WEST BRIDGEWATER, Mass. (AP) — It's been called a David vs. Goliath story, a "Tale of Two Arthurs" and even the "ultimate Greek tragedy," but the characters in this drama are not Biblical or literary figures. They're grocery store owners.
A workers' revolt at the Market Basket supermarket chain has led to empty shelves, angry customers and support for a boycott from more than 100 state legislators and mayors.
Industry analysts say worker revolts at non-union companies are rare, but what's happening at Market Basket is particularly unusual because the workers are not asking for higher pay or better benefits. They are demanding the reinstatement of beloved former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas, who workers credit with keeping prices low, treating employees well and guiding the company's success.
The New England grocery store chain is embroiled in a family feud featuring two cousins who have been at odds for decades.
While earlier squabbles between Arthur T. Demoulas and Arthur S. Demoulas were fought in courtrooms, this dispute has spilled into the stores.
For the past week, warehouse workers have refused to make deliveries to Market Basket stores, leaving fruit, vegetable, seafood and meat shelves empty. Workers have held huge protest rallies and organized boycott petitions through social media, attracting thousands of supporters.
Customers are defecting to other grocery stores. In some cases, customers have taped receipts from competitors to Market Basket windows.
"We are going to go somewhere else from now on," said Soraya DeBarros, as she walked through a depleted produce department at the Market Basket in West Bridgewater this week. "I'm sad about it because of course I want to keep the low prices, but I want to support the workers."
Despite threats by new management to fire any workers who fail to perform their duties, some 300 warehouse workers and 68 drivers have refused to make deliveries. So far, eight supervisors have been fired. Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, who is running for governor, and New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan have publicly supported the employees.
"If you had told me that workers at a grocery store would walk out to save the job of a CEO, I would say that's incredible. There is usually such a gulf between the worker and the CEO," said Gary Chaison, a professor of industrial relations at Clark University in Worcester.
Market Basket stores have long been a fixture in Massachusetts. The late Arthur Demoulas — grandfather of Arthur S. and Arthur T. and a Greek immigrant — opened the first store in Lowell nearly a century ago. Gradually, Market Basket became a regional powerhouse, with 25,000 employees and 71 stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.
The feud dates back to the 1970s, but the most recent round of infighting began last year when Arthur S. Demoulas gained control of the board of directors. Last month, the board fired Arthur T., sparking the current uprising.
Workers are fiercely loyal to Arthur T.
"You know the movie, 'It's a Wonderful Life.' He's George Bailey," said Tom Trainor, a district supervisor who worked for the company for 41 years before being fired last weekend over the protests. "He's just a tremendous human being that puts people above profits. He can walk through a store, and if he's met you once, he knows your name, he knows your wife, your husband, your kids, where they are going to school."
On Friday, board members said they will consider an offer Arthur T. made this week to buy the company.
"Consistent with its fiduciary obligations, the Board will evaluate and seriously consider this proposal, along with any other offers previously received and to be received," the board said in a statement it issued after a meeting.
The board also decried what it called the "negative behavior" of some current and former employees.
"It is now clear that it is in the interests of all members of the Market Basket community for normal business operations to resume immediately," the statement said.
As the board met, up to 10,000 employees, customers and supporters attended another protest rally at a Market Basket store in Tewksbury.
Employees said they believe the fight between the family members loyal to Arthur T. and Arthur S. is largely over money and the direction of the company. They say Arthur S. and his supporters have pressed for a greater return to shareholders.
Arthur T. and his supporters have focused on keeping prices low.
Many employees are distrustful of Arthur S. and two co-chief executives who were brought in from outside the company: Felicia Thornton, a former executive of the grocery chain Albertsons, and Jim Gooch, former president and chief executive at RadioShack Corp.
"I'm worried about my job," said Valerie Burke, a worker in the West Bridgewater store. "It's a great company to work for now, but we are worried it won't stay that way," she said as she picketed outside the store Tuesday.
Arthur S. has not spoken publicly, while Gooch and Thornton have communicated only through prepared statements. They assured workers in a statement that they are not planning drastic changes in the way the company is operated, and urged employees to return to work.
Steve Paulenka, who started in 1974 as a bag boy and rose to facilities and operations manager before being fired last weekend, said he sees no end to protests unless Arthur T. is reinstated.
"A big part of me doesn't like what's going on — it's like breaking your favorite toy on purpose," he said. "But we'll get through this."
The prolonged execution of an Arizona death row inmate with a new, two-drug combo has highlighted the patchwork quilt approach that states now take with lethal drugs, with types, combinations and dosages varying widely. A question and answer look at how the disparity came about and why, following more than three decades in which all death penalty states used the exact same three-drug mixture.
Q: What are states currently using for lethal drugs?
A: Georgia, Texas and Missouri use single doses of compounded pentobarbital, an anesthetic similar to the drug used to put pets to sleep. Arizona and Ohio use a combination of midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a painkiller. Florida uses midazolam, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride. Oklahoma has authorized five different lethal injection protocols: a three-drug method beginning with sodium thiopental, pentobarbital, or midazolam, a two-drug procedure using midazolam and hydromorphone, or a single, lethal dose of pentobarbital.
Q: All death penalty states used the same three-drug combo for lethal injection for more than three decades. Why isn't that done now?
A: Two reasons. First, supplies of the drugs started to run short as death penalty opponents in Europe put pressure on their drugmakers — which manufactured key anesthetics — to prohibit their use in executions. Secondly, states eager to avoid ongoing lawsuits alleging the old three-drug method caused inmates to suffer unconstitutional levels of pain looked for alternatives beginning about five years ago.
Q: Why don't all states follow the lead of Georgia, Missouri and Texas and use compounded pentobarbital?
A: The compounded version is difficult to come by, with most compounding pharmacists reluctant to expose themselves to possible harassment by death penalty opponents. Adopting it also raises the specter of lawsuits over its constitutionality, based on arguments that its purity and potency could be questioned as a non-FDA regulated drug. So far, Georgia, Missouri and Texas won't reveal their sources, while Ohio, whose protocol includes the option of compounded pentobarbital, hasn't been able to obtain it.
Q: Why can't states just find another drug as effective as pentobarbital?
A: Basically, options are running out. The leading candidate after pentobarbital was propofol, the painkiller known as the drug that caused pop singer Michael Jackson's 2009 overdose death. Missouri proposed using propofol but withdrew the idea over concerns the move would create a shortage of the popular anesthetic. Meanwhile, manufacturers are also starting to put limits on drugs in the old three-drug combo still in use in states like Florida.
Q: With all this uncertainty, why don't states return to the electric chair or other non-drug methods?
A: Most states retired their electric chairs or used them sparingly with the advent of the three-drug method introduced in the 1970s. Tennessee recently enacted a law allowing its use if lethal drugs can't be found, and other states are debating its reintroduction. But electric chairs come with their own constitutional problems, since they have produced a number of botched executions over the years, as did hanging decades ago. Many death penalty experts, even some opponents, believe the quickest and most humane method is the firing squad. But it's unclear whether there's a public appetite for moving to that method.
DENVER (AP) — Pot may be legal in some states — but the neighbors don't have to like it.
Marijuana and hemp have joined wacky paint colors and unsightly fences as common neighborhood disputes facing homeowners' associations. Though a few HOAs have willingly changed their rules to accommodate for legal marijuana use or home-growing, many more are banning home pot smoking.
Homeowners' associations can't ban members from using marijuana in their homes when it's legal. But if neighbors can see or smell weed, the law is clear — HOAs have every right to regulate the drug as a nuisance, or a threat to children along the lines of a swimming pool with no fence.
"The fact that people may be legally entitled to smoke doesn't mean they can do it wherever they want, any more than they could walk into a restaurant and light up a cigarette," said Richard Thompson, who owns a management consulting company that specializes in condominium and homeowner associations.
Thompson said his home condo development in Portland, Oregon, is a prime example of how marijuana's growing acceptance has sparked neighbor conflicts.
"As soon as spring and summer come around, we hear complaints about marijuana smoke because people are out on their patios and they have the windows down," he said.
It's not clear how many homeowners' associations have confronted marijuana conflicts in the 23 states with some form of legal marijuana. But lawyers who specialize in HOA disputes, as well as a Colorado regulatory agency that advises HOAs, say there are growing conflicts among neighbors who want to smoke pot and others who don't want to see it or smell it.
"What we're really seeing more now is regulating the associations' common areas," such as smoke wafting onto playgrounds or others' porches, said Erin McManis, an attorney in Phoenix whose firm represents hundreds of Arizona HOAs.
The Carrillo Ranch homeowners association in Chandler, Arizona, earlier this year took the rare step of withdrawing a proposed ban on residents smoking medical marijuana in their front and backyards and on their patios.
The HOA planned a meeting on the topic in March, but withdrew the proposal after many residents opposed the ban as too harsh.
"This is a personal-freedom issue where people were going to dictate how other people should live," Carrillo Ranch resident Tom LaBonte told The Arizona Republic in February, when the HOA dropped its proposal.
HOA lawyers say the Carrillo Ranch case illustrates the value of HOAs when the law changes, as with marijuana.
"Coming together and working on issues is something associations have been doing for a long time," McManis said. "We're hopeful that's how it's going to go forward now with medical marijuana."
Smoke isn't the only neighbor complaint posed by loosening marijuana laws. Growing pot and hemp is prompting neighbor disputes, too.
A suburban Denver retiree learned the hard way this spring that he needed neighbors' permission before growing hemp. Jim Denny, of Brighton, Colorado, learned about marijuana's non-intoxicating cousin and decided to try the crop on a 75-by-100-foot plot in his yard.
But Denny's hemp plot ran afoul of his homeowners' association, which ruled the hemp experiment unacceptable.
"As soon as they heard about it, they said, 'We're not going to let anyone grow marijuana here,'" Denny said. "I explained to them that hemp is not marijuana, but they were dead-set against it."
So with his hemp plants about 2 feet tall, Denny invited hemp activists to come transplant them to somewhere without opposition from a homeowner association. Denny sold the plants for about $3 each, a good price for a plant whose seeds can cost up to $10 each because it can't be imported.
Hemp activists volunteered to pay Denny's fines for flouting the HOA, which could have run to $600 a day. But Denny decided that living peacefully with his neighbors trumped making a political point.
"I had people calling up and saying, 'It's just a shame; we'll pay your fines all the way through to the end.' But I decided in the end not to fight it," said Denny, a technical writer and former software engineer. "At the end of the day, I live here."
ATLANTA (AP) — This week marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Atlanta, one of the key conflicts of the Civil War, and researchers at Emory University's Center for Digital Scholarship have released a mobile app for the tour.
"We developed the Battle of Atlanta mobile application in order to provide a 21st century version of the historical markers that mark sites of the Battle of Atlanta and other Civil War landmarks around the city," said Dr. Daniel Pollock, a physician, Civil War scholar and co-developer of the program.
After more than two years in development, the Web-based and GPS-enabled application contains copious information about the major campaigns fought throughout the city. The fight began ramping up on July 22, 1864, as Union Gen. William T. Sherman's troops advanced on Confederate Gen. John B. Hood's forces.
After years of growth, virtually all of the sites have been developed and paved over. Much of what remains are scores of random historical markers scattered far and wide. The app's intent is simplicity and historical accuracy.
"So the Battle of Atlanta was really important in the Civil War because it was the moment in which Sherman's forces set the Confederacy back far enough that it enabled Abraham Lincoln to be re-elected as president," said Emory digital scholar Brian Croxall. "His campaign for the re-election in 1864 was anything but a sure bet until the Atlanta campaign was concluded."
The developers narrowed their focus to what they believe are the 12 major historical sites. One of those sites is the August Hurt House where Sherman set up his field headquarters. It's the present-day location of The Carter Center, the library of former President Jimmy Carter.
Janice Reed, an operating room nurse, recently took part of the tour with her daughter and granddaughter.
"It was just so fascinating that someone had finally did this where you could go online, you could get in your car and go to where the battlefield was and get a concept of how the Battle of Atlanta was fought."
In order to make the application as easy to use as possible, open source code was used.
"We wanted to use a web app, a web-based application instead of something for the Apple iTunes app store or Google Plays store because we wanted to hit as many people as possible," Croxall states. "We wanted to make it easy so you don't have to install something; you can just simply go to the website and it will work on any Internet device regardless of which operating system it uses."
WUXI VILLAGE, China (AP) — The battle started when a government-hired crew tore down the metal cross atop the one-room church in this village surrounded by rice paddies last month.
The next day, a church member used his own welding torch to put it back. He was promptly detained and questioned for 10 hours on the charge of operating a welding business without a license.
A week later, the crew came back to remove the cross. Once again, church members put it back up, now tattered and a little shorter.
The church in the eastern village of Wuxi, about 480 kilometers (300 miles) south of Shanghai, has had its water and electricity cut off. Officials have attempted to install surveillance cameras and inquired about several church members' work and their children's schooling — a veiled threat that jobs and education might be at risk. But the congregation is not giving up.
"I won't let them take down the cross even if it means they would shoot me dead," said Fan Liang'an, 73, whose grandfather helped build the church in 1924.
Across Zhejiang province, which hugs China's rocky southeastern coast, authorities have toppled — or threatened to topple — crosses at more than 130 churches. In a few cases, the government has even razed sanctuaries.
Authorities say the churches in question had violated building codes, even though they generally won't specify which ones. They also deny that they are specifically targeting churches, and point to the demolition of other tens of thousands of other buildings, religious and non-religious, that have apparently broken regulations.
But experts and church leaders in Zhejiang, the only province where the incidents are happening, believe there is a campaign to repress Christianity, which has grown so rapidly as to alarm the atheist Communist government.
It comes at a time when Beijing has been tightening ideological controls, placing more restrictions on journalists, rights lawyers — many of whom are Christians — and political activists since President Xi Jinping took office in early 2013.
The incidents speak to the power of symbols, and the emotions they evoke.
"The cross is the glory of us Christians," said Cai Tingxu, who left his cosmetics shop in Shanghai to protect his hometown church in rural Zhejiang after hearing authorities warned they would tear down the cross. "Jesus was nailed to the cross for us. My heart ached to learn that the government wants to remove the cross."
Estimates on the numbers of Christians in China vary widely because the government does not count religious affiliation. Official 2010 figures put them at 23 million. These are registered members of the state-sanctioned churches, which are closely monitored by the government.
But China also has vast numbers of underground believers who meet in secret. The Pew Research Center estimated there were 58 million Protestants in China in 2011, along with 9 million Catholics in the year before. Other experts say there could be more than 100 million.
These estimates are up from the widely accepted figure of 1 million Christians in 1950, and may even rival the size of the 85 million-member Communist Party.
The church's dramatic growth — and Christians' loyalty to God above all else — has alarmed authorities, said Yang Fenggang, a Purdue University sociologist and leading expert on religious matters in China.
Although Chinese Christians are generally apolitical, their weekly gatherings and mutual support could prove dangerous if the movement adopts political objectives, he said. The church is "resilient in resisting government pressures and persecutions."
A possible reason Zhejiang province has come under scrutiny is that it is home to Wenzhou, a city of 8 million that has so many churches dotting its streets and hillsides that it is called "China's Jerusalem."
More than a tenth of Wenzhou's residents are Protestant Christians — some fourth-generation believers — the highest proportion of any major Chinese city, according to Cao Nanlai, an anthropologist who has studied and written a book about Christianity in Wenzhou. The high percentage is largely due to early missionary efforts and the city's relative isolation, nestled between the sea and mountains. Half the province's 4,000 churches are located here.
The city is known for its entrepreneurial vigor, and has tens of thousands of family-run workshops making shoes, toys, furniture and other products. The believers here appear to have applied that same eagerness to starting new churches, Cao said.
For years, the city's Christians had close relationships with local authorities, and many believers, ironically, are also members of the ostensibly atheist Communist Party or hold civil servant jobs, he said.
City officials even encouraged churches to build big as a way to draw attention and investment from Chinese Christians abroad, and some churches appeared to compete to build the largest sanctuaries and tallest crosses — including one that stands 63 meters (200 feet) tall.
But late last year, authorities began asking churches not to light up their crosses at night. The reason given was to help reduce carbon emissions, pastors and church members in the city say. The orders appeared to be coming from the provincial government, but were carried out by city officials.
Then in April, the local government in Yongjia county suddenly demanded that an unapproved portion of a large church be torn down — even though officials had tacitly allowed the church to build five times the approved square footage. Decades of unbridled development and onerous red tape has made it the norm to build before obtaining pages of approval stamps from myriad government agencies.
Despite protests from the congregation and supporters, demolition crews tore down the entire structure, and the hillside where it was located is now covered in tree saplings.
Since then, rooftop crosses at many churches along major roads in and around Wenzhou have been removed, and vaguely-worded notices against unspecified illegal structures have been delivered to churches in outlying areas. Cao, the scholar on Christianity, said the cross removals and demolitions reflected the occasional flexing of political muscle by authorities to show who's in control.
Pastors and church elders say government workers have told them in private that the goal is to remove the crosses. Officials have promised they will stay away from churches if the symbols are removed but have threatened those who resist with demolition.
"This is clearly discrimination against our religion and to crack down on our belief," said Wang Yunxian, a church elder in Wenzhou.
On Monday, several dozen police clashed with people defending the Salvation Christian Church in Wenzhou as police attempted to remove the church's cross, said Zheng Changye, a 36-year-old member of another church who said he had rushed over to the scene. He said three people were seriously injured and six detained for questioning. In the end, the police left without having taken the cross down, he said. City police contacted Friday said they didn't know about the confrontation.
Yang, the Purdue professor, said it was difficult to imagine what sort of building codes the crosses would violate.
"The only reason I can think of is that the Zhejiang authorities intend to humiliate Christians by taking down the symbol sacred to them," he said. The campaign could be tacitly approved by Beijing, which has not interfered publicly, or it might merely be a political gamble by the provincial leadership to win praises, he said.
A senior Zhejiang government official insisted that authorities weren't targeting churches, "but only structures in violation of codes.
"Those with ulterior motives are singling out churches, but we also have torn down temples and nunneries, and we have strictly followed the law in removing illegal structures," said the official, who insisted on anonymity because he wasn't permitted to speak on the record to the media.
In Yongjia county, the government says it has demolished thousands of illegal structures totaling 3 million square meters, including businesses, residences and religious sites.
Some churches have taken steps to protect their crosses.
Cai, the man who left his cosmetics shop in Shanghai, now takes turns with other members to guard Yayu Christian Church in Yaxia village around the clock. They are camped out on a balcony overlooking an expanse of ripening rice paddies to spot any demolition crew coming down the road.
Early one morning, watchers spotted a truck approaching and quickly mobilized about 100 people to block the men from coming up the steps to the sanctuary, successfully thwarting them, Cai said.
In nearby Zengshan village, after church members received a government warning in early July to remove its cross, members piled up rocks in front of the main gate and dumped a couple of sheds behind it. It also raised banners urging the authorities to respect Chinese law on religious freedom and proper procedures for demolition.
"The cross is our life, and there is no room for compromise," said Pastor Xie Zuokua. "With no other means, we are resorting to our own abilities to defend the cross."
To Xie, it's clear this is more than just a matter of building code violations.
"It's the symbol of the death of Jesus and it's the symbol that people can be saved," he said. "So if they want to come and tear down the cross — that's because they are discriminating against us Christians."
Associated Press producer Aritz Parra contributed to this report.
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Of all the accolades Carl Clifford Wilson received during his service in the Navy, it was forgetting his hat that earned the Augusta native his highest honor.
If Wilson had not forgotten his "lid," hundreds of Americans might have died aboard the USS Conyngham during World War II when a Japanese plane targeted the ship.
Wilson died in 1993 at age 70, but his legacy never will, especially with his grandson Don Ray, who has a 6-inch piece of metal that one of Wilson's crew member's salvaged from the plane's wreckage.
Ray recalls the incident that made his grandfather a hero happening in 1942.
According to historical records, the Conyngham's escort duties were interrupted that year to screen carriers and later fight in the Battle of Midway from June 4-6.
The destroyer returned to escort duties until Oct. 16, 1942, when it was sent from Pearl Harbor to screen carriers in the Southwest Pacific and defend ships in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands.
During one of the missions, Wilson left his hat on deck, something that had become a running joke among the crew. The fire control-man third class started to go below deck with other shipmates to clean up and eat when he remembered he didn't have his hat.
That's when it happened.
"As he grabs his hat, he looks up and sees one lone Japanese plane coming in," Ray said. "He turns around and shoots it down at the last second, sending the aircraft crashing into the side of the ship."
In a letter from Vice Adm. Daniel Edward Barbey, the commander of the Navy's 7th Fleet, Wilson was recognized for "distinguishing himself through excellent service" in the Southwest Pacific.
"In spite of great personal danger, Wilson maintained a rapid and extremely accurate fire, scoring many hits on an enemy plane," Barbey wrote in his letter. "For his conduct, he is commended and authorized to wear the Commendation Ribbon."
The letter hangs in the hallway of Ray's Harlem home, along with Wilson's commendation ribbon and the metal from the plane he shot down.
Ray inherited the mementos from his grandmother, who was married to his grandfather for nearly 40 years and passed away shortly after Wilson died.
The Japanese plane artifact was given to Wilson in the early 1980s at a Conyngham reunion.
"One of the crew members slid my grandfather a piece of steel at the dinner table," Ray said. "My grandfather said, 'What's this?' His friend replied, 'That's a piece of the Japanese plane that you saved all of us with, and I have been waiting all this time to give it to you.' "
An Augusta native, Wilson joined the Navy in 1941 and after his service worked at Savannah River Site for more than 25 years.
Ray said the two of them would fish, make homemade ice cream and shell butter beans in the family's garden. He described his grandfather as a "homebody" who enjoyed football and golf.
Ray said that hanging next to Wilson's memorabilia is a frame containing his grandfather's favorite Bible verse, Philippians 4:13, which states "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
"The service it took to do that, it's very prideful," Ray said of his father's honor. "Not everyone has a story like that."