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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
Home country: Citizen of the world whose address is in the U.S.
Current location: Detroit, Michigan
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 65,190

Journal Archives

Repugs continue their attack on Amtrak

(The Hill) The House is proposing a 40 percent funding cut for Amtrak construction in a new passenger rail bill that was unveiled on Thursday by the chamber’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Amtrak has traditionally received about $1 billion per year from the federal government since its inception in 1971.

Most of the proposed reduction comes in funding for new rail construction projects, which would be reduced from approximately $1.3 billion per year under the last Amtrak appropriations measure to about $770 million annually beginning next year.

The cut would be offset by a slight increase in spending for current train operations to appease Democrats, but Republican leaders on the panel said the end result would still be a funding reduction that would force Amtrak to streamline its operations. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://thehill.com/policy/transportation/217411-house-rail-bill-cuts-amtrak-funding-40-percent

With infill stations, older transit agencies extend their reach

from the Transport Politic blog:

With infill stations, older transit agencies extend their reach

A new station on Boston’s Orange Line prepares for opening, but infill stations of its type are all too rare.

Want to know a secret? One of the best ways to increase transit ridership at a reasonable price requires little additional service. It requires no new line extensions. And it can be done to maximize the value of existing urban neighborhoods.

This magic solution comes in the form of the infill station–a new stop constructed along an existing line, between two existing stations. Next week, Boston’s MBTA transit agency plans to open a new stop, Assembly Station, along the Orange Line in Somerville, a dense inner-ring suburb just to the northwest of downtown Boston.

Assembly is the latest in a series of recent infill stations in the U.S. located along older heavy rail lines whose other stations were generally constructed decades ago. Washington, D.C.’s NoMa Metro Station opened in 2004; the San Francisco region’s West Dublin/Pleasanton BART Station followed in 2011. In Boston, new stations have been constructed along the upgraded commuter rail-becoming-regional rail Fairmount Corridor. And Chicago has had success with the opening of two infill stations in 2012, the Morgan Station in the city’s West Loop and the Oakton-Skokie Station in the northern suburbs.

Yet those expansions are exceptions to the rule. Two infill stations are currently planned in Northern Virginia, at Potomac Yard along the Metro in Alexandria and at Potomac Shores along the VRE commuter line, and one new station is under construction along the Green Line in Chicago. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2014/08/28/with-infill-stations-older-transit-agencies-extend-their-reach/

The marijuana train has left the station, and it's not turning around

from the Detroit Metro Times:

Higher Ground: The marijuana train has left the station, and it's not turning around
By Larry Gabriel

Marijuana has become pretty normal in America.

That doesn't mean that people aren't still getting dragged off to jail for possession. According to FBI estimates, about 750,000 people were arrested for marijuana-related offenses in 2012. The vast majority of them were for simple possession, and although marijuana use is approximately equal among both groups, young African-Americans and Latinos are arrested at rates much higher than whites.

Those arrest numbers speak to a whole different set of social issues other than marijuana use, and as soon as this marijuana thing gets untangled, it will give law enforcement one less way to ensnare people of color in the legal system.

That said, there's a very interesting CivicScience report out now, based on data over the past two years, that shows 58 percent of Americans support legal marijuana that is regulated and taxed like alcohol. Data from the past three months shows 61 percent support. I'll discuss implications of those numbers later. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.metrotimes.com/detroit/higher-ground-it-wont-be-too-long/Content?oid=2245498

“Just Cause” and the Attack on Job Security

from Dollars & Sense:

“Just Cause” and the Attack on Job Security
Is teacher tenure obsolete? Or is it the kind of policy that should protect all workers?


The United States is alone among industrialized countries in allowing workers to be considered “at will” employees and dismissed for any reason—justified or not—unless protected by a collective-bargaining agreement or individual contract. At-will employees have no job security. They can be fired for a mistake, an argument with a supervisor, a critical comment about the enterprise or management, taking a sick day, a complaint about working conditions or pay, or involvement in outside political campaigns—all activities that workers protected by just-cause contract language enjoy with far less fear of losing their jobs.

Employers who are compelled to respect just cause aren’t sitting still. For example, a California judge ruled in June that public-school teacher tenure and seniority rules are unconstitutional. The lawsuit that led to the Vergara v. California decision was financed by multi-millionaire David Welch and backed by a slick PR firm. The suit argued that low-income students performed poorly on tests because of bad teachers who were protected by tenure—not because of school underfunding, large classes, or poverty itself.

The state teachers’ union, the California Teachers Association, noted that the judge ruled against due process rights for teachers because of testimony that “3% of teachers are grossly ineffective,” a statistic the union says was invented. While Vergara v. California is under appeal and only applies to California teachers, the anti-worker forces behind the lawsuit promise more legal assaults on teachers in other states.

The New York Times editorialized in favor of Vergara. “The ruling opens a new chapter in the equal education struggle,” the editors said. “It also underscores a shameful problem that has cast a long shadow over the lives of children, not just in California but in the rest of the country as well.” .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2014/0914wilson.html

America’s Distinctly Unequal Playing Fields

from Too Much: A Commentary on Excess and Inequality:

America’s Distinctly Unequal Playing Fields
SEPTEMBER 13, 2014

Teenagers are learning lessons — about inequality — on America’s high school gridirons. When are their elders going to catch on?

By Sam Pizzigati

This weekend, in thousands of communities across the United States, millions of Americans will gather for one of the nation’s most time-honored autumn rituals: the high school football game.

Shoulder pads will thump. Spirals will whistle through the air. Cheerleaders will chant. And economic inequality will be the furthest thing from anybody’s mind.

A mistake. Gridiron savvy won’t determine the outcome of many of the games played this weekend. Inequality will. So suggests some quirky new research from analyst Eric Segal for the Massachusetts-based Class Action.

Segal has matched won-loss records for all the high schools in Eastern Massachusetts with the median incomes of the communities the high schools serve. His number crunching has uncovered a clear pattern. Teams from richer towns regularly win. Teams from poorer towns regularly lose.


Back in 1970, sociologists Sean Reardon and Kendra Bischoff have detailed, 65 percent of America’s families lived in “middle-income” situations, in neighborhoods where incomes ranged from 80 to 125 percent of the median, or most typical, income of the larger metro area.

By 2008, only 43 percent of U.S. families lived in middle-income neighborhoods. ..................(more)

- See more at: http://toomuchonline.org/americas-distinctly-unequal-playing-fields/#sthash.Rhq8H8Gc.dpuf

Professor Richard Wolff: Global Capitalism: September 2014 Monthly Update

Published on Sep 11, 2014

We are proud to announce that Democracy at Work is partnering with the Left Forum and Judson Memorial Church to continue the Monthly Economic Update lecture series.

These evening lectures begin with brief updates and analyses of major economic events over the last month.

For September 10, these include:
-the Burger King saga and its lessons
-corporate leaders push for a 4-day workweek
-deepening crisis in Europe: risks for the US
-gentrification of our cities: how "markets" work

Workers in Maine Buy Out Their Jobs, Set an Example for the Nation

(Truthout) On remote Deer Isle, Maine, the movement for a more just and democratic economy won a major victory this summer. More than 60 employees of three retail businesses - Burnt Cove Market, V&S Variety and Pharmacy, and The Galley - banded together to buy the stores and create the largest worker cooperative in Maine and the second largest in New England.

Now the workers own and run the businesses together under one banner, known as the Island Employee Cooperative (IEC). This is the first time that multiple businesses of this size and scope have been merged and converted into one worker cooperative - making this a particularly groundbreaking achievement in advancing economic democracy.

Getting There: What It Took

When the local couple that had owned the three businesses for 43 years began to think about selling their stores and retiring, the workers became concerned. The stores were one of the island's biggest employers and a potential buyer probably would not have come from within the community or maintained the same level of jobs and services. Only a worker buy-out could achieve stability.

Because these workers were trying to accomplish something historic, it took more than a year - and it wasn't always an easy road. But the workers' strength lay in their own determination, and in the ability to rely on a group of allies dedicated to growing the cooperative movement. The Independent Retailers Shared Services Cooperative (IRSSC) and the Cooperative Development Institute, helped them develop their management, governance, legal and financial structures. They were also able to secure financing from Maine-based Coastal Enterprises and the Cooperative Fund of New England, both Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs). Without that dedicated technical assistance and available capital, it is doubtful the IEC would be here today. .............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/26160-workers-in-maine-buy-out-their-jobs-set-an-example-for-the-nation

How the West Created the Islamic State

How the West Created the Islamic State

Sunday, 14 September 2014 00:00
By Nafeez Ahmed, Medium | News Analysis

Part 1: Our Terrorists

“This is an organisation that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision which will eventually have to be defeated,” Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Pentagon press conference in August.

Military action is necessary to halt the spread of the ISIS/IS “cancer,” said President Obama. In his much anticipated address, he called for expanded airstrikes across Iraq and Syria, and new measures to arm and train Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces.

“The only way to defeat (IS) is to stand firm and to send a very straightforward message,”declared Prime Minister Cameron. “A country like ours will not be cowed by these barbaric killers.”

Missing from the chorus of outrage, however, has been any acknowledgement of the integral role of covert US and British regional military intelligence strategy in empowering and even directly sponsoring the very same virulent Islamist militants in Iraq, Syria and beyond, that went on to break away from al-Qaeda and form ‘ISIS’, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or now simply, the Islamic State (IS).

Since 2003, Anglo-American power has secretly and openly coordinated direct and indirect support for Islamist terrorist groups linked to al-Qaeda across the Middle East and North Africa. This ill-conceived patchwork geostrategy is a legacy of the persistent influence of neoconservative ideology, motivated by longstanding but often contradictory ambitions to dominate regional oil resources, defend an expansionist Israel, and in pursuit of these, re-draw the map of the Middle East.


Divide and rule in Iraq

“It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs,”said one US government defense consultant in 2007.“It’s who they throw them at – Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.”

Early during the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, the US covertly supplied arms to al-Qaeda affiliated insurgents even while ostensibly supporting an emerging Shi’a-dominated administration. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/26177-how-the-west-created-the-islamic-state

Coalition of the Unwilling

Middle East “Allies” decline to Commit Forces, Resources against ISIL

By Juan Cole

US Secretary of State John Kerry’s meeting in Jedda with ten Middle Eastern foreign ministers produced a communique on Friday, but little more. The regional states promised to do more to stop the transit across their territory of volunteer vigilantes seeking to join the so-called “Islamic State” of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and to stop their citizens from sending money to the extremists. That neither of these steps had been taken earlier shows how unseriously Middle Eastern states took the ISIL challenge.

On Friday, faced with another visit of the indefatigable Mr. Kerry, state officials in Cairo, Egypt, were careful to say that they would and could not devote troops on the ground to defeat ISIL. Cairo maintains that its troops are already stretched thin by their current tasks . The Egyptian military is deployed within the country to keep order and to stigmatize the previous regime, on the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo. In Sinai and along the Red Sea coast, guerrillas stage frequent attacks on Egyptian troops. In any case, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has other things to do with his army than deploy it directly against ISIL. Perhaps if he stopped maintaining that all Muslim Brothers are terrorists he might have some troops left over with which to deal with ISIL.

Turkey, likewise, has announced that it doesn’t want to get involved with ISIL. The Turkish government has even declined to allow the US to fly anti-ISIL missions from Incirlik Air Base. They will only allow US forces to use Turkish air bases for logistics, i.e. things like ammunition resupply. .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.juancole.com/2014/09/decline-resources-against.html

Howard Zinn on The Uses of History and the "War" on Terrorism

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