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marmar

Profile Information

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: 64,617

Journal Archives

Escalating Domestic Warfare


from Consortium News:


Escalating Domestic Warfare
July 8, 2014

Between the War on Drugs and the War on Terror, the United States has witnessed a transformation of its law enforcement, from lightly armed neighborhood policemen to militarized units deploying weapons of warfare, including armored personnel carriers, as Brian J. Trautman explains.


By Brian J. Trautman


Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a report titled “War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing,” shedding much needed light on the emergence of a militarist ethos in policing across the nation.

In a review of public records, such as incident reports, requested from more than 260 law enforcement agencies in 25 states and the District of Columbia, the ACLU found that, from the responses received, 818 SWAT operations from 20 local law enforcement agencies located in 11 states fully met their research criteria, which took geographic diversity into account, among other factors. The SWAT incidents that were analyzed fell in the time period between July 2010 and last October.

Based on the ACLU’s examination, it was determined that paramilitary policing is neither sporadic nor isolated; rather, it is widespread and pervasive. Perhaps the most eye-opening and disturbing aspects of the ACLU’s report are the revelations of when, why and how Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams are being used.

The trend toward hyper-aggressive tactics of today’s law enforcement are having tragic consequences, for both civilians and law officers. Property is being destroyed. Civil liberties are being violated. SWAT teams are employing methods and equipment which have traditionally been reserved for war. For example, roughly 500 law enforcement agencies now possess Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles built to withstand armor-piercing roadside bombs. ............................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://consortiumnews.com/2014/07/08/escalating-domestic-warfare/



D.C.: Old Railcars Slow Down Metro Progress





Metro’s fleet of aging trains — scheduled for replacement over the next several years — continues to bedevil commuters, risking Metro’s message that things actually are getting better halfway through a six-year, $5 billion rebuilding effort.

As D.C.'s Metro continues its system-wide rebuilding program that will run through 2017, transit authority officials say real progress has been made fixing track and signaling infrastructure to improve the reliability of rail service. Yet on a day-to-day basis, railcar breakdowns and delays frustrate riders already annoyed by another fare increase.

If commuters judge the quality of service based on personal experience, quarterly progress reports on system reliability may mean little compared to the delays that make them late for work, squeezed onto packed platforms or inside old railcars without air conditioning. Because even as the number of delays caused by track or signal problems dwindle, Metro’s fleet of aging trains — scheduled for replacement over the next several years — continues to bedevil commuters, risking Metro’s message that things actually are getting better halfway through the six-year, $5 billion rebuilding effort.

June: a snapshot

As he rode the Red Line to work one morning, Jason Stonewall shared his feelings about Metro’s oldest line: “It’s horrible.” Stonewall pulled out his smartphone to scroll through old Metro text message alerts. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.wnyc.org/story/old-railcars-slow-down-metro-progress/



D.C.: Old Railcars Slow Down Metro Progress





Metro’s fleet of aging trains — scheduled for replacement over the next several years — continues to bedevil commuters, risking Metro’s message that things actually are getting better halfway through a six-year, $5 billion rebuilding effort.

As D.C.'s Metro continues its system-wide rebuilding program that will run through 2017, transit authority officials say real progress has been made fixing track and signaling infrastructure to improve the reliability of rail service. Yet on a day-to-day basis, railcar breakdowns and delays frustrate riders already annoyed by another fare increase.

If commuters judge the quality of service based on personal experience, quarterly progress reports on system reliability may mean little compared to the delays that make them late for work, squeezed onto packed platforms or inside old railcars without air conditioning. Because even as the number of delays caused by track or signal problems dwindle, Metro’s fleet of aging trains — scheduled for replacement over the next several years — continues to bedevil commuters, risking Metro’s message that things actually are getting better halfway through the six-year, $5 billion rebuilding effort.

June: a snapshot

As he rode the Red Line to work one morning, Jason Stonewall shared his feelings about Metro’s oldest line: “It’s horrible.” Stonewall pulled out his smartphone to scroll through old Metro text message alerts. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.wnyc.org/story/old-railcars-slow-down-metro-progress/



Escalating Domestic Warfare


from Consortium News:


Escalating Domestic Warfare
July 8, 2014

Between the War on Drugs and the War on Terror, the United States has witnessed a transformation of its law enforcement, from lightly armed neighborhood policemen to militarized units deploying weapons of warfare, including armored personnel carriers, as Brian J. Trautman explains.


By Brian J. Trautman


Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a report titled “War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing,” shedding much needed light on the emergence of a militarist ethos in policing across the nation.

In a review of public records, such as incident reports, requested from more than 260 law enforcement agencies in 25 states and the District of Columbia, the ACLU found that, from the responses received, 818 SWAT operations from 20 local law enforcement agencies located in 11 states fully met their research criteria, which took geographic diversity into account, among other factors. The SWAT incidents that were analyzed fell in the time period between July 2010 and last October.

Based on the ACLU’s examination, it was determined that paramilitary policing is neither sporadic nor isolated; rather, it is widespread and pervasive. Perhaps the most eye-opening and disturbing aspects of the ACLU’s report are the revelations of when, why and how Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams are being used.

The trend toward hyper-aggressive tactics of today’s law enforcement are having tragic consequences, for both civilians and law officers. Property is being destroyed. Civil liberties are being violated. SWAT teams are employing methods and equipment which have traditionally been reserved for war. For example, roughly 500 law enforcement agencies now possess Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles built to withstand armor-piercing roadside bombs. ............................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://consortiumnews.com/2014/07/08/escalating-domestic-warfare/



Scared of Biking in Traffic? These Cities Are Making It Safe


This article originally appeared at On the Commons.


Scared of Biking in Traffic? These Cities Are Making It Safe
To get people on bikes in big numbers, cities are finding that it's essential to separate bike lanes from traffic.

by Jay Walljasper
posted Jul 10, 2014


Cyclists use a protected bike lane in Vancouver, British Columbia. Photo by Paul Krueger / Flickr.

You can see big changes happening across America as communities from Fairbanks, Alaska, to St. Petersburg, Fla., transform their streets into appealing places for people, not just for cars and trucks.

“Over the past five years we’re seeing an infrastructure revolution, a rethinking of our streets to accommodate more users (through) busways, public plazas, space for pedestrians, and, of course, bike lanes,” says David Vega-Barachowitz of the National Association of City Transportation Officials. “More protected bike lanes is one of the most important parts of this.”

Protected bike lanes separate people on bikes from rushing traffic with concrete curbs, plastic bollards or other means—and sometimes offer additional safety measures such as special traffic lights and painted crossings at intersections.

Protected bike lanes help riders feel less exposed to danger, and are also appreciated by drivers and pedestrians, who know where to expect bicycles. Streets work better when everyone has a clearly defined space.

The continuing evolution of bicycling

Protected bike lanes are standard practice in the Netherlands, where 27 percent of all trips are made on bicycles. That’s because more women, kids, and seniors feel comfortable biking on the streets—along with out-of-shape, inexperienced riders. Dutch bike ridership has doubled since the 1980s, when protected bike lanes began to be built in large numbers. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.yesmagazine.org/planet/scared-of-biking-in-traffic-these-cities-are-making-it-safe


Professor Richard Wolff: Workers' Self-Directed Enterprises





Published on Jul 10, 2014

Economist Richard D. Wolff on workers' self-directed enterprises. Excerpts from a talk at the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung.



Richard Wolff: Economy Boom or Bubble




Published on Jul 10, 2014

Thom Hartmann discusses the current state of the U.S. economy with Professor Richard Wolff



David Sirota: As Usual, Washington Follows the Buck


from In These Times:


As Usual, Washington Follows the Buck
When it comes to party politics, Big Money wins over big principles.

BY DAVID SIROTA


In politics, as the old saying goes, there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies—there are only permanent interests. Few policy debates prove that truism as well as the one now brewing over the Export-Import Bank—a government agency providing taxpayer subsidized loans to multinational corporations.

This tale starts 15 years ago when my old boss, U.S. Rep. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, was trying to construct a left-right coalition to reform the bank. While a few libertarians were willing to voice free-market criticism of the bank, the impetus for reform was primarily among Democrats and the left. Indeed, Sanders' failed 2002 amendment proposing to restrict the bank's subsidies garnered only 22 Republican votes but had 111 Democratic backers—mostly progressive legislators who, in the words of Sanders, saw the Ex-Im Bank program as “one of the most egregious forms of corporate welfare.”

As Salon's David Dayen reports, liberals in subsequent years “highlighted how Enron, the failed energy giant, benefited from $675 million in Ex-Im loans”; how “Ex-Im gave an $18 million loan to a Chinese steel mill, which was later on accused of dumping steel into U.S. markets and hurting U.S. workers” and how, “Ex-Im loan guarantees helped build one of the largest coal plants in the world.” By 2008, the progressive-themed criticism of the bank had become so central to Democrats' agenda that Barack Obama used a presidential campaign speech in 2008 to lambast the bank as “little more than a fund for corporate welfare.”

Fast forward to the last few years. In 2012, Democrats rammed a bill reauthorizing the bank through the Senate, and Obama held a public ceremony to sign the reauthorization bill into law. At the same time, Republicans provided most of the congressional votes against the bank. And now, in the last few weeks, the GOP's new House majority leader is threatening to block the next authorization bill and thus completely shut the bank down.

This tale is not just another “I was for it before I was against” anecdote. It is also a bigger parable providing a two-pronged lesson: Partisan politics can abruptly shift; yet money politics almost never changes. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/article/16945/david_sirota_money_interests



Investors Smell Money in Urgent Care


http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/investors_smell_money_in_urgent_care_clinics_20140710



via truthdig:


Valued at an estimated $14.5 billion, urgent care walk-in clinics represent one of the fastest-growing segments of American health care. And Wall Street investors have noticed.

The New York Times reports:

(...) what is happening here is also playing out across the nation, as private equity investment firms, sensing opportunity, invest billions in urgent care and related businesses. Since 2008, these investors have sunk $2.3 billion into urgent care clinics. Commercial insurance companies, regional health systems and local hospitals are also looking to buy urgent care practices or form business relationships with them.

The business model is simple: Treat many patients as quickly as possible. Urgent care is a low-margin, high-volume proposition. At PhysicianOne here, most people are in and out in about 30 minutes. The national average charge runs about $155 per patient visit. Do 30 or 35 exams a day, and the money starts to add up.

Urgent care clinics also have a crucial business advantage over traditional hospital emergency rooms in that they can cherry-pick patients. Most of these centers do not accept Medicaid and turn away the uninsured unless they pay upfront. Hospital E.R.s, by contrast, are legally obligated to treat everyone.

But as urgent care centers expand their reach, regulators in some states are scrutinizing their activities. While some states require the clinics to be licensed, most do not. It is unclear whether such urgent care centers offer better or worse care than other providers. But some family physicians — who stand to lose business to the newcomers — wonder if patients are trading quality for convenience.



The 25th Hour: Still Living With Jack Bauer in a Terrified New American World


from TomDispatch:


The 25th Hour
Still Living With Jack Bauer in a Terrified New American World

By Rebecca Gordon


Once upon a time, if a character on TV or in a movie tortured someone, it was a sure sign that he was a bad guy. Now, the torturers are the all-American heroes. From 24 to Zero Dark Thirty, it’s been the good guys who wielded the pliers and the waterboards. We’re not only living in a post-9/11 world, we’re stuck with Jack Bauer in the 25th hour.

In 2002, Cofer Black, the former Director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, told a Senate committee, “All I want to say is that there was ‘before’ 9/11 and ‘after’ 9/11. After 9/11 the gloves come off.” He wanted them to understand that Americans now live in a changed world, where, from the point of view of the national security state, anything goes. It was, as he and various top officials in the Bush administration saw it, a dangerous place in which terrorists might be lurking in any airport security line and who knew where else.

Dark-skinned foreigners promoting disturbing religions were driven to destroy us because, as President George W. Bush said more than once, “they hate our freedoms.” It was "them or us." In such a frightening new world, we were assured, our survival depended in part on brave men and women willing to break precedent and torture some of our enemies for information that would save civilization itself. As part of a new American creed, we learned that torture was the price of security.

These were the ruling fantasies of the era, onscreen and off. But didn’t that sorry phase of our national life end when Bush and his vice president Dick Cheney departed? Wasn’t it over once Barack Obama entered the Oval Office and issued an executive order closing the CIA black sites that the Bush administration had set up across the planet, forbidding what had euphemistically come to be called “enhanced interrogation techniques?” As it happens, no. Though it’s seldom commented upon, the infrastructure for, the capacity for, and the personnel to staff a system of institutionalized state torture remain in place, ready to bloom like a desert plant in a rain shower the next time fear shakes the United States. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175866/tomgram%3A_rebecca_gordon%2C_a_nation_of_cowards/



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