topeka, will provide some of its prime air time to broadcast our two-hour documentary, following it with a special edition of its “I’ve Got Issues” community affairs show.

The local newspaper in Topeka also has gotten into the act. Before the initial public screening at Grace Cathedral, a note to the editor of the Topeka Capital-Journal resulted in a front-page story about our documentary and a lead story in its afternoon online headlines.

That same afternoon, Bishop Bascom and I were guests on WIBW-TV’s “Eye on Northeast Kansas” program hosted by Melissa Brunner. On the day of our premiere, WIBW followed up with an edited package that aired on their news programs that night.

We are getting along OK without the promotional help of Facebook, but it does seem problematic that a behemoth such as Meta can dictate the terms of our communications.

As I write this, I find it a bit ironic that a message has arrived from “Meta Business Support” noting that it’s been a while since I ran an ad and reminding me that: “ads are a great way to showcase your brand.”

Dave Kendall served as producer and host of the “Sunflower Journeys” series on public television for its first 27 seasons and continues to produce documentary videos through his own company, Prairie Hollow Productions. Through its opinion section, Kansas Reflector works to amplify the voices of people who are affected by public policies or excluded from public debate. Find information, including how to submit your own commentary, here.

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6 days ago
Overland Park, KS
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Washington, DC
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End-Stage Poverty Is Killing People in Safety Net-Free America

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Many Patients Don’t Survive End-Stage Poverty by Dr. Lindsay Ryan is a great/upsetting piece about how the poverty many Americans are subjected to in America is killing them. Many people die here in the world’s richest country not because they are sick but because they are poor and our systems of government, justice, business, and health care don’t do enough to help them (or, more cynically and perhaps truthfully, actively work against helping them).

This is one of those pieces where I want to quote every single paragraph, but I’ll start with this one (bold mine):

Safety-net hospitals and clinics care for a population heavily skewed toward the poor, recent immigrants and people of color. The budgets of these places are forever tight. And anyone who works in them could tell you that illness in our patients isn’t just a biological phenomenon. It’s the manifestation of social inequality in people’s bodies.

I have not been able to stop thinking about this phrase since I read it: “Illness in our patients isn’t just a biological phenomenon. It’s the manifestation of social inequality in people’s bodies.”

Medical textbooks usually don’t discuss fixing your patient’s housing. They seldom include making sure your patient has enough food and some way to get to a clinic. But textbooks miss what my med students don’t: that people die for lack of these basics.

People struggle to keep wounds clean. Their medications get stolen. They sicken from poor diet, undervaccination and repeated psychological trauma. Forced to focus on short-term survival and often lacking cellphones, they miss appointments for everything from Pap smears to chemotherapy. They fall ill in myriad ways — and fall through the cracks in just as many.

You should read the whole thing yourself (NY Times gift link). Her argument about the need to expand/shift the definition of what healthcare is (e.g. housing is healthcare) reminds me of this more progressive idea of freedom.

Tags: death · healthcare · Lindsay Ryan · medicine · poverty · USA

💬 Join the discussion on kottke.org

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6 days ago
Overland Park, KS
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Kansas City Area Seeks Unprecedented Sustainability Grants

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Clouds in the sky.

Go to the library and borrow an e-bike.  

Take it down to Berkley Riverfront Park for a spin to Quindaro, a stop on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. 

Set aside coffee grounds and grapefruit skins for diversion to massive new composting operations that will cut the 300,000 tons of annual food waste flowing out of our garbage cans and into carbon-emitting, climate-changing landfills. 

Residents of long-neglected corners of the city will get weatherization kits, rooftop solar panels and a bunch of new trees. 

We can learn how to dedicate part of our backyards to native wildflowers and plants that were here when Native Americans stomped through today’s Brookside and Overland Park, supporting passing pollinators and songbirds. 

All this and more will potentially be funded, soon, now that the Kansas City region submitted its applications for an unprecedented $200 million in federal grants over five years. If approved, the money promises to dramatically transform what it means to live, work and play in these parts for decades to come. 

The application has been named “Kansas City – Anchoring Climate Transformation” or “KC-ACT.” 

It is designed to help usher in a new 21st century era of sustainable electric power, transportation, buildings, farm and nature land practices and waste management. 

The request was filed on April 1 to meet the deadline for the $4.6 billion special program spawned by the Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law by President Joe Biden in August 2022.  

A city official working on sustainability for a major Southeast city told Flatland that major cities were encouraged by the feds to dream big and ask for at least $150 million. 

The Kansas City region did that, and then some.  

Big Ask, Big Plans

The formal ask totals $197,823,216. 

What would that buy?  

It would reduce the region’s climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions by 5.455 million metric tons over 25 years.  

To put that into perspective, take the weight of all the steel used to build New York’s Empire State Building. Multiply that by 100. That would be about the weight of greenhouse gas emissions that the city would not emit by 2050 if the programs were funded in the Kansas City area, planners say. 

The federal program is one cornerstone of the effort to jumpstart the economy after the COVID-caused recession and is considered the most significant action Congress has ever taken in the pursuit of clean energy. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has geared up massively to evaluate hundreds of applications for funding coming in from cities across the land.  

“It is a monstrous effort on their side, just like it was for us to develop the application,” said Tom Jacobs, who helped coordinate the local submission. 

“I never applied for a grant this large,” Jacobs said. “This was an extraordinarily comprehensive process. We did the best we could do.” 

Jacobs is chief resiliency officer of the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), which works with 119 cities in nine counties in Missouri and Kansas. 

“This is an amalgamation of 40 projects,” he said. 

“I never applied for a grant this large. This was an extraordinarily comprehensive process. We did the best we could do.” 

Tom Jacobs, chief resiliency Officer of the Mid-America Regional Council

The city expects to learn the federal response by July. Then, Jacobs said, “I expect to enter six months of negotiations about scope, schedule and budget.” 

At the top of the list is the city’s housing stock.  

“Fifty percent of the ask is to support building energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements in low-income and disadvantaged communities,” he said. 

That includes weatherizing 12,000 homes at a cost of about $1.4 million.  

An additional $12 million will be marshaled to make energy efficiency improvements at 600 single-family homes and 15 multi-family buildings. 

Dabbing caulk and installing low-flow shower heads and attic insulation has been underway locally for decades, Jacobs conceded. But there will be no problem finding more homes in need of $40 and $50 weatherization kits, he said.  

“Evergy does this with folks. We’d probably lay this out with Evergy and nonprofits,” Jacobs said. 

The list of projects awaiting federal support is varied. 

Consider resilience hubs. Kansas City wants 15 of them. 

One is being built by the Kansas City Public Library at its Lucile H. Bluford Branch at 3050 Prospect Avenue. More federal support from the new grant will go toward making the library itself super-energy efficient. Solar panels will be deployed. Residents can drop by and borrow an e-bike, learn how to plant a garden, pick up trees to plant in their yard and learn more about energy efficiency. 

Grants totaling $1.5 million will help plant 140 electric vehicle charging stations in neighborhoods where they do not exist. 

An electric vehicle as it is being charged.
An electric vehicle as it is being charged. (Courtesy | Evergy)

Up to $8 million will go to building two to three commercial composting sites. The Kansas City area throws out 300,000 tons of food waste a year. Experts said that the carbon emissions tied to food waste in landfills just about equals the carbon emissions from all jet traffic over America. 

Kansas City would like to reduce that trash mountain and divert still edible food, when possible, Jacobs said. The bulk of the waste, responsible for belching out large volumes of greenhouse gases, needs to be composted and diverted from landfills. 

The largest local commercial composting operation can handle 30,000 tons a year, Jacobs said. That must be augmented. 

“We’d put out community calls for projects,” Jacobs said. “There is interest and capacity in the private sector to take this on.” 

Diverting Food Waste

The federal grant request also includes funding to plant an additional 10,000 to 12,000 trees in Kansas City on top of the 10,000 the city currently is planting over five years. That is to green up neighborhoods that do not now have tree cover, making them hotter in summer. 

Grants would pave the way for an addition of 15 miles of green streets and bike lanes.  

More funds would be used to buy 5,400 e-bicycles to be shared or sold at flexible prices to make them affordable for low-income families. 

“We want to scale impact on how folks get around and make communities more walkable and bike able,” Jacobs said. 

Local Impact

The transformation will extend across the city — and back in time. 

Alyssa Marcy, a long-range community planner with the Unified Government of Wyandotte County – Kansas City, said that the federal grant will allow it to extend trails and, in the process, transform neglected parts of the metro. 

“The NE KCK Heritage Trail is a bike/ped shared-use path that connects Kaw Point to the Quindaro Townsite,” Marcy wrote in an email response to Flatland. “Once complete, the trail will provide connections to KCMO via the American Riverfront Heritage. Most importantly, the NE KCK Heritage Trail celebrates the heritage of NE KCK, a predominately black neighborhood that suffered from decades of disinvestment as a result of redlining. 

“The NE KCK Heritage Trail Plan was adopted in 2022 along with the goDotte Countywide Strategic Mobility Plan, which prioritizes investment in multi-modal transportation to increase access to opportunity for our residents,” Marcy wrote. “The NE KCK Heritage Trail will not only celebrate the complex history of the area, but it will also provide more sustainable mobility options, catalyze economic development, and improve health outcomes.” 

The grant-funded metro transformation will extend to the very roots of today’s city.  

Consider the work of Deep Roots KC, which last year met with 50 local families to look over their yards, identify harmful invasive species of plants and shrubs and recommend which indigenous plants, flowers, shrubs and trees should be planted to help the local ecosystem thrive, according to Stacia Stelk, director of Deep Roots KC. 

This summer growing season, the group, which employs five people, plans to meet with 80 families. 

The region’s epic sustainability grant ask, Stelk said, would be a “game changer,” enabling the nonprofit to work with 600 residential homeowners and renters over five years, she said.  

With the grant, Deep Roots, which now employs five people, could add one or two more workers. 

In addition to providing guidance to interested residents, it plans to source and provide plants and seeds to broaden the range of native landscapes. 

Planting native species of flora will help sustain struggling butterfly species.  

It would allow songbirds to return and proliferate, filling neighborhood with warbles and avian strains that have waned in recent years and decades, Stelk said. 

Flatland contributor Martin Rosenberg is a Kansas City journalist and host of the Grid Talk podcast on the future of energy.

The post Kansas City Area Seeks Unprecedented Sustainability Grants first appeared on Flatland.

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6 days ago
Overland Park, KS
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